Gateway to the Classics: The Tale of Cuffy Bear by Arthur Scott Bailey
The Tale of Cuffy Bear by  Arthur Scott Bailey

Learning To Box

F OR some time Cuffy Bear and his new friend Pete, as he preferred to be called, continued to slide down the bank of the brook into the water. They became plastered with mud from head to foot. And Cuffy's best trousers had two big holes in them. But Cuffy was having a splendid time.

"Let's box, Cuff!" Pete exclaimed, after a while.

"What's that?" Cuffy asked. He liked to be called "Cuff." Nobody had ever called him by that name before. He felt quite grown up.

"I'll show yer," Pete said. "Stand up in front of me."

Cuffy stood up on his hind legs.

"Now, hold up yer paws—so."

And Cuffy did as he was told.

"Now hit me!" Pete ordered.

And Cuffy struck out at his new friend. But to his surprise he didn't succeed in touching Pete at all. Instead, he received a stinging slap right on the end of his nose.


Cuffy received a slap on his nose.

Cuffy didn't like that. In fact, it made him somewhat angry. And he struck out at Pete once more. But Pete dodged; and he gave Cuffy a good, hard blow in the eye. And while Cuffy was holding onto his poor eye, Pete hit his other eye. And then Cuffy couldn't see a thing, except bright spots that made him think of stars. He tried not to cry. But a few tears would  go rolling down his cheeks. And he did not like it at all when Pete began to laugh.

"Huh! Don't be a cry-baby!" Pete said. "Yer want ter learn ter box, don't yer?"

"Y-es!" Cuffy answered.

"Well—quit yer cryin' and stand up here, then," Pete commanded.

So once more Cuffy straightened up and held his paws in front of him. And when he thought Pete wasn't watching, Cuffy tried again to hit him. Again Cuffy missed. His paw didn't reach Pete at all. But Pete gave him a terrible poke right in the stomach, and Cuffy sat down quickly on the ground and began to groan.

Pete sat down on the ground too and he looked at Cuffy and grinned.

"Want any more?" he asked.

Cuffy shook his head.

"I'll have to go home now," he said. "Of course, I'd like to box some more; but I haven't time to-day."

"First lesson's over, then," Pete announced. "Come back termorrer and I'll give yer another."

"How long will it be before I learn to box well?" Cuffy inquired.

"You might learn next time," Pete said, "Better try it, anyhow," he advised.

"All right!" Cuffy said. He hoped that another time he would be able to show Pete how it felt to be pounded. "All right—I'll be here at the same time to-morrow."

So Pete trotted off spryly in one direction; and Cuffy trotted off in another, but not quite so spryly, for his head ached and one of his eyes was closed tight.

"Mercy sakes!" Mrs. Bear said, when Cuffy came into the house. "Look at those trousers!"

Cuffy looked at them as well as he could with his one good eye.

"And you're covered  with mud!" his mother added severely. "What's the matter with your eye?" she demanded.

"I've been having fun—" Cuffy began. "I've been boxing—"

"Fun! Boxing! You've ruined  your best trousers," she said. "You're a naughty little bear and you're going straight to bed. Who has been playing with you?" she asked.

Mrs. Bear was very much displeased when she learned about Cuffy's new friend. "I know who he is," she said. "His people are very rough. They're not nice bears at all. And I forbid you ever to play with that Peter again."

So Cuffy had to go to bed. And the next day when Pete arrived at the pool he found no Cuffy there. For some time he waited. But still there was no Cuffy.

"Huh!" Pete grunted, as he went away at last. "He's afraid, he is. And it's a good thing for him he didn't come back. If he had, I'd 'a' fixed him. Yes, sir! I'd—" Whatever it was that Peter would have done to Cuffy, I am sure it wouldn't have been at all pleasant, because the rough little bear Peter scowled frightfully as he trotted off.

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