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HOME > Short Stories > Neddie and Beckie Stubtail > STORY XIX NEDDIE AND THE KINDLING WOOD
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“Neddie! Neddie! Where are you?” called Mrs. Stubtail, the mamma bear, one afternoon as she stood on the back steps, which were still colored dark from the glue that Uncle Wigwag had put there, the time Neddie and Beckie were going to take the honey cakes, as I told you in the other story. “Neddie! Neddie!” called the mamma bear.
There was no answer for a moment, and then Tommie, the little kitten boy, came running as fast as he could run.
“What’s the matter, Tommie Kat?” asked Mrs. Stubtail. “Is a bad rat chasing you?”
“Oh, no, not a bad rat,” answered Tommie, as he quickly hid under an old ash can. “You see we’re playing hide and seek, and Neddie, he’s it. I’m hiding away from him. Don’t tell where I am; will you?”
“Of course not,” said Mrs. Stubtail, with a laugh. “So that’s why Neddie didn’t answer 152me,” she went on. “He’s playing a game. Very well, Tommie Kat, but when you get in homefree, or when Neddie finds you, just tell him for me, if you please, that I want to see him.”
“I will,” promised Tommie Kat, and then he pulled his tail in close under the ash can so when Neddie came to look for him he wouldn’t see him.
Truly enough, in a short time, Neddie Stubtail, the little boy bear, came looking for all the animal children who were playing the game. He found Jimmie Wibblewobble, the boy duck, hiding under some corn meal sacks. Then he saw Johnnie Bushytail, the squirrel, in a nut bag, and Neddie saw Jackie and Peetie Bow Wow cuddled up together behind the rain water barrel.
But Neddie could not find Tommie Kat, and finally the little boy bear had to call out:
“Givie up! Givie up! Come on in free!”
This meant that when Tommie ran out from where he was hiding Neddie would not tag him, and the kitten boy would not be “it.” So out Tommie came from under the ash can, and Neddie said:
“Oh, so that’s where you were; eh?”
“Sure I was,” said Tommie. “But say, Neddie, your mamma wants you.”
153“Really?” asked Neddie.
“Really, truly, and truly ruly,” laughed Tommie.
Just then Mrs. Stubtail came out and called again:
“Neddie! Neddie! I want you!”
“What is it, mamma?” asked Neddie, politely, and wondering where he would hide when it came his turn.
“I want you to bring me in some kindling wood for the stove, so I can easily make a fire in the morning to get breakfast,” said the bear lady.
“Oh, mamma, I don’t want to!” exclaimed Neddie. “I want to play hide and seek some more. It’s my turn to hide, and I know a dandy place where they can’t find me. Sammie Littletail, the rabbit, has to be it, and he’ll never find me.”
“Well, my dear little bear boy,” spoke Mrs. Stubtail, “I know you like to play, but you must also help me. Bringing in the wood is one of your tasks. So don’t make a fuss about it.”
“All right, mamma, I won’t,” said Neddie, eagerly. “Only do I have to bring in the wood right away?”
“It would be better to get it in before dark,” said Mrs. Stubtail, “but I don’t mind if you wait a little while longer. Only don’t forget it, 154and don’t be too long. It soon gets dark, you know, and you can’t see to get me nice sticks of wood. But go on and play a while longer.”
Mrs. Stubtail wanted to be kind to Neddie, but she also wished him to feel that he had certain things to do, and must do them.
Well, Neddie went on playing hide and seek, and he hid in the big clothes basket that was in the yard. He pulled a clean sheet from the line over him, and really the basket looked as though it were filled with clothes from the wash.
Of course when Sammie Littletail, the rabbit boy, who was searching for the other animals this time, passed by the basket, he only saw the sheet, and never thought that Neddie was hiding under it. So Sammie didn’t find Neddie, though he did all the other animal boys, and such fun as Neddie had when he ran in home free.
“I told you that you couldn’t find me!” he said, as he tried to stand on one ear, but he couldn’t because his ear bent double. Then Neddie fell down, and he knocked over Peetie Bow Wow and Peetie bumped up against Jimmie Wibblewobble, the duck, and for a time it............
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