What do you suppose he was going to do?
To tell the truth, Cuffy himself did not quite know. When he came to the tree that he had found the day before he stopped and drank some of the sap once more; and he tried to imagine how sugar would taste a hundred times sweeter. Then Cuffy went on down the mountainside.
At last he spied a little house in a clearing. From its chimney a stream of smoke rose, and as Cuffy peeped from behind a tree he saw a man come out and pick up an armful of wood from the woodpile nearby. While Cuffy watched, the man carried in several loads. Soon the smoke began fairly to pour out of the chimney; and then the man came out once more, picked up an axe near the woodpile, and started off toward the other side of the clearing.
Cuffy was trembling with excitement. The wind blew right in his face and brought to him two odors that were quite different. One was the man-scent, which Cuffy did not like at all, and which made his legs want to run away. The other smell was most delightfully sweet. And it made his nose want to go forward.
Which do you think won—Cuffy’s nose or his legs?... Yes! His nose won! Pretty soon Cuffy slipped from behind the tree and scampered as fast as he could run to the door of the sugar-house—for that was what he had found. He stuck his head inside and oh, joy! there was no one there.
Just inside the door stood a tub full of something brown. One sniff told Cuffy that it was maple-sugar and he began to gulp great mouthfuls of it. Yes! his father was right. It certainly was a hundred times sweeter than the sap.
In the middle of the room was a big pan which gave off clouds of steam. Cuffy wanted to see it. And with his mouth full of sugar he walked up to the pan and looked into it. He saw a golden liquid, and Cuffy felt that he simply must taste that too. So he dipped both his front paws right into the bubbling syrup.
CUFFY MEETS A MAN
And then how Cuffy Bear did roar—just one second after he had stuck his paws into the steaming pan. You see—he was so greedy that he had never once stopped to think that the syrup was boiling hot.
Now, usually if you pick up anything hot you can drop it at once. But it is not so with hot maple syrup. Cuffy’s paws were covered with the sticky brown stuff. He rubbed them upon his trousers, and he roared again when he saw what he had done.
Then Cuffy had a happy thought. He would go out and shove his paws into a snowbank. That would surely cool them. So out of the sugar-house he dashed and across the clearing he ran, screaming "Ough! ough! ough!" at the top of his voice, for the hot syrup made his paws smart terribly. In his haste Cuffy did not notice that he was headed in the direction in which the man had disappeared.
Now it happened that the man who tended the sugar-house fire had gone only to the edge of the clearing; and when he heard Cuffy’s shrieks he looked around in great surprise. He and Cuffy saw each other at the same time. And like a flash Cuffy turned and fairly flew the other way.