Edgar and Victor were brothers who grew up on Bear Island, which was in the middle of the sea. Bears like to eat fish, and their island was surrounded by delicious fish, which they would eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One day, while they were out fishing in their little boat, pulling in one fish after another, they both looked up and noticed a big ship on the horizon. “Wow!” said Edgar, “I’ve never seen a boat that big before. And look, it has a big black flag flying from the top of the mast.” “I think that means it’s a pirate ship, Edgar,” said Victor. “We ought to be careful.” But Edgar was such a nice bear, he thought that if the big ship was full of other bears they hadn’t met, they should row their boat over, say hello, and tell the bears where to find the best fishing. Victor agreed, because all bears were friends, and they wouldn’t want a big ship full of bears going hungry if they didn’t help them out.
So, they rowed their little boat over to the big ship. They looked up, and they looked down, and when they looked up again, they saw Pirates(!) on the deck of the ship! The pirates said “Why hello little bears! What fine fish you have. We’re going to steal your boat and your fish, and you’re going to tell us where to find more of them so we can sell the fish for lots of money!”
“Oh no!” cried Victor and Edgar, as two big hooks were lowered from the pirate ship and hooked onto their boat, which was then lifted up up up and over onto the deck of the ship. Edgar and Victor wouldn’t tell the pirates where they found the fish, and that made the pirates mad. They said “we’re going to lock you up in a little room until you tell us where we can find more fish!” But the brothers still wouldn’t tell, and were locked away. Meanwhile, the ship was pulling into the Hamburg harbor because the pirates needed to sell the stolen fish. The bears saw that the ship was pulling into a pier, and slowing down, so they decided to escape. They found a black pirate shirt and used it as a disguise. They hid under the shirt and snuck off the ship unnoticed, because no one would expect to see a pirate shirt escaping from a big ship.
Once they reached the pier and peeked out from their disguise, they noticed that they were standing right next to Mom-o! She looked down and said “Hey, guys, what are you doing?” They told her their story, and said they had no idea how to get back to Bear Island since they were so far from home. They said they were looking for a nice family to take care of them and be their friends. Mom-o was so thrilled, she told them that she had two boys, Henry and Finny, who would love to be their friends and feed them as much fish as they liked. She carefully put them (and the pirate shirt) into two nice, big, comfy cardboard boxes so they could travel safely back with her on the plane.
Author’s note: The dark brown bear is Edgar, and the lighter one is Victor. The pirate shirt is the symbol of one of Hamburg’s football (soccer) teams, St. Pauli. On the flight home from Germany I worked long and hard to come up with a good story about how the Steiff bears and the shirt made their way home with me, and when I presented the boys with their presents, I spun the tale of the bears to a rapt Finny, who has made me recount it over and over to him while he clutches Edgar.