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´╗┐Title: Mother West Wind "How" Stories
Author: Burgess, Thornton W. (Thornton Waldo), 1874-1965
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mother West Wind "How" Stories" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



[Illustration: "Caw, caw, caw, caw, caw!" yelled Blacky at the top of
his voice. FRONTISPIECE. _See page_ 132.]

                    BURGESS TRADE QUADDIES MARK

                  MOTHER WEST WIND "HOW" STORIES

                              BY

                      THORNTON W. BURGESS

               _Illustrations by HARRISON CADY_

                       GROSSET & DUNLAP

                     PUBLISHERS NEW YORK

       _By arrangement with Little, Brown, and Company_

                     _Copyright, 1916_,
                   BY THORNTON W. BURGESS.

                   _All rights reserved_

           PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

To the cause of conservation of wild life and to increase of love for
our little friends of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows through
awakened interest in them and a better understanding of their value to
us as faithful workers in carrying out the plans of wise Old Mother
Nature, this little book is dedicated.



                               CONTENTS

CHAPTER                                                            PAGE

   I. HOW OLD KING EAGLE WON HIS WHITE HEAD                           3

  II. HOW OLD MR. MINK TAUGHT HIMSELF TO SWIM                        17

 III. HOW OLD MR. TOAD LEARNED TO SING                               31

  IV. HOW OLD MR. CROW LOST HIS DOUBLE TONGUE                        45

   V. HOW HOWLER THE WOLF GOT HIS NAME                               59

  VI. HOW OLD MR. SQUIRREL BECAME THRIFTY                            73

 VII. HOW LIGHTFOOT THE DEER LEARNED TO JUMP                         87

VIII. HOW MR. FLYING SQUIRREL ALMOST GOT WINGS                      103

  IX. HOW MR. WEASEL WAS MADE AN OUTCAST                            117

   X. HOW THE EYES OF OLD MR. OWL BECAME FIXED                      131

  XI. HOW IT HAPPENS JOHNNY CHUCK SLEEPS ALL WINTER                 145

 XII. HOW OLD MR. OTTER LEARNED TO SLIDE                            161

XIII. HOW DRUMMER THE WOODPECKER CAME BY HIS RED CAP                175

 XIV. HOW OLD MR. TREE TOAD FOUND OUT HOW TO CLIMB                  191

  XV. HOW OLD MR. HERON LEARNED PATIENCE                            205

 XVI. HOW TUFTY THE LYNX HAPPENS TO HAVE A STUMP OF A TAIL          219


                            LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                                   PAGE

"CAW, CAW, CAW, CAW, CAW!" YELLED BLACKY
  AT THE TOP OF HIS VOICE                                _Frontispiece_

"OLD KING BEAR, WHO WAS KING NO LONGER,
  WOULD GROWL A DEEP, RUMBLY-GRUMBLY GROWL"                          64

"ONE DAY MR. RABBIT SURPRISED MR. WEASEL
  MAKING A MEAL OF YOUNG MICE"                                      120

"HIS LEGS WERE SO LONG AND HIS NECK WAS SO
  LONG THAT ALL HIS NEIGHBORS LAUGHED AT HIM"                       216



                                    I

                   HOW OLD KING EAGLE WON HIS WHITE HEAD



                      MOTHER WEST WIND "HOW" STORIES

                                    I

                   HOW OLD KING EAGLE WON HIS WHITE HEAD


Peter Rabbit sat on the edge of the dear Old Briar-patch, staring up
into the sky with his head tipped back until it made his neck ache. Way,
way up in the sky was a black speck sailing across the snowy white face
of a cloud. It didn't seem possible that it could be alive way up there.
But it was. Peter knew that it was, and he knew who it was. It was King
Eagle. By and by it disappeared over towards the Great Mountain. Peter
rubbed the back of his neck, which ached because he had tipped his head
back so long. Then he gave a little sigh.

"I wonder what it seems like to be able to fly like that," said he out
loud, a way he sometimes has.

"Are you envious?" asked a voice so close to him that Peter jumped.
There was Sammy Jay sitting in a little tree just over his head.

"No!" snapped Peter, for it made him a wee bit cross to be so startled.

"No, I'm not envious, Sammy Jay. I'm not envious of any bird. The ground
is good enough for me. I was just wondering, that's all."

"Have you ever seen King Eagle close to?" asked Sammy.

"Once," replied Peter. "Once he came down to the Green Meadows and sat
in that lone tree over there, and I was squatting in a bunch of grass
quite near and could see him very plainly. He is big and fierce-looking,
but he looks his name, every inch a king. I've wondered a good many
times since how it happens that he has a white head."

"Because," replied Sammy, "he is just what he looks to be,--king of the
birds,--and that white head is the sign of his royalty given his
great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather by Old Mother Nature, way back in
the beginning of things."

Peter's eyes sparkled. "Tell me about it, Sammy," he begged. "Tell me
about it, and I won't quarrel with you any more."

"All right, Peter. I'll tell you the story, because it will do you good
to hear it. I supposed everybody knew it. All birds do. That is why we
all look up to King Eagle," replied Sammy.

"Way back in the beginning of things, old King Bear ruled in the Green
Forest, as you know. That is, he ruled the animals and all the little
people who lived on the ground, but he didn't rule the birds. You see
the birds were not willing to be ruled over by an animal. They wanted
one of their own kind. So they refused to have old King Bear as their
king and went to Old Mother Nature to ask her to appoint a king of the
air. Now Mr. Eagle was one of the biggest and strongest and most
respected of all the birds of the air. There were some, like Mr. Goose
and Mr. Swan, who were bigger, but they spent most of their time on the
water or the earth, and they had no great claws or hooked beak to
command respect as did Mr. Eagle. So Old Mother Nature made Mr. Eagle
king of the air, and as was quite right and proper, all the birds
hastened to pay him homage.

"So King Eagle ruled the air and none dared to cross him or to disobey
him. Unlike old King Bear, he accepted no tribute from his subjects but
hunted for himself, and instead of growing fat and lazy, as did old King
Bear, he grew stronger of wing and feared no one and nothing. Now this
was in the days when the world was young, and Old Mother Nature was very
busy trying to make the world a good place to live in, so she had very
little time to look after the birds and the animals. Thus she left
matters very much to King Eagle and old King Bear. They settled all the
quarrels between their subjects, and for a while everything went
smoothly.

"King Eagle made his home on the cliff of a mountain, so that he could
look down on all below and see what was going on. Every day he went down
to the Green Forest and sat on the tallest tree while he listened to the
complaints of the other birds and settled their disputes, and none
questioned his decisions. Now after a while, this little part of the
earth where the animals and the birds first lived became overcrowded. It
became harder and harder to get enough to eat. Quarrels became more
frequent, until King Eagle had little time for anything but
straightening out these troubles and trying to keep peace.

"Old Mother Nature had been away a long time trying to make other parts
of the world fit to live in. No one knew when she was coming back or
just where she was. King Eagle, sitting on the edge of the cliff on the
mountain, thought it all over. Old Mother Nature ought to know how
things were. He would send a messenger to try to find her. So the next
day he called all the birds together and asked who would go out into the
unknown Great World to look for Old Mother Nature and take a message to
her.

"No one offered. This one had a family to look after. That one was not
feeling well. Another had a pain in his wings. One and all they had an
excuse until Hummer, the tiniest of all the birds, was reached. He
darted into the air before King Eagle. 'I'll go,' said he.

"All the others laughed. The very idea of such a tiny fellow going out
to dare the dangers of the unknown Great World seemed to them so absurd
that they just had to laugh. But King Eagle didn't laugh. He thanked
Hummer and told him that his heart was as big as his body was small,
but that he would not send him out into the Great World, for he would go
himself. He had been but trying out his subjects, and he had found but
one who was worthy, and that one was the smallest of them all. Then King
Eagle said things that made all the other birds hang their heads for
shame and want to sneak out of sight.

"After that, he told them that no king who was worthy to be king would
ask his subjects to do what he would not do himself, and that where
there was danger to be faced or something hard to do, it was the king's
place to do it, so he himself was going out into the unknown Great World
to find Mother Nature and see what could be done to make things better
and happier for them. Then he spread his great wings and sailed away,
every inch a king. They watched him until he was a speck in the sky,
and finally he disappeared altogether.

"Day after day they watched for him to come back, but there was no sign
of him; they began to shake their heads and openly talk of choosing a
new king. Only little Mr. Hummer kept his faith and day after day flew
away in the direction old King Eagle had gone, hoping to meet him coming
back. At last a day was set to choose a new king. That morning, as soon
as it was light enough to see, little Mr. Hummer darted away, and his
heart was heavy. He would take no part in choosing a new king. He would
go until he found King Eagle or until something happened to him. Pretty
soon he saw a speck way up against a cloud, a speck no bigger than
himself. It grew bigger and bigger, and at last he knew that it was
King Eagle himself. Little Mr. Hummer turned and flew as he never had
flown before. He wanted to get back before a new king was chosen, so
that King Eagle might never know that his subjects had lost faith in
him.

"He was so out of breath when he reached the other birds that he
couldn't say a word for a few minutes. Then he told them that King Eagle
was coming. The other birds had proved that they were not brave when
they had refused to go out in search of Old Mother Nature, and now they
proved it again. Instead of waiting to give King Eagle a royal welcome,
they hurried away, one after another. They were afraid to meet him,
because in their hearts they knew that they had done a cowardly thing in
deciding to choose a new king. So when King Eagle, weary and with torn
wings and broken tail feathers, dropped down to the tall tree in the
Green Forest, there was none to give him greeting save little Mr.
Hummer.

"King Eagle said nothing about the failure of the other birds to give
him greeting but at once sent little Mr. Hummer around to tell all the
others that far away he had found Old Mother Nature preparing a new land
for them, and that when she gave the word, he would lead them to it.
Then King Eagle flew to his home on the cliff of the mountain, and not
one word did he ever say of his terrible journey, of how he had gone
hungry, had been beaten by storms, and had suffered from cold and
weariness, yet never once had turned back.

"But when Old Mother Nature came later and announced that the new land
was ready for the birds, she first called them together and told them
all that King Eagle had suffered, and how he had proved himself a royal
king. As a reward she promised that his family should be rulers over the
birds forever, and as a sign that this should be so, she reached forth
and touched his black head, and it became snowy white, and all the birds
cried 'Long live the king!'

"Then Old Mother Nature turned to tiny Mr. Hummer and touched his
throat, and behold a shining ruby was there, the reward of loyalty,
faith, and bravery.

"Then King Eagle mounted into the air and proudly led the way to the
promised land. And so the birds went forth and peopled the Great World,
and King Eagle and his children and his children's children have ruled
the air ever since and have worn the snowy crown which King Eagle of
long ago so bravely won."



                                   II

                 HOW OLD MR. MINK TAUGHT HIMSELF TO SWIM



                                   II

                 HOW OLD MR. MINK TAUGHT HIMSELF TO SWIM


Of all the little people who live in the Green Forest or on the Green
Meadows or around the Smiling Pool, Billy Mink has the most
accomplishments. At least, it seems that way to his friends and
neighbors. He can run very swiftly; he can climb very nimbly; his eyes
and his ears and his nose are all wonderfully keen, and--he can swim
like a fish. Yes, Sir, Billy Mink is just as much at home in the water
as out of it. So, wherever he happens to be, in the Green Forest, out on
the Green Meadows, along the Laughing Brook, or in the Smiling Pool, he
feels perfectly at home and quite able to look out for himself.

Once Billy Mink had boasted that he could do anything that any one else
who wore fur could do, but boasters almost always come to grief, and
Grandfather Frog had brought Billy to grief that time. He had invited
every one to meet at the Smiling Pool and see Billy Mink do whatever any
one else who wore fur could do, and then, when Billy had run and jumped
and climbed and swum, Grandfather Frog had called Flitter the Bat. There
was some one wearing fur who could fly, and of course Billy Mink
couldn't do that. It cured Billy of boasting,--for a while, anyway.

Now Peter Rabbit, who can do little but run and jump, used sometimes to
feel a wee bit of envy in his heart when he thought of all the things
that Billy Mink could do and do well. Somehow Peter could never make it
seem quite right that one person should be able to do so many things
when others could do only one or two things. He said as much to
Grandfather Frog one day, as they watched Billy Mink catch a fat trout.

"Chug-a-rum!" said Grandfather Frog and looked sharply at Peter.
"Chug-a-rum! People never know what they can do till they try. Once upon
a time Billy Mink's great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather couldn't swim
any more than you can, but he didn't waste any time foolishly wishing
that he could."

"What did he do?" asked Peter eagerly.

"Learned how," replied Grandfather Frog gruffly. "Made it his business
to learn how. Then he taught his children, and they taught their
children, and after a long time it came natural to the Mink family to
swim."

"Did it take old Mr. Mink very long to learn how?" asked Peter
wistfully.

"Quite a while," replied Grandfather Frog. "Quite a while. Perhaps you
would like to hear about it."

"Oh, if you please, Grandfather Frog," cried Peter. "If you please. I
should love dearly to hear about it. Perhaps then I can learn to swim."

Grandfather Frog snapped up a foolish green fly that happened his way,
and Peter heard something that sounded very much like a chuckle. He
looked at Grandfather Frog suspiciously. Was that chuckle because of the
foolish green fly, or was Grandfather Frog laughing at him? Peter wasn't
sure.

"It all happened a long time ago when the world was young, as a great
many other things happened," began Grandfather Frog. "Old Mr. Mink, the
ever-so-great-grandfather of Billy Mink, couldn't do all the things that
Billy can now. For instance, he couldn't swim. But he could do a great
many things, and he was very smart. It has always run in the Mink family
to be smart. He dressed very much as Billy does now, except that he
didn't have the waterproof coat that Billy has. And he was a great
traveler, just as Billy is. Everybody smaller than he and some who were
bigger were a little bit afraid of old Mr. Mink, for he was quite as sly
and cunning as Mr. Fox, and it was suspected that he knew a great deal
more than he ever admitted about eggs that were stolen and nests that
were broken up, and other strange things that happened in the Green
Forest and along the Laughing Brook. But he never was caught doing
anything wrong and always seemed to be minding his own business, so, all
things considered, he got along very well with his neighbors.

"Now Mr. Mink was small and spry, and his wits were as nimble as his
feet. He saw all that was going on about him, and he was wise enough to
keep his tongue still, so that it never got him into trouble as gossipy
tongues do some people I know."

Peter Rabbit fidgeted uneasily. It seemed to him that Grandfather Frog
had looked at him very hard when he said this. But Grandfather Frog just
cleared his throat and went on with his story.

"Yes, Sir, old Mr. Mink kept his eyes wide open and his ears wide open
and the wits in his little brown head always working. He noticed that
those who were fussy about what they ate and insisted on having a
special kind of food often went hungry or had to hunt long and hard to
find what they liked, so he made up his mind to learn to eat many kinds
of food. This is how it happens that he learned to like fish. His big
cousin, Mr. Otter, often caught a bigger fish than he could eat all
himself and would leave some of it on the bank. Mr. Mink would find it
and help himself.

"But having to depend on Mr. Otter to get the fish for him didn't suit
Mr. Mink at all. In the first place, he didn't have as much as he
wanted. And then again he didn't have it when he wanted it. 'If I could
learn to catch fish for myself, I would be much better off,' thought Mr.
Mink. After this he spent a great deal of time on the banks of the
Smiling Pool watching Mr. Otter swim to see just how he did it. 'If he
can swim, I can swim,' said Mr. Mink to himself, and went off up the
Laughing Brook to a quiet little pool where the water was not deep.

"At first he didn't like it at all. The water got in his ears and up his
nose and choked him. And then it was so dreadfully wet! But he would
grit his teeth and keep at it. After a while he got so that he could
paddle around a little. Gradually he lost his fear of the water. Then he
found that because he naturally moved so quickly he could sometimes
catch foolish minnows who swam in where the water was very shallow. This
was great sport, and he quite often had fish for dinner now.

"But he wasn't satisfied. No, Sir, he wasn't satisfied. Whatever Mr.
Mink did, he wanted to do well. He could run well and climb well, and
there was no better hunter in all the Green Forest. He was bound that he
would swim well. So he kept trying and trying. He learned to fill his
lungs with air and hold his breath for a long time, while he swam as
fast as ever he could with his head under water as he had seen his
cousin, Mr. Otter, swim. The more he did this, the longer he could hold
his breath. After a while he found that because he was slim and trim and
moved so fast, he could out-swim Mr. Muskrat, and this made him feel
very good indeed, for Mr. Muskrat spent nearly all his time in the water
and was accounted a very good swimmer. There was only one thing that
bothered Mr. Mink. The water was so dreadfully wet! Every time he came
out of it, he had to run his hardest to dry off and keep from getting
cold. This was very tiresome and he did wish that there was an easier
way of drying off.

"Then came the bad time, the sad time, when food was scarce, and most of
the little people in the Green Forest and on the Green Meadow went
hungry. But Mr. Mink didn't go hungry. Oh, my, no! You see, he had
learned to catch fish, and so he had plenty to eat. When Old Mother
Nature came to see how all the little people were getting along, she was
very much surprised to find that Mr. Mink had become a famous swimmer.
She watched him catch a fish. Then she watched him run about to dry off
and keep from getting cold, and her eyes twinkled.

"'He who helps himself deserves to be helped,' said Old Mother Nature.
Mr. Mink didn't know what she meant by that, but the next morning he
found out. Yes, Sir, the next morning he found out. He found that he
had a brand new coat over his old one, and the new one was waterproof.
He could swim as much as he pleased and not get the least bit wet,
because the water couldn't get through that new coat. And ever since
that long-ago day when the world was young, the Minks have had
waterproof coats and have been famous fishermen. Hello, Peter Rabbit!
What under the sun are you trying to do, swelling yourself up that way?"

"I--I was just practising holding my breath," replied Peter and looked
very, very foolish.

"Ho, ho, ho! Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Grandfather Frog. "You can't learn to
swim by holding your breath on dry land, Peter Rabbit."



                                  III

                   HOW OLD MR. TOAD LEARNED TO SING



                                  III

                   HOW OLD MR. TOAD LEARNED TO SING


Peter Rabbit never will forget how he laughed the first time he heard
Old Mr. Toad say that he could sing and was going to sing. Why, Peter
would as soon think of singing himself, and that is something he can no
more do than he can fly. Peter had known Old Mr. Toad ever since he
could remember. He was rather fond of him, even if he did play jokes on
him once in a while. But he always thought of Old Mr. Toad as one of the
homeliest of all his friends,--slow, awkward, and too commonplace to be
very interesting. So when, in the glad joyousness of the spring, Old
Mr. Toad had told Jimmy Skunk that he was going down to the Smiling Pool
to sing because without him the great chorus there would lack one of its
sweetest voices, Peter and Jimmy had laughed till the tears came.

A few days later Peter happened over to the Smiling Pool for a call on
Grandfather Frog. A mighty chorus of joy from unseen singers rose from
all about the Smiling Pool. Peter knew about those singers. They were
Hylas, the little cousins of Sticky-toes the Tree Toad. Peter sat very
still on the edge of the bank trying to see one of them. Suddenly he
became aware of a new note, one he never had noticed before and sweeter
than any of the others. Indeed it was one of the sweetest of all the
spring songs, as sweet as the love notes of Tommy Tit the Chickadee,
than which there is none sweeter.

It seemed to come from the shallow water just in front of Peter, and he
looked eagerly for the singer. Then his eyes opened until it seemed as
if they would pop right out of his head, and he dropped his lower jaw
foolishly. There was Old Mr. Toad with a queer bag Peter never had seen
before swelled out under his chin, and as surely as Peter was sitting on
that bank, it was Old Mr. Toad who was the sweet singer!

Old Mr. Toad paid no attention to Peter, not even when he was spoken to.
He was so absorbed in his singing that he just didn't hear. Peter sat
there a while to listen; then he called Jimmy Skunk and Unc' Billy
Possum, who were also listening to the music, and they were just as
surprised as Peter. Then he spied Jerry Muskrat at the other end of the
Smiling Pool and hurried over there. Peter was so full of the discovery
he had made that he could think of nothing else. He fairly ached to
tell.

"Jerry!" he cried. "Oh, Jerry Muskrat! Do you know that Old Mr. Toad can
sing?"

Jerry looked surprised that Peter should ask such a question. "Of course
I know it," said he. "It would be mighty funny if I didn't know it,
seeing that he is the sweetest singer in the Smiling Pool and has sung
here every spring since I can remember."

Peter looked very much chagrined. "I didn't know it until just how," he
confessed. "I didn't believe him when he told me that he could sing. I
wonder how he ever learned."

"He didn't learn any more than you learned how to jump," replied Jerry.
"It just came to him naturally. His father sang, and his grandfather,
and his great grandfather, way back to the beginning of things. I
thought everybody knew about that."

"I don't. Tell me about it. Please do, Jerry," begged Peter.

"All right, I will," replied Jerry good-naturedly. "It's something
you ought to know about, anyway. In the first place, Old Mr. Toad
belongs to a very old and honorable family, one of the very oldest.
I've heard say that it goes way back almost to the very beginning of
things when there wasn't much land. Anyway, the first Toad, the
great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather of Old Mr. Toad and own cousin to
the great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather of Grandfather Frog, was one
of the first to leave the water for the dry land.

"Old Mother Nature met him hopping along and making hard work of it
because, of course, it was so new. She looked at him sharply. 'What are
you doing here?' she demanded. 'Aren't you contented with the water
where you were born?'

"Mr. Toad bowed very low. 'Yes'm,' said he very humbly. 'I'll go right
back there if you say so. I thought there must be some things worth
finding out on the land, and that I might be of some use in the Great
World.'

"His answer pleased Old Mother Nature. She was worried. She had planted
all kinds of things on the land, and they were springing up everywhere,
but she had discovered that bugs of many kinds liked the tender green
things and were increasing so fast and were so greedy that they
threatened to strip the land of all that she had planted. She had so
many things to attend to that she hadn't time to take care of the bugs.
'If you truly want to be of some use,' said she, 'you can attend to some
of those bugs.'

"Mr. Toad went right to work, and Old Mother Nature went about some
other business. Having so many other things to look after, she quite
forgot about Mr. Toad, and it was several weeks before she came that way
again. Right in the middle of a great bare place where the bugs had
eaten everything was a beautiful green spot, and patiently hopping from
plant to plant was Mr. Toad, snapping up every bug he could see. He
didn't see Old Mother Nature and kept right on working. She watched him
a while as he hopped from plant to plant catching bugs as fast as he
could, and then she spoke.

"'Have you stayed right here ever since I last saw you?' she asked.

"Mr. Toad gave a start of surprise. 'Yes'm,' said he.

"'But I thought you wanted to see the Great World and learn things,'
said she.

"Mr. Toad looked a little embarrassed. 'So I did,' he replied, 'but I
wanted to be of some use, and the bugs have kept me so busy there was no
time to travel. Besides, I have learned a great deal right here. I--I
couldn't get around fast enough to save _all_ the plants, but I have
saved what I could.'

"Old Mother Nature was more pleased than she was willing to show, for
Mr. Toad was the first of all the little people who had tried to help
her, and he had done what he could willingly and faithfully.

"'I suppose,' said she, speaking a little gruffly, 'you expect me to
reward you.'

"Mr. Toad looked surprised and a little hurt. 'I don't want any reward,'
said he. 'I didn't do it for that. It will be reward enough to know that
I really have helped and to be allowed to continue to help.'

"At that Old Mother Nature's face lighted with one of her most beautiful
smiles. 'Mr. Toad,' said she, 'if you could have just what you want,
what would it be?'

"Mr. Toad hesitated a few minutes and then said shyly, 'A beautiful
voice.'

"It was Old Mother Nature's turn to look surprised. 'A beautiful voice!'
she exclaimed. 'Pray, why do you want a beautiful voice?'

"'So that I can express my happiness in the most beautiful way I know
of,--by singing,' replied Mr. Toad.

"'You shall have it,' declared Old Mother Nature, 'but not all the time
lest you be tempted to forget your work, which, you know, is the real
source of true happiness. In the spring of each year you shall go back
to your home in the water, and there for a time you shall sing to your
heart's content, and there shall be no sweeter voice than yours.'

"Sure enough, when the next spring came, Mr. Toad was filled with a
great longing to go home. When he got there, he found that in his throat
was a little music bag; and when he swelled it out, he had one of the
sweetest voices in the world. And so it has been ever since with the
Toad family. Old Mr. Toad is one of the sweetest singers in the Smiling
Pool, but when it is time to go back to work he never grumbles, but is
one of the most faithful workers in Mother Nature's garden," concluded
Jerry Muskrat.

Peter sighed. "I never could work," said he. "Perhaps that is why I
cannot sing."

"Very likely," replied Jerry Muskrat, quite forgetting that he cannot
sing himself although he is a great worker.



                                   IV

                  HOW OLD MR. CROW LOST HIS DOUBLE TONGUE



                                   IV

                  HOW OLD MR. CROW LOST HIS DOUBLE TONGUE


"Caw, caw, caw, caw!" Blacky the Crow sat in the top of a tall tree and
seemed trying to see just how much noise he could make with that harsh
voice of his. Peter Rabbit peered out from the dear Old Briar-patch and
frowned.

"If I had a voice as unpleasant as that, I'd forget I could talk. Yes,
Sir, I'd forget I had a tongue," declared Peter.

Somebody laughed, and Peter turned quickly to find Jimmy Skunk. "What
are you laughing at?" demanded Peter.

"At the idea of you forgetting that you had a tongue," replied Jimmy.

"Well, I would if I had a voice like Blacky's," persisted Peter,
although he grinned a wee bit foolishly as he looked at Jimmy Skunk, for
you know Peter is a great gossip.

"It's lucky for you that you haven't then," retorted Jimmy. "I'm afraid
that you would lose your tongue just as old Mr. Crow did."

That sounded like a story. Right away Peter sat up and took notice. "Did
old Mr. Crow really lose his tongue? How did he lose it? Why did he lose
it? When--"

Jimmy Skunk clapped a hand over each ear and pretended that he was going
to run away. Peter jumped in front of him. "No, you don't!" he cried.
"You've just got to tell me that story, Jimmy Skunk."

"What story?" asked Jimmy, as if he hadn't the least idea in the world
what Peter was talking about, though of course he knew perfectly well.

"Caw, caw, caw, caw!" shouted Blacky the Crow from the distant tree-top.

"The story of how old Mr. Crow lost his tongue. You may as well tell me
first as last, because I'll give you no peace until you do," insisted
Peter.

Jimmy grinned. "If that's the case, I guess I'll have to," said he.
"Wait until I find a comfortable place to sit down. I never could tell a
story standing up."

At last he found a place to suit him and after changing his position two
or three times to make sure that he was perfectly comfortable, he began.

"Once upon a time--"

"Never mind about that," interrupted Peter. "I don't see why all stories
have to begin 'Once upon a time.' It seems as if everything interesting
happened long ago."

"If you don't watch out, this story won't begin at all," declared Jimmy.

Peter looked properly ashamed for interrupting, and Jimmy started again.

"Once upon a time old Mr. Crow, the
great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather of Blacky, over there, possessed
the most wonderful tongue of any of the little people who ran, walked,
crawled, or flew. He could imitate any and everybody, and he did. He
could sing like Mr. Meadow Lark, or he could bark like Mr. Wolf. He
could whistle like Mr. Quail, or he could growl like old King Bear.
There wasn't anybody whose voice he couldn't imitate and do it so well
that if you had been there and heard but not seen him, you never would
have guessed that it was an imitation.

"Now the imp of mischief was in old Mr. Crow, just as it is in Blacky
to-day, and he was smart too. There wasn't anybody smarter than old Mr.
Crow. It's from him that Blacky gets his smartness. It didn't take him
long to discover that no one else had such a wonderful tongue. It was
even more wonderful than the tongue of old Mr. Mocker the Mocking Bird.
Mr. Mocker could imitate the songs of other birds, but old Mr. Crow
could imitate anybody, as I have said. He puzzled over it a good deal
himself for a while. He couldn't understand how he could make any sound
he pleased, while his neighbors could make only a few special sounds.

"Being very smart and shrewd, just as Blacky is, he finally made up his
mind that it must be in his tongue. As soon as he thought of that, he
started out to find out, and on one excuse or another he managed to get
all his neighbors to show him their tongues. Sure enough, his own tongue
was different from any of the others. It was split a little, so that it
was almost like two tongues in one.

"'That's it,' he chuckled. 'I knew it. It's this little old tongue of
mine. Nobody else has got one like it, but nobody knows that but me. I
must make good use of it. Yes, Sir, I must make good use of it.'

"Now when old Mr. Crow said that, he didn't really mean good use at all.
That is, he didn't mean what you or I or any of his neighbors would have
called good use. What he did mean was the use that would bring to
himself the greatest gain in pleasure, and being a great joker, he began
by having a lot of fun with his neighbors. When he saw Mr. Rabbit, your
grandfather a thousand times removed, coming along, he would hide, and
just as Mr. Rabbit was passing, he would snarl like Mr. Lynx. Of course
Mr. Rabbit would be scared almost to death, and away he would go,
lipperty-lipperty-lip, and old Mr. Crow would laugh so that he had to
hold his black sides. He would hide in the top of a tree near Mr.
Squirrel's home, and just when Mr. Squirrel had found a fat nut and
started to eat it, he would scream like Mr. Hawk and then laugh to see
Mr. Squirrel drop his nut and dive headfirst into the nearest hole. He
would squeak like a mouse when Mr. Fox was passing, just to see Mr. Fox
hunt and hunt for the dinner he felt sure was close at hand.

"But after a while Mr. Crow wasn't satisfied with harmless jokes. Times
were getting hard, and everybody had to work to get enough to eat. This
didn't suit Mr. Crow at all, and one day when he chanced to discover one
of his neighbors just sitting down to a good meal, a new idea came to
him. He stole as near as he could without being seen and suddenly
growled like old King Bear. Of course that meal was left in a hurry. 'It
is too bad to see all that good food go to waste,' said Mr. Crow and
promptly ate it.

"After that, instead of hunting for food himself, he just kept a sharp
eye on his neighbors, and when they had found something he wanted, he
frightened them away and helped himself. All the time he was so sly
about it that never once was he suspected. He was a great talker, was
Mr. Crow, and spent a great deal of time gossiping, and he was always
one of the first to offer sympathy to those who had lost a meal.

"Now all this time, unknown to old Mr. Crow, Old Mother Nature knew just
what was going on, for you can't fool her, and it's of no use to try.
One morning Mr. Crow discovered Mr. Coon just sitting down to a good
breakfast. He stole up behind Mr. Coon and opened his mouth to bark like
Mr. Coyote, but instead of a bark, there came forth a harsh 'Caw, caw,
caw.' It is a question which was the more surprised, Mr. Coon or Mr.
Crow. Mr. Coon didn't forget his manners. He politely invited Mr. Crow
to sit down and take breakfast with him. But Mr. Crow had lost his
appetite. Somehow his tongue felt very queer. He thanked Mr. Coon and
begged to be excused. Then he hurried over to the nearest pool of water
in which he could see his reflection and stuck out his tongue. It was no
longer split into a double tongue. Then old Mr. Crow guessed that Old
Mother Nature had found him out and punished him, but to make sure, he
flew to the most lonesome place he knew of, and there he tried to
imitate the voices of his neighbors; but try as he would, all he could
say was 'Caw, caw, caw.'

"For a long, long time after that no one ever heard Mr. Crow say a word.
His neighbors didn't know what to make of it, for you remember he had
been a great gossip. They said that he must have lost his tongue. Of
course he hadn't, but he felt that he might as well have. And ever since
then the Crow family has had the harshest of all voices."

"Caw, caw, caw!" shouted Blacky from the top of the tree where he was
sitting.

"I wonder," said Peter Rabbit thoughtfully, "if he could imitate other
people if his tongue should be split."

"I've heard say that he could," replied Jimmy Skunk, "but I don't know.
One thing is sure, and that is that he is just as smart and sly as his
great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather was, and I guess it is just as
well that his tongue is just as it is."



                                    V

                    HOW HOWLER THE WOLF GOT HIS NAME



                                    V

                    HOW HOWLER THE WOLF GOT HIS NAME


Peter Rabbit never had seen Howler the Wolf, but he had heard his voice
in the distance, and the mere sound had given him cold shivers. It just
went all through him. It was very different from the voice of Old Man
Coyote. The latter is bad enough, sounding as it does like many voices,
but there is not in it that terrible fierceness which the voice of his
big cousin contains. Peter had no desire to hear it any nearer. The
first time he met his cousin, Jumper the Hare, he asked him about
Howler, for Jumper had come down to the Green Forest from the Great
Woods where Howler lives and is feared.

"Did you hear him?" exclaimed Jumper. "I hope he won't take it into his
head to come down here. I don't believe he will, because it is too near
the homes of men. If the sound of his voice way off there gave you cold
shivers, I'm afraid you'd shake all to pieces if you heard him close by.
He's just as fierce as his voice sounds. There is one thing about him
that I like, though, and that is that he gives fair warning when he is
hunting. He doesn't come sneaking about without a sound, like Tufty the
Lynx. He hunts like Bowser the Hound and lets you know that he is out
hunting. Did you ever hear how he got his name?"

"No. How did he get his name?" asked Peter eagerly.

"Well, of course it's a family name now and is handed down and has been
for years and years, ever since the first Wolf began hunting way back
when the world was young," explained Jumper. "For a long time the first
Wolf had no name. Most of the other animals and birds had names, but
nothing seemed to just fit the big gray Wolf. He looked a great deal
like his cousin, Mr. Dog, and still more like his other cousin, Mr.
Coyote. But he was stronger than either, could run farther and faster
than either, and had quite as wonderful a nose as either.

"With Mr. Wolf, as with all the other animals, life was an easy matter
at first. There was plenty to eat, and everybody was on good terms with
everybody else. But there came a time, as you know, when food became
scarce. It was then that the big learned to hunt the small, and fear was
born into the world. Mr. Wolf was swift of leg and keen of nose. His
teeth were long and sharp, and he was so strong that there were few he
feared to fight with. In fact, he didn't know fear at all, for he simply
kept out of the way of those who were too big and strong for him to
fight.

"Most people like to do the things they know they can do well. Mr. Wolf
early learned the joy of hunting. I can't understand it myself. Can
you?"

Peter shook his head. You see neither Jumper nor Peter ever have hunted
any one in all their lives. It is always they who are hunted.

"Perhaps it was because he was so strong of wind and leg that he enjoyed
running, and because he was so keen of nose that he enjoyed following a
trail. Anyway, he scorned to spend his time sneaking about as did his
cousin, Mr. Coyote, but chose to follow the swiftest runners and to
match his nose and speed and skill against their speed and wits. He
didn't bother to hunt little people like us when there were big people
like Mr. Deer. The longer and harder the hunt, the more Mr. Wolf seemed
to enjoy it.

"At first he hunted silently, running swiftly with his nose to the
ground. But this gave the ones he hunted very little chance; he was upon
them before they even suspected that he was on their trail. It always
made Mr. Wolf feel mean. He never could hold his head and his tail up
after that kind of a hunt. He felt so like a sneak that he just had to
put his tail between his legs for very shame. There was nothing to be
proud about in such a hunt.

"One night he sat thinking about it. Gentle Mistress Moon looked down at
him through the tree-tops, and something inside him urged him to tell
her his troubles. He pointed his sharp nose up at her, opened his mouth
and, because she was so far away, did his best to make her hear. That
was the very first Wolf howl ever heard. There was something very lonely
and shivery and terrible in the sound, and all who heard it shook with
fear. Mr. Wolf didn't know this, but he did know that he felt better for
howling. So every night he pointed his nose up at Mistress Moon and
howled.

"It happened that once as he did this, a Deer jumped at the first sound
and rushed away in great fright. This gave Mr. Wolf an idea. The next
day when he went hunting he threw up his head and howled at the very
first smell of fresh tracks. That day he had the longest hunt he ever
had known, for the Deer had had fair warning. Mr. Wolf didn't get the
Deer, because the latter swam across a lake and so got away, but he
returned home in high spirits in spite of an empty stomach. You see, he
felt that it had been a fair hunt. After that he always gave fair
warning. As he ran, he howled for very joy. No longer did he carry his
bushy tail between his legs, for no longer did he feel like a coward and
a sneak. Instead, he carried it proudly. Of all the animals who hunted,
he was the only one who gave fair warning, and he felt that he had a
right to be proud. All the others hunted by stealth. He alone hunted
openly and boldly.

[Illustration: "Old King Bear, who was king no longer, would growl a
deep, rumbly-grumbly growl." _Page_ 66.]

"Now this earned for him first the dislike and then the hatred of the
other hunters. You see, when he was hunting, he spoiled the hunting of
those who stole soft-footed through the Green Forest and caught their
victims by surprise. The little people heard his voice and either hid
away or were on guard, so that it was hard work for the silent hunters
to surprise them. At the sound of his hunting cry, old King Bear, who
was king no longer, would growl a deep, rumbly-grumbly growl, though he
didn't mind so much as some, because he did very little hunting. He
wouldn't have done any if food had not been so scarce, because he would
have been entirely satisfied with berries and roots, if he could have
found enough. Mr. Lynx and Mr. Panther would snarl angrily. Mr. Coyote
and Mr. Fox would show their teeth and mutter about what they would do
to Mr. Wolf if only they were big enough and strong enough and brave
enough.

"Of course, it wasn't long before Mr. Wolf discovered that he had no
friends. The little people feared him, and the big people hated him
because he spoiled their hunting. But he didn't mind. In fact, he
looked down on Mr. Lynx and Mr. Panther and Mr. Coyote and Mr. Fox, and
when he met them, he lifted his tail a little more proudly than ever.
Sometimes he would howl out of pure mischief just to spoil the hunting
of the others. So, little by little, he began to be spoken of as Howler
the Wolf, and after a while everybody called him Howler.

"Of course, Howler taught his children how to hunt and that the only
honorable and fair way was to give those they hunted fair warning. So it
grew to be a fixed habit of the Wolf family to give fair warning that
they were abroad and then trust to their wind and wits and speed and
noses to catch those they were after. The result was that they grew
strong, able to travel long distances, keen of nose, and sharp of wit.
Because the big people hated them, and the little people feared them,
they lived by themselves and so formed the habit of hunting together for
company.

"It has been so ever since, and the name Howler has been handed down to
this day. No sound in all the Great Woods carries with it more fear than
does the voice of Howler the Wolf, and no one hunts so openly, boldly,
and honorably. Be thankful, Peter, that Howler never comes down to the
Green Forest, but stays far from the homes of men."

"I am," replied Peter. "Just the same, I think he deserves a better name
for the fair way in which he hunts, though his name certainly does fit
him. I would a lot rather be caught by some one who had given me fair
warning than by some one who came sneaking after me and gave me no
warning. But I don't want to be caught at all, so I think I'll hurry
back to the dear Old Briar-patch." And Peter did.



                                   VI

                  HOW OLD MR. SQUIRREL BECAME THRIFTY



                                   VI

                  HOW OLD MR. SQUIRREL BECAME THRIFTY


Grandfather Frog sat on his big green lily-pad in the Smiling Pool and
shook his head reprovingly at Peter Rabbit. Peter is such a
happy-go-lucky little fellow that he never thinks of anything but the
good time he can have in the present. He never looks ahead to the
future. So of course Peter seldom worries. If the sun shines to-day,
Peter takes it for granted that it will shine to-morrow; so he hops and
skips and has a good time and just trusts to luck.

Now Grandfather Frog is very old and very wise, and he doesn't believe
in luck. No, Sir, Grandfather Frog doesn't believe in luck.

"Chug-a-rum!" says Grandfather Frog, "Luck never just _happens_. What
people call bad luck is just the result of their own foolishness or
carelessness or both, and what people call good luck is just the result
of their own wisdom and carefulness and common sense."

Peter Rabbit had been making fun of Happy Jack Squirrel because Happy
Jack said that he had too much to do to stop and play that morning. Here
it was summer, and winter was a long way off. What was summer for if not
to play in and have a good time? Yet Happy Jack was already thinking of
winter and was hunting for a new storehouse so as to have it ready when
the time to fill it with nuts should come. It was much better to play
and take sun-naps among the buttercups and daisies and just have a good
time all day long.

"Chug-a-rum!" said Grandfather Frog, "Did you ever hear how old Mr.
Squirrel learned thrift?"

"No," cried Peter Rabbit, stretching himself out in the soft grass on
the edge of the Smiling Pool. "Do tell us about it. Please do,
Grandfather Frog!"

You know Peter dearly loves a story.

All the other little meadow and forest people who were about the Smiling
Pool joined Peter Rabbit in begging Grandfather Frog for the story, and
after they had teased for it a long time (Grandfather Frog dearly loves
to be teased), he cleared his throat and began.

"Once upon a time when the world was young, in the days when old King
Bear ruled in the Green Forest, everybody had to take King Bear
presents of things to eat. That was because he was king. You know kings
never have to work like other people to get enough to eat; everybody
brings them a little of their best, and so kings have the best in the
land without the trouble of working for it. It was just this way with
old King Bear. That was before he grew so fat and lazy and selfish that
Old Mother Nature declared that he should be king no longer.

"Now in those days lived old Mr. Squirrel, the grandfather a thousand
times removed of Happy Jack Squirrel whom you all know. Of course, he
wasn't old then. He was young and frisky, just like Happy Jack, and he
was a great favorite with old King Bear. He was a saucy fellow, was Mr.
Squirrel, and he used to spend most of his time playing tricks on the
other meadow and forest people. He even dared to play jokes on old King
Bear. Sometimes old King Bear would lose his temper, and then Mr.
Squirrel would whisk up in the top of a tall tree and keep out of sight
until old King Bear had recovered his good nature.

"Those were happy days, very happy days indeed, and old King Bear was a
very wise ruler. There was plenty of everything to eat, and so nobody
missed the little they brought to old King Bear. Having so much brought
to him, he grew very particular. Yes, Sir, old King Bear grew very
particular indeed. Some began to whisper behind his back that he was
fussy. He would pick out the very best of everything for himself and
give the rest to his family and special friends or else just let it go
to waste.

"Now old King Bear was very fond of lively little Mr. Squirrel, and
often he would give Mr. Squirrel some of the good things for which he
had no room in his own stomach. Mr. Squirrel was smart. He soon found
out that the more he amused old King Bear, the more of King Bear's good
things he had. It was a lot easier to get his living this way than to
hunt for his food as he always had in the past. Besides, it was a lot
more fun. So little Mr. Squirrel studied how to please old King Bear,
and he grew fat on the good things which other people had earned.

"One day old King Bear gave little Mr. Squirrel six big, fat nuts. You
see, old King Bear didn't care for nuts himself, not the kind with the
hard shells, anyway, so he really wasn't as generous as he seemed, which
is the way with a great many people. It is easy to give what you don't
want yourself. Little Mr. Squirrel bowed very low and thanked old King
Bear in his best manner. He really didn't want those nuts, for his
stomach was full at the time, but it wouldn't do to refuse a gift from
the king. So he took the nuts and pretended to be delighted with them.

"'What shall I do with them?' said little Mr. Squirrel as soon as he was
alone. 'It won't do for me to leave them where old King Bear will find
them, for it might make him very angry.' At last he remembered a certain
hollow tree. 'The very place!' cried little Mr. Squirrel. 'I'll drop
them in there, and no one will be any the wiser.'

"No sooner thought of than it was done, and little Mr. Squirrel frisked
away in his usual happy-go-lucky fashion and forgot all about the nuts
in the hollow tree. It wasn't very long after this that Old Mother
Nature began to hear complaints of old King Bear and his rule in the
Green Forest. He had grown fat and lazy, and all his relatives had grown
fat and lazy because, you see, none of them had to work for the things
they ate. The little forest and meadow people were growing tired of
feeding the Bear family. It was just at the beginning of winter when Old
Mother Nature came to see for herself what the trouble was. It didn't
take her long to find out. No, Sir, it didn't take her long. You can't
fool Old Mother Nature, and it's of no use to try. She took one good
look at old King Bear nodding in the cave where he used to sleep. He was
so fat he looked as if he would burst his skin.

"Old Mother Nature frowned. 'You are such a lazy fellow that you shall
be king no longer. Instead, you shall sleep all winter and grow thin and
thinner till you awake in the spring, and then you will have to hunt
for your own food, for never again shall you live on the gifts of
others,' said she.

"All the little forest and meadow people who had been bringing tribute,
that is things to eat, to old King Bear rejoiced that they need do so no
longer and went about their business. All of old King Bear's family,
including his cousin Mr. Coon, had been put to sleep just like old King
Bear himself. Yes, Sir, they were all asleep, fast asleep.

"Little Mr. Squirrel felt lonesome. He grew more lonesome every day.
None of the other little people would have anything to do with him
because they remembered how he had lived without working when he was the
favorite of King Bear. The weather was cold, and it was hard work to
find anything to eat. Mr. Squirrel was hungry all the time. He couldn't
think of anything but his stomach and how empty it was. He grew thin and
thinner.

"One cold day when the snow covered the earth, little Mr. Squirrel went
without breakfast. Then he went without dinner. You see, he couldn't
find so much as a pine-seed to eat. Late in the afternoon he crept into
a hollow tree to get away from the cold, bitter wind. He was very tired
and very cold and very, very hungry. Tears filled his eyes and ran over
and dripped from his nose. He curled up on the leaves at the bottom of
the hollow to try to go to sleep and forget. Under him was something
hard. He twisted and turned, but he couldn't get in a comfortable
position. Finally he looked to see what the trouble was caused by. What
do you think he found? Six big, fat nuts! Yes, Sir, six big, fat nuts!
Little Mr. Squirrel was so glad that he cried for very joy.

"When he had eaten two, he felt better and decided to keep the others
for the next day. Then he began to wonder how those nuts happened to be
in that hollow tree. He thought and thought, and at last he remembered
how he had hidden six nuts in this very hollow a long time before, when
he had had more than he knew what to do with. These were the very nuts,
the present of old King Bear.

"Right then as he thought about it, little Mr. Squirrel had a bright
idea. He made up his mind that thereafter he would stop his
happy-go-lucky idleness, and the first time that ever he found plenty of
food, he would fill that hollow tree just as full as he could pack it,
and then if there should come a time when food was scarce, he would
have plenty. And that is just what he did do. The next fall when nuts
were plentiful, he worked from morning till night storing them away in
the hollow tree, and all that winter he was happy and fat, for he had
plenty to eat. He never had to beg of any one. He had learned to save.

"And ever since then the Squirrels have been among the wisest of all the
little forest people and always the busiest.

    "The Squirrel family long since learned
     That things are best when duly earned;
     That play and fun are found in work
     By him who does not try to shirk.

"And that's all," finished Grandfather Frog.

"Thank you! Thank you, Grandfather Frog!" cried Peter Rabbit.



                                  VII

                 HOW LIGHTFOOT THE DEER LEARNED TO JUMP



                                  VII

                 HOW LIGHTFOOT THE DEER LEARNED TO JUMP


It isn't often that Peter Rabbit is filled with envy. As a rule, Peter
is very free from anything like envy. Usually he is quite content with
the gifts bestowed upon him by Old Mother Nature, and if others have
more than he has, he is glad for them and wastes no time fretting
because he has not been so fortunate. But once in a great while Peter
becomes really and truly envious. It was that way the first time he saw
Lightfoot the Deer leap over a fallen tree, and ever after, when he saw
Lightfoot, a little of that same feeling stirred in his heart. You see,
Peter always had been very proud of his own powers of jumping. To be
sure Jumper the Hare could jump higher and farther than he could, but
Jumper is his own cousin, so it was all in the family, so to speak, and
Peter didn't mind. But to see Lightfoot the Deer go sailing over the
tops of the bushes and over the fallen trees as if he had springs in his
legs was quite another matter.

"I wish I could jump like that," said Peter right out loud one day, as
he stood with his hands on his hips watching Lightfoot leap over a pile
of brush.

"Why don't you learn to?" asked Jimmy Skunk with a mischievous twinkle
in the eye which Peter couldn't see. "Lightfoot couldn't always jump
like that; he had to learn. Why don't you find out how? Probably
Grandfather Frog knows all about it. He knows about almost everything.
If I were you, I'd ask him."

"I--I--I don't just like to," replied Peter. "I've asked him so many
questions that I am afraid he'll think me a nuisance. I tell you what,
Jimmy, you ask him!" Peter's eyes brightened as he said this.

Jimmy chuckled. "No, you don't!" said he. "If there is anything you want
to know from Grandfather Frog, ask him yourself. I don't want to know
how Lightfoot learned to jump. He may jump over the moon, for all I
care. Have you seen any fat beetles this morning, Peter?"

"No," replied Peter shortly. "I'm not interested in beetles. There may
never be any fat beetles, for all I care."

Jimmy laughed. It was a good-natured, chuckling kind of a laugh. "Don't
get huffy, Peter," said he. "Here's hoping that you learn how to jump
like Lightfoot the Deer, and that I get a stomachful of fat beetles."
With that Jimmy Skunk slowly ambled along down the Crooked Little Path.

Peter watched him out of sight, sighed, started for the dear Old
Briar-patch, stopped, sighed again, and then headed straight for the
Smiling Pool. Grandfather Frog was there on his big green lily-pad, and
Peter wasted no time.

"How did Lightfoot the Deer learn to jump so splendidly, Grandfather
Frog?" he blurted out almost before he had stopped running.

Grandfather Frog blinked his great, goggly eyes. "Chug-a-rum!" said he.
"If you'll jump across the Laughing Brook over there where it comes into
the Smiling Pool, I'll tell you."

Peter looked at the Laughing Brook in dismay. It was quite wide at that
point. "I--I can't," he stammered.

"Then I can't tell you how Lightfoot learned to jump," replied
Grandfather Frog, quite as if the matter were settled.

"I--I'll try!" Peter hastened to blurt out.

"All right. While you are trying, I'll see if I can remember the story,"
replied Grandfather Frog.

Peter went back a little so as to get a good start. Then he ran as hard
as he knew how, and when he reached the bank of the Laughing Brook, he
jumped with all his might. It was a good jump--a splendid jump--but it
wasn't quite enough of a jump, and Peter landed with a great splash in
the water! Grandfather Frog opened his great mouth as wide as he could,
which is very wide indeed, and laughed until the tears rolled down from
his great, goggly eyes. Jerry Muskrat and Billy Mink rolled over and
over on the bank, laughing until their sides ached. Even Spotty the
Turtle smiled, which is very unusual for Spotty.

Now Peter does not like the water, and though he can swim, he doesn't
feel at all at home in it. He paddled for the shore as fast as he could,
and in his heart was something very like anger. No one likes to be
laughed at. Peter intended to start for home the very minute he reached
the shore. But just before his feet touched bottom, he heard the great,
deep voice of Grandfather Frog.

"That is just the way Lightfoot the Deer learned to jump--trying to do
what he couldn't do and keeping at it until he could. It all happened a
great while ago when the world was young." Grandfather Frog was talking
quite as if nothing had happened, and he had never thought of laughing.
Peter was so put out that he wanted to keep right on, but he just
couldn't miss that story. His curiosity wouldn't let him. So he shook
himself and then lay down in the sunniest spot he could find within
hearing.

"Lightfoot's great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather was named Lightfoot
too, and was not a whit less handsome than Lightfoot is now," continued
Grandfather Frog in his best story-telling voice. "He had just such slim
legs as Lightfoot has now and just such wonderful, branching horns. When
he had the latter, he was not much afraid of anybody. Those enemies
swift enough of foot to catch him he could successfully fight with his
horns, and those too big and strong for him to fight were not swift
enough to catch him. But there was a season in every year when he had no
horns, as is the case with Lightfoot. You know, or ought to know, that
every spring Lightfoot loses his horns and through the summer a new pair
grows. It was so with Mr. Deer of that long-ago time, and when he lost
those great horns, he felt very helpless and timid.

"Now old Mr. Deer loved the open meadows and spent most of his time
there. When he had to run, he wanted nothing in the way of his slim
legs. And how he could run! My, my, my, how he could run! But there were
others who could run swiftly in those days too,--Mr. Wolf and Mr. Dog.
Mr. Deer always had a feeling that some day one or the other would catch
him. When he had his horns, this thought didn't worry him much, but when
he had lost his horns, it worried him a great deal. He felt perfectly
helpless then. 'The thing for me to do is to keep out of sight,' said he
to himself, and so instead of going out on the meadows and in the open
places, he hid among the bushes and in the brush on the edge of the
Green Forest and behind the fallen trees in the Green Forest.

"But one thing troubled old Mr. Deer, who wasn't old then, you know.
Yes, Sir, one thing troubled him a great deal. He couldn't run fast at
all among the bushes and the fallen trees and the old logs. This was a
new worry, and it troubled him almost as much as the old worry. He felt
that he was in a dreadful fix. You see, hard times had come, and the big
and strong were preying on the weak and small in order to live.

"'If I stay out on the meadows, I cannot fight if I am caught; and if I
stay here, I cannot run fast if I am found by my enemies. Oh, dear! Oh,
dear! What shall I do?' cried Mr. Deer, as he lay hidden among the
branches of a fallen hemlock-tree.

"Just at that very minute along came Mr. Hare, the
great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather of your cousin Jumper. A big log
was in his path, and he jumped over it as lightly as a feather. Mr. Deer
watched him and sighed. If only he could jump like that in proportion to
his size, he would just jump over the bushes and the fallen logs and the
fallen trees instead of trying to run around them or squeeze between
them. Right then he had an idea. Why shouldn't he learn to jump? He
could try, anyway. So when he was sure that no one was around to see
him, he practised jumping over little low bushes. At first he couldn't
do much, but he kept trying and trying, and little by little he jumped
higher. It was hard work, and he scraped his slim legs many times when
he tried to jump over old logs and stumps.

"Now all this time some one had been watching him, though he didn't know
it. It was Old Mother Nature. One day she stopped him as he was trotting
along a path. 'What is this you are doing when you think no one is
watching?' she demanded, looking very cross. 'Haven't I given you beauty
and speed? And yet you are not satisfied!' Mr. Deer hung his head. Then
suddenly he threw it up proudly and told Old Mother Nature that he had
not complained, but that through his own efforts he was just trying to
add to the blessings which he did have, and he explained why he wanted
to learn to jump. Old Mother Nature heard him through. 'Let me see you
jump over that bush,' she snapped crossly, pointing to a bush almost as
high as Mr. Deer himself.

"'Oh, I can't jump nearly as high as that!' he cried. Then tossing his
head proudly, he added, 'But I'll try.' So just as Peter Rabbit tried to
jump the Laughing Brook when he felt sure that he couldn't, Mr. Deer
tried to jump the bush. Just imagine how surprised he was when he sailed
over it without even touching the top of it with his hoofs! Old Mother
Nature had given him the gift of jumping as a reward for his
perseverance and because she saw that he really had need of it.

"So ever since that long-ago day, the Deer have lived where the brush is
thickest and the Green Forest most tangled, because they are such great
jumpers that they can travel faster there than their enemies, and they
are no longer so swift of foot in the open meadows. Now, Peter, let's
see you jump over the Laughing Brook."

What do you think Peter did? Why, he tried again, and laughed just as
hard as the others when once more he landed in the water with a great
splash.



                                  VIII

                 HOW MR. FLYING SQUIRREL ALMOST GOT WINGS



                                  VIII

                 HOW MR. FLYING SQUIRREL ALMOST GOT WINGS


Jimmy Skunk and Peter Rabbit were having a dispute. It was a
good-natured dispute, but both Jimmy and Peter are very decided in their
opinions, and neither would give in to the other. Finally they decided
that as neither could convince the other, they should leave it for
Grandfather Frog to decide which was right. So they straightway started
for the Smiling Pool, where on his big green lily-pad Grandfather Frog
was enjoying the twilight and leading the great Frog chorus. Both agreed
that they would accept Grandfather Frog's decision. You see, each was
sure that he was right.

When they reached the Smiling Pool, they found Grandfather Frog looking
very comfortable and old and wise. "Good evening, Grandfather Frog. I
hope you are feeling just as fine as you look," said Jimmy Skunk, who
never forgets to be polite.

"Chug-a-rum! I'm feeling very well, thank you," replied Grandfather
Frog. "What brings you to the Smiling Pool this fine evening?" He looked
very hard at Peter Rabbit, for he suspected that Peter had come for a
story.

"To get the wisest person of whom we know to decide a matter on which
Peter and I cannot agree; and who is there so wise as Grandfather Frog?"
replied Jimmy.

Grandfather Frog looked immensely pleased. It always pleases him to be
considered wise. "Chug-a-rum!" said he gruffly. "You have a very smooth
tongue, Jimmy Skunk. But what is this matter on which you cannot agree?"

"How many animals can fly?" returned Jimmy, by way of answer.

"One," replied Grandfather Frog. "I thought everybody knew that. Flitter
the Bat is the only animal who can fly."

"You forget Timmy, the Flying Squirrel!" cried Peter excitedly. "That
makes two."

Grandfather Frog shook his head. "Peter, Peter, whatever is the matter
with those eyes of yours?" he exclaimed. "They certainly are big enough.
I wonder if you ever will learn to use them. Half-seeing is sometimes
worse than not seeing at all. Timmy cannot fly any more than I can."

"What did I tell you?" cried Jimmy Skunk triumphantly.

"But I've seen him fly lots of times!" persisted Peter. "I guess that
any one who has envied him as often as I have ought to know."

"Hump!" grunted Grandfather Frog. "I guess that's the trouble. There was
so much envy that it got into your eyes, and you couldn't see straight.
Envy is a bad thing."

Jimmy Skunk chuckled.

"Did you ever see him away from trees?" continued Grandfather Frog.

"No," confessed Peter.

"Did you ever see him cut circles in the air like Flitter the Bat?"

"No-o," replied Peter slowly.

"Of course not," retorted Grandfather Frog. "The reason is because he
doesn't fly. He hasn't any wings. What he does do is to coast on the
air. He's the greatest jumper and coaster in the Green Forest."

"Coast on the air!" exclaimed Peter. "I never heard of such a thing."

"There are many things you never have heard of," replied Grandfather
Frog. "Sit down, Peter, and stop fidgeting, and I'll tell you a story."

The very word story was enough to make Peter forget everything else, and
he promptly sat down with his big eyes fixed on Grandfather Frog.

"It happened," began Grandfather Frog, "that way back in the beginning
of things, there lived a very timid member of the Squirrel family, own
cousin to Mr. Red Squirrel and Mr. Gray Squirrel, but not at all like
them, for he was very gentle and very shy. Perhaps this was partly
because he was very small and was not big enough or strong enough to
fight his way as the others did. In fact, this little Mr. Squirrel was
so timid that he preferred to stay out of sight during the day, when so
many were abroad. He felt safer in the dusk of evening, and so he used
to wait until jolly, round, red Mr. Sun had gone to bed behind the
Purple Hills before he ventured out to hunt for his food. Then his
quarrelsome cousins had gone to bed, and there was no one to drive him
away when he found a feast of good things.

"But even at night there was plenty of danger. There was Mr. Owl to be
watched out for, and other night prowlers. In fact, little Mr. Squirrel
didn't feel safe on the ground a minute, and so he kept to the trees as
much as possible. Of course, when the branches of one tree reached to
the branches of another tree, it was an easy matter to travel through
the tree-tops, but every once in a while there would be open places to
cross, and many a fright did timid little Mr. Squirrel have as he
scampered across these open places. He used to sit and watch old Mr. Bat
flying about and wish that he had wings. Then he thought how foolish it
was to wish for something he hadn't got and couldn't have.

"'The thing to do,' said little Mr. Squirrel to himself, 'is to make the
most of what I have got. Now I am a pretty good jumper, but if I keep
jumping, perhaps I can learn to jump better than I do now.'

"So every night Mr. Squirrel used to go off by himself, where he was
sure no one would see him, and practise jumping. He would climb an old
stump and then jump as far as he could. Then he would do it all over
again ever so many times, and after a little he found that he went
farther, quite a little farther, than when he began. Then one night he
made a discovery. He found that by spreading his arms and legs out just
as far as possible and making himself as flat as he could, he could go
almost twice as far as he had been able to go before, and he landed a
great deal easier. It was like sliding down on the air. It was great
fun, and pretty soon he was spending all his spare time doing it.

"One moonlight night, Old Mother Nature happened along and sat down on a
log to watch him. Little Mr. Squirrel didn't see her, and when at last
she asked him what he was doing, he was so surprised and confused that
he could hardly find his tongue. At last he told her that he was trying
to learn to jump better that he might better take care of himself. The
idea pleased Old Mother Nature. You know she is always pleased when she
finds people trying to help themselves.

"'That's a splendid idea,' said she. 'I'll help you. I'll make you the
greatest jumper in the Green Forest.'

"Then she gave to little Mr. Squirrel something almost but not quite
like wings. Between his fore legs and hind legs on each side she
stretched a piece of skin that folded right down against his body when
he was walking or running so as to hardly show and wasn't in the way at
all.

"'Now,' said she, 'climb that tall tree over yonder clear to the top and
then jump with all your might for that tree over there across that open
place.'

"It was ten times as far as little Mr. Squirrel ever had jumped before,
and the tree was so tall that he felt sure that he would break his neck
when he struck the ground. He was afraid, very much afraid. But Old
Mother Nature had told him to do it. He knew that he ought to trust her.
So he climbed the tall tree. It was a frightful distance down to the
ground, and that other tree was so far away that it was foolish to even
think of reaching it.

"'Jump!' commanded Old Mother Nature.

"Little Mr. Squirrel gulped very hard, trying to swallow his fear. Then
he jumped with all his might, and just as he had taught himself to do,
spread himself out as flat as he could. Just imagine how surprised he
was and how tickled when he just coasted down on the air clear across
the open place and landed as lightly as a feather on the foot of that
distant tree! You see, the skin between his legs when he spread them out
had kept him from falling straight down. Of course if he hadn't jumped
with all his might, as Old Mother Nature had told him to, even though he
thought it wouldn't be of any use, he wouldn't have reached that other
tree.

"He was so delighted that he wanted to do it right over again, but he
didn't forget his manners. He first thanked Old Mother Nature.

"She smiled. 'See that you keep out of danger, for that is why I have
made you the greatest jumper in the Green Forest,' said she.

"Little Mr. Squirrel did. People who, like Peter, did not use their
eyes, thought that he could fly, and he was called the Flying Squirrel.
He was the great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather of Timmy whom you both
know."

"And Timmy doesn't really fly at all, does he?" asked Jimmy Skunk.

"Certainly not. He jumps and slides on the air," replied Grandfather
Frog.

"What did I tell you?" cried Jimmy triumphantly to Peter.

"Well, anyway, it's next thing to flying. I wish I could do it," replied
Peter.



                                   IX

                   HOW MR. WEASEL WAS MADE AN OUTCAST



                                   IX

                   HOW MR. WEASEL WAS MADE AN OUTCAST


Chatterer the Red Squirrel peered down from the edge of an old nest
built long ago in a big hemlock-tree in the Green Forest, and if you
could have looked into Chatterer's eyes, you would have seen there a
great fear. He looked this way; he looked that way. Little by little,
the fear left him, and when at last he saw Peter Rabbit coming his way,
he gave a little sigh of relief and ran down the tree. Peter saw him and
headed straight toward him to pass the time of day.

"Peter," whispered Chatterer, as soon as Peter was near enough to hear,
"have you seen Shadow the Weasel?"

It was Peter's turn to look frightened, and he hastily glanced this way
and that way. "No," he replied. "Is he anywhere about here?"

"I saw him pass about five minutes ago, but he seemed to be in a hurry,
and I guess he has gone now," returned Chatterer, still whispering.

"I hope so! My goodness, I hope so!" exclaimed Peter, still looking this
way and that way uneasily.

"I hate him!" declared Chatterer fiercely.

"So do I," replied Peter. "I guess everybody does. It must be dreadful
to be hated by everybody. I don't believe he has got a single friend in
the wide, wide world, not even among his own relatives. I wonder why it
is he never tries to make any friends."

"Here comes Jimmy Skunk. Let's ask him. He ought to know, for he is
Shadow's cousin," said Chatterer.

Jimmy came ambling up in his usual lazy way, for you know he never
hurries. It seemed to Chatterer and Peter that he was slower than usual.
But he got there at last.

"Why is it, Jimmy Skunk, that your cousin, Shadow the Weasel, never
tries to make any friends?" cried Chatterer, as soon as Jimmy was near
enough.

"I've never asked him, but I suppose it's because he doesn't want them,"
replied Jimmy.

"But why?" asked Peter.

"I guess it's because he is an outcast," replied Jimmy.

"What is an outcast," demanded Peter.

"Why, somebody with whom nobody else will have anything to do, stupid,"
replied Jimmy. "I thought everybody knew that."

"But how did it happen that he became an outcast in the first place?"
persisted Peter.

"He's always been an outcast, ever since he was born, and I suppose he
is used to it," declared Jimmy. "His father was an outcast, and his
grandfather, and his great-grandfathers way back to the days when the
world was young."

"Tell us about it. Do tell us about it!" begged Peter.

Jimmy smiled good-naturedly. "Well, seeing that I haven't anything else
to do just now, I will. Perhaps you fellows may learn something from the
story," said he. Then he settled himself comfortably with his back to an
old stump and began.

[Illustration: "One day Mr. Rabbit surprised Mr. Weasel making a meal of
young mice." _Page_ 124.]



"When old King Bear ruled in the forest long, long ago, and the
great-great-ever-so-great-grandfathers of all of us and of everybody
else lived in peace and happiness with each other, slim, trim, spry Mr.
Weasel lived with the rest. He was small, just as Shadow is now, and he
looked just the same as Shadow does now. He was on the best of terms
with all his neighbors, and no one had a word to say against him. In
fact, he was rather liked and had quite as many friends as anybody. But
all the time he had a mean disposition. He hid it from his neighbors,
but he had it just the same. Now mean dispositions are easily hidden
when everything is pleasant and there are no worries, and that is the
way it was then. No one suspected any one else of meanness, for with
plenty to eat and nothing to worry about, there was no cause for
meanness.

"With his mean disposition, Mr. Weasel was also very crafty. Being
small and moving so swiftly, he was hard to keep track of. You know how
it is with Shadow--now you see him, and now you don't."

Chatterer and Peter nodded. They knew that it is because of this that he
is called Shadow.

"Well," continued Jimmy, "it didn't take him long to find that if he
were careful, he could go where he pleased, and no one would be the
wiser. They say that he used to practise dodging out of sight when he
saw any one coming, and after a while he got so that he could disappear
right under the very noses of his neighbors. Being so slim, he could go
where any of his four-footed neighbors could, and it wasn't long before
he knew all about every hole and nook and corner anywhere around. There
were no secrets that he didn't find out, and all the time no one
suspected him.

"Of course hard times came to Mr. Weasel at last, just as to everybody
else, but they didn't worry him much. You see, he knew all about the
secret hiding-places in which some of his neighbors had stored away
food, so when he was hungry, all he had to do was to help himself. So
Mr. Weasel became a thief, and still no one suspected him. Now one bad
habit almost always leads to another. Mr. Weasel developed a great
fondness for eggs. Our whole family has always had rather a weakness
that way."

Jimmy grinned, for he knew that Peter and Chatterer knew that he himself
never could pass a fresh egg when he found it.

"One day he found a nest in which were four little baby birds instead
of the eggs he had been expecting to find there and, having a mean
disposition, he flew into a rage and killed those four little birds.
Yes, Sir, that's what he did. He found the taste of young birds very
much to his liking, and he began to hunt for more. Then he discovered a
nest of young mice, and he found these quite as good as young birds.
Then came a great fear upon the littlest people, but not once did they
suspect Mr. Weasel. He was very crafty and went and came among them just
as always. They suspected only the larger and stronger people of the
forest who, because food was getting very scarce, had begun to hunt the
smaller people.

"But you know wrongdoing is bound to be found out sooner or later. One
day Mr. Rabbit surprised Mr. Weasel making a meal of young mice, and of
course he hurried to tell all his neighbors. Then Mr. Weasel knew that
it was no longer of use to pretend that he was what he was not, and he
boldly joined the bigger animals in hunting the smaller ones. It makes
most people angry to be caught in wrongdoing and it was just that way
with Mr. Weasel. He flew into a great rage and vowed that he would kill
Mr. Rabbit, and when he couldn't catch Mr. Rabbit, he hunted others of
his neighbors until there was no one, not even fierce Mr. Wolf or Mr.
Panther or Mr. Lynx, of whom the littlest people were in such fear. You
see, they could hide from the big hunters, but they couldn't hide from
Mr. Weasel because he knew all their hiding-places, and he was so slim
and small that wherever they could go, he could go.

"Now the big people, like Mr. Wolf and Mr. Panther, killed only for
food that they might live, and when they found Mr. Weasel killing more
than he could eat, they would have nothing to do with him and even
threatened to kill him if they caught him. So pretty soon Mr. Weasel
found that he hadn't a friend in the world. This made him more savage
than ever, and he hunted and killed just for the pleasure of it. He took
pleasure in the fear which he read in the eyes of his neighbors when
they saw him.

"Old Mother Nature was terribly shocked when she discovered what was
going on, but she found that she could do nothing with Mr. Weasel. He
wasn't sorry for what he had done and he wouldn't promise to do better.
'Very well,' said Old Mother Nature, 'from this time on you and your
children and your children's children forever and ever shall be
outcasts among the people of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows,
hated by all, little and big.' And it has been so to this day. Even I am
not on speaking terms with Shadow, although he is my own cousin,"
concluded Jimmy Skunk.

Peter Rabbit shuddered. "Isn't it dreadful not to have a single friend?"
he exclaimed. "I would rather have to run for my life twenty times a day
than to be hated and feared and without a single friend. I wouldn't be
an outcast for all the world."

"There's not the least bit of danger of that for you, Peter," laughed
Jimmy Skunk.



                                    X

                 HOW THE EYES OF OLD MR. OWL BECAME FIXED



                                    X

                 HOW THE EYES OF OLD MR. OWL BECAME FIXED


Blacky the Crow had discovered Hooty the Owl dozing the bright day away
in a thick hemlock-tree. Blacky knew that the bright light hurt Hooty's
big eyes and half blinded him. This meant that he could have no end of
fun teasing Hooty, and that Hooty would have to sit still and take it
all, because he couldn't see well enough to fly away or to try to catch
Blacky. Now if the day had been dark, as it sometimes is on cloudy days,
or if the dusk of evening had been settling over the Green Meadows and
the Green Forest, matters would have been very different. Blacky would
have taken care, the very greatest care, not to let Hooty know that he
was anywhere around. But as it was, here was a splendid chance to spoil
Hooty's sleep and to see him grow very, very angry and do it without
running any great risk.

"Caw, caw, caw, caw, caw!" yelled Blacky at the top of his voice, and at
once all his relatives came flocking over to join in the fun. Dear me,
dear me, such a racket as there was then! They flew over his head, and
they settled in the tree all around him, all yelling as hard as ever
they could. Everybody within hearing knew what it meant, and everybody
who dared to hurried over to watch the fun. Somehow most people seem to
take pleasure in seeing some one else made uncomfortable, especially if
it is some one of whom they stand in fear and who is for the time being
helpless.

Most of the little meadow and forest people are very much afraid of
Hooty the Owl as soon as it begins to grow dark, for that is when he can
see best and does all his hunting. So, though it wasn't at all nice of
them, they enjoyed seeing him tormented by Blacky and his relatives. But
all the time they took the greatest care to keep out of sight
themselves. Peter Rabbit was there. So was Jumper the Hare and Happy
Jack the Gray Squirrel and Chatterer the Red Squirrel and Whitefoot the
Wood Mouse and Striped Chipmunk and a lot more. Of course, Sammy Jay was
there, but Sammy didn't try to keep out of sight. Oh, my, no! He joined
right in with the Crows, calling Hooty all sorts of bad names and flying
about just out of reach in the most impudent way. You see he knew just
how helpless Hooty was.

Hooty was very, very angry. He hissed, and he snapped his bill, and he
told his tormentors what he would do to them if he caught them after
dark. And all the time he kept turning his head with its great, round,
glaring, yellow eyes so as not to give his tormentors a chance to pull
out any of his feathers, as the boldest of them tried to do. Now Hooty
can turn his head as no one else can. He can turn it so that he looks
straight back over his tail, so that his head looks as if it were put on
the wrong way. Then he can snap it around in the other direction so
quickly that you can hardly see him do it, and sometimes it seems as if
he turned his head clear around.

That interested Peter Rabbit immensely. He couldn't think of anything
else. He kept trying to do the same thing himself, but of course he
couldn't. He could turn his head sideways, but that was all. He puzzled
over it all the rest of the day, and that night, when his cousin, Jumper
the Hare, called at the dear Old Briar-patch, the first thing he did was
to ask a question.

"Cousin Jumper, do you know why it is that Hooty the Owl can turn his
head way around, and nobody else can?"

"Of course I know," replied Jumper. "I thought everybody knew that. It's
because his eyes are fixed in their sockets, and he can't turn them. So
he turns his whole head in order to see in all directions. The rest of
us can roll our eyes, but Hooty can't."

Peter scratched his long left ear with his long right hindfoot, a way he
has when he is thinking or is puzzled. "That's funny," said he. "I
wonder why his eyes are fixed."

"Because his great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather rolled his eyes too
much," replied Jumper, yawning. "He saw too much. It's a bad thing to
see too much."

"Tell me about it. Please do, Cousin Jumper," begged Peter.

Jumper looked up at the moon to see what time of night it was.

"All right," said he, settling himself comfortably. "All the Owl family,
way back to the very beginning, have had very big eyes. Old Mr. Owl had
them. He could move them just as we can ours. And because they were so
big, and because he could roll them, there was very little going on that
Mr. Owl didn't see. It happened one day that Old Mother Nature took it
into her wise old head to put the little people of the Green Meadows
and the Green Forest to a test. She wanted to see just how many of them
she could trust to obey her orders. So she lined them all up in a row.
Then she made them turn so that their backs were to her.

"'Now,' said she, 'everybody is to keep eyes to the front. I am going to
be very busy back here for a few minutes, but not one of you is to peek.
I shall know if you do, and I shall see to it that you never forget it
as long as you live.'

"That sounded as if something dreadful might happen, so everybody sat
perfectly still looking straight before them. Some of them felt as if
they would die of curiosity to know what Old Mother Nature was doing,
but for a while no one thought of disobeying. Old Mr. Rabbit just itched
all over with curiosity. It seemed to him that he just must turn his
head. But for once he managed to get the best of his curiosity and
stared straight ahead.

"Now Mr. Owl had tremendous great ears, just as Hooty has to-day. You
can't see them because the feathers cover them, but they are there just
the same."

Peter nodded. He knew all about those wonderful ears and how they heard
the teeniest, weeniest noise when Hooty was flying at night.

"Those, big ears," continued Jumper, "heard every little sound that Old
Mother Nature made, and they sounded queer to Mr. Owl. 'If I roll back
my eyes without turning my head, I believe I can see what she is doing,
and she won't be any the wiser,' thought he. So he rolled his eyes back
and then looked straight ahead again. What he had seen made him want to
see more. He tried it again. Just imagine how he felt when he found that
his eyes wouldn't roll. He couldn't move them a bit. All he could do was
to stare straight ahead. It frightened him dreadfully, and he kept
trying and trying to roll his eyes, but they were fixed fast. He could
see in only one direction, the way his head was turned.

"When at last Old Mother Nature told all the little people that they
might look, Mr. Owl didn't want to look. He didn't want to face Old
Mother Nature, for he knew perfectly well what had happened to his eyes.
He knew that Old Mother Nature had seen him roll them back, and that as
a punishment she had fixed them so that he would always stare straight
ahead. He didn't say anything. He was too ashamed to. He flew away home
the very first chance he got. For a long time after that, Mr. Owl never
could see behind him at all. He could only turn his head part way, the
same as most folks, and he couldn't roll his eyes to see the rest of the
way. It made him dreadfully nervous and unhappy. He felt all the time as
if people were doing things behind his back. But he didn't complain. He
was ashamed to do that.

"Old Mother Nature was watching him all the time. After a long, long
while, she decided that he had been punished enough. But she didn't want
him to forget, so she kept his eyes fixed so that they would look
straight ahead; but she gave him the power to turn his head farther than
any one else, so that he could look straight behind him without turning
his body at all. And ever since that time, all Owls have had fixed eyes,
but have been able to turn their heads so as to make them look as if
they were facing the wrong way."

"Thank you, Cousin Jumper," cried Peter. "But there is one thing you
forgot to tell. What was it that Old Mother Nature was doing when Mr.
Owl rolled his eyes to look back."

"That," replied Jumper, "Mr. Owl never told, and nobody else knew, so I
can't tell you."



                                   XI

               HOW IT HAPPENS JOHNNY CHUCK SLEEPS ALL WINTER



                                   XI

               HOW IT HAPPENS JOHNNY CHUCK SLEEPS ALL WINTER


Peter Rabbit was bothered. He was bothered in his mind, and when Peter
is bothered in his mind, he loses his appetite. It was so now. He had
been up in the Old Orchard and, as is his way, had stopped at Johnny
Chuck's for a bit of gossip. As he sat there talking, it suddenly came
over him that Johnny was looking unusually fat. He said so. Johnny
yawned in a very sleepy way as he replied:

"One has to get fat in order to sleep comfortably all winter. I've got
to get fatter than I am now before I turn in." And with that, Johnny
Chuck fell to eating as if his sides were falling in instead of
threatening to burst, and Peter could get no more from him.

So he went home to think it over, and the more he thought, the more
troubled he became. How could anybody sleep all winter? And what good
did just getting fat do? Johnny Chuck couldn't eat his own fat, so what
was the use of it? "Must be it's to keep him warm," thought Peter and
brightened up. But why wasn't a good thick coat of fur just as good or
even better? He didn't have any trouble keeping warm. Neither did Billy
Mink or Little Joe Otter or Reddy Fox. No, it couldn't be that Johnny
Chuck put on all that fat just to keep warm. Besides, he would spend the
winter way down deep in the ground, and there was no excuse for being
cold there.

"I couldn't sleep all winter if I wanted to, and I wouldn't if I could,
for there is too much fun to miss," muttered Peter, as he started for
the Smiling Pool in search of Grandfather Frog. He found him sitting on
his big lily-pad, but somehow Grandfather Frog didn't look as chipper
and smart as usual. "He certainly is growing old," thought Peter. "He
isn't as spry as he used to be. Seems as if he had grown old in the last
two or three weeks. Too bad, too bad."

Aloud, Peter said: "Why, Grandfather Frog, how well you are looking! You
are enough to make us young fellows envious."

Grandfather Frog looked at Peter sharply. Perhaps he read the truth in
Peter's eyes. "Chug-a-rum!" said he. "Be honest, Peter. Be honest. Don't
try to flatter, because it is a bad habit to get into. I know how I
look. I look old and tired. Now isn't that so?"

Peter looked a little shamefaced. He didn't know just what to say, so he
said nothing and just nodded his head.

"That's better," said Grandfather Frog gruffly. "Always tell the truth.
The fact is I _am_ tired. I am so tired that I'm going to sleep for the
winter, and I'm going to do it this very day."

"Oh, Grandfather Frog," (Peter had found his tongue), "please tell me
something before you go. I can understand how you may want to sleep all
winter because you have no nice fur coat to keep you warm, but why does
Johnny Chuck do it, and how does he do it? Why doesn't he starve to
death?"

Grandfather Frog had to smile at the eager curiosity in Peter's voice.
"I see you are just as full of questions as ever, Peter," said he. "I
suppose I may as well tell you one more story, because it will be a long
time before you will get another from me. Johnny Chuck sleeps all winter
because he is sensible, and he is sensible because it runs in the family
to be sensible. His great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather was sensible.
It's a very good thing to have good sound common sense run in the
family, Peter."

Once more Peter nodded his head. Jerry Muskrat, who was sitting on the
Big Rock, listening, winked at Peter, and Peter winked back. Then he
made himself comfortable and prepared not to miss a word of Grandfather
Frog's story.

"You must know, Peter, that a long time ago when the world was young,
there was a time when there was no winter," began Grandfather Frog.
"That was before the hard times of which I have told you before.
Everybody had plenty to eat, and everybody was on the best of terms with
all his neighbors. Then came the hard times, and the beginning of the
hard times was the coming of rough Brother North Wind and Jack Frost.
Their coming made the first winter. It wasn't a very long or a very hard
winter, but it was long enough and hard enough to make a great deal of
discomfort, particularly for those little people who lived altogether on
tender young green plants. Yes, Sir, it certainly was hard on them. Some
of them nearly starved to death that first winter, short as it was. Old
Mr. Chuck, who, of course, wasn't old then, was one of them. By the time
the tender, young, green things began to grow again, he was just a
shadow of what he used to be. He was so thin that sometimes he used to
listen to see if he couldn't hear his bones rattle inside his skin.

"Of course he couldn't, but he was quite sure that when the wind blew,
it went right through him. At last warm weather returned, just as it
does now every summer, and once more there was plenty to eat. Some of
the little people seemed to forget all about the hard times of the cold
weather, but not Mr. Chuck. He had been too cold and too hungry to ever
forget. Of course, with plenty to eat, he soon grew fat and comfortable
again, but all the time he kept thinking about the terrible visit of
rough Brother North Wind and Jack Frost and wondering if they would come
again. He talked about it with his neighbors but most of them laughed
and told him that he was borrowing trouble, and that they didn't
believe that Brother North Wind and Jack Frost ever would come again.

"So after a while Mr. Chuck kept his thoughts to himself and went about
his business as usual. But all the time he was turning over and over in
his mind the possibility of another period of cold and starvation and
trying to think of some way to prepare for it. He didn't once think of
going to Old Mother Nature and begging her to take care of him, for he
was very independent, was Mr. Chuck, and believed that those are best
helped who help themselves. So he kept studying and studying how he
could live through another cold spell, if it should come.

"'I haven't got as thick a fur coat as Mr. Mink or Mr. Otter or Mr.
Squirrel or some others, and I can't run around as fast as they can, so
of course I can't keep as warm,' said he to himself, as he sat taking a
sun-bath one day. 'I must find some other way of keeping warm. Now I
don't believe the cold can get very deep down in the ground, so if I
build me a house way down deep in the ground, it always will be
comfortable. Anyway, it never will be very cold. I believe that is a
good idea. I'll try it at once.'

"So without wasting any time, Mr. Chuck began to dig. He dug and he dug
and he dug. When his neighbors grew curious and asked questions, he
smiled good-naturedly and said that he was trying an experiment. When he
had made a long hall which went down so deep that he was quite sure that
Jack Frost could not get down there, he made a bedroom and put in it a
bed of soft grass. When it was finished, he was so pleased with it that
he retired to it every night as soon as the sun went down and didn't
come out again until morning.

"'Anyway, I won't freeze to death,' said he. Then he sighed as he
remembered how hungry, how terribly hungry he had been. 'Now if only I
can think of some way to get food enough to carry me through, I'll be
all right.'

"At first he thought of storing up food, but when he tried that, he soon
found that the tender green things on which he lived wouldn't keep. They
shriveled and dried, so that he couldn't eat them at all. He was still
trying to think of some plan when Old Mother Nature sent warning that
rough Brother North Wind and Jack Frost were coming again. Mr. Chuck's
heart sank. He thought of how soon all the tender green things would
disappear. Right then an idea was born in Mr. Chuck's head. He would eat
all he could while he could, and then he would go down into his bedroom
and sleep just as long as he could!

"So day after day he spent stuffing himself, and his neighbors called
him Mr. Greedy. But he didn't mind that. He kept right on eating, and of
course he grew fatter and fatter, so that at last he was so fat he could
hardly get about. The days grew cooler and cooler, and then Mr. Chuck
noticed that because he was so fat, he didn't feel the cold as he had
before. There came a morning at last when Mr. Chuck stuck his nose out
to find Jack Frost waiting to pinch it. All the tender green things were
black and dead. Back to his bed scrambled Mr. Chuck and curled up to
sleep just as long as he could. He made up his mind that he wouldn't
worry until he had to. He had done his best, and that was all he could
do.

"When Old Mother Nature came to see how the little people were faring,
she missed Mr. Chuck. She asked his neighbors what had become of him,
but no one knew. At length she came to his house and looking inside
found him fast asleep. She saw right away what he had done and how fat
he had grown. She knew without being told what it all meant, and the
idea amused her. Instead of wakening him, as she had at first intended
to do, she touched Mr. Chuck and put him into a deeper sleep, saying:

    "'You shall sleep, Mr. Chuck,
      Through the time of frost and snow.
     For your courage and your pluck
      You shall no discomfort know.'

"And so Mr. Chuck slept on until the tender young green things began
once more to grow. The cold could not reach him, and the fat he had
stored under his skin took the place of food. When he awoke in the
spring, he knew nothing of the hard times his neighbors were talking
about. And ever since then the Chuck family has slept through the
winter, because it is the most comfortable and sensible thing to do. I
know, because I have done the same thing for years. Good-by, Peter
Rabbit! No more stories until spring."

Before Peter could say a word, there was a splash in the Smiling Pool,
and Grandfather Frog was nowhere to be seen.

"I--I don't see how they do it," said Peter, shaking his head in a
puzzled way as he slowly hopped towards the dear Old Briar-patch.



                                   XII

                   HOW OLD MR. OTTER LEARNED TO SLIDE



                                   XII

                   HOW OLD MR. OTTER LEARNED TO SLIDE


Little Joe Otter was having the jolliest kind of a time. Little Joe
Otter is a jolly little chap, anyway, and just now he was extra happy.
You see, he had a brand new slippery-slide. Yes, Sir, Little Joe had
just built a new slippery-slide down the steepest part of the bank into
the Smiling Pool. It was longer and smoother than his old
slippery-slide, and it seemed to Little Joe as if he could slide and
slide all day long. Of course he enjoyed it more because he had built it
himself. He would stretch out full length at the top of the
slippery-slide, give a kick to start himself, shoot down the
slippery-slide, disappear headfirst with a great splash into the Smiling
Pool, and then climb up the bank and do it all over again.

Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck sat watching him from the bank on the
other side of the Smiling Pool. Right down below them, sitting on his
big green lily-pad, was Grandfather Frog, and there was a sparkle in his
big, goggly eyes and his great mouth was stretched in a broad grin as he
watched Little Joe Otter. He even let a foolish green fly brush the tip
of his nose and didn't snap at it.

"Chug-a-rum!" exclaimed Grandfather Frog to no one in particular. "That
reminds me of the days when I was young and the greatest diver in the
Smiling Pool. My goodness, it makes me feel young just to watch Little
Joe shoot down that slippery-slide. If I weren't so old, I'd try it
myself. Wheee!"

With, that, Grandfather Frog suddenly jumped. It was a great, long,
beautiful jump, and with his long hind legs straight out behind him,
Grandfather Frog disappeared in the Smiling Pool so neatly that he made
hardly a splash at all, only a whole lot of rings on the surface of the
water that grew bigger and bigger until they met the rings made by
Little Joe Otter and then became all mixed up.

Half a minute later Grandfather Frog's head bobbed up out of the water,
and for the first time he saw Johnny Chuck and Peter Rabbit.

"Come on in; the water's fine!" he cried, and rolled one big, goggly eye
up at jolly, round, bright Mr. Sun and winked it in the most comical
way, for he knew, and he knew that Mr. Sun knew, just how Johnny Chuck
and Peter Rabbit dislike the water.

"No, thanks," replied Peter, but there was a wistful look in his big
eyes as he watched Little Joe Otter splash into the Smiling Pool. Little
Joe was having such a good time! Peter actually was wishing that he
_did_ like the water.

Grandfather Frog climbed out on his big green lily-pad. He settled
himself comfortably so as to face Johnny Chuck and Peter and at the same
time watch Little Joe out of the corner of one big, goggly eye.

"Chug-a-rum!" said he, as once more Little Joe splashed into the Smiling
Pool. "Did you ever hear about Little Joe's family secret?" he asked in
his deep gruff voice.

"No," cried Peter Rabbit. "Do tell us about it! I just love secrets."
There was a great deal of eagerness in Peter's voice, and it made
Grandfather Frog smile.

"Is that the reason you never can keep them?" he asked.

Peter looked a wee bit foolish, but he kept still and waited patiently.
After what seemed a long, long time, Grandfather Frog cleared his throat
two or three times, and this is the story he told Johnny Chuck and Peter
Rabbit:

"Once upon a time when the world was young, the
great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather of Little Joe Otter got into a
peck of trouble. Yes, Sir, he certainly did get into a peck of trouble.
You see, it was winter, and everything was covered with snow, so that
food was hard to get. Most of the little forest and meadow people found
little to eat, and it took a great deal of hunting to find that little.
Only those who, like old Mr. Squirrel, had been wise enough to lay up a
store of food when there was plenty, and two or three others like Mr.
Mink and Mr. Otter, who could go fishing in the spring-holes which had
not frozen over, had full stomachs.

"Now an empty stomach almost always makes a short temper. It is hard,
very hard indeed to be hungry and good-natured at the same time. So as
most of the people of the Green Forest were hungry all the time, they
were also short-tempered all the time. Mr. Otter knew this. When any of
them came prowling around the spring-hole where he was fishing, he would
tease them by letting them see how fat he was. Sometimes he would bring
up a fine fish and eat it right before them without offering to share so
much as a mouthful. He had done this several times to Mr. Lynx, and
though Mr. Lynx had begged and begged for just a bite, Mr. Otter had
refused the teeniest, weeniest bit and had even made fun of Mr. Lynx for
not being smart enough to get sufficient to eat.

"Now it happened that one fine morning Mr. Otter took it into his head
to take a walk in the Green Forest. It was a beautiful morning, and Mr.
Otter went farther than he intended. He was just trying to make up his
mind whether to turn back or go just a little farther, when he heard
stealthy footsteps behind him. He looked over his shoulder, and what he
saw helped him to make up his mind in a hurry. There, creeping over the
frozen snow, was Mr. Lynx, and the sides of Mr. Lynx were very thin, and
the eyes of Mr. Lynx looked very hungry and fierce, and the claws of Mr.
Lynx were very long and strong and cruel looking. Mr. Otter made up his
mind right away that the cold, black water of that open spring-hole was
the only place for him, and he started for it without even passing the
time of day with Mr. Lynx.

"Now Mr. Otter's legs were very short, just as Little Joe's are, but it
was surprising how fast he got over the snow that beautiful morning.
When he came to the top of a little hill, he would slide down, because
he found that he could go faster that way. But in spite of all he could
do, Mr. Lynx traveled faster, coming with great jumps and snarling and
spitting with every jump. Mr. Otter was almost out of breath when he
reached the high bank just above the open spring-hole. It was very
steep, very steep indeed. Mr. Otter threw a hasty glance over his
shoulder. Mr. Lynx was so near that in one more jump he would catch
him. There wasn't time to run around to the place where the bank was
low. Mr. Otter threw himself flat, gave a frantic kick with his hind
legs, shut his eyes, and shot down, down, down the slippery bank so fast
that he lost what little breath he had left. Then he landed with a great
splash in the cold, black water and was safe, for Mr. Lynx was afraid of
the water. He stopped right on the very edge of the steep bank, where he
growled and screeched and told Mr. Otter what dreadful things he would
do to him if ever he caught him.

"Now in spite of his dreadful fright, Mr. Otter had enjoyed that
exciting slide down the steep bank. He got to thinking about it after
Mr. Lynx had slunk away into the Green Forest, and when he was rested
and could breathe comfortably again, he made up his mind to try it once
more. So he climbed out where the bank was low and ran around to the
steep place and once more slid down into the water. It was great fun,
the greatest fun Mr. Otter ever had had. He did it again and again. In
fact, he kept doing it all the rest of that day. And he found that the
more he slid, the smoother and more slippery became the slippery-slide,
for the water dripped from his brown coat and froze on the slide.

"After that, as long as the snow lasted, Mr. Otter spent all his time,
between eating and sleeping, sliding down his slippery-slide. He learned
just how to hold his legs so that they would not be hurt. When gentle
Sister South Wind came in the spring and took away all the snow, Mr.
Otter hardly knew what to do with himself, until one day a bright idea
popped into his head and made him laugh aloud. Why not make a
slippery-slide of mud and clay? Right away he tried it. It wasn't as
good as the snow slide, but by trying and trying, he found a way to make
it better than at first. After that Mr. Otter was perfectly happy, for
summer and winter he had a slippery-slide. He taught his children, and
they taught their children how to make slippery-slides, and ever since
that long-ago day when the world was young, the making of
slippery-slides has been the family secret of the Otters."

"And it's the best secret in the world," said Little Joe Otter, swimming
up behind Grandfather Frog just then.

"I wish--I wish I had a slippery-slide," said Peter Rabbit wistfully.

"Chug-a-rum!" said Grandfather Frog. "Chug-a-rum! Be content with the
blessings you have got, Peter Rabbit. Be content with the blessings you
have got. No good comes of wishing for things which it never was meant
that you should have. It is a bad habit and it makes discontent."



                                  XIII

              HOW DRUMMER THE WOODPECKER CAME BY HIS RED CAP



                                  XIII

              HOW DRUMMER THE WOODPECKER CAME BY HIS RED CAP


Drummer the Woodpecker was beating his long roll on a hollow tree in the
Green Forest. Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat! Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat! Drummer
thought it the most beautiful sound in the world. After each long roll
he would stop and listen for a reply. You see, sometimes one of his
family in another part of the Green Forest, or over in the Old Orchard,
would hear him drumming and would hasten to find a hollow tree himself
and drum too. Then they would drum back and forth to each other for the
longest time, until all the other little people would scold because of
the racket and would wish they could stop their ears. But it was music,
real music to Drummer and all the members of his family, and Drummer
never was happier than when beating his long roll as he was doing now.

Rat-a-tat-tat-tat! Rat-a-tat-tat-tat! Suddenly Drummer heard a
scratching sound inside the hollow tree. Once more he beat the long roll
and the scratching sound grew louder. Then he heard a voice just a
little way above him.

"Do Ah hear some one knocking?" asked the voice.

Drummer looked up. There was Unc' Billy Possum's sharp little face
sticking out of his doorway, and Unc' Billy looked very sleepy and very
cross and at the same time as if he were trying very hard to be polite
and pleasant.

"Hello, Unc' Billy! Is this your house? I didn't know it when I began to
drum. I wasn't knocking; I was drumming. I just love to drum," replied
Drummer.

"Ah reckons yo' do by the noise yo' have been making, but Ah don't like
being inside the drum. Ah'm feelin' powerful bad in the haid just now,
Brer Drummer, and Ah cert'nly will take it kindly if yo' will find
another drum," said Unc' Billy, holding his head in both hands as if he
had a terrible headache.

Drummer looked disappointed and a little bit hurt, but he is one of the
best-natured little people in the Green Forest and always willing to be
obliging.

"I'm sorry if I have disturbed you, Unc' Billy," he replied promptly.
"Of course I won't drum here any longer, if you don't like it. I'll look
for another hollow tree, though I don't believe I can find another as
good. It is one of the best sounding trees I have ever drummed on. It's
simply beautiful!" There was a great deal of regret in his voice, as if
it were the hardest work to give up that tree.

"Ah'll tell yo' where there's another just as good," replied Unc' Billy.
"Yo' see the top of that ol' chestnut-tree way down there in the holler?
Well, yo' try that. Ah'm sure yo' will like it."

Drummer thanked Unc' Billy politely and bobbed his red-capped head as he
spread his wings and started in the direction of the big chestnut-tree.
Unc' Billy grinned as he watched him. Then he slowly and solemnly winked
one eye at Peter Rabbit, who had just come along.

"What's the joke?" asked Peter.

"Ah done just sent Brer Drummer down to the big chestnut-tree to drum,"
Unc' Billy replied, winking again.

"Why, that's Bobby Coon's house!" cried Peter, and then he saw the joke
and began to grin too.

In a few minutes they heard Drummer's long roll. Then again and again.
The third time it broke off right in the middle, and right away a
terrible fuss started down at the big chestnut-tree. They could hear
Drummer's voice, and it sounded very angry.

"Ah reckon Brer Coon was waked up and lost his temper," chuckled Unc'
Billy. "It's a bad habit to lose one's temper. Yes, Sah, it cert'nly is
a bad habit. Ah reckons Ah better be turning in fo' another nap, Brer
Rabbit." With that Unc' Billy disappeared, still chuckling.

Hardly was he out of sight when Peter saw Drummer heading that way, and
Drummer looked very much put out about something. He just nodded to
Peter and flew straight to Unc' Billy's tree. Then he began to drum. How
he did drum! His red-capped head flew back and forth as Peter never had
seen it fly before. Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat! Rat-a-tat-tat-tat!
Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat! Drummer hardly paused for breath. There was too
much noise for Peter, and he kicked up his heels and started for the
Smiling Pool, and all the way there he laughed.

"I hope Unc' Billy is enjoying a good nap," he chuckled. "Drummer
certainly has turned the joke back on Unc' Billy this time, and I guess
it serves him right."

He was still laughing when he reached the Smiling Pool. Grandfather Frog
watched him until he began to smile too. You know laughter is catching.
"Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho!" laughed Peter and held his sides.

"What is the joke?" demanded Grandfather Frog in his deepest voice.

When Peter could get his breath, he told Grandfather Frog all about the
joke on Unc' Billy Possum. "Listen!" said Peter at the end of the story.
They both listened. Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat! The long roll of Drummer the
Woodpecker could be heard clear down to the Smiling Pool, and Peter and
Grandfather Frog knew by the sound that it still came from Unc' Billy's
house.

"Chug-a-rum! That reminds me," said Grandfather Frog. "Did you ever hear
how Drummer came by his red cap?"

"No," replied Peter. "How did he?" There was great eagerness in Peter's
voice.

"Well," said Grandfather Frog, settling himself in a way that Peter knew
meant a story, "of course Drummer over there came by his red cap because
it was handed down in the family, but of course there's a reason."

"Of course," said Peter, quite as if he knew all about it.

Grandfather Frog rolled his great, goggly eyes and looked at Peter
suspiciously, but Peter looked so innocent and eager that he went on
with his story.

"Of course, it all happened way back in the days when the world was
young."

"Of course!" said Peter.

This time Grandfather Frog took no notice. "Drummer's grandfather a
thousand times removed was just a plain little black and white bird
without the least bit of bright color on him. He didn't have any
sweeter voice than Drummer has to-day. Altogether he seemed to his
neighbors a no-account little fellow, and they didn't have much to do
with him. So Mr. Woodpecker lived pretty much alone. In fact, he lived
alone so much that when he found a hollow tree he used to pound on it
just to make a noise and keep from being lonesome, and that is how he
learned to drum. You see, he hadn't any voice for singing, and so he got
in the habit of drumming to keep his spirits up.

"Now all the time, right down in his heart, Mr. Woodpecker envied the
birds who had handsome coats. He used to wish and wish that he had
something bright, if it were no more than a pretty necktie. But he never
said anything about it, and no one suspected it but Old Mother Nature,
and Mr. Woodpecker didn't know that she knew it. Whenever he got to
wishing too much, he would try to forget it by hunting for worms that
bored into the trees of the Green Forest and which other birds could not
get because they did not have the stout bill and the long tongue Mr.
Woodpecker possessed.

"Now it happened that while Old Mother Nature was busy elsewhere, a
great number of worms settled in the Green Forest and began to bore into
the trees, so that after a while many trees grew sickly and then died.
None of the other little people seemed to notice it, or if they did,
they said it was none of their business and that Old Mother Nature ought
to look out for such things. They shrugged their shoulders and went on
playing and having a good time. But Mr. Woodpecker was worried. He loved
the Green Forest dearly, and he began to fear that if something wasn't
done, there wouldn't be any Green Forest. He said as much to some of his
neighbors, but they only laughed at him. The more he thought about it,
the more Mr. Woodpecker worried.

"'Something must be done,' said he to himself. 'Yes, Sir, something must
be done. If Old Mother Nature doesn't come to attend to things pretty
soon, it will be too late.' Then he made up his mind that he would do
what he could. From early morning until night he hunted worms and dug
them out of the trees. He would start at the bottom of a tree and work
up, going all over it until he was sure that there wasn't another worm
left. Then he would fly to the next tree. He pounded with his bill until
his neck ached. He didn't even take time to drum. His neighbors laughed
at him at first, but he kept right on working, working, working every
hour of the day.

"At last Old Mother Nature appeared very unexpectedly. She went all
through the Green Forest, and her sharp eyes saw all that Mr. Woodpecker
had done. She didn't say a word to him, but she called all the little
people of the Green Forest before her, and when they were all gathered
around, she sent for Mr. Woodpecker. She made him sit up on a dead limb
of a tall chestnut-tree where all could see him. Then she told just what
he had done, and how he had saved the Green Forest, and how great a debt
the other little people owed to him.

"'And now that you may never forget it,' she concluded, 'I herewith make
Mr. Woodpecker the policeman of the trees, and this is his reward to be
worn by him and his children forever and ever.' With that she called
Mr. Woodpecker down before her and put on his head a beautiful red cap,
for she knew how in his heart he had longed to wear something bright.
Mr. Woodpecker thanked Old Mother Nature as best he could and then
slipped away where he could be alone with his happiness. All the rest of
the day the other little people heard him drumming off by himself in the
Green Forest and smiled, for they knew that that was the way he was
expressing his joy, having no voice to sing.

"And that," concluded Grandfather Frog, "is how Drummer whom you know
came by his red cap."

"Isn't it splendid!" cried Peter Rabbit, and then he and Grandfather
Frog both smiled as they heard a long rat-a-tat-tat-tat roll out from
the Green Forest.



                                   XIV

               HOW OLD MR. TREE TOAD FOUND OUT HOW TO CLIMB



                                   XIV

               HOW OLD MR. TREE TOAD FOUND OUT HOW TO CLIMB


Of all the puzzling things over which Peter Rabbit had sat and thought
and wondered until the brains in that funny little head of his were
topsy-turvy, none was more puzzling than the fact that Sticky-toes the
Tree Toad could climb. Often Peter had watched him climb up the trunk of
a tree or jump from one branch to another and then thought of Old Mr.
Toad, own cousin to Sticky-toes, and of Grandfather Frog, another own
cousin, who couldn't climb at all, and wondered how it had all come
about that one cousin could climb and be just as much at home in the
trees as the birds, while the others couldn't climb at all.

He had it on his mind one morning when he met Old Mr. Toad solemnly
hopping down the Lone Little Path. Right then and there Peter resolved
to ask Old Mr. Toad. "Good morning, Mr. Toad," said Peter politely.
"Have you a few minutes to spare?"

Old Mr. Toad hopped into the shade of a big mullein leaf. "I guess so,
if it is anything important," said he. "Phew! Hot, isn't it? I simply
can't stand the sun. Now what is that you've got on your mind, Peter?"

Peter hesitated a minute, for he wasn't at all sure that Old Mr. Toad
would think the matter sufficiently important for him to spend his time
in story telling. Then he blurted out the whole matter and how he had
puzzled and puzzled why Sticky-toes was able to climb when none of the
rest of the Toad family could. Old Mr. Toad chuckled.

"Looking for a story as usual, I see," said he. "You ought to go to
Grandfather Frog for this one, because Sticky-toes is really a Frog and
not a Toad. But we are all cousins, and I don't mind telling you about
Sticky-toes, or rather about his great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather,
who was the first of the family ever to climb a tree. You see, it is all
in the family, and I am very proud of my family, which is one of the
very oldest."

Peter settled himself comfortably and prepared to listen. Old Mr. Toad
snapped up a foolish spider who came too near and then cleared his
throat.

"Once on a time," he began, "when Old Mother Nature made the first land
and the first trees and plants, the Toads and the Frogs were the first
to leave the water to see what dry land was like. The Toads, being
bolder than the Frogs, went all over the new land while the Frogs kept
within jumping distance of the water, just as Grandfather Frog does to
this day. There was one Frog, however, who, seeing how bravely and
boldly the Toads went forth to see all that was to be seen in the new
land, made up his mind that he too would see the Great World. He was the
smallest of the Frogs, and his friends and relatives warned him not to
go, saying that he would come to no good end.

"But he wouldn't listen to their dismal croakings and hurried after the
Toads. Being able to make longer jumps than they could, he soon caught
up with them, and they all journeyed on together. The Toads were so
pleased that one of their cousins was brave enough to join them that
they made him very welcome and treated him as one of themselves, so that
they soon got to thinking of him as a Toad and not as a Frog at all.

"Now the Toads soon found that Old Mother Nature was having a hard time
to make plants grow, because as fast as they came up, they were eaten by
insects. You see, she had so many things to attend to in those days when
the world was young that she had to leave a great many things to take
care of themselves and get along the best they could, and it was this
way with the plants. It was then that the great idea came to my
great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather, and he called all the Toads
together and proposed that they help Old Mother Nature by catching the
bugs and worms that were destroying the plants.

"Little Mr. Frog, who had been adopted by the Toads, was one of the most
eager to help, and he was busy every minute. After a while the Toads had
caught most of the bugs and worms on the ground and within reach, and
the plants began to grow. But when the plants got above the reach of the
Toads, the bugs and the worms were safe once more and began to multiply
so that the plants suffered and stopped growing. You see, there were no
birds in those days to help. One day little Mr. Frog sat under a bush on
which most of the leaves had been eaten. He saw a worm eating a leaf on
one of the lower branches. It was quite a way above his head. It worried
him. He kept his eyes on that worm and thought and thought until his
head ached. At last he got an idea. 'I wonder,' thought he, 'if I jump
as hard as I can, if I can catch that fellow. I'll try it. It will do
no harm to try.'

"So he drew his long legs close under him, and then he jumped up with
all his might. He didn't quite reach the bug, but he got his hands on
the branch and by pulling and struggling, he managed to get up on it. It
was a very uncertain seat, but he hung on and crept along until he could
dart his tongue out and catch that worm. Then he saw another, and in
trying to catch that one he lost his balance and fell to the ground with
a thump. It quite knocked the wind from his body.

"That night little Mr. Frog studied and studied, trying to think of some
way by which he could get up in the bushes and trees and clear them of
bugs and worms. 'If only I could hold on once I get up there, I would be
all right,' thought he. 'Then I could leave the bugs and worms on the
ground for my cousins the Toads to look after, while I look after those
beyond their reach.'

"The next day and the next, and for many days thereafter, little Mr.
Frog kept jumping for bugs on the bushes. He got many thumps and bumps,
but he didn't mind these, for little by little he was learning how to
hang on to the branches once he got up in them. Then one day, just by
accident, he put one hand against the trunk of a young pine-tree, and
when he started to take it away, he found it stuck fast. He had to pull
to get it free. Like a flash an idea popped into his head. He rubbed a
little of the pitch, for that was what had made his hand stick, on both
hands, and then he started to climb a tree. As long as the pitch lasted,
he could climb.

"Little Mr. Frog was tickled to death, with his discovery, but he didn't
say a word to any one about it. Every day he rubbed pitch on his hands
and then climbed about in the bushes and low trees, ridding them of bugs
and worms. Of course, it wasn't very pleasant to have that pitch on his
hands, because dirt and all sorts of things which he happened to touch
stuck to them, but he made the best of a bad matter and washed them
carefully when he was through with his day's work.

"Quite unexpectedly Old Mother Nature returned to see how the trees and
the plants were getting on. You see, she was worried about them. When
she found what the Toads had been doing, she was mightily pleased. Then
she noticed that some of the bushes and low trees had very few leaves
left, while others looked thrifty and strong.

"'That's queer,' said Old Mother Nature to herself and went over to
examine a bush. Hanging on to a branch for dear life she saw a queer
little fellow who was so busy that he didn't see her at all. It was
little Mr. Frog. He was catching bugs as fast as he could. Old Mother
Nature wrinkled up her brows. 'Now however did he learn to climb?'
thought she. Then she hid where she could watch. By and by she saw
little Mr. Frog tumble out of the bush, because, you know, the pitch on
his hands had worn off. He hurried over to a pine-tree and rubbed more
pitch on and then jumped up into the bush and went to work again.

"You can guess how astonished Old Mother Nature was when she saw this
performance. And she was pleased. Oh, yes, indeed, Old Mother Nature
was wonderfully pleased. She was pleased because little Mr. Frog was
trying so hard to help her, and she was pleased because he had been so
smart in finding a way to climb. When she had laughed until she could
laugh no more at the way little Mr. Frog had managed to stick to his
work, she took him down very gently and wiped the pitch from his hands.
Then she gently pinched the end of each finger and each toe so that they
ended in little round discs instead of being pointed as before, and in
each little disc was a clean, sticky substance. Then she tossed him up
in a tree, and when he touched a branch, he found that he could hold on
without the least danger of falling.

"'I appoint you caretaker of my trees,' said Old Mother Nature, and from
that day on little Mr. Frog lived in the trees, as did his children and
his children's children, even as Sticky-toes does to-day. And though he
was really a Frog, he was called the Tree Toad, and the Toads have
always been proud to have him so called. And this is the end of the
story," concluded Old Mr. Toad.



                                   XV

                   HOW OLD MR. HERON LEARNED PATIENCE



                                   XV

                   HOW OLD MR. HERON LEARNED PATIENCE


Whenever in the spring or summer Peter Rabbit visited the Smiling Pool
or the Laughing Brook, he was pretty sure to run across Longlegs the
Heron. The first tune Peter saw him, he thought that never in all his
life had he seen such a homely fellow. Longlegs was standing with his
feet in the water and his head drawn back on his shoulders so that he
didn't seem to have any neck at all. Peter sat and stared at him most
impolitely. He knew that he was impolite, but for the life of him he
couldn't help staring.

"He's all legs," thought Peter. "Old Mother Nature must have been in a
hurry when she made his great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather way back
when the world was young and forgot to give him a neck. I wonder why he
doesn't move."

But Longlegs didn't move. Peter stared as long as his patience held out.
Then he gave up and went on to see what else he could find. But in a
little while Peter was back again at the place where he had seen
Longlegs. He didn't really expect to find him there, but he did. So far
as Peter could see, Longlegs hadn't moved. "Must be asleep," thought
Peter, and after watching for a few minutes, went away again. Half an
hour later Peter was once more back. There stood Longlegs just as
before. "Now I _know_ he is asleep," muttered Peter.

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than something happened,
something so sudden and surprising that Peter lost his balance and
nearly fell over backward. The long bill which Peter had seen sticking
forth from between those humped-up shoulders darted out and down into
the water like a flash. Behind that bill was the longest neck Peter ever
had seen! It was so long that Peter blinked to be perfectly sure that
his eyes had not been playing him a trick. But they hadn't, for Longlegs
was gulping down a little fish he had just caught, and when at last it
was down, he stretched his neck up very straight while he looked this
way and that way, and Peter just gasped.

"I thought he was all legs, but instead of that he's all neck," muttered
Peter.

Then Longlegs slowly drew his head down, and it seemed to Peter as if he
must somehow wind that long neck up inside his body to get it so
completely out of the way. In a minute Longlegs was standing just as
before, with seemingly no neck at all. Peter watched until he grew
tired, but Longlegs didn't move again. After that Peter went every
chance he had to watch Longlegs, but he never had patience to watch long
enough to see Longlegs catch another fish. He spoke of it one day to
Grandfather Frog. At the mere mention of Longlegs, Grandfather Frog sat
up and took notice.

"Where did you see him?" asked Grandfather Frog, and Peter thought his
voice sounded anxious.

"Down the Laughing Brook," replied Peter. "Why?"

"Oh, nothing," said Grandfather Frog, trying to make his voice sound as
if he weren't interested. "I just wondered where the long-legged
nuisance might be."

"He's the laziest fellow I ever saw," declared Peter. "He just stands
doing nothing all day."

"Huh!" exclaimed Grandfather Frog. "If your family had suffered from him
as much as mine has, you would say that he was altogether too busy. Ask
the Trout what they think, or the Minnow family."

"Oh," said Peter, "you mean that when he stands still that way he is
fishing."

Grandfather Frog nodded.

"Well," said Peter, "all I can say is that he is the most patient fellow
I ever saw. I didn't suppose there was such patience."

"He comes rightly by it," returned Grandfather Frog. "He gets it from
his great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather, who lived when the world was
young. He learned it then."

"How?" demanded Peter, eager for a story.

Grandfather Frog's eyes took on a far-away look, as if he were seeing
into that long-ago past. "Chug-a-rum!" he began. "It always seemed to
old Mr. Heron as if Old Mother Nature must have made him last of all the
birds and was in such a hurry that she didn't care how he looked. His
legs were so long and his neck was so long that all his neighbors
laughed at him and made fun of him. He was just as awkward as he looked.
His long legs were in his way. He didn't know what to do with his long
neck. When he tried to run, everybody shouted with laughter. When he
tried to fly, he stretched his long neck out, and then he couldn't keep
his balance and just flopped about, while all his neighbors laughed
harder than ever. Poor Mr. Heron was ashamed of himself, actually
ashamed of himself. He quite overlooked the fact that Old Mother Nature
had given him a really beautiful coat of feathers. Some of those who
laughed at him would have given anything to have possessed such a
beautiful coat. But Mr. Heron didn't know this. He couldn't bear to be
laughed at, wherein he was very like most people.

"So he tried his best to keep out of sight as much as possible. Now in
those days, as at present, the rushes grew tall beside the Smiling Pool,
and among them Mr. Heron found a hiding-place. Because his legs were
long, he could wade out in the water and keep quite out of sight of
those who lived on the land. So he found a use for his long legs and
was glad that they were long. At first he used to go ashore to hunt for
food. One day as he was wading ashore, he surprised a school of little
fish and managed to catch one. It tasted so good that he wanted more,
and every day he went fishing. Whenever he saw little fish swimming
where the water was shallow, he would rush in among them and do his best
to catch one. Sometimes he did, but more often he didn't. You see, he
was so clumsy and awkward that he made a great splashing, and the fish
would hear him coming and get away.

"One day after he had tried and tried without catching even one, he
stopped just at the edge of the rushes to rest. His long neck ached, and
to rest it he laid it back on his shoulders. For a long time he stood
there, resting. The water around his feet was cool and comforting. He
was very comfortable but for one thing,--he was hungry. He was just
making up his mind to go on and hunt for something to eat when he saw a
school of little fish swimming straight towards him. 'Perhaps,' thought
he, 'if I keep perfectly still, they will come near enough for me to
catch one.' So he kept perfectly still. He didn't dare even stretch his
long neck up. Sure enough, the little fish swam almost to his very feet.
They didn't see him at all. When they were near enough, he darted his
long neck forward and caught one without any trouble at all. Mr. Heron
was almost as surprised as the fish he had caught. You see, he
discovered that with his neck laid back on his shoulders that way, he
could dart his head forward ever so much quicker than when he was
holding it up straight. It really was a great discovery for Mr. Heron.

"Of course all the other fish darted away in great fright, but Mr. Heron
didn't mind. He settled himself in great contentment, for now he was
less hungry. By and by some foolish tadpoles came wriggling along. 'I'll
just try catching one of them for practice. Maybe they are good to eat,'
thought Mr. Heron, and just as before darted his head and great bill
downward and caught a tadpole.

"'Um-m, they are good!' exclaimed Mr. Heron, and once more settled
himself to watch and wait.

"That was a sad day for the Frog family, but a great day for Mr. Heron
when he discovered that tadpoles were good to eat." Grandfather Frog
sighed mournfully. "Yes," he continued, "that was a great day for Mr.
Heron. He had discovered that he could gain more by patient waiting
than by frantic hunting, and he had found that his long neck really was
a blessing. After that, whenever he was hungry, he would stand perfectly
still beside some little pool where foolish young fish or careless
tadpoles were at play and wait patiently until they came within reach.

"One day he was startled into an attempt to fly by hearing the stealthy
footsteps of Mr. Fox behind him. His head was drawn back on his
shoulders at the time, and he was so excited that he forgot to
straighten it out. Just imagine how surprised he was, and how surprised
Mr. Fox was, when he sailed away in beautiful flight, his long legs
trailing behind him. With his neck carried that way, he could fly as
well as any one. From that day on, no one laughed at Mr. Heron because
of his long legs and long neck. Mr. Heron himself became proud of them.
You see, he had learned how to use what he had been given. Also he had
learned the value of patience. So he was happy and envied no one. But he
still liked best to keep by himself and became known as the lone
fisherman, just as Longlegs is to-day. Chug-a-rum! Isn't that Longlegs
coming this way this very minute? This is no place for me!"

With a great splash Grandfather Frog dived into the Smiling Pool.

[Illustration: "His legs were so long, and his neck was so long that all
his neighbors laughed at him." _Page_ 210.]



                                   XVI

           HOW TUFTY THE LYNX HAPPENS TO HAVE A STUMP OF A TAIL



                                   XVI

           HOW TUFTY THE LYNX HAPPENS TO HAVE A STUMP OF A TAIL


In all his life Peter Rabbit had seen Tufty the Lynx but once, but that
once was enough. Tufty, you know, lives in the Great Woods. But once,
when the winter was very cold, he had ventured down into the Green
Forest, hoping that it would be easier to get a living there. It was
then that Peter had seen him. In fact, Peter had had the narrowest of
escapes, and the very memory of it made him shiver. He never would
forget that great, gray, skulking form that slipped like a shadow
through the trees, that fierce, bearded face, those cruel, pale
yellow-green eyes, or that switching stump of a tail.

That tail fascinated Peter. It was just an apology for a tail. For
Tufty's size it was hardly as much of a tail as Peter himself has. It
made Peter feel a lot better. Also it made him very curious. The first
chance he got, he asked his cousin, Jumper the Hare, about it. You know
Jumper used to live in the Great Woods where Tufty lives, and Peter felt
sure that he must know the reason why Tufty has such a ridiculous stub
of a tail. Jumper did know, and this is the story he told Peter:

"Way back in the beginning of things lived old Mr. Lynx."

"I know," interrupted Peter. "He was the
great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather of Tufty, and he wasn't old then."

"Who's telling this story?" demanded Jumper crossly. "If you know it
why did you ask me?"

"I beg your pardon. Indeed I do. I won't say another word," replied
Peter hastily.

"All right, see that you don't. Interruptions always spoil a story,"
said Jumper. "You are quite right about old Mr. Lynx. He wasn't old
then. No one was old, because it was in the beginning of things. At that
time Mr. Lynx boasted a long tail, quite as fine a tail as his cousin,
Mr. Panther. He was very proud of it. You know there is a saying that
pride goes before a fall. It was so with Mr. Lynx. He boasted about his
tail. He said that it was the finest tail in the world. He said so much
that his neighbors got tired of hearing about it. He made a perfect
nuisance of himself. He switched and waved his long tail about
continually. It seemed as if that tail were never still. He made fun of
those whose tails were shorter or of different shape or less handsome.
He quite forgot that that tail had been given him by Old Mother Nature,
but talked and acted as if he had grown that tail himself.

"When at last his neighbors could stand it no longer, they decided to
teach him a lesson. One day while he was off hunting, they held a
meeting, and it was decided that the very next time that Mr. Lynx
boasted of his tail old King Bear should slip up behind him and step on
it as close to his body as he could, and then each of the others should
pull a little tuft of hair from it, so that it would be a long time
before Mr. Lynx would be able to boast of its beauty again.

"The chance came that very evening. Mr. Lynx had had a very successful
day, and he was feeling very fine. He began to boast of what a great
hunter he was, and of how very clever and very smart he was, and then,
as usual, he got to boasting about his tail. He was so intent on his
boasting that he didn't notice old King Bear slipping around behind him.
Old King Bear waited until that long tail was still for just an instant,
and then he stepped on it as close to the roots of it as he could. Then
all the other little people shouted with glee and began to pull little
tufts of hair from it, until it was the most disreputable-looking tail
ever seen.

"Old Mr. Lynx let out a yowl and a screech that was enough to make your
blood run cold. But he couldn't do a thing, though he tore the ground up
with his great claws and pulled with all his might. You see, old King
Bear was very big and very heavy, and Mr. Lynx couldn't budge his tail
a bit. And he couldn't turn to fight old King Bear, though it seemed as
if he would turn himself inside out trying to.

"At last, when old King Bear thought he had been punished enough, he
gave the word to the others, and they all scattered to safe
hiding-places, for they were of no mind to be within reach of those
great claws of Mr. Lynx. Then old King Bear let him go.

"'By the looks of it, I hardly think that you will boast of that tail
for a long time to come, Mr. Lynx,' said he in his deep, rumbly-grumbly
voice.

"Mr. Lynx turned and screamed in old King Bear's face, but that was all
he dared do, for you know old King Bear was very big and strong. Then he
turned and slunk away in the shadows by himself. Now Mr. Lynx had a
terrible temper, and when he saw how ragged and disreputable his once
beautiful tail looked, he flew into a terrible rage, and he swore that
no one should laugh at his tail. What do you think he did?"

"What?" asked Peter eagerly.

"He bit it off," replied Jumper slowly. "Yes, Sir, he bit it off right
at the place where old King Bear had stepped on it. Of course he was
sorry the minute he had done it, but it was done, and that was all there
was to it. After that he kept out of sight of all his neighbors. He
prowled around mostly at night and was very stealthy and soft-footed,
always keeping in the shadows. His temper grew worse and worse from
brooding over his lost tail. When any one chanced to surprise him, he
would switch his stub of a tail just as he used to switch his long tail.
You see he would forget. Then when he was laughed at by those bigger
than he, he would scream angrily and slink away like a great, gray
shadow.

"Once he besought Old Mother Nature to give him a new tail, but in vain.
She gave him a lecture which he never forgot. She told him that it was
no one's fault but his own that he had lost the beautiful tail that he
did have and had nothing but a stub left. Mr. Lynx crawled on his
stomach to the feet of Old Mother Nature and begged with tears in his
eyes. Old Mother Nature looked him straight in the eyes, but he couldn't
look straight back. He tried, but he couldn't do it. He would shift his
eyes from side to side.

"'Look me straight in the face, Mr. Lynx, and tell me that if I give you
a handsome new tail, you will never boast about it or take undue pride
in it,' said she.

"Mr. Lynx looked her straight in the face and said 'I--' Then his eyes
shifted. He brought them back to Old Mother Nature's face with a jerk
and began again. 'I promise--' Once more his eyes shifted. Then he gave
up and sneaked away into the darkest shadows he could find. You see, he
couldn't look Old Mother Nature in the face and tell a lie, and that was
just what he had been trying to do. The only reason he wanted a new tail
was so that he could be proud of it and boast of it as he had of the old
one. He hadn't a single real use for it, as he had found out since he
had had only that stub.

"Old Mother Nature knew this perfectly well, for you can't fool her, and
it's of no use to try. So Mr. Lynx never did get a new tail. He
continued to live very much by himself in the darkest parts of the Green
Forest, never showing himself to others if he could help it. To the
little people, he was like a fearsome shadow to be watched out for at
all times. His children were just like him, and his children's children.
Tufty is the same way. No one likes him. All who are smaller than he
fear him. And if he knows why he has only a stub of a tail, he never
mentions it. But you will notice that he switches it just as if it were
a real tail. I think he likes to imagine that it is a real one."

"I've noticed," replied Peter. He was silent for a few minutes. Then he
added: "Isn't it curious how often we want things we don't need at all,
and how those are the things that make us the most trouble in this
world?"

                                 THE END





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