The man ran after him for a few steps. But he soon saw that he could never catch Cuffy. So he stood still and watched the little bear bob into the woods and vanish.
Poor Cuffy’s heart was beating as if it would burst. He was so frightened that he forgot all about his burned paws and he ran and ran and ran up the steep mountainside. He did not mind the climb; he was used to that. But to his great alarm the snow clung to his sticky paws until each was just a great, round lump. They looked like the hands of a snow-man.
Cuffy found it very hard to run with his paws like that. But he kept on and on, until at last he came in sight of his father’s house. Then he stopped and sat down, right behind a knoll, where his mother could not see him. He was very tired. And though he was no longer afraid that the man would catch him, he began to be afraid of something else.... A punishing? No—no! He had not thought of that. Cuffy was afraid that he could never get rid of those big heavy lumps. He was afraid his paws would always be covered with those hard balls of snow. You must remember that he was a very young little bear.
Well! After he had got his breath again Cuffy began to nibble at his snow mittens. And little by little—to his delight—he removed them. And still he kept on nibbling at his paws, and—yes! he actually put them right inside his mouth and sucked them. He forgot all about his manners, for underneath the snow he found the most beautiful, waxy maple-sugar you can imagine. Each paw was just one big lollypop! And though his burns still hurt him, Cuffy did not care very much. For those lollypops were two hundred times sweeter than anything he had ever tasted in all his life!
THE ICE GOES OUT OF THE RIVER
Farmer Green had taken his sap-buckets off the maple trees and that meant the spring was fast going. At least, that was what Mr. Bear said. And Cuffy noticed that every day there was a little less snow than there had been the day before.
“The ice will soon go out,” Mr. Bear said to Cuffy’s mother at breakfast one morning, “and then when I cross Pleasant Valley I shall have to swim the river.”
Cuffy knew that his father meant Swift River. In summer Cuffy could look down from Blue Mountain and see the stream as it flashed through the valley.
“Will the ice go out of the river to-day?” Cuffy asked.
“Well, now—” Mr. Bear said, “it might. And then again, it might not.” Mr. Bear never said a thing was so unless he was sure of it.
Now, Cuffy thought it would be great fun to go down into the valley and find out for himself if the ice really did go out. He had an idea that it caused a terrific splitting and crashing and thundering noise and he thought that perhaps some fish would be tossed up on the bank and then he would have a good lunch.