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CUFFY BEAR was disappointed. For when at last his father came galloping up to his house he brought no pig with him. Indeed he seemed to have forgotten that it was his birthday.
"Get the children!" he shouted to Mrs. Bear, as soon as he came in sight. And pretty soon Cuffy and Silkie and their father and mother were hurrying along on their way to the lake that lay on the other side of the mountain.
Cuffy was delighted. He thought that perhaps he would see the naughty little bear Peter again; for he remembered that Peter lived around the mountain, right where they were going.
They had travelled several miles when Mr. Bear stopped suddenly. And he said, "Hah!" And he looked up at the sky. Something had hit him right in the eye. You might think that Mr. Bear was angry. But no! He was very glad. For it was a drop of rain that had fallen upon him. And in a few minutes there were countless drops pattering down. Yes, soon it was raining hard. And to Cuffy's great disappointment they all started homewards again, for Mr. Bear knew that the rain would soon put the fire out.
Mr. Bear had known all the time that his house wouldn't burn; for it was made of rock, and went straight into the side of the mountain. But he knew that if the woods all around caught fire it would be several days before they could go out and get anything to eat, or even a drink of water. And that was why he had started to lead his family away.
When they were back in their house once more Cuffy could think of only one thing that would make up for his not having seen the small bear Peter again. And he climbed up on his father's knees and said —
"Will you go and get a little pig, Father?"
"A pig?" Mr. Bear exclaimed. "Well, now — why on earth do you want a pig? What would you do with a pig?"
"I'd eat it," Cuffy answered promptly. "It's your birthday, you know. And we ought to have a pig so we can have a real feast."
Mr. Bear smiled, And pretty soon he went out of the house. He was gone a long time. But at last he came back again, fairly staggering beneath the load that he carried.
When Cuffy saw what his father dropped down onto the floor he hopped up and down in his delight. There was no pig there, but Cuffy didn't mind that. For Mr. Bear had brought home four rabbits, and four squirrels, and four porcupines, and four raccoons. And Cuffy ate and ate until his skin grew so tight that he was afraid it would burst. He ate all of one rabbit, and one squirrel, and one raccoon. But he never touched his porcupine at all. It made him think of the time he had tried to kill a porcupine himself, and had got his paws stuck full of quills. But he had a real feast, just the same.Click the book image to turn to the next Chapter.