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The Three Bears

from Boys And Girls Bookshelf - ANIMAL STORIES





Once upon a time there were three bears who lived in a castle in a great
wood. One of them was a great big bear, and one was a middling bear, and
one was a little bear. And in the same wood there was a fox who lived
all alone; his name was Scrapefoot. Scrapefoot was very much afraid of
the bears, but for all that he wanted very much to know all about them.
And one day as he went through the wood he found himself near the Bears'
Castle, and he wondered whether he could get into the castle. He looked
all about him everywhere, and he could not see any one. So he came up
very quietly, till at last he came up to the door of the castle, and he
tried whether he could open it. Yes! the door was not locked, and he
opened it just a little way, and put his nose in and looked, and he
could not see any one. So then he opened it a little way farther, and
put one paw in, and then another paw, and another and another, and then
he was all in the Bears' Castle. He found he was in a great hall with
three chairs in it--one big, one middling, and one little chair; and he
thought he would like to sit down and rest and look about him; so he sat
down on the big chair. But he found it so hard and uncomfortable that it
made his bones ache, and he jumped down at once and got into the
middling chair, and he turned round and round in it, but he couldn't
make himself comfortable. So then he went to the little chair and sat
down in it, and it was so soft and warm and comfortable that Scrapefoot
was quite happy; but all at once it broke to pieces under him and he
couldn't put it together again! So he got up and began to look about him
again, and on one table he saw three saucers, of which one was very big,
one was middling, one was quite a little saucer. Scrapefoot was very
thirsty, and he began to drink out of the big saucer. But he only just
tasted the milk in the big saucer, which was so sour and so nasty that
he would not taste another drop of it. Then he tried the middling
saucer, and he drank a little of that. He tried two or three mouthfuls,
but it was not nice, and then he left it and went to the little saucer,
and the milk in the little saucer was so sweet and so nice that he went
on drinking it till it was all gone.

Then Scrapefoot thought he would like to go upstairs; and he listened
and he could not hear any one. So upstairs he went, and he found a great
room with three beds in it; one was a big bed, and one was a middling
bed, and one was a little white bed; and he climbed up into the big bed,
but it was so hard and lumpy and uncomfortable that he jumped down again
at once, and tried the middling bed. That was rather better, but he
could not get comfortable in it, so after turning about a little while
he got up and went to the little bed; and that was so soft and so warm
and so nice that he fell fast asleep at once.

And after a time the Bears came home, and when they got into the hall
the big Bear went to his chair and said, "Who's been sitting in my
chair?" and the middling Bear said, "Who's been sitting in my chair?"
and the little Bear said, "Who's been sitting in my chair and has broken
it all to pieces?" And then they went to have their milk, and the big
bear said, "Who's been drinking my milk?" and the middling Bear said,
"Who's been drinking my milk?" And the little Bear said, "Who's been
drinking my milk and has drunk it all up?" Then they went upstairs and
into the bedroom, and the big Bear said, "Who's been sleeping in my
bed?" and the middling Bear said, "Who's been sleeping in my bed?" and
the little Bear said, "Who's been sleeping in my bed?--and see here he
is!" So then the Bears came and wondered what they should do with him;
and the big Bear said, "Let's hang him!" and then the middling Bear
said, "Let's drown him!" and then the little Bear said, "Let's throw him
out of the window." And then the Bears took him to the window, and the
big Bear took two legs on one side and the middling Bear took two legs
on the other side, and they swung him backwards and forwards, backwards
and forwards, and out of the window. Poor Scrapefoot was so frightened,
and he thought every bone in his body must be broken. But he got up and
first shook one leg--no, that was not broken; and then another, and that
was not broken; and another and another, and then he wagged his tail and
found there were no bones broken. So then he galloped off home as fast
as he could go, and never went near the Bears' Castle again.

[M] From "More English Fairy Tales," edited by Joseph Jacobs. Used by
permission of the publishers, G. P. Putnam's Sons.





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