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

Cuffy Bear Finds a Porcupine

F OR a few minutes Cuffy stood in the doorway and blinked and blinked. He rubbed his eyes, for the bright sunlight hurt them. But soon he and Silkie were frisking and tumbling about in the front-yard.

After a little while Cuffy remembered that there was an old tree over in the pine woods—just the finest tree to climb that anybody could want.

"Let's go over to the old tree and play," Cuffy said.

"But Mother told us not to go far away," Silkie reminded him.

"Oh! I don't care," Cuffy said. "Besides, we'll be back before she knows it."

But Silkie would not go with him. So naughty Cuffy started off alone for the pine woods. He found the old tree. It seemed smaller than he expected. The reason for that was because Cuffy himself had grown tall during the months that he had spent in sleep.

He climbed the tree to the very top and as he looked down over the snow he saw something moving a little way off. Whatever it was, it was much smaller than Cuffy himself, so he was not afraid. And he scrambled down to the ground and ran as fast as he could go to the place where he saw the small thing moving. Cuffy wanted to see what it was. He was always like that.

Cuffy found a little animal covered with stiff, sharp quills and he knew that it was a porcupine. And all at once Cuffy felt very hungry. He remembered that his father had sometimes brought home porcupine meat and—yes, Cuffy actually smacked his lips! His mother was always telling him not to smack his lips, but Cuffy forgot all about it now.

As Cuffy came running up Mr. Porcupine rolled himself into a round ball and lay perfectly still. Now, Cuffy remembered that his father had often told him never to touch a porcupine, because if he should he would get his paws stuck full of quills. But now Cuffy decided that he would show his father that he too was clever enough to kill a porcupine. So he stepped close to the little round, prickly ball and gave it one good, hard cuff.


Cuffy gave it one good, hard cuff.

The next instant Cuffy gave a howl of pain. He was so angry that he struck the porcupine once more with his other front-paw.

Again Cuffy howled! Now both his front-paws were full of quills. They looked just like pincushions. And as Cuffy saw what had happened he began to cry. He wanted his mother.

So home he started. All the way he had to walk on his hind legs, because it hurt him terribly whenever he put one of his front-paws on the ground.

Cuffy wept very hard when Mrs. Bear pulled out the quills. And his paws were so sore that he could not feed himself. His mother had to put into his mouth bits of the frozen turnips that his father found in Farmer Green's field. And though afterward Cuffy did many things that he ought not to have done, he never, never touched a porcupine again.

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