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Title: The Adventures of Old Man Coyote
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.

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By Thornton W. Burgess

Author of “Old Mother West Wind Series,” “Mother West Wind How
Stories,” “The Bedtime Story-Books,” etc.

With Illustrations by Harrison Cady

Boston: Little, Brown, And Company 1916

[Illustration: 0102]

[Illustration: 0008]



|LISTEN!” It was Jimmy Skunk speaking. He had just met Peter Rabbit
halfway down the Crooked Little Path just where the moonlight was
brightest. But he did not need to tell Peter to listen. Peter _was_
listening,-listening with all his might. He was sitting up very
straight, and his long ears were turned in the direction of the strange
sound. Just then it came again, a sound such as neither Peter Rabbit nor
Jimmy Skunk had ever heard before. Peter’s teeth began to chatter.

“Wha--wha--what is it?” he whispered.

“I don’t know, unless it is Hooty the Owl gone crazy,” replied Jimmy.

“No,” said Peter, “it isn’t Hooty the Owl. Hooty never could make such a
noise as that.”

“Maybe it’s Dippy the Loon. I’ve heard him on the Big River, and he
sounds just as if he had gone crazy,” replied Jimmy.

“No,” said Peter, looking behind him nervously. “No, it isn’t Dippy the
Loon, for Dippy never leaves the water, and that voice came from the
Green Meadows. I wouldn’t be surprised--” Peter didn’t finish, for just
then the strange voice sounded again, and it was nearer than before.
Never had the Green Meadows or the Green Forest heard anything like it.
It sounded something like Hooty the Owl, and Dippy the Loon, and two or
three little dogs howling all together, and there was something in the
sound that made cold chills run up and down Peter Rabbit’s backbone. He
crept a little closer to Jimmy Skunk.

“I believe it is Farmer Brown’s boy and some of his friends laughing and
shouting together,” said Jimmy.

“No, it isn’t! Farmer Brown’s boy and his friends can make some dreadful
noises but nothing so dreadful as that. It makes me afraid, Jimmy
Skunk,” said Peter.

“Pooh! You’re afraid of your own shadow!” replied Jimmy Skunk, who isn’t
afraid of much of anything. “Let’s go down there and find out what it

Peter’s big eyes grew rounder than ever with fright at the very thought.
“D-d-don’t you think of such a thing, Jimmy Skunk I D-d-don’t y-y-you
think of such a thing!” he chattered. “I know it’s something terrible.
Oh, dear! I wish I were safe at home in the dear Old Briar-patch.”

Again sounded the strange voice, or was it voices? It seemed sometimes
as if there were two or three together. Then again it sounded like only
one. Each time Peter Rabbit crept a little closer to Jimmy Skunk. Pretty
soon even Jimmy began to feel a little uneasy.

“I’m going home,” said he suddenly.

“I want to, but I don’t dare to,” said Peter, shaking all over with

“Pooh! Any one who can run as fast as you can ought not to be afraid,”
 said Jimmy. “But if you really are afraid, you can come up to my house.”

“Oh, thank you, Jimmy Skunk. I believe I will come sit on your doorstep
if you don’t mind.”

[Illustration: 0018]

So together they went up to Jimmy Skunk’s house, and sat on his doorstep
in the moonlight, and listened to the strange voice all the long night;
and then, when he saw Old Mother West Wind coming down from the Purple
Hills in the early dawn, Peter Rabbit became courageous enough to start
for his home in the dear Old Briar-patch.


|IT was very, very early in the morning when Old Mother West Wind came
down from the Purple Hills with her big bag and out of it emptied her
children, the Merry Little Breezes, to play on the Green Meadows. Peter
Rabbit, watching her from the doorstep of Jimmy Skunk’s house, felt
his courage grow. All the night long he and Jimmy Skunk had sat on
the doorstep listening to a strange voice, a terrible voice Peter had
thought. But with the first light of the coming day the voice had been
heard no more, and now, as Peter watched Old Mother West Wind just as
he had done so often before, he began to wonder if that dreadful voice
hadn’t been a bad dream.

So he bade Jimmy Skunk good-by, and started for his home in the dear
Old Briar-patch. He wanted to run just as fast as he knew how, but he
didn’t. No, Sir, he didn’t. That is, not while he was in sight of Jimmy
Skunk. You see, he knew that Jimmy would laugh at him. He wasn’t brave
enough to be laughed at.

               The bravest boy is not the one

                   Who does some mighty deed;

               Who risks his very life perchance

                   To serve another’s need.

               The bravest boy is he who dares

                   To face the scornful laugh

               For doing what he knows is right,

                   Though others mock and chaff.

But as soon as Peter was sure that Jimmy Skunk could no longer see him,
he began to hurry, and the nearer he got to the Old Briar-patch, the
faster he hurried. He would run a little way as fast as he could,
lipperty-lipperty-lip, and then stop and look and listen nervously. Then
he would do it all over again. It was one of these times when he was
listening that Peter thought he heard a soft footstep behind him. It
sounded very much like the footstep of Reddy Fox. Peter crouched down
very low and sat perfectly still, holding his breath and straining his
ears. There it was again, pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat, very soft and coming
nearer. Peter waited no longer. He sprang forward with a great leap and
started for the dear Old Briar-patch as fast as he could go, which,
you know, is very fast indeed. As he ran, he saw behind him a fierce,
grinning face. It was very much like the face of Reddy Fox, only larger
and fiercer and gray instead of red.

Never in all his life had Peter run as he did now, for he knew that he
was running for his life. It seemed as if those long legs of his hardly
touched the ground. He didn’t dare try any of the tricks with which he
had so often fooled Reddy Fox, for he didn’t know anything about this
terrible stranger. He might not be fooled by tricks as Reddy Fox was.

Peter began to breathe hard. It seemed to him that he could feel the hot
breath of the fierce stranger. And right down inside, Peter somehow
felt sure that this was the owner of the strange voice which had so
frightened him in the night. Snap! That was a pair of cruel jaws right
at his very heels. It gave Peter new strength, and he made longer jumps
than before. The dear Old Briar-patch, the safe Old Briar-patch, was
just ahead. With three mighty jumps, Peter reached the opening of one of
his own private little paths and dived in under a bramble bush. And
even as he did so, he heard the clash of sharp teeth and felt some hair
pulled from his tail. And then, outside the Old Briar-patch, broke forth
that same terrible voice Peter had heard in the night.

Peter didn’t stop to look at the stranger, but hurried to the very
middle of the Old Briar-patch and there he stretched out at full length
and panted and panted for breath.


|REDDY FOX had boasted that he was not afraid of the unknown stranger
who had frightened Peter Rabbit so, and whose voice in the night had
brought the great fear to the Green Meadows and the Green Forest. But
Reddy Fox is always boasting, and a boaster is seldom very brave. Right
down deep in his heart Reddy _was_ afraid. What he was afraid of, he
didn’t know. That is one reason that he was afraid. He is always afraid
of things that he doesn’t know about. Old Granny Fox had taught Reddy

“If you are afraid of things you don’t know all about, and just keep
away from them, they never will hurt you,” said wise old Granny Fox, and
that is one reason that Farmer Brown’s boy had never been able to catch
her in a trap. But Granny was too smart to boast that she wasn’t afraid
when she was, while Reddy was forever bragging of how brave he was, when
all the time he was one of the greatest cowards among all the little
meadow and forest people.

When he had first heard that strange voice, little cold chills had
chased each other up and down his backbone, just as they had with nearly
all the others who had heard it, and Reddy had not gone hunting that
night. But Reddy has a big appetite, and a hungry stomach doesn’t let
one think of much else. So after a day or two, Reddy grew brave enough
to go hunting. Somehow he had a feeling that it was safer to hunt during
the day instead of during the night. You see, it was only after jolly,
round, red Mr. Sun had gone to bed behind the Purple Hills that that
strange voice was heard, and Reddy guessed that perhaps the stranger
slept during the day.

So Reddy started out very early in the morning, stepping as softly as he
knew how, looking behind every bush and tree, and with his sharp little
ears wide open to catch every sound. Every few feet he stopped and
sniffed the wind very carefully, for Reddy’s nose can tell him of things
which his eyes do not see and his ears do not hear. And all the time
he was ready to run at the first sign of danger. He had left the Green
Forest and was out on the Green Meadows, hoping to catch Danny Meadow
Mouse, when that sharp little nose of his was tickled by one of the
Merry Little Breezes with a smell that Reddy knew. Reddy turned and went
in the direction from which the Merry Little Breeze had come. Just a few
steps he went, and then he stopped and sniffed.

“Um-m-m,” said Reddy to himself, “that smells to me like chicken. It
certainly does smell like chicken!”

Very, very slowly and carefully Reddy moved forward in the direction
from which that delicious smell came. Every few steps he stopped and
sniffed. Sniff, sniff, sniff! Yes, it certainly was chicken. Reddy’s
mouth watered. A few more steps and there, a little way in front of
him, partly hidden in a clump of tall grass and bushes, lay a half-eaten
chicken. Reddy stopped short and sat down to look at it. Then he looked
all around it to see if there was any one about. Then he walked clear
around it in a circle, but he was very careful not to go too near.
Finally he sat down again where he could smell the chicken. His tongue
hung out with longing, and water dripped from the corners of his mouth.
His stomach said, “Go get it;” but his head said, “Don’t go any nearer;
it may be some sort of a trap.”

Then Reddy remembered one of the sayings of wise old Granny Fox:

               “When you are tempted very much

                   Just turn your back and go away.

               Temptation then can harm you not,

                   But only those who choose to stay.”

“I hate to do it, but I guess it’s the best way,” said Reddy Fox and
turned his back on the chicken and trotted away.


|WHEN Reddy Fox had turned his back on the half-eaten chicken that he
had found hidden in a bunch of grass and bushes on the Green Meadows
it had been the hardest thing to do that Reddy could remember, for his
stomach fairly ached, he was so hungry. But there might be danger there,
and it was best to be safe. So Reddy turned and trotted away where he
could neither see nor smell that chicken. He caught some grasshoppers,
and he found a family of fat beetles. They were not very filling, but
they were better than nothing. After a while he felt better, and he
curled up in a warm sunny spot to rest and think. “It may be that
Farmer Brown’s boy has set a trap there,” said Reddy to himself. Then he
remembered that the chicken was half-eaten, and he knew that it wasn’t
likely that Farmer Brown’s boy would have a half-eaten chicken unless he
had found one that Jimmy Skunk had left near the hen-yard, and for some
reason he didn’t know, he had a feeling that Jimmy Skunk had not had
anything to do with that chicken. The more he thought about it, the more
he felt sure that that chicken had something to do with the stranger
whose voice had brought so much fear to the Green Meadows. The very
thought made him nervous and spoiled his sun-bath.

“I believe I’ll run over and see Bobby Coon,” said Reddy, and off he
started for the Green Forest.

Bobby Coon bad been out all night, but he had not been very far away
from his hollow-tree, because he too had felt little chills of fear when
he heard that strange voice, which wasn’t the voice of Hooty the Owl or
of Dippy the Loon or of a little yelping dog and yet sounded something
like all three together. So Bobby’s stomach wasn’t as full as usual, and
he felt cross and uncomfortable. You know it is hard work to feel hungry
and pleasant at the same time. He had just begun to doze when he heard
Reddy Fox calling softly at the foot of the tree.

“Bobby! Bobby Coon!” called Reddy.

Bobby didn’t answer. He kept perfectly still to try to make Reddy think
that he was asleep. But Reddy kept right on calling. Finally Bobby
scrambled up to the doorway of his house in the big hollow-tree and
scowled down at Reddy Fox.

“Well, what is it?” he snapped crossly. “You ought to be ashamed of
yourself to disturb people who are trying to get a little honest sleep.”

Reddy grinned. “I’m very sorry to wake you up, Bobby Coon,” said Reddy,
“but you see I want your advice. I know that there is no one smarter
than you, and I have just discovered something very important about
which I want to know what you think.”

The scowl disappeared from Bobby Coon’s face. He felt very much
flattered, just as Reddy meant that he should feel, and he tried to look
very important and wise as he said:

“I’m listening, Reddy Fox. What is it that is so important?”

Then Reddy told him all about the half-eaten chicken over on the Green
Meadows, and how he suspected that the stranger with the terrible voice
had had something to do with it. Bobby listened gravely.

“Pooh!” said he. “Probably Jimmy Skunk knows something about it.”

“No,” replied Reddy, “I’m sure that Jimmy Skunk doesn’t know anything
about it. Come over with me and see it for yourself.”

Bobby began to back down into his house. “You’ll have to excuse me this
morning, Reddy Fox. You see, I’m very tired and need sleep,” said he.

Reddy turned his head aside to hide a smile, for he knew that Bobby was

“I’m sure it must have been Jimmy Skunk,” continued Bobby. “Why don’t
you go ask him? I never like to meddle with other people’s business.”

And with that Bobby Coon backed down out of sight in the hollow-tree.


|BOBBY COON is afraid! Yes, Sir, Bobby Coon is afraid! He doesn’t dare
go with me to look at that half-eaten chicken over on the Green Meadows.
He’s a coward, that’s what he is!”

Reddy Fox muttered this to himself as he trotted away from Bobby Coon’s
big hollow-tree in the Green Forest. Reddy was right, and he was wrong.
He was right in thinking that Bobby Coon was afraid. Bobby _was_ afraid,
but that didn’t make him a coward. You see, he couldn’t see what good
it would do him to go see that half-eaten chicken way out there in
the Green Meadows so far away from trees. Bobby is like Happy Jack
Squirrel,--he never feels really safe unless there is a tree close at
hand to climb, for Bobby’s legs are not very long, and though he can run
fast for a little distance, he soon gets out of breath. Then he climbs
the nearest tree. But if there had been any really good reason for
going, Bobby would have gone even though he was afraid, and that shows
that he wasn’t a coward.

But Reddy Fox likes to think himself very brave and every one else a
coward. So he trotted along with his nose turned up in scorn because
Bobby Coon was afraid. He was disappointed, too, was Reddy Fox. You see
he had hoped to get Bobby to go with him and when they got there that
Bobby would go close to the half-eaten chicken and try to find out who
had left it on the Green Meadows, and for what reason. Reddy, who is
always suspicious, thought that there might be a trap, and if so, Bobby
would find it, and then Reddy would know without running any danger
himself. That shows how sly he is.

But as long as Bobby wouldn’t go, there was nothing for Reddy to do but
to try the same plan with Jimmy Skunk, and so he headed straight for
Jimmy Skunk’s house. Now deep down in his heart Reddy Fox hated Jimmy
Skunk, and more than once he had tried to get Jimmy into trouble. But
now, as he saw Jimmy sitting on his doorstep, Reddy looked as pleasant
as only Reddy can. He smiled as if Jimmy were his very best friend.

“Good morning, Jimmy Skunk. I’m glad to see you,” said Reddy. “I hope
you are feeling well this morning.”

Now Jimmy had had a good breakfast of fat beetles, and he was feeling
very good-natured. But he wasn’t fooled by Reddy’s pleasant ways. To
himself he thought, “I wonder what mischief Reddy Fox is up to,” but
aloud he said: “Good morning, Reddy Fox. You are looking very fine and
handsome this morning. Of course no one who is as big and brave as you
are is afraid of the stranger with the terrible voice who has frightened
the rest of us so for the last few nights.”

Now all the time he was saying this, Jimmy knew perfectly well that
Reddy was afraid, and he turned his head to hide a smile as Reddy
swelled up to look very big and important and replied: “Oh, my, no! No,
indeed, certainly not! I’m not afraid of anybody or anything. By the
way, I saw a strange thing down on the Green Meadows early this morning.
It was a half-eaten chicken hidden in a clump of grass and bushes. I
wondered if you left it there.”

Jimmy Skunk pricked up his ears. “No,” said he, “I didn’t leave it
there. I haven’t taken a chicken from Farmer Brown’s this spring, and
I haven’t been up to his hen-house for more than a week. Who do you
suppose could have left it there?”

“I haven’t the least idea unless--” Reddy looked this way and that to
make sure that they were alone--“unless it was the stranger who has
frightened every one but me,” he finished in a whisper.

Jimmy pricked his ears up more than ever. “Do you really suppose it
could have been?” he asked.

“Come down there with me and see for yourself,” replied Reddy. And Jimmy
said he would.


|JIMMY SKUNK and Reddy Fox trotted along down the Crooked Little Path to
the Green Meadows. Reddy was impatient and in a hurry. But Jimmy Skunk
never hurries, and he didn’t now. He just took his time, and Reddy Fox
had to keep waiting for him. Reddy was nervous and anxious. He kept
turning his head this way and that way. He looked behind every little
bush and clump of grass. He cocked his sharp ears at every little sound.
He sniffed every little breeze. It was very plain that Reddy Fox was ill
at ease.

“Hurry up, Jimmy Skunk! Hurry up!” he urged every few minutes, and he
had hard work to make his voice sound pleasant.

But Jimmy didn’t hurry. Indeed, it seemed as if Jimmy were slower than
usual. The more impatient Reddy grew, the slower Jimmy seemed to go.
And every time Reddy’s back was turned, Jimmy would grin, and his sharp
little eyes twinkled with mischief. You see, he knew that despite all
his boasting Reddy Fox afraid, and because he wasn’t afraid himself,
Jimmy was getting a lot of fun out of watching Reddy. Once, when Reddy
had stopped to look over the Green Meadows, Jimmy stole up behind him
very softly and suddenly pulled Reddy’s tail. Reddy sprang forward with
a frightened yelp and started to run as only Reddy can. Then he heard
Jimmy Skunk laughing and knew that Jimmy had played a joke on him. He
stopped short and whirled around.

“What are you laughing at, Jimmy Skunk?” he shouted angrily.

“Oh, nothing, nothing at all,” replied Jimmy, and his face was as sober
as if he never had laughed and never could laugh. Reddy opened his mouth
to say something ugly, but suddenly remembered that if he quarrelled
with Jimmy Skunk, then Jimmy wouldn’t go any farther with him. So he
gulped down his anger as best he could and grinned sheepishly while he
waited for Jimmy to catch up with him.

So at last they came to the bunch of grass and bushes in which Reddy had
found the half-eaten chicken early that morning. There it lay just as
Reddy had left it. Reddy stopped at a safe distance and pointed it out
to Jimmy Skunk. Jimmy looked at it thoughtfully.

“Who do you suppose could have brought it away down here on the Green
Meadows?” whispered Reddy, as if afraid that some one might overhear

Jimmy Skunk scratched his head as if thinking very hard. “It might have
been Redtail the Hawk,” said he at last.

“That’s so. I didn’t think of him,” replied Reddy.

“But it looks to me as if it were left there in the night, and Redtail
never hunts at night because his eyes are for seeing in the daytime and
not in the dark,” added Jimmy Skunk. “Let’s go closer, and perhaps we
can tell who left it there.”

“Of course. That’s a good idea,” replied Reddy, starting forward as
if he were going to walk right up to the chicken. After a few steps he
stopped as if he had a sudden thought. “I tell you what,” said he “one
of us had better keep watch to see that no danger is near. I am taller
than you and can see over the grass better than you can, so I’ll keep
watch while you see what you can find out.”

Now Jimmy Skunk saw through Reddy’s plan right away, but Jimmy wasn’t
afraid, because he isn’t afraid of much of anything, so he agreed. While
Reddy kept watch, he carefully made his way to the half-eaten chicken
hidden in the clump of grass and bushes. All the time he kept his eyes
wide open for traps. But there were no traps there. He was gone a long
time, and when at last he came out, his face was very sober.

“Well, was it Redtail the Hawk?” asked Reddy eagerly.

“No,” said Jimmy. “No, it wasn’t Redtail the Hawk or Hooty the Owl. It
was some one with teeth very much like yours, Reddy Fox, only bigger,
and with feet very much like yours, only these were bigger too. And
the chicken wasn’t one of Farmer Brown’s at all; it was brought from
somewhere farther away than Farmer Brown’s, and that shows that it was
some one smarter than you, Reddy Fox, because whoever it was knew that
if they stole a chicken from Farmer Brown, his boy and Bowser the Hound,
would come looking for it.”


               For fox or man the better plan

                   With unknown danger near,

               Is to go home and no more roam

                   Until the way be clear.

|THAT is what Reddy Fox thinks. The thought popped right into his head
when Jimmy Skunk told him that the half-eaten chicken had been left on
the Green Meadows by some one with teeth and feet very like Reddy’s own
but bigger. But Reddy pretended not to believe it. “Pooh!” said he.
“How do you know that this stranger has feet like mine, only bigger. You
haven’t seen him, have you?”

“No,” said Jimmy Skunk, shaking his head, “no, I haven’t seen him, and
I don’t need to, to know that. His footprints are right over here in the
sand. Come look for yourself, Reddy Fox.”

“No, thanks!” said Reddy hastily. “The fact is, I have some very
important matters to look after in the Green Forest, and I must hurry
along. You’ll excuse me, won’t you, Jimmy Skunk? If you say that there
are footprints like mine, only larger, of course I believe it. I would
stop to look at them if I could, but I find that I am already very late.
By the way, if you will look a little closer at those footprints, I
think you will find that they were made by a dog. I’m sorry I can’t wait
for you, but you are such a slow walker that I really haven’t the time.
Let me know if you find out anything about this stranger.” And with that
off he started for the Green Forest.

Jimmy Skunk grinned, for he knew that Reddy had nothing more important
to attend to than to get away as fast as he could from a place which he
felt might be dangerous.

“Don’t fool yourself, Reddy Fox, by thinking I don’t know the footprints
of a dog when I see them. Besides, I smelled of them, and they don’t
smell of dog!” shouted Jimmy, before Reddy could get out of hearing.

Jimmy watched Reddy out of sight and chuckled as he saw Reddy keep
turning to look over his shoulder as if he expected to find something
terrible at his heels. “I’d never run away until I knew what I was
running from!” exclaimed Jimmy, with the greatest scorn. “Did you ever
see such a coward?”

With Reddy gone, Jimmy’s thoughts came back to the queer things which
were driving all the happiness from the Green Meadows at the very
happiest time of all the year. There was that strange, terrible voice
in the night, the voice that was not that of Hooty the Owl or Dippy
the Loon or a little yelping dog, yet which sounded something like all
three, and which was frightening all the little people until they were
afraid to move out of sight of their homes. And here was this half-eaten
chicken hidden in the clump of grass and hushes on the Green Meadows
by some one with teeth and feet very much like those of Reddy Fox only
bigger. It was all very queer, very queer indeed. The more he thought
about it, the more Jimmy felt sure that the owner of the terrible voice
was the owner of the big teeth and the maker of the strange footprints.
He was scratching his head as he puzzled over the matter when he
happened to look over to the home of Digger the Badger. Jimmy’s eyes

“I believe I’ll make a call on Digger. Perhaps he will know something
about it,” said he, and off he started.

Digger the Badger sat on his doorstep. He has very few friends, for he
is grumpy and very apt to be out of sorts. Besides, most of the little
Meadow people are afraid of him. But Jimmy Skunk isn’t afraid of any one
but Farmer Brown’s boy, and not even of him unless he has his terrible
gun. So he walked right up to the doorstep where Digger the Badger was

[Illustration: 0052]

“Good morning,” said Jimmy politely.

“Morning,” grunted Digger the Badger.

“What do you think of the queer doings on the Green Meadows?” asked

“What queer doings?” asked Digger.

Then Jimmy Skunk told all about the strange voice and the strange

Digger the Badger didn’t say a word until Jimmy was through. Then he

“Why,” said he, “that is only my old friend from the Great West--Old Man


|IT was out at last. Digger the Badger had told Jimmy Skunk who it was
that had so frightened the little people of the Green Forest and the
Green Meadows with his terrible voice, and Jimmy Skunk had straightway
sent the Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind over to the
Smiling Pool, up along the Laughing Brook, through the Green Forest,
and over the Green Meadows to spread the news that it was Old Man Coyote
from the Great West who had come to make his home on the Green Meadows.
And that night when they heard his voice, somehow it didn’t sound
so terrible. You see, they knew who it was, and that made all the
difference in the world.

               The shivers still might crawl and creep

               And chase away good friendly Sleep,

               But knowing whom he had to fear

               Brought to each heart a bit of cheer.

That may seem a bit queer, but it was so. You see, not knowing what or
whom to be afraid of made the little meadow and forest people afraid
every minute of the time, afraid to sleep, afraid to put their noses out
of their homes, almost afraid to draw a long breath. But now that they
knew it was Old Man Coyote who had so frightened them, they felt better,
for Digger the Badger, who had known him in the Great West where they
had been neighbors, had told Jimmy Skunk what he looked like, and Jimmy
Skunk had spread the news so that everybody would know Old Man Coyote
when they saw him. So though each one knew that he mustn’t give Old Man
Coyote a chance to catch him, each felt sure right down in his heart
that all he had to do was to be just a little bit smarter than Old Man
Coyote, and he would be safe.

Of course it didn’t take Old Man Coyote long to learn that he had been
found out. He grinned to himself, stretched, and yawned, and then came
out from his secret hiding place.

“I think I’ll call on my neighbors,” said he, and trotted towards the
house of Digger the Badger. The Merry Little Breezes saw him first and
in a great flutter of excitement they hurried this way and that way to
tell everybody that the stranger from the Great West had come out in
the light of day. My, my, my! such a scampering as there was for a safe
place from which to peep out at Old Man Coyote! He pretended not to
notice, and didn’t look this way or that way, but trotted on about his
own business.

Digger the Badger was sitting on his doorstep, and he grinned when he
saw Old Man Coyote coming.

“It’s about time you called on your old friend,” said he.

It was Old Man Coyote’s turn to grin. “That’s so, Brother Badger,” he
replied, “but the fact is, I’ve been living very quietly.”

“Excepting at night,” said Digger, showing all his teeth in a rather
broad grin. “You’re voice certainly has sounded good to me.”

“I guess it’s the first time,” interrupted Old Man Coyote.

“The first time I heard it I thought I was dreaming,” continued Digger,
just as if he hadn’t heard what Old Man Coyote said. “Seems just like
home to have you about. But tell me, how does it happen that you have
come here out of the Great West?”

“That’s too long a story to tell now. Anyway, I might ask you the same
thing. But here I am, and I believe I’ll stay. I like the Green Meadows
and the Green Forest. Now I must be going along to call on the rest
of my new neighbors. I hope they’ll be glad to see me.” Old Man Coyote
grinned again when he said this, for no one knew better than he did how
very much afraid of him his new neighbors were.

“Come again when you can stop longer,” said Digger the Badger.

“I will,” replied Old Man Coyote, starting toward the Smiling Pool.


               No matter how you feel inside

               Hold up your head! Call up your pride!

               Stand fast! Look brave! Then none will guess

               The fear you feel, but won’t confess.

|JIMMY SKUNK learned this when he was a very little fellow. Now he isn’t
afraid of much of anything, but there was a time when he was. Oh, my,
yes! There was a time when he first started out to see the world, and
before he had found out that all the world is afraid of that little bag
of scent he always carries with him, when Jimmy often was as frightened
as Peter Rabbit ever is, and you know Peter is very easily frightened.
But Jimmy used to think of that little verse, and though sometimes he
had to shut his mouth as tightly as he knew how to keep his teeth from
chattering with fear, he would hold up his head, stand fast, and look
brave. What do you think happened? Why, in a little while people began
to say that Jimmy Skunk wasn’t afraid of anything, and so no one tried
to bother him. Of course when he found this out, Jimmy wasn’t afraid.

But Reddy Fox is different. He dearly loves to tell how brave he is.
He brags and boasts. But when he finds himself in a place where he is
afraid, he shows it. Yes, Sir, he shows it. Reddy Fox has never learned
to stand fast and look brave. When Reddy had first been told that the
stranger with the voice which had sounded so terrible in the night was
Old Man Coyote from the Great West, and that he had decided to make
his home on the Green Meadows, Reddy had said: “Pooh! I’m not afraid of
him!” and had swelled himself up and strutted back and forth as if he
really meant it. But all the time Reddy took care, the very greatest
care, to keep out of the way of Old Man Coyote.

Of course, some one told Digger the Badger what Reddy had said, and
Digger told Old Man Coyote, who just grinned and said nothing. But he
noticed how careful Reddy was to keep out of his way, and he made up his
mind that he would like to meet Reddy and find out how brave he really
was. So one moonlight night he hid behind a big log near one of Reddy’s
favorite hunting places. Pretty soon Reddy came tiptoeing along,
watching for foolish young mice. Just a little while before he had heard
the voice of Old Man Coyote way over on the edge of the Old Pasture, so
he never once thought of meeting him here. Just as he passed the end of
the old log, a deep voice in the black shadow said:

“Good evening, Brother Fox.” Reddy whirled about. His heart seemed to
come right up in his throat. It was too late to run, for there was Old
Man Coyote right in front of him. Reddy tried to swell himself up just
as he so often did before the little people who were afraid of him, but
somehow he couldn’t. “Go-good evening, Mr. Coyote,” he replied, but his
voice sounded very weak. “I hear you’ve come to make your home on the
Green Meadows. I-I hope we will be the best of friends.”

“Of course we will,” replied Old Man Coyote. “I’m always the best of
friends with those who are not afraid of me, and I hear that you are not
afraid of anybody.”

“N-no, I-I’m not afraid of anybody,” said Reddy. “Everybody is afraid
of me.” All the time he was speaking, he was slowly backing away, and in
spite of his bold words, he was shaking with fear. Old Man Coyote saw it
and he chuckled to himself.

“I’m not, Brother Fox!” he suddenly snapped, in a deep, horrid sounding
voice. “Gr-r-r-r-r, I’m not!” As he said it, all the hair along his back
stood on end, and he showed all his great, cruel-looking teeth.

Instead of holding his ground as Jimmy Skunk would have done, Reddy
leaped backward, tripped over his own tail, fell, and then scrambled to
his feet with a frightened yelp, and ran as he had never run before in
all his life. And as he ran, he heard Old Man Coyote laughing, and all
the Green Meadows and the Green Forest heard it:

“Ho, ho, ho! Ha, ha, ha! Hee, hee, hee! Ho, ha, hee, ho! Reddy Fox isn’t
afraid! Ho, ho!”

Reddy ground his teeth in rage, but he kept on running.


               “I’ve often heard old Granny say:

                   ‘ He longest lives who runs away.’”

|REDDY FOX didn’t realize that he was speaking aloud. He was trying to
make himself think that he wasn’t a coward and that in running away from
Old Man Coyote he had done only what every one of the little meadow and
forest people would have done in his place. So, without knowing it, he
had spoken aloud.

               “But he who runs must leave behind

               His self-respect and peace of mind.”

The voice came from right over Reddy’s head, but he didn’t have to look
up to know who was there. It was Sammy Jay, of course. Sammy is always
on hand when he isn’t wanted, and Reddy knew by the look in his eyes
that Sammy knew about the meeting with Old Man Coyote.

“What are you waiting around here for?” asked Reddy, with a snarl.

“To tell Old Granny Fox how brave you are,” retorted Sammy Jay, his eyes
sparkling with mischief, “and how fast you can run.”

“You’d better mind your own affairs and leave mine alone. I shall tell
Granny all about it myself, anyway,” snapped Reddy.

Now when Reddy said that, he didn’t tell the truth, for he had no
intention of telling Old Granny Fox of how he had run from Old Man
Coyote, but hardly were the words out of his mouth when old Granny
Fox herself stepped out from behind a bush. She had been up in the Old
Pasture for a week or two and had just come back, so she knew nothing
of the fright which Old Man Coyote had given those who live in the Green
Meadows and the Green Forest.

“I’m already to listen right now, Reddy,” said she.

Reddy hung his head. He coughed and cleared his throat and tried to
think of some way out of it. But it was of no use. There sat Sammy Jay
ready to tell if he didn’t, and so, mumbling so low that twice Granny
told him to speak louder, Reddy told how he had run, and how Old Man
Coyote had laughed at him so that all the little people in the Green
Forest and on the Green Meadows had heard.

“Of course he laughed!” snapped old Granny Fox. “You’re a coward, Reddy
Fox, just a plain coward. It’s all well enough to run away when you know
you have to, but to run before there is anything to be afraid of shows
you are the biggest kind of a coward. Bah! Get out of my sight!”

Reddy slunk away, muttering to himself and glaring angrily at Sammy Jay,
who was chuckling with delight to see Reddy looking so uncomfortable.
Old Granny Fox made sure that Reddy was out of sight, and then she sat
down to think, and there was a worried pucker in her forehead.

“Old Man Coyote is a wolf,” said she, talking to herself, “and a wolf
on the Green Meadows and in the Green Forest will mean hard hunting for
Reddy and me when food is scarce. It is of no use for me to fight him,
for he is bigger and stronger than I am. I’ll just have to make all the
trouble for him that I can, and then perhaps he’ll go away. I wonder if
he has ever met Prickly Porky the Porcupine. I believe I’ll go over and
make Prickly Porky a call right now!”

And as she trotted through the Green Forest on her way to call on
Prickly Porky, her thoughts were very busy, very busy indeed. She was
planning trouble for Old Man Coyote.


               A little tale which isn’t true,

                   And eager ears to heed it,

               Means trouble starts right there to brew

                   With tattle-tales to feed it.

|NO one knows how true this is better than does old Granny-Fox. And
no one knows better than she how to make trouble for other people by
starting little untrue stories. You see, she learned long ago how fast a
mean little tale will travel once it has been started, and so when there
is some one with whom she is afraid to fight honestly, she uses these
little untrue tales instead of claws and teeth, and often they hurt a
great deal worse than claws or teeth ever could.

Now you would think that by this time all the little meadow and forest
people would have found old Granny Fox out, and that they wouldn’t
believe her stories. But the truth is most people are very apt to
believe unpleasant things about other people without taking the trouble
to find out if they are true, and old Granny Fox knows this. Besides,
she is smart enough to tell these little trouble-making, untrue stories
as if she had heard them from some one else. So, of course, some one
else gets the blame for starting them. Oh, Granny Fox is smart and sly!
Yes, Siree! She certainly is smart and sly.

It was one of her plans to make trouble that was taking her over to
see Prickly Porky the Porcupine. She found him as usual in the top of a
poplar tree, filling his stomach with tender young bark. Granny strolled
along as if she had just happened to pass that way and not as if she had
come purposely. She pretended to be very much surprised when she looked
up and saw Prickly Porky.

“Good morning, Prickly Porky,” she said in her pleasantest voice. “How
big and fine and strong and brave you are looking this morning!”

Prickly Porky stopped eating and looked down at her suspiciously, but
just the same he felt pleased.

“Huh!” he grunted, then once more he began to eat.

Granny Pox went right on talking. “I said when I heard that story this
morning that I didn’t believe a word of it. I--”

“What story?” Prickly Porky broke in.

“Why, haven’t you heard it?” Granny spoke in a tone of great surprise.
“Billy Mink told it to me. He said that this stranger, Old Man Coyote,
who has come to the Green Meadows and the Green Forest, has been
boasting that he is afraid of nobody, but everybody is afraid of him.
When somebody asked him if you were afraid of him, he said that you
climbed the highest tree you could find if you but saw his shadow. Of
course, I didn’t believe it, because I know that you are not afraid
of anybody. But other people believe it, and they do say that Old Man
Coyote is bragging that the first time he meets you on the ground he is
going to have Porcupine for dinner.”

Prickly Porky had started down the tree before Granny finished speaking,
and his usually dull eyes actually looked bright. The fact is, they were
bright with anger. Prickly Porky looked positively fierce.

“What are you going to do?” asked Granny Fox, backing away a little.

“Going to give that boaster a chance to try to get his Porcupine
dinner,” grunted Prickly Porky.

Granny turned aside to grin. “I don’t believe you will find him now,”
 said she, “but I heard that he is planning to get you when you go down
to the Laughing Brook for a drink this evening.”

“Then I’ll wait,” grunted Prickly Porky.

So Granny Fox bade him good-by and started on with a wicked chuckle to
think how Prickly Porky had believed the story which she had made up.


               Believe all the good that you may hear,

                   But always doubt the bad.

               Pass on the word of kindly cheer;

                   Forget the tale that’s sad.

|IF every one would do that what a different world this would he! My,
my, my, yes, indeed! There wouldn’t be any place for the Granny Foxes
who start untrue stories just to make trouble. But we will have to say
this much for old Granny Fox,--she seldom does make trouble just for
the sake of trouble. No, Sir, old Granny Fox seldom, very seldom makes
trouble, unless she or Reddy Fox have something to gain by it. She is
too smart and wise for that.

It was just this way now. You see she felt down in her heart that Old
Man Coyote the Wolf had no right on the Green Meadows and in the Green
Forest. He was a stranger from the Great West, and she felt that she and
Reddy Fox had the best right there, because they had been born there and
always had lived there; and she was afraid, very much afraid, that there
wouldn’t be room for them and for Old Man Coyote. But she wasn’t big or
strong enough to fight him and drive him away, and so the only thing she
could think of was to make him so much trouble that he would leave. She
had begun by telling an untrue story to Prickly Porky, a story which
had made Prickly Porky very angry with Old Man Coyote, although they had
never met. Now she was hurrying down to the Smiling Pool on the banks of
which Old Man Coyote was in the habit of taking a sun-bath, she had been

Sure enough, when she came in sight of the Smiling Pool, there he lay
sprawled out in the sun and talking to Grandfather Frog, who sat on his
big green lily-pad well out of reach from the shore. Granny came up on
the opposite side of the Smiling Pool from where Old Man Coyote lay.

“How do you do, Mr. Coyote? I have just heard that you have come here
to make your home among us, and I am sure we all give you a hearty
welcome.” Granny said this just as if she really meant it, and all the
time she was speaking she was smiling. Old Man Coyote watched her out of
half-closed eyes and to himself he thought: “I don’t believe a word of
it. Granny Fox is too polite, altogether too polite. I wonder what kind
of a trick she is trying to play now.”

All the time he was saying this, Old Man Coyote was chuckling inside.
But aloud he said, and his voice was just as smooth and soft and
pleasant as Granny’s:

“I’m very well, thank you, and I am much obliged to you for your hearty
welcome. I am sure we shall be the best of friends.”

[Illustration: 0080]

Now all the time he was saying this, Old Man Coyote was chuckling
inside, for he knew well enough that they wouldn’t be friends, and that
Granny Fox didn’t want to be friends. You see, he is quite as sharp as

“Yes, indeed, I am sure we shall,” replied old Granny Fox. “How big and
strong you are, Mr. Coyote! I shouldn’t think that you would be afraid
of anybody.”

Old Man Coyote looked flattered. “I’m not,” said he.

Granny Fox raised her eyebrows as if very much surprised. “Is that so?”
 she exclaimed. “Why I heard that Prickly Porky the Porcupine is boasting
that you are afraid of him and don’t dare put your foot in the Green
Forest when he is about.”

Old Man Coyote suddenly jumped to his feet, and there was an ugly gleam
in his yellow eyes. Granny Fox was glad that she was on the other side
of the Smiling Pool. “I don’t know who this Prickly Porky is,” said he,
“but if you’ll be so kind as to tell me where I can find him, I think I
will make him a call at once.”

“Probably he’s taking a nap in a tree-top just now,” replied Granny,
“but it you really want to meet him, you’ll find him getting a drink at
the Laughing Brook in the Green Forest late this afternoon. I do hope
that you will be careful, Mr. Coyote.”

“Careful! Careful!” snorted he.

“There won’t be any Prickly Porky when I get through with him!”

“Chug-a-rum!” said Grandfather Frog and looked very hard at old Granny
Fox. Granny winked the eye that was nearest to him.


               The trouble with a quarrel is

                   That when it’s once begun

               The whole world tries to push it on,

                   And seems to think it fun.

|IT usually is anything but fun for those engaged in it, but their
neighbors crowd about and urge them on and do their best to make matters
worse. It was just that way when Prickly Porcupine and Old Man Coyote
met beside the Laughing Brook. Now until they met here neither had ever
seen the other, for you know Old Man Coyote had come out of the Great
West, while Prickly Porky had come down from the North Woods. Prickly
Porky took one good look and then he grunted, “I’ll soon fix him!” What
he saw was some one who looked something like a very large gray fox or a
dog, and Prickly Porky had put too many foxes and dogs to flight to feel
the least bit of fear of the stranger grinning at him and showing all
his great teeth.

But Old Man Coyote didn’t know what to make of what he saw. Never in all
his life had he seen anything like it. He didn’t know whether to laugh
or to be frightened. About all he could see was what looked like a
tremendous great chestnut-burr on legs, which came towards him in little
rushes and with a great rattling of the thousand little spears which
made him look like a chestnut-burr. Old Man Coyote had never fought with
anybody like this, and he didn’t know just how to begin. He didn’t like
the look of the thousand little spears. The nearer they came, the less
he liked the look of them. So he backed away a few steps, growling and
snarling angrily.

Now it seemed that as if by magic the news that there was trouble
between Prickly Porky and Old Man Coyote had spread all over the Green
Meadows and through the Green Forest. Everybody who dared to go was on
hand to see it. Sammy Jay and his cousin, Blacky the Crow, were there
of course, peering down from the top of a pine-tree and screaming
excitedly. Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel and Chatterer the Red Squirrel
actually sat side by side in the same tree, so interested that they
forgot for once to quarrel themselves. Unc’ Billy Possum and Bobby Coon
cut their afternoon nap short and looked on from a safe place in a big

Danny Meadow Mouse and his cousin, Whitefoot the Wood Mouse, shivered
with fright, while they peeped out through a crack in a hollow log.
Johnny Chuck came as near as he dared and peeped over the trunk of a
fallen tree. Billy Mink and Jerry Muskrat quietly swam up the Laughing
Brook and crawled out on the farther bank where they could see and still
be safe. Of course Reddy and Granny Fox were there, well hidden so that
no one should see them.

And what do you think every one of them was wishing? Why, that Prickly
Porky would drive Old Man Coyote away from the Green Forest and off
of the Green Meadows. You see, every one of them was afraid of Old Man
Coyote, and right down in his heart each was hoping that Prickly Porky
would be able to send Old Man Coyote off yelping, with his face stuck
full of little spears as once upon a time he had sent Bowser the Hound.


|WHEN Prickly Porky the Porcupine and Old Man Coyote the Prairie Wolf
met beside the Laughing Brook, it was a case of Slow Wit meeting Quick
Wit. You see, Prickly Porky is very slow in everything he does, that is
everything but flipping that queer tail of his about when there is an
enemy near enough for it to reach. But in everything else he is oh,
so slow! He walks as if he had all the time in the world to get to the
place he has started for. He climbs in just the same way. And because
he never moves quickly, he never thinks quickly. The fact is, he doesn’t
see any need of hurrying, not even in thinking.

But Old Man Coyote is just the opposite. Yes, Sir, he is just the
opposite. No one moves quicker than he does. He is nimble on his feet,
and his wit is just as quick.

               His nimble wit and nimble feet

               Are very, very hard to beat.

Digger the Badger, who also comes from the Great West, says that to beat
Old Man Coyote in anything, you should start the day before he does and
not let him know it.

So here was Slow Wit facing Quick Wit, with most of the little meadow
people and forest folk looking on. Suddenly Old Man Coyote sprang
forward with his ugliest snarl, a snarl that made everybody but Prickly
Porky shiver, even those who were perfectly safe up in the trees.

But Prickly Porky didn’t shiver.

No, Sir, he just grunted angrily and rattled this thousand little

Now, Old Man Coyote had sprung with that ugly snarl just to try to
frighten Prickly Porky, and he had taken care not to spring too close
to those rattling spears. When he found that Prickly Porky wasn’t
frightened the least little bit, he tried another plan. Perhaps he could
get Prickly Porky from behind. As quick as a flash and as light as a
feather, he leaped right over Prickly Porky and turned to seize him from
behind. But he didn’t! Oh, my, no! You see, the thousand little spears
covered every inch of Prickly Porky’s back.

Slowly and clumsily Prickly Porky turned so as to face his enemy.

“Got fooled that time, didn’t you, Mr. Smarty?” he grunted, while his
eyes snapped with anger.

Old Man Coyote didn’t say anything. He just grinned. But all the time he
was using his eyes, and now he discovered that while Prickly Porky was
fully protected on his back and sides by the thousand little spears
carried in his coat, there wasn’t a single little spear in his

“I’ve got to get him where I can seize him from underneath,” thought he,
and straightway he began to run in a circle around Prickly Porky while
the latter turned slowly round and round, trying to keep his face turned
always towards Old Man Coyote. Faster and faster ran Old Man Coyote, and
faster and faster turned Prickly Porky. In his slow mind he was trying
to understand what it meant, but he couldn’t. And for a while the little
meadow and forest people looking on were just as much puzzled. It was a
most surprising thing.

Then suddenly Unc’ Billy Possum understood.

“He’s trying to make Prickly Porky dizzy,” he whispered to Bobby Coon.

“Let’s warn Prickly Porky; he’ll never think of it himself until it’s
too late,” whispered Bobby Coon.

But before they could do this, the queer performance came to an end.
Prickly Porky hadn’t discovered what Old Man Coyote was trying to do,
but he had become tired of such foolishness, and he suddenly decided to
take a rest. So he stopped turning around, and then curled himself up
in a ball on the ground, where he looked like a great chestnut burr.
Everybody held their breath to see what Old Man Coyote would do next.


               Who on a prickly porcupine

               Makes up his mind that he will dine

               Must overcome a thousand quills

               Before his stomach Porky fills.

               And so it is with you and me;

               With everybody whom we see;

               With Reddy Fox and Billy Mink,

               And all the rest of whom we think

               On Meadows Green, in Smiling Pool

               Or hidden in the Forest cool:

               The thing we’ve set our hearts upon

               Must past a thousand spears be won.

|NO one knows this better than did Old Man Coyote as he ran around and
around Prickly Porky. He had never felt one of those little spears which
Prickly Porky rattled so fiercely, and he had no mind to feel one. You
see, he didn’t like the look of them. When finally Prickly Porky lay
down and curled up into a great prickly ball, like a huge chestnut burr,
Old Man Coyote sat down just a little way off to study how he was going
to get at Prickly Porky without getting hurt by some of those sharp,
barbed little spears.

For a long time he sat and studied and studied, his tongue hanging out
of one side of his mouth. Once he looked up at Sammy Jay and Blacky the
Crow and winked, but he didn’t make a sound. Sammy and Blacky chuckled
to themselves and winked back, and for a wonder they didn’t make a
sound. Somehow that wink made them have more of a friendly feeling for
Old Man Coyote. You see, that wink told them that Old Man Coyote was
just the same kind of a sly rogue as themselves, and so right away they
had a fellow feeling for him.

And none of the little meadow and forest people looking on made a sound.
Some of them didn’t dare to, and others were so anxious to see what
would happen next that they didn’t want to. It was so still that the
little leaves up in the tree-tops could be heard whispering good night
to the Merry Little Breezes, for whom Old Mother West Wind was waiting
with her big bag out on the Green Meadows to take them to their home
behind the Purple Hills. It was so still that after a while Prickly
Porky began to wonder if he were all alone. You see, being curled up
that way, he couldn’t see and had to trust to his ears. He waited a
little longer, and then he uncurled just enough to peep out. There sat
Old Man Coyote, and Prickly Porky promptly curled up again.

Now the minute he curled up again something happened. Old Man Coyote
looked up at Sammy Jay and Blacky the Crow and winked once more. Then
very softly, so softly that he didn’t so much as rustle a leaf, he
tiptoed around to the other side of Prickly Porky and sat down just as

“Now,” thought he, “when he peeps out again, he will think I have gone,
and then perhaps I can catch him by surprise.”

Bobby Coon saw through his plan right away. “Some one ought to warn
Prickly Porky,” he whispered to Unc’ Billy Possum.

Unc’ Billy shook his head. “No,” he whispered back, “No, Brer Coon! That
wouldn’t be fair. It’s they-all’s quarrel and not ours, and though Ah
done want to see Brer Porky win just as much as yo’ do, Ah reckon it
wouldn’t be right fo’ us to meddle. They-all done got to fight it out

For a long time nothing happened. Then Old Man Coyote grew tired of
waiting. Very carefully he crept nearer and nearer, with his nose
stretched out to sniff at that prickly ball on the ground. Everybody
held his breath, for everybody remembered what had happened to Bowser
the Hound when he came sniffing around Prickly Porky,--how Prickly
Porky’s tail had suddenly slapped Bowser full in the face, filling it
with sharp little spears. Now they hoped to see the same thing happen to
Old Man Coyote. So they held their breath as they kept their eyes on Old
Man Coyote and Prickly Porky’s tail.


               When you meet an adversary

               Bold and brave be, also wary.

               If the weapons you may hear of,

               Teeth and claws, you have no fear of,

               Don’t be heedless and rush blindly

               Lest you be received unkindly,

               And, like Prickly Porky, find him

               With a dangerous tail behind him.

|NOW Old Man Coyote knew nothing about that dangerous tail. He had never
heard how Bowser the Hound had been sent yelping home with his face
stuck full of those sharp little spears. But Old Man Coyote is wary. Oh,
my, yes! He certainly is wary. To be wary, you know, is to be very, very
careful where you go and what you do until you know for sure that
there is no possible danger. And there is no one more wary than Old Man
Coyote, not even wise, sly, old Granny Fox.

So now, though Prickly Porky, curled up in a ball in front of him,
looked harmless enough except for the thousand little spears sticking
out all over him, Old Man Coyote was too wary--too smart and too
careful--to take any chances as Bowser the Hound had rashly done. And
this is why, as he stole forward with his nose stretched out as if to
sniff of Prickly Porky, he suddenly stopped just when the little meadow
and forest people looking on were holding their breath and hugging
themselves with joy and excitement because they expected to see the same
thing happen to Old Man Coyote that had happened to Bowser.

Yes, Sir, Old Man Coyote stopped. He studied Prickly Porky a few
minutes. Then slowly he walked around him, just studying and studying.

[Illustration: 0102]

“It looks safe enough to go closer and sniff at him,” thought Old Man
Coyote, “but I learned a long time ago that you cannot always tell just
by looks, and that the most harmless looking thing is sometimes the most
dangerous. Now it looks to me as if this stupid Porcupine couldn’t hurt
a flee so long as he keeps curled up this way, but I don’t _know_, and
I’m not going any nearer until I do know.”

He scratched his head thoughtfully, and then he had an idea. He began to
dig in the soft earth.

“What under the sun is he doing that for?” whispered Happy Jack Squirrel
to his cousin, Chatterer the Bed Squirrel.

“I don’t know,” replied Chatterer, also in a whisper. “We’ll probably
know in a few minutes.”

He had hardly finished when Old Man Coyote threw a little lump of earth
so that it hit Prickly Porky. Now, Of course Prickly Porky couldn’t see
what was going on, because, you know, he was curled up with his head
tucked down in his waistcoat. But he had been listening as hard as ever
he could, and he had heard Old Man Coyote’s footsteps very close to
him. When the little lump of earth struck him, he thought it was Old
Man Coyote himself, and like a flash he slapped that queer tail of his
around. Of course it didn’t hit anybody, because there was nobody within
reach. But it told Old Man Coyote all that he wanted to know.

“Ha, ha, ha!” he laughed. “That’s the time I fooled you instead of you
fooling me! You’ve got to get up early to fool me with a trick like
that, Mr. Smarty!”

Then what do you think he did? Why, he just scooped earth on to Prickly
Porky as fast as he could dig. Prickly Porky stood it for a few minutes,
but he didn’t want to be buried alive. Besides, now that his trick
was found out by the smartness of Old Man Coyote, there was no use
in keeping still any longer. So, with a grunt of anger, Prickly Porky
scrambled to his feet, and rattling his thousand little spears, rushed
at Old Man Coyote, who just jumped to one side, laughing fit to kill


               Granny Fox is sly and wise

               And seldom taken by surprise,

               But wisdom wrongly put to use

               Can never find a good excuse.

               It ceases then to wisdom be,

               But foolishness, as we shall see.

|NOW, with all her smartness and all her cleverness, old Granny Fox
had made one great mistake. Yes, Sir, old Granny Fox had made one great
mistake. You see, she had become so used to being thought the smartest
and cleverest of all the little people who lived on the Green Meadows
and around the Smiling Pool and in the Green Forest, that she had come
to believe that there couldn’t be anybody anywhere as smart and clever
as she. That was because she didn’t know Old Man Coyote. And now, as she
and Reddy Fox watched from their hiding place the meeting between Old
Man Coyote and Prickly Porky, she felt a sudden sharp sting in her
pride. Old Man Coyote had proved himself too smart for Prickly Porky.
She ground her teeth as she heard him laughing fit to kill himself as he
kept out of Prickly Porky’s reach, and she ground them still more as she
heard him say:

“You will boast that you will drive me out of the Green Forest, will
you, Mr. Porcupine? The time to brag will be when you have done it.”

Prickly Porky stopped short in the middle of one of his clumsy rushes.

“Boaster and bragger yourself!” he grunted. “You don’t seem to be dining
on Porcupine the first time we meet. Why don’t you? Why don’t you make
your own boast good?”

Old Man Coyote stopped laughing and pricked up his ears. “What’s that?”
 he demanded. “What’s that? Somebody has been filling your ears with
something that is very like a lie, Mr. Porcupine.”

“No more than they have yours, Mr. Coyote,” replied Prickly Porky,
letting his thousand little spears drop part way back into his coat.
“But old Granny Fox told me.”

“Ha! So it was Granny Fox!” interrupted Old Man Coyote. “So it was
old Granny Fox! Well, it was that same old mischief-maker who told me
that--” He stopped and suddenly looked very hard at the very place
where Granny and Reddy were hiding. Then he made, a long jump in that
direction. Granny and Reddy didn’t wait for him.

They started for home so fast that they looked like nothing but two
little red streaks disappearing among the trees.

“Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho! Hee, hee, hee! Ha, ho, he, ho!” laughed Old
Man Coyote, and all the little meadow and forest people who were looking
on laughed with him. Then he turned to Prickly Porky.

[Illustration: 0110]

“I guess you and I are going to be friends,” said he.

“I guess we are,” replied Prickly Porky, and all his little spears
dropped out of sight.


               You must get up very early,

                   You must lie awake at night,

               You must have your wits well sharpened

                   And your eyes must be so bright

               That there’s nothing can escape them,

                   Nothing that you do not see,

               If ahead of Granny Fox you

                   Ever get, or hope to be.

|Happy Jack squirrel made up that verse one day after he had had oh,
such a narrow escape from old Granny Fox. It had made Happy Jack very
sober for a while, for Granny had so nearly caught him that she actually
had pulled some hair from Happy Jack’s tail. All the other little forest
and meadow people agreed that Happy Jack was quite right.

Most of them had had just such narrow escapes from old Granny Fox.

You see, it is this way: Old Granny Fox is very, very cunning. To be
cunning, you know, is to be sly and smart in doing things in such a way
as no one else will think of doing them. Just now, the thing that Granny
wanted most of anything in the world was to drive Old Man Coyote away
from the Green Meadows and the Green Forest. She couldn’t do it openly,
because he was bigger and stronger than she, so she had thought and
thought and thought, trying to find some plan which might get Old Man
Coyote into trouble, so that he would go away and stay away.

Then Reddy Fox told her that he had found the place where Old Man Coyote
took a sun-nap every day and a splendid plan came to Granny. At least,
it seemed like a splendid plan. The more she thought about it, the
better it seemed.

But Granny Fox never acts hastily. She is too wise for that. So she
studied and studied this plan that she had thought of to make trouble
for Old Man Coyote. Finally she was satisfied.

“I believe it will work. I certainly do believe it will work,” said she,
and called Reddy Fox over to her.

“I want you to make sure that Old Man Coyote takes his sun-nap in the
same place every day,” said she. “You must see him there yourself. It
won’t do to take the word of any one else for it. I want you to steal
up every day and make sure that he is there. Be sure you don’t tell any
one, not any one at all, what you are doing, and above all things, don’t
let _him_ get so much as a glimpse of you.”

Reddy promised that he would take the greatest care, and so for a week
every day he crept to a snug hiding-place behind a thick clump of grass
where he could peep through and see Old Man Coyote taking his sun-nap.
Then he would tiptoe softly away and hurry to report to old Granny Fox.

“Good!” she would say. “Go again, to-morrow and make sure that he is.

“But what do you want to know for?” Reddy asked one day, for he was
becoming very, very curious.

“Never mind what I want to know for,” replied Granny severely. “Do as I
tell you, and you will find out soon enough.”

You see, Granny Fox was too cunning to let even Reddy know of her plan,
for if no one but herself knew it, it couldn’t possibly leak out, and
that, you know, is the only way to keep a secret.


|BOWSER the Hound lay in Fanner Brown’s dooryard dozing in the sun.
Bowser was dreaming. Yes, Sir, Bowser was dreaming. Farmer Brown’s boy,
passing through the yard on his way to the cornfield, laughed.

“Sic him, Bowser! Sic him! That’s the dog! Don’t let him fool you this
time,” said he.

You see, Bowser was talking in his sleep. He was whining eagerly, and
every once in a while breaking out into excited little yelps, and so
Farmer Brown’s boy knew that he was dreaming that he was hunting, that
he was on the trail of Reddy Fox or sly old Granny Fox. His eyes were
shut, and he didn’t; hear what Fanner Brown’s boy said. The latter went
off laughing, his hoe on his shoulder, for there was work for him down
in the cornfield.

Bowser kept right on getting more and more excited. It was a splendid
hunt he was having there in dreamland. Across the Green Meadows, along
the edge of the Green Forest, and up through the Old Pasture he ran, all
in his dream, you know, and just ahead of him ran old Granny Fox. Not
once was he fooled by her tricks, and she tried every one she knew.
For once he was too smart for her, and it made him tingle all over with
delight, for he was sure that this time he would catch her.

And then something queer happened. Yes, Sir, it was something very queer
indeed. He saw Granny Fox stop just a little way ahead of him. She sat
down facing him and began to laugh at him. She laughed and laughed fit
to kill herself. It made Bowser very angry. Oh, very angry indeed. No
one likes to be laughed at, you know, and to be laughed at by Granny Fox
of all people was more than Bowser could stand. He opened his mouth to
give a great roar as he sprang at her and then--why, Bowser waked up.
Yes, Sir, he really had given a great roar, and had waked himself up
with his own voice.

For a few minutes Bowser winked and blinked, for the sun was shining in
his eyes. Then he winked and blinked some more, but not because of the
sun. Oh, my, no! it wasn’t because of the sun that he winked and blinked
now. It was because--what do you think? Why, it was because Bowser the
Hound couldn’t tell whether he was awake or asleep. He thought that he
was awake. He was sure that he was awake, and yet--well, there sat old
Granny Fox laughing at him, just as he had seen her in his dream. Yes,
Sir, there she sat, laughing at him. Poor Bowser! He just didn’t know
what to think. He rubbed both eyes and looked. There she sat, laughing
just as before. Bowser closed his eyes tight and kept them closed for a
whole minute. Perhaps when he opened them again, she would be gone. Then
he would know that she was only a dream fox, after all.

But no, Sir! When he opened his eyes again, there she sat, laughing
harder than ever. Just then a hen came around a corner of the house.
Granny Fox stopped laughing. Like a flash she caught the hen, slung
her over her shoulder and trotted away, all the time keeping one eye on

Then Bowser knew that this was no dream fox, but old Granny Fox herself,
and that she had had the impudence and boldness to steal a hen right
under his very nose! He was awake now, was Bowser, very much awake. With
a great roar of anger, he sprang to his feet, and started after Granny,
and startled the Merry Little Breezes at play on the Green Meadows.


|THE bold visit of old Granny Fox to Bowser the Hound in Farmer Brown’s
dooryard right in broad daylight was all a part of the clever plan
Granny had worked out to make trouble for Old Man Coyote. First she had
sent Reddy Fox to make sure that Old Man Coyote was taking his usual
sun-nap in his usual place. If he were, Reddy was to softly steal away
and then hurry to the top of the Crooked Little Path where it comes down
the hill. When he got there, he was to bark three times. Granny was
to be hidden behind the old stone wall on the edge of Farmer Brown’s
orchard, and when she heard Reddy bark, she was to do her part, while
Reddy was to hide in a secret place on the edge of the Green Forest and
watch what would happen.

It all turned out just as Granny had planned. She had been in hiding
behind the old stone wall only a few minutes when she heard Reddy
bark three times. Granny grinned. Then she stole up to Farmer Brown’s
dooryard, and there she found Bowser the Hound fast asleep and dreaming.
She was just getting ready to bark to waken him, when he waked himself
with his own voice. It was just then that a hen happened to walk around
the corner of the house. Granny’s eyes sparkled. “Good,” said she to
herself. “I’ll take this hen along with me, and Reddy and I will have a
good dinner after I have set Bowser to chasing Old Man Coyote,”--for that
was what Granny was planning to do. So she caught the hen, threw it over
her shoulder, and started off with Bowser the Hound after her, making a
great noise with his big voice.

Now, of course Granny knew that she couldn’t carry that hen very far and
keep ahead of Bowser, so she ran straight across the Old Orchard towards
the secret place on the edge of the Green Forest where she knew that
Reddy Fox was hiding. When she was sure that Reddy could see her, she
gave the hen a toss over into the grass and then raced away towards the
Green Meadows. You see, she knew that Bowser would keep on right after
her, and when it was safe for him to do so, Reddy would steal out from
his hiding place and get the hen, and that is just what did happen.

Away ran Granny, and after her ran Bowser, and all the little meadow and
forest people heard his great voice and were glad that he was not after
them. But Granny Fox was not worried. You see, she had fooled him so
many times that she knew she could do it again. So she kept just a
little way ahead of him and gradually led him towards the place where
Old Man Coyote took his sun-nap every day. But she was too smart to run
straight towards it, “For,” said she to herself, “if I do that, he will
become alarmed and run away before Bowser is near enough to see him.”
 So she ran in a big circle around the place, feeling sure that Old Man
Coyote would lie perfectly still so as not to be seen.

Round and round ran Granny Fox with Bowser after her, and all the time
she was making the circles smaller and smaller so as to get nearer and
nearer to the napping-place of Old Man Coyote. When she thought that she
was near enough, she suddenly started straight for it.

“Now,” thought she, “he’ll jump and run, and when Bowser sees him, he
will forget all about me. He will follow Old Man Coyote, and perhaps he
will drive him away from the Green Meadows forever.”

Nearer and nearer to the napping place Granny drew. She was almost
there. Why didn’t Old Man Coyote jump and run? At last she was right to
it. She could see just where he had been stretched out, but he wasn’t
there now. There wasn’t a sign of him anywhere! What did it mean? Just
then she heard a sound over in the Green Forest that made her grind her
teeth with rage.

“Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho! Hee, hee, nee! Ha, ho, hee, ho!” It was the
laughter of Old Man Coyote.


               A kindly word, a kindly deed,

               Is like the planting of a seed;

               It first sends forth a little root

               And by and by bears splendid fruit.

|WHEN Old Man Coyote first came to the Green Meadows, to live, he chased
Peter Rabbit and gave Peter a terrible fright. After that for some time
Peter kept very close to the dear Old Briar-patch, where he always felt
perfectly safe. But Peter dearly loves to roam, and Peter is very, very
curious, so it wasn’t long before he began to grow tired of the Old
Briar-patch and long to go abroad on the Green Meadows and in the Green
Forest as he always had done, and find out all that was going on among
his neighbors.

Of course Peter heard a great deal, for Sammy Jay and Blacky the Crow
would stop almost every day to tell him the latest news about Old Man
Coyote. They told him all about how Granny Fox had tried to make trouble
between him and Prickly Porky the Porcupine, and how she had been found
out. After they had gone, Peter sat very still for a long time, thinking
it all over.

“H-m-m,” said Peter to himself, “it is very plain to me that Old Man
Coyote is smarter than Granny Fox, and that means a great deal to me.
Y es, Sir, that means a great deal to me. It means that I have got to
watch out for him even sharper than I have to watch out for Granny and
Reddy Fox. Dear me, dear me, just as if I didn’t have troubles enough as
it is!”

As he talked, Peter was sitting on the very edge of the Old Briar-patch,
looking towards the place where Sammy Jay had told him that Old Man
Coyote took his sun-nap every day. Suddenly he saw something that made
him stop thinking about his troubles and sit up a little straighter and
open his big eyes a little wider. It was Reddy Fox, creeping very, very
slowly and carefully towards the napping place of Old Man Coyote. When
he was near enough to see, Reddy lay down in the grass and watched.
After a little while he tiptoed back to the Green Forest.

Peter scratched his long left ear with his long right hind foot. “Now
what did Reddy Fox do that for?” he said, thoughtfully.

The next day and the next day and the day after that, Peter saw Reddy
Fox do the same thing, and all the time Peter’s curiosity grew and grew
and grew. He didn’t say anything about it to any one, but just puzzled
and puzzled over it.

Late that afternoon Peter beard footsteps just outside the Old
Briar-patch. Peeping out, he saw Old Man Coyote passing. Peter’s
curiosity could be kept down no longer.

“How do you do, Mr. Coyote?” said Peter in a very small and frightened
sounding voice, but in a very polite manner.

Old Man Coyote stopped and peeped through the brambles. “Hello, Peter
Rabbit,” said he. “I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you outside of
the Old Briar-patch for some time.” He grinned when he said this in a
way that showed all his long sharp teeth.

“No,” replied Peter, “I--I--well, you see, I’m afraid of Old Granny and
Reddy Fox.”

Old Man Coyote grinned again, for he knew that it was himself Peter
really feared. “Pooh, Peter Rabbit! You shouldn’t be afraid of them!”
 said he. “They’re not very smart. You ought to be able to keep out of
their way.”

Peter hopped a little nearer to the edge of the Old Briar-patch. “Tell
me, Mr. Coyote, what is Reddy Fox watching you for every day when you
take your sun-nap?”

“What’s that?” demanded Old Man Coyote sharply.

He listened gravely while Peter told him what he had seen. When Peter
had finished, Mr. Coyote smiled, and somehow this time he didn’t show
all those dreadful teeth.

“Thank you, Peter Rabbit,” said he. “You have done me a great favor,
and I hope I can return it some time. Do you know, I believe that we are
going to be friends.”

And with that Old Man Coyote went on his way, chuckling to himself.


|WHEN Old Man Coyote, chuckling to himself, left Peter Rabbit and the
Old Briar-patch, he went straight over to look around the place where
he took his sun-nap every day. His sharp eyes soon saw the place where
Reddy Fox had been lying in the grass to watch him, for of course the
grass was pressed down by the weight of Reddy’s body.

“Peter Rabbit told me the truth, sure enough, and I guess I owe him a
good turn,” muttered Old Man Coyote, as he studied and studied to see
why Reddy was watching him every day. You see, he is so sharp and clever
himself that he was sure right away that Reddy had some plan in mind to
bring him to the same place every day.

But he didn’t let on that he knew anything about what was going on. Oh,
my, no! The next day he curled up for his sun-nap just as usual, only
this time he took care to lie in such a way that he would be looking
towards Reddy’s hiding place. Then he pretended to go to sleep, but if
you had been there and looked into his eyes, you would have found
no sleepy-winks there. No, Sir, you wouldn’t have found one single
sleepy-wink! Instead, his eyes were as bright as if there were no such
thing as sleep. He saw Reddy steal out of the Green Forest. Then he
closed his eyes all but just a tiny little crack, through which he could
see Reddy’s hiding place, but all the time he looked as if his eyes were
shut tight.

Reddy crept softly as he could, which is very softly indeed, to his
hiding place and lay down to watch. Old Man Coyote pretended to be very
fast asleep, and every once in a while he would make believe snore. But
all the time he was watching Reddy. After a little while Reddy tiptoed
away until he felt sure that it was safe to run. Then he hurried as fast
as he could go to report to old Granny Fox in the Green Forest. Old Man
Coyote chuckled as he watched Reddy disappear.

“I don’t know what it all means,” said he, “but if he and old Granny Fox
think that they are going to catch me napping, they are making one of
the biggest mistakes of their lives.”

The next day and the next the same thing happened, but the day after
that Reddy only stopped long enough to make sure that Old Man Coyote was
there just as usual, and then he hurried away to the top of the Crooked
Little Path that comes down the hill. There he barked three times. Old
Man Coyote watched him go and heard him bark.

“That’s some kind of a signal,” said he to himself, “and unless I am
greatly mistaken, it means mischief. I think I won’t take a nap to-day,
for I want to see what is going on.”

With that, Old Man Coyote made a very long leap off to one side, then
two more, so as to leave no scent to show which way he had gone. Then,
chuckling to himself, he hurried to the Green Forest and hid where he
could watch Reddy Fox. He saw Reddy hide on the edge of the Green Forest
where he could watch Farmer Brown’s dooryard, and then he crept up where
he could watch too. Of course he saw old Granny Fox when she led Bowser
the Hound down across the Green Meadows, and he guessed right away what
her plan was. It tickled him so that he had to clap both hands over
his mouth as he watched sly old Granny take Bowser straight over to his
napping-place, and when he saw how surprised she was to find him gone he
sat up and laughed until all the little people on the Green Meadows and
in the Green Forest heard him and wondered what could be tickling Old
Man Coyote so.


|WHEN old Granny Fox found that Old Man Coyote was not at his usual
napping-place, she was sure that Reddy Fox must have been very stupid
and thought that he saw him there when he didn’t. She hurried to the
Laughing Brook and waded in it for a little way in order to destroy her
scent so that Bowser the Hound would not know in which direction she had
gone. You know water is always the friend of little animals who leave
scent in their footsteps. Bowser came baying up to the edge of the
Laughing Brook, and there he stopped, for his wonderful nose could not
follow Granny in the water and he could not tell whether she had gone up
or down or across the brook.

But Bowser is not one to give up easily. No, indeed! He had learned many
of Granny’s tricks, and now he knew well enough what Granny had done. At
least, Bowser thought that he knew.

“She’ll wade a little way, and then she will come out of the water, so
all I have to do is to find the place where she has come out, and there
I will find her tracks again,” said he, and with his nose to the ground
he hurried down one bank of the Laughing Brook.

He went as far as he thought Granny could have waded, but there was no
trace of her. Then he crossed the brook, and with his nose still to the
ground, ran back to the starting place along the other bank.

“She didn’t go down the brook, so she must have gone up,” said Bowser,
and started up the brook as eagerly as he had gone down. After running
as far as he thought Granny could possibly have waded, Bowser crossed
over and ran back along the other bank to the starting place without
finding any trace of Granny Fox. At last, with a foolish and ashamed
air, Bowser gave it up and started for home, and all the time Granny Fox
was lying in plain sight, watching him. Yes, Sir, she was watching him
and laughing to herself. You see, she knew perfectly well that Bowser
depends more on his nose than on his eyes, and that when he is running
with his nose to the ground, he can see very little about him. So she
had simply waded down the Laughing Brook to a flat rock in the middle of
it, and on this she had stretched herself out and kept perfectly still.
Twice Bowser had gone right past without seeing her. She enjoyed seeing
him fooled so much that for the time being she quite forgot about Old
Man Coyote and the failure of her clever plan to make trouble for him.

But when Bowser the Hound had gone, Granny remembered. She stopped
laughing, and a look of angry disappointment crossed her face as she
trotted towards home. But as she trotted along, her face cleared a
little. “Any way, Reddy and I will have a good dinner on that fat hen I
caught in Farmer Brown’s dooryard,” she muttered.

When she reached home, there sat Reddy on the doorstep, but there was no
sign of the fat hen, and Reddy looked very uneasy and frightened.

“Where’s that fat hen I caught?” demanded Granny crossly.

“I--I--I’m sorry, Granny, but I haven’t got it,” said Reddy.

“Haven’t got it!” snapped Granny. “What’s the matter with you, Reddy
Fox? Didn’t you see me throw it in the grass when I ran past the place
where you were hiding, and didn’t you know enough to go and get it?”

“Yes,” replied Reddy, “I saw you throw it in the grass, and I went out
and got it, but on my way home I met some one who took it away from me.”

“Took it away from you!” exclaimed Granny. “Who was it? Tell me this
instant! Who was it?”

“Old Man Coyote,” replied Reddy in a low, frightened voice.

Old Granny Fox simply stared at Reddy. She couldn’t find a word to say.
Instead of making trouble for Old Man Coyote, she had furnished him with
a good dinner. He was smarter than she. She decided then and there that
she could not drive Old Man Coyote out of the Green Forest and that she
would either have to leave herself or accept him and make the best of

But that’s what Old Man Coyote had thought all along, for he quite liked
his new home and took a good deal of interest in his new neighbors.

One of these whom he found most interesting was Paddy the Beaver. Paddy
really is a very wonderful fellow and I will tell you about him in the
next book.


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