Bum Joins the Family
Eddie hugged the puppy and sank to the floor, crying. What would become of the puppy? He had never had a dog. And he wanted this puppy so badly.
Papa lifted Eddie to his feet and said, “Don’t cry, Son. Let’s try to work it out.” He turned to Nellie, “How would it be, Nellie, if Eddie’s responsible for the dog and cleans up after him? Always. All the time.”
“Oh, Papa, I should have known you would take Eddie’s side,” Nellie cried. “You always do. You know Eddie can’t do all the things necessary to clean up after a dog. And what would we feed it? We barely have enough to feed ourselves.”
“I’ll share my food. I don’t need nearly so much as I’ve been eating,” Eddie said, jumping up and down. In those days there wasn’t any dog food to buy at the grocery store, even if you had lots of money. And they didn’t have lots of money. They didn’t have much money at all.
Papa stepped over and put his arm around Nellie’s shoulder and said, “I think we can feed a dog without anyone going hungry. Won’t you think about it, Nellie? Every boy needs a dog, you know, and Eddie has had to do without a mother that he needed badly. You have, too, Nellie. The dog might even give us some protection. You never know who might come snooping around here. Can’t we make room for the puppy in our hearts?”
Even though she wasn’t happy about it, Nellie gave in. It wasn’t long before the puppy stole her heart along with big brother Al’s and Papa’s. Eddie gladly cleaned up after the puppy and fed him. Papa told Eddie the puppy was a boy, so Eddie named him Bum.
The boy and the dog soon became inseparable companions. Even before the puppy could keep up with Eddie, he tagged along everywhere Eddie went. When Bum got tired, Eddie carried him.
Bum grew up quickly, and before Eddie knew it the tables were turned. Bum felt he was Eddie’s guardian. He watched over Eddie and tried to keep him from danger.
One day Eddie found some danger that Bum couldn’t protect him from. In fact he didn’t even try. He ran away from Eddie as far as he could run. It happened this way.
“Eddie,” Nellie called, “come help me pick some blackberries for a pie. I bet we can find some ripe ones.”
Eddie loved blackberry pie, but he didn’t love picking blackberries much. He always got stuck with those sharp thorns. So he said, “Oh, Nellie, do I have to? I’m having so much fun making roads for my horses.”
Eddie’s horses were really sticks he had picked up and polished nice and smooth. He had to use his imagination a whole lot because he didn’t have toys like children have now. But he had just as much fun.
“Yes, you do have to come, Eddie. You like blackberry pie as well as the rest of us. And you’re plenty old enough to help. Come on. Put away your horses and come. Right now.”
Eddie knew he had to go, so he got up, dusted off his overalls, and slowly followed his sister to the woods where the blackberries grew. Eddie dreaded coming home all scratched up and itchy. Besides, it was much more fun to play.
“Nellie,” Eddie whined when he had picked a few handfuls of berries, “may I play now? I’m tired.”
“No, Eddie, you pick a few more. I’m sure you’ll eat your share of the pie.” Nellie spoke sternly, so Eddie took up his little bucket again and very slowly picked more berries.
A few moments later Eddie noticed that Nellie was on the other side of the berry patch and couldn’t see him anymore. She couldn’t tell whether he was working or not. So he began exploring. Of course Bum was at his feet. He could fool Nellie but not Bum.
He had wandered a ways through the woods when he came upon a great log, much higher than he. “Hey, Bum, wouldn’t that be fun to climb on?” Eddie found a place where a limb had been cut off and used the stump for a step. He climbed right onto that huge log. Bum followed.
“Whee, we’re way up high, Bum,” Eddie said happily. “Let’s run on this big log.” So Eddie ran the full length of the log. Then he ran back. Bum ran, too, and they both thought it was lots of fun. After awhile Eddie grew tired of the game and said, “I’ll bet I can jump higher than you can, Bum. Let’s jump off the log.”
Bum didn’t say anything, but he wagged his tail eagerly. He was always ready for adventure with his much-loved master. Eddie ran up and down the log looking for a good soft place to land.
“Here, Bum. This is the place. It has lots of nice, soft plants to jump into. Come on, Bum. Let’s go.” Eddie backed up and ran as hard as he could and sailed off the log. But what was that he heard? Bzzzzzz bzzzzzz bzzzzz.
Oh, no! Hornets were stinging him. All over! On the head and on the arms and everywhere! Eddie jumped up, ran for the creek and jumped in.
He lay down flat in the shallow water. The hornets couldn’t sting him where he was covered with water. But they still kept stinging his head. He put his head under the water, only coming out to take a quick breath once in a while. He stayed in the creek until he couldn’t hear the buzzing anymore. Oh, he hurt! He hurt all over. Suddenly he discovered he couldn’t see anymore!
He crawled to the edge of the creek and lay down and cried. He felt like it was the darknest night because he couldn’t see a thing. His eyes hurt. He hurt all over. What could he do? How was he ever going to get back to Nellie? And where was Bum when he needed him?