The Girl Who Owned A Bear

: American Fairy Tales

Mamma had gone down-town to shop. She had asked Nora to look after

Jane Gladys, and Nora promised she would. But it was her afternoon

for polishing the silver, so she stayed in the pantry and left Jane

Gladys to amuse herself alone in the big sitting-room upstairs.

The little girl did not mind being alone, for she was working on her

first piece of embroidery--a sofa pillow for papa's birthday

present. So
he crept into the big bay window and curled herself up

on the broad sill while she bent her brown head over her work.

Soon the door opened and closed again, quietly. Jane Gladys thought

it was Nora, so she didn't look up until she had taken a couple more

stitches on a forget-me-not. Then she raised her eyes and was

astonished to find a strange man in the middle of the room, who

regarded her earnestly.

He was short and fat, and seemed to be breathing heavily from his

climb up the stairs. He held a work silk hat in one hand and

underneath his other elbow was tucked a good-sized book. He was

dressed in a black suit that looked old and rather shabby, and his

head was bald upon the top.

"Excuse me," he said, while the child gazed at him in solemn

surprise. "Are you Jane Gladys Brown?"

"Yes, sir," she answered.

"Very good; very good, indeed!" he remarked, with a queer sort of

smile. "I've had quite a hunt to find you, but I've succeeded at


"How did you get in?" inquired Jane Gladys, with a growing distrust

of her visitor.

"That is a secret," he said, mysteriously.

This was enough to put the girl on her guard. She looked at the man

and the man looked at her, and both looks were grave and somewhat


"What do you want?" she asked, straightening herself up with a

dignified air.

"Ah!--now we are coming to business," said the man, briskly. "I'm

going to be quite frank with you. To begin with, your father has

abused me in a most ungentlemanly manner."

Jane Gladys got off the window sill and pointed her small finger at

the door.

"Leave this room 'meejitly!" she cried, her voice trembling with

indignation. "My papa is the best man in the world. He never 'bused


"Allow me to explain, please," said the visitor, without paying any

attention to her request to go away. "Your father may be very kind

to you, for you are his little girl, you know. But when he's

down-town in his office he's inclined to be rather severe,

especially on book agents. Now, I called on him the other day and

asked him to buy the 'Complete Works of Peter Smith,' and what do

you suppose he did?"

She said nothing.

"Why," continued the man, with growing excitement, "he ordered me

from his office, and had me put out of the building by the janitor!

What do you think of such treatment as that from the 'best papa in

the world,' eh?"

"I think he was quite right," said Jane Gladys.

"Oh, you do? Well," said the man, "I resolved to be revenged for the

insult. So, as your father is big and strong and a dangerous man, I

have decided to be revenged upon his little girl."

Jane Gladys shivered.

"What are you going to do?" she asked.

"I'm going to present you with this book," he answered, taking it

from under his arm. Then he sat down on the edge of a chair, placed

his hat on the rug and drew a fountain pen from his vest pocket.

"I'll write your name in it," said he. "How do you spell Gladys?"

"G-l-a-d-y-s," she replied.

"Thank you. Now this," he continued, rising and handing her the book

with a bow, "is my revenge for your father's treatment of me.

Perhaps he'll be sorry he didn't buy the 'Complete Works of Peter

Smith.' Good-by, my dear."

He walked to the door, gave her another bow, and left the room, and

Jane Gladys could see that he was laughing to himself as if very

much amused.

When the door had closed behind the queer little man the child sat

down in the window again and glanced at the book. It had a red and

yellow cover and the word "Thingamajigs" was across the front in big


Then she opened it, curiously, and saw her name written in black

letters upon the first white leaf.

"He was a funny little man," she said to herself, thoughtfully.

She turned the next leaf, and saw a big picture of a clown, dressed

in green and red and yellow, and having a very white face with

three-cornered spots of red on each cheek and over the eyes. While

she looked at this the book trembled in her hands, the leaf crackled

and creaked and suddenly the clown jumped out of it and stood upon

the floor beside her, becoming instantly as big as any ordinary


After stretching his arms and legs and yawning in a rather impolite

manner, he gave a silly chuckle and said:

"This is better! You don't know how cramped one gets, standing so

long upon a page of flat paper."

Perhaps you can imagine how startled Jane Gladys was, and how she

stared at the clown who had just leaped out of the book.

"You didn't expect anything of this sort, did you?" he asked,

leering at her in clown fashion. Then he turned around to take a

look at the room and Jane Gladys laughed in spite of her


"What amuses you?" demanded the clown.

"Why, the back of you is all white!" cried the girl. "You're only a

clown in front of you."

"Quite likely," he returned, in an annoyed tone. "The artist made a

front view of me. He wasn't expected to make the back of me, for

that was against the page of the book."

"But it makes you look so funny!" said Jane Gladys, laughing until

her eyes were moist with tears.

The clown looked sulky and sat down upon a chair so she couldn't see

his back.

"I'm not the only thing in the book," he remarked, crossly.

This reminded her to turn another page, and she had scarcely noted

that it contained the picture of a monkey when the animal sprang

from the book with a great crumpling of paper and landed upon the

window seat beside her.

"He-he-he-he-he!" chattered the creature, springing to the girl's

shoulder and then to the center table. "This is great fun! Now I can

be a real monkey instead of a picture of one."

"Real monkeys can't talk," said Jane Gladys, reprovingly.

"How do you know? Have you ever been one yourself?" inquired the

animal; and then he laughed loudly, and the clown laughed, too, as

if he enjoyed the remark.

The girl was quite bewildered by this time. She thoughtlessly turned

another leaf, and before she had time to look twice a gray donkey

leaped from the book and stumbled from the window seat to the floor

with a great clatter.

"You're clumsy enough, I'm sure!" said the child, indignantly, for

the beast had nearly upset her.

"Clumsy! And why not?" demanded the donkey, with angry voice. "If

the fool artist had drawn you out of perspective, as he did me, I

guess you'd be clumsy yourself."

"What's wrong with you?" asked Jane Gladys.

"My front and rear legs on the left side are nearly six inches too

short, that's what's the matter! If that artist didn't know how to

draw properly why did he try to make a donkey at all?"

"I don't know," replied the child, seeing an answer was expected.

"I can hardly stand up," grumbled the donkey; "and the least little

thing will topple me over."

"Don't mind that," said the monkey, making a spring at the

chandelier and swinging from it by his tail until Jane Gladys feared

he would knock all the globes off; "the same artist has made my ears

as big as that clown's and everyone knows a monkey hasn't any ears

to speak of--much less to draw."

"He should be prosecuted," remarked the clown, gloomily. "I haven't

any back."

Jane Gladys looked from one to the other with a puzzled expression

upon her sweet face, and turned another page of the book.

Swift as a flash there sprang over her shoulder a tawney, spotted

leopard, which landed upon the back of a big leather armchair and

turned upon the others with a fierce movement.

The monkey climbed to the top of the chandelier and chattered with

fright. The donkey tried to run and straightway tipped over on his

left side. The clown grew paler than ever, but he sat still in his

chair and gave a low whistle of surprise.

The leopard crouched upon the back of the chair, lashed his tail

from side to side and glared at all of them, by turns, including

Jane Gladys.

"Which of us are you going to attack first?" asked the donkey,

trying hard to get upon his feet again.

"I can't attack any of you," snarled the leopard. "The artist made

my mouth shut, so I haven't any teeth; and he forgot to make my

claws. But I'm a frightful looking creature, nevertheless; am I


"Oh, yes;" said the clown, indifferently. "I suppose you're

frightful looking enough. But if you have no teeth nor claws we

don't mind your looks at all."

This so annoyed the leopard that he growled horribly, and the monkey

laughed at him.

Just then the book slipped from the girl's lap, and as she made a

movement to catch it one of the pages near the back opened wide. She

caught a glimpse of a fierce grizzly bear looking at her from the

page, and quickly threw the book from her. It fell with a crash in

the middle of the room, but beside it stood the great grizzly, who

had wrenched himself from the page before the book closed.

"Now," cried the leopard from his perch, "you'd better look out for

yourselves! You can't laugh at him as you did at me. The bear has

both claws and teeth."

"Indeed I have," said the bear, in a low, deep, growling voice. "And

I know how to use them, too. If you read in that book you'll find

I'm described as a horrible, cruel and remorseless grizzly, whose

only business in life is to eat up little girls--shoes, dresses,

ribbons and all! And then, the author says, I smack my lips and

glory in my wickedness."

"That's awful!" said the donkey, sitting upon his haunches and

shaking his head sadly. "What do you suppose possessed the author to

make you so hungry for girls? Do you eat animals, also?"

"The author does not mention my eating anything but little girls,"

replied the bear.

"Very good," remarked the clown, drawing a long breath of relief.

"you may begin eating Jane Gladys as soon as you wish. She laughed

because I had no back."

"And she laughed because my legs are out of perspective," brayed the


"But you also deserve to be eaten," screamed the leopard from the

back of the leather chair; "for you laughed and poked fun at me

because I had no claws nor teeth! Don't you suppose Mr. Grizzly, you

could manage to eat a clown, a donkey and a monkey after you finish

the girl?"

"Perhaps so, and a leopard into the bargain," growled the bear. "It

will depend on how hungry I am. But I must begin on the little girl

first, because the author says I prefer girls to anything."

Jane Gladys was much frightened on hearing this conversation, and

she began to realize what the man meant when he said he gave her the

book to be revenged. Surely papa would be sorry he hadn't bought the

"Complete Works of Peter Smith" when he came home and found his

little girl eaten up by a grizzly bear--shoes, dress, ribbons and


The bear stood up and balanced himself on his rear legs.

"This is the way I look in the book," he said. "Now watch me eat the

little girl."

He advanced slowly toward Jane Gladys, and the monkey, the leopard,

the donkey and the clown all stood around in a circle and watched

the bear with much interest.

But before the grizzly reached her the child had a sudden thought,

and cried out:

"Stop! You mustn't eat me. It would be wrong."

"Why?" asked the bear, in surprise.

"Because I own you. You're my private property," she answered.

"I don't see how you make that out," said the bear, in a

disappointed tone.

"Why, the book was given to me; my name's on the front leaf. And you

belong, by rights, in the book. So you mustn't dare to eat your


The Grizzly hesitated.

"Can any of you read?" he asked.

"I can," said the clown.

"Then see if she speaks the truth. Is her name really in the book?"

The clown picked it up and looked at the name.

"It is," said he. "'Jane Gladys Brown;' and written quite plainly in

big letters."

The bear sighed.

"Then, of course, I can't eat her," he decided. "That author is as

disappointing as most authors are."

"But he's not as bad as the artist," exclaimed the donkey, who was

still trying to stand up straight.

"The fault lies with yourselves," said Jane Gladys, severely. "Why

didn't you stay in the book, where you were put?"

The animals looked at each other in a foolish way, and the clown

blushed under his white paint.

"Really--" began the bear, and then he stopped short.

The door bell rang loudly.

"It's mamma!" cried Jane Gladys, springing to her feet. "She's come

home at last. Now, you stupid creatures--"

But she was interrupted by them all making a rush for the book.

There was a swish and a whirr and a rustling of leaves, and an

instant later the book lay upon the floor looking just like any

other book, while Jane Gladys' strange companions had all


* * * * *

This story should teach us to think quickly and clearly upon all

occasions; for had Jane Gladys not remembered that she owned the

bear he probably would have eaten her before the bell rang.