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182. The Man in the Uniform


Theodore Bear was sitting at the window sipping juice and watching the other ships and boats out on the lake.  Through the window on the other side of the deck he could still see the skyline of the city.  "Cassandra, this is a super surprise and I had no idea that a cruise is so much fun.  I hope you are all enjoying it as much as I am."  George and Jeffrey agreed with Theodore and Cassandra looked pleased. "If you are ready now we can go to meet the Captain. That is a real honor to be invited to the bridge.  I have never been there either so today brings a surprise for me too," she said and waved her paw to the waiter. He led the way up stairs right to the top of the ship and stopped outside a door with a shiny sign saying CAPTAIN.  He knocked gently and when the door opened, there stood a man in a smart uniform.  He smiled and said, "Ah, my Very Important Passengers. Welcome on board.  Come inside" and he shook paws with each bear, asking their names.

The Captain on the Bridge

"My name is Cassandra and this is Theodore, George and Jeffrey," she said placing a paw on each bear's shoulder as she introduced them, "thank you, Mr Captain, for inviting us and showing us around."  Theodore could hardly believe his eyes.  "This is not the type of bridge I was expecting to see," he thought to himself, "just look at all the screens and dials and phones and what a wonderful view from these big windows that look over the front of the ship so the Captain can see all the other ships on the water."  The Captain laughed and said, "Theodore, your eyes are almost getting bigger and bigger looking at all this equipment that we use to navigate.  It seems very complicated but it is not really," and he explained some things to his guests. "Just enjoy the view from up here and stay as long as you like.  Is this your first cruise?"  

181. Theodore's Voyage


Theodore smiled to himself.  "My first voyage," he said to Cassandra and they laughed together.  He looked at all the other boats again and took note of the tall pillar with the flashing light on top at the end of the harbor wall.  The ship began to pick up speed and he watched as it slipped through the harbor entrance to sail out onto the lake.  He could feel the cool breeze blowing gently past his face and saw a fish jump up out of the  water to catch a dragon fly.  George Bear said he would like to walk around to to see the little waves spread out on the sides and behind the ship and they all went with him.  They had a lovely view of the city with the tall skyscrapers, the bridges, the trees and the big ocean-going ships in the main harbor where the powerful cranes were turning back and forth as they unloaded the cargo.  "This is wonderful," said Theodore, "and one hardly feels that you are moving when the ship is sailing so smoothly."

The Invitation

After a while Cassandra said, "Would you mind if we went downstairs now to the closed deck? I am feeling a bit chilly.  We can have our fruit juice there too."  Here the groups of four chairs were set around tables at the windows. They found good seats and soon a waiter came.  Cassandra took out the tickets with VIP written on them and the waiter smiled.  "Why, hello," he said, "hmm, Very Important Passengers. Yes, we do not have bears on board every day," and he named all the various juices they could choose from.  "I can hardly make up my mind," said Jeffrey but decided on a  ripe blackberry juice. The waiter brought tall glasses of juice and then he said, "The Captain heard that you are on board and he would like you to come up to the bridge to meet him."  "Oh, that would  be wonderful," said Cassandra, "my surprise is going to be even more special. Will you please show us the way afterwards?"  "Certainly, Ma'am," replied the waiter, "wave to me when you are ready."

180. VIP again!


"Wow!" said Theodore as they approached the cruise ship. "That is big and tall with all those decks," said Jeffrey Bear, "this is going to be fun."  Theodore looked up at the ship and watched the passengers walking up the sloping steps to go on board.  Cassandra handed the tickets to the man at the bottom of the steps and he smiled broadly.  "Welcome, welcome," he said, "what an occasion to have four bears going on a cruise on this ship."  He reached into his pocket and took out a thick pen.  VIP he wrote across each ticket before he handed them back to Cassandra.  "This will get you a glass of fruit juice of your choice. Enjoy yourselves. Walk carefully on the gangplank."  Cassandra thanked the man before they went on board, stopping at the top of the steps to see all the activity on the quayside and look out over the harbor.   They looked at the thick ropes holding the ship  close to the wall and then turned to go inside.  "Wow!" said Theodore again, "just look at that."

Sailing away

Cassandra Bear smiled at Theodore's surprised expression when they stepped through the big door and entered the ship.  "Yes, it is lovely," she said, "and this is just a small cruise ship really as it only does short trips out onto the lake and back again. Those that go on the ocean are much bigger and there are cabins where one can sleep.  I suggest we go up onto the top deck now as it is open and we will be able to see the preparations for sailing.  Follow me."  They went up the flights of stairs to the top deck and found a good spot.   George and Jeffrey waved their little flags to the people on the quay and they waved back.  Theodore watched carefully when the tall crane lifted the gangplank and placed it on the quayside and then the ropes were loosened.  The ship blew a blast on the horn and slowly began to move out into the harbor.  They were  going sailing on the lake!

179. Cassandra's Treat


The next morning at breakfast Cassandra Bear at last asked the question all the other bears were waiting for.  "Now, did any of you figure out what my surprise is?" she asked with a smile.  George Bear was the only one who thought he knew.  "We are going fishing?" he guessed.  "Wrong," laughed Cassandra, "I think I will have to tell you.  We are going on a cruise.  I was given four tickets and this is a wonderful opportunity to use them when I can take you with.  I hope you all enjoy sailing."  George and Jeffrey Bear both nodded but Theodore said nothing.  "Hmmm, what is the matter, Theodore," asked Cassandra, "you look very worried."  "W-w-well, I live in the desert and have never been on a boat before. I hear one gets sea-sick and your face turns green," Theodore answered, "is that so? I would feel very silly with a green face"  The other bears could not help smiling and Cassandra explained, "No, Theodore, you really do not have to be worried. The water in the lake is very calm and the boat sails along ever so smoothly.  You will enjoy the cruise.  I know you will."

Theodore and the Boats

The bears were soon walking along on their way to the lake.  It was a perfect morning and the sun shone from a clear blue sky. They went through the turnstile at the entrance to the harbor and followed the crowd towards the quayside. Theodore wanted to look at everything at once.  He saw the steps leading down to the wooden walkways where all the small boats were moored one next to the other.  Some were very small boats and he was glad they would not be going out in one of those.   In between were some yachts with their sails neatly wrapped up and their tall masts seemed to reach the sky.  Theodore remembered the yachts he had seen on the river once and thought he would rather not go on a boat that tips from side to side even if it did look steady now.  He had to walk a little faster to catch up with the others and then Cassandra pointed to the big cruise ship at the end of the pier opposite.  "“We must go over there," she said, "that is the ship we will be sailing on." 

178. Taking it Easy


The next morning was sunny and warm and Cassandra had breakfast ready under a big tree in the back garden.  The bears enjoyed sitting there and it was quite late until they left to go down to the lake.  First they ambled along the path on the river bank and sat down on a bench to watch the boats sailing by.  "These look different to the ships we had to judge at the model club," said Jeffrey Bear, "I would feel a lot safer on these bigger ones."  They could see some of the long bridges across the river with all the traffic rushing across them.  "It is so busy out there," said Theodore with a sigh, "I am glad I do not have to rush so much."  After a while they walked on again and went down to the lake.   Theodore was surprised to see how big it was.  "This is like the sea," he said, "there one can also not see across to the other side."  "Yes, the lake is big," Cassandra told them, "but it freezes in winter when it is very cold.  Hard to believe when you look at it now."

The Lake

Theodore said he would like to sit down and watch all the boat traffic on the lake and they soon found a bench in a shady spot.  There were cruise ships with people lining the decks and small motor boats with just one or two people on board speeding along.  "It almost looks as if they are flying over the top of the water," George Bear said in surprise, "the front of the boat is up in the air."  Big cargo boats with boxes and containers came by and there was even a car or two securely fastened on some of them.  "They are going to the big harbour further along," said Cassandra, "only the cruise ships and smaller boats may dock here." The day passed so quickly and it was time for  the bears to slowly make their way home before it got dark. At supper Cassandra said mysteriously, "I have a surprise lined up for you tomorrow but first you will have to think what it could be."

177. The Actor!


George Bear was laughing so much that he could hardly talk.  Jeffrey Bear wanted to tell too but George held up his paw.  "Ha, ha, no, no, let me carry on," he said taking a deep breath. "A group of history lovers asked us to come to their meeting as they were putting on a play.  We thought we were going to be part of the audience but when we got there we found out we would be some of the actors."  He looked across at Jeffrey Bear who had suddenly got very quiet.  "Imagine," George went on, "they dressed Jeffrey up in knickerbocker pants, a velvet jacket, big boots and an enormous hat with a long fluffy feather in it.  Ha, ha, you should have seen him," and he laughed all over again.  "But I must tell you that Jeffrey was a very good actor in his part and everybody stood up and clapped the longest for him when it was over."  Theodore and Cassandra laughed too.  "Well done, Jeffrey, stardom next for you," they said.  "Thank you," said Jeffrey and he pretended to bow.

Theodore was Right

"Seriously though," said Jeffrey Bear after George had finished telling about all they had done, "we have had a lovely time and also traveled a lot to the different places to accept the invitations.  Our national suits have always been admired and the little flags that we carry with us have attracted a lot of attention.  We know now why you said it is wonderful to travel and see new places, Theodore, we have experienced that ourselves."  Cassandra suggested a cup of mulberry tea and everyone thought that would be a good idea.  While they drank their tea Cassandra told them of the plan for the next day.  "I do not think you have had a chance to see the waterfront yet and that would be something different.  The lake is beautiful and we will be able to walk along the water's edge or look at the interesting little shops on the boardwalk.  I have not been there for a while either so we can explore together."  "Yes, let's do that," they all agreed and before long they were all asleep.

176. Mascots!


Jeffrey Bear looked at Cassandra and laughed, "We will still be sitting here tomorrow then!  As you know we always wear these national suits and people seem to like them. They invite us to visit them  on their special days and we always try and go.  We have marched in parades, stood in a guard of honor and been to important ceremonies.  But we have also done some fun things."  George Bear got so excited when Jeffrey mentioned the fun that he took over.  "Yes we have," he said and sat forward in his chair. "A football team asked us to come and be their mascots when they played a match against a visiting team.  Every time they scored a goal someone lifted us up onto their shoulders and the supporters cheered much louder than before.  I think they liked us a lot." And George Bear looked so proud of himself.  "I hoped they would not drop us in all the celebration," said Jeffrey, "we were pretty high up on those shoulders."

The Fun

George Bear was enjoying himself telling about all the interesting things he and Jeffrey Bear had done.  "A teacher invited us to come to her history class. 'Bring your little flags too, please,' she said.  The children say history is so boring and she wanted us to take the lesson to make it more interesting.  We had to learn history too so we knew all the answers but the children said it was the best lesson they ever had.  That made it all worthwhile."  Jeffrey remembered another day when they were asked to visit a model ship club. "They built old ships like used to sail around our coast many, many years ago," he told, "and we had to choose which model was the best. That was very difficult as they were all beautiful.  We learned a lot about ships that day." Then GeorgeBear nearly got the giggles.  "Ha, ha, haaaa," he laughed, "wait till you hear about this one."  

175. Surprise! Surprise!

Cassandra Bear grinned as she watched the surprised look on Theodore's face when he saw who was peeping around the door.  The visitors came in smiling broadly at their part in the fun and Theodore  said, "Well, I  just don't believe it!  What ever are you two doing here?"  He strode across the sitting room and the two visitors did the same.  They met in the middle of the floor and shook paws all round.  "Hello George Bear and hello, Jeffrey Bear, how nice to see you again and you are both still looking so smart in your suits," Theodore greeted them and they said the same.  "Cassandra was so cagey about telling me who her guests were," laughed Theodore, "and I did not have the faintest idea who they could be."  "Well, now you know," chuckled Cassandra and looked very pleased with herself, "I will fetch some snacks for supper and then George and Jeffrey can tell us their news now that they are a bit more awake after a nap." 

The Hungry Bears

In a short while Cassandra Bear came in with a tray full of bowls piled high with all sorts of delicious looking snacks and placed them on the table.  She handed each one a plate. "Now, please help yourselves to as much as you can eat and I do not have any scales to check your weight afterwards," she teased.  The bears were hungry after the day's travelling and did not chat much during supper but then George Bear said, "We were not nearly as surprised to see you as you were to see us, Theodore.  You see, we cheated a little bit and heard your voice before we opened the door," and he laughed at their clever move, "but it is wonderful that we can have a mini- reunion here today."  Everyone nodded in agreement. Theodore asked what George and Jeffrey had done  since they met at Merlena Bear's party.  "Oh, all sorts of things," said Jeffrey, "George and I have had a marvelous time."  "Tell us all about it please, start at the beginning," begged Cassandra and curled up comfortably in her chair as she did earlier. 

174. A Reunion


A shriek of delight seemed to come out of the wall and almost at once the door opened with Cassandra Bear standing there smiling happily and looking as smart as ever. "Hello, Theodore Bear," she said, "I am so pleased you have come to visit me.  Welcome!  Step inside and we will have a wonderful reunion as I have two more visitors as well.  They have also just arrived and are having a little nap after their long journey.  But you know them too. Put your things down while I  fetch some fruit juice and then you must tell me how you got here and where all you have been."  Theodore sat down on the sofa and admired Cassandra's lovely sitting room. Soon she came in with two tall glasses of juice and a bowl of berries on a silver tray and placed it all on a little table between the sofa and the big chair where she sat down. "I often wondered if you were still traveling, Theodore," Cassandra said, "I was beginning to think you had changed your mind and gone home."

Theodore's Story

Theodore told Cassandra Bear in detail where he had been and everything he had seen. "Every minute of it has been worthwhile," he said, "I have been so pleased to see all the friends I made at Merlena Bear's party and also met some wonderful folk along the way.  One sees so many new things when you travel and I can really recommend it to everybody."  Cassandra listened attentively to all that Theodore had to tell and she had curled herself up comfortably in her big chair.  "Hmm," she said dreamily when Theodore had finished, "just maybe I will travel too one day.  It sounds like a lot of fun."  The door at the far end of the sitting room opened slowly and Theodore wondered who was wanting to come in.  Two heads each with a big smile appeared around the door and Theodore could hardly believe his eyes.  He stood up to greet Cassandra's other visitors.    

173. The Helpful Driver


Theodore Bear got off the bus and looked around to see if there was a map of the city on display but this time there was none.  He could not see an Information Office anywhere either and for a moment he felt a little worried.  Just then a car pulled up next to him and the driver leaned out of the window.  "This is the first time I have seen you here, Mr Bear, where are you wanting to go?" he said.  Theodore read the sign on the car's roof. TAXI it said in big red letters. "I am going to visit my friend who lives at Number 289 Prima Via," Theodore answered him, "but I really do not know how to get there.  Do you?"  The taxi driver smiled, "Sure, I know how to get there.  I know nearly every street in the city.  This is the first time I will be giving a real bear a ride in my taxi and I won't charge you at all."  "Thank you, Sir, that is very kind of you," said Theodore and, feeling very relieved, he climbed into the taxi, putting his back pack and cane on the seat next to him.

Prima Via

Theodore was amazed at how easily the taxi driver edged his car through the heavy traffic and found his way to Prima Via.  He stopped outside Number 289.  "Here you are, Mr Bear, all safe and sound.  Have a lovely time while in our city."  "Thank you very much, Mr Taxi Man," said Theodore and offered his paw to shake the driver's hand before he got out.  The taxi drove away with a wave and a toot on his horn.  Theodore put his back pack on his back again and swung his cane as he opened the gate and walked up the long path to the front door.  "Cassandra has a lovely garden here," Theodore thought and then he knocked on the door.  A voice spoke next to Theodore and he looked around but saw nobody. "Where did that come from?" he wondered.  "Hello, who is there?"  The voice came again and then Theodore realised he needed to speak into the microphone hidden in the wall.  "It is me, Theodore Bear from the desert," he said.

172. The Big River


Theodore chose a window seat like he always did but this time he could not see too well as it was raining and the water ran down the glass in little streams.  "It is a good thing the countryside is so flat here otherwise I would not be able to see any mountains in the distance," Theodore thought and he almost nodded off to sleep.  Then he realised that it was no longer raining and there were some patches of blue sky to be seen.  The bus turned off the highway and entered a city.  Theodore could see the skyscrapers first and later he saw a wide river with a tall steel bridge ahead. "Wow! That is a big river and look at all those long barges and boats sailing on it," he said to himself, "that is about the biggest river I have seen so far," and the next minute the bus went onto the bridge with the  girders of the steel structure flashing by the window as it traveled.

Flat Country

The driver stopped the bus at a terminus in the city centre for a short while and soon continued the journey.  Theodore noted the many fountains and green open spaces and tree-lined avenues.  "This is a very pretty place," he decided, "it must be pleasant to live here and I am rather sorry to be just passing by."  The farming areas they drove through afterwards were also flat and Theodore missed the excitement of watching mountains and forests from the window. After some time the bus stopped in another big city with broad streets and numerous parks to pick up more passengers. And then it was back to driving through flat scenery.  It was later in the afternoon when the next signs of a city appeared and soon the bus was approaching the main center.  Theodore took the little white envelope out of his back pack and read the name and address on the last card.   "Cassandra Bear, 289 Prima Via," he told himself, "I hope I don't get lost trying to find her."  

171. The Next Moves


It had been an exciting day for Miss Festival Bear, Jenny Bear and Theodore and they leaned back in Jenny's comfortable chairs to enjoy a cup of honey tea.  "I have heard more music in the last two days than in my whole life before now," said Theodore, "and it has been marvelous.  I have been able to enjoy a new experience with each friend I have visited on my travels. Thank you so much for your hospitality, Jenny, but now it is time I moved on again.  Tomorrow I would like to catch a bus and I think I need to leave quite early." Jenny Bear was sorry to hear that Theodore was going to leave so soon again but offered to pack some food for the road for him and both she and Miss Festival Bear said they would accompany him to the bus stop.  "I will also have to leave the day after for another festival," said Miss Bear, "poor Jenny, you will be all alone again."


The next morning dawned grey and cloudy but Theodore wore his green bow anyway. "This has been a lucky bow so far and I have always had sunshine for traveling. Everything is packed and ready," he said to himself as he slung his back pack onto his back and picked up his cane.  Jenny and Miss Festival Bear were waiting for him and they walked to the bus stop.  "It looks like rain," said Jenny Bear, "you will not be able to see much in the distance if it does."  "Maybe it will be sunny further north," said Miss Bear hopefully.  The bus was waiting at the terminus and Theodore said Good-bye to his two friends.  "Thank you for a lovely time, Jenny.  Have a safe journey to the next festival, Miss Bear," he said and waved to them from the top step of the bus.  The first fine drops of rain began to fall and they all waved to each other once more before Jenny and Miss Bear hurried over to stand under a roof. 


Theodore's Travels © 2010

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