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FAR up on the side of Blue Mountain lived Cuffy Bear with his father and mother and his little sister Silkie. Mr. Bear's house was quite the finest for many miles around. It was what people call a cave, being made entirely of stone, and so there was no danger of its ever catching fire; and since it was built straight into the side of the mountain the roof was so very, very thick that Cuffy's father never had to worry for fear a tree would fall upon his house and hurt his family. No matter how hard the wind blew, Mr. Bear was never afraid of that.
Little Cuffy was not a bad bear at heart. But often when he was playing with Silkie, his sister, he would lose his temper and cuff her on the head and make her cry. Then his father or his mother would cuff him. Somehow, he never could learn not to strike out when he became angry. That was why he was called Cuffy. It happened sometimes that a day or two wouid pass without Cuffy's cuffing his sister. And Mr. Bear and Mrs. Bear would begin to think that at last Cuffy had been cured of his bad habit.
"I do believe the child is growing better mannered," Mrs. Bear would say to her husband, as they watched their son and daughter playing upon the floor. And then just as likely as not, the first thing they knew Cuffy would give Silkie a good, hard box on the ear, or a slap right on the end of her nose.
But for a long time every winter Cuffy was never naughty. You might think that that was just before Christmas. But no — it was not then. All winter long Cuffy was just as good as any little bear could be. He was good because he was asleep! You see — when cold weather came, Mr. and Mrs. Bear and their children stayed in their cozy house, which was snug and warm, and slept and slept and slept for weeks and weeks until spring came.
Now, this tale begins on the very first day of spring. And on that day Mr. Bear waked up. He rose slowly to his feet, for his bones felt stiff because he had been asleep for such a long time. And he was hungry — oh! very hungry, because he had not eaten anything for months and months, since he went to sleep at the beginning of winter.
He went to the door of his house and looked out. And he saw that the weather was warm and fine. So he stepped back into the bedroom and said —
"Ou-e-e-ee!" just like that. And then Mrs. Bear awaked.
"Spring has come," Mr. Bear told her, "and I am going out to fetch something to eat. Wake up Cuffy and Silkie and tell them that it is time to get up."
Gently, Mrs. Bear roused Cuffy and Silkie.
"Come, children! Run out and play and get your lungs full of nice, fresh air. Now, be good and don't go far away! " she said.Click the book image to turn to the next Chapter.