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Nighttime Teddy Bear

"Dear Tooth Fairy," began the note under June's pillow. "I don't want any money for this tooth. All I want is for my Teddy Bear to be alive. Love, June."

That night, while June was sleeping, her mother tiptoed into the room and slipped her hand under June's pillow. She slid out the note wrapped around the tooth and replaced it with a shiny dime.

Out in the lighted hall she noticed the writing on the paper around the tooth. She smiled as she read June's note. She went to the kitchen and neatly printed a reply: "Dear June, Your Teddy Bear will come alive each night from midnight until 2 A.M. Your friend, The Tooth Fairy." Still smiling, June's mother tiptoed into her daughter's room again and slipped the note under the pillow.

The real Tooth Fairy was watching while all this was happening. When she saw the note, she shook her head. "I'll have to do something about this," she thought. "I can't have children thinking I don't keep my promises."

The next morning, when June saw the note, she begged her mother to let her stay up until midnight that night to see her Teddy Bear come alive.

"No, June. I think that the Tooth Fairy meant that you would see your Teddy Bear come alive in your dreams." That night June made especially sure that her Teddy Bear was tucked in beside her when she went to bed.

At midnight she awakened suddenly. Something was tickling her. As she sat up sleepily, two furry arms wrapped themselves around her. It was her Teddy Bear. He was alive!

June played with her Teddy Bear for about an hour. Then, "Gee, I'm hungry," she said. "And now that you're alive, I guess you have to eat, too." She carried him downstairs and opened the refrigerator.

"What do Teddy Bears eat?" she thought. She made a peanut butter sandwich and poured a glass of milk. She spilled some milk into a bowl and dipped a piece of bread in it. The Teddy Bear slurped it up.

At exactly two o'clock, the Teddy Bear lay down and stopped moving. He was just a toy again. At first June started to cry. But then she remembered that he would be alive again the next night.

Soon she was asleep.

The next morning, June told her mother about how Teddy Bear had really come to life, just as the Tooth Fairy promised. Her mother smiled and said, "That's nice, dear."

Each night June played with her Teddy Bear for two hours. Then she went back to sleep and he went back to being a toy again. For a few weeks everything seemed fine. But then June noticed that Teddy Bear didn't seem as playful as he used to be. He would just lie around. And often he didn't want to eat his bread and milk.

One morning, at breakfast, June burst into tears. "What's the matter?" asked her father.

June explained that she was worried about her Teddy Bear. "The last few nights, he's been acting like he's sick."

"Maybe he has a virus," said her mother.

"Or maybe he's not getting the right things to eat," said her father.

"Can't we take him to the vet?" pleaded June. "I don't want him to die!"

"I don't think the vet would know much about Teddy Bears, honey," said June's father. June started to cry again. Her parents looked at each other.

"I'll tell you what," said June's mother. "This afternoon after school I'll take you to the natural history museum. They'll surely know what's good for Teddy Bears."

That afternoon June showed her Teddy Bear to Mr. Krieg at the museum and explained her problem.

"Well," he said, "that's a koala. It comes from Australia. What have you been feeding it?"

"Bread and milk," June replied.

"That's your problem," said Mr. Krieg with a wink at June's mother. "Koalas can't live very long on bread and milk. They need eucalyptus leaves."

"Yew-what?" asked June.

"Yew-ka-lip-tus," said Mr. Krieg. "That's a special kind of tree that grows in Australia. We don't have any around here. The climate isn't right for them."

"Oh, mother!" June exclaimed. "We've got to get a eucalyptus tree right away. We can plant it in the back yard."

"June, don't be ridiculous," said her mother. "Do you know how much it would cost to send for a tree from Australia? And besides, Mr. Krieg said they don't grow here."

"But my Teddy Bear is going to die!" June said.

"I don't want to hear any more about it," said her mother. "Let's go home."

For the next two days June thought and thought. Finally she got an idea. It was her only hope. One of her teeth was loose. She wiggled and wiggled it, and at last it came out. She wrapped it in a note asking the Tooth Fairy for a eucalyptus tree and tucked it under her pillow.

June's mother sighed when she saw the note. "I will try my best, June," she wrote back, "but you mustn't be too disappointed if I can't get you a eucalyptus tree. Love from the Tooth Fairy."

"That will never do," thought the real Tooth Fairy.

And the next day, the mailman rang the bell with a Special Delivery package. It was a eucalyptus tree, straight from Australia. No one ever found out who had sent it. No one ever figured out why it grew so well in June's backyard. But June often thought at night, as she cuddled her playful Teddy Bear, "Thank you, Tooth Fairy."








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