Burly Chapter Three

(Previously in the book: Herman anticipated fifth birthday on the plains of Texas during the Depression. He was overjoyed to receive a home-made bear, but his brother Tad’s ouburst ruined the moment.)
Herman climbed into the loft, took his clothes off and got into bed with Burly. He looked out of the window at the dark sky and thought how lonely he still felt. Burly was wonderful, and he could him hug him; but, Herman still felt lonely and sad. Part of it was because Tad made such a fuss and another was—well, Herman still didn’t know why. Again, as so many nights, tears began to fall from Herman’s eyes.
“Herman,” Burly said in a soft, soothing voice, “please don’t cry.”
Herman looked around. He didn’t know where the voice came from. Then he looked down to see Burly smiling up at him.
“Burly! You’re alive! You can talk!”
“Not so loud,” Burly shushed him. “Yes, I can talk, but only when it’s just you and me. When Callie and Tad, or anyone else is around I’m just a regular stuffed animal.”
“But why?”
Burly wrinkled his brow. “I don’t know. I don’t know why I can talk. But when your tear hit the top of my head I began to talk. That’s all I know.”
“Oh this is wonderful,” Herman whispered, hugging Burly tightly. “Oh! I didn’t hurt you by squeezing too right, did I?”
“Oh no,” Burly replied. “We burlap bears are pretty tough.”
“And you’ll be my friend!”
“Of course, I’ll be your friend,” Burly said. “I’ve been your friend ever since I was that feed bag. Remember, you rode in the pick-up to buy me at the feed store.”
“Not really,” Herman had to admit.
“You impressed me because you were so nice and kind and polite,” Burly explained. “And honest.”
“Thank you.”
“See how polite you are. Do you want to know a secret? I t was really my idea for me to be made into a bear. I made the bag rustle underneath your father’s hand that day so he would notice me and get the idea.”
“I didn’t think papa liked me enough to think of it on his own,” Herman sighed, a bit sad.
“Oh no, Herman,” Burly corrected him firmly. “Your father loves you very much. I could have sat there rustling all day long, but if he hadn’t really wanted you to have a bear, my rustling wouldn’t have meant much.”
“Oh.” Herman was happier knowing his father did love him after all.
“And do you know why he left so quickly after the birthday party?”
“He had to check the horses and cows,” Herman replied innocently.
“Wrong again,” Burly said. “He left because he didn’t want you to see him crying.”
“You mean papa cries? Gosh, I didn’t think anybody that big and strong ever cried.”
“Your father cries all the time, but you and your brother and sister don’t know it. He loves you all very much, and it makes him sad when he can’t give you things.”
“I guess things don’t matter as long as I know papa loves me.”
“Oh my, nice and kind and polite and smart too,” Burly sang. “I knew I was right to want to belong to you.”
Herman smiled a little, then thought of Tad and sighed. “I just wish Tad didn’t hate me.”
“Your brother doesn’t hate you,” Burly said. “He’s just jealous because he never got a stuffed bear. And he’s jealous because he has to go to school and help on the farm more than you do.”
“I do what I can,” Herman protested. “I’m only five.”
“Six. But you see, Tad is still just a little boy, even though he is bigger than you, so he doesn’t understand these things.”
“So maybe when he’s older he won’t hate me,” Herman said hopefully.
“Of course,” Burly assured him. “After all, he is your brother.”
Herman smiled and hugged Burly, knowing he would never feel sad or lonely again. “And you are my friend.”
“Yes, and you are my friend.”
Herman heard Callie and Tad come into the house, muttering and crying. He felt sorry they had gotten into trouble but felt good that they would know better as they got older. Like he would know better as he got older, with the help of Burly Bear, of course. He hugged Burly once more.
“Happy birthday, Burly.”

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