Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/58

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


ter,” retorted Herbert. “When we are young, we delude ourselves with all sorts of fallacies, saying that things have always been as they are since the day of Nimrod; but isn’t it about time to let our sympathies have wider play, and to look at the brute’s side of the question? Take a captive polar bear, for instance. It must seem to him to be the height of injustice to be hunted down like a man-eating tiger, sold into slavery, and condemned to live in a steel cage and in a climate that murders by slow suffocation. The poor fellow never injured anybody; has always lived out of everybody’s way; preyed on nothing that robbed any man of a meal, and was as nearly harmless, unless attacked, as any beast of his size the world over. I know a case in point, and often go to see him. He didn’t tell me his story—his keeper did—though he might have done so had I understood bear-talk as well as Louis understands pigeon-English,” and a challenging smile played over the speaker’s face.

“You ought to have stepped inside and passed the time of day with him. They wouldn’t have fed him on anything but raw sculptor for a month.”

Herbert fanned his fingers toward Louis in