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HOME > Short Stories > Neddie and Beckie Stubtail > STORY IV BECKIE AND THE GRAPES
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 The nose of Neddie Stubtail, the little bear boy, was so badly swelled from the bee stings, after he took some of their honey, that he could not go to school next day, nor for some days after that. I told you in the story before this how Neddie got stung. So Neddie’s mamma let him stay home from school, but even at that he could not have much fun, for he could not go out and play, and what is the good of staying home from school if you have to remain in the house all the while?
There were two reasons for Neddie’s staying in the cave-house, on the side of the green hill, and not going out. One reason was that most of the day all his boy animal friends were at their lessons in school.
The other reason was that when Neddie did go out with them, they all looked at his stung and swollen nose in such a funny way that it made him feel queer. He did not like it.
34Sammie Littletail, the rabbit boy, would ask:
“What is the matter, Neddie? Did you bite yourself, or fall downstairs?”
And Johnnie and Billie Bushytail, the squirrel brothers, would say:
“Why, Neddie, did your Uncle Wigwag play a trick on you?”
Then Joie or Tommie Kat would want to know:
“Neddie, did you fall out of bed in your sleep, and bump your nose?”
“Neither one! Now you stop!” Neddie would exclaim, and then he’d go in the house. Oh, he was sorry in more ways than one that he had ever meddled with the bees’ nest, even if he did get some honey out of it.
But one afternoon, when Neddie had come in the house because the other animal boys plagued him so, Mrs. Stubtail, the bear mamma, whispered to Beckie, who was Neddie’s sister:
“Beckie, you know Neddie feels pretty badly, don’t you?”
“Yes, mamma, I do. His nose must pain him very much.”
“Indeed it does. Now I’d like to give him a little treat. Suppose you go to the store and get him some ice cream. That will cool off his nose and he will feel better.”
35“Of course I’ll go, mamma!” exclaimed Beckie. So she put on her little red cloak and bonnet and off through the woods she went to where Jack Frost kept an ice cream store.
Beckie got a nice big box of ice cream for her brother, and on her way back through the woods the little bear girl saw some lovely bunches of wild grapes hanging on a vine. They were almost the last of the season and soon the grapes would be all gone, for the animals of the woods, and the birds of the air, would eat them.
“I’m going to pick some nice bunches, and take them home to Neddie,” thought Beckie kindly. “Maybe he’ll like them with his ice cream.”
So Beckie set down the box of frozen sweet stuff, and began pulling off some bunches of wild grapes with her long claws, which were to her just what your fingers are to you.
Well, in a little while, not so very long, Beckie heard some one coming up behind her, sort of slow and careful like, and she quickly turned around. For she knew there were bad animals in the wood, who would be glad to carry her off to their dens. Beckie was a very sweet, fat little bear.
But all Beckie saw, when she turned around was Mr. Fuzzytail, the fox gentleman.
36“Ah, Ha!” exclaimed Mr. Fuzzytail. “Good afternoon, Beckie! I hope I see you well. Gathering grapes, I observe!”
“Yes,” answered Beckie, wondering why Mr. Fuzzytail was so polite to her. Usually he hardly spoke, always going past as if he were in a great hurry. And when she saw Mr. Fuzzytail smiling in such a sly way, Beckie knew the fox gentleman had some reason for his politeness.
“Beautiful day; isn’t it?” went on Mr. Fuzzytail, pretending to look at his paws, to see if there were any stickers on them.
“Yes,” said Beckie. “Would you like some grapes?”
Beckie thought she would be just as polite as that fox was, and maybe she could find out what he was after.
“For he is after something,” decided the little bear girl, “and it isn’t grapes, either.”
“Grapes? Why, yes, if you will be so kind and condescending as to stoop so low without bending, I would be thankful for a small bunch,” spoke Mr. Fuzzytail, very, very politely indeed.
“Oh, he’s surely up to some trick,” thought Beckie. “I must find out what it is. He’s as bad at tricks as our Uncle Wigwag.”
Beckie was not afraid of the fox. She was larger and stronger than he was, even if she was 37only a small bear girl. Of course, Kittie Kat, or Lulu or Alice Wibblewobble, the duck girls, would have feared Mr. Fuzzytail, but Beckie did not.
So she picked a nice bunch of grapes for him, and while he was slowly eating them, picking off the bad ones, Beckie looked all about. But she could see no danger. And, all the while, Mr. Fuzzytail kept talking to Beckie. He asked her all sorts of questions—how she was getting on at school, how her brother’s stung nose was, what her papa worked at, and whether Aunt Piffy’s epizootic was any better. Oh, that fox was a sly fellow!
And now I’ll tell you why he was so polite, and why he stayed there talking to Beckie, and why he ate his grapes so slowly.
Do you remember the bad bears who lived in the woods? Yes. Well, do you remember how once they tried to get Beckie into their caves, by tossing buns to her, so they could pull her hair?
Oh, you do. Very good! Well, these same bears, or rather, one of them, was after Beckie again. He was the largest and the worst of the bad bears, too.
He had seen Beckie start off to the store, and he made up his mind he’d get her. Only he knew that if he followed along she might hear him 38tramping over the sticks, for he was a very heavy bear. And he knew that if he started to run after Beckie he could not catch her, for she was light on her paws and swift to run.
So the bad bear planned a trick. He met Mr. Fuzzytail, the fox, and said to him:
“Now you creep along after Beckie. She won’t be afraid of you, and if you can keep her there by the grape vine for a while, by talking to her, it will give me a chance to sneak up behind the bushes and grab her before she knows what is happening. Will you do it?”
“I will,” said Mr. Fuzzytail, for he was afraid of the big bad bear. So that’s how it was the fox kept on talking to Beckie as she picked the grapes. He wanted to keep her attention so she would not notice the bear sneaking up on her.
Finally Beckie said:
“Well, I must be going now. Good-by, Mr. Fuzzytail.”
“Oh, good-by,” said the sly fox, and out of the corner of his eye he saw the bad bear behind the grape vine. The bear had sneaked up without Beckie hearing him, because she was so busy in being polite to the fox. “Good-by, Beckie,” went on Mr. Fuzzytail. And then to himself he said: “I guess you won’t go very far.”
Well, Beckie leaned over to pick up the box of 39ice cream that she had bought for Neddie and just then, with a loud roar, out from behind the grape vine sprang the bad bear:
“Ha! This is the time I have you!” he cried to Beckie.
Beckie jumped so that the box of ice cream slipped out of her paw and fell to the ground. The paper box hit a sharp stone, burst open and out ran the ice cream all over, for it had melted when Beckie stopped to pick the grapes.
“Wow!” cried the bad bear, as he made a jump for Beckie.
But he never reached her. Beckie leaped back just in time, and the bear came down with his paws in the puddle of the slippery ice cream.
“Bang!” he went. His feet slid out from under him, just as if he were coasting down hill backward, and he got so tangled up with himself that by the time he was untangled Beckie had run away and gotten safely home. Oh, how she ran! No bad bear could catch her.
The bad creature who had gone to all this trouble to catch Beckie got up out of the ice cream. He was a funny looking sight, all splattered up and plastered with dried leaves.
“This was all your fault!” he cried to the fox. “Be off before I bite you!” And the sly fox was glad enough to go.
40So that’s how Beckie got away from the bear by means of the slippery ice cream. She told her mamma what had happened, and Mrs. Stubtail sent Uncle Wigwag to the store for more ice cream for Neddie. So the little bear, who was stung by the bees, had some, after all, and everybody was happy except the bad bear.
And in the following story, if the chocolate drop doesn’t fall out of the window and get all squashed flat on the postman’s umbrella, I’ll tell you about Neddie and the trained bear.

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