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He had but one enemy, and he did not make him such: he was one by nature. For he was so different from Clare that he disliked him the moment he saw him, and it took but a day to ripen his dislike into hatred. Like Mr. Maidstone, he found the innocent fearlessness of Clare's expression repulsive. His fingers twitched, he said, to have a twist at the sheep-nose of him. Unhappily for Clare, he was of consequence in the menagerie, having money in the concern. He was half-brother to the proprietor, but so unlike him that he might not have had a drop of blood from the same source. An ill-tempered, imperious man, he would hurt himself to have his way, for he was the merest slave to what he fancied. When a man will have a thing, right or wrong, that man is a slave to that thing--the meanest of slaves, a willing one. He was the terror of the men beneath him, heeding no man but his brother--and him only because he knew "he would stand no nonsense." To his sister-in-law he was civil: she was his brother's wife, and his brother was proud of her! Also he knew that she was perfect in her part of the business. So it was reason to stand as well as he might with her!
Clare had no suspicion that he more than disliked him. It took him days indeed to discover even that he did not love him--notwithstanding the bilious eye which, when its owner was idle, kept constantly following him. And idle he often was, not from laziness, but from the love of ordering about, and looking superior.
It was natural that such a man should also be cruel. There are who find their existence pleasant in proportion as they make that of others miserable. He had no liking for any of the animals, regarding them only as property with never a right;--as if God would make anything live without thereby giving it rights! To Glum Gunn, as he was commonly called behind his back, the animals were worth so much money to sell, and so much to show. Yet he prided himself that he had a great influence as well as power over them, an occult superiority that made him their lord. It was merely a phase of the vulgarest self-conceit. He posed to himself as a lion-tamer! He had never tamed a lion, or any creature else, in his life; but when he had a wild thing safe within iron bars, then he "let him know who was his master!" By the terror of his whip, and means far worse, he compelled obedience. The grizzly alone, of the larger animals, he never interfered with.
From the first he received Clare's "Good-morning, sir," with a silent stare; and the boy at last, thinking he did not like to be so greeted, gave up the salutation. This roused Gunn's anger and increased his hate. But indeed any boy petted by his sister-in-law, would have been odious to him; and any boy whatever would have found him a hard master. Clare was for a while protected by the man's unreadiness to have words with his brother, who always took his wife's part; but the tyrant soon learned that he might venture far.
For he saw, by the boy's ready smile, that he never resented anything, which the brute, as most boys would have done, attributed to cowardice; and he learned that he never carried tales to his sister, of which, instead of admiring him for his reticence, he took advantage, and set about making life bitter to him.
It was some time before he began to succeed, for Clare was hard to annoy. Patient, and right ready to be pleased, he could hardly imagine offence intended; the thought was all but unthinkable to Clare's nature; so he let evil pass and be forgotten as if it had never been. Once, as he ran along with a heavy pail of water, Gunn shot out his foot and threw him down: he rose with a cut in his forehead, and a smile on his lips. He carried the mark of the pail as long as he carried his body, but it was long before he believed he had been tripped up. Had it been proved to him at the time, he would have taken it as a joke, intending no hurt. He did not see the lurid smile on the man's face as he turned away, a smile of devilish delight at the discomfiture of a hated fellow-creature. Gunn put him to the dirtiest work--only to find that it did not trouble him: the boy was a rare gentleman--unwilling another should have more that he might have less of the disagreeable. I have two or three times heard him say that no man had the right to require of another the thing he would think degrading to himself. He said he learned this from the New Testament. "But," he said, "nothing God has made necessary, can possibly be degrading. It may not be the thing for this or that man, at this or that time, to do, but it cannot in itself be degrading."
The boy had to take his turn with several in acting showman to the gazing crowd, and by and by the part fell to him oftenest. Each had his own way of filling the office. One would repeat his information like a lesson in which he was not interested, and expected no one else to be interested. Another made himself the clown of the exhibition, and joked as much and as well as he could. Gunn delighted in telling as many lies as he dared: he must not be suspected of making fools of his audience! Clare, who from books knew far more than any of the others concerning the creatures in their wild state, and who, by watching them because he loved them, had already noted things none of the others had observed, and was fast learning more, talked to the spectators out of his own sincere and warm interest, giving them from his treasure things new and old--things he had read, and things he had for himself discovered. Group after group of simple country people would listen intently as he led them round, eager after every word; and as any peg will do to hang hate upon, even this success was noted with evil eye by Glum Gunn. Almost anything served to increase his malignity. Whether or not it grew the faster that he had as yet found no wider outlet for it, I cannot tell.
At last, however, the tyrant learned how to inflict the keenest pain on the tender-hearted boy, counting him the greater idiot that he could so "be got at," as he phrased it, and promising himself much enjoyment from the discovery. But he did not know--how should he know--what love may compel!
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