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AS Cuffy Bear stood there on his hind legs looking up at the nest in the old tree he saw so many bees come out and fly away that he thought that there could not be any bees left at home — at least, not more than a half-dozen. And Cuffy didn't believe that six bees would trouble him. There was one good thing in having a coat like his, he told himself: even if it was warm in summer, it was so thick that he didn't see how a bee could sting him through it.
And with that, Cuffy started to climb the old tree. It took him no time at all to hitch himself up the trunk. He shinned up just as any little boy would climb a tree. And in less time than it takes to tell it, Cuffy had reached the limb from which the nest hung, and he had stuck his paw right through the side of it.
You remember that something is always happening in the forest? Well — something happened now. Suddenly a terrible roar came from inside the nest. It was a queer, far-off sort of sound, and it made Cuffy think of the noise Swift River made, where it tumbled over the falls. But Cuffy knew that there could be no water-fall inside the nest. He wondered if there was some strange animal in there. . . . And he drew back his paw very quickly. And then there came pouring out of the nest a perfect cloud of bees, every one of them buzzing as loud as ever he could.
Cuffy was startled at the sight. And he was more startled when they flew right into his face and lighted on his nose and began to sting.
Cuffy roared with the pain. Yes — he gave such a great roar that he couldn't hear the bees at all. But the bees didn't seem to mind that. They weren't afraid. They just kept on stinging. And they went for Cuffy's eyes, too. And some of them even crawled down his ears. That was the worst of all.
Just for a few moments Cuffy slapped at the bees. And he tried to brush them off his face. But as fast as he swept them away from one spot they settled on another. And Cuffy felt exactly as if somebody was sticking him with pins and needles. He forgot all about taking any of the honey to eat. He only wanted to get away from those bees. So he began to slide down the tree.
But Cuffy soon saw that the bees intended to go right along with him. They seemed to have no idea at all of staying at home, and as he scrambled down the tree Cuffy thought very quickly. He hadn't put a paw on the ground before he knew what he was going to do. Cuffy Bear ran straight for the brook that goes tumbling down Blue Mountain to meet Swift River.Click the book image to turn to the next Chapter.