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HOME > Short Stories > Neddie and Beckie Stubtail > STORY XXII BECKIE AND THE HAND-ORGAN MAN
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 “Beckie,” said Mrs. Stubtail, the lady bear, as she came into the sitting-room in the cave-house where the little cub girl was playing with her rubber doll; “Beckie, I wonder if you are well enough to go to the store for me?” “Of course I am, mamma,” answered Beckie. “My cold and cough is all cured now. I can go to school next week, I think.”
“I hope so,” said Mrs. Stubtail, “for you have been very ill.”
I told you, you know, about how Beckie had to take some very bitter, sour medicine, and how she fooled the bad lion with it.
And, since her illness, Beckie had not been to school. But she was better now, and that’s why Mrs. Stubtail thought perhaps the little bear girl could go to school.
“Well, as long as you think you are able to be out,” went on the mamma bear, “I’d like you to bring me a cake of yeast. I want to bake some bread.
176“I would go to the store for it myself,” went on Mrs. Stubtail, “only I have to stay in the house, since Aunt Piffy is visiting over at Mrs. Wibblewobble’s duck pond, and I expect Mrs. Bow Wow the dog lady might call this afternoon. That’s why I asked you to go for the yeast, Beckie.”
“Oh, mamma, I don’t in the least mind,” said Beckie, politely. “I think the walk will do me good. It is a nice day, though it does look as though it were going to snow. And I’ll take my doll, Isabella Trolleycar Jamkitchen, along with me. She needs the air, too.”
“Well, wrap up warmly,” spoke Mrs. Stubtail, “and don’t catch any more cold.”
“No, and I won’t let the cold catch me!” laughed Beckie, as she looked for her little red jacket, hanging on the hat rack.
So the little bear girl started off through the woods to go to the store for a yeast cake for her mamma.
The store was kept by a nice, kind old pussycat lady, and when Beckie got there the pussycat was just drinking a saucer of warm milk.
“Would you like some, my dear?” asked she of Beckie.
“Thank you, I would,” said the little bear girl, politely.
177So before buying her yeast cake, Beckie had some nice, warm milk, and a molasses cookie, which the cat lady storekeeper baked all by her own self.
“Now be careful, and don’t lose your change,” said the lady cat, as she gave the pennies to Beckie. “And put the yeast cake in your pocket, where it won’t fall out.”
“I will,” answered Beckie.
Off she started for home, with the pennies and the silver-covered yeast cake rattling about in her pocket. Now a yeast cake, as I guess you all know, is something to make a loaf of bread light and fluffy. The yeast makes the bread all full of little holes, so that the butter won’t fall off it when you spread it on.
Well, Beckie was going along, thinking how much nicer it was to be well than ill, and she was wondering what the animal girls would say to her when she went back to the school, when, all of a sudden, Beckie heard some one crying behind a clump of bushes.
“My goodness!” cried the little bear girl. “That’s a man!”
You see she could tell right away that it was no animal crying.
“Yes, it’s a man!” thought Beckie, and she got ready to run as soon as she could see which 178way to go, so as not to run into the man. For most men, Beckie knew, would like to carry away a little bear cub like herself.
Then Beckie heard the crying again and a voice said:
“Oh, dear! How sad I am. Poor George has run away and left me!”
“George!” thought Beckie. “Why, that was the name of the nice, tame, trained bear that Neddie and I ran off to travel with some time ago. I wonder if that man can be the Professor who blew on the shiny, brass horn?”
So Beckie peeked around the corner of the bramble briar bush, behind which the crying man was hiding, and she saw that he wasn’t the Professor gentleman at all.
He was a hand-organ man, with a nice fur coat, and he was crying as hard as he could cry, that man was.
“I don’t think he’d be cruel to me,” thought Beckie. ............
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