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Title: Whitefoot the Wood Mouse
Author: Burgess, Thornton W. (Thornton Waldo)
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 "Whitefoot the Wood Mouse" ***

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WHITEFOOT THE WOOD MOUSE


By Thornton W. Burgess



CHAPTER I: Whitefoot Spends A Happy Winter

In all his short life Whitefoot the Wood Mouse never had spent such a
happy winter. Whitefoot is one of those wise little people who never
allow unpleasant things of the past to spoil their present happiness,
and who never borrow trouble from the future. Whitefoot believes in
getting the most from the present. The things which are past are past,
and that is all there is to it. There is no use in thinking about them.
As for the things of the future, it will be time enough to think about
them when they happen.

If you and I had as many things to worry about as does Whitefoot the
Wood Mouse, we probably never would be happy at all. But Whitefoot is
happy whenever he has a chance to be, and in this he is wiser than most
human beings. You see, there is not one of all the little people in the
Green Forest who has so many enemies to watch out for as has Whitefoot.
There are ever so many who would like nothing better than to dine on
plump little Whitefoot. There are Buster Bear and Billy Mink and Shadow
the Weasel and Unc’ Billy Possum and Hooty the Owl and all the members
of the Hawk family, not to mention Blacky the Crow in times when other
food is scarce. Reddy and Granny Fox and Old Man Coyote are always
looking for him.

So you see Whitefoot never knows at what instant he may have to run for
his life. That is why he is such a timid little fellow and is always
running away at the least little unexpected sound. In spite of all this
he is a happy little chap.

It was early in the winter that Whitefoot found a little hole in a
corner of Farmer Brown’s sugar-house and crept inside to see what it was
like in there. It didn’t take him long to decide that it was the most
delightful place he ever had found. He promptly decided to move in and
spend the winter. In one end of the sugar-house was a pile of wood. Down
under this Whitefoot made himself a warm, comfortable nest. It was a
regular castle to Whitefoot. He moved over to it the store of seeds he
had laid up for winter use.

Not one of his enemies ever thought of visiting the sugar-house in
search of Whitefoot, and they wouldn’t have been able to get in if they
had. When rough Brother North Wind howled outside, and sleet and
snow were making other little people shiver, Whitefoot was warm and
comfortable. There was all the room he needed or wanted in which to
run about and play. He could go outside when he chose to, but he didn’t
choose to very often. For days at a time he didn’t have a single fright.
Yes indeed, Whitefoot spent a happy winter.



CHAPTER II: Whitefoot Sees Queer Things

Whitefoot had spent the winter undisturbed in Farmer Brown’s
sugar-house. He had almost forgotten the meaning of fear. He had come
to look on that sugar-house as belonging to him. It wasn’t until Farmer
Brown’s boy came over to prepare things for sugaring that Whitefoot got
a single real fright. The instant Farmer Brown’s boy opened the door,
Whitefoot scampered down under the pile of wood to his snug little nest,
and there he lay, listening to the strange sounds. At last he could
stand it no longer and crept to a place where he could peep out and see
what was going on. It didn’t take him long to discover that this great
two-legged creature was not looking for him, and right away he felt
better. After a while Farmer Brown’s boy went away, and Whitefoot had
the little sugar-house to himself again.

But Farmer Brown’s boy had carelessly left the door wide open. Whitefoot
didn’t like that open door. It made him nervous. There was nothing to
prevent those who hunt him from walking right in. So the rest of that
night Whitefoot felt uncomfortable and anxious.

He felt still more anxious when next day Farmer Brown’s boy returned and
became very busy putting things to right. Then Farmer Brown himself came
and strange things began to happen. It became as warm as in summer.
You see Farmer Brown had built a fire under the evaporator. Whitefoot’s
curiosity kept him at a place where he could peep out and watch all that
was done. He saw Farmer Brown and Farmer Brown’s boy pour pails of sap
into a great pan. By and by a delicious odor filled the sugar-house.
It didn’t take him a great while to discover that these two-legged
creatures were so busy that he had nothing to fear from them, and so he
crept out to watch. He saw them draw the golden syrup from one end of
the evaporator and fill shining tin cans with it. Day after day they did
the same thing. At night when they had left and all was quiet inside the
sugar-house, Whitefoot stole out and found delicious crumbs where they
had eaten their lunch. He tasted that thick golden stuff and found it
sweet and good. Later he watched them make sugar and nearly made himself
sick that night when they had gone home, for they had left some of that
sugar where he could get at it. He didn’t understand these queer doings
at all. But he was no longer afraid.



CHAPTER III: Farmer Brown’s Boy Becomes Acquainted

It didn’t take Farmer Brown’s boy long to discover that Whitefoot the
Wood Mouse was living in the little sugar-house. He caught glimpses of
Whitefoot peeping out at him. Now Farmer Brown’s boy is wise in the ways
of the little people of the Green Forest. Right away he made up his
mind to get acquainted with Whitefoot. He knew that not in all the
Green Forest is there a more timid little fellow than Whitefoot, and
he thought it would be a fine thing to be able to win the confidence of
such a shy little chap.

So at first Farmer Brown’s boy paid no attention whatever to Whitefoot.
He took care that Whitefoot shouldn’t even know that he had been seen.
Every day when he ate his lunch, Farmer Brown’s boy scattered a lot
of crumbs close to the pile of wood under which Whitefoot had made his
home. Then he and Farmer Brown would go out to collect sap. When they
returned not a crumb would be left.

One day Farmer Brown’s boy scattered some particularly delicious crumbs.
Then, instead of going out, he sat down on a bench and kept perfectly
still. Farmer Brown and Bowser the Hound went out. Of course Whitefoot
heard them go out, and right away he poked his little head out from
under the pile of wood to see if the way was clear. Farmer Brown’s boy
sat there right in plain sight, but Whitefoot didn’t see him. That was
because Farmer Brown’s boy didn’t move the least bit. Whitefoot ran out
and at once began to eat those delicious crumbs. When he had filled his
little stomach, he began to carry the remainder back to his storehouse
underneath the woodpile. While he was gone on one of these trips, Farmer
Brown’s boy scattered more crumbs in a line that led right up to his
foot. Right there he placed a big piece of bread crust.

Whitefoot was working so hard and so fast to get all those delicious
bits of food that he took no notice of anything else until he reached
that piece of crust. Then he happened to look up right into the eyes
of Farmer Brown’s boy. With a frightened little squeak Whitefoot darted
back, and for a long time he was afraid to come out again.

But Farmer Brown’s boy didn’t move, and at last Whitefoot could stand
the temptation no longer. He darted out halfway, scurried back, came out
again, and at last ventured right up to the crust. Then he began to drag
it back to the woodpile. Still Farmer Brown’s boy did not move.

For two or three days the same thing happened. By this time, Whitefoot
had lost all fear. He knew that Farmer Brown’s boy would not harm him,
and it was not long before he ventured to take a bit of food from Farmer
Brown’s boy’s hand. After that Farmer Brown’s boy took care that no
crumbs should be scattered on the ground. Whitefoot had to come to him
for his food, and always Farmer Brown’s boy had something delicious for
him.



CHAPTER IV: Whitefoot Grows Anxious

   ‘Tis sad indeed to trust a friend
   Then have that trust abruptly end.
      --Whitefoot

I know of nothing that is more sad than to feel that a friend is no
longer to be trusted. There came a time when Whitefoot the Wood Mouse
almost had this feeling. It was a very, very anxious time for Whitefoot.

You see, Whitefoot and Farmer Brown’s boy had become the very best
of friends there in the little sugar-house. They had become such good
friends that Whitefoot did not hesitate to take food from the hands of
Farmer Brown’s boy. Never in all his life had he had so much to eat or
such good things to eat. He was getting so fat that his handsome little
coat was uncomfortably tight. He ran about fearlessly while Farmer Brown
and Farmer Brown’s boy were making maple syrup and maple sugar. He had
even lost his fear of Bowser the Hound, for Bowser had paid no attention
to him whatever.

Now you remember that Whitefoot had made his home way down beneath the
great pile of wood in the sugar-house. Of course Farmer Brown and Farmer
Brown’s boy used that wood for the fire to boil the sap to make the
syrup and sugar. Whitefoot thought nothing of this until one day he
discovered that his little home was no longer as dark as it had been.
A little ray of light crept down between the sticks. Presently another
little ray of light crept down between the sticks.

It was then that Whitefoot began to grow anxious. It was then he
realized that that pile of wood was growing smaller and smaller, and if
it kept on growing smaller, by and by there wouldn’t be any pile of
wood and his little home wouldn’t be hidden at all. Of course Whitefoot
didn’t understand why that wood was slipping away. In spite of himself
he began to grow suspicious. He couldn’t think of any reason why that
wood should be taken away, unless it was to look for his little home.
Farmer Brown’s boy was just as kind and friendly as ever, but all the
time more and more light crept in, as the wood vanished.

“Oh dear, what does it mean?” cried Whitefoot to himself. “They must be
looking for my home, yet they have been so good to me that it is hard
to believe they mean any harm. I do hope they will stop taking this wood
away. I won’t have any hiding-place at all, and then I will have to
go outside back to my old home in the hollow stump. I don’t want to do
that. Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I was so happy and now I am so worried! Why
can’t happy times last always?”



CHAPTER V: The End Of Whitefoot’s Worries

   You never can tell!  You never can tell!
   Things going wrong will often end well.
      --Whitefoot.

The next time you meet him just ask Whitefoot if this isn’t so. Things
had been going very wrong for Whitefoot. It had begun to look to
Whitefoot as if he would no longer have a snug, hidden little home in
Farmer Brown’s sugar-house. The pile of wood under which he had made
that snug little home was disappearing so fast that it began to look as
if in a little while there would be no wood at all.

Whitefoot quite lost his appetite. He no longer came out to take food
from Farmer Brown’s boy’s hand. He stayed right in his snug little home
and worried.

Now Farmer Brown’s boy had not once thought of the trouble he was
making. He wondered what had become of Whitefoot, and in his turn he
began to worry. He was afraid that something had happened to his little
friend. He was thinking of this as he fed the sticks of wood to the fire
for boiling the sap to make syrup and sugar. Finally, as he pulled away
two big sticks, he saw something that made him whistle with surprise. It
was Whitefoot’s nest which he had so cleverly hidden way down underneath
that pile of wood when he had first moved into the sugar-house. With a
frightened little squeak, Whitefoot ran out, scurried across the little
sugar-house and out though the open door.

Farmer Brown’s boy understood. He understood perfectly that little
people like Whitefoot want their homes hidden away in the dark. “Poor
little chap,” said Farmer Brown’s boy."He had a regular castle here and
we have destroyed it. He’s got the snuggest kind of a little nest here,
but he won’t come back to it so long as it is right out in plain sight.
He probably thinks we have been hunting for this little home of his.
Hello! Here’s his storehouse! I’ve often wondered how the little rascal
could eat so much, but now I understand. He stored away here more
than half of the good things I have given him. I am glad he did. If he
hadn’t, he might not come back, but I feel sure that to-night, when
all is quiet, he will come back to take away all his food. I must do
something to keep him here.”

Farmer Brown’s boy sat down to think things over. Then he got an old box
and made a little round hole in one end of it. Very carefully he took up
Whitefoot’s nest and placed it under the old box in the darkest corner
of the sugar-house. Then he carried all Whitefoot’s supplies over there
and put them under the box. He went outside, and got some branches of
hemlock and threw these in a little pile over the box. After this he
scattered some crumbs just outside.

Late that night Whitefoot did come back. The crumbs led him to the old
box. He crept inside. There was his snug little home! All in a second
Whitefoot understood, and trust and happiness returned.



CHAPTER VI: A Very Careless Jump

Whitefoot once more was happy. When he found his snug little nest and
his store of food under that old box in the darkest corner of Farmer
Brown’s sugar-house, he knew that Farmer Brown’s boy must have placed
them there. It was better than the old place under the woodpile. It was
the best place for a home Whitefoot ever had had. It didn’t take him
long to change his mind about leaving the little sugar-house. Somehow
he seemed to know right down inside that his home would not again be
disturbed.

So he proceeded to rearrange his nest and to put all his supplies of
food in one corner of the old box. When everything was placed to suit
him he ventured out, for now that he no longer feared Farmer Brown’s boy
he wanted to see all that was going on. He liked to jump up on the
bench where Farmer Brown’s boy sometimes sat. He would climb up to where
Farmer Brown’s boy’s coat hung and explore the pockets of it. Once he
stole Farmer Brown’s boy’s handkerchief. He wanted it to add to the
material his nest was made of. Farmer Brown’s boy discovered it just as
it was disappearing, and how he laughed as he pulled it away.

So, what with eating and sleeping and playing about, secure in the
feeling that no harm could come to him, Whitefoot was happier than ever
before in his little life. He knew that Farmer Brown’s boy and Farmer
Brown and Bowser the Hound were his friends. He knew, too, that so long
as they were about, none of his enemies would dare come near. This being
so, of course there was nothing to be afraid of. No harm could possibly
come to him. At least, that is what Whitefoot thought.

But you know, enemies are not the only dangers to watch out for.
Accidents will happen. When they do happen, it is very likely to be when
the possibility of them is farthest from your thoughts. Almost always
they are due to heedlessness or carelessness. It was heedlessness that
got Whitefoot into one of the worst mishaps of his whole life.

He had been running and jumping all around the inside of the little
sugar-house. He loves to run and jump, and he had been having just the
best time ever. Finally Whitefoot ran along the old bench and jumped
from the end of it for a box standing on end, which Farmer Brown’s
boy sometimes used to sit on. It wasn’t a very long jump, but somehow
Whitefoot misjudged it. He was heedless, and he didn’t jump quite far
enough. Right beside that box was a tin pail half filled with sap.
Instead of landing on the box, Whitefoot landed with a splash in that
pail of sap.



CHAPTER VII: Whitefoot Gives Up Hope

Whitefoot had been in many tight places. Yes, indeed, Whitefoot had been
in many tight places. He had had narrow escapes of all kinds. But never
had he felt so utterly hopeless as now. The moment he landed in that
sap, Whitefoot began to swim frantically. He isn’t a particularly good
swimmer, but he could swim well enough to keep afloat for a while. His
first thought was to scramble up the side of the tin pail, but when he
reached it and tried to fasten his sharp little claws into it in order
to climb, he discovered that he couldn’t. Sharp as they were, his little
claws just slipped, and his struggles to get up only resulted in tiring
him out and in plunging him wholly beneath the sap. He came up choking
and gasping. Then round and round inside that pail he paddled, stopping
every two or three seconds to try to climb up that hateful, smooth,
shiny wall.

The more he tried to climb out, the more frightened he became.

He was in a perfect panic of fear. He quite lost his head, did
Whitefoot. The harder he struggled, the more tired he became, and the
greater was his danger of drowning.

Whitefoot squeaked pitifully. He didn’t want to drown. Of course not. He
wanted to live. But unless he could get out of that pail very soon, he
would drown. He knew it. He knew that he couldn’t hold on much longer.
He knew that just as soon as he stopped paddling, he would sink. Already
he was so tired from his frantic efforts to escape that it seemed to
him that he couldn’t hold out any longer. But somehow he kept his legs
moving, and so kept afloat.

Just why he kept struggling, Whitefoot couldn’t have told. It wasn’t
because he had any hope. He didn’t have the least bit of hope. He knew
now that he couldn’t climb the sides of that pail, and there was no
other way of getting out. Still he kept on paddling. It was the only way
to keep from drowning, and though he felt sure that he had got to drown
at last, he just wouldn’t until he actually had to. And all the time
Whitefoot squeaked hopelessly, despairingly, pitifully. He did it
without knowing that he did it, just as he kept paddling round and
round.



CHAPTER VIII: The Rescue

When Whitefoot made the heedless jump that landed him in a pail half
filled with sap, no one else was in the little sugar-house. Whitefoot
was quite alone. You see, Farmer Brown and Farmer Brown’s boy were out
collecting sap from the trees, and Bowser the Hound was with them.

Farmer Brown’s boy was the first to return. He came in just after
Whitefoot had given up all hope. He went at once to the fire to put
more wood on. As he finished this job he heard the faintest of little
squeaks. It was a very pitiful little squeak. Farmer Brown’s boy stood
perfectly still and listened. He heard it again. He knew right away that
it was the voice of Whitefoot.

“Hello!” exclaimed Farmer Brown’s boy. “That sounds as if Whitefoot is
in trouble of some kind. I wonder where the little rascal is. I wonder
what can have happened to him. I must look into this.” Again Farmer
Brown’s boy heard that faint little squeak. It was so faint that he
couldn’t tell where it came from. Hurriedly and anxiously he looked all
over the little sugar-house, stopping every few seconds to listen
for that pitiful little squeak. It seemed to come from nowhere in
particular. Also it was growing fainter.

At last Farmer Brown’s boy happened to stand still close to that tin
pail half filled with sap. He heard the faint little squeak again and
with it a little splash. It was the sound of the little splash that led
him to look down. In a flash he understood what had happened. He
saw poor little Whitefoot struggling feebly, and even as he looked
Whitefoot’s head went under. He was very nearly drowned.

Stooping quickly, Farmer Brown’s boy grabbed Whitefoot’s long tail and
pulled him out. Whitefoot was so nearly drowned that he didn’t have
strength enough to even kick. A great pity filled the eyes of Farmer
Brown’s boy as he held Whitefoot’s head down and gently shook him. He
was trying to shake some of the sap out of Whitefoot. It ran out of
Whitefoot’s nose and out of his mouth. Whitefoot began to gasp. Then
Farmer Brown’s boy spread his coat close by the fire, rolled Whitefoot
up in his handkerchief and gently placed him on the coat. For some time
Whitefoot lay just gasping. But presently his breath came easier, and
after a while he was breathing naturally. But he was too weak and tired
to move, so he just lay there while Farmer Brown’s boy gently stroked
his head and told him how sorry he was.

Little by little Whitefoot recovered his strength. At last he could sit
up, and finally he began to move about a little, although he was still
wobbly on his legs. Farmer Brown’s boy put some bits of food where
Whitefoot could get them, and as he ate, Whitefoot’s beautiful soft eyes
were filled with gratitude.



CHAPTER IX: Two Timid Persons Meet

   Thus always you will meet life’s test--
   To do the thing you can do best.
      --Whitefoot.

Jumper the Hare sat crouched at the foot of a tree in the Green Forest.
Had you happened along there, you would not have seen him. At least,
I doubt if you would. If you had seen him, you probably wouldn’t have
known it. You see, in his white coat Jumper was so exactly the color of
the snow that he looked like nothing more than a little heap of snow.

Just in front of Juniper was a little round hole. He gave it no
attention. It didn’t interest him in the least. All through the Green
Forest were little holes in the snow. Jumper was so used to them that
he seldom noticed them. So he took no notice of this one until something
moved down in that hole. Jumper’s eyes opened a little wider and he
watched. A sharp little face with very bright eyes filled that little
round hole. Jumper moved just the tiniest bit, and in a flash that
sharp little face with the bright eyes disappeared. Jumper sat still
and waited. After a long wait the sharp little face with bright eyes
appeared again. “Don’t be frightened, Whitefoot,” said Jumper softly. At
the first word the sharp little face disappeared, but in a moment it was
back, and the sharp little eyes were fixed on Jumper suspiciously. After
a long stare the suspicion left them, and out of the little round hole
came trim little Whitefoot in a soft brown coat with white waistcoat and
with white feet and a long, slim tail. This winter he was not living in
Farmer Brown’s sugarhouse.

“Gracious, Jumper, how you did scare me!” said he.

Jumper chuckled. “Whitefoot, I believe you are more timid than I am,” he
replied.

“Why shouldn’t I be? I’m ever so much smaller, and I have more enemies,”
 retorted Whitefoot.

“It is true you are smaller, but I am not so sure that you have more
enemies,” replied Jumper thoughtfully. “It sometimes seems to me that I
couldn’t have more, especially in winter.”

“Name them,” commanded Whitefoot.

“Hooty the Great Horned Owl, Yowler the Bob Cat, Old Man Coyote, Reddy
Fox, Terror the Goshawk, Shadow the Weasel, Billy Mink.” Jumper paused.

“Is that all?” demanded Whitefoot.

“Isn’t that enough?” retorted Jumper rather sharply.

“I have all of those and Blacky the Crow and Butcher the Shrike and
Sammy Jay in winter, and Buster Hear and Jimmy Skunk and several of the
Snake family in summer,” replied Whitefoot. “It seems to me sometimes as
if I need eyes and ears all over me. Night and day there is always some
one hunting for poor little me. And then some folks wonder why I am so
timid. If I were not as timid as I am, I wouldn’t be alive now; I would
have been caught long ago. Folks may laugh at me for being so easily
frightened, but I don’t care. That is what saves my life a dozen times a
day.”

Jumper looked interested. “I hadn’t thought of that,” said he. “I’m a
very timid person myself, and sometimes I have been ashamed of being so
easily frightened. But come to think of it, I guess you are right; the
more timid I am, the longer I am likely to live.” Whitefoot suddenly
darted into his hole. Jumper didn’t move, but his eyes widened with
fear. A great white bird had just alighted on a stump a short distance
away. It was Whitey the Snowy Owl, down from the Far North.

“There is another enemy we both forgot,” thought Jumper, and tried not
to shiver.



CHAPTER X: The White Watchers

   Much may be gained by sitting still
   If you but have the strength of will.
    --Whitefoot.

Jumper the Hare crouched at the foot of a tree in the Green Forest, and
a little way from him on a stump sat Whitey the Snowy Owl. Had you been
there to see them, both would have appeared as white as the snow around
them unless you had looked very closely. Then you might have seen two
narrow black lines back of Jumper’s head. They were the tips of his
ears, for these remain black. And near the upper part of the white mound
which was Whitey you might have seen two round yellow spots, his eyes.

There they were for all the world like two little heaps of snow. Jumper
didn’t move so much as a hair. Whitey didn’t move so much as a feather.
Both were waiting and watching. Jumper didn’t move because he knew that
Whitey was there. Whitey didn’t move because he didn’t want any one to
know he was there, and didn’t know that Jumper was there. Jumper was
sitting still because he was afraid. Whitey was sitting still because he
was hungry.

So there they sat, each in plain sight of the other but only one seeing
the other. This was because Juniper had been fortunate enough to see
Whitey alight on that stump. Jumper had been sitting still when Whitey
arrived, and so those fierce yellow eyes had not yet seen him. But had
Jumper so much as lifted one of those long ears, Whitey would have seen,
and his great claws would have been reaching for Jumper.

Jumper didn’t want to sit still. No, indeed! He wanted to run. You know
it is on those long legs of his that Jumper depends almost wholly for
safety. But there are times for running and times for sitting still, and
this was a time for sitting still. He knew that Whitey didn’t know that
he was anywhere near. But just the same it was hard, very hard to sit
there with one he so greatly feared watching so near. It seemed as if
those fierce yellow eyes of Whitey must see him. They seemed to look
right through him. They made him shake inside.

“I want to run. I want to run. I want to run,” Jumper kept saying to
himself. Then he would say, “But I mustn’t. I mustn’t. I mustn’t.” And
so Jumper did the hardest thing in the world,--sat still and stared
danger in the face. He was sitting still to save his life.

Whitey the Snowy Owl was sitting still to catch a dinner. I know that
sounds queer, but it was so. He knew that so long as he sat still,
he was not likely to be seen. It was for this purpose that Old Mother
Nature had given him that coat of white. In the Far North, which was
his real home, everything is white for months and months, and any one
dressed in a dark suit can be seen a long distance. So Whitey had been
given that white coat that he might have a better chance to catch food
enough to keep him alive.

And he had learned how to make the best use of it. Yes, indeed, he knew
how to make the best use of it. It was by doing just what he was doing
now,--sitting perfectly still. Just before he had alighted on that stump
he had seen something move at the entrance to a little round hole in the
snow. He was sure of it.

“A Mouse,” thought Whitey, and alighted on that stump. “He saw me
flying, but he’ll forget about it after a while and will come out again.
He won’t see me then if I don’t move. And I won’t move until he is far
enough from that hole for me to catch him before he can get back to it.”

So the two watchers in white sat without moving for the longest time,
one watching for a dinner and the other watching the other watcher.



CHAPTER XI: Jumper Is In Doubt

   When doubtful what course to pursue
   ‘Tis sometimes best to nothing do.
     --Whitefoot.

Jumper the Hare was beginning to feel easier in his mind. He was no
longer shaking inside. In fact, he was beginning to feel quite safe.
There he was in plain sight of Whitey the Snowy Owl, sitting motionless
on a stump only a short distance away, yet Whitey hadn’t seen him.
Whitey had looked straight at him many times, but because Jumper had
not moved so much as a hair Whitey had mistaken him for a little heap of
snow.

“All I have to do is to keep right on sitting perfectly still, and I’ll
be as safe as if Whitey were nowhere about. Yes, sir, I will,” thought
Jumper. “By and by he will become tired and fly away. I do hope he’ll do
that before Whitefoot comes out again. If Whitefoot should come out, I
couldn’t warn him because that would draw Whitey’s attention to me, and
he wouldn’t look twice at a Wood Mouse when there was a chance to get a
Hare for his dinner.

“This is a queer world. It is so. Old Mother Nature does queer things.
Here she has given me a white coat in winter so that I may not be easily
seen when there is snow on the ground, and at the same time she has
given one of those I fear most a white coat so that he may not be easily
seen, either. It certainly is a queer world.”

Jumper forgot that Whitey was only a chance visitor from the Far North
and that it was only once in a great while that he came down there,
while up in the Far North where he belonged nearly everybody was dressed
in white.

Jumper hadn’t moved once, but once in a while Whitey turned his great
round head for a look all about in every direction. But it was done in
such a way that only eyes watching him sharply would have noticed it.
Most of the time he kept his fierce yellow eyes fixed on the little hole
in the snow in which Whitefoot had disappeared. You know Whitey can see
by day quite as well as any other bird.

Jumper, having stopped worrying about himself, began to worry about
Whitefoot. He knew that Whitefoot had seen Whitey arrive on that stump
and that was why he had dodged back into his hole and since then had not
even poked his nose out. But that had been so long ago that by this time
Whitefoot must think that Whitey had gone on about his business, and
Jumper expected to see Whitefoot appear any moment. What Jumper didn’t
know was that Whitefoot’s bright little eyes had all the time been
watching Whitey from another little hole in the snow some distance away.
A tunnel led from this little hole to the first little hole.

Suddenly off among the trees something moved. At least, Jumper thought
he saw something move. Yes, there it was, a little black spot moving
swiftly this way and that way over the snow. Jumper stared very hard.
And then his heart seemed to jump right up in his throat. It did so. He
felt as if he would choke. That black spot was the tip end of a tail,
the tail of a small, very slim fellow dressed all in white, the only
other one in all the Green Forest who dresses all in white. It was
Shadow the Weasel! In his white winter coat he is called Ermine.

He was running this way and that way, back and forth, with his nose to
the snow. He was hunting, and Jumper knew that sooner or later Shadow
would find him. Safety from Shadow lay in making the best possible use
of those long legs of his, but to do that would bring Whitey the
Owl swooping after him. What to do Jumper didn’t know. And so he did
nothing. It happened to be the wisest thing he could do.



CHAPTER XII: Whitey The Owl Saves Jumper

   It often happens in the end
   An enemy may prove a friend.
      --Whitefoot.

Was ever any one in a worse position than Jumper the Hare? To move would
be to give himself away to Whitey the Snowy Owl. If he remained where he
was very likely Shadow the Weasel would find him, and the result would
be the same as if he were caught by Whitey the Owl. Neither Whitey nor
Shadow knew he was there, but it would be only a few minutes before one
of them knew it. At least, that is the way it looked to Jumper.

Whitey wouldn’t know it unless he moved, but Shadow the Weasel would
find his tracks, and his nose would lead him straight there. Back and
forth, back and forth, this way, that way and the other way, just a
little distance off, Shadow was running with his nose to the snow. He
was hunting--hunting for the scent of some one whom he could kill. In a
few minutes he would be sure to find where Jumper had been, and then his
nose would lead him straight to that tree at the foot of which Jumper
was crouching.

Nearer and nearer came Shadow. He was slim and trim and didn’t look at
all terrible. Yet there was no one in all the Green Forest more feared
by the little people in fur, by Jumper, by Peter Rabbit, by Whitefoot,
even by Chatterer the Red Squirrel.

“Perhaps,” thought Jumper, “he won’t find my scent after all. Perhaps
he’ll go in another direction.” But all the time Jumper felt in his
bones that Shadow would find that scent. “When he does, I’ll run,” said
Jumper to himself. “I’ll have at least a chance to dodge Whitey. I am
afraid he will catch me, but I’ll have a chance. I won’t have any chance
at all if Shadow finds me.”

Suddenly Shadow stopped running and sat up to look about with fierce
little eyes, all the time testing the air with his nose. Jumper’s heart
sank. He knew that Shadow had caught a faint scent of some one. Then
Shadow began to run back and forth once more, but more carefully than
before. And then he started straight for where Jumper was crouching!
Jumper knew then that Shadow had found his trail.

Jumper drew a long breath and settled his long hind feet for a great
jump, hoping to so take Whitey the Owl by surprise that he might be able
to get away. And as Jumper did this, he looked over to that stump where
Whitey had been sitting so long. Whitey was just leaving it on his great
silent wings, and his fierce yellow eyes were fixed in the direction of
Shadow the Weasel. He had seen that moving black spot which was the tip
of Shadow’s tail.

Jumper didn’t have time to jump before Whitey was swooping down at
Shadow. So Juniper just kept still and watched with eyes almost popping
from his head with fear and excitement.

Shadow hadn’t seen Whitey until just as Whitey was reaching for him with
his great cruel claws. Now if there is any one who can move more quickly
than Shadow the Weasel I don’t know who it is. Whitey’s claws closed on
nothing but snow; Shadow had dodged. Then began a game, Whitey swooping
and Shadow dodging, and all the time they were getting farther and
farther from where Jumper was.

The instant it was safe to do so, Jumper took to his long heels and the
way he disappeared, lipperty-lipperty-lip, was worth seeing. Whitey the
Snowy Owl had saved him from Shadow the Weasel and didn’t know it. An
enemy had proved to be a friend.



CHAPTER XIII: Whitefoot Decides Quickly

   Your mind made up a certain way
   Be swift to act; do not delay.
      --Whitefoot.

When Whitefoot had discovered Whitey the Snowy Owl, he had dodged down
in the little hole in the snow beside which he had been sitting. He had
not been badly frightened. But he was somewhat upset. Yes, sir, he was
somewhat upset. You see, he had so many enemies to watch out for, and
here was another.

“Just as if I didn’t have troubles enough without having this white
robber to add to them,” grumbled Whitefoot. “Why doesn’t he stay where
he belongs, way up in the Far North? It must be that food is scarce up
there. Well, now that I know he is here, he will have to be smarter than
I think he is to catch me. I hope Jumper the Hare will have sense enough
to keep perfectly still. I’ve sometimes envied him his long legs, but I
guess I am better off than he is, at that. Once he has been seen by an
enemy, only those long legs of his can save him, but I have a hundred
hiding-places down under the snow. Whitey is watching the hole where
I disappeared; he thinks I’ll come out there again after a while. I’ll
fool him.”

Whitefoot scampered along through a little tunnel and presently very
cautiously peeped out of another little round hole in the snow. Sure
enough, there was Whitey the Snowy Owl back to him on a stump, watching
the hole down which he had disappeared a few minutes before. Whitefoot
grinned. Then he looked over to where he had last seen Jumper. Jumper
was still there; it was clear that he hadn’t moved, and so Whitey hadn’t
seen him. Again Whitefoot grinned. Then he settled himself to watch
patiently for Whitey to become tired of watching that hole and fly away.

So it was that Whitefoot saw all that happened. He saw Whitey suddenly
sail out on silent wings from that stump and swoop with great claws
reaching for some one. And then he saw who that some one was,--Shadow
the Weasel! He saw Shadow dodge in the very nick of time. Then he
watched Whitey swoop again and again as Shadow dodged this way and that
way. Finally both disappeared amongst the trees. Then he turned just
in time to see Jumper the Hare bounding away with all the speed of his
wonderful, long legs.

Fear, the greatest fear he had known for a long time, took possession
of Whitefoot. “Shadow the Weasel!” he gasped and had such a thing been
possible he certainly would have turned pale. “Whitey won’t catch him;
Shadow is too quick for him. And when Whitey has given up and flown
away, Shadow will come back. He probably had found the tracks of Jumper
the Hare and he will come back. I know him; he’ll come back. Jumper is
safe enough from him now, because he has such a long start, but Shadow
will be sure to find one of my holes in the snow. Oh, dear! Oh, dear!
What shall I do?”

You see Shadow the Weasel is the one enemy that can follow Whitefoot
into most of his hiding-places.

For a minute or two Whitefoot sat there, shaking with fright. Then he
made up his mind. “I’ll get away from here before he returns,” thought
Whitefoot. “I’ve got to. I’ve spent a comfortable winter here so far,
but there will be no safety for me here any longer. I don’t know where
to go, but anywhere will be better than here now.”

Without waiting another second, Whitefoot scampered away. And how he did
hope that his scent would have disappeared by the time Shadow returned.
If it hadn’t, there would be little hope for him and he knew it.



CHAPTER XIV: Shadows Return

   He little gains and has no pride
   Who from his purpose turns aside.
     --Whitefoot.

Shadow the Weasel believes in persistence. When he sets out to do a
thing, he keeps at it until it is done or he knows for a certainty it
cannot be done. He is not easily discouraged. This is one reason he is
so feared by the little people he delights to hunt. They know that once
he gets on their trail, they will be fortunate indeed if they escape
him.

When Whitey the Snowy Owl swooped at him and so nearly caught him, he
was not afraid as he dodged this way and that way. Any other of the
little people with the exception of his cousin, Billy Mink, would have
been frightened half to death. But Shadow was simply angry. He was angry
that any one should try to catch him. He was still more angry because
his hunt for Jumper the Hare was interfered with. You see, he had just
found Jumper’s trail when Whitey swooped at him.

So Shadow’s little eyes grew red with rage as he dodged this way and
that and was gradually driven away from the place where he had found the
trail of Jumper the Hare. At last he saw a hole in an old log and into
this he darted. Whitey couldn’t get him there. Whitey knew this and he
knew, too, that waiting for Shadow to come out again would be a waste of
time. So Whitey promptly flew away.

Hardly had he disappeared when Shadow popped out of that hole, for he
had been peeping out and watching Whitey. Without a moment’s pause
he turned straight back for the place where he had found the trail of
Jumper the Hare. He had no intention of giving up that hunt just because
he had been driven away. Straight to the very spot where Whitey had
first swooped at him he ran, and there once more his keen little nose
took up the trail of Jumper. It led him straight to the foot of the tree
where Jumper had crouched so long.

But, as you know, Jumper wasn’t there then. Shadow ran in a circle and
presently he found where Jumper had landed on the snow at the end
of that first bound. Shadow snarled. He understood exactly what had
happened.

“Jumper was under that tree when that white robber from the Far North
tried to catch me, and he took that chance to leave in a hurry. I can
tell that by the length of this jump. Probably he is still going. It is
useless to follow him because he has too long a start,” said Shadow, and
he snarled again in rage and disappointment.

Then, for such is his way, he wasted no more time or thought on Jumper
the Hare. Instead he began to look for other trails. So it was that he
found one of the little holes of Whitefoot the Wood Mouse.

“Ha! So this is where Whitefoot has been living this winter!” he
exclaimed. Once more his eyes glowed red, but this time with eagerness
and the joy of the hunt. He plunged down into that little hole in the
snow. Down there the scent of Whitefoot was strong. Shadow followed it
until it led out of another little hole in the snow. But there he lost
it. You see, it was so long since Whitefoot had hurriedly left that the
scent on the surface had disappeared.

Shadow ran swiftly this way and that way in a big circle, but he
couldn’t find Whitefoot’s trail again. Snarling with anger and
disappointment, he returned to the little hole in the snow and vanished.
Then he followed all Whitefoot’s little tunnels. He found Whitefoot’s
nest. He found his store of seeds. But he didn’t find Whitefoot.

“He’ll come back,” muttered Shadow, and curled up in Whitefoot’s nest to
wait.



CHAPTER XV: Whitefoots Dreadful Journey

   Danger may be anywhere,
   So I expect it everywhere.
      --Whitefoot.

Whitefoot the Wood Mouse was terribly frightened. Yes, sir, he was
terribly frightened. It was a long, long time since he had been as
frightened as he now was. He is used to frights, is Whitefoot. He has
them every day and every night, but usually they are sudden frights,
quickly over and as quickly forgotten.

This fright was different. You see Whitefoot had caught a glimpse of
Shadow the Weasel. And he knew that if Shadow returned he would be sure
to find the little round holes in the snow that led down to Whitefoot’s
private little tunnels underneath.

The only thing for Whitefoot to do was to get just as far from that
place as he could before Shadow should return. And so poor little
Whitefoot started out on a journey that was to take him he knew not
where. All he could do was to go and go and go until he could find a
safe hiding-place.

My, my, but that was a dreadful journey! Every time a twig snapped,
Whitefoot’s heart seemed to jump right up in his throat. Every time he
saw a moving shadow, and the branches of the trees moving in the wind
were constantly making moving shadows on the snow, he dodged behind
a tree trunk or under a piece of bark or wherever he could find a
hiding-place.

You see, Whitefoot has so many enemies always looking for him that he
hides whenever he sees anything moving. When at home, he is forever
dodging in and out of his hiding-places. So, because everything was
strange to him, and because of the great fear of Shadow the Weasel, he
suspected everything that moved and every sound he heard. For a long way
no one saw him, for no one was about. Yet all that way Whitefoot
twisted and dodged and darted from place to place and was just as badly
frightened as if there had been enemies all about.

“Oh, dear! Oh, dear me!” he kept saying over and over to himself.
“Wherever shall I go? Whatever shall I do? However shall I get enough to
eat? I won’t dare go back to get food from my little storehouses, and I
shall have to live in a strange place where I won’t know where to look
for food. I am getting tired. My legs ache. I ‘m getting hungry. I want
my nice, warm, soft bed. Oh, dear! Oh, dear! Oh, dear me!”

But in spite of his frights, Whitefoot kept on. You see, he was more
afraid to stop than he was to go on. He just had to get as far from
Shadow the Weasel as he could. Being such a little fellow, what would be
a short distance for you or me is a long distance for Whitefoot.

And so that journey was to him very long indeed. Of course, it seemed
longer because of the constant frights which came one right after
another. It really was a terrible journey. Yet if he had only known it,
there wasn’t a thing along the whole way to be afraid of. You know it
often happens that people are frightened more by what they don’t know
than by what they do know.



CHAPTER XVI: Whitefoot Climbs A Tree

    I’d rather be frightened With no cause for fear
    Than fearful of nothing When danger is near.
      --Whitefoot.

Whitefoot kept on going and going. Every time he thought that he was so
tired he must stop, he would think of Shadow the Weasel and then go on
again. By and by he became so tired that not even the thought of Shadow
the Weasel could make him go much farther. So he began to look about for
a safe hiding-place in which to rest.

Now the home which he had left had been a snug little room beneath the
roots of a certain old stump. There he had lived for a long time in the
greatest comfort. Little tunnels led to his storehouses and up to the
surface of the snow. It had been a splendid place and one in which he
had felt perfectly safe until Shadow the Weasel had appeared. Had you
seen him playing about there, you would have thought him one of the
little people of the ground, like his cousin Danny Meadow Mouse.

But Whitefoot is quite as much at home in trees as on the ground. In
fact, he is quite as much at home in trees as is Chatterer the Red
Squirrel, and a lot more at home in trees than is Striped Chipmunk,
although Striped Chipmunk belongs to the Squirrel family. So now that
he must find a hiding-place, Whitefoot decided that he would feel much
safer in a tree than on the ground.

“If only I can find a hollow tree,” whimpered Whitefoot. “I will feel
ever so much safer in a tree than hiding in or near the ground in a
strange place.”

So Whitefoot began to look for a dead tree. You see, he knew that there
was more likely to be a hollow in a dead tree than in a living tree. By
and by he came to a tall, dead tree. He knew it was a dead tree, because
there was no bark on it. But, of course, he couldn’t tell whether or not
that tree was hollow. I mean he couldn’t tell from the ground.

“Oh, dear!” he whimpered again. “Oh, dear! I suppose I will have to
climb this, and I am so tired. It ought to be hollow. There ought to
be splendid holes in it. It is just the kind of a tree that Drummer the
Woodpecker likes to make his house in. I shall be terribly disappointed
if I don’t find one of his houses somewhere in it, but I wish I hadn’t
got to climb it to find out. Well, here goes.”

He looked anxiously this way. He looked anxiously that way. He looked
anxiously the other way. In fact, he looked anxiously every way.

But he saw no one and nothing to be afraid of, and so he started up the
tree.

He was half-way up when, glancing down, he saw a shadow moving across
the snow. Once more Whitefoot’s heart seemed to jump right up in his
throat. That shadow was the shadow of some one flying. There couldn’t be
the least bit of doubt about it. Whitefoot flattened himself against the
side of the tree and peeked around it. He was just in time to see a gray
and black and white bird almost the size of Sammy Jay alight in the very
next tree. He had come along near the ground and then risen sharply into
the tree. His bill was black, and there was just a tiny hook on the end
of it. Whitefoot knew who it was. It was Butcher the Shrike. Whitefoot
shivered.



CHAPTER XVII: Whitefoot Finds A Hole Just In Time

   Just in time, not just too late,
   Will make you master of your fate.
     --Whitefoot.

Whitefoot, half-way up that dead tree, flattened himself against the
trunk and, with his heart going pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat with fright, peered
around the tree at an enemy he had not seen for so long that he had
quite forgotten there was such a one. It was Butcher the Shrike. Often
he is called just Butcher Bird. He did not look at all terrible. He was
not quite as big as Sammy Jay. He had no terrible claws like the Hawks
and Owls. There was a tiny hook at the end of his black bill, but it
wasn’t big enough to look very dreadful. But you can not always judge a
person by looks, and Whitefoot knew that Butcher was one to be feared.

So his heart went pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat as he wondered if Butcher had
seen him. He didn’t have to wait long to find out. Butcher flew to a
tree back of Whitefoot and then straight at him. Whitefoot dodged around
to the other side of the tree. Then began a dreadful game. At least,
it was dreadful to Whitefoot. This way and that way around the trunk of
that tree he dodged, while Butcher did his best to catch him.

Whitefoot would not have minded this so much, had he not been so tired,
and had he known of a hiding-place close at hand. But he was tired, very
tired, for you remember he had had what was a very long and terrible
journey to him. He had felt almost too tired to climb that tree in the
first place to see if it had any holes in it higher up. Now he didn’t
know whether to keep on going up or to go down. Two or three times he
dodged around the tree without doing either. Then he decided to go up.

Now Butcher was enjoying this game of dodge. If he should catch
Whitefoot, he would have a good dinner. If he didn’t catch Whitefoot, he
would simply go hungry a little longer. So you see, there was a very big
difference in the feelings of Whitefoot and Butcher. Whitefoot had his
life to lose, while Butcher had only a dinner to lose.

Dodging this way and dodging that way, Whitefoot climbed higher and
higher. Twice he whisked around that tree trunk barely in time. All the
time he was growing more and more tired, and more and more discouraged.
Supposing he should find no hole in that tree!

“There must be one. There must be one,” he kept saying over and over to
himself, to keep his courage up. “I can’t keep dodging much longer. If
I don’t find a hole pretty soon, Butcher will surely catch me. Oh, dear!
Oh, dear!”

Just above Whitefoot was a broken branch. Only the stub of it remained.
The next time he dodged around the trunk he found himself just below
that stub. Oh, joy! There, close under that stub, was a round hole.
Whitefoot didn’t hesitate a second. He didn’t wait to find out whether
or not any one was in that hole. He didn’t even think that there might
be some one in there. With a tiny little squeak of relief he darted in.
He was just in time. He was just in the nick of time. Butcher struck at
him and just missed him as he disappeared in that hole. Whitefoot had
saved his life and Butcher had missed a dinner.



CHAPTER XVIII: An Unpleasant Surprise

   Be careful never to be rude
   Enough to thoughtlessly intrude.
     --Whitefoot.

If ever anybody in the Great World felt relief and thankfulness, it was
Whitefoot when he dodged into that hole in the dead tree just as Butcher
the Shrike all but caught him. For a few minutes he did nothing but
pant, for he was quite out of breath.

“I was right,” he said over and over to himself, “I was right. I was
sure there must be a hole in this tree. It is one of the old houses of
Drummer the Woodpecker. Now I am safe.”

Presently he peeped out. He wanted to see if Butcher was watching
outside. He was just in time to see Butcher’s gray and black and white
coat disappearing among the trees. Butcher was not foolish enough to
waste time watching for Whitefoot to come out. Whitefoot sighed happily.
For the first time since he had started on his dreadful journey he felt
safe. Nothing else mattered. He was hungry, but he didn’t mind that. He
was willing to go hungry for the sake of being safe.

Whitefoot watched until Butcher was out of sight. Then he turned to
see what that house was like. Right away he discovered that there was a
soft, warm bed in it. It was made of leaves, grass, moss, and the lining
of bark. It was a very fine bed indeed.

“My, my, my, but I am lucky,” said Whitefoot to himself. “I wonder who
could have made this fine bed. I certainly shall sleep comfortably here.
Goodness knows, I need a rest. If I can find food enough near here, I’ll
make this my home. I couldn’t ask for a better one.”

Chuckling happily, Whitefoot began to pull away the top of that bed so
as to get to the middle of it. And then he got a surprise. It was an
unpleasant surprise. It was a most unpleasant surprise. There was some
one in that bed! Yes, sir, there was some one curled up in a little
round ball in the middle of that fine bed. It was some one with a coat
of the softest, finest fur. Can you guess who it was? It was Timmy the
Flying Squirrel.

It seemed to Whitefoot as if his heart flopped right over. You see at
first he didn’t recognize Timmy. Whitefoot is himself so very timid that
his thought was to run; to get out of there as quickly as possible. But
he had no place to run to, so he hesitated. Never in all his life had
Whitefoot had a greater disappointment. He knew now that this splendid
house was not for him.

Timmy the Flying Squirrel didn’t move. He remained curled up in a soft
little ball. He was asleep. Whitefoot remembered that Timmy sleeps
during the day and seldom comes out until the Black Shadows come
creeping out from the Purple Hills at the close of day. Whitefoot felt
easier in his mind then. Timmy was so sound asleep that he knew nothing
of his visitor. And so Whitefoot felt safe in staying long enough to get
rested. Then he would go out and hunt for another home.

So down in the middle of that soft, warm bed Timmy the Flying Squirrel,
curled up in a little round ball with his flat tail wrapped around him,
slept peacefully, and on top of that soft bed Whitefoot the Wood Mouse
rested and wondered what he should do next. Not in all the Green Forest
could two more timid little people be found than the two in that old
home of Drummer the Woodpecker.



CHAPTER XIX: Whitefoot Finds A Home At Last

   True independence he has known
   Whose home has been his very own.
     --Whitefoot.

Curled up in his splendid warm bed, Timmy the Flying Squirrel slept
peacefully. He didn’t know he had a visitor. He didn’t know that on top
of that same bed lay Whitefoot the Wood Mouse. Whitefoot wasn’t asleep.
No, indeed! Whitefoot was too worried to sleep. He knew he couldn’t stay
in that fine house because it belonged to Timmy. He knew that as soon as
Timmy awoke, he, Whitefoot, would have to get out. Where should he go?
He wished he knew. How he did long for the old home he had left. But
when he thought of that, he remembered Shadow the Weasel. It was better
to be homeless than to feel that at any minute Shadow the Weasel might
appear.

It was getting late in the afternoon. Before long, jolly, round, red Mr.
Sun would go to bed behind the Purple Hills, and the Black Shadows would
come creeping through the Green Forest. Then Timmy the Flying Squirrel
would awake. “It won’t do for me to be here then,” said Whitefoot to
himself. “I must find some other place before he wakes. If only I knew
this part of the Green Forest I might know where to go. As it is, I
shall have to go hunt for a new home and trust to luck. Did ever a poor
little Mouse have so much trouble?”

After awhile Whitefoot felt rested and peeped out of the doorway. No
enemy was to be seen anywhere. Whitefoot crept out and climbed a little
higher up in the tree. Presently he found another hole. He peeped inside
and listened long and carefully. He didn’t intend to make the mistake of
going into another house where some one might be living.

At last, sure that there was no one in there, he crept in. Then he made
a discovery. There were beech nuts in there and there were seeds.

It was a storehouse! Whitefoot knew at once that it must be Timmy’s
storehouse. Right away he realized how very, very hungry he was. Of
course, he had no right to any of those seeds or nuts. Certainly not!
That is, he wouldn’t have had any right had he been a boy or girl. But
it is the law of the Green Forest that whatever any one finds he may
help himself to if he can.

So Whitefoot began to fill his empty little stomach with some of those
seeds. He ate and ate and ate and quite forgot all his troubles. Just
as he felt that he hadn’t room for another seed, he heard the sound of
claws outside on the trunk of the tree. In a flash he knew that Timmy
the Flying Squirrel was awake, and that it wouldn’t do to be found in
there by him. In a jiffy Whitefoot was outside. He was just in time.
Timmy was almost up to the entrance.

“Hi, there!” cried Timmy. “What were you doing in my storehouse?”

“I--I--I was looking for a new home,” stammered Whitefoot.

“You mean you were stealing some of my food,” snapped Timmy
suspiciously.

“I--I--I did take a few seeds because I was almost starved. But truly I
was looking for a new home,” replied Whitefoot.

“What was the matter with your old home?” demanded Timmy.

Then Whitefoot told Timmy all about how he had been obliged to leave his
old home because of Shadow the Weasel, of the terrible journey he had
had, and how he didn’t know where to go or what to do. Timmy listened
suspiciously at first, but soon he made up his mind that Whitefoot was
telling the truth. The mere mention of Shadow the Weasel made him very
sober.

He scratched his nose thoughtfully. “Over in that tall, dead stub you
can see from here is an old home of mine,” said he. “No one lives in it
now. I guess you can live there until you can find a better home. But
remember to keep away from my storehouse.”

So it was that Whitefoot found a new home.



CHAPTER XX: Whitefoot Makes Himself At Home

   Look not too much on that behind
   Lest to the future you be blind.
     --Whitefoot.

Whitefoot didn’t wait to be told twice of that empty house. He thanked
Timmy and then scampered over to that stub as fast as his legs would
take him. Up the stub he climbed, and near the top he found a little
round hole. Timmy had said no one was living there now, and so Whitefoot
didn’t hesitate to pop inside.

There was even a bed in there. It was an old bed, but it was dry and
soft. It was quite clear that no one had been in there for a long time.
With a little sigh of pure happiness, Whitefoot curled up in that bed
for the sleep he so much needed. His stomach was full, and once more he
felt safe. The very fact that this was an old house in which no one had
lived for a long time made it safer. Whitefoot knew that those who lived
in that part of the Green Forest probably knew that no one lived in that
old stub, and so no one was likely to visit it.

He was so tired that he slept all night. Whitefoot is one of those who
sleeps when he feels sleepy, whether it be by day or night. He prefers
the night to be out and about in, because he feels safer then, but
he often comes out by day. So when he awoke in the early morning, he
promptly went out for a look about and to get acquainted with his new
surroundings.

Just a little way off was the tall, dead tree in which Timmy the Flying
Squirrel had his home. Timmy was nowhere to be seen. You see, he had
been out most of the night and had gone to bed to sleep through the day.
Whitefoot thought longingly of the good things in Timmy’s storehouse in
that same tree, but decided that it would be wisest to keep away from
there. So he scurried about to see what he could find for a breakfast.
It didn’t take him long to find some pine cones in which a few seeds
were still clinging. These would do nicely. Whitefoot ate what he wanted
and then carried some of them back to his new home in the tall stub.

Then he went to work to tear to pieces the old bed in there and make it
over to suit himself. It was an old bed of Timmy the Flying Squirrel,
for you know this was Timmy’s old house.

Whitefoot soon had the bed made over to suit him. And when this was done
he felt quite at home. Then he started out to explore all about within
a short distance of the old stub. He wanted to know every hole and every
possible hiding-place all around, for it is on such knowledge that his
life depends.

When at last he returned home he was very well satisfied. “It is going
to be a good place to live,” said he to himself. “There are plenty of
hiding-places and I am going to be able to find enough to eat. It will
be very nice to have Timmy the Flying Squirrel for a neighbor. I am sure
he and I will get along together very nicely. I don’t believe Shadow
the Weasel, even if he should come around here, would bother to climb
up this old stub. He probably would expect to find me living down in the
ground or close to it, anyway. I certainly am glad that I am such a good
climber. Now if Buster Bear doesn’t come along in the spring and pull
this old stub over, I’ll have as fine a home as any one could ask for.”

And then, because happily it is the way with the little people of the
Green Forest and the Green Meadows, Whitefoot forgot all about his
terrible journey and the dreadful time he had had in finding his new
home.



CHAPTER XXI: Whitefoot Envies Timmy

   A useless thing is envy;
      A foolish thing to boot.
   Why should a Fox who has a bark
      Want like an Owl to hoot?

Whitefoot was beginning to feel quite at home. He would have been wholly
contented but for one thing,--he had no well-filled storehouse. This
meant that each day he must hunt for his food.

It wasn’t that Whitefoot minded hunting for food. He would have done
that anyway, even though he had had close at hand a store-house with
plenty in it. But he would have felt easier in his mind. He would have
had the comfortable feeling that if the weather turned so bad that he
could not easily get out and about, he would not have to go hungry.

But Whitefoot is a happy little fellow and wisely made the best of
things. At first he came out very little by day. He knew that there were
many sharp eyes watching for him, and that he was more likely to be seen
in the light of day than when the Black Shadows had crept all through
the Green Forest.

He would peek out of his doorway and watch for chance visitors in the
daytime. Twice he saw Butcher the Shrike alight a short distance from
the tree in which Timmy lived. He knew Butcher had not forgotten that
he had chased a badly frightened Mouse into a hole in that tree. Once he
saw Whitey the Snowy Owl and so knew that Whitey had not yet returned to
the Far North. Once Reddy Fox trotted along right past the foot of the
old stub in which Whitefoot lived, and didn’t even suspect that he
was anywhere near. Twice he saw Old Man Coyote trotting past, and once
Terror the Goshawk alighted on that very stub, and sat there for half an
hour.

So Whitefoot formed the habit of doing just what Timmy the Flying
Squirrel did; he remained in his house for most of the day and came out
when the Black Shadows began to creep in among the trees. Timmy came out
about the same time, and they had become the best of friends.

Now Whitefoot is not much given to envying others, but as night after
night he watched Timmy a little envy crept into his heart in spite of
all he could do. Timmy would nimbly climb to the top of a tree and then
jump. Down he would come in a long beautiful glide, for all the world as
if he were sliding on the air.

The first time Whitefoot saw him do it he held his breath. He really
didn’t know what to make of it. The nearest tree to the one from which
Timmy had jumped was so far away that it didn’t seem possible any one
without wings could reach it without first going to the ground.

“Oh!” squeaked Whitefoot. “Oh! he’ll kill himself! He surely will kill
himself! He’ll break his neck!” But Timmy did nothing of the kind. He
sailed down, down, down and alighted on that distant tree a foot or two
from the bottom; and without stopping a second scampered up to the top
of that tree and once more jumped. Whitefoot had hard work to believe
his own eyes. Timmy seemed to be jumping just for the pleasure of it. As
a matter of fact, he was. He was getting his evening exercise.

Whitefoot sighed. “I wish I could jump like that,” said he to himself.
“I wouldn’t ever be afraid of anybody if I could jump like that. I envy
Timmy. I do so.”



CHAPTER XXII: Timmy Proves To Be A True Neighbor

   He proves himself a neighbor true
   Who seeks a kindly deed to do.
     --Whitefoot.

Occasionally Timmy the Flying Squirrel came over to visit Whitefoot. If
Whitefoot was in his house he always knew when Timmy arrived. He would
hear a soft thump down near the bottom of the tall stub. He would know
instantly that thump was made by Timmy striking the foot of the stub
after a long jump from the top of a tree. Whitefoot would poke his head
out of his doorway and there, sure enough, would be Timmy scrambling up
towards him.

Whitefoot had grown to admire Timmy with all his might. It seemed to
him that Timmy was the most wonderful of all the people he knew. You see
there was none of the others who could jump as Timmy could. Timmy on his
part enjoyed having Whitefoot for a neighbor. Few of the little people
of the Green Forest are more timid than Timmy the Flying Squirrel, but
here was one beside whom Timmy actually felt bold. It was such a new
feeling that Timmy enjoyed it.

So it was that in the dusk of early evening, just after the Black
Shadows had come creeping out from the Purple Hills across the Green
Meadows and through the Green Forest, these two little neighbors would
start out to hunt for food. Whitefoot never went far from the tall,
dead stub in which he was now living. He didn’t dare to. He wanted to be
where at the first sign of danger he could scamper back there to safety.
Timmy would go some distance, but he was seldom gone long. He liked to
be where he could watch and talk with Whitefoot. You see Timmy is very
much like other people,--he likes to gossip a little.

One evening Whitefoot had found it hard work to find enough food to fill
his stomach. He had kept going a little farther and a little farther
from home. Finally he was farther from it than he had ever been before.
Timmy had filled his stomach and from near the top of a tree was
watching Whitefoot. Suddenly what seemed like a great Black Shadow
floated right over the tree in which Timmy was sitting, and stopped on
the top of a tall, dead tree. It was Hooty the Owl, and it was simply
good fortune that Timmy happened to see him. Timmy did not move. He knew
that he was safe so long as he kept perfectly still. He knew that Hooty
didn’t know he was there. Unless he moved, those great eyes of Hooty’s,
wonderful as they were, would not see him.

Timmy looked over to where he had last seen Whitefoot. There he was
picking out seeds from a pine cone on the ground. The trunk of a tree
was between him and Hooty. But Timmy knew that Whitefoot hadn’t seen
Hooty, and that any minute he might run out from behind that tree. If he
did Hooty would see him, and silently as a shadow would swoop down and
catch him. What was to be done?

“It’s no business of mine,” said Timmy to himself. “Whitefoot must look
out for himself. It is no business of mine at all. Perhaps Hooty will
fly away before Whitefoot moves. I don’t want anything to happen to
Whitefoot, but if something does, it will be his own fault; he should
keep better watch.”

For a few minutes nothing happened. Then Whitefoot finished the last
seed in that cone and started to look for more. Timmy knew that in
a moment Hooty would see Whitefoot. What do you think Timmy did? He
jumped. Yes, sir, he jumped. Down, down, down, straight past the tree
on which sat Hooty the Owl, Timmy sailed. Hooty saw him. Of course. He
couldn’t help but see him. He spread his great wings and was after Timmy
in an instant. Timmy struck near the foot of a tree and without wasting
a second darted around to the other side. He was just in time. Hooty was
already reaching for him. Up the tree ran Timmy and jumped again. Again
Hooty was too late. And so Timmy led Hooty the Owl away from Whitefoot
the Wood Mouse.



CHAPTER XXIII: Whitefoot Spends A Dreadful Night

   Pity those who suffer fright
   In the dark and stilly night.
     --Whitefoot.

One night of his life Whitefoot will never forget so long as he lives.
Even now it makes him shiver just to think of it. Yes, sir, he shivers
even now whenever he thinks of that night. The Black Shadows had come
early that evening, so that it was quite dusk when Whitefoot crept out
of his snug little bed and climbed up to the round hole which was the
doorway of his home. He had just poked his nose out that little round
doorway when there was the most terrible sound. It seemed to him as if
it was in his very ears, so loud and terrible was it. It frightened him
so that he simply let go and tumbled backward down inside his house. Of
course it didn’t hurt him any, for he landed on his soft bed.

“Whooo-hoo-hoo, whooo-hoo!” came that terrible sound again, and
Whitefoot shook until his little teeth rattled. At least, that is the
way it seemed to him. It was the voice of Hooty the Owl, and Whitefoot
knew that Hooty was sitting on the top of that very stub. He was, so to
speak, on the roof of Whitefoot’s house.

Now in all the Green Forest there is no sound that strikes terror to
the hearts of the little people of feathers and fur equal to the hunting
call of Hooty the Owl. Hooty knows this. No one knows it better than he
does. That is why he uses it. He knows that many of the little people
are asleep, safely hidden away. He knows that it would be quite useless
for him to simply look for them. He would starve before he could find
a dinner in that way. But he knows that any one wakened from sleep
in great fright is sure to move, and if they do this they are almost
equally sure to make some little sound. His ears are so wonderful that
they can catch the faintest sound and tell exactly where it comes from.
So he uses that terrible hunting cry to frighten the little people and
make them move.

Now Whitefoot knew that he was safe. Hooty couldn’t possibly get at him,
even should he find out that he was in there. There was nothing to fear,
but just the same, Whitefoot shivered and shook and jumped almost out of
his skin every time that Hooty hooted. He just couldn’t help it.

“He can’t get me. I know he can’t get me. I’m perfectly safe. I’m just
as safe as if he were miles away. There’s nothing to be afraid of. It is
silly to be afraid. Probably Hooty doesn’t even know I am inside here.
Even if he does, it doesn’t really matter.” Whitefoot said these things
to himself over and over again. Then Hooty would send out that fierce,
terrible hunting call and Whitefoot would jump and shake just as before.

After awhile all was still. Gradually Whitefoot stopped trembling. He
guessed that Hooty had flown away. Still he remained right where he was
for a very long time. He didn’t intend to foolishly take any chances. So
he waited and waited and waited.

At last he was sure that Hooty had left. Once more he climbed up to his
little round doorway and there he waited some time before poking even
his nose outside. Then, just as he had made up his mind to go out, that
terrible sound rang out again, and just as before he tumbled heels over
head down on his bed.

Whitefoot didn’t go out that night at all. It was a moonlight night and
just the kind of a night to be out. Instead Whitefoot lay in his little
bed and shivered and shook, for all through that long night every once
in a while Hooty the Owl would hoot from the top of that stub.



CHAPTER XXIV: Whitefoot The Wood Mouse Is Unhappy

   Unhappiness without a cause you never, never find;
   It may be in the stomach, or it may be in the mind.
     --Whitefoot.

Whitefoot the Wood Mouse should have been happy, but he wasn’t. Winter
had gone and sweet Mistress Spring had brought joy to all the Green
Forest. Every one was happy, Whitefoot no less so than his neighbors at
first. Up from the Sunny South came the feathered friends and at once
began planning new homes. Twitterings and songs filled the air. Joy was
everywhere. Food became plentiful, and Whitefoot became sleek and fat.
That is, he became as fat as a lively Wood Mouse ever does become. None
of his enemies had discovered his new home, and he had little to worry
about.

But by and by Whitefoot began to feel less joyous. Day by day he grew
more and more unhappy. He no longer took pleasure in his fine home. He
began to wander about for no particular reason. He wandered much farther
from home than he had ever been in the habit of doing. At times he would
sit and listen, but what he was listening for he didn’t know. “There
is something the matter with me, and I don’t know what it is,” said
Whitefoot to himself forlornly. “It can’t be anything I have eaten. I
have nothing to worry about. Yet there is something wrong with me. I’m
losing my appetite. Nothing tastes good any more. I want something, but
I don’t know what it is I want.”

He tried to tell his troubles to his nearest neighbor, Timmy the Flying
Squirrel, but Timmy was too busy to listen. When Peter Rabbit happened
along, Whitefoot tried to tell him. But Peter himself was too happy and
too eager to learn all the news in the Green Forest to listen. No one
had any interest in Whitefoot’s troubles. Every one was too busy with
his own affairs.

So day by day Whitefoot the Wood Mouse grew more and more unhappy, and
when the dusk of early evening came creeping through the Green Forest,
he sat about and moped instead of running about and playing as he had
been in the habit of doing. The beautiful song of Melody the Wood Thrush
somehow filled him with sadness instead of with the joy he had always
felt before. The very happiness of those about him seemed to make him
more unhappy.

Once he almost decided to go hunt for another home, but somehow he
couldn’t get interested even in this. He did start out, but he had not
gone far before he had forgotten all about what he had started for.
Always he had loved to run about and climb and jump for the pure
pleasure of it, but now he no longer did these things. He was unhappy,
was Whitefoot. Yes, sir, he was unhappy; and for no cause at all so far
as he could see.



CHAPTER XXV: Whitefoot Finds Out What The Matter Was

   Pity the lonely, for deep in the heart
   Is an ache that no doctor can heal by his art.
    --Whitefoot.

Of all the little people of the Green Forest Whitefoot seemed to be the
only one who was unhappy. And because he didn’t know why he felt so he
became day by day more unhappy. Perhaps I should say that night by night
he became more unhappy, for during the brightness of the day he slept
most of the time.

“There is something wrong, something wrong,” he would say over and over
to himself.

“It must be with me, because everybody else is happy, and this is the
happiest time of all the year. I wish some one would tell me what ails
me. I want to be happy, but somehow I just can’t be.”

One evening he wandered a little farther from home than usual. He wasn’t
going anywhere in particular. He had nothing in particular to do. He was
just wandering about because somehow he couldn’t remain at home. Not far
away Melody the Wood Thrush was pouring out his beautiful evening song.
Whitefoot stopped to listen. Somehow it made him more unhappy than
ever. Melody stopped singing for a few moments. It was just then that
Whitefoot heard a faint sound. It was a gentle drumming. Whitefoot
pricked up his ears and listened. There it was again. He knew instantly
how that sound was made. It was made by dainty little feet beating very
fast on an old log. Whitefoot had drummed that way himself many times.
It was soft, but clear, and it lasted only a moment.

Right then something very strange happened to Whitefoot. Yes, sir,
something very strange happened to Whitefoot. All in a flash he felt
better. At first he didn’t know why. He just did, that was all. Without
thinking what he was doing, he began to drum himself. Then he listened.
At first he heard nothing. Then, soft and low, came that drumming sound
again. Whitefoot replied to it. All the time he kept feeling better. He
ran a little nearer to the place from which that drumming sound had come
and then once more drummed. At first he got no reply.

Then in a few minutes he heard it again, only this time it came from
a different place. Whitefoot became quite excited. He knew that that
drumming was done by another Wood Mouse, and all in a flash it came over
him what had been the matter with him.

“I have been lonely!” exclaimed Whitefoot. “That is all that has been
the trouble with me. I have been lonely and didn’t know it. I wonder if
that other Wood Mouse has felt the same way.”

Again he drummed and again came that soft reply. Once more Whitefoot
hurried in the direction of it, and once more he was disappointed when
the next reply came from a different place. By now he was getting quite
excited. He was bound to find that other Wood Mouse. Every time he heard
that drumming, funny little thrills ran all over him. He didn’t know
why. They just did, that was all. He simply must find that other Wood
Mouse. He forgot everything else. He didn’t even notice where he was
going. He would drum, then wait for a reply. As soon as he heard it,
he would scamper in the direction of it, and then pause to drum again.
Sometimes the reply would be very near, then again it would be so far
away that a great fear would fill Whitefoot’s heart that the stranger
was running away.



CHAPTER XXVI: Love Fills The Heart Of Whitefoot

   Joyous all the winds that blow
   To the heart with love aglow.
    --Whitefoot.

It was a wonderful game of hide-and-seek that Whitefoot the Wood Mouse
was playing in the dusk of early evening. Whitefoot was “it” all the
time. That is, he was the one who had to do all the hunting. Just who he
was hunting for he didn’t know. He knew it was another Wood Mouse, but
it was a stranger, and do what he would, he couldn’t get so much as a
glimpse of this little stranger. He would drum with his feet and after a
slight pause there would be an answering drum. Then Whitefoot would run
as fast as he could in that direction only to find no one at all. Then
he would drum again and the reply would come from another direction.

Every moment Whitefoot became more excited. He forgot everything, even
danger, in his desire to see that little drummer. Once or twice he
actually lost his temper in his disappointment. But this was only for
a moment. He was too eager to find that little drummer to be angry very
long.

At last there came a time when there was no reply to his drumming. He
drummed and listened, then drummed again and listened. Nothing was to be
heard. There was no reply. Whitefoot’s heart sank.

All the old lonesomeness crept over him again. He didn’t know which
way to turn to look for that stranger. When he had drummed until he
was tired, he sat on the end of an old log, a perfect picture of
disappointment. He was so disappointed that he could have cried if it
would have done any good.

Just as he had about made up his mind that there was nothing to do but
to try to find his way home, his keen little ears caught the faintest
rustle of dry leaves. Instantly Whitefoot was alert and watchful. Long
ago he had learned to be suspicious of rustling leaves. They might have
been rustled by the feet of an enemy stealing up on him. No Wood Mouse
who wants to live long is ever heedless of rustling leaves. As still as
if he couldn’t move, Whitefoot sat staring at the place from which that
faint sound had seemed to come. For two or three minutes he heard
and saw nothing. Then another leaf rustled a little bit to one side.
Whitefoot turned like a flash, his feet gathered under him ready for a
long jump for safety.

At first he saw nothing. Then he became aware of two bright, soft little
eyes watching him. He stared at them very hard and then all over him
crept those funny thrills he had felt when he had first heard the
drumming of the stranger. He knew without being told that those eyes
belonged to the little drummer with whom he had been playing hide and
seek so long.

Whitefoot held his breath, he was so afraid that those eyes would
vanish. Finally he rather timidly jumped down from the log and started
toward those two soft eyes. They vanished. Whitefoot’s heart sank. He
was tempted to rush forward, but he didn’t. He sat still. There was a
slight rustle off to the right. A little ray of moonlight made its way
down through the branches of the trees just there, and in the middle of
the light spot it made sat a timid little person. It seemed to Whitefoot
that he was looking at the most beautiful Wood Mouse in all the Great
World. Suddenly he felt very shy and timid himself.

“Who--who--who are you?” he stammered.

“I am little Miss Dainty,” replied the stranger bashfully.

Right then and there Whitefoot’s heart was filled so full of something
that it seemed as if it would burst. It was love. All in that instant he
knew that he had found the most wonderful thing in all the Great World,
which of course is love. He knew that he just couldn’t live without
little Miss Dainty.



CHAPTER XXVII: Mr. And Mrs. Whitefoot

   When all is said and all is done
   ‘Tis only love of two makes one.
    --Whitefoot.

Little Miss Dainty, the most beautiful and wonderful Wood Mouse in all
the Great World, according to Whitefoot, was very shy and very timid. It
took Whitefoot a long time to make her believe that he really couldn’t
live without her. At least, she pretended not to believe it. If the
truth were known, little Miss Dainty felt just the same way about
Whitefoot. But Whitefoot didn’t know this, and I am afraid she teased
him a great deal before she told him that she loved him just as he loved
her.

But at last little Miss Dainty shyly admitted that she loved Whitefoot
just as much as he loved her and was willing to become Mrs. Whitefoot.
Secretly she thought Whitefoot the most wonderful Wood Mouse in the
Great World, but she didn’t tell him so. The truth is, she made him feel
as if she were doing him a great favor.

As for Whitefoot, he was so happy that he actually tried to sing. Yes,
sir, Whitefoot tried to sing, and he really did very well for a Mouse.
He was ready and eager to do anything that Mrs. Whitefoot wanted to do.
Together they scampered about in the moonlight, hunting for good things
to eat, and poking their inquisitive little noses into every little
place they could find. Whitefoot forgot that he had ever been sad and
lonely. He raced about and did all sorts of funny things from pure joy,
but he never once forgot to watch out for danger. In fact he was more
watchful than ever, for now he was watching for Mrs. Whitefoot as well
as for himself.

At last Whitefoot rather timidly suggested that they should go see his
fine home in a certain hollow stub. Mrs. Whitefoot insisted that they
should go to her home. Whitefoot agreed on condition that she
would afterwards visit his home. So together they went back to Mrs.
Whitefoot’s home. Whitefoot pretended that he liked it very much, but
in his heart he thought his own home was very much better, and he felt
quite sure that Mrs. Whitefoot would agree with him once she had seen
it.

But Mrs. Whitefoot was very well satisfied with her old home and not
at all anxious to leave it. It was in an old hollow stump close to the
ground. It was just such a place as Shadow the Weasel would be sure to
visit should he happen along that way. It didn’t seem at all safe to
Whitefoot. In fact it worried him. Then, too, it was not in such a
pleasant place as was his own home. Of course he didn’t say this, but
pretended to admire everything.

Two days and nights they spent there. Then Whitefoot suggested that they
should visit his home. “Of course, my dear, we will not have to live
there unless you want to, but I want you to see it,” said he.

Mrs. Whitefoot didn’t appear at all anxious to go. She began to make
excuses for staying right where they were. You see, she had a great love
for that old home. They were sitting just outside the doorway talking
about the matter when Whitefoot caught a glimpse of a swiftly moving
form not far off. It was Shadow the Weasel. Neither of them breathed.
Shadow passed without looking in their direction. When he was out of
sight, Mrs. Whitefoot shivered.

“Let’s go over to your home right away,” she whispered. “I’ve never seen
Shadow about here before, but now that he has been here once, he may
come again.”

“We’ll start at once,” replied Whitefoot, and for once he was glad that
Shadow the Weasel was about.



CHAPTER XVIII: Mrs. Whitefoot Decides On A Home

   When Mrs. Mouse makes up her mind
   Then Mr. Mouse best get behind.
    --Whitefoot.

Whitefoot the Wood Mouse was very proud of his home. He showed it as he
led Mrs. Whitefoot there. He felt sure that she would say at once that
that would be the place for them to live. You remember that it was high
up in a tall, dead stub and had once been the home of Timmy the Flying
Squirrel.

“There, my dear, what do you think of that?” said Whitefoot proudly as
they reached the little round doorway.

Mrs. Whitefoot said nothing, but at once went inside. She was gone what
seemed a long time to Whitefoot, anxiously waiting outside. You see,
Mrs. Whitefoot is a very thorough small person, and she was examining
the inside of that house from top to bottom. At last she appeared at the
doorway.

“Don’t you think this is a splendid house?” asked Whitefoot rather
timidly.

“It is very good of its kind,” replied Mrs. Whitefoot.

Whitefoot’s heart sank. He didn’t like the tone in which Mrs. Whitefoot
had said that.

“Just what do you mean, my dear?” Whitefoot asked.

“I mean,” replied Mrs. Whitefoot, in a most decided way, “that it is a
very good house for winter, but it won’t do at all for summer. That
is, it won’t do for me. In the first place it is so high up that if we
should have babies, I would worry all the time for fear the darlings
would have a bad fall. Besides, I don’t like an inside house for summer.
I think, Whitefoot, we must look around and find a new home.”

As she spoke Mrs. Whitefoot was already starting down the stub.
Whitefoot followed.

“All right, my dear, all right,” said he meekly. “You know best. This
seems to me like a very fine home, but of course, if you don’t like it
we’ll look for another.”

Mrs. Whitefoot said nothing, but led the way down the tree with
Whitefoot meekly following. Then began a patient search all about. Mrs.
Whitefoot appeared to know just what she wanted and turned up her nose
at several places Whitefoot thought would make fine homes. She hardly
glanced at a fine hollow log Whitefoot found. She merely poked her nose
in at a splendid hole beneath the roots of an old stump. Whitefoot
began to grow tired from running about and climbing stumps and trees and
bushes.

He stopped to rest and lost sight of Mrs. Whitefoot. A moment later he
heard her calling excitedly. When he found her, she was up in a small
tree, sitting on the edge of an old nest a few feet above the ground.
It was a nest that had once belonged to Melody the Wood Thrush. Mrs.
Whitefoot was sitting on the edge of it, and her bright eyes snapped
with excitement and pleasure.

“I’ve found it!” she cried. “I’ve found it! It is just what I have been
looking for.”

“Found what?” Whitefoot asked. “I don’t see anything but an old nest of
Melody’s.”

“I’ve found the home we’ve been looking for, stupid,” retorted Mrs.
Whitefoot.

Still Whitefoot stared. “I don’t see any house,” said he.

Mrs. Whitefoot stamped her feet impatiently. “Right here, stupid,” said
she. “This old nest will make us the finest and safest home that ever
was. No one will ever think of looking for us here. We must get busy at
once and fix it up.”

Even then Whitefoot didn’t understand. Always he had lived either in a
hole in the ground, or in a hollow stump or tree. How they were to live
in that old nest he couldn’t see at all.



CHAPTER XXIX: Making Over An Old House

   A home is always what you make it.
   With love there you will ne’er forsake it.
    --Whitefoot.

Whitefoot climbed up to the old nest of Melody the Wood Thrush over the
edge of which little Mrs. Whitefoot was looking down at him. It took
Whitefoot hardly a moment to get up there, for the nest was only a few
feet above the ground in a young tree, and you know Whitefoot is a very
good climber.

He found Mrs. Whitefoot very much excited. She was delighted with
that old nest and she showed it. For his part, Whitefoot couldn’t see
anything but a deserted old house of no use to any one. To be sure, it
had been a very good home in its time. It had been made of tiny twigs,
stalks of old weeds, leaves, little fine roots and mud. It was still
quite solid, and was firmly fixed in a crotch of the young tree. But
Whitefoot couldn’t see how it could be turned into a home for a Mouse.
He said as much.

Little Mrs. Whitefoot became more excited than ever. “You dear old
stupid,” said she, “whatever is the matter with you? Don’t you see that
all we need do is to put a roof on, make an entrance on the under side,
and make a soft comfortable bed inside to make it a delightful home?”

“I don’t see why we don’t make a new home altogether,” protested
Whitefoot. “It seems to me that hollow stub of mine is ever so much
better than this. That has good solid walls, and we won’t have to do a
thing to it.”

“I told you once before that it doesn’t suit me for summer,” replied
little Mrs. Whitefoot rather sharply, because she was beginning to lose
patience. “It will be all right for winter, but winter is a long way
off. It may suit you for summer, but it doesn’t suit me, and this place
does. So this is where we are going to live.”

“Certainly, my dear. Certainly,” replied Whitefoot very meekly. “If you
want to live here, here we will live. But I must confess it isn’t clear
to me yet how we are going to make a decent home out of this old nest.”

“Don’t you worry about that,” replied Mrs. Whitefoot. “You can get the
material, and I’ll attend to the rest. Let us waste no time about it. I
am anxious to get our home finished and to feel a little bit settled. I
have already planned just what has got to be done and how we will do it.
Now you go look for some nice soft, dry weed stalks and strips of soft
bark, and moss and any other soft, tough material that you can find.
Just get busy and don’t stop to talk.”

Of course Whitefoot did as he was told. He ran down to the ground
and began to hunt for the things Mrs. Whitefoot wanted. He was very
particular about it. He still didn’t think much of her idea of making
over that old home of Melody’s, but if she would do it, he meant that
she should have the very best of materials to do it with.

So back and forth from the ground to the old nest in the tree Whitefoot
hurried, and presently there was quite a pile of weed stalks and
soft grass and strips of bark in the old nest. Mrs. Whitefoot joined
Whitefoot in hunting for just the right things, but she spent more time
in arranging the material. Over that old nest she made a fine high roof.
Down through the lower side she cut a little round doorway just big
enough for them to pass through. Unless you happened to be underneath
looking up, you never would have guessed there was an entrance at all.
Inside was a snug, round room, and in this she made the softest and
most comfortable of beds. As it began to look more and more like a home,
Whitefoot himself became as excited and eager as Mrs. Whitefoot had
been from the beginning. “It certainly is going to be a fine home,” said
Whitefoot.

“Didn’t I tell you it would be?” retorted Mrs. Whitefoot.



CHAPTER XXX: The Whitefoots Enjoy Their New Home

   No home is ever mean or poor
   Where love awaits you at the door.
    --Whitefoot.

“There,” said Mrs. Whitefoot, as she worked a strip of white birch bark
into the roof of the new home she and Whitefoot had been building out of
the old home of Melody the Wood Thrush, “this finishes the roof. I don’t
think any water will get through it even in the hardest rain.”

“It is wonderful,” declared Whitefoot admiringly. “Wherever did you
learn to build such a house as this?”

“From my mother,” replied Mrs. Whitefoot. “I was born in just such a
home. It makes the finest kind of a home for Wood Mouse babies.”

“You don’t think there is danger that the wind will blow it down, do
you?” ventured Whitefoot.

“Of course I don’t,” retorted little Mrs. Whitefoot scornfully. “Hasn’t
this old nest remained right where it is for over a year? Do you suppose
that if I had thought there was the least bit of danger that it would
blow down, I would have used it? Do credit me with a little sense, my
dear.”

“Yes’m, I do,” replied Whitefoot meekly. “You are the most sensible
person in all the Great World. I wasn’t finding fault. You see, I have
always lived in a hole in the ground or a hollow stump, or a hole in
a tree, and I have not yet become used to a home that moves about and
rocks as this one does when the wind blows. But if you say it is all
right, why of course it is all right. Probably I will get used to it
after awhile.”

Whitefoot did get used to it. After living in it for a few days, it no
longer seemed strange, and he no longer minded its swaying when the wind
blew. The fact is, he rather enjoyed it. So Whitefoot and Mrs. Whitefoot
settled down to enjoy their new home. Now and then they added a bit to
it here and there.

Somehow Whitefoot felt unusually safe, safer than he had ever felt in
any of his other homes. You see, he had seen several feathered folk
alight close to it and not give it a second look. He knew that they
had seen that home, but had mistaken it for what it had once been, the
deserted home of one of their own number.

Whitefoot had chuckled. He had chuckled long and heartily. “If they make
that mistake,” said he to himself, “everybody else is likely to make it.
That home of ours is right in plain sight, yet I do believe it is safer
than the best hidden home I ever had before. Shadow the Weasel never
will think of climbing up this little tree to look at an old nest, and
Shadow is the one I am most afraid of.”

It was only a day or two later that Buster Bear happened along that way.
Now Buster is very fond of tender Wood Mouse. More than once Whitefoot
had had a narrow escape from Buster’s big claws as they tore open an old
stump or dug into the ground after him. He saw Buster glance up at the
new home without the slightest interest in those shrewd little eyes of
his. Then Buster shuffled on to roll over an old log and lick up the
ants he found under it. Again Whitefoot chuckled. “Yes, sir,” said he.
“It is the safest home I ‘ve ever had.”

So Whitefoot and little Mrs. Whitefoot were very happy in the home
which they had built, and for once in his life Whitefoot did very little
worrying. Life seemed more beautiful than it had ever been before. And
he almost forgot that there was such a thing as a hungry enemy.



CHAPTER XXXI: Whitefoot Is Hurt

   The hurts that hardest are to bear
   Come from those for whom we care.
    --Whitefoot.

Whitefoot was hurt. Yes, sir, Whitefoot was hurt. He was very much hurt.
It wasn’t a bodily hurt; it was an inside hurt. It was a hurt that made
his heart ache. And to make it worse, he couldn’t understand it at all.
One evening he had been met at the little round doorway by little Mrs.
Whitefoot.

“You can’t come in,” said she.

“Why can’t I?” demanded Whitefoot, in the greatest surprise.

“Never mind why. You can’t, and that is all there is to it,” replied
Mrs. Whitefoot.

“You mean I can’t ever come in any more?” asked Whitefoot.

“I don’t know about that,” replied Mrs. Whitefoot, “but you can’t come
in now, nor for some time. I think the best thing you can do is to go
back to your old home in the hollow stub.”

Whitefoot stared at little Mrs. Whitefoot quite as if he thought she
had gone crazy. Then he lost his temper. “I guess I’ll come in if I want
to,” said he. “This home is quite as much my home as it is yours. You
have no right to keep me out of it. Just you get out of my way.”

But little Mrs. Whitefoot didn’t get out of his way, and do what he
would, Whitefoot couldn’t get in. You see she quite filled that little
round doorway. Finally, he had to give up trying. Three times he came
back and each time he found little Mrs. Whitefoot in the doorway. And
each time she drove him away. Finally, for lack of any other place to
go to, he returned to his old home in the old stub. Once he had thought
this the finest home possible, but now somehow it didn’t suit him at
all. The truth is he missed little Mrs. Whitefoot, and so what had once
been a home was now only a place in which to hide and sleep.

Whitefoot’s anger did not last long. It was replaced by that hurt
feeling. He felt that he must have done something little Mrs. Whitefoot
did not like, but though he thought and thought he couldn’t remember a
single thing. Several times he went back to see if Mrs. Whitefoot felt
any differently, but found she didn’t. Finally she told him rather
sharply to go away and stay away. After that Whitefoot didn’t venture
over to the new home. He would sometimes sit a short distance away
and gaze at it longingly. All the joy had gone out of the beautiful
springtime for him. He was quite as unhappy as he had been before he met
little Mrs. Whitefoot. You see, he was even more lonely than he had been
then. And added to this loneliness was that hurt feeling, which made it
ever and ever so much worse. It was very hard to bear.

“If I could understand it, it wouldn’t be so bad,” he kept saying
over and over again to himself, “but I don’t understand it. I don’t
understand why Mrs. Whitefoot doesn’t love me any more.”



CHAPTER XXXII: The Surprise

   Surprises sometimes are so great
   You’re tempted to believe in fate.
    --Whitefoot.

One never-to-be forgotten evening Whitefoot met Mrs. Whitefoot and
she invited him to come back to their home. Of course Whitefoot was
delighted.

“Sh-h-h,” said little Mrs. Whitefoot, as Whitefoot entered the snug
little room of the house they had built in the old nest of Melody the
Wood Thrush. Whitefoot hesitated. In the first place, it was dark in
there. In the second place, he had the feeling that somehow that little
bedroom seemed crowded. It hadn’t been that way the last time he was
there. Mrs. Whitefoot was right in front of him, and she seemed very
much excited about something.

Presently she crowded to one side. “Come here and look,” said she.

Whitefoot looked. In the middle of a soft bed of moss was a squirming
mass of legs and funny little heads. At first that was all Whitefoot
could make out.

“Don’t you think this is the most wonderful surprise that ever was?”
 whispered little Mrs. Whitefoot. “Aren’t they darlings? Aren’t you proud
of them?”

By this time Whitefoot had made out that that squirming mass of legs
and heads was composed of baby Mice. He counted them. There were four.
“Whose are they, and what are they doing here?” Whitefoot asked in a
queer voice.

“Why, you old stupid, they are yours,--yours and mine,” declared little
Mrs. Whitefoot. “Did you ever, ever see such beautiful babies? Now I
guess you understand why I kept you away from here.”

Whitefoot shook his head. “No,” said he, “I don’t understand at all. I
don’t see yet what you drove me away for.”

“Why, you blessed old dear, there wasn’t room for you when those babies
came; I had to have all the room there was. It wouldn’t have done to
have had you running in and out and disturbing them when they were so
tiny. I had to be alone with them, and that is why I made you go off and
live by yourself. I am so proud of them, I don’t know what to do. Aren’t
you proud, Whitefoot? Aren’t you the proudest Wood Mouse in all the
Green Forest?”

Of course Whitefoot should have promptly said that he was, but the truth
is, Whitefoot wasn’t proud at all. You see, he was so surprised that
he hadn’t yet had time to feel that they were really his. In fact, just
then he felt a wee bit jealous of them. It came over him that they would
take all the time and attention of little Mrs. Whitefoot. So Whitefoot
didn’t answer that question. He simply sat and stared at those four
squirming babies.

Finally little Mrs. Whitefoot gently pushed him out and followed him.
“Of course,” said she, “there isn’t room for you to stay here now. You
will have to sleep in your old home because there isn’t room in here for
both of us and the babies too.”

Whitefoot’s heart sank. He had thought that he was to stay and that
everything would be just as it had been before. “Can’t I come over here
any more?” he asked rather timidly.

“What a foolish question!” cried little Mrs. Whitefoot. “Of course you
can. You will have to help take care of these babies. Just as soon as
they are big enough, you will have to help teach them how to hunt for
food and how to watch out for danger, and all the things that a wise
Wood Mouse knows. Why, they couldn’t get along without you. Neither
could I,” she added softly.

At that Whitefoot felt better. And suddenly there was a queer swelling
in his heart. It was the beginning of pride, pride in those wonderful
babies.

“You have given me the best surprise that ever was, my dear,” said
Whitefoot softly. “Now I think I will go and look for some supper.”

So now we will leave Whitefoot and his family. You see there are two
very lively little people of the Green Forest who demand attention and
insist on having it. They are Buster Bear’s Twins, and this is to be the
title of the next book.





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