Travel Schlepp Goes to England and Meets a Friend
After we were done with work in Amsterdam, we flew to England.
We had lots of wonderful travels, and I'll tell you about them elsewhere. But here I want to let my English
friend William tell you his story.
My name is William, Bear of Yarmouth. Yarmouth is
a small village on the Isle of Wight in the south of
England where I was created and where I’d spent all of
my time, before meeting Master Karl and his lady,
Caroline, and, of course, Schlepp, Bear of Oregon, USA, with whom
I believe you are well acquainted.
By way of introduction, I’ll recant a brief history of
how I came into contact with your friends.
I was given to understand from the very beginning
that my purpose was to reside at The George, an ancient
and venerable lodging establishment in Yarmouth. Thus,
I was early on fitted with a navy sweater embroidered,
The George Hotel, Yarmouth, I.O.W. and was assigned
to inhabit Room Ten, a lovely wood paneled room with
two tall casement windows overlooking the sound and
with a comfortable wooden deck so guests could take the sun in relative
privacy. From my given position in the
center of the huge soft bed in Room Ten I could enjoy the sight of hourly
ferry boats coming and going, bringing
visitors to our famous island.
I was given to understand that any guest of Room
Ten could choose to purchase me, but I wasn’t concerned that this would
occur as I’d been a resident of Room Ten for a very long time and seen many
guests arrive and
depart, without so much as inquiring as to the cost of
purchasing me. I believe this occurred, in part, because
The George is so well-respected and costly that its
patrons tend to be, well, somewhat of an advanced age
apparently without need for accumulating a small bear.
Usually, the lady of the party upon catching first glimpse
of me might politely mummer, “charming.” The
gentlemen usually just move me from the bed onto a side
table without comment. Generally, the English are very
favorably disposed toward stuffed bears, even if their
appreciation tends to be somewhat reserved in nature.
I don’t mean to imply that I was unhappy with my
circumstances as I had seen on the tele (or T.V. as you
Americans say) scenes of rampaging youngsters dragging
behind dilapidated stuffed bears who looked not at all
pleased with their circumstances.
So, it was with the calm of long experience that I
heard a key in the door of Room Ten and saw a gentleman enter carrying
several travel bags. I did note his neat, but fairly long ponytail
- something I’ve not seen before in Room Ten. Closely behind him followed
a silver haired lady, looking much more in keeping with my customary visitors.
She was also carrying several items of luggage which she dropped with obvious
relief. (It’s a bit of a climb up to Room Ten.). Of course, she
immediately began to examine the room – as one would certainly
expect. However, her first words were a bit of a surprise in their
enthusiasm. “Wow!!,” she exclaimed. “This is
totally COOL.” Now, I must admit it was a rather
inclement day (as is often the case on the I.O.W.), but I
didn’t really feel that Room Ten was particularly chilly.
Of course, I was wearing my sweater, so perhaps I’d
grown accustomed to the temperature.
In any event, it was immediately apparent that these
visitors were NOT English and I quickly realized that
these must be Americans. I was rather excited by this.
You see, these were my first American visitors. Oh I’d
seen Americans on the tele and heard the maids talking
about their exuberant natures and generous practices of
handing out our pound coinage as if it they were not real
money. So I watched with considerable interest as the
two explored the room and deck (despite the drizzle),
exclaiming periodically over each of Room Ten’s many
good features. I was glad they were pleased with Room
Ten, but not surprised, as it is a lovely place.
When the lady, Caroline, turned her attention toward
me with an exclamation, “Look Karl, a teddy bear!!!!” I
was somewhat startled by her enthusiasm and by the
gentleman’s response, which seemed equally excited. I
wondered, "Don’t they have stuffed bears in America?"
The answer to my question was quick to arrive when,
much to MY amazement, out of the gentleman’s travel bag hopped the furriest,
fattest stuffed bear I’ve ever
encountered. He, who I quickly learned was named
Schlepp (a name almost as odd as he appeared), seemed to jump right at
me (I believe Master Karl actually did the
placement). I must admit to some alarm when the furry
one threw his arm around me and began to query me so
rapidly that I had no opportunity to respond.
The lady, Caroline, seemed very pleased that,
“Schlepp has a friend” as she put it. Having never had a
“friend” I found this comment a bit odd. In any event, the
gentlemen expressed his need to have a short lay down
after the rigors of travel, while the lady indicated her
desire to settle down in the downstairs reading room with her book and
a cold drink. Off she went and, much to my surprise, when the gentleman,
(who Schlepp had already
informed me was named “Karl”) stretched out on the bed, he took particular
care not to dislodge me and my new
“friend”. I thought that was rather endearing and showed lovely sensibilities--especially
for an American.
Whilst Master Karl napped and Caroline was off
reading downstairs with her cool drink, my new “friend”
proceeded to regale me with the most outrageous series
of adventure stories. Now, I will admit that I was
warming up to the bear somewhat as he seemed to
possess such youthful delight and, though only slightly
larger than me, insisted on calling me “Wee Willie.” I
was torn between amusement and mild irritation at his
familiarity, but couldn’t resist the lure of his story telling
abilities, which I must say were quite enjoyable.
As matters progressed I did find myself wondering if
this wild and wooly bear was totally in touch with reality.
It became quickly apparent that he actually believed the
fantastic stories he was recounting, in which he always
figured quite prominently, whether on a gondola in Venice or perched upon
a giant marble statue in Vienna.
At one point it became apparent that he was fascinated by my sweater--to
the extent that he brashly insisted trying it on his own furry person.
I thought it fit him rather well, but he insisted it was much too small.
I hesitated to ask him any questions for fear that he’d go off on another
wild tangent about his adventures, but I was curious to know if perhaps stuffed
bears in America are all unclothed. He cheerfully confirmed my suspicions
in that regard, telling me that most of the bears he knew were “just too furry
for sweaters.” He also explained that he lives in New Mexico, which
is a southwestern state in America where it is mostly quite warm and sunny
and even in winter, he informed me, Karl and “Caro” (as he called the lady,
Caroline) kept their home quite warm and cozy.
With considerable relief I was able to reclaim my
sweater just as Master Karl began to stir from his nap.
Upon rising, he pulled out a small computer from his
travel case, followed by an unusual looking camera. I
quickly discerned that somehow the camera and
computer were connected and, quick as you please, he
was enjoying beautiful photographs of various English
scenes, into which the bear, Schlepp of Oregon, actually
did figure rather prominently. I began to wonder to
myself, Could some of those wild stories actually be true?
No, I thought. I’m becoming infected with American
enthusiasm. The next thing you know I’ll be seeing
cowboys and Indians on my bed.
(Must stop now as my typist, the lady, Caroline, herself,
informs me she must do her clerical work. She promises
me we’ll get on with the story quite soon. I can’t wait to
tell you about what happened when Caroline returned to
Room Ten and made the telephone inquiry at the front
desk which I’d thought never to hear and which would
change my world entirely.)
Chapter 2 continues Willie's story.