She caught a glimpse of a fierce grizzly bear looking at her from the page, and quickly threw the book from her. It fell with a crash in the middle of the room, but beside it stood the great grizzly, who had wrenched himself from the page before the book closed.
"Now," cried the leopard from his perch, "you'd better look out for yourselves! You can't laugh at him as you did at me. The bear has both claws and teeth."
"Indeed I have," said the bear, in a low, deep, growling voice. "And I know how to use them, too. If you read in that book you'll find I'm described as a horrible, cruel and remorseless grizzly, whose only business in life is to eat up little girls--shoes, dresses, ribbons and all! And then, the author says, I smack my lips and glory in my wickedness."
"That's awful!" said the donkey, sitting upon his haunches and shaking his head sadly. "What do you suppose possessed the author to make you so hungry for girls? Do you eat animals, also?"
"The author does not mention my eating anything but little girls," replied the bear.
"Very good," remarked the clown, drawing a long breath of relief. "you may begin eating Jane Gladys as soon as you wish. She laughed because I had no back."
"And she laughed because my legs are out of perspective," brayed the donkey.
"But you also deserve to be eaten," screamed the leopard from the back of the leather chair; "for you laughed and poked fun at me because I had no claws nor teeth! Don't you suppose Mr. Grizzly, you could manage to eat a clown, a donkey and a monkey after you finish the girl?"
"Perhaps so, and a leopard into the bargain," growled the bear. "It will depend on how hungry I am. But I must begin on the little girl first, because the author says I prefer girls to anything."
Jane Gladys was much frightened on hearing this conversation, and she began to realize what the man meant when he said he gave her the book to be revenged. Surely papa would be sorry he hadn't bought the "Complete Works of Peter Smith" when he came home and found his little girl eaten up by a grizzly bear--shoes, dress, ribbons and all!
The bear stood up and balanced himself on his rear legs.
"This is the way I look in the book," he said. "Now watch me eat the little girl."
He advanced slowly toward Jane Gladys, and the monkey, the leopard, the donkey and the clown all stood around in a circle and watched the bear with much interest.
But before the grizzly reached her the child had a sudden thought, and cried out:
"Stop! You mustn't eat me. It would be wrong."
"Why?" asked the bear, in surprise.
"Because I own you. You're my private property," she answered.
"I don't see how you make that out," said the bear, in a disappointed tone.
"Why, the book was given to me; my name's on the front leaf. And you belong, by rights, in the book. So you mustn't dare to eat your owner!"
The Grizzly hesitated.
"Can any of you read?" he asked.
"I can," said the clown.
"Then see if she speaks the truth. Is her name really in the book?"
The clown picked it up and looked at the name.
"It is," said he. "'Jane Gladys Brown;' and written quite plainly in big letters."
The bear sighed.
"Then, of course, I can't eat her," he decided. "That author is as disappointing as most authors are."
"But he's not as bad as the artist," exclaimed the donkey, who was still trying to stand up straight.
"The fault lies with yourselves," said Jane Gladys, severely. "Why didn't you stay in the book, where you were put?"
The animals looked at each other in a foolish way, and the clown blushed under his white paint.
"Really--" began the bear, and then he stopped short.
The door bell rang loudly.
"It's mamma!" cried Jane Gladys, springing to her feet. "She's come home at last. Now, you stupid creatures--"
But she was interrupted by them all making a rush for the book. There was a swish and a whirr and a rustling of leaves, and an instant later the book lay upon the floor looking just like any other book, while Jane Gladys' strange companions had all disappeared.