The Animal Story Book - online children's book

Edited By Andrew Lang And With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford

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' Oh, but he acts a white bear, you know.'
' Just so; that's why he has chosen a brown bear's skin as a disguise.'
' Ho, ho ! You're a good one,' cried harlequin.
' Grrooonnn,' observed Tom.
' Well, now you mention it, I do recognise his voice. Really, I wonder it had not struck me before. Do ask him to disguise it better.'
' Yes, yes,' said Fan, moving towards the ball-room, ' but it will never do to worry him. However, I'll try to persuade him to dance a minuet presently.'
' Oh, could you really?'
' He promised to do so. Just give a hint to your friends and try to prevent their teasing him.'
' All right.'
Tom made his way through the crowd, whilst the delighted harlequin moved from one mask to another, telling his news with warnings to be discreet, which were well received. Just then, too, the sounds of a lively galop were heard, and a general rush to the ball-room took place, harlequin only pausing to murmur in Tom's ear: 41 know you, my fine mask.'
' Grroooonnn,' replied Tom.
' Ah, it's all very well to growl, but you'll dance a minuet, won't you, old fellow?'
Tom waved his head up and down as his way was when anyone asked him a question, and harlequin, satis­fied with this silent consent, ran off to find a columbine and to dance the galop.
Meanwhile, Tom remained alone with the waiters; motionless at his post, but with longing eyes turned towards the counter on which the most tempting piles of cake were heaped on numerous dishes. The waiters, remarking his wrapt attention, and pleased to tempt a customer, stretched out a dish, Tom extended his paw and gingerly took a cake — then a second — then a third : the waiters seemed never tired of offering, or Tom of
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