Once upon a time, a gypsy came to town. He had a trained bear with him on the
end of a stout chain, with a leather collar round its neck and a muzzle over its
snout. He had caught it, he said, when it was just a cub; tamed it, and trained it,
and taught it to dance to his tunes. He pulled a flute from his ragged jacket, and
played a jig; and the bear shuffled up and around on its hind paws, round and
round as all looked on and tossed coins in the gypsy’s cap. “Dance with
it,” he tempted. “Dance with the bear. It's all right.
He’s quite safe. Just reach out your arms and put them around him, and
Said the sharp young man to his friend, “Safe for him, perhaps. But I
don’t fancy getting in reach of those claws. No bear is ever truly tame.”
Once upon a time, the circus came to town. It had a lion tamer with it with his
great cats in their cage, all spotted, and striped, and hairy maned. He cracked his
whip; and they sat up on painted drums, and jumped through fiery hoops. He had
raised them from cubs, said the ringmaster through his bullhorn; fed them from
his own table, and taught them such tricks as had never been seen since the days
of the Ancients. “Put your arm in his mouth,” screamed a lad in the crowd.
“Go on, go on! If it’s so tame, then show us that trick!”
“Better him than me,” said the man to his wife. But the lion tamer
cracked his whip at the white tiger, and it opened its jaws, the fangs gleaming sharp and
Said the wife to her man, “Well fed on horse meat, I reckon.”
The lion tamer put his arm between the jaws. The mouth closed—oh so
gently it closed—and opened again, releasing the arm uninjured. “Tame as a
kitten,” said the ringmaster; and the tiger roared.
“Any volunteers?” said the ringmaster to the crowd. “Nothing to
it. Just reach out your arms and put them in.” The young drunk started to
stumble forward; but his friends pulled him back.
“Ah,” said the man to his wife. ”That tiger-trainer’s a
fool. He may think the beast is safe. But it’ll turn even on him some day;
just you wait and see. No cat is ever truly tame.”
Once upon a time, a Sime Centre was built in town. It had a channel, with
tentacles on his arms, locked in their metal retainers. People talked about going
in. Or not. “It’s quite safe,” said the Donor to the old man.
“All you do is reach out your arms....”