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The Bear And Child

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Leopold, Duke of Lorraine, had a bear called Marco, of the sagacity and
sensibility of which we have the following remarkable instance. During a
severe winter, a boy, ready to perish with cold, thought proper to enter
Marco's hut, without reflecting on the danger which he ran in exposing
himself to the mercy of the animal which occupied it. Marco, however,
instead of doing any injury to the child, took him between his paws, and
warmed him by pressing him to his breast until the next morning, when he
suffered him to depart. The boy returned in the evening to the hut, and
was received with the same affection. For several days he had no other
retreat, and it added not a little to his joy, to perceive that the bear
regularly reserved part of his food for him. A number of days passed in
this manner without the servants knowing anything of the circumstance. At
length, when one of them came one day to bring the bear his supper, rather
later than ordinary, he was astonished to see the animal roll his eyes in
a furious manner, and seeming as if he wished him to make as little noise
as possible, for fear of awaking the child, whom he clasped to his breast.
The animal, though ravenous, did not appear the least moved with the food
which was placed before him. The report of this extraordinary circumstance
was soon spread at court, and reached the ears of Leopold; who, with part
of his courtiers, was desirous of being satisfied of the truth of Marco's
generosity. Several of them passed the night near his hut, and beheld with
astonishment that the bear never stirred as long as his guest showed an
inclination to sleep. At dawn the child awoke, was very much ashamed to
find himself discovered, and, fearing that he would be punished for his
rashness, begged pardon. The bear, however, caressed him, and endeavoured
to prevail on him to eat what had been brought to him the evening before,
which he did at the request of the spectators, who conducted him to the
prince. Having learned the whole story, Leopold ordered care to be taken
of the little boy, who would doubtless have soon made his fortune, had he
not died a short time after.





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