Beezus and Ramona

Beverly Cleary

Chapter One

Chapter Four

Klickitat Street

Chapter Two

Chapter Five


Chapter Three

Chapter Six

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Chapter Three

Ramona and Ribsy

One day after school Henry Huggins, who lievd in the next block, came over to play checkers with Beezus. His dog Ribsy came with him, because Henry never went anywhere without Ribsy. Beezus liked Henry, because she knew he thought she had more sense than most girls, and the two often played checkers together. So far Beezus had won fourty-eight games and Henry had won fourty-nine, not counting the games Ramona had spoiled by tipping over the checkerboard.

This afternoon Beezus and Henry knelt on either side of the coffee table with the checkerboard between them. Ribsy lay on the rug near Henry and warily watched Ramona, who was wearing her rabbit ears and riding her tricycle around the living room.

"Your move," said Henry to Beezus.

"I want to play," said Ramona, riding her tricycle up to the coffee table and shaking her head to make her ears flop. Ribsy got up and moved to a corner, where he could lay down with his nose on his paws to watch Ramona.

"You're too little," said Beezus, as she moved a checker. "Besides, only two can play checkers."

"We could play tiddlywinks," said Ramona. "I know how to play tiddlywinks."

Beezus did not answer. Her mind was on the game as she watched Henry's move very carefully.

"I said we could play tiddlywinks," yelled Ramona.

Beezus looked up from the checkerboard. "Ramona, you stop bothering us," she said in her severest voice.

Ramona scowled and pedaled backwards away from the coffee table while Beezus returned to her game and studied the board. She had to be careful, because Henry had already captured half of her checkers. Let's see, she thought, I could move from here to there -- no, that wouldn't work, because then he could -- but if I move from there to there -- yes, that was it! Beezus lifted her hand to pick up the checker.

At that instant Ramona pedaled as fast as she could toward the coffee table. Crash! The front wheel of Ramona's tricycle rammed into the table. Checkers bounced into the air and showered over the table, falling to the floor and rolling across the rug.

"There!" said Ramona, and calmly pedaled away.

"Hey!" protested Henry.

"Mother!" Beezus called. "Ramona's bothering us!"

Wiping her hands on her apron, Mother came out of the kitchen. "Ramona, you know you're not supposed to bother Henry and Beezus when they're playing checkers. Now go to your room and stay there until you are able to behave yourself."

"No," said Ramona. "I don't have anybody to play with me and I want Beezus and Henry to play with me."

"You heard me." Mother lifted Ramona off the tricycle.

I'll bet she has a tantrum, thought Beezus, as she picked up the checkers.

"No!" screamed Ramona.

"Ramona," said Mother in a warning voice, "I'm going to count to ten."

Ramona threw herself on the floor and kicked and screamed.

"One . . . two . . ." began Mother.

Ramona went on kicking and screaming until Mother counted to seven. Then she lay still on the floor, watching to see if Mother really meant what she said.

"Eight . . . nine," said Mother.

Ramona got to her feet, ran into the bedroom, and slammed the door. Mother returned to the kitchen, and Beezus and Henry started a new game as if nothing had happened. Tantrums were not unusual in the Quimby household. Even Henry knew that.

In a few minutes Beezus heard Ramona open the bedroom door. "Now can I come out?" she called.

"Can you stop bothering Beezus and Henry?" Mother asked from the kitchen.

"No," said Ramona, and shut the door.

Not more than one minute later Ramona opened the door again and came into the living room. "I can stop bothering," she said with a sulky look on her face, and Beezus could see she was still cross because she had been punished.

"That's good," called Mother. "Come here, and I'll give you a cooky."

Seeing Ramona go into the kitchen, Ribsy sat up, scratched, and trotted after her. Although Ribsy did not trust Ramona, he was always interested in what went on in the kitchen.

I hope she stays in the kitchen, thought Beezus, as she picked up a checker and skipped from here to there to there and captured two of Henry's men. The game became so exciting that Beezus almost forgot about Ramona. At the same time she was vaguely aware of scuffling sounds in the hall. Then she heard the jingle of Ribsy's license tags and the click of his claws on the hardwood floor. Ribsy gave a short bark. Then the bathroom door slammed. I wonder what Ramona is doing, thought Beezus, as she captured another checker, but she did not much care as long as Ramona did not interrupt the game.

"Let me in!" screamed Ramona from the hall. "Let me in the bathroom."

"Ramona, who are you talking to?" asked Mother as she went into the hall.

"Ribsy," said Ramona, and beat on the door with her fists.

Ribsy began to bark. From behind the bathroom door his barks made a hollow, echoing sound. Puzzled, Henry looked at Beezus. Ribsy in the bathroom? Henry decided he had better investigate. Reluctantly Beezus left the game and followed him into the hall.

"Open the door and let him out," said Mother.

"I can't," shouted Ramona angrily, above Ribsy's furious barks. "The bad old dog went and locked the door."

"Oh, stop pretending." Beezus was exasperated with Ramona for interrupting the game a second time. It was too bad that a girl couldn't have a friend over for a game of checkers without her little sister spoiling all her fun.

"I'm not pretending," screamed Ramona, clinging to the doorknob while Robsy barked and scratched at the other side of the door.

"Ramona!" Mother's voice was stern. "Let that dog out."

"I can't," cried Ramona, rattling the bathroom door. "The bad old dog locked me out."

"Nonsense. Dogs can't lock doors," scolded Mother. "Now open that door and let him out."

Ramona bagan to sob and Ribsy barked louder. Ramona gave the door a good hard kick.

"Oh, for Pete's sake," muttered Henry.

"Ramona, I am very cross with you," said Mother. She pried Ramona's fingers loose and started to open the door. The knob would not turn. "That's strange," she remarked, and rattled the door herself. Then she hit the door with her fist to see if it might be stuck. The door did not budge. There was no doubt about it. The bathroom door was locked.

"But how could it be locked?" Henry asked.

"I told you Ribsy locked it," Ramona shouted.

"Don't be silly," said Beezus impatiently.

"Now how on earth-" began Mother in a puzzled voice and then she interrupted herself. "Do you suppose when Ribsy was pawing at the door he bumped against the buton in the center of the knob and really did lock the door? Of course! That's exactly what must have happened."

A dog that locked the bathroom door! That Ribsy, thought Beezus. He's always getting into trouble, and now he's locked the Quimbys out of their bathroom.

"I told you he locked the door," Ramona said.

"Yes, but what was my dog doing in the bathroom in the first place?" Henry demanded.

"I put him in there," said Ramona.

"Ramona Quimby!" Even Mother sounded exasperated. "Sometimes I don't know what gets into you. You know dogs don't belong in the bathroom. Now go to your room and stay there until I tell you to come out."

"Yes, but-" Ramona began.

"I don't want to have to speak to you again." It was unusual for Mother to be as stern as this.

Still crying, Ramona went to her room, which was next to the bathroom. Since Mother had not told her to close the door, Ramona stood just inside it and waited to see what would happen next.

"Where is the key?" Beezus asked.

"I don't know," answered Mother. "I don't remember that we ever had a key."

"But there's a keyhole," said Beezus. "There must be a key."

"Ribsy, be quiet," ordered Henry. "We'll get you out." But Ribsy only barked harder, and his barks echoed and re-echoed around the small room.

"No one gave us a key to the bathroom when we rented the house," explained Mother. "And when Ramona first learned to walk we fastened the button down with Scotch tape so she couldn't lock herself in."

"You did?" Ramona, fascinated with this bit of information about herself, stopped crying and learned out into the hall. "How big was I then?" No one bothered to answer her.

"We've got to get Ribsy out of the bathrom," said Beezus.

"Yes," agreed Mother, "but how?"

"If you have a ladder I'll climb in the bathroom window and unlock the door," Henry offered.

"The window is locked too," said Mother, bending over to examine the knob on the door.

"Maybe we could call the fire department." Henry tried another suggestion. "They're always rescuing cats and things."

"They couldn't do anything with the bathroom window locked," Beezus pointed out.

"I guess that's right." Henry sounded disappointed. It would have been exciting to have the fire department rescue Ribsy.

"Well, I just can't see any way to take the knon off," said Mother. "There aren't any screws on this side of the door."

"We've got to get him out some way," said Henry. "We can't just leave him in there. He'll get hungry."

Beezus did not think this remark of Henry's was very thoughtful. Of course Ribsy would get hungry if he stayed in the bathroom long enough, but on the other hand they would need their bathroom and it was Henry's dog who had locked them out. Then Beezus made a suggestion. "Maybe if we puched some glue under the door so Ribsy would get his paws in it, and then called to him so he would scratch at the door, maybe his paws would stick to the button in the knob and he could unlock it himself." Beezus thought her idea was a good one until she saw the disgusted look on Henry's face. "I just thought it might work," she said apologetically.

"Mother-" began Ramona, leaning out into the hall.

Mother paid no attention to her. "I just don't see what we can do-"

"Mother," said Ramona urgently. This time she stepped into the hall.

"Unless we get a ladder (Go back to your room, Ramona) and break the window so we can unlock it," Mother continued, speaking with one sentence inside another, the way grownups so often did with Ramona around.

"But Mother," insisted Ramona even more urgently. "I have to-"

"Oh, dear, I might have known," sighed Mother. "Well, come on. I'll take you next door."

Leave it to Ramona, thought Beezus, embarrassed to have her little sister behave this way in front of Henry.

"Don't worry, Ribsy," said Henry. "We'll get you out somehow." He turned to Beezus and sand gloomily, "If we don't get him out by dinnertime, maybe we could cut some meat up in real little pieces and shove it under the door to him. I don't see how we could get a drink of water to him, though."

"We have to get him out before then," said Beezus. "Father wouldn't like it if he came home and found Ribsy had locked him out of the bathroom."

"Ribsy couldn't have locked the door if Ramona hadn't put him in the bathrom in the first place," Henry pointed out. "What a dumb thing to do!"

Beezus had nothing to say to this. What could she say when it really had been Ramona's fault?

Mother and Ramona soon returned. "I think we'll get Ribsy out now," said Mother cheerfully. "The lady next door says her little grandson locks himself in the bathroom every time he comes to visit her, and she always unlocks the door with a nail file. She told me how to do it." Mother found a nail file, which she inserted in the keyhole. She wiggled it around, the doorknob clicked, andMother opened the door. It was as easy as that!

With a joyous bark Ribsy bounded out and jumped up on Henry. "Good old Ribsy," said Henry. "Did you think we were going to leave you in there?" Ribsy wriggled and wagged his tail happily because he was free at last.

"Now maybe he'll be a good dog," said Ramona sulkily.

"He is a good dog, aren't you, Ribsy?" Henry patted him.

"He is not a good dog," contradicted Ramona. "He took my cooky away from me and gobbled it right up."

"Oh," said Henry uncomfortably. "I didn't know he ate your cooky."

"Well, he did," said Ramona, "and I made him go in the bathroom until he could be a good dog."

From the way Henry looked at Ramona, Beezus could tel he didn't think much of her reason for shutting Ribsy in the bathroom.

"Oh, Ramona." Mother looked amused and exasperated at the same time. "Just because you were sent to your room is no reason for you to try to punish Henry's dog."

"It is, too," said Ramona defiantly. "He was bad."

"Well, I guess I better be going," said Henry. "Come on, Ribsy."

"Don't go, Henry," begged Beezus. "Maybe we could go out on the porch or someplace and play a game."

"Some other time maybe," answered Henry. "I've got things to do."

"All right," agreed Beezus reluctantly. Henry probably knew they wouldn't be safe from Ramona anywhere, the way she was behaving today.

When Henry had gone, Ramona gave a hop to make her rabbit ears flop. "Now we can play tiddlywinks!" she announced, as if she had been waiting for this moment all afternoon.

"No, we can't," snapped Beezus, who could not remember when she had been so annoyed with Ramona.

"Yes, we can," said Ramona. "Henry's gone now."

"We can't, because I won't play. So there!" answered Beezus. It wasn't as though Henry came over every day to play checkers. He came only once in a while, and then they couldn't play because Ramona wass so awful.

Just then the telephone rang and Mother answered it. "Oh, hello, Beatrice," Beezus heard her say. "I was hoping you'd call."

"Tiddlywinks, tiddlywinks, I want to play tiddlywinks," chanted Ramona, shaking her head back and forth.

"Not after the way you spoiled our checker game," said Beezus. "I wouldn't play tiddlywinks with you for a million dollars."

"Yes!" shouted Ramona.

"Children!" Mother put her hand over the mouthpiece of the telephone. "I'm trying to talk to your Aunt Beatrice."

For a moment Beezus forgot her quarrel with Ramona. "Is she coming over today?" she asked eagerly.

"Not today." Mother smiled at Beezus. "But I'll tell her you wish she'd come."

"Tell her she hasn't been here for two whole weeks," said Beezus.

"Tiddlywinks, tiddlywinks," chanted Ramona, more quietly this time. "We're going to play tiddlywinks."

"We are not!" whispered Beezus furiously. And as she looked at Ramona a terrible thought came to her. Right that very instant she was so exasperated with Ramona that she did not like her at all. Not one little bit. Crashing her tricycle into the checkerboard, throwing a tantrum, and shoving a dog into the bathroom -- how could one four-year-old be such a pest all in one afternoon? And Ramona wasn't one bit sorry about it, either. She was glad she had driven Henry home with her naughtiness. Just look at her, thought Beezus. Cooky crumbs sticking to the front of her overalls, her hands and face dirty, and those silly paper ears. She's just awful, that's what she is, perfectly awful -- and she looks so cheerful. To look at her you wouldn't know she'd done a thing. She's spoiled my whole afternoon and she's happy. She even thinks she'll get me to play tiddlywinks with her. Well, I won't. I won't, because I don't like her one little bit!

To get away from Ramona, Beezus stalked into the living room and threw herself into her father's big chair. Not one little bit, she thought fiercely. But as Beezus sat listening to her mother chatting and laughing over the telephone, she began to feel uncomfortable. She ought to like Ramona. Sisters always liked each other. They were supposed to. Like Mother and Aunt Beatrice. But that was different, Beezus thought quickly. Aunt Beatrice wasn't like Ramona. She was -- well, she was Aunt Beatrice, loving and understanding and full of fun. Ramona was noisy and grubby and exasperating.

I feel so mixed up, thought Beezus. Sometimes I don't like Ramona at all, and I'm supposed to like her because she's my sister, and . . . Oh, dear, even if she's little, can't she ever be more like other people's sisters?

Chapter Four
Klickitat Street

If you notice any typos or spelling mistakes, or any errors at all, please e-mail me and let me know. I can't spot everything, and your help would be very much appreaciated. Thank you!

All characters and stories are copyright 1955 by Beverly Cleary.