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HOME > Short Stories > Neddie and Beckie Stubtail > STORY VII NEDDIE AND BECKIE CLIMB A POLE
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 When Neddie and Beckie Stubtail, the two little bear children, had run away from home, as I told you in the story before this one, and had come to the woods where they heard the horn blowing, they did not know just what to do. “That,” said Beckie, as she held her doll, Mary Ann Puddingstick Clothespin, tightly in her arms, “that surely must be the kind man who has the trained bear with the ring in his nose. Now we are safe and we will get many good things to eat, Neddie.”
“We had better take a peep before we run out from behind this bush,” said Neddie, slow and careful like. “Perhaps it is some other man with a horn, trying to fool us.”
You know the bear children had met in the woods, one day, a nice, kind trained bear, and with him was a man called the Professor, who led the bear around by a rope, fast to a ring in the bear’s nose. And the trained bear did tricks, such as turning somersaults and standing 58on his head, while the man collected, in his hat, pennies that people tossed to him.
The trained bear invited Neddie to travel around with him, promising that he would have popcorn and other good things to eat, but at first Neddie was afraid of the man with the brass horn.
So he ran home; but the more Neddie thought of it the more he wanted to run away and become a traveling trained bear. So he got his sister Beckie to go with him, and away they ran in the evening, leaving their home and their papa and mamma; and Aunt Piffy, the fat bear lady, and Uncle Wigwag, and Mr. Whitewash, the polar bear, and all their friends. Then they came to the woods and heard the brass trumpet blowing, as I have told you.
“Can you see anything?” asked Beckie, as she looked over her brother’s head, while he was peering through the holes in a bramble bush.
“Not yet,” answered Neddie. Just then there came another blast on the brass trumpet, and Neddie cried:
“Oh, yes! There he is!” And then Beckie saw the tame bear with the ring in his nose, instead of in an ear where some ladies wear theirs, and with the tame bear was the man with the long pole.
59“Now, George,” the man was saying, “I guess we’ll go to sleep, and in the morning we’ll do some more tricks and get more pennies. Whoop-la! There’s your supper, George!”
“I guess it’s time for us to run out now,” said Neddie to his sister, when he heard the word supper.
“Yes,” said Beckie, “I guess it is.” You see it was really after supper time, and Beckie and Neddie had eaten theirs before they ran away from home. But running away makes you hungry, whether you’ve had supper or not, I suppose.
Out ran the two bear children, and Beckie especially was very glad they had found the tame bear, for it was getting real late, and, though the moon was shining brightly, still she wanted company.
“Hello, what’s this!” cried the man with the pole, as he saw Neddie and Beckie running toward him. “More bears! Are they going to bite me?”
“Oh, no!” quickly answered the trained bear, “I know who they are. One of them is a friend of mine whom I met in the woods the other day. I invited him to come with me, and I see he has brought his sister. Perhaps you would like to train them to do tricks.”
60“Ha! I think I would,” said the man. “They might do tricks very nicely with you. I’ll have a regular bear family,” and he pulled some pieces of dried bread out of a bag on his arm, and, taking some himself, he gave the rest to the trained bear.
“If you please,” said Neddie, making a polite bow, so low that his little tail almost pointed to the sky. “If you please, did we hear you mention supper?”
“You did,” answered the man. “It is supper time for me and George—rather late, it is true, but still supper time. My bear’s name is George,” he added. “Eat your supper, George.”
“I am eating it,” said the trained bear, speaking in his own language, which the man understood, and spoke also. Not many men can speak bear language, but this one could because his head was all bare. He was a bald-headed man, and they can mostly always speak a bear language.
“But what about something to eat for us?” asked Beckie.
“Yes,” added Neddie, “we’re hungry, and you know, George,” he said, speaking to the trained bear, “you said something about popcorn and cake and lollypops—”
61“I know I did,” answered the trained bear, sort of confused like and puzzled, as he ate his dried bread. “But I didn’t mean I had popcorn every day.”
“I should say not!” exclaimed the man, whose name was Professor. “The idea! I’d soon be in the poorhouse if I gave George popcorn every day. That’s only for Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or the like. But you are welcome to some dried bread.”
Then he gave Neddie and Beckie some bread from the bag, and the two bear children had to take it. They did not like it very much, but it was the best they could get, and they were hungry.
“Running away isn’t as nice as staying home,” whispered Beckie to her brother, after she had put her doll to sleep under some dried leaves.
“Oh, well, it will be nice to-morrow,” spoke Neddie. “And, anyhow, it will be Thanksgiving in a couple of days, and then we’ll have plenty of good things to eat.”
“I wonder where we will sleep?” went on Beckie. “I don’t see any nice cave-house, such as we have at home.”
“I should say not!” cried Neddie. “You don’t live in a house after you’ve run away. The idea! We’ll live out of doors, and we won’t 62have to wash our faces and paws when we don’t want to.”
“I never mind doing that, anyhow,” said Beckie, who was a very clean little bear.
Well, Neddie and Beckie finished their dried bread, and they wished they had some buns, or maybe even some ice cream, for all I know, and then the man said:
“Well, it is not so very late, and there is a nice moon, so I think I will see if you little new bears can do any tricks. Come now, climb that pole!” and he pointed to a telegraph pole growing in the woods.
“Oh, we can’t climb that,” said Neddie, quickly.
“Why not?” asked the man with the bald head. “You must climb it if you are to be trick-trained bears.”
“Why, the pole is too smooth and slippery,” said Beckie. “It has no branches sticking out to take hold of, as a tree has.”
“Pooh! That’s nothing. George can climb the pole,” said his master. “Show ’em how, George.”
“All right, Professor,” said George, free and easy like, and up the pole he went, like a jumping-jack on a string.
Then Neddie tried it, but he slipped back, and 63so did Beckie. They had not yet learned how to stick their claws in the smooth telegraph pole, and hold on.
“I’m afraid you’ll never be trick bears,” said the Professor. “I must teach you to climb a pole. We’ll try it again to-morrow.”
But Neddie and Beckie did not wait until next day. All of a sudden, out from under a bush, came the biggest skillery-scalery alligator the bear children had ever seen. Right for Beckie and Neddie the ’gator came, and Neddie cried:
“Come on, Beckie! Up the pole we go and then he can’t get us!”
“Let me go first! Let me go first!” cried Beckie, and Neddie did, most politely. And, before they knew it, those two bear children had climbed the smooth telegraph pole they never thought they could scale, and the ’gator could not get them.
What do you think of that?
Then George and the Professor drove the bad alligator away, not being the least bit afraid of him or his tail either, for that matter, and the man called:
“You may come down now, Beckie and Neddie. At last you have learned to climb a pole, though it did take the alligator to make you. You will never forget it. Come down, 64and go to sleep, and in the morning we will travel on.”
So Beckie and Neddie came down the pole, and curled up in the soft warm leaves to sleep, glad enough that they had on thick fur coats, for the weather was very cold. And soon they were safe in by-low land.
And now, if the church steeple doesn’t reach up and tickle the clouds so that they giggle and let a lot of rain fall on my umbrella, I’ll tell you next about Neddie doing a trick.

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