Instead of a rabbit hopping away, it was Henry, sitting off to one side, smirking at Bear.
Bear relaxed. “Did you warn them off?” he asked.
Henry just nodded, then patted his tummy.
Bear settled back down on the meadow grass, then started a bit when Henry climbed up and made himself at home on top of him.
Girl giggled as quietly as she could – but Henry lifted his head, looked at her – and winked.
Bear lumbered contently towards the cabin after a long, sunny nap – even though Henry had been lying on top of him. Henry trotted along beside Bear, tongue lolling out, looking fat and smug.
Henry trotted up the steps to the cabin, stepped triumphantly inside, circled the rug twice, then settled down comfortably in the center.
Bear looked at him, somewhat bemused, but with a satisfied smile on his face after outwitting the rabbits. He settled into his favorite place on the porch and looked over at Girl in her rocker, a smug look on his face.
Girl smiled at him, and said, “Very clever, Bear. You sure showed those rabbits who’s boss!” Her sentiment was spoiled slightly by her suppressed giggle, but Bear didn’t seem to notice.
Bear nodded, as his smile broadened, then looked off at the mountains opposite.
After Girl had had her supper, the two friends wandered out into the meadow to watch the stars come out. Bear settled down into the grass, and Girl leaned back on him, gazing off into the infinite. They were silent for a long time, watching their favorite show.
Finally, Girl began to get both sleepy and cold, so they called it a night, and wandered back to the cabin, with Girl putting her hand on Bear’s back to help her navigate the hummocky ground in the dark.
They walked companionably up into the cabin, only to find that Henry was nowhere to be seen. Bear turned back to look at Girl, who shrugged.
“Maybe he went home?” Girl said.
“Maybe…,” said Bear. “He comes and goes without saying. He’s unpredictable, and more than a bit of a scamp. Oh, well. Good night Girl.” And he rubbed his head on her side.
“Good night Bear. Sleep well.” And she walked off to her bedroom.
She started to get undressed, taking her nightie off the hook on the back of the door, struggled into it, then turned towards the bed, drew back the covers…only to find Henry curled up there.
“Henry!” Girl said sharply. “What are you doing in my bed?”
Henry lifted his head, looked at Girl for a moment, then reached up with his mouth, pulled the blanket from Girl’s hand, flipped it up over himself again, and nestled back into the covers, closing his eyes.
Girl snorted, then whipped the covers off the bed, dropping them down to the foot. She placed her hands on her hips, and said, “MY covers, MY bed! Now get off!”
Henry raised his head, looked at the covers at the foot of the bed, then – Girl would swear – shrugged, lay back down, and closed his eyes.
Girl opened her mouth to say something, then decided that actions would speak louder. She reached in and lifted Henry up…
Or at least tried to. Henry wriggled out of her grasp, jumped back down onto the bed, and curled up again, closing his eyes – then stuck his tongue out at Girl before settling himself back into his comfy position.
Girl reached in again, and took a bigger, firmer hold on Henry, lifted him, turned, and dumped him on the floor with the intention of shooing him into the great room – but Henry was faster, and scrambled around her, then leaped back into bed before Girl could close the door on him.
He lay curled on the bed but now kept his eyes open, regarding Girl, and with a smile on his face.
Girl was tempted to get Bear to help her, then decided to try one more thing.
“You know, Henry, when I was a little girl, and I didn’t want to get up in the morning, my older sister, who was very mean, would tickle me…like this!” And she leaned over and started digging her fingers gently into Henry’s sides, tickling him.
He started kicking his feet, then scrabbling to move back towards the wall, trying to get away to no avail. Finally, he leaped up, jumped off the end of the bed, grabbed the blanket in his mouth, and quickly pulled it out into the great room.
He walked over to Bear, who seemed to be mostly asleep, curled up next to him, and flipped his mouth up in a quick snap, causing the blanket to settle over his body.
He stuck his snout and head up over the blanket, looked at Girl, stuck his tongue out again, then closed his eyes, a satisfied smile on his face.
Girl decided that she didn’t want to wake Bear by fighting with Henry over the blanket, so she walked out into the great room.
Henry raised his head to track her movement, but when he saw she was heading for the couch rather than him, he dropped his head back down.
Girl took the threadbare blanket from the couch, walked back to her bedroom, and remade her bed with it, then pulled it open, and lay down. She was a little cooler than if she had had her own blanket, but it was a pleasant night, so she didn’t worry about it, and quickly fell asleep.
She woke in the night, needing to get up and pee, but feeling as if the blanket had gotten particularly heavy on her legs. She started to get up, only to find Henry curled up next to her legs in the bed, with her original blanket drawn most of the way over him.
She carefully extricated herself from the bed, walked quietly to the bathroom, then returned – and found Henry occupying the top of the bed again.
She chuckled to herself, then shoved him down on the bed, wriggled herself into position, pulled her own blanket up over her and Henry’s apparently sleeping body, leaving one hand over the covers.
Henry lifted his head, licked her hand, sighed contently – and they both went to sleep.