HENRY THE HIKER
‘He still hasn’t come home.’ Cindy gazed up at old Ted. Her pink bear face looked worried and sad. ‘He went out last night on one of his adventures. He hasn’t come back.’ She clutched the pink care-bear heart, close to her chest. ‘I think he’s lost.’ She began to cry.
‘Oh, he’ll be ok’ Joseph growled. ‘Henry can look after himself.’
‘I know absolutely nothing about it’ Megs the ginger cat hissed as she walked past, her tail held high in the air. ‘I’ve been out all night and I’m going to have a sleep.’
Old Ted was worried.
Henry the hiker bear often went out walking at night. But he was responsible. He knew he should come home before the family woke up. The escapades of the bears were best for everyone if they remained secret. A missing bear would focus too much attention on them all.
‘Where’s Missy? Ted called out. ‘Has anyone seen Missy this morning?’
The other bears muttered among themselves. ‘Nope, not this morning’ Joseph answered. ‘She’s probably outside asleep somewhere.’
‘Missy! Missy! Can you hear me?’ Ted called.
‘Missy! Missy! Missy!’ other bear voices joined in the chorus. ‘Missy can you hear us?’
The border collie came charging in. She spiralled around the room. Her white plumed black tail vibrated excitedly. ‘Did someone call me? What’s going on? Who’s calling my name’, she barked.
‘Oh, please don’t make too much noise’ Ted called. ‘We don’t want to wake the family. We need your help.’
‘Help. Help. Oh, anything I can do to help. I love to do jobs. Where do you want me to go? What do you want me to do? It’s great to be alive.’
The black and white dog bounded around the room again. The vase in the centre of the table began to rattle threatening to topple over.
‘Oh please Missy. Settle down. We need you. Please don’t make so much noise. Please don’t get too excited.’
Missy sat down.
She cocked her head to one side and gazed at the old bear intently. Her brown eyes locked onto his face. ‘I’ll try’ she said. ‘What do you want me to do?’
‘Harry has not come home.’
‘Oh! He’s the bear wearing the pretty brown jumper with the white pattern on it isn’t he? He’s got a backpack with climbing ropes and stuff in it. I know him. He’s Henry the Hiker Bear. He walked past when I was burying a bone down near the dam last week.'
‘Please will you go and see if you can find him. He can’t be too far away but he needs to come home NOW.’
Missy ran round and round the house a few times. She skipped and danced, her heart beating wildly.
‘Oh how I love to do jobs.’
She couldn’t see anything unusual. She stopped to check out a snake hole when she suddenly heard a voice coming from somewhere above her head.
She looked up.
Swinging from the spine of a large cactus was a pale brown bear. The strap of his backpack was hooked firmly to the sharp leaf edge of the huge spiny bush.
‘Help me, please’ Harry pleaded. ‘I can’t get free. I slipped on that rock over there and fell into the cactus last night. I’m stuck.’
Missy whined. ‘I hate cactus bushes. You can get cut if you’re not careful.’
‘I’ve already got a scratch on my foot. If you’re really careful I know you can help me. Please listen to me.’
Missy sat and listened intently. Her brown eyes were focussed on his face and sparkled with intelligent concentration.
Harry spoke slowly and carefully. ‘Could you find a long stick?’
‘Stick. Stick. Oh, yes, I know all about sticks. They are a good game. I like chasing them all over the yard when the children throw them. Do you want to play a game?’
‘No, this is not the right time. Please go and get the longest one you can find. Missy I need your help.'
The dog bounded away barking excitedly.
‘Shh. Don’t make too much noise. This is not a game. I need help.’
The dog came back with a long stick in her mouth. Her brown eyes were alight with anticipation. She still hoped the bear would play. She shoved it in his direction. Harry swung back and forth, spiralling wildly as the stick pounded against the cactus leaves.
‘No Missy! Do it gently. See if you can lift the strap off the edge of the leaf.’
Somehow Missy did it. She made a lunge. It wasn’t gentle but the stick caught at the edge of the backpack strap. The stick, with Harry helplessly attached to his backpack, flew into the air and landed with a thump at the dog’s feet.
‘What a wonderful game’ she barked. ‘Please can we do this again?’
‘I have to go home,’ Harry said, ‘thank you for helping me. I’m very, very tired. Please carry me inside and put me back on the shelf.’
There were loud cheers when Missy pranced into the lounge-room. She carried the bedraggled Hiker carefully by one leg,and placed him back on the shelf, then enthusiastically licked his face.
Mother walked unexpectedly into the room.
She rubbed her eyes. ‘What’s going on? What are you up to Missy? I heard you barking.’
Missy ran up to her and licked her hand. Her eyes pleaded, ‘please don’t be cross with me. I only want to be loved.’
Mother laughed and scratched behind Missy's ear.
Old Ted sighed deeply. He sunk back thankfully into his place on the shelf.
The room settled back to normal. Everyone was back in place.
No one moved.
Megs stretched out on the bed. ‘I could tell on those bears’ she purred. ‘But, who would listen to me?
Who ever listens to me?’