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Title: Winkie, the Wily Woodchuck - Her Many Adventures
Author: Barnum, Richard
Language: English
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[Illustration: “Winkie! It’s my Winkie!” cried Mrs. Woodchuck.]



                       _Kneetime Animal Stories_


                           WINKIE, THE WILY
                               WOODCHUCK

                          HER MANY ADVENTURES


                                  BY
                            RICHARD BARNUM

          Author of “Squinty, the Comical Pig,” “Tum Tum, the
               Jolly Elephant,” “Tamba, the Tame Tiger,”
                 “Toto, the Bustling Beaver,” “Shaggo,
                       the Mighty Buffalo,” etc.


                           _ILLUSTRATED BY_
                           WALTER S. ROGERS


                              PUBLISHERS
                            BARSE & HOPKINS
                  NEW YORK, N. Y.      NEWARK, N. J.



KNEETIME ANIMAL STORIES

By Richard Barnum

_Large 12mo. Illustrated._


  SQUINTY, THE COMICAL PIG
  SLICKO, THE JUMPING SQUIRREL
  MAPPO, THE MERRY MONKEY
  TUM TUM, THE JOLLY ELEPHANT
  DON, A RUNAWAY DOG
  DIDO, THE DANCING BEAR
  BLACKIE, A LOST CAT
  FLOP EAR, THE FUNNY RABBIT
  TINKLE, THE TRICK PONY
  LIGHT FOOT, THE LEAPING GOAT
  CHUNKY, THE HAPPY HIPPO
  SHARP EYES, THE SILVER FOX
  NERO, THE CIRCUS LION
  TAMBA, THE TAME TIGER
  TOTO, THE BUSTLING BEAVER
  SHAGGO, THE MIGHTY BUFFALO
  WINKIE, THE WILY WOODCHUCK

 BARSE & HOPKINS
 New York, N. Y.      Newark, N. J.


                            Copyright, 1922
                                  by
                            Barse & Hopkins


                     _Winkie, the Wily Woodchuck_


                        PRINTED IN THE U. S. A.



CONTENTS


 CHAPTER                            PAGE
      I  WINKIE PLAYS TAG              7
     II  WINKIE HEARS A NOISE         16
    III  WINKIE FINDS A WAY OUT       27
     IV  WINKIE IN THE WOODS          37
      V  WINKIE MEETS DON             46
     VI  WINKIE IN A STORM            55
    VII  WINKIE IN A TRAP             68
   VIII  WINKIE’S NEW HOME            75
     IX  WINKIE LEARNS TRICKS         86
      X  WINKIE IS IN DANGER          96
     XI  WINKIE GETS OUT             104
    XII  WINKIE FINDS HER FOLKS      110



ILLUSTRATIONS


 “Winkie! It’s my Winkie!” cried Mrs. Woodchuck        _Frontispiece_

                                                                PAGE

 And run home is what Winkie and Blunk did                        19

 By pulling and hauling they managed to get Mrs. Woodchuck
   up and out                                                     43

 Caused Winkie to bump into a tree full tilt                      57

 Out toppled Winkie                                               83

 She came out of her pen and did her tricks                       99

 Winkie ate so much she could hardly waddle                      115



WINKIE, THE WILY WOODCHUCK



CHAPTER I

WINKIE PLAYS TAG


“What shall we do next?” asked Winkie, the wily woodchuck.

“Isn’t it too hot to do anything?” was what Blinkie, her sister, wanted
to know. “Let’s just sit here by the front door, where we can easily
pop down into our underground house if anything happens.”

“Do you think anything is going to happen?” asked Winkie, who was
called wily because she was so smart and careful, always on the lookout
for traps and danger. “If you think anything is going to happen,” went
on Winkie, speaking to her sister, “I’m going in now and tell mother.
I’d tell pa, only he isn’t home yet from the woods, where he went to
get something special to eat.”

“Oh, I don’t know that there is any special danger,” said Blinkie, as
she pawed out a bit of thistle that had become stuck to her fur. “But
it’s too hot to do anything, Winkie.”

“Except to eat clover,” half grunted Blunk, who was the woodchuck
brother of Winkie and Blinkie. “Let’s go over in the farmer’s big field
and eat a lot more clover,” suggested Blunk. You know clover is what
woodchucks like best of all.

“Clover!” laughed Winkie, tapping her brother playfully on his black
nose. “If you eat any more clover, Blunk, it will run out of your ears,
as grandma says.”

“Pooh! I never eat too much clover!” boasted Blunk. “And I’m going over
to the field now and get some more. Do you girls want to come?” he
asked. “I know where there’s some clover with red blossoms.”

“Oh, it’s too hot to move, especially with this thick fur we have to
wear,” said Blinkie. “In the winter it isn’t bad; but now, with summer
coming on, I wish I didn’t have so much fur.”

“Some of it will fall out, so mother said,” explained Winkie. “She
told me that the fur of all woodchucks and other animals like us gets
thinner in summer.”

“Well, I’m glad of it,” sighed Blinkie, stretching out her two front
paws lazily. “I’m so warm now I don’t know what to do!”

“Let’s slide down the back-door hole inside our burrow,” suggested
Winkie. “We can have fun that way, and it’s nice and cool away down
deep underground. Let’s slide down the back-door hole!”

Woodchucks, you know, have two holes, or doors, leading into their
houses, which are dug in the earth below the surface. The reason for
this is that if a fox, or other pursuing animal, chases them down one
hole they can run out the other.

“Oh, I don’t want to slide down any holes!” complained Blinkie.

“Nor I,” added Blunk. “I’m going over after clover.”

“Don’t let the farmer catch you eating his clover, or he may set a trap
for you or fire his gun at you,” warned Blinkie, as her brother waddled
off, his little short legs slowly carrying his rather fat body.

“I’ll be careful,” promised Blunk.

Winkie stood for a moment near the edge of the sloping hole that led
down into the dark underground house. This hole was the front door of
the little woodchuck’s home. The back door was around behind a big
rock. The hole had been used so often by the woodchuck family when
crawling in and out that the bottom of it was worn smooth. When it
rained, and the earth became wet, the front entrance to the burrow was
very slippery.

But the back door had been dug down through some earth that had in
it many shale-rocks――that is rocks which were little flat pieces of
smooth stone. On these it was almost as easy for a woodchuck to slide
as it is for a boy or girl to slide or coast on the ice or snow. Winkie
knew she did not need to wait until it rained to have a slide on the
shale-covered back-door hole, and this she was now eager to do. Only,
she didn’t want to play alone!

“Please come on and slide with me,” begged Winkie of Blinkie.

“No, indeed!” answered the other woodchuck girl. “It’s too warm. I’m
going to sleep.”

“Well, I’ll have to go by myself then,” said Winkie, a bit sadly. “Will
you play after you wake up, Blinkie?”

“Maybe――maybe,” answered Blinkie, sleepily.

“Oh, I never saw such creatures!” murmured Winkie, as she ran along,
giving a look toward her sister and a glance over into the next field
where Blunk was nibbling clover. “All they think about is eating
and sleeping! I’m going to do something! I wish I could have some
adventures! That’s what I wish――adventures!

“Flop Ear, the rabbit who used to live here before he went away, had
lots of adventures. He told me so when he came here on a visit. Oh
dear! I wonder if I’ll ever have any adventures?”

Had she only known it, Winkie was, even then, about to start some very
wonderful adventures, which I will tell you about.

But just at present all there seemed for the little girl woodchuck to
do was to slide down the back-door hole of her underground home. And
this she did until she was tired.

She would gather her paws under her, sit down on the smooth shale-rocks
at the top of the hole, give herself a little push, and down she would
go, landing in the big underground earth-room, where all the woodchucks
of this one family lived.

“My goodness, Winkie! what are you doing?” cried her mother, who was
having a nap all by herself.

“Just sliding down the hole,” answered Winkie. “Blinkie and Blunk won’t
play with me, so I have to slide all alone.”

Mrs. Woodchuck did not answer, for she had fallen asleep once more. But
she awakened when Winkie came sliding down again, and the mother of the
little animal girl said:

“I wish, Winkie, you’d go somewhere else to play. I want to sleep, and
you wake me up every time you land.”

“All right, Mother, I’ll see if I can get Blunk and Blinkie to play
tag,” said Winkie, for she was a good little thing.

Taking just one more slide, while her mother was still awake, Winkie
crawled up the back-door hole again, and went softly to Blinkie’s side.
Blinkie was still slumbering.

“Tag! You’re it!” suddenly cried Winkie in her sister’s ear.

“What’s that? You’re going to put me in a bag? Oh, please, Mr. Farmer,
don’t put me in a bag!” begged Blinkie. “I didn’t take any of your
clover!”

“Ha! Ha!” laughed Winkie, as Blinkie sat up, rubbing her eyes. “You
must have been dreaming that you were over in the field with Blunk,
taking clover! I’m not a farmer, and I haven’t any bag. I just cried,
‘Tag! You’re it!’ Come on and play!”

“Oh, it’s you,” said Blinkie, not frightened now that she saw only her
sister. “Yes, I was dreaming. And when you awakened me so suddenly I
thought you were a farmer trying to catch me in a bag.”

“Well, come on and have a little tag game and you’ll feel better,”
advised Winkie. “I can’t slide any more because mother wants to sleep.
Let’s play tag!”

“You go and tag Blunk,” suggested Blinkie. “I’ll be wider awake after
that, and then I’ll play. Go and tag Blunk.”

“All right,” agreed Winkie, who was very obliging. “I hope he hasn’t
fallen asleep from eating too much clover,” she added.

But Blunk was wide awake. He was sitting up on his haunches, as a dog
sits up to beg, and he was slowly nipping off the sweet clover tops and
the tender leaves, chewing them very contentedly.

“Hello, Winkie! So you came over, after all, to get something to eat,
did you?” asked Blunk.

“No, I came to see you,” replied Winkie. “Tag! You’re it!” she suddenly
cried, tapping her brother with an extended paw, and then springing
away before he could touch her. “Come on! Chase me!”

Blunk was fonder of games than was his sister Blinkie, who, to tell the
truth, was a bit lazy. So when Blunk found he was “it,” he made up his
mind not to stay that way any longer than need be.

“Oh, I’ll tag you all right!” he cried, racing after his sister Winkie.
“I’ll tag you!”

“If you do, then I’ll tag Blinkie and we can have a regular game!”
merrily laughed Winkie, as she sprang over a clump of clover. “This is
more fun than sliding down the back-hole door all alone, or even going
to sleep. Come on, Blunk! Let’s see you tag me!” she cried.

Nearly always when the woodchuck children played a game of tag, or any
other running game, Blunk would easily catch Winkie or Blinkie. For,
being a boy woodchuck and strong, he could go faster than the girls.
And this time Blunk thought he would have no trouble in tapping Winkie
with his paw, tagging her and making her “it.”

But Blunk forgot about all the clover he had eaten. He had, I am sorry
to say, rather stuffed himself. He had eaten too much, but not enough
to make himself ill, for animals know better than that. But Blunk had
swallowed so much clover that his little stomach was sticking out like
a toy balloon, and this made him so heavy that he could not run fast.

Because of this, Winkie could easily keep ahead of him. On and on
ran the wily little girl woodchuck, laughing and teasing her brother
because he could not catch her to tag her.

“Come on! Come on!” cried Winkie. “Why don’t you tag me, Blunk?”

“I will――in a――minute!” panted Blunk. “I――I haven’t started――running――yet!”

He was getting out of breath, and he was beginning to wish he had
done what Winkie had asked him to do at first――come and play with
her――instead of eating so much clover.

“But I’ll catch her after a while. I always do,” thought Blunk to
himself, as he raced on and on, while Winkie, the wily woodchuck,
dashed this way and that, making quick turns, which was the best way of
avoiding her brother.

“I never knew her to keep away from me so long as this――before. I――I
guess I ate too much clover!” panted Blunk.

“I know you did!” called Winkie, laughing, for her brother had said
this last thought aloud. “Ha! Ha! You can’t tag me!”

“Yes, I can! There! Now you’re it!” cried Blunk.

He gave a sudden jump, and so did Winkie, for she wanted to keep from
being tagged as long as possible. Just as she and Blunk leaped, a harsh
voice cried:

“Ha! There’s them pesky woodchucks in my clover again! I’ll fix ’em!”

There was a loud bang, like a clap of thunder, and as Blunk looked back
he saw his sister falling in a crumpled heap.



CHAPTER II

WINKIE HEARS A NOISE


Blunk, the boy woodchuck, was so frightened by what he heard and
especially by what he saw――his sister falling in a heap amid the
clover――that for a little while he could do nothing. He stopped short,
and hid down under a big bunch of the red blossoms and green leaves.

“Oh! Oh! What has happened?” thought poor Blunk.

It was not the noise that he minded, for he had often heard thunder
when rain storms made the ground wet. Though now there was not a cloud
in the sky, which was bright blue, and the sun was gaily shining. So it
could not have been thunder.

“There!” cried the man. “I guess I shot one of them pesky woodchucks
that time! I’ll teach ’em to take my clover!”

There was a queer smell in the air――a powder smell, though Blunk did
not know what it was then. And there was a little cloud of blue smoke
near Farmer Tottle, for it was he who had fired the gun at Blunk and
Winkie.

“Yes, sir!” went on the farmer, lowering his gun, from the end of which
more blue smoke floated. “I got one of the woodchucks!”

“Ha!” suddenly cried Winkie, jumping up from the grass and clover where
she was hidden near Blunk. “He didn’t get me!”

“Oh!” cried Blunk, who was less quick-witted than his wily sister and
who was very much surprised when Winkie leaped up so suddenly. “Oh, I’m
so glad! I thought something had happened to you, Winkie!”

“Something really did happen,” said the girl woodchuck. “Keep still,
Blunk! Don’t move! Don’t look up!”

“Why not?”

“Because that man might shoot you! He’s got a gun! I saw him pointing
it, and, just in time, I stumbled and fell.”

“On purpose?” asked Blunk.

“Yes! Of course! Suppose I wanted to get shot? Keep still now!”

The two little woodchucks kept close together and hid themselves down
under the clover tops. They could hear the heavy, tramping feet of
Farmer Tottle, though of course they did not know his name.

“Keep still now――he’s coming!” whispered Winkie to Blunk. The little
girl woodchuck really did not need to tell her brother this. Blunk,
though slower witted than the wily Winkie, was not foolish, and did not
need be warned of his danger.

Of course they talked in woodchuck language, just as dogs talk in their
language and cats in theirs. Winkie and Blunk could not understand what
the man said, though they understood some of the things he did. Nor
could Farmer Tottle hear, much less understand, what the woodchucks
said. Animals seem able to talk to one another, even if they are from
different countries and are quite different one from the other.

Nearer and nearer came the heavy, tramping feet of the farmer. Winkie
and Blunk wanted to dart away and hide in their underground house, but
they did not dare come out from beneath the sheltering clover.

“That’s funny!” muttered the farmer to himself. “I’m sure I shot one of
them pesky woodchucks, but I can’t find it! There were two, but they’ve
got away somewhere. If I only had Buster, my dog, he’d nose ’em out.
Guess that’s what I’ll do――I’ll go get Buster!”

Winkie and Blunk kept so quiet under the clover that though the farmer
was very close to them he did not see them. And when he turned to go
back to the barn, to get his dog Buster, Winkie and Blunk thought this
would be a good time for them to run home.

[Illustration: And run home is what Winkie and Blunk did.]

Of course they did not know the farmer had gone after his dog, but the
woodchuck children knew they had been in danger; and where there is
danger once for an animal, there may be danger a second time.

“Come on, Winkie!” said Blunk in a low voice, as the footsteps of the
farmer died away in the distance. “Let’s run!”

“Do you want to play tag any more?” asked Winkie, astonished.

“Tag? No, indeed!” exclaimed her brother. “All I want to do is to get
home. And you’d better come with me. It’s a good thing Blinkie didn’t
come, for if there were three of us that man might more easily have
seen one of us. Come on now――let’s run!”

And run home is what Winkie and Blunk did. They ran as fast as when
they had been playing tag. But this was no joyful race; it was a race
full of danger. For there was no telling when the farmer might shoot
his gun again, or when he might return with his dog.

Though Winkie and Blunk felt pretty safe as they ran through the deep
clover, they also felt their little hearts beating very fast as they
neared their burrow, or underground house.

“My goodness!” exclaimed Blinkie, in woodchuck talk, as her brother and
sister came leaping up to the front door. “What’s your hurry on such a
hot day?”

“Hurry?” gasped Blunk. “I guess you’d be in a hurry if you’d seen and
heard what happened to us! Wouldn’t she, Winkie?”

“Indeed she would!” said Winkie. “Oh, such a terrible time!”

“What’s the matter?” asked Mother Woodchuck, coming up into the air
after her sleep. “What’s all the excitement about?”

“We were playing tag,” began Winkie, “when all at once there was a
noise like thunder――”

“But it wasn’t thunder. It was a man with a gun shooting at us,”
interrupted Blunk.

“Oh, my dears! A man with a gun, shooting!” cried Mrs. Woodchuck. “Oh,
my poor children! What shall we do? I wish your father was home! Oh,
this is dreadful!”

“Don’t worry, Mother!” said Blunk kindly. “We ran away from the man
with the gun, and I don’t believe he can find us. And neither of us got
shot. Winkie threw herself down in the clover and hid just in time.”
Blunk was proud of his clever, wily sister.

“Oh, but suppose he comes here!” cried Mrs. Woodchuck.

“I don’t believe he can find our burrow,” said Blinkie, a bit proudly.
“Daddy and you made our underground house in a place that isn’t easy
to find.”

“Besides, it has two doors,” said Winkie. “And you told us that made it
much safer, Mother.”

“I suppose it is as safe as any house can be,” said the woodchuck lady.
“Still, even with two doors, something may happen. I wish your father
would come home.”

And a little later Mr. Woodchuck came home. In his paws he carried some
yellow carrots and a white turnip.

“See what I have brought for you!” he cried, as he scrambled down the
front door of the underground house.

“Oh, how lovely!” cried Blinkie.

“Why, what is the matter?” asked Mr. Woodchuck, dropping the carrots
and the turnip in a heap on the floor. “Has anything happened?” he
asked, for he could tell by looking at his wife and children that
something was wrong.

“Winkie and Blunk were in great danger to-day,” said Mrs. Woodchuck.
“And I am afraid we shall have to move out of our lovely home. Tell
your father about the man with the gun, children!”

Winkie and Blunk related what had happened in the clover field when
they were playing tag. At the end of the story Mr. Woodchuck looked as
worried as did his wife.

“What are we going to do?” asked the woodchuck mother, looking
anxiously at her husband. “Shall we have to move?”

“Let me think a minute,” said the father woodchuck. “Tell me,” he went
on, speaking to Winkie and Blunk. “Did the man follow you all the way
to our burrow?”

“No. He turned around and went back after he shot at us and didn’t hit
either of us,” said Blunk.

“Well, then,” went on the father woodchuck, “I think we shall be safe
here for another day or so. Men are stupid creatures. It is only by
accident that he could find this burrow.”

“Maybe his dog could,” suggested Winkie.

“Yes, a dog is smarter than a man when it comes to that,” said Mr.
Woodchuck. “But don’t worry any more right away. Eat the good things I
brought home, and I will think what is best to do.”

The three woodchuck children, Winkie, Blinkie, and Blunk, soon forgot
their troubles in eating the sweet carrots and turnip. Even though
Blunk had eaten so much clover he could hardly run, he was now ready
for the good things his father had brought home.

“Where did you get them?” asked Blinkie, nibbling the end of a carrot.

“I found them in a field,” answered Mr. Woodchuck. “There were so many
I don’t believe the farmer will mind my taking a few.”

“Maybe they were planted by the same man who fired a gun at Winkie and
me,” suggested Blunk.

“Maybe,” said his father. “Why don’t you eat some?” he asked his wife,
for she had not even nibbled the outside skin of the turnip.

“I am too worried to eat!” she answered. “I hate to think of having to
move.”

“Perhaps we may not be driven to that,” said Mr. Woodchuck, who was
more cheerful than his wife. “And if we do, we can easily dig a new
burrow, or find a place to stay. This is summer, and the ground is soft.

“I’ll tell you what we’ll do,” he went on. “We’ll be ready to run away
at the slightest sign of danger. If that farmer comes to our front door
we’ll run out the back door; and if he comes to the back door we’ll
skip out the front, and all will be well.”

“It sounds all right,” said Mother Woodchuck. “I only hope it happens
that way.”

But it did not. Things in the woodchuck world, just as in your world
and mine, very often do not turn out the way they are expected to.
For several days, however, after the game of tag and the shooting of
the gun, nothing happened in the woodchuck home. For a time Winkie,
Blinkie, and Blunk hardly poked their noses outside the back or front
door. But as the days passed and no farmer with his gun and dog came,
the children became bolder.

They played tag and other games and ate the clover and the other good
things their father and mother brought home. Then, one morning, just as
Mr. Woodchuck was starting out to go to a distant field, and when the
children were about to go out and play, Winkie held up her paw and said:

“Listen! I hear a noise!”



CHAPTER III

WINKIE FINDS A WAY OUT


Just as soon as Winkie told the other woodchucks to be quiet and
listen, they all remained as still as though frozen in their places.
Not one made a move. This is what wild animals always do when they
hear or see anything strange. They stay quiet for just a moment or two
before making up their minds what is best to do to save themselves from
danger. And that danger was at hand Winkie, the wily woodchuck, felt
sure.

As I have told you, she was the smartest of all the woodchuck children,
and that is why her mother nicknamed her “Wily,” which means smart and
cunning.

“I don’t hear anything!” whispered Blunk.

“Hark!” cautioned Winkie once more.

This time they all heard it. Silently they listened in their
underground house to the strange noise. It was up above them――a
thudding, rasping, scraping sound.

“What can it be?” asked Mrs. Woodchuck. She spoke in a whisper, as,
indeed, they all did, for they knew their little whispering voices
could not be heard outside their burrow.

“I don’t know what it is,” answered Mr. Woodchuck. “But whatever it is
I’m glad Winkie heard it before I started out; otherwise I might have
run right into danger!”

“Do you suppose it’s that farmer looking for us?” asked Blinkie.

“Or his dog?” added Blunk.

“If it’s a dog maybe I could fool him in some way!” said Winkie.

“How can you fool a dog?” Winkie’s mother asked.

“I can poke my nose out of the back door, and when he sees me I’ll duck
down in here again,” explained Winkie.

“What good will that do?” asked Daddy Woodchuck. “You would only be
running your nose into danger!”

“Well, but listen!” exclaimed Winkie, and she was so eager that she
forgot to speak in a whisper until her mother said:

“Hush! Keep quiet!”

“All right,” hissed Winkie. “But this is what I could do. I could poke
my nose out of our back door. The dog would see me, and run to get me.
I’d duck down in here, and the dog would begin digging at the back door
to make it big enough for him to come down.”

“Yes, that’s just what the dog would do,” sighed Mrs. Woodchuck. “I
know dogs, to my sorrow! Once one bit me on the leg!”

“Yes, but wait!” went on Winkie eagerly. “While the dog was digging at
our back door we could run out the front.”

“That’s a good idea!” exclaimed Blunk. “But I think I’m the one to do
it, and not Winkie.”

“No! No!” exclaimed Mr. Woodchuck. “I see your trick, Winkie, and it is
very good of you to think of it and good of Blunk to offer to do it.
But it is too dangerous! The dog might dig his way in here through the
back door before we had a chance to run out the front. And who knows
but what the farmer with his gun may be waiting up above for us! No, we
will stay right here safe in our burrow. I don’t believe they will find
us here.”

“But what is that strange noise?” asked Blinkie. “There it sounds
again!”

Indeed there came once more that strange noise which Winkie had first
heard. The rumbling kept up, and now and then came a pounding as if
heavy feet were tramping on the ground overhead.

“Oh, that must be the farmer trying to break his way in here with his
heavy boots!” cried Blinkie.

“Hush! Do you want him to hear you?” whispered Winkie, and her sister
grew quiet.

As the woodchuck family listened, the noise grew louder, and then, very
plainly, they all heard a man’s voice shouting:

“Whoa!”

Instantly the noise stopped.

“That was the farmer!” exclaimed Blunk. “I know his voice!”

“What was he saying?” asked Blinkie.

No one could tell her, of course, for the woodchucks did not understand
man talk, any more than the farmer understood animal language. But
Blinkie made a guess.

“Perhaps that farmer was talking to his dog,” she said.

“Maybe,” agreed her mother. “I hope neither of them finds his way down
here!”

But the farmer was not talking to his dog. One doesn’t say “whoa!” to
dogs, one says it to horses. And that is to whom the farmer called the
word which means stop.

“Whoa there now!” cried Farmer Tottle again. “Stand still, can’t you?
Want to drag this plow over all them rocks? I’ve got to blast ’em out.
That’s what I’ve got to do. These rocks and stumps are in the way, and
I’m going to get some powder and blow ’em to bits. What with big stones
on my farm, and the pesky woodchucks eating the clover, I won’t have
enough left to buy me a new shirt at the end of the year. Stand still,
can’t you? Not that I blame you much for not wanting to plow in this
field of rocks,” he went on. “Guess I’ll go and get some powder and
blow ’em up now. I’ll finish plowing to-morrow.”

It was this noise of the plow rasping and cutting its way through the
earth over their heads, and the heavy thud of the hoofs of the horses,
that Winkie and the other woodchucks had heard down in their burrow.

There was silence while Farmer Tottle was thinking of the best way to
blast the rocks from his field, not far from the clover patch where
Blunk and Winkie had played tag that day. Then, having made up his mind
what he would do, Mr. Tottle turned his team around and drove them back
to the barn.

“The noise isn’t so loud now,” whispered Winkie, after a bit.

“No. Maybe nothing is going to happen after all,” said Blinkie.

But the danger was over only for a little while. The noise stopped as
Farmer Tottle drove away, and, for a time, the ground-hogs thought
everything was going to be all right. Ground-hog is another name for
the woodchuck.

“I guess I can go out now,” said Mr. Woodchuck, when an hour or more
had passed and there were no more thumping sounds and no further cries
of “Whoa!”

Mr. Woodchuck went softly to the back-door of the burrow. He crept up
the little incline, or hill, that led to out-of-doors, and he was just
poking his nose out when, all at once, there sounded a loud:

_Bang!_

And that was not the worst! As the loud noise sounded, louder than any
thunder the ground-hogs had ever heard, Mr. Woodchuck came slipping,
sliding, and half falling back into the burrow.

“Oh, Nib! what has happened?” cried Mrs. Woodchuck. “Nib” was a pet
name for her husband. “Are you shot?” she asked. “I’m sure I heard a
gun!”

“It was the biggest gun I ever heard shot off, if that’s what it was!”
said Mr. Woodchuck. “It fairly stunned me! Why, I fell right over
backward, and a lot of little stones and dirt flew in my face!”

“Did the farmer see you and shoot at you?” asked Winkie.

“No. He couldn’t see me, for I hadn’t yet poked my nose outside,”
answered the father. “I don’t understand what happened!”

Blunk, just like a boy, had run to the back-door to be near the scene
of excitement. Now he came running back, all out of breath.

“Oh, you ought to see!” he cried. “Our back-door hole is closed up!
It’s full of dirt and stones, and nobody can get out that way!”

“You don’t tell me!” cried his father, who was, by this time, getting
over the shock. “I must take a look!”

Timidly, all the woodchucks followed him to the back-door. Just as
Blunk had said, a lot of earth and stones had caved in, completely
filling up the passage way and the door.

“No getting out there,” said Winkie, for she had been quicker than any
of the others to see what had happened.

“Hurry!” cried her father. “We must try the front-door hole! I think I
know what happened. The farmer shot off his gun down our back-door hole
and blew it shut!”

But alas for this woodchuck family! As Mr. Woodchuck was patting and
tapping Winkie, Blinkie, and Blunk with his paws to make them run
faster, and just as they were close to the front-door hole, there came
another loud sound, and the earth trembled under the paws of the little
animals.

“Oh! Oh, dear!” whined Blinkie.

“Dear me! I hope no one is hurt,” said Mrs. Woodchuck. “This is
dreadful!”

No one was hurt; but they were all covered with moist earth that had
rattled down on them. But as woodchucks are always burrowing and
digging in the earth, this did not matter.

Daddy Woodchuck scrambled on ahead of the others until he reached the
front door.

“Just as I feared!” he sadly said. “This door is closed too! We are
prisoners here in our burrow!”

“You don’t mean to tell me the front-door hole is closed up, like the
back door!” cried his wife.

“Yes, that is what happened,” answered her husband. “The farmer has
shot both our doors shut! We can’t get out!”

This last part was true enough, but not the first. Farmer Tottle had
not exactly shot shut the two door holes of the Woodchucks’ underground
house. He had blasted some rocks in his field, using powder to blow up
the big stones. It was the shock of the blastings that had closed the
doors of the burrow. Dirt and rocks had been shaken into the passages
until they were almost completely filled, and none of the children, to
say nothing of big Mr. and Mrs. Woodchuck, could squeeze their way past.

“What are we going to do?” cried Mrs. Woodchuck.

“Shall we have to stay here forever?” asked Blinkie.

“We can’t stay here forever!” exclaimed Blunk. “There isn’t anything to
eat down here, and we’ll starve!”

“Oh! Don’t talk that way!” faintly screamed Blinkie.

“Maybe we can find a way out,” suggested Winkie, who always looked on
the bright side.

“That’s so!” exclaimed her father. “This is no time for sitting down
and biting one’s paws. We must look for a way out! Come, Blunk, you
and I will try the back-door again. And, Mother, you take Winkie and
Blinkie and try the front-door. Maybe there is a little hole which we
can dig larger, and so get out through it. Look sharp!”

This was better than sitting still sighing; at least so Winkie felt.
But while her mother and sister went to the front-door hole, and
her father and brother to the back door, the wily little woodchuck
nosed off by herself. She remembered that once, when she was playing
hide-and-seek with Blunk and Blinkie she had hidden herself in a side
passage of the burrow. The passage was larger and longer than she had
at first thought, and she had made up her mind, after the game, to see
where it went. But, somehow or other, she had never done this.

“But I’m going into that hole now and see if it leads anywhere,”
thought Winkie. “Maybe it’s a tunnel that will let us out.”

Winkie could see quite well in the dark. She soon found her old
hiding-place, and, going to the far end, where she had never before
been, she looked upward. To her delight she saw a little bit of
daylight gleaming. Scrambling her way forward, Winkie began to dig. She
had soon made a larger hole. She put her nose close to this, and could
smell fresh air.

Much excited, Winkie climbed down and ran to the middle of the burrow,
just as her father and Blunk came from the back door.

“There is no way out there,” said Mr. Woodchuck sadly.

“Nor at the front!” added Mrs. Woodchuck, coming back with Blinkie.
“But where have you been, Winkie?”

“I think I have found a way out!” cried the wily woodchuck. “Yes, I am
sure I have. Come! I’ll show you!”



CHAPTER IV

WINKIE IN THE WOODS


The family of woodchucks huddled close together in the middle of the
underground house of earth in which they had lived so happily for many
months. It was dark down there, but they did not mind that. It was home
to them, the same as your house is home to you. And though there were
no tables nor chairs, no pictures on the wall and no piano, still there
were things there that the woodchucks cared for as much as you care for
the things in your house.

Winkie, Blinkie, and Blunk had brought in bits of wood and stones with
which they played. Their parents had carried in things to eat, and bits
of these were stored in different places that Mrs. Woodchuck might call
her cupboards.

But the woodchucks were to be driven from their home. In fact, they
were very glad to get out, for, no matter how fine a house is, one
never wants to be shut up there forever.

If some one closed all the doors and windows of your house tight, so
that no air or sunshine could get in, I think you would be as glad to
find a way out as Winkie was.

“Do you think you really have found a way to get out, Winkie?” asked
her father anxiously.

“I’m quite sure I have,” she answered. “I found a hole, near a side
burrow where I played one day. I could stick my nose out and breathe
fresh air. And we can easily make the hole larger.”

All at once there was another of those loud, rumbling sounds. It shook
the earth, and the woodchucks, cowering in their burrow, trembled in
fear.

Bang! down came a big clod of dirt from the roof of their burrow,
scattering to pieces in the middle of the floor.

“Oh my! what’s that?” shrieked Blinkie.

Again there came a rumble, as another blast was set off. If the
woodchucks had been above ground they would have seen a great rock fly
to pieces as the powder broke it up. But down in their burrow there was
trouble enough. For a second clod of earth fell, almost hitting Winkie.
If it had hit her there would have been no story to tell, for that
would have been the end of poor Winkie.

“Come! We must get out of here!” cried her father, as the second large
chunk of dirt and stones fell from the roof. “Show us the way out you
think you have found, Winkie. For neither your mother nor I saw any
way.”

“Come with me!” called the wily little woodchuck girl, and she led
them toward the side burrow where she had seen the daylight peeping
through.

It was so narrow that there was room for only two of the animals to
walk side by side. Winkie went with her father to show him what she had
found.

“See! There is daylight!” cried Winkie at last. “And you can smell the
fresh air!”

“Yes, so you can!” cried Mr. Woodchuck, taking a long breath. “We are
saved, I think!”

Still there was much digging to be done before the hole could be made
large enough for the woodchucks to get out. They were all rather plump,
for they lived on rich clover. And Mrs. Woodchuck was really quite fat,
though I shouldn’t like to have her know that I called her that, for
perhaps she wouldn’t like it.

“We must make the hole large enough for your mother,” said Mr.
Woodchuck to Winkie. “It will take some little time.”

“I’ll help!” offered Blunk, and, as he was a strong woodchuck boy, his
father told Blunk to come up in place of Winkie and use his paws. Of
course girl woodchucks can dig burrows fully as well as the woodchuck
boys can, but there was no need as yet for Blinkie, Winkie, and Mrs.
Woodchuck to work at the digging when there was room for only two to
work and there were two “men” in the burrow. And Blunk was beginning to
think of himself as almost a man woodchuck.

Now and again, as Blunk and his father dug to make larger the hole
Winkie had discovered, there came that rumbling sound, like far-off
thunder. Farmer Tottle was still blasting.

But the woodchucks were some distance from it now, and no more lumps of
earth fell on them. With their paws Mr. Woodchuck and Blunk dug away,
throwing the dirt behind them. By this time Mrs. Woodchuck and the two
girl Woodchucks had set to work thrusting the dirt to one side so they
would have room to get out when the time came.

At last the hole was made large enough, and Mr. Woodchuck could thrust
his head out. He looked all around, sniffed to see if he could smell
danger, listened with both his ears, and then called down to the others:

“Come on! It’s all right! Thanks to Winkie, we are now getting out of
our stopped-up burrow, though I thought we never should.”

“Let the children go up first,” said Mrs. Woodchuck. And Winkie,
having found the way, was the first to follow her father outside the
underground house, through the extra hole that had been dug.

“Why, it’s black night!” cried Winkie, as she scrambled out beside Mr.
Woodchuck.

“Yes, it’s dark, so much the better for us,” said Mr. Woodchuck. “That
farmer and his dog won’t see us.”

Night had come while the woodchucks dug to free themselves from the
caved-in burrow.

Up came Blinkie, and then Blunk.

“Now, Mother, it’s your turn!” called Mr. Woodchuck down the hole.

Up scrambled Mrs. Woodchuck. Large as Blunk and his father had made the
opening, it was hardly large enough for fat Mrs. Woodchuck, and she
grunted as she pushed her way through it. Then she came to a sudden
stop, half-way.

“Come on!” cried her husband. “Come, mother! We must get away from here
and find a new home.”

“I――I can’t!” panted Mrs. Woodchuck. “I can’t come any farther, Nib!”

“Why not?” he asked.

“Because I’m stuck! I――I didn’t know I was so――so stout!”

“Here, children!” cried Mr. Woodchuck. “Catch hold of your mother by
her front paws and give her a pull. We’ll have to help her out of the
hole.”

By pulling and hauling, they managed to get Mrs. Woodchuck up and out.
Then the little animal family stood together outside the new hole that
had been dug. Down below them was their burrow, no longer of any use,
for the two door holes had been closed by the fall of rocks and earth,
caused by Mr. Tottle’s blasting.

“Well, we haven’t any home now,” said Mrs. Woodchuck, giving herself a
little shake to get rid of the dirt that clung to her fur.

“What shall we do?” Blunk asked sadly.

“Make a new home, of course!” answered his father cheerfully.

“But where can we stay to-night?” Blinkie wanted to know.

“Oh, we shall do very well!” replied Mrs. Woodchuck. “This is the warm
summer time, and we really don’t need an underground house now. We can
stay in a hollow log in the woods.”

“What is the woods?” asked Winkie. Though the woodland trees grew not
far from the burrow house, Winkie had never been in the forest.

“Come with your mother and me and we’ll show you,” her father answered.
“Follow me!”

[Illustration: By pulling and hauling they managed to get Mrs.
Woodchuck up and out.]

Though it was dark, the other woodchucks could see well enough to
follow Mr. Woodchuck. He led them across the field where Mr. Tottle
had been blasting that day. But now the farmer was asleep in bed, and
his dog was asleep also. There was no one to see the escape of the
woodchucks.

Through the clover field they went, stopping long enough to eat as much
as they wanted, for they were hungry. Then Mr. Woodchuck ducked under a
fence, the others followed, and soon they found themselves in a darker,
silent place, where the moon did not shine and where the stars did not
glitter.

“What place is this?” asked Winkie, in a whisper. She was just a bit
afraid.

“This is the woods,” her father answered. “We shall be safe in the
dark, silent woods. Now we’ll curl up in the warm, dry leaves and go to
sleep. In the morning we’ll find a hollow log, and you can see what the
woods are like, Winkie.”

Though she did not know it then, Winkie was to have many adventures in
these woods and the country roundabout.



CHAPTER V

WINKIE MEETS DON


Tired by their hard work in making their way out of their burrow, and
weary with the journey to the woods, Winkie, Blinkie, and Blunk slept
rather late the next morning. Father and Mother Woodchuck were up and
astir early, however, rustling around among the dried leaves.

“How do you like it here, Mrs. Woodchuck?” asked her husband in a
whisper, for he did not want to awaken the children.

“Of course,” answered his wife, “it isn’t as nice as the burrow we had
to leave. But it will do very well for the summer. I think it will be
very pleasant, if you think it will be safe.”

“It will be safe enough,” declared Mr. Woodchuck. “We can hide in the
leaves and hollow logs if danger comes. And we are not far from the
clover field. Besides, there is plenty of bark here to gnaw.”

“Yes, there is plenty of bark,” agreed Mrs. Woodchuck, looking around
at the trees, through which the morning sun was just beginning to
shine. Woodchucks sometimes eat bark, you know, as well as clover.
“Yes, there is plenty of bark,” said Winkie’s mother again. “And I had
rather eat the _bark_ of a tree than listen to the _bark_ of a dog,”
she added, smiling as she made this little joke.

Mr. Woodchuck smiled, too――that is, as much as woodchucks ever
smile――and he felt happy. When his wife made little jokes this way he
knew that she, too, was happy. Really, you could hardly have blamed
the woodchucks for being unhappy, when they had to get out of their
underground house in the way they did.

“Yes, I think we shall like it here in the woods,” proceeded the
woodchuck lady. “But of course it would never do for winter.”

“Oh, my, no!” agreed her husband. “When winter comes we will dig
ourselves a new burrow.”

Just then Winkie awakened and cried out in some fear:

“Oh, where am I?”

“Hush, Winkie! You’re all right!” her mother called. “We are in our new
home――in the woods. You’ll like it very much!”

“Oh!” murmured the wily woodchuck girl. “I was dreaming, Mother, that I
was playing tag with Blunk, and he tickled me.”

“Well, these leaves are tickling me!” cried Brother Blunk, who just
then awakened.

They all laughed at this, and at Winkie’s dream, and after they had
washed themselves they were ready for breakfast. I don’t mean to say
that the woodchucks went to a bathroom and washed their faces and paws
or took a bath as you do when you get up in the morning. At least, as
you wash your faces and _hands_ or take a bath.

But I am sure you have all seen a cat wash its face; and though the
woodchucks did not cleanse themselves in just this way, they made their
ruffled fur smooth and sleek before they ate their breakfast.

After a few nibbles at the bark of some trees, which they liked very
much, the woodchucks went over to the edge of the woods near the clover
field. There they ate some green leaves and red blossoms.

All at once they saw a flash of fire and a puff of smoke, and they
heard that rumbling sound which had so frightened them before.

“Look out!” cried Mr. Woodchuck.

But there was no danger to the woodchucks now, even though Farmer
Tottle was again blasting stumps and rocks in his field. The
woodchucks, however, were afraid, and back toward the woods they ran.
And as they did not keep together, but scattered, it happened that,
after the first frightened rush, Winkie found herself running along
alone.

It was the first time Winkie had ever been in the woods, and the first
time she had ever been anywhere alone. Always, except perhaps when very
near the burrow, she had been with her brother or sister, or father or
mother. Now, as she ran along, she looked on either side, she peered
amid the trees and under the bushes and saw――no one! No Blinkie, no
Blunk, no father, no mother!

“Oh, where are you?” cried Winkie, in woodchuck language, of course.
“Where are you all?”

But so frightened were the other woodchucks that they had scurried here
and there, one running this way and the other that way until they were
widely separated. Neither Blinkie nor Blunk, neither father nor mother
was within sound of Winkie’s voice.

“Oh, what is going to happen to me?” cried poor Winkie. “What is going
to happen?”

If she had been a real little girl, instead of an animal one, Winkie
might have cried, for she was lost for the first time in her life, and
away from father, mother, brother and sister. I believe almost any of
you little girls, and probably a good many of the boys, would have
cried.

But Winkie was a brave little woodchuck girl, and she was also wily,
which, as I have told you, means smart and cunning.

“No, I’m not going to cry!” said Winkie to herself. “If I cry, and make
a blubbery noise, some of the farmer’s dogs may hear me and chase me.
Or maybe a fox will hear me. I’m going to keep still and see if I can’t
find Blinkie and the others.”

So saying, Winkie came to a stop in the midst of her mad, frightened
rush amid the dried leaves. She became very quiet, listened and looked
about her. At first she could hear nothing but the beating of her own
little, frightened heart and the whispering of the wind among the
trees. This last sound came to Winkie’s ears as rather friendly. She
was beginning to like it in the big woods.

“Perhaps nothing will harm me here,” she said to herself. “And I may
have adventures, such as my father and mother have told me about having
had when they were younger.”

Thinking thus made Winkie feel better. She was not so frightened.
Though she no longer ran on as fast as when she had heard the distant
blast set off by Farmer Tottle, she still kept running.

“For,” she said to herself, “I want to find my father and mother if I
can.”

So Winkie’s wanderings were all done toward the end of finding her
family again, and the adventures came in between, so to speak.

After her run Winkie began to feel a bit thirsty, as most wild animals
do when they journey fast through the woods or fields. The wily little
woodchuck looked about for some water to drink. Winkie could smell
water as you smell cookies baking in your mother’s oven, and it did
not take the ground-hog girl long to reach a little stream. She was
thirstily drinking when, all of a sudden, she heard a noise.

She stopped drinking, and looked across the little brook. There she
saw, sitting on the opposite bank, a brown animal, not very much
different from herself, except as to the tail. This animal had a broad,
flat tail, marked in scales like those of a fish, while the tail of
Winkie was round and covered with fur. And, as she looked, somehow or
other Winkie did not feel that this strange animal would harm her.

“Who are you?” asked Winkie.

“I am Toto,” was the answer.

“You aren’t a woodchuck, I know,” said Winkie. “Are you a muskrat?”

“No. But I can swim under water,” answered Toto. “I am the bustling
beaver, if you please. And who are you?”

“Oh, I am Winkie, the wily woodchuck, and I’m lost!” came the answer.
“Why do they call you a bustling beaver? Have you seen any of my
family?”

“My! You are very fond of asking questions!” laughed Toto. “But I will
do my best to answer you. I am a beaver, because I was born a beaver,
that’s all I can tell you about that.

“But the reason I am called ‘bustling’ is because I am such a fast
worker. I bustle about, digging canals, making dams, cutting down
trees, and all such work as that. And I’ll soon have to run along and
help build a new dam we beavers are putting across the brook.”

“What’s a dam?” asked Winkie.

“There you go again! Asking more questions!” laughed Toto. “Well, a dam
is a lot of sticks, stones, and grass piled across a stream to make it
stop running away. Then the water makes a big pond back of the dam, and
in that pond of deep water we beavers build our homes. With our teeth
we gnaw down big trees so they will fall across the brook to help in
making the dam.”

“My! I should say you were bustling!” exclaimed Winkie. “But in all
your bustling about have you seen Blinkie, Blunk, or my father or
mother?”

“More questions!” laughed Toto, the beaver. “No,” he answered, after
taking another drink of water from the brook, “I haven’t seen them, I
am sorry to say. Are they lost?”

Then Winkie told of the blasting, how the Woodchuck family had been
shut up in the burrow, how she had found a way out and how they had all
separated, much frightened, when the big noise came again that morning.

“You certainly have had a lot of trouble,” agreed Toto. “I wish I could
help you, but I must now bustle back to my work――we beavers are very
busy animals. However, if I see any of your family I’ll tell them where
to find you.”

“Please do,” begged Winkie, as Toto hastened along. The beaver waddled
off a little way, moving in a queer fashion, for beavers are rather
awkward on land, though very swift in swimming.

Then Toto came to a stop. He turned and looked at Winkie.

“I say,” asked Toto, “were you ever in a book, Winkie?”

“Book? No, I never was in a book,” answered Winkie. “What is a book?”

“I’ve been in one,” went on Toto. “I haven’t time to tell you about it
now. Maybe I will some other day. Good-bye, Winkie. I’m glad I met you!”

“Good-bye,” echoed the wily woodchuck. She felt a bit lonesome when
Toto was gone. “I wonder what a book is,” murmured Winkie, as she
walked along after she had lapped up all the water she wanted. “Toto
said book. I wish I knew what a book is!” And she spoke aloud this time.

“A book! Ha! I can tell you what a book is!” suddenly exclaimed another
voice. “Come over here and I’ll tell you all about a book. I have been
put in one!”

Winkie looked through the trees, and what she saw made her heart beat
faster than it ever had before.

“Oh, it’s a _dog_!” she gasped. “One of the farmer’s big dogs! Oh, this
is the end of me! Oh, I must run!”

Away leaped Winkie. The dog ran after her barking and shouting:

“Don’t run! Don’t be afraid! I’m only Don! I’m Don, the runaway dog,
but I don’t run away any more, and I won’t hurt you. Wait! I want to
tell you what a book is!”



CHAPTER VI

WINKIE IN A STORM


Winkie, the wily woodchuck, was so frightened at the sight of the
dog――even more frightened than she had been at the distant blasting
explosion――that she ran on and on through the woods, scarcely looking
where she was going. Racing in this way, not keeping watch, caused
Winkie to bump into a tree full tilt!

Bang! she slammed against it, so hard that she was thrown down and lay,
for a moment, stunned amid the leaves.

It was a good thing that Don was a kind dog, and not a savage one
belonging to Farmer Tottle. And it is also a good thing Don was not a
wolf or a fox. For had he been either of these he could easily have
caught Winkie in his teeth when she fell back, stunned by her crash
into the tree.

But Don did not do this thing. Instead, he went gently up to Winkie as
she lay amid the leaves, smelled her fur, and barked in a low tone.

“Oh, please don’t bite me! Please don’t!” begged Winkie.

“Bite you? Nonsense! I never thought of such a thing!” cried Don. “Why
did you run away?”

“Because you chased me,” answered Winkie, her heart not beating so fast
now, when she found that nothing had yet happened to her. She was so
plump and so covered with fur that running into the tree had not done
her any more harm than to knock her breath from her for a moment or two.

“How foolish! I didn’t chase you!” declared Don. “I was just running
after you to tell you what a book is.”

“What is a book?” asked Winkie, and Don told her as well as he could
for a dog who couldn’t himself read.

“A book,” he barked, “is a sort of long story of adventures.”

“I know what adventures are,” said Winkie. “They’re things that happen
to you.”

“Yes,” agreed Don. “And you have had an adventure this morning.”

“You mean all our family getting lost?” asked Winkie.

“I didn’t hear about that,” said Don. “But that’s an adventure too.
No, I meant running away from me and bumping into a tree. That was an
adventure.”

[Illustration: Caused Winkie to bump into a tree full tilt!]

“Not a very pleasant one,” remarked Winkie, smiling.

“Oh, well, there are all sorts of adventures,” said Don. “I have had
very many, and they have been put into a book about me, just as have
those of Toto, the bustling beaver, about whom I heard you speaking.”

“Have you had adventures?” asked Winkie.

“I should say I have!” barked Don. “Say,” he went on, “did you ever
meet Squinty, the comical pig?”

“No, I never did,” answered Winkie. “Who is he?”

“Oh, a jolly chap. Did you ever meet Slicko, the jumping squirrel?”

“No, not that I know of. Where is Slicko?”

“Somewhere in these woods, I think. You’ll probably meet Slicko sooner
or later. And then there is Mappo, and there’s Tum Tum.”

“Who are they?”

“Animals who have had adventures and been put in books,” answered Don.
“Mappo is a merry monkey, and Tum Tum is a jolly elephant. I hope you
meet them some day.”

“I hope so, too,” said Winkie. “But just now I should like to meet my
father and mother and Blinkie and Blunk. Have you seen them?”

“No, I am sorry to say I have not,” answered Don. “But don’t worry,
you may find them, also. And I’m sure you will have lots of adventures.
You are sort of running away, you know.”

“Yes, I ran away from that big noise,” admitted Winkie. “But what has
that to do with it?”

“Running away always brings adventures,” answered Don. “At least it did
to me. I was once a runaway dog. But I was glad to get back again, and
I am very happy now.”

“Are you one of the farmer’s dogs that barked at my father and mother?”
asked Winkie.

“No,” replied Don. “I never bark at woodchucks. I like them, and
so does my master, who is very kind. But some men don’t like you
ground-hogs, and they are always sending their dogs after you. They
also set traps――those men do.”

“What are traps?” asked Winkie.

“Ha! There you go again――more questions!” chuckled the dog. “Well, I
can tell you one thing――traps are very good things to keep out of. Once
I caught my paw in a trap, and I was lame for a month after it. Keep
away from traps, Winkie!”

“I’ll try!” promised the wily woodchuck. But she did not know what was
soon going to happen to her.

So much talk seemed to make Winkie hungry, and, seeing some grass
growing under a tree, she began to nibble the green blades.

“Why don’t you eat something,” she asked Don. “This grass is very sweet
and good.”

“Thank you; but we dogs don’t eat grass,” Don answered. “That is unless
we take it as medicine when we aren’t feeling well. But I feel fine
now――I don’t need grass, but I would like a juicy bone. And speaking of
bones makes me hungry. I think I’ll trot to my kennel and get a bone.”

“What’s a kennel?” asked Winkie.

“My! I never knew any one to ask as many questions as you, unless it
might be Mappo, the merry monkey,” barked Don. “A kennel is a house in
which I live.”

“We call our house a burrow,” said Winkie. “Only we haven’t any now.”

“It wouldn’t do for all of us to live in the same kind of houses,” Don
said. “I’d feel rather silly in a nest, and yet a nest is a home for
a bird. Well, I’m going to trot along, Winkie. I hope I shall see you
soon again.”

“I hope so too,” murmured Winkie, who knew that she was going to be
lonely when Don went away.

Don started off, wagging his tail in a friendly farewell to Winkie. She
was watching him and did not notice where she was walking until, all
of a sudden, she felt herself falling into a hole with a lot of leaves
and sticks.

“Oh! Oh!” cried Winkie. “Help me, Don! I’m in a trap!”

With a bark Don bounded back, and, with his paws, he helped Winkie up
out of the hole.

“That wasn’t a trap,” he said. “You can’t get out of traps as easily as
that. You just fell into a hole where once there was a stump or stone.
The hole was covered with dried leaves and you didn’t see it, I guess.

“Some traps are like that, and others are like a box that shut you up
tight. Other traps have strong, sharp teeth that snap shut on your leg.
That’s the kind of trap I was once in.”

“I hope nothing like that happens to me!” sighed Winkie, and Don hoped
the same.

“Now I must go,” said the dog, when he found the little woodchuck girl
was all right. “See you later! Good-bye!” And soon he was lost to sight
among the trees.

Poor Winkie felt very lonely now, for, having talked to Toto, the
beaver, and to Don, the dog, she began to have a very friendly feeling
for these animals.

But she was a brave little thing, as well as wily and smart, and she
began to feel that she must look after herself now, since it might be
many days before she would find her family in the big woods.

Sitting down and crying about things never makes them any better, and
Winkie was not going to do this. Instead she felt that she must find
some place to stay during the night, which she knew would come when the
sun went down.

“But first I am going to see if I can’t find my family,” thought
Winkie. “There’s no sense in giving up so soon. I’ll make believe we
have been playing hide-and-seek and I’ve got to find them so I won’t be
it.”

She had often played this game, and it was not hard to imagine she
was doing it again. On through the woods she wandered, now and then
stopping to listen or to call. She cried the names of Blinkie and Blunk
as loudly as she could, and also shouted for her father and mother.

But the only answers she heard were the sighing of the wind in the
trees, the murmur of the brooks as they flowed over the green, mossy
stones, and the songs of the birds. To the birds Winkie spoke, for she
could talk their language, and she asked them if they had seen anything
of her father, mother, Blinkie or Blunk.

“You birds fly high above the trees,” said Winkie, “and you can look
down and see many things I can not see. Please help me look for my
people.”

“We will!” sang the birds. So they flew here and there, peering down
through the tree branches. But they did not get a glimpse of any of the
woodchucks. For, truth to tell, the other four ground-hogs had run away
at the time Winkie had, and now they were all scattered. Blinkie, Blunk
and Mr. and Mrs. Woodchuck were separated one far from the other, and
as much lost as was Winkie herself.

Later on the four woodchucks found each other and made a new home for
themselves, but Winkie did not know this for a long time, and not until
after she had had many adventures about which I must tell you.

For several days Winkie wandered through the woods, all alone except
that once or twice she met Toto, and again, she spied Don. But the dog
was walking with his master and he did not come near Winkie. For this
the woodchuck girl was glad, for she was afraid of men, even of one as
kind as Don’s master seemed to be.

Look as the fluttering birds did, they found no trace of Winkie’s
relatives, and they told the woodchuck girl this.

One day, as Winkie was wandering about, she suddenly heard a noise in
the bushes. She was going to run and hide, thinking it might be a wolf
or a fox, when a jolly voice grunted:

“Don’t be afraid, little ground-hog girl, I won’t hurt you!”

“Who are you?” asked Winkie.

“Squinty, the comical pig,” was the answer.

“Oh, I have heard Don speak of you,” said Winkie, as the pig came
rooting his way through the underbrush.

“Yes, Don and I are friends,” Squinty replied. “But you had better find
a good place to stay to-night, Winkie.”

“Why?” asked the wily woodchuck.

“Because there is going to be a big storm,” was the pig’s answer. “I
am going back to my pen. I really oughtn’t to have come out, but I get
tired of staying shut up so much, and, once in a while, I root my way
out with my rubbery nose. But I’m going back now before I am caught in
the storm, and you, also, had better find a place of shelter.”

“Thank you; I’ll look for one,” said Winkie.

She went on a little farther, after bidding good-bye to Squinty. All at
once, she heard a sound in a tree over her head.

“Oh,” cried Winkie, “is that one of the birds come to tell me he has
found my family?”

“No, I’m not a bird,” was the answer; “though I stay in the trees a
great deal of the time. I am Slicko, the jumping squirrel. I know
you, Winkie. Don told me about you. Have you a good place to stay this
night?”

“No, I have no home,” sadly answered Winkie.

“Then you had better stay in this hollow tree,” said Slicko kindly,
pointing to one near by. “There is going to be a big storm, and you
will be frightened if you are out in it. I can always tell when a storm
is coming, hours before it gets here.”

“That’s what Squinty said,” remarked Winkie.

“Oh, do you know that comical pig?” asked the jumping squirrel. “Isn’t
he funny?”

“I don’t know him very well. I just met him,” answered the wily
woodchuck. “But he seemed very kind. And thank you for telling me about
the hollow tree.”

“Don’t mention it!” chattered the squirrel. “We animals must be kind to
one another. I hope you’ll rest well. I have my nest higher up in this
same tree.”

“Then we shall be company for each other in the night,” said Winkie.

She found the hollow tree to which Slicko had pointed. Inside were some
dried leaves, which would make a soft bed for the woodchuck girl. When
night came Winkie crawled in and went to bed, and up higher in the tree
she could see Slicko crawling into a hole where the squirrel’s nest
was made.

Winkie slept very well the first part of the night, even though the
wind sighed and moaned among the trees. Then, all of a sudden, she was
awakened by a great flash of light and a loud crashing sound.

“Oh! Oh!” cried Winkie. “The farmer and his dogs are after us again!
He’s going to shut us up in the burrow again!”

“No, this is no farmer!” chattered Slicko. “This is a big storm, with
thunder, lightning and rain! I’m afraid this tree will blow down! Look
out, Winkie!”

Before Winkie could crawl out of her bed of leaves in the lower hollow
place there was another blinding flash of light and a great thundering
sound, following by a cracking noise.

“Oh, the tree is struck! The tree is falling!” cried Slicko. “Save
yourself, Winkie!”

A moment later the wily woodchuck found herself tossed out into the
storm.



CHAPTER VII

WINKIE IN A TRAP


Slicko, the jumping squirrel, had told the truth about the storm. The
tree, in the upper part of which the squirrel had a nest and in a lower
hollow part of which Winkie had been sleeping, was struck by lightning,
and broken down.

But neither of the animals, nor some birds nesting under the leaves of
the tree, was hurt by the lightning, though all were stunned by it for
a moment. The birds fluttered into other trees, glad to hide themselves
under the leaves as much out of the rain as they could get. Slicko,
feeling the tree falling, had leaped safely into another.

And what happened to poor Winkie?

At first the wily woodchuck hardly knew what was taking place. She had
been awakened so suddenly by the storm, with its lightning, thunder,
wind, and rain, that she was dazed.

But she heard what Slicko said, and she knew enough to jump when she
felt the tree going over, so she was not caught under it and pinned
down, as sometimes happens to beavers in the woods.

“Where are you? Where can I get in out of the rain?” called Winkie to
Slicko. But either she could not make her voice heard above the storm,
or else Slicko was too far away to hear. I think it was a little of
both.

At any rate Winkie stood for a moment beside the fallen, split tree
that had been a sort of “hotel” for her during the first part of the
night. But the warm leaf-lined nest where she had so cozily cuddled was
no more. And as she felt the rain falling on her and heard the noise of
the storm, Winkie knew she must get under some kind of shelter.

Winkie, like most wild animals, could see pretty well in the dark, so
she walked along.

Every now and then a flash of lightning came, and this showed her still
better which way to go. She did not need to keep on any path. She could
wander where she wished. And, really, the rain did her little harm, for
this was summer. If it had been winter, with a rain that froze as fast
as it fell, that would have been very sad indeed. Winkie wore a coat of
fur, and though this was wet through, she knew it would soon dry in the
sun.

She looked about her for a hollow tree, but could find none. Then she
spied a hole under some rocks, and in another moment she had crawled
into this little den, away from the wind and the rain. In the hole were
dried leaves, and cuddling up in these Winkie soon began to feel warm
again.

Outside the rain splashed down, the wind lashed the branches of the
trees, breaking some off and tossing them to the ground, the thunder
roared, and the lightning flashed. But, safe in the little cave she had
found, Winkie, the wily woodchuck, soon went to sleep again.

So, after all, Winkie came through the storm with nothing worse than
a fright and a wetting. Of course she missed Slicko, for when morning
came and the warm sun shone once more, there was no sign of the jumping
squirrel.

“Slicko! Slicko! Where are you?” called Winkie, as she came out of the
little cave.

“Slicko has gone away!” chirped a bird. “I saw Slicko scampering off
through the tree tops long before the sun was up.”

“Well, then I shall have to get a new friend,” said Winkie. “Have you
seen any of my family?” she asked the bird.

“No, I am sorry to say I have not,” was the answer. “I have only been
in these woods a short time. I came just before the storm, and I met
Slicko only by chance. I can’t tell you anything about your family.”

“Then I shall have to travel on and try to find them,” said Winkie.
“But first I must get something to eat.”

This was easy for the woodchuck girl. She did not have to go to the
store, nor yet wait for a meal to be cooked or a table set. Eating was
very easy for her.

All she had to do was to look about for some grass or something green
growing, and for some bark to gnaw. Winkie did not really care as much
about bark as did Toto the beaver, for ground-hogs live mainly on
clover, grass, and other soft plants. But when a woodchuck is hungry,
as Winkie was, it will eat almost anything in the vegetable line.

“I’d like to find some turnips, carrots, or cabbage,” she thought to
herself, for woodchucks are very fond of these, and that is one reason
why farmers do not like woodchucks. “But I don’t see any around here,”
went on Winkie.

Indeed there was no garden near the woods, and after eating what she
could find in the forest and on the edge of it, Winkie started off to
look for more adventures.

Of course, she really didn’t especially look for them, nor did she know
she was going to have them, but adventures happened to her, and some of
them were not very pleasant.

The woods were washed clean by the storm, and now the day was warm and
sunny. The birds sang, many animals scurried here and there between the
trees and under the bushes, and Winkie was one of them.

Now and then she would hear some large animal moving in the bushes, and
at such times Winkie would crouch down and hide, for she feared a wolf,
a fox or a dog might be coming after her.

“I shouldn’t mind meeting Don, or even Tum Tum, the jolly elephant,
he told about,” thought Winkie. “But I don’t want to meet any strange
dogs.”

Don, however, was far away, as was Tum Tum. So Winkie had to wander
along by herself. All day she roamed through the woods, now and then
stopping to give a sort of whistle, which is one way woodchucks have of
talking. Again she would also chatter her teeth with a rattling sound,
as owls clatter their beaks. This is another way woodchucks have of
speaking to one another.

But to all Winkie’s calls there came no answer from any of her family.
She did not see Blinkie nor Blunk, and her father and mother might have
been a hundred miles away for all she knew.

Once, indeed, she met another woodchuck, a fat, lazy old man of a
ground-hog, and at first Winkie thought he might be her grandfather.
But he was not, and this woodchuck knew nothing of Winkie’s family.

“But I can tell you where to get a good meal of clover,” said the lazy
old ground-hog.

“Where?” eagerly asked Winkie.

“Go straight along the way you are headed, and on the edge of the woods
you will see a field,” was the answer. “Crawl under the fence and
you’ll find some clover.”

Winkie thanked him, and waddled on. She found the clover just where she
had been told it would be and ate her fill. She ate so much she felt
sleepy, and about sunset she curled up in a hollow log and slept all
night.

When morning came Winkie started on her travels again. By this time she
was getting rather used to wandering around alone. Not that she liked
it, but it was the best she could do. She would have been very glad
to have had a game of tag with Blinkie or Blunk, but this was not to
happen for a long time.

That noon Winkie found a field where a farmer was raising some carrots,
and, as she saw no man in sight, and no dogs, and did not hear any
dogs barking, Winkie went into the field, dug up some carrots, and ate
them. It was because of this that, a few days later, something dreadful
happened to Winkie.

For she liked the carrots so much that she looked for more everywhere
she went. One day Winkie, who was very hungry at the time, saw another
carrot――a large yellow one――in a fence corner.

“Some one must have left this carrot here specially for me!” thought
Winkie. “How kind of him!”

Winkie was not quite as wily and smart then as she ought to have been,
for if she had only known it, this carrot was placed where it was as
a bait. But Winkie did not know this. Up she went quite boldly, and
reached out to take the carrot.

A moment later she heard a clicking sound, and something closed with a
snap on her left hind leg. She felt a great pain in it, and tried to
run away.

But Winkie could not run! She was caught fast in a trap! The carrot had
been placed there just for that――to trap some animal――and Winkie was
caught!



CHAPTER VIII

WINKIE’S NEW HOME


Just as soon as Winkie felt the pain in her leg, a hard pinching and
pulling, she knew what had happened just as well as if her mother had
told her.

“I’m in a trap!” cried the girl woodchuck, who was not as wily now as
she ought to have been. “I’m in a trap! Oh, dear! What shall I do?”

She had often heard her father and mother talk of animals being caught
in traps. Some traps were of one kind and some of another. Winkie
was glad this was not a box trap, shutting her away from the air and
sunlight. She was glad it was not a bear trap with sharp teeth, like
those of a saw, for they would have cut her leg and caused it to bleed.

This trap was just a common, spring one, with smooth jaws, and though
it pinched Winkie very much, and held her so fast that she could not
pull her leg loose, she was not cut.

“I must run away!” thought poor Winkie. “I must run away and take this
trap with me. Then, maybe, when I am in a safe place, I can pull my leg
out! Oh, how it pinches! I wish I had never tried to get the carrot!”

The little woodchuck no longer thought of the yellow carrot which was
placed near the trap. She seemed to have got over her hunger because of
the pain in her leg.

“Yes, I must run away and take this trap with me!” thought Winkie.

But that was easier said than done. As Winkie tried to walk away, with
the spring trap still fast to her leg, she was suddenly stopped with a
jerk that gave her another pain. She almost fell down, and she had to
cry “Ouch!” Of course, in the way woodchucks say it.

Then she looked and found there was a chain attached to the trap, and
the other end of the chain was fast to a big log. If Winkie should walk
away with the trap, she would also have to drag the log with her. And
this was more than the little woodchuck girl could do.

“Oh dear! Oh dear!” thought poor Winkie, lying down on the soft grass
near the trap. “This is dreadful!”

And indeed it was! It was worse than the blasting in the field which
had closed the door holes of the burrow house. It was worse than Farmer
Tottle and his dog. It was worse than the big storm when the tree in
which Winkie was sleeping had been struck by lightning.

“Oh, what shall I do?” sighed poor Winkie.

Well, there was little she could do. She again tried to pull her leg
out of the trap, but it would not move, and the pain each time she
tried made her chatter her teeth and whistle. Then she tried to pull
the trap loose from the log to which it was chained. But she could not
do that, either.

“Oh, I shall have to stay here forever!” thought poor Winkie. “I never
can get loose! I shall never see Blinkie nor Blunk again, nor my father
and mother! Oh dear!”

Winkie looked at the carrot which was the cause of all her troubles.
Even yet she did not feel hungry enough to nibble it, though just
before she had stepped into the trap she had been very anxious for some
vegetable.

“I must do something!” thought Winkie. “I can’t stay here forever.”

She was just going to tug again at the trap and chain when, all of a
sudden, she heard a noise. It was a whistling sound, almost like that
which woodchucks make. For one happy moment Winkie thought it might be
her father or mother coming to set her free. But a moment later, as the
whistling became louder, Winkie saw coming toward her a boy. It was the
boy who was whistling.

On he came, trilling a merry air. Well might he whistle! He was caught
in no trap that pinched his leg!

Suddenly the boy caught sight of Winkie, the wily woodchuck.

“Oh, ho!” he cried. “I’ve caught a ground-hog! I’ve caught a woodchuck
in my trap! My, but I’m lucky!”

Of course Winkie could not understand what the boy said, but if she
thought anything at all she must have thought that she was very unlucky.

“It’s a nice fat woodchuck, too!” exclaimed Larry Dawson, which was the
boy’s name. “It isn’t hurt, either. I’m glad it’s a smooth trap and not
one with teeth! I set it to catch a skunk, but it caught a woodchuck
instead. I guess she isn’t hurt much. A woodchuck’s fur isn’t any good,
like a skunk’s. But I’ll take this ground-hog home, and maybe I can
tame her and teach her tricks.”

If Winkie could have understood all the boy said she would not have
been so afraid of him, for Larry was a kind boy and gave no needless
pain to animals. But the woodchuck did not understand, and when Larry
came closer, intending to loose her from the trap, she crouched down,
showed her sharp, biting teeth, and squealed and chattered.

“Oh, ho! You’re going to be ugly, are you?” exclaimed the boy. “Well,
I can’t blame you. It isn’t any fun to be caught in a trap. I wouldn’t
like it myself, and I’ll take you out if you don’t bite me.” For Larry
knew that woodchucks can bite very severely when they are caught and
when they fear they are in danger.

“I’ll go and get a bag to carry you in,” said Larry, still speaking
aloud, as though Winkie could understand him. “I’ll get a bag, and then
take you home. My sister Alice will like you. We’ll teach you tricks
after we tame you. Wait here while I go for a bag!”

There really wasn’t any need of telling Winkie to “wait there.” She
couldn’t get loose. And of course she remained until Larry came back.
He had gone to his father’s barn and gotten a strong bag in which feed
came for the horses.

Dropping this bag over Winkie, who was now more frightened than ever,
Larry reached in from the outside, the strong bag keeping Winkie from
biting, though she tried to do this, and soon the boy had loosened the
spring and taken the trap off the woodchuck’s leg.

“Oh, how good it feels not to be pinched any more!” thought Winkie.
“Oh, how good it feels!”

And she curled up in the bottom of the bag, as Larry slung it over his
shoulder, and closed her eyes, for she felt so much better than she
had in the trap.

“I wonder what is going to happen to me?” thought Winkie.

She was going to have more adventures, though she did not know it just
then.

Across the fields went Larry, carrying the wily woodchuck in the bag
over his shoulder. Winkie did not mind the bouncing, for the pain in
her leg, where the trap had pinched her, was growing less now.

“Oh, Larry, what have you got?” cried his sister Alice, as he reached
the house.

“A woodchuck,” the boy answered. “She was in my skunk trap.”

“Is she dead?” asked Alice.

“No, she’s very much alive,” replied Larry. “Don’t go near the bag or
she may bite you. We’ll tame her, and she’ll do tricks for us. Get me
a piece of cord, Alice, and I’ll tie this bag up. Then the woodchuck
can’t get out until I build a pen for her.”

“Oh, are you going to do that?” asked Alice.

“Yes, I’ll make a strong pen, so she can’t get out. You’ll help me,
won’t you? After she’s been in the pen a while, and we feed her every
day, she’ll get used to us and grow tame. Then we can teach her some
tricks.”

“Oh, that will be fun!” cried Alice.

The cord which Alice brought was tied around the neck of the bag, so
that the woodchuck could not get out, though she tried to do this as
soon as Larry set the bag down on the ground.

“Oh, we have you safe!” exclaimed the boy, as he saw the form of the
ground-hog scurrying about inside the bag. “But we’ll soon give you
a better place than that to live in. Come on, Alice, we’ll make a
woodchuck pen!”

The brother and sister hammered away, nailing boards together, and
soon the pen was finished. Larry took the bag, loosed the string, and
held the open end of the bag over the pen. Out toppled Winkie, her
eyes blinking on account of being so suddenly thrust into the bright
sunlight from the darkness of the bag.

The first thing Winkie did, after tumbling from the bag, was to stand
very still, crouching on the ground. Then she looked about for a way of
escape. In one corner of the pen she saw a square black hole.

“Maybe that’s a burrow door,” thought Winkie. “If I can run down that
I’ll be safe.”

She waddled over to the square black hole, and went through it. But she
only found herself inside a small box, with no way out.

“Oh, she went into her bedroom!” laughed Alice, clapping her hands. “I
guess she’s sleepy!”

“I guess she thought she could get out that way,” said Larry. “But she
can’t. That inside box is for her to sleep in, but she can’t get out
that way.”

And, to Winkie’s sorrow, she could not. She was fast in a pen which was
to be her new home. The woodchuck remained inside the inner box for a
little while, seeking some hole through which she might crawl. But when
she saw none she came out into the open pen again.

The pen Larry and Alice had made, which was to be Winkie’s new home,
was really a large box set on the ground. It had a bottom to it, and
four sides, but no top. In place of the box cover Larry had put on
some strong chicken wire. Winkie could not push her way up through
this wire, nor could she bite it, though she had very strong teeth for
gnawing bark and nipping clover.

In one corner of the larger box Larry and Alice had set a smaller box,
with wooden sides and a wooden top. There was a square hole for a door
in this smaller box, and this was Winkie’s bedroom.

[Illustration: Out toppled Winkie.]

“You’re safe here now, little woodchuck!” said Larry. “I’m going to
feed you and then teach you tricks when you get tame.”

“Maybe she wants a drink of water,” suggested Alice.

“Yes, I guess she does,” said Larry. “I’ll get some for her.”

When a basin of water was set down inside the pen the woodchuck was so
thirsty that she began to drink at once. The boy and girl laughed to
see her drink.

“She’s getting tame already,” said Alice.

“Well, sort of beginning,” agreed Larry. “Now I’ll get her something
to eat. But I guess I’d better bait that trap with something besides
carrot if I want to catch a skunk. I guess skunks don’t like carrots,
for none has come near the trap since I set it.”

Larry was right. Skunks are not carrot-eating animals, though they may
take a nibble now and then if they are very hungry.

The children had started to get something for Winkie to eat when,
all at once, there came a noise which was a dreadful sound to the
ground-hog.

It was the barking of a dog!



CHAPTER IX

WINKIE LEARNS TRICKS


Though Winkie had never been very close to any dog except Don, the wily
woodchuck knew the bark of this dog meant danger. It is this way with
many wild animals, and even with your cat, perhaps, which is not so
wild as a woodchuck.

Little kittens, if they are brought up with dogs from their earliest
days, may not be afraid of Rover or Towser, whom they know. But they
may be afraid of a strange dog. However, almost any cat will arch up
its back, hiss and, if it gets a chance, will run away from almost any
dog. It was the same with Winkie, though she did not arch her back nor
fluff out her tail――woodchucks don’t do that. But Winkie tried to run
away as soon as she heard the bark of the dog.

Only she could not get out of the pen. But she did run and hide in her
sleeping box, which was partly filled with hay.

“Oh, here comes Buster!” exclaimed Alice. “Don’t let Buster get the
woodchuck!”

“No, indeed!” cried Larry. “Uncle Elias’s dog shan’t get my woodchuck!”

“I thought you said she was part _my_ woodchuck,” observed Alice.

“Yes, that’s so. You may have half,” agreed Larry. “Go on back, Buster!
Go away!” shouted Larry, as a big dog came bounding into the yard,
barking and wagging his tail, for he was glad to see the children, and
often played with them, being a friendly dog except toward wild things.

All at once Buster stopped barking and stopped wagging his tail. He
stood still, his nose pointed toward the pen, and he began to sniff. He
had caught the wild smell of the woodchuck, even though he could not
see Winkie, who was hiding in her sleeping chamber.

Then Buster growled, away down in his throat, and came nearer the pen.
Alice ran to get in front of the dog, and again Larry cried:

“Go on away, Buster!”

Just then Uncle Elias Tottle, who was a brother of Larry and Alice’s
mother――being, in fact the children’s uncle――came along. He saw the boy
and girl standing near the pen, and he heard his dog growling.

“What’s the matter with Buster? What have you youngsters got there?”
asked Uncle Elias, in rather a harsh voice. He had no children of
his own, and owned the farm next to that of Mr. Dawson, who was the
father of Larry and Alice. “What have you in that box that makes Buster
growl?” demanded Uncle Elias Tottle.

“I have a woodchuck,” answered Larry. “I caught her in my skunk trap.
But she isn’t hurt. I’m going to tame her.”

“We’re going to teach her tricks,” added Alice.

“Huh! Woodchuck!” cried Uncle Elias. “The pesky creatures! If I had my
way they’d all be shot or trapped. They eat my clover. I saw some of
’em eating it the other day.”

If he had only known it, Winkie was one of those very woodchucks! But
Uncle Elias didn’t know.

“Woodchuck!” he exclaimed. “Eating up everything a poor farmer can
raise! I’ll kill that woodchuck of yours if I catch her out!”

“Well, you won’t catch her, for we aren’t going to let her out,” said
Alice, and she and her brother felt bad because of the harsh words of
Uncle Elias.

It is true, in some places, that woodchucks do harm when they are very
numerous, and farmers don’t like them. But Larry and Alice did not see
what harm poor little Winkie could do, especially if they kept her shut
up in a pen.

“Look here!” said Uncle Elias at last. “Will you sell me that woodchuck
for a dollar, Larry?”

“A dollar?” repeated the boy.

“Yes, I’ll give you a dollar for her,” went on Uncle Elias, putting his
hand in his pocket.

Larry shook his head.

“I want my woodchuck,” said the boy.

“And she’s half mine,” broke in Alice. “Even if Larry would sell his
half, I wouldn’t sell my half! So there, Uncle Elias!”

“Huh!” grunted the farmer, who was a hard and sometimes a cruel man.

“What do you want of a woodchuck, Uncle Elias?” asked Larry. “Do you
want one to teach tricks to? If you do I’ll try to catch one for you in
my trap.”

“Nonsense! As if I’d try to teach a woodchuck tricks!” snorted the old
man, while his dog sniffed and snuffed at the wild smell and Winkie
cowered down in her dark box. “If I had that ground-hog of yours――which
I’m willing to pay a dollar for”――went on Mr. Tottle, “I’d turn her
loose and set Buster on her! Woodchucks are no good!”

“Well, you aren’t going to get this one!” said Larry.

“I guess not!” exclaimed Alice. “I love my woodchuck!”

“Huh!” snorted Uncle Elias. “Come on, Buster!” he called to his dog.
“This isn’t any place for us! We don’t like woodchucks!”

Then, to the relief of Larry and Alice, their cruel-hearted uncle went
away, followed by Buster. The dog, however, did not want to go. He
growled and whined as he sniffed toward the woodchuck’s pen. Had poor
Winkie been outside and if Buster had chased her there would not have
been much left of her.

“The idea!” exclaimed Alice, when Mr. Tottle was gone. “To want to kill
our woodchuck!”

“I wouldn’t sell her for two dollars――no, not for _five_!” cried Larry.
“When we teach her tricks maybe we can put her in a circus!”

“Oh, wouldn’t that be wonderful!” cried Alice, clapping her hands.
“Let’s start teaching her tricks right away. But what shall we name our
woodchuck?”

“Yes, we must think of a name,” agreed Larry.

Just then Winkie, no longer hearing the barking of the dog, poked her
head out of the square hole in the smaller box, into which she had gone
to hide. Coming out of the dark, as she did, made Winkie’s eyes open
and shut until they became used to the glare of the sun. Larry and his
sister, watching their new pet, saw her eyes winking this way.

“Oh, I know what to call her!” cried Alice.

“What?” asked her brother.

“Winkie!” replied the little girl. “See her wink!”

“Yes, Winkie will be a good name,” agreed Larry.

And so Winkie was given by the children the same name the father and
mother of the little ground-hog had given her when she lived in the
burrow.

“Come here, Winkie! Come here!” called Alice.

Winkie remained with her head out of the bedroom, but she did not come
to the side of the larger, outside pen, near which Alice stood.

“I guess Winkie is a little afraid,” said Larry. “I’ll get her
something to eat. That will make her tame quicker than anything else.”

Out to the barn ran Larry, and soon he came back with some yellow
carrots. He cut off little pieces of them and tossed them into the pen
through the open meshes of the chicken wire on top.

At first Winkie was a bit timid about taking these chunks of carrot.
But they smelled so good, and she was so hungry, that she at last
ventured to nibble one. Then, finding no harm came to her, she grew
bold and took more. She limped a little on the leg that had been
caught in the trap, but it was quickly getting over its soreness.

“Oh, isn’t Winkie cute!” cried Alice, as she watched the woodchuck eat.

“Yes,” agreed Larry. “And I want to teach her soon to eat out of my
hand.”

“We want to be careful that she doesn’t bite us,” said his sister. “See
what sharp teeth she has.”

Indeed Winkie had very sharp teeth and Larry knew this.

“I’ll be careful!” he said.

For two or three days Winkie would not take any food from Larry’s hand
or that of Alice. But she grew bolder when she saw that the boy and his
sister meant to be kind, and one day, about a week after being caught
and put in the pen, Winkie took a piece of carrot right from Larry’s
fingers.

“Oh, she’s getting tame! She’s getting tame!” cried the boy. “Now I can
teach her some tricks!”

“Let me feed her!” begged Alice. And the little girl was delighted when
Winkie took some pieces of carrot from her fingers.

It was several days longer before either Larry or his sister dared
reach in to stroke Winkie’s fur. The first time this was tried Winkie
scurried back into her sleeping box as though Buster were after her.
But the next time she was not so timid, and soon the little woodchuck
came to know that the children intended no harm.

“Though why they want to fuss over me and rub me is more than I can
tell,” thought Winkie to herself. “I wish I had some one to talk animal
talk to――Squinty, the pig, or Slicko, the squirrel. Or even Tum Tum,
the elephant. I wish he were here!”

Winkie had never seen an elephant like Tum Tum, and of course she did
not know how large elephants are.

Tum Tum could hardly have gotten more than one of his big feet in
Winkie’s pen!

One day Larry came running into the house much excited.

“Oh, you ought to see!” he cried. “You ought to see Winkie!”

“Has she gotten out?” asked Alice.

“No, but I’ve taught her a trick. She’ll sit up on her hind legs and
beg like a dog! Come and see!”

Alice followed her brother out to the yard where Winkie’s pen had been
built. Larry took off some of the top wire.

“She’ll get away!” cried Alice.

“No, she won’t,” said Larry. “Winkie is tame now, and won’t run away.
I’ve taught her a trick! She’ll sit up and beg! Look!”

Taking the woodchuck out of her cage――and Winkie did not try to bite
Larry now――the boy stood her on the ground. Then, holding a piece of
turnip in front of the ground-hog, the boy exclaimed:

“Sit up, Winkie! Sit up!”

Slowly, because she was now very fat, Winkie sat up on her hind
quarters. This is easy for woodchucks to do, since they often sit that
way outside their burrows to watch for danger.

“Look! She’s begging!” laughed Larry. “And here’s your piece of
turnip!” he added. “Isn’t that a good trick, Alice?”

“A lovely one! I wish I could teach Winkie some tricks!”

“Maybe you can,” said Larry. “Here, see if she’ll beg for you.” And
Winkie, who was standing with all four feet on the ground, again stood
up as Alice held out a bit of carrot and told her to “beg!”

“I don’t know why they want me to do that,” thought Winkie. “But they
give me something to eat each time after it, so I may as well do what
they want.”

Once again Winkie rose up on her haunches, and she looked very cute
when she did that. Larry and Alice laughed to see her.

“But one trick isn’t enough,” Larry said. “We must teach her another.”

“What one?” asked Alice.

“We’ll teach her to lie down and roll over,” said the boy.

It took nearly a week to get Winkie to understand this trick, which,
though no harder than the other, was quite different. But at last
Winkie got to the point where she would lie on her back and roll over
like a dog whenever Larry or Alice told her to. And of course each time
the trick was done Winkie was given something good to eat.

One day, when Larry and Alice came home from school, they ran out
toward the woodchuck pen, for Larry had said he was going to teach
Winkie a new trick. As brother and sister neared the pen they
heard the loud barking of a dog, and the frightened whistling and
teeth-clattering of the little ground-hog.

“Oh, Buster is trying to get Winkie!” cried Larry, dropping his books
and rushing toward the pen.



CHAPTER X

WINKIE IS IN DANGER


Alice followed her brother, also dropping her books on the path that
led around the house. What did a few school books matter when Winkie,
the wily woodchuck, was in danger?

And that’s just what Winkie was――in great danger. Buster, the big dog
belonging to Uncle Elias Tottle, had come over, all by himself, and
was trying to tear some boards off the pen so that he might get in at
Winkie.

“Here! Get away from there, Buster!” cried Larry.

“Go away! Go away, you bad dog!” shrieked Alice.

Buster had not expected to see the children, and when they came running
around the corner of the house the dog was evidently surprised. He
stopped barking at once and his tail dropped between his legs, as
always happens with dogs when they are caught doing something they
ought not to do.

And this is what had happened to Buster. Finding nothing special to do
at the farm of Mr. Tottle, Buster had wandered over the fields to the
home of Larry and Alice. Buster had not been over to see the children
for some time, and he may have forgotten all about the woodchuck in a
pen in the back yard.

But Buster had no sooner come close to the yard than the wind blew to
him the wild smell of Winkie, for, like most animals, Winkie had a wild
smell about her, and a dog’s nose is very keen for smelling.

“Oh, ho!” thought Buster to himself, in a way dogs have of thinking.
“That woodchuck! I forgot all about her! Guess I’ll go and tease her,
as I haven’t anything else to do!”

With a loud bark Buster made his way into the yard. As it happened,
Mrs. Dawson was not home just then, or she would have driven Buster
away. But the children’s mother had gone to call on a neighbor, and
Buster had everything his own way.

“Now I’ll get you!” cried the dog in animal language, as he made a dash
against Winkie’s pen.

“Stop! Stop! Go on away! Let me alone!” begged Winkie, whistling and
chattering her teeth, because she was so frightened.

“Oh, I’m not going to hurt you! I’m just going to chase you out of that
pen and make you run!” said Buster. “I like to chase rabbits and other
wild animals. I won’t bite you. I just want to chase you! Come on out!”

“No! No! I’m not coming out!” declared Winkie. “You aren’t nice like
Don!”

“Pooh! I wouldn’t be a dog like Don――afraid to chase a rabbit or a
squirrel!” sneered Buster. “I’m going to chase you, and if you don’t
come out I’ll make you!”

“No, I’m not coming out!” chattered Winkie, and she ran into her
sleeping box to hide in the hay.

“I’ll break open your pen and chase you out!” barked Buster. And the
dog was trying to do this when Larry and Alice came home from school.

“Make Buster go away, Larry!” half sobbed Alice. “He won’t go for me!
Oh, Buster, go away!”

“I’ll make him!” cried Larry, and he stooped over as if to pick up a
stone or a stick. I don’t believe that Larry would really have stoned
Buster, or have struck him with a stick, any more than I believe Buster
would have bitten Winkie. But the boy knew he had to do something to
make Buster run away, and pretending to pick up a stone was one of the
best ways.

[Illustration: She came out of her pen and did her tricks.]

Away ran Buster, with his tail between his legs, giving a little howl
as he ran, as much as to say:

“Don’t throw anything at me! I was only in fun!”

But this was the kind of fun Larry didn’t want Buster to have with the
woodchuck, and it was time the dog learned this.

“Is Winkie all right?” asked Alice, as Larry looked into the pen.

“Yes, I guess Buster didn’t do any more than scare her,” the boy
answered. And indeed poor Winkie’s heart was beating very fast, for she
was dreadfully frightened.

But when she saw Larry and Alice, and heard the kind voices of the
children, and smelled the sweet carrot pieces they brought her, Winkie
was no longer frightened. She came out of her pen when Larry opened the
door, and did her tricks for the boy and his sister.

“It’s a good thing Buster didn’t open the pen door,” said Alice, as she
stroked Winkie’s head. “What are we going to do, Larry? If we leave
Winkie in her pen, Buster may come over to-morrow when we’re at school
and bite her.”

“I’m going to get daddy to speak to Uncle Elias about his dog,” said
the boy. “I like Buster, and he’s a good dog; but we can’t have him
chasing over here and scaring our woodchuck. I’m going to make him
stop.”

That night Mr. Dawson spoke to his brother-in-law about Buster, telling
the farmer how the dog had nearly caught the woodchuck.

“I wish Buster really had caught that ground-hog!” exclaimed the uncle.
“Woodchucks are a nuisance. They spoil my clover crop. A lot of ’em had
burrows in my meadow. But I plowed the place up, and I blasted out a
lot of rocks and stumps and now the pesky creatures have cleared out.”

“I should think they would,” said Mr. Dawson. “I hope none of them were
killed.”

“I wish they were all killed!” snarled Mr. Tottle. “And if your
children will sell their woodchuck for two dollars I’ll buy her and let
Buster chase her.”

“I don’t believe Larry and Alice will sell Winkie,” said Mr. Dawson.

Mr. Tottle came to them the next day and offered two dollars for Winkie.

“Let me take her,” said Uncle Elias with a grin, “and you’ll never have
to bother to feed her again.”

“Oh, but we like to feed her,” said Alice.

One day Uncle Elias came over to the Dawson home very much excited.

“There! What did I tell you!” he cried. “A lot of my clover’s been
spoiled by your woodchuck!”

“It couldn’t be by Winkie,” said Larry, who was just then making his
pet do some of her tricks. “She hasn’t been out of her pen for a week,
except just in our yard. She couldn’t have taken any of your clover!”

“Well, some pesky ground-hog did!” stormed the farmer. “And I’m going
to pay ’em back!”

“Oh, what are you going to do?” asked Alice.

“Never you mind!” snapped her uncle. “But I’ll fix these woodchucks!”

He hurried away, muttering to himself. That night Winkie was in danger
again. After ten o’clock, when it was quite dark, Elias Tottle left his
home and with a big club in his hand walked across the field toward the
home of his sister, where Winkie slept in her pen.

“I’ll fix that woodchuck!” muttered Mr. Tottle to himself. “I’ll fix
her!”



CHAPTER XI

WINKIE GETS OUT


That night, for some reason or other, Alice could not sleep. She had
played in the evening with her brother, after they had put Winkie
through some of her tricks. Then the wily woodchuck had curled up in
her nest of hay in the smaller box, and Alice and Larry had studied
their lessons and gone to bed.

But Alice could not sleep. She tossed restlessly from one side of the
bed to the other, and, all the while, she could not help thinking of
Winkie.

“I hope Buster doesn’t come over in the night and break into her pen,”
thought Alice. “And I hope Uncle Elias does nothing to her! Poor
Winkie! I would rather turn her back into the woods than have anything
happen to her!”

Alice tried to keep Winkie out of her mind, but, try as she did, the
little girl kept thinking of the pet ground-hog.

“If anything should happen to Winkie,” said Alice over and over again
to herself, “I――I’d cry――that’s what I’d do!”

And, almost before she knew it, some tears came out of the blue eyes of
Alice and wet the pillow on which her head rested.

“Oh dear! Oh dear!” thought Winkie’s little mistress. “What am I going
to do? I feel so bad about Winkie! I――I’d almost rather have her get
out than to have Uncle Elias buy her, even for ten dollars, and sic
Buster after her.

“And maybe Buster will come in the night,” thought Alice again, her
ideas chasing one another around in her poor little tired head as
if playing tag. “Or maybe Uncle Elias might come over and――and do
something to Winkie!”

This was too much for Alice to bear. She sat up in bed, and a new idea
came to her. Carefully she listened. There was not a sound in the
house, for all the family had gone to bed rather early. And then, as
she listened, Alice thought she heard, faint and far off, the barking
of Buster.

It may have been some dog barking on a distant farm, or it may have
been Buster. Alice was sure it was. And then, in her fancy, she heard
Winkie’s whistle.

“And she’s chattering her teeth, too!” said Alice half aloud.

She really thought she heard this, and perhaps she did.

“I know what I’m going to do!” said Alice at last. “I’m going down the
back stairs, out into the yard, and I’m going to let Winkie run out!
I shan’t have Buster chase her or Uncle Elias do anything to her. I’m
going to let Winkie go back to the woods.”

Alice swung her bare feet over the edge of her bed. She listened again,
but there was not a sound in the house. Even the distant barking of the
dog had stopped.

“But maybe he stopped because he’s running over here to get Winkie!”
thought Alice. “I must hurry down!”

The early part of the evening had been dark, but now the moon had
risen, and, shining in the windows, gave light enough for the little
girl to see her way. Softly in her bare feet, clad only in her night
dress, she pattered down the back stairs.

It was an easy matter to open the back door and go down the rear steps.
Her bare feet made scarcely any sound, and the boards of the walk were
warm and dry from the day’s sun.

“Ouch!” Alice could not help exclaiming, as she stepped off the boards
into the grass. It was cool and damp to her bare feet, but she minded
it but for a moment. Then, stopping a second or two to get used to the
tickling feeling of the grass, she went on.

Winkie’s pen was plainly seen in the moonlight. Alice walked over
toward it, and if any one had been looking then they might have thought
the little girl, in her night dress, was some good fairy floating on a
moonbeam to help Winkie.

And that, really, is what Alice was. She stooped down and began to
fumble with the catch of the door in the side of the pen. The children
had cut a little door hole and had hung a board on for a door, swinging
it on leather hinges. They had done this so Winkie could easily come
out to do her tricks.

As soon as Alice touched the pen Winkie was awake, and, with a little
low whistle of greeting, the wily woodchuck came out of her small
sleeping box to see what was going on.

“Oh, Winkie!” half sobbed Alice, putting in her hand and patting her
pet, “I’m so afraid something will happen to you that I’m going to open
your door and let you go. I hope you will be happy. I’d never be happy
if Buster caught you or if Uncle Elias did anything to you. So I’m
going to let you go, Winkie.”

Of course Winkie did not understand this talk, but the woodchuck knew
when any one was kind to her, and Alice was certainly kind. Alice gave
Winkie a final pat, stroked her fur, and then, leaving the door open,
Alice ran back into the house, softly pattering in her bare feet over
the grass and boards.

“Good-bye, Winkie, good-bye!” whispered the little girl, as she closed
the back door, went upstairs, and jumped into bed, nobody having heard
her.

Then, almost as soon as her head touched the pillow, Alice fell asleep.
Her mind was now at rest about Winkie.

But now let us see what happened to the wily woodchuck. It did not take
Winkie long to notice the open door. She knew in what part of her pen
it was, for she often went in and out when doing her tricks. And now,
in the moonlight, the open door plainly showed.

“I guess they want me to go out,” thought Winkie. “Some more of that
funny business, I suppose, rolling over and sitting up. Well, I don’t
mind, for they give me good things to eat.”

But when Winkie reached the outside of her pen neither Larry nor Alice
was in sight, for Alice had gone back to bed and Larry had not gotten
up.

“Why――why, it looks as if I could run away!” was the sudden thought
that came into the woodchuck’s mind. “Yes, I can run away. I can go
back to the woods and maybe find my family! Oh, how lovely that will
be!”

So away ran Winkie in the moonlight. She was only partly tame, and even
animals that have been in captivity a long time, and have come to love
their masters very much, will run away and turn wild again if they get
the chance.

Winkie’s chance had come.

Perhaps for an instant she felt sad at leaving the pen that had come to
be her home, and she may have felt sorry at going away from Larry and
Alice, who had fed her and been good to her. But this thought lasted
only a moment, and then Winkie scudded away.

What new adventures would she have?



CHAPTER XII

WINKIE FINDS HER FOLKS


Out of the yard, over the brook, and across the meadow hurried Winkie,
as fast as her fat little body could waddle. Woodchucks, especially
when they are fat from much eating, are not very fast travelers, and
Winkie could not go very rapidly. Besides, she was in no great hurry.
She did not think any danger would come to her in this beautiful,
moonlight night.

But danger was near!

As Winkie waddled along she suddenly heard a tramping noise. It was
the noise of heavy boots on the ground. Winkie knew footsteps when she
heard them, for she had listened to those of Larry and Alice running
home from school every day to feed her. But these footfalls were big
and heavy.

“Maybe this is a farmer coming with a dog!” thought Winkie. “I guess
I’d better hide!”

And hide she did, under a bush. It was well she did so, for, a little
later, along came Uncle Elias with a big club in his hand. Uncle Elias
walked as softly as he could as he neared the house of his sister, in
the yard of which he knew was Winkie’s pen.

“I’ll fix that woodchuck!” muttered the man. “It’s all right for
children to have pets, but let ’em get a dog or a cat that doesn’t eat
clover and gnaw vegetables. Woodchucks are pesky creatures! I’ll soon
put an end to this one.”

Mr. Tottle came to the fence, paused to look up at the house, and,
seeing it was all in darkness, he climbed over and walked softly toward
Winkie’s pen. It was a good thing Alice had been down and gone back
again, or she might have been frightened by the big figure of a man
stalking through the moonlight, with a club in his hand.

And perhaps if Uncle Elias had seen the white-robed figure floating
over the grass in the moonlight he might have thought it was a fairy.
But then, he didn’t believe in fairies.

“Now you pesky woodchuck, this is the end of you!” fiercely exclaimed
Uncle Elias, as he reached the pen and raised his club.

But what a surprise for him! The door of the pen was open and there was
no woodchuck to be seen!

“Gone!” gasped Mr. Tottle. “That pesky creature’s gone! I guess she
broke out and has gone over to my clover field. I’ll fix her!”

Away he strode, muttering to himself. Back over the fence he climbed,
and, had he but known it, he passed close to Winkie’s hiding place. But
the wily woodchuck crouched down in the grass and neither moved nor
made a sound.

Uncle Elias tramped on his way, muttering about “pesky creatures” over
to his own clover patch. He thought he might find Winkie, or some other
woodchucks, eating his crops. But he saw none, and that seemed to make
him more angry, for he had tramped around in the night for nothing.

“But I’ll get that ground-hog when she comes back to her cage,” he
muttered. “I will, or I’ll sic Buster on her!”

Uncle Elias angrily tossed his club on the wood pile and went to bed.
Meanwhile Winkie, waiting until his tramping feet had gone away, came
out of her hiding place.

“Now for something good to eat!” thought the little woodchuck.

She was always ready to eat, and, somehow or other, the grass she now
nibbled tasted sweeter than any she had ever chewed in her pen. It was
almost as good as carrots. Perhaps it was because Winkie was free.

On through the night wandered the little ground-hog girl. She did not
know which way she was going――she did not care as long as no dogs,
wolves or foxes chased her. She ate some more, and then, finding a
hollow log, she curled up in it and went to sleep.

Winkie awakened before daylight, and crawled out. She felt that she
must be on her way again.

“I want to find my folks,” she said wistfully. She was getting tired of
going about by herself, and even when she had been with Larry and Alice
she had longed for a game of tag with Blinkie and Blunk.

Wandering on, Winkie came to a farmhouse. Though she did not know it,
this was the place where Uncle Elias lived. But the cross man was
asleep now, and so was Buster, curled up in the straw of his kennel.

“I smell something very good!” suddenly whispered Winkie to herself.
“It smells like carrots and turnips and other good things!”

She sat up on her haunches, as Larry had taught her to do, a trick she
would have learned by herself, anyhow, and again she sniffed. The good
smell came from a side porch of the farmhouse, and, going softly up the
steps, Winkie saw and smelled some baskets of vegetables.

“Oh!” thought the little woodchuck. “Some one must have known I was
coming and they left these here for me! Oh, how good they are!”

She stood up and gnawed the potatoes, cabbages, turnips and carrots in
the basket, eating her fill. And even a small woodchuck has a large
appetite. Winkie ate so much she could hardly waddle, and then she went
off into the wood a little distance, lay down in another hollow log,
and went to sleep.

Daylight came. Uncle Elias came downstairs early, for he was going to
take a load of vegetables to the city. He had packed them in baskets
the night before and set them on the side porch. As he went to load
them into his wagon he gave an angry cry.

“Look here! Look here!” he shouted. “Some pesky woodchuck has been here
and sampled all my vegetables! Look here!”

“Oh, a woodchuck would hardly come right up to the house,” said his
wife.

“But this one did!” cried Mr. Tottle. “I know the mark of a ground-hog’s
teeth. And look, here are paw marks in the dirt! Yes, a woodchuck has
been here. And I know which one it was!”

“Which one?” asked Mrs. Tottle.

“The pesky creature Larry and Alice keep for a pet! I was over last
night――I mean I’m going over now,” and Uncle Elias corrected himself
quickly. “I’m going over now and make ’em get rid of it!”

[Illustration: Winkie ate so much she could hardly waddle.]

Over to his sister’s house he hurried.

“Look here!” he stormed. “You’ve got to get rid of your woodchuck! She
chewed up a lot of my best vegetables. Where is she? I’m going to get
rid of her!”

He went out to the pen, followed by Alice and Larry. Alice said
nothing, but Larry was crying and saying that if Uncle Elias did
anything to Winkie, Larry would tell his father.

But Winkie was not in her pen! The door was open as Alice had left it.

“She――she’s gone!” gasped Larry. “Our Winkie is gone!”

“I knew she got out, because she was over at my place!” said Uncle
Elias. “I was here――I mean I’m here now to see that she doesn’t get out
again. She came over in the night and ate my best vegetables. I thought
she’d be back here by now.”

“No, Winkie isn’t here,” said Alice. “And I――I’m glad of it, Uncle
Elias!” she said bravely.

“Oh, you are, are you!” snorted the unkind man. “Well, when she comes
back I’ll fix her.”

“Maybe she’ll never come back,” said Larry sadly. “I wonder how she got
out? I fastened the door last night.”

Alice knew, and later on she told Larry. She didn’t want Buster or
Uncle Elias to catch the woodchuck. And the angry farmer or the big dog
never did.

After her fine feast of the vegetables belonging to Uncle Elias,
Winkie slept until nearly noon. Then she awakened in the hollow tree,
stretched herself and walked out.

There were woods not far away, and Winkie, feeling thirsty, thought she
might find a brook there.

“But I must be careful to keep out of traps,” she thought to herself.
“The next one I get caught in may not be as easy on me as the one Larry
set.”

Carefully Winkie made her way through the woods. As she was drinking
she heard a noise on the other side of the brook. Looking up she saw
Toto, the beaver.

“Hello, Winkie!” called the bustling chap, who was floating a little
log of wood into a canal he had dug. “Say, where have you been,
Winkie?” Toto asked.

“Oh, lots of places,” answered the woodchuck. “The last place I was in
was a pen, but a little girl let me out. Why do you ask?”

“Because some new woodchucks, who have just come to these woods to live,
have been asking for you.”

“Asking for me?” cried Winkie.

“Yes, there was a girl woodchuck named Blinkie and――――”

“That’s my sister!” cried Winkie.

“And a boy woodchuck named Blunk!”

“He’s my brother!” cried Winkie. “Oh, where are they? And are my father
and mother with Blinkie and Blunk?”

“Well, there are four woodchucks living not far from our beaver dam,”
said Toto. “They just moved there last week. They said they had been
driven out of their burrow by a big noise, and then, when they were
all walking along together to find a new home, they heard another big
noise, and they separated. The four of them came together some time
later, but the fifth one was lost.”

“I am that fifth one!” cried Winkie.

“I’m beginning to think so!” chuckled Toto. “Come, and I’ll take you to
the other woodchucks!”

He led the way. Winkie saw a big pile of grass, sticks, stones, and mud
across a pond of water. This was the beaver dam. A little distance off
was a smaller pile of dirt near a hole in the side of a hill.

“That’s where the new woodchuck family lives,” said Toto, pointing with
his flat tail.

Winkie hurried over. She saw a woodchuck come to the edge of the burrow
and look out.

“Oh, Blinkie! Here I am!” shouted Winkie. “Don’t you know me? I’ve come
back. Here I am!”

The woodchuck at the edge of the burrow gave a whistle and a chatter.
Three other ground-hogs came rushing out.

“Winkie! It’s my Winkie!” cried Mrs. Woodchuck.

“Oh, Mother!” sobbed Winkie. “How glad I am to be home again! Oh, such
adventures as I’ve had! But now I’m home!”

Winkie had found her folks again! And she lived happily with them
until, as a grown-up woodchuck, she went away to make her own home in
her own burrow.


THE END



 Transcriber’s Notes:

 ――Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

 ――Printer’s, punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently
   corrected.

 ――Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 ――Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.





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