“Silent Companion” (from Parley’s Magazine, 30 March 1833; p. 43)
Two passengers set out from their inn in London, early on a December morning. It was dark as pitch; and one of the travellers not feeling very sleepy, and being disposed to talk a little, endeavored to enter into conversation with his neighbor. He accordingly began: “A very dark morning sir.” “Shocking cold weather for travelling.” “Slow going in these heavy roads, sir.” None of these remarks producing a word of answer, the sociable man made one more effort. He stretched out his hand, and feeling of the other’s great coat, said—“What a very comfortable coat, sir, you have got to travel in!” No answer was made, and the inquirer fatigued and disgusted with his silent companion, fell into a sound nap, and did not wake until the bright rays of a winter’s sun roused him from his slumber. What do you suppose he then saw? It was no more than a great bear, sitting by his side! The creature had a chain over his mouth, so that he could not have talked, even if he had wished to. He was probably a tame bear, and was put into the coach by his owner, who, by some mistake, had remained behind. Bruin’s fellow-traveller readily pardoned his silent companion for not having opened his mouth. He likewise expressed no further astonishment at “the very comfortable coat,” which he had on.