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For the Children's Hour by  Carolyn S. Bailey

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THE THREE BEARS

C. S. B. Adapted from the original by Southey.

ONCE upon a time there were three bears who lived in a house of their own in a wood. There was a small, wee bear; there was a middle-sized bear, and there was a great, huge bear. They had each a pot for their porridge: a little pot for the small, wee bear; a middle-sized pot for the middle-sized bear; and a great pot for the great, huge bear. And they had each a chair to sit in: a little chair for the small, wee bear; a middle-sized chair for the middle-sized bear; and a great chair for the great, huge bear. And they had each a bed to sleep in: a little bed for the small, wee bear; a middle-sized bed for the middle-sized bear; and a great bed for the great, huge bear.

One morning the three bears left their breakfast porridge cooling in their porridge pots and they walked out into the woods, that they might not burn their mouths by eating it too soon. And while they were walking, along came a little old woman to the [304] house. She was not a polite, honest little old woman. First she looked in the window, then she peeped in the keyhole, and then, seeing no one inside, she lifted the latch. Now, the door was not fastened, for the bears thought every one in the world was as honest as they were. So the little old woman opened the door and went in. She was well pleased to see the porridge on the table. If she had been a polite, honest little old woman she would have waited and asked leave of the bears before she tasted, but she was not polite, and she set about helping herself.

First she tasted the porridge of the great, huge bear and that was too hot for her. Then she tasted the porridge of the middle-sized bear and that was too cold for her. And then she tasted the porridge of the small, wee bear, which was neither too hot nor too cold, and so she ate it all up.

Then the little old woman went poking about the house to see what there was in it, and she came, all of a sudden, upon the three chairs. So she sat down in the chair of the great, huge bear and that was too hard for her. And then she sat down in the chair of the middle-sized bear and that was too soft for her. And then she sat down in the chair of the small, wee bear, which was neither too hard nor too soft, and there she sat until the bottom of the chair came right out, and—plump—she fell upon the ground.

Then the little old woman went up the stairs to the bears' bed chamber. And first she lay down upon the bed of the great, huge bear, but that was too high at the head for her. And next she lay down upon the bed of the middle-sized bear, but that was too low at the foot for her. And last she lay down upon the bed of the small, wee bear, which was neither too high at [305] the head nor too low at the foot. So she pulled the covers over her head and went fast asleep.

By this time home came the three bears to their breakfast. Now the little old woman had left the spoon of the great, huge bear standing in his porridge.

"SOMEBODY HAS BEEN AT MY PORRIDGE," said the great, huge bear in his great, huge voice.

Then the middle-sized bear looked at his bowl.

"Somebody has been at my porridge,"  said the middle-sized bear in his middle-sized voice.

Then the small, wee bear looked at his bowl, which was quite empty, and he said, in his small, wee voice:

"Somebody has been at my porridge, and has eaten it all up."

Then the three bears, seeing that some one had eaten all the porridge of the small, wee bear, began to look about the house. Now the little old woman had left the hard cushion crooked in the chair of the great, huge bear.

"SOMEBODY HAS BEEN SITTING IN MY CHAIR," said the great, huge bear in his great, huge voice.

Now the little old woman had squatted down the cushion of the middle-sized bear.

"Somebody has been sitting in my chair,"  said he in his middle-sized voice.

And you know what the little old woman had done to the third chair!

"Somebody has been sitting in my chair and has sat the bottom out of it,"

said the small, wee bear in his small, wee voice.

Then the three bears went upstairs to their bed chamber. Now, the little old woman had crumpled the pillow of the great, huge bear.

[308] "SOMEBODY HAS BEEN LYING IN MY BED," said the great, huge bear in his great, huge voice.

And the little old woman had pulled the bolster of the middle-sized bear quite crooked.

"Somebody has been lying in my bed,"  said he in his middle-sized voice.

And when the small, wee bear came to look at his bed, there was the pillow smooth and the bolster straight, but upon the pillow was the little old woman's head, which was not right, as she had no business there.

"Somebody has been lying in my bed, and here she is,"

said the small, wee bear in his small, wee voice.

When the little old woman heard the shrill voice of the small, wee bear she awoke at once. Up she jumped and when she saw the three bears looking at her from one side of the bed out she tumbled at the other side and she ran to the window. Now the three bears, as good, tidy bears should, always opened the window of their bed chamber when they got up in the morning. Out the little old woman jumped and off through the woods she ran as fast as the wind.

Where she went the bears never found out, but they hoped she changed to a polite, honest little old woman who never lifted other people's latches again.


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