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HOME > Short Stories > Neddie and Beckie Stubtail > STORY X NEDDIE AND THE ELEPHANT
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 It was the day after Thanksgiving. Neddie and Beckie Stubtail, the two little bear children, awoke in the barn where the circus man kept all his animals during winter, when he was not giving a show in the big tent. Neddie and Beckie felt very nice and comfortable, for they had had a good holiday dinner when they had almost given up expecting one; they had a nice warm place to sleep, and they were happier than at any time since they had run away from home to join George, the big trained bear, and the Professor, his master, who led George around by a chain fast to a ring in his nose. “Are you there, Neddie?” called Beckie from her bed in the nice clean sawdust. She was hugging her doll Mary Ann Puddingstick Clothespin.
“Of course I’m here,” answered Neddie, blinking both his eyes, and wiggling his little short tail. “Aren’t you glad you ran away now 82with me, sister, so you can become a trained bear?”
“Yes—I guess so,” answered Beckie. “Still, I’d like to see my mamma, and nice fat Aunt Piffy, just once.”
“Oh, we’ll go back home pretty soon,” said Neddie. “When we have earned some money. Then papa and mamma will forgive us for running away.”
“I hope so,” went on Beckie. “And I hope that Uncle Wigwag won’t play any jokes on us.”
“Oh, he’s sure to do that, but we mustn’t mind,” said Neddie, as he hopped up and shook the sawdust out of his ears.
George, the tame bear who did tricks, was already up, and he was waltzing around to where a lot of monkey ladies were getting breakfast for the circus animals. Then the Professor, who led George around by the nose when the bear did tricks, stretched out and yawned and said to the circus man:
“It was very kind of you to let us stay here all night.”
“Pray do not mention it,” said the circus man politely. “I hope you rested well.”
“Yes, but I did not get to sleep very early,” said the bear Professor. “I think perhaps I ate 83too much mince pie, with strawberry ice cream on it.”
“And I didn’t sleep very good, either,” went on Beckie. “But it was because the elephant snored so that I was afraid he would shake the roof down on our heads.”
“Oh, you mustn’t mind that,” said the circus man with a laugh. “Nosey, that’s the elephant’s name, you see, really never does any harm. He’s as gentle as a kitten and as playful as a frog.”
“Well, I wouldn’t like him to jump on me,” said Neddie with a laugh. “He’s a good bit larger than Bully, the frog, who lives near the beaver pond back home.”
Then breakfast was ready, and the monkey ladies waited on the tables at which the circus animals sat down. And, in order that they would not step on their own tails, the monkey ladies tied them around their necks in a double bow. This made them look nice, and also kept them from catching cold in their ears.
Neddie and Beckie Stubtail had a good breakfast and they were thinking of staying with the circus man, instead of going off looking for adventures with George, the Professor, when the circus man called:
“All ready now! First class in somersaults!”
“Why, he sounds just like our school 84teacher!” exclaimed Neddie. “I didn’t think we’d have school when we left our home.”
“This isn’t regular school,” explained the circus man, “but my animals have to study their lessons, just the same. How do you think an elephant could waltz and play a hand organ, to say nothing of standing on a tub and wagging his tail, if he did not have lessons and practise them? Of course we have to have a sort of school.”
“And I think I’ll send Neddie and Beckie to it,” said the Professor. “They could learn tricks then much better than I could teach them, and George and I would have more time to collect pennies and buns and popcorn balls.”
“Would you like to go to school to me, and learn tricks?” asked the circus man of the bear children, and they said they would.
“Very well, then,” said the circus man. “As soon as I have taught my new elephant how to stand on his head I’ll begin, and give you a lesson.”
Then the new elephant, who, as yet, knew hardly any tricks, had to get out in the middle of the sawdust ring and lea............
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