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    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
Submitted by Dave Free on 6 December 2006 - 4:53pm.

“Pl. . . Plea. . .Pleased to meet you lad.” gasped the bear extending his big paw to Jake as a sign of friendship. “My name is Bentley. Sir Bentley, the Bear of Sharewood Forest.”

If Jake hadn’t been wheezing so hard from the run up the hill and the wrestle with the bear, his jaw would have hit the soft floor of the meadow. “A bear named Bentley that talks?” he asked incredulously, forgetting his princely manners for just a minute before taking the bear paw with his right hand.

“Not only can I talk,” replied Bentley, “I can give noogies too!” And before Jake could make a move to escape, the friendly and fun hearted Bentley had Jake’s head under his left arm and was giving him a huge noogie that only bears with huge paws can give--the kind that tickle more than they hurt.

“Say you like my name! Say you like my name!” teased Bentley while Jake struggled for a few minutes and then crumpled in a spasm of laughter. “Okay, Okay, I like your name.”

Bentley let up and they all three laid back in the grass and laughed until their sides hurt. Jake was the first to speak. “I’m sorry, Sir Bentley. I didn’t meant to hurt your neck or your feelings but I thought you were going to eat my sister and I have never met a talking bear before.”

“Eat your sister!? I guess I did kind of sneak up on her, didn’t I? Well, I apologize and I laud your bravery in attempting to protect your sister from what you thought was a princess-eating bear. However, there is no excuse for making fun of my good name, even if I am the first talking bear you have ever met.” Bentley pretended to be offended.

“Actually,” he continued, “I think my name is a bit stuffy. My mother dreamed I would grow up to be a butler and named me Bentley so that I could become ‘Bentley, the Butler’. But I surprised her and became the ambassador to Sharewood Forest from King Joseph’s Court instead. My mother is immensely pleased with my line of work but unfortunately, I still have the name of a butler.” Pausing for a minute he added, “I guess it could be worse. She could have name me Yogi, or Booboo, or worse yet painted me pink and called me a Care bear!” At that the two travelers burst into laughter again.

“Now you have learned the tale behind my moniker (that means name in hoity-toity), I presume that I am in the presence of Jake , the Knight of the Great Smile, and Jessica, Princess of All that is Pink?” Jessica and Jacob both nodded, apologizing for having forgotten their manners.

“And what may I ask, brings you to my humble forest?” asked Bentley. “The communique (that means message in hoity-toity) from your uncle said only to prepare to defend the forest against Contention and to help the bearer of the message as I would the highest royalty in the land.”

“The war with Contention is not going well.” replied Jessica, her face still flushed from all the laughing, but suddenly getting quite serious. “More warriors are needed. Our uncle has asked that we try to get to our father and request that he send his warriors right away.”

“We have to cross the Swamp of Selfishness by ourselves,” interrupted Jake.

“Oh my, my, the Swamp of Selfishness! And all by yourselves!” The bear exclaimed. And then seeing the fear that had come into Jake’s face, he quickly added, “Well, well, not to worry. Why, with such a brave and strong Knight that cares so much for his sister, I myself would happily cross the swamp. In fact, if I didn’t have to stay and organize the defense of the forest against the invaders, it would be a pleasure to cross that old swamp with you two!”

Jake smiled, wanting to believe the bear with all of his heart, but not sure that he had enough trust in himself to do so.

Bentley proceeded, “Yessiree, I think you two are well prepared for the swamp, but as long as you are here and I am here, we might as well travel together through the forest and I’ll tell you a few of the secrets I happen to know about Old Swampy. You must be tired from your long walk this morning. Climb on my back and I’ll give you a ride.”

Jake gave Jess a leg-up so she could climb onto Bentley’s back and then he ran back down to the stream to rescue his shoes and socks while the others went back up the hill to get Spot, Jake’s bat, and Jessica’s backpack. They met again where the trail and the stream leave the meadow and Jake swung up onto Bentley’s back behind Jessica. They then lumbered off into the forest with Bentley providing the ride and the instruction!

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