An Account of Teddy's Adventures on Berry Island
Jodie belongs to rather a lot of people - to her mother who is little and brown and busy, to her father who is big and fair and busy, to her brother who is tall and slim and busy, to her two sets of grandparents and lots of Aunts, Uncles and Cousins who are all busy in Melbourne and Tasmania and Gippsland.
But in a special way, she belongs to Teddy, because Teddy is her friend and she is his. Teddy is always there and he is never busy unless with the very same busy-ness as Jodie.
Teddy and Jodie are both five - so naturally he perfectly understands everything she says - and often everything she doesn't which is better.
Last Christmas, some of Jodie's cousins came to stay with her. They were Patrick, who is five like Jodie, but who needs chocolate brown pencils for his eyes and hair, and his sister Samme who is four, and who needs all the same colours as Jodie. The three had a very fine time together, and on New Year's Eve it was decided to have an early picnic on Berry Island - a place Jodie and Teddy knew well because they often fly Jodie's kite their and Jodie's father helps. Somtimes while he is running about all over Berry Island, Jodie and Teddy go for a short walk until he has finished helping. But on New Year's Eve, the kite was left at home - instead they took rugs for the grandmother to sit on, chops to barbecue and bread and Christmas cake and cold ham and fruit and billies for tea for the grandfather, and coffee and cigarettes for the mothers, and cold drinks for everyone, especially fathers.
While the children were gathering sticks for the barbecue, an oil tanker passed so close it seemed they might touch it. Everyone ran to the edge of the water and Teddy sat down on a warm rock to watch.
After a few minutes he realised that someone was tugging at his toe. Like all bears, Teddy has a little stooping trouble, but he finally managed to bend gracefully over and found himself eye to eye with a large crab.
'Hell-o,' said Teddy, surprised. 'Do you want me?'
'I do if you're a member of the Universal Brotherhood of Teddy Bears?' said the crab looking anxious.
'U.B.T.B.S.?' said Teddy - pronouncing it 'Ubtubs' as well informed bears do. 'Well, of course I am.'
'No "of course" about it,' said the crab, a little crossly. He sidled nervously to the right and peered with protruding eyes upwards, then he sidled to the left and viewed Teddy's outline again. 'Do you carry any credentials?' he asked. Teddy was naturally wearing very little on such a warm evening, so the crab answered himself - 'No, no, I can see you don't, but you do answer the description.'
Teddy didn't bother to ask what that was! 'Time's getting short,' the crab muttered, 'have to take a chance.'
He scuttled quickly up the rock and sat close to Teddy. 'My name's Crusty,' he began. Teddy nodded in a friendly way and Crusty went on, 'I get about rather a lot and yesterday I was given an important message for a member of Ubtubs.' (Teddy was pleased to notice he now pronounced it properly.) 'Don't ask how I got it - let's just say the seaweed underwater grapevine - but would you believe it - you're the first Teddy Bear I've met around here in the last twenty four hours?'
Teddy wasn't really surprised because he had never actually met a brother bear on Berry Island himself.
'I was pleased to see you, I can tell you,' Crusty continued. 'I couldn't wait about much longer - I've another appointment on Manly beach later myself.'
'Thank you for waiting,' Teddy said politely - 'But the message - what is it - and who sent it?'
Crusty stood up, crossed his eyes, put his pinchers behind him and said all in one breath - 'To-the-first-member-UBTBS-to-be-found-on-or- near-Berry-Island-kindly-report-on-clearing-at-top-of-hill-at-exactly- midnight-on-New-Year's-Eve-where-you-will-receive-instructions-please- wait-alone-and-on-no-account-to-tell-anybody-repeat-ANYBODY-as-this-is- Top-Secret-and-oblige-with-love-Chubtubs.'
Teddy gave a little gasp when Crusty said 'Chubtubs'. Chief-Universally-Beloved-Teddy-Bear to give his full title. Crusty uncrossed his eyes, 'Well,' he asked, 'did you get all that and can you manage it?'
'There's no question of "can I",' said Teddy, 'of course I must if Chubtubs is counting on me. But how - ?'
'Sorry,' said Crusty hastily, 'I'm only a courier - I must be off.'
He began to hurry away. 'But I must say,' he called back as he vanished behind the rock, 'you are an excellent colour for camouflage - leaves and rocks and things,' he ended vaguely.
Teddy was so astonished at the whole affair that he fell back onto his rock with his legs in the air, and Jodie, coming by just at that moment, picked him up as a matter of course and carried him back to the Camp Fire where she sat him under a tree.
The tanker had passed on the water and everyone returned to the barbecue - soon sparks and scented smoke began to drift through the darkening trees, the crackle of burning twigs, the sizzle of chops, clinking cups and friendly voices mingled with the sounds of Patrick and Samme and Jodie as they ran about in the dusk, and Teddy wondered for a minute if he had been dreaming. But really, he did not question what he must do - only how to do it - Chubtub would only ask of a Brother Teddy whatever was necessary. So as it grew darker, Teddy began very carefully to burrow backwards among the undergrowth at the foot of the tree.
He knew that Jodie would not actually forget him for very long, but if he was quite out of sight while she was busy with Patrick and Samme he might manage to be left behind. This was exactly what happened - when parents began packing up, the children were sent ahead to the car with rugs and cushions, and what with everyone bustling and talking so much, it was not until Jodie was almost ready to be tucked into bed that the cry went up - 'Where is Teddy?' - Where indeed? First of all of course, Jodie and her family went back to Berry Island - but by this time it was quite dark, no one seemed certain exactly where Teddy had last been seen - and Teddy himself took care to remain well hidden.
Jodie was naturally a little upset, though not so upset as Teddy, who felt heartbroken when he could not answer her call.
There was one thing he could do and that was to send a message via Intersqueaker Communications - this is a special built in power that Bears have, but rarely use, except, as in this case, in very Important Emergencies. Of course it can only be used to communicate with other Bears. Fortunately living in Jodie's house, there is another, very old, very wise, Bear. Many years ago he was Comforting Bear to Jodie's Daddy; now, having reached meditating age he spends most of his time very happily on top of a wardrobe Thinking.
Jodie's Teddy was able to get through to Old Teddy with very little delay - and you can imagine the load off Teddy's mind when Old Teddy - himself a respected member of UBTUB's - understood the situation in a flash and promised to explain matters to Jodie.
It was strangely noticeable that when Jodie reached home feeling rather sad, Old Teddy was somehow waiting in her bed, and in a very few minutes she was fast asleep - smiling! I think Old Teddy made her understand that all was well with Young Teddy - though by now she may have forgotten exactly what he said!
Back at Berry Island, Teddy felt free to prepare for his adventure, and as midnight drew nearer, he made sure he was in the exact middle of the clearing on top of the hill.
At the very hour, high above in the night sky he heard a musical humming sound coming closer. Down between the dark trees came a whirling shape exactly like an enormous multi-coloured top - it was, in fact, a Space Top. It spun to halt only a few feet from where Teddy waited - a door in its side swung open, and out stepped a very large, very wise-and-loving-looking-bear. CHUBTUB himself.
He came smiling towards Teddy with outstretched paw, 'Thank you for being here, Brother Bear,' he said warmly. 'I knew Crusty wouldn't fail me. I have only a few minutes - another Space Top is to pick me up here almost at once. As you will have guessed - the matter is urgent. There is a special despatch here for WOBTUB at present on Ursa, and two little Bears to be escorted Home.'
Teddy knew exactly what this meant - you probably do too, but in case not, I must tell you that all Teddies come from Ursa Minor. Ursa means 'bear' of course and Ursa Major and Minor are two planets - the Great Bear and the Little Bear. Ursa Minor is the Home Base for all Teddy Bears - they are appointed Comforters and Guardians for all children in the Universe - each bear is sent on his mission from Ursa and returns there - mission accomplished. So if your Teddy every seems really lost - never fear - he has just returned safely home to Ursa Minor. Most Teddies can make the journey alone, but very small or very young Teddies must be escorted by a Senior UBTUB - this is one of the laws of Ursa. Chubtub explained that he had offered to escort these two small bears home because he had an important problem for Wisest Old Beloved Teddy Bear - 'WOBTUB' - one of the managers of Ursine Affairs.
'Unfortunately I now have an even more urgent conference to attend on Mars - headquarters for Pubtubs - Peacemaking Universal Brother Teddy Bears. But the message must go through tonight and the Baby Bears must be home before dawn. They were sent in error to Earth and are urgently needed on another planet. Can you see it through?'
'Certainly I can,' said Teddy stoutly - he knew now why Crusty had said 'Top Secret Mission' - The Space Tops of Ursa are a closely guarded secret - they zoom about between planets faster than light, but they are not for eyes other than bears. It was long ago since Teddy had piloted a Space Top - five whole years in fact - but he was confident that he would remember how to do it.
Another Space Top spun musically down beside the first and after friendly greetings and farewells, carried Chubtubs away among the stars. Teddy had been conscious of rather a lot of giggling coming from the Space Top and when he climbed into it, he found two merry little bears, tumbling and wrestling on the floor.
Teddy was delighted to find that the minute he sat before the controls his Ubtub self took over - in a shorter time than it takes to write he and his passengers were spinning on a direct route to Ursa Minor. In one hour (peopletime) they were coming gently in to land on a woolly field of pink and blue grass and Teddy was delighted to see the familiar shapes of the honey-trees along the runway.
On Earth of course, bees give us our honey, but on Ursa, the little fat golden trees produce plump honey-pods all year round.
Wobtubs and Cubtub (Caretaker Ursa's Baby Teddy Bears) were waiting, and Teddy was able to hand over his charges safe and sound.
He was pleased and surprised to find that Inter-squeaker had been in touch with a few old friends, and when he had delivered his despatches and while his Space Top was being serviced for his return trip to Berry Island, Teddy was carried off to a special party in his honour where honey cakes, honey wine, honeyberry pie and just plain honey made a thoroughly satisfying feast. A most happy time was spent in talk and laughter and remembering and looking forward.
Nobody thanked Teddy for making the unexpected trip, because all Ubtubs are ready at any time to do what is necessary for all, but everyone was very pleased to see him indeed. He told them about Jodie and her cousins Patrick and Samme and their teddy bears, and about Old Teddy to whom they all sent messages. When at last it was time to leave, everyone came to the airport to wave goodbye. He and a Brother Bear, who was to fly the Space Top off on another mission when he dropped Teddy, climbed into the Top, laden with Honeyberries for very early morning tea.
Just before dawn, a slightly sticky Teddy waved goodbye to his friend and watched the Space Top vanish again into the paling sky. The he curled up beside the remnants of the barbecue, a few leaves fluttered on to the end of his nose but it was quite warm and he soon fell asleep.
Jodie's daddy, who just happened to by passing by Berry Island about daybreak, was rather pleased to find him there, and carried him home, where Jodie and Teddy wished each other a very happy new year over breakfast.
Illustrations by Philip Jordan