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´╗┐Title: Prairie-Dog Town
Author: Baum, L. Frank (Lyman Frank), 1856-1919
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Prairie-Dog Town" ***

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  Six Volumes





  With illustrations by
  Maginel Wright Enright

  The Reilly & Britton Co.

   List of Chapters               PAGE

     I The Picnic                    5

    II Prairie-Dog Town             13

   III Mr. Bowko, the Mayor         18

    IV Presto Digi, the Magician    26

     V The Home of the Puff-Pudgys  34

    VI Teenty and Weenty            42

   VII The Mayor Gives a Luncheon   49

  VIII On Top of the Earth Again    57

  Copyright, 1906, by The Reilly & Britton Co.

Chapter I

The Picnic

On the great western prairies of Dakota is a little town called
Edgeley, because it is on the edge of civilization--a very big word
which means some folks have found a better way to live than other
folks. The Edgeley people have a good way to live, for there are almost
seventeen wooden houses there, and among them is a school-house, a
church, a store and a blacksmith-shop. If people walked out their front
doors they were upon the little street; if they walked out the back
doors they were on the broad prairies. That was why Twinkle, who was a
farmer's little girl, lived so near the town that she could easily walk
to school.

She was a pretty, rosy-cheeked little thing, with long, fluffy hair,
and big round eyes that everybody smiled into when they saw them. It
was hard to keep that fluffy hair from getting tangled; so mamma used
to tie it in the back with a big, broad ribbon. And Twinkle wore calico
slips for school days and gingham dresses when she wanted to "dress
up" or look especially nice. And to keep the sun from spotting her
face with freckles, she wore sunbonnets made of the same goods as her

Twinkle's best chum was a little boy called Chubbins, who was the
only child of the tired-faced school-teacher. Chubbins was about as old
as Twinkle; but he wasn't so tall and slender for his age as she was,
being short and rather fat. The hair on his little round head was cut
close, and he usually wore a shirt-waist and "knickers," with a wide
straw hat on the back of his head. Chubbins's face was very solemn. He
never said many words when grown folks were around, but he could talk
fast enough when he and Twinkle were playing together alone.

[Illustration: CHUBBINS]

Well, one Saturday the school had a picnic, and Twinkle and Chubbins
both went. On the Dakota prairies there are no shade-trees at all,
and very little water except what they get by boring deep holes in
the ground; so you may wonder where the people could possibly have a
picnic. But about three miles from the town a little stream of water
(which they called a "river," but we would call only a brook) ran slow
and muddy across the prairie; and where the road crossed it a flat
bridge had been built. If you climbed down the banks of the river you
would find a nice shady place under the wooden bridge; and so here it
was that the picnics were held.

All the village went to the picnic, and they started bright and early
in the morning, with horses and farm-wagons, and baskets full of good
things to eat, and soon arrived at the bridge.

There was room enough in its shade for all to be comfortable; so they
unhitched the horses and carried the baskets to the river bank, and
began to laugh and be as merry as they could.

Twinkle and Chubbins, however, didn't care much for the shade of the
bridge. This was a strange place to them, so they decided to explore
it and see if it was any different from any other part of the prairie.
Without telling anybody where they were going, they took hold of hands
and trotted across the bridge and away into the plains on the other

The ground here wasn't flat, but had long rolls to it, like big waves
on the ocean, so that as soon as the little girl and boy had climbed
over the top of the first wave, or hill, those by the river lost sight
of them.


They saw nothing but grass in the first hollow, but there was another
hill just beyond, so they kept going, and climbed over that too. And
now they found, lying in the second hollow, one of the most curious
sights that the western prairies afford.

"What is it?" asked Chubbins, wonderingly.

"Why, it's a Prairie-Dog Town," said Twinkle.


Chapter II

Prairie-Dog Town

Lying in every direction, and quite filling the little hollow, were
round mounds of earth, each one having a hole in the center. The mounds
were about two feet high and as big around as a wash-tub, and the edges
of the holes were pounded hard and smooth by the pattering feet of the
little creatures that lived within.

"Isn't it funny!" said Chubbins, staring at the mounds.

"Awful," replied Twinkle, staring too. "Do you know, Chub, there are
an'mals living in every single one of those holes?"

"What kind?" asked Chubbins.

"Well, they're something like squirrels, only they _aren't_ squirrels,"
she explained. "They're prairie-dogs."

"Don't like dogs," said the boy, looking a bit uneasy.

"Oh, they're not dogs at all," said Twinkle; "they're soft and fluffy,
and gentle."

"Do they bark?" he asked.

"Yes; but they don't bite."

"How d' you know, Twink?"

"Papa has told me about them, lots of times. He says they're so shy
that they run into their holes when anybody's around; but if you keep
quiet and watch, they'll stick their heads out in a few minutes."

[Illustration: WATCHING]

"Let's watch," said Chubbins.

"All right," she agreed.

Very near to some of the mounds was a raised bank, covered with soft
grass; so the children stole softly up to this bank and lay down upon
it in such a way that their heads just stuck over the top of it,
while their bodies were hidden from the eyes of any of the folks of
Prairie-Dog Town.

"Are you comferble, Chub?" asked the little girl.


"Then lie still and don't talk, and keep your eyes open, and perhaps
the an'mals will stick their heads up."

"All right," says Chubbins.

So they kept quiet and waited, and it seemed a long time to both the
boy and the girl before a soft, furry head popped out of a near-by
hole, and two big, gentle brown eyes looked at them curiously.


Chapter III

Mr. Bowko, the Mayor

"Dear me!" said the prairie-dog, speaking almost in a whisper; "here
are some of those queer humans from the village."

"Let me see! Let me see!" cried two shrill little voices, and the wee
heads of two small creatures popped out of the hole and fixed their
bright eyes upon the heads of Twinkle and Chubbins.

"Go down at once!" said the mother prairie-dog. "Do you want to get
hurt, you naughty little things?"

[Illustration: "GO DOWN AT ONCE!"]

"Oh, they won't get hurt," said another deeper voice, and the children
turned their eyes toward a second mound, on top of which sat a plump
prairie-dog whose reddish fur was tipped with white on the end of each
hair. He seemed to be quite old, or at least well along in years, and
he had a wise and thoughtful look on his face.

"They're humans," said the mother.

"True enough; but they're only human children, and wouldn't hurt your
little ones for the world," the old one said.

"That's so!" called Twinkle. "All we want, is to get acquainted."

"Why, in that case," replied the old prairie-dog, "you are very welcome
in our town, and we're glad to see you."

"Thank you," said Twinkle, gratefully. It didn't occur to her just then
that it was wonderful to be talking to the little prairie-dogs just as
if they were people. It seemed very natural they should speak with each
other and be friendly.

As if attracted by the sound of voices, little heads began to pop out
of the other mounds--one here and one there--until the town was alive
with the pretty creatures, all squatting near the edges of their holes
and eyeing Chubbins and Twinkle with grave and curious looks.

"Let me introduce myself," said the old one that had first proved
friendly. "My name is Bowko, and I'm the Mayor and High Chief of
Prairie-Dog Town."

"Don't you have a king?" asked Twinkle.

"Not in this town," he answered. "There seems to be no place for kings
in this free United States. And a Mayor and High Chief is just as good
as a king, any day."

"I think so, too," answered the girl.

"Better!" declared Chubbins.

The Mayor smiled, as if pleased.

"I see you've been properly brought up," he continued; "and now let
me introduce to you some of my fellow-citizens. This," pointing with
one little paw to the hole where the mother and her two children were
sitting, "is Mrs. Puff-Pudgy and her family--Teenty and Weenty. Mr.
Puff-Pudgy, I regret to say, was recently chased out of town for saying
his prayers backwards."


"How could he?" asked Chubbins, much surprised.

"He was always contrary," answered the Mayor, with a sigh, "and
wouldn't do things the same way that others did. His good wife, Mrs.
Puff-Pudgy, had to scold him all day long; so we finally made him leave
the town, and I don't know where he's gone to."

"Won't he be sorry not to have his little children any more?" asked
Twinkle, regretfully.

"I suppose so; but if people are contrary, and won't behave, they must
take the consequences. This is Mr. Chuckledorf," continued the Mayor,
and a very fat prairie-dog bowed to them most politely; "and here is
Mrs. Fuzcum; and Mrs. Chatterby; and Mr. Sneezeley, and Doctor Dosem."

All these folks bowed gravely and politely, and Chubbins and Twinkle
bobbed their heads in return until their necks ached, for it seemed
as if the Mayor would never get through introducing the hundreds of
prairie-dogs that were squatting around.

"I'll never be able to tell one from the other," whispered the girl;
"'cause they all look exactly alike."

"Some of 'em 's fatter," observed Chubbins; "but I don't know which."


Chapter IV

Presto Digi, the Magician

"And now, if you like, we will be pleased to have you visit some of our
houses," said Mr. Bowko, the Mayor, in a friendly tone.

"But we can't!" exclaimed Twinkle. "We're too big," and she got up
and sat down upon the bank, to show him how big she really was when
compared with the prairie-dogs.

"Oh, that doesn't matter in the least," the Mayor replied. "I'll have
Presto Digi, our magician, reduce you to our size."

[Illustration: MR. BOWKO, THE MAYOR]

"Can he?" asked Twinkle, doubtfully.

"Our magician can do anything," declared the Mayor. Then he sat up and
put both his front paws to his mouth and made a curious sound that was
something like a bark and something like a whistle, but not exactly
like either one.

Then everybody waited in silence until a queer old prairie-dog slowly
put his head out of a big mound near the center of the village.

"Good morning, Mr. Presto Digi," said the Mayor.

"Morning!" answered the magician, blinking his eyes as if he had just
awakened from sleep.

Twinkle nearly laughed at this scrawny, skinny personage; but by good
fortune, for she didn't wish to offend him, she kept her face straight
and did not even smile.

"We have two guests here, this morning," continued the Mayor,
addressing the magician, "who are a little too large to get into our
houses. So, as they are invited to stay to luncheon, it would please us
all if you would kindly reduce them to fit our underground rooms."

"Is _that_ all you want?" asked Mr. Presto Digi, bobbing his head at
the children.

"It seems to me a great deal," answered Twinkle. "I'm afraid you never
could do it."

"Wow!" said the magician, in a scornful voice that was almost a bark.
"I can do that with one paw. Come here to me, and don't step on any of
our mounds while you're so big and clumsy."

So Twinkle and Chubbins got up and walked slowly toward the magician,
taking great care where they stepped. Teenty and Weenty were
frightened, and ducked their heads with little squeals as the big
children passed their mound; but they bobbed up again the next moment,
being curious to see what would happen.

When the boy and girl stopped before Mr. Presto Digi's mound, he began
waving one of his thin, scraggy paws and at the same time made a
gurgling noise that was deep down in his throat. And his eyes rolled
and twisted around in a very odd way.


Neither Twinkle nor Chubbins felt any effect from the magic, nor any
different from ordinary; but they knew they were growing smaller,
because their eyes were getting closer to the magician.

"Is that enough?" asked Mr. Presto, after a while.

"Just a little more, please," replied the Mayor; "I don't want them to
bump their heads against the doorways."

So the magician again waved his paw and chuckled and gurgled and
blinked, until Twinkle suddenly found she had to look up at him as he
squatted on his mound.

"Stop!" she screamed; "if you keep on, we won't be anything at all!"

"You're just about the right size," said the Mayor, looking them over
with much pleasure, and when the girl turned around she found Mr. Bowko
and Mrs. Puff-Pudgy standing beside her, and she could easily see that
Chubbins was no bigger than they, and she was no bigger than Chubbins.

"Kindly follow me," said Mrs. Puff-Pudgy, "for my little darlings are
anxious to make your acquaintance, and as I was the first to discover
you, you are to be my guests first of all, and afterward go to the
Mayor's to luncheon."


Chapter V

The Home of the Puff-Pudgys

So Twinkle and Chubbins, still holding hands, trotted along to the
Puff-Pudgy mound, and it was strange how rough the ground now seemed
to their tiny feet. They climbed up the slope of the mound rather
clumsily, and when they came to the hole it seemed to them as big as a
well. Then they saw that it wasn't a deep hole, but a sort of tunnel
leading down hill into the mound, and Twinkle knew if they were careful
they were not likely to slip or tumble down.


Mrs. Puff-Pudgy popped into the hole like a flash, for she was used
to it, and waited just below the opening to guide them. So, Twinkle
slipped down to the floor of the tunnel and Chubbins followed close
after her, and then they began to go downward.

"It's a little dark right here," said Mrs. Puff-Pudgy; "but I've ordered
the maid to light the candles for you, so you'll see well enough when
you're in the rooms."

"Thank you," said Twinkle, walking along the hall and feeling her way
by keeping her hand upon the smooth sides of the passage. "I hope you
won't go to any trouble, or put on airs, just because we've come to
visit you."

"If I do," replied Mrs. Puffy-Pudgy, "it's because I know the right
way to treat company. We've always belonged to the 'four hundred,'
you know. Some folks never know what to do, or how to do it, but that
isn't the way with the Puff-Pudgys. Hi! you, Teenty and Weenty--get
out of here and behave yourselves! You'll soon have a good look at our

And now they came into a room so comfortable and even splendid that
Twinkle's eyes opened wide with amazement.

It was big, and of a round shape, and on the walls were painted
very handsome portraits of different prairie-dogs of the Puff-Pudgy
family. The furniture was made of white clay, baked hard in the sun
and decorated with paints made from blue clay and red clay and yellow
clay. This gave it a gorgeous appearance. There was a round table in
the middle of the room, and several comfortable chairs and sofas.
Around the walls were little brackets with candles in them, lighting
the place very pleasantly.

"Sit down, please," said Mrs. Puff-Pudgy. "You'll want to rest a minute
before I show you around."

So Twinkle and Chubbins sat upon the pretty clay chairs, and Teenty and
Weenty sat opposite them and stared with their mischievous round eyes
as hard as they could.

"What nice furniture," exclaimed the girl.

"Yes," replied Mrs. Puff-Pudgy, looking up at the picture of a
sad-faced prairie-dog; "Mr. Puff-Pudgy made it all himself. He was very
handy at such things. It's a shame he turned out so obstinate."


"Did he build the house too?"

"Why, he dug it out, if that's what you mean. But I advised him how to
do it, so I deserve some credit for it myself. Next to the Mayor's,
it's the best house in town, which accounts for our high social
standing. Weenty! take your paw out of your mouth. You're biting your
claws again."

"I'm not!" said Weenty.

"And now," continued Mrs. Puff-Pudgy, "if you are rested, I'll show you
through the rest of our house."

So, they got up and followed her, and she led the children through
an archway into the dining-room. Here was a cupboard full of the
cunningest little dishes Twinkle had ever seen. They were all made of
clay, baked hard in the sun, and were of graceful shapes, and nearly as
smooth and perfect as our own dishes.


Chapter VI

Teenty and Weenty

All around the sides of the dining-room were pockets, or bins, in the
wall; and these were full of those things the prairie-dogs are most
fond of eating. Clover-seeds filled one bin, and sweet roots another;
dried mulberry leaves--that must have come from a long distance--were
in another bin, and even kernels of yellow field corn were heaped in
one place. The Puff-Pudgys were surely in no danger of starving for
some time to come.

"Teenty! Put back that grain of wheat," commanded the mother, in a
severe voice.


Instead of obeying, Teenty put the wheat in his mouth and ate it as
quickly as possible.

"The little dears are _so_ restless," Mrs. Puff-Pudgy said to Twinkle,
"that it's hard to manage them."

"They don't behave," remarked Chubbins, staring hard at the children.

"No, they have a share of their father's obstinate nature," replied
Mrs. Puff-Pudgy. "Excuse me a minute and I'll cuff them; It'll do them

But before their mother could reach them, the children found trouble
of their own. Teenty sprang at Weenty and began to fight, because his
brother had pinched him, and Weenty fought back with all his might
and main. They scratched with their claws and bit with their teeth,
and rolled over and over upon the floor, bumping into the wall and
upsetting the chairs, and snarling and growling all the while like two

Mrs. Puff-Pudgy sat down and watched them, but did not interfere.

"Won't they hurt themselves?" asked Twinkle, anxiously.

"Perhaps so," said the mother; "but if they do, it will punish them for
being so naughty. I always let them fight it out, because they are so
sore for a day or two afterward that they have to keep quiet, and then
I get a little rest."

Weenty set up a great howling, just then, and Teenty drew away from
his defeated brother and looked at him closely. The fur on both of them
was badly mussed up, and Weenty had a long scratch on his nose, that
must have hurt him, or he wouldn't have howled so. Teenty's left eye
was closed tight, but if it hurt him he bore the pain in silence.

Mrs. Puff-Pudgy now pushed them both into a little room and shut them
up, saying they must stay there until bedtime; and then she led Twinkle
and Chubbins into the kitchen and showed them a pool of clear water, in
a big clay basin, that had been caught during the last rain and saved
for drinking purposes. The children drank of it, and found it cool and

[Illustration: THE QUARREL]

Then they saw the bedrooms, and learned that the beds of prairie-dogs
were nothing more than round hollows made in heaps of clay. These
animals always curl themselves up when they sleep, and the round
hollows just fitted their bodies; so, no doubt, they found them very

There were several bedrooms, for the Puff-Pudgy house was really very
large. It was also very cool and pleasant, being all underground and
not a bit damp.

After they had admired everything in a way that made Mrs. Puff-Pudgy
very proud and happy, their hostess took one of the lighted candles
from a bracket and said she would now escort them to the house of the
Honorable Mr. Bowko, the Mayor.

Chapter VII

The Mayor Gives a Luncheon

"Don't we have to go upstairs and out of doors?" asked Twinkle.

"Oh, no," replied the prairie-dog, "we have halls connecting all the
different houses of importance. Just follow me, and you can't get lost."

They might easily have been lost without their guide, the little girl
thought, after they had gone through several winding passages. They
turned this way and that, in quite a bewildering manner, and there were
so many underground tunnels going in every direction that it was a
wonder Mrs. Puff-Pudgy knew which way to go.

"You ought to have sign-posts," said Chubbins, who had once been in a

"Why, as for that, every one in the town knows which way to go,"
answered their guide; "and it isn't often we have visitors. Last week
a gray owl stopped with us for a couple of days, and we had a fine
ball in her honor. But you are the first humans that have ever been
entertained in our town, so it's quite an event with us." A few minutes
later she said: "Here we are, at the Mayor's house," and as they passed
under a broad archway she blew out her candle, because the Mayor's
house was so brilliantly lighted.


"Welcome!" said Mr. Bowko, greeting the children with polite bows. "You
are just in time, for luncheon is about ready and my guests are waiting
for you."

He led them at once into a big dining-room that was so magnificently
painted with colored clays that the walls were as bright as June

"How pretty!" cried Twinkle, clapping her hands together in delight.

"I'm glad you like it," said the Mayor, much pleased. "Some people,
who are lacking in good taste, think it's a little overdone, but a
Mayor's house should be gorgeous, I think, so as to be a credit to the
community. My grandfather, who designed and painted this house, was a
very fine artist. But luncheon is ready, so pray be seated."

They sat down on little clay chairs that were placed at the round
table. The Mayor sat on one side of Twinkle and Mrs. Puff-Pudgy on
the other, and Chubbins was between the skinny old magician and Mr.
Sneezeley. Also, in other chairs sat Dr. Dosem, and Mrs. Chatterby, and
Mrs. Fuzcum, and several others. It was a large company, indeed, which
showed that the Mayor considered this a very important occasion.

They were waited upon by several sleek prairie-dog maids in white
aprons and white caps, who looked neat and respectable, and were very
graceful in their motions.

Neither Twinkle nor Chubbins was very hungry, but they were curious
to know what kind of food the prairie-dogs ate, so they watched
carefully when the different dishes were passed around. Only grains
and vegetables were used, for prairie-dogs do not eat meat. There was
a milk-weed soup at first; and then yellow corn, boiled and sliced
thin. Afterward they had a salad of thistle leaves, and some bread made
of barley. The dessert was a dish of the sweet, dark honey made by
prairie-bees, and some cakes flavored with sweet and spicy roots that
only prairie-dogs know how to find.

The children tasted of several dishes, just to show their politeness;
but they couldn't eat much. Chubbins spent most of his time watching
Mr. Presto Digi, who ate up everything that was near him and seemed
to be as hungry after the luncheon as he had been before.

[Illustration: MRS. FUZCUM SINGING]

Mrs. Puff-Pudgy talked so much about the social standing and dignity
of the Puff-Pudgys that she couldn't find time to eat much, although
she asked for the recipe of the milk-weed soup. But most of the others
present paid strict attention to the meal and ate with very good


Chapter VIII

On Top of the Earth Again

Afterward they all went into the big drawing-room, where Mrs. Fuzcum
sang a song for them in a very shrill voice, and Mr. Sneezeley and Mrs.
Chatterby danced a graceful minuet that was much admired by all present.

"We ought to be going home," said Twinkle, after this entertainment was
over. "I'm afraid our folks will worry about us."

"We regret to part with you," replied the Mayor; "but, if you really
think you ought to go, we will not be so impolite as to urge you to

"You'll find we have excellent manners," added Mrs. Puff-Pudgy.

"I want to get big again," said Chubbins.

"Very well; please step this way," said the Mayor.

So they all followed him through a long passage until they began to go
upward, as if climbing a hill. And then a gleam of daylight showed just
ahead of them, and a few more steps brought them to the hole in the
middle of the mound.

The Mayor and Mrs. Puff-Pudgy jumped up first, and then they helped
Twinkle and Chubbins to scramble out. The strong sunlight made them
blink their eyes for a time, but when they were able to look around
they found one or more heads of prairie-dogs sticking from every mound.


"Now, Mr. Presto Digi," said the Mayor, when all the party were
standing on the ground, "please enlarge our friends to their natural
sizes again."

"That is very easy," said the magician, with a sigh. "I really
wish, Mr. Mayor, that you would find something for me to do that is

"I will, some time," promised the Mayor. "Just now, this is all I can
require of you."

So the magician waved his paw and gurgled, much in the same way he had
done before, and Twinkle and Chubbins began to grow and swell out until
they were as large as ever, and the prairie-dogs again seemed very
small beside them.

"Good-bye," said the little girl, "and thank you all, very much, for
your kindness to us."

"Good-bye!" answered a chorus of small voices, and then all the
prairie-dogs popped into their holes and quickly disappeared.

Twinkle and Chubbins found they were sitting on the green bank again,
at the edge of Prairie-Dog Town.

"Do you think we've been asleep, Chub?" asked the girl.

"'Course not," replied Chubbins, with a big yawn. "It's easy 'nough to
know that, Twink, 'cause I'm sleepy now!"



       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's notes

  p8 "what they they get by boring deep holes"
  changed to "what they get by boring deep holes"

  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_

  "Prairie-dog Town" is one of six stories in "Twinkle and Chubbins",
  available from Doctrine Publishing Corporation.

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