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AS Cuffy Bear tore through the forest, with the bees clustering all about his head, he thought he never would reach the brook. He was going straight for the deep pool, which he had often visited in order to watch the speckled trout darting about in the clear water.
Now and then Cuffy paused in his mad rush, to bury his face in the thick blanket of dead leaves that covered the ground. But just as soon as he raised his head the bees would settle on his face again. And Cuffy would rush off once more as fast as he could go.
At last he came to the brook. And he leaped right off the big boulder that hung high over the pool and landed ker-splash! right in the middle of it. How the water did fly in all directions! And Cuffy went right down out of sight.
Of course, the bees wouldn't go down into the water too. They knew they'd be drowned if they did. So they lingered in a swarm above the water. They hovered there in the air and waited. And when, after a moment, Cuffy's head came up out of the pool, they swooped down and began to sting him again.
Cuffy promptly ducked his head. And he swam under water to the further side of the pool and came up once more. To his surprise the bees were right there waiting for him. And he ducked under again, and swam to the opposite side, near the big boulder. And once more, when he came up to breathe, he found the buzzing bees all ready to pounce upon his nose.
So poor Cuffy had to keep pulling his head down into the pool. He would keep it there just as long as he could hold his breath; and then he would simply have to stick his nose out of the water in order to draw some fresh air into his lungs.
It was not long before Cuffy became very tired from so much swimming. So he found a shallow place where he could stand on the bottom of the brook, with just enough water to cover him, and where he could poke his nose out whenever he had to. And just as often as his little black nose came up above the surface of the pool the bees lighted on it and stung Cuffy again.
All the rest of the afternoon poor Cuffy had to stay there in the water. For the bees did not leave him until sundown. And then, when the last one had gone, Cuffy crawled out of the brook and started toward home. His little round body and his sturdy little legs were not warm now, as they had been when he sat down beneath the tree to get cool. For the mountain brook was ice-cold; and Cuffy felt quite numb from standing in it so long. But cold as he was, his face felt like fire. And for some reason, which Cuffy couldn't understand, he could hardly see to pick his way through the shadows of the forest.Click the book image to turn to the next Chapter.