Wolstencroft the Bear 
by Karen Lewis

Not long ago and not far away there was a beautiful, big teddy bear who sat on a shelf in a drug store waiting for someone to buy him and give him a home.

His name was Wolstencroft. And he was no ordinary bear.

His fur was a lovely shade of light grey, and he had honey colored ears, nose and feet. His eyes were warm and kind and he had a wonderfully wise look on his face.

Wolstencroft looked very smart in a brown plaid waistcoat with a gold satin bow tie at his neck.

Attached to the tie was a tag with his name written in bold, black letters: Wolstencroft.

He had arrived in the store just before Christmas when there had been a lovely big tree in the window, all decorated with fairy lights. Yards and yards of sparkling tinsel had been draped over everything, and holiday music had been playing all the time. Wolstencroft was especially fond of Jingle Bells. He liked its light, tinkling sounds. It always made him feel merry.

At that time there had been lots of other bears to keep him company. In fact, there had been so many teddy bears crowded onto that one narrow shelf that he had scarcely had room to move.

But, one by one they had all gone. Gleefully waving goodbye as they were carried off to their new homes. Until finally, he was the only teddy bear left in the entire store.

He had hoped that Santa Claus would drop by on Christmas Eve and deliver him to a good home. But he hadn't. Santa had been too busy that year, delivering even more presents than usual.

Wolstencroft felt sad and lonely sitting there all by himself on the shelf that was high above the Christmas cards. He longed to have a child take him home and love him and play with him. But, most of all, to hug him. For no hug is ever too big for a teddy bear.

He was trying hard not to cry because he knew that tears would make his eyes all puffy and red and then he would have even less chance of finding a home.

But why oh why didn't someone choose him?

Why, he wondered, was he passed over so many times for other less beautiful bears?

Then one day, shortly before Easter, three bunny rabbits were placed on the shelf beside him.

They all had very big ears and feet and long legs. All three were wearing woolen sweaters.

Rita Rabbit wore a pink sweater. Roger Rabbit a green one. And Ronnie wore blue.

Roger and Ronnie were twins, and Rita was their sister.

"My you are a handsome bear," Rita told Wolstencroft after the store had closed for the night. "I'm surprised that no one has bought you and taken you home."

"So am I," replied Wolstencroft and, although he tried very hard to stop it, a tear rolled down his furry cheek.

Ronnie and Roger had jumped down off the shelf and were playing tag up and down the aisles.

"Be careful and don't knock anything over," Rita called to them.

Rita looked closely at Wolstencroft from every angle. She peered into his face and circled around him, her nose twitching. He had noticed that bunnies' noses twitch a lot. Then she sat down and remained deep in thought for a very long time.

"Well," he asked her, unable to stand the suspense any longer. "What do you think is wrong with me? Why doesn't anyone want to buy me?"

"It must be your name," Rita answered.

"My name!" exclaimed Wolstencroft. "Why, what's wrong with my name?"

"Oh, there's nothing wrong with your name," Rita replied. "Wolstencroft is a wonderful name, but it's too long for some people to say. Not everyone can pronounce it properly."

Now Wolstencroft had always been able to say his name correctly. But then, it was his very own name and everyone can say his or her own name. At least he thought that they could. Not when they are very little, of course. He couldn't say his name when he was a tiny baby bear. But after he had started going to school he knew it very well.

"Wolstencroft," the teacher would call out. "Will you recite the alphabet for us today?"

And he would name all the letters from A to Z. All 26 of them. He was a very smart bear.

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