The Wooden Bear

Once upon a time, there was a wooden bear. At midnight, he would transform into a real bear, and go walking through the snow, smoking cigarettes, drinking cider, eating small creatures and philosophizing to the stars. After three or four hours of such nonsense, he would return to his place before an old shop, and sleep as a wooden statue once again. There was a slightly mad cellist who was wealthy, lonely, cruel and mad. One night, she saw the bear wake up and walk in the wet snow. She had to have the wooden bear as her own possession, and hurried home to make her plans. Within a few days, she had paid off the shopkeeper and some brawny fellows to haul the wooden bear to her home. That very afternoon, she made coffee and pastries, and invited all of her rich friends over to brag about her acquisition. They fawned on her and praised her. She was so pleased, she forgot about the enchantment of the carved statue and her devious, secret plans for it. She went straight to bed and slept well. On the stroke of midnight, the wooden bear came alive and went into a temper when he realized he was not at his home on the street. First, he raided her cellar and drank her cider and ate all of her salmon, whether canned, dried, or frozen. Then he left claw marks and tears on her furniture and her curtains. Lastly, he began to play her cello, and he played it very beautifully, far more beautifully than she or anyone in the town could ever hope to play. Hearing the music and waking from her sleep, the woman went downstairs to investigate. Storming into the parlour and seeing the chaos, the woman screamed in rage at the bear. Had she not paid good money for him? Was this her reward? The bear cited the law, and had her know that he had not been paid a cent to be kidnapped and to become her prisoner, but he would gladly keep her cello if she wished to avoid arrest and a long trial. Then, the wooden bear left and walked home, stopping now and then to play something beautiful to accompany the white snowflakes gently falling in the brilliance of the lampposts on the deserted streets.