Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Mother West Wind "Where" 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 "Where" Stories" ***

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



MOTHER WEST WIND "WHERE" STORIES

by

THORNTON W. BURGESS

Illustrations by Harrison Cady



[Illustration: "Then there was a crash, and everybody's eyes flew open."
FRONTISPIECE. _See Page 243._]

Burgess Trade Quaddies Mark

Grosset & Dunlap
Publishers     New York
By arrangement with Little, Brown, and Company
Copyright, 1918,
by Thornton W. Burgess.
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America



CONTENTS

  CHAPTER                                                   PAGE

    I.  WHERE GRANDFATHER FROG GOT
        HIS BIG MOUTH                                          1

   II.  WHERE MISER THE TRADE RAT
        FIRST SET UP SHOP                                     17

  III.  WHERE YAP-YAP THE PRAIRIE DOG
        USED HIS WITS                                         31

   IV.  WHERE YELLOW-WING GOT HIS
        LIKING FOR THE GROUND                                 47

    V.  WHERE LITTLE CHIEF LEARNED TO MAKE HAY                61

   VI.  WHERE GLUTTON THE WOLVERINE GOT HIS NAME              77

  VII.  WHERE OLD MRS. 'GATOR MADE
        THE FIRST INCUBATOR                                   91

 VIII.  WHERE MR. QUACK GOT HIS
        WEBBED FEET                                          107

   IX.  WHERE THUNDERFOOT THE BISON
        GOT HIS HUMP                                         123

    X.  WHERE LIMBERHEELS GOT HIS
        LONG TAIL                                            139

   XI.  WHERE OLD MR. GOBBLER GOT THE
        STRUTTING HABIT                                      155

  XII.  WHERE SEEK-SEEK GOT HIS
        PRETTY COAT                                          169

  XIII. WHERE OLD MR. OSPREY LEARNED
        TO FISH                                              185

  XIV.  WHERE OLD MR. BOB-CAT LEFT HIS
        HONOR                                                199

   XV.  WHERE DIPPY THE LOON GOT THE
        NAME OF BEING CRAZY                                  213

  XVI.  WHERE BIG-HORN GOT HIS CURVED
        HORNS                                                229



     LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                             PAGE

  "THEN THERE WAS A CRASH, AND EVERYBODY'S
   EYES FLEW OPEN"                                      _FRONTISPIECE_

  "LITTLE CHIEF'S FATHER TAUGHT HIM HOW
   TO MAKE HAY"                                               74

   PETER NOTICED THOSE FEET THE FIRST TIME
   HE MET MR. AND MRS. QUACK                                 122

  "DON'T CALL ME STRIPED CHIPMUNK, AND
   DON'T CALL ME GOPHER!" SAID HE                            170



MOTHER WEST WIND "WHERE" STORIES



I

WHERE GRANDFATHER FROG GOT HIS BIG MOUTH


Everybody knows that Grandfather Frog has a big mouth. Of course! It
wouldn't be possible to look him straight in the face and not know that
he has a big mouth. In fact, about all you see when you look Grandfather
Frog full in the face are his great big mouth and two great big goggly
eyes. He seems then to be all mouth and eyes.

Anyway, that is what Peter Rabbit says. Peter never will forget the
first time he saw Grandfather Frog. Peter was very young then. He had
run away from home to see the Great World, and in the course of his
wanderings he came to the Smiling Pool. Never before had he seen so much
water. The most water he had ever seen before was a little puddle in the
Lone Little Path. So when Peter, who was only half grown then, hopped
out on the bank of the Smiling Pool and saw it dimpling and smiling in
the sunshine, he thought it the most wonderful thing he ever had seen.
The truth is that in those days Peter was in the habit of thinking
everything he saw for the first time the most wonderful thing yet, and
as he was continually seeing new things, and as his eyes always nearly
popped out of his head whenever he saw something new, it is a wonder
that he didn't become pop-eyed.

Peter stared and stared at the Smiling Pool, and little by little he
began to see other things. First he noticed the bulrushes growing with
their feet in the water. They looked to him like giant grass, and he
began to be a little fearful lest this should prove to be a sort of
magic place--a place of giants. Then he noticed the lily-pads, and he
stared very hard at these. They looked like growing things, and yet they
seemed to be floating right on top of the water. It wasn't until a Merry
Little Breeze came along and turned the edge of one up so that Peter saw
the long stem running down in the water out of sight, that he was able
to understand how those lily-pads could be growing there. He was still
staring at those lily-pads when a great deep voice said:

"Chug-a-rum! Chug-a-rum! Don't you know it isn't polite to stare at
people?"

That voice was so unexpected and so deep that Peter was startled. He
jumped, started to run, then stopped. He wanted to run, but curiosity
wouldn't let him. He simply couldn't run away until he had found out
where that voice came from and to whom it belonged. It seemed to Peter
that it had come from right out of the Smiling Pool, but look as he
would, he couldn't see any one there.

"If you please," said Peter timidly, "I'm not staring at anybody." All
the time he was staring down into the Smiling Pool with eyes fairly
popping out of his head.

"Chug-a-rum! Have a care, young fellow! Have a care how you talk to your
elders. Do you mean to be impudent enough to tell me to my face that I
am not anybody?" The voice was deeper and gruffer than ever, and it made
Peter more uncomfortable than ever.

"Oh, no, Sir! No, indeed!" exclaimed Peter. "I don't mean anything of
the kind. I--I--well, if you please, Sir, I don't see you at all, so how
can I be staring at you? I'm sure from the sound of your voice that you
must be somebody very important. Please excuse me for seeming to stare.
I was just looking for you, that is all."

A little movement in the water close to a big green lily-pad caught
Peter's eyes, and then out on the big green lily-pad climbed Grandfather
Frog. If Peter had stared before he doubly stared now, eyes and mouth
wide open. Grandfather Frog was looking his very best in his handsome
green coat and white-and-yellow waistcoat. But Peter had hardly noticed
these at all.

"Why, you're all mouth!" he exclaimed, and then looked very much ashamed
of his impoliteness.

Grandfather Frog's great goggly eyes twinkled. He knew that Peter was
very young and innocent and just starting out in the Great World. He
knew that Peter didn't intend to be impolite.

"Not quite," said he good-naturedly. "Not quite all mouth, though I must
admit that it is of good size. The fact is, I wouldn't have it a bit
smaller if I could. If it were any smaller, I should miss many a good
meal, and if I were forced to do that, I am afraid I should be very
ill-tempered indeed. The truth is, I am very proud of my big mouth. I
don't know of any one who has a bigger one for their size."

He opened his mouth wide, and it seemed to Peter that Grandfather
Frog's whole head simply split in halves. He hadn't supposed anybody in
all the Great World possessed such a mouth.

"Where did you get it?" gasped Peter, and then felt that he had asked a
very foolish question.

Grandfather Frog chuckled. "I got it from my father, and he got his from
his father, and so on, way back to the days when the world was young and
the Frogs ruled the world," said he. "Would you like to hear about it?"

"I'd love to!" cried Peter. So he settled himself comfortably on the
bank of the Smiling Pool for the first of many, many stories he was to
hear from Grandfather Frog.

"Chug-a-rum!" began Grandfather Frog. You know he always begins a story
that way. "Chug-a-rum! Once upon a time the Great World was mostly
water, and most of the people lived in the water. It was in those days
that my great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather lived. Those were happy
days for the Frogs. Yes, indeed, those were happy days for the Frogs. Of
course they had enemies, but those enemies were all in the water. They
didn't have to be watching out for danger from the air and from the
land, as I do now. There was plenty to eat and little to do, and the
Frog tribe increased very fast. In fact, the Frogs increased so fast
that after a while there wasn't plenty to eat. That is, there wasn't
plenty of the kind of food they had been used to, which was mostly water
plants, and water bugs and such things.

"Of course there were many fish, and these also increased very fast,
and the big fish ate the Frogs whenever they could catch them, just as
they do to this day. The big fish also ate the little fish, and it
wasn't long before the Frogs and the little fish took to living where
the water was not deep enough for the big fish to swim, and this made it
all the harder to get enough to eat. The mouths of the Frogs in those
days were not big. In fact, they were quite small. You see, living on
the kind of food they did, they had no need of big mouths.

"One day as a Great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather Frog sat with just
his head out of water, wondering what it would seem like to have his
stomach really filled, a school of little fish came swimming about him,
and it popped into his head that if little fish were good for big fish
to eat, they might be good for a Frog to eat. So he caught the first
one that came within reach, and he found it was good to eat. He liked it
so well that after that he caught fish whenever he could. Of course he
swallowed them whole. He had to, because he had no chewing or biting
teeth.

"Now the Frogs always have been famous for their appetites, and
Great-grandfather Frog found that it took a great many of these teeny
weeny fish to make a comfortable meal. He was thinking of this one day
when a larger fish came within reach, and almost without realizing what
he was doing Great-grandfather snapped at and caught him. He caught the
fish by the tail and at once began to swallow it, which, of course, was
no way to swallow a fish. But Great-grandfather Frog had much to learn
in those day, and so he tried to swallow that fish tail first instead
of head first. He got the tail down and the smallest part of the body,
and then that fish stuck. Yes, Sir, that fish stuck. The fact was,
Great-grandfather Frog's mouth wasn't wide enough. It was bad enough not
to be able to swallow all of that fish, but what was worse was the
discovery that he couldn't get up again what he had swallowed. That fish
was stuck! It would go neither down nor up.

"Poor Great-grandfather Frog was in a terrible fix. Big tears rolled
down his cheeks. He choked and choked and choked, until it looked very
much as if he might choke to death. Just in time, in the very nick of
time, who should come along but Old Mother Nature. She saw right away
what the trouble was, and she pulled out the fish. Then she asked how
that fish had happened to be in such a place as Great-grandfather Frog's
mouth. When he could get his breath, he told her all about it--how food
had been getting scarce and how he had discovered that fish were good to
eat, and how he had make a mistake in catching a fish too big for his
mouth. Old Mother Nature looked thoughtful. She saw the great numbers of
young fish. Suddenly she reached over and put a finger in
Great-grandfather Frog's mouth and stretched it sideways. Then she did
the same thing to the other corner. Great-grandfather Frog's mouth was
three times as big as it had been before.

"'Now,' said she, 'I don't believe you'll have any more trouble, and I'm
going to do the same thing for all the other Frogs.'

"She did that very day, and from then on the Frogs no longer had any
trouble in getting plenty to eat. So that is where I got my big mouth,
and I tell you right now I wouldn't trade it for anything anybody else
has got," concluded Grandfather Frog, as he snapped up a foolish green
fly who came too near.

"I think it is splendid, perfectly splendid," cried Peter. "I wish I had
one just like it." And then he wondered why Grandfather Frog laughed so
hard.



II

WHERE MISER THE TRADE RAT FIRST SET UP SHOP


It was quite by accident that Peter Rabbit first heard of Miser the
Trade Rat. You know how it is with Peter; he is forever using those big
ears of his to learn interesting things. That is what ears are for; but
there is a right way and a wrong way to use them, and I am afraid that
Peter isn't always over-particular in this respect. I suspect, in fact I
know, that Peter sometimes listens when he has no business to listen and
knows he has no business to listen. Again he sometimes overhears things
quite by accident when he cannot very well help hearing. It was in this
way that he first heard of Miser the Trade Rat.

Peter had crept into a hollow log in the Green Forest to rest and to
feel absolutely safe while he was doing it. He had been there only a
little while when he heard light footsteps outside and a moment later a
voice which made him shiver a little in spite of himself and the
knowledge that he was perfectly safe. The footsteps and the voice were
Old Man Coyote's.

Very carefully Peter peeped out. Old Man Coyote had sat down close by
the log in which Peter was hiding. On a dead tree close at hand sat Ol'
Mistah Buzzard, who had come up from way down south for the summer, and
it was to him that Old Man Coyote was talking.

"I was over by Farmer Brown's barn last night," said Old Man Coyote,
"and I caught a glimpse of Robber the Brown Eat. What a disgrace he is
to the whole Rat tribe! For that matter, he is a disgrace to all who
live on the Green Meadows and in the Green Forest. He isn't much like
his cousin, Miser the Trade Rat."

"Mah goodness! Do yo' know Miser?" exclaimed Ol' Mistah Buzzard.

"Do I know Miser? I should say I do!" replied Old Man Coyote. "I've
tried to catch him enough times to know him. He kept a junk shop very
near where I used to live way out west. Do you know him, Mr. Buzzard?"

"Ah cert'nly does," chuckled Ol' Mistah Buzzard. "Ah cert'nly does. Ah
never did see such a busy fellow as he is. Ah done see his junk shop
many times, and always it done be growin' bigger. Ah wonders, Brer Coyote,
if yo' ever heard the story of his Great-great-ever-so-great-gran'-daddy,
the first of the family, and how and where he started the business that's
been kept in the family ever since."

"No," said Old Man Coyote, "I never did, and I've wondered about it a
great deal."

Peter Rabbit almost forgot that he was hiding. He was so eager to hear
that story that he was right on the point of speaking up and begging Ol'
Mistah Buzzard to tell it when he remembered Old Man Coyote. Just in the
nick of time he clapped a hand over his mouth. It seemed to Peter a
long, long time before Old Man Coyote said:

"I'd like to hear that story, Mr. Buzzard, if it isn't too much to ask
of you."

"Not at all, Brer Coyote; not at all. Ah'll be mor'n pleased to tell it
to yo'. Ah cert'nly will," said Ol' Mistah Buzzard, and Peter settled
himself comfortably to listen.

"Yo' see it was this way," began Ol' Mistah Buzzard. "Ah got it from mah
gran'daddy, and he got it from his gran'daddy, and his gran'daddy got it
from--"

"I know," interrupted Old Man Coyote. "It was handed down from your
greatest-great-grandfather, who lived in the days when the world was
young and what you are going to tell me about happened. Isn't that it?"

"Yes, Suh," replied Ol' Mistah Buzzard. "Yes, Suh, that's it. Ol' Mother
Nature treat 'em all alike in those days. She's a right smart busy
person, and she ain't got no time fo' to answer foolish questions. No,
Suh, she ain't. So, quick as she get a new kind of critter made, she
turn him loose and tell him if he want to live he got to be right smart
and find out for hisself how to do it. Ah reckons yo' know all about
that, Brer Coyote."

Old Man Coyote nodded, and Ol' Mistah Buzzard scratched his bald head
gently as if trying to stir up his memory. Peter Rabbit almost squealed
aloud in his impatience while he waited for Ol' Mistah Buzzard to go on.

"When Ol' Mother Nature made Brer Trade Rat in the beginning and turned
him loose in the Great World, he was just plain Mistah Rat and nothing
more, same as his no 'count cousin, Robber the Brown Rat," continued Ol'
Mistah Buzzard. "He had to win a name for hisself same as ev'ybody else.
He had mighty sharp wits, had this Mistah Rat, and directly he found he
had to shift for hisself he began to study and study and study what he
gwine to do to live well and be happy. He watched his neighbors to see
what they did, and it didn't take him long to find out that if he would
be respected he must have a home. Those without homes were mostly no
'count folks, same as they are today.

"So Brer Rat made a nest close to the trunk of a tree on the edge of the
Green Forest, a soft, warm nest, and in collectin' the stuff to make it
of he learned the joy of bein' busy. Person'ly, yo' understand, Ah
thinks he was all wrong. Ah never am so happy as when Ah can take a
sun-bath with nothin' to do. But Brer Rat was never so happy as when he
was busy, and when he got that li'l nest finished time began to hang
heavy on his hands. Yes, Suh, it cert'nly did. Just because he didn't
have anything else to do he began to add a little more to his house. One
day he stepped on a thorn. 'Ouch!' cried Brer Rat, and then right away
forgot the pain in a new idea. He would cover his house with thorns,
leavin' just a little secret entrance for hisself! Then he would be
safe, wholly safe from his big neighbors, some of whom had begun to look
at him with such a hungry look in their eyes that they made him right
smart uncomfortable. So he spent his time, did Brer Rat, in huntin' for
the longest and sharpest thorns and in cuttin' the branches on which
they grew. These he carried to his house and piled them around it and on
it until it had become a great pile with sharp thorns stickin' out in
every direction, and the hungriest of the big people of the forest
passed it at a respectful distance.

"When Brer Rat had all the thorns he needed and more, he began to
collect other things and added these to his pile. Yo' see, he had found
that it was great fun to collect things; to find the queerest things he
could and bring them home and look at them and wonder about them. So
little by little his house became a sort of junk shop, the very first
one in all the Great World. Bright stones and shells, bones, anything
that caught his bright eyes and pleased them, he brought home. When he
was tired of huntin' fo' food or more strange things he would sit and
gloat over his treasures and play with them. And then the first thing he
knew he had a name. Yes, Suh, he had a name. He was called Miser.

"Of course Brer Miser hadn't lived ve'y long befo' he found out that
one law of the Great World was that things belonged to whoever could get
them and keep them. He saw that some thought themselves ve'y smart when
they stole from their neighbors. Brer Miser didn't like this at all. He
was ve'y, ye'y honest, was Brer Miser. Perhaps he wasn't really much
tempted, not fo' a long time anyway.

"But at last came a time when he was tempted. Quite by accident he found
one of Mr. Squirrel's storehouses. In it were some nuts different from
any he ever had seen befo'. 'Brer Squirrel won't mind if Ah taste just
one,' said he, and did it. It tasted good; it tasted ve'y good indeed.
Brer Miser began to wish he had some nuts like those. When he got home
he couldn't think of anything but how good those nuts tasted. He knew
that all he had to do was to watch until Brer Squirrel was away and
then go he'p hisself. He knew that was just what any of his neighbors
would do in his place. But Brer Miser couldn't make it seem just right
any way he looked at it. He was too honest, was Brer Miser, to do
anything like that.

"He was sitting staring at his treasures but thinking about those nuts
when an idea popped into his head, an idea that made him smile until Ah
reckons he most split his cheeks. 'Ah knows what Ah'll do,' said he.
'Ah'll just he'p mahself to some of those nuts and Ah'll leave something
of mine in place of them. That's what Ah'll do.'

"And that's what he did do. He picked out a bright shell of which he was
very fond and he left it in Brer Squirrel's storehouse to pay fo' the
nuts that he took. After that he always helped himself to anything he
wanted, but he always left something to pay fo' it. It wasn't long befo'
his neighbors found out what he was doing, and then they called him
Miser the Trade Rat. Whenever anybody found something he didn't want
hisself, he took it to the little junk shop of Miser the Trade Rat and
traded it fo' something else, or left it where Miser would find it,
knowing that Miser would leave something in its place.

"And it's been just so with Miser's family ever since. There is one Rat
who is a credit to his family instead of a disgrace," concluded Ol'
Mistah Buzzard.



III

WHERE YAP-YAP THE PRAIRIE DOG USED HIS WITS


Peter Rabbit had just had a great fright. He is used to having great
frights, but this time it was a different kind of a fright. It was not
for himself that he had been afraid but for one of his old friends and
neighbors. Now that it was over, Peter drew a little breath of sheer
relief.

You see it was this way: Peter had started over for a call on Johnny
Chuck. When he reached Johnny Chuck's house he found no one at home. At
first he thought he would go look for Johnny, for he knew that Johnny
must be somewhere near, as he never goes far from his own doorstep. Then
he changed his mind and decided to wait for Johnny to return. So he
stretched himself out in some tall grass beside Johnny Chuck's house,
intending to jump out and give Johnny a scare when he came home. Hardly
had he settled himself when he heard Johnny coming, and he knew by the
sounds that Johnny was running from some danger.

Very, very carefully Peter raised his head to see. Then he ducked it
again and held his breath. Johnny Chuck was running as Peter never had
seen him run before and with very good reason. Just a few jumps behind
Johnny's twinkling little black heels was Old Man Coyote. It looked to
Peter as if Old Man Coyote certainly would catch Johnny Chuck this time.
He was so frightened for Johnny that he quite forgot that he himself
might be in danger. Head first through his doorway plunged Johnny, and
Old Man Coyote's teeth snapped together on nothing.

Old Man Coyote backed away a few steps and sat down with his head on one
side as he studied Johnny Chuck's house in the ground. It was plain to
be seen that he was trying to make up his mind whether it would be worth
while to try to dig Johnny out. Presently Johnny came half-way up his
long hall where he could look out. Then he began to scold Old Man
Coyote. Old Man Coyote grinned.

"I give up, Johnny Chuck," said he. "You did well when you made your
home between the roots of this old tree. If it wasn't for those roots,
I certainly would dig you out. As it is you are safe. You remind me very
much of your cousin, Yap-Yap the Prairie Dog, who lives out where I came
from. There's a fellow who certainly knows how to make a house in the
ground. He doesn't have to depend on the roots of trees to keep from
being dug out. Well, I guess it is a waste of time to hang around here.
You'll make just as good a dinner some other time as you would now, so
I'll wait until then." Old Man Coyote grinned wickedly and trotted off.

Now at the mention of Yap-Yap the Prairie Dog, the long ears of Peter
Rabbit had pricked up at once. It was the first time he had heard of
Yap-Yap, and when at last Johnny Chuck ventured out Peter was as full of
questions as a pea-pod is of peas. But Johnny Chuck knew nothing about
his cousin, Yap-Yap, and wasn't even interested in him. So finally Peter
left him and went back home to the dear Old Briar-patch. But he couldn't
get Yap-Yap out of his mind, and he resolved that the first chance he
got he would ask Old Man Coyote about him. The chance came that very
night. Old Man Coyote came along by the dear Old Briar-patch and stopped
to peer in and grin at Peter. Peter grinned back, for he knew that under
those friendly brambles he was quite safe.

"I heard what you said to Johnny Chuck about his cousin, Yap-Yap," said
Peter.

Old Man Coyote looked as surprised as he felt. "Where were you?" he
demanded gruffly.

"Lying flat in the grass close by Johnny Chuck's house," replied Peter,
and grinned more broadly than ever.

"And to think I didn't know it!" sighed Old Man Coyote. "When I failed
to catch Johnny Chuck, I thought I had missed only one dinner, but it
seems I missed two. Next time I shall look around a little more sharply.
Do you know, the sight of Johnny Chuck always makes me homesick, he
reminds me so much of his cousin, Yap-Yap, and the days when I was
young."

"I didn't know that Johnny Chuck had a cousin until you mentioned it,"
said Peter. "Does he look like Johnny? Won't you tell me about him, Mr.
Coyote?"

"Seeing that I haven't anything in particular to do, I don't know but I
will," replied Old Man Coyote, who happened to be feeling very
good-natured. "Many and many a time I have chased Yap-Yap into his
house. Seems as if I can hear the rascal scolding me and calling me
names right this minute. He used to get me so provoked that it was all I
could do to keep from trying to dig him out."

"Why didn't you?" asked Peter.

"Because it would have meant a waste of time, sore feet, and nothing to
show for my trouble," retorted Old Man Coyote. "Yap-Yap never has
forgotten what his great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather learned when he
first took to living on the open prairie."

"What did he learn? Tell me about it, Mr. Coyote," begged Peter.

"He learned to use his wits," replied Old Man Coyote, with a provoking
grin. "He learned to use his wits, that's all."

"Please tell me about it, Mr. Coyote. Please," begged Peter.

"Once upon a time," began Old Man Coyote, "so my grandfather told me,
and he got it from his grandfather, who got it from his grandfather,
who--"

"I know," interrupted Peter. "It happened in the days when the world was
young."

Old Man Coyote looked at Peter very hard as if he had half a mind not to
tell the story, but Peter looked so innocent and so eager that he began
again. "Once upon a time lived the great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather
of Yap-Yap, the very first of all the Prairie Dogs, and his name was
Yap-Yap too. He was own cousin to old Mr. Woodchuck, who of course
wasn't old then, and the two cousins looked much alike, save that
Yap-Yap was a little smaller than Mr. Woodchuck and perhaps a little
smarter looking.

"From the very beginning Yap-Yap was a keen lover of the great open
spaces. Trees were all very well for those who liked them, but he
preferred to have nothing above him but the blue, blue sky. It seemed to
him that he never could find a big enough open space, so he never stayed
very long in any one place, but kept pushing on and on, looking for a
spot in the Great World that would just suit him. At last he came to the
edge of the Green Forest, and before him, as far as he could see,
stretched the Green Meadows. At least it was like the Green Meadows,
only a million thousand times as big as the Green Meadows we are on now,
Peter, and was really the Great Prairie.

"Yap-Yap looked and looked, then he drew a long breath of pure joy and
started out across the green grass. On and on he went, until when he sat
up and looked this way or that way or the other way he could see nothing
but grass and flowers, and over him was naught but the blue, blue sky.
He had found the great open space of which he had dreamed, and he was
happy. So he ate and slept and played with the Merry Little Breezes and
grew fat.

"Then one day came Skimmer the Swallow and brought him news of the hard
times which had come to the rest of the Great World and how as a result
the big and the strong were hunting the small and the weak in order that
they themselves might live. When Skimmer had gone, Yap-Yap grew uneasy.
What if some of the big and strong people he had known should come out
there in quest of food and should find him? There was no place in which
to hide. There was no cave or hollow log.

"Yap-Yap looked at the strong claws Old Mother Nature had given him and
an idea came to him. He would dig a hole in the ground. So he dug a hole
on a long slant very much like the hole of Johnny Chuck; but when it was
finished a little doubt crept into his head and grew and grew. What was
to prevent some one who was very hungry from digging him out? So he
moved on a little way and started another hole, and this time he made it
almost straight down. Every day he made that hole deeper until it was
many feet deep. Then he made a turn in it and dug a long tunnel, at the
end of which he hollowed out a comfortable bedroom and lined it with
grass. When it was finished he was quite satisfied.

"'I don't believe,' said he, 'that any one will have the patience to dig
to the bottom of this.'

"So at night he slept in his bed at the end of his long hall far below
the surface, but all day he spent above ground, for he dearly loved the
sunshine. All went well until there came a time of heavy rains. Then
Yap-Yap discovered that the water ran down his hole, and if he didn't do
something, he was likely to be drowned out. Right away he set his sharp
wits to work. He noticed that when the water on the surface reached the
little piles of sand he had made, it ran around them. So he made a great
mound of sand around his hole with the entrance in the middle and
pressed it firm on the inside so that the rain would not wash it down
in. Then, although the water stood all around, it no longer ran down in
his house. In fair weather that mound was a splendid place on which to
sit and watch for danger. So once more Yap-Yap was happy and care-free,
all because he had used his wits.

"And from that day to this the Prairie Dogs have made their houses in
just that way, and no one that I know cares to try to dig one out,"
concluded Old Man Coyote.



IV

WHERE YELLOW-WING GOT HIS LIKING FOR THE GROUND


Peter Rabbit was hopping along on the edge of the Green Meadows, looking
for a new patch of sweet clover. It was very beautiful that morning, and
Peter was in the best of spirits. It was good just to be alive. Every
once in a while Peter would jump up and kick his long heels together
just from pure happiness. He was so happy that he didn't pay particular
attention to where he was going or what was about him. The result was
that Peter got a fright. Right from under his very nose something sprang
out of the grass so suddenly and so wholly unexpectedly that Peter very
nearly tumbled over backward. He made two long jumps off to one side and
then turned to see what had startled him so. But all he saw was an old
feathered acquaintance headed towards the Old Orchard. He seemed to
bound along through the air much as Peter bounds along over the ground
when he is in a hurry. It was Yellow-Wing the Flicker.

Peter grinned and looked a little foolish. He felt a little foolish. You
know it always makes you feel foolish to be frightened when there is
nothing to be afraid of. Peter watched Yellow-Wing until he disappeared
among the trees of the Old Orchard, from which presently his voice
sounded clear and loud, and in it there was a mocking note as if
Yellow-Wing were laughing at him. Peter suspected that he was. But
Peter was feeling too happy to mind being laughed at. In fact, he
chuckled himself. It was something of a joke to be frightened by one who
was so wholly harmless. Peter recalled how many times he had frightened
other people and thought it the best of jokes.

Peter went on until he found a new patch of sweet clover. Then he forgot
all about Yellow-Wing. He was too busy filling that big stomach of his
to think of anything else. When he couldn't find room for another leaf
of clover he went home to the dear Old Briar-patch, and there in his
favorite spot he settled himself to rest and think or dream as the case
might be. Presently his thoughts returned to Yellow-Wing, and he
chuckled again at the memory of his fright that morning. And then for
the first time it struck Peter as queer that Yellow-Wing should have
been out there on the Green Meadows on the ground. He often had seen
Yellow-Wing on the ground, but until that moment there never had seemed
anything queer about that. Now, however, it suddenly came to Peter that
Yellow-Wing belonged in trees, not on the ground.

Peter scratched his long left ear with his long left hind foot, which
was a sign that he was thinking of something that puzzled him. "He
belongs to the Woodpecker family," thought Peter, "and never have I seen
any of his relatives on the ground. They get all their food in the
trees. Now why is Yellow-Wing so different from his relatives?"

The more Peter thought about it, the queerer it seemed that a Woodpecker
should spend so much time on the ground, or visit the ground at all,
for that matter. But just wondering about it didn't get him anywhere,
and at last Peter decided that the only way to find out would be to ask
questions. So Peter made up his mind to watch for Yellow-Wing and ask
him all about it the first chance he got.

The chance came the very next day in the very same place where Peter had
been so startled. This time he was on the watch and saw Yellow-Wing very
busy about something. Peter stole up within speaking distance.

"Good morning, Yellow-Wing," said he. "I wonder if you will tell me
something."

It was Yellow-Wing's turn to be startled, for he had not seen Peter
approaching. He half lifted his wings to fly, but when he saw who it
was, he changed his mind.

"It all depends on what it is you want me to tell you," he replied
rather shortly.

"It is just this," replied Peter. "Why do you spend so much time on the
ground?"

"That's easily answered," laughed Fellow-Wing. "I do it because it is
the easiest way to get enough to eat."

Peter looked as surprised as he felt. "I thought that all your family
got their living in the trees!" he exclaimed.

"All do but me," replied Yellow-Wing a wee bit testily. "But I don't
have to do what they do just because they do it. No, Siree, I'm
independent! Do you like ants, Peter?"

"What?" exclaimed Peter.

"I asked if you like ants," repeated Yellow-Wing.

"I've never tried them," Peter replied, "but I've heard Old Mr. Toad
say they are very nice."

"They are," said Yellow-Wing. "They are more than nice--they are
de-li-cious. It is because of them that I spend so much time on the
ground. Ants changed the habits of the Flicker branch of the Woodpecker
family. I wouldn't be surprised if we became regular ground birds one of
these days."

Peter looked puzzled. He kept turning it over in his mind as he watched
Yellow-Wing plunge his long stout bill into an ant hill and then gobble
up the ants as they came rushing out to see what the trouble was.

"I don't see how ants could change the habits of anybody," he ventured
after a while.

Yellow-Wing's eyes twinkled. "Why don't you learn to eat them?" he
demanded. "If you would, they might change _your_ habits. The beginning
of the change in the habits of my folks began a long time ago."

"Way back in the beginning of things, when the world was young?" asked
Peter.

"No, not quite so far back as that," replied Yellow-Wing.
"Great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather, who was the first Flicker, was,
of course, a member of the Woodpecker family, and he got his living in
regular Woodpecker fashion. It never entered his head to look for food
anywhere but in the trees, and I don't suppose that it ever entered his
head to set foot on the ground. It was the same with his children and
his children's children for a long time.

"But though they lived as true Woodpeckers should, the Flickers always
were a bit sharper-witted and more independent than most of their
relatives. For one thing they had discovered that ants were fine eating
and that great numbers of them were to be found running up and down the
trunks of certain trees. So the Flickers used to look for these trees
and feast on the ants. It saved a lot of labor. A stomachful of ants
could be picked from the trunk of a tree in the time it would take to
dig out one worm in the wood, to say nothing of the saving of hard work.

"One day a few years ago my great-great-great-grandfather, so the story
goes, had stuffed himself with ants from the trunk of a tree and had
settled himself for a rest. From where he sat he could see a procession
of ants going up and down the tree, and he got to wondering where they
all came from and where they all went to. So he watched and presently
discovered that that double line of ants led out along the ground from
the foot of the tree. This made him still more curious and he followed
it, flying along just over it. He had gone but a short distance when he
came to a little mound of sand, and there the line of ants ended.
Grandfather Flicker flew up in a tree from which he could look right
down on that mound, and it didn't take him long to discover that those
ants were going in and out of little holes in that mound.

"'As I live, that must be their home!' exclaimed he. 'That place is
alive with them. What a place to fill one's stomach! I never was on the
ground in my life, but the next time I'm hungry, I'm going to see what
the ground is like. I won't have to stay on it long to get my dinner
here.'

"Grandfather Flicker was as good as his word. When he was ready for
another meal, he flew down to that ant hill. He found that when he
plunged his bill into it, the ants fairly poured out to see what was
happening, and all he had to do was to thrust out his long sticky tongue
and lick them up. Never in all his life before had he filled his stomach
so easily. After that, instead of wasting time hunting for worms and
insects in the trees where he could find only one at a time, Grandfather
Flicker kept his eyes open for ant hills on the ground. He taught his
children to do the same thing. That was the beginning of the change of
habits with the Flickers. Ever since we have spent more and more time on
the ground, so that now we feel quite at home there. We still get some
of our food in the trees by way of variety, and we make our homes there,
but a good big part of our food we get just as I am doing now."

With this Yellow-Wing once more plunged his bill into the ant hill and
licked up a dozen ants who had come rushing out to see what was going
on. And so once more the curiosity of Peter Rabbit was satisfied, and he
had learned something.



V

WHERE LITTLE CHIEF LEARNED TO MAKE HAY


No one in all the Great World thinks more of the present and less of the
future than does careless, happy-go-lucky Peter Rabbit. Everybody who
knows Peter at all knows that Peter doesn't waste any time worrying over
what may happen in a day that may never be. So Peter isn't thrifty as
are Happy Jack Squirrel and Chatterer the Red Squirrel and Whitefoot the
Wood Mouse and Paddy the Beaver and Striped Chipmunk.

"I've got enough to eat today, and enough is enough, so what is the use
of working when I don't have to?" says Peter. "I don't believe in
working today so that I won't have to work tomorrow, because when
tomorrow comes there may be no need of working, and then I would feel
that I had wasted all this good time today." No, Peter isn't the least
bit thrifty.

It is the same way with Peter's big cousin, Jumper the Hare. The truth
is the whole family is happy-go-lucky. Happy Jack Squirrel says that
every blessed one of them is shiftless. It does look that way. It is a
pity that Peter and Jumper never have learned a lesson from Little Chief
Hare, who is commonly supposed to be a relative of theirs, although, as
a matter of fact, he is neither a Hare nor a Rabbit, but is a Pika,
which is another family altogether. He is also called a Coney and
sometimes the Calling Hare. But if you want sure-enough proof that he
is neither a Rabbit nor a Hare, just watch him, if you are lucky enough
to have a chance, cut and dry and store away a great pile of hay for
winter use. No true member of Peter's family ever would think of doing
such a thing as that, more is the pity.

Peter never has seen Little Chief, because Little Chief lives high up on
a mountain of the Far West among the rocks where Peter would never go,
even if he could, but he has heard all about him. Old Man Coyote told
him all about him, and he got the story from his grandfather, who got it
from his grandfather, who had one time visited the great mountain where
Little Chief's ever-so-great-grandfather lived in the very place where
Little Chief lives now. Old Man Coyote had chased Peter into the dear
Old Briar-patch one cold winter day, and as he peered through the
brambles at Peter he noticed that Peter was very thin, very thin indeed.
Old Man Coyote grinned.

"I'm just as well pleased not to have caught you this time, Peter," said
he. "You wouldn't make much of a dinner just now. When I dine I want
something more than skin and bones. It must be that you are having as
hard work as I am to get a living these days."

"I am," replied Peter. "With all this snow and ice on the ground, there
is nothing to eat but bark and such tender twigs as I can reach, and
they are not very filling. But they'll keep me alive until better times
come, and then perhaps I'll get fat enough to suit you." It was Peter's
turn to grin.

Old Man Coyote grinned back good-naturedly. "I should think, Peter,"
said he, "that when there is so much sweet grass and clover in the
summer, you would make some of it into hay and store it away for winter,
as Little Chief Hare does. There's the thrifty little hay-maker for
you!"

"Who is Little Chief, and where did he learn to make hay?" demanded
Peter, his ears standing straight up with curiosity.

Old Man Coyote likes to tell a story once in a while, and having nothing
else to do just then, he sat down just outside the dear Old Briar-patch
and told Peter all about Little Chief and his hay-making.

"Of course," said he, "Little Chief's father taught him how to make hay,
and his father's father taught him, and so on way back to the days when
the world was young and Old Mother Nature made the first Pika or Coney,
whichever you please to call him, and set him free on a great mountain
to prove whether he was worthy to live or was so helpless that there was
no place for him in the Great World. Now Mr. Pika, who was promptly
called Little Chief, no one remembers now just why, was exactly like
Little Chief of today. He was just about a fourth as big as you, Peter.
In fact, he looked a lot like one of your babies, excepting his legs and
his ears. His legs were short and rather weak, and his ears were short
and rounded. He was very gentle and timid. He had neither the kind of
teeth and claws for fighting nor long legs for running away, and it did
seem as if Little Chief's chances of a long life and a happy one were
very slim indeed, especially as it happened that he was set free to
shift for himself just at the beginning of the hard times, when the big
and strong had begun to hunt the small and weak.

"For a while Little Chief had a hard time of it and so many narrow
escapes that his heart was in his mouth most of the time. In trying to
keep out of the way of his enemies he kept climbing higher and higher up
the mountain, for the higher he got the fewer enemies he found. At last
he came to a big rock-slide above where the trees grew, and where there
was nothing but broken stone and big rocks. The sun lay there very warm,
and Little Chief crept out among the stones to take a sun-bath; as he
squatted there it would have taken keen eyes indeed to tell him from a
stone himself, though he didn't know this.

"After he had had a good rest, and jolly Mr. Sun had moved so that
Little Chief was no longer in the warm rays, Little Chief decided to
look about a little. It didn't take him long to discover that there were
wonderful little winding galleries and hiding-places down among the
stones. These led to little cracks and caves deep down in the mountain
side. Little Chief was tickled almost to death.

"'This is the place for me!' he cried. 'No one ever will think to look
for me up here, and if they should they couldn't find me, for no one,
not even King Bear, could pull away these stones fast enough to catch
me. All day long I can enjoy the sun, and at night I can sleep in
perfect safety in one of these little caves.'

"So Little Chief made his home in the rock-slide high up on the mountain
and was happy, for it was just as he thought it would be--no one
thought of looking in that bare place for him. For food he ate the pea
vines and grasses and other green things that grew just at the edge of
the rock-slide and was perfectly happy. One day he decided he would take
some of his dinner into his little cave and eat it there. So he cut a
little bundle of pea vine and other green things. He left his little
bundle on a flat rock in the sun while he went to look for something
else and then forgot all about it. It didn't enter his head again until
a few days later he happened along by that flat rock and discovered that
little bundle. The pea vines and grasses were quite dry, just like the
hay Farmer Brown's boy helps his father store away in the barn every
summer.

"'I guess I don't want to eat that,' said Little Chief, 'but it will
make me a very nice bed.' So he carried it home and made a bed of it.
There wasn't quite enough, so the next day he cut some more and carried
it home at once. But this, being green, soon soured and smelled so badly
that he was forced to take it out and throw it away. That set him to
thinking. Why was the first he had brought in so dry and sweet and
pleasant? Why didn't it spoil as the other had done? He cut some more
and spread it out on the big flat rock and once again he forgot. When he
remembered and went to look at it two or three days later, he found it
just like the first, dry and sweet and very pleasant to smell. This he
took home to add to his bed. Then he took home some more that was green,
and this spoiled just as the other had done.

"Little Chief was puzzling over this as he squatted on a rock taking a
sun-bath. The sun was very warm and comforting. After a while the rock
on which he sat grew almost hot. Little Chief had brought along a couple
of pieces of pea vine on which to lunch, but not being hungry he left
them beside him on the rock. By and by he happened to glance at them.
They had wilted and already they were beginning to dry. An idea popped
into his funny little head.

"'It's the sun that does it!' he cried.

"Up he jumped and scampered away to cut some more and spread it out on
the rocks. Then he discovered that the pea vine which he spread in the
sun dried as he wanted it to, while any that happened to be left in the
shadow of a rock didn't dry so well. He had learned how to make hay. He
was the first hay-maker in the Great World. He soon had more than
enough for a bed, but he kept on making hay and storing it away just
for fun. Then came cold weather and all the green things died. There was
no food for Little Chief. He hunted and hunted, but there was nothing.
Then because he was so hungry he began to nibble at his hay. It tasted
good, very good indeed. It tasted almost as good as the fresh green
things. Little Chief's heart gave a great leap. He had food in plenty!
He had nothing to worry about, for his hay would last him until the
green things came again, as come they would, he felt sure.

"And so it proved. And that is how Little Chief the Pika learned to make
hay while the sun shone in the days of plenty. He taught his children
and they taught their children, and Little Chief of today does it just
as his great-great-ever-so-great-grand-daddy did. I don't see why you
don't do the same thing, Peter. You would make me a great deal finer
dinner if you did."

"Perhaps that is the reason I don't," replied Peter with a grin.

[Illustration: "Little Chief's father taught him how to
make hay." _Page 67._]



VI

WHERE GLUTTON THE WOLVERINE GOT HIS NAME


Glutton the Wolverine is a dweller in the depths of the Great Forests of
the Far North, and it is doubtful if Peter Rabbit would ever have known
that there is such a person but for his acquaintance with Honker the
Goose, who spends his summers in the Far North, but each spring and fall
stops over for a day or two in a little pond in the Green Forest, a pond
Peter often visits. This acquaintance with Honker and Peter's
everlasting curiosity have resulted in many strange stories. At least
they have seemed strange to Peter because they have been about furred
and feathered people whom Peter has never seen. And one of the strangest
of these is the story of how Glutton the Wolverine got his name.

Of course you know what a glutton is. It is one who is very, very, very
greedy and eats and eats as if eating were the only thing in life worth
while. It is one who is all the time thinking of his stomach. No one
likes to be called a glutton. So when Honker the Goose happened to
mention Glutton, it caused Peter to prick up his ears at once.

"Who's a glutton?" he demanded.

"I didn't say any one was a glutton," replied Honker. "I was speaking of
Glutton the Wolverine who lives in the Great Forests of the Far North,
and whom everybody hates."

"Is Glutton his name?" asked Peter, wrinkling his brows in perplexity,
for it seemed a very queer name for any one.

"Certainly," replied Honker. "Certainly that is his name, and a very
good name for him it is. But then of course it is because he _is_ a
glutton that he is named Glutton. Rather I should say that is the reason
the first Wolverine was named Glutton. The name has been handed down
ever since, and it fits Mr. Wolverine of today quite as well as ever it
did his great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather."

"Tell me about it," Peter begged. "Please tell me about it."

"Tell you about what?" asked Honker, pretending not to understand.

"About how the first Wolverine got the name of Glutton," replied Peter
promptly. "There must have been a very good reason, and if there was a
very good reason, there must be a story. Please, Honker, tell me all
about it."

Honker swam a little way out from shore, and with head held high and
very still, he looked and listened and listened and looked until he was
quite certain that no danger lurked near. Then he swam back to where
Peter was sitting on the bank.

"Peter," said he, "I never in all my born days have seen such a fellow
for questions as you are. If I lived about here, I think I should swim
away every time I saw you coming. But as I only stop here for a day or
two twice a year, I guess I can stand it. Besides, you really ought to
know something about some of the people who live in the Great Forest. It
is shameful, Peter, that you should be so ignorant. And so if you will
promise not to ask for another story while I am here, I will tell you
about Glutton the Wolverine."

Of course Peter promised. He wanted that story so much that he would
have promised anything. So Honker told the story, and here it is just as
Peter heard it.

"Once upon a time long, long, long ago, the first Wolverine was sent out
to find a place for himself in the Great World just as every one else
had been sent out. Old Mother Nature had told him that he was related to
Mr. Weasel and Mr. Mink and Mr. Fisher and Mr. Skunk, but no one would
have guessed it just to look at him. In fact, some of his new neighbors
were inclined to think that he was related to Old King Bear. Certainly
he looked more like King Bear than he did like little Mr. Weasel. But
for his bushy tail he would have looked still more like a member of the
Bear family. He was clumsy-looking. He was rather slow moving, but he
was strong, very strong for his size. And he had a mean disposition.
Yes, Sir, Mr. Wolverine had a mean disposition. He had such a mean
disposition that he would snarl at his own reflection in a pool of
water.

"Now you know as well as I do that no one with a mean disposition has
any friends. It was so with Mr. Wolverine. When his neighbors found out
what a mean disposition he had, they let him severely alone. They would
go out of their way to avoid meeting him. This made his disposition all
the meaner. He didn't really care because his neighbors would have
nothing to do with him. No, he didn't really care, for the simple reason
that he didn't want anything to do with them. But just the same it made
him angry to have them show that they didn't want to have anything to do
with him. Every time he would see one of them turn aside to avoid
meeting him, he would snarl under his breath, and his eyes would glow
with anger; he would resolve to get even.

"Being slow in his movements because of his stout build, he early
realized that he must make nimble wits make up for the lack of nimble
legs. He also learned very early in life that patience is a virtue few
possess, and that patience and nimble wits will accomplish almost
anything. So, living alone in the Great Forest, he practised patience
until no one in all the Great World could be more patient than he. No
one knew this because, you see, everybody kept away from him. And all
the time he was practising patience, he was studying and studying the
other people of the Great Forest, both large and small, learning all
their habits, how they lived, where they lived, what they ate, and all
about them.

"'One never knows when such knowledge may be useful,' he would say to
himself. 'The more I know about other people and the less they know
about me the better.'

"So Mr. Wolverine kept out of sight as much as possible, and none knew
how he lived or where he lived or anything about him save that he had a
mean disposition. Patiently he watched the other people, especially
those of nimble wits who lived largely by their cunning and
cleverness--Mr. Fox, Mr. Coyote, Mr. Lynx and his own cousins, Mr. Mink
and Mr. Weasel. From each one he learned something, and at last he was
more cunning and more clever than any of them or even than all of them,
for that matter.

"Living alone as he did, and having a mean disposition, he grew more and
more sullen and savage until those who at first had avoided him simply
because of his mean disposition now kept out of his way through fear,
for his claws were long and his strength was great and his teeth were
sharp. It didn't take him long to discover that there were few who did
not fear him, and he cunningly contrived to increase this fear, for he
had a feeling that the time might come when it would be of use to him.

"The time did come. As you know, there came a time when food was scarce,
and everybody, or almost everybody, had hard work to get enough to keep
alive. Mr. Wolverine didn't. The fact is, Mr. Wolverine lived very well
indeed. He simply reaped the reward of his patience in learning all
about the ways of his neighbors, of his nimble wits and of the fear
which he inspired. Instead of hunting for food himself, he depended on
his neighbors to hunt for him. They didn't know they were hunting for
him, but somehow whenever one of them had secured a good meal, Mr.
Wolverine was almost sure to happen along. A growl from him was enough,
and that meal was left in his possession.

"Knowing how scarce food was and the uncertainty of when he would get
the next meal, Mr. Wolverine always made it a point on these occasions
to stuff himself until it was a wonder his skin didn't burst. If there
was more than he could eat, he would take a nap right there, and because
of fear of him the rightful owner of the food would not dare take what
was left. When he awoke Mr. Wolverine would finish what remained.

"Those who secured more food than they could eat and tried to store away
the rest found that no matter how cunningly they chose a hiding-place
for it and covered their tracks, Mr. Wolverine was sure to find it. In
fact, he made a business of robbing storehouses, and the habit of
greediness became so strong that he would stuff himself at one
storehouse and immediately start for another. When it did happen that he
couldn't eat all he found and yet didn't want to stay until he could
finish it, he would tear to bits all that remained and scatter it all
about. You know I told you he had a mean disposition.

"Even when good times returned and there was no possible excuse for
such greed, Mr. Wolverine continued to stuff himself until it seemed
that instead of eating in order to live, as the rest of us do, he lived
in order to eat. Of course it wasn't long before some one called him a
glutton, and presently he was named Glutton, and no one called him
anything else. Glutton by name and a glutton in habit he remained as
long as he lived. Both name and habits he handed down to his children
and they to their children. So it is that today there is no more cunning
thief, no greedier rascal, and no one with a meaner disposition in all
the Great Woods of the Far North than Glutton the Wolverine."

"Queer how a habit will stick, isn't it?" said Peter thoughtfully.

"Particularly a bad habit," added Honker.



VII

WHERE OLD MRS. 'GATOR MADE THE FIRST INCUBATOR


Peter Rabbit and Mrs. Quack the Mallard Duck are great friends. They
have been great friends ever since Peter tried to help Mrs. Quack when
she and Mr. Quack had spent a whole summer on a little pond hidden deep
in the Green Forest because Mr. Quack had a broken wing and so he and
Mrs. Quack simply couldn't keep on to their home in the Far North for
which they had started. During that long summer Peter had become very
well acquainted with them. In fact he visited them very often, for as
you know, Peter is simply brimming over with curiosity, and there were
wonderful things which Mr. and Mrs. Quack could tell him, for they are
great travelers.

Now once, as Mrs. Quack was telling Peter about the far-away Southland
where she and Mr. Quack and many other birds spend each winter, she
mentioned Old Ally the 'Gator. People who live where he does call him
just 'Gator, but you and I would call him Alligator.

At the mention of Old Ally, all Peter's curiosity was awakened, for Mrs.
Quack had said that foolish young ducks sometimes mistook him for an old
log floating in the water and didn't find out the difference until his
great mouth flew open and he swallowed them whole. At that Peter's eyes
threatened to pop right out of his head and every time he visited that
little pond he pestered Mrs. Quack with questions about Old Ally the
'Gator and Mrs. 'Gator. It seemed as if he couldn't think of anything
else. And when Mrs. Quack just happened to mention that little 'Gators
are hatched from eggs just as her own children are, it was almost too
much for Peter to believe.

"What?" he squealed, hopping up and down in excitement. "Do you mean to
tell me that anything as big as Old Ally, big enough to swallow you
whole, can come from an egg? I don't believe it! Besides, only birds lay
eggs."

  "Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack,
   Peter, you must take that back!"

cried Mrs. Quack.

"Why must I take it back?" demanded Peter.

"Because as usual you've let your tongue run loose, and that is a bad
habit, Peter. It certainly is a bad habit. How about the Snake family?"

"Oh!" said Peter, looking very foolish. "I forgot all about the Snakes.
They do lay eggs."

"And how about Spotty the Turtle? Didn't he come from an egg?" persisted
Mrs. Quack.

Peter looked more foolish than before, if that were possible. "Y-e-s,"
he replied slowly and reluctantly.

"Then don't be so quick to doubt a thing just because you've never seen
it," retorted Mrs. Quack. "I've seen Mrs. 'Gator build her nest more
than once, and I've seen her eggs, and I've seen the baby 'Gators; and
what is more, I'm not in the habit of telling things that I don't know
are so."

"I beg your pardon, Mrs. Quack." Peter was very humble. "I do indeed.
Please forgive me. Is--is Mrs. 'Gator's nest at all like yours?"

Peter seemed so truly sorry for having doubted her that Mrs. Quack
recovered her good nature at once. "No," said she, "it isn't. If I
hadn't seen her make it, I wouldn't have known it was a nest. You see,
one spring I got hurt so that I couldn't take my usual long journey to
the Far North and had to spend the summer way down in the Southland
where I always lived in the winter, and that is how I happened to learn
about Mrs. 'Gator's nest and eggs and a lot of other things. Mrs. 'Gator
is lazy, but she is smart. She's smart enough to make Mr. Sun do her
work. What do you think of that?"

Right away Peter was all excitement. You see, that sounded as if there
might be a story behind it. "I never have heard of such a thing!" he
cried. "How did she learn to do such a smart thing as that? Of course I
don't for a minute believe that she herself discovered a way to get Mr.
Sun to work for her. Probably it was her ever-so-great-grandmother who
first did it. Isn't that so, Mrs. Quack?"

Mrs. Quack nodded. "You've guessed it, Peter," said she. "It all
happened way, way back in the days when the world was young."

"Tell me about it! Please, please tell me about it, Mrs. Quack, and the
first chance I get, I'll do something for you," begged Peter.

Mrs. Quack carefully went over all her feathers to see that every one
was in place, for she is very particular about how she looks. When she
was quite satisfied, she turned to Peter, fidgeting on the bank.

"Way back in the days when the world was young," said she, "Old Mother
Nature made the first Alligators before she made the first birds, or the
first animals, so Old Ally and Mrs. 'Gator, who live way down south now,
belong to a very old family and are proud of it. In the beginning of
things there was very little dry land, as you may have heard, so old Mr.
and Mrs. 'Gator, who of course were not old then, were made to live in
the water with the fish. Old Mother Nature was experimenting then. She
was planning to make a great deal more land, and she wanted living
creatures on it, so she gave the 'Gators legs and feet instead of fins,
and lungs to breathe air instead of gills for breathing in the water as
fish do. Then, having many other things to attend to, she told them
they would have to take care of themselves, and went about her business.

"It didn't take Mr. and Mrs. 'Gator long to discover that their legs
were not of much use in the water, for they used their powerful tails
for swimming. Then one day Mrs. 'Gator crawled out on land and right
away discovered what those legs were for. She could go on dry land while
fishes could not. It didn't take her long to find out that nothing was
quite so fine as a sun-bath, as she lay stretched out on the bank, so
she and Mr. 'Gator spent most of their time on sunny days taking
sun-baths.

"One day Old Mother Nature came along and whispered a wonderful secret
to Mrs. 'Gator. 'I am going to give you some eggs,' whispered Old
Mother Nature, 'some eggs of your very own, and if you watch over them
and keep them warm, out of each one a baby 'Gator will some day creep.
But if you let those eggs get cold, there will be no babies. Don't
forget that you must keep them warm.'

"Old Mother Nature was as good as her word. She gave Mrs. 'Gator twenty
beautiful white eggs, and Mrs. 'Gator was perfectly happy. Those eggs
were the most precious things in all the Great World. It seemed as if
she never would grow tired of looking at them and admiring them and of
dreaming of the day when her babies should come out of them. It was very
pleasant to lie there in the sun and dream of the babies to come from
those wonderful eggs. Suddenly, right into the midst of those pleasant
dreams, broke the memory of what Old Mother Nature had said about
keeping those eggs warm. All in a twinkling happiness was turned to
worry.

"'What can I do? What can I do?' Mrs. 'Gator kept saying over and over.
'However can I keep them warm when Mr. Sun goes to bed at night? Oh,
dear! Oh, dear! My beautiful eggs never, never will turn to darling
babies! What can I do?'

"All this time Mr. 'Gator was a great deal more interested in making
himself comfortable than he was in those eggs. He had picked out a place
where all day long Mr. Sun poured down his warmest rays, and he had dug
a place to sprawl out in comfortably. The sand he had thrown in a pile
at one side. When Mrs. 'Gator went to consult Mr. 'Gator about those
precious eggs and her worries when the cool of evening had come, she
happened to put one foot in that loose pile of sand, and she found that
while the sand on the outside was already cool, that down inside the
pile was still warm. A clever idea came to her like a flash.

"First she sent Mr. 'Gator into the water to get his supper. Then she
scooped a hole in that pile of warm sand, and in it she put her precious
eggs and carefully covered them up with sand. When this was done she
stretched out close by to keep watch and see that nothing disturbed
those treasures. That was a very anxious night for Mrs. 'Gator. The sand
on which she lay grew very cool. When at last day came and Mr. Sun once
more began to shine, she opened that pile of sand and great was her joy
to find that inside it was still warm. When Mr. 'Gator came crawling out
of the water to spend the day in that comfortable bed he had dug, she
chased him away and was so cross that he went off grumbling and dug
another bed. Mrs. 'Gator waited until Mr. Sun had made the sand very
warm indeed, and then she made a great mound of it, and in the middle
of it were her precious eggs. Night and day she kept guard, and all the
time she worried lest those eggs should not be warm enough. Then one day
twenty baby 'Gators dug their way out of that mound of sand. Yes, Sir,
they did.

"All this happened long, long ago when the world was young, and ever
since then 'Gators have lived only way down south, where it is very warm
and where Mr. Sun will hatch their eggs for them. And today it is done
just as I've told you, for I've seen with my own eyes Mrs. 'Gator build
her nest, cover her eggs, and then lie around while Mr. Sun did the work
for her. What do you think of that?"

"I think that if you hadn't told me that you had seen it with your own
eyes, Mrs. Quack, I should think it a fairy story," replied Peter.



VIII

WHERE MR. QUACK GOT HIS WEBBED FEET


Twice every year, in the early spring and in the late fall, Peter Rabbit
watches the Smiling Pool with a great deal of eagerness. Can you guess
why? It is because two very good friends of Peter's are in the habit of
stopping there for a few days for rest and refreshment before continuing
the long journey which they are obliged to make. They are Mr. and Mrs.
Quack, the Mallard Ducks. Peter is very fond of them, and when the time
for their arrival draws near, Peter watches for them with a great deal
of anxiety. You see they have told him something of the terrible
dangers which they always encounter on these long journeys, and so Peter
is always afraid that something terrible may have happened to them, and
it is a great relief when he finds them swimming about in the Smiling
Pool.

One reason Peter is so fond of Mr. and Mrs. Quack is because they always
have a story for him. Sometimes it is a story of adventure, a tale of
terrible danger and narrow escapes. Sometimes it is about their home in
the far Northland, and again it is about the wonderful Southland where
they spend the winter. But the story that Peter likes best is the one
about where and how the Quack family got their funny, webbed feet. Mr.
Quack doesn't think those feet funny at all, but Peter does. He never
grows tired of watching Mr. and Mrs. Quack use them, because, you know,
they are used so differently from other feet. And always he goes back to
the dear Old Briar-patch with renewed admiration for the wisdom of Old
Mother Nature.

Peter noticed those feet the first time he met Mr. and Mrs. Quack. He
couldn't help but notice them. It happened that Mr. and Mrs. Quack were
out on the bank of the Smiling Pool as Peter came hurrying over in his
usual way, lipperty-lipperty-lip. They heard him coming and not knowing
at first who it was they at once started for the water. Peter never will
forget the funny way in which they waddled. He never had seen anybody
quite so awkward. But when they reached the water he forgot to laugh. He
simply stared open-mouthed in astonishment. You see there they were as
graceful as they had been awkward on land. Afterward, when Peter had
become acquainted with them and they were the best of friends, he
ventured to speak of their queer feet.

"Do you know," said he, "you have the most interesting feet of anybody I
know of. They are so broad that the first time I saw them I couldn't
believe my own eyes. I didn't suppose anybody had such broad feet. I
suppose there is some special reason why they are so broad and why your
legs are so short. Do you know how Mother Nature happened to give you
feet so different from the feet of other birds, Mr. Quack?"

Mr. Quack chuckled. "I tell you what it is, Peter," said he, "if you'll
tell me why it is you have such long hind legs and such a funny short
tail, I'll tell you why it is that Mrs. Quack and I have such broad
feet, though I must confess that I don't see anything odd about them."

Peter agreed at once. He told Mr. and Mrs. Quack all about what happened
to his grandfather a thousand times removed, the very first Rabbit, way
back when the world was young, and how ever since then all Rabbits have
had long hind legs and short tails. When he had finished Mr. Quack
thoughtfully scratched his handsome green head, looked at his reflection
in the Smiling Pool to make sure that he was looking his very best,
looked behind to see that the feathers in the tip of his tail had the
proper curl, and then gazed off over the Green Meadows with a far-away
look in his eyes as if he were looking way back to the time he was to
tell about. At last, just as Peter Rabbit was beginning to lose patience
Mr. Quack began.

"It must be, Peter," said he, "that my
great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather lived just about the same time as
your great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather, way back in the days when
the world was young. Perhaps they knew each other. Perhaps they were
acquainted just as you and I are now. Anyway, according to what has been
handed down in the family, Grandfather Quack was very much such a
looking fellow as I am now, except in the matter of his bill and feet.
His bill was not broad like mine but more like the bills of other birds,
and his feet were like the feet of Mr. Grouse and Bob White. They were
made for scratching, and there was nothing between the toes. You see,
Old Mother Nature was experimenting. She made everybody a little
different from everybody else and then started them forth in the Great
World to shift for themselves and to find out what they really needed
that they hadn't got.

"Old Mr. Quack, my great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather, soon
discovered one thing, and that was that his legs were too short for him
to get around very fast. When he walked, everybody laughed at him. When
he tried to run, they laughed harder than ever. He didn't mind this so
very much, though he did a little. Nobody likes to be laughed at,
especially when it is because of something they cannot help. But what he
did mind was the fact that his neighbors could run about so much faster
than he that they got all the best of the food, and quite often he went
hungry.

"One day he happened to be sitting on the bank of the Smiling Pool,
thinking the matter over and wondering what he had best do, when Mr.
Fox stole up behind him and startled him so that he lost his balance and
tumbled down the bank into the water. This frightened him more than
ever, and he flapped about and squawked and squawked and flapped until
Mr. Fox nearly split his sides laughing at him. And when he was quite
out of breath, Mr. Quack discovered that he was making all this fuss for
nothing. He didn't sink, but floated on the water, and what was more the
water didn't get under his feathers at all. When he tried to walk, of
course he couldn't, and he had a funny feeling because his feet didn't
touch anything and felt so very useless. But he kept moving them back
and forth, and pretty soon he discovered that he moved ahead. Of course
he moved very slowly, because his feet were not made for use in the
water, but he moved, and that was enough. He knew then that he could get
back to land. Then he tried his wings and he found that he could rise
into the air from the water quite as easily as from the land. Right then
and there all fear of the water left him. In fact, he liked it.

"Little by little, Grandfather Quack began to understand that he had
made a great discovery. He had discovered the safest place in all the
Great World for him. Out on the water he was safe from Mr. Fox and Mr.
Wolf and all the other four-footed hunters. So he took to spending most
of his time on the water or near it. When he wanted a nap, he would hide
among the rushes that grew in the water. 'If only I didn't have to leave
the water for food!' sighed Grandfather Quack. 'If only I could find
food here, I would never leave the water.'

"At the time he was squatting at the very edge of the Smiling Pool.
Presently he noticed a funny water bug crawling on the bottom where the
water was only an inch or two deep. 'I wonder if that fellow is good to
eat,' thought he, and almost without thinking he plunged his head under
water and caught the bug. It was good. Grandfather Quack at once started
to look for more, and while doing this he discovered that there were a
great many seeds from the rushes scattered about in the mud at the
bottom of the Smiling Pool, and that these also were good to eat. Then
quite by accident he got hold of a tender root in the mud and found that
this was especially good.

"This was enough for Grandfather Quack. He had found that he could get
plenty to eat without leaving the Smiling Pool. Moreover, he didn't have
to share it with anybody, because there was no one else who thought of
looking for food there. He knew when he was well off. So Grandfather
Quack grew fat and was happy. The only things that bothered him were the
slowness with which he had to pick up seeds, one at a time, and the
slowness with which he could paddle about, for you couldn't really call
it swimming. But in spite of these things he was happy and made the best
of his lot.

"One day he tugged and tugged at a root with his head under water. When
at last he had to bring his head up for a breath, whom should he
discover but Old Mother Nature watching him from the opposite bank.
'Come over here, Mr. Quack, and tell me all about it,' she commanded.

"Grandfather Quack started across the Smiling Pool, but because his feet
were not made for swimming, it took him a long time to get there. Old
Mother Nature smiled as she watched him. 'You look better on the water
than you do on land,' said she. 'In fact, I believe that is just where
you belong. Now tell me how you happened to take to the water.'

"Grandfather Quack told her the whole story and how Old Mother Nature
did laugh when he described how frightened he was when he fell in that
time. Suddenly she reached out and caught him by the bill. 'I don't
think much of that bill for poking about in the mud,' said she. 'How
will this do?' She let go, and Grandfather Quack found he had a broad
bill just suited for getting food out of the mud. Then Old Mother Nature
bade him hold forth first one foot and then the other. Between the toes
she stretched a tough skin clear to the toe nails. 'Now let me see you
swim,' said she.

"Grandfather Quack tried. He kicked one foot and then the other, and to
his great joy he shot along swiftly. When he drew his feet back for
another kick his toes closed together, and so his feet came through the
water easily. But when he kicked back they were wide spread, and the
skin between them pushed against the water, and drove him ahead. It was
wonderful! It was splendid! He hurried over to Old Mother Nature, and
with tears of joy in his eyes he thanked her. And from that day to this
members of my family have had the same broad bills and webbed feet, and
have lived on the water," concluded Mr. Quack.

[Illustration: Peter noticed those feet the first time he met Mr. and
Mrs. Quack. _Page 111._]



IX

WHERE THUNDERFOOT THE BISON GOT HIS HUMP


Thunderfoot the Bison, often called Buffalo, is not a handsome fellow,
as you very well know if you have seen him or a picture of him. His head
is carried low, very near the ground, and on his shoulders is a great
hump. No, you wouldn't call him handsome. You would hardly call him
good-looking even. In fact, you would, I suspect, call him homely.
Certainly there is nothing about him to suggest pride. Yet according to
the story Digger the Badger once told Peter Rabbit, pride and nothing
less was the cause of that big hump which makes Thunderfoot appear so
clumsy and homely.

Peter Rabbit, as you know, is very fond of stories. In this respect he
is very like some other folks I know. Anyway, he never misses a chance
for a story if he can help it. He had discovered that Digger the Badger
and Old Man Coyote, both of whom had come to the Green Meadows from the
Far West, were full of stories about their neighbors of the distant
prairies, folk whom Peter never had seen. Sometimes when he had nothing
else to do, Old Man Coyote would come over to the dear Old Briar-patch
and tell stories to Peter, who sat safe behind the brambles. Perhaps Old
Man Coyote hoped that Peter would become so interested that he would
forget and come out of the dear Old Briar-patch. But Peter never did.

But most of the stories of the people of the Far West Peter got from
Digger the Badger because, you see, he wasn't afraid to go beg for them.
He knew that Digger couldn't catch him if he wanted to, and so when
Grandfather Frog hadn't a story for him, Peter would go tease Digger for
one. It was thus that he heard about Thunderfoot the Bison and where he
got that great hump of his.

"I don't suppose," said Peter, "that there are any very big people out
there on those prairies where you used to live any more than there are
here on the Green Meadows. All the very big people seem to prefer to
live in the Green Forest."

"It is that way now, I must admit," said Digger the Badger, "but it
wasn't so in the old days, in the good old days when there were no
terrible guns, and Thunderfoot and his followers shook the ground with
their feet." Digger shook his head sadly.

Instantly Peter pricked up his ears. "Who was Thunderfoot?" he demanded.

Digger looked at Peter with such a look of pity for Peter's ignorance
that Peter felt almost ashamed. "He doesn't live here and never did, so
far as I have heard, so how should I know anything about him?" he added
a wee bit defiantly.

"If that's the case," replied Digger, "it is time you learned about the
Lord of the Prairies."

"But I want to know about Thunderfoot first!" cried Peter. "You can tell
me about the Lord of the Prairies another time."

"Were you born stupid or have you grown so?" asked Digger impatiently.
Then without waiting for an answer he added: "Thunderfoot was the Lord
of the Prairies. He ruled over the Wide Prairies just as Old King Bear
ruled in the Green Forest. He ruled by might. He ruled because no one
dared deny him the right to rule. He ruled because of his great size and
his great strength. And all who lived on the Wide Prairies looked up to
him and admired him and bowed before him and paid him the utmost
respect. When he and his followers ran the earth shook, and the noise
was like thunder, and everybody hastened to get out of the way and to
warn his neighbors, crying: 'Here comes my Lord of the Prairies! Make
way! Make way!' And truly Thunderfoot and his followers were a
magnificent sight, so my great-grandfather told me, and he had it from
his great-grandfather, who was told so by his great-grandfather, who saw
it all with his own eyes. But that was in the days before Thunderfoot's
head was brought low, and he was given the great hump which none of his
descendants have ever been able to get rid of."

"Tell me about that hump and where my Lord of the Prairies, Thunderfoot
the Bison, got it!" begged Peter, with shining eyes. That there was a
story he hadn't the least doubt.

Digger the Badger flattened himself out on the ground, and into his eyes
crept a dreamy, far-away look as if he were seeing things a great, great
way off. "Way back In the days when the world was young, so my
great-grandfather said," he began, "Thunderfoot, the first Bison, was
given the Wide Prairies for a kingdom by Old Mother Nature and strode
forth to take possession. Big was he, the biggest of all living
creatures thereabouts. Strong was he with a strength none cared to test.
And he was handsome. He held his head proudly. All who lived on the Wide
Prairies admired him with a great admiration and hastened to pay homage
to him.

"For a long time he ruled wisely. All the other people brought their
disputes to him to be settled, and so wisely did he decide them that the
fame of his wisdom spread even beyond the Wide Prairies and was talked
about in the Green Forest. The humblest of his subjects could come to
him freely and be sure of a hearing and that justice would be done. Big
as he was and mighty as he was, he took the greatest care never to
forget the rights of others.

"But there came a time when flattery turned his head, as the saying is.
Mr. Coyote and Mr. Fox were the chief flatterers, and in all the Great
World there were no smoother tongues than theirs. They never lost an
opportunity to tell him how handsome he was, and how mighty he was, and
how they admired him and looked up to him, and how unequaled was his
wisdom. You see, being themselves dishonest and mischief-makers, they
frequently were in trouble with their neighbors and would have to appear
before Thunderfoot for judgment. Even when it went against them they
praised the wisdom of it, admitting that they were in the wrong and
begging forgiveness, all of which was very flattering to Thunderfoot.

"Little by little, without knowing it, he yielded to the flattery of
Mr. Coyote and Mr. Fox. He liked to hear the pleasant things they said.
Little by little it became easier to find them in the right than in the
wrong when they were accused of wronging their neighbors. Of course they
flattered him still more. They hinted to him that it was beneath the
dignity of one so big and strong and handsome to take notice of the very
small and humble people like Mr. Meadow Mouse and Mr. Toad and Mr.
Meadow Lark and others of his subjects.

"Gradually the little people of the Wide Prairies began to notice a
change in Thunderfoot. He became proud and vain. He openly boasted of
his strength and fine appearance. When he met them he passed them
haughtily, not seeing them at all, or at least appearing not to. No
longer did he regard the rights of others. No longer did he watch out
not to crush the nest of Mrs. Meadow Lark or to step on the babies of
Danny Meadow Mouse. It came about that when the thunder of his feet was
heard, those with homes on the ground shivered with fright and hoped
that my Lord of the Prairies would not come their way.

"One day, as he raced over the Wide Prairies for no reason but that he
felt like running, Mr. Meadow Lark flew to meet him. Mr. Meadow Lark was
in great distress. 'Turn aside, my Lord!' he begged. 'Turn aside, my
Lord of the Prairies, for before you lies my nest with four precious
eggs, and I fear you will step on them!'

"Thunderfoot the Bison, Lord of the Wide Prairies, tossed his head. 'If
you will build your nest where it can be trodden on, you can't expect me
to look out for it,' said he. 'If anything so unfortunate happens to it,
it is your own fault, and you mustn't blame me.' And he neither looked
down to see where he was putting his feet nor turned aside so much as an
inch. On he galloped, and presently with a cry of fright out from
beneath his feet flew Mrs. Meadow Lark, and at the very next step he
trod on the little nest in the grass and crushed the four eggs.

"Mr. Coyote, who was racing beside him on one side and saw what had
happened, grinned. Mr. Fox, who was racing beside him on the other side
and saw what had happened, grinned. Seeing them grin, Thunderfoot
himself grinned. Thus grinning heartlessly, they continued to run until
they came to a place where Mother Nature walked among the flowers of
the Wide Prairies. Mr. Coyote and Mr. Fox, whose heads were not held so
high, saw her in time to put their tails between their legs and slink
away. Thunderfoot, holding his head high, failed to see her until he was
so close to her that it was with difficulty he stopped before running
her down.

"'My Lord of the Prairies seems in fine spirits,' said Mother Nature
softly. 'Is all well with my Lord?'

"Thunderfoot tossed his head proudly. 'All is well,' said he.

"'I am sorry that others cannot say as much,' replied Mother Nature, and
all the softness was gone from her voice, and it was sharp. 'I seem to
hear the sobs of a broken-hearted little Meadow Lark,' she continued.
'Little though she be and humble, she is as much to me as is my Lord of
the Prairies who has made her suffer.'

"Stooping swiftly, Mother Nature picked up her staff and with it struck
Thunderfoot on the neck, so that his head was brought low, and in fear
of another blow he humped his shoulders up. 'Thus shall you be, still
big, still strong, but hump-shouldered and carrying your head low in
shame, no longer Lord of the Prairies, until such time as you restore to
Mrs. Meadow Lark the eggs you destroyed,' said she, and turned her back
on him.

"It was so. From that day on, Thunderfoot ceased to rule over the Wide
Prairies. He was hump-shouldered and he carried his head low, looking
and looking for the eggs he never could find to restore to Mrs. Meadow
Lark. And though his children and his children's children became many,
there never was one without the hump or who ceased to carry his head low
in shame," concluded Digger the Badger.



X

WHERE LIMBERHEELS GOT HIS LONG TAIL.


Have you ever seen Limberheels the Jumping Mouse when he was in a hurry?
If you have, very likely the first time you felt very much as Peter
Rabbit did when he saw Limberheels for the first time. He was hopping
along across the Green Meadows with nothing much on his mind when from
right under his wobbly nose something shot into the air over the tops of
the grasses for eight or ten feet and then down and out of sight. Peter
rubbed his eyes.

"Did I see it, or didn't I? And if I did, what was it?" gasped Peter.

A squeaky little laugh answered him. "You saw it all right, Peter, but
it isn't polite to call any one it. He would be quite provoked if he had
heard you. That was my cousin, Limberheels," replied a voice quite as
squeaky as the laugh had been.

Peter turned to see the bright eyes of Danny Meadow Mouse twinkling at
him from the entrance to a tiny little path that joined the bigger path
in which Peter was sitting.

"Hello, Danny!" he exclaimed. "Do you mean to tell me that was a
relative of yours? Since when have any of your relatives taken to
flying?"

Danny chuckled. "He wasn't flying," he retorted. "He just jumped, that
was all." Danny chuckled again, for he knows that Peter considers
himself quite a jumper and is inclined to be a bit jealous of any one
else who pretends to jump save his cousin, Jumper the Hare.

"Jumped!" snorted Peter. "Jumped! Do you expect me to believe that any
Mouse can jump like that? I didn't get a good look at that fellow, but
whoever he is I tell you he flew. Nobody can jump like that."

Danny chuckled again. "Wait a minute, Peter," said he. He disappeared,
and Peter waited. He waited one minute, two minutes, three minutes, and
then suddenly Danny poked his head out from the grass beside the path.
"Here he is, Peter," said he, coming wholly out into the path. "Let me
introduce my cousin, Limberheels."

As he spoke the grass beside him rustled, and out crept some one beside
whom Danny Meadow Mouse looked big, clumsy and homely. One glance was
enough to tell Peter that the stranger was a sure-enough member of the
Mouse family, but such a member as he never had seen before. He was trim
and slender. He wore a reddish-brown coat with a white waistcoat. But
the things that made Peter stare very impolitely were his tail and his
legs. His tail was nearly twice as long as his body, slim and tapering,
and his hind legs were very long, while his fore legs were short. It
took only one glance to convince Peter that here was a born jumper. Any
one built like that _must_ jump.

"You two must become acquainted and be friends," continued Danny Meadow
Mouse. "Peter is one of my best friends, Limberheels. He wouldn't hurt a
flea. I'm sure that from now on he will be one of your best friends."

"I'll be happy to," said Peter promptly. "Danny has been telling me what
a wonderful jumper you are. Would you mind showing me how you jump? I
guess you jumped right in front of me a few minutes ago, but I was so
surprised that I didn't really see you."

"I guess I did," replied Limberheels rather timidly. "You see, I didn't
hear you coming until you were almost on top of me, and then I didn't
know who it was so I got away as quickly as I could. I'll be ever so
glad to have you for a friend and next time I won't run away."

"Show him how you can jump," interrupted Danny Meadow Mouse. "He
wouldn't believe me when I told him that you didn't fly."

Limberheels grinned rather sheepishly. "Of course I didn't fly," said
he. "No animal can fly but Flitter the Bat. I just jumped like this."

With a tremendous spring from his long hind legs Limberheels leaped,
while Peter Rabbit stared, his mouth wide open with astonishment. He
hadn't dreamed that any one could jump so far in proportion to his size
as this slim, trim little cousin of Danny's. Later, after Limberheels
had jumped for Peter's benefit until he was tired and had gone to hunt
for a lunch of grass seeds, Peter wanted to know all about Limberheels.

"Never in my life have I seen such jumping," he declared. "And never
have I seen such a tail. I thought Whitefoot the Wood Mouse had a fine
tail, but it doesn't compare with that of Limberheels."

"It is a fine tail," replied Danny, whose own tail, as you know, is
very short.

"It is a fine tail," he repeated rather wistfully. "Would you like to
hear where he got it?"

"I know," retorted Peter with a grin. "He got it from his father, who
got it from his father, and so on way back to the days when the world
was young." Then, seeing a look of disappointment on Danny's face, and
eager for a story as usual, he added: "But I would like to know how such
a tail as that came in the family."

Danny brightened up at once. "It's funny how things come about in this
world," he began. "The great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather of
Limberheels, the first one, you know, was quite an ordinary Mouse when
Old Mother Nature made him and started him out to make his way in the
Great World. He was little, one of the smallest of the family, and his
tail was short, no longer than mine. His hind legs were like those of
all his relatives. He ran about just as his relatives did. He was so
small and kept out of sight so much that he didn't even have a name.
There was nothing about him to suggest a name.

"For a long time he was contented and happy. Then one day he happened to
see Mr. Hare jump. It seemed to him the most wonderful thing in the
world that any one should be able to jump like that. So he began to
spend most of his spare time where he could watch Mr. Hare. One day Old
Mother Nature happened along unseen by him, as he was watching Mr. Hare
jump, and she overheard him say very, very wistfully, 'How I wish I
could jump like that! I wish I had long hind legs like Mr. Hare.'

"Old Mother Nature's kindly eyes twinkled. 'That's easily arranged,'
said she. 'If you think long hind legs will be of more use to you than
the ones you have, you shall have them.'

"The next morning when little Mr. Mouse awoke, he discovered that in the
night something had happened to his hind legs. They were very long and
strong, regular jumping legs like those of Mr. Hare. Of course he was in
such a great hurry to try them that he couldn't wait for his breakfast.
He began by making little short hops, and in no time at all he was
getting about splendidly. At last he got up his courage to try a long
jump. Up in the air he shot, and then something happened. Yes, Sir,
something happened. He couldn't kept his balance. He turned two or
three somersaults and landed on his back.

"'I guess,' said he to himself, 'I've got to _learn_ to make long
jumps.' So he kept trying and trying, but always with the same
result--he never knew when, where, or how he was going to land. As long
as he made short jumps he had no trouble, but every time he tried a long
jump he lost his balance, and try as he would he couldn't discover why.
So at last he gave up trying and contented himself with short jumps.
Finally Old Mother Nature came that way again.

"'How do you like your long hind legs?' she asked.

"'Very much, thank you,' replied little Mr. Mouse politely.

"'Let me see you jump,' said Old Mother Nature.

"Little Mr. Mouse made half a dozen little jumps. They were not much
more than hops. 'You don't call that jumping, do you?' laughed Old
Mother Nature. 'With such long, strong legs as I've given you, you ought
to be one of the best jumpers anywhere about. Now let me see you make a
long jump.'

"Little Mr. Mouse tried his best to think of some excuse, but he
couldn't. So he made a long jump, and the usual thing happened--he
turned two or three somersaults and landed on his back. Old Mother
Nature looked astonished. Then she laughed until she had to hold her
sides. 'Do it again,' she commanded.

"With the most shamefaced air that you can imagine, little Mr. Mouse
jumped again. Old Mother Nature watched him closely. 'Come here to me,'
said she as he scrambled to his feet after his tumble. 'It's all my
fault,' said she kindly, as he obeyed her. 'It was very stupid of me.
What you need is a long tail to balance you on a long jump. That short
tail is all right for short jumps, but it won't do for long jumps. It
won't do at all. I should have thought of that when I made your legs
long.'

"She reached down and took hold of the tip of that little short tail and
drew it out until it was long, almost twice as long as the body of
little Mr. Mouse. 'Now jump,' she commanded, 'and jump with all your
might.'

"A little fearfully but with the beginning of a little hope Mr. Mouse
jumped with all his might. Away he sailed straight and true and landed
lightly on his feet so far from where he had left the ground that he
could hardly believe his own eyes as he looked back. Mother Nature was
smiling.

"'There you are, Mr. Limberheels. I guess that that will make you quite
the most wonderful jumper of all my children,' said she.

"And so it was that little Mr. Mouse, all at one time, became possessed
of a long tail, a name, and the ability to out jump all his neighbors,"
concluded Danny Meadow Mouse. "Do you know," he added wistfully,
"sometimes I envy my cousin Limberheels."

"I envy him myself," declared Peter.



XI

WHERE OLD MR. GOBBLER GOT THE STRUTTING HABIT


Peter Rabbit never will forget the first time he saw Big Tom Gobbler. It
was very early one spring morning, when Peter was not yet old enough to
have made the acquaintance of all the people who live in the Green
Forest, and when it seemed as if the chief thing in life with him was to
satisfy his curiosity about the ways of the Great World. Several times
when he had been hopping along, lipperty-lipperty-lip, through the Green
Forest just after sun-up, he had heard a strange sound quite unlike any
other of all the many sounds his long ears had learned to know. He knew
that it was the voice of some one who lived in the Green Forest, but
though he had looked and looked he had been unable to discover the owner
of that voice.

On this particular morning Peter happened to be sitting under some ferns
on the edge of a little open space among the trees when again he heard
that strange voice. It seemed to come from somewhere back in the woods
in the very direction from which he had just come. "Gobble-obble-obble!"
said the voice, and again a moment later "Gobble-obble-obble!"

Peter was just preparing to go back to see if he could find the owner of
that voice when the noise of great wings caused him to look up just in
time to see a bigger bird than he ever had even dreamed of coming
swiftly over the tree-tops. With his eyes popping out and his mouth wide
open with astonishment, Peter saw the great bird set its wings and sail
down into the little opening on the edge of which Peter was sitting. The
instant this great bird was on the ground, he stood as still as if he
were made of stone, his long neck stretched up. Only the shine of a pair
of the sharpest eyes Peter ever had seen showed that he was alive.

Peter held his breath, and it was so still that you could have heard a
leaf drop had you been there. When at last the stranger moved, it was
his head only. He turned it suddenly to the right and a moment later to
the left. It was plain that he was listening for suspicious sounds. All
the time his bright eyes searched the edge of the opening until Peter,
although he was well hidden, felt that he must be seen. At last,
satisfied that all was safe, the stranger drew in his neck and began to
walk about, pecking at the ground here and there and swallowing what he
picked up, though what it was Peter couldn't tell.

A sound seemed to catch the stranger's quick ears, for he stopped and
stared very hard at a little clump of brush. Peter stared at it too. At
first he saw nothing, but presently he saw a head poked out, and this
also was a stranger. Peter glanced at the big stranger in the opening,
and for a minute he wondered if it could be that something was wrong
with his eyes. Never had he seen such a change in anybody. This stranger
didn't look like the same bird at all. He was swelled up until Peter was
afraid he would burst. His tail was spread out like a great fan. His
head was laid back on his humped shoulders. His wings were dropped until
the stiffly spread feathers brushed the ground. His head and neck were
as red as blood, and there were no feathers on either. All the feathers
of his body were ruffed out so that the sun shone on them and made them
shimmer and shine in colors that seemed to constantly change.

Back and forth in front of the brush from which the other stranger was
peeping very shyly this great bird strutted. He would stand still so
that the sun would fall full on his shining coat and show it off to the
best advantage, and at the same time he would draw in a great deal of
air and then puff it out all at once. Then he would walk a few steps,
turn, drag his wings on the ground to make them rustle, wheel, and run
a few steps. Never had Peter seen such vanity, such conceit, such
imposing, puffed-up pride. He watched until he grew tired, and then he
stole away and hurried over to the Smiling Pool to tell Grandfather Frog
all about it and ask who these strangers were.

"Chug-a-rum!" exclaimed Grandfather Frog, opening his big mouth very
wide to laugh at Peter and his excitement. "That was Big Tom Gobbler,
and he was doing all that for the benefit of Mrs. Gobbler, who was
hiding in that brush. It was her head you saw. Big Tom is the most
conceited fellow in the Green Forest. He dearly loves to strut. He is
just like his father and his grandfather and his great-grandfather. The
Gobblers never have gotten over strutting since Old Mr. Gobbler, the
first of the family, got the habit."

"Tell me about it. Please, Grandfather Frog, tell me about it," begged
Peter. "How did Old Mr. Gobbler get the habit?"

Grandfather Frog chuckled. "He got it from admiring his own reflection
in a pool of water," said he. "You see, in those days way back when the
world was young, people had more time to form habits than they do now.
With plenty to eat and little to do, they had more time to think about
themselves than they do now. Old Mr. Gobbler soon discovered that he was
the biggest of all the birds in that part of the Great World where he
lived, and this discovery was, I suspect, the beginning of his vanity.
Then one day as he was walking along, he came to a little pool of water.
It was very clear, and there wasn't a ripple on the surface. There for
the first time Mr. Gobbler saw his reflection. The more he looked, the
better he liked his own appearance. He spread his tail just to see how
it would look in the water. Then he puffed himself out and strutted.

"'There is nobody to compare with me,' thought he, and strutted more
than ever.

"After that he used to steal away every day to admire himself in that
little pool of water. He tried new ways of strutting and of puffing
himself out. After a while he was no longer content to admire himself.
He wanted others to admire him. So the first chance he got he began to
strut and show off all his grand airs before Mrs. Gobbler. At first she
paid no attention to him. At least that is the way she appeared. She
would turn her back on him and walk off into the bushes. This made Old
Mr. Gobbler very angry until he discovered that she would tiptoe back
and watch him admiringly when she thought he didn't know it. That made
him strut all the more.

"At first all the neighbors used to gather around and admire him and
tell him how handsome he was until his head was quite turned, as the
saying is, and he spent most of his time strutting and showing off. Then
he took to bragging and boasting that there was no bird to compare with
him. Thus he became quite unbearable, and all his neighbors would turn
their backs on him when they saw him coming. Only Mrs. Gobbler continued
to watch in secret and to admire him.

"Now in those days Mr. Gobbler didn't have a red head and neck. One day
Old Mother Nature happened along when Mr. Gobbler was strutting and
boasting how big and brave he was. He didn't see her, and she watched
him quietly for a few minutes. Then she slipped away and hunted up Mr.
Wolf.

"'I want you to steal over where Mr. Gobbler is strutting,' said she,
'and suddenly spring out at him as if you intended to catch him.'

"Mr. Wolf grinned and trotted off to do her bidding. He found Mr.
Gobbler swelled up until he looked as if he must burst, and bragging to
Mrs. Gobbler.

"'I'm the biggest of all the birds,' bragged Mr. Gobbler. 'I'm afraid of
no one. While you have me with you, my dear, you have nothing in all the
Great World to fear.'

"Just then out sprang Mr. Wolf with all his long, sharp teeth showing.
Mr. Gobbler gave a yelp of fright. He lost his swelled-up appearance as
suddenly as a bubble flattens out when it is pricked. With a frantic
beating of his wings he took to the air. Being in such a fright, he
didn't see where he was going, and struck his head against a sharp twig,
which tore the skin, for there were no feathers to protect it, and made
it bleed. The blood ran all over his head and down his neck, though he
really was hardly hurt at all. From the top of a tall tree he looked
down. There stood Old Mother Nature, looking up at him.

"'Mr. Gobbler,' said she, 'you have acquired a bad habit, a very bad
habit. Hereafter, whenever you become vain and strut, your head and neck
shall become as red as they now are, as a reminder to you and all who
see you of how silly it is to be vain and boastful.'

"And so it was. And so it is with Big Tom Gobbler to this day. There is
nothing in the world more foolish than vanity," concluded Grandfather
Frog.

[Illustration: "Don't call me Striped Chipmunk, and don't call me
Gopher!" said he. _Page 172._]



XII

WHERE SEEK-SEEK GOT HIS PRETTY COAT


Peter Rabbit never will forget the first time he saw Seek-Seek the
Ground Squirrel, often wrongly called Gopher or Gopher Squirrel, but
whose real name is Spermophile, which means seed eater. Peter won't
forget that meeting, because of the funny mistake he made and the
foolish feeling he had as a result of it. You see, Peter didn't know
that there was such a person as Seek-Seek. He was hopping along across
the Green Meadows in his usual happy-go-lucky way when, right in front
of him, he saw what at first he took to be a stake, a small stake,
driven in the ground. But as he drew nearer, it suddenly moved. It
wasn't a stake at all, but a very lively small person in a striped coat
who had been sitting up very straight and motionless.

"Hello, Striped Chipmunk! What are you doing way out here so far from
the old stone wall?" exclaimed Peter.

The small person in the striped coat whirled and faced Peter with
snapping eyes. "Don't call me Striped Chipmunk, and don't call me
Gopher!" said he very fiercely for so small a person. "I am neither one.
I am Seek-Seek the Ground Squirrel, and I'll thank you to call me by my
own name. I am getting everlastingly tired of being called the names of
other people."

Peter looked very foolish. "I beg your pardon," said he. "I do indeed.
I'm sorry. Perhaps you don't know it, but you look very much like
Striped Chipmunk, who is one of my best friends. You look so much like
him that I thought you must be him. I wonder if you are related to him."

"Certainly I'm related to him, or he is related to me, whichever way you
please to put it," snapped Seek-Seek. "We are cousins. But he is a Rock
Squirrel, and I am a Ground Squirrel which is altogether different. You
don't find me where there are rocks and stones in the way if I know it.
Besides, if you used your eyes, you would see that we are not dressed
alike either. Just because we both happen to wear stripes is no reason
why we should be mistaken for each other."

Peter looked at Seek-Seek more closely than he had, and at once he made
a discovery. "Why!" he exclaimed, "your coat has more stripes than
Striped Chipmunk's has, hasn't it?"

"I should hope so," retorted Seek-Seek.

"And it has little rows of spots, too!" cried Peter. "If I had noticed
those spots at first, I wouldn't have made such a foolish mistake. I do
believe that your coat is prettier than Striped Chipmunk's, and I had
thought his as pretty as a coat can be."

Seek-Seek looked rather pleased, though he tried not to. "Huh!" he
sniffed. "Of course it's prettier. It took you a long time to find it
out. I wouldn't trade coats with Striped Chipmunk or anybody else of my
acquaintance."

"Neither would I if I were in your place," declared Peter. "I wish Old
Mother Nature had given me a coat like that." He said this so wistfully
that Seek-Seek, who had started to laugh, turned his head so that Peter
might not know it. "I'm afraid it wouldn't look so well on one as big as
you," he replied. "Anyway, you wouldn't be able to hide from your
enemies as you can now."

"That's so," said Peter thoughtfully. "I would be easily seen in a coat
like that, for a fact. I hadn't thought of that. I guess Old Mother
Nature knows best. I--I wonder how she ever happened to think of a coat
like yours."

Seek-Seek chuckled. He had quite forgotten that he had felt offended
because Peter had mistaken him for his cousin, Striped Chipmunk. He
enjoyed Peter's admiration of his coat. He is naturally rather
talkative, and like most folks he enjoyed talking about himself.

"This coat," said he, "has been in the family a very great while. Of
course, I don't mean this particular coat that I am wearing," he
hastened to add, as he saw Peter beginning to grin. "I mean this style
of coat has been in the family a very long time. My father was dressed
just as I am. So was his father and--"

"I know," interrupted Peter. "You were going to say that so were all
your grandfathers way back to the days when the world was young, and Old
Mother Nature made the very first one of your family. It's funny to me
that all the interesting things happened such a long time ago. Now
wasn't that what you were going to say?"

Seek-Seek admitted that it was, and looked a little disappointed that
Peter had guessed it. But a second later he felt better when Peter
asked him very politely but very earnestly for the story of how the
first Ground Squirrel got such a pretty coat. "There is a story. I know
there is a story," declared Peter. "Won't you tell it to me please,
Seek-Seek?"

Now Peter didn't want to hear it any more than Seek-Seek wanted to tell
it, so while Peter squatted down comfortably, Seek-Seek sat up very
straight and began the story.

"First of all, you must know that Seek-Seek is an old family name which
has been handed down just as the pattern of my coat has been. The very
first of all my great-great-grandfathers was called Seek-Seek. When Old
Mother Nature made Seek-Seek she must have had two families in mind at
one time, the Marmot family and the Squirrel family, for she made him a
little like each, so that in his looks he sort of fitted in between the
two. Mother Nature told him that he was a member of the Squirrel family
and set him free to find a place for himself in the Great World.

"Now it didn't take Grandfather Seek-Seek long to find out that though
he might be a member of the Squirrel family, Old Mother Nature had
failed to furnish him with the right kind of claws for climbing trees,
as most of his cousins did. True, he could climb a little, but it was
not easy, and he felt anything but comfortable off the ground. But if
those claws were of little use for climbing they were splendid tools for
digging, just as are the claws of the Marmot family. So Old Mother
Nature must have been thinking of the Marmots when she fashioned those
claws.

"At first Seek-Seek wandered about trying to find a place for himself
in the Great World. Being a Squirrel, he tried to live as did his
cousins, Mr. Red Squirrel and Mr. Gray Squirrel, but on account of those
claws he didn't make much of a success of it. Then one day he met Mr.
Chipmunk. They stopped and stared at each other in surprise because, you
know, their coats were so much alike. At that time Seek-Seek was wearing
plain stripes, just as Striped Chipmunk does to this day.

"'What do you mean by stealing my coat?' demanded Mr. Chipmunk angrily.

"'I was just about to ask you the same question,' retorted Seek-Seek.

"Mr. Chipmunk had a sharp reply right on the tip of his tongue, but he
checked it just in time. 'What's the use of quarreling over something
neither of us had anything to do with?' said he. 'It must be that we are
cousins. Where do you live?'

"Seek-Seek explained that he didn't live anywhere in particular but was
trying to find his place in the Great World. He told how he had tried to
live like the other Squirrels and failed. 'I know! I know all about it,'
interrupted Mr. Chipmunk. 'I've been all through it. The place for us is
on the ground or at least close to it. Come see how I live.'

"So Seek-Seek went with Mr. Chipmunk and saw how he lived among the
rocks and stones. For a time he tried living there too, but he didn't
like the rocks and stones much better than he did the trees. Besides,
all the neighbors were forever mistaking him for Mr. Chipmunk because
they looked so much alike, and he didn't like this. One day he wandered
out on the Green Meadows. It was very lovely out there among the grasses
and flowers. He wandered farther and farther, and the farther he
wandered the better he liked it. By and by he came to the home of
Yap-Yap the Prairie Dog, who is one of the Marmot family, as you know.

"'A home like that would suit me,' thought Grandfather Seek-Seek
wistfully, as he journeyed on. 'I wonder if I could dig one. I believe
I'll try.'

"So when he found a place to suit him he began to dig. There were no
stones to hurt his feet and dull his nails, and he actually enjoyed
digging. So he dug and dug until he had a wonderful underground home.
All about were plenty of seeds and tender grasses to eat, and he was
happy. He had found his place in the Great World. Then one day along
came Old Mother Nature. 'Hello, Mr. Chipmunk,' she exclaimed, as she
caught sight of his striped coat, 'what are you doing way out here?'

"Then she discovered her mistake. 'Dear me,' said she, 'this will never
do at all. If I can't tell my own children apart, how can I expect
others to? Your coat is altogether too much like that of Mr. Chipmunk. I
must change it. I certainly must change it.'

"She leaned over and lightly tapped Seek-Seek right down the length of
the broadest brown stripe of his coat. Wherever her finger touched a
little spot of yellow was left. Then she did the same thing to each of
the other brown stripes. When she had finished Grandfather Seek-Seek had
a coat exactly like the one I am now wearing, and his cup of happiness
was filled to the brim. From that day on he never was mistaken for Mr.
Chipmunk or any one else. That's the story of my coat, and now I must
get busy collecting seeds for my storehouse," concluded Seek-Seek. "Come
and see me again, Peter Rabbit."

"I will," replied Peter, as he started for the dear Old Briar-patch to
tell Mrs. Peter all about Seek-Seek and his pretty coat.



XIII

WHERE OLD MR. OSPREY LEARNED TO FISH


Peter Rabbit had seen a very strange thing. It was strange to Peter,
anyway. It gave him something to think about, and this, I am sure you
will agree, was a most excellent thing, for it kept him out of mischief
for a while. He had been over to the Smiling Pool for a call on Jerry
Muskrat and had just started back for the dear Old Briar-patch when he
chanced to look over in the direction of the Big River. Coming straight
towards him, but high in the air, was a big bird, a bird with broad
wings. Peter didn't have to look twice to know that it was a member of
the Hawk family. At first he thought it was Redtail. Then he caught a
flash of white, and he thought it was Whitetail the Marsh Hawk, in spite
of the fact that it didn't fly like him. Peter didn't stop to think of
that. It was enough for him that a member of the Hawk family was headed
that way, and he didn't care a twitch of his funny little tail which
member it was. He felt that the stomach of one was quite as undesirable
a place for Peter Rabbit as the stomach of another, and he had no
intention of filling any if he could help it.

He remembered that there was an old house of Johnny Chuck's under the
Big Hickory-tree on the bank of the Smiling Pool, and he wasted no time
in getting there, lipperty-lipperty-lip, as fast as he could go. He
would stay there until the way was clear to get home to the dear Old
Briar-patch. As soon as he was safe in the old house of Johnny Chuck, he
turned and poked his head out of the doorway. He wanted to see if any
one would be caught. He hoped not, but if any one was caught, he wanted
to see. You know Peter never misses anything if he can help it. On came
Mr. Hawk, and when he was right over the Smiling Pool, he turned and
made a short circle high in the air. Then Peter saw that he had a white
waist-coat and was a stranger.

"I wonder who he is?" thought Peter, staring very hard. "He's bigger
than either Redtail or Whitetail. I hope he isn't going to make his home
here, because we have trouble enough as it is."

Suddenly Mr. Hawk paused high up in the air, then closed his wings and
shot straight down like an arrow. Plunge! Peter couldn't believe his own
eyes. Mr. Hawk actually had disappeared in the Smiling Pool! A second
later there was a great splashing, and out of the water rose Mr. Hawk,
flapping his great wings heavily, scattering spray in all directions.
Up, up he went, and then Peter saw that in his great claws was a fish.
Peter watched him fly away with the fish, and when he felt that it was
quite safe to do so, he came out. Over on the end of an old log among
the bulrushes sat Jerry Muskrat just where Peter had left him. It was
very plain that Jerry hadn't been the least bit frightened by Mr. Hawk.
Peter couldn't understand it. His eyes fairly popped out of his head
with excitement and curiosity.

"Who was that?" he asked eagerly.

"That? Why, that was Plunger the Osprey, though some people call him
Fish Hawk," replied Jerry. "I thought everybody knew him. Why did you
run away, Peter? He wouldn't hurt you."

"Huh! I wouldn't trust _any_ Hawk!" snapped Peter.

"Which goes to show how little you know!" retorted Jerry Muskrat.
"Plunger never bothers anybody but the fish, but he surely is a terror
to them. Old Mother Nature knew what she was doing when she made
fishermen out of that family, didn't she?"

"She certainly did, though I've never heard how she came to do it. How
did it happen, Jerry?" Peter was doing some fishing himself. He was
fishing for a story.

Jerry Muskrat grinned. "Think you'll sleep any better if I tell you?"
he inquired.

Peter grinned back and nodded. So Jerry Muskrat told him this story:

"Way back in the days when the world was young, and the
great-great-ever-so-great-grandfathers of all the little people of the
Green Meadows and the Green Forest of today were being started out in
life by Old Mother Nature, they had everything to learn. The Great World
was a new place, and they were new in it. No one knew exactly his place
or what was expected of him, and Old Mother Nature was too busy to be
bothered with questions. She expected each one to work out for himself a
way in which to make himself useful, or at least to take care of
himself, without bothering her. If he couldn't do that, she didn't want
him around at all, and the sooner something happened to him the better.
So the Great World began to be peopled with birds and animals.

"It didn't take them long to learn that it wouldn't be possible for all
to live if they all ate the same kind of food. So some learned to eat
one thing and some another, and all went happily until there came a time
when all food was scarce, and more stomachs were empty than full. You've
heard about that hard time and sad time?"

Peter nodded, and Jerry took a drink of water and then went on with his
tale.

"Of course, that was really a very dreadful time, for it was then that
the strong began to hunt the weak, and fear was born into the world. And
yet I guess it wasn't wholly bad. Nothing is, so far as I can find out.
Anyway, because of that hard time, everybody became a little smarter
than before. You know an empty stomach sharpens wit, and fear puts a
fine edge on it. Now Mr. Osprey, who was one of the biggest of the
cousins of old King Eagle, couldn't get over a feeling of meanness
whenever he hunted those smaller than himself. One day he caught little
Mr. Sparrow when little Mr. Sparrow was so busy that he forgot to watch
out.

"'I'm powerful sorry, Mr. Sparrow,' apologized Mr. Osprey, 'but there's
an emptiness just about your size in my stomach, and it won't give me
any peace of mind until it's filled. I hate to make a neighbor
uncomfortable, and I'll be just as quick and accommodating about this
little matter as I can. If you'll just shut your eyes, you won't see
anything unpleasant, and I won't be a minute in getting that peace of
mind I've been without so long. I just must have it, or I wouldn't
bother you at all. I hope you won't hold it against me, Mr. Sparrow.'

"Mr. Osprey was so nice and polite about it that little Mr. Sparrow
perked up a little and started his wits working. He tried to be just as
nice and polite as Mr. Osprey. 'I know just how you feel, Mr. Osprey,'
said he, in a trembling voice, 'and during these hard times I've had
that same ailment of the mind because of lonesomeness of the stomach,
which is troubling you. So long as that emptiness is filled, I don't
suppose it matters to you if I shouldn't happen to fill it.'

"'Not at all,' replied Mr. Osprey.

"'Mr. Osprey,' said little Mr. Sparrow very earnestly, 'if I were in
your place, I never would go hungry. No, Sir, I never would go hungry.
And I certainly never, never would trouble any of my neighbors who wear
feathers. I certainly would feel most happy if Old Mother Nature had
given me what she has given you. Indeed I would.'

"Mr. Osprey looked down at little Mr. Sparrow and blinked at him in a
puzzled way. 'What has Old Mother Nature given me that you would be
happy to have?' he asked.

"'Fishhooks!' replied little Mr. Sparrow, pointing to Mr. Osprey's great
claws, 'the finest fishhooks in the world. You don't hear Billy Mink or
Little Joe Otter or Mr. Heron complaining about hard times. Why? Because
they don't know what hard times are. There are plenty of fish to be
caught, and when they are hungry they go fishing. Fish are very filling
and satisfying, I've heard say. When I flew across the Smiling Pool a
little while ago, I saw a fat fish taking a sun-bath right close to the
top of the water. Seemed like he was just waiting for some one with
hooks to come along and snatch him right out of the water.'

"'Where'd you say that fish was?' asked Mr. Osprey.

"'If you'll let me go, I'll show you,' replied little Mr. Sparrow.

"So Mr. Osprey let little Mr. Sparrow go, but he followed him right
close. Mr. Sparrow led the way straight to the Smiling Pool. Sure
enough, there was the big fish taking a sun-bath. Mr. Osprey hardly wet
his feet putting those big hooks into that fish. He flew away with it,
and presently he was rid of that emptiness in his stomach and had back
his peace of mind. After that, whenever he was hungry, he went fishing
instead of hunting the birds and the animals. By practice he learned how
to use those big fishhooks of his and became one of the smartest of all
fishermen. He and little Mr. Sparrow became great friends, in fact, such
friends that when Mr. Osprey built a great nest, little Mr. Sparrow
built his right in the side of it, and there he was perfectly safe from
others who might be hunting him. And it's been just that way ever since.
If you wore scales instead of fur, and lived in the water instead of on
the land, Peter Rabbit, you would have reason to fear Plunger the
Osprey, but as it is, you are safer when he is about than when he isn't.
There comes old Redtail the Hawk. You'd better get out of sight, Peter."

Peter did.



XIV

WHERE OLD MR. BOB-CAT LEFT HIS HONOR


Of all those who are forever trying to catch Peter Rabbit, he fears none
more than Yowler the Bob-cat. And from that fear has grown hate. You
will find it true all through life that hate often springs from great
fear. Peter isn't much given to hate, but he does hate Yowler the
Bob-cat. It is partly because of his fear of Yowler, but it is still
more because he feels that Yowler is not fair in his hunting. He has no
honor. There are many others whom Peter fears,--Reddy Fox, Old Man
Coyote, Hooty the Owl,--and with very good reason. But Peter considers
that these hunt him fairly. He knows when and where to be on the watch
for them.

But with Yowler it is altogether different. Yowler hides beside one of
Peter's favorite little paths, and there he waits patiently for
unsuspecting Peter to come along. He waits and watches much as Black
Pussy, who is a cousin of Yowler, waits and watches at a mousehole.
Peter feels that it doesn't give him a chance, and everybody is entitled
to at least a chance to live.

"I hate him! hate him! hate him!" exclaimed Peter fiercely, as he
crawled under the very middle of a great pile of brush after the
narrowest of narrow escapes. He had been hopping along one of his
favorite little paths without a thought of danger. Presently he came to
a little branch path. There he hesitated. He had intended to keep on
along the main path, but suddenly he had a feeling that it would be
better to take the branch path. He knew no reason why he shouldn't keep
on as he had planned. It was just a feeling that it would be better to
take the other path, a feeling without any real reason. So he hesitated
and finally turned down the little branch path. As he did so he caught a
glimpse of a brown form moving stealthily from behind a log farther up
the main little path. It was moving swiftly in the direction of the
little branch path. That glimpse was enough for Peter. That stealthy
form could be but one person--Yowler the Bob-cat. He turned and darted
back the way he had come and then off to one side to the great pile of
brush under which he had crawled.

"Who is it you hate?" asked a voice.

For just a second Peter was startled, then he recognized the voice of
Mrs. Grouse, one of his very best friends. "Yowler the Bob-cat," said he
as fiercely as before.

"I don't love him myself," replied Mrs. Grouse. "I suspected that he was
somewhere about, and that is why I am here. Did you see him?"

"Yes," said Peter, "I saw him. He was hiding beside my favorite little
path, and it is a wonder I didn't hop straight into his jaws. That
fellow doesn't hunt fairly. He doesn't give us a chance. He hasn't any
honor."

"Honor!" exclaimed Mrs. Grouse. "Honor! Of course he hasn't any honor.
There hasn't been any honor in Yowler's family since old Mr. Bob-cat,
the first of all the Bob-cats, left his honor in Turkey Wood, way back
in the days when the world was young, and failed to get it again. Honor!
Of course Yowler hasn't any. What could you expect?"

At once Peter was all ears. "I've never heard about that," said he.
"Tell me about it, Mrs. Grouse. We've got to stay right where we are for
a long time to make sure that Yowler has given us up and gone away, so
you will have plenty of time to tell me the story. Where was Turkey
Wood, and how did old Mr. Bob-cat happen to leave his honor there?"

"He didn't happen to; he did it deliberately," replied Mrs. Grouse. "You
see, it was like this: In the beginning of things, when Old Mother
Nature made the first little people and the first big people of the
Green Forest and the Green Meadows, she was too busy to watch over them
all the time, so for a while she put them on their honor not to harm one
another or interfere with one another in any way, for she wanted them to
live in peace and happiness and raise families to people the Great
World.

"Now it chanced that Mr. and Mrs. Gobbler, the first of the Turkey
family, chose a certain little grove of trees in which to make their
home, and it became known as Turkey Wood. There, in course of time, Mrs.
Turkey made her nest on the ground, well hidden among some bushes, and
in it laid twelve big eggs. It was the day on which she laid the twelfth
big egg that old Mr. Bob-cat, who, of course, wasn't old then, took it
into his head to prowl about in Turkey Wood. Already Mr. Bob-cat had
begun to form a sneaky habit of stealth. He was very fond of watching
his neighbors to find out what they were about, and it was this fondness
of minding the business of other people instead of his own that was
making him sneaky and stealthy, for of course he didn't want any one to
know what he was doing.

"It happened that as he stole into Turkey Wood, Mrs. Gobbler left her
nest to get a bite to eat. Mr. Bob-cat saw her, but she didn't see him.
He crouched flat until she was out of sight.

"'She seemed mighty careful about how she slipped out of those bushes,'
thought Mr. Bob-cat. 'She acted as if she didn't want to be seen. I
wonder why. I wonder if she has a secret hidden in those bushes. I
suppose the way to find out is to look.'

"First making sure that no one saw him, Mr. Bob-cat crept in his sneaky
way into the bushes, and it didn't take him long to find that nest with
the twelve big eggs. He didn't know what they were, for they were the
first eggs he had ever seen. He stared at them and wondered if they were
good to eat. He glanced this way and that way to be sure that no one was
watching him.

"'Don't touch them,' warned something inside of him. 'These belong to
Mrs. Gobbler, and Old Mother Nature has put you on your honor not to
interfere with others or their affairs.'

"'It won't do any harm just to touch them and see what they are like,'
said another little tempting voice inside of him.

"'Remember your honor,' warned the first little voice.

"'Bother my honor! I'm not going to do any harm,' muttered Mr. Bob-cat,
and picked up one of the eggs in his mouth. He tried it with his teeth
to see if it was hard, and of course he put his teeth right through the
shell. He started to put it back in a hurry, but just then he noticed a
good taste in his mouth. The inside of that egg was good to eat, very
good indeed!

"'One won't be missed,' thought Mr. Bob-cat, and then, fearing that Mrs.
Gobbler would return, he bounded away, taking the egg with him.

"When Mrs. Gobbler returned, she did miss that egg. She looked all about
for it, but there was nothing to show what had become of it. With a
troubled mind she began to sit on her eggs. She was so worried that she
didn't leave them until she simply _had_ to get something to eat.

"Meanwhile Mr. Bob-cat had eaten that egg, and it had tasted so good
that he could think of nothing but how he could get another. So at the
first opportunity he sneaked back to Turkey Wood, and without making a
sound crept in among the bushes until he could see Mrs. Gobbler sitting
on her eggs. There he lay and watched and watched until Mrs. Gobbler
left to get something to eat. No sooner was she out of sight than Mr.
Bob-cat stole to the nest.

"'Remember your honor,' warned the little voice inside.

"'Bother honor. I'd rather have an egg,' muttered Mr. Bob-cat, and
pulled one out of the nest. He bit a hole in one end and sucked out the
contents. It was so good he took another. This led to a third, and
finally Mr. Bob-cat had sucked every one of those eggs. Then silently he
sneaked away--away from Turkey Wood to a distant part of the Green
Forest. Behind him in Turkey Wood he left a nestful of empty shells and
his honor.

"'Nobody knows who did it, and nobody ever will find out,' thought Mr.
Bob-cat, but all the time he knew that he had left his honor behind, and
this made him more sneaky than ever. He never would meet any one face to
face. You know that is something that one who has lost his honor never
can do. It wasn't long before all his neighbors knew that he was without
honor, and so would have nothing to do with him. They shunned him. He
grew to be more and more of a sneak. And all the time he believed that
no one knew what he had done or where he had left his honor.

"But Old Mother Nature knew. Of course Mrs. Gobbler told her what had
happened to her eggs. Old Mother Nature told her to make a new nest and
hide it more carefully than before, which Mrs. Gobbler did and hatched
out ten fine young Gobblers. Meanwhile Old Mother Nature went about her
business, but all the time she was watching to see who would fail to
look her straight in the face. The first time she met Mr. Bob-cat he
tried to slip past unseen. When Old Mother Nature stepped in front of
him, he couldn't look her in the face, try as he would.

"'Ah-ha!' said she. 'You are the one who left his honor in Turkey Wood.
From this time forth you shall be an outcast, friendless and alone,
hated by every one.'

"And so it was, and has been ever since. And so it is with Yowler today.
You said truly, Peter, that he hasn't any honor. Isn't it dreadful?"

And Peter agreed that it is.



XV

WHERE DIPPY THE LOON GOT THE NAME OF BEING CRAZY


As you all know, Peter Rabbit is out and about at a time when most folks
are snugly tucked in bed. The fact is, Peter is very fond of roaming
around at night. He says he feels safer then in spite of the fact that
some of his smartest enemies are also out and about, among them Hooty
the Owl and Reddy Fox and Old Man Coyote. The two latter also hunt by
day when the fancy takes them or they have been so unsuccessful at night
that their stomachs won't give them any peace, and Peter is sure that
though they can see very well at night, they can see still better in
the light of day. Anyway, that is one of the reasons he gives for his
own liking for roaming after jolly, round, red Mr. Sun has gone to bed
behind the Purple Hills.

Now it happened one moonlight night that Peter had ventured way over
almost to the Big River. He had heard Hooty the Owl's fierce hunting
call far off in the Green Forest. He had heard Reddy Fox barking up in
the Old Pasture. So Peter felt quite safe. He felt so safe that he had
almost forgotten that there could be such a thing as fear. And then,
from the direction of the Big River, there came such a sound as Peter
never had heard before. It was a sound that made his heart seem to quite
stop beating for an instant. It was a sound that sent cold chills racing
and chasing all over him. It was a sound that made him wish with all
his might that he was that instant right in the heart of the dear Old
Briar-patch instead of way over there near the bank of the Big River.

He didn't waste much time getting back to the dear Old Briar-patch, once
he was sure his heart hadn't really stopped beating. The way he went
across the Green Meadows, lipperty-lipperty-lip, lipperty-lipperty-lip,
was positive proof that in spite of his fright his heart was quite all
right. He didn't run a little way, stop, run a little farther and stop
again, as is his usual way. He kept lipperty-lipperty-lipping without a
single stop until he reached the edge of the dear Old Briar-patch and
once more felt really safe. Two or three times he had felt that he must
stop to get his breath, but each time that sound, that dreadful sound,
had seemed to be following right at his heels, and he had suddenly
discovered that he didn't need to stop after all.

But having reached the dear Old Briar-patch Peter stopped and panted for
breath while he anxiously watched for the appearance of some unknown
enemy following him. It was then that he realized that that sound came
from the Big River, and that whoever made it had not left the Big River
at all. It made Peter feel a wee bit foolish as he thought how he had
been sure that there was danger right at his very heels all the way
home, when all the time there hadn't been any danger at all.

Peter sat there and listened, and despite the fact that he now felt
absolutely safe, the cold chills ran over him every time he heard it.
It was a voice; Peter was sure of that. It was a voice, but such a voice
as Peter never in his life had heard before. It was quite as bad if not
worse than the voice of Old Man Coyote. In a way it reminded him of Old
Man Coyote's voice, but while Old Man Coyote's voice sounded like many
voices in one, it was not so fearsome as this voice, for this voice
sounded like a human voice, yet wasn't. Something inside Peter told him
that it wasn't a human voice, in spite of its sounding so.

The next morning Peter ran over to the Smiling Pool to ask Grandfather
Frog if he had any idea who could have such a voice as that. When he
tried to tell Grandfather Frog what that voice was like, he couldn't. He
just couldn't describe it.

"It was the lonesomest and craziest sound I've ever heard," declared
Peter, "and that is all I can tell you. It was crazier than the voice of
Old Man Coyote."

"That is all you need tell me," chuckled Grandfather Frog. "That was the
voice of Dippy the Loon. And let me tell you something, Peter: you are
not the first one to think his voice has a crazy sound. Oh, my, no! No,
indeed! Why, a lot of people think Dippy _is_ crazy, and when any one
does queer things they say of him that he is 'crazy as a Loon.'

"But is he crazy?" asked Peter.

"Chug-a-rum!" exclaimed Grandfather Frog. "Chug-a-rum! Not half so
crazy as you are, Peter, coming over here to the Smiling Pool in
broad daylight. He likes to be thought crazy, just as his
great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather did before him, that's all.
Everybody thought his great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather was crazy,
and it paid Mr. Loon to have them think so. So he did his best to make
them keep thinking so."

"Tell me about it. Do please tell me about it, Grandfather Frog," begged
Peter. "Please, please, please."

Now how could Grandfather Frog resist that? He couldn't. He didn't even
try to. He just cleared his throat once or twice and began.

"Once on a time, long, long ago, lived the very first of all the Loons,
the ever-and-ever-and-ever-so-great-grandfather of Dippy, whose voice
frightened you so last night."

"How did you know it frightened me?" exclaimed Peter, for he had taken
care not to tell Grandfather Frog anything about that.

Grandfather Frog chuckled and went right on with his story. "Right from
the beginning Mr. Loon was a mighty independent fellow. It didn't take
him long to find out that Old Mother Nature had too much to do to waste
any time on those who didn't try to take care of themselves, and that
those would live longest who were smartest and most independent. He had
sharp eyes, had old Mr. Loon, just as Dippy has today, and he used them
to good account. He saw at once that with so many birds and animals
living on the land it was likely to get crowded after a while, and that
when such became the case, it was going to be mighty hard work for some
to get a living. So Mr. Loon went to Mother Nature and told her that if
she had no objections he would like a pair of swimming feet and would
live on the water.

"Now Old Mother Nature had just fitted out Mr. Duck with a pair of
webbed feet that he might swim, so she was quite prepared to fit Mr.
Loon out in like manner.

"'I suppose,' said she, 'that you want a bill like Mr. Duck's.'

"Mr. Loon shook his head. 'Thank you,' said he, 'but I would prefer a
sharp bill to a broad one.'

"'How is that?' exclaimed Mother Nature. 'Mr. Duck has been delighted
with his bill ever since I gave it to him.'

"'And with good reason,' replied Mr. Loon. 'Did I propose to live as Mr.
Duck lives, I should want a bill just like his, but I find that fish are
more to my liking. Also I have noticed that there are fewer who eat
fish.'

"So Mother Nature gave him the kind of bill he wanted, and Mr. Loon
went about his business. He managed to get fish enough to keep from
going hungry, but he found that the only way he could do it was to sit
perfectly still until a fish swam within reach and then strike swiftly.
In fact, his fishing was much like that of Mr. Heron, save that the
latter stood instead of sitting. Success was chiefly the result of luck
and patience.

"Now this sort of thing was not at all to the liking of Mr. Loon. He
gloried in his strength and he wanted to hunt for his fish and catch
them in fair chase instead of waiting for them to unsuspectingly swim
within reach. He practised and practised swimming and diving, but he
soon made up his mind that he never would be able to move through the
water fast enough to catch a fish unless there was some change. He
watched the fish swim, and he saw that the power which drove them
through the water came from their tails. Mr. Loon grew very thoughtful.

"The next time Mother Nature came around to see how everybody was
getting on, to hear complaints, and to grant such requests as seemed
wise, Mr. Loon was on hand. 'If you please,' said he when his turn came,
'I would like my legs moved back to the lower end of my body.'

"Mother Nature was surprised. She looked it. 'But you'll hardly be able
to walk at all with your legs there!' she exclaimed.

"Mr. Loon said that he knew that, and that he didn't want to walk. He
would far rather spend all his time on the water. So Mother Nature
granted his request. Mr. Loon thanked her and started for the water. He
couldn't keep his balance. He simply flopped along, while all his
neighbors, who had heard his queer request, jeered at him and called him
crazy. He just didn't pay any attention, but flopped along until he
reached the water. Then he swam away swiftly. When he was quite by
himself with none to see, he dived, and as he had hoped, he found that
he could drive himself through the water at great speed. He practised a
while and then he went fishing. When he caught his first fish in a fair
chase, he was so delighted that he shrieked and shouted and laughed in
the wildest fashion far into the night. And those who had heard his
strange request and thought him crazy were sure of it, as they listened
to his wild laughter.

"So little by little it was spread about among all the other people
that Mr. Loon was crazy, and he was left much to himself, which was
just what he desired. He was quick to note that the sound of his voice
sent shivers over some of his neighbors, and so he would shriek and
laugh just to drive them away. It pleased him to have them think him
crazy, and he kept it up.

"So it is with Dippy today, and last night you ran from the voice of a
crazy Loon who isn't crazy at all, but likes to make people think he
is," concluded Grandfather Frog.



XVI

WHERE BIG-HORN GOT HIS CURVED HORNS


It was Digger the Badger who told Peter Rabbit the story of the great
Ram who was the first of all the wild Sheep who live on the tops of the
mountains bounding the great plains of the Far West on which Digger was
born. It happened that Farmer Brown's flock of Sheep were grazing in the
Old Pasture in plain sight of Digger as he sat on his doorstep watching
his shadow grow longer. At the head of the flock was a Ram whose horns
curved around in almost a circle, and whom Peter Rabbit often had
admired.

Peter happened along as Digger sat there on his doorstep watching his
shadow grow longer, so he sat down at a safe and respectful distance and
helped Digger watch his shadow grow longer. Peter delights in doing
things like this, because it isn't hard work at all. It is only when
there is real work concerned that Peter loses interest. A lot of people
are just like Peter in this respect.

Peter gazed over at the Old Pasture and he, too, saw Farmer Brown's
Sheep and the big Ram with the curving horns at his head. For a long
time Peter had greatly admired those horns, though he never had told any
one so. He had admired those horns because they were different from any
other horns Peter ever had seen. They looked perfectly useless for
fighting because they curved so that the points never could be made to
hurt any one, but just the same Peter admired them. Now as he watched he
spoke aloud, without thinking what he was doing.

"I wish I had a pair of horns like those," said he wistfully.

Digger the Badger stopped watching his shadow, and turned to stare at
Peter. Then he laughed until finally he choked. Peter looked at him in
surprise.

"What's the matter with you, Mr. Badger?" asked he. "What is there to
laugh at?"

"Only you, Peter. Only you," replied Digger faintly, for he had laughed
so hard that he had almost lost his voice. "I am afraid you would find a
pair of horns like those rather heavy, Peter, rather heavy."

Peter grinned. "Of course I didn't really mean that," said he. "Of
course not. I was just thinking how nice it would be to have such fine
horns, if one were big enough to have horns. I don't believe there are
any other such horns in all the Great World."

"And that shows how little you know about the Great World, Peter,"
retorted Digger the Badger.

"Did you ever see such horns before?" demanded Peter.

"No, I never did," confessed Digger, "but I've heard my grandfather
tell of Sheep that live on the tops of the great mountains as free
as Light-foot the Deer or any other of the Green Forest people,
and with horns so large that they, the Sheep, are called Big-Horns.
From what I have heard my grandfather say, those horns over there of
Mr. Ram's are nothing to brag about. No, Sir, they are nothing to brag
about. One of those wild, free cousins of Mr. Ram over there would
laugh at those horns. But they are funny horns, and they've been
like that always since the days of the first great Ram, the
great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather of all the Sheep, so my
grandfather told me. It was way back in those long-ago days that they
became curved and quite useless for fighting, and all because of old
Big-Horn going about with a chip on his shoulder."

Peter pricked up his ears. "That was a funny thing for Big-Horn to be
doing," said he. "What under the sun did he have a chip on his shoulder
for? And what harm was there in that, even if he did?"

Once more Digger began to laugh. "Peter," said he, "you certainly are
the funniest fellow I know. Of course old Big-Horn didn't really have a
chip on his shoulder. That is just a saying, Peter, just a saying. When
any one goes about looking for trouble and ready to quarrel at the least
pretext, he is said to be carrying a chip on his shoulder and daring
anybody to knock it off."

"Oh!" said Peter.

"And so," continued Digger, "Big-Horn didn't have anything to do with a
really, truly chip, but just went about always trying to get somebody to
fight with him. It wasn't that Big-Horn was ugly. He wasn't. You see Old
Mother Nature had given him great strength. Yes, Sir, for his size
Big-Horn was very strong, and in that strength be took great pride. And
Mother Nature had given him a pair of very large and strong horns with
which to defend himself if there should be need. Those horns were almost
straight, and with Big-Horn's great strength behind them, they were
truly dangerous weapons. He didn't think of that. No, Sir, he didn't
think of that. He was just brimming full of life, and he dearly loved to
try his strength against the strength of others. It got so that the
instant he saw anybody, down would go his head and at them he would go
full tilt.

"It was great fun--for him. Sometimes he got the worst of it, as when
Old King Bear stepped aside at the very last instant and hit him such a
clip with his great paw that Big-Horn was sent rolling over and over and
lost his breath for a few minutes. But usually it was the other who got
the worst of it, for those great, sharp-pointed horns of Big-Horn's tore
and hurt. Indeed, even when he tried to be gentle with those smaller
than himself he was forever hurting some one.

"Finally some of his neighbors wished to go to Old Mother Nature and
complain about Big-Horn, but others were against this plan because they
knew that Old Mother Nature was quite loaded down with cares and worries
as it was. So instead they called a meeting to which everybody except
Big-Horn was invited. If Big-Horn could have heard all that was said
about him, his ears surely would have burned. Every one was of the
opinion that something must be done, but just what no one could suggest.
At last, just when it seemed that the meeting would break up without
anything being done, Old Man Coyote stepped forward. Now Old Man Coyote
already was known as a very clever fellow, more clever even than Mr.
Fox, though it would never have done to say so where it would get back
to the ears of Mr. Fox.

"'Friends and neighbors,' said Old Man Coyote, 'it seems to me a very
simple matter to teach Neighbor Big-Horn a lesson that he will not soon
forget. Being rather bashful, I haven't liked to suggest it before,
because I thought surely some one else would do it. I suggest that some
one be selected to fight Big-Horn, and when that one can fight no
longer, some one else be selected to fight him, and so on until he gets
tired, and some one can whip him. Then I think he will have had enough
of fighting.'

"Up spoke Mr. Fox and he winked at his neighbor on the right and he
winked at his neighbor on the left. 'That is a very good idea of
Neighbor Coyote's,' said he, 'a very good idea indeed, and I suggest
that Mr. Coyote be selected for the honor of being the first one to
fight Big-Horn.' Mr. Fox grinned in a sly way, and everybody else
grinned, for everybody knew that Old Man Coyote never was known to fight
when there was a chance to run away. So with one accord everybody agreed
with Mr. Fox, and Old Man Coyote was selected as the first one to face
Big-Horn. To everybody's surprise, Old Man Coyote made no objections.
Instead he expressed himself as highly honored, and said that he hoped
to do so well that there would be no need for others to fight Big-Horn.
So it was arranged that Big-Horn should be invited to fight Old Man
Coyote the very next day.

"You may be sure that everybody was on hand the next day to see that
fight. No one expected Old Man Coyote to appear. But he did. Yes, Sir,
he did. He was right on hand at the appointed time. Big-Horn hadn't been
told whom he was to fight, and when he found that it was Old Man Coyote,
he was disappointed. You see, there was no anger in Big-Horn's fighting;
he fought just for the love of using his great strength and big horns.
Fighting was fun to him, and he wanted some one who would stand up to
him. As soon as it was explained to him that when he had disposed of Old
Man Coyote there would be some one else for him to fight (Mr. Deer had
offered to be the next), he felt better. Mr. Deer had horns and was
somewhere near his size.

"Old Man Coyote slipped around until he had his back to a great rock.
'I'm ready any time,' said he.

"Big-Horn, who had been stamping with impatience, lowered his head so
that his horns pointed straight at Old Man Coyote. He grinned as he did
it, for he saw that with that great rock behind him, Old Man Coyote
would have no chance to run away as he always had done in the past.
Everybody else saw the same thing, and wondered what could have happened
to make Old Man Coyote so stupid as to do such a thing as that, he who
always had been accounted so clever. But they had hardly time to think
of this, for with a snort Big-Horn bounded forward. All the others held
their breath as they saw those great horns driving straight at Old Man
Coyote, who was crouched with his back to the great rock. Then everybody
closed their eyes for a second, for nobody wanted to see Old Man Coyote
killed, and everybody _knew_ that that was what was going to happen.

"Then there was a crash, and everybody's eyes flew open. There lay
Big-Horn on the ground, looking mighty puzzled, as if he wasn't quite
sure what had happened. And there sat Old Man Coyote, grinning at him!
They were still staring at Old Man Coyote as if they couldn't believe
their own eyes when some one cried, 'Look at the horns of Big-Horn!'

"Instead of being long and straight, those great horns were curved over
and round into almost a circle, and there was no longer danger from
their sharp points. What had happened? Why, at just the right instant
Old Man Coyote had leaped over Big-Horn, and Big-Horn had butted into
that great rock with all his might. He had hit so hard, biff! bang! that
he had bent his horns, just as crafty, clever Old Man Coyote had hoped
he would.

"When Old Mother Nature heard of the affair and saw those bent horns,
she chuckled at the cleverness of Old Man Coyote and decided to leave
those horns just as they were for the safety of Big-Horn's neighbors.
And so they remained as long as Big-Horn lived, and just so have been
the horns in his family from that day to this," concluded Digger, and
once more began to watch his shadow grow longer.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mother West Wind "Where" Stories" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home