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´╗┐Title: The Burgess Animal Book for Children
Author: Burgess, Thornton W. (Thornton Waldo), 1874-1965
Language: English
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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 "The Burgess Animal Book for Children" ***

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THE BURGESS ANIMAL BOOK FOR CHILDREN

By Thornton W. Burgess



TO THE CAUSE OF WILD LIFE IN AMERICA, ESPECIALLY THE MAMMALS MANY OF WHICH ARE
SERIOUSLY THREATENED WITH EXTINCTION, THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED.



PREFACE

The cordial reception given the Burgess Bird Book for Children,
together with numerous letters to the author asking for information
on the habits and characteristics of many of the mammals of
America, led to the preparation of this volume. It is offered
merely as an introduction to the four-footed friends, little and
big, which form so important a part of the wild life of the United
States and Canada.

There has been no attempt to describe or classify sub-species.
That is for the scientist and student with specific interests.
The purpose of this book is to acquaint the reader with the
larger groups--orders, families, and divisions of the latter,
so that typical representatives may be recognized and their
habits understood.

Instead of the word mammal, the word animal has been used
throughout as having a better defined meaning to the average
child.  A conscientious effort to avoid technical terms and
descriptions has been made that there may be nothing to confuse
the young mind. Clarity and simplicity have been the objects
kept constantly in view.

At the same time the utmost care to be accurate in the smallest
details has been exercised. To this end the works of leading
authorities on American mammals have been carefully consulted
and compared. No statements which are not confirmed by two or
more naturalists of recognized standing have been made.

In this research work the writings of Audubon and Bachman, Dr. E.W.
Neson, Dr. C. Hart Merriam, Dr. W.T. Hornaday, Ernest Thompson Seton
and others, together with the bulletins of the Biological Survey of
the Department of Agriculture at Washington, have been of the
greatest value. I herewith acknowledge my debt to these.

Whatever the text may lack in clearness of description will be
amply compensated for by the wonderful drawings in color and
black-an-white by Mr. Louis Agassiz Fuertes, the artist-naturalist,
whose hearty cooperation has been a source of great help to me.
These drawings were made especially for this book and add in no
small degree to such value as it may possess.

If the reading of these pages shall lead even a few to an active
interest in our wild animals, stimulating a desire to preserve
and protect a priceless heritage from the past which a heedless
present threatens through wanton and reckless waste to deny the
future, the labor will have been well worth while.

Only through intimate acquaintance may understanding of the animals
in their relations to each other and to man be attained.  To serve
as a medium for this purpose this book has been written.  As such
I offer it to the children of America, conscious of its
shortcomings yet hopeful that it will prove of some value in
acquainting them with their friends and mine--the animals of field
and wood, of mountain and desert, in the truest sense the first
citizens of America.
                                   THORNTON W. BURGESS



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I JENNY WREN GIVES PETER RABBIT AN IDEA
          Peter arranges to go to school to Old Mother Nature.

       II PETER AND JUMPER GO TO SCHOOL
          The Cottontail Rabbit, Northern Hare and Marsh Rabbit.

      III MORE OF PETER'S LONG-LEGGED COUSINS
          The Swamp Hare, Arctic Hare, Prairie Hare, Antelope
          Jack and common Jack Rabbit.

       IV CHATTERER AND HAPPY JACK JOIN
          The Squirrel family and order of Rodents.

        V THE SQUIRRELS OF THE TREES
          The Red, Gray, Fox, Kaibab and Abert Squirrels.

       VI STRIPED CHIPMUNK AND HIS COUSINS
          The Chipmunk, Spermophiles, and Flying Squirrel.

      VII JOHNNY CHUCK JOINS THE CLASS
          The Woodchuck and his ways.

     VIII WHISTLER AND YAP YAP
          The Whistling or Hoary Marmot and Prairie Dogs.

       IX TWO QUEER LITTLE HAYMAKERS
          The Pika or Cony and the Mountain Beaver or Sewellel.

        X PRICKLY PORKY AND GRUBBY GOPHER
          Introducing the Porcupine and Pocket Gopher.

       XI A FELLOW WITH A THOUSAND SPEARS
          More about the Porcupine.

      XII A LUMBERMAN AND ENGINEER
          The Beaver and his works.

     XIII A WORKER AND A ROBBER
          The Muskrat and the Brown or Norway Rat.

      XIV A TRADER AND A HANDSOME FELLOW
          The Cotton Rat, Wood or Pack Rat and the Kangaroo Rat.

       XV TWO UNLIKE LITTLE COUSINS
          Whitefoot the Wood or Deer Mouse and Danny Meadow
          Mouse, also called Field Mouse.

      XVI DANNY'S NORTHERN COUSINS, AND NIMBLEHEELS
          The Banded and Brown Lemmings and the Jumping Mouse.

     XVII THREE LITTLE REDCOATS AND SOME OTHERS
          The Pine Mouse, Red-backed Mouse, Rufous Tree Mouse,
          Rock Mouse and Beach Mouse.

    XVIII MICE WITH POCKETS, AND OTHERS
          The Silky and Spiny Pocket Mice, Grasshopper Mouse,
          Harvest Mouse and House Mouse.

      XIX TEENY WEENY AND HIS COUSIN
          The Common or Long-tailed Shrew or Shrew Mouse,
          Short-tailed Shrew or Mole Shrew and Marsh or Water
          Shrew.

       XX FOUR BUSY LITTLE MINERS
          The Common Mole, Brewer's or Hairy-tailed Mole, Oregon
          Mole and Star-nosed Mole.

      XXI FLITTER THE BAT AND HIS FAMILY
          The Red Bat, Little Brown or Cave Bat, Big Brown or
          House Bat, Silvery Bat, Hoary Bat and Big-eared Bat.

     XXII AN INDEPENDENT FAMILY
          The Common Skunk, Hog-nosed or Badger Skunk and Little
          Spotted Skunk.

    XXIII DIGGER AND HIS COUSIN GLUTTON
          The Badger and Wolverine or Carcajou.

     XXIV SHADOW AND HIS FAMILY
          The Common or Bonaparte Weasel or Ermine, New York
          Weasel, Long-tailed or Yellow-bellied Weasel, Least
          Weasel and Black-footed Ferret.

      XXV TWO FAMOUS SWIMMERS
          Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter.

     XXVI SPITE THE MARTEN AND PEKAN THE FISHER
          The Pine Marten or American Sable and the Fisher or
          Pennant Marten.

    XXVII REDDY FOX JOINS THE SCHOOL
          The Red, Black and Silver Foxes, Gray Fox, Kit Fox
          Or Swift, Desert Fox, Arctic and Blue Foxes.

   XXVIII OLD MAN COYOTE AND HOWLER THE WOLF
          The Prairie Wolf or Coyote and the Timber or Gray Wolf.

     XXIX YOWLER AND HIS COUSIN TUFTY
          The Bay Lynx or Bob Cat and the Canada Lynx or Lucivee.

      XXX SOME BIG AND LITTLE CAT COUSINS
          Puma the Panther, also called Cougar and Mountain Lion,
          The Jaguar, the Ocelot, and the Jaguarundi Cat or Eyra.

     XXXI BOBBY COON ARRIVES
          The Raccoon and the Civet or Ring-tailed Cat, also
          Called Coon Cat and Bassaris.

    XXXII BUSTER BEAR NEARLY BREAKS UP SCHOOL
          The Black Bear and his habits.

   XXXIII BUSTER BEAR'S BIG COUSINS
          Silvertip, the Grizzly Bear, the Alaska or Great Brown
          Bear and the Polar Bear.

    XXXIV UNC' BILLY AND OLD MRS. POSSUM
          The Virginia Opossum, which is the only American
          Marsupial.

     XXXV LIGHTFOOT, BLACKTAIL AND FORKHORN
          The White-tailed or Virginia Deer, Black-tailed Deer
          And Mule Deer.

    XXXVI BUGLER, FLATHORNS AND WANDERHOOF
          The Elk or Wapiti, Moose or Caribou.

   XXXVII THUNDERFOOT, FLEETFOOT AND LONGCOAT
          The Buffalo or Bison, Antelope or Musk-Ox.

  XXXVIII TWO WONDERFUL MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
          The Rocky Mountain Sheep or Bighorn and the Rocky
          Mountain Goat.

    XXXIX PIGGY AND HARDSHELL
          The Peccary or Wild Pig and the Armadillo.

       XL THE MAMMALS OF THE SEA
          The Sea Otter, Walrus, Sea Lions, Seals and Manatee
          Or Sea Cow.



THE BURGESS ANIMAL BOOK FOR CHILDREN


CHAPTER I  Jenny Wren Gives Peter Rabbit an Idea

"As sure as you're alive now, Peter Rabbit, some day I will catch
you," snarled Reddy Fox, as he poked his black nose in the hole
between the roots of the Big Hickory-tree which grows close to
the Smiling Pool.  "It is lucky for you that you were not one jump
farther away from this hole."

Peter, safe inside that hole, didn't have a word to say, or, if he
did, he didn't have breath enough to say it.  It was quite true
that if he had been one jump farther from that hole, Reddy Fox
would have caught him.  As it was, the hairs on Peter's funny
white tail actually had tickled Reddy's back as Peter plunged
frantically through the root-bound entrance to that hole.  It
had been the narrowest escape Peter had had for a long, long time.
You see, Reddy Fox had surprised Peter nibbling sweet clover on the
bank of the Smiling Pond, and it had been a lucky thing for Peter
that that hole, dug long ago by Johnny Chuck's grandfather, had
been right where it was.  Also, it was a lucky thing that old
Mr. Chuck had been wise enough to make the entrance between
the  roots of that tree in such a way that it could not be
dug any larger.

Reddy Fox was too shrewd to waste any time trying to dig it larger.
He knew there wasn't room enough for him to get between those roots.
So, after trying to make Peter as uncomfortable as possible by
telling him what he, Reddy, would do to him when he did catch him,
Reddy trotted off across the Green Meadows.  Peter remained where
he was for a long time. When he was quite sure that it was safe to
do so, he crept out and hurried, lipperty-lipperty-lip, up to the
Old Orchard.  He felt that that would be the safest place for him,
because there were ever so many hiding places in the old stone wall
along the edge of it.

When Peter reached the Old Orchard, who should he see but Jenny
Wren.  Jenny had arrived that very morning from the Sunny South
where she had spent the winter.  "Tut, tut, tut, tut, tut!"
exclaimed Jenny as soon as she saw Peter.  "If here isn't Peter
Rabbit himself!  How did you manage to keep out of the clutches
of Reddy Fox all the long winter?"

Peter chuckled.  "I didn't have much trouble with Reddy during
the winter," said he, "but this very morning he so nearly caught
me that it is a wonder that my hair is not snow white from fright."
Then he told Jenny all about his narrow escape.  "Had it not been
for that handy hole of Grandfather Chuck, I couldn't possibly
have escaped," concluded Peter.

Jenny Wren cocked her pert little head on one side, and her sharp
little eyes snapped.  "Why don't you learn to swim, Peter, like
your cousin down in the Sunny South?" she demanded.  "If he had
been in your place, he would simply have plunged into the Smiling
Pool and laughed at Reddy Fox."

Peter sat bolt upright with his eyes very wide open.  In them was
a funny look of surprise as he stared up at Jenny Wren.  "What are
you talking about, Jenny Wren?" he demanded.  "Don't you know that
none of the Rabbit family swim unless it is to cross the Laughing
Brook when there is no other way of getting to the other side, or
when actually driven into the water by an enemy from whom there is
no other escape?  I can swim a little if I have to, but you don't
catch me in the water when I can stay on land.  What is more, you
won't find any other members of my family doing such a thing."

"Tut, tut, tut, tut, Peter!" exclaimed Jenny Wren in her sharp,
scolding voice.  "Tut, tut, tut, tut!  For a fellow who has been
so curious about the ways of his feathered neighbors, you know
very little about your own family.  If I were in your place I
would learn about my own relatives before I became curious about
my neighbors.  How many relatives have you, Peter?"

"One," replied Peter promptly, "my big cousin, Jumper the Hare."

Jenny Wren threw back her head and laughed and laughed and laughed.
It was a most irritating and provoking laugh.  Finally Peter began
to lose patience.  "What are you laughing at?" he demanded crossly.
"You know very well that Jumper the Hare is the only cousin I have."

Jenny Wren laughed harder that ever.

"Peter!" she gasped.  "Peter, you will be the death of me.  Why,
down in the Sunny South, where I spent the winter, you have a
cousin who is more closely related to you than Jumper the Hare.
And what is more, he is almost as fond of the water as Jerry
Muskrat.  He was called the Marsh Rabbit or Marsh Hare, and many a
time I have watched him swimming about by the hour."

"I don't believe it!" declared Peter angrily.  "I don't believe a
word of it.  You are simply trying to fool me, Jenny Wren.  There
never was a Rabbit and there never will be a Rabbit who would go
swimming for the fun of it.  I belong to the Cottontail branch of
the Hare family, and it is a fine family if I do say so.  My
cousin Jumper is a true Hare, and the only difference between us
is that he is bigger, has longer legs and ears, changes the color
of his coat in winter, and seldom, if ever, goes into holes in
the ground.  The idea of trying to tell me I don't know about my
own relatives."

Jenny Wren suddenly became sober.  "Peter," said she very earnestly,
"take my advice and go to school to Old Mother Nature for awhile.
What I have told you is true, every word of it.  You have a cousin
down in the Sunny South who spends half his time in the water.
What is more, I suspect that you and Jumper have other relatives
of whom you've never heard.  Such ignorance would be laughable if
it were not to be pitied.  This is what comes of never having
traveled.  Go to school to Old Mother Nature for a while, Peter.
It will pay you."  With this, Jenny Wren flew away to hunt for
Mr. Wren that they might decide where to make their home for
the summer.

Peter tried to believe that what Jenny Wren had told him was nothing
but a story, but do what he would, he couldn't rid himself of a
little doubt.  He tried to interest himself in the affairs of the
other little people of Old Orchard, but it was useless.  That little
doubt kept growing and growing.  Could it be possible that Jenny
Wren had spoken the truth?  Could it be that he really didn't
know what relatives he had or anything about them?  Of course Old
Mother Nature could tell him all he wanted to know.  And he knew
that whatever she might tell him would be true.

Finally that growing doubt, together with the curiosity which has
led poor Peter to do so many queer things, proved too much for him
and he started for the Green Forest to look for Old Mother Nature.
It didn't take long to find her.  She was very busy, for there is
no time in all the year when Old Mother Nature has quite so much
to do as in the spring.

"If you please, Old Mother Nature," said Peter timidly but very
politely, "I've some questions I want to ask you."

Old Mother Nature's eyes twinkled in a kindly way.  "All right,
Peter," she replied.  "I guess I can talk and work at the same
time.  What is it you want to know?"

"I want to know if it is true that there are any other members of
the Rabbit and the Hare family besides my big cousin, Jumper, who
lives here in the Green Forest, and myself."

Old Mother Nature's eyes twinkled more than ever.  "Why, of course,
Peter," she replied.  "There are several other members.  You ought
to know that.  But then, I suppose you don't because you never
have traveled.  It is surprising how little some folks know about
the very things they ought to know most about."

Peter looked very humble and as if he felt a little bit foolish.
"Is--is--is it true that way down in the Sunny South I have a
cousin who loves to spend his time in the water?" stammered Peter.

"It certainly is, Peter," replied Old Mother Nature.  "He is called
the Marsh Rabbit, and he is more nearly your size, and looks more
like you, than any of your other cousins."

Peter gulped as if he were swallowing something that went down
hard.  "That is what Jenny Wren said, but I didn't believe her,"
replied Peter meekly.  "She said she had often watched him
swimming about like Jerry Muskrat."

Old Mother Nature nodded.  "Quite true.  Quite true," said she.
"He is quite as much at home in the water as on land, if anything
a little more so.  He is one member the family who takes to the
water, and he certainly does love it.  Is there anything else you
want to know, Peter?"

Peter shifted about uneasily and hesitated.  "What is it, Peter?"
asked Old Mother Nature kindly.  "There is nothing in the Great
World equal to knowledge, and if I can add to your store of it I
will be very glad to."

Peter took heart.  "If--if you please, Mother Nature, I would like
to learn all about my family.  May come to school to you every day?"

Old Mother Nature laughed right out.  "Certainly you may go to
school to me, old Mr. Curiosity," said she.  "It is a good idea;
a very good idea.  I'm very busy, as you can see, but I'm never
too busy to teach those who really want to learn.  We'll have a
lesson here every morning just at sun-up.  I can't be bothered
any more to-day, because it is late.  Run along home to the dear
Old Briar-patch and think up some questions to ask me to-morrow
morning.  And, by the way, Peter, I will ask YOU some questions.
For one thing I shall ask you to tell me all you know about your
own family.  Now scamper along and be here to-morrow morning
at sun-up."

"May I bring my cousin, Jumper the Hare, if he wants to come?"
asked Peter, as he prepared to obey Old Mother Nature.

"Bring him along and any one else who wants to learn," replied Old
Mother Nature kindly.

Peter bade her good-by in his most polite manner and then scampered
as fast as he could go, lipperty-lipperty-lip, to the dear Old
Briar-patch.  There he spent the remainder of the day thinking up
questions and also trying to find out how much he really did know
about his own family.



CHAPTER II  Peter and Jumper go to School

Hardly had jolly, round, red Mr. Sun thrown off his rosy blankets
and begun his daily climb up in the blue, blue sky when Peter
Rabbit and his cousin, Jumper the Hare, arrived at the place in
the Green Forest where Peter had found Old Mother Nature the day
before.  She was waiting for them, ready to begin the first lesson.

"I am glad you are so prompt," said she.  "Promptness is one of
the most important things in life.  Now I am very, very busy these
days, as you know, so we will begin school at once.  Before either
of you ask any questions, I am going to ask some myself.  Peter,
what do you look like?  Where do you live?  What do you eat?  I
want to find out just how much you really know about yourself."

Peter scratched one ear with a long hind foot and hesitated as
if he didn't know just how to begin.  Old Mother Nature waited
patiently.  Finally Peter began rather timidly.

"Of course," said he, "the only way I know how I look is by the
way the other members of my family look, for I've never seen
myself.  I suppose in a way I look like all the rest of the Rabbit
family.  I have long hind legs and short front ones.  I suppose
this is so I can make long jumps when I am in a hurry."

Old Mother Nature nodded, and Peter, taking courage, continued.  "My
hind legs are stout and strong, but my front ones are rather weak.
I guess this is because I do not have a great deal of use for them,
except for running.  My coat is a sort of mixture of brown and gray,
more brown in summer and more gray in winter.  My ears are longer for
my size than are those of most animals, but really not very long after
all, not nearly as long for my size as my cousin Jumper's are for his
size.  My tail doesn't amount to much because it is so short that it
is hardly worth calling a tail.  It is so short I carry it straight
up.  It is white like a little bunch of cotton, and I suppose that
that is why I am called a Cottontail Rabbit, though I have heard that
some folks  call me a Gray Rabbit and others a Bush Rabbit.  I guess
I'm  called Bush Rabbit because I like bushy country in which to live."

"I live in the dear Old Briar-patch and just love it.  It is a
mass of bushes and bramble-tangles and is the safest place I know
of.  I have cut little paths all through it just big enough for
Mrs. Peter and myself.  None of our enemies can get at us there,
excepting Shadow the Weasel or Billy Mink.  I have a sort of nest
there where I spend my time when I am not running about.  It is
called a form and I sit in it a great deal."

"In summer I eat clover, grass and other green things, and I just
love to get over into Farmer Brown's garden.  In winter I have to
take what I can get, and this is mostly bark from young trees,
buds and tender twigs of bushes, and any green plants I can find
under the snow.  I can run fast for a short distance, but only
for a short distance.  That is why I like thick brush and
bramble-tangles.  There I can dodge.  I don't know any one who can beat
me at dodging.  If Reddy Fox or Bowser the Hound surprises me away from
the dear Old Briar-patch I run for the nearest hollow log or hole in the
ground.  Sometimes in summer I dig a hole for myself, but not often.  It
is much easier to use a hole somebody else has dug.  When I want to
signal my friends I thump the ground with my hind feet.  Jumper does the
same thing.  I forgot to say I don't like water."

Old Mother Nature smiled.  "You are thinking of that cousin of
yours, the Marsh Rabbit who lives way down in the Sunny South,"
said she.

Peter looked a wee bit foolish and admitted that he was. Jumper
the Hare was all interest at once.  You see, he had never heard
of this cousin.

"That was a very good account of yourself, Peter," said Old Mother
Nature.  "Now take a look at your cousin, Jumper the Hare, and
tell me how he differs from you."

Peter took a long look at Jumper, and then, as before, scratched
one ear with a long hind foot.  "In the first place," said he,
"Jumper is considerably bigger than I.  He has very long hind legs
and his ears are very long.  In summer he wears a brown coat, but
in winter he is all white but the tips of those long ears, and
those are black.  Because his coat changes so, he is called the
varying Hare.  He likes the Green Forest where the trees grow
close together, especially those places where there are a great
many young trees.  He's the biggest member of our family.  I
guess that's all I know about Cousin Jumper."

"That is very good, Peter, as far as it goes," said Old Mother
Nature.  "You have made only one mistake.  Jumper is not the
biggest of his family."

Both Peter and Jumper opened their eyes very wide with surprise.
"Also," continued Old Mother Nature, "you forgot to mention the
fact that Jumper never hides in hollow logs and holes in the
ground as you do.  Why don't you, Jumper?"

"I wouldn't feel safe there," replied Jumper rather timidly.  "I
depend on my long legs for safety, and the way I can dodge around
trees and bushes.  I suppose Reddy Fox may be fast enough to catch
me in the open, but he can't do it where I can dodge around trees
and bushes.  That is why I stick to the Green Forest.  If you please,
Mother Nature, what is this about a cousin who likes to swim?"

Old Mother Nature's eyes twinkled.  "We'll get to that later on,"
said she.  "Now, each of you hold up a hind foot and tell me what
difference you see."

Peter and Jumper each held up a hind foot and each looked first at
his own and then at the other's.  "They look to me very much
alike, only Jumper's is a lot longer and bigger than mine," said
Peter.  Jumper nodded as if he agreed.

"What's the matter with your eyes?" demanded Old Mother Nature.
"Don't you see that Jumper's foot is a great deal broader than
yours, Peter, and that his toes are spread apart, while yours are
close together?"

Peter and Jumper looked sheepish, for it was just as Old Mother
Nature had said.  Jumper's foot really was quite different from
that of Peter.  Peter's was narrow and slim.

"That is a very important difference," declared Old Mother Nature.
"Can you guess why I gave you those big feet, Jumper?"

Jumper slowly shook his head.  "Not unless it was to make me
different," said he.

"I'm surprised," said Old Mother Nature.  "Yes, indeed, I'm
surprised.  You ought to know by this time that I never give
anybody anything without a purpose.  What happens to those big
feet of yours in the winter, Jumper?"

"Nothing that I know of, excepting that the hair grows out long
between my toes," Jumper replied.

"Exactly," snapped Old Mother Nature.  "And when the hair does this
you can travel over light snow without sinking in.  It is just as
if you had snowshoes.  That is why you are often called a Snowshoe
Rabbit.  I gave you those big feet and make the hair grow out every
winter because I know that you depend on your legs to get away from
your enemies.  You can run over the deep snow where your enemies
break through.  Peter, though he is small and lighter than you are,
cannot go where you can.  But Peter doesn't need to depend always
on his legs to save his life.  There is one thing more that I want
you both to notice, and that is that you both have quite a lot of
short hairs on the soles of you feet.  That is where you differ
from that cousin of yours down in the Sunny South.  He has only
a very few hairs on his feet.  That is so he can swim better."

"If you please, Mother Nature, why is that cousin of ours so fond
of the water?" piped up Peter.

"Because," replied Old Mother Nature, "he lives in marshy country
where there is a great deal of water.  He is very nearly the same
size as you, Peter, and looks very much like you.  But his legs
are not quite so long, his ears are a little smaller, and his tail
is brownish instead of white.  He is a poor runner and so in time
of danger he takes to the water.  For that matter, he goes swimming
for pleasure.  The water is warm down there, and he dearly loves
to paddle about in it.  If a Fox chases him he simply plunges into
the water and hides among the water plants with only his eyes and
his nose out of water."

"Does he make his home in the water like Jerry Muskrat?" asked
Peter innocently.

Mother Nature smiled and shook her head.  "Certainly not," she
replied.  "His home is on the ground.  His babies are born in a
nest made just as Mrs. Peter makes her nest for your babies, and
Mrs. Jumper makes a nest for Jumper's babies.  It is made of grass
and lined with soft fur which Mrs. Rabbit pulls from her own
breast, and it is very carefully hidden.  By the way, Peter how do
your babies differ from the babies of your Cousin Jumper?"

Peter shook his head.  "I don't know," said he.  "My babies don't
have their eyes open when they are born, and they haven't any hair."

Jumper pricked up his long ears.  "What's that?" said he.
"Why, my babies have their eyes open and have the dearest little
fur coats!"

Old Mother Nature chuckled.  "That is the difference," said she.
"I guess both of you have learned something."

"You said a little while ago that Jumper isn't the biggest of our
family," said Peter.  "If you please, who is?"

"There are several bigger than Jumper," replied Old Mother Nature,
and smiled as she saw the funny look of surprise on the faces of
Peter and Jumper.  "There is one way up the Frozen North and there
are two cousins way out in the Great West.  They are as much
bigger than Jumper as Jumper is bigger than you, Peter.  But I
haven't time to tell you about them now.  If you really want to
learn about them, be here promptly at sun-up to-morrow morning.
Hello!  Here comes Reddy Fox, and he looks to me as if a good
breakfast would not come amiss.  Let me see what you have learned
about taking care of yourselves."

Peter and Jumper gave one startled look in the direction Mother
Nature was pointing.  Sure enough, there was Reddy Fox.  Not far
away was a hollow log.  Peter wasted no time in getting to it.
In fact, he left in such a hurry that he forgot to say good-by to
Old Mother Nature.  But she didn't mind, for she quite understood
Peter's feelings, and she laughed when she saw his funny little
white tail disappear inside the hollow log.  As for Jumper, he
promptly took to his long legs and disappeared with great bounds,
Reddy Fox racing after him.



CHAPTER III  More of Peter's Long-Legged Cousins

At sun-up the next morning Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare were on
hand promptly for their next lesson.  Old Mother Nature smiled as
she saw the eager curiosity shining in their eyes.  She didn't wait
for them to ask questions.  "Yesterday," said she, "I told you
about your water-loving cousin, the Marsh Rabbit.  You have another
relative down there in the Sunny South who is almost as fond of
the water.  Some folks call him the Swamp Rabbit.  Others call him
the Swamp Hare.  The latter is really the best name for him, because
he is a true Hare.  He lives in swamps instead of marshes, but he is
a splendid swimmer and fond of the water.  When he is chased by an
enemy he makes for the nearest point or stream."

"How big is he?" asked Jumper.

"Just about your size, Jumper," replied Old Mother Nature.  "If
anything, he is a little bit heavier.  But because his hair lies
much smoother than yours, you probably would look a little bit
bigger if you were sitting beside him.  As with his cousin, the
Marsh Rabbit, the hair on his feet is thin.  His toes are rather
long and he can spread them widely, which is a great help in
swimming.  He doesn't have to take to the water as his little
cousin does, for he is a very good runner.  But he does take to it
as the easiest way of getting rid of those who are chasing him.
The Marsh Rabbit and the Swamp Hare are the only members of your
family in all the Great World who are fond of the water and who
are at home in it.  Now, who shall I tell you about?"

"Our biggest cousins," cried Peter and Jumper together.  "The ones
you told us yesterday are bigger than Jumper," added Peter.  "It
is hard to believe that there can be any much bigger than he."

Old Mother Nature's eyes twinkled.  "It is often hard to believe
things you know nothing about," said she.  "Compared with these
other relatives, Jumper really isn't big at all.  He seems big to
you, Peter, but if he should meet his cousin, Snow White the Arctic
Hare, who lives way up in the Frozen North, I am quite sure Jumper
would feel small.  Snow White looks very much like Jumper in his
winter coat, for he is all white save the tips of his ears,
which are black."

"Does he wear a white coat all year round?" asked Peter eagerly.

"When he lives so far north that there is snow and ice for most of
the year, he does," replied Old Mother Nature.  "But when he lives
far enough south for the snow to disappear for a little while in
the summer, he changes his white coat for one of gray."

"But how can he live so far north that the snow and ice seldom melt?"
asked Peter, looking very much puzzled.  "What can he find to eat?"

"Even way up there there is moss growing under the snow.  And in the
short summer other plants grow.  During the long winter Snow White
digs down through the snow to get these.  He also eats the bark and
twigs of little stunted trees.  But big as he is, you have a cousin
who is still bigger, the biggest of all the family."

"Who is he?" Jumper and Peter cried together.

"He is called White-tailed Jack," replied Old Mother Nature.  "And
he lives chiefly on the great plains of the Northwest, though
sometimes he is found in the mountains and forests.  He is sometimes
called the Prairie Hare.  In winter his coat is white, but in
summer it is a light brown.  Summer or winter his tail is white,
wherein he is much like you, Peter.  It is because of this that he
is called White-tailed Jack."

"Is his tail as short as mine?" asked Peter eagerly.

Old Mother Nature laughed right out.  "No, Peter," she replied.
"It wouldn't be called a long tail by any other animal, but for a
member of your family it really is long, and when White-tailed
Jack is running he switches it from side to side.  His hind legs
are very long and powerful, and he can make a single jump of twenty
feet without half trying.  Not even Old Man Coyote can catch him
in a straightaway race.  You think Jumper's ears are long, Peter,
but they are short compared to the ears of White-tailed Jack.  Not
only are his ears long, but they are very big.  When he squats in
his form and lays his ears back they reach way over his shoulders.
Like the other members of the Hare family he doesn't use holes in
the ground or hollow logs.  He trusts to his long legs and to his
wonderful speed to escape from his enemies.  Among the latter are
Howler the Wolf, Old Man Coyote, Eagles, Hawks and Owls.  He is
so big that he would make five or six of you, Peter."

Peter drew a long breath.  "It is dreadfully hard to believe that
I can have a cousin as big as that," he exclaimed.  "But of course
if you say it is so, it is so," he hastened to add.  "Have I any
other cousins anywhere near as big?"

Old Mother Nature nodded.  "There are some others very like
White-tailed Jack, only not quite as big," said she.  "They have
just such long hind legs, and just such great ears, but their
coats are different, and they live on the great plains farther
south.  Some of them live so far south that it is warm all the
year round.  One of these latter is Antelope Jack, whose home is
in the Southwest."

"Tell us about him," begged Peter.

"To begin with," replied Old Mother Nature, "he is a member of the
big Jack Rabbit or Jack Hare branch of your family.  None of this
branch should be called a Rabbit.  All the members are first cousins
to Jumper and are true Hares.  All have big ears, long, rather thin
necks, and long legs.  Even their front legs are comparatively long.
Antelope Jack is probably next in size to White-tailed Jack.  Strange
to say, although he lives where it is warm for most of the year, his
coat is very largely white.  His back is a yellowish-brown and so is
his throat.  But his sides are white.  The surprising thing about
him is that he has the power of making himself seem almost wholly
white.  He can make the white hair spread out at will by means of
some special little muscles which I have given him, so that the
white of his sides at times almost seems to meet on his back.  When
he does this in the sun it makes flashes of white which can be seen
a long way.  By means of this Antelope Jack and his friends can
keep track of each other when they are a long distance apart.  There
is only one other animal who can flash signals in this way, and that
is the Antelope of whom I will tell you some other time.  It is
because Jack flashes signals in this way that he is called Antelope
Jack.  In his habits he is otherwise much like the other members of
his family.  He trusts to his long legs and his wonderful powers of
jumping to keep him out of danger.  He is not as well known as his
commoner cousin, plain Jack Rabbit.  Everybody knows Jack Rabbit."

Peter shook his head.  "I don't," said he very meekly.

"Then it is time you did," replied Old Mother Nature.  "If you had
ever been in the Far West you would know him.  Everybody out there
knows him.  He isn't quite as big as Antelope Jack but still he is
a big fellow.  He wears a brownish coat much like Jumper's, and
the tips of his long ears are black.  His tail is longer than
Jumper's, and when he runs he carries it down."

"I don't carry mine down," Peter piped up.

Old Mother Nature laughed right out.  "True enough, Peter, true
enough," said she.  "You couldn't if you wanted to.  It isn't long
enough to carry any way but up.  Jack has more of a tail than you
have, just as he has longer legs.  My, how he can run!  He goes with
great bounds and about every tenth bound he jumps very high.  This
is so that he can get a good look around to watch out for enemies."

"Who are his enemies?" asked Peter.

"Foxes, Coyotes, Hawks, Eagles, Owls, Weasels, and men," replied
Old Mother Nature.  "In fact, he has about as many enemies as
you have."

"I suppose when you say men, you mean hunters," said Peter.

Old Mother Nature nodded.  "Yes," said she, "I mean those who hunt
him for fun and those who hunt him to get rid of him."

Peter pricked up his ears.  "What do they want to get rid of him
for.  What harm does he do?" he asked.

"When he lives far away from the homes of men he does no harm,"
replied Old Mother Nature.  "But when he lives near the homes of
men he gets into mischief, just as you do when you visit Farmer
Brown's garden."  Old Mother Nature looked very severe when she
said this and Peter hung his head.

"I know I ought to keep away from that garden," said Peter very
meekly, "but you have no idea what a temptation it is.  The things
in that garden do taste so good."

Old Mother Nature turned her head to hide the twinkle in her eyes.
When she turned toward Peter again her face was severe as before.
"That is no excuse, Peter Rabbit," said she.  "You should be
sufficiently strong-minded not to yield to temptation.  Yielding
to temptation is the cause of most of the trouble in this world.
It has made man an enemy to Jack Rabbit.  Jack just cannot keep
away from the crops planted by men.  His family is very large, and
when a lot of them get together in a field of clover or young wheat,
or in a young orchard where the bark on the trees is tender and
sweet, they do so much damage that the owner is hardly to be blamed
for becoming angry and seeking to kill them.  Yes, I am sorry to
say, Jack Rabbit becomes a terrible nuisance when he goes where
he has no business.  Now I guess you have learned sufficient about
your long-legged cousins.  I've a great deal to do, so skip along
home, both of you."

"If you please, Mother Nature, may we come again to-morrow?"
asked Peter.

"What for?" demanded Old Mother Nature.  "Haven't you learned enough
about your family?"

"Yes," replied Peter, "but there are lots and lots of things I
would like to know about other people.  If you please, I would
like to come to school to you every day.  You see, the more I
learn about my neighbors, the better able I will be to take care
of myself."

"All right, Mr. Curiosity," replied Old Mother Nature good-naturedly,
"come again to-morrow morning.  I wouldn't for the world deny any one
who is really seeking for knowledge."

So Peter and Jumper politely bade her good-by and started for
their homes.



CHAPTER IV  Chatterer and Happy Jack Join

Peter Rabbit, on his way to school to Old Mother Nature, was trying
to make up his mind about which of his neighbors he would ask.  He
had learned so many surprising things about his own family that he
shrewdly suspected many equally surprising things were to be learned
about his neighbors.  But there were so many neighbors he couldn't
decide which one to ask about first.

But that matter was settled for him, and in a funny way.  Hardly
had he reached the edge of the Green Forest when he was hailed by a
sharp voice.  "Hello, Peter Rabbit!" said this sharp voice.  "Where
are you bound at this hour of the morning?  You ought to be heading
for home in the dear Old Briar-patch."

Peter knew that voice the instant he heard it.  It was the voice of
Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel.  Happy Jack was seated on the top of
an old stump, eating a nut.  "I'm going to school," replied Peter
with a great deal of dignity.

"Going to school!  Ho, ho, ho!  Going to school!" exclaimed Happy
Jack.  "Pray tell me to whom you are going to school, and what for?"

"I'm going to school to Old Mother Nature," retorted Peter.  "I've
been going for several days, and so has my cousin, Jumper the Hare.
We've learned a lot about our own family and now we are going to
learn about the other little people of the Green Forest and the
Green Meadows."

"Pooh!" exclaimed Happy Jack.  "Pooh! I know all about my own family,
and I guess there isn't much worth knowing about my neighbors that
I don't know."

"Is that so, Mr. Know-it-all," retorted Peter.  "I don't believe
you even know all your own cousins.  I thought I knew all mine, but
I found I didn't."

"What are you fellows talking about?" asked another voice, a sharp
scolding voice, and Chatterer the Red Squirrel jumped from one
tree to another just above Peter's head.

"Peter is trying to make me believe that I don't know as much as I
might about our own family," snapped Happy Jack indignantly.  "He
is on his way to school to Old Mother Nature and has advised me to
join him.  Isn't that a joke?"

"Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't," retorted Chatterer, who isn't
the best of friends with his cousin, Happy Jack.  "If I don't know
as much about the Squirrel family as you do, may I never find another
nut as long as I live.  But at that, I'm not sure I know all there
is to know.  I think it would be fun to go to school for a while.
What do you say, Peter, if I go along with you?"

Peter said that he thought it would be a very fine thing and that
Chatterer never would regret it.  Chatterer winked at his cousin,
Happy Jack, and followed Peter, only of course, Chatterer kept in
the trees while Peter was on the ground.  Happy Jack hesitated a
minute and then, curiosity becoming too much for him, he hastened
after the others.

"Hello!" exclaimed Old Mother Nature, as Happy Jack and Chatterer
appeared with Peter Rabbit.  "What are you frisky folks doing
over here?"

Happy Jack and Chatterer appeared to have lost their tongues,
something very unusual for them, especially for Chatterer.  The
fact is, in the presence of Old Mother Nature they felt bashful.
Peter replied for them.  "They've decided to come to school,
too," said he.  "Happy Jack says he knows all about his own
family, but he has come along to find out if he really does."

"It won't take us long to find out," said Old Mother Nature softly
and her eyes twinkled with amusement.  "How many cousins have
you, Happy Jack?"

Happy Jack thought for a moment.  "Three," he replied, but he
didn't say it in a very positive way.  Peter chuckled to himself,
for he knew that already doubt was beginning to grow in Happy
Jack's mind.

"Name them," commanded Old Mother Nature promptly.

"Chatterer the Red Squirrel, Timmy the Flying Squirrel, and
Striped Chipmunk," replied Happy Jack.

"He's forgotten Rusty the Fox Squirrel," shouted Chatterer,
dancing about gleefully.

Happy Jack looked crestfallen and gave Chatterer an angry look.

"That's right, Chatterer," said Old Mother Nature.  "Rusty is a
very important member of the Squirrel family.  Now suppose you
name the others."

"Wha--wha--what others?" stammered Chatterer.  "I don't know of
any others."

Peter Rabbit hugged himself with glee as he watched the faces of
Happy Jack and Chatterer.  "They don't know any more about their
family than we did about ours," he whispered in one of the long
ears of Jumper the Hare.

As for Old Mother Nature, she smiled indulgently.  "Put on your
thinking-caps, you two," said she.  "You haven't named half of
them.  You are not wholly to blame for that, for some of them you
never have seen, but there is one member of the Squirrel family
whom both of you know very well, yet whom neither of you named.
Put on your thinking-caps."

Chatterer looked at Happy Jack, and Happy Jack looked at Chatterer,
and each scratched his head.  Each wanted to be the first to think
of that other cousin, for each was jealous of the other.  But though
they scratched and scratched their heads, they couldn't think who
that other cousin could be.  Old Mother Nature waited a few minutes
before she told them.  Then, seeing that either they couldn't
remember or didn't know, she said, "You didn't mention Johnny Chuck."

"Johnny Chuck!" exclaimed Chatterer and Happy Jack together, and
the look of surprise on their faces was funny to see.  For that
matter, the looks on the faces of Peter Rabbit and Jumper the
Hare were equally funny.

Old Mother Nature nodded.  "Johnny Chuck," she repeated.  "He is a
member of the Squirrel family.  He belongs to the Marmot branch,
but he is a Squirrel just the same.  He is one of your cousins."

"He's a mighty funny looking Squirrel," said Chatterer, jerking
his tail as only he can.

"That just shows your ignorance, Chatterer," replied Old Mother
Nature rather sharply.  "I'm surprised at the ignorance of you
two."  She looked first at Chatterer, than at Happy Jack.  "It is
high time you came to school to me for a while.  You've got a lot
to learn.  For that matter, so have Peter and Jumper.  Now which
of you can tell me what order you all belong to?"

Happy Jack looked at Chatterer, Chatterer looked at Peter Rabbit,
and Peter looked at Jumper the Hare.  On the face of each was such
a funny, puzzled expression that Old Mother Nature almost laughed
right out.  Finally Peter Rabbit found his tongue.  "If you please,"
said he, "I guess we don't know what you mean by an order."

"I thought as much," said Old Mother Nature.  "I thought as much.
In the first place, the animals of the Great World are divided
into big groups or divisions, and then these groups are divided
into smaller groups, and these in turn into still smaller groups.
Happy Jack and Chatterer belong to a group called the Squirrel
family, and Peter and Jumper to a group called the Hare family.
Both of these families and several other families belong to a
bigger group called an order, and this order is the order of
Gnawers, or Rodents."

Peter Rabbit fairly jumped up in the air, he was so excited.  "Then
Jumper and I must be related to Happy Jack and Chatterer," he cried.

"In a way you are," replied Old Mother Nature.  "It isn't a very
close relationship, still you are related.  All of you are Rodents.
So are all the members of the Rat and Mouse family, the Beaver
family, the Porcupine family, the Pocket Gopher family, the Pika
family, and the Sewellel family."

By this time Peter's eyes looked as if they would pop right out of
his head.  "This is the first time I've ever heard of some of those
families," said he.  "My, what a lot we have to learn!  Is it
because all the members of all those families have teeth for gnawing
that they are all sort of related?"

Old Mother Nature looked pleased.  "Peter," said she, "I think you
ought to go to the head of the class.  That is just why.  All the
members of all the families I have named belong to the same order,
the order of Rodents.  All the members have big, cutting, front
teeth.  Animals without such teeth cannot gnaw.  Now, as you and
Jumper have learned about your family, it is the turn of Happy Jack
and Chatterer to learn about their family.  Theirs is rather a large
family, and it is divided into three groups, the first of which
consists of the true Squirrels, to which group both Happy Jack and
Chatterer belong.  The second group consists of the Marmots, and
Johnny Chuck belongs to this.  The third group Timmy the Flying
Squirrel has all to himself."

"Where does Striped Chipmunk come in?" asked Chatterer.

"I'm coming to that," replied Old Mother Nature.  "The true Squirrels
are divided into the Tree Squirrels, Rock Squirrels, and Ground
Squirrels.  Of course Chatterer and Happy Jack are Tree Squirrels."

"And Striped Chipmunk is a Ground Squirrel," interrupted Peter,
looking as if he felt very much pleased with his own smartness.

Old Mother Nature shook her head.  "You are wrong this time,
Peter," said she, and Peter looked as foolish as he felt.  "Striped
Chipmunk is a Rock Squirrel.  Seek Seek the Spermophile who lives
on the plains of the West and is often called Gopher Squirrel, is
the true Ground Squirrel.  Now I can't spend any more time with you
little folks this morning, because I've too much to do.  To-morrow
morning I shall expect Chatterer to tell me all about Happy Jack,
and Happy Jack to tell me all about Chatterer.  Now scamper along,
all of you, and think over what you have learned this morning."

So Peter and Jumper and Chatterer and Happy Jack thanked Old Mother
Nature for what she had told them and scampered away.  Peter headed
straight for the far corner of the Old Orchard where he was sure he
would find Johnny Chuck.  He couldn't get there fast enough, for he
wanted to be the first to tell Johnny Chuck that he was a Squirrel.
You see he didn't believe that Johnny knew it.



CHAPTER V  The Squirrels of the Trees

Peter Rabbit found Johnny Chuck sitting on his doorstep, sunning
himself.  Peter was quite out of breath because he had hurried so.
"Do you know that you are a Squirrel, Johnny Chuck?" he panted.

Johnny slowly turned his head and looked at Peter as if he thought
Peter had suddenly gone crazy.  "What are you talking about, Peter
Rabbit?  I'm not a Squirrel; I'm a Woodchuck," he replied.

"Just the same, you are a Squirrel," retorted Peter.  "The Woodchucks
belong to the Squirrel family.  Old Mother Nature says so, and if she
says so, it is so.  You'd better join our school, Johnny Chuck, and
learn a little about your own relatives."

Johnny Chuck blinked his eyes and for a minute or two couldn't find
a word to say.  He knew that if Peter were telling the truth as to
what Old Mother Nature had said, it must be true that he was member
of the Squirrel family.  But it was hard to believe.  "What is this
school?" he finally asked.

Peter hastened to tell him.  He told Johnny all about what he and
Jumper the Hare had learned about their family, and all the
surprising things Old Mother Nature had told them about the
Squirrel family, and he ended by again urging Johnny Chuck to
join the school and promised to call for Johnny the next morning.

But Johnny Chuck is lazy and does not like to go far from his own
doorstep, so when Peter called the next morning Johnny refused to
go, despite all Peter could say.  Peter didn't waste much time
arguing for he was afraid he would be late and miss something.
When he reached the Green Forest he found his cousin, Jumper the
Hare, and Chatterer the Red Squirrel, and Happy Jack the Gray
Squirrel, already there.  As soon as Peter arrived Old Mother
Nature began the morning lesson.

"Happy Jack," said she, "you may tell us all you know about your
cousin, Chatterer."

"To begin with, he is the smallest of the Tree Squirrels," said
Happy Jack.  "He isn't so very much bigger than Striped Chipmunk,
and that means that he is less than half as big as myself.  His
coat is red and his waistcoat white; his tail is about two-thirds
as long as his body and flat but not very broad.  Personally, I
don't think it is much of a tail."

At once Chatterer's quick temper flared up and he began to scold.
But Old Mother Nature silenced him and told Happy Jack to go on.
"He spends more of his time in the trees than I do," continued
Happy Jack, "and is especially fond of pine trees and other
cone-bearing trees.  He likes the deeper parts of the Green Forest
better than I do, though he seems to feel just as much at home on
the edge of the Green Forest, especially if it is near a farm where
he can steal corn."

Chatterer started to scold again but was silenced once more by Old
Mother Nature.  "I have to admit that Chatterer is thrifty,"
continued Happy Jack, quite as if he hadn't been interrupted.
"He is very fond of the seeds of cone-bearing trees.  He cuts the
cones from the trees just before they are ripe.  Then they ripen
and open on the ground, where he can get at the seeds easily.  He
often has a number of store-houses and stores up cone seeds, acorns,
nuts, and corn when he can get it.  He builds a nest of leaves and
strips of bark, sometimes in a hollow tree and sometimes high up
in the branches of an evergreen tree.  He is a good jumper and
jumps from tree to tree.  He is a busybody and always poking his
nose in where he has no business.  He steals my stores whenever he
can find them."

"You do the same thing to me when you have the chance, which isn't
often," sputtered Chatterer.

Happy Jack turned his back to Chatterer and continued, "He doesn't
seem to mind cold weather at all, as long as the sun shines.  His
noisy tongue is to be heard on the coldest days of winter.  He is
the sauciest, most impudent fellow of the Green Forest, and never
so happy as when he is making trouble for others.  He sauces and
scolds everybody he meets, and every time he opens his mouth he
jerks his tail.  He's quarrelsome.  Worse than that, in the spring
when the birds are nesting, he turns robber.  He goes hunting
for nests and steals the eggs, and what is even more dreadful, he
kills and eats the baby birds.  All the birds hate him, and I
don't blame them."

Chatterer could contain himself no longer.  His tongue fairly flew
and he jerked his tail so hard and so fast that Peter Rabbit almost
expected to see him break it right off.  He called Happy Jack
names, all the bad names he could think of, and worked himself up
into such a rage that it was some time before Old Mother Nature
could quiet him.

When at last he stopped from sheer lack of breath, Old Mother
Nature spoke, and her voice was very severe.  "I'm ashamed of you,
Chatterer," said she.  "Unfortunately, what Happy Jack has said
about you is true.  In  many ways you are a disgrace to the Green
Forest.  Still I don't know how the Green Forest could get along
without you.  Happy Jack forgot to mention that you eat some
insects at times.  He also forgot to mention that sometimes you
have a storehouse down in the ground.  Now tell us what you know
about your cousin, Happy Jack."

For a few minutes Chatterer sulked, but he did not dare disobey Old
Mother Nature.  "I don't know much good about him," he mumbled.

"And you don't know much bad about me either," retorted Happy
Jack sharply.

Old Mother Nature held up a warning hand.  "That will do," said
she.  "Now, Chatterer, go on."

"Happy Jack is more than twice as big as I, but at that, I'm not
afraid of him," said Chatterer and glared at Happy Jack.  "He is
gray all over, except underneath, where he is white.  He has a
tremendously big tail and is so proud of it he shows it off
whenever he has a chance.  When he sits up he has a way of
folding his hands on his breast.  I don't know what he does it
for unless it is to keep them warm in cold weather.  He builds a
nest very much like mine.  Sometimes it is in a hollow tree, but
quite as often it is in the branches of a tree.  He is a good
traveler in the tree-tops, but he spends a good deal of his time
on the ground.  He likes open woodland best, especially where
there are many nut trees.  He has a storehouse where he stores up
nuts for winter, but he buries in the ground and under the leaves
more than he puts in his storehouse.  In winter, when he is hungry,
he hunts for those buried nuts, and somehow he manages to find them
even when they are covered with snow.  When he comes to stealing
he is not better than I am.  I have seen him steal birds' eggs,
and I wouldn't trust him unwatched around one of my storehouses."

It was Happy Jacks' turn to become indignant.  "I may have taken a
few eggs when I accidentally ran across them," said he, "but I never
go looking for them, and I don't take them unless I am very hungry
and can't find anything else.  I don't make a business of robbing
birds the way you do, and you know it.  If I find one of your
storehouses and help myself, I am only getting back what you have
stolen from me.  Everybody loves me and that is more than you
can say."

"That's enough," declared Old Mother Nature, and her voice was very
sharp.  "You two cousins never have agreed and I am afraid never will.
As long as you are neighbors, I suspect you will quarrel.  Have you
told us all you know about Happy Jack, Chatterer?"

Chatterer nodded.  He was still mumbling to himself angrily and
wasn't polite enough to make a reply.  Old Mother Nature took no
notice of this.  "What you have told us is good as far as it goes,"
said she.  "You said that Happy Jack is all gray excepting
underneath.  Usually the Gray Squirrel is just as Chatterer has
described him, but sometimes a Gray Squirrel isn't gray at all,
but all black."

Peter Rabbit's ears stood straight up with astonishment.  "How can
a Gray Squirrel be black?" he demanded.

Old Mother Nature smiled.  "That is a fair question, Peter," said
she.  "Gray Squirrel is simply the name of Happy Jack's family.
Sometimes some of the babies are born with black coats instead of
gray coats.  Of course they are just the same kind of Squirrel,
only they look different.  In some parts of the country there are
numbers of these black-coated Squirrels and many think they are a
different kind of Squirrel.  They are not.  They are simply
black-coated members of Happy Jack's family.  Just remember this.
It is the same way in the family of Rusty the Fox Squirrel.  Some
members are rusty red, some are a mixture of red and gray, and some
are as gray as Happy Jack himself.  Way down in the Sunny South Fox
Squirrels always have white noses and ears.  In the North they never
have white noses and ears.  Rusty the Fox Squirrel is just a little
bigger than Happy Jack and has just such a handsome tail.  He is
the strongest and heaviest of the Tree Squirrels and not nearly
as quick and graceful as Happy Jack.  Sometimes Rusty has two
nests in the same tree, one in a hollow in a tree for bad weather
and the other made of sticks and leaves outside in the branches
for use in good weather.  Rusty's habits are very much the same
as those of Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel, and therefore he likes
the same kind of surroundings.  Like his cousin, Happy Jack,
Rusty is a great help to me."

Seeing how surprised everybody looked, Mother Nature explained.
"Both Happy Jack and Rusty bury a great many more nuts than they
ever need," said she, "and those they do not dig up sprout in the
spring and grow. In that way they plant ever so many trees without
knowing it.  Just remember that, Chatterer, the next time you are
tempted to quarrel with your cousin, Happy Jack.  Very likely Happy
Jack's great-great-ever-so-great grandfather planted the very tree
you get your fattest and best hickory nuts from.

"Way out in the mountains of the Far West you have a cousin called
the Douglas Squirrel, who is really a true Red Squirrel and whose
habits are very much like your own.  Some folks call him the Pine
Squirrel.  By the way, Chatterer, Happy Jack forgot to say that
you are a good swimmer.  Perhaps he didn't know it."

By the expression of Happy Jack's face it was quite clear that he
didn't know it.  "Certainly I can swim," said Chatterer.  "I don't
mind the water at all.  I can swim a long distance if I have to."

This was quite as much news to Peter Rabbit as had been the fact
that a cousin of his own was a good swimmer, and he began to feel
something very like respect for Chatterer.

"Are there any other Tree Squirrels?" asked Jumper the Hare.

"Yes," replied Old Mother Nature, "there are two--the handsomest
of all the family.  They live out in the Southwest, in one of the
most wonderful places in all this great land, a place called the
Grand Canyon.  One is called the Abert Squirrel and the other the
Kaibab Squirrel.  They are about the size of Happy Jack and Rusty
but have broader, handsomer tails and their ears have long tufts
of hair.  The Abert Squirrel has black ears, a brown back, gray
sides and white underneath.  Kaibab has brown ears with black
tips, and his tail is mostly white.  Both are very lovely, but
their families are small and so they are little known."

With this, Old Mother Nature dismissed school for the day.



CHAPTER VI  Striped Chipmunk and his Cousins

Of course there couldn't be a school in the Green Forest without
news of it spreading very fast.  News travels quickly through the
Green Forest and over the Green Meadows, for the little people who
live there are great gossips.  So it was not surprising that Striped
Chipmunk heard all about Old Mother Nature's school.  The next
morning, just as the daily lesson was beginning, Striped Chipmunk
came hurrying up, quite our of breath.

"Well, well!  See who's here!" exclaimed Old Mother Nature.  "What
have you come for, Striped Chipmunk?"

"I've come to try to learn.  Will you let me stay, Mother Nature?"
replied Striped Chipmunk.

"Of course I'll let you stay," cried Old Mother Nature heartily.
"I am glad you have come, especially glad you have come today,
because to-day's lesson is to be about you and your cousins.  Now,
Peter Rabbit, what are the differences between Striped Chipmunk
and his cousins, the Tree Squirrels?"

Peter looked very hard at Striped Chipmunk as if he had never really
seen him before.  "He is smaller than they are," began Peter.  "In
fact, he is the smallest Squirrel I know."  Peter paused.

Old Mother Nature nodded encouragingly.  "Go on," said she.

"He wears a striped coat," continued Peter.  "The stripes are black
and yellowish-white and run along his sides, a black stripe running
down the middle of his back.  The rest of his coat is reddish-brown
above and light underneath.  His tail is rather thin and flat.  I
never see him in the trees, so I guess he can't climb."

"Oh, yes, I can," interrupted Striped Chipmunk.  "I can climb if I
want to, and I do sometimes, but prefer the ground."

"Go on, Peter," said Old Mother Nature.

"He seems to like old stone walls and rock piles," continued Peter,
"and he is one of the brightest, liveliest, merriest and the most
lovable of all my friends."

"Thank you, Peter," said Striped Chipmunk softly.

"I never have been able to find his home," continued Peter.  "That is
one of his secrets.  But I know it is in the ground.  I guess this
is all I know about him.  I should say the chief difference between
Striped Chipmunk and the Tree Squirrels is that he spends all his
time on the ground while the others live largely in the trees."

"Very good, Peter," said Old Mother Nature.  "But there are two
very important differences which you have not mentioned.  Striped
Chipmunk has a big pocket on the inside of each cheek, while his
cousins of the trees have no pockets at all."

"Of course," cried Peter.  "I don't see how I came to forget that.
I've laughed many times at Striped Chipmunk with those pockets
stuffed with nuts or seeds until his head looked three times bigger
than it does now.  Those pockets must be very handy."

"They are," replied Striped Chipmunk.  "I couldn't get along without
them.  They save me a lot of running back and forth, I can tell you."

"And the other great difference," said Old Mother Nature, "is
that Striped Chipmunk sleeps nearly all winter, just waking up
occasionally to pop his head out on a bright day to see how the
weather is.  A great many folks call Striped Chipmunk a Ground
Squirrel, but more properly he is a Rock Squirrel because he
likes stony places best.  Supposing, Striped Chipmunk, you tell
us where and how you make your home."

"I make my home down in the ground," replied Striped Chipmunk.  "I
dig a tunnel just big enough to run along comfortably.  Down deep
enough to be out of reach of Jack Frost I make a nice little
bedroom with a bed of grass and leaves, and I make another little
room for a storeroom in which to keep my supply of seeds and nuts.
Sometimes I have more than one storeroom.  Also I have some little
side tunnels."

"But why is it I never have been able to find the entrance to your
tunnel?" asked Peter, as full of curiosity as ever.

"Because I have it hidden underneath the stone wall on the edge of
the Old Orchard," replied Striped Chipmunk.

"But even then, I should think that all the sand you must have
taken out would give your secret away," cried Peter.

Striped Chipmunk chuckled happily.  It was a throaty little chuckle,
pleasant to hear.  "I looked out for that," said he.  "There isn't
a grain of that sand around my doorway.  I took it all out through
another hole some distance away, a sort of back door, and then
closed it up solidly.  If you please, Mother Nature, if I am not
a Ground Squirrel, who is?"

"Your cousin, Seek Seek the Spermophile, sometimes called Gopher
Squirrel, who lives on the open plains of the West where there are
no rocks or stones.  He likes best the flat, open country.  He is
called Spermophile because that means seed-eater, and he lives
largely on seeds, especially on grain.  Because of this he does a
great deal of damage and is much disliked by farmers.

"Seek Seek's family are the true Ground Squirrels.  Please remember
that they never should be called Gophers, for they are not Gophers.
One of the smallest members of the family is just about your size,
Striped Chipmunk, and he also wears stripes, only he has more of
them than you have, and they are broken up into little dots.  He
is called the Thirteen-lined Spermophile.  He has pockets in his
cheeks just as you have, and he makes a home down in the ground
very similar to yours.  All the family do this, and all of them
sleep through the winter.  While they are great seed-eaters they
also eat a great many insects and worms, and some of them even
are guilty of killing and eating the babies of birds that nest
on the ground, and also young mice.

"Some members of the family are almost as big as Happy Jack the
Gray Squirrel and have gray coats.  They are called Gray Ground
Squirrels and sometimes Gray Gophers.  One of the largest of these
is the California Ground Squirrel.  He has a big, bushy tail, very
like Happy Jack's.  He gets into so much mischief in the grain
fields and in the orchards that he is quite as much disliked as is
Jack Rabbit.  This particular member of the family is quite as much
at home among rocks and tree roots as in open ground.  He climbs low
trees for fruit and nuts, but prefers to stay on the ground.  Now
just remember that the Chipmunks are Rock Squirrels and their cousins
the Spermophiles are Ground Squirrels.  Now who of you has seen Timmy
the Flying Squirrel lately?"

"I haven't," said Peter Rabbit.

"I haven't," said Striped Chipmunk.

"I haven't," said Happy Jack.

"I haven't," said Chatterer.

"I have," spoke up Jumper the Hare.  "I saw him last evening just
after jolly, round, red Mr. Sun went to bed behind the Purple Hills
and the Black Shadows came creeping through the Green Forest.  My,
I wish I could fly the way he can!"

Old Mother Nature shook her head disapprovingly.  "Jumper," said she,
"what is wrong with your eyes?  When did you ever see Timmy fly?"

"Last night," insisted Jumper stubbornly.

"Oh, no, you didn't," retorted Old Mother Nature.  "You didn't see
him fly, for the very good reason that he cannot fly any more than
you can.  You saw him simply jump.  Just remember that the only
animals in this great land who can fly are the Bats.  Timmy the
Flying Squirrel simply jumps from the top of a tree and slides down
on the air to the foot of another tree.  If you had used your eyes
you would have noticed that when he is in the air he never moves
his legs or arms, and he is always coming down, never going up,
excepting for a little at the end of his jump, as would be the case
if he could really fly.  He hasn't any wings."

"When he's flying, I mean jumping, he looks as if he had wings,"
insisted Jumper stubbornly.

"That is simply because I have given him a fold of skin between the
front and hind leg on each side," explained Old Mother Nature.
"When he jumps he stretches his legs out flat, and that stretches
out those two folds of skin until they look almost like wings.
This is the reason he can sail so far when he jumps from a high
place.  You've seen a bird, after flapping its wings to get going,
sail along with them outstretched and motionless.  Timmy does the
same thing, only he gets going by jumping.  You may have noticed
that he usually goes to the top of a tree before jumping; then he
can sail down a wonderfully long distance.  His tail helps him to
keep his balance.  If there is anything in the way, he can steer
himself around it.  When he reaches the tree he is jumping for he
shoots up a little way and lands on the trunk not far above the
ground.  Then he scampers up that tree to do it all over again."

"But why don't we ever see him?" inquired Striped Chipmunk.

"Because, when the rest of you squirrels are out and about, he is
curled up in a little ball in his nest, fast asleep.  Timmy likes
the night, especially the early evening, and doesn't like the
light of day."

"How big is he?" asked Happy Jack, and looked a little sheepish as
if he were a wee bit ashamed of not being acquainted with one of
his own cousins.

"He is, if anything, a little smaller than Striped Chipmunk,"
replied Old Mother Nature.  "Way out in the Far West he grows a
little bigger.  His coat is a soft yellowish-brown above; beneath
he is all white.  His fur is wonderfully soft.  He has very large,
dark, soft eyes, especially suited for seeing at night.  Then, he
is very lively and dearly loves to play.  By nature he is gentle
and lovable."

"Does he eat nuts like his cousins?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"He certainly does," replied Old Mother Nature.  "Also he eats
grubs and insects.  He dearly loves a fat beetle.  He likes meat
when he can get it."

"Where does he make his home?" Peter inquired.

"Usually in a hole in a tree," said Old Mother Nature.  "He is very
fond of an old home of a Woodpecker.  He makes a comfortable nest
of bark lining, grass, and moss, or any other soft material he can
find.  Occasionally he builds an outside nest high up in a fork in
the branches of a tree.  He likes to get into old buildings."

"Does he have many enemies?" asked Happy Jack.

"The same enemies the rest of you have," replied Old Mother Nature.
"But the one he has most reason to fear is Hooty the Owl, and that
is the one you have least reason to fear, because Hooty seldom hunts
by day."

"Does he sleep all winter?" piped up Striped Chipmunk.

"Not as you do," said Old Mother Nature.  "In very cold weather he
sleeps, but if he happens to be living where the weather does not
get very cold, he is active all the year around.  Now I guess this
is enough about the Squirrel family."

"You've forgotten Johnny Chuck," cried Peter.

Old Mother Nature laughed.  "So I have," said she.  "That will
never do, never in the world.  Johnny and his relatives, the
Marmots, certainly cannot be overlooked.  We will take them for
our lesson to-morrow.  Peter, you tell Johnny Chuck to come over
here to-morrow morning."



CHAPTER VII  Johnny Chuck Joins the Class

Peter Rabbit delivered Mother Nature's message to Johnny Chuck.
Johnny didn't seem at all pleased.  He grumbled and growled to
himself.  He didn't want to go to school.  He didn't want to learn
anything about his relatives.  He was perfectly satisfied with
things as they were.  The truth is, Johnny Chuck was already
beginning to get fat with good living and he is naturally lazy.
As a rule he can find plenty to eat very near his home, so he
seldom goes far from his own doorstep.  Peter left him grumbling
and growling, and chuckled to himself all the way back to the dear
Old Briar-patch.  He knew that Johnny Chuck would not dare disobey
Old Mother Nature.

Sure enough, the next morning Johnny Chuck came waddling through
the Green Forest just as Old Mother Nature was about to open school.
He didn't look at all happy, and he didn't reply at all to the
greetings of the others.  But when Old Mother Nature spoke to him
he was very polite.

"Good morning, Johnny Chuck," said she.

Johnny bobbed his head and said, "Good morning."

"I understand," continued Old Mother Nature, "That you are not at
all interested in learning about your relatives.  I am sorry for
any one who doesn't want to learn.  The more one knows the better
fitted he is to take care of himself and do his part in the work of
the Great World.  However, it wasn't for your benefit that I sent
word for you to be here this morning.  It was for the benefit of
your friends and neighbors.  Now sit up so that all can get a good
look at you."

Johnny Chuck obediently sat up, and of course all the others stared
at him.  It made him feel quite uncomfortable.  "You remember,"
said Old Mother Nature, "how surprised you little folks were when
I told you that Johnny Chuck is a member of the Squirrel family.
Happy Jack, you go sit beside Johnny Chuck, and the rest of you
look hard at Happy Jack and Johnny and see if you do not see a
family resemblance."

Seeing Happy Jack and Johnny Chuck sitting up side by side, Peter
Rabbit caught the resemblance at once.  There was sort of family
look about them.  "Why!  Why-ee!  Johnny Chuck does look like a
Squirrel," he exclaimed.

"Of course he looks like a Squirrel, because he is one," said Old
Mother Nature.  "Johnny Chuck is very much bigger and so stout in
the body that he has none of the gracefulness of the true Squirrels.
But you will notice that the shape of his head is much the same as
that of Happy Jack.  He has a Squirrel face when you come to look at
him closely.  The Woodchucks, sometimes called Ground Hogs, though
why any one should call them this is more than I can understand,
belong to the Marmot branch of the Squirrel family, and wherever
found they look much alike.

"As you will notice, Johnny Chuck's coat is brownish-yellow, his
feet are very dark brown, almost black.  His head is dark brown with
light gray on his cheeks.  Beneath he is reddish-orange, including
his throat.  His tail is short for a member of the Squirrel family,
and although it is bushy, it is not very big.  He has a number of
whiskers and they are black.  Some Woodchucks are quite gray, and
occasionally there is one who is almost, or wholly black, just as
there are black Gray Squirrels.

"Johnny, here, is not fond of the Green Forest, but loves the Old
orchard and the Green Meadows.  In some parts of the country there
are members of his family who prefer to live just on the edge of the
Green Forest.  You will notice that Johnny has stout claws.  Those
are to help him dig, for all the Marmot family are great diggers.
What other use do you have for those claws, Johnny?"

"They help me to climb," replied Johnny promptly.

"Climb!" exclaimed Peter Rabbit.  "Who ever heard of a Woodchuck
climbing?"

"I can climb if I have to," retorted Johnny Chuck indignantly.  "I've
climbed up bushes and low trees lots of times, and if I can get a good
run first, I can climb up the straight trunk of a tree with rough bark
to the first branches--if they are not too far above ground.  You ask
Reddy Fox if I can't; he knows."

"That's quite true, Johnny," said Old Mother Nature.  "You can climb
a little, but as a real climber you are not much of a success.  You
are better as a digger."

"He certainly is all right as a digger," exclaimed Peter Rabbit.
"My, how he can make the sand fly!  Johnny Chuck certainly is right
at home when it comes to digging."

"You ought to be thankful that he is," said Old Mother Nature, "for
the holes he has dug have saved your life more than once.  By the
way, Peter, since you are so well acquainted with those holes,
suppose you tell us what kind of a home Johnny Chuck has."

Peter was delighted to air his knowledge.  "The last one I was in,"
said he, "was a long tunnel slanting down for quite a distance and
then straightening out.  The entrance was quite large with a big
heap of sand out in front of it.  Down a little way the tunnel
grew smaller and then remained the same size all the rest of the way.
Way down at the farther end was a nice little bedroom with some grass
in it.  There were one or two other little rooms, and there were two
branch tunnels leading up to the surface of the ground, making side
or back doorways.  There was no sand around either of these, and they
were quite hidden by the long grass hanging over them.  I don't
understand how Johnny made those doorways without leaving any sand
on the doorsteps."

"Huh!" interrupted Johnny Chuck.  "That was easy enough.  I pushed
all the sand out of the main doorway so that there would be nothing
to attract the attention of any one passing near those back doorways.
Those back doorways are very handy in time of danger."

"Do you always have three doorways?" asked Happy Jack.

"No," replied Johnny Chuck.  "Sometimes I have only two and once in
a while only one.  But that isn't really safe, and I mean always to
have at least two."

"Do you use the same house year after year?" piped up Striped Chipmunk.

Johnny shook his head.  "No," said he.  "I dig a new hole each spring.
Mrs. Chuck and I like a change of scene.  Usually my new home isn't
very far from my old one, because I am not fond of traveling.
Sometimes, however, if we cannot find a place that just suits us,
we go quite a distance."

"Are your babies born down in that little bedroom in the ground?"
asked Jumper the Hare.

"Of course," replied Johnny Chuck.  "Where else would they be born?"

"I didn't know but Mrs. Chuck might make a nest on the ground the
way Mrs. Peter and Mrs. Jumper do," replied Jumper meekly.

"No, siree!" replied Johnny.  "Our babies are born in that little
underground bedroom, and they stay down in the ground until they
are big enough to hunt for food for themselves."

"How many do you usually have?" inquired Chatterer the Red Squirrel.

"Six or eight," replied Johnny Chuck.  "Mrs. Chuck and I believe
in large families."

"Do you eat nuts like the rest of our family?" inquired
Striped Chipmunk.

"No," replied Johnny Chuck.  "Give me green food every time.  There
is nothing so good as tender sweet clover and young grass, unless
it be some of those fine vegetables Farmer Brown grows in his garden."

Peter Rabbit nodded his head very emphatically as if he quite agreed.

"I suppose you are what is called a vegetarian, then," said Happy
Jack, to which Johnny Chuck replied that he supposed he was.  "And
I suppose that is why you sleep all winter," added Happy Jack.

"If I didn't I would starve," responded Johnny Chuck promptly.
"When it gets near time for Jack Frost to arrive, I stuff and stuff
and stuff on the last of the good green things until I'm so fat I
can hardly waddle.  Then I go down to my bedroom, curl up and go
to sleep.  Cold weather, snow and ice don't worry me a bit."

"I know," spoke up Striped Chipmunk.  "I sleep most of the winter
myself.  Of course I have a lot of food stored away down in my
house, and once in a while I wake up and eat a little.  Do you
ever wake up in the winter, Johnny Chuck?"

"No," replied Johnny.  "I sleep right through, thank goodness.
Sometimes I wake up very early in the spring before the snow is
all gone, earlier than I wish I did.  That is where my fat comes
in handy.  It keeps me warm and keeps me alive until I can find
the first green plants.  Perhaps you have noticed that early in
the spring I am as thin as I was fat in the fall.  This is
because I have used up the fat, waiting for the first green
things to appear."

"Do you have many enemies?" asked Peter Rabbit, who has so many
himself that he is constantly thinking of them.

"Not many, but enough," growled Johnny Chuck.  "Reddy Fox, Old Man
Coyote, men and Dogs are the worst.  Of course, when I was small I
always had to be watching out for Hawks, and of course, like all
the rest of us little folks, I am afraid of Shadow the Weasel.
Reddy Fox has tried to dig me out more than once, but I can dig
faster than he can.  If he ever gets me cornered, he'll find that I
can fight.  A small Dog surprised me once before I could get to my
hole and I guess that Dog never will tackle another Woodchuck."

"Time is up," interrupted Old Mother Nature.  "Johnny Chuck has a
big cousin out in the mountains of the Great West named Whistler,
and on the prairies of the Great West he has a smaller cousin named
Yap Yap.  They are quite important members of the Marmot family, and
to-morrow I'll tell you about them if you want me to.   You need not
come tomorrow, Johnny Chuck, unless you want to," she added.

Johnny Chuck hung his head, for he was a little ashamed that he had
been so unwilling to come that morning.

"If you please, Mother Nature," said he, "I think I'll come.  I didn't
know I had any close relatives, and I want to know about them."

So it was agreed that all would be on hand at sun-up the next
morning, and then everybody started for home to think over the
things they had learned.



CHAPTER VIII  Whistler and Yap Yap

Johnny Chuck was the first one on hand the next morning.  The fact
is, Johnny was quite excited over the discovery that he had some
near relatives.  He always had supposed that the Woodchucks were a
family by themselves.  Now that he knew that he had some close
relatives, he was filled with quite as much curiosity as ever Peter
Rabbit possessed.  Just as soon as Old Mother Nature was ready to
begin, Johnny Chuck was ready with a question.  "If you please,"
said he, "who are my nearest relatives?"

"The Marmots of the Far West," replied Old Mother Nature.  "You
know, you are a Marmot, and these cousins of yours out there are
a great deal like you in a general way.  The biggest and handsomest
of all is Whistler, who lives in the mountains of the Northwest.
The fact is, he is the biggest of all the Marmot family."

"Is he much bigger than Johnny Chuck?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"Considerably bigger," replied Old Mother Nature, nodding her head.
"Considerably bigger.  I should think he would weight twice as much
as Johnny."

Johnny's eyes opened very wide.  "My!" he exclaimed, "I should like
to see him.  Does he look like me?"

"In his shape he does," said Old Mother Nature, "but he has a very
much handsomer coat.  His coat is a mixture of dark brown and white
hairs which give him a grayish color.  The upper part of his head,
his feet and nails are black, and so are his ears.  A black band
runs from behind each ear down to his neck.  His chin is pure white
and there is white on his nose.  Underneath he is a light, rusty
color.  His fur is thicker and softer than yours, Johnny; this is
because he lives where it is colder.  His tail is larger, somewhat
bushier, and is a blackish-brown."

"If you please, why is he called Whistler?" asked Johnny Chuck eagerly.

"Because he has a sharp, clear whistle which can be heard a very long
distance," replied Old Mother Nature.  "He sits up just as you do.
If he sees danger approaching he whistles, as a warning to all his
relatives within hearing."

"I suppose it is foolish to ask if he lives in a hole in the ground
as Johnny Chuck does," spoke up Peter Rabbit.

"He does," replied Old Mother Nature.  "All Marmots live in holes in
the ground, but Whistler lives in entirely different country.  He
lives up on the sides of the mountains, often so high that no trees
grow there and the ground is rocky.  He digs his hole down in between
the rocks."

"It must be a nice, safe hole," said Peter.  "I guess he doesn't
have to worry about being dug out by Reddy fox."

"You guessed quite right," laughed Old Mother Nature.  "Nevertheless,
he has reason to fear being dug out.  You see, out where he lives,
Grizzly, the big cousin of Buster Bear, also lives, and Grizzly is
very fond of a Marmot dinner when he can get one.  He is so big and
strong and has such great claws that he can pull the rocks apart and
dig Whistler out.  By the way, I forgot to tell you that Whistler is
also called the Gray Marmot and the Hoary Marmot.  He lives on grass
and other green things and, like Johnny Chuck, gets very fat in the
fall and then sleeps all winter.  There are one or two other Marmots
in the Far West who live farther south than does Whistler, but their
habits are much the same as those of Whistler and Johnny Chuck.  None
of them are social.  I mean by that you never find two Marmot homes
very close together.  In this they differ from Johnny's smaller cousin,
Yap Yap the Prairie Dog.  Yap Yap wouldn't be happy if he didn't have
close neighbors of his own kind.  He has one of the most social
natures of all my little people."

"Tell us about him," begged Happy Jack Squirrel before Johnny Chuck,
who is naturally slow, could ask for the same thing.

"Yap Yap is the smallest of the Marmot family," said Old Mother
Nature.  "In a way he is about as closely related to the Ground
Squirrels as he is to the Marmots.  Johnny Chuck has only four
claws on each front foot, but Yap Yap has five, just as the Ground
Squirrels have.  He looks very much like a small Chuck dressed in
light yellow-brown.  His tail for the most part is the same color
as his coat, but the end is black, though there is one member of
the family whose tail has a white tip.  In each cheek is a small
pouch, that is, a small pocket, and this is one of the things that
shows how closely related to the Spermophiles he is.

"As I said before, Yap Yap is very social by nature.  He lives on
the great open plains of the West and Southwest, frequently where it
is very dry and rain seldom falls.  When you find his home you are
sure to find the homes of many more Prairie Dogs very close at hand.
Sometimes there are hundreds and hundreds of homes, making a regular
town.  This is because the Prairie Dogs dearly love the company of
their own kind."

"Does Yap Yap dig the same kind of a hole that I do?" asked
Johnny Chuck.

"In a way it is like yours," replied Old Mother Nature, "but at the
same time it is different.  In the first place, it goes almost
straight down for a long distance.  In the second place there is no
mound of sand in front of Yap Yap's doorway.  Instead of that the
doorway is right in the very middle of the mound of sand.  One reason
for this is that when it does rain out where Yap Yap lives it rains
very hard indeed, so that the water stands on the ground for a short
time.  The ground being flat, a lot of water would run down into
Yap Yap's home and make him most uncomfortable if he did not do
something to keep it out.  So he brings the sand out and piles it
all the way around his doorway and presses it down with his nose.
In that way he builds up a firm mound which he uses for two purposes;
one is to keep the water from running down the hole, and the other is
as a sort of watch tower.  He sits on the top of his mound to watch
for his enemies.  His cousins with the white tail digs a hole more
like yours.

"Yap Yap loves to visit his neighbors and to have them visit him.
They are lively little people and do a great deal of talking among
themselves.  The instant one of them sees an enemy he gives a signal.
Then every Prairie Dog scampers for his own hole and dives in head
first.  Almost at once he pops his head out again to see what the
danger may be."

"How can he do that without going clear to the bottom to turn
around?" demanded Peter.

"I wondered if any of you would think of that question," chuckled
Old Mother Nature.  "Just a little way down from the entrance Yap
Yap digs a little room at one side of his tunnel.  All he has to do
is to scramble into that, turn around and then pop his head out.
As I said before, his tunnel goes down very deep; then it turns and
goes almost equally far underground.  Down there he has a nice
little bedroom.  Sometimes he has more than one."

"If it is so dry out where he lives, how does he get water to drink?"
asked Happy Jack.

"He doesn't have to drink," replied Old Mother Nature.  "Some folks
think that he digs down until he finds water way down underneath,
but this isn't so.  He doesn't have to have water.  He gets all
the moisture he needs from the green things he eats."

"I suppose, like the rest of us, he has lots of enemies?" said Peter.

Old Mother Nature nodded.  "Of course," said she.  "Old Man Coyote
and Reddy Fox are very fond of Prairie Dog.  So are members of the
Hawk family.  Then in some places there is a cousin of Shadow the
Weasel called the Black-footed Ferret.  He is to be feared most of
all because he can follow Yap Yap down into his hole.  There is a
cousin of Hooty the Owl called the Burrowing Owl because it builds
its home in a hole in the ground.  You are likely to find many
Burrowing Owls living in Prairie Dog villages.  Also you are apt
to find Buzztail the Rattlesnake there.

"A lot of people believe that Yap Yap, Buzztail and the little
Burrowing Owl are the best of friends and often live together in
the same hole.  This isn't so at all.  Buzztail is very fond of
young Prairie Dog and so is the Burrowing Owl.  Rather than dig a
hole for himself the Owl will sometimes take possession of one of
Yap Yap's deserted holes.  If he should make a mistake and enter a
hole in which Yap Yap was at home, the chances are that Yap Yap
would kill the Owl for he knows that the Owl is an enemy.  Buzztail
the Rattlesnake also makes use of Prairie Dog holes, but it is safe
to say that if there are any Prairie Dog babies down there they
never live to see what the outside world is like.  So Buzztail
and the Burrowing Owl are really enemies instead of friends of
Yap Yap, the Prairie Dog."

"Why is he called a Dog?" asked Peter.

Old Mother Nature laughed right out.  "Goodness knows," said she.  "He
doesn't look like a Dog and he doesn't act like a Dog, so why people
should call him a Dog I don't know, unless it is because of his habit
of barking, and even his bark isn't at all like a Dog's--not nearly
so much so as the bark of Reddy Fox.  Now I guess this will do for
to-day.  Haven't you little folks had enough of school?"

"No," cried Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare and Happy Jack and
Chatterer the Red Squirrel and Striped Chipmunk and Johnny Chuck.
"We want to know about the rest of the members of the order of
Rodents or Gnawers," added Peter.  "Of course in a way they are sort
of related to us and we want to know about them."

Old Mother Nature laughed good-naturedly.  "All right," said she,
"come again to-morrow morning and we'll see what more we can learn."



CHAPTER IX  Two Queer Little Haymakers

There is nothing like a little knowledge to make one want more.
Johnny Chuck, who had gone to school only because Old Mother Nature
had sent for him, had become as full of curiosity as Peter Rabbit.
The discovery that he had a big, handsome cousin, Whistler the
Marmot, living in the mountains of the Far West, had given Johnny
something to think about.  It seemed to Johnny such a queer place
for a member of his family to live that he wanted to know more
about it.  So Johnny had a question all ready when Old Mother
Nature called school to order the next morning.

"If you please, Mother Nature," said he, "does my cousin, Whistler,
have any neighbors up among those rocks where he lives?"

"He certainly does," replied Old Mother Nature, nodding her head.
"He has for a near neighbor one of the quaintest and most interesting
little members of the big order to which you all belong.  And that
order is what?" she asked abruptly.

"The order of Rodents," replied Peter Rabbit promptly.

"Right, Peter," replied Old Mother Nature, smiling at Peter.  "I
asked that just to see if you really are learning.  I wanted to
make sure that I am not wasting my time with you little folks.
Now this little neighbor of Whistler is Little Chief Hare."

Instantly Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare pricked up their long
ears and became more interested than ever, if that were possible.
"I thought you had told us all about our family," cried Jumper,
"but you didn't mention Little Chief."

"No," said Old Mother Nature, "I didn't, and the reason I didn't
was because Little Chief isn't a member of your family.  He is
called Little Chief Hare, but he isn't a Hare at all, although he
looks much like a small Rabbit with short hind legs and rounded
ears.  He has a family all to himself and should be called a Pika.
Some folks do call him that, but more call him a Cony, and some
call him the Crying Hare.  This is because he uses his voice a
great deal, which is something no member of the Hare family does.
In size he is just about as big as one of your half-grown babies,
Peter, so, you see, he really is a very little fellow.  His coat
is grayish-brown.  His ears are of good size, but instead of being
long, are round.  He has small bright eyes.  His legs are short,
his hind legs being very little longer than his front ones.  He
has hair on the soles of his feet just like the members of the
hare family."

"What about his tail?" piped up Peter Rabbit.  You know Peter is
very much interested in tails.

Old Mother Nature smiled.  "He is worse off than you, Peter," said
she, "for he hasn't any at all.  That is, he hasn't any that can be
seen.  He lives way up among the rocks of the great mountains above
where the trees grow and often is a very near neighbor to Whistler."

"I suppose that means that he makes his home down in under rocks,
the same as Whistler does," spoke up Johnny Chuck.

"Right," replied Old Mother Nature.  "He is such a little fellow
that he can get through very narrow places, and he has his home
and barns way down in among the rocks."

"Barns!" exclaimed Happy Jack Squirrel.  "Barns!  What do you mean
by barns?"

Old Mother Nature laughed.  "I just call them barns," said she,
"because they are the places where he stores away his hay, just as
Farmer Brown stores away his hay in his barn.  I suppose you would
call them storehouses."

At the mention of hay, Peter Rabbit sat bolt upright and his eyes
were wide open with astonishment.  "Did you say hay?" he exclaimed.
"Where under the sun does he get hay way up there, and what does
he want of it?"

There was a twinkle in Old Mother Nature's eyes as she replied,
"He makes that hay just as you see Farmer Brown make hay every
summer.  It is what he lives on in the winter and in bad weather.
Little Chief knows just as much about the proper way of making hay
as Farmer Brown does.  Even way up among the rocks there are places
where grass and peas-vines and other green things grow.  Little
Chief lives on these in summer.  But he is as wise and thrifty as
any Squirrel, another way in which he differs from the Hare family.
He cuts them when they are ready for cutting and spreads them out
on the rocks to dry in the sun.  He knows that if he should take
them down into his barns while they are fresh and green they would
sour and spoil; so he never stores them away until they are
thoroughly dry.  Then, of course, they are hay, for hay is nothing
but sun-dried grass cut before it has begun to die.  When his hay
is just as dry as it should be, he takes it down and stores it away
in his barns, which are nothing but little caves down in among the
rocks.  There he has it for use in winter when there is no green food.

"Little Chief is so nearly the color of the rocks that it takes
sharp eyes to see him when he is sitting still.  He has a funny
little squeaking voice, and he uses it a great deal.  It is a funny
voice because it is hard to tell just where it comes from.  It seems
to come from nowhere in particular.  Sometimes he can be heard
squeaking way down in his home under the rocks.  Like Johnny Chuck,
he prefers to sleep at night and be abroad during the day.  Because
he is so small he must always be on the lookout for enemies.  At the
first hint of danger he scampers to safety in among the rocks, and
there he scolds whoever has frightened him.  There is no more
loveable little person in all my great family than this little
haymaker of the mountains of the Great West."

"That haymaking is a pretty good idea of Little Chief's," remarked
Peter Rabbit, scratching a long ear with a long hind foot.  "I've
a great mind to try it myself."

Everybody laughed right out, for everybody knew just how easy-going
and thriftless Peter was.  Peter himself grinned.  He couldn't
help it.

"That would be a very good idea, Peter," said Old Mother Nature.
"By the way, there is another haymaker out in those same great
mountains of the Far West."

"Who?" demanded Peter and Johnny Chuck and Happy Jack Squirrel,
all in the same breath.

"Stubtail the Mountain Beaver," declared Peter promptly.  "I
suppose Stubtail is his cousin."

Old Mother Nature shook her head.  "No," said she.  "No.  Stubtail
and Paddy are no more closely related than the rest of you.  Stubtail
isn't a Beaver at all.  His proper name is Sewellel.  Sometimes he
is called Showt'l and sometimes the Boomer, and sometimes the
Chehalis, but most folks call him the Mountain Beaver."

"Is it because he looks like Paddy the Beaver?" Striped Chipmunk asked.

"No," replied Old Mother Nature.  "He looks more like Jerry Muskrat
than he does like Paddy.  He is about Jerry's size and looks very
much as Jerry would if he had no tail."

"Hasn't he any tail at all?" asked Peter.

"Yes, he has a little tail, a little stub of a tail, but it is so
small that to look at him you would think he hadn't any," replied
Old Mother Nature.  "He is found out in the same mountains of the
Far West where Whistler and Little Chief live, but instead of
living way up high among the rocks he is at home down in the valleys
where the ground is soft and the trees grow thickly.  Stubtail has
no use for rocks.  He wants soft, wet ground where he can tunnel
and tunnel to his heart's content.  In one thing Stubtail is very
like Yap Yap the Prairie Dog."

"What is that?" asked Johnny Chuck quickly, for, you know, Yap Yap
is Johnny's cousin.

"In his social habits," replied Old Mother Nature.  "Stubtail isn't
fond of living alone.  He wants company of his own kind.  So wherever
you find Stubtail you are likely to find many of his family.  They
like to go visiting back and forth.  They make little paths between
their homes and all about through the thick ferns, and they keep
these little paths free and clear, so that they may run along them
easily.  Some of these little paths lead into long tunnels.  These
are made for safety.  Usually the ground is so wet that there will
be water running in the bottoms of these little tunnels."

"What kind of a house does Stubtail have?" inquired Johnny
Chuck interestedly.

"A hole in the ground, of course," replied Old Mother Nature.  "It
is dug where the ground is drier than where the runways are made.
Mrs. Stubtail makes a nest of dried ferns and close by they build
two or three storehouses, for Stubtail and Mrs. Stubtail are
thrifty people."

"I suppose he fills them with hay, for you said he is a haymaker,"
remarked Happy Jack Squirrel, who is always interested in storehouses.

"Yes," replied Old Mother Nature, "he puts hay in them.  He cuts
grasses, ferns, pea-vines and other green plants and carries them
in little bundles to the entrance to his tunnel.  There he piles
them on sticks so as to keep them off he damp ground and so that
the air can help dry them out.  When they are dry, he takes them
inside and stores them away.  He also stores other things.  He likes
the roots of ferns.  He cuts tender, young twigs from bushes and
stores away some of these.  He is fond of bark.  In winter he is
quite as active as in summer and tunnels about under the snow.
Then he sometimes has Peter Rabbit's bad habit of killing trees
by gnawing bark all around as high up as he can reach."

"Can he climb trees?" asked Chatterer the Red Squirrel.

"Just about as much as Johnny Chuck can," replied Old Mother Nature.
"Sometimes he climbs up in low bushes or in small, low-branching
trees to cut off tender shoots, but he doesn't do much of this sort
of thing.  His home is the ground.  He is most active at night, but
where undisturbed, is out more or less during the day.  When he wants
to cut off a twig he sits up like a Squirrel and holds the twig in
his hands while he bites it off with his sharp teeth."

"You didn't tell us what color his coat is," said Peter Rabbit.

"I told you he looked very much like Jerry Muskrat," replied Old
Mother Nature.  "His coat is brown, much the color of Jerry's, but
his fur is not nearly so soft and fine."

"I suppose he has enemies just as the rest of us little people have,"
said Peter.

"Of course," replied Old Mother Nature.  "All little people have
enemies, and most big ones too, for that matter.  King Eagle is one
and Yowler the Bob Cat is another.  They are always watching for
Stubtail.  That is why he digs so many tunnels.  He can travel under
the ground then.  My goodness, how time flies!  Scamper home, all of
you, for I have too much to do to talk any more to-day."



CHAPTER X  Prickly Porky and Grubby Gopher

All the way to school the next morning Peter Rabbit wondered who
they would learn about that day.  He was so busy wondering that he
was heedless.  Peter is apt to be heedless at times.  The result
was that as he hopped out of a bramble-tangle just within the edge
of the Green Forest, he all but landed in something worse than the
worst brambles that ever grew.  It was only by a wild side jump
that he saved himself.  Peter had almost landed among the thousand
little spears of Prickly Porky the Porcupine.

"Gracious!" exclaimed Peter.

"Why don't you look where you are going," grunted Prickly Porky.
Plainly he was rather peevish.  "It wouldn't be my fault if you had
a few of my little spears sticking in you this very minute, and it
would serve you right."  He waddled along a few steps, then began
talking again.  "I don't see why Old Mother Nature sent for me this
morning," he grumbled.  "I hate a long walk."

Peter pricked up his long ears.  "I know!" he cried.  "You're going
to school, Prickly Porky.  You're a Rodent, and we are going to
learn all about you this morning."

"I'm not a Rodent; I'm a Porcupine," grunted Prickly Porky indignantly.

"You're a Rodent just the same.  You've got big gnawing teeth, and
any one with that kind of teeth is a Rodent," retorted Peter.  Then
at a sudden thought a funny look passed over his face.  "Why, that
means that you and I are related in a way," he added.

"Don't believe it," grunted Prickly Porky, still shuffling along.
"Don't believe it.  Don't want to be related to anybody as
heedless as you.  What is this school, anyway?  Don't want to go to
school.  Know all I want to know.  Know how to get all I want to eat
and how to make everybody get out of my way and leave me alone, and
that's enough to know."  He rattled the thousand little spears
hidden in his coat, and Peter shivered at the sound.  It was a most
unpleasant sound.

"Well, some folks do like to be stupid," snapped Peter and hurried
on, lipperty-lipperty-lip, while Prickly Porky slowly shuffled and
rattled along behind.

All the others were there when Peter arrived.  Prickly Porky wasn't
even in sight.  Old Mother Nature wasted no time.  She has too much
to do ever to waste time.  She called the school to order at once.

"Yesterday," she began, "I told you about two little haymakers of
the high mountains of the Far West.  Who were they, Peter Rabbit?"

"Little Chief Hare, called the Pika or Cony, and Stubtail the
Mountain Beaver or Sewellel," replied Peter with great promptness.

"Right," said Old Mother Nature. "Now I am going to tell you of
one of my little plowmen who also lives in the Far West but prefers
the great plains to the high mountains, though he is sometimes
found in the latter.  He is Grubby the Gopher, a member of the
same order the rest of you belong to, but of a family quite his
own.  He is properly called the Pocket Gopher, and way down in
the Southeast, where he is also found, he is called a Salamander,
though what for I haven't the least idea."

"Does he have pockets in his cheeks like mine?" asked Striped
Chipmunk eagerly.

"He has pockets in his cheeks, and that is why he is called Pocket
Gopher," replied Old Mother Nature; "but they are not at all like
yours, Striped Chipmunk.  Yours are on the inside of your cheeks,
but his are on the outside."

"How funny!" exclaimed Striped Chipmunk.

"Your pockets are small compared with those of Grubby," continued
Old Mother Nature.  "One of his covers almost the whole side of
his head back to his short neck, and it is lined with fur, and
remember he has two of them.  Grubby uses these for carrying food
and never for carrying out earth when he is digging a tunnel, as
some folks think he does.  He stuffs them full with his front feet
and empties them by pressing them from the back with his feet.
The Gopher family is quite large and the members range in size
from the size of Danny Meadow Mouse to that of Robber the Rat,
only these bigger members are stouter and heavier than Robber.
Some are reddish-brown and some are gray.  But whatever his size
and wherever he is found, Grubby's habits are the same."

All this time Peter Rabbit had been fidgeting about.  It was quite
clear that Peter had something on his mind.  Now as Old Mother
Nature paused, Peter found the chance he had been waiting for.
"If you please, why did you call him a plowman?" he asked eagerly.

"I'm coming to that all in due time," replied Old Mother Nature,
smiling at Peter's eagerness.  "Grubby Gopher spends most of his
life underground, very much like Miner the Mole, whom you all
know.  He can dig tunnels just about as fast.  His legs are short,
and his front legs and feet are very stout and strong.  They are
armed with very long, strong claws and it is with these and the
help of his big cutting teeth that Grubby digs.  He throws the
earth under him and then kicks it behind him with his hind feet.
When he has quite a pile behind him he turns around, and with his
front feet and head pushes it along to a little side tunnel and
then up to the surface of the ground.  As soon as he has it all
out he plugs up the opening and goes back to digging.  The loose
earth he has pushed out makes little mounds, and he makes one of
these mounds every few feet.

"Grubby is a great worker.  He is very industrious.  Since he is
underground, it doesn't make much difference to him whether it be
night or day.  In summer, during the hottest part of the day, he
rests.  His eyes are small and weak because he has little use for
them, coming out on the surface very seldom and then usually in
the dusk.  He has a funny little tail without any hair on it; this
is very sensitive and serves him as a sort of guide when he runs
backward along his tunnel, which he can do quite fast.  A funny
thing about those long claws on his front feet is that he folds
them under when he is walking or running.  Do any of you know why
Farmer Brown plows his garden?"

As she asked this, Old Mother Nature looked from one to another,
and each in turn shook his head.  "It is to mix the dead vegetable
matter thoroughly with the earth so that the roots of the plants
may get it easily," explained Old Mother Nature.  "By making those
tunnels in every direction and bringing up the earth below to the
surface, Grubby Gopher does the same thing.  That is why I call
him my little plowman.  He loosens up the hard, packed earth and
mixes the vegetable matter with it and so makes it easy for seeds
to sprout and plants to grow."

"Then he must be one of the farmer's best friends," spoke up
Happy Jack Squirrel.

Old Mother Nature shook her head.  "He has been in the past," said
she.  "He has done a wonderful work in helping make the land fit
for farming.  But where land is being farmed he is a dreadful
pest, I am sorry to say.  You see he eats the crops the farmer
tries to raise, and the new mounds he is all the time throwing up
bury a lot of the young plants, and in the meadows make it very
hard to use a mowing machine for cutting hay.  Then Grubby gets
into young orchards and cuts off all the tender roots of young
trees.  This kills them.  You see he is fond of tender roots,
seeds, stems of grass and grain, and is never happier than when
he can find a field of potatoes.

"Being such a worker, he has to have a great deal to eat.  Then,
too, he stores away a great deal for winter, for he doesn't sleep
in winter as Johnny Chuck does.  He even tunnels about under the
snow.  Sometimes he fills these little snow tunnels with the earth
he brings up from below, and when the snow melts it leaves queer
little earth ridges to show where the tunnels were.

"Grubby is very neat in his habits and keeps his home and himself
very clean.  During the day he leaves one of his mounds open for
a little while to let in fresh air.  But it is only for a little
while.  Then he closes it again.  He doesn't dare leave it open
very long, for fear Shadow the Weasel or a certain big Snake called
the Gopher Snake will find it and come in after him.  Digger the
Badger is the only one of his enemies who can dig fast enough to
dig him out, but at night, when he likes to come out for a little
air or to cut grain and grass, he must always watch for Hooty the
Owl.  Old Man Coyote and members of the Hawk family are always
looking for him by day, so you see he has plenty of enemies, like
the rest of you.

"He got the name Gopher because that comes from a word meaning
honeycomb, and Grubby's tunnels go in every direction until the
ground is like honeycomb.  He isn't a bit social and has rather
a mean disposition.  He is always ready to fight.  On the plains
he has done a great deal to make the soil fine and rich, as I have
already told you, but on hillsides he does a great deal of harm.
The water runs down his tunnels and washes away the soil.  Because
of this and the damage he does to crops, man is his greatest
enemy.  But man has furnished him with new and splendid foods easy
to get, and so Grubby's family increases faster than it used to,
in spite of traps and poison.  Hello!  See who's here!  It is
about time."

There was a shuffling and rattling and grunting, and Prickly
Porky climbed up on an old stump, looking very peevish and much
out of sorts.  He had come to school much against his will.



CHAPTER XI  A Fellow With a Thousand Spears

"There," said Old Mother Nature, pointing to Prickly Porky the
Porcupine, "is next to the largest member of your order, which is?"

"Order of Rodents," piped up Striped Chipmunk.

"He is not only next to the largest, but is the stupidest," continued
Old Mother Nature.  "At least that is what people say of him, though
I suspect he isn't as stupid as he sometimes seems.  Anyway, he
manages to keep well fed and escape his enemies, which is more than
can be said for some others who are supposed to have quick wits."

"Escaping his enemies is no credit to him.  They are only too glad
to keep out of his way; he doesn't have to fear anybody," said
Chatterer the Red Squirrel to his cousin, Happy Jack.

His remark didn't escape the keen ears of Old Mother Nature.  "Are
you sure about that?" she demanded.  "Now there's Pekan the Fisher-"

She was interrupted by a great rattling on the old stump.  Everybody
turned to look.  There was Prickly Porky backing down as fast as he
could, which wasn't fast at all, and rattling his thousand little
spears as he did so.  It was really very funny.  Everybody had to
laugh, even Old Mother Nature.  You see, it was plain that he was
in a great hurry, yet every movement was slow and clumsy.

"Well, Prickly Porky, what does this mean?  Where are you going?"
demanded Old Mother Nature.

Prickly Porky turned his dull-looking eyes towards her, and in them
was a troubled, worried look.  "Where's Pekan the Fisher?" he asked,
and his voice shook a little with something very much like fear.

Old Mother Nature understood instantly.  When she had said, "Now
there's Pekan the Fisher," Prickly Porky had waited to hear no
more.  He had instantly thought that she meant that Pekan was
right there somewhere.  "It's all right, Prickly Porky," said she.
"Pekan isn't anywhere around here, so climb back on that stump and
don't worry.  Had you waited for me to finish, you would have saved
yourself a fright.  Chatterer had just said that you didn't have
to fear anybody and I was starting to explain that he was wrong,
that despite your thousand little spears you have reason to fear
Pekan the Fisher."

Prickly Porky shivered and this made the thousand little spears in
his coat rattle.  It was such a surprising thing to see Prickly Porky
actually afraid that the other little folks almost doubted their own
eyes.  "Are you quite sure that Pekan isn't anywhere around?" asked
Prickly Porky, and his voice still shook.

"Quite sure," replied Old Mother Nature.  "If he were I wouldn't
allow him to hurt you.  You ought to know that.  Now sit up so
that every one can get a good look at you."

Prickly Porky sat up, and the others gathered around the foot of
the stump to look at him.  "He certainly is no beauty," murmured
Happy Jack Squirrel.

Happy Jack was quite right.  He was anything but handsome.  The
truth is he was the homeliest, clumsiest-looking fellow in all
the Green Forest.  He was a little bigger than Bobby Coon and his
body was thick and heavy-looking.  His back humped up like an
arch.  His head was rather small for the size of his body, short
and rather round.  His neck was even shorter.  His eyes were small
and very dull.  It was plain that he couldn't see far, or clearly
unless what he was looking at was close at hand.  His ears were
small and nearly hidden in hair.  His front teeth, the gnawing
teeth which showed him to be a Rodent, were very large and bright
orange.  His legs were short and stout.  He had four toes on each
front foot and five on each hind foot, and these were armed with
quite long, stout claws.

But the queerest thing and the most interesting thing about Prickly
Porky was his coat.  Not one among the other little people of the
Green Forest has a coat anything like his.  Most of them have a
soft, short under fur protected and more or less hidden by longer,
coarser hair.  Prickly Porky had the long coarse hair and on his
back it was very long and coarse, brownish-black in color up to
the tips, which were white.  Under this long hair was some soft
woolly fur, but what that long hair hid chiefly was an array of
wicked-looking little spears called quills.  They were white to the
tips, which were dark and very, very sharply pointed.  All down the
sides were tiny barbs, so small as hardly to be seen, but there
just the same.  On his head the quills were about an inch long,
but on his back they were four inches long, becoming shorter
towards the tail.  The latter was rather short, stout, and covered
with short quills.

As he sat there on that old stump some of Prickly Porky's little
spears could be seen peeping out from the long hair on his back,
but they didn't look particularly dangerous.  Peter Rabbit
suddenly made a discovery.  "Why!" he exclaimed.  "He hasn't any
little spears on the under side of him!"

"I wondered who would be the first to notice that," said Old Mother
Nature.  "No, Prickly Porky hasn't any little spears underneath,
and Pekan the Fisher has found that out.  He knows that if he can
turn Prickly Porky on his back he can kill him without much danger
from those little spears, and he has learned how to do that very
thing.  That is why Prickly Porky is afraid of him.  Now, Prickly
Porky, climb down off that stump and show these little folks what
you do when an enemy comes near."

Grumbling and growling, Prickly Porky climbed down to the ground.
Then he tucked his head down between his front paws and suddenly
the thousand little spears appeared all over him, pointing in
every direction until he looked like a giant chestnut burr.  Then
he began to thrash his tail from side to side.

"What is he doing that for?" asked Johnny Chuck, looking
rather puzzled.

"Go near enough to be hit by it, and you'll understand," said Old
Mother Nature dryly.  "That is his one weapon.  Whoever is hit by
that tail will find himself full of those little spears and will
take care never to go near Prickly Porky again.  Once those little
spears have entered the skin, they keep working in deeper and
deeper, and more than one of his enemies has been killed by them.
On account of those tiny barbs they are hard to pull out, and
pulling them out hurts dreadfully.  Just try one and see."

But no one was anxious to try, so Old Mother Nature paused only a
moment.  "You will notice that he moves that tail quickly," she
continued.  "It is the only thing about him which is quick.  When
he has a chance, in time of danger, he likes to get his head
under a log or rock, instead of putting it between his paws as he
is doing now.  Then he plants his feet firmly and waits for a
chance to use that tail."

"Is it true that he can throw those little spears at folks?"
asked Peter.

Old Mother Nature shook her head.  "There isn't a word of truth in
it," she declared.  "That story probably was started by some one
who was hit by his tail, and it was done so quickly that the victim
didn't see the tail move and so thought the little spears were
thrown at him."

"How does he make all those little spears stand up that way?"
asked Jumper the Hare.

"He has a special set of muscles for just that purpose," explained
Old Mother Nature.

"When those quills stick into some one they must pull out of
Prickly Porky's own skin; I should think that would hurt him,"
spoke up Striped Chipmunk.

"Not at all," replied Old Mother Nature.  "They are very loosely
fastened in his skin and come out at the least little pull.  New
Ones grow to take the place of those he loses.  Notice that he
puts his whole foot flat on the ground just as Buster Bear and
Bobby Coon do, and just as those two-legged creatures called men
do.  Very few animals do this, and those that do are said to be
plantigrade.  Now, Prickly Porky, tell us what you eat and where
you make your home, and that will end today's lesson."

"I eat bark, twigs and leaves mostly," grunted Prickly Porky
ungraciously.  "I like hemlock best of all, but also eat poplar,
pine and other trees for a change.  Sometimes I stay in a tree for
days until I have stripped it of all its bark and leaves.  I don't
see any sense in moving about any more than is necessary."

"But that must kill the tree!" exclaimed Peter Rabbit.

"Well, what of it?" demanded Prickly Porky crossly.  "There are
plenty of trees.  In summer I like lily pads and always get them
when I can."

"Can you swim?" asked Peter eagerly.

"Of course," grunted Prickly Porky.

"I never see you out on the Green Meadows," said Peter.

"And you never will," retorted Prickly Porky.  "The Green Forest
for me every time.  Summer or winter, I'm at home there."

"Don't you sleep through the cold weather the way Buster Bear and
I do?" asked Johnny Chuck.

"What should I sleep for?" grumbled Prickly Porky.  "Cold weather
doesn't bother me.  I like it.  I have the Green Forest pretty much
to myself then.  I like to be alone.  And as long as there are trees,
there is plenty to eat.  I sleep a great deal in the daytime because
I like night best."

"What about your home?" asked Happy Jack.

"Home is wherever I happen to be, most of the time, but Mrs. Porky
has a home in a hollow log or a cave or under the roots of a tree
where the babies are born.  I guess that's all I've got to tell you."

"You might add that those babies are big for the size of their
mother and have a full supply of quills when they are born," said
Old Mother Nature.  "And you forgot to say how fond of salt you
are, and how often this fondness gets you into trouble around the
camps of men.  Your fear of Pekan the Fisher we all saw.  I might
add that Puma the Panther is to be feared at times, and when he
is very hungry Buster Bear will take a chance on turning you on
your back.  By the way, don't any of you call Prickly Porky a
Hedgehog.  He isn't any thing of the kind.  He is sometimes called
a Quill Pig, but his real name, Porcupine, is best.  He has no
near relatives.  Tomorrow morning, instead of meeting here, we'll
hold school on the shore of the pond Paddy the Beaver has made.
School is dismissed."



CHAPTER XII  A Lumberman and Engineer

Johnny Chuck and Striped Chipmunk were the only ones who were not
on hand at the pond of Paddy the Beaver deep in the Green Forest
at sun-up the next morning.  Johnny and Striped Chipmunk were
afraid to go so far from home.  To the surprise of everybody,
Prickly Porky was there.

"He must have traveled all night to get here he is such a slow-poke,"
said Peter Rabbit to his cousin, Jumper the Hare.

Peter wasn't far from the truth.  But how ever he got there, there
he was, reaching for lily pads from an old log which lay half in
the water, and appearing very well satisfied with life.  You know
there is nothing like a good meal of things you like, to make
everything seem just as it should.

Old Mother Nature seated herself on one end of Paddy's dam and
called the school to order.  Just as she did so a brown head
popped out of the water close by and a pair of anxious eyes looked
up at Old Mother Nature.

"It is quite all right, Paddy," said she softly.  "These little
folks are trying to gain a little knowledge of themselves and
other folks, and we are going to have this morning's lesson right
here because it is to be about you."

Paddy the Beaver no longer looked anxious.  There was a sparkle in
his eyes.  "May I stay?" he asked eagerly.  "If there is a chance
to learn anything I don't want to miss it."

Before Old Mother Nature could reply Peter Rabbit spoke up.  "But
the lesson is to be about you and your family.  Do you expect to
learn anything about yourself?" he demanded, and chuckled as if he
thought that a great joke.

"It seems to me that some one named Peter learned a great deal about
his own family when he first came to school to me," said Old Mother
Nature.  Peter had grace enough to hang his head and look ashamed.
"Of course you may stay, Paddy.  In fact, I want you to.  There are
some things I shall want you to explain.  That is why we are holding
school over here this morning.  Just come up here on your dam where
we can all get a good look at you."

Paddy the Beaver climbed out on his dam.  It was the first time
Happy Jack Squirrel ever had seen him out of water, and Happy Jack
gave a little gasp of surprise.  "I had no idea he is so big!"
he exclaimed.

"He is the biggest of all the Rodents in this country, and one of
the biggest in all the Great World.  Also he is the smartest
member of the whole order," said Old Mother Nature.

"He doesn't look it," said Chatterer the Squirrel with a saucy
jerk of his tail.

"Which means, I suppose, that you haven't the least doubt that you
are quite as smart as he," said Old Mother Nature quietly, and
Chatterer looked both guilty and a little bit ashamed.  "I'll admit
that you are smart, Chatterer, but often it is in a wrong way.
Paddy is smart in the very best way.  He is a lumberman, builder
and engineer.  A lot of my little people are workers, but they are
destructive workers.  The busier they are, the more they destroy.
Paddy the Beaver is a constructive worker.  That means that he is a
builder instead of a destroyer."

"How about all those trees he cuts down?  If that isn't destroying,
I don't know what is!" said Chatterer, and with each word jerked
his tail as if somehow his tongue and tail were connected.

"So it is," replied Old Mother Nature good-naturedly.  "But just
think of the number of trees you destroy."

"I never have destroyed a tree in my life!" declared
Chatterer indignantly.

"Yes, you have," retorted Old Mother Nature.

"I never have!" contradicted Chatterer, quite forgetting to whom
he was speaking.

But Old Mother Nature overlooked this.  "I don't suppose you ever
ate a chestnut or a fat hickory nut or a sweet beechnut," said
she softly.

"Of course," retorted Chatterer sharply.  "I've eaten ever and
ever and ever so many of them.  What of it?"

In the heart of each one was a little tree, explained Old Mother
Nature.  "But for you very many of those little trees would have
sprung up and some day would have made big trees.  So you see for
every tree Paddy has destroyed you probably have destroyed a
hundred.  You eat the nuts that you may live.  Paddy cuts down the
trees that he may live, for the bark of those trees is his food.
Like Prickly Porky he lives chiefly on bark.  But, unlike Prickly
Porky, he doesn't destroy a tree for the bark alone.  He wastes
nothing.  He makes use of every bit of that tree.  He does something
for the Green Forest in return for the trees he takes."

Chatterer looked at Happy Jack and blinked in a puzzled way.
Happy Jack looked at Peter Rabbit and blinked.  Peter looked at
Jumper the Hare and blinked.  Jumper looked at Prickly Porky and
blinked.  Then all looked at Paddy the Beaver and finally at Old
Mother Nature, and all blinked.  Old Mother Nature chuckled.

"Don't you think the Green Forest is more beautiful because of
this little pond?" she asked.  Everybody nodded.  "Of course," she
continued.  "But there wouldn't be any little pond here were it
not for Paddy and the trees he has cut.  He destroyed the trees in
order to make the pond.  That is what I meant when I called him a
constructive worker.  Now I want you all to take a good look at
Paddy.  Then he will show us just how as a lumberman he cuts
trees, as a builder he constructs houses and dams, and as an
engineer he digs canals."

As Paddy sat there on his dam, he looked rather like a giant member
of the Rat family, though his head was more like that of a Squirrel
than a Rat.  His body was very thick and heavy, and in color he
was dark brown, lighter underneath than above.  Squatting there
on the dam his back was rounded.  All together, he was a very
clumsy-looking fellow.

Peter Rabbit appeared to be interested in just one thing, Paddy's
tail.  He couldn't keep his eyes off it.

Old Mother Nature noticed this.  "Well, Peter," said she, "what
have you on your mind now?"

"That tail," replied Peter.  "That's the queerest tail I've ever
seen.  I should think it would be heavy and dreadfully in the way."

Old Mother Nature laughed.  "If you ask him Paddy will tell you
that that tail is the handiest tail in the Green Forest," said she.
"There isn't another like it in all the Great World, and if you'll
be patient you will see just how handy it is."

It was a queer-looking tail.  It was broad and thick and flat, oval
in shape, and covered with scales instead of hair.  Just then Jumper
the Hare made a discovery.  "Why!" he exclaimed, "Paddy has feet
like Honker the Goose!"

"Only my hind feet," said Paddy.  "They have webs between the toes
just as Honker's have.  That is for swimming.  But there are no
webs between my fingers."  He held up a hand for all to see.  Sure
enough, the fingers were free.

"Now that everybody has had a good look at you, Paddy," said Old
Mother Nature, "suppose you swim over to where you have been
cutting trees.  We will join you there, and then you can show us
just how you work."

Paddy slipped into the water, where for a second or two he floated
with just his head above the surface.  Then he quickly raised his
broad, heavy tail and brought it down on the water with a slap that
sounded like the crack of a terrible gun.  It was so loud and
unexpected that every one save Old Mother Nature and Prickly Porky
jumped with fright.  Peter Rabbit happened to be right on the edge
of the dam and, because he jumped before he had time to think, he
jumped right into the water with a splash.  Now Peter doesn't like
the water, as you know, and he scrambled out just as fast as ever
he could.  How the others did laugh at him.

"What did he do that for?" demanded Peter indignantly.  "To show
you one use he has for that handy tail," replied Old Mother Nature.
"That is the way he gives warning to his friends whenever he
discovers danger.  Did you notice how he used his tail to aid him
in swimming?  He turns it almost on edge and uses it as a rudder.
Those big, webbed hind feet are the paddles which drive him through
the water.  He can stay under water a long time--as much as five
minutes.  See, he has just come up now."

Sure enough, Paddy's head had just appeared clear across the pond
almost to the opposite shore, and he was now swimming on the surface.
Old Mother Nature at once led the way around the pond to a small
grove of poplar trees which stood a little way back from the water.
Paddy was already there.  "Now," said Old Mother Nature "show us what
kind of a lumberman you are."

Paddy picked out a small tree, sat up much as Happy Jack Squirrel
does, but with his big flat tail on the ground to brace him,
seized the trunk of the tree in both hands, and went to work with
his great orange-colored cutting teeth.  He bit out a big chip.
Then another and another.  Gradually he worked around the tree.
After a while the tree began to sway and crack.  Paddy bit out two
or three more chips, then suddenly slapped the ground with his
tail as a warning and scampered back to a safe distance.  He was
taking no chances of being caught under that falling tree.

The tree fell, and at once Paddy returned to work.  The smaller
branches he cut off with a single bite at the base of each.
The larger ones required a number of bites.  Then he set to work
to cut the trunk up in short logs.  At this point Old Mother
Nature interrupted.

"Now show us," said she, "what you do with the logs."

Paddy at once got behind a log, and by pushing, rolled it ahead
of him until at last it fell with a splash in the water of a ditch
or canal which led from near that grove of trees to the pond.
Paddy followed into the water and began to push it ahead of him
towards the pond.

"That will do," spoke up Old Mother Nature. "Come out and show us
how you take the branches."

Obediently Paddy climbed out and returned to the fallen tree.  There
he picked up one of the long branches in his mouth, grasping it near
the butt, twisted it over his shoulder and started to drag it to
the canal.  When he reached the latter he entered the water and began
swimming, still dragging the branch in the same way.  Once more Old
Mother Nature stopped him.  "You've shown us how you cut trees and
move them, so now I want you to answer a few questions," said she.

Paddy climbed out and squatted on the bank.

"How did this canal happen to be here handy?" asked Old Mother Nature.

"Why, I dug it, of course," replied Paddy looking surprised.  "You
see, I'm rather slow and clumsy on land, and don't like to be far
from water.  Those trees are pretty well back from the pond, so I
dug this canal, which brings the water almost to them.  It makes
it safer for me in case Old Man Coyote or Buster Bear or Yowler the
Bobcat happens to be looking for a Beaver dinner.  Also it makes
it very much easier to get my logs and branches to the pond."

Old Mother Nature nodded.  "Just so," said she.  "I want the rest
of you to notice how well this canal has been dug.  At the other
end it is carried along the bottom of the pond where the water is
shallow so as to give greater depth.  Now you will understand why
I called Paddy an engineer.  What do you do with your logs and
branches, Paddy?"

"Put them in my food-pile, out there where the water is deep near
my house," replied Paddy promptly.  "The bark I eat, and the bare
sticks I use to keep my house and dam in repair.  In the late fall
I cut enough trees to keep me in food all winter.  When my pond is
covered with ice I have nothing to worry about; my food supply
is below the ice.  When I am hungry I swim out under the ice, get
a stick, take it back into my house and eat the bark.  Then I take
the bare stick outside to use when needed on my dam or house."

"How did you come to make this fine pond?" asked Old Mother Nature.

"Oh, I just happened to come exploring up the Laughing Brook and
found there was plenty of food here and a good place for a pond,"
replied Paddy.  "I thought I would like to live here.  Down where
my dam is, the Laughing Brook was shallow--just the place for
a dam."

"Tell us why you wanted a pond and how you built that dam,"
commanded Old Mother Nature.

"Why, I had to have a pond, if I was to stay here," replied Paddy,
as if every one must understand that.  "The Laughing Brook wasn't
deep or big enough for me to live here safely.  If it had been, I
would have made my home in the bank and not bothered with a house
or dam.  But it wasn't, so I had to make a pond.  It required a
lot of hard work, but it is worth all it cost.

"First, I cut a lot of brush and young trees and placed them in
the Laughing Brook in that shallow place, with the butts pointing
up-stream.  I kept them in place by piling mud and stones on them.
Then I kept piling on more sticks and brush and mud.  The water
brought down leaves and floating stuff, and this caught in the
dam and helped fill it in.  I dug a lot of mud in front of it and
used this to fill in the spaces between the sticks.  This made the
water deeper in front of the dam and at the same time kept it from
getting through.  As the water backed up, of course it made a pond.
I kept making my dam longer and higher, and the longer and higher
it became the bigger the pond grew.  When it was big enough and
deep enough to suit me, I stopped work on the dam and built my
house out there."

Everybody turned to look at Paddy's house, the roof of which stood
high out of water a little way from the dam.  "Tell us how you
built that," said Old Mother Nature quietly.

"Oh, I just made a big platform of sticks and mud out there where
it was deep enough for me to be sure that the water could not
freeze clear to the bottom, even in the coldest weather," replied
Paddy, in a matter-of-fact tone.  "I built it up until it was
above water.  Then I built the walls and roof of sticks and mud,
just as you see them there.  Inside I have a fine big room with a
comfortable bed of shredded wood.  I have two openings in the
floor with a long passage leading from each down through the
foundations and opening at the bottom of the pond.  Of course,
these are filled with water.  Some houses have only one passage,
but I like two.  These are the only entrances to my house.

"Every fall I repair my walls and roof, adding sticks and mud and
turf, so that now they are very thick.  Late in the fall I
sometimes plaster the outside with mud.  This freezes hard, and
no enemy who may reach my house on the ice can tear it open.  I
guess that's all."

Peter Rabbit drew a long breath.  "What dreadful lot of work," said
he.  "Do you work all the time?"

Paddy chuckled.  "No, Peter," said he.  And Old Mother Nature nodded
in approval.  "Quite right," said she.  "Quite right.  Are there
any more questions?"

"Do you eat nothing but bark?"  It was Happy Jack Squirrel who spoke.

"Oh, no," replied Paddy.  "In summer I eat berries, mushrooms, grass
and the leaves and stems of a number of plants.  In winter I vary my
fare with lily roots and the roots of alder and willow.  But bark is
my principal food."

Old Mother Nature waited a few minutes, but as there were no more
questions she added a few words.  "Now I hope you understand why I
am so proud of Paddy the Beaver, and why I told you that he is a
lumberman, builder and engineer," said she.  "For the next lesson
we will take up the Rat family."



CHAPTER XIII  A Worker and a Robber

"Now we come to the largest family of the Rodent order, the Rat
family, which of course includes the Mice," said Old Mother Nature,
after calling school to order at the old meeting-place.  "And the
largest member of the family reminds me very much of the one we
learned about yesterday."

"I know!" cried Peter Rabbit.  "You mean Jerry Muskrat."

"Go to the head of the class, Peter," said Old Mother Nature,
smiling.  "Jerry is the very one, the largest member of the Rat
family.  Sometimes he is spoken of as a little cousin of Paddy the
Beaver.  Probably this is because he looks something like a small
Beaver, builds a house in the water as Paddy does, and lives in
very much the same way.  The truth is, he is no more closely related
to Paddy than he is to the rest of you.  He is a true Rat.  He is
called Muskrat because he carries with him a scent called musk.  It
is not an unpleasant scent, like that of Jimmy Skunk, and isn't used
for the same purpose.  Jerry uses his to tell his friends where he
has been.  He leaves a little of it at the places he visits.  Some
folks call him Musquash, but Muskrat is better.

"Jerry is seldom found far from the water and then only when he is
seeking a new home.  He is rather slow and awkward on land; but in
the water he is quite at home, as all of you know who have visited
the Smiling Pool.  He can dive and swim under water a long distance,
though not as far as Paddy the Beaver."

"Has he webbed hind feet like Paddy?" piped up Jumper the Hare.

"Yes and no," replied Old Mother Nature.  "They are not fully webbed
as Paddy's are, but there is a little webbing between some of the
toes, enough to be of great help in swimming.  His tail is of greater
use in swimming than is Paddy's.  It is bare and scaly, but instead
of being flat top and bottom it is flattened on the sides, and he
uses it as a propeller, moving it rapidly from side to side.

"Like Paddy he has a dark brown outer coat, lighter underneath than
on his back and sides, and like Paddy he has a very warm soft under
coat, through which the water cannot get and which keeps him
comfortable, no matter how cold the water is.  You have all seen
his house in the Smiling Pool.  He builds it in much the same way
that Paddy builds his, but instead of sticks he cuts and uses
rushes.  Of course it is not nearly as large as Paddy's house,
because Jerry is himself so much smaller.  It is arranged much the
same, with a comfortable bedroom and one or more passages down to
deep water.  In winter Jerry spends much of his time in this house,
going out only for food.  Then he lives chiefly on lily roots and
roots of other water plants, digging them up and taking them back
to his house to eat.  When the ice is clear you can sometimes see
him swimming below."

"I know," spoke up Peter Rabbit.  "Once I was crossing the Smiling
Pool on the ice and saw him right under me."

"Jerry doesn't build dams, but he sometimes digs little canals
along the bottom where the water isn't deep enough to suit him,"
continued Old Mother Nature.  "Sometimes in the winter Jerry and
Mrs. Jerry share their home with two or three friends.  If there
is a good bank Jerry usually has another home in that.  He makes
the entrance under water and then tunnels back and up for some
distance, where he builds a snug little bedroom just below the
surface of the ground where it is dry.  Usually he has more than
one tunnel leading to this, and sometimes an opening from above.
This is covered with sticks and grass to hide it, and provides
an entrance for fresh air.

"Jerry lives mostly on roots and plants, but is fond of mussels or
fresh-water clams, fish, some insects and, I am sorry to say, young
birds when he can catch them.  Jerry could explain where some of
the babies of Mr. And Mrs. Quack the Ducks have disappeared to.
Paddy the Beaver doesn't eat flesh at all.

"Jerry and Mrs. Jerry have several families in a year, and Jerry
is a very good father, doing his share in caring for the babies.
He and Mrs. Jerry are rather social and enjoy visiting neighbors
of their own kind.  Their voices are a sort of squeak, and you can
often hear them talking among the rushes in the early evening.
That is the hour they like best, though they are abroad during the
day when undisturbed.  Man is their greatest enemy.  He hunts and
traps them for their warm coats.  But they have to watch out for
Hooty the Owl at night and for Reddy Fox and Old Man Coyote whenever
they are on land.  Billy Mink also is an enemy at times, perhaps
the most to be dreaded because he can follow Jerry anywhere.

"Jerry makes little landings of mud and rushes along the edge of
the shore.  On these he delights to sit to eat his meals.  He likes
apples and vegetables and sometimes will travel quite a distance to
get them.  Late in the summer he begins to prepare for winter by
starting work on his house, if he is to have a new one.  He is a
good worker.  There isn't a lazy bone in him.  All things considered,
Jerry is a credit to his family.

"But if Jerry is a credit to his family there is one of its members
who is not and that is--who knows?"

"Robber the Brown Rat," replied Happy Jack Squirrel promptly.  "I
have often seen him around Farmer Brown's barn.  Ugh!  He is an
ugly-looking fellow."

"And he is just as ugly as he looks," replied Old Mother Nature.
"There isn't a good thing I can say for him, not one.  He doesn't
belong in this country at all.  He was brought here by man, and
now he is found everywhere.  He is sometimes called the Norway Rat
and sometimes the Wharf Rat and House Rat.  He is hated by all
animals and by man.  He is big, being next in size to Jerry
Muskrat, savage in temper, the most destructive of any animal I
know, and dirty in his habits.  He is an outcast, but he doesn't
seem to care.

"He lives chiefly around the homes of men, and all his food is
stolen.  That is why he is named Robber.  He eats anything he can
find and isn't the least bit particular what it is or whether it
be clean or unclean.  He gnaws into grain bins and steals the
grain.  He gets into hen-houses and sucks the eggs and kills young
chickens.  He would like nothing better than to find a nest of
your babies, Peter Rabbit."

Peter shivered.  "I'm glad he sticks to the homes of men," said he.

"But he doesn't," declared Old Mother Nature.  "Often in summer he
moves out into the fields, digging burrows there and doing great
damage to crops and also killing and eating any of the furred and
feathered folk he can catch.  But he is not fond of the light of
day.  His deeds are deeds of darkness, and he prefers dark places.
He has very large families, sometimes ten or more babies at a time,
and several families in a year.  That is why his tribe has managed
to overrun the Great World and why they cause such great damage.
Worse than the harm they do with their teeth is the terrible harm
they do to man by carrying dreadful diseases and spreading them--
diseases which cause people to die in great numbers."

"Isn't Robber afraid of any one?" asked Peter.

"He certainly is," replied Old Mother Nature.  "He is in deadly fear
of one whom every one of you fears--Shadow the Weasel.  One good
thing I can say for Shadow is that he never misses a chance to kill
a Rat.  Wherever a Rat can go he can go, and once he finds a colony
he hunts them until he has killed all or driven them away.

"When food becomes scarce, Robber and his family move on to where
it is more plentiful.  Often they make long journeys, a great
number of them together, and do not hesitate to swim a stream that
may be in their path."

"I've never seen Robber," said Peter.  "What kind of a tail does
he have?"

"I might have known you would ask that," laughed Old Mother Nature.
"It is long and slim and has no hair on it.  His fur is very coarse
and harsh and is brown and gray.  He has a close relative called
the Black Rat.  But the latter is smaller and has been largely
driven out of the country by his bigger cousin.  Now I guess this
is enough about Robber.  He is bad, all bad, and hasn't a single
friend in all the Great World."

"What a dreadful thing--not to have a single friend," said
Happy Jack.

"It is dreadful, very dreadful," replied Old Mother Nature.  "But
it is wholly his own fault.  It shows what happens when one becomes
dishonest and bad at heart.  The worst of it is Robber doesn't care.
To-morrow I'll tell you about some of his cousins who are not bad."



CHAPTER XIV  A Trader and a Handsome Fellow

"Way down in the Sunny South," began Old Mother Nature, "lives a
member of the Rat family who, though not nearly so bad as Robber,
is none too good and so isn't thought well of at all.  He is
Little Robber the Cotton Rat, and though small for a Rat, being
only a trifle larger than Striped Chipmunk, looks the little
savage that he is.  He has short legs and is rather thick-bodied,
and appears much like an overgrown Meadow Mouse with a long tail.
The latter is not bare like Robber's, but the hair on it is very
short and thin.  In color he is yellowish-brown and whitish
underneath.  His fur is longer and coarser than that of other
native Rats.

"He lives in old fields, along ditches and hedges, and in similar
places where there is plenty of cover in which he can hide from
his enemies.  He burrows in the ground and usually has his nest of
dry grass there, though often in summer it is the surface of the
ground.  He does not live in and around the homes of men, like the
Brown Rat, but he causes a great deal of damage by stealing grain
in the shock.  He eats all kinds of grain, many seeds, and meat
when he can get it.  He is very destructive to eggs and young of
ground-nesting birds.  He has a bad temper and will fight savagely.
Mr. and Mrs. Cotton Rat raise several large families in a year.
Foxes, Owls and Hawks are their chief enemies.

"But there are other members of the Rat family far more interesting
and quite worth knowing.  One of these is Trader the Wood Rat, in
some parts of the Far West called the Pack Rat.  Among the mountains
he is called the Mountain Rat.  Wherever found, his habits are much
the same and make him one of the most interesting of all the little
people who wear fur.

"Next to Jerry Muskrat he is the largest native Rat, that is, of
the Rats which belong in this country.  He is about two thirds as
big as Robber the Brown Rat, but though he is of the same general
shape, so that you would know at once that he is related to Robber,
he is in all other ways wholly unlike that outcast.  His fur is
thick and soft, almost as soft as that of a Squirrel.  His fairly
long tail is covered with hair.  Indeed, some members of his branch
of the family have tails almost as bushy as a Squirrel's.  His coat
is soft gray and a yellowish-brown above, and underneath pure white
or light buff.  His feet are white.  He has rounded ears and big
black eyes with none of the ugliness in them that you always see in
the eyes of Robber.  And he has long whiskers and plenty of them."

"But why is he called Trader?" asked Rabbit a bit impatiently.

"Patience, Peter, patience.  I'm coming to that," chided Old Mother
Nature.  "He is Trader because his greatest delight is in trading.
He is a born trader if ever there was one.  He doesn't steal as
other members of his family but trades.  He puts something back
in place of whatever he takes.  It may be little sticks or chips
or pebbles or anything else that is handy but it is something to
replace what he has taken.  You see, he is very honest.  If Trader
finds something belonging to some one else that he wants he takes
it, but he tries to pay for it.

"Next to trading he delights in collecting.  His home is a regular
museum.  He delights in anything bright and shiny.  When he can
get into the camps of men he will take anything he can move.  But
being honest, he tries to leave something in return.  All sorts of
queer things are found in his home--buckles cut from saddles,
spoons, knives, forks, even money he has taken from the pockets of
sleeping campers.  Whenever any small object is missed from a camp,
the first place visited in search of it is the home of Trader.  In
the mountains he sometimes makes piles of little pebbles just for
the fun of collecting them.

"He is found all over the West, from the mountains to the deserts,
in thick forests and on sandy wastes.  He is also found in parts
of the East and in the Sunny South.  He is a great climber and is
perfectly at home in trees or among rocks.  He eats seeds, grain,
many kinds of nuts, leaves and other parts of plants.  In the
colder sections he lays up stores for winter."

"What kind of a home does he have?" asked Happy Jack.

"His home usually is a very remarkable affair," replied Old Mother
Nature.  "It depends largely on where he is.  When he is living in
rocky country, he makes it amongst the rocks.  In some places he
burrows in the ground.  But more often it is on the surface of the
ground--a huge pile of sticks and thorns in the very middle of
which is his snug, soft nest.  The sticks and thorns are to protect
it from enemies.  When he lives down where cactus grow, those queer
plants with long sharp spines, he uses these, and there are few
enemies who will try to pull one of these houses apart to get at him.

"When he is alarmed or disturbed, he has a funny habit of drumming on
the ground with his hind feet in much the same way that Peter Rabbit
and Jumper the Hare thump, only he does it rapidly.  Sometimes he
builds his house in a tree.  When he finds a cabin in the woods he
at once takes possession, carrying in a great mass of sticks and
trash.  He is chiefly active at night, and a very busy fellow he
is, trading and collecting.  He has none of the mean disposition
of Robber the Brown Rat.  Mrs. Trader has two to five babies at
a time and raises several families in a year.  As I said before,
Trader is one of the most interesting little people I know of, and
he does very, very funny things.

"Now we come to the handsomest member of the family, Longfoot the
Kangaroo Rat, so called because of his long hind legs and tail and
the way in which he sits up and jumps.  Really he is not a member
of the Rat branch of the family, but closely related to the Pocket
Mice.  You see, he has pockets in his cheeks."

"Like mine?" asked Striped Chipmunk quickly.

"No, they are on the outside instead of the inside of his cheeks.
Yours are inside."

"I think mine must be a lot handier," asserted Striped Chipmunk,
nodding his head in a very decided way.

"Longfoot seems to think his are quite satisfactory," replied Old
Mother Nature.  "He really is handsome, but he isn't a bit vain
and is very gentle.  He never tries to bite when caught and taken
in a man's hand."

"But you haven't told us how big he is or what he looks like,"
protested impatient Peter.

"When he sits up or jumps he looks like a tiny Kangaroo.  But that
doesn't mean anything to you, and you are no wiser than before,
for you never have seen a Kangaroo," replied Old Mother Nature.
"In the first place he is about the size of Striped Chipmunk.
That is, his body is about the size of Striped Chipmunk's; but
his tail is longer than his head and body together."

"My, it must be some tail!" exclaimed Peter Rabbit admiringly.

Old Mother Nature smiled.  "It is," said she.  "You would like that
tail, Peter.  His front legs are short and the feet small, but his
hind legs are long and the feet big.  Of course you have seen
Nimbleheels the Jumping Mouse, Peter."

Peter nodded.  "Of course," he replied.  "My how that fellow can jump!"

"Well, Longfoot is built on the same plan as Nimbleheels and for the
same purpose," continued Old Mother Nature.  "He is a jumper."

"Then I know what that long tail is for," cried Peter.  "It is to
keep him balanced when he is in the air so that he can jump straight."

"Right again, Peter," laughed Old Mother Nature.  "That is just what
it is for.  Without it, he never would know where he was going to
land when he jumped.  As I told you, he is a handsome little fellow.
His fur is very soft and silky.  Above, it is a pretty yellowish-brown,
but underneath it is pure white.  His cheeks are brown, he is white
around the ears, and a white stripe crosses his hips and keeps right
on along the sides of his tail.  The upper and under parts of his
tail are almost or quite black, and the tail ends in a tuft of long
hair which is pure white.  His feet are also white.  His head is
rather large for his size, and long.  He has a long nose.  Longfoot
has a number of cousins, some of them much smaller than he, but they
all look very much alike."

"Where do they live?" asked Johnny Chuck, for Johnny had been unable
to stay away from school another day.

"In the dry, sandy parts of the Southwest, places so dry that it
seldom rains, and water is to be found only long distances apart,"
replied Old Mother Nature.

"Then how does Longfoot get water to drink?" demanded Chatterer the
Red Squirrel.

"He gets along without drinking," replied Old Mother Nature.  "Such
moisture as he needs he gets from his food.  He eats seeds, leaves
of certain plants and tender young plants just coming up.  He
burrows in the ground and throws up large mounds of earth.  These
have several entrances.  One of these is the main entrance, and
during the day this is often kept closed with earth.  Under the
mound he has little tunnels in all directions, a snug little bedroom
and storerooms for food.  He is very industrious and dearly loves
to dig.

"Longfoot likes to visit his relatives sometimes, and where there
are several families living near together, little paths lead from
mound to mound.  He comes out mostly at night, probably because he
feels it to be safer then.  Then, too, in that hot country it is
cooler at night.  The dusk of early evening is his favorite
playtime.  If Longfoot has a quarrel with one of his relatives they
fight, hopping about each other, watching for a chance to leap and
kick with those long, strong hind feet.  Longfoot sometimes drums
with his hind feet after the manner of Trader the Wood Rat.

"Now I think this will do for this morning.  If any of you should
meet Whitefoot the Wood Mouse, tell him to come to school to-morrow
morning.  And you might tell Danny Meadow if you little folks want
school to continue."

"We do!" cried Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare and Happy Jack
Squirrel and Chatterer the Red Squirrel and Striped Chipmunk and
Johnny Chuck as one.



CHAPTER XV  Two Unlike Little Cousins

Whitefoot the Wood Mouse is one of the smallest of the little people
who live in the Green Forest.  Being so small he is one of the most
timid.  You see, by day and by night sharp eyes are watching for
Whitefoot and he knows it.  Never one single instant, while he is
outside where sharp eyes of hungry enemies may see him, does he
forget that they are watching for him.  To forget even for one little
minute might mean--well, it might mean the end of little Whitefoot,
but a dinner for some one with a liking for tender Mouse.

So Whitefoot the Wood Mouse rarely ventures more than a few feet
from a hiding place and safety.  At the tiniest sound he starts
nervously and often darts back into hiding without waiting to find
out if there really is any danger.  If he waited to make sure he
might wait too long, and it is better to be safe than sorry.  If you
and I had as many real frights in a year, not to mention false frights,
as Whitefoot has in a day, we would, I suspect, lose our minds.
Certainly we would be the most unhappy people in all the Great World.

But Whitefoot isn't unhappy.  Not a bit of it.  He is a very happy
little fellow.  There is a great deal of wisdom in that pretty
little head of his.  There is more real sense in it than in some
very big heads.  When some of his neighbors make fun of him for
being so very, very timid he doesn't try to pretend that he isn't
afraid.  He doesn't get angry.  He simply says:

"Of course I'm timid, very timid indeed.  I'm afraid of almost
everything.  I would be foolish not to be.  It is because I am
afraid that I am alive and happy right now.  I hope I shall never
be less timid than I am now, for it would mean that sooner or
later I would fail to run in time and would be gobbled up.  It
isn't cowardly to be timid when there is danger all around.  Nor
is it bravery to take a foolish and needless risk.  So I seldom
go far from home.  It isn't safe for me, and I know it."

This being the way Whitefoot looked at matters, you can guess how
he felt when Chatterer the Red Squirrel caught sight of him and
gave him Old Mother Nature's message.

"Hi there, Mr. Fraidy!" shouted Chatterer, as he caught sight
of Whitefoot darting under a log.  "Hi there!  I've got a message
for you!"

Slowly, cautiously, Whitefoot poked his head out from beneath the
old log and looked up at Chatterer.  "What kind of a message?" he
demanded suspiciously.

"A message you'll do well to heed.  It is from Old Mother Nature,"
replied Chatterer.

"A message from Old Mother Nature!" cried Whitefoot, and came out
a bit more from beneath the old log.

"That's what I said, a message from Old Mother Nature, and if you
will take my advice you will heed it," retorted Chatterer.  "She
says you are to come to school with the rest of us at sun-up
to-morrow morning."

Then Chatterer explained about the school and where it was held
each morning and what a lot he and his friends had already learned
there.  Whitefoot listened with something very like dismay in his
heart.  That place where school was held was a long way off.  That
is, it was a long way for him, though to Peter Rabbit or Jumper the
Hare it wouldn't have seemed long at all.  It meant that he would
have to leave all his hiding places and the thought made him shiver.

But Old Mother Nature had sent for him and not once did he even
think of disobeying.  "Did you say that school begins at sun-up?"
he asked, and when Chatterer nodded Whitefoot sighed.  It was a
sigh of relief.  "I'm glad of that," said he.  "I can travel in
the night, which will be much safer.  I'll be there.  That is, I
will if I am not caught on the way."

Meanwhile over on the Green Meadows Peter Rabbit was looking for
Danny Meadow Mouse.  Danny's home was not far from the dear Old
Briar-patch, and he and Peter were and still are very good friends.
So Peter knew just about where to look for Danny and it didn't
take him long to find him.

"Hello, Peter!  You look as if you have something very important
on your mind," was the greeting of Danny Meadow Mouse as Peter
came hurrying up.

"I have," said Peter.  "It is a message for you.  Old Mother Nature
says for you to be on hand at sun-up to-morrow when school opens
over in the Green Forest.  Of course you will be there."

"Of course," replied Danny in the most matter-of-fact tone.  "Of
course.  If Old Mother Nature really sent me that message--"

"She really did," interrupted Peter.

"There isn't anything for me to do but obey," finished Danny.  Then
his face became very sober.  "That is a long way for me to go,
Peter," said he.  "I wouldn't take such a long journey for anything
or for anybody else.  Old Mother Nature knows, and if she sent for
me she must be sure I can make the trip safely.  What time did you
say I must be there?"

"At sun-up," replied Peter.  "Shall I call for you on my way there?"

Danny shook his head.  Then he began to laugh.  "What are you
laughing at?" demanded Peter.

"At the very idea of me with my short legs trying to keep up with
you," replied Danny.  "I wish you would sit up and take a good
look all around to make sure that Old Man Coyote and Reddy Fox and
Redtail the Hawk and Black Pussy, that pesky Cat from Farmer Brown's,
are nowhere about."

Peter obligingly sat up and looked this way and looked that way and
looked the other way.  No one of whom he or Danny Meadow Mouse need
be afraid was to be seen.  He said as much, then asked, "Why did
you want to know, Danny?"

"Because I am going to start at once," replied Danny.

"Start for where?" asked Peter, looking much puzzled.

"Start for school of course," replied Danny rather shortly.

"But school doesn't begin until sun-up to-morrow," protested Peter.

"Which is just the reason I am going to start now," retorted Danny.
"If I should put off starting until the last minute I might not
get there at all.  I would have to hurry, and it is difficult to
hurry and watch for danger at the same time.  I've noticed that
people who put things off to the last minute and then have to
hurry are quite apt to rush headlong into trouble.  The way is
clear now, so I am going to start.  I can take my time and keep
a proper watch for danger.  I'll see you over there in the
morning, Peter."

Danny turned and disappeared in one of his private little paths
though the tall grass.  Peter noticed that he was headed towards
the Green Forest.

When Peter and the others arrived for school the next morning they
found Whitefoot the Wood Mouse and Danny Meadow Mouse waiting with
Old Mother Nature.  Safe in her presence, they seemed to have lost
much of their usual timidity.  Whitefoot was sitting on the end of
a log and Danny was on the ground just beneath him.

"I want all the rest of you to look well at these two little cousins
and notice how unlike two cousins can be," said Old Mother Nature.
"Whitefoot, who is quite as often called Deer Mouse as Wood Mouse,
is one of the prettiest of the entire Mouse family.  I suspect he
is called Deer Mouse because the upper part of his coat is such a
beautiful fawn color.  Notice that the upper side of his long slim
tail is of the same color, while the under side is white, as is the
whole under part of Whitefoot.  Also those dainty feet are white,
hence his name.  See what big, soft black eyes he has, and notice
that those delicate ears are of good size.

"His tail is covered with short fine hairs, instead of being naked
as is the tail of Nibbler the House mouse, of whom I will tell you
later.  Whitefoot loves the Green Forest, but out in parts of the
Far West where there is no Green Forest he lives on the brushy
plains.  He is a good climber and quite at home in the trees.
There he seems almost like a tiny Squirrel.  Tell us, Whitefoot,
where you make your home and what you eat."

"My home just now," replied Whitefoot, "is in a certain hollow in a
certain dead limb of a certain tree.  I suspect that a member of the
Woodpecker family made that hollow, but no one was living there when
I found it.  Mrs. Whitefoot and I have made a soft, warm nest there
and wouldn't trade homes with any one.  We have had our home in a
hollow log on the ground, in an old stump, in a hole we dug in the
ground under a rock, and in an old nest of some bird.  That was in
a tall bush.  We roofed that nest over and make a little round
doorway on the under side.  Once we raised a family in a box in a
dark corner of Farmer Brown's sugar camp.

"I eat all sorts of things--seeds, nuts, insects and meat when I
can get it.  I store up food for winter, as all wise and thrifty
people do."

"I suppose that means that you do not sleep as Johnny Chuck does in
winter," remarked Peter Rabbit.

"I should say not!" exclaimed Whitefoot.  "I like winter.  It is fun
to run about on the snow.  Haven't you ever seen my tracks, Peter?"

"I have, lots of times," spoke up Jumper the Hare.  "Also I've seen you
skipping about after dark.  I guess you don't care much for sunlight."

"I don't," replied Whitefoot.  "I sleep most of the time during the
day, and work and play at night.  I feel safer then.  But on dull
days I often come out.  It is the bright sunlight I don't like.  That
is one reason I stick to the Green Forest.  I don't see how Cousin
Danny stands it out there on the Green Meadows.  Now I guess it is
his turn."

Every one looked at Danny Meadow Mouse.  In appearance he was as
unlike Whitefoot as it was possible to be and still be a Mouse.
There was nothing pretty or graceful about Danny.  He wasn't dainty
at all.  His body was rather stout, looking stouter than it really
was because his fur was quite long.  His head was blunt, and he
seemed to have no neck at all, though of course he did have one.
His eyes were small, like little black beads.  His ears were almost
hidden in his hair.  His legs were short and his tail was quite
short, as if it had been cut off when half grown.  No, those two
cousins didn't look a bit alike.  Danny felt most uncomfortable
as the others compared him with pretty Whitefoot.  He knew he was
homely, but never before had he felt it quite so keenly.  Old
Mother Nature saw and understood.

"It isn't how we look, but what we are and what we do and how we
fit into our particular places in life that count," said she.
"Now, Danny is a homely little fellow, but I know, and I know that
he knows that he is just fitted for the life he lives, and he lives
it more successfully for being just as he is.

"Danny is a lover of the fields and meadows where there is little
else but grass in which to hide.  Everything about him is just
suited for living there.  Isn't that so, Danny?"

"Yes'm, I guess so," replied Danny.  "Sometimes my tail does seem
dreadfully short to look well."

Everybody laughed, even Danny himself.  Then he remembered how once
Reddy Fox had so nearly caught him that one of Reddy's black paws
had touched the tip of his tail.  Had that tail been any longer
Reddy would have caught him by it.  Danny's face cleared and he
hastened to declare, "After all, my tail suits me just as it is."

"Wisely spoken, Danny," said Old Mother Nature.  "Now it is your
turn to tell how you live and what you eat and anything else of
interest about yourself."

"I guess there isn't much interesting about me," began Danny
modestly.  "I'm just one of the plain, common little folks.
I guess everybody knows me so well there is nothing for me
to tell."

"Some of them may know all about you, but I don't," declared
Jumper the Hare.  "I never go out on the Green Meadows where you
live.  How do you get about in all that tall grass?"

"Oh, that's easy enough," replied Danny.  "I cut little paths in
all directions."

"Just the way I do in the dear Old Briar-patch," interrupted
Peter Rabbit.

"I keep those little paths clear and clean so that there never is
anything in my way to trip me up when I have to run for safety,"
continued Danny.  "When the grass gets tall those little paths are
almost like little tunnels.  The time I dread most is when Farmer
Brown cuts the grass for hay.  I not only have to watch out for that
dreadful mowing machine, but when the hay has been taken away the
grass is so short that it is hard work for me to keep out of sight.

"I sometimes dig a short burrow and at the end of it make a nice nest
of dry grass.  Sometimes in summer Mrs. Danny and I make our nest on
the surface of the ground in a hollow or in a clump of tall grass,
especially if the ground is low and wet.  We have several good-sized
families in a year.  All Meadow Mice believe in large families, and
that is probably why there are more Meadow Mice than any other Mice
in the country.  I forgot to say that I am also called Field Mouse."

"And it is because there are so many of your family and they require
so much to eat that you do a great deal of damage to grass and other
crops," spoke up Old Mother Nature.  "You see," she explained to the
others, "Danny eats grass, clover, bulbs, roots, seeds and garden
vegetables.  He also eats some insects.  He sometimes puts away a
few seeds for the winter, but depends chiefly on finding enough to
eat, for he is active all winter.  He tunnels about under the snow
in search of food.  When other food is hard to find he eats bark,
and then he sometimes does great damage in young orchards.  He gnaws
the bark from young fruit trees all the way around as high as he
can reach, and of course this kills the trees.  He is worse than
Peter Rabbit.

"Danny didn't mention that he is a good swimmer and not at all
afraid of the water.  No one has more enemies than he, and the fact
that he is alive and here at school this morning is due to his
everlasting watchfulness.  This will do for to-day.  To-morrow we
will take up others of the Mouse family."



CHAPTER XVI  Danny's Northern Cousins and Nimbleheels

Whitefoot the Wood Mouse and Danny Meadow Mouse had become so
interested that they decided they couldn't afford to miss the next
lesson.  Neither did either of them feel like making the long
journey to his home and back again.  So Whitefoot found a hole in
a stump near by and decided to camp out there for a few days.  Danny
decided to do the same thing in a comfortable place under a pile of
brush not far away.  So the next morning both were on hand when
school opened.

"I told you yesterday that I would tell you about some of Danny's
cousins," began Old Mother Nature just as Chatterer the Red Squirrel,
who was late, came hurrying up quite out of breath.  "Way up in the
Far North are two of Danny's cousins more closely related to him
than to any other members of the Mouse family.  Yet, strange to say,
they are not called Mice at all, but Lemmings.  However, they belong
to the Mouse family.

"Bandy the Banded Lemming is the most interesting, because he is
the one member of the entire family who changes the color of his
coat.  In summer he wears beautiful shades of reddish brown and
gray, but in winter his coat is wholly white.  He is also called
the Hudson Bay Lemming.

"Danny Meadow Mouse thinks his tail is short, but he wouldn't if
he should see Bandy's tail.  That is so short it hardly shows beyond
his long fur.  He is about Danny's size, but a little stouter and
stockier, and his long fur makes him appear even thicker-bodied than
he really is.  He has very short legs, and his ears are so small
that they are quite hidden in the fur around them, so that he appears
to have no ears at all.

"In that same far northern country is a close relative called the
Brown Lemming.  He is very much like Bandy save that he is all brown
and does not change his coat in winter.  Both have the same general
habits, and these are much like the habits of Danny Meadow Mouse.
They make short burrows in the ground leading to snug, warm nests of
grass and moss.  In winter they make little tunnels in every direction
under the snow, with now and then an opening to the surface.

"There are many more Brown Lemmings than Banded Lemmings, and their
little paths run everywhere through the grass and moss.  In that
country there is a great deal of moss.  It covers the ground just
as grass does here.  But the most interesting thing about these
Lemmings is the way they migrate.  To migrate is to move from one
part of the country to another.  You know most of the birds migrate
to the Sunny South every autumn and back every spring.

"Once in a while it happens that food becomes very scarce where
the Lemmings are.  Then very many of them get together, just as
migrating birds form great flocks, and start on a long journey in
search of a place where there is plenty of food.  They form a great
army and push ahead, regardless of everything.  They swim wide
rivers and even lakes which may lie in their way.  Of course, they
eat everything eatable in their path."

"My!" exclaimed Danny Meadow Mouse, "I'm glad I don't live in a
country where I might have to make such long journeys.  I don't
envy those cousins up there in the Far North a bit.  I'm perfectly
satisfied to live right on the Green Meadows."

"Which shows your good common sense," said Old Mother Nature.  "By
the way, Danny, I suppose you are acquainted with Nimbleheels the
Jumping Mouse, who also is rather fond of the Green Meadows.  I
ought to have sent word to him to be here this morning."

Hardly were the words out of Old Mother Nature's mouth when something
landed in the leaves almost at her feet and right in the middle of
school.  Instantly Danny Meadow Mouse scurried under a pile of dead
leaves.  Whitefoot the Wood Mouse darted into a knothole in the log
on which he had been sitting.  Jumper the Hare dodged behind a
little hemlock tree.  Peter Rabbit bolted for a hollow log.  Striped
Chipmunk vanished in a hole under an old stump.  Johnny Chuck backed
up against the trunk of a tree and made ready to fight.  Only Happy
Jack the Gray Squirrel and Chatterer the Red Squirrel and Prickly
Porky the Porcupine, who were sitting in trees, kept their places.
You see they felt quite safe.

As soon as all those who had run had reached places of safety,
they peeped out to see what had frightened them so.  Just imagine
how very, very foolish they felt when they saw Old Mother Nature
smiling down at a little fellow just about the size of little
Whitefoot, but with a much longer tail.  It was Nimbleheels the
Jumping Mouse.

"Well, well, well," exclaimed Old Mother Nature.  "I was just
speaking of you and wishing I had you here.  How did you happen
to come?  And what do you mean by scaring my pupils half out of
their wits?"  Her eyes twinkled.  Nimbleheels saw this and knew
that she was only pretending to be severe.

Before he could reply Johnny Chuck began to chuckle.  The chuckle
became a laugh, and presently Johnny was laughing so hard he had
to hold his sides.  Now, as you know, laughter is catching.  In a
minute or so everybody was laughing, and no one but Johnny Chuck
knew what the joke was.  At last Peter Rabbit stopped laughing
long enough to ask Johnny what he was laughing at.

"At the idea of that little pinch of nothing giving us all such a
fright," replied Johnny Chuck.  Then all laughed some more.

When they were through laughing Nimbleheels answered Old Mother
Nature's questions.  He explained that he had heard about that
school, as by this time almost every one in the Green Forest and
on the Green Meadows had.  By chance he learned that Danny Meadow
Mouse was attending.  He thought that if it was a good thing for
Danny it would be a good thing for him, so he had come.

"Just as I was almost here I heard a twig snap behind me, or thought
I did, and I jumped so as to get here and be safe.  I didn't
suppose anyone would be frightened by little me," he explained.
"It was some jump!" exclaimed Jumper the Hare admiringly.  "He
went right over my head, and I was sitting up at that!"

"It isn't much of a jump to go over your head," replied Nimbleheels.
"You ought to see me when I really try to jump.  I wasn't half
trying when I landed here.  I'm sorry I frightened all of you so.
It gives me a queer feeling just to think that I should be able
to frighten anybody.  If you please, Mother Nature, am I in time
for to-day's lesson?"

"Not for all of it, but you are just in time for the part I wanted
you here for," replied Old Mother Nature.  "Hop up on that log
side of your Cousin Whitefoot, where all can see you."

Nimbleheels hopped up beside Whitefoot the Wood Mouse, and as the
two little cousins sat side by side they were not unlike in general
appearance, though of the two Whitefoot was the prettier.  The coat
of Nimbleheels was a dull yellowish, darker on the back than on the
sides.  Like Whitefoot he was white underneath.  His ears were much
smaller than those of Whitefoot.  But the greatest differences
between the two were in their hind legs and tails.

The hind legs and feet of Nimbleheels were long, on the same plan
as those of Peter Rabbit.  From just a glance at them any one
would know that he was a born jumper and a good one.  Whitefoot
possessed a long tail, but the tail of Nimbleheels was much
longer, slim and tapering.

"There," said Old Mother Nature, "is the greatest jumper for his
size among all the animals in this great country.  When I say this,
I mean the greatest ground jumper.  Timmy the Flying Squirrel
jumps farther, but Timmy has to climb to a high place and then
coasts down on the air.  I told you what wonderful jumps Jack
Rabbit can make, but if he could jump as high and far for his size
as Nimbleheels can jump for his size, the longest jump Jack has
ever made would seem nothing more than a hop.  By the way, both
Nimbleheels and Whitefoot have small pockets in their cheeks.
Tell us where you live, Nimbleheels."

"I live among the weeds along the edge of the Green Meadows,"
replied Nimbleheels, "though sometimes I go way out on the Green
Meadows.  But I like best to be among the weeds because they are
tall and keep me well hidden, and also because they furnish me
plenty to eat.  You see, I live largely on seeds, though I am also
fond of berries and small nuts, especially beechnuts.  Some of my
family prefer the Green Forest, especially if there is a Laughing
Brook or pond in it. Personally I prefer, as I said before, the
edge of the Green Meadows."

"Do you make your home under the ground?" asked Striped Chipmunk.

"For winter, yes," replied Nimbleheels.  "In summer I sometimes
put my nest just a few inches under ground, but often I hide it
under a piece of bark or in a thick clump of grass, just as Danny
Meadow Mouse often does his.  In the fall I dig a deep burrow,
deep enough to be beyond the reach of Jack Frost, and in a nice
little bedroom down there I sleep the winter away.  I have little
storerooms down there too, in which I put seeds, berries and nuts.
Then when I do wake up I have plenty to eat."

"I might add," said Old Mother Nature, "that when he goes to sleep
for the winter he curls up in a little ball with his long tail
wrapped around him, and in his bed of soft grass he sleeps very
sound indeed.  Like Johnny Chuck he gets very fat before going to
sleep.  Now, Nimbleheels, show us how you can jump."

Nimbleheels hopped down from the log on which he had been sitting
and at once shot into the air in such a high, long, beautiful jump
that everybody exclaimed.  This way and that way he went in great
leaps.  It was truly wonderful.

"That long tail is what balances him," explained Old Mother Nature.
"If he should lose it he would simply turn over and over and never
know where or how he was going to land.  His jumping is done only
in times of danger.  When he is not alarmed he runs about on the
ground like the rest of the Mouse family.  This is all for to-day.
To-morrow I will tell you still more about the Mouse family."



CHAPTER XVII  Three Little Redcoats and Some Others

With Whitefoot the Wood Mouse, Danny Meadow Mouse and Nimbleheels
the Jumping Mouse attending school, the Mouse family was well
represented, but when school opened the morning after Nimbleheels
had made his sudden and startling appearance, there was still
another present.  It was Piney the Pine Mouse.  Whitefoot, who
knew him, had hunted him up and brought him along.

"I thought you wouldn't mind if Piney came," explained Whitefoot.

"I'm glad he has come," replied Old Mother Nature.  "It is much
better to see a thing than merely to be told about it, and now you
have a chance to see for yourselves the differences between two
cousins very closely related, Danny Meadow Mouse and Piney the
Pine Mouse.  What difference do you see, Happy Jack Squirrel?"

"Piney is a little smaller than Danny, though he is much the same
shape," was the prompt reply.

"True," said Old Mother Nature.  "Now, Striped Chipmunk, what
difference do you see?"

"The fur of Piney's coat is shorter, finer and has more of a shine.
Then, too, it is more of a reddish-brown than Danny's," replied
Striped Chipmunk.

"And what do you say, Peter Rabbit?" asked Old Mother Nature.

"Piney has a shorter tail," declared Peter, and everybody laughed.

"Trust you to look at his tail first," said Old Mother Nature.
"These are the chief differences as far as looks are concerned.
Their habits differ in about the same degree.  As you all know,
Danny cuts little paths through the grass.  Piney doesn't do this,
but makes little tunnels just under the surface of the ground very
much as Miner the Mole does.  He isn't fond of the open Green
Meadows or of damp places as Danny is, but likes best the edge of
the Green Forest and brushy places.  He is very much at home in a
poorly kept orchard where the weeds are allowed to grow and in young
orchards he does a great deal of damage by cutting off the roots of
young trees and stripping off the bark as high up as he can reach.
Tell us, Piney, how and where you make your home."

Piney hesitated a little, for he was bashful.  "I make my home under
ground," he ventured finally.  "I dig a nice little bedroom with
several entrances from my tunnels, and in it I make a fine nest of
soft grass.  Close by I dig one or more rooms in which to store my
food, and these usually are bigger than my bedroom.  When I get one
filled with food I close it up by filling the entrance with earth."

"What do you put in your storerooms?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"Short pieces of grass and pieces of roots of different kinds,"
replied Piney.  "I am very fond of tender roots and the bark of
trees and bushes.

"And he dearly loves to get in a garden where he can tunnel along
a row of potatoes or other root crops," added Old Mother Nature.
"Because of these habits he does a great deal of damage and is much
disliked by man.  Striped Chipmunk mentioned his reddish-brown coat.
There is another cousin with a coat so red that he is called the
Red-backed Mouse.  He is about the size of Danny Meadow Mouse but
has larger ears and a longer tail.

"This little fellow is a lover of the Green Forest, and he is quite
as active by day as by night.  He is pretty, especially when he sits
up to eat, holding his food in his paws as does Happy Jack Squirrel.
He makes his home in a burrow, the entrance to which is under an old
stump, a rock or the root of a tree.  His nest is of soft grass or
moss.  Sometimes he makes it in a hollow log or stump instead of
digging a bedroom under ground.  He is thrifty and lays up a supply
of food in underground rooms, hollow logs and similar places.  He
eats seeds, small fruits, roots and various plants.  Because of
his preference for the Green Forest and the fact that he lives as
a rule far from the homes of men, he does little real damage.

"There is still another little Redcoat in the family, and he is
especially interesting because while he is related to Danny Meadow
Mouse he lives almost wholly in trees.  He is called the Rufous
Tree Mouse.  Rufous means reddish-brown, and he gets that name
because of the color of his coat.  He lives in the great forests
of the Far West, where the trees are so big and tall that the
biggest tree you have ever seen would look small beside them.  And
it is in those great trees that the Rufous Tree Mouse lives.

"Just why he took to living in trees no one knows, for he belongs
to that branch of the family known as Ground Mice.  But live in
them he does, and he is quite as much at home in them as
any Squirrel."

Chatterer the Red Squirrel was interested right away.  "Does he
build a nest in a tree like a Squirrel?" he asked.

"He certainly does," replied Old Mother Nature, "and often it is a
most remarkable nest.  In some sections he places it only in big
trees, sometimes a hundred feet from the ground.  In other sections
it is placed in small trees and only a few feet above the ground.
The high nests often are old deserted nests of Squirrels enlarged
and built over.  Some of them are very large indeed and have been
used year after year.  Each year they have been added to.

"One of these big nests will have several bedrooms and little
passages running all through it.  It appears that Mrs. Rufous
usually has one of these big nests to herself, Rufous having
a small nest of his own out on one of the branches.  The big
nest is close up against the trunk of the tree where several
branches meet."

"Does Rufous travel from one tree to another, or does he live in
just one tree?" asked Happy Jack Squirrel.

"Wherever branches of one tree touch those of another, and you
know in a thick forest this is frequently the case, he travels
about freely if he wants to.  But those trees are so big that I
suspect he spends most of his time in the one in which his home
is," replied Old Mother Nature.  "However, if an enemy appears
in his home tree, he makes his escape by jumping from one tree
to another, just as you would do."

"What I want to know is where he gets his food if he spends all
his time up in the trees," spoke up Danny Meadow Mouse.

Old Mother Nature smiled.  "Where should he get it but up where
he lives?" she asked.  "Rufous never has to worry about food.  It
is all around him.  You see, so far as known, he lives wholly on
the thick parts of the needles, which you know are the leaves, of
fir and spruce trees, and on the bark of tender twigs.  So you
see he is more of a tree dweller than any of the Squirrel family.
While Rufous has the general shape of Danny and his relatives, he
has quite a long tail.  Now I guess this will do for the nearest
relatives of Danny Meadow Mouse."

"He certainly has a lot of them," remarked Whitefoot the Wood Mouse.
Then he added a little wistfully, "Of course, in a way they are all
cousins of mine, but I wish I had some a little more closely related."

"You have," replied Old Mother Nature, and Whitefoot pricked up
his big ears.  "One of them Bigear the Rock Mouse, who lives out
in the mountains of the Far West.  He is as fond of the rocks as
Rufous is of the trees.  Sometimes he lives in brush heaps and in
brushy country, but he prefers rocks, and that is why he is known
as the Rock Mouse.

"He is a pretty little fellow, if anything a trifle bigger than you,
Whitefoot, and he is dressed much like you with a yellowish-brown
coat and white waistcoat.  He has just such a long tail covered
with hair its whole length.  But you should see his ears.  He has
the largest ears of any member of the whole family.  That is why
he is called Bigear.  He likes best to be out at night, but often
comes out on dull days.  He eats seeds and small nuts and is
especially fond of juniper seeds.  He always lays up a supply of
food for winter.  Often he is found very high up on the mountains.

"Another of your cousins, Whitefoot, lives along the seashore of
the East down in the Sunny South.  He is called the Beach Mouse.
In general appearance he is much like you, having the same shape,
long tail and big ears, but he is a little smaller and his coat
varies.  When he lives back from the shore, in fields where the
soil is dark, his upper coat is dark grayish-brown, but when he
lives on the white sands of the seashore it is very light.  His
home is in short burrows in the ground.

"Now don't you little people think you have learned enough about
the Mouse family?"

"You haven't told us about Nibbler the House Mouse yet.  And you
said you would," protested Peter Rabbit.

"And when we were learning about Longfoot the Kangaroo Rat you said
he was most closely related to the Pocket Mice.  What about them?"
said Johnny Chuck.

Old Mother Nature laughed.  "I see," said she, "that you want to
know all there is to know.  Be on hand to-morrow morning.  I guess
we can finish up with the Mouse family then and with them the order
of Rodents to which all of you belong."



CHAPTER XVIII  Mice with Pockets, and Others

"Pockets are very handy things for little people who are thrifty
and who live largely on small seeds.  Without pockets in which to
carry the seeds, I am afraid some of them would never be able to
store up enough food for winter," began Old Mother Nature, as soon
as everybody was on hand the next morning.

"I wouldn't be without my pockets for any thing," spoke up
Striped Chipmunk.

Old Mother Nature smiled.  "You certainly do make good use of yours,"
said she.  "But there are others who have even greater need of
pockets, and among them are the Pocket Mice.  Of course, it is
because of their pockets that they are called Pocket Mice.  All of
these pretty little fellows live in the dry parts of the Far West
and Southwest in the same region where Longfoot the Kangaroo Rat
lives.  They are close neighbors and relatives of his.

"Midget the Silky Pocket Mouse is one of the smallest animals in
all the Great World, so small that Whitefoot the Wood Mouse is a
giant compared with him.  He weighs less than an ounce and is a
dear little fellow.  His back and sides are yellow, and beneath
he is white.  He has quite long hind legs and a long tail, and
these show at once that he is a jumper.  In each cheek is a pocket
opening from the outside, and these pockets are lined with hair.
He is called Silky Pocket Mouse because of the fineness and
softness of his coat.  He has some larger cousins, one of them
being a little bigger than Nibbler the House Mouse.  Neighbors
and close relatives are the Spiny Pocket Mice."

"Do they have spines like Prickly Porky?" demanded Peter Rabbit.

Old Mother Nature laughed.  "I don't wonder you ask," said she.
"I think it is a foolish name myself, for they haven't any spines at
all.  Their fur isn't as fine as that of Midget, and it has all
through it long coarse hairs almost like bristles, and from these
they get their name.  The smallest of the Spiny Pocket Mice is
about the size of Nibbler the House Mouse and the largest is twice
as big.  They are more slender than their Silky cousins, and their
tails are longer in proportion to their size and have little tufts
of hair at the ends.  Of course, they have pockets in their cheeks.

"In habits all the Pocket Mice are much alike.  They make burrows
in the ground, often throwing up a little mound with several
entrances which lead to a central passageway connecting with the
bedroom and storerooms.  By day the entrances are closed with
earth from inside, for the Mice are active only at night.
Sometimes the burrows are hidden under bushes, and sometimes
they are right out in the open.  Living as they do in a hot, dry
country, the Pocket Mice have learned to get along without
drinking water.  Their food consists mainly of a variety of
small seeds.

"Another Mouse of the West looks almost enough like Whitefoot to
be a member of his branch of the family.  He has a beautiful
yellowish-brown coat and white waistcoat, and his feet are white.
But his tail is short in comparison with Whitefoot's and instead
of being slim is quite thick.  His fur is like velvet.  He is
called the Grasshopper Mouse."

"Is that because he eats Grasshoppers?" asked Peter Rabbit at once.

"You've guessed it," laughed Old Mother Nature.  "He is very, very
fond of Grasshoppers and Crickets.  He eats many kinds of insects,
Moths, Flies, Cutworms, Beetles, Lizards, Frogs and Scorpions.
Because of his fondness for the latter he is called the Scorpion
Mouse in some sections.  He is fond of meat when he can get it.
He also eats seeds of many kinds.  He is found all over the West
from well up in the North to the hot dry regions of the Southwest.
When he cannot find a convenient deserted burrow of some other
animal, he digs a home for himself and there raises several families
each year.  In the early evening he often utters a fine, shrill,
whistling call note.

"Another little member of the Mouse family found clear across the
country is the Harvest Mouse.  He is never bigger than Nibbler the
House Mouse and often is much smaller.  In fact, he is one of the
smallest of the entire family.  In appearance he is much like
Nibbler, but his coat is browner and there are fine hairs on his
tail.  He loves grassy, weedy or brushy places.

"As a rule he does little harm to man, for his food is chiefly
seeds of weeds, small wild fruits and parts of wild plants of no
value to man.  Once in a while his family becomes so large that
they do some damage in grain fields.  But this does not happen
often.  The most interesting thing about this little Mouse is the
way he builds his home.  Sometimes he uses a hole in a tree or
post and sometimes a deserted birds' nest, but more frequently
he builds a nest for himself--a little round ball of grass and
other vegetable matter.  This is placed in thick grass or weeds
close to the ground or in bushes or low trees several feet from
the ground.

"They are well-built little houses and have one or more little
doorways on the under side when they are in bushes or trees.  Inside
is a warm, soft bed made of milkweed or cattail down, the very
nicest kind of a bed for the babies.  No one has a neater home than
the Harvest Mouse.  He is quite as much at home in bushes and low
trees as Happy Jack Squirrel is in bigger trees.  His long tail
comes in very handy then, for he often wraps it around a twig to
make his footing more secure.

"Now this is all about the native Mice and--what is it, Peter?"

"You've forgotten Nibbler the House Mouse," replied Peter.

"How impatient some little folks are and how fearful that their
curiosity will not be satisfied," remarked Old Mother Nature.  "As
I was saying, this is all about our native Mice; that is, the Mice
who belong to this country.  And now we come to Nibbler the House
Mouse, who, like Robber the Brown Rat, has no business here at all,
but who has followed man all over the world and like Robber has
become a pest to man."

Peter Rabbit looked rather sheepish when he discovered that Old
Mother Nature hadn't for gotten, and resolved that in the future
he would hold his tongue.

"Have any of you seen Nibbler?" asked Old Mother Nature.

"I have," replied Danny Meadow Mouse.  "Once I was carried to
Farmer Brown's barn in a shock of corn and I found Nibbler living
in the barn."

"It is a wonder he wasn't living in Farmer Brown's house," said
Old Mother Nature.  "Probably other members of his family were.
He is perfectly at home in any building put up by man, just as
is Robber the Rat.  Because of his small size he can go where
Robber cannot.  He delights to scamper about between the walls.
Being a true Rodent he is forever gnawing holes in the corners
of rooms and opening on to pantry shelves so that he may steal
food.  He eats all sorts of food, but spoils more for man, by
running about over it, than he eats.  In barns and henhouses he
gets into the grain bins and steals a great deal of grain.

"It is largely because of Robber the Rat and Nibbler that men keep
the Cats you all hate so.  A Cat is Nibbler's worst enemy.  Nibbler
is slender and graceful, with a long, hairless tail and ears of
good size.  He is very timid, ready to dart into his hole at the
least sound.  He raises from four to nine babies at a time and
several sets of them in a year.

"If Mr. and Mrs. Nibbler are living in a house, their nest is made
of scraps of paper, cloth, wool and other soft things stolen from
the people who live in the house.  In getting this material they
often do great damage.  If they are living in a barn, they make
their nest of hay and any soft material they can find.

"While Nibbler prefers to live in or close to the homes of men,
he sometimes is driven out and then takes to the fields, especially
in summer.  There he lives in all sorts of hiding places, and isn't
at all particular what the place is, if it promises safety and food
can be obtained close by.  I'm sorry Nibbler ever came to this
country.  Man brought him here and now he is here to stay and quite
as much at home as if he belonged here the way the rest of you do.

"This finishes the lessons on the order of Rodents, the animals
related by reason of having teeth for the purpose of gnawing.  I
suspect these are the only ones in whom you take any interest, and
so you will not care to come to school any more.  Am I right?"

"No, marm," answered Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel, who, you remember,
had laughed at Peter Rabbit for wanting to go to school.  "No, marm.
There are ever so many other people of the Green Forest and the
Green Meadows we want to know more about than we now know.  Isn't
that so?"  Happy Jack turned to the others and every one nodded,
even Prickly Porky.

"There is one little fellow living right near here who looks to me
as if he must be a member of the Mouse family, but he isn't like any
of the Mice you have told us about," continued Happy Jack.  "He is
so small he can hide under a leaf.  I'm sure he must be a Mouse."

"You mean Teeny Weeny the Shrew," replied Old Mother Nature, smiling
at Happy Jack.  "He isn't a Mouse.  He isn't even a Rodent.  I'll
try to have him here to-morrow morning and we will see what we can
find out about him and his relatives."



CHAPTER XIX  Teeny Weeny and His Cousin

"Of course Old Mother Nature knows, but just the same it is hard
for me not to believe that Teeny Weeny is a member of the Mouse
family," said Happy Jack Squirrel to Peter Rabbit, as they
scampered along to school.  "I never have had a real good look
at him, but I've had glimpses of him lots of times and always
supposed him a little Mouse with a short tail.  It is hard to
believe that he isn't."

"I hope Old Mother Nature will put him where we can get a good
look at him," replied Peter.  "Perhaps when you really see him he
won't look so much like a Mouse."

When all had arrived Old Mother Nature began the morning lesson at
once.  "You have learned about all the families in the order of
Rodents," said she, "so now we will take up another and much smaller
order called Insectivora.  I wonder if any of you can guess what
that means."

"It sounds," said Peter Rabbit, "as if it must have something to do with
insects."

"That is a very good guess, Peter," replied Old Mother Nature,
smiling at him.  "It does have to do with insects.  The members
of this order live very largely on insects and worms, and the name
Insectivora means insect-eating.  There are two families in this
order, the Shrew family and the Mole family."

"Then Teeny Weeny and Miner the Mole must be related," spoke
Peter quickly.

"Right again, Peter," was the prompt reply.  "The Shrews and the
Moles are related in the same way that you and Happy Jack Squirrel
are related."

"And isn't Teeny Weeny the Shrew related to the Mice at all?"
asked Happy Jack.

"Not at all," said Old Mother Nature.  "Many people think he is
and often he is called Shrew Mouse.  But this is a great mistake.
It is the result of ignorance.  It seems strange to me that people
so often know so little about their near neighbors."  She looked
at Happy Jack Squirrel as she said this, and Happy Jack looked
sheepish.  He felt just as he looked.  All this time the eyes of
every one had been searching this way, that way, every way, for
Teeny Weeny, for Old Mother Nature had promised to try to have
him there that morning.  But Teeny Weeny was not to be seen.  Now
and then a leaf on the ground close by Old Mother Nature's feet
moved, but the Merry Little Breezes were always stirring up
fallen leaves, and no one paid any attention to these.

Old Mother Nature understood the disappointment in the faces before
her and her eyes began to twinkle.  "Yesterday I told you that I
would try to have Teeny Weeny here," said she.  A leaf moved.
Stooping quickly she picked it up.  "And here he is," she finished.

Sure enough where a second before the dead brown leaf had been was
a tiny little fellow, so tiny that that leaf had covered him
completely, and it wasn't a very big leaf.  It was Teeny Weeny the
Shrew, also called the Common Shrew, the Long-tailed Shrew and the
Shrew Mouse, one of the smallest animals in all the Great World.
He started to dart under another leaf, but Old Mother Nature stopped
him.  "Sit still," she commanded sharply.  "You have nothing to fear.
I want everybody to have a good look at you, for it is high time
these neighbors of yours should know you.  I know just how nervous
and uncomfortable you are and I'll keep you only a few minutes.
Now everybody take a good look at Teeny Weeny."

This command was quite needless, for all were staring with all
their might.  What they saw was a mite of a fellow less than four
inches long from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail, and
of this total length the tail was almost half.  He was slender,
had short legs and mouselike feet.  His coat was brownish above
and grayish beneath, and the fur was very fine and soft.

But the oddest thing about Teeny Weeny was his long, pointed head
ending in a long nose.  No Mouse has a head like it.  The edges of
the ears could be seen above the fur, but the eyes were so tiny
that Peter Rabbit thought he hadn't any and said so.

Old Mother Nature laughed.  "Yes, he has eyes, Peter," said she.
"Look closely and you will see them.  But they don't amount to
much--little more than to tell daylight from darkness.  Teeny
Weeny depends on his nose chiefly.  He has a very wonderful little
nose, flexible and very sensitive.  Of course, with such poor eyes
he prefers the dark when there are fewer enemies abroad."

All this time Teeny Weeny had been growing more and more uneasy.
Old Mother Nature saw and understood.  Now she told him that he
might go.  Hardly were the words out of her mouth when he vanished,
darting under some dead leaves.  Hidden by them he made his way
to an old log and was seen no more.

"Doesn't he eat anything but insects and worms?" asked
Striped Chipmunk.

"Yes," replied Old Mother Nature.  "He is very fond of flesh, and
if he finds the body of a bird or animal that has been killed he
will tear it to pieces.  He is very hot-tempered, as are all his
family, and will not hesitate to attack a Mouse much bigger than
himself.  He is so little and so active that he has to have a
great deal of food and probably eats his own weight in food every
day.  Of course, that means he must do a great deal of hunting,
and he does.

"He makes tiny little paths under the fallen leaves and in swampy
places--little tunnels through the moss.  He is especially fond of
old rotted stumps and logs and brush piles, for in such places he
can find grubs and insects.  At the same time he is well hidden.
He is active by day and night, but in the daytime takes pains to
keep out of the light.  He prefers damp to dry places.  In winter
he tunnels about under the snow.  In summer he uses the tunnels
and runways of Meadow Mice and others when he can.  He eats seeds
and other vegetable food when he cannot find insects or flesh."

"How about his enemies?" asked Chatterer the Red Squirrel.

"He has plenty," replied Old Mother Nature, "but is not so much
hunted as the members of the Mouse family.  This is because he has
a strong, unpleasant scent which makes him a poor meal for those
at all particular about their food.  Some of the Hawks and Owls
appear not to mind this, and these are his worst enemies."

"Has he any near relatives?" asked Jumper the Hare.

"Several," was the prompt response.  "Blarina the Short-tailed
Shrew, also called Mole Shrew, is the best known.  He is found
everywhere, in forests, old pastures and along grassy banks, but
seldom far from water.  He prefers moist ground.  He is much
larger and thicker than Teeny Weeny and has a shorter tail.
People often mistake him for Miner the Mole, because of the thick,
fine fur which is much like Miner's and his habit of tunneling
about just beneath the surface, but if they would look at his
fore feet they would never make that mistake.  They are small
and like the feet of the Mouse family, not at all like Miner's
big shovels.  Moreover, he is smaller than Miner, and his tunnels
are seldom in the earth but just under the leaves and grass.

"His food is much the same as that of Teeny Weeny--worms, insects,
flesh when he can get it, and seeds.  He is fond of beechnuts.  He
is quite equal to killing a Mouse of his own size or bigger and
does not hesitate to do so when he gets the chance.  He makes a
soft, comfortable nest under a log or in a stump or in the ground
and has from four to six babies at a time.  Teeny Weeny sometimes
has as many as ten.  The senses of smell and hearing are very keen
and make up for the lack of sight.  His eyes, like those of other
Shrews, are probably of use only in distinguishing light from
darkness.  His coat is dark brownish-gray.

"Another of the Shrew family is the Marsh Shrew, also called Water
Shrew and Black-and white Shrew.  He is longer than either of the
others and, as you have guessed, is a lover of water.  He is a good
swimmer and gets much of his food in the water--water Beetles and
grubs and perhaps Tadpoles and Minnows.  Now who among you knows
Miner the Mole?"

"I do.  That is, I have seen him," replied Peter Rabbit.

"Very well, Peter, to-morrow morning we will see how much you know
about Miner," replied Old Mother Nature.



CHAPTER XX  Four Busy Little Miners

Scampering along on his way to school and thinking of nothing so
uninteresting as watching his steps, Peter Rabbit stubbed his toes.
Yes, sir, Peter stubbed his toes.  With a little exclamation of
impatience he turned to see what he had stumbled over.  It was a
little ridge where the surface of the ground had been raised a
trifle since Peter had passed that way the day before.

Peter chuckled.  "Now isn't that funny?" he demanded of no one at
all, for he was quite alone.  Then he answered himself.  "It
certainly is," said he.  "Here I am on my way to learn something
about Miner the Mole, and I trip over one of the queer little
ridges he is forever making.  It wasn't here yesterday, so that
means that he is at work right around here now.  Hello, I
thought so!"

Peter had been looking along that little ridge and had discovered
that it ended only a short distance from him.  Now as he looked at
it again, he saw the flat surface of the ground at the end of the
ridge rise as if being pushed up from beneath, and that little
ridge became just so much longer.  Peter understood perfectly.  Out
of sight beneath the surface Miner the Mole was at work.  He was
digging a tunnel, and that ridge was simply the roof to that
tunnel.  It was so near the surface of the ground that Miner simply
pushed up the loose soil as he bored his way along, and this made
the little ridge over which Peter had stumbled.

Peter watched a few minutes, then turned and scampered,
lipperty-lipperty-lip, for the Green Forest.  He arrived at school quite
out of breath, the last one.  Old Mother Nature was about to chide him
for being late, but noticing his excitement, she changed her mind.

"Well, Peter," said she.  "What is it now?  Did you have a narrow
escape on your way here?"

Peter shook his head.  "No," he replied.  "No, I didn't have a
narrow escape, but I discovered something."

Happy Jack Squirrel snickered.  "Peter is always discovering
something," said he.  "He is a great little discoverer.  Probably
he has just found out that the only way to get anywhere on time
is to start soon enough."

"No such thing!" declared Peter indignantly.  "You--"

"Never mind him, Peter," interrupted Old Mother Nature soothingly.
"What was it you discovered?"

"That the very one we are to learn about is only a little way from
here this very minute.  Miner the Mole is at work on the Green
Meadow; close to the edge of the Green Forest," cried Peter eagerly.
"I thought perhaps you would want to-"

"Have this morning's lesson right there where we can at least see
his works if not himself," interrupted Old Mother Nature again.
"That is fine, Peter.  We will go over there at once.  It is always
better to see things than to merely hear about them."

So Peter led the way to where he had stumbled over that little
ridge on his way to school.  It was longer than when he had left
it, but even as the others crowded about to look, the earth was
pushed up and it grew in length.  Old Mother Nature stooped and
made a little hole in that ridge.  Then she put her lips close to
it and commanded Miner to come out.  She spoke softly, pleasantly,
but in a way that left no doubt that she expected to be obeyed.

She was.  Almost at once a queer, long, sharp nose was poked out
of the little hole she had made, and a squeaky voice asked
fretfully, "Do I have to come way out?"

"You certainly do," replied Old Mother Nature.  "I want some of
your friends and neighbors to get a good look at you, and they
certainly can't do that with only that sharp nose of yours to be
seen.  Now scramble out here.  No one will hurt you.  I will keep
you only a few minutes.  Then you can go back to your everlasting
digging.  Out with you, now!"

While the others gathered in a little circle close about that hole
there scrambled into view one of the queerest little fellows in all
the Great World.  Few of them had ever seen him close to before.
He was a stout little fellow with the softest, thickest, gray coat
imaginable.  He was about six inches long and had a funny, short,
pinkish-white, naked tail that at once reminded Peter of an Angleworm.

His head seemed to be set directly on his shoulders, so that
there was no neck worth mentioning.  His nose was long and sharp
and extended far beyond his mouth.  Neither ears nor eyes were
to be seen.

Striped Chipmunk at once wanted to know how Miner could see.  "He
doesn't see as you do," replied Old Mother Nature.  "He has very
small eyes, tiny things, which you might find if you should part
the fur around them, but they are of use only to distinguish light
from darkness.  Miner hasn't the least idea what any of you look
like.  You see, he spends his life under ground and of course has
no use for eyes there.  They would be a nuisance, for the dirt would
be continually getting in them if they were any larger than they
are or were not protected as they are.  If you should feel of
Miner's nose you would find it hard.  That is because he uses it
to bore with in the earth.  Just notice those hands of his."

At once everybody looked at Miner's hands.  No one ever had seen
such hands before.  The arms were short but looked very strong.
The hands also were rather short, but what they lacked in length
they made up in width and they were armed with long, stout claws.
But the queer thing about them was the way he held them.  He held
them turned out.  His hind feet were not much different from the
hind feet of the Mouse family.

Miner was plainly uncomfortable.  He wriggled about uneasily and
it was very clear that he was there only because Old Mother Nature
had commanded him to be there, and that the one thing he wanted
most was to get back into his beloved ground.  Old Mother Nature
saw this and took pity on him.  She picked him up and placed him
on the ground where there was no opening near.

"Now, Miner," said she, "your friends and neighbors have had a
good look at you, and I know just how uncomfortable you feel.
There is but one thing more I'll ask of you.  It is that you will
show us how you can dig.  Johnny Chuck thinks he is a pretty good
digger.  Just show him what you can do in that line."

Miner didn't wait to be told twice.  The instant Old Mother Nature
stopped speaking he began to push and bore into the earth with
his sharp nose.  One of those great, spadelike hands was slipped
up past his face and the claws driven in beside his nose.  Then it
was swept back and the loosened earth with it.  The other hand was
used in the same way.  It was quite plain to everybody why they
were turned out in the way they were.  There was nothing slow about
the way Miner used that boring nose and those shoveling hands.
Peter Rabbit had hardly time for half a dozen long breaths before
Miner the Mole had disappeared.

"Some digging!" exclaimed Peter.

"Never again as long as I live will I boast of my digging," declared
Johnny Chuck admiringly.  From the point where Miner had entered
the ground a little ridge was being pushed up, and they watched it
grow surprisingly fast as the little worker under the sod pushed
his tunnel along in the direction of his old tunnels.  It was clear
that he was in a hurry to get back where he could work in peace.

"What a queer life," exclaimed Happy Jack Squirrel.  "He can't
have much fun.  I should think it would be awful living in the
dark that way all the time."

"You forget that he cannot see as you can, and so prefers the
dark," replied Old Mother Nature.  "As for fun, he gets that in
his work.  He is called Miner because he lives in the ground and
is always tunneling."

"What does he eat, the roots of plants?" asked Jumper the Hare.

Old Mother Nature shook her head.  "A lot of people think that,"
said she, "and often Miner is charged with destroying growing
crops, eating seed corn, etc.  That is because his tunnels are
found running along the rows of plants.  The fact is Miner has
simply been hunting for grubs and worms around the roots of
those plants.  He hasn't touched the plants at all.  I suspect
that Danny Meadow Mouse or one of his cousins could explain who
ate the seed corn and the young plants.  They are rather fond of
using Miner's tunnels when he isn't about."

Danny hung his head and looked guilty, but didn't say anything.
"The only harm Miner does is sometimes to tunnel so close to
garden plants that he lets air in around the tender roots and they
dry out," continued Old Mother Nature.  "His food consists almost
wholly of worms, grubs and insects, and he has to have a great many
to keep him alive.  That is why he is so active.  Those tunnels of
his which seem to be without any plan are made in his search for
food.  He is especially fond of Angleworms.

"As a matter of fact, he is a useful little fellow.  The only
time he becomes a nuisance to man is when he makes his little
ridges across smooth lawns.  Even then he pays for the trouble by
destroying the grubs in the grass roots, grubs that in their turn
would destroy the grass.  When you see his ridges you may know that
his food is close to the surface.  When in dry or cold weather the
worms go deep in the ground, Miner follows and then there is no
trace of his tunnels on the surface.

"Night and day are all the same to him.  He works and sleeps when
he chooses.  In winter he tunnels below the frost line.  You all
noticed how dense his fur is.  That is so the sand cannot work
down in it.  His home is a snug nest of grass or leaves in a
little chamber under the ground in which several tunnels offer
easy means of escape in case of sudden danger."

"Has Miner any near relatives?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"Several," replied Old Mother Nature.  "All are much alike in
habits.  One who lives a little farther north is called Brewer's
Mole or the Hairytailed Mole.  His tail is a little longer than
Miner's and is covered with fine hair.  The largest and handsomest
member of the family is the Oregon Mole of the Northwest.  His
coat is very dark and his fur extremely fine.  His ways are much
the same as those of Miner whom you have just met, excepting that
when he is tunneling deep in the ground he pushes the earth to the
surface after the manner of Grubby Gopher, and his mounds become
a nuisance to farmers.  When he is tunneling just under the surface
he makes ridges exactly like these of his eastern cousin.

"But the oddest member of the Mole family is the Star-nosed Mole.
He looks much like Miner with the exception of his nose and tail.
His nose has a fringe of little fleshy points, twenty-two of them,
like a many-pointed star.  From this he gets his name.  His tail
is a little longer than Miner's and is hairy.  During the late
fall and winter this becomes much enlarged.

"This funny little fellow with the star-like nose is especially
fond of moist places, swamps, damp meadows, and the banks of
streams.  He is not at all afraid of the water and is a good
swimmer.  Sometimes he may be seen swimming under the ice in
winter.  He is seldom found where the earth is dry.  For that
matter, none of the family are found in those sections where
there are long, dry periods and the earth becomes baked and hard.

"The fur of Miner and his cousins will lay in either direction,
which keeps it smooth no matter whether the wearer is going
forward or backward.  Otherwise it would be badly mussed up most
of the time.  Altogether these little underground workers are
most interesting little people when you know them.  But that
is something few people have a chance to do.

"Now just remember that the Shrews and the Moles belong to the
order of Insectivora, meaning eaters of insects, and are the only
two families in that order.  And don't despise either of them, for
they do a great deal of good in the Great World, more than some
right here whom I might name, but will not.  School is dismissed."



CHAPTER XXI  Flitter the Bat and His Family

In the dusk of early evening, as Peter Rabbit sat trying to make
up his mind whether to spend that night at home in the dear Old
Briar-patch with timid little Mrs. Peter or go over to the Green
Forest in search of adventure, a very fine, squeaky voice which
came right out of the air above him startled him for a moment.

"Better stay at home, Peter Rabbit.  Better stay at home to-night,"
said the thin, squeaky voice.

"Hello, Flitter!" exclaimed Peter, as he stared up at a little
dark form darting this way, twisting that way, now up, now down,
almost brushing Peter's head and then flying so high he could
hardly be seen.  "Why should I stay at home?"

"Because I saw Old Man Coyote sneaking along the edge of the Green
Forest, Reddy Fox is hunting on the Green Meadows, and Hooty the
Owl is on watch in the Old Orchard," replied Flitter the Red Bat.
"Of course it is no business of mine what you do, Peter Rabbit, but
were I in your place I certainly would stay at home.  Gracious!
I'm glad I can go where I please when I please.  You ought to fly,
Peter.  You ought to fly.  There is nothing like it."

"I wish I could," sighed Peter.

"Well, don't say I didn't warn you," squeaked Flitter, and darted
away in the direction of Farmer Brown's house.  Peter wisely
decided that the dear Old Briar-patch was the best place for him
that night, so he remained at home, to the joy of timid little
Mrs. Peter, and spent the night eating, dozing and wondering how
it would seem to be able to fly like Flitter the Bat.

Flitter was still in his mind when he started for school the next
morning, and by the time he got there he was bubbling over with
curiosity and questions.  He could hardly wait for school to be
called to order.  Old Mother Nature noticed how fidgety he was.

"What have you on your mind, Peter?" she asked.

"Didn't you tell us that the Shrew family and the Mole family are
the only families in this country in the order of insect-eaters?"
asked Peter.

"I certainly did," was the prompt reply.  "Doesn't Flitter the Bat
live on insects?" asked Peter.

Old Mother Nature nodded.  "He does," said she.  "In fact he lives
altogether on insects."

"Then why isn't he a member of that order?" demanded Peter.

Old Mother Nature smiled, for she was pleased that Peter had thought
of this.  "That question does you credit, Peter," said she.  "The
reason is that he and his relatives are so very different from other
animals that they have been placed in an order of their own.  It is
called the Chi-rop-ter-a, which means wing-handed.  How many of you
know Flitter the Bat?"

"I've often seen him," declared Jumper the Hare.

"So have I," said Chatterer the Red Squirrel.  Each of the others
said the same thing.  There wasn't one who hadn't watched and
envied Flitter darting about in the air just at dusk of early
evening or as the Black Shadows were stealing away in the early
morning.  Old Mother Nature smiled.

"Seeing him isn't knowing him," said she.  "Who is there who knows
anything about him and his ways save that he flies at night and
catches insects in the air?"

She waited a minute or two, but no one spoke.  The fact is there
was not one who really knew anything about Flitter.  "It is one of
the strange things of life," said she, "that people often know
nothing about the neighbors whom they see every day.  But in this
case it is not to be wondered at.  I suspect none of you has seen
Flitter, excepting in the air, and then he moves so rapidly that
there is no chance to get a good look at him.  I think this is
just the time and place for you to really make the acquaintance
of Flitter the Red Bat."

She stepped over to a bush and parted the leaves.  Hanging from
a twig was what appeared at first glance to be a rumpled,
reddish-brown dead leaf.  She touched it lightly.  At once it came to
life, stirring uneasily.  A thin, squeaky voice peevishly demanded to
know what was wanted.

"You have some callers, a few of your friends who want to get
really acquainted with you.  Suppose you wake up for a few minutes,"
explained Old Mother Nature pleasantly.

Flitter, for that is just who it was, yawned once or twice sleepily,
shook himself, then grinned down at the wondering faces of his
friends crowded about just under him.  "Hello, folks," said he in
that thin, squeaky voice of his.

The sunlight fell full on him, but he seemed not to mind it in the
least.  In fact, he appeared to enjoy its warmth.  He was hanging
by his toes, head down, his wings folded.  He was about four inches
long, and his body was much like that of a Mouse.  His fur was
fine and thick, a beautiful orange-red.  For his size his ears were
large.  Instead of the long head and sharp nose of the Mouse family,
Flitter had a rather round head and blunt nose.  Almost at once Peter
Rabbit made a discovery.  It was that Flitter possessed a pair of
bright, little, snapping eyes and didn't seem in the least bothered
by the bright light.

"Where did that saying 'blind as a Bat' ever come from?"
demanded Peter.

Old Mother Nature laughed.  "Goodness knows; I don't," said she.
"There is nothing blind about Flitter.  He sleeps through the
day and does his hunting in the dusk of evening or early morning,
but if he is disturbed and has to fly during the day, he has no
trouble in seeing.  Flitter, stretch out one of your wings so
that everybody can see it."

Obediently Flitter stretched out one of his wings.  Everybody
gasped, for it was the first time any of them ever had seen one
of those wings near enough to know just what it was like.
Flitter's arm was long, especially from his elbow to his hand.
But the surprising thing was the length of his three fingers.
Each finger appeared to be about as long as the whole arm.  From
his shoulder a thin, rubbery skin was stretched to the ends of
the long fingers, then across to the ankle of his hind foot on
that side, and from there across to the tip of his tail.  A
little short thumb with a long, curved claw stuck up free from
the edge of the wing.

"Now you can see just why he is called winghanded," explained Old
Mother Nature, as Flitter folded the wing.  In a minute he began
to clean it.  Everybody laughed, for it was funny to watch him.
He would take the skin of the wing in his mouth and pull and stretch
it as if it were rubber.  He washed it with his tiny tongue.  Then
he washed his fur.  You see, Flitter is very neat.  With the little
claw of his thumb he scratched his head and combed his hair.  All
the time he remained hanging head down, clinging to the twig with
his toes.

"Where is Mrs. Flitter?" asked Old Mother Nature.

"Don't know," replied Flitter, beginning on the other wing.  "She's
quite equal to looking after herself, so I don't worry about her."

"Nor about your babies.  Flitter, I'm ashamed of you.  You are a
poor kind of father," declared Old Mother Nature severely.  "If
you don't know where to find your family, I'll show you."

She stepped over to the very next tree, parted the leaves, and
there, sure enough, hung Mrs. Flitter fast asleep.  And clinging
to her were three of the funniest babies in all the Great World!
All were asleep, and Old Mother Nature didn't awaken them.  As for
Flitter, he seemed to take not the slightest interest in his
family, but went right on with his toilet.

"Flitter the Red Bat is one of the best known of the whole family
in this country," said Old Mother Nature, as they left Flitter to
resume his nap.  He is found from the East to the Far West, from
ocean to ocean.  Like the birds, he migrates when cold weather
comes, returning in the early summer.  Although, like all Bats,
he sleeps all day as a rule, he doesn't mind the sunlight, as you
have just seen for yourselves.  Sometimes on dull, dark days he
doesn't wait for evening, but flies in the afternoon.  Usually he
is the first of the Bat family to appear in the evening, often coming
out while it is still light enough to show the color of his red coat.
No other member of his family has a coat of this color.

"Some people call him the Tree Bat.  After seeing him hanging over
there I think you can guess why.  He rarely goes to a cave for his
daytime sleep, as most of his relatives do, but hangs by his toes
from a twig of a tree or bush, frequently not far from the ground,
just as he is right now.

"As all of you who have watched him know, Flitter is a swift flier.
This is because his wings are long and narrow.  They are made for
speed.  I want you to know that the Bats are among the most
wonderful of all my little people.  Few if any birds can equal them
in the air because of their wonderful ability to twist and turn.
They are masters of the art of flying.  Moreover, they make no
sound with their wings, something which only the Owls among birds
can boast of.

"You all saw the three babies clinging to Mrs. Flitter.  Most Bats
have but two babies at a time, occasionally only one, but the Red
Bat and his larger cousin, the Hoary Bat, have three or four.  Mrs.
Flitter carries her babies about with her until they are quite big.
When they are too large to be carried she leaves them hanging in a
tree while she hunts for her meals.

"Flitter has many cousins.  One of these is the Little Brown Bat,
one of the smallest members of the family and found all over the
country.  He is brown all over.  He is sometimes called the Cave
Bat, because whenever a cave is to be found he sleeps there.
Sometimes great numbers of these little Bats are found crowded
together in a big cave.  When there is no cave handy, a barn or
hollow tree is used.  Often he will creep behind the closed
blinds of a house to spend the day.

"Very like this little fellow in color is his cousin the Big Brown
Bat, called the House Bat and the Carolina Bat.  He is especially
fond of the homes of men.  He is a little bigger than the Red Bat.
While the latter is one of the first Bats to appear in the evening,
the former is one of the last, coming out only when it is quite
dark.  He also found all over the country.

"The Silvery Bat is of nearly the same size and in many places is
more common than any its cousins.  The fur is dark brown or black
with white tips, especially in the young.  From this it gets its
name.  One of the largest and handsomest of the Bat cousins, and
one of the rarest is the Hoary Bat.  His fur is a mixture of dark
and light brown tipped with white.  He is very handsome.  His
wings are very long and narrow and he is one of the most wonderful
of all fliers.  He is a lover of the Green Forest and does his
hunting high above the tree-tops, making his appearance late in
the evening.  Like the Red Bat he spends the hours of daylight
hanging in a tree.

"Down in the Southeast is a member of the family with ears so big
that he is called the Big-eared Bat.  He is a little chap, smaller
than Little Brown Bat, and his ears are half as long his head and
body together.  What do you think of that?  For his size he has
the biggest ears of any animal in all this great country.  A
relative in the Southwest is the Big-eared Bat.

"All members of the Bat family are drinkers and usually the first
thing they do when they start out at dusk is to seek water.  All
live wholly on insects, and for this reason they are among the very
best friends of man.  They eat great numbers of Mosquitoes.  They do
no harm whatever, which is more than can be said for some of the
rest of you little folks.  Now who shall we learn about next?"



CHAPTER XXII  An Independent Family

Just as Old Mother Nature asked who they should learn about next,
Happy Jack Squirrel spied some one coming down the Lone Little
Path.  "See who's coming!" cried Happy Jack.

Everybody turned to look down the Lone Little Path.  There, ambling
along in the most matter-of-fact and unconcerned way imaginable, came
a certain small person who was dressed wholly in black and white.

"Hello, Jimmy Skunk," cried Chatterer the Red Squirrel.  "What are
you doing over here in the Green Forest?"  Jimmy Skunk looked up
and grinned.  It was a slow, good-natured grin.  "Hello, everybody,"
said he. "I thought I would just amble over here and see your school.
I suppose all you fellows are getting so wise that pretty soon you
will think you know all there is to know.  Have any of you seen any
fat Beetles around here?"

Just then Jimmy noticed Old Mother Nature and hastened to bow his
head in a funny way.  "Please excuse me, Mother Nature," he said,
"I thought school was over.  I don't want to interrupt."

Old Mother Nature smiled.  The fact is, Old Mother Nature is rather
fond of Jimmy Skunk.  "You aren't interrupting," said she.  "The
fact is, we had just ended the lesson about Flitter the Bat and
his relatives, and were trying to decide who to study about next.
I think you came along at just the right time.  You belong to a
large and rather important order, one that all these little folks
here ought to know about.  How many cousins have you, Jimmy?"

Jimmy Skunk looked a little surprised at the question.  He scratched
his head thoughtfully.  "Let me see," said he, "I have several close
cousins in the Skunk branch of the family, but I presume you want to
know who my cousins are outside of the Skunk branch.  They are
Shadow the Weasel, Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter.  These are the
only ones I can think of now."

"How about Digger the Badger?" asked Old Mother Nature.

A look of surprise swept over Jimmy Skunk's face.  "Digger the
Badger!" he exclaimed.  "Digger the Badger is no cousin of mine!"

"Tut, tut, tut!" chided Old Mother Nature.  "Tut, tut, tut, Jimmy
Skunk!  It is high time you came to school.  Digger the Badger is
just as much a cousin of yours as is Shadow the Weasel.  You are
members of the same order and it is a rather large order.  It is
called the Car-niv-o-ra, which means 'flesh-eating.'  You are a
member of the Marten or Weasel family, and that family is called
the 'Mus-tel-i-dae.'  Digger the Badger is also a member of that
family.  That means that you two are cousins.  You and Digger and
Glutton the Wolverine belong to the stout-bodied branch of the
family.  Billy Mink, Little Joe Otter, Shadow the Weasel, Pekan
the Fisher and Spite the Marten belong to its slim-bodied branch.
But all are members of the same family despite the difference in
looks, and thus, of course, are cousins.  Seeing that you are here,
Jimmy, I think we will find out just how much these little folks
know about you.

"Peter Rabbit, tell us what you know about Jimmy Skunk."

"I know one thing about him," declared Peter, "and that's that he is
the most independent fellow in the world.  He isn't afraid of anybody.
I saw Buster Bear actually step out of his way the other day."

Jimmy Skunk grinned.  "Buster always treats me very politely,"
said Jimmy.

"I have noticed that everybody does, even Farmer Brown's boy," spoke
up Happy Jack Squirrel.

"It is easy enough to be independent when everybody is afraid of
you," sputtered Chatterer the Red Squirrel.

"Just why is everybody afraid of Jimmy Skunk," asked Old
Mother Nature.

"They are afraid of that little scent gun he carries," spoke up Peter
Rabbit. "I wish I had one just like it."

Old Mother Nature shook her head.  "It wouldn't do, Peter, to trust
you with a gun like Jimmy Skunk's," said she.  "You are altogether
too heedless and careless.  If you had a scent gun like Jimmy's, I
am afraid there would be trouble in the Green Forest and on the Green
Meadow all the time.  I suspect that you would drive everybody else
away.  Jimmy is never heedless or careless.  He never uses that little
scent gun unless he is in real danger or thinks he is.  Usually he
is pretty sure that he is before he uses it.  I'll venture to say
that not one of you has seen Jimmy use that little scent gun."

Peter looked at Jumper the Hare.  Jumper looked at Chatterer.  Chatterer
looked at Happy Jack.  Happy Jack looked at Danny Meadow Mouse.  Danny
looked at Striped Chipmunk.  Striped looked at Johnny Chuck.  Johnny
looked at Whitefoot the Wood Mouse.  Then all looked at Old Mother
Nature and shook their heads.  "I thought as much," said she.  "Jimmy
is wonderfully well armed, but for defense only.  He never makes the
mistake of misusing that little scent gun.  But everybody knows he
has it, so nobody interferes with him.  Now, Peter, what more do you
know about Jimmy?"

"He's lazy," replied Peter.

"I'm not lazy," retorted Jimmy Skunk.  "I'm no more lazy than you
are.  You call me lazy just because I don't hurry.  I don't have
to hurry, and I never can see any good in hurrying when one
doesn't have to."

"That will do," interposed Old Mother Nature.  "Go on, Peter, with
what you know about Jimmy."  "He is good-natured," said Peter, and
grinned at Jimmy.

Jimmy grinned back.  "Thank you, Peter," said he.

"He is one of the best-natured people I know," continued Peter.  "I
guess it is a lucky thing for the rest of us that he is.  I have
noticed that fat people are usually good-natured, and Jimmy is nearly
always fat.  In fact, I don't think I have seen him what you would
call really thin excepting very early in the spring.  He eats Beetles
and grubs and Grasshoppers and Crickets and insects of all sorts.  I
am told that he steals eggs when he can find them."

"Yes, and he catches members of my family when he can," spoke up Danny
Meadow Mouse.  "I never feel safe with Jimmy Skunk very near."

Jimmy didn't look at all put out.  "I might as well confess that
tender Mouse is rather to my liking," said he, "and I might add that
I also enjoy a Frog now and then, or a Lizard or a fish."

"Also you might mention that young birds don't come amiss when you
can get them," spoke up Chatterer the Red Squirrel maliciously.

Jimmy looked up at Chatterer.  "That's a case of the pot calling
the kettle black," said he and Chatterer made a face at him.  But
Chatterer said nothing more, for he knew that all the others knew
that what Jimmy said was true: Chatterer had robbed many a nest
of young birds.

"Is that all you know about Jimmy?" asked Old Mother Nature of Peter.

"I guess it is," replied Peter, "excepting that he lives in a hole
in the ground, and I seldom see him out in winter.  I rather think
he sleeps all winter, the same as Johnny Chuck does."

"You've got another think coming, Peter," said Jimmy.  "I sleep a
lot during the winter, but I don't go into winter quarters until
well after snow comes, and I don't sleep the way Johnny Chuck does.
Sometimes I go out in winter and hunt around a little."

"Do you dig your house?" asked Old Mother Nature.

Jimmy shook his head.  "Not when I can help myself," said he, "It
is too much work.  If I have to I do, but I would much rather use
one of Johnny Chuck's old houses.  His houses suit me first rate."

"I want you all to look at Jimmy very closely," said Old Mother
Nature.  "You will notice that he is about the size of Black
Pussy, the Cat from Farmer Brown's, and that his coat is black
with broad white stripes.  But not all Skunks are marked alike.  I
dare say that no two of Jimmy's children would be exactly alike.
I suspect that one or more might be all black, with perhaps a
little bit of white on the tail.  Notice that Jimmy's front feet
have long, sharp claws.  He uses these to dig out grubs and
insects in the ground, and for pulling over sticks and stones in
his search for beetles.  Also notice that he places his feet on
the ground very much as does Buster Bear.  That big, bushy tail
of his is for the purpose of warning folks.  Jimmy never shoots
that little scent gun without first giving warning.  When that
tail of his begins to go up in the air, wise people watch out.

"A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that Jimmy Skunk and
his family do a great deal of harm.  The truth is, they do a great
deal of good to man.  Once in a while they will make the mistake
of stealing Chickens or eggs, but it is only once in a while.  They
make up for all they take in this way by the pests they destroy.
Jimmy and Mrs. Skunk have a large family each year, usually from
six to ten.  Mrs. Skunk usually is living by herself when the babies
are born, but when they are big enough to walk their father rejoins
the family, and you may see them almost any pleasant evening
starting out together to hunt for Grasshoppers, Beetles and other
things.  Often the whole family remains together the whole winter,
not breaking up until spring.  Jimmy is one of the neatest of all
my little people and takes the best of care of his handsome coat.
He isn't afraid of water and can swim if it is necessary.  He does
most of his hunting at night, sleeping during the day.  He is one
of the few little wild people who haven't been driven away by man,
and often makes his home close to man's home.

"Jimmy has own cousins in nearly all parts of this great country.
Way down in the Southwest is one called the Hog-nosed Skunk, one of
the largest of the family.  He gets his name because of the shape
of his nose and the fact that he roots in the ground the same as
a hog.  He is also called the Badger Skunk because of the big claws
on his front feet and the fact that he is a great digger.  His fur
is not so fine as that of Jimmy Skunk, but is rather coarse and
harsh.  He is even more of an insect eater than is Jimmy.

"The smallest of Jimmy's own cousins is the Little Spotted Skunk.
He is only about half as big as Jimmy, and his coat, instead of
being striped with white like Jimmy's, is covered with irregular
white lines and spots, making it appear very handsome.  He lives
in the southern half of the country and in habits is much like
Jimmy, but he is much livelier.  Occasionally he climbs low trees.
Like Jimmy he eats almost anything he can find.  And it goes
without saying that, like Jimmy, he carries a little scent gun.
By the way, Jimmy, what do you do when you are angry?  Show us."

Jimmy began to growl, a queer-sounding little growl, and at the
same time to stamp the ground with his front feet.  Old Mother
Nature laughed.  "When you see Jimmy do that," said she, "it is
best to pretend you don't see him and keep out of his way."

"Hasn't Jimmy any enemies at all?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"That depends on how hungry some folks get," replied Old Mother
Nature.  "Hooty the Owl doesn't seem to mind Jimmy's little scent
gun, but this is the only one I can think of who doesn't.  Some of
the bigger animals might take him if they were starving, but even
then I think they would think twice.  Who knows where Digger the
Badger is living?"

"I do," replied Peter Rabbit.  "He is living out on the Green
Meadows over near the Old Pasture."

"All right, Peter," replied Old Mother Nature, "suppose you run
over and pay him a visit and to-morrow morning you can tell us
about it."



CHAPTER XXIII  Digger and His Cousin Glutton

"Well, Peter," said Old Mother Nature, "did you visit Digger the
Badger yesterday?"

"Yes'm," replied Peter, "I visited him, but I didn't find out much.
He's a regular old grouch.  He isn't the least bit neighborly.  It
took me a long time to find him.  He has more holes than anybody I
ever knew, and I couldn't tell which one is his home.  When I did
find him, he gave me a terrible scare.  I didn't see him until I
was right on top of him, and if I hadn't jumped, and jumped quickly,
I guess I wouldn't be here this morning.  He was lying flat down in
the grass and he was so very flat that I just didn't see him.  When
I told him that I wanted to know all about him and his ways, he
replied that it was none of my business how he lived or what he did,
and that was all I could get out of him.

"I sat around awhile and watched him, but he didn't do much except
take a sun bath.  He certainly is a queer-looking fellow to be a
member of the Weasel family.  There's nothing about him that looks
like a Weasel, that I could see.  Of course, he isn't as broad as
he is long, but he looks almost that when he is lying flat down and
that long hair of his is spread out on both sides.  He really has a
handsome coat when you come to look at it.  It is silvery gray and
silky looking.  It seems to be parted right down the middle of his
back.  His tail is rather short, but stout and hairy.  His head and
face are really handsome.  His cheeks, chin and a broad stripe from
his nose right straight back over his head are white.  On each cheek
is a bar of black.  The back part of each ear is black, and so are
his feet.  He has rather a sharp nose.  Somehow when he is walking
he makes me think of a little, flattened-out Bear with very short
legs.  And such claws as he has on his front feet!  I don't know
any one with such big strong claws for his size.  I guess that must
be because he is such a digger."

"That's a very good guess, Peter," said Old Mother Nature.  "Has
any one here ever seen him dig?"

"I did once," replied Peter.  "I happened to be over near where he
lives when Farmer Brown's boy came along and surprised Digger some
distance from one of his holes.  Digger didn't try to get to one of
those holes; he simply began to dig.  My gracious, how the sand did
fly!  He was out of sight in the ground before Farmer Brown's boy
could get to him.  Johnny Chuck is pretty good at digging, but he
simply isn't in the same class with Digger the Badger.  No one is
that I know of, unless it is Miner the Mole.  I guess this is all
I know about him, excepting that he is a great fighter.  Once I saw
him whip a dog almost twice his size.  I never heard such hissing
and snarling and growling.  He wouldn't tell me anything about how
he lives."

"Very good, Peter, very good," replied Old Mother Nature, "That's
as much as I expected you would be able to find out.  Digger is
a queer fellow.  His home is on the great plains and in the flat,
open country of the Middle West and Far West, where Gophers and
Ground Squirrels and Prairie Dogs live.  They furnish him with the
greater part of his food.  All of them are good diggers, but they
don't stand any chance when he sets out to dig them out.

"Digger spends most of his time under ground during daylight, seldom
coming out except for a sun bath.  But as soon as jolly, round, red
Mr. Sun goes to bed for the night, Digger appears and travels about
in search of a dinner.  His legs are so short and he is so stout and
heavy that he is slow and rather clumsy, but he makes up for that by
his ability to dig.  He doesn't expect to catch any one on the surface,
unless he happens to surprise a Meadow Mouse within jumping distance.
He goes hunting for the holes of Ground Squirrels and other burrowers,
and when he finds one promptly digs.  He eats Grasshoppers, Beetles
and small Snakes, as well as such small animals as he catches.  It
was well for you, Peter, that you jumped when you did, for I suspect
that Digger would have enjoyed a Rabbit dinner.

"Very little is known of Digger's family life, but he is a good
husband.  In winter he sleeps as Johnny Chuck does, coming out soon
after the snow disappears in the spring.  Of all my little people,
none has greater courage.  When he is cornered he will fight as
long as there is a breath of life in him.  His skin is very tough
and he is further protected by his long hair.  His teeth are sharp
and strong and he can always give a good account of himself in a
fight.  He is afraid of no one of his own size.

"Man hunts him for his fur, but man is very stupid in many things and
this is an example.  You see, Digger is worth a great deal more alive
than dead, because of the great number of destructive Rodents he
kills.  The only thing that can be brought against him is the number
of holes he digs.  Mr. and Mrs. Digger have two to five babies late
in the spring or early in the summer.  They are born under ground in
a nest of grass.  As you may guess just by looking at Digger, he is
very strong.  If he once gets well into the ground, a strong man
pulling on his tail cannot budge him.  As Peter has pointed out, he
isn't at all sociable.  Mr. and Mrs. Digger are quite satisfied to
live by themselves and be left alone.  So he is rarely seen in
daytime, but probably is out oftener than is supposed.  Peter has
told how he nearly stepped on Digger before seeing him.  It is
Digger's wise habit to lie perfectly still until he is sure he has
been seen, so people often pass him without seeing him at all, or
if they see him they take him for a stone.

"While Digger the Badger is a lover of the open country and doesn't
like the Green Forest at all he has a cousin who is found only in
the Green Forest and usually very deep in the Green Forest at that.
This is Glutton the Wolverine, the largest and ugliest member of the
family.  None of you have seen him, because he lives almost wholly
in the great forests of the North.  He hasn't a single friend that
I know of, but that doesn't trouble him in the least.

"Glutton has several names.  He is called 'Carcajou' in the Far
North, and out in the Far West is often called 'Skunkbear.'  The
latter name probably is given him because in shape and color he
looks a good deal as though he might be half Skunk and half Bear.
He is about three feet long with a tail six inches long, and is
thickset and heavy.  His legs are short and very stout.  His hair,
including that on the tail, is long and shaggy.  It is
blackish-brown, becoming grayish on the upper part of his head and
cheeks. His feet are black.  When he walks he puts his feet flat on the
ground as a Bear does.

"Being so short of leg and heavy of body, he is slow in his movements.
But what he lacks in this respect he makes up in strength and cunning.
You think Reddy Fox and Old Man Coyote are smart, but neither begins
to be as smart as Glutton the Wolverine.  He is a great traveler, and
in the Far North where the greater part of the fur of the world is
trapped, he is a pest to the trappers.  He will follow a trapper all
day long, keeping just out of sight.  No matter how carefully a trapper
hides a trap, Glutton will find it and steal the bait without getting
caught.  Sometimes he even tears up the traps and takes them off and
hides them in the woods.  If he comes on a trap in which some other
animal has been caught, he will eat the animal.  His strength is so
great that often he will tear his way into the cabins of hunters while
they are absent and then eat or destroy all their food.  His appetite
is tremendous, and it is because of this that he is called Glutton.
What he cannot eat or take away, he covers with filth so that no
other animal will touch it.  He is of ugly disposition and is hated
alike by the animals and by man.  His fur is of considerable value,
but he is hunted more for the purpose of getting rid of him than for
his fur.  Sometimes when caught in a trap he will pick it up and
carry it for miles.

"Mrs. Glutton has two or three babies in the spring.  They live
in a cave, but if a cave cannot be found, they use a hole in the
ground which Mrs. Glutton digs.  It is usually well hidden and seldom
has been found by man.  Glutton will eat any kind of flesh and seems
not to care whether it be freshly killed or so old that it is decayed.
The only way that hunters can protect their supplies is by covering
them with great logs.  Even then Glutton will often tear the logs
apart to get at the supplies.  Because of his great cunning, the
Indians think he is possessed of an evil spirit.

"I think this will do for to-day.  To-morrow we will take up
another branch of the family, some members of which all of you
know.  I wonder if it wouldn't be a good plan to have Shadow
the Weasel here."

Such a look of dismay as swept over the faces of all those little
people, with the exception of Jimmy Skunk and Prickly Porky!  "If--
if--if you please, I don't think I'll come to-morrow morning," said
Danny Meadow Mouse.

"I--I--I think I shall be too busy at home and will have to miss
that lesson," said Striped Chipmunk.

Old Mother Nature smiled.  "Don't worry, little folks," said she.
"You ought to know that if I had Shadow here I wouldn't let him
hurt one of you.  But I am afraid if he were here you would pay
no attention to me, so I promise you that Shadow will not be
anywhere near."



CHAPTER XXIV  Shadow and His Family

Every one was on hand when school opened the next morning, despite
the fear that the mere mention of Shadow the Weasel had aroused in
all save Jimmy Skunk and Prickly Porky.  You see, all felt they must
be there so that they might learn all they possibly could about one
they so feared.  It might help them to escape should they discover
Shadow hunting them sometime.

"Striped Chipmunk," said Old Mother Nature, "you know something about
Shadow the Weasel, tell us what you know."

"I know I hate him!" declared Striped Chipmunk, and all the others
nodded their heads in agreement.  "I don't know a single good thing
about him," he continued, "but I know plenty of bad things.  He is
the one enemy I fear more than any other because he is the one who
can go wherever I can.  Any hole I can get into he can.  I've seen
him just twice in my life, and I hope I may never see him again."

"What did he look like?" asked Old Mother Nature.

"Like a snake on legs," declared Striped Chipmunk.  "Anyway, that
is what he made me think of, because his body was so long and slim
and he twisted and turned so easily.  He was about as long as
Chatterer the Red Squirrel but looked longer because of his slim
body and long neck.  He was brown above and white below.  His front
feet were white, and his hind feet rather whitish, but not clear
white.  His short, round tail was black at the end.  Somehow his
small head and sharp face made me think of a Snake.  Ugh!  I don't
like to think about him!"

"I saw him once, and he wasn't brown at all.  Striped Chipmunk is
all wrong, excepting about the end of his tail," interrupted Jumper
the Hare.  "He was all white, every bit of him but the end of his
tail, that was black."

"Striped Chipmunk is quite right and so are you," declared Old Mother
Nature.  "Striped Chipmunk saw him in summer and you saw him in winter.
He changes his coat according to season, just as you do yourself,
Jumper.  In winter he is trapped for his fur and he isn't called
Weasel then at all, but Ermine."

"Oh," said Jumper and looked as if he felt a wee bit foolish.

"What was he doing when you saw him?" asked Old Mother Nature, turning
to Striped Chipmunk.

"Hunting," replied Striped Chipmunk, and shivered.  "He was hunting
me.  He had found my tracks where I had been gathering beechnuts,
and he was following them with his nose just the way Bowser the
Hound follows Reddy Fox.  I nearly died of fright when I saw him."

"You are lucky to be alive," declared Chatterer the Red Squirrel.

"I know it," replied Striped Chipmunk and shivered again.  "I know
it.  I guess I wouldn't be if Reddy Fox hadn't happened along just
then and frightened Shadow away.  I've had a kindlier feeling for
Reddy Fox ever since."

"I never ran harder in my life than the time I saw him," spoke up
Jumper the Hare.  "He was hunting me just the same way, running
with his nose in the snow and following every twist and turn I had
made.  But for that black-tipped tail I wouldn't have seen him
until too late."

"Pooh!" exclaimed Jimmy Skunk.  "The idea of a big fellow like you
running from such a little fellow as my Cousin Shadow!"

"I'm not ashamed of running," declared Jumper.  "I may be ever so
much bigger, but he is so quick I wouldn't stand the least chance
in the world.  When I suspect Shadow is about, I go somewhere else,
the farther the better.  If I could climb a tree like Chatterer,
it would be different."

"No, it wouldn't!" interrupted Chatterer.  "No, it wouldn't.  That
fellow can climb almost as well as I can.  The only thing that
saved me from him once was the fact that I could make a long jump
from one tree to another and he couldn't.  He had found a hole in
a certain tree where I was living, and it was just luck that I
wasn't at home when he called.  I was just returning when he
popped out.  I ran for my life."

"He is the most awful fellow in all the Great World," declared
Whitefoot the Wood Mouse.

Jimmy Skunk chuckled right out.  "A lot you know about the Great
World," he said.  "Why, you are farther from home now than you've
ever been in your life before, yet I could walk to it in a few
minutes.  How do you know Shadow is the most awful fellow in the
Great World?"

"I just know, that's all," retorted Whitefoot in a very positive
though squeaky voice.  "He hunts and kills just for the love of
it, and no one, no matter how big he is, can do anything more
awful than that.  I have a lot of enemies.  Sometimes it seems as
if almost every one of my neighbors is looking for a Mouse dinner.
But all but Shadow the Weasel hunt me when they are hungry and
need food.  I can forgive them for that.  Every one must eat to
live.  But Shadow hunts me even when his stomach is so full he
cannot eat another mouthful.  That fellow just loves to kill.
He takes pleasure in it.  That is what makes him so awful."

"Whitefoot is right," declared Old Mother Nature, and she spoke
sadly.  "If Shadow was as big as Buster Bear or Puma the Panther
or even Tufty the Lynx, he would be the most terrible creature in
all the Great World because of this awful desire to kill which
fills him.  He is hot-blooded, quick-tempered and fearless.  Even
when cornered by an enemy against whom he has no chance he will
fight to the last gasp.  I am sorry to say that there is no
kindness nor gentleness in him towards any save his own family.
Outside of that he hasn't a friend in the world, not one."

"Hasn't he any enemies?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"Oh, yes," replied Old Mother Nature.  "Reddy Fox, Old Man Coyote,
Hooty the Owl and various members of the Hawk family have to be
watched for by him.  But they do not worry him much.  You see he
moves so quickly, dodging out of sight in a flash, that whoever
catches him must be quick indeed.  Then, too, he is almost always
close to good cover.  He delights in old stone walls, stone piles,
brush-grown fences, piles of rubbish and barns and old buildings,
the places that Mice delight in.  In such places there is always
a hole to dart into in time of danger.  He hunts whenever he feels
like it, be it day or night, and often covers considerable ground,
though nothing to compare with his big, brown, water-loving cousin,
Billy Mink.  It is because of his wonderful ability to disappear
in an instant that he is called Shadow.

"Shadow is known as the Common Weasel, Short-tailed Weasel, Brown
Weasel, Bonaparte Weasel and Ermine, and is found all over the
forested parts of the northern part of the country.  A little
farther south in the East is a cousin very much like him called the
New York Weasel.  On the Great Plains of the West is a larger cousin
with a longer tail called the Long-tailed Weasel, Large Ermine, or
Yellow-bellied Weasel.  His smallest cousin is the Least Weasel.
The latter is not much longer than a Mouse.  In winter he is all
white, even the tip of his tail.  In summer he is a purer white
underneath than his larger cousins.  All of the Weasels are alike
in habits.  When running they bound over the ground much as Peter
Rabbit does.

"In that part of the West where Yap Yap the Prairie Dog lives is
a relative called the Blackfooted Ferret who looks like a large
Weasel.  He is about the size of Billy Mink, but instead of the
rich dark brown of Billy's coat his coat is a creamy yellow.  His
feet are black and so is the tip of his tail.  His face is whitish
with a dark band across the eyes.  He is most frequently found in
Prairie dog towns and lives largely on Yap Yap and his friends.
His ways are those of Shadow and his cousins.  There is no one
Yap Yap fears quite as much.

"The one good thing Shadow the Weasel does is to kill Robber the
Rat whenever they meet.  Robber, as you know, is big and savage
and always ready for a fight when cornered.  But all the fight
goes out of him when Shadow appears.  Perhaps it is because he
knows how hopeless it is.  When Shadow finds a barn overrun with
Rats he will sometimes stay until he has killed or driven out
the last one.  Then perhaps he spoils it all by killing a dozen
Chickens in a night.

"It is a sad thing not to be able to speak well of any one, but
Shadow the Weasel, like Robber the Rat, has by his ways made
himself hated by all the little people of the Green Forest and
the Green Meadows and by man.  There is not one to say a good
word for him.  Now to-morrow we will meet on the bank of the
Smiling Pool instead of here."



CHAPTER XXV  Two Famous Swimmers

The bank of the Smiling Pool was a lovely place to hold school at
that hour of the day, which you know was just after sun-up.
Everybody who could get there was on hand, and there were several
who had not been to school before.  One of these was Grandfather
Frog, who was sitting on his big, green, lily pad.  Another was
Jerry Muskrat, whose house was out in the Smiling Pool.  Spotty
the Turtle was also there, not to mention Longlegs the Heron.  You
see, they hadn't come to school but the school had come to them,
for that is where they live or spend most of their time.

"Good morning, Jerry Muskrat," said Old Mother Nature pleasantly, as
Jerry's brown head appeared in the Smiling Pool.  "Have you seen
anything of Billy Mink or Little Joe Otter?"

"Little Joe went down to the Big River last night," replied Jerry
Muskrat.  "I don't know when he is coming back, but I wouldn't be
surprised to see him any minute.  Billy Mink was here last evening and
said he was going up the Laughing Brook fishing.  He is likely to be
back any time.  One never can tell when that fellow will appear.  He
comes and goes continually.  I don't believe he can keep still five
minutes."

"Who is that can't keep still five minutes?" demanded a new voice,
and there was Billy Mink himself just climbing out on the Big Rock.

"Jerry was speaking of you," replied Old Mother Nature.  "This will
be a good chance for you to show him that he is mistaken.  I want
you to stay here for a while and to stay right on the Big Rock.  I
may want to ask you a few questions."

Just then Billy Mink dived into the Smiling Pool, and a second later
his brown head popped out of the water and in his mouth was a fat
fish.  He scrambled back on the Big Rock and looked at Old Mother
Nature a bit fearfully as he laid the fish down.

"I--I didn't mean to disobey," he mumbled.  "I saw that fish and
dived for him before I thought.  I hope you will forgive me, Mother
Nature.  I won't do it again."

"Acting before thinking gets people into trouble sometimes," replied
Old Mother Nature.  "However, I will forgive you this time.  The
fact is you have just shown your friends here something.  Go ahead
and eat that fish and be ready to answer questions."

As Billy Mink sat there on the Big Rock every one had a good look
at him.  One glance would tell any one that he was a cousin of
Shadow the Weasel.  He was much larger than Shadow, but of the same
general shape, being long and slender.  His coat was a beautiful
dark brown, darkest on the back.  His chin was white.  His tail was
round, covered with fairly long hair which was so dark as to be almost
black.  His face was like that of Shadow the Weasel.  His legs were
rather short.  As he sat eating that fish, his back was arched.

Old Mother Nature waited until he had finished his feast.  "Now
then, Billy," said she, "I want you to answer a few questions.
Which do you like best, night or day?"

"It doesn't make any particular difference to me," replied Billy.
"I just sleep when I feel like it, whether it be night or day, and
then when I wake up I can hunt.  It all depends on how I feel."

"When you go hunting, what do you hunt?" asked Old Mother Nature.

Billy grinned.  "Anything that promises a good meal," said he.  "I'm
not very particular.  A fat Mouse, a tender young Rabbit, a Chipmunk,
a Frog, Tadpoles, Chickens, eggs, birds, fish; whatever happens to
be easiest to get suits me.  I am rather fond of fish, and that's
one reason that I live along the Laughing Brook and around the Smiling
Pool.  But I like a change of fare, and so often I go hunting in the
Green Forest.  Sometimes I go up to Farmer Brown's for a Chicken.  In
the spring I hunt for nests of birds on the ground.  In winter, if
Peter Rabbit should happen along here when I was hungry, I might be
tempted to sample Peter."  Billy snapped his bright eyes wickedly
and Peter shivered.

"If Jerry Muskrat were not my friend, I am afraid I might be tempted
to sample him," continued Billy Mink.

"Pooh!" exclaimed Peter Rabbit.  "You wouldn't dare tackle Jerry Muskrat."

"Wouldn't I?" replied Billy.  "Just ask Jerry how he feels about it."

One look at Jerry's face showed everybody that Jerry, big as he was,
was afraid of Billy Mink.  "How do you hunt when you are on land?"
asked Old Mother Nature.

"The way every good hunter should hunt, with eyes, nose and ears,"
replied Billy.  "There may be folks with better ears than I've got,
but I don't know who they are.  I wouldn't swap noses with anybody.
As for my eyes, well, they are plenty good enough for me."

"In other words, you hunt very much as does your cousin, Shadow the
Weasel," said Old Mother Nature.

Billy nodded.  "I suppose I do," said he, "but there's one thing he
does which I don't do and that's hunt just for the love of killing.

"Once in a while I may kill more than I can eat, but I don't mean to.
I hunt for food, while he hunts just for the love of killing."

"You all saw how Billy catches fish," said Old Mother Nature. "Now,
Billy, I want you to swim over to the farther bank and show us how
you run."

Billy obeyed.  He slipped into the water, dived, swam under water
for a distance, then swam with just his head out.  When he reached
the bank he climbed out and started along it.  He went by a series
of bounds, his back arched sharply between each leap.  Then he
disappeared before their very eyes, only to reappear as suddenly
as he had gone.  So quick were his movements that it was impossible
for one of the little people watching to keep their eyes on him.
It seemed sometimes as though he must have vanished into the air.
Of course he didn't.  He was simply showing them his wonderful
ability to take advantage of every little stick, stone and bush.

"Billy is a great traveler," said Old Mother Nature.  "He really
loves to travel up and down the Laughing Brook, even for long
distances.  Wherever there is plenty of driftwood and rubbish,
Billy is quite at home, being so slender he can slip under all
kinds of places and into all sorts of holes.  Quick as he is on
land, he is not so quick as his Cousin Shadow; and good swimmer
as he is, he isn't so good as his bigger cousin, Little Joe Otter.
But being equally at home on land and in water, he has an advantage
over his cousins.  Billy is much hunted for his fur, and being
hunted so much has made him very keen-witted.  Mrs. Billy makes
her home nest in a hole in the bank or under an old stump or under
a pile of driftwood, and you may be sure it is well hidden.
There the babies are born, and they stay with their mother all
summer.  Incidentally, Billy can climb readily.  Billy is found
all over this great country of ours.  When he lives in the Far
North his fur is finer and thicker than when he lives in the South.
I wish Little Joe Otter were here.  I hoped he would be."

"Here he comes now," cried Jerry Muskrat.  "I rather expected he
would be back."  Jerry pointed towards where the Laughing Brook
left the Smiling Pool on its way to the Big River.  A brown head
was moving rapidly towards them.  There was no mistaking that head.
It could belong to no one but Little Joe Otter.  Straight on to
the Big Rock he came, and climbed up.  He was big, being one of
the largest members of his family.  He was more than three feet
long.  But no one looking at him could mistake him for any one but
a member of the Weasel family.  His legs were short, very short for
the length of his body.  His tail was fairly long and broad.  His
coat was a rich brown all over, a little lighter underneath than
on the back.

"What's going on here?" asked Little Joe Otter, his eyes bright
with interest.

"We are holding a session of school here today," explained Old
Mother Nature.  "And we were just hoping that you would appear.
Hold up one of your feet and spread the toes, Little Joe."

Little Joe Otter obeyed, though there was a funny, puzzled look
on his face.  "Whyee!" exclaimed Peter Rabbit.  "His toes are
webbed like those of Paddy the Beaver!"

"Of course they're webbed," said Little Joe.  "I never could swim
the way I do if they weren't webbed."

"Can you swim better than Paddy the Beaver?" asked Peter.

"I should say I can.  If I couldn't, I guess I would go hungry most
of the time," replied Little Joe.

"Why should you go hungry?  Paddy doesn't," retorted Peter.

"Paddy doesn't live on fish," replied Little Joe.  "I do and that's
the difference.  I can catch a fish in a tail-end race, and that's
going some."

"You might show us how you can swim," suggested Old Mother Nature.

Little Joe slipped into the water.  The Smiling Pool was very still
and the little people sitting on the bank could look right down and
see nearly to the bottom.  They saw Little Joe as he entered the
water and then saw little more than a brown streak.  A second later
his head popped out on the other side of the Smiling Pool.

"Phew, I'm glad I'm not a fish!" exclaimed Peter and everybody laughed.

"You may well be glad," said Old Mother Nature.  "You wouldn't stand
much chance with Little Joe around.  Like Billy Mink, Little Joe is
a great traveler, especially up and down the Laughing Brook and the
Big River.  Sometimes he travels over land, but he is so heavy and
his legs are so short that traveling on land is slow work.  When he
does cross from one stream or pond to another, he always picks out
the smoothest going.  Sometimes in winter he travels quite a bit.
Then when he comes to a smooth hill, he slides down it on his
stomach.  By the way, Little Joe, haven't you a slippery slide
somewhere around here?"

Little Joe nodded.  "I've got one down the Laughing Brook where
the bank is steep," said he.  "Mrs. Otter and I and our children
slide every day."

"What do you mean by a slippery slide?" asked Happy Jack Squirrel,
who was sitting in the Big Hickory-tree which grew on the bank
of the Smiling Pool.

Old Mother Nature smiled.  "Little Joe Otter and his family are
quite as fond of play as any of my children," said she.  "They get
a lot of fun out of life.  One of their ways of playing is to make
a slippery slide where the bank is steep and the water deep.  In
winter it is made of snow, but in summer it is made of mud.  There
they slide down, splash into the water, then climb up the bank
and do it all over again.  In winter they make their slippery slide
where the water doesn't freeze, and they get just as much fun in
winter as they do in summer."

"I suppose that means that Little Joe doesn't sleep in winter as
Johnny Chuck does," said Peter.

"I should say not," exclaimed Little Joe.  "I like the winter, too.
I have such a warm coat that I never get cold.  There are always
places where the water doesn't freeze.  I can swim for long distances
under ice and so I can always get plenty of food."

"Do you eat anything but fish?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"Oh, sometimes," replied Little Joe.  "Once in a while I like a
little fresh meat for a change, and sometimes when fish are
scarce I eat Frogs, but I prefer fish, especially Salmon and Trout."

"How many babies do you have at a time?" asked Happy Jack Squirrel.

"Usually one to three," replied Little Joe, "and only one family
a year.  They are born in my comfortable house, which is a burrow
in the bank.  There Mrs. Otter makes a large, soft nest of leaves
and grass.  Now, if you don't mind, I think I will go on up the
Laughing Brook.  Mrs. Otter is waiting for me up there."

Old Mother Nature told Little Joe to go ahead.  As he disappeared,
she sighed.  "I'm very fond of Little Joe Otter," said she, "and
it distresses me greatly that he is hunted by man as he is.  That
fur coat of his is valuable, and man is forever hunting him for
it.  The Otters were once numerous all over this great country,
but now they are very scarce, and I am afraid that the day isn't
far away when there will be no Little Joe Otter.  I think this will
do for to-day.  There are two other members of the Weasel family
and these, like Little Joe and Billy Mink, are continually being
hunted for their fur coats.  I will tell you about them to-morrow."



CHAPTER XXVI  Spite the Marten and Pekan the Fisher

"The two remaining members of the Weasel family none of you have
ever seen," began Old Mother Nature, when she opened school at
the old meeting place in the Green Forest the morning after their
visit to the Smiling Pool.  "You have never seen them because they
live in the deep forests of the Far North.  But were you living up
there, you would know them, and the dread of them would seldom be
out of your mind.  One is called Spite the Marten and the other
Pekan the Fisher.

"Spite the Marten is also called the Pine Marten and the American
Sable, and he is one of the handsomest members of the Weasel family.
Shadow the Weasel can climb, but he spends most of his time on the
ground.  Jimmy Skunk and Digger the Badger are not climbers at all.
Little Joe Otter spends most of his time in the water.  But Spite
the Marten is a lover of the tree tops, and is quite as much at home
there as Chatterer the Red Squirrel.

"When he is moving about in the trees, he looks much like a very
large Squirrel, while on the ground he might be mistaken for a
young Fox.  His coat is a rich, dark, yellowish-brown, becoming
almost black on the tail and legs.  His throat usually is yellow,
though sometimes it is almost white.  The sides of his face are
grayish, and his good-sized ears are grayish-white on the inside.
His tail is about half as long as his body and is covered with
long hair, but isn't bushy like a Squirrel's.  While his general
shape is that of Shadow the Weasel, his body is much heavier in
proportion to his size.

"Chatterer, you and your Cousin Happy Jack may well be thankful
that Spite the Marten doesn't live about here, for he is very fond
of Squirrels and delights to hunt them.  He can leap from tree to
tree quite as easily as either of you, and the only possible means
of escape for a Squirrel he is hunting is a hole too small for
Spite to get into.  No Squirrel is more graceful in the trees
than is Spite.

"But he by no means confines himself to the trees.  He is quite at
home on the ground, and there he moves with much of the quickness
of Shadow the Weasel.  He delights to hunt Rabbits and he covers
great distances, being even more of a traveller than Billy Mink.
He doesn't kill for the love of killing, but merely for food.  If
he kills more than he can eat at a meal he buries it, and when he
is hungry again he returns to it.  Like all the other members of
his family, he is a great hunter of Mice.  Also he catches many
birds, especially those birds which nest on the ground.  Birds,
eggs, Frogs, Toads, some insects and fish vary his bill of fare.
But unlike his smaller cousins, he eats some other things besides
flesh, including certain nuts, berries and honey.

"He isn't in the least social with his own kind but prefers to
live alone and is always ready to fight if he meets another
Marten.  Being so great a traveler he has several dens.  Mrs. Spite
makes her nest of grass and moss in a hollow tree as a rule,
occasionally in a hole in the ground.  She has from one to five
babies in the spring.  Spite is not a good father, for he has
nothing to do with his family.

"As I told you in the beginning he is found only in the great forests
of the North.  The darker and deeper they are, the better it suits
him.  His own cousin, Pekan the Fisher, and Tufty the Lynx, are
probably the only natural enemies he has much cause to fear.  His one
great enemy is man.  His coat is one of the most highly prized of all
furs and he is persistently hunted and trapped.  In fact, his coat is
one of the chief prizes of the fur trappers.

"In this same deep, dark forest clear across the northern part of
the country lives Pekan the Fisher, also called the Pennant Marten
and Blackcat.  He is larger and heavier than Spite the Marten and
his coat is a brownish-black, light on the sides, and browner below.
His nose, ears, feet and tail are black.  He gets his name of Blackcat
from his resemblance to a Cat with a bushy tail, though on the ground
he looks more like a black Fox.  Like his cousin, Spite the Marten,
he lives in the pine and spruce forests and prefers to be near swamps.
He is a splendid climber but spends quite as much time on the ground.
However, he is even livelier in the trees than is Spite the Marten.
Spite can catch a Squirrel in the tree tops, but Pekan can catch Spite,
and often does.  He isn't afraid of leaping to the ground from high up
in a tree, and often when coming down a tree he comes down headfirst.
He is very fond of hunting the cousins of Jumper the Hare and is so
tireless that he can run them down.  He is very clever and, like his
cousin, Glutton the Wolverine, makes no end of trouble for trappers
by stealing the baits from their traps.

"You all remember how frightened Prickly Porky was when I merely
mentioned Pekan the Fisher.  It was because Pekan is almost the
only one Prickly Porky has reason to fear.  If Pekan is hungry he
doesn't hesitate to dine on Porcupine.  He has learned how to turn
a Porcupine on his back, and, as you have already found out, the
under part of the Porcupine is unprotected.

"Just why Pekan should be called Fisher, I don't know.  True, he
eats fish when he can get them, but he isn't a water animal and
doesn't go fishing as do Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter.  His food
is much the same as that of Spite the Marten.  He is especially fond
of Rabbit and Hare.  He is so strong and savage that he can kill a
Fox and often does.  Bobby Coon is a good fighter and much bigger
and heavier than Pekan, but he is no match for Pekan.

"Probably all of you have guessed that being a true Marten, Pekan's
coat is highly prized by the fur trappers.  He hates the presence of
man and with good cause.

"Now this ends the Weasel family, but that's only one family of the
order of Carnivora, or flesh eaters.  There is one family you all
know so well that I think we will take that up next.  It is the
family to which Reddy Fox and Old Man Coyote belong, and it is
called the Dog family.

"To-morrow morning when you get here, I may have a surprise for you."



CHAPTER XXVII  Reddy Fox Joins the School

When school was called to order the following morning not one was
missing.  You see, with the exception of Jimmy Skunk and Prickly
Porky, there was not one in whose life Reddy Fox did not have a most
important part.  Even Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel and Chatterer
the Red Squirrel, tree folk though they were, had many times
narrowly missed furnishing Reddy with a dinner.  As for Johnny Chuck
and Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare and Striped Chipmunk and Danny
Meadow Mouse and Whitefoot the Wood Mouse, there were few hours of
day or night when they did not have Reddy in mind, knowing that to
forget him even for a few minutes might mean the end of them.

Just imagine the feelings of these little people when, just as they
had comfortably seated themselves for the morning lesson, Reddy
himself stepped out from behind a tree.  Never before was a school
so quickly broken up.  In the winking of an eye Old Mother Nature
was alone, save for Reddy Fox, Jimmy Skunk, and in the trees Prickly
Porky the Porcupine and Happy Jack and Chatterer.

Reddy Fox looked as if he felt uncomfortable.  "I didn't mean to
break up your school," said he to Old Mother Nature.  "I wouldn't
have thought of coming if you hadn't sent for me."

Old Mother Nature smiled.  "I didn't tell any one that I was going
to send for you, Reddy," said she, "for I was afraid that if I did
no one would come this morning.  I promised them a surprise, but it
is clear that no one guessed what that surprise was to be.  Go over
by that old stump near the Lone Little Path and sit there, Reddy."

Then Old Mother Nature called each of the little people by name,
commanding each to return at once.  She spoke sternly, very sternly
indeed.  One by one they appeared from all sorts of hiding places,
glancing fearfully towards Reddy Fox, yet not daring to disobey
Old Mother Nature.

When at last all were crowded about her as closely as they could
get, Old Mother Nature spoke and this time her voice was soft.  "I
am ashamed of you," said she.  "Truly I am ashamed of you.  How
could you think that I would allow any harm to come to you?  Reddy
Fox is here because I sent for him, but he is going to sit right
where he is until I tell him he can go, and not one of you will be
harmed by him.  To begin with, I am going to tell you one or two
facts about Reddy, and then I am going to find out just how much
you have learned about him yourselves.

"It may seem queer to you that Reddy Fox belongs to the same family
as Bowser the Hound, but it is true.  Both are members of the Dog
family and thus are quite closely related.  Howler the Wolf and Old
Man Coyote are also members of the family, so all are cousins.
Look closely at Reddy and you will see at once that he looks very
much like a small Dog with a beautiful red coat, white waistcoat,
black feet and bushy tail.  Now, Peter, you probably know as much
about Reddy as any one here.  At least you should.  Tell us what
you have learned in your efforts to keep out of his clutches."

Peter scratched a long ear thoughtfully and glanced sideways at
Reddy Fox.  "I certainly ought to know something about him," he
began.  "He was the very first person my mother warned me to watch
for, because she said he was especially fond of young Rabbits and
was the slyest, smartest and most to be feared of all my enemies.
Since then I have found out that she knew just what she was talking
about."  Johnny Chuck, Danny Meadow Mouse and Whitefoot the Wood
Mouse nodded as if they quite agreed.  Then Peter continued, "Reddy
lives chiefly by hunting, and in his turn he is hunted, so he needs
to have sharp wits.  When he isn't hunting me he is hunting Danny
Meadow Mouse or Whitefoot or Striped Chipmunk or Mrs. Grouse, or
Bob White, or is trying to steal one of Farmer Brown's Chickens,
or is catching Frogs along the edge of the Smiling Pool, or
grasshoppers out in the Green Meadows.  So far as I can make out,
anything Reddy can catch furnishes him with food.  I guess he doesn't
eat anything but such things as these."

"Your guess is wrong, Peter," spoke up Reddy Fox, who had been
listening with a grin on his crafty face.  "I am rather fond of
certain kinds of fruits.  You didn't know that, did you, Peter?"

"No, I didn't," replied Peter.  "I'm glad to know it.  I think it
is dreadful to live entirely by killing others."

"You might add," remarked Reddy, "that I like a meal of fish
occasionally, and eggs are always welcome.  I am not particular
what I eat so long as I can get my stomach full."

"Reddy Fox hunts with ears, eyes and nose," continued Peter.  "Many
a time I've watched him listening for the squeak of Danny Meadow
Mouse or watching for the grass to move and show where Danny was
hiding; and many a time he has found my scent with his wonderful
nose and followed me just as Bowser the Hound follows him.  I guess
there isn't much going on that Reddy's eyes, ears and nose don't
tell him.  But it is Reddy's quick wits that the rest of us fear
most.  We never know what new trick he will try.  Lots of enemies
are easy to fool, but Reddy isn't one of them.  Sometimes I think
he knows more about me than I know about myself.  I guess it is
just pure luck that he hasn't caught me with some of those smart
tricks of his.

"Reddy hunts both day and night, but I think he prefers night.  I
guess it all depends on how hungry he is.  More than once I've
seen him bringing home a Chicken, but I am told that he is smart
enough not to steal Chickens near his home, but always to go some
distance to get them.  Also I've been told that he is too clever
to go to the same Chicken yard two nights in succession.  So far
as I know, he isn't afraid of any one except a hunter with a
terrible gun.  He doesn't seem to mind being chased by Bowser the
Hound at all."

"I don't," spoke up Reddy.  "I rather enjoy it.  It gives me good
exercise.  Any time I can't fool Bowser by breaking my trail so he
can't find it again, I deserve to be caught.  I am not even so
terribly afraid of a hunter with a gun.  You see, usually I can
guess what a hunter will do better than he can what I will do."

Old Mother Nature nodded.  "That sounds like boasting," said she,
"but it isn't.  Reddy Fox is one of the few animals who has
succeeded in holding his own against man, and he has done it simply
by using his wits.  There is no other animal as large as Reddy Fox
who has succeeded as he has in living close to the homes of men.
It is simply because he has made the most of the senses I have given
him.  He has learned to use his eyes, ears and nose at all times and
to understand and make the most of the information they bring him.
Reddy has always been hunted by man, and it is this very thing which
has so sharpened his wits.  It is seldom that he is guilty of making
the same mistake twice.  All of you little people fear Reddy, and I
suspect some of you hate him.  But always remember that he never
kills for the love of killing, and only when he must have food.
There would be something sadly missing in the Green Forest and on
the Green Meadows were there no Reddy Fox.  Reddy, where do you and
Mrs. Reddy make your home?  And how do you raise your babies?"

"This year our home is up in the Old Pasture," replied Reddy.  "We
have the nicest kind of a house dug in the ground underneath a big
rock.  It has only one entrance, but this is because there is no
need of any other.  No one could possibly dig us out there.  Last
year our home was on the Green Meadows and there were three doorways
to that.  The year before we dug our house in a gravelly bank just
within the edge of the Green Forest.  The babies are born in a
comfortable bedroom deep underground.  Sometimes we have a storeroom
in addition to the bedroom; there Mrs. Reddy and I can keep food
when there is more than can be eaten at one meal.  When the babies
are first born in the spring and Mrs. Reddy cannot leave them, I
take food to her.  When the youngsters are big enough to use their
sharp little teeth, we take turns hunting food for them.  Usually
we hunt separately, but sometimes we hunt together.  You know often
two can do what one cannot.  If Bowser the Hound happens to find
the trail of Mrs. Reddy when there are babies at home, she leads him
far away from our home.  Then I join her, and take her place so that
she can slip away and go back to the babies.  Bowser never knows
the difference.

"Our children are well trained if I do say it.  We teach them how to
hunt, how to fool their enemies, and all the tricks we have learned.
No one has a better training than a young Fox."

"Here is a conundrum for you little folks," said Old Mother Nature.
"When is a Red Fox not a Red Fox?"  Everybody blinked.  Most of
them looked as if they thought Old Mother Nature must be joking.
But suddenly Chatterer the Red Squirrel, whose wits are naturally
quick, remembered how Old Mother Nature had told them that there
were black Gray Squirrels.  "When he is some other color,"
cried Chatterer.

"That's the answer," said Old Mother Nature.  "Once in a while a
pair of Red Foxes will have a baby who hasn't a red hair on him.
He will be all black, with perhaps just the tip of his tail white.
Or his fur will be all black just tipped with white.  Then he is
called a Black Fox or Silver Fox.  He is still a Red Fox, yet
there is nothing red about him.  Sometimes the fur is only partly
marked with black and then he is called a Cross Fox.  A great many
people have supposed that the Black or Silver Fox and the Cross Fox
were distinct kinds.  They are not.  They are simply Red Foxes with
different coats.  The fur of the Silver Fox is considered by man to
be one of the choicest of all furs and tremendous prices are paid
for it.  This means, of course, that a young Fox whose coat is
black will need to be very smart indeed if he would live to old
age, for once he has been seen by man he will be hunted unceasingly."

Reddy Fox had been listening intently and now Mother Nature
noticed a worried look on his face.  "What is it, Reddy?" said
she.  "You look anxious."

"I am anxious," said he.  "What you have just said has worried me.
You see, one of my cubs at home is all black.  Now that I have
learned that his fur is so valuable, Mrs. Reddy and I will have
to take special pains to teach him all we know."

"I want you all to know that Reddy Fox and Mrs. Reddy mate for
life," said Old Mother Nature.  "Reddy is the best of fathers and
the best of mates."

"There's one thing I do envy Reddy," spoke up Peter Rabbit, "and
that is that big tail of his.  It is a wonderful tail.  I wish I
had one like it."

How everybody laughed as they tried to picture Peter Rabbit with a
big tail like that of Reddy Fox.  "I am afraid you wouldn't get far
if you had to carry that around," said Old Mother Nature.  "Even
Reddy finds it rather a burden in wet weather when it becomes heavy
with water.  That is one reason you do not find him abroad much when
it is raining or in winter when the snow is soft and wet.  Reddy Fox
is at home all over the northern half of this country, and everywhere
he is the same sly, clever fellow whom you all know so well.

"In the South and some parts of the East and West, Reddy has a
cousin of about his own size whose coat is gray with red on the
sides of his neck, ears and across his breast.  The under part of
his body is reddish, his throat and the middle of his breast are
white.  He is called the Gray Fox.  He prefers the Green Forest to
the open country, for he is not nearly as smart as his Cousin Reddy.
He is, if anything, a better runner, but his wits are slower and he
cannot so well hold his own against man.  Instead of making his home
in a hole in the ground, he usually chooses a hollow tree-trunk or
hollow log.  The babies are born in a nest of leaves in the bottom
of a hollow tree.  In some parts of the West this Fox is called the
Tree Fox, because often he climbs up in low trees.

"The Gray Fox of the South is not the only cousin of Reddy's,"
continued Old Mother Nature.  "In certain parts of the Great West,
on the plains, lives one of the smallest of Reddy's cousins,
called the Kit Fox or Swift.  He is no larger than Black Pussy,
Farmer Brown's Cat, and gets his name of Swift from his great
speed in running.  He is a prairie animal and lives in burrows in
the ground as most prairie animals do.  His back is of a grayish
color, while his sides are yellowish red.  Beneath he is white.
The upper side of his tail is yellowish-gray, below it is yellowish,
and the tip is black.  In general appearance he is more like the
Gray Fox than Reddy.  He lacks the quick wit of Reddy Fox and is
easily trapped.

"In the hot, dry regions of the Southwest, where the Kangaroo Rats
and Pocket Mice live, is another cousin, closely related to the Kit
Fox.  This is called the Desert Fox.  Like most of the little people
who live on the desert, he is seldom seen by day.  He is very swift
of foot.  He digs a burrow with several entrances and his food consists
largely of Pocket Mice, Kangaroo Rats, Ground squirrels and such other
small animals as are found in that part of the country.  Like his
cousin, the Kit Fox, he is not especially quick-witted.  Neither the Kit
Fox nor the Desert Fox are considered very valuable for their coats, and
so are not hunted and trapped as much as are Reddy Fox and his two
cousins of the Great North, the Arctic Fox and the Blue Fox.

"The Arctic, or White Fox, lives in the Far North, in the land of
snow and ice.  He is a little fellow, bigger than the Kit Fox, but
only about two thirds the size of Reddy Fox, and very beautiful.
Way up in the Far North his entire coat is snowy white the year
round.  The fur is long, very thick and soft.  His tail is very
large and handsome.  When he lives a little farther south, he
changes his coat in the summer to one of a bluish-brown.  But just
as soon as winter approaches, he resumes his white coat.  The
young are born in a burrow in the ground, if the parents happen
to be living far enough south for the ground to be free of snow.
In the Far North, their home is a burrow in a snow bank, and
there the babies are born.  The white coats of the Arctic Foxes,
who live in a world of white, are of great help to them when
hunting, or when trying to escape from enemies.  It is difficult
to see them against their white surroundings.  In summer their
food consists very largely of ducks and other wild fowl which nest
in great numbers in the Far North.  In the winter they hunt for
Lemmings, Arctic Hares and a cousin of Mrs. Grouse called the
Ptarmigan, who lives up there.  They pick the bones left by Polar
Bears and Wolves.  Getting a living in winter is not easy, and so
the Arctic Fox is a great traveler.

"The Blue Fox is really only a colored White Fox, just as the Black
Fox is a black Red Fox, and his habits are, of course, just the same
as the habits of the White Fox.  There are some islands in the Far
North, called the Pribilof Islands, and on them live many Blue
Foxes.  Both the White and the Blue Foxes are much hunted for their
coats, which are considered very valuable by man.  Certainly they
are very beautiful.  While these cousins of Reddy's are clever hunters
they do not begin to be as quick-witted as Reddy, and so are much
more easily trapped.

"Now I think this will do for Reddy Fox and his relatives.  Reddy
is going to stay right here with me, until the rest of you have
had a chance to get home.  After that you will have to watch out
for yourselves as usual.  Just remember that Reddy has become the
quick-witted person he is because he has been so much hunted.  If
you are as smart as Reddy, you will understand that the more he
hunts you, the quicker-witted you also will become.  To-morrow we
will take up Reddy's big cousins, the Wolves."



CHAPTER XXVIII  Old Man Coyote and Howler the Wolf

"Of course, you all know to what branch of the Dog family Old Man
Coyote belongs," said Old Mother Nature, and looked expectantly at
the circle of little folks gathered around her.  No one answered.
"Well, well, well!" exclaimed Old Mother Nature, "I am surprised.
I am very much surprised.  I supposed that all of you knew that
Old Man Coyote is a member of the Wolf branch of the family."

"Do you mean that he is really a true Wolf?" asked Striped
Chipmunk timidly.

"Of course," replied Old Mother Nature.  "He is all Wolf and nothing
but Wolf.  He is the Prairie Wolf, so called because he is a lover
of the great open plains and not of the deep forests like his big
cousin, Howler the Timber Wolf.  Reddy Fox is smart, but sometimes
I believe Old Man Coyote is smarter.  You have got to get up very
early indeed to get ahead of Old Man Coyote.

"Old Man Coyote varies in size from not so very much bigger than
Reddy Fox to almost the size of his big cousin, Howler the Timber
Wolf.  Also he varies in color from a general brownish-gray to a
yellowish-brown, being whitish underneath.  His face is rather
longer than that of Reddy Fox.  He has a brushy tail, but it is
not as thick as Reddy's.

"In his habits, Old Man Coyote is much like Reddy, but being larger
and stronger he is able to kill larger animals, and has won the hate
of man by killing young Pigs, Lambs, newly born Calves and poultry.
Because of this, he has been and is continually hunted and trapped.
But like Reddy Fox the more he is hunted the smarter he becomes,
and he is quite capable of taking care of himself.  He is one of
the swiftest of all runners.  Many people think him cowardly because
he is always ready to run away at the least hint of danger.  He
isn't cowardly, however; he is simply smart--too smart to run any
unnecessary risk.  Old Man Coyote believes absolutely in safety
first, a very wise rule for everybody.  The result is that he is
seldom led into the mistake of simply thinking a thing is all
right.  He makes sure that it is all right.  Because of this he
is very hard to trap.  No matter how hungry he may be, he will
turn his back on a baited trap, even when the trap is so cunningly
hidden that he cannot see it.

"Old Man Coyote is a good father and husband and a good provider
for his family.  He and Mrs. Coyote have a large family every year,
sometimes as many as ten babies.  Their home is in the ground and
is very similar to that of Reddy Fox.  They eat almost everything
eatable, including such animals and birds as they can catch, Frogs,
Toads, Snakes and insects, dead bodies they may find, and even some
fruits.  Mr. and Mrs. Coyote often hunt together.  Sometimes, when
the children are full-grown, they all hunt together.  When they do
this they can pull down Lightfoot the Deer.

"Old Man Coyote has one of the strangest voices to be heard anywhere,
and he delights to use it, especially at night.  It is like many
voices shouting together, and one who hears it for the first time
cannot believe that all that sound comes from one throat.

"His big cousin, Howler the Gray Wolf, sometimes called Timber Wolf--
is found now only in the forests of the North and the mountains of
the Great West.  Once he roamed over the greater part of this great
country.  Howler is as keen-witted as, and perhaps keener-witted
than, Reddy Fox or Old Man Coyote, and added to this he has great
strength and courage.  He is one of the most feared of all the
people of the Green Forest.  In summer when food is plentiful,
Howler and Mrs. Wolf devote themselves to the bringing up of their
family and are careful not to be overbold.  But when winter comes,
Howler and his friends get together and hunt in packs.  With their
wonderful noses they can follow Lightfoot the Deer and run him down.
They kill Sheep and young Cattle.  The harder the winter the bolder
they become, and they have been known to attack man himself.  In the
Far North they grow especially large, and because of the scarcity of
food there in winter, they become exceedingly fierce.  They can go an
astonishingly long time without food and still retain their strength.
But hunger makes them merciless.  They  will not attack each other,
but if one in the pack becomes injured, the others will turn upon him,
and kill and eat him at once.

"Howler and Mrs. Wolf mate for life, and each is at all times loyal
to the other.  They are the best of parents, and the little Wolves
are carefully trained in all that a Wolf should know.  Always the
hand of man has been against them, and this fact has developed their
wits and cunning to a wonderful degree.  Man in his effort to destroy
them has used poison, cleverly hiding it in pieces of meat left where
Howler and his friends could find them.  Howler soon found out that
there was something wrong with pieces of meat left about, and now it
is seldom that any of his family come to harm in that way.  He is
equally cunning in discovering traps, even traps buried in one of
his trails.  Sometimes he will dig them up and spring them without
being caught.

"When Wolves hunt in packs they have a leader, usually the strongest
or the smartest among them, and this leader they obey.  In all the
great forests there is no more dreadful sound than the howling of a
pack of wolves.  There is something in it that strikes terror to the
hearts of all who hear it.

"The color of Howler's coat usually is brownish-gray and that is
why he is called the Gray Wolf; but sometimes it is almost black,
and in the Far North it becomes snowy white.  Howler is very
closely related to the Dogs which men keep as pets.  They are
really first cousins.  Few Dogs dare meet Howler in battle."

"My!" exclaimed Peter Rabbit, "I am glad Howler doesn't live
around here."

"You well may be," said Old Mother Nature.  "He would make just
about one bite of you, Peter."

Peter shivered.  "Are Old Man Coyote and Howler friends?" asked Peter.

"I wouldn't call them exactly friends," replied Old Mother Nature.
"Old Man Coyote takes pains to keep out of Howler's way, but he is
clever enough to know that when Howler has made a good kill there
may be some left after Howler has filled his own stomach.  So when
Howler is hunting in Old Man Coyote's neighbor hood, the latter
keeps an eye and ear open to what is going on.  In the long-ago
days when Thunderfoot the Bison was lord of the prairies, Howler's
family lived on the prairies as well as in the forests, but now
Howler sticks pretty closely to the forests and mountains, leaving
the prairies and brushy plains to Old Man Coyote."

"All branches of the Dog family do one thing: they walk on their
toes.  They never put the whole foot down flat as does Buster Bear.
And, as you have already discovered, all branches of the Dog family
are very smart.  They are intelligent.  Hello, there is Black Pussy,
the cat from Farmer Brown's, coming down the Lone Little Path!  I
suspect it will be well for some of you smallest ones to get out
of sight before she arrives.  She doesn't belong over here in the
Green Forest, but she has a cousin who does, Yowler the Bob Cat.
Shall I tell you about Yowler and his cousins to-morrow?"

"We'd love to have you!" cried Happy Jack, speaking for all.
Then, as Black Pussy was drawing near, they separated and went
their several ways.



CHAPTER XXIX  Yowler and His Cousin Tufty

Jumper the Hare arrived at school a little late and quite out of
breath from hurrying.  His big soft eyes were shining with
excitement.  "You look as though you had had an adventure, Jumper,"
said Old Mother Nature.

"I have," replied Jumper. "It is a wonder I am here at all; I came
to near furnishing Yowler the Bob Cat a breakfast that it makes me
shiver just to think of it.  I guess if I hadn't been thinking about
him, he would have caught me."

"Tell us all about it," demanded Old Mother Nature.

"Seeing Black Pussy over here yesterday, and knowing that to-day's
lesson was to be about Yowler, I couldn't get cats out of my mind
all day yesterday," began Jumper.  "Black Pussy doesn't worry me,
but I must confess that if there is any one I fear, it is Yowler
the Bob Cat.  Just thinking about him make me nervous.  The more
I tried not to think about him, the more I did think about him,
and the more I thought about him, the more nervous I got.  Then
just before dark, on the bank of the Laughing Brook, I found some
tracks in the mud.  Those tracks were almost round, and that fact
was enough to tell me who had made them.  They were Yowler's
footprints, and they hadn't been made very long.

"Of course, seeing those footprints made me more nervous than ever,
and every time I saw a leaf move I jumped inside.  My heart felt
as if it were up in my throat most of the time.  I had a feeling
that Yowler wasn't far away.  I hate that Cat!  I hate the way he
hunts!  He goes sneaking about, without making a sound, or else he
lies in wait, ready to spring without warning on the first one who
happens along.  A fellow never knows where to watch out for Yowler.

"I spent nearly all night sitting under a little hemlock tree with
branches very close to the ground.  I sat there because I didn't
dare do anything else.  As long as I stayed there I felt reasonably
safe, because Yowler would have to find me, and to do that he would
have to cross an open place where I could see him.  I knew that if
I went roaming about I might walk right into his clutches.

"It was lucky I had sense enough to stay there.  You know the moon
was very bright last night.  It made that open place in front of
where I was hiding almost as light as day.  Once I closed my eyes
for just a minute.  When I opened them, there was Yowler sneaking
across that open place.  Where he had come from, I don't know.  He
hadn't made a sound.  Not a leaf rustled under his big feet.  Right
in the middle of that open place, where the moonlight was brightest,
he stopped to listen, and I simply held my breath."

"Tell us how he looked," prompted Old Mother Nature.

"He looked just like what he is--a big Cat with a short tail,"
replied Jumper.  "Just to look at him any one would know he was
own cousin to Black Pussy.  He had a round head, rather long legs,
and was about twice as big as Black Pussy.  His feet looked big,
even for him.  On the tips of his ears were a few long black hairs.
His coat was yellowish to reddish-brown, with dark spots on it.
His chin and throat were white, and underneath he was white spotted
with black.  There were spots all down his legs.  He didn't have
enough of a tail to call it a tail.  It was whitish on the under
side and had black stripes on the upper side, and all the time he
kept twitching it just the way Black Pussy twitches her tail when
she is out hunting.  All of a sudden he opened his mouth and gave
such a yell that it is a wonder I didn't jump out of my skin.  It
frightened me so that I couldn't have moved if I had wanted to,
which was a lucky thing for me.  The instant he yelled he cocked
his head on one side and listened.  That yell must have wakened
somebody and caused them to move, for Yowler turned suddenly and
crept swiftly and without a sound out of sight.  A minute later
I heard a jump, and then I heard a fluttering.  I think he caught
one of the Grouse family."

"Yelling that way is one of Yowler's tricks," explained Old Mother
Nature.  "He does it for the same reason Hooty the Owl hoots.  He
hopes that it will startle some sleeper so that they will move.
If they do, his keen ears are sure to hear it.  Was that all of
your adventure, Jumper?"

"No," replied Jumper.  "I remained right where I was for the rest
of the night.  Just as daylight was beginning to steal through the
Green Forest, I decided that it was safe to leave my hiding place
and come over here.  Half-way here I stopped for a few minutes in
a thick clump of ferns.  I was just about to start on again when I
caught sight of something moving just back of an old stump.  It
was that foolish looking tail of Yowler's.  Had he kept it still I
wouldn't have seen him at all; but he was twitching it back and
forth.  He was crouched down close to the ground with all four
feet drawn close together under him.  There he crouched, and there
I sat for the longest time.  I didn't move, and he didn't move,
save that foolish looking tail of his.  I had begun to think that
I would have to stay in that clump of ferns all day when suddenly
Yowler sprang like a flash.  There was a little squeak, and then I
saw Yowler trot away with a Mouse in his mouth.  I guess he must
have seen that Mouse go in a hole and knew that if he waited long
enough it would come out again.  As soon as Yowler disappeared I
hurried over here.  That's all."

"That was a splendid account of Yowler and his way of hunting," said
Old Mother Nature.  "He does most of his hunting in just that way,
sneaking about on the chance of surprising a Rabbit, Bird or Mouse,
or else patiently watching and waiting beside a hole in which he
knows some one has taken refuge.  He hunts in the Green Forest
exactly as Black Pussy, Farmer Brown's Cat, hunts Mice in the barn
or Birds in the Old Orchard.  In the spring Yowler destroys many
eggs and young birds, not only those found in nests on the ground,
but also those in nests in trees, for he is a splendid climber.

"Yowler is found in nearly all of the swampy, brushy and wooded
parts of the whole country, excepting in the great forests of the
Far North, where his cousin Tufty the Lynx lives.  Yowler is
himself a Lynx, the Bay Lynx.  In some places he is called simply
Wild Cat.  In others he is called the Catamount.  He is not so
fond of the thick forests as he is of swamps, brush-grown hillsides,
old pastures and places where there are great masses of briars.
Rocky ledges where there are caves in which to hide and plenty of
brush also suit him.  He is a coward, but when cornered will fight,
though he will run from a little Dog half his size and take to a
tree.  In the South he is quite common and there often steals
Chickens and Turkeys, even young Pigs.  He prefers to hunt at
night, but sometimes is seen in broad daylight.  Mrs. Yowler's
kittens are born in a cave or in a hollow tree.  Despite the fact
that he is an expert climber, Yowler spends most of his time on
the ground and is one of the worst enemies of Rabbits, Mice,
Squirrels and ground Birds.

"In the great forests of the Far North lives Yowler's cousin, Tufty
the Canada Lynx, also called Loup Cervier and Lucivee.  He is nearly
a third larger than Yowler.  From the tip of each ear long tufts of
black hair stand up.  On each side of his face is a ruff of long
hair.  His tail is even shorter than Yowler's, and the tip of it is
always wholly black.  His general color is gray, mottled with brown.
His face ruff is white with black border.  Yowler's feet are large,
but Tufty's are immense for his size.  This is because Tufty lives
where the snow lies deep for many months, and these big, broad feet
enable him to travel about on the snow without breaking through.  He
can travel with ease where Reddy Fox, not half his size and weight,
would break through at every step.  Tufty's ways are much like those
of his cousin, Yowler, save that he is a dweller in the deep woods.
Anything he can catch is food for Tufty, but his principal food is the
Northern Hare.  The color of his coat blends with the shadows so that
he seems like a living shadow himself.  In summer food is plentiful,
and Tufty lives well, but in winder Tufty has hard work to get enough.
Rarely does he know what a full stomach means then.  Like Howler he
can go a surprising length of time without food and still retain his
strength.  At that time of year he is a great traveler.  He has to
be, in order to live.

"There is no fiercer looking animal in all the Green Forest than
Tufty the Lynx, but despite this he is, like most Cats, cowardly.
Only when cornered will he fight.  He is possessed of a lively
curiosity, and often he will stealthily follow a hunter or trapper
for miles.  The fur of his coat is very long and handsome, and he
is hunted and trapped for this.  As he lives for the most part far
from the homes of men, he does less damage to man than does his
cousin, Yowler the Bob Cat.  Tufty must depend wholly for his living
on the little people of the Green Forest.  Sometimes he will attack
a Fox.  The pretty little spotted babies of Lightfoot the Deer are
victims whenever he can find them.

"The darker and deeper the Green Forest, the better Tufty likes
it.  He makes his den under great tangles of fallen trees or
similar places.  Mr. And Mrs. Tufty often hunt together, and in
early winter the whole family often join in the hunt.

"Yowler and Tufty are the only members of the Cat family now found
in the eastern part of the country.  Formerly, their big cousin,
Puma the Panther, lived in the East, but he has been so hunted by
man that now he is found only in the mountains of the Far West and
in a few of the wildest places in the South.  I will tell you about
him to-morrow."



CHAPTER XXX  Some Big and Little Cat Cousins

"Puma the Panther," began Old Mother Nature, "is the largest member
of the Cat family in this country, with the exception of one which is
found only in the extreme Southwest.  Puma is also called Mountain
Lion, Cougar and Painter.  You all know how Black Pussy looks.  If
Black Pussy could grow to be over eight feet long and be given a
yellowish-brown coat, whitish underneath, she would look very much
like Puma the Panther.  Unlike Yowler the Bob Cat and Tufty the Lynx,
Puma has a long tail--just such a round tail as Black Pussy has.
Being so large, Puma is of great strength, and he has all the grace
and quickness in movement of a true Cat.  As I told you yesterday,
there was a time when Puma lived in the East.  In fact, he was once
in nearly all parts of this great country where there were forests.
But as the country became settled by man, Puma was driven out, and
now his home is chiefly in the great mountains of the Far West.

"Being so big, he must have much food.  Instead of depending for his
living on small animals and birds, Puma hunts the large animals.  He
is so big and so strong that he can kill Lightfoot the Deer without
trouble, and there is no one Lightfoot dreads more than Puma.  He is
especially fond of Horse flesh, and in certain sections where herds
of Horses are pastured, he has killed so many young Horses that he
has won the undying hate of man.

"Big as he is, he is a coward and will run from a barking Dog.
When desperate with hunger, he has been known to attack man, but
such occasions have been very, very rare.  The fact is, he fears
man and will slink sway at his approach.  Like the true Cat that
he is, he is wonderfully soft-footed and, despite his great size,
moves silently.  He makes his home among the ledges high up in the
mountains.  At night he goes forth to hunt.  Once in a while he is
seen hunting in daytime, but not often.  Sometimes he may be seen
basking in the sun, high up on the ledges.  He is a good climber,
like most Cats.  He never shows himself boldly, but slinks about
through the forest and among the rocks, the picture of stealth.
This habit has won for him another name--that of Sneak Cat.
Sometimes he sneaks up on his prey to within jumping distance.
Again he lies in wait beside a path which certain animals are in
the habit of using.  He is capable of leaping a long distance, and
when he strikes his prey his great weight, added to the force of
his spring, is almost certain to knock it down, even though it be
much bigger than Puma himself.

"Men hunt him with Dogs, for as I have already told you he will run
from a barking Dog.  Usually he doesn't run far before taking to a
tree.  The hunters follow and shoot him there.  Were it not that he
can be hunted in this way with Dogs, he would have little to fear
from man, for he is so keen of sight and hearing and can move so
swiftly and silently, that it is rarely man can surprise him.
Sometimes he will follow a man just as Tufty the Lynx does, but
usually for the same reason--curiosity.  Despite the fact that he
is a sneak and coward, he is so big and fierce-looking that he is
feared by most men.  Only those who really know him do not fear him.

"There is one other member of the Cat family in all this great land
larger than Puma, and this is Jaguar, also called El Tigre.  He is
found only in a small part of the extreme Southwest, for he really
belongs in the hot country to the south of this.  Not only is he
the largest, but he is the handsomest of all the Cat family.  His
coat is a beautiful deep yellow, covered with spots and rosettes of
black.  Beneath he is white with large black spots.  He also has a
fairly long tail.  He is thick and heavy, and is not as long as
Puma, but is stouter and heavier.  He can kill Horses, Mules and
Cattle with ease, but of course the principal part of his food
consists of the wild animals about him.  He is so savage in appearance
that the mere sight of him always awakens fear.  His method of hunting
is much the same as that of the other members of the Cat family.  Most
of his hunting is done at night.  While Puma the panther sometimes
screams, Jaguar roars, and it is a very terrifying sound.  All the
little people and most of the big ones within hearing shiver when
they hear it.  Jaguar's head is large and he is tremendously strong
in the jaws.  Occasionally Jaguar is all black instead of being
yellow and spotted.

"In this same part of the great Southwest lives a smaller cousin
named Ocelot, often called Tiger Cat.  Ocelot is only a little
bigger than Black Pussy, whom you all know, and in shape is very
like her.  He also has a lovely coat.  It is yellow, not a deep,
rich yellow like Jaguar's, but a light yellow, thickly covered with
black spots.  On his cheeks and the back of his neck are black lines,
and his tail is ringed with black.  He likes best country where the
brush is very thick and thorny, for there he can hunt in safety,
with little fear of being hunted by man.  Because of his smaller
size, he lives chiefly on small animals, birds and reptiles.  He
sometimes kills and eats big Snakes.  When he happens to live near
man, he robs the Hen roosts just as Yowler does.  In all his ways
he is like the other members of the Cat family.

"A neighbor of his in that same country is the queerest looking
member of the Cat family.  He is called the Jaguarundi Cat or
Eyra.  Sometimes he is dressed in dull gray and sometimes in rusty
red.  His body is shaped more like that of Little Joe Otter than
of any one else, and he has short legs and a long tail.  He is a
little larger than Little Joe, and his head is rather small and
somewhat flattened, not so round as the heads of most of the
other members of the Cat family.  He likes to be in the vicinity
of water and is a good swimmer.  Not very much is known by man
about his habits, but he is a true Cat, and the habits of all
Cats are much the same."



CHAPTER XXXI  Bobby Coon Arrives

Old Mother Nature was just about to open school when a slight noise
up the Lone Little Path drew all eyes in that direction.  There,
shuffling down the Lone Little Path, was a queer looking fellow.
No one needed more than one look at that funny, sharp, black and
white face of his to recognize him.

"Bobby Coon!" shouted Peter Rabbit.  "Are you coming to join our
school, Bobby?"

Bobby shuffled along a little nearer, then sat up and blinked at
them sleepily.  No one needed to be told that Bobby had been out
all night.  He rubbed his eyes and yawned.  "Hello, everybody,"
said he.  "I wish I felt as bright and lively as all of you look.
I'd like to join your school, but I'm afraid if I did I would go
to sleep right in the middle of the lesson.  I ought to have been
home an hour ago.  So I guess I'll have to be excused."

Old Mother Nature pointed an accusing finger at Bobby Coon.
"Bobby," said she, "You've been getting in mischief.  Now own up
you've been stealing some of that sweet, milky corn from Farmer
Brown's cornfield."

Bobby Coon hung his head.  "I--I--I don't think it was stealing," he
mumbled.  "That corn just grows, and I don't see why I shouldn't have
my share of it.  I help myself to other things, so why shouldn't I
help myself to that?"

"I'll tell you why," replied Old Mother Nature.  "Farmer Brown
planted that corn and took care of it.  If he hadn't planted it,
there wouldn't have been any corn there.  That makes it his corn.
If it grew wild, you would have a perfect right to it.  As it is,
you haven't any right to it at all.  Now take my advice, Bobby, and
keep away from that cornfield.  If you don't, you will get in trouble.
One of these fine nights Bowser the Hound will find you there and you
will have to run for your life.  Keep away from temptation."

"But that corn is so good," sighed Bobby Coon, smacking his lips.
"There is nothing I like better than sweet, milky corn, and if I
don't get it from Farmer Brown's cornfield, I can't get it at all,
for it doesn't grow wild.  He'll never miss the little I take."

Old Mother Nature shook her head and looked very grave.  "Bobby,"
said she, "that is no excuse at all.  Mark what I say: If you keep
on you certainly will get in trouble.  If you would be satisfied
to take just an ear or two, I don't believe Farmer Brown would care,
but you know very well that you spoil many times what you eat.  You
sample one ear, then think that probably the next ear will be better
and sweeter and you try that.  By the time you get through you have
spoiled a lot, and eaten only a little.  I think I'll punish you a
little myself by keeping you here a while.  If you think you can't
keep awake, just go over and sit down there by Prickly Porky; he'll
keep you awake."

"I--I think I can keep awake," stammered Bobby and opened his eyes
very wide as if he were trying to stretch his eyelids so as to make
them stay open.

"I'll help you by asking you a few questions," replied Old Mother
Nature.  "Who is it that people sometimes call you the little
cousin of?"

Bobby grinned. "Buster Bear," said he.

"That's right," replied Old Mother Nature.

"Of course, being a Raccoon, you are not a Bear, but you are related
to the Bear family.  I want you all to notice Bobby's footprints
over yonder.  You will see that the print of his hind foot shows
the whole foot, heels and toes, and is a lot like Buster Bear's
footprint on a small scale.  Bobby shuffles along in much the same
way that Buster walks.  No one ever mistakes Bobby Coon for any one
else.  There is no danger that any one ever will as long as he
carries that big, bushy tail with its broad black and gray rings.
There is only one other in all this great country with a tail so
marked, and that is a relative of Bobby's of whom I will tell you
later.  And there is no other face like Bobby's with its black
cheeks.  You will notice that Bobby is rather small around the
shoulders, but is big and heavy around the hips.  That gives him
a clumsy look, but he is anything but clumsy.  Despite the fact
that his legs are not very long Bobby is a very good runner.
However, he doesn't do any running unless he has to.  Bobby, where
were you before you went over to Farmer Brown's cornfield?"

Once more Bobby hung his head.  It was quite clear that Bobby
didn't want to answer that question.  But Old Mother Nature
insisted, and finally Bobby blurted it out.  "I was up to Farmer
Brown's hen house," said he.

"What for?" asked Old Mother Nature.

"Oh, just to look around," replied Bobby.

"To look around for what?" insisted Old Mother Nature.

"Well," said Bobby, "I thought one of those Hens up there might
have dropped an egg that she didn't really care about."

"Bobby," said Old Mother Nature sternly, "why don't you own up
that you went over there to try to steal eggs?  Or did you think
you might catch a tender young Chicken?  Where were you night
before last?"

"Over at the Laughing Brook and the Smiling Pool," replied Bobby
promptly, evidently glad the subject had been changed.

"Well, you didn't find sweet corn or eggs or Chickens over there,
did you?" said Old Mother Nature.

"No, but I caught three of the sweetest tasting little fish in a
little pool in the Laughing Brook, and I got some of the tenderest
Clams I've ever eaten," replied Bobby, smacking his lips.  "I raked
them out of the mud and opened them.  Down at the Smiling Pool I
had a lot of fun catching young Frogs.  I certainly do like Frogs.
It is great sport to catch them, and they are fine eating."

"I suppose you have had an eye on the beech trees and the wild
grape-vines," said Old Mother Nature slyly.

Bobby's face brightened.  "Indeed I have," said he.  "There will
be splendid crops of beechnuts and grapes this fall.  My, but
they will taste good!"

Old Mother Nature laughed.  "There is small danger that you will go
hungry," said she.  "When you can't find enough to eat times must
be very hard indeed.  For the benefit of the others you might add
that in addition to the things mentioned you eat other fruits,
including berries, insects of various kinds, birds when you can
catch them, Mice, Turtles, in fact almost anything that can be
eaten.  You are not at all fussy about the kind of food.  But
you have one habit in regard to your food which it would be well
if some of these other little folks followed.  Do you know what
it is?"

Bobby shook his head.  "No," said he, "not unless you mean the
habit I have of washing my food.  If there is any water near,
I always like to take what I am going to eat over to it and wash
it; somehow it tastes better."

"Just so," replied Old Mother Nature.  "More than once I've seen
you in the moonlight beside the Laughing Brook washing your food,
and it has always pleased me, for there is nothing like cleanliness
and neatness.  Did you raise a family this year, Bobby?"

"Mrs. Coon did.  We had four of the finest youngsters you have ever
seen over in a certain big hollow tree.  They are getting big and
lively now, and go out with their mother every night.  I do hope
the hunters will leave them alone this fall.  I hate to think of
anything happening to them.  If they can just get through the
hunting season safely, I'll enjoy my winter sleep better, and I
know Mrs. Coon will."

At this Johnny Chuck pricked up his ears.  "Do you sleep all
winter, Bobby?" he asked eagerly.

"Not all winter, but a good part of it," replied Bobby.  "I don't
turn in until the weather gets pretty cold, and it is hard to find
anything to eat.  But after the first snow I'm usually ready to
sleep.  Then I curl up in a warm bed of leaves in a certain big
hollow tree, and don't care how cold or stormy the weather is.
Sometimes I wake up once or twice, when the weather is mild, and
take a little walk around for exercise.  But I don't go far and
soon return to sleep."

"What do you do when Bowser the Hound gets after you?" asked
Peter Rabbit.

"Run till I get out of breath," replied Bobby.  "And if by that time
I haven't been able to fool him so that he loses my trail, I take to
a tree.  Thank goodness, he can't climb a tree.  Sometimes I climb
from the top of one tree into the top of another, and sometimes
into a third and then a fourth, when they are near enough together.
That fools the hunters, if they follow Bowser."

"Have you any relatives, Bobby?" asked Old Mother Nature.

"I didn't know I had until you mentioned that fellow with the ringed
tail you said you would tell us about.  I didn't know there was
anybody with a tail like mine, and I would like to know about it,"
replied Bobby.

"He isn't exactly a Raccoon, but he is more nearly related to you
than any one else," replied Old Mother Nature.  "His tail shows
that.  Aside from this, he is nothing like you at all.  He is
called the Ring-tailed Cat.  But he doesn't look any more like a
Cat than he does like you, and he isn't related to the Cat family
at all.  He has several names.  He is called the Bassaris, the
Civet Cat, Ring-tailed Cat, Coon Cat and Cacomixtle.  Instead of
being thick and clumsy-looking, as is Bobby here, he is long and
rather slender, with a yellowish-brown coat, somewhat grayish on
the back and whitish underneath.  His head is rather small, long
and beautifully shaped.  His ears are of good size and very pretty.
In some ways he looks like Reddy Fox.  But the really beautiful
thing about him is his tail.  It is nearly as long as his body,
thick and beautifully marked with black and white bands.

"He is quick and graceful in his movements, and, like Bobby, prefers
to be abroad at night.  Also, like Bobby, he eats about everything
that he can find--flesh, reptiles, fruit, nuts and insects.  He
lives in the Far Southwest, and also in some of the mountains of
the Far West.  Why he should be called Civet Cat is more than I can
guess, for he is neither a Civet nor a Cat.  He is very clever at
catching Mice, and sometimes he is kept as a pet, just as Farmer
Brown keeps Black Pussy, to catch the Mice about the homes of men.

"Now, Bobby, you can trot along home, and I hope all that green
corn you have eaten will not give you the stomach ache.  To-morrow
we will see what we can find out about Buster Bear."



CHAPTER XXXII  Buster Bear Nearly Breaks Up School

"Has Buster Bear a tail?" asked Old Mother Nature, and her
eyes twinkled.

"No," declared Whitefoot the Wood Mouse promptly.

"Yes," contradicted Chatterer the Red Squirrel.

"What do you say, Prickly Porky?" Old Mother Nature asked.

"I don't think he has any; if he has, I've never seen it," said
Prickly Porky.

"That's because you've got poor eyes," spoke up Jumper the Hare.
"He certainly has a tail.  It isn't much of a one, but it is a
tail.  I know because I've seen it many times."

"Woof, woof," said a deep, rumbly, grumbly voice.  "What's going
on here?  Who is it hasn't any tail?"

At the sound of that deep, rumbly, grumbly voice it looked for a
few minutes as if school would be broken up for that day.  There
was the same mad scrambling to get away that there had been the
morning Reddy Fox unexpectedly appeared.  However, there was this
difference: When Reddy appeared, most of the little people sought
safe hiding places, but now they merely ran to safe distances,
and there turned to stare with awe and great respect at the owner
of that deep, rumbly, grumbly voice.  It was great, big Buster
Bear himself.

Buster stood up on his hind legs, like a man, and his small eyes,
for they are small for his size, twinkled with fun as he looked
around that awe filled circle.  "Don't let me interrupt," said
he.  "I heard about this school and I thought I would just pay a
friendly visit.  There is nothing for you to fear.  I have just
had my breakfast and I couldn't eat another mouthful to save me,
not even such a tender morsel as Whitefoot the Wood Mouse."

Whitefoot hurriedly ran a little farther away, and Buster Bear
chuckled.  Then he looked over at Old Mother Nature.  "Won't you
tell them that I'm the best-natured and most harmless fellow in
all the Great World?" he asked.

Old Mother Nature smiled.  "That depends on the condition of your
stomach," said she.  "If it is as full as you say it is, and I know
you wouldn't tell me an untruth, not even timid Whitefoot has
anything to fear from you."  Then she told all the little people
to put aside their fears and return.

Buster, seeing that some of the more timid were still fearful,
backed off a short distance and sat down on his haunches.  "What
was that about a tail I overheard as I came up?" he asked.

"It was a little discussion as to whether or not you have a tail,"
replied Old Mother Nature.  "Some say you have, and some say you
haven't.  Whitefoot thinks you haven't."

Once more Buster Bear chuckled way down deep in his throat.
"Whitefoot never in his life looked at me long enough to know
whether I've got a tail or not," said he.  "I never yet have
seen him until now, when he wasn't running away as fast as his
legs could take him.  So with me always behind him, how could he
tell whether or not I have a tail?"

"Well, have you?" demanded Peter Rabbit bluntly.

"What do you think?" asked Buster.

"I think you have," said Peter.  "But if you have you are sitting
down on it and I can't tell.  It can't be much of a one, anyhow."

Again Buster chuckled.  "Quite right, Peter; quite right," said
he.  "I've got a tail, but hardly enough of a one to really call
it a tail."

As Buster sat there, every one had a splendid chance to see just
how he looked.  His coat was all black; in fact he was black all
over, with the exception of his nose, which was brown.  His fur
was long and rather shaggy.  His ears were round.  His paws were
big and armed with strong, wicked looking claws.

"You all see what a black coat Buster has," said Old Mother Nature.
"Now I'm going to tell you something which may surprise you.  Just
as there are Red Foxes that are black, so there are Black Bears
that are brown."

"What's that?" grunted Buster, with the funniest look of surprise
on his face.

"It's a fact, Buster," said Old Mother Nature.  "A great many of
your family live out in the mountains of the Far West, and there
quite often there will be one who is all brown.  People used to
think that these brown Bears were a different kind of Bear, and
called them Cinnamon Bears.  It was a long, long time before it
was found out that those brown Bears are really black Bears.
Sometimes one of the twin babies will be all black and the other
all brown.  Sometimes one of Buster's family will have a white
spot on his breast.  Buster's branch of the family is found in
nearly all of the wooded parts of the entire country.  In the
Sunny South they live in the swamps and do not grow as big as in
the North.  Buster, there is a soft spot on the ground; I want
you to walk across it so that these little folks can see your
footprints."

Good-naturedly Buster dropped on all fours and walked across the
soft spot.  Right away every one understood why Old Mother Nature
had asked Buster to do this.  The prints of his hind feet were
very like the prints of Farmer Brown's boy when barefooted, only
of course very much larger.  You see, they showed the print of
the heel as well as the rest of the foot.

"You see," said Old Mother Nature, "Buster puts his whole foot on
the ground, while all members of the Dog and Cat families walk
wholly on their toes.  Animals that put the whole foot down are
called plantigrade.  How big do you think Buster was when he
was born?"

"Of course I'm only guessing," said Chatterer the Red Squirrel,
"but he is such a big fellow that I think he must have been a
bouncing big baby."

Old Mother Nature smiled.  "I don't wonder you think so," said she.
"The fact is, however, Buster was a very tiny and very helpless
little chap.  He was just about the size of one of Prickly Porky's
babies.  He was no bigger than a Rat.  He was born in the middle of
winter and didn't get his eyes open for forty days.  It was two
months before he poked his head outside the den in which he was
born, to find out what the Great World was like.  At that time he
wasn't much bigger than Peter Rabbit, and he and his twin sister
were as lively a pair of youngsters and as full of mischief as
any Bears the Green Forest has ever seen.  You might tell us,
Buster, what you live on."

Buster's eyes snapped. "I live on anything I can eat, and I can
eat most everything.  I suppose a lot of people think I live
almost wholly on the little people who are my neighbors, but that
is a mistake.  I do catch Mice when I am lucky enough to find them
where I can dig them out, and they certainly are good eating."

At this Whitefoot the Wood Mouse and Danny Meadow Mouse hastily
scurried farther away, and Buster's eyes twinkled with mischief.
"Of course I don't mind a Rabbit either, if I am lucky enough to
catch one," said he, and Peter Rabbit quickly backed off a few
steps.  "In fact I like meat of any kind," continued Buster.  "But
the greater part of my food isn't meat at all.  In the spring I
dig up roots of different kinds, and eat tender grass shoots and
some bark and twigs from young trees.  When the insects appear
they help out wonderfully.  I am very fond of Ants.  I pull over
all the old logs and tear to pieces all the old stumps I can find,
and lick up the Ants and their eggs that I am almost sure to find
there.  Almost any kind of insect tastes good to me if there are
enough of them.  I love to find and dig open the nests of Wasps
that make their homes in the ground, and of course I suppose you
all know that there is nothing in the world I like better than
honey.  If I can find a Bee nest I am utterly happy.  For the sake
of the honey, I am perfectly willing to stand all the stinging the
Bees can give me.  I like fish and I love to hunt Frogs.  When the
berry season begins, I just feast.  In the fall I get fat on
beechnuts and acorns.  The fact is, there isn't much I don't like."

"I've been told you sleep all winter," said Johnny Chuck.

"That depends on the winter," replied Buster Bear.  "I don't go to
sleep until I have to.  I don't have to as long as I can find
enough to eat.  If the winter begins early, with bad weather, I
make a comfortable bed of leaves in a cave or under a big pile
of fallen trees or even in a hollow log, if I can find one big
enough.  Then I go to sleep for the rest of the winter.  But if
the winter is mild and open and there is a chance of finding
anything to eat, I sleep only in the really bad weather."

"Do you try to get fat before going to sleep, the way I do?" asked
Johnny Chuck.

Buster grinned.  "Yes, Johnny, I try," said he, "and usually I
succeed.  You see, I need to be fat in order to keep warm and also
to have something to live on in the spring, just the same as you do.

"I've been told that you can climb, but as I don't live in the Green
Forest I have never seen you climb.  I should think it would be slow
work for such a big fellow as you to climb a tree," said Johnny Chuck.

Buster looked up at Happy Jack Squirrel and winked.  Then he walked
over to the tree in which Happy Jack was sitting, stood up and
suddenly began to scramble up the tree.  There was nothing slow
about the way Buster Bear went up that tree.  Happy Jack squealed
with sudden fright and started for the top of that tree as only
Happy Jack can climb.  Then he made a flying jump to the next tree.
Halfway up Buster stopped.  Then he began to come down.  He came
down tail first.  When he was within ten feet of the ground he
simply let go and dropped.

"I did that just to show you how I get out of a tree when I am
really in a hurry," explained Buster.  "I don't climb trees much
now unless it is for honey, but when I was a little fellow I used
to love to climb trees."

Suddenly Buster sat up very straight and pointed his nose up in
the wind.  An anxious look crept into his face.  He cocked his ears
as if listening with all his might.  That is just what he was doing.
Presently he dropped down to all fours.  "Excuse me," said he, "I
think I had better be going.  Farmer Brown is coming down the Lone
Little Path."

Buster turned and disappeared at a speed that was simply astonishing
in such a clumsy-looking fellow.  Old Mother Nature laughed.
"Buster's eyes are not very good," said she, "but there is nothing
the matter with his nose or with his ears.  If Buster says that
Farmer Brown is coming down the Lone Little Path, there is no doubt
that he is, although he may be some distance away yet.  Buster has
been smart enough to learn that he has every reason to fear man,
and he promptly takes himself out of the way at the first hint that
man is near.  It is a funny thing, but most men are as afraid of
Buster as Buster is of them, and they haven't the least need of
being afraid at all.  Where man is concerned there isn't one of
you little people more timid than Buster Bear.  The faintest smell
of man will make him run.  If he should be wounded or cornered, he
would fight.  Mrs. Bear would fight to protect her babies, but these
are the only conditions under which a Black Bear will face a man.
You think Buster is big, and he is, but Buster has relatives very
much bigger than he.  He has one beside whom he would look actually
small.  I'll tell you a little about these cousins of Buster."



CHAPTER XXXIII  Buster Bear's Big Cousins

Buster Bear had been right about the coming of Farmer Brown.  It
was only a few minutes after Buster's disappearance that Farmer
Brown's footsteps were heard coming down the Lone Little Path,
and of course that ended school for that morning.  But the next
morning all were on hand again at sun-up, for every one wanted to
hear about Buster Bear's big cousins.

"Way out in the mountains of the Far West, where Whistler the
Marmot and Little Chief the Pika live, is a big cousin of Buster
Bear," began Old Mother Nature.  "He is Silvertip the Grizzly
Bear, and in the past no animal in all this great country was so
feared by man, as he.  But times have changed, and Silvertip has
been so hunted with terrible guns that he has learned to fear man
quite as much as Buster does.

"He is larger than Buster and possessed of tremendous strength.
Instead of a black coat, he has a coat which varies from
yellowish-brown to almost black.  The tips of the hairs usually are
lighter, giving him a frosted appearance, and this is what has given him
his name.  His claws are longer and more curved than those of Buster; in
fact those claws are so big that they look very terrible. Because they
are so long, Silvertip cannot climb trees.  But if they prevent him
climbing trees they are the finest kind of tools for digging out Marmots
and ground Squirrels.  Even when Whistler the Marmot makes his home down
in among the rocks, he is not safe. Silvertip's strength is so great
that he can pull over and roll aside great rocks.

"He is a great traveler and covers a wide range of country in his
search for food.  Sometimes he visits the Cattle ranges and kills
Cattle.  So great is his strength that he can kill a Cow with ease.
Clumsy looking as he is, he is a very fast runner, and only a fast
Horse can outrun him.  Like Buster, he lives on anything he can
find that is eatable.  He has been so hunted by man that he has
become very cunning, and in all the great mountains where he lives
there is no one with quicker wits.  At certain seasons of the year
great numbers of a fish called Salmon come up the rivers in that
country, and then Silvertip lives high.  He watches beside a pool
until a Salmon swims within reach; then, with a swift movement of
one paw, he scoops the fish on to the bank.  Or he finds a place
where the water is so shallow that the fish have difficulty in
getting across, and there he seizes them as they struggle up the
river.  In winter he sleeps just as Buster does, usually in a
well-hidden cave.

"Mrs. Silvertip is a splendid mother.  Usually the cubs, of which
as a rule there are two, remain with her until they are a year old.
Both Buster Bear and Silvertip have a queer habit of standing up
against a tree and biting it as high up as they can reach.  The
next Bear who comes along that way sees the mark and makes his
own on the same tree.  Silvertip knows every inch of that part of
the country in which he lives and always picks out the best way
of getting from one place to another.  He is one of the finest
animals in this country, and it is a matter for sadness that his
splendid race will soon come to an end unless man makes laws to
protect him from the hunters.  In very many places where he used
to be found he lives no longer.

"Silvertip is not so good-natured as Buster, but all he asks is
to be left alone.  Of course when he turns Cattle killer he is
getting into the worst possible kind of mischief and man cannot
be blamed for hunting him.  But it is only now and then that one
of Silvertip's family turns Cattle killer.  The others do no harm.

"I told you yesterday that Buster Bear has one cousin beside whom
he would look small.  This is Bigfoot the Alaska or Great Brown
Bear, who lives in the extreme northwest part of the continent.
Even Silvertip would look small beside him.  He is a giant, the
largest flesh-eating animal in all the great world.  His coat is
dark brown.  When he stands up on his hind legs, he is almost half
again as tall as a tall man.  He stands very high at the shoulders
and his head is very large.  Like the other members of the Bear
family, he eats all sorts of things.  He hunts for Mice and other
small animals, digs up roots, stuffs himself with berries, and at
times grazes on a kind of wild grass, just as Cattle might do.  He
is a great fish eater, for fish are very plentiful in the streams
in the country where he lives.  Big as he is, he has learned to
fear man just as Silvertip has.  Occasionally when surprised he
has been known to attack man and kill him, but as a rule he will
run at the first hint of man's approach.

"The last of the Bear cousins is Snow King the Polar Bear.  Snow
King is king of the Frozen North.  He lives in the region of snow
and ice, and his coat is all white.  He also is a big Bear, and of
somewhat different shape from his cousins.  He is longer, and has
a much longer neck and a long head.  His ears are rather small and
close to his head.  Snow King lives the year round where it would
seem that no animal could live, and he manages to live well.
Though his home is in the coldest part of the Great World, he does
not mind the cold at all.

"More than any other member of the Bear family, Snow King is a
flesh eater.  This is because only in certain places, and then only
for a few weeks in midsummer, is there any plant life.  He is a
great fisherman, and fish furnish him a great deal of his food.  In
that far northern country are great numbers of animals who live in
the ocean, but come ashore to rest and bask in the sun, and to have
their babies there.  They are Seals, Sea Lions and Walruses.  I will
tell you about them later.  On these Snow King depends for much of
his food.  He is himself a wonderful swimmer, and often swims far
out in the icy water.

"Up there there are great fields of floating ice, and Snow King
swims from one to another in search of Seals, for they often
climb out on these ice fields, just as they do on shore.
Sometimes Mrs. Bear takes her cubs for long swims.  When they
become tired, one will climb on her back, and the other will
seize her tail, so she will carry one and tow the other.

"Snow King's babies are born in a house of snow.  Early in the
winter Mrs. Bear finds a sheltered place where the snow will drift
over her.  There she goes to sleep, and the snow drifts and drifts
over her until she is buried deep.  You might think she would be
cold, but she isn't, for the snow keeps her warm.  Her breath melts
a little hole up through the snow, so that she always has air.
There the babies are born, and there they remain, just as Buster
Bear's remain in their home, until they are big enough to follow
their mother about.  Then she breaks her way out in the spring, and
leads her cubs forth to teach them how to take care of themselves.
Snow King, himself, does not sleep through the winter, but roams
about, just as in the summer.

"Snow King is fearless and has not yet learned to dread man, as
have his cousins.  He will not hesitate to attack man and is
terrible to meet at close quarters.  Because he lives in that far,
cold country, he is not hunted as much as other bears are.  Besides
the Seals and fish, he sometimes catches an Arctic Hare.  In the
summer great numbers of Ducks and other sea birds nest in that
far northern country, and their eggs and young add to Snow King's
bill of fare.  His white coat is so in keeping with his surroundings
that it is of the greatest aid to him in his hunting.  It is a
very beautiful coat and makes him the most beautiful of all the
Bear family.

"Now this is all about the Bears, and also it is all about the order
of flesh eaters, or Carnivora.  I think that next we will see what
we can find out about a certain little friend of yours, who, though
he eats flesh, is not a member of the flesh-eating order at all, but
belongs to an order of which he is the only member in this country.
I will leave you to guess who it is."



CHAPTER XXXIV  Unc' Billy and Old Mrs. Possum

All the way home from school Peter Rabbit did his best to think who
it could be who ate flesh, yet wasn't a member of the order of
flesh eaters.  Every few hops he would stop to think, but all his
stopping and all his thinking were in vain, and when he started
for school the next morning he was as puzzled as ever.  On his way
through the Green Forest he passed a certain tree.  He was just
past and no more when a familiar voice hailed him.

"Morning, Bre'r Rabbit," said the voice.  "What's yo' hurry?"  Peter
stopped abruptly and looked up in that tree.  There, peering down at
him from a hole high up in the trunk, was a sharp, whitish-gray face,
with a pair of twinkling black eyes.

"Hello, Unc' Billy," cried Peter.  "How are you and Ol' Mrs. Possum?"

"Po'ly, Peter, Po'ly.  We-uns haven't had breakfast yet, so we-uns
are feeling po'ly," replied Unc' Billy with a grin.

A sudden thought popped into Peter's head.  "Unc' Billy," cried
Peter excitedly, "are you a Carnivora?"

Unc' poked his head a little farther out and put his hand behind
his ear as if he were a little hard of hearing.  "What's that,
Bre'r Rabbit?  Am I a what?" he demanded.

"Are you a Carnivora?" repeated Peter.

"Ah reckons Ah might be if Ah knew what it was, but as long as Ah
don't, Ah reckons I ain't," retorted Unc' Billy.  "Ah reckons Ah'm
just plain Possum.  When Ah wants to be real uppity, Ah puts on an
'o.'  Then Ah am Mister Opossum."

But Peter wasn't listening.  The fact is, Peter had started
lipperty-lipperty-lip for school, without even being polite enough
to say good-by.  He arrived at school quite out of breath.  "I
know!" he panted.  "I know!"

"What do you know?" asked Old Mother Nature.

"I know who it is who eats flesh, yet doesn't belong to the order
of flesh eaters.  It's Unc' Billy Possum!" cried Peter.

"Right you are," replied Old Mother Nature.  "However did you find
it out?"

"I didn't exactly find it out; I guessed it," replied Peter.  "On
my way here I saw Unc' Billy, and it popped into my head right
away that he was one we haven't heard about, and must be the one.
But if he eats flesh, I don't see why he isn't a member of the
order of flesh eaters."

"It is because he belongs to a group which has something which
makes them entirely different from all other animals, and for
this reason they have been given an order of their own," explained
Old Mother Nature.  "They belong to the order of Marsupials,
which means pouched animals.  It is because the mothers have big
pockets in which they carry their babies.  Old Mrs. Possum has
just such a pocket."

"Of course," exclaimed Peter.  "I've seen those babies poking
their heads out of that pocket.  They look too funny for anything."

"The Opossums are the only Marsupials in this country," continued
Old Mother Nature.  "Now have I made it quite clear why, although
they eat flesh, Unc' Billy and Ol' Mrs. Possum are not members of
the same big order as Buster Bear and the other flesh eaters?"

Everybody nodded.  Just then Chatterer the Red Squirrel shouted,
"Here comes Unc' Billy, Ol' Mrs. Possum and all the little Possums."

Sure enough, down the Lone Little Path came the Possum family, and
a funny looking sight they were.  Unc' Billy was whitish-gray, his
face whiter than the rest of him.  He looked as if he had just
gotten out of bed and forgotten to brush his hair; it pointed every
which way.  His legs were dark, his feet black and his toes white.
His ears were without any hair at all, and were black for the lower
half, the rest being white.  He had a long whitish tail without any
hair on it.  Altogether, with his sharp face and naked tail, he
looked a great deal as though he might be a giant Rat.

But if Unc' Billy was a funny-looking fellow, Ol' Mrs. Possum was
even more funny-looking.  She seemed to have heads and tails all
over her.  You see, she had brought along her family, and Ol' Mrs.
Possum is one of those who believe in large families.  There were
twelve youngsters, and they were exactly like their parents, only
small.  They were clinging all over Ol' Mrs. Possum.  Some were on
her back, some were clinging to her sides, and a couple were in
the big pocket, where they had spent their babyhood.

"We--all done thought we'd come to school," explained Unc' Billy
with a grin.

"I'm glad you did," replied Old Mother Nature.  "You see, the rest
of your friends here are a little curious about the Possum family."

Meanwhile Ol' Mrs. Possum was climbing a tree, and when she had
reached a comfortable crotch the little Possums left her and began
to play about in the tree.  It was then that it appeared what handy
things those naked little tails were.  When the little Possums
crawled out where the branches were small, they simply wrapped
their tails around the twigs to keep from falling.

"My!" exclaimed Peter.  "Those certainly are handy tails."

"Handiest tails ever was," declared Unc' Billy.  "Don't know what
Ah ever would do without mah tail."

"Suppose you climb a tree, Unc' Billy, and show your friends here
how you manage to get the eggs from a nest that you cannot reach
by crawling along the branch on which it is placed," said Old
Mother Nature.

Unc' Billy grinned, and good-naturedly started up a tree.  He crept
out on a branch that overhung another branch.  Way out where the
branch was small crept Unc' Billy.  Then he wrapped the end of his
tail around the branch and swung himself off, keeping hold of the
branch only with his tail and one hind foot. Then, stretching down
full length, he could just reach the branch below him. "You see,"
he explained, "if there was a nest on this branch down here, Ah
could get those eggs without any trouble.  Ah wish there was a
nest.  Just speaking of eggs makes mah mouth water."  Again Unc'
Billy grinned and then pulled himself back to the other branch.

Old Mother Nature shook her head reprovingly.  "Unc' Billy," said
she, "you are a bad old rascal to steal eggs.  What's more, it
doesn't matter to you much whether you find eggs or young birds
in a nest.  It is a wonder that between you and Chatterer the Red
Squirrel any of the birds succeed in raising families around
here.  Have you visited Farmer Brown's hen house lately?"

Unc' Billy shook his head.  "Not lately," said he; "Ah done got
a dreadful scare the last time Ah was up there, and Ah reckons
Ah'll stay away from there for a while."

"What else do you eat?" asked Old Mother Nature.

"Anything," replied Unc' Billy.  "Ah reckons Ah ain't no ways
particular--insects, roots, Frogs, Toads, small Snakes, Lizards,
berries, fruits, nuts, young Rats and Mice, corn, any old meat
that has been left lying around.  Ah reckon Ah could find a meal
most any time most anywhere."

"Do you always have as big a family as you have there?" asked
Peter Rabbit.

"Not always," replied Unc' Billy.  "But sometimes Mrs. Possum
has to tote around a still bigger family. We believe in chillun
and lots of them. We reckon on havin' two or three big families
every year."

"Where is your home?" asked Johnny Chuck.  "I know," said Peter
Rabbit.  "It's up in a big hollow tree."

Unc' Billy looked down at Peter.  "'Tisn't at all necessary to
tell anybody where that hollow tree is, Bre'r Rabbit," said he.

"Are Possums found anywhere except around here?" inquired
Happy Jack.

"Yes, indeed," replied Old Mother Nature.  "They are found all down
through the Sunny South, and in the warmer parts of the Middle West.
Unc' Billy and his relatives are not fond of cold weather.  They
prefer to be where they can be reasonably warm all the year round.

"Some folks think Unc' Billy isn't smart, but those folks don't
know Unc' Billy.  He learned a long time ago that he can't run as
fast as some others, so he has learned to depend on his wits in
time of danger.  What do you think he does?"

"I know," cried Peter; "I saw him do it once.  Farmer Brown's boy
surprised Unc' Billy, and Unc' Billy just fell right over dead."

"Pooh!  That's a story, Peter Rabbit.  How could Unc' Billy have
fallen over dead and be alive up in that tree this very minute?"
cried Happy Jack.

"I didn't mean he was really dead, but that he looked as if he
were dead," explained Peter.  "And he did, too.  He was the deadest
looking thing I ever saw.  I thought he was dead myself.  I was
watching from a bramble tangle where I was hiding, and I certainly
thought the life had been scared right out of Unc' Billy.  I guess
Farmer Brown's boy thought so too.  He picked Unc' Billy up by the
tail, and looked him all over, and said, 'You poor little thing. I
didn't mean to hurt you.'  Unc' Billy didn't so much as wink an eye.
Farmer Brown's boy went off up the path carrying Unc' Billy by the
tail.  By and by he laid Unc' Billy down on an old stump while he
went to look at a nest of Blacky the Crow.  When he came back Unc'
Billy wasn't there.  I never did see Unc' Billy hurry as he did
the minute Farmer Brown's boy's back was turned.  He came to life
as suddenly as he had dropped dead."

"Very good, Peter," said Old Mother Nature.  "Some other smart
little people try that trick sometimes, but none of them can do
it as well as Unc' Billy Possum.  Pretending to be dead in order
to remain alive is the cleverest thing Unc' Billy does.  Now how
about Lightfoot the Deer for the next lesson?"

"Splendid," cried all together and prepared to start for their homes.



CHAPTER XXXV  Lightfoot, Blacktail and Forkhorn

Of all the people who live in the Green Forest none is more admired
than Lightfoot the Deer.  So perhaps you can guess how delighted
every one was when, just as the morning lesson was to begin,
Lightfoot himself stepped daintily out from a thicket and bowed
to Old Mother Nature.

"I heard," said he, "that my little friends here are to learn
something about my family this morning, and thought you would not
mind if I joined them."

"I should say not!" exclaimed Peter Rabbit forgetting that Lightfoot
had spoken to Old Mother Nature.

All laughed, even Old Mother Nature.  You see, Peter was so very
much in earnest, and at the same time so excited, that it really
was funny.

"Peter has spoken for all of us," said Old Mother Nature.  "You
are more than welcome, Lightfoot.  I had intended to send for you,
but it slipped my mind.  I am delighted to have you here and I know
that the others are.  I suspect you will be most comfortable if you
lie down, but before you do this I want everybody to have a good
look at you.  Just stand for a few minutes in that little open
space where all can see you."

Lightfoot walked over to the open space where the sun fell full on
him and there he stood, a picture of grace and beauty with just
enough honest pride in his appearance to give him an air of noble
dignity.  There was more than one little gasp of admiration among
his little neighbors.

"There," began Old Mother Nature, "is one of the most beautiful
of all my children, and the knowledge that he is beautiful does
not spoil him.  Lightfoot belongs to the Deer family, as you all
know, and this in turn is in the order called Ungulata, which
means hoofed."

Peter Rabbit abruptly sat up, and his ears stood up like exclamation
points.  "Farmer Brown's cows have those funny feet called hoofs;
are they related to Lightfoot?" he asked eagerly.

"They belong to another family, but it is in the same order.  So
they are distant cousins of Lightfoot," replied Old Mother Nature.

"And Farmer Brown's Pigs, what about them?" asked Chatterer the
Red Squirrel.  "They also belong to that order and so are related,"
explained Old Mother Nature.

"Huh!" exclaimed Chatterer.  "If I were in Lightfoot's place I
never, never would acknowledge any such homely, stupid creatures
as those as relatives of mine."

"Don't forget that Prickly Porky the Porcupine and Robber the Rat
are members of the same order to which you belong," retorted Old
Mother Nature softly, and Chatterer hung his head.  "Lightfoot,"
she continued, "is the White-tailed or Virginia Deer, and is in
some ways the most beautiful of the Deer family.  You have only to
look at him to know that those slim legs of his are meant for speed.
He can go very fast, but not for long distances without stopping.
Like Peter Rabbit he is a jumper rather than a true runner, and
travels with low bounds with occasional high ones when alarmed.
He can make very long and high jumps, and this is one reason he
prefers to live in the Green Forest where there are fallen trees
and tangles of old logs.  If frightened he can leap over them,
whereas his enemies must crawl under or climb over or go around
them.  Ordinary fences, such as Farmer Brown has built around his
fields, do not bother Lightfoot in the least.  He can leap over
them as easily as Peter Rabbit can jump over that little log he
is sitting beside.

"Just now, because it is summer, Lightfoot's coat is decidedly
reddish in color and very handsome.  But in winter it is wholly
different."

"I know," spoke up Chatterer the Red Squirrel.  "It is gray then.
I've often seen Lightfoot in winter, and there isn't a red hair
on him at that season.

"Quite right," agreed Old Mother Nature.  "His red coat is for
summer only.  Notice that Lightfoot has a black nose.  That is, the
tip of it is black.  Beneath his chin is a black spot.  A band
across his nose, the inside of each ear and a circle around each
eye is whitish.  His throat is white and he is white beneath.  Now,
Peter, you are so interested in tails, tell me without looking
what color Lightfoot's tail is."

"White, snowy white," replied Peter promptly.  "I suppose that is
why he is called the White-tailed Deer."

"Huh!" grunted Johnny Chuck who happened to be sitting a little
back of Lightfoot, "I don't call it white.  It has a white edge,
but mostly it is the color of his coat."

Now while Lightfoot had been standing there his tail had hung down,
and it was as Johnny Chuck had said.  But at Johnny's remark up flew
Lightfoot's tail, showing only the under side.  It was like a pointed
white flag.  With it held aloft that way, no one behind Lightfoot
would suspect that his whole tail was not white.

"Notice how long and fluffy the hair on that tail is," said Old
Mother Nature.  "Mrs. Lightfoot's is just like it, and this makes
it very easy for her babies to follow her in the dark.  When
Lightfoot is feeding or simply walking about he carries it down,
but when he is frightened and bounds away, up goes that white
flag.  Now look at his horns.  They are not true horns.  The
latter are hollow, while these are not.  Farmer Brown's cows have
horns.  Lightfoot has antlers.  Just remember that.  The so-called
horns of all the Deer family are antlers and are not hollow.
Notice how Lightfoot's curve forward with the branches or tines
on the back side."

Of course everybody looked at Lightfoot's crown as he held his head
proudly.  "What is the matter with them?" asked Whitefoot the Wood
Mouse.  "They look to me as if they are covered with fur.  I always
supposed them to be hard like bone."

"So they will be a month from now," explained Old Mother Nature,
smiling down at Whitefoot.  "That which you call fur will come off.
He will rub it off against the trees until his antlers are polished,
and there is not a trace of it left.  You see Lightfoot has just
grown that set this summer."

"Do you mean those antlers?" asked Danny Meadow Mouse, looking very
much puzzled.  "Didn't he have any before?  How could things like
those grow, anyway?"

"Don't you know that he loses his horns, I mean antlers, every
year?" demanded Jumper the Hare.  "I thought every one knew that.
His old ones fell off late last winter.  I know, for I saw him
just afterward, and he looked sort of ashamed.  Anyway, he didn't
carry his head as proudly as he does now.  He looked a lot like
Mrs. Lightfoot; you know she hasn't any antlers."

"But how could hard, bony things like those grow?" persisted Danny
Meadow Mouse.

"I think I will have to explain," said Old Mother Nature.  "They
were not hard and bony when they were growing.  Just as soon as
Lightfoot's old antlers dropped off, the new ones started.  They
sprouted out of his head just as plants sprout out of the ground,
and they were soft and very tender and filled with blood, just
as all parts of your body are.  At first they were just two round
knobs.  Then these pushed out and grew and grew.  Little knobs
sprang out from them and grew to make the branches you see now.
All the time they were protected by a furry skin which looks a
great deal like what men call velvet.  When Lightfoot's antlers
are covered with this, they are said to be in the velvet state.

"When they had reached their full size they began to shrink and
harden, so that now they are quite hard, and very soon that velvet
will begin to come off.  When they were growing they were so tender
that Lightfoot didn't move about any more than was necessary and
kept quite by himself.  He was afraid of injuring those antlers.
By the time cool weather comes, Lightfoot will be quite ready to
use those sharp points on anybody who gets in his way.

"As Jumper has said, Mrs. Lightfoot has no antlers.  Otherwise she
looks much like Lightfoot, save that she is not quite as big.  Have
any of you ever seen her babies?"

"I have," declared Jumper, who, as you know, lives in the Green
Forest just as Lightfoot does.  "They are the dearest little
things and look like their mother, only they have the loveliest
spotted coats."

"That is to help them to remain unseen by their enemies," explained
Old Mother Nature.  When they lie down where the sun breaks through
the trees and spots the ground with light they seem so much like
their surroundings that unless they move they are not often seen
even by the sharpest eyes that may pass close by.  They lie with
their little necks and heads stretched flat on the ground and do
not move so much as a hair.  You see, they usually are very
obedient, and the first thing their mother teaches them is to keep
perfectly still when she leaves them.

"When they are a few months old and able to care for themselves a
little, the spots disappear.  As a rule Mrs. Lightfoot has two
babies each spring.  Once in a while she has three, but two is the
rule.  She is a good mother and always on the watch for possible
danger.  While they are very small she keeps them hidden in the
deepest thickets.  By the way, do you know that Lightfoot and Mrs.
Lightfoot are fine swimmers?"

Happy Jack Squirrel looked the surprise he felt.  "I don't see how
under the sun any one with little hoofed feet like Lightfoot's can
swim," said he.

"Nevertheless, Lightfoot is a good swimmer and fond of the water,"
replied Old Mother Nature.  "That is one way he has of escaping his
enemies.  When he is hard pressed by Wolves or Dogs he makes for
the nearest water and plunges in.  He does not hesitate to swim
across a river or even a small lake.

"Lightfoot prefers the Green Forest where there are close thickets
with here and there open places.  He likes the edge of the Green
Forest where he can come out in the open fields, yet be within a
short distance of the protecting trees and bushes.  He requires
much water and so is usually found not far from a brook, pond or
river.  He has a favorite drinking place and goes to drink early
in the morning and just at dusk.  During the day he usually sleeps
hidden away in a thicket or under a windfall, coming out late in
the afternoon.  He feeds mostly in the early evening.  He eats
grass and other plants, beechnuts and acorns, leaves and twigs
of certain trees, lily pads in summer and, I am sorry to say,
delights to get into Farmer Brown's garden, where almost every
green thing tempts him.

"Like so many others he has a hard time in winter, particularly
when the snows are deep.  Then he and Mrs. Lightfoot and their
children live in what is called a yard.  Of course it isn't really
a yard such as Farmer Brown has.  It is simply a place where they
keep the snow trodden down in paths which cross and cross, and is
made where there is shelter and food.  The food is chiefly twigs
and leaves of evergreen trees.  As the snow gets deeper and deeper
they become prisoners in the yard until spring comes to melt the
snow and set them free.

"Lightfoot depends for safety more on his nose and ears than on his
eyes.  His sense of smell is wonderful, and when he is moving about
he usually goes up wind; that is, in the direction from which the
wind is blowing.  This is so that it will bring to him the scent
of any enemy that may be ahead of him.  He is very clever and
cunning.  Often before lying down to rest he goes back a short
distance to a point where he can watch his trail, so that if any
one is following it he will have warning.

"His greatest enemy is the hunter with his terrible gun.  How any
one can look into those great soft eyes of Lightfoot and then even
think of trying to kill him is more than I can understand.  Dogs
are his next worst enemies when he lives near the homes of men.
When he lives where Wolves, Panthers and Bears are found, he has
to be always on the watch for them.  Tufty the Lynx is ever on the
watch for Lightfoot's babies.

"The White-tailed Deer is the most widely distributed of all the
Deer family.  He is found from the Sunny South to the great forests
of the North--everywhere but in the vast open plains of the middle
of this great country.  That is, he used to be.  In  many places
he has been so hunted by man that he has disappeared.  When he
lives in the Sunny South he never grows to be as big as when he
lives in the North.

"In the great mountains of the Far West lives a cousin, Blacktail,
also called Columbian Blacktailed Deer, and another cousin, Forkhorn
the Mule Deer.  Blacktail is nearly the size of Lightfoot.  He is not
quite so graceful, his ears are larger, being much like those of
Forkhorn the Mule Deer, to whom he is closely related, and his tail
is wholly black on the upper surface.  It is from this he gets his
name.  His antlers vary, sometimes being much like those of Lightfoot
and again like those of Forkhorn.  He is a lover of dense forests and
is not widely distributed.  He is not nearly so smart as Lightfoot in
outwitting hunters.

"Forkhorn the Mule Deer, sometimes called Jumping Deer, is larger
than Lightfoot and much more heavily built.  His big ears, much
like those of a Mule, have won for him the name of Mule Deer.  His
face is a dull white with a black patch on the forehead and a black
band under the chin.  His tail is rather short and is not broad at
the base like Lightfoot's.  It is white with a black tip.  Because
of this he is often called Blacktailed Deer, but this is wrong
because that name belongs to his cousin, the true Blacktail.

"Forkhorn's antlers are his glory.  They are even finer than
Lightfoot's.  The prongs, or tines, are in pairs like the letter Y
instead of in a row as are those of Lightfoot, and usually there
are two pairs on each antler.  Forkhorn prefers rough country and
there he is very much at home, his powers of jumping enabling him
to travel with ease where his enemies find it difficult to follow.
Like Blacktail he is not nearly so clever as Lightfoot the White-tail
and so is more easily killed by hunters.

"All these members of the Deer family belong to the round-horn
branch, and are very much smaller than the members of the flat-horn
branch.  But there is one who in size makes all the others look
small indeed.  It is Bugler the Elk, or Wapiti, of whom I shall
tell you to-morrow."



CHAPTER XXXVI  Bugler, Flathorns and Wanderhoof

Lightfoot the Deer was the first one on hand the next morning.  In
fact, he arrived before sun-up and, lying down in a little thicket
close at hand, made himself very comfortable to wait for the
opening of school.  You see, not for anything would he have missed
that lesson about his big cousins.  There the others found him
when they arrived.

"The Deer family," began Old Mother Nature, "is divided into two
branches--the round-horned and the flat-horned.  I have told you
about the round-horned Deer with the exception of the largest and
noblest, Bugler the Elk.  He is commonly called Elk, but his
right name is Wapiti.

"Bugler is found only in the great mountains of the Far West, but
once, before hunters with terrible guns came, Elk were found in
nearly all parts of this country excepting the Far South and the
Far North--even on the great plains.  Now Bugler lives only in the
forests of the great mountains."

"How big is he?" asked Lightfoot.

"So big that beside him you would look very small," replied Old
Mother Nature.  "Have you ever seen Farmer Brown's Horse?"

Lightfoot nodded.  "Well, Bugler stands as high as that Horse,"
replied Old Mother Nature.  "He isn't as heavy, for his body is of
different shape, not so big around, but at that he weighs three
times as much as you do.  In summer his coat is a light
yellowish-brown, becoming very dark on his neck and underneath.  His
legs are dark brown.  The hair on his neck is long and coarse.  His tail
is very small, and around it is a large patch so light in color as to be
almost whitish.  In winter his coat becomes dark gray.

"Bugler's crowning glory are his antlers.  They are very large and
wide-spreading, sweeping backward and upward, the long prongs, or
tines, curving upward from the front instead of from the back, as
in the case of Lightfoot's antlers.  Above each eye is a long sharp
prong.  So big are these antlers that Bugler looks almost as if
he were carrying a small, bare tree on his head.

"Big as these antlers are, they are grown in a few months for
Bugler is like his small cousins in that he loses his antlers at
the end of every winter and must grow a new pair.  While they are
growing, he hides in the wildest places he can find, high up on
the mountains.  Mrs. Bugler is at that time down in a valley with
her baby or babies.  Usually she has one, but sometimes twins.
She has no antlers.

"In the fall, when his antlers have hardened, Bugler moves down
to join his family.  The bigger and stronger he is, the bigger his
family is, for he has a number of wives and they all live together
in a herd or band of which Bugler is lord and master.  He is ready
and eager to fight for them, and terrible battles take place when
another disputes his leadership.  At this season he has a habit of
stretching his neck out and emitting a far-reaching trumpet-like
sound from which he gets the name of Bugler.  It is a warning that
he is ready to fight.

"When the snows of winter come, many families get together and form
great bands.  Then they move down from the mountains in search of
shelter and food.  When a winter is very bad, many starve to death,
for man has fenced in and made into farms much of the land where
the elk once found ample food for winter.

"But big as is Bugler the Elk, there is a cousin who is bigger, the
biggest of all the Deer family.  It is Flathorns the Moose.  As you
must guess by his name he is a member of the flat-horned branch of
the family.  His antlers spread widely and are flattened instead
of being round.  From the edges of the flattened part many sharp
points spring out.

"Flathorns, wearing his crown of great spreading antlers, is a
noble appearing animal because of his great size, but when his
antlers have dropped he is a homely fellow.  Mrs. Flathorns, who
has no antlers, is very homely.  As I have said, Flathorns is the
biggest member of the Deer family.  He is quite as big as Farmer
Brown's Horse and stands much higher at the shoulders.  Indeed, his
shoulders are so high that he has a decided hump there, for they are
well above the line of his back.  His neck is very short, large and
thick, and his head is not at all like the heads of other members
of the Deer family.  Instead of the narrow, pointed face of other
members of the Deer family, he has a broad, long face, rather more
like that of a Horse.  Towards the nose it humps up, and the great
thick upper lip overhangs the lower one.  His nose is very broad,
and for his size his eyes are small.  His ears are large.

"From his throat hangs a hairy fold of skin called a bell.  He has
a very short tail, so short that it is hardly noticeable.  His legs
are very long and rather large.  His hoofs are large and rounded,
more like those of Bossy the Cow than like those of Lightfoot the
Deer.  Seen at a little distance in the woods, he looks to be almost
black, but really is for the most part dark brown.  His legs are gray
on the inside.

"Flathorns lives in the great northern forests clear across the
country, and is especially fond of swampy places.  He is fond of
the water and is a good swimmer.  In summer he delights to feed
on the pads, stems and roots of water lilies, and his long legs
enable him to wade out to get them.  For the most part his food
consists of leaves and tender twigs of young trees, such as
striped maple, aspen, birch, hemlock, alder and willow.  His great
height enables him to reach the upper branches of young trees.  When
they are too tall for this, he straddles them and bends or breaks
them down to get at the upper branches.  His front teeth are big,
broad and sharp-edged.  With these he strips the bark from the
larger branches.  He also eats grass and moss.  Because of his
long legs and short neck he finds it easiest to kneel when feeding
on the ground.

"Big as he is, he can steal through thick growth without making a
sound.  He does not jump like other Deer, but travels at an awkward
trot which takes him over the ground very fast.  In the winter
when snow is deep, the Moose family lives in a yard such as I told
you Lightfoot makes.  The greatest enemy of Flathorns is the hunter,
and from being much hunted Flathorns has learned to make the most of
his ears, eyes and nose.  He is very smart and not easily surprised.
When wounded he will sometimes attack man, and occasionally when not
wounded.  Then he strikes with his sharp-edged front hoofs, and they
are terrible weapons.  Altogether he is a wonderful animal, and it
is a matter for sorrow that man persists in hunting him merely to get
his wonderful head.

"In parts of these same northern forests lives another big member
of the Deer family, Wanderhoof the Woodland Caribou.  He is bigger
than Lightfoot the Deer, but smaller than Bugler the Elk, rather
an awkward-looking fellow.  His legs are quite long but stout.  His
neck is rather short, and instead of carrying his head proudly as
does Lightfoot, he carries it stretched out before him or hanging
low.  The hair on the lower part of his neck is long.

"Wanderhoof wears a coat of brown.  His neck being much lighter or
almost gray.  He has an undercoat which is very thick and woolly.
In winter his whole coat becomes grayish and his neck white.  Above
each hoof is a band of white.  His tail is very short, and white
on the under side.  His antlers are wonderful, being very long and
both round and flat.  That is, parts of them are round and parts
flattened.  They have more prongs than those of any other Deer.

"His hoofs are very large, deeply slit, and cup-shaped.  When he
walks they make a snapping or clicking sound.  These big feet were
given him for a purpose.  He is very fond of boggy ground, and
because of these big feet and the fact that the hoofs spread when
he steps, he can walk safely where others would sink in.  This is
equally true in snow, when they serve as snowshoes.  As a result
he is not forced to live in yards as are Lightfoot and Flathorns
when the snow is deep, but goes where he pleases.

"He is very fond of the water and delights to splash about in it,
and is a splendid swimmer.  His hair floats him so that when
swimming he is higher out of water than any other member of the
family.  In winter he lives in the thickest parts of the forest
among the hemlocks and spruces, and feeds on the mosses and lichens
which grow on the trees.  In summer he moves to the open, boggy
ground around shallow lakes where moss covers the ground, and on
this he lives.

"He is a great wanderer, hence his name Wanderhoof.  Mrs. Caribou
has antlers, wherein she differs from Mrs. Lightfoot, Mrs. Flathorns
and Mrs. Bugler.  Wanderhoof is fond of company and usually is
found with many companions of his own kind.  When they are moving
from their summer home to their winter home, or back again, they
often travel in very large bands.

"In the Far North beyond the great forests Wanderhoof has a cousin
who looks very much like him, called the Barren Ground Caribou.
The name comes from the fact that way up there little excepting
moss grows, and on this the Caribou lives.  In summer this Caribou
is found almost up to the Arctic Ocean, moving southward in great
herds as the cold weather approaches.  No other animals of to-day
get together in such great numbers.  In the extreme North is another
Caribou, called Peary's Caribou, whose coat is wholly white.  The
Caribou are close cousins of the Reindeer and look much like them.

"All male members of the smaller Deer are called bucks, the female
members are called does, and the young are called fawns.  All male
members of the big Deer, such as Bugler the Elk, Flathorns the
Moose and Wanderhoof the Caribou, are called bulls.  The females
are called cows and the young are called calves.  All members of
the Deer family, with the exception of the Barren Ground Caribou,
are forest-loving animals and are seldom seen far from the
sheltering woods.

"This, I think, will do for the Deer family.  To-morrow I shall
tell you about Thunderfoot the Bison, Fleetfoot the Antelope, and
Longcoat the Musk Ox."



CHAPTER XXXVII  Thunderfoot, Fleetfoot and Longcoat

"Who remembers the name of the order to which all members of the
Deer family belong?" asked Old Mother Nature.

"I remember what it means, but not the name," spoke up Happy Jack
Squirrel.  "It means hoofed."

"It is Un--Un-Ungu--" began Peter Rabbit and then stopped.  For
the life of him he couldn't think of the rest.

"Ungulata," Old Mother Nature finished for him.  "And Happy Jack
has the meaning right.  It is the order to which all hoofed animals
belong.  There are several families in the order, one of which you
already have learned about--the Deer family.  Now comes the family
of Cattle and Sheep.  It is called the Bovidae family, and the
biggest and most important member is Thunderfoot the Bison,
commonly called Buffalo.

"Thunderfoot is more closely related to Bossy, Farmer Brown's Cow,
than are the members of the Deer family, for he has true horns, not
antlers.  These are hollow and are not dropped each year, but are
carried through life.  Mrs. Thunderfoot has them also.  The horns
grow out from the sides of the forehead and then curve upward and
inward, and are smooth and sharp.  They are never branched.

"Thunderfoot is a great, heavy fellow the size of Farmer Brown's
Ox, and has a great hump on his shoulders.  He carries his head
low and from his throat hangs a great beard.  His head is large
and is so covered with thick, curly hair that it appears much
larger than it really is.  His tail is rather short and ends in a
tassel of hair.  The hair on his body and hind quarters is short
and light brown, but on his shoulders and neck and his fore legs
to the knees it is long and shaggy, dark brown above and almost
black below."

"He must be a queer looking fellow," spoke up Chatterer the
Red Squirrel.

"He is," replied Old Mother Nature.  "The front half of him looks
so much bigger than the rear half that it almost seems as if they
didn't belong together."

"What does he eat?" asked Jumper the Hare.

"Grass," replied Old Mother Nature promptly.  "He grazes just as
does Bossy.  When the weather becomes hot his thick coat, although
much of it has been shed, becomes most uncomfortable.  Also he is
tormented by flies.  Then he delights in rolling in mud until he
is plastered with it from head to feet.

"Many years ago there were more Bison than any other large animal
in this country, and they were found in nearly all parts of it.
Some lived in the woods and were called Wood Buffaloes, but the
greatest number lived on the great plains and prairies, where the
grass was plentiful.  I have told you about the great herd of
Barren Ground Caribou, but this is nothing to the great herds of
Bison that used to move north or south, according to the season,
across the great prairies.  In the fall they moved south.  In the
spring they moved north, following the new grass as it appeared.
When they galloped, the noise of their feet was like thunder.

"But the hunters with terrible guns came and killed them for their
skins, killed them by hundreds of thousands, and in just a few years
those great herds became only a memory.  Thunderfoot, once Lord of
the Prairies, was driven out of all his great kingdom, and the Bison,
from being the most numerous of all large animals, is to-day reduced
to just a few hundreds, and most of these are kept in parks by man.
Barely in time did man make laws to protect Thunderfoot.  Without
this protection he would not exist to-day.

"A close neighbor of Thunderfoot's in the days when he was Lord
of the Prairies was Fleetfoot the Antelope.  Fleetfoot is about
the size of a small Deer, and in his graceful appearance reminds
one of Lightfoot, for he has the same trim body and long slim legs.
He is built for speed and looks it.  From just a glance at him you
would know him for a runner just as surely as a look at Jumper the
Hare would tell you that he must travel in great bounds.  The truth
is, Fleetfoot is the fastest runner among all my children in this
country.  Not one can keep up with him in a race.

"Fleetfoot's coat is a light yellowish-brown on the back and white
underneath.  His forehead is brown and the sides of his face white.
His throat and under side of his neck are white, crossed by two bands
of brown.  His hoofs, horns and eyes are black, and there is a black
spot under each ear.  Near the end of his nose he is also black, and
down the back of his neck is a black line of stiff longer hairs.  A
large white patch surrounds his short tail.  Who remembers what I
told you about Antelope Jack, the big Jack Hare of the Southwest?"

"I do!" cried Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare together.

"What was it, Jumper?" asked Old Mother Nature.

"You said that he has a way of making the white of his sides seem
to grow so that he seems almost all white, and can signal his
friends in this way," replied Jumper.

"Quite right," replied Old Mother Nature.  "I am glad to find that
you remember so well.  Fleetfoot does the same thing with this
white patch around his tail.  The hairs are quite long and he can
make them spread out so that that white patch becomes much larger,
and when he is running it can be seen flashing in the sun long after
he is so far away that nothing else of him can be seen.  His eyes
are wonderfully keen, so by means of these white patches he and his
friends can signal each other when they are far apart.

"Fleetfoot has true horns, but they are unlike any other horns in
that they are shed every year, just like the antlers of the Deer
family.  They grow straight up just over the eyes, are rather short,
and fork.  One branch is much shorter than the other, and the longer
one is turned over at the end like a hook.  From these horns he gets
the name of Pronghorn.

"When running from danger he carries his head low and makes long
leaps.  When not frightened he trots and holds his head high and
proudly.  He prefers flat open country, and there is no more
beautiful sight on all the great plains of the West than a band of
Fleetfoot and his friends.  He is social and likes the company of
his own kind.

"The time was when these beautiful creatures were almost as numerous
as the Bison, but like the latter they have been killed until now
there is real danger that unless man protects them better than he
is doing there will come a day when the last Antelope will be killed,
and one of the most beautiful and interesting of all my children will
be but a memory."

There was a note of great sadness in Old Mother Nature's voice.
For a few minutes no one spoke.  All were thinking of the terrible
thing that had happened at the hands of man to the great hosts of
two of the finest animals in all this great land, the Bison and
Antelope, and there was bitterness in the heart of each one, for
there was not one there who did not himself have cause to fear man.

Old Mother Nature was the first to break the silence.  "Now," said
she, "I will tell you of the oddest member of the Cattle and Sheep
family.  It is Longcoat the Musk Ox, and he appears to belong
wholly neither to the Cattle nor the Sheep branch of the family,
but to both.  He connects the two branches in appearance, reminding
one somewhat of a small Bison and at the same time having things
about him very like a Sheep.

"Longcoat the Musk Ox lives in the Farthest North, the land of snow
and ice.  He has been found very near the Arctic Ocean, and how he
finds enough to eat in the long winter is a mystery to those who
know that snow-covered land.  He is a heavily built, round-bodied
animal with short, stout legs, shoulders so high that they form a
hump, a low-hung head and sheeplike face, heavy horns which are
flat and broad at the base and meet at the center of the forehead,
sweeping down on each side of the head and then turning up in sharp
points.  His tail is so short that it is hidden in the long hair
which covers him.

"This hair is so long that it hangs down on each side so that often
it touches the snow and hides his legs nearly down to his feet.  In
color it is very dark-brown, almost black, and on his sides is
straight.  But on his shoulders it is curly.  In the middle of the
back is a patch of shorter dull-gray hair.

"Underneath this coat of long hair is another coat of woolly, fine
light-brown hair, so close that neither cold nor rain can get through
it.  It is this warm coat that makes it possible for him to live in
that terribly cold region.  He is about twice as heavy as a big Deer.
At times he gives off a musky odor, and it is from this that he gets
his name of Musk Ox.

"Longcoat is seldom found alone, but usually with a band of his
friends.  This is partly for protection from his worst enemies, the
Wolves.  When the latter appear, Longcoat and his friends form a
circle with their heads out, and it is only a desperately hungry
Wolf that will try to break through that line of sharp-pointed horns.

"In rough, rocky country he is as sure-footed as a Sheep.  In the
short summer of that region he finds plenty to eat, but in winter he
has to paw away the snow to get at the moss and other plants buried
beneath it.  Practically all other animals living so far North have
white coats, but Longcoat retains his dark coat the year through.

"My, how time flies!  This is all for to-day.  To-morrow I will
tell you of two wonderful mountain climbers who go with ease where
even man cannot follow."



CHAPTER XXXVIII  Two Wonderful Mountain Climbers

"Peter, you have been up in the Old Pasture many times, so you
must have seen the Sheep there," said Old Mother Nature, turning
to Peter Rabbit.

"Certainly. Of course," replied Peter.  "They seem to me rather
stupid creatures.  Anyway they look stupid."

"Then you know the leader of the flock, the big ram with curling
horns," continued Old Mother Nature.

Peter nodded, and Old Mother Nature went on.  "Just imagine him
with a smooth coat of grayish-brown instead of a white woolly one,
and immense curling horns many times larger than those he now has.
Give him a large whitish or very light-yellowish patch around a very
short tail.  Then you will have a very good idea of one of those
mountain climbers I promised to tell you about, one of the greatest
mountain climbers in all the Great World--Bighorn the Mountain Sheep,
also called Rocky Mountain Bighorn and Rocky Mountain Sheep.

"Bighorn is a true Sheep and lives high up among the rocks of the
highest mountains of the Far West.  Like all members of the order
to which he belongs his feet are hoofed, but they are hoofs which
never slip, and he delights to bound along the edges of great cliffs
and in making his way up or down them where it looks as if it would
be impossible for even Chatterer the Red Squirrel to find footing,
to say nothing of such a big fellow as Bighorn.

"The mountains where he makes his home are so high that the tops of
many of them are in the clouds and covered with snow even in summer.
Above the line where trees can no longer grow Bighorn spends his
summers, coming down to the lower hills only when the snow becomes
so deep that he cannot paw down through it to get food.  His eyesight
is wonderful and from his high lookout he watches for enemies below,
and small chance have they of approaching him from that direction.

"When alarmed he bounds away gracefully as if there were great
springs in his legs, and his great curled horns are carried as
easily as if they were nothing at all.  Down rock slopes, so
steep that a single misstep would mean a fall hundreds of feet,
he bounds as swiftly and easily as Lightfoot the Deer bounds
through the woods, leaping from one little jutting point of rock
to another and landing securely as if he were on level ground.
He climbs with equal ease where man would have to crawl and
cling with fingers and toes, or give up altogether.

"Mrs. Bighorn does not have the great curling horns.  Instead she
is armed with short, sharp-pointed horns, like spikes.  Her young
are born in the highest, most inaccessible place she can find, and
there they have little to fear save one enemy, King Eagle.  Only
such an enemy, one with wings, can reach them there.  Bighorn and
Mrs. Bighorn, because of their size, nothing to dread from these
great birds, but helpless little lambs are continually in danger
of furnishing King Eagle with the dinner he prizes.

"Only when driven to the lower slopes and hills by storms and snow
does Bighorn have cause to fear four-footed enemies.  Then Puma the
Panther must be watched for, and lower down Howler the Wolf.  But
Bighorn's greatest enemy, and one he fears most, is the same one
so many others have sad cause to fear--the hunter with his terrible
gun.  The terrible gun can kill where man himself cannot climb, and
Bighorn has been persistently hunted for his head and wonderful horns.

"Some people believe that Bighorn leaps from cliffs and alights on
those great horns, but this not true.  Whenever he leaps he alights
on those sure feet of his, not on his head.

"Way up in the extreme northwest corner of this country, in a place
called Alaska, is a close cousin whose coat is all white and whose
horns are yellow and more slender and wider spreading.  He called
the Dall Mountain Sheep.  Farther south, but not as far south as
the home of Bighorn, is another cousin whose coat is so dark that
he is sometimes called the Black Mountain Sheep.  His proper name
is Stone's Mountain Sheep.  In the mountains between these two is
another cousin with a white head and dark body called Fannin's
sheep.  All these cousins are closely related and in their habits
are much alike.  Of them all, Bighorn the Rocky Mountain Sheep is
the best known."

"I should think," said Peter Rabbit, "that way up there on those
high mountains Bighorn would be very lonesome."

Old Mother Nature laughed.  "Bighorn doesn't care for neighbors as
you do, Peter," said she.  "But even up in those high rocky retreats
among the clouds he has a neighbor as sure-footed as himself, one
who stays winter as well as summer on the mountain tops.  It is
Billy the Rocky Mountain Goat.

"Billy is as awkward-looking as he moves about as Bighorn is graceful,
but he will go where even Bighorn will hesitate to follow.  His hoofs
are small and especially planned for walking in safety on smooth rock
and ice-covered ledges.  In weight he is about equal to Lightfoot the
Deer, but he doesn't look in the least like him.

"In the first place he has a hump on his shoulders much like the
humps of Thunderfoot the Bison and Longcoat the Musk Ox.  Of course
this means that he carries his head low.  His face is very long and
from beneath his chin hangs a white beard.  From his forehead two
rather short, slim, black horns stand up with a little curve backward.
His coat is white and the hair is long and straight.  Under this long
white coat he wears a thick coat of short, woolly, yellowish-white fur
which keeps him warm in the coldest weather.  He seldom leaves his
beloved mountain-tops, even in the worst weather of winter, as Bighorn
sometimes does, but finds shelter among the rocks.  The result is that
he has practically no enemies save man to fear.

"Often he spends the summer where the snow remains all the year
through and his white coat is a protection from the keenest eyes.
You see, when not moving, he looks in the distance for all the
world like a patch of snow on the rocks.

"Not having a handsome head or wonderful horns he has not been
hunted by man quite so much as has Bighorn, and therefore is not so
alert and wary.  Both he and Bighorn are more easily approached from
above than from below, because they do not expect danger from above
and so do not keep so sharp a watch in that direction.  The young
are sometimes taken by King Eagle, but otherwise Billy Goat's family
has little to fear from enemies, always excepting the hunter with
his terrible gun.

"I have now told you of the members of the cattle and Sheep family,
what they look like and where they live and how.  There is still
one more member of the order Ungulata and this one is in a way
related to another member of Farmer Brown's barnyard.  I will leave
you to guess which one.  What is it, Peter?"

"If you please, in just what part of the Far West are the mountains
where Billy Goat lives?" replied Peter.

"Chiefly in the northern part," replied Old Mother Nature.  "In the
Northwest these mountains are very close to the ocean and Billy
does not appear to mind in the least the fogs that roll in, and
seems to enjoy the salt air.  Sometimes there he comes down almost
to the shore.  Are there any more questions?"

There were none, so school was dismissed for the day.  Peter didn't
go straight home.  Instead he went up to the Old Pasture for another
look at the old ram there and tried to picture to himself just what
Bighorn must look like.  Especially he looked at the hoofs of the
old ram.

"It is queer," muttered Peter, "how feet like those can be so safe
up on those slippery rocks Old Mother Nature told us about.  Anyway,
it seems queer to me.  But it must be so if she says it is.  My, my,
my, what a lot of strange people there are in this world!  And what
a lot there is to learn!"



CHAPTER XXXIX  Piggy and Hardshell

All the way to school the next morning Peter Rabbit did his best to
guess who it might be that they were to learn about that day.  "Old
Mother Nature said that he is related to some one who lives in Farmer
Brown's barnyard," said Peter to himself.  "Now who can it be?"  But
try as he would, Peter couldn't think of any one.  He asked Jumper
the Hare if he had guessed who it could be.  Jumper shook his head.

"I haven't the least idea," said he.  "You know I seldom leave the
Green Forest and I never have been over to that barnyard in my
life, so of course I don't know who lives there."

Danny Meadow Mouse and Whitefoot the Wood Mouse were no wiser, nor
was Johnny Chuck.  But Chatterer the Red Squirrel, it was plain to
see, was quite sure he knew who it was.  Chatterer had been over
to Farmer Brown's so often to steal corn from the corn crib that
he knew all about that barnyard and who lived there.  But though
Peter and the others teased him to tell them he wouldn't.

So when Old Mother Nature asked who had guessed to whom she had
referred Chatterer was the only one to reply.  "I think you must
have meant the Pig who is always rooting about and grunting in
that barnyard," said he.

"Your guess is right, Chatterer," she replied, smiling at the little
red-coated rascal, "and this morning I will tell you a little about
a relative of his who doesn't live in a barnyard, but lives in the
forest, as free and independent as you are.  It is Piggy the Peccary,
known as the Collared Peccary, also called Wild Pig, Muskhog, Texas
Peccary and Javelina.

"He is a true Pig and in shape resembles that lazy, fat fellow in
Farmer Brown's barnyard when he was little.  You would know him for
a Pig right away if you should see him.  But in every other way
excepting his habit of rooting up the ground with his nose, he is
a wholly different fellow.  For one thing his legs, though short,
are more slender and he is a fast runner.  There isn't a lazy bone
in him, and he is too active to grow fat.

"His head is large and his nose long, and his tail is almost no
tail at all; it is just a little rounded knob, as if he had at one
time had a tail and it had been cut off.  His hair is coarse and
stiff, the kind of hair called bristles.  From the back of his head
along his back the bristles are long and stout.  They are black at
the tips so that he appears to have a black back.  When Piggy is
angry he raises these long bristles so that they stand straight
up and this gives him a very fierce appearance.

"His color is so dark a gray that at a distance he appears black.
Indeed he is black on many parts of him.  Just back of the neck a
whitish band crosses the shoulders, and this is why he is called
the Collared Peccary.  You see he seems to be wearing a collar.
On each jaw are two great pointed teeth called tusks, the two
upper ones so long that they project beyond the lips.  These tusks
are Piggy's weapons, and very good ones they are.

"The home of Piggy the Peccary is in the hot southwestern part of
this country, where live Jaguar and Ocelot, the beautiful spotted
members of the Cat family.  They are two of his enemies.  He never
likes to be alone, but lives with a band of his friends and they
roam about together.  He is found on the plains and among low hills,
in swamps and dense forests, and among the thickets of cactus and
other thorny plants that grow in dry regions.  Plenty of food and
shelter from the hot sun seem to be the main things with Piggy."

"What does he eat?" asked Peter Rabbit.

Old Mother Nature laughed.  "It would be easier, Peter, to tell you
what he doesn't eat," said she.  "He eats everything eatable, nuts,
fruits, seeds, roots and plants of various kinds, insects, Frogs,
Lizards, Snakes and any small animals he can catch.  Sometimes he
does great damage to gardens and crops planted by man.  He delights
to root in the earth with his nose and often turns over much ground
in this way, searching for roots good to eat.

"On the lower part of his back he carries a little bag of musky
scent, and from this he gets the name of Muskhog.  While as a rule
he wisely runs from danger, he is no coward, and will fight fiercely
when cornered.  His friends at once rush to help him and surround the
enemy, who is usually glad to climb a tree to escape their gnashing
tusks.  However, he is not the fierce animal he has been reported to
be, ready to attack unprovoked.  He will run away if he can.  Mr. and
Mrs. Peccary have two babies at a time.

"This is the last of the hoofed animals and the last but one of the
land animals of this great country, so you see we are almost to the
end of school.  This last one is perhaps the queerest of all.  It
is Hardshell the Armadillo, and belongs to the order of Edentata,
which means toothless."

"Do you men to say that there are animals with no teeth at all?"
asked Happy Jack Squirrel, looking as if he couldn't believe such
a thing.

Old Mother Nature nodded.  "That is just what I mean," said she.
"There are animals without any teeth, though not in this country,
and others with so few teeth that they have been put in the same
order with the wholly toothless ones.  Hardshell the Armadillo is
one of these.  He has no teeth at all in the front of his mouth
and such teeth as he has got do not amount to much."

"But why do you call him Hardshell?" asked Peter impatiently.

"Because instead of a coat of fur he wears a coat of shell," replied
Old Mother Nature, and then laughed right out at the funny expressions
on the faces before her.  It was quite clear that Peter and his
friends were having hard work to believe she was in earnest.  They
suspected her of joking.

"Do--do you mean that he lives in a sort of house that he carries
with him like Spotty the Turtle?" ventured Peter.

"It is a shell, but not like that of Spotty," explained Old Mother
Nature. "Spotty's shell is all one piece, but the Armadillo's shell
is jointed, so that he can roll up like a ball.  Spotty isn't a
mammal, as are all of you and all those we have been learning about,
but is a reptile.  Hardshell the Armadillo, on the other hand, is a
true mammal."

"Well, all I can say is that he must be a mighty queer looking
fellow," declared Peter.

"He is," replied Old Mother Nature.  "He is about the size of Unc'
Billy Possum, and if you can imagine a pig of about that size with
very short legs, a long tapering tail, feet with toes and long claws
and a shell covering his whole body, the front of his face and even
his tail, you will have something of an idea what he looks like.

"He lives down in the hot Southwest where Piggy the Peccary lives.
His coat of shell is yellowish in color and is divided in the middle
of his body into nine narrow bands or joints.  Because of this he
is called the Nine-banded Armadillo.  In the countries to the south
of this he has a cousin with three bands and another with six.

"Hardshell's head is very long and he carries it pointed straight
down.  His small eyes are set far back, and at the top of his head
are rather large upright ears.  The shell of his tail is divided
into many jointed rings so that he can move it at will.

"His tongue is long and sticky.  This is so that he can run it
out for some distance and sweep up the Ants and insects on which
he largely lives.  His eyesight and hearing are not very good,
and having such a heavy, stiff coat he is a poor runner.  But he
is a good digger.  This means, of course, that he makes his home
in a hole in the ground.  When frightened he makes for this, but
if overtaken by an enemy he rolls up into a ball and is safe from
all save those with big and strong enough teeth to break through
the joints of his shell.  He eats some vegetable matter and is
accused of eating the eggs of ground-nesting birds, and of dead
decayed flesh he may find.  However, his food consists chiefly of
Ants, insects of various kinds, and worms.  He is a harmless
little fellow and interesting because he is so queer.  He is
sometimes killed and eaten by man and his flesh is considered very
good. He has from four to eight babies in the early spring.  The
baby Armadillo has a soft, tough skin instead of a shell, and as
it grows it hardens until by the time it is fully grown it has
become a shell.

"Now this finishes the lessons about the land animals or mammals.
There are other mammals who live in the ocean, which is the salt
water which surrounds the land, and which, I guess, none of you
have ever seen.  Some of these come on shore and some never do.
To-morrow I will tell you just a little about them, so that you
will know something about all the animals of this great country
which is called North America.  That is, I will if you want me to."

"We do!  Of course we do!" cried Peter Rabbit, and it is plain that
he spoke for all.



CHAPTER XL  The Mammals of the Sea

It was the last day of Old Mother Nature's school in the Green Forest,
and when jolly, round, bright Mr. Sun had climbed high enough in the
blue, blue sky to peep down through the trees, he found not one missing
of the little people who had been learning so much about themselves,
their relatives, neighbors and all the other animals in every part of
this great country.  You see, not for anything in the world would one
of them willingly have missed that last lesson.

"I told you yesterday," began Old Mother Nature, "that the land is
surrounded by water, salt water, sometimes called the ocean and
sometimes the sea.  In this live the largest animals in all the
Great World and many others, some of which sometimes come on land,
and others which never do.

"One of those which come on land is first cousin to Little Joe
Otter and is named the Sea Otter.

"He lives in the cold waters of the western ocean of the Far North.
He much resembles Little Joe Otter, whom you all know, but has finer,
handsomer fur.  In fact, so handsome is his fur that he has been
hunted for it until now.  He is among the shyest and rarest of all
animals, and has taken to living in the water practically all the
time, rarely visiting land.  He lies on his back in the water and
gets his food from the bottom of the sea.  It is chiefly clams and
other shellfish.  He rests on floating masses of sea plants.  He is
very playful and delights to toss pieces of seaweed from paw to paw
as he lies floating on his back.  Of course he is a wonderful swimmer
and diver.  Otherwise he couldn't live in the sea.

"Another who comes on land, but only for a very short distance from
the water, is called the Walrus.  He belongs to an order called
Finnipedia, which means fin-footed.  Instead of having legs and
feet for walking, members of this order have limbs designed for
swimming; these are more like fins or paddles than anything else
and are called flippers.  The Walrus is so big that I can give
you no idea how big he is, excepting to say that he will weight
two thousand pounds.  He is simply a great mass of living flesh
covered with a rough, very thick skin without hair.  From his
upper jaw two immense ivory tusks hang straight down, and with
these he digs up shellfish at the bottom of the sea.  It is a
terrible effort for him to move on shore, and so he is content to
stay within a few feet of the water.  He also lives in the cold
waters of the Far North amidst floating ice.  On this he often
climbs out to lie for hours.  His voice is a deep grunt or
bellowing roar.  The young are born on land close to the water.

"The Sea Lions belong to this same fin-footed order.  The best
known of these are the California Sea Lion and the Fur Seal, which
is not a true Seal.  The California Sea Lion is also called the
Barking Sea Lion because of its habit of barking, and is the best
known of the family.  It is frequently seen on the rocks along the
shore and on the islands off the western coast.  These Sea Lions
are sleek animals, exceedingly graceful in the water.  They have
long necks and carry their heads high.  They are covered with short
coarse hair and have small, sharp-pointed ears.  Their front flippers
have neither hair nor claws, but their hind flippers have webbed
toes.  They are able to move about on land surprisingly well for
animals lacking regular legs and feet, and can climb on and over
rocks rapidly.  Naturally they are splendid swimmers.

"The largest member of the family is the Steller Sea Lion, who
sometimes grows to be almost as big as a Walrus.  He is not sleek
and graceful like his smaller cousin, but has an enormously thick
neck and heavy shoulders.  His voice is a roar rather than a bark.
The head of an old Sea Lion is so much like that of a true Lion
that the name Sea Lion has been given this family.

"The most valuable member of the family, so far as man is concerned,
is the Fur Seal, also called Sea Bear.  It is very nearly the size
and form of the California Sea Lion, but under the coarse outer hair,
which is gray in color, is a wonderful soft, fine, brown fur and for
this the Fur Seal has been hunted so persistently that there was real
danger that soon the very last one would be killed.  Now wise and
needed laws protect the Fur Seals on their breeding grounds, which
are certain islands in the Far North.  The young of all members of
this family are born on shore, but soon take to the water.  The Fur
Seal migrates just as the birds do, but always returns to the place
of its birth.  Man and the Polar Bear are its enemies on land and
ice, and the Killer Whale in the water.  Mr. Fur Seal always has many
wives and this is true of the other members of the Sea Lion family
and of the Walrus.  The males are three or four times the size of
the females.  Among themselves the males are fierce fighters.

"The true Seals are short-necked, thick-bodied, and have rather
round heads with no visible ears.  The Walrus and Sea Lions can
turn their hind flippers forward to use as feet on land, but this
the true Seals cannot do.  Therefore they are more clumsy out of
water.  Their front flippers are covered with hair.

"The one best known is the Harbor or Leopard Seal.  It is found
along both coasts, often swimming far up big rivers.  It is one
of the smallest members of the family.  Sometimes it is
yellowish-gray spotted with black and sometimes dark brown with light
spots.

"The Ringed Seal is about the same size or a little smaller than
the Harbor Seal and is found as far north as it can find breathing
holes in the ice.  You know all these animals breathe air just as
land animals do.  This Seal looks much like the Harbor Seal, but
is a little more slender.

"Another member of the family is the Harp, Saddle-back or Greenland
Seal.  He is larger than the other two and has a black head and gray
body with a large black ring on the back.  The female is not so
handsome, being merely spotted.

"The handsomest Seal is the Ribbon Seal.  He is about the size of
his cousin the Harbor Seal.  He is also called the Harlequin Seal.
Sometimes his coat is blackish-brown and sometimes yellowish-gray,
but always he has a band of yellowish-white, like a broad ribbon,
from his throat around over the top of his head, and another band
which starts on his chest and goes over his shoulder, curves down
and finally goes around his body not far above the hind flippers.
Only the male is so marked.  This Seal is rather rare.  Like most
of the others it lives in the cold waters of the Far North.

"The largest of the Seals is the Elephant Seal, once numerous, but
killed by man until now there are few members of this branch of the
family.  He is a tremendous fellow and has a movable nose which hangs
several inches below his mouth.

"The queerest-looking member of the family is the Hooded Seal.  Mr.
Seal of this branch of the family is rather large, and on top of
his nose he carries a large bag of skin which he can fill with air
until he looks as if he were wearing a queer hood or bonnet.

"The Seals complete the list of animals which live mostly in the
water but come out on land or ice at times.  Now I will tell you
of a true mammal, warm-blooded, just as you are, and air-breathing,
but which never comes on land.  This is the Manatee or Sea Cow.  It
lives in the warm waters of the Sunny South, coming up from the sea
in the big rivers.  It is a very large animal, sometimes growing as
big as a medium-sized Walrus.  The head is round, somewhat like that
of a Seal.  The lips are thick and big, the upper one split in the
middle.  The eyes are small.  It has but two flippers, and these are
set in at the shoulders.  Instead of hind flippers, such as the Seals
and Sea Lions have, the Manatee has a broad, flattened and rounded
tail which is used as a propeller, just as fish use their tails.
The neck is short and large.  In the water the Manatee looks black.
The skin is almost hairless.

"This curious animal lives on water plants.  Sometimes it will come
close to a river bank and with head and shoulders out of water feed
on the grasses which hang down from the bank.  The babies are, of
course, born in the water, as the Manatee never comes on shore.
Now I think this will end to-day's lesson and the school."

Peter Rabbit hopped up excitedly.  "You said that the largest
animals in the world live in the sea, and you haven't told us what
they are," he cried.

"True enough, Peter," replied Old Mother Nature pleasantly.  "The
largest living animal is a Whale, a true mammal and not a fish at
all, as some people appear to think.  There are several kinds of
Whales, some of them comparatively small and some the largest
animals in the world, so large that I cannot give you any idea of
how big they are.  Beside one of these, the biggest Walrus would
look like a baby.  But the Whales do not belong just to this
country, so I think we will not include them.

"Now we will close school.  I hope you have enjoyed learning as
much as I have enjoyed teaching, and I hope that what you have
learned will be of use to you as long as you live.  The more
knowledge you possess the better fitted for your part in the work
of the Great World you will be.  Don't forget that, and never miss
a chance to learn."

And so ended Old Mother Nature's school in the Green Forest.  One
by one her little pupils thanked her for all she had taught them,
and then started for home.  Peter Rabbit was the last.

"I know ever and ever so much more than I did when I first came to
you, but I guess that after all I know very little of all there is
to know," said he shyly, which shows that Peter really had learned
a great deal.  Then he started for the dear Old Briar-patch,
lipperty-lipperty-lip.





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