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

A Surprise

O NE day Cuffy Bear and his little sister Silkie had been making sand pies. And now, having grown tired of that, they were squatting down on the ground and had covered their legs with the clean white sand. Perhaps they would have heaped the sand all over themselves, if Silkie had not spied her father as he came climbing up the mountain. When they noticed that he was carrying something they both sprang up and ran to see what Mr. Bear was bringing home.

Mr. Bear's mouth was stretched quite wide in what Silkie and Cuffy knew to be his most agreeable smile. You and I might not have felt so comfortable if we had looked past Mr. Bear's great white teeth into his big red mouth. But it was different with Cuffy and Silkie. They saw at once that their father was feeling very pleasant.

"What's that?" Silkie asked. As for Cuffy, he had not stopped to ask any questions. He was already smelling of the small white animal his father had, and he poked it gently with his paw. He had not forgotten about the porcupine. But this strange animal seemed quite harmless. It was covered with things that looked a little bit like quills, only they were ever so much shorter and smaller. And Cuffy found that they were much softer, too, for they did not prick him at all.

"What is it?" This time it was Cuffy who asked.

"You'll see," Mr. Bear said again.

"Is it a new kind of rabbit?" Silkie inquired.

"Huh! A rabbit!" Cuffy laughed. "Of course it isn't a rabbit," he said.

"Well—it's white, and its tail is short—" Silkie began, "and—"

"Its ears are too small," Cuffy told her, "and its tail is all curled up."

"You'll see, children," Mr. Bear said again. "It's a surprise."

"A surprise!" Cuffy and Silkie both shouted. They thought that was the name of the—oh! I almost told what the little animal really was.

Well! As Mr. Bear walked on toward his house, Cuffy and Silkie ran ahead and burst in upon their mother, both of them shouting at the top of their voices, "A surprise! A surprise! Father's bringing home a surprise!"

"Why, Ephraim Bear!" Mrs. Bear exclaimed, as soon as she saw her husband. "Wherever did you get that lovely little pig?"

There—now you know what it was that Mr. Bear had.

"It came from Farmer Green's, my dear," Mr. Bear said. "I remembered that this was your birthday, and so I thought I would bring home something 'specially nice, so that we could have a real feast."

Cuffy and Silkie had never eaten any pig before. And when there was nothing left of the surprise except a few bones, Cuffy couldn't help wishing that every day could be a birthday.

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