Chapter XX BUSTER BEAR CARRIES OFF THE PAIL OF FARMER BROWN’S BOY
The question is, did Buster Bear steal Farmer Brown’s boy’s pail? To steal is to take something which belongs to some one else. There is no doubt that he stole the berries that were in the pail when he found it, for he deliberately ate them. He knew well enough that some one must have picked them–for whoever heard of blueberries growing in tin pails? So there is no doubt that when Buster took them, he stole them. But with the pail it was different. He took the pail, but he didn’t mean to take it. In fact, he didn’t want that pail at all.
You see it was this way: When Buster found that big tin pail brimming full of delicious berries in the shade of that big bush in the Old Pasture, he didn’t stop to think whether or not he had a right to them. Buster is so fond of berries that from the very second that his greedy little eyes saw that pailful, he forgot everything but the feast that was waiting for him right under his very nose. He didn’t think anything about the right or wrong of helping himself. There before him were more berries than he had ever seen together at one time in all his life, and all he had to do was to eat and eat and eat. And that is just what he did do. Of course he upset the pail, but he didn’t mind a little thing like that. When he had gobbled up all the berries that rolled out, he thrust his nose into the pail to get all that were left in it. Just then he heard a little noise, as if some one were coming. He threw up his head to listen, and somehow, he never did know just how, the handle of the pail slipped back over his ears and caught there.
This was bad enough, but to make matters worse, just at that very minute he heard a shrill, angry voice shout, “Hi, there! Get out of there!” He didn’t need to be told whose voice that was. It was the voice of Farmer Brown’s boy. Right then and there Buster Bear nearly had a fit. There was that awful pail fast over his head so that he couldn’t see a thing. Of course, that meant that he couldn’t run away, which was the thing of all things he most wanted to do, for big as he is and strong as he is, Buster is very shy and bashful when human beings are around. He growled and whined and squealed. He tried to back out of the pail and couldn’t. He tried to shake it off and couldn’t. He tried to pull it off, but somehow he couldn’t get hold of it. Then there was another yell. If Buster hadn’t been so frightened himself, he might have recognized that second yell as one of fright, for that is what it was. You see Farmer Brown’s boy had just discovered Buster Bear. When he had yelled the first time, he had supposed that it was one of the young cattle who live in the Old Pasture all summer, but when he saw Buster, he was just as badly frightened as Buster himself. In fact, he was too surprised and frightened even to run. After that second yell he just stood still and stared.
Buster clawed at that awful thing on his head more frantically than ever. Suddenly it slipped off, so that he could see. He gave one frightened look at Farmer Brown’s boy, and then with a mighty “Woof!” he started for the Green Forest as fast as his legs could take him, and this was very fast indeed, let me tell you. He didn’t stop to pick out a path, but just crashed through the bushes as if they were nothing at all, just nothing at all. But the funniest thing of all is this–he took that pail with him! Yes, Sir, Buster Bear ran away with the big tin pail of Farmer Brown’s boy! You see when it slipped off his head, the handle was still around his neck, and there he was running away with a pail hanging from his neck! He didn’t want it. He would have given anything to get rid of it. But he took it because he couldn’t help it. And that brings us back to the question, did Buster steal Farmer Brown’s boy’s pail? What do you think?
Go to Chapter 21 here.