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.
CUFFY FRIGHTENS HIS MOTHER
When Cuffy Bear reached home, after his adventure with the bees, he found that his father and mother and his sister Silkie were just sitting down to their evening meal. Cuffy didn’t speak to them as he came into the room where they were. He felt too miserable to say a word, with his face aching and burning, and a terrible smarting in his eyes. So he just stumbled inside the room and tried to make himself as small as he could, so he wouldn’t be noticed.
Cuffy’s parents and his little sister all looked at the little bear who had come into their house without even a knock. And his father said, in a cross voice—
“Go away, little bear. Where are your manners?”
Cuffy didn’t know what to make of that. He didn’t know what his father meant. So he just stood there and stared.
“What do you want?” his father asked him. “Whose little bear are you? And whatever is the matter with your face?”
Actually, Cuffy’s own father didn’t know him. And neither did his mother or his sister. You see, Cuffy’s face was so swollen from the bees’ stings that his face did not look like a little bear’s face at all. His nose, instead of being smooth and pointed, was one great lump. And he hadn’t a sign of an eye—just two slits.
“What’s the matter with you?” Mr. Bear asked again. “Are you ill? Have you the black measles?”
At that, Mrs. Bear rose hastily from the table and snatched Silkie up from her high-chair and took her right out of the room. The thought of black measles frightened Mrs. Bear. You know, they are ever so much worse than plain measles. And she was afraid Silkie would catch them.
Well, poor Cuffy felt more miserable than ever. He saw that his own family didn’t know him. And he wondered what was going to become of him. Then, when his father told him very sternly to leave his house at once, Cuffy began to cry.
“Oh! oh! oh!” he sobbed. “It’s me—it’s only me!” he cried. That very morning, at breakfast, his father had told him to say “It is I,” instead of “It is me.” But Cuffy forgot all about that, now.
“What! Are you my Cuffy?” his father exclaimed. For he knew Cuffy at last. You see, the bees hadn’t stung Cuffy’s voice. And in no time at all Cuffy was tucked into his little bed and his mother was gently licking his poor, aching face with her tongue. Among bears that is thought to be the very best thing to do for bee-stings.