Paul T. Gilbert

goto bio

goto bertram

goto bertram is back

goto circus stories

goto key to culture

goto pictures

goto links

goto contact

goto home

Bertram and the Ibex

by Paul T. Gilbert, Illustrations by Minnie H. Rousseff
published in Child Life Magazine, March 1935
and in Bertram and His Marvelous Adventures

"I" stood for Ibex in Baby Sam's rag-book. There was a picture of an ibex perched on a high crag, and under the picture, in big letters, it said:

Bertram Reading to Baby Sam"I stands for Ibex,
So nimble and spry,
As he bounds up the crag
Of a mountain so high."

The ibex, for some reason, was Baby Sam's favorite animal, and he used to point his chubby finger at it and say, "Da." And he liked it when Bertram read him the little poem about the ibex.

But Bertram came down with the mumps and had to keep away from Baby Sam. He wasn't a very good boy either, for he insisted on eating sour pickles. And if there's anything you shouldn't eat when you have the mumps, it's sour pickles.

Bertram with the MumpsBertram whined and fussed, and said, "It hurts when I eat pickles."

"Well, don't eat them then," said his mamma.

"But I want to eat them," said Bertram.

"Don't complain then if it hurts. It serves you right," said Bertram's mamma. "No wonder it hurts if you keep eating pickles."

But Bertram kept on eating sour pickles. Only he didn't get much sympathy from his mamma.

When Bertram had got over the mumps—they lasted longer on account of the pickles—and had come back to the table, Julia Krause, Baby Sam's nursemaid, said, "I'm glad you're well again. Now you can read to Baby Sam about that ibex for a change. I've read about it till I'm blue in the face and dream about ibexes at night. All Sammie wants, it seems, is to hear about his precious ibex."

"I tell you what would be nice, Mamma," said Bertram. "It would be nice to have a real, live ibex."

"Would it now?" said Bertram's mamma.

"Yes—for Baby Sam."

"Yes, that would be nice," said his mamma.

His mamma never thought, of course, that he would get a real, live ibex. Ibexes, she knew, were rare, and lived on mountain tops.

But the next day, when Bertram was riding his red velocipede down Elm Street, he found—what do you suppose? He found an ibex!

"Hello, Ibex," he said. "I'm going to take you home."

"Have you got any dogs at your house?" asked the ibex.

"No," said Bertram. "But George Fish has a dog. His name is Banner. You can play with him if you want to."

"But I don't want to," said the ibex. "I'm afraid of dogs. They bite."Bertram Feeding the Ibex

"Banner is a nice old dog," said Bertram, "and he does not bite. Besides, you don't have to play with him if you don't want to."

"All right, then," said the ibex.

So Bertram took the ibex home and he named him Isidore.

It was a very noble ibex, the one Bertram had found. He had big purple eyes and long, stout horns which curved back over his shoulders like a saxophone. He looked exactly like the ibex in the rag-book.

Bertram took the ibex into the house for Baby Sam to see. And Baby Sam knew what it was immediately. The minute he saw it, he squealed with joy and pointed to his precious rag-book and said, "Da!"

"Say ‘Ibex,' Baby Sam," coaxed Bertram.

But Baby Sam only stuck out his tongue and sputtered. All he could manage was "Da." That was about all Baby Sam ever said, but it meant quite a number of things.

"My, but isn't he intelligent!" exclaimed his mamma. She was tickled to death because Baby Sam was so smart. "He's trying to tell us. He recognizes the ibex. Don't you, Sammie boy? You recognize the ibex, don't you?" And Baby Sam said "Da."

Bertram tied the ibex up to the back porch and fed him a red apple. And he admired the ibex until lunch time.

But while Bertram was eating his lunch, he heard a loud, shrill whistling noise outside. He thought at first it was George Fish. Then he heard a dog bark, then the whistling noise again.

"If that's the Bauman's dog in my garden now," said Bertram's mamma, getting up from the table, "I'm going to complain to the police. If I've chased that dog out of my garden once, I've chased him out a hundred times. I'm sick and tired of having other people's dogs break down my hedge and go running all over my peony beds."

It was the Bauman's dog, and it was barking at the ibex. The ibex was so scared that he was shivering and shaking, and his eyes were all excited and blue. But the funny part of it was that he kept whistling for the dog, and every time he whistled, the dog came.

"Shooo! You get out of here!" said Bertram's mamma. "You naughty Bauman dog. Don't let me catch you here again." And she shook her apron at the dog.

The Bauman dog started to run home, but he had hardly run out of the yard before the ibex whistled again. And this time not only the Bauman dog came, but three or four others—a shepherd dog and a chow and a yellow dog and George Fish's dog, Banner.

And they all began barking at the ibex at once and trying to play with him. But the louder they barked and the more the ibex didn't want them, the louder he whistled. Bertram had to throw stones at the dogs to make them go away, only he was careful not to hit any of them, of course. The dogs didn't quite know what to make of it.

Then, when Bertram thought that he was now rid of them, the ibex whistled louder than ever, and all the dogs came leaping back.

The Ibex Whistling for the Dogs"Take them away," said the ibex. "I'm afraid of dogs."

"Then quit whistling," said Bertram. "What do you expect? If you don't want the dogs to come, why do you whistle for them all the time?"

"Because I'm afraid of them," said the ibex. "Anybody would whistle if he was afraid of a dog." And the ibex whistled again.

Then the dogs, who had just been waiting for the ibex to whistle, all came piling in. They wagged their tails and barked and wanted to play with the ibex.

"They're not going to bite you," said Bertram. "If you want to play with them, all right; but if you don't want them around, don't whistle. It's as bad as eating pickles when you've got the mumps."

"I don't quite see what eating pickles has to do with it," remarked the ibex. And he began to whistle again.

There were about fifty dogs in the yard now. All the dogs in the neighborhood were there—collies and Scotties and fox terriers and chows and shepherd dogs and setters. And they were barking so that you could hear them all the way to Main Street.

Bertram's mamma tried to shoo them away with a broomstick. But as soon as they were shooed away, the ibex would whistle, and the dogs didn't know whether to go or stay.

"Take that ibex in the house," she said, "and feed him crackers so that he can't whistle."

"That won't do any good," said the ibex. "I can whistle through my nose."

But Bertram did as he was told. Only when he was untying the ibex, the ibex whistled, and all the dogs came bouncing around him, yelping at the top of their lungs. The ibex was so frightened that he broke loose and bounded away. And in a minute the whole pack was after him.

They chased him around the house three times, over the flower beds and everything, and thought it was no end of a lark. Only the poor ibex was half sick with fright, and the more afraid he was, the louder he whistled.

Finally, when he was between Bertram's house and Mrs. Cree's house, he gathered his legs together and bounded up to the pantry window sill of Bertram's house. And he landed so hard that he shook down seven pots and pans.

All the dogs tried to jump up and get him. Then the ibex gave a long whistle and bounded over to the window sill of Mrs. Cree's upstairs bedroom. And he bounded so hard that he knocked down a picture of George Washington that was hanging on the wall inside. It fell with a loud crash.

Then Mrs. Cree came running out as mad as a wet hen. "Who's knocking down my house?" she said. "Whose dogs are those, and what are they all doing in my yard?" For all the dogs, of course, had run across to Mrs. Cree's.

"They want to play with the ibex," explained Bertram, "and he's up there on your bedroom window sill."

"An ibex on my window sill!" said Mrs. Cree. "Merciful heavens! Well, he hasn't any business up there, so you can just get him down immediately."

By this time, about fifty neighbors, who had heard the racket, had come over to see what was going on. But none of them thought of calling off their dogs.

Just then the ibex gave another loud whistle, and this started the dogs going again. And so the ibex bounded over to the roof of Bertram's house—ping! Then the whole pack of dogs, yelping like mad, ran back to Bertram's yard, and nearly knocked over Bertram's mamma. Some of the bigger dogs were trying to jump up on the roof. They were perfectly frantic, and the more the ibex whistled, the crazier they got.

So Bertram shouted up at the ibex, "Keep still, can't you, and don't tease those dogs!"

"Huh!" said the ibex. "They are teasing me." And he whistled so loud you could hear him a mile off.

Right in the midst of the excitement, Bertram's daddy, who had been to Omaha on business, returned home. And when he saw about a million dogs in the back yard and all the neighbors standing around, he was surprised.

"My goodness," he said, "what's this! And what are all these dogs doing here?"

But the dogs were making such a noise that nobody could hear him.

Then he shouted to the neighbors, "Are these your dogs?" And when the neighbors said, "Yes," Bertram's daddy said, "Then why don't you keep them at home?"

"Because they were whistled for," shouted the neighbors. "Any dog will come when he's whistled for, won't he?"

So Bertram's mamma tried to explain. "He was in Baby Sam's rag-book," she said, "and Baby Sam wanted him. So Bertram got him, and he recognized him right away. But he's afraid of dogs and so he whistles. And the dogs won't go away as long as he keeps whistling. He's as bad as Bertram with the pickles. When he had the mumps, I mean."

"What pickles?" shouted the daddy. "And who recognized whom? And if whoever it is that whistles doesn't want the dogs, why does he whistle to them anyhow? And what's all this about Baby Sam's rag-book? I don't understand."

"I'll try to explain," said Bertram's mamma. "Listen. He's whistling now. It's Isidore."

The Ibex on the RoofThe ibex whistled again and all the dogs started barking.

"Yes, I hear it," said the daddy. "But who is it? And what is that goat doing on the roof?"

"It isn't a goat, Daddy," said Bertram. "It's an ibex—Isidore—like the one in Baby Sam's rag-book. And he bounded up."

"Oh, I see," said Bertram's daddy.

And then Bertram's daddy shouted to all the neighbors, "If you own these dogs, well, all right, then. Whistle to them."

So the neighbors all stood in a row and whistled. But the ibex whistled louder than they did, and the dogs didn't know which way to go. They just ran back and forth, depending on who whistled last.

"Whistle louder," said the daddy. "Put your fingers in your mouths and whistle."

So the neighbors put their fingers in their mouths and whistled, and for once the ibex kept still. Then the neighbors took their dogs home.

Bertram got a ladder and climbed up on the roof and tried to catch the ibex. But the ibex bounded over onto Mrs. Cree's house. And when Bertram climbed up on her roof, the ibex bounded back again. Bertram's daddy had to call out the fire department to capture the ibex. Then he gave the ibex to the firemen for a pet.

Baby Sam Says Bix;That evening Baby Sam turned to his rag-book and said "Da!"

But Bertram said, "No, Baby Sam. That was a naughty ibex. We don't want him any more."

And Baby Sam said, "Bix!" That was his first real word.

The next day Bertram had a loose tooth and when he wiggled it, it hurt.

"All right then, don't wiggle it, silly," said his mamma.

And this time Bertram didn't.