ADVENTURE IN THE LIFE OF A BEAR n
' Grrrooonnn,' said Tom.
' There, do you hear him? Is that to be called a Christian language ?'
' Come, come, my friend,' said the sergeant, who had at last managed to distinguish Tom in the faint twilight. ' We all know what it is to be young — no one likes a joke better than I do—but rules are rules, and the hour for going home has struck, so right about face, march! and quick step too.'
' Grrrooonnn' —
' Very pretty ; a first-rate imitation. But suppose we try something else now for a change. Come, old fellow, step out with a good will. Ah! you won't. You're going to cut up rough, are you? Here, my man, lay hold and turn him out.'
' He won't walk, sergeant.'
' Well, what are the butt ends of your muskets for? Come, a tap or two will do no harm.'
' Grrrooonnn — Grrrooonnn — Grrrooonnn — '
' Go on, give it him well!'
' I say, sergeant,' said one of the men, ' it strikes me he's a real bear. I caught hold of him by the collar just now, and the skin seems to grow on the flesh.'
' Oh, if he's a real bear treat him with every consideration. His owner might claim damages. Go and fetch the fireman's lantern.'
'Here's the lantern,'said a man; 'now then, throw some light on the prisoner.'
The soldier obeyed.
' It is certainly a real snout,' declared the sergeant.
' Goodness gracious me!' shrieked the box-opener as she took to her heels, * a real live bear !'
'Well, yes, a real live bear. Let's see if he has any name or address on him and take him home. I expect he has strayed, and being of a sociable disposition, came in to the Masked Ball.'