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

Cuffy Meets a Man

A ND then how Cuffy Bear did roar—just one second after he had stuck his paws into the steaming pan. You see—he was so greedy that he had never once stopped to think that the syrup was boiling hot.


The syrup was boiling hot.

Now, usually if you pick up anything hot you can drop it at once. But it is not so with hot maple syrup. Cuffy's paws were covered with the sticky brown stuff. He rubbed them upon his trousers, and he roared again when he saw what he had done.

Then Cuffy had a happy thought. He would go out and shove his paws into a snowbank. That would surely cool them. So out of the sugar-house he dashed and across the clearing he ran, screaming "Ough! ough! ough!"  at the top of his voice, for the hot syrup made his paws smart terribly. In his haste Cuffy did not notice that he was headed in the direction in which the man had disappeared.

Now it happened that the man who tended the sugar-house fire had gone only to the edge of the clearing; and when he heard Cuffy's shrieks he looked around in great surprise. He and Cuffy saw each other at the same time. And like a flash Cuffy turned and fairly flew the other way.

The man ran after him for a few steps. But he soon saw that he could never catch Cuffy. So he stood still and watched the little bear bob into the woods and vanish.

Poor Cuffy's heart was beating as if it would burst. He was so frightened that he forgot all about his burned paws and he ran and ran and ran up the steep mountainside. He did not mind the climb; he was used to that. But to his great alarm the snow clung to his sticky paws until each was just a great, round lump. They looked like the hands of a snow-man.

Cuffy found it very hard to run with his paws like that. But he kept on and on, until at last he came in sight of his father's house. Then he stopped and sat down, right behind a knoll, where his mother could not see him. He was very tired. And though he was no longer afraid that the man would catch him, he began to be afraid of something else. . . . A punishing? No—no! He had not thought of that. Cuffy was afraid that he could never get rid of those big heavy lumps. He was afraid his paws would always be covered with those hard balls of snow. You must remember that he was a very young little bear.

Well! After he had got his breath again Cuffy began to nibble at his snow mittens. And little by little—to his delight—he removed them. And still he kept on nibbling at his paws, and—yes! he actually put them right inside his mouth and sucked them. He forgot all about his manners, for underneath the snow he found the most beautiful, waxy maple-sugar you can imagine. Each paw was just one big lollypop! And though his burns still hurt him, Cuffy did not care very much. For those lollypops were two hundred times sweeter than anything he had ever tasted in all his life!

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