Nell and Boris
by Jennifer Lynn Bailey
(Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
“Nell,” said Mother Bear, “your father and I would like you to take Boris to the park today. The garage is a mess and we plan on cleaning it while you are away.”
“Sure!” said Nell. “You can count on me!” She’d show them just how responsible she could be!
“Thank you, Nell,” said Mother Bear. “Boris might not like picking lilies, tiptoeing through the puddles, or reading under tall trees like you do, but we know you’ll have a different kind of fun with your brother.”
Boris leapt into the room and grabbed Nell by the paw. “Let’s go!” he shrieked, pulling Nell out the door toward the park. I can handle this, thought Nell. Mother and Father will be so pleased!
But alas, there was mud. So much mud… and that was when Nell knew there would be trouble.
“Mud!” yelled Boris, diving into it at the bottom of the slide. Nell cringed as he rolled in it on his way to the swings. “Oh no!” she mumbled as he smeared it on himself like camouflage paint and ran between the trees.
“Boris, stop!” Nell said. Boris didn’t stop. His overalls were encased in mud, which cracked as he ran.
“Boris! Stop!” Nell said again. Boris didn’t stop. His fur was matted and tangled and he ran as though nothing held him back.
“BORIS! STOP!” Nell cried in her loudest voice. This time Boris heard her. “Mother and Father won’t like this one bit! You need to take a bath.” She grabbed his sticky paw and led him home.
“Shh,” she whispered as they sneaked up the cobblestone path to their house, “Mother and Father are still busy at work. We can handle this ourselves.” Nell swiftly nudged Boris into the house. “Don’t move an inch,” she told him. Nell peeked out the window and noticed that her parents hadn’t looked up from their cleaning. “I think we’re safe now,” she mumbled to Boris. As Nell turned she realized that Boris was not beside her. She gasped as she saw him dashing up the stairs, mud flying everywhere. His thick, wet paw prints reminded her of when she used too much ink with her stamp set. What a mess! Nell leaped up the stairs, two at a time, and grabbed Boris before he could cause any more trouble.
“Let’s start your bath,” Nell said. “I have to clean up this mess!” She searched for toys to keep him out of trouble. A yellow sailboat, his shiny blue pail, a squirting fish… Oh! His quacking duck! It was much too noisy for Nell, but she knew it was Boris’ favorite. Nell set it by the bathtub, poured in a generous amount of bubble bath, and left, closing the door firmly behind her.
Nell flew downstairs and peeked out the window. Her parents were finishing up. She grabbed a cloth and some soapy water, and got to work. Scrubbing each step from side to side, Nell made her way up the staircase.
Nell giggled. That duck was noisy!
“Swim, fishy!” yelled Boris.
“To the sailboat!” shrieked Boris.
Oh! That awful noise!
With a sigh of relief, Nell reached the top step. Then she heard another sound… Water! Boris hadn’t turned it off! She lunged for the door, but it didn’t budge. It must have locked behind her!
“Boris, turn off the water!” she said. Boris didn’t hear her.
“Boris! The water!” she said a little louder. Boris didn’t hear her.
“BORIS! THE WATER!” she cried in her loudest voice. The water didn’t stop. She pictured it welling up to the rim of the tub. She imagined it dripping onto the tiled floor, washing away Boris’ paw prints. She thought about it leaking under the door, cascading down the staircase she had cleaned, and gushing toward her parents in the garage.
Nell ran. She ran around the house to the tree that reached the bathroom window. If only she were as bold as Boris, she would climb that tree without hesitation! A ladder would be a better choice, Nell considered. But her parents stored the ladder in the garage, and they were still working in there. And so she took a deep breath, leaped up to the lowest branch and began scaling the tree, careful not to look down. Choosing only the thickest branches, she was soon positioned within reach of the bathroom window.
From the corner of her eye Nell saw her parents closing up the garage. She reached for the windowsill, and, clambering up, she jumped onto the wet bathroom floor amongst scattered toys and random bubble patches.
“BORIS! THE WATER!” yelled Nell.
“Oh,” Boris said softly. He turned off the water and grinned sheepishly.
Nell heard her parents open the front door. It would only be a matter of seconds before they were upstairs to check on them! How could she let them see this mess?
Nell frantically threw all Boris’ toys back into the tub, careful not to slip on the bubbles. She grabbed a pile of towels from the cupboard, threw them on the floor, and jumped up and down on them to soak up the bubbles. Boris laughed wildly.
“Where should I put the towels?” Nell wondered. Boris grinned at her and pointed to the open window.
“Good idea, Boris, ” Nell said as she threw the towels out the window.
At that very moment her parents reached the bathroom door. Remembering that it was locked, Nell lunged for it, and turned the handle just in time.
“Hello Nell! Hi Boris! We just finished up. It looks like you’re both having a good time together. What a wonderful job you’ve done, Nell! How was your day?”
QUACK! hollered the duck. Nell smiled. Things like this used to bother her, but now she didn’t mind one bit.