Chapter XVII A HUNTING PARTY
CUFFY BEAR was one of those lucky people that eat almost everything. He liked blue-berries and he liked honey; he liked maple sugar and he liked baked beans. When he was eating he never complained about his food if only there was enough. Whatever he had, he wanted a plenty of it.
He was wandering through the woods one day when he heard a tap, tap, tapping a little way off. He stopped and listened and sniffed. And then he said, “Woof! It isn’t a man. Unless I’m mistaken it’s a Woodpecker.”
Cuffy Bear turned aside and plunged through the bushes until he came into a little clearing. There, working away upon a dead tree, was Reddy Woodpecker. One couldn’t help seeing his bright red cap.
“I say,” Cuffy Bear called to him, “let’s go hunting!”
Reddy looked around at Cuffy Bear.
“Hunting!” he echoed. “What sort of hunting?”
“Let’s go hunting for grubs!” said Cuffy Bear. “I’m very fond of grubs. And I know you are, too.”
Now, Reddy Woodpecker never had dreamed that Cuffy Bear would ever invite so small a person as he was to go hunting with him. So it was only to be expected that Reddy should be pleased and even somewhat flattered.
“All right!” he agreed. “When you’re ready, say the word.”
“There’s no time like the present,” Cuffy declared. And he went on to explain how they could help each other. “You can scout around for old stumps and fallen trees. And when you find one with plenty of grubs, come right back here at once and lead me to it. I’ll tear it open so we can get more grubs in a minute than you can reach in a day by drilling for them one at a time with your bill. I’ll show you how to gather grubs in quantities. You’ll always want to hunt with me, after you see the way I find ’em.”
Reddy Woodpecker nodded his head to show that he understood. Then he started to fly away. But Cuffy Bear called him back.
“One thing more!” he said. “Promise me that when you find a likely tree or stump you won’t stop to eat any grubs. You mustn’t eat any until I come. It wouldn’t be fair.”
Reddy Woodpecker promised. Cuffy Bear waved a paw at him to hurry him on his way. And off Reddy flew. He was back again in a few minutes. “I’ve found one,” he said. “Follow me!”
“All right!” Cuffy Bear squealed. He went lumbering through the woods, trying to keep Reddy Woodpecker in sight. In a few moments he gave a frantic roar. “Come back!” he thundered.
Reddy Woodpecker returned.
“Don’t fly so fast,” Cuffy ordered. ”I can’t keep up with you. Fly slowly!”
“I can’t fly slowly” Reddy retorted. “I don’t know how.”
“Then go a little way and sit down on a tree and wait for me,” Cuffy directed. “But don’t go out of my sight!”
Reddy Woodpecker did exactly as he was told. And in that manner they soon came to an old stump which was half crumbled away. “Ah!” cried Cuffy Bear. “This looks like a good one. … I’ll show you how to get the grubs.” With a few sweeps of his great paws he quickly tore the old stump to pieces.
Reddy Woodpecker gasped at the huge number of lovely fat grubs that Cuffy had uncovered. He gasped again when he saw how fast Cuffy Bear ate them. They were gone in no time.
Licking his chops, Cuffy Bear stepped back and said, “That’s the way to do it.”
Reddy alighted on what was left of the old stump. He looked at it closely. And at last he actually found one grub that Cuffy Bear hadn’t noticed. This Reddy ate, making a wry face.
“What’s the matter?” Cuffy Bear inquired. “Isn’t it good?”
“It’s good enough what there is of it,” Reddy Woodpecker replied.