The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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burst my big drum, and I was again turned adrift on the world, with no larger fortune than before. This time, however, I had gained experience and credit; by means of the latter I bought a pedlar's pack, and, like my father before me, started on my travels.
These, however, did not last long, a woman who kept a grocer's shop insisted on adopting me and taking me into her business ; but I quickly wearied of that uncon­genial occupation, and, thanks to my good looks, and to my capacities as orator—acquired while with my late master, the dentist—I was soon engaged as showman in a travelling waxwork exhibition. My duties there were light and easy, but the inactive life, in the midst of these inanimate figures, was wearisome and monotonous to one of my stirring nature.
The only break in the sameness of my existence was on Sundays, when a young and charming girl named Maria, an orphan, spent the day with my master and his family. As the weeks rolled on into months, and these in turn succeeded each other, little by little we fell in love, and when at last circumstances separated us we found how indispensable we had become to each other. What caused us to part was the arrival in the neighbour­hood of Bernaleo's menagerie. It was a fine one, and the animals it contained were not only numerous but for­midable of aspect. All my old passion for wild beasts instantly revived, and it was, at all events, an active, stirring life, such as my nature required, I offered my services, and these being promptly accepted, I thought I had at last attained my desires. But no, I was not yet satisfied. I soon found the animals to be so tamed, so subdued, so docile, that there was no excitement, no risk in going amongst them. They aroused themselves from their sleep and went through their exercises so submissively, so mechanically, that at times I had a mad desire to seize them by the mane, and to cry out: ' Try to be fierce, can't you ? '
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