The Subtractional: To Subtract (Jerry: The Bear Book 4)
Martin stood up to be counted twice for the sixth grade. All the Martins but Andy took seats near the front of the auditorium. He had to go immediately behind scenes on the stage, since the play he was to be in was to come first on the program. That was in order to allow the parents of the kindergartners to take them home early if they so wished.
Of course he's not scared," [Pg 39] said Jerry stoutly, though he knew very well that Andy really was scared and was only defending him. Before the curtain went up, Miss Kurtz, the principal, made a short speech about giving parents an opportunity to share in the school activities of their children. She spoke about the importance of creativity, a long word Jerry did not quite understand, but thought meant making up things.
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Then the curtain rose and there was the bears' house. Only it didn't have any upstairs. Goldilocks wasn't there yet but the porridge was on the table in a big, a medium, and a tiny bowl. And here came Andy, walking stiffly to the front of the stage. He looked very small. Jerry saw that his father and mother looked anxious, as anxious as Jerry felt.
Say it and get it over with," Jerry muttered. Andy's lips did not move. His face looked frozen in fright. He just stood there. Miss Prouty prompted him again. Still Andy did not open his mouth. Some boy near the back of the hall clapped. That sound seemed to wake Andy from his trance of fear. He raised his head and gave the audience a large, beaming smile. Then Andy spoke his piece. Andy spoke up nice and loud and then made a bow.
Apparently he did not realize that he had spoken the wrong piece.
The auditorium suddenly rocked with laughter. Miss Prouty shooed Andy off the stage and apologized for him. Then she spoke the "Dear parents" poem herself. Cathy just had time to whisper angrily to Jerry, "It's all your fault—you taught him that awful rhyme," before Andy came to sit with his family.
He did not seem at all upset and apparently enjoyed the program, though he yawned a few times before it was over. Everybody said it had been a good program. In the car going home, Mr. Martin said he could hear Cathy's voice above the other girls', sweet as a bird. Martin said that Jerry had rung his bells exactly on time and [Pg 41] very nicely. They carefully avoided mentioning anything about Andy's piece.
He's getting a delayed reaction," she told the others. Jerry really felt sorry for Andy. You'll like that, won't you? I want to go see the quiet ones," said Andy, sniffing though his sobs had ceased. He sounded like this. Andy began speaking for Baby Bear, his voice tiny. He [Pg 42] was in high spirits again. Jerry wished that all his fret and worry about the charge account and getting change could disappear as easily as Andy's sorrow.
During the P. Now he found them right up front again. The next time his mother sent him to the store, where was he to go to get change now that George the barber had failed him? The family drank hot chocolate and ate cookies in the kitchen before going to bed. The half-melted marshmallows on top gave Andy a white mustache before his mother wiped his face with a napkin. He got in her lap and snuggled against her while she sipped her chocolate.
When you were little like Andy you were easily forgiven for almost anything, Jerry thought, his conscience troubled about the charge account. Jerry was finishing his second cup of hot chocolate when an easy solution to the change problem dawned on him. He had made several trips to the store this week and each time put away Mr.
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Bartlett's money in bills and small change. There must be money enough up attic in that white shoe to change a five and probably a ten. Yes, Jerry was sure he could change a ten. And suddenly the charge account seemed a good scheme again.
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Jerry was grateful to his mother for taking his part. But my mother will get the next piece. He would have to be on his guard against Cathy, Jerry realized. Up till now he had found it almost impossible to keep a secret from his twin sister. It seemed mean to say something on purpose to make Cathy mad but that would take her mind off being curious.
The next week was not as trying to Jerry as the week before, now that he was able to make change up attic. Yet it grew increasingly difficult to dodge Cathy. Time after time she caught up with him either coming up or going down the attic stairs. Or, "Don't you wish you knew?
This last statement was the truth, though Cathy did not believe him. She kept hounding him. On Saturday, though it was a good day for baseball, Jerry remembered his promise to take Andy to see the "quiet" animals. Since their mother did not have time to drive them to town, they took a bus. It was a short walk from the bus stop to the Museum of Natural History, one of the buildings of the Smithsonian Institution, but Jerry knew the way.
Although the Smithsonian had just opened, there [Pg 45] were already two big buses unloading at the front door. East Liverpool , the signs on the buses said. That was in Ohio, Jerry told his small brother. And the big boys and girls getting out of the buses were doubtless members of a high school graduating class on a tour of Washington.
He never would believe that ever so many people out West were not cowboys or Indians. Before going to see the stuffed animals Andy wanted to take a look at his favorite dinosaur. There were other dinosaurs in the exhibit but Andy always devoted himself to the one nearest the entrance. Jerry was interested in reading that the bones of this dinosaur had been found out in Utah and that it was seventy feet long and twelve feet high. Andy did not care about details. The boys lingered a long time looking at the "quiet" animals.
Andy wished that he could have one of the two bear cubs to take home with him, now that he was too [Pg 46] old to play with Teddy bears.
He also thought it would be fun to learn to ride a tame buffalo. The boys looked at displays of Indians doing a snake dance, Indians weaving baskets, grinding corn, weaving rugs, playing games—or just standing, being Indians. Jerry barely stopped himself from giving a loud ha-ha.
He decided not to laugh at his little brother. After seeing so many stuffed animals it was a natural thing for Andy to think the Indians were also stuffed.