A Bear’s Tao of Doing Nothing

They just sit around and try to do nothing, but discover that’s even harder work than playing.

Beginning Of Nothin’ Special

Almost every great human adventure begins with getting out of bed in the morning, as surely as the Earth revolves around the sun. If you are a Bear, things are organized somewhat differently; the world revolves around wherever you happen to be at the time. And, (if you are a Bear), a great deal of time is spent sitting around on The Bed, which is the center of the known Bear universe. Thus, a Bear might launch the greatest of adventures (even without meaning to) from any Bed in the world. Travel, like new wallpaper in an old room, presents far less opportunity for a Bear Adventure than you might suppose. Most of our Bears do not understand C. Bear’s celebrated wanderlust. It does not get you any closer to the inner world.

Bears do like to travel, a little bit, but our C.Bear likes to travel more than most.

One fine day in the late fall, the word went out to the Bears for them to decide: who was to go to Phoenix? Naturally, C.Bear hopped into the Bear Bag right away, because he wanted to visit with his brother Phoenix Bear. He sat propped up in the bag, sitting on some socks and stuff, while all the other Bears talked among themselves, deciding who else should go. C.Bear always went, because he was the Leader Bear. The socks had to stay in the bag, the other Bears allowed, so Pink Bear, being littlest, would be able to fit into whatever little room was left in the bag.

Pink Bear squealed with delight on being picked, for he spends most of his time perched in his Valentine’s Day coffee cup. Surely this was Pink Bear’s lucky day. The bigger Bears helped him up into the travel bag. Sure enough, there was a little space left, just big enough for him, and Pink Bear disappeared into the bag.

C.Bear can really be a dignified Bear when he puts his mind to it, but he had this one small problem: he was all packed and ready to go, and all the other Bears were watching him sitting in this bag, like some combat flying ace strapped into his cockpit seat. But this magic Bear Bag was still sitting on the not-so-magic bed. He did feel just a little bit silly, so C.Bear ignored the other Bears, pretending to talk with Pink Bear. He listened for any sign that the People might soon transport him from all this. When a Bear is ready to go to the airport, he’s ready to go, and there’s not much point in protracted farewell celebrations.

After the longest of time, someone did slide C.Bear down into the bag, and zipped it shut. A Bear is never at his best traveling flat on his back in the dark with a bunch of socks and stuff, but this Bear Bag was finally off the bed and traveling!

At the airport check-in, the bags were declared as carry-on, and a lady asked all the airport questions. Had any stranger had given them anything to carry onboard the airplane, and had they packed their bags themselves? C.Bear yelled out, “Well, I got into the bag all by myself!”, but everybody seemed to ignore him. C. Bear doesn’t like being ignored.

“That’s OK, C.Bear”, Pink Bear whispered to him, “We know you did, and that’s all that counts.”

C.Bear suddenly remembered the time in Newport News when this lady at Security took him all the way out of the bag. He remembered how ascared he had been that they would lose him! Distinguished traveler that he was, he had seldom actually seen the inside of an airport from the security of the Bear Bag. It unsettled C.Bear, just recalling how big airports really are, and how many places there are to lose, well, even a very good Bear. He decided not to yell out at airports anymore.

Soon, they were on their way. By and by, an overhead baggage compartment door snapped shut. C.Bear and Pink Bear switched to a private Bear channel, to talk over the roar of the noisy jet engines. The air got colder and thinner, and it smelled like chilled airplane.

Bears don’t have a lot to say about what they talk about in private. They do have a lot of time to compose their thoughts. One thing Bears like to talk about is where they came from “before”. Bears learn mostly by word of mouth. Unfortunately, at the Bear Factories, every Bear is pretty much the same as every other Bear, and nobody’s done much of anything yet. So, there’s not much to talk about. Life inside packing cartons, where one’s whole identity is tied to some bill of lading, doesn’t promote vivid conversation or learning.

That’s why only the youngest Bears really remember the factories at all. Pink Bear could only remember some nice ladies smiling over him, and them talking in a language he couldn’t understand. C.Bear reminded him no one understands people language in the factories anyway. C.Bear didn’t start picking up people talk until he had lived in the pile for unwanted bears for several years. Pink Bear still had his tag, which said he was born in China, but C.Bear had lost his tag a long time ago.

Of course, brother Phoenix Bear might still have his tag, when they got there, and that would tell them where C.Bear was born too. And, of course, C.Bear couldn’t remember what factory he came from, and wistfully wondered what life might have been like, if only he hadn’t spent his youth in that pile for unwanted bears. C.Bear wondered if he might have done something bad to deserve such a fate, and how he might ever have gotten separated from his brother.

But most Bears have notoriously bad memories anyway, and all this thinking was making C.Bear sleepy, so he just dozed off for a while. Pink Bear sat there in the dark, listening to C.Bear sleep on the Bear channel. The jet engines roared in the background. Pink Bear wondered if he would have a good life too, and if he would ever get to do as many things as C.Bear had.

Little Bears, like big Bears, have to work hard to come up with answers to life’s imponderables. Soon Pink Bear was dozing, too. The next thing he knew, he and C.Bear were being put onto the bed-pillows in Phoenix, and all the Bears there were hollering,

“Yaaay, Pink Bear! C.Bear! Welcome home!”

The Bet

They greeted Phoenix Bear, and Wooly Bear, and Sandy, and those “littler Bears” with their little embroidered hearts and bouquets. Phoenix came forward and hugged his brother. All the Bears hugged each other, and then, they all sat down on the bed together, to catch up on old times.

Before you know it, they’d run out of news to exchange. A Bear can tell what another Bear’s been up to just by looking at him — a milder form of Bear Telepathy. They sat around a while, and then C.Bear said,

“C’mon, gang! Let’s DO something! We sit around on the bed all day at home, so let’s do something different here!”

Wooly started to say that this place was “home” too, but Phoenix Bear spoke first:

“Aaah, C.Bear! You’re always on the go! Always wantin’ to do somethin’! Folks come down to Phoenix to relax. I bet you couldn’t sit still for ten minutes. I bet you don’t even know how to relax and just do nothing!”

There’s nothing a Bear likes so much as a dare. So the Bears agreed they would all sit around (perfectly still, on the bed) and pretend to do nothing, as if they were being “just plain” Bears.

One of the People came in and finished unpacking the Bear Bag. Socks, in the dresser. Cameras. Film. Computer stuff.

“Hey, you should see the Bears!”, he called out, “just sitting around — they must be pooped out. Lazy old Bears, haw haw!”

And it did seem so true. No pillow sliding, no hopping up onto the windowsill, no TV. The Bears didn’t even seem to be counting spots. They did seem remarkably like plain old stuffed animals. The People clucked their tongues, “tsk!”, and wandered off laughing at their own great humor.

C.Bear wanted to say something smart, but C.Bear is no fool. That would be doing something. So he kept quiet, and he tried to amuse himself by thinking of things not to do.

He thought that running for President was nearly the same thing as doing nothing, but he saw that this endeavor was already too crowded with all manner of people, all of them far better qualified to do nothing than himself, a mere Bear. He giggled silently so the other Bears wouldn’t hear him, but he saw a trace of a smile on Woolly’s face, so he went back to being a Bear for just a while longer.

Being just a plain old stuffed Bear is easy for a Bear to fall back to, but it’s also very boring, and taxes a Bear’s powers of alertness. C.Bear fought off drowsiness as long as he could, but it just seemed no use. He drifted off deep into those places Bears go when they are just being plain old Bears.

The Adventure That Maybe Happened and Maybe It Didn’t

After a while, C.Bear realized he had been watching a little girl in some far-off country. Her cheeks were stained with tears. It looked to him like she was in one of those places where all the buildings had been shot up, like in the TV news. She looked lost, and she was standing alone in a ruins of concrete, jumbled brick, and splintered wood. She clutched a small, ragged brown teddy bear by its arm. She had a small little girl’s hand which could just barely grasp around the teddy’s arm. The teddy bear dangled limply, and C.Bear felt just awful. He watched. He watched as intently as he knew how.

The little girl sat wearily down on a large chunk of concrete. She smothered a sob, and then, for there was nothing else to give her comfort, she hugged her stuffed animal, and set it on her lap. She looked at her teddy’s face and smoothed out its wrinkled old Bear T-shirt. C.Bear continued to watch with all his might, until it seemed to him that she was looking directly into the glass eyes of her stuffed Bear.

C.Bear thought hard about all the human pain he had seen, and then he thought of all the good things he had seen too. He thought of sunshine and butterflies and people laughing, and rain for the plants in the garden. He thought of the pine trees around the little girl, and tried not to let it remind him of Christmas lest the little girl hear him think it and start crying again. He wanted so badly for something good to happen for the little girl. He thought of the afternoon sun hanging low over a golden river, and he thought of its rays poking lazily through pine trees onto a long grassy meadow within a nearby forest. So C.Bear told the teddy bear there might be a way to take the little girl to a place where some soldiers would be looking for their people.

And the little girl hugged her teddy bear once more, and looked into its eyes and thought, “thank you, little Bear…”. She smiled bravely, just a little bit, and she cautiously trudged off (with teddy under her arm) in the direction of many boot steps crunching on gravel.

Now, all the Bears still seemed to be sitting on the bed, doing nothing.

Wooly Bear had been thinking about the time he’d visited his northern cousins, and Thelonious had sung his song, and how The Critter, which had scared them all, had become their friend. Wooly had tried hard not to think of Thelonious’ song, because it was catchy, and also kind of silly, and singing it would definitely be doing something.

But now Wooly knew that something had happened, like something in the back of your head you wish you could have forgotten, but which was still lurking there. He tried to think of Thelonious’ song again, but it was no use.

It is always hard to tell what Phoenix Bear is thinking, which is why he wins too much when the Bears play cards. Phoenix Bear knew where C.Bear had been, because he’d been watching the whole thing. Phoenix Bear said that he was calling off their “doing nothing” game, and that they should convene a Bear Council to see if anything more could be done for the little girl.

The Bear Council

A full Bear Council is only convened on special and very important occasions, because this means that all Bears of this clan have to drop whatever it is they may be doing, like pillow sliding, no matter where they happen to be located at the time.

C.Bear is supposed to be the “Leader Bear”, because he always gets his way, but this time he was grateful to his brother for thinking what to do next. The Bears arranged themselves into a kind of semicircle on the bed and waited for the northern California Bears to join in.

Little Drummer Bear arrived first, laughing, asking impishly if C.Bear had gotten himself into trouble again. Thelonious popped into the Council, declaring that C.Bear should have taught the other teddy bear Thelonious’ Song, to cheer everybody up. Finally, A.Bear, our little “philosopher Bear”, was able (with great effort) to bring the Bears to order, for it was generally conceded that A.Bear was the wisest of all of them.

“See here!”, A.Bear piped, declaring that the Bear Council was now fully assembled.

A.Bear began their council session by saying that C.Bear had done a wonderful thing, “particularly”, he said drolly, “for a Bear who was doing “nothing” at the time. His eyes twinkled a lot at that time, especially for such a tiny Bear, and he said,

“Tell us, then, Phoenix and C.Bear, what is this discovery that is troubling you? C.Bear, could you begin?”

“Um, A.Bear, is it such a terrible thing to do a good thing and then leave, even when you don’t know how it will all turn out?” C.Bear still felt just awful about the unhappiness he had seen. His connection had faded out before the little girl and her teddy bear had taken four steps, so he never found out if calling the little teddy to life had been the right thing to do. Then he thought of the two lucky twenty-five-cent pieces he had saved in his anorak. Maybe he might have been able to get these to the little girl to help her, if he had only thought of it in time!

Phoenix Bear tugged at his T-shirt impatiently and said, “The problem is that we don’t know what happened to the little girl, so how do we know if it was a good thing or not?”

Trevor, looking very proper in his turtleneck sweater, said he was not so sure it was such a good idea to get involved in people’s problems at all, since Bears could not be responsible for what the people might do next. He was also concerned that this little girl had not been treating her teddy with very much respect, dangling him by one arm like that.

T.Bear, our hospital bear, said that the little girl’s teddy was a Healer Bear and would keep her well and safe, and that this was something all the other Bears would learn in time about Healer Bears (for Bears have nothing, if not plenty of time).

Pink Bear remembered to thank C.Bear for what he had done. He added brightly, “I guess this means you didn’t do too good in the `do nothing’ game, huh, C.Bear?”

C.Bear just sat there dejectedly, until at last A.Bear spoke again.

“I am glad that not all of you have forgotten that what happens to the little girl is more important to us than sitting in judgment of whether C.Bear has done a good thing.” He smiled at the other Bears, and his eyes gleamed, like those of a very old Bear, though Atlanta Bear could only be a few people years old, as far as any Bear knew.

“It is hard to know, even for a Bear, when the things that we do will turn out to be the right thing. C.Bear did the only thing he knew how to do, which was to be kind, and to mean well, and to remind the teddy bear to be a Real Bear for his little girl person.”

“It isn’t up to us, Trevor, to decide to do nothing just because we can’t control what happens next. It isn’t up to us, Phoenix, to sit in judgment of C. Bear’s good deed just because we don’t know what finally became of it.”

Trevor spoke. “Then what can we do to help this little girl?”

A.Bear did not speak for the longest time. Finally he said, “But, Trevor, this has already been done. The little girl and her Teddy seem to have found their way to safety on their own. Come See!”

All the Bears peered into a clearing in the pines of northern Europe. Some soldiers were smoking cigarettes, and cleaning their rifles by a low fire. The fire burned a mixture of salvaged timbers, fallen branches and charred food ration cans. Over the pines, the smoking ruins of a once-beautiful city silhouetted a hazy, ghostly pale twilight, and there was no moon.

Flickering shadows danced in the night on a wall of trees at the clearing’s edge. Nearest the fire sat a man with a bandaged head. He was dressed in civilian clothes. He looked well into his seventies. He kept by his side an old bolt-action rifle that seemed taller than he would have been, had he been standing. He was cradling the little girl. She was wrapped in a nondescript old military blanket, sleeping, leaning against his side. C.Bear thought she seemed to be smiling in her sleep, but something seemed wrong to him.

“This is NOT the same group she met on the gravel path!”, said C.Bear in alarm. “Has something gone wrong? What has happened?”

A small stuffed teddy bear sat in the dirt, propped up against a log. It and the man seemed to be staring intently into the fire, as if it held some special promise. Tomorrow would be another day, another hope. The teddy’s glass eyes seemed to reflect the fire brightly. The Bears’ connection seemed to fade for a last time. They thought they heard it say “Thank You, Bears!” in a foreign language, but “thank you” in any dialect is always recognized as thanks.

The Bears were still all sitting in their council circle on the bed. Pink Bear was no longer sure if they were really in Phoenix, or up north, or where. Who were those people? Who was the older man? There were still far many questions for A.Bear to answer.

Corporal Milo’s Mission

Corporal Milo K. thought that he had done a pretty good job of cleaning his Kalashnikov. This rifle of his had done a good job today for him, his companions, and these civilians. Milo’s squad had succeeded in rescuing the little girl from those dead pig mercenaries who had kidnapped her, bound and blindfolded. Milo had no doubt the mercenaries would also have killed her, and he felt no remorse for their swift and silent dispatch. The little girl had been reunited with her grandfather without ever realizing the background mechanics of today’s rescue operation.

The morale of his men was good, and Milo liked that. He locked his rifle bolt back, examining the machined bolt facing for any grit or carbon buildup. He fished a compact flashlight out of his fatigue jacket, an American model of which he was very proud, and wiped down the receiver area one last time with one of the last of his oil patches. He rubbed a little oil on his thumbnail. Using it like a dental mirror, Milo reflected light up the barrel to inspect the bore. Its spiral lands and grooves were all shiny and clean, and he had to make his eyes shift focus to see all of them. He thought of this crazy spiral tunnel of a war, which only pointed to the end – but never seemed to get there. He snapped the light off again. You never know.

Someplace, a few clicks across the river, he heard sporadic popping of small arms night fire, and a returning chatter from something heavier, but Milo K. ignored this. One learns to care first for one’s own perimeter. He and his men observed strict radio silence, for their last radio had gone up with the land mine that took poor Kreyskji. It was better to walk to the perimeter to see for one’s self. It was then that Milo noticed the girl’s teddy bear.

The teddy’s glass eyes gleamed and flickered too brightly in the fire. It gave Milo the creeps, like something was wrong with this stuffed bear – or something. Easy, it’s only a stuffed animal, he said to himself. He inserted an oversized magazine into the AK-47 until it popped in with a metallic “click!”. Milo carefully slid the bolt forward in its greased channels until it stripped a round off the magazine, loading the brass casing fully into the breech. The rifle bolt locked with a metallic click recognized everywhere by men who carry such arms. Two of his men arose on this signal, grabbing the night scope and their rifles.

Milo indicated they should also take the nasty little “street sweeper” machine which the Americans had given them. It required one man just to carry ammunition for its full fifteen seconds of fire. This thing of the Americans was heavy, ugly, and parts of it looked like they had been hand-made. Milo and his point men soundlessly slipped into the shelter of darkness and pines. The remaining soldiers quickly smothered the fire with dirt, moving silently in the dark with their own equipment, and their civilian charges, to the far opposite side of the forest clearing.

Half an hour passed, perhaps more. The little girl was awake now. One could see almost nothing, except starlight straight up through the pines. Her teeth chattered in the cold. Someone found a blanket, whispering that it was very important that no one make a sound. The little girl hugged her bear, and, together, the two of them found the courage to make not one sound.

They say that sound carries better at night because the air is cooler, but perhaps this is also because it gets so quiet. There rang out one single high-pitched shout, as if in warning, yet it did not seem to come from afar, or near, but from inside the head. Then, a shot. It was far off, but its echo rolled off the mountainside and subsided. Then many rapid shots, in short firecracker bursts.

Finally came a dreadfully loud, sickening, whining roar, and it cascaded off the mountainside like sheet lightning within the confines of its own dancing path.This thunder suddenly diminished to to an eerie cackling echo, born by a beaten wind further down into an unaccepting valley. Absolute hushed silence defined the finality of all things incomprehensibly awful.

The Bears looked at each other in horror.

Seconds passed. C.Bear whispered approvingly to Trevor, “I thought you said it might not be such a good idea to interfere with the lives of humans.”

“I couldn’t help it,” Trevor said. “They were about to be ambushed.”

The unrelieved tension of waiting out this kind of measured silence is unbearable. Seconds passed into minutes. The group at the edge of the clearing made not one sound. One does know who, or what, might trace the trail back to this clearing. If nothing returns, one presses on quickly, without knowing, without closure of a mortal loss. They waited. The little girl hugged her teddy bear more closely. Her little bear’s eyes seemed to gleam in the starlight, and she imagined she could see the little stitched thread smile under its nose. She had never remembered her teddy’s eyes to be so alive! We draw comfort where we can, waiting to see who may survive to see the new day.

A New Day

Three men emerged into the clearing, and announced their presence by stepping on a twig. This unprofessional lapse was followed by someone making a very bad owl sound. The men said, “It is Milo,” and they laughed. And the first twilight of dawn was already just starting to make visible their clearing.

They carried with them captured arms and ammunition. “We found some fellows with more firepower than they had a need to carry”, Milo called out, “and we relieved them of their burden.” He approached the old man.

“We have an extra Kalashnikov for you, Sir. You do not need to carry that old trench rifle now.”

The old man arose. He hefted the offering. With the self-assured polish of one used to being in command, he said,

“Should I need to shoot again, at my age, I need to be at least a hundred meters away to even see my target. For that, I need my old, long `trench rifle’! Before the war, it seems I was supposed to make sure this shooting business never got started, and now we are both in your debt. You have got us safely to within kilometers of the provisional government seat. Once there, I will make you a gift of my rifle.”

Milo thought that the rear sight alone of the old long rifle reminded him of the siege ladders people once used to storm the castle walls. But he thanked his charge, and moved over to the little girl. “May I?”, he said, indicating her stuffed bear. He raised the teddy for all to see.

“I, Milo, provisional militia squad leader, propose a toast to this stuffed teddy,” Milo announced. “But there is not so much as coffee, with which for us to toast. Call me crazy. In this war, we can all afford to be crazy. But I would not have gone out there, we would not have gone out there this morning, if it were not for this little Bear.”

And Milo explained how the gleaming of the Bear’s eyes he had taken as a signal, which had proved to be the right one.

“If we had not gone out there, they would have come in here first, and that would have been the end of us!”

Out of his jacket pocket, Milo fished an old campaign ribbon, of the kind that generals everywhere wear by the dozen on their jackets. It was Milo’s only medal, but he did not say this. He offered the teddy back to the little girl, and then he offered them his medal, saying only that we would not want to pin this medal on the Bear for fear of hurting him, and then he smiled. It was the smile of astonishment, perhaps, that he could still be alive to indulge in such small pleasures as this little “pretend” ceremony.

“Thank you, Little Bear”, he thought. But he said, “My thanks to you and your remarkable little Bear, young lady!” to the little girl. She smiled shyly with the gap-toothed grin that only six-year-olds can muster.

Milo turned to his men to organize the breaking of camp for good. Mist was rising from the vegetation, and the sun shone weakly through a rapidly forming ground fog. It was time to get moving.

Little Bear Thanks The Bear Council

Little Bear was invited to join the Bear Council, and of course he accepted, because it was his first council. He addressed C.Bear and A.Bear and the assembled clan in the tongue of Bears, which is easier. You see, it is the unfortunate convention of the Bear factories to sew the mouths shut, which gives most Bears a purse-lipped appearance, though this does have the grace of saving a few pennies on the little felt tongues.

Bears, you gave me life, and then you saved it. My Little Girl is safe, and her people are safe, thanks to you. I made a big mistake this morning when I led Little Girl straight into the hands of the bad soldiers. C. Bear gave me life, and the first thing I did was the wrong thing. I think that you rescued us not once, but twice… .

C. Bear looked at Trevor, and they both smiled, just a little bit. But Little Bear was still talking to the council:

… I learned a lot today. But you did everything. Now I must see my charge and her grandfather to their destination. You must be very tired, and oh, we are so happy you helped us.

A. Bear spoke to their guest. “But we learned a lot from you, Little Bear. You have gone so far with so little. It is not that you made a mistake, but that it was made right, and that this was good.”

“We Bears are not made for being very useful in this sort of thing at all. People, even if they were very bad people, died today. It is not the place of Bears to stop this. But we can work together to make people not want to do it any more. Little Girl’s grandfather was wise to refuse the TV rifle. I think he will find a way out of this. And you, Little Bear, go in peace for the rest of your way.”

The Bear Council joined in with many “Yaaay’s” and hugged and disbanded. Little Bear returned to his Little Girl’s lap, thinking it was wonderful to be a bear so young, yet with so many friends helping along the way.

And Little Girl hugged him, and said,

“You know, Little Bear, now I know everything is going to turn out all right. You poor thing, you look so dusty and tired!”

C. Bear Loses The Bet

And so it came to pass that the Bears returned to playing cards, back on the bed in Phoenix. Much, too much, had happened for a nap just yet. A.Bear folded his hand early and said it was time for the California Bears to go back anyway, excepting, of course, C. Bear and Pink Bear, who would have to trust to their Bear Bag to get them back just the same way it had gotten them here. And all the Bears said their good-byes. Then it was just Phoenix, and C.Bear and Pink Bear, and their deck of cards, and, they were fairly sure, memories of a very disturbing adventure which had ended up so very well.

It all did seem just like it had never happened at all. C.Bear felt tired and confused, and maybe a little discouraged. Supposing they had not done any of that at all, really? How would he know? How could a Bear know if he had really done good? How would he know if everything had turned out all right, after all that? C.Bear knew that there is nothing like a nap to help sort through such troublesome questions, so he was not paying attention to the card game.

Phoenix raised the stakes on C.Bear by two imaginary poker chips, which is, as you all know, as high as a Bear can ordinarily count. C.Bear tossed in his cards, and Phoenix raked in all the imaginary winnings, which, of course, nobody bothered to count.

“By the way, brother, you lose our bet”, Phoenix announced. “Only my brother C.Bear could do so much, while trying so hard at doing nothing!”

C.Bear smiled a little bit, even though he was very sleepy. “There’s an art to it”, he mumbled, and smiled again. There was nothing like his brother Phoenix for looking at the bright side of things while handing you bad news.

“One other thing”, said Phoenix. “Little Bear said for you to have this.”

It was the medal that Milo had given Little Girl for Little Bear!

The Bears just stared at this, the only remaining evidence that anything had happened at all. C.Bear thought that he could not wear this, for he felt it was really Little Bear’s, so it put it in his anorak pocket for safekeeping, and it took both brothers to work the jacket zipper shut again. L. L. Bean doesn’t really design Bear garments to appeal to Bears, because Bears don’t actually buy these things themselves, and they get to give very little input on what’s functional, and what isn’t. People ought to think of these things. You can’t make a Bear anorak just by calling it a Bear anorak, and C.Bear felt that perhaps he was getting just a little bit grouchy.

After a few more moments of reflection, C.Bear allowed that all of today’s excitement is really very tough on a Bear, and sometimes he wished he didn’t have to be a Leader Bear of any kind, especially when things like this actually happen to them. Far easier, just to be a Plain Old Bear.

Phoenix said that yes, that was so, but that C.Bear liked everybody too much to not help out when he could. Phoenix was proud to have such a courageous and adventuresome Bear for a brother (even if C. Bear wasn’t very good at cards), and he said so, and they hugged each other for a little bit. Then they joined the other Arizona Bears in a long, long nap.

It was shortly after that that the People came into the room and laughed that the Bears were really “bagging it” on this trip! But the Bears didn’t care whether people would believe their adventure happened or not, for, this time, they were really fast asleep at last.

Epilogue

Much of this story took place somewhere in Eastern Europe. It could have happened anywhere, in any century. We believe it fortunate The Bears were there. Little Girl’s grandfather got safely to the provisional government seat, and was soon instrumental in bringing a fledgling government into democracy. It was the finest Christmas present that their nation had ever received.

Little Girl, orphaned by the war, was fortunate to become adopted by adoring relatives, with whom she quickly gained a reputation for independence and stamina. Her name was Marjyka. Educated in America and Paris, she went on, at the young age of 32, to become the first woman Prime Minister of her native country. It was rumored that, before every major decision, Prime Minister Marjyka consulted a battered old favorite teddy bear with strange gleaming eyes. No proof of this rumor was ever furnished, but her administration became known over Eastern Europe as the “teddy bear cabinet”. Apart from this oddity, her government was run in every respect in her grandfather’s tradition. Indeed, an enduring peace fell upon the land, and Marjyka’s people prospered, and the teddy bear factories in that country certainly flourished as never before.

C.Bear never did remember to check his brother’s factory tag, to see where they had been born. There’s always another day, always another mystery to be solved, when one is a Bear. But C.Bear still carries everywhere Milo’s “lucky medal” that Little Bear had given him. He keeps it in his anorak jacket pocket, and, were you to look, you would see it there, even to this very day.

 

 

© Alex Forbes, November 7, 1996

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