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HOME > Short Stories > Neddie and Beckie Stubtail > STORY XXVI HELPING UNCLE WIGWAG
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 One day, when Neddie and Beckie Stubtail, the little bear children, came home from school, they saw in the dining-room Uncle Wigwag, the funny old gentleman bear, who was always playing jokes. And Uncle Wigwag was laughing and chuckling, and giggling to himself, bobbing up and down, and tickling himself on his ribs to make himself laugh all the harder. And then he’d sit down in a chair and hold his sides with his paws because they ached so from his jollity. “Why, what in the world can be the matter with Uncle Wigwag?” asked Beckie, dropping her books, and hurrying toward him.
“Maybe he’s sick,” suggested Neddie. “I guess I’d better run for Dr. Possum.”
“Sick! He isn’t sick at all!” exclaimed Aunt Piffy, the fat old lady bear. “He’s just up to some of his tricks. If you ever joke with me again that way,” she went on, looking at Uncle Wigwag sort of sharp-like, “if ever you do that 208again, I’ll never give you any maple sugar on your honey cakes.”
“Oh, what did he do? Tell us!” cried Neddie and Beckie, while Uncle Wigwag laughed harder than ever.
“Why he came home from the five-and-ten-cent store—I guess it must have been,” explained Aunt Piffy, “and he gave me a box to open. He asked me if I didn’t want a new side hair comb, and of course I did. Well, when I opened the box out popped a green snake. I was so scared that I ran down cellar and hid, and I nearly lost my breath, and could hardly find it again. Oh, dear!” and Aunt Piffy fanned herself with her apron, she was so warm.
“Well,” said Uncle Wigwag, and he stopped laughing long enough to talk. “I really didn’t say there was a side comb in the box, Aunt Piffy. Besides, it wasn’t really a snake, you know,” he said, turning to Neddie and Beckie. “It was only a snake made of paper, with a spring inside like a jack-in-the-box.”
“Oh, I know,” said Neddie. “Where is it? Let me take it, and I’ll play a joke on some of the fellows at school.”
“Take it!” exclaimed Aunt Piffy. “I don’t want to see it again. And mind you!” she said to Uncle Wigwag, shaking her paw at him, “if 209you joke with me any more—no maple sugar on your fried eggs for breakfast.”
“Oh, I’ll be good,” said the old bear gentleman.
But it was very hard for Uncle Wigwag to stop playing jokes. A little later that afternoon he gave Beckie what she thought was a candy egg, and when she tried to bite into it, thinking it was nice and sweet, the egg popped open, and a little chicken inside, made of paper and feathers, crowed just like a rooster, and Beckie nearly jumped out of her hair ribbon, she was so surprised.
“Ha! Ha!” laughed Uncle Wigwag. “That was a good joke!”
“I don’t think so,” said Beckie, sort of sorrowful-like.
“Don’t you? Well, maybe it wasn’t,” spoke Uncle Wigwag. “Anyhow, here’s a penny for you to buy some real candy.” Uncle Wigwag was always that way—first he’d play a joke on you and then he’d do you a kindness. He was quite nice after all.
And a little later Neddie was looking for a pencil to write down some of his home school-work on his paper pad.
“Here’s a good pencil,” said Uncle Wigwag, taking one from his pocket. Neddie didn’t think 210anything, and started to write with the pencil. But, as soon as he did so, it bounced out of his paw and jumped around on the floor. For inside it was a jumping-jack. It was a trick pencil, you know, and Uncle Wigwag had played another joke.
“Excuse me while I laugh,” said the old gentleman bear. And Neddie laughed, too, for he rather liked the trick pencil.
And then Uncle Wigwag played another trick. Oh, but he was full of them that day! wasn’t he? I guess he must have been roaming around two or three five-and-ten-cent stores to find those jokes.
The last trick Uncle Wigwag played was on Mr. Whitewash, the white Polar bear gentleman. Mr. Whitewash used to have a cup of tea every afternoon, while he sat down to read in the paper about whether it was going to be cold or hot the next day.
Mr. Whitewash used to sit on a cake of ice, you know, because he liked everything cold, except his tea, and he did not like warm weather at all.
Well, he was sitting there, reading his paper, and sort of not looking what he was doing. He reached out his paw to take his cup of tea, with his eyes still on the paper, and when he picked 211up the cup an............
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