The Farm—The Castle—The Forge
Enough of this. Be off, and allow us to finish our dinner."
"Master farmer, be merciful. Only try my work. Place me altogether by myself; then no one will fear me. I will conceal myself so well that your children shall not see me."
"Will you be done talking, wicked bear? Go instantly; if you don't you shall feel the teeth of my pitchfork."
Poor Ourson bowed his head. Tears of humiliation and disappointment glittered in his eyes. He withdrew slowly, followed by the coarse laugh and shouts of the farm hands.
When out of sight he no longer restrained his tears, but in all this shame and despair the thought that Violette could take upon herself his ugly covering did not enter his thoughts.
Ourson walked on till he came in sight of a castle where he saw a crowd of men coming, going and laboring at every kind of work. Some were mowing, some raking, some currying horses, some sweeping, some watering plants, some sowing.
"Here is a house where I shall certainly find work," said Ourson to himself. "I see neither women nor children and I think the men will not be afraid of me."
Ourson drew near without being seen. He took off his hat and stood before a man who seemed to be the superintendent.
"Sir—" said he.
The man looked up, recoiled a step when he saw Ourson and examined him with the greatest surprise.
"Who are you and what do you want?" said he, in a rude voice.
"Sir, I am the son of Agnella, mistress of the Woodland Farm."
"Well! and what has brought you here?"
"Our house is burned down, sir. I am seeking work in order to support my mother and sister. I hope you will be good enough to give me employment."
"Give employment to a bear?"
"Sir, I have only the appearance of a bear. Under this rough outside, which is so repugnant to you, there beats a human heart—a heart capable of gratitude and affection. You shall have no reason to complain either of my work or of my good will."
Whilst Ourson spoke and the superintendent listened with a mocking air, a great noise was heard amongst the horses.