Susan and Arnold were visiting their grandmother. She lived just through a little stretch of woods from their house, so they were allowed to walk there and back alone as long as they stayed together. Visiting grandmother was so much fun! She had wonderful stories to tell and games to play and she was probably the best cook ever.
When it was time to go home, grandmother pulled a jar of her famous raspberry jam off a shelf. “You can spread some on toast with your breakfast in the morning,” she said.
“Thank you!” Susan said. “I can carry it.”
“No, let me,” Arnold said. But Susan didn’t let go. Arnold scowled.
“Are you both all bundled up?” They were. “Then off with you both. You need to get home before dark.”
They started out just fine, but when they were around the bend in the road and could no longer see grandmother’s house, Arnold threw a snowball at Susan. “Stop it, Arnold,” Susan said.
“You’re so mean and bossy,” Arnold said. “You should let me carry the jam.”
Susan set the jam on the ground beside her. Arnold darted forward to grab it and Susan tackled him into the snow. After a brief struggle, Susan ended up sitting on Arnold. “I’m older, so I get to carry the jam, understand?” She said. “Now let’s go home before it gets dark. If you throw snow at me again I’ll tell mom. And I’ll pour cold water on your face in the morning to wake you up.” Arnold scowled.
Susan stood and brushed herself off. Arnold grumbled and got up too. Susan turned to pick up the jam. A fox was sneaking up to it, shiny spoon in paw. “Hey!” Susan said. The fox paused and Susan hastily assembled a snowball and held it up in warning.
“Now let’s not be hasty,” the fox said. “I’m sure we all can —What is that?”
Susan and Arnold didn’t look.
“That should have worked,” the fox said. “I guess you are both really smart kids. Now I won’t have any of that wonderful jam. And it looks so lovely.” His lower lip stuck out and he opened his eyes really wide. “I even have a clean spoon,” he said, holding it up.
“Fine,” Susan said. “Let me see your spoon.” She inspected it closely and wiped it with her handkerchief. “I guess you can have a taste. But I will scoop it out for you.”
“Hey! It’s my jam too!” Arnold said. “You can’t just give it away like that.” The fox stuck his lip out further and his eyes got even bigger. Arnold scowled. “Fine,” he said.
Susan opened the jar and scooped out some jam. “Thank you,” the fox said. He sat down and licked a little bit of jam off the spoon. “That’s absolutely marvelous. Mmmmm.”
Susan and Arnold started walking again. They needed to get home before dark, so they started walking a little faster. Suddenly something came crashing through the undergrowth beside the path and loomed over them. Both children shrieked. Just a little.
“I’m so sorry to have startled you,” said a gentle voice. It was a deer. The children relaxed a little. “I just saw that you have some of that famous raspberry jam. Could I possibly have a small taste? Surely you don’t need all that jam? Look, I even have my own spoon!” The deer held out a spoon.
“Just check the spoon and give her some,” Arnold said. “We need to get going.”
“Thank you,” the deer said. Susan checked and wiped the spoon and scooped up some jam. As they hurried away, they heard the deer squealing in glee as she tasted the jam.
It was starting to get dark. Up ahead, a huge form blocked their path. It was a great big bear. It held up three spoons in one paw. Arnold looked at Susan and raised his eyebrows. She shrugged and held out her hand for the spoons. Three scoops later, they were on their way again.
It was very nearly dark and they were almost home. An owl fluttered close and landed on Arnold’s shoulder, one talon clutching a spoon. “I will recite some poetry in exchange for a spoonful of that delicious jam,” the owl said.
“I’m sorry, we don’t have time right now,” Susan said. “It’s almost dark.” The owl hung its head and hooted sadly. “Maybe we could give you some jam now and you can share the poem with us next time we see each other,” Susan said. She took the spoon.
The owl soared off with its jam, chirruping happily. “We’ll have to run,” Arnold said. They ran, and got home just before dark. “Welcome home,” their mother said. “Is that a jar of your grandmother’s raspberry jam? Why is it half empty?”
“Grandmother’s jam is too famous,” Arnold said.