HOLLOW TREE NIGHTS AND DAYS
BEING A CONTINUATION OF THE STORIES ABOUT THE HOLLOW TREE AND DEEP WOODS PEOPLE
BY ALBERT BIGELOW PAINE AUTHOR OF "THE HOLLOW TREE AND DEEP WOODS BOOK"
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY J. M. CONDE
NEW YORK AND LONDON HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
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BOOKS BY ALBERT BIGELOW PAINE
For Young Readers
THE BOYS' LIFE OF MARK TWAIN HOLLOW TREE NIGHTS AND DAYS THE HOLLOW TREE AND DEEP-WOODS BOOK THE HOLLOW TREE SNOWED-IN BOOK
Small books of several stories each, selected from the above Hollow Tree books:
HOW MR. DOG GOT EVEN HOW MR. RABBIT LOST HIS TAIL MR. RABBIT'S BIG DINNER MAKING UP WITH MR. DOG MR. 'POSSUM'S GREAT BALLOON TRIP WHEN JACK RABBIT WAS A LITTLE BOY MR. RABBIT'S WEDDING MR. CROW AND THE WHITEWASH MR. TURTLE'S FLYING ADVENTURE
DWELLERS IN ARCADY MARK TWAIN: A BIOGRAPHY TH. NAST: HIS PERIOD AND HIS PICTURES THE SHIP-DWELLERS (Humorous travel) THE TENT-DWELLERS (Humorous camping) FROM VAN-DWELLER TO COMMUTER (Humorous, home life) PEANUT (Story of a boy)
HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK
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HOLLOW TREE NIGHTS AND DAYS
Copyright, 1915, 1916, by Harper & Brothers Printed in the United States of America
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TO J. P.
A FRIEND OF ALL HOLLOW TREE PEOPLE
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EXPLANATION OF THE NEW MAP
This is a new map of the Deep Woods, showing a good many new things. The three spots on the Edge of the World, away down, show where the Hollow Tree people and Mr. Rabbit sat when they told their star stories. Mr. 'Coon leaned against the tree, so his spot does not show. The little bush is the one that Mr. 'Possum curled his tail around when he wanted to take a nap, to keep from falling over into the Deep Nowhere. Right straight above the spots is the old well that Mr. 'Possum fell into and lost his chicken. Over toward the Wide Blue Water is Cousin Redfield's cave and his bear ladder. The path leads to where he fell in. You can also find Mr. Turtle's fish-poles which he keeps set, just above his house. The Hill there is where the Deep Woods people tried Mr. 'Possum's car, and the thing that looks like a barber-pole is where they landed. They put it up afterward to mark the place. If you follow the road around you will come to Mr. 'Coon's bee-tree, and Mr. Robin's tree, near the Race Track. There ought to be a good many more roads and things, but the artists said if they put everything on the map it would look too mixed up. Remember, with Deep Woods folks the top of the map is south.
GREETINGS FROM THE STORY TELLER AND THE ARTIST
Once upon a time, ever so long ago, the Story Teller told the Little Lady all about the 'Coon and 'Possum and the Old Black Crow who lived in three hollow branches of a Big Hollow Tree that stood in the far depths of the Big Deep Woods. The Crow and 'Coon and 'Possum were great friends and used to meet in the big family room down-stairs and have plenty of good things to eat, and then sit by the fire and smoke and tell stories, and sometimes they would invite the other Deep Woods people, like Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Turtle and the rest, and even Mr. Dog, after they became friends with him, though Mr. Dog did not really live in the Deep Woods, but only on the edge of it, with Mr. Man.
The Hollow Tree people never did get to be friends with Mr. Man. They liked to watch him, sometimes, from a distance, and would borrow things from him when he wasn't at home, but they never just felt like calling on him or asking him to the Hollow Tree. You see, Mr. Man really belonged to one world and the Hollow Tree people belonged to another, and something is always likely to happen when any one, even an author, goes to mixing up worlds.
Well, by and by the Story Teller, and the Artist who drew the pictures, put the Hollow Tree and Deep Woods stories into a book to preserve them, for they thought that was going to be all of them, because Mr. Dog, who told them, had gone away and they did not know where they could ever find any more. Even when other Little Ladies and their brothers wrote and asked for more Hollow Tree stories there were no more to send for a very long time. But then one day the Story Teller and the Artist themselves moved into the very edge of the Big Deep Woods, and there they found some more stories about the 'Coon and 'Possum and the Old Black Crow, because Mr. Dog had left a young relative, very fine and handsome, who was also friends with the Hollow Tree people and could tell everything as it happened, right along. So the Story Teller and the Artist made up The Hollow Tree Snowed-In Book which was all about once when the Hollow Tree people and their friends were "snowed in" and had to sit around the fire and eat good things and play games and tell stories to pass the time.
How Little Ladies do slip away from us! The first Hollow Tree stories were told for one who is now a Big Lady, and the Snowed-In stories for another, who will soon be a Big Lady, too. But in the Deep Woods the years do not count. The Hollow Tree people never grow any older, but stay always the same, and the Story Teller and the Artist have to keep stepping backward to find out the new Hollow Tree stories and to tell them to the new Little People that come along.
So now after a good many years we have a third Hollow Tree book, which will surely be the last one, because things are so likely to go in threes, like three cheers, and three trials, and three strikes and out. The Deep Woods people will never desert the Hollow Tree, and though after this we should not hear from them again, we may imagine they are doing many of the same things, and keeping safe and happy during all the future Hollow Tree Nights and Days.
GREETINGS FROM THE STORY TELLER AND THE ARTIST 9
LITTLE JACK RABBIT AND BUNTY BUN 19
MR. 'POSSUM'S SICK SPELL 35
MR. TURTLE'S FLYING ADVENTURE 51
THE DEEP WOODS ELOPEMENT 71
COUSIN REDFIELD AND THE MOLASSES 89
IN MR MAN'S CAR 105
MR. 'POSSUM'S CAR 121
MR. BEAR'S EARLY SPRING CALL 139
HOW MR. 'POSSUM'S TAIL BECAME BARE 155
A DEEP WOODS WAR 173
MR CROW AND THE WHITEWASH 189
MR CROW AND THE WHITEWASH II 199
MR 'COON'S STAR STORY 209
MR RABBIT'S STAR STORY 223
MR CROW'S STAR STORY 237
MR JACK RABBIT BRINGS A FRIEND 249
MR JACK RABBIT BRINGS A FRIEND II 259
MR RABBIT'S WEDDING 267
MR RABBIT'S WEDDING II 279
"I KNOW," HE SAID, "I KNOW A WAY" Frontispiece
A NEW MAP OF THE HOLLOW TREE AND DEEP WOODS COUNTRY vi
MR. RABBIT SAID HE CERTAINLY DID APPRECIATE BEING INVITED TO THE HOLLOW TREE 21
I USED TO RUN OUT AND GET BEHIND, WITH BUNTY, AND TAKE HER BOOKS 25
NEW FLOWERS THAT SHE WANTED ME TO DIG UP FOR HER 27
I HAD MADE A MISS-DIP, AND EVERYBODY WAS LOOKING AT ME 29
MR. RABBIT SAID HE COULD HARDLY GET TO HICKORY WHACK'S DESK 31
MR. OWL LOOKED AT HIS TONGUE AND FELT HIS PULSE 37
IN A LITTLE WHILE HE HAD THIS FINE, FAT CHICKEN 39
MR. CROW SAID IF MR. 'POSSUM WAS STILL WITH THEM NEXT MORNING THEY WOULD SEND FOR ANOTHER DOCTOR 41
WHEN THE DUMPLING WAS GONE HE FISHED UP A LEG AND ATE THAT 43
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH MY SUNDAY COAT ON?" 47
A CATFISH NEARLY JERKED HIS POLE OUT OF HIS HANDS 53
OLD MAN MOCCASIN WAS ONLY ABOUT TWENTY FEET AWAY 57
"NOW FLY!" HE SAYS, AND DOWN I WENT 63
"YES," SAID MR. TURTLE, "THAT'S WHERE I STRUCK" 67
SHE WOULD MAKE WINTERS HELP MY YOUNG LADY COUSIN DO THE DISHES 73
UNCLE SILAS HAD GONE TO SLEEP WITH A POTATO IN HIS HAND 77
THAT NIGHT WINTERS AND I TALKED IT OVER 79
SENT ME SAILING UP INTO THE SKY 83
HE LAUGHED MORE THAN I EVER SAW HIM LAUGH AT ANYTHING 85
HE DIDN'T EAT THE BREAD AT ALL, BUT JUST ATE UP THE MOLASSES 91
SAT DOWN ON THE STONE TO THINK AGAIN AND CRY SOME MORE 95
AND THEN PRETTY SOON IT COMMENCED TO RUN BETTER 97
IT GAVE HIM SUCH A SICK TURN THAT HE NEARLY DIED 101
MR. 'POSSUM TRIED TO TURN THE CRANK A LITTLE 109
MR. 'COON SAT UP IN THE FRONT SEAT 113
MADE A DIVE FOR THE REAR SEAT 115
HE USED TO WALK UP AND DOWN IN THE SUN AND SMOKE, THINKING AND THINKING 123
SIGHTED ACROSS IT TO SEE THAT THEY WERE KEEPING IT STRAIGHT 125
SO THEN MR. 'POSSUM GOT UP INTO THE SEAT TO STEER 129
GOING FASTER AND FASTER EVERY MINUTE 133
MR. TURTLE TOOK MR. 'POSSUM ON HIS BACK, AND EVERYBODY SAID IT WAS FINE 135
MR. 'POSSUM CAME PUFFING UP THE STAIRS 141
DID NOT REALLY INTEND TO GO SOUND ASLEEP 143
WHEN MR. 'POSSUM HEARD THAT HE FAINTED DEAD AWAY 147
FLUNG HIMSELF AGAINST THE DOWN-STAIRS DOOR WITH A GREAT BANG 149
"I HOPE MR. 'POSSUM'S FUNERAL WILL BE A SUCCESS" 151
ONE DAY A NEW AND VERY HANDSOME MR. 'POSSUM CAME INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD 159
CALLING OUT, "MUCH OBLIGED, MR. PAINTER" 163
MR. WATERS HAD TO TAKE WHAT WAS LEFT 165
TOOK HIM ALL THE AFTERNOON TO PRY THE REST OF MY ANCESTORS LOOSE 169
I CAN'T IMAGINE WHAT VIOLET COULD SEE IN HIM 177
ALL DAY LONG CARRIED HONEY OUT OF THE BEE-TREE 183
VIOLET AND THAT BIG CREATURE HAD STARTED HOUSEKEEPING 185
MR. CROW AND MR. RABBIT WENT BACK TO THE FENCE JOB 191
GAVE HIM ANOTHER AND VERY HEAVY COAT 195
WOKE UP AND TOOK ONE LOOK AT THE STRANGE, WHITE CREATURE 197
"GOOD GRACIOUS ALIVE! IF THE HOLLOW TREE ISN'T ON FIRE!" 203
MR. 'COON RODE DOWN ON IT LIKE A SLED 205
I WAS VERY YOUNG 211
BUT MOST OF ALL I WAS ANXIOUS TO SEE IN THAT BOX 215
A BIG YELLOW ONE JUST GRAZED MY LEFT EAR 217
I NOTICED A SCARED CHICKEN 219
TOLD WHAT A GRAND PLACE THE SKY WAS 225
THEY PILED UP THAT LADDER IN A STEADY STREAM 227
GRANDPAW WENT ABOUT TWO-THIRDS OF THE WAY UP HIS LADDER, TO SEE 231
I ASKED MINERVA TO TELL ME IN A FEW SIMPLE WORDS WHAT SHE HAD BEEN TALKING ABOUT AT THE MEETING 239
SHE JUST WHEELED AND GAVE ME A CLIP 241
I DIDN'T RECOGNIZE MY MOTHER-IN-LAW 243
EVERYBODY LOOKED UP AT THE TWINKLING SKY 245
I HAVE NEVER HEARD ANYTHING SO WONDERFUL AS THE WAY SHE TELLS IT 251
MISS MYRTLE PAUSED AND WIPED HER EYES 255
SO I WENT HOME WITH MR. ROBIN 261
STOPPED TO TALK A LITTLE WITH EACH ONE 269
JACK RABBIT WOULD HAVE STAYED A BACHELOR IF SHE HADN'T TRIPPED IN HER WEDDING-GOWN 273
"MAY YOU BE HAPPY AS LONG AS POSSIBLE, AND LONGER" 277
AND YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN COUSIN REDFIELD DANCE 281
CALLED FOR THE FEATHER BED 285
WENT OUT ON THE OPEN TRACK AND TOOK A LITTLE RUN 287
LITTLE JACK RABBIT AND BUNTY BUN
JACK RABBIT TELLS ABOUT HIS SCHOOL-DAYS, AND WHY HE HAS ALWAYS THOUGHT IT BEST TO LIVE ALONE
The Little Lady has been poring over a first reader, because she has started to school now, and there are lessons almost every evening. Then by and by she closes the book and comes over to where the Story Teller is looking into the big open fire.
The little lady looks into the fire, too, and thinks. Then pretty soon she climbs into the Story Teller's lap and leans back, and looks into the fire and thinks some more.
"Did the Hollow Tree people ever go to school?" she says. "I s'pose they did, though, or they wouldn't know how to read and write, and send invitations and things."
The Story Teller knocks the ashes out of his pipe and lays it on the little stand beside him.
"Why, yes indeed, they went to school," he says. "Didn't I ever tell you about that?"
"You couldn't have," says the Little Lady, "because I never thought about its happening, myself, until just now."
"Well, then," says the Story Teller, "I'll tell you something that Mr. Jack Rabbit told about, one night in the Hollow Tree, when he had been having supper with the 'Coon and 'Possum and the Old Black Crow, and they were all sitting before the fire, just as we are sitting now. It isn't really much about school, but it shows that Jack Rabbit went to one, and explains something else, too."
Mr. Crow had cooked all his best things that evening, and everything had tasted even better than usual. Mr. 'Possum said he didn't really feel as if he could move from his chair when supper was over, but that he wanted to do the right thing, and would watch the fire and poke it while the others were clearing the table, so that it would be nice and bright for them when they were ready to enjoy it. So then the Crow and the 'Coon and Jack Rabbit flew about and did up the work, while Mr. 'Possum put on a fresh stick, then lit his pipe, and leaned back and stretched out his feet, and said it surely was nice to have a fine, cozy home like theirs, and that he was always happy when he was doing things for people who appreciated it, like those present.
Mr. Rabbit said he certainly did appreciate being invited to the Hollow Tree, living, as he did, alone, an old bachelor, with nobody to share his home; and then pretty soon the work was all done up, and Jack Rabbit and the others drew up their chairs, too, and lit their pipes, and for a while nobody said anything, but just smoked and felt happy.
Mr. 'Possum was first to say something. He leaned over and knocked the ashes out of his pipe, then leaned back and crossed his feet, and said he'd been thinking about Mr. Rabbit's lonely life, and wondering why it was that, with his fondness for society and such a good home, he had stayed a bachelor so long. Then the Crow and the 'Coon said so, too, and asked Jack Rabbit why it was.
Mr. Rabbit said it was quite a sad story, and perhaps not very interesting, as it had all happened so long ago, when he was quite small.
"My folks lived then in the Heavy Thickets, over beyond the Wide Grasslands," he said; "it was a very nice place, with a good school, kept by a stiff-kneed rabbit named Whack—J. Hickory Whack—which seemed to fit him. I was the only child in our family that year, and I suppose I was spoiled. I remember my folks let me run and play a good deal, instead of making me study my lessons, so that Hickory Whack did not like me much, though he was afraid to be as severe as he was with most of the others, my folks being quite well off and I an only child. Of course, the other scholars didn't like that, and I don't blame them now, though I didn't care then whether they liked it or not. I didn't care for anything, except to go capering about the woods, gathering flowers and trying to make up poetry, when I should have been doing my examples. I didn't like school or J. Hickory Whack, and every morning I hated to start, until, one day, a new family moved into our neighborhood. They were named Bun, and one of them was a little girl named Bunty—Bunty Bun."
When Mr. Rabbit got that far in his story he stopped a minute and sighed, and filled his pipe again, and took out his handkerchief, and said he guessed a little speck of ashes had got into his eye. Then he said:
"The Buns lived close to us, and the children went the same way to school as I did. Bunty was little and fat, and was generally behind, and I stayed behind with her, after the first morning. She seemed a very well-behaved little Miss Rabbit, and was quite plump, as I say, and used to have plump little books, which I used to carry for her, and think how nice it would be if I could always go on carrying them and helping Bunty Bun over the mud-holes and ditches."
Mr. Rabbit got another speck of ashes in his eye, and had to wipe it several times and blow his nose hard. Then he said:
"She wore a little red cape and a pretty linsey dress, and her ears were quite slim and silky, and used to stand straight up, except when she was sad over anything. Then they used to lop down quite flat; when I saw them that way it made me sad, too. But when she was pleased and happy, they set straight up and she seemed to laugh all over.
"I forgot all about not liking school. I used to watch until I saw the Bun children coming, and then run out and get behind, with Bunty, and take her books, and wish there was a good deal farther to go. When it got to be spring and flowers began to bloom, I would gather every one I saw for Bunty Bun, and once I made up a poem for her. I remember it still. It said:
"Oh, Bunty Bun, The spring's begun, The violet's are in bloom. Oh, Bunty Bun, I'll pick you one, All full of sweet perfume.
"The sun is bright, Our hearts are light, And we will skip and run. Prick up your ears, And dry your tears, Dear bunny, Bunty Bun."
"Mr. Rabbit said he didn't suppose it was the best poetry, but that it had meant so much to him then that he couldn't judge it now, and, anyway, it was no matter any more. The other children used to tease them a good deal, Mr. Rabbit said, but that he and Bunty had not minded it so very much, only, of course, he wouldn't have had them see his poem for anything. The trouble began when Bunty Bun decided to have a flower-garden.
"She used to see new flowers along the way to and from school that she wanted me to dig up for her so she could set them out in her garden. I liked to do it better than anything, too, only not going to school, because the ground was pretty soft and sticky, and it made my hands so dirty, and Hickory Whack was particular about the children having clean hands. I used to hide the flower plants under the corner of the school-house every morning, and hurry in and wash my hands before school took up, and the others used to watch me and giggle, for they knew what all that dirt came from. Our school was just one room, and there were rows of nails by the door to hang our things on, and there was a bench with the wash-basin and the water-pail on it, the basin and the pail side by side. It was a misfortune for me that they were put so close together that way. But never mind—it is a long time ago.
"One morning in April when it was quite chilly Bunty Bun saw several pretty plants on the way to school that she wanted me to dig up for her, root and all, for her garden. I said it would be better to get them on the way home that night, but Bunty said some one might come along and take them and that she wouldn't lose those nice plants for anything. So I got down on my knees and dug and dug with my hands in the cold, sticky dirt, until I got the roots all up for her, and my hands were quite numb and a sight to look at. Then we hurried on to school, for it was getting late.
"When we got to the door I pushed the flower plants under the edge of the house, and we went in, Bunty ahead of me. School had just taken up, and all the scholars were in their seats except us. Bunty Bun went over to the girls' side to hang up her things, and I stuck my hat on a nail on our side, and stepped as quick as I could to the bench where the water was, to wash my hands.
"There was some water in the basin, and I was just about to dip my hands in when I looked over toward Bunty Bun and saw her little ears all lopped down flat, for the other little girl rabbits were giggling at her for coming in with me and being late. The boy rabbits were giggling at me, too, which I did not mind so much. But I forgot all about the basin, for a minute, looking at Bunty Bun's ears, and when I started to wash my hands I kept looking at Bunty, and in that way made an awful mistake; for just when the water was feeling so good to my poor chilled hands, and I was waving them about in it, all the time looking at Bunty's droopy ears, somebody suddenly called out, 'Oh, teacher, Jacky Rabbit's washing his hands in the water-pail! Jacky Rabbit's washing his hands in the water-pail, teacher!'
"And sure enough, I was! Looking at Bunty Bun and pitying her, I had made a miss-dip, and everybody was looking at me; and J. Hickory Whack said, in the most awful voice, 'Jack Rabbit, you come here, at once!'"
Mr. Rabbit said he could hardly get to Hickory Whack's desk, he was so weak in the knees, and when Mr. Whack had asked him what he had meant by such actions he had been almost too feeble to speak.
"I couldn't think of a word," he said, "for, of course, the only thing I could say was that I had been looking at Bunty Bun's little droopy ears, and that would have made everybody laugh, and been much worse. Then the teacher said he didn't see how he was going to keep himself from whipping me soundly, he felt so much that way, and he said it in such an awful tone that all the others were pretty scared, too, and quite still, all of them but just one—one scholar on the girls' side, who giggled right out loud—and I know you will hardly believe it when I tell you that it was Bunty Bun! I was sure I knew her laugh, but I couldn't believe it and, scared as I was, I turned to look, and there she sat, looking really amused, her slim little ears sticking straight up as they always did when she enjoyed anything."
Mr. Rabbit rose and walked across the room and back, and sat down again, quite excitedly.
"Think of it, after all I had done for her! I saw at once that there would be no pleasure in carrying her books and helping her over the mud-puddles in the way I had planned. And just then Hickory Whack grabbed a stick and reached for me. But he didn't reach quite far enough, for I was always rather spry, and I was half-way to the door with one spring, and out of it and on the way home, the next. Of course he couldn't catch me, with his stiff leg, and he didn't try. When I got home I told my folks that I didn't feel well, and needed a change of scene. So they said I could visit some relatives in the Big Deep Woods—an old aunt and uncle, and I set out on the trip within less than five minutes, for I was tired of the Thickets. My aunt and uncle were so glad to see me that I stayed with them, and when they died they left me their property. So I've always stayed over this way, and live in it still. Sometimes I go over to the Heavy Thickets, and once I saw Bunty Bun. She is married, and shows her age. She used to be fat and pretty and silly. Now she is just fat and silly, though I don't suppose she can help those things. Still, I had a narrow escape, and I've never thought of doing garden work since then for anybody but myself and my good friends, like those of the Hollow Tree."
MR. 'POSSUM'S SICK SPELL
MR. 'POSSUM HAS A NIGHT ADVENTURE WHICH CAUSES EXCITEMENT
Once upon a time, said the Story Teller, something very sad nearly happened in the Hollow Tree. It was Mr. 'Possum's turn, one night, to go out and borrow a chicken from Mr. Man's roost, and coming home he fell into an old well and lost his chicken. He nearly lost himself, too, for the water was icy cold and Mr. 'Possum thought he would freeze to death before he could climb out, because the rocks were slippery and he fell back several times.
As it was, he got home almost dead, and next morning was sicker than he had ever been before in his life. He had pains in his chest and other places, and was all stuffed up in his throat and very scared. The 'Coon and the Crow who lived in the Hollow Tree with him were scared, too. They put him to bed in the big room down-stairs, and said they thought they ought to send for somebody, and Mr. Crow said that Mr. Owl was a good hand with sick folks, because he looked so wise and didn't say much, which always made the patient think he knew something.
So Mr. Crow hurried over and brought Mr. Owl, who put on his glasses and looked at Mr. 'Possum's tongue, and felt of his pulse, and listened to his breathing, and said that the cold water seemed to have struck in and that the only thing to do was for Mr. 'Possum to stay in bed and drink hot herb tea and not eat anything, which was a very sad prescription for Mr. 'Possum, because he hated herb tea and was very partial to eating. He groaned when he heard it and said he didn't suppose he'd ever live to enjoy himself again, and that he might just as well have stayed in the well with the chicken, which was a great loss and doing no good to anybody. Then Mr. Owl went away, and told the Crow outside that Mr. 'Possum was a very sick man, and that at his time of life and in his state of flesh his trouble might go hard with him.
So Mr. Crow went back into the kitchen and made up a lot of herb tea and kept it hot on the stove, and Mr. 'Coon sat by Mr. 'Possum's bed and made him drink it almost constantly, which Mr. 'Possum said might cure him if he didn't die of it before the curing commenced.
He said if he just had that chicken, made up with a good platter of dumplings, he believed it would do him more good than anything, and he begged the 'Coon to go and fish it out, or to catch another one, and try it on him, and then if he did die he would at least have fewer regrets.
But the Crow and the 'Coon said they must do as Mr. Owl ordered, unless Mr. 'Possum wanted to change doctors, which was not a good plan until the case became hopeless, and that would probably not be before some time in the night. Mr. 'Coon said, though, there was no reason why that nice chicken should be wasted, and as it would still be fresh, he would rig up a hook and line and see if he couldn't save it. So he got out his fishing things and made a grab hook and left Mr. Crow to sit by Mr. 'Possum until he came back. He could follow Mr. 'Possum's track to the place, and in a little while he had the fine, fat chicken, and came home with it and showed it to the patient, who had a sinking spell when he looked at it, and turned his face to the wall and said he seemed to have lived in vain.
Mr. Crow, who always did the cooking, said he'd better put the chicken on right away, under the circumstances, and then he remembered a bottle of medicine he had once seen sitting on Mr. Man's window-sill outside, and he said while the chicken was cooking he'd just step over and get it, as it might do the patient good, and it didn't seem as if anything now could do him any harm.
So the Crow dressed the nice chicken and put it in the pot with the dumplings, and while Mr. 'Coon dosed Mr. 'Possum with the hot herb tea Mr. Crow slipped over to Mr. Man's house and watched a good chance when the folks were at dinner, and got the bottle and came back with it and found Mr. 'Possum taking a nap and the 'Coon setting the table; for the dinner was about done and there was a delicious smell of dumplings and chicken, which made Mr. 'Possum begin talking in his sleep about starving to death in the midst of plenty. Then he woke up and seemed to suffer a good deal, and the Crow gave him a dose of Mr. Man's medicine, and said that if Mr. 'Possum was still with them next morning they'd send for another doctor.
Mr. 'Possum took the medicine and choked on it, and when he could speak said he wouldn't be with them. He could tell by his feelings, he said, that he would never get through this day of torture, and he wanted to say some last words. Then he said that he wanted the 'Coon to have his Sunday suit, which was getting a little tight for him and would just about fit Mr. 'Coon, and that he wanted the Crow to have his pipe and toilet articles, to remember him by. He said he had tried to do well by them since they had all lived together in the Hollow Tree, and he supposed it would be hard for them to get along without him, but that they would have to do the best they could. Then he guessed he'd try to sleep a little, and closed his eyes. Mr. 'Coon looked at Mr. Crow and shook his head, and they didn't feel like sitting down to dinner right away, and pretty soon when they thought Mr. 'Possum was asleep they slipped softly up to his room to see how sad it would seem without him.
Well, they had only been gone a minute when Mr. 'Possum woke up, for the smell of that chicken and dumpling coming in from Mr. Crow's kitchen was too much for him. When he opened his eyes and found that Mr. 'Coon and Mr. Crow were not there, and that he felt a little better—perhaps because of Mr. Man's medicine—he thought he might as well step out and take one last look at chicken and dumpling, anyway.
It was quite warm, but, being all in a sweat, he put the bed-sheet around him to protect him from the draughts and went out to the stove and looked into the pot, and when he saw how good it looked he thought he might as well taste of it to see if it was done. So he did, and it tasted so good and seemed so done that he got out a little piece of dumpling on a fork, and blew on it to cool it, and ate it, and then another piece, and then the whole dumpling, which he sopped around in the gravy after each bite. Then when the dumpling was gone he fished up a chicken leg and ate that, and then a wing, and then the gizzard, and felt better all the time, and pretty soon poured out a cup of coffee and drank that, all before he remembered that he was sick abed and not expected to recover. Then he happened to think, and started back to bed, but on the way there he heard Mr. 'Coon and Mr. Crow talking softly in his room and he forgot again that he was so sick and went up to see about it.
Mr. 'Coon and Mr. Crow had been quite busy up in Mr. 'Possum's room. They had looked at all the things, and Mr. Crow remarked that there seemed to be a good many which Mr. 'Possum had not mentioned, and which they could divide afterward. Then he picked up Mr. Possum's pipe and tried it to see if it would draw well, as he had noticed, he said, that Mr. 'Possum sometimes had trouble with it, and the 'Coon went over to the closet and looked at Mr. 'Possum's Sunday suit, and pretty soon got it out and tried on the coat, which wouldn't need a thing done to it to make it fit exactly. He said he hoped Mr. 'Possum was resting well, after the medicine, which he supposed was something to make him sleep, as he had seemed drowsy so soon after taking it. He said it would be sad, of course, though it might seem almost a blessing, if Mr. 'Possum should pass away in his sleep, without knowing it, and he hoped Mr. 'Possum would rest in peace and not come back to distress people, as one of Mr. 'Coon's own ancestors had done, a good while ago. Mr. 'Coon said his mother used to tell them about it when she wanted to keep them at home nights, though he didn't really believe in such things much, any more, and he didn't think Mr. 'Possum would be apt to do it, anyway, because he was always quite a hand to rest well. Of course, any one was likely to think of such things, he said, and get a little nervous, especially at a time like this—and just then Mr. 'Coon looked toward the door that led down to the big room, and Mr. Crow he looked toward that door, too, and Mr. 'Coon gave a great jump, and said:
"Oh, my goodness!" and fell back over Mr. 'Possum's trunk.
And Mr. Crow he gave a great jump, too, and said:
"Oh, my gracious!" and fell back over Mr. 'Possum's chair.
For there in the door stood a figure shrouded all in white, all except the head, which was Mr. 'Possum's, though very solemn, its eyes looking straight at Mr. 'Coon, who still had on Mr. 'Possum's coat, though he was doing his best to get it off, and at Mr. Crow, who still had Mr. 'Possum's pipe, though he was trying every way to hide it, and both of them were scrabbling around on the floor and saying, "Oh, Mr. 'Possum, go away—please go away, Mr. 'Possum—we always loved you, Mr. 'Possum—we can prove it."
But Mr. 'Possum looked straight at Mr. 'Coon, and said in a deep voice:
"What were you doing with my Sunday coat on?"
And Mr. 'Coon tried to say something, but only made a few weak noises.
And Mr. 'Possum looked at Mr. Crow and said:
"What were you doing with my pipe?"
And a little sweat broke out on Mr. Crow's bill, and he opened his mouth as if he were going to say something, but couldn't make a sound.
Then Mr. 'Possum said, in a slow voice, so deep that it seemed to come from down in the ground:
"Give me my things!"
And Mr. 'Coon and Mr. Crow said, very shaky:
"Oh y-yes, Mr. 'Possum, w-we meant to, a-all the t-time."
And they tried to get up, but were so scared and weak they couldn't, and all at once Mr. 'Possum gave a great big laugh and threw off his sheet and sat down on a stool, and rocked and laughed, and Mr. 'Coon and Mr. Crow realized then that it was Mr. 'Possum himself, and not just his appearance, as they had thought. Then they sat up, and pretty soon began to laugh, too, though not very gaily at first, but feeling more cheerful every minute, because Mr. 'Possum himself seemed to enjoy it so much.
Then Mr. 'Possum told them about everything, and how Mr. Man's medicine must have made him well, for all his pains and sorrows had left him, and he invited them down to help finish up the chicken which had cost him so much suffering.
So then they all went down to the big room and the Crow brought in the big platter of dumplings, and a pan of biscuits and some molasses, and a pot of coffee, and they all sat down and celebrated Mr. 'Possum's recovery. And when they were through, and everything was put away, they smoked, and Mr. 'Possum said he was glad he was there to use his property a little more, and that probably his coat would fit him again now, as his sickness had caused him to lose flesh. He said that Mr. Man's medicine was certainly wonderful; but just then Mr. Rabbit dropped in, and when they told him about it, he said of course the medicine might have had some effect, but that the dumplings and chicken caused the real cure. He said there was an old adage to prove that—one that his thirty-fifth great-grandfather had made for just such a case of this kind. This, Mr. Rabbit said, was the adage:
"If you want to live forever Stuff a cold and starve a fever."
Mr. 'Possum's trouble had come from catching cold, he said, so the dumplings were probably just what he needed. Then Mr. Owl dropped in to see how his patient was, and when he saw him sitting up, and smoking, and well, he said it was wonderful how his treatment had worked, and the Hollow Tree people didn't tell him any different, for they didn't like to hurt Mr. Owl's feelings.
MR. TURTLE'S FLYING ADVENTURE
MR. TURTLE TELLS ABOUT HIS CHILDHOOD AND EXPLAINS A VERY OLD FABLE
Once upon a time, when it was early summer in the Big Deep Woods, the Hollow Tree people and Jack Rabbit went over to spend the day with Mr. Turtle, who lives in a very nice stone house which he built himself on the edge of the Wide Blue Water. Mr. Turtle fishes a good deal, and makes most of his living that way, and knows all the best places, so when his friends came he said that perhaps they would enjoy fishing a little—which they could do and sit in a pleasant place at the same time, and talk, and look out over the Wide Blue Water, which was especially blue at this season.
That just suited the Hollow Tree people, for they enjoyed fishing when they had somebody to pick out a good place, and Mr. 'Possum found a nice stump to lean back against, and presently went to sleep, but was waked up soon after, when a big catfish nearly jerked his pole out of his hands. Mr. 'Possum had to use all his strength to pull it out.
Then he was so proud he didn't think about going to sleep again, and told how all his family had been quite smart at catching fish; and pretty soon Jack Rabbit caught a good-sized perch, and Mr. 'Coon hooked a croppie, which got away the first time, though he caught it the next; and Mr. Crow caught a "punkin-seed," which made the others laugh, because it is a funny little fish; while Mr. Turtle just went right along pulling out one kind after another, without saying a word, because fishing is his business and doesn't excite him.
Then by and by the fish stopped biting, as they 'most always do, by spells, and the Deep Woods people leaned back and looked out over the Wide Blue Water, and away out there saw Mr. Eagle swoop down and pick up something which looked at first like a shoe-string; then they saw it wriggle, and knew it was a small water-snake, which was going to be Mr. Eagle's dinner; and they talked about it and wondered how he could enjoy such food.
Mr. Turtle said that Mr. Eagle enjoyed a good many kinds of food, and that he was reminded of an adventure he once had himself with Mr. Eagle, when he (Mr. Turtle, of course) was quite small. Then they all asked Mr. Turtle to tell them his adventure, because they thought it must have been exciting if it was anything like the snake's adventure which they had just witnessed. Mr. Turtle said it was—quite a good deal like it, in some ways—then he said:
"That was the only time I ever flew, or ever had a chance to, or ever wanted to, that I can remember. Very likely you have already heard how once, a long time ago, I thought I could fly, and persuaded an eagle to take me up in the air to give me a start. That old story has been told a good deal, and I believe has even been put into some of Mr. Man's books for his children to read."
Mr. Turtle paused, and the others all said they did remember something of a story of that sort, but never thought it had really happened, because, knowing Mr. Turtle as they did, they didn't believe any of his family would try such an experiment.
"Well," said Mr. Turtle, "it did really happen, though not in the way you have heard. You are right about thinking my family would not care to experiment in that way, and would not do it unless somebody else arranged it for them and gave the experiment a good start."
Mr. Turtle went on to say that in this case it was Mr. Eagle and one of the ancient ancestors of the little water-snake he had just carried off that had started the experiment, though he thought none of it had been really planned.
"I was very small then," Mr. Turtle went on, "about the size of Mr. Man's fist, though I suppose much heavier, for my shell was very thick for my age, and everybody said that if I lived a thousand years or so I might have a shell as big and thick as the one that Father Storm Turtle, up at the Forks, uses to make the thunder with. Then they would laugh and say that Old Man Moccasin, up at the Drifts, would certainly have trouble with his digestion if he ever caught me; which used to scare my mother, for Old Man Moccasin was the biggest water-snake that anybody ever saw, and there was nobody around the Wide Blue Water that didn't give him room, especially fish-fry, and Mr. Frog, and young turtles like me, and even some older ones. My mother used to warn us children all the time, and scold us every day about going away so far from the house and not keeping a good watch-out for Old Man Moccasin, who would surely get us, she said, unless we were more careful. Then she would tell us to look out for Mr. Eagle, too, who was likely any time to come soaring about, and would pick up any food he saw lying handy.
"Well, it used to scare us when we thought about it. Old Man Moccasin was seven feet long, and I judge about a half a foot thick. He could lift himself two feet out of the water when he was swimming, and with his far-sighted glasses on could see a mile. Mr. Eagle was fully twice as big as any of the Eagle family I know of nowadays, and didn't need any glasses to see an article the size of a bug floating on the Wide Blue Water, no matter how high he was flying. We tried to keep a lookout in several directions, but, of course, as we got older without accidents, we grew careless, and our mother used to count us every night and be surprised that we were all there, and give us a good scolding to go to bed on.
"Nothing happened to any of us for a good while, and then it happened to me. I was the biggest and strongest of our lot, and had the thickest shell, and I liked to show how grown-up I was, and would swim out farther, and make believe I wasn't afraid any more of Mr. Eagle and Old Man Moccasin, which wasn't true, of course, for Mr. Eagle could have handled me with one claw and Old Man Moccasin could have swallowed me like a pill and enjoyed the operation.
"Well, one day I was showing off more than usual and had paddled out farther toward the Drifts, saying to the others that I was going to pay a call on Old Man Moccasin. I kept on farther than I intended, for it was a nice summer day and the water felt good. I didn't know how far I had gone until I turned around to look, and then I didn't think about that any more, for a quarter of a mile away, and between me and the shore, was Old Man Moccasin, coming straight in my direction. He was a good two feet out of the water and had on his far-sighted glasses, and I knew he was after me. He was coming, too. He was swimming with a wide, wavy motion, and making a little curl of white foam in front, and leaving a long trail behind.
"I was so scared, at first, that I couldn't do anything. Then I thought I'd better dive, but I knew that Old Man Moccasin could swim faster under the water than on top of it, and see just as well. I began to paddle for dear life toward the other side of the Wide Blue Water, which was a long way off, with Old Man Moccasin gaining fast. I knew he was bound to overtake me before I got across, and I was getting weaker every minute, from being so scared and trying so hard, and I could hear Old Man Moccasin's steady swimming noise coming closer all the time.
"Of course it wasn't very long until I gave up. I was too worn out to swim another stroke. Old Man Moccasin was only about twenty feet away, and when I looked back at him over my shoulder I saw that he was smiling because he was so sure he had me. It was an awful smile, and I don't like to remember it often, even now, and that was ever so long ago, as much as three hundred and fourteen or fifteen years, this spring.
"Well, when I saw Old Man Moccasin at that close distance, and smiling in that glad way, and his spectacles shining, because he was so pleased at the prospect, I said to myself, I'm gone now, for certain, unless something happens right off; though, of course, I didn't see how anything could happen, placed as I was. But just as I said those words, something did happen—and about the last thing I would have expected. The first I saw was a big shadow, and the first I heard was a kind of swish in the air, and the first I knew I wasn't in the water any more, but was on the way to the sky with Mr. Eagle, who had one great claw around my hind leg and another hooked over my shell, not seeming to mind my weight at all, and paying no attention to Old Man Moccasin, who was beating his tail on the water and calling Mr. Eagle bad names and threatening him with everything he could think of. I didn't know where I was going, and couldn't see that I was much better off than before, but I did enjoy seeing Old Man Moccasin carry on about losing me, and I called a few things to him that didn't make him feel any better. I said Mr. Eagle and I were good friends, and asked him how he liked the trick we had played on him. I even sang out to him:
"'Old Man Moccasin, See you by and by; Mr. Eagle's teaching me How to learn to fly.'
which was a poem, and about the only one I ever made, but it seemed to just come into my head as we went sailing along. Mr. Eagle, he heard it, too, and said:
"'Look here,' he said, 'what are you talking about? You don't think you could ever learn to fly, I hope?'
"'Why, yes, Mr. Eagle,' I said, 'if I just had somebody like you to give me a few lessons. Of course, nobody could ever fly as well as you can, but I'm sure I could learn to fly some.'
"Then I thanked him for having saved me from Old Man Moccasin, and said how kind he was, and told him how my folks had always told us what a great bird Mr. Eagle was—so strong and grand, and the best flyer in the world—and how we must always admire and respect him and not get in his way, and how I thought if I could only fly a little—perhaps about as much as a hen—I could keep from being caught by Old Man Moccasin, which was the worst thing that could happen, and wouldn't Mr. Eagle please give me a lesson.
"Then Mr. Eagle said, very politely, that he guessed he'd keep me from being caught by Old Man Moccasin, but it wouldn't be by teaching me to fly.
"'You couldn't fly any more than a stone,' he said, 'and a stone can't fly at all.'
"'But a stone can't swim, either, Mr. Eagle,' I said, 'and I can swim fine. I could learn to swim right through the air—I know I could—I can tell by the way I feel,' and I made some big motions with my front legs, and kicked with my free hind leg to show him how I would do it; and I really did feel, the way that air was blowing past, so fresh and strong, that if he would let go of me I could swim in it a little; anyway.
"But Mr. Eagle laughed, and said:
"'You have to have wings to fly with,' he said. 'You couldn't fly a foot. If I should drop you, you'd go down like a shot, and would probably break all to pieces!'
"I was looking down as he spoke, and I noticed that we were passing over Mr. Man's marsh meadows, for we were not flying very high, and I could see locations quite plain, and even some objects. I knew those meadows were soft in places, for I had been there once to a spring overflow picnic. There were also a great number of little hay-piles, which Mr. Man had raked up, getting ready to make his big stacks when the hay was dry. So I said, as quick as I could:
"'Oh, Mr. Eagle, I am certain I could fly this minute. I never felt so much like it in my life. Just give me a big swing, Mr. Eagle, and let me try. If I fall and break, it won't be your fault, and you can take the pieces home to your family. I'll be handier for them that way than any other.'
"When Mr. Eagle heard that, he laughed, and said:
"'Well, that's so, anyway. You people always are a tough proposition for my young folks. Much obliged for the suggestion.'
"And just as he said that, Mr. Eagle quit flying straight ahead and started to circle around, as if he were looking for something, and pretty soon I saw down there a flat stone, and Mr. Eagle saw it, too, and stopped still in the air right over it, as near as he could judge, making all the time a big flapping sound with his wings, until he got me aimed to suit him, and I could feel him beginning to loosen up his hold on my hind leg and shell. Then, all of a sudden, he let me go.
"'Now fly!' he says, and down I went.
"Well, Mr. Eagle certainly told the truth about the way he said I'd drop. I made the biggest kind of swimming motions in the direction of one of those little haycocks, but if I made any headway in that direction I couldn't notice it. I didn't have time, anyway. It seemed to me that I struck bottom almost before I started from the top; still, I must have turned myself over, for I landed on my back, exactly in the center of that flat stone, Mr. Eagle being a center shot.
"He was wrong, though, about me breaking to pieces, and so was the story you've heard. Our family don't break very easy, and as I said before, my shell was thick and tough for my age. It was the stone that broke, and probably saved my life, for if I had hit in a soft place in that marsh meadow I'd have gone down out of sight and never been able to dig out.
"As it was, I bounced some, and landed right side up close to one of those little haycocks, and had just about sense and strength enough left to scrabble under it before Mr. Eagle came swooping down after me, for he saw what had happened and didn't lose any time.
"But he was too late, for I was under that haycock, and Mr. Eagle had never had much practice in pitching hay. He just clawed at it on different sides and abused me as hard as he could for deceiving him, as he called it, and occasionally I called back to him, and tried to soothe him, and told him I was sorry not to come out and thank him in person, but I was so shaken up by the fall that I must rest and collect myself. Then, by and by he pretended to be very sweet, and said I had done so well the first time, I ought to take another lesson, and if I'd come out we'd try it again.
"But I said I couldn't possibly take another lesson to-day, and for him to come back to-morrow, when I had got over the first one; and then I heard him talking to himself and saying it was growing late, and he must be getting home with something to eat for those brats, and pretty soon I heard his big wing sound; but I didn't come out, for I thought he was most likely just trying to fool me, and was sailing around overhead and waiting, which I still think he was, for a while. After a long time, though, I worked over where I could see out a little, and then I found it was night, and, of course, Mr. Eagle had really gone home.
"So then I worked along across the meadows, being pretty sore and especially lame in the left hind leg, where Mr. Eagle had gripped me, though I felt better when I got into the Wide Blue Water and was swimming toward home. It took me all night to get there, and the folks were so worried they couldn't sleep, for some one had seen Old Man Moccasin out in the middle of the water, chasing something, during the afternoon.
"Well, of course I told everything that had happened, and almost everybody in the Wide Blue Water came to hear about it, and they told it to others, and Old Man Moccasin heard so much about how Mr. Eagle had fooled him, and how I had fooled Mr. Eagle, that he moved to another drift, farther down, and probably lives there still. And Mr. Eagle heard so much about the way he tried to teach me to fly that he made up a story of his own and flew in all directions, telling it; and that is the story most people know about to-day and the one that Mr. Man put into his books. But it isn't true, and I can prove it."
Mr. Turtle got up and turned around toward the Hollow Tree people. He had his coat off, and he reached back and pointed to a place about in the center of his shell.
"Feel right there," he said, which Mr. Rabbit did, and said:
"Why, there's quite a lump there. It hardly shows, but you can feel it plainly."
"Yes," said Mr. Turtle, "that's where I struck. It was quite sore for a good while. There was a lump there, at first, as big as an egg. It flattened a good deal afterward, but it never quite went away. Feel how smooth it is. It kept just about as it was when it happened."
Then all those other Deep Woods people came up and felt of the queer lump on Mr. Turtle's back, and said how perfectly that proved everything and how Mr. Turtle always could prove things, and they noticed the inscription about the old race with Mr. Hare, and said in some ways Mr. Turtle was about the most wonderful person anywhere and they were certainly proud to be his friend.
Then Mr. Turtle said they might all sit there and talk about it a little, while he went in to cook the fish and make a pan of biscuits and a nice salad for dinner.
 "Mr. Turtle's Thunder Story" in The Hollow Tree and Deep Woods Book.
THE DEEP WOODS ELOPEMENT
MR. 'POSSUM TELLS ABOUT AUNT MELISSY AND UNCLE SILAS AND THE ROMANCE OF MINTY GLENWOOD
One night in the Hollow Tree, when the 'Coon and 'Possum and the Old Black Crow had finished their supper and were sitting around the fire, smoking, Mr. 'Possum said that he thought he had heard Mr. Frog trying off a few notes to-day, over in the Wide Grasslands, so that he knew that it must be coming spring, and Mr. 'Coon said that over Mr. Man's way he had smelled burning leaves, which was a pretty sure sign. Then Mr. Crow said that some of his wild relatives had been cawing about lately, and that was a sign, too. Then they all smoked some more, and looked in the fire, and were glad that winter was about over, and presently Mr. 'Possum said that every time he smelled the spring smell, and heard the spring sounds, it reminded him of something that happened a long time ago, when he was quite young and lived with his Uncle Silas and Aunt Melissy Lovejoy, over beyond the Wide Blue Water. Then the 'Coon and the Old Black Crow begged Mr. 'Possum to tell about it, because they said Mr. 'Possum's stories always sounded so unbelievable, and yet always turned out to be almost founded on fact.
"Well," said Mr. 'Possum, "you remember I told you about Uncle Silas Lovejoy going to the city, once, and coming home all stylish, with a young man to wait on him, and how Aunt Melissy, when she saw them, turned the young man into just a plain hired help and set them both to work in the garden; and you may remember how I once told you about all our folks, including the hired man, being moved by a balloon across the Wide Blue Water and set down right at the very door of a fine hollow tree, which we moved into and enjoyed for a long time—my little cousins and myself growing up there, and some of them still living there to this day."
Mr. 'Possum stopped to fill his pipe again, and the others all said they remembered, and Mr. 'Coon said he always liked the nice slow and reminding way Mr. 'Possum began his stories, as it brought everything up fresh, and one didn't have to be trying to think of what had happened before, but could just sit back and listen. Mr. 'Possum nodded, and lit his pipe, and leaned back and drew a few puffs, as if he enjoyed them so much that he didn't care to go on with his story. But pretty soon he said:
"We lived there till I grew up, and all my little cousins, too, and the hired man stayed with us. He was a very good young man; though, being brought up in town, of course it took him a little while to get used to country ways. But Aunt Melissy was a stirring person and she didn't let it take as long as it might have in another family. Aunt Melissy was quite primpy herself, and said that she guessed she could carry what style there was in our family (being a Glenwood, and having married beneath her), and that Uncle Silas and the rest of us would do pretty well if we managed to keep up with the work she laid out for us; and that was so.
"She kept Uncle Silas and Winters—that was the name of the hired man—busier than anybody, as she never quite got over the trip to town and the way they came home. She used to set Uncle Silas to peeling potatoes, after supper, for next morning, and would make Winters help my young lady cousin do the dishes, which you would not think he would like; but he did. Aunt Melissy didn't know that he would like it so much, or she would have set him at the potatoes, and Uncle Silas at the dishes.
"I don't suppose any of you can guess why our hired man wanted to help my cousin, Minta Glenwood Lovejoy, with the dishes. I couldn't, even after I saw that he was so fond of the job, that he could hardly wait until the supper was cleared away and it was ready for him. I used to wonder how that young man, brought up in town, could take so to such work, and then, after a while, I got to wondering why it took him and Minty Glenwood, as we always called her, so long to get through.
"That was the first thing Aunt Melissy wondered, too. She generally knit a little, after supper, and went to sleep over it, and would wake up suddenly and look at the clock and begin to knit as fast as she could, so we would not think she had been asleep. But one night she slept a long time, and when she looked at the clock it was so late that she said, 'Land's sakes, it's bedtime!' and she went over and shook Uncle Silas, who had gone to sleep with a potato in his hand, and scolded him to bed, and shook up the rest of us, and then noticed that Cousin Minty and Winters were missing, and went straight to the kitchen door and opened it, and found them sitting close together, and Winters holding Cousin Minty's hand and telling her that unless she would set up housekeeping with him he would go back to the city and lead a fearful life; and Cousin Minty Lovejoy looking very scared.
"But she didn't look half as scared as she did when she saw Aunt Melissy, nor the hired man, either. He had to make two trials before he could get up, even after Aunt Melissy told him to, and Cousin Minty Glenwood began to cry, and Aunt Melissy told her to go to bed at once, and made a swing at her, and missed her, as she went by. She didn't miss the hired man, though; and I guess he had something else to think of besides Minty Glenwood and housekeeping, for a few minutes, anyway.
"Then Aunt Melissy Lovejoy told him he could take himself out of that house, and not come back except for meals, and she said he could sleep over in the shop, which was an old, leaky, broken stump of a tree where we kept our garden tools. Then I happened to be sitting in the way, and Aunt Melissy tripped over my feet, and when she righted herself she made a swing at me, too; and if I had not dodged in time I might have been injured for life. As it was, she drove me out with Winters to stay in the shop, and I wasn't sorry, for it was an awful time in our house.
"Next morning, Aunt Melissy Lovejoy was still dangerous, and at breakfast she broke out at things in general, and said the idea that she, a Glenwood, should live to see a hired man sitting up to a child of hers, especially one who was a Glenwood herself, resembling the family as she did, and being named that way, too; which seemed worse, somehow, than anything that ever happened to a Glenwood before, except her own case; and she gave an awful look at Uncle Silas, who got a little spunky—the only time I ever saw him that way—and said he thought that Winters was quite a good fellow and would make as good a husband as he had, meaning himself, of course, and Aunt Melissy said, 'Yes, just about,' and asked him if he wanted his daughter to have as hard a row to hoe as she had, meaning herself, though it was Uncle Silas who had the hard hoeing in that family, if I could judge.
"Well, that night in the shop, Winters and I talked it over, and he decided to go away and take Minty Glenwood with him. He might go to the city, he said, to his folks, who had disowned him because he had been quite wild, but very likely would take him back now that he had reformed and was ready to be tamed by a nice little person like Minty Glenwood. He and Minty would have to elope, of course, and he told me to tell her just what to do, because I could get to see her alone, which he couldn't. There was a little sapling grew near the tree, and one of its limbs stuck out above her window. Winters said he would go out on that limb and bend it down, about midnight, and Minty Glenwood could be there and climb out on it, and they would go away together quite a distance from Aunt Melissy, and live happy ever after.
"So I told Cousin Minty Glenwood about the plan, and just what to do, and she was as scared as a chicken, but said she would do anything to save the hired man from that awful city life he had mentioned. She said she knew something would happen when she tried to climb out her window, but she would have to do it, as it was the only way to get out without going through Aunt Melissy's room, which would be much worse.
"Well, that night Winters and I got everything ready, and had all his things packed in a bundle at the foot of the tree, and a little before midnight by the full moon, Winters went up and crawled out on the limb to bend it down, but when he got there it wouldn't bend far enough to reach Minty Glenwood's window—him being a light-weight person, though I've heard he got fatter later on. He couldn't jump on it, for fear of waking up Aunt Melissy, so he came down and said I would have to go out on the limb, and he would stay on the ground with the things, because I was always pretty solid, even in those days. So then I went out and crawled along on that limb, which bent down with me, all right, but didn't quite reach Minty Glenwood's window, and I couldn't see how she was going to get on it unless she jumped, which I never thought she'd do.
"But you never can tell what a young person in love will do. She was there waiting, all dressed in her Sunday things, with a big bundle of what she was going to take along, and when I asked her, in a whisper, if she could jump and grab the limb, she didn't wait to think about it, or to give me notice to get ready, but just jumped, bundle and all, and grabbed the limb with one hand and me with the other, and down we swung, for Minty Glenwood was plump, too, and quite heavy with the bundle, and then she let go and dropped, which I should have done, only I forgot it, and a second later that limb sprung back and sent me sailing up into the sky just about in the direction of the full moon.
"Minty Glenwood landed all right—on her bundle, I heard later—and she and Winters had probably got a good ways on their wedding journey by the time I came down in a brush-heap, where we had been clearing up a new potato-patch. It broke my fall, but it was very stiff, scratchy brush, and when I got out I felt as if I had been in an argument with Mr. Wildcat. I was limping, too, and afraid I was injured internally, for I didn't feel hungry, which is always a bad sign. I was taking on a good deal, and making some noise, I suppose, for when I got to the shop and was going to drag myself up to bed, I heard Aunt Melissy's voice call out the window:
"'What's the matter with you out there? What have you been doing?' And then all at once she gave a howl, for she was in Minty Glenwood's room, and had suddenly discovered that Cousin Minty wasn't in her bed, and hadn't been in it that night. About five seconds later she came tearing out there in the moonlight and grabbed me and says:
"'What does this mean?' she says. 'Where's your Cousin Minty Glenwood and that hired creature, Winters?'
"I could tell from Aunt Melissy's looks and voice that it was not a good time to tell it just as it was. I said I had done all I could to save Minty Glenwood from sorrow, but I had been bruised and scratched in the attempt, and she could see herself that I was bleeding in as many as fifty places and could hardly walk. Very likely, I said, I would not live long enough to tell all the tale, and that I didn't know which way those two fierce young people had gone, which was true enough.
"Then Uncle Silas came out and pretended to be very mad, too, and said it was a shame the way I had been treated. As for Minty Glenwood, she was not worth hunting for, and he would disown her from that moment, though I knew he was as glad as he could be that it had happened, and had a pretty good idea I had something to do with it. Aunt Melissy she stormed and carried on, and said her family was ruined and that she was going back to her folks; but she had gotten more peaceful-like by morning, and put some poultices and bandages on me, and said she didn't see how in time that little, spindly hired man and a mere girl could get a big, strong fellow like me into such a state, though she said, of course Minty was a Glenwood and the Glenwoods were always fighters. Then she took me back to the tree, and gave me Minty Glenwood's room; and when she was out Uncle Silas came to sit with me, and I told him all about it, and he laughed more than I ever saw him laugh at anything, especially when I told about how I went sailing into that brush-heap. Uncle Silas always did like anything funny, and he hadn't many chances to show his taste.
"Well, my appetite came back, but I didn't get well till I had to, because as long as I could be in bed and seem dangerous Uncle Silas had an excuse to sit with me, and we had a fine time. But by and by Aunt Melissy made up some of the worst medicine I ever tasted, which she said she thought would cure me if anything would; which it did, the first dose. Aunt Melissy stayed pretty savage, though, until one day word came from Minty Glenwood, who was now Mrs. Winters, that they were living in town, and that Mr. Winters's people were very fine and stylish and well off, and had taken him back because he had married so well and reformed, and she was as happy as could be. Then you ought to have seen Aunt Melissy show off. Any one would have thought she had made the match, and she couldn't talk enough about Minty Glenwood living in the city, and our fine Winters relatives; and told Uncle Silas he ought to be ashamed of the things he'd said about Minty Glenwood, and ordered him to take them all back, which he did. Then, by and by, she went to visit the Winters folks, and stayed a long time, and Uncle Silas and I and my other cousins had the best time we ever had in our lives. When Aunt Melissy came back she looked as fancy and put on almost as many airs as Uncle Silas had the time he came home and brought the young man who by and by was to marry Minty Glenwood."
Mr. 'Possum sleepily knocked the ashes out of his pipe and yawned and looked into the fire.
"Did you or Uncle Silas ever tell Aunt Melissy about helping Minty Glenwood and Winters to get away?" asked Mr. Crow.
"No," said Mr. 'Possum, drowsily; "we knew Aunt Melissy, and thought it was a pretty good plan to let well enough alone."
 Hollow Tree and Deep Woods Book.
 Hollow Tree Snowed-In Book.
COUSIN REDFIELD AND THE MOLASSES
COUSIN REDFIELD BEAR MISBEHAVES AND IS CURED OF HIS TASTE FOR MOLASSES
The Little Lady has been to the circus during the afternoon and has come home full of it. There were ever so many things to see there, but nicest of all were some little bears—three of them—who rolled over one another in their cage and seemed to be having the best time in the world. She tells the Story Teller all about them after supper; then she says:
"Do you know any story about little bears? Did the Bear family in the Big Deep Woods ever come visiting to the Hollow Tree?"
The Story Teller thinks.
"Yes," he said; "or rather, Mr. Bear came once alone, but that is another story. I know one story, though, about a little bear, a story that Mr. Crow told one night when he had been over to spend the afternoon with Mr. Bear, they being very good friends."
"Mr. Bear told me this afternoon," Mr. Crow said, "about something that happened in his uncle's family some years ago. His uncle's name was Brownwood—Brownwood Bear—and he had a little boy named Redfield, but they called him Reddie, for short. Uncle Brownwood lost his wife one night when she went over to get one of Mr. Man's pigs, and he and little Redfield used to live together in a nice cave over near the Wide Blue Water, not far from the place where Mr. Turtle lives now. Uncle Brownwood used to be gone a good deal to get food and whatever they needed, and Reddie would stay at home and sleep in the cave, or play outside and roll and tumble about in the sun and have a very good time. He had a number of playthings, too, and plenty of nice things to eat, and every morning, before Uncle Brownwood Bear started out he would put out enough to last Cousin Redfield all day—some ripe berries, and apples, with doughnuts, and such things, and always some bread and butter and molasses to finish up on.
"Little Reddie Bear liked all these things very much, but best of all he liked the molasses. Not bread and molasses, but just molasses; and he used to beg Uncle Brownwood to give him a whole saucer of molasses to dip his bread in; but once when his father did that he didn't eat the bread at all, but just ate up the molasses, and was sick that night, though he said it wasn't the molasses that did it, but carrying in some wood and washing the dishes, which he had to do every evening.
"But Uncle Brownwood didn't give Cousin Redfield any more molasses in a saucer; he spread his bread for him every morning, and set the molasses-jug on a high shelf, out of reach, and Reddie used to stand and look at it, when his father was gone, and wonder how long it would be before he would be tall enough to get it down and enjoy himself with the contents.
"One day when Cousin Redfield was looking at the jug he had an idea. Just outside of the cave his father had made a bear-ladder for Reddie to learn to climb on. A bear-ladder is a piece of a tree set up straight in the ground. It has short, broken-off limbs, and little bears like to run up and down on it, and big bears, too, for it gives them exercise and keeps them in practice for climbing real trees.
"When Reddie had the idea, he ran out and looked at his bear-ladder; then he ran back and looked at the jug. If only that bear-ladder was in the cave, he thought, he could walk right up it and get the jug and have the best time in the world. The bear-ladder would go in the cave, for it was a very high cave, and the ladder was not a very tall one.
"But the bear-ladder was fast to the ground, and at first Reddie couldn't budge it. He worked and pushed and tugged, but it would not move. Then he happened to think that perhaps if he climbed up to the top of it, and swung his weight back and forth as hard as he could, he might loosen it that way. So he ran up to the top limbs and caught hold tight, and rocked this way and that with all his might, and pretty soon he felt his bear-ladder begin to rock, too. Then he rocked a good deal harder, and all of a sudden down it went and little Cousin Redfield Bear flew over into a pile of stove-wood, and for ten minutes didn't know whether he was killed or not, he felt so poorly. Then he crawled over to a flat stone and sat down on it, and cried, and felt of himself to see if he was injured anywhere; and he did not feel at all like bothering with his bear-ladder any more, or eating molasses, either.
"But that was quite early in the day, and after Cousin Redfield had sat there awhile he didn't feel so discouraged. His pains nearly all went away, and he began to feel that if he had some molasses now it would cure him. So then he got up and went over to look at the ladder, and took hold of it, and found that it wasn't very heavy, as it was pine, and very dead and dry. He could drag it to the cave easy enough, but when he got it there he couldn't set it up straight. He was too short, and not strong enough, either.
"So little Cousin Redfield went back and sat down on his stone to think again and cry some more, because he found several new hurting places that were not quite cured yet. Then he noticed the clothes-line, and thought he might do something with that. He could get that down easy enough, for it was not very high. Cousin Redfield had often hung out the clothes on it himself. So he untied the ends of the clothes-line and tied one end of it to the top of his bear-ladder, but didn't know what to do with the other end, until he happened to see the big hooks in the top of the cave where his father hung meat when they had a good supply.
"So then Reddie made a bunch of the other end of the rope and threw it at those hooks, and kept on throwing it until after a while it caught on one of them, and enough of it hung down for him to get hold of. Cousin Redfield, for a small bear, was really quite smart to think of all that.
"It wasn't easy, though, even now, to get the bear-ladder up straight. Reddie pulled, and tugged, and propped his feet against the side of the cave, and the table and benches, and got out of breath, and was panting and hot and his sore places hurt him awful, and he thought he'd have to give it up, but at last the end of the bear-ladder caught on the side of the cave where the jug was, and stayed there, and Cousin Redfield could let go of the rope, and get behind the ladder and push, and then, pretty soon, it was up straight, and he could get the molasses-jug as easy as anything.
"It was getting along in the afternoon now, and Reddie knew that Uncle Brownwood Bear was likely to come home before long. So he went right up and got the jug, and nearly dropped it getting down, it was so heavy. But he got down with it all right, and then pulled out the cob that was its stopper, and tipped the jug to pour some of the molasses out in his hand.
"But the jug was quite full, and, the molasses being very thick, would not run out very well. So he tipped the jug over farther, but could only get a little. Then he tipped it on its side, and then pretty soon it commenced to run better, and came out better, and made a nice noise, 'po-lollop, po-lollop, po-lollop,' and formed quite a thick pool right on the floor of the cave, and little Cousin Redfield Bear got down on his hands and knees and licked and lapped, and forgot everything but what a lovely time he was having, and didn't realize that he was getting it all over himself, until he started to get up, and then found it was all around him, and his knees were in it, and everything.
"Cousin Redfield didn't get entirely up. He was nearly up when his foot slipped and he went down flat on his back; when he tried it again he went down in another position, and kept on getting partly up and falling in different ways, until he was an awful sight, and there wasn't so much molasses on the floor any more, because it was nearly all on Cousin Redfield. Then that little bear—little Reddie Bear—suddenly remembered that his father would be coming home presently, and that something ought to be done about it. He was so full of molasses he could hardly move or see out of his eyes. If he could only wipe it off. He had seen his father take a wisp of hay or nice, soft grass to wipe up a little that was sometimes spilled on the table, so Reddie thought hay would be good for his trouble. He would roll in hay, and that would take off the molasses.
"There was a big pile of soft hay-grass in the back part of the cave that Uncle Brownwood used to stuff his mattress with, and Cousin Redfield made for it, and rolled and wallowed in it, thinking, at first, that he was getting off the molasses, but pretty soon finding he was only getting on hay, and really had it all over him so thick that he could not roll any more, and could only see through it a very little. When he managed to get up he had nearly all the hay on him, as well as the molasses.
"Cousin Redfield was really a little walking haystack, and scared at his condition, because he thought he would probably never be a bear any more. He was so scared that he wanted his father to come and do something for him, and started to meet him, as fast as he could, with all that load of hay and molasses. He was crying, too, but nobody could really tell it from the sound he made, which was something like 'Woo—ooo, woo—ooo,' and very mournful.
"Uncle Brownwood Bear was just rounding the big rock there at the turn when he came face to face with Cousin Redfield and his hay. Reddie thought his father would be angry when he saw him, but he wasn't—not at first. Cousin Redfield didn't realize how he looked from the outside, or the lonesomeness of the sound he was making. Uncle Brownwood took just one glance at him, and said 'Woof!' and broke in the direction of a tree, and of course you could hardly blame him, for he had never seen or heard anything like that before, and it came on him so sudden-like.
"Then poor little Reddie Bear bawled out as loud as he could, 'Pa! Pa! Oh, pa, come back! I's me, pa; come back!'"
"And Uncle Brownwood stopped in his tracks and whirled around and said, in an awful voice, 'You, Redfield!' for he thought Reddie was playing a joke on him, and he was mad clear through.
"Cousin Redfield saw that he was mad by the way he started for him, and became scared, and tried to run away as well as he could; but, not being able to see well, ran right toward the Wide Blue Water, and before he noticed where he was going he stumbled off of a two-foot bank where it was deep, and was down in the water, and had gone under for the second time before his father could lean over and grab him and get him out.
"Poor little Cousin Redfield Bear! By that time most of the hay was washed off of him, but he had got a good deal of the Wide Blue Water inside of him, and was so nearly drowned he couldn't speak. And when his father laid him on the bank, and rolled him, the water and molasses came out, 'po-lollop, po-lollop, po-lollop,' and, feeble as he was, little Cousin Redfield realized that he probably would never care for molasses again.
"When he was empty and could sit up, Uncle Brownwood got a pail, and a dipper, and a brush-broom, and cleaned him on the outside, and then rubbed him dry with an old towel, and put him to bed, though not until after he had scrubbed up the cave so they could live in it.
"Uncle Brownwood Bear did not punish little Cousin Redfield," Mr. Crow said. "He thought Reddie had been punished enough. Besides, Reddie was sick for several days. But Uncle Brownwood put up the bear-ladder much stronger than before, and set the empty molasses-jug in the middle of the table, and kept it there a long time, and when Cousin Redfield tried even to look at it, it gave him such a sick turn that he nearly died."
IN MR. MAN'S CAR
THE HOLLOW TREE PEOPLE HAVE ONE OF THEIR MOST EXCITING ADVENTURES
Once upon a time Mr. Dog came over to have supper with the Hollow Tree people, and to tell them some news. This, of course, was after he had become good friends with the 'Coon and 'Possum and the Old Black Crow, and enjoyed dropping in for a smoke and a little conversation, especially about Mr. Man's doings, which always interested the Hollow Tree people and their friends.
So on this particular night, when the supper-things had been cleared away, and they all had lit their pipes and Mr. Dog was sitting outside to enjoy the mild evening, he told them something very astonishing. He said he supposed that they had now over at their house (meaning, of course, at Mr. Man's house) the most wonderful thing in the world. He said it was called an automobile, and was a kind of large carriage, but the strange part about it was that it went without any horse or any kind of live thing at all. When Mr. Man brought it home, Mr. Dog said, their Mr. Horse had been looking over the fence into the road, and when he saw that strange object, with Mr. Man sitting in it, holding to a wheel, go flying by, twice as fast as Mr. Horse could run, also making much more noise, and trailing smoke, Mr. Horse gave one snort and took out for the back lots, and they hadn't seen him since. Mr. Dog owned that he himself had thought it best to go under the house, and that he had spent a good deal of the first day there watching Mr. Man open a number of doors and covers that were attached to the new machine, which seemed to be full of sudden noises that Mr. Man could stop whenever he wanted to, though he was not always able to start them with the handle that he turned for that purpose. Sometimes Mr. Man had to turn the handle until he was quite weak before he could get a single noise, and without the noise the carriage would not start.
Mr. Dog said that at first he had been rather uncertain in his feelings toward the automobile, but that, little by little, he had felt more friendly and had come up closer to look at it, only going back under the house again when it started one of those sudden sounds which seemed to make his head ache. Then he got used to those, too, and about the third day Mr. Man suddenly caught him by the collar and invited him to ride, and put him in the back of the carriage, and tied him there with a strong rope so he wouldn't fall out, and so nobody would steal him, because Mr. Man valued him so highly.
Mr. Dog said that when the automobile started he almost wished he could fall out, at first, or that somebody would steal him, because he was sure it would effect his heart, and that when they got to going faster and faster he forgot about the rope, and even tried to jump out, but the rope was quite a good one, and probably saved his life. Then pretty soon he didn't want to jump out any more, and laid down on the floor to enjoy it, and was sorry to get home. When Mr. Man was ready to start, next time, Mr. Dog jumped in himself, and the faster they went the better he liked it, and now when they went he often sat up in the front seat by the side of Mr. Man, and if the car was all full of Mr. Man's folks he sometimes sat behind on the top when it was folded back for fine weather. Mr. Dog said there was nothing in the world that he loved so much as to ride in an automobile and to go fast. He said they often went so fast that they passed some of the birds, and that then he would bark loudly to show his enjoyment.
Well, when the Hollow Tree people heard about Mr. Man's automobile they at first could hardly say anything at all. Then Mr. 'Possum said he supposed what made it go was some kind of clockwork that Mr. Man wound up when he turned that crank; and Mr. Crow thought he must build a fire in it to make the smoke come out behind. Mr. Dog didn't know, himself, just how the machinery went in, but that Mr. Man called it a motor and had ever so many names for different parts of it, and sometimes said strong words when he took one of the parts out and couldn't get it back again without trouble. The wheels ran on rubber, he said, rubber filled with air, which Mr. Man pumped into them, and when anything happened to let the air out they had to stop, and then Mr. Man would change the rubber wheel and pump a good deal, and say strong words again, especially when it was warm. Mr. Dog said it was a great comfort to sit back in the shade at such times, and watch Mr. Man pump, and hear him say all the things that he used to say to Mr. Dog himself when he had made some little mistake or had come home later than usual. He said he had never prized anything in his life so much as he had that car, which was what Mr. Man generally called it.
Well, the Hollow Tree people were certainly excited. They said they surely must see that new carriage of Mr. Man's, and if Mr. Dog would send them word some day when he was going out they would hide in the bushes by the road and watch him go by. Mr. Dog said he would do that, and that he and Mr. Man generally took an early ride together, before the rest of the family were stirring, to get some things at the store down at Great Corners—mostly, of late, things for the automobile, which seemed to consume a great deal of smelly liquid, and oils, and all kinds of hardware.
Then Mr. 'Coon said he would give anything in the world to see that automobile going by with the smoke streaming out behind, and Mr. Dog sitting up in the front seat. Mr. Crow said he would give anything in the world to see that, and to slip over to Mr. Man's barn some time when nobody was at home, and really examine the new object, and maybe sit in the seats a little. And Mr. 'Possum said he would give a good deal for all that, but that what he really wanted to do was to sit in the car and ride, like Mr. Dog, as fast as the thing could go.
Then Mr. 'Coon and Mr. Crow both together said, "Oh, we never could do that—never in the world!" and Mr. Dog didn't say anything at all—not at first—but sat thinking. Then by and by he said, all at once:
"I know," he said—"I know a way that you can get to take a ride in our new car. There is quite a big space under the back seat where Mr. Man keeps his pump and sometimes other things, but he keeps most of his things in a tool-box on the side, and only looks into the back-seat place when he needs the pump. When we start out for a long trip he puts Mrs. Man's and Miss Man's extra hats and things in there, but there are none of those articles there now. So if you should come over very early to-morrow morning, before Mr. Man is up, and get into that place under the back seat, you would have just about room enough, and while you couldn't see much, except maybe a little of the road through cracks in the bottom, you would be riding all the time, and always afterward could tell how it felt."
Well, that was such a scary thought that at first the Hollow Tree people couldn't do anything but just sit and shiver and think about how grand and exciting it would be, but how awful if anything should happen. Suppose Mr. Man should have to use his pump, what would be likely to happen then? No one could tell. Mr. Dog said they would have to jump and step lively then, sure enough.
So then they talked about it and gave up the thought, and went on talking about it and giving it up some more, until Mr. 'Possum said that, so far, the worst had never happened to him yet, and that he would take chances if the rest would; and Mr. 'Coon said it would probably be the end of all of them, but he'd risk it; and Mr. Crow said he wouldn't care to pass his life in the Hollow Tree alone, and he might as well go with the others. Then Mr. Dog skipped home as fast as he could go, to listen around and see what Mr. Man's plans were for the next morning, so he would know if they were going on their early trip to Great Corners, as usual, or on some excursion. But he didn't hear anything about a picnic before bedtime, and next morning he was up a little before day, and pretty soon the Hollow Tree people came slipping over, nearly scared to death, and Mr. Dog let them in by his special door to the barn, and they all looked at the automobile, and Mr. 'Possum tried to turn the crank a little, and Mr. 'Coon sat up in the front seat and took hold of the steering-wheel and pretended to be driving, and Mr. Crow said he didn't see how a thing that seemed so cold and dead as that could suddenly come to life and move.
Then Mr. Dog said he heard Mr. Man coming down his back stairs, and they all made a dive for the rear seat, and Mr. Dog put the cushion in place and was outside waiting and barking "Good morning" to Mr. Man when he opened the big barn doors.
Then the Hollow Tree people were nearly dead with scare. Mr. 'Possum whispered that he knew that his heart was beating so loud that Mr. Man could hear it and would think his motor was going, and Mr. 'Coon said if Mr. Man should ever move that back cushion he knew he should die. Mr. Crow said he felt sure this was just some awful nightmare, and that he would wake up pretty soon, and he said of all the dreams he ever had, this was the worst.
But just then Mr. Man got hold of the crank in front of the car and gave it a turn, and then gave it another turn, and then said something, and gave it another turn, and suddenly the Hollow Tree people heard a great number of loud explosions which made them perfectly cold, and then there was just a heavy roar and rumble, and they heard Mr. Man say to Mr. Dog, "Come, get in!" and they felt the automobile begin to move.
That was an awful sensation at first. They could feel that they were going, but the soft rubber wheels did not rattle on the road, and about the only sound was the motor, which they could tell was getting faster and faster as they got out into the smooth road across the Wide Grass Lands, and now and then Mr. Dog barking to them in Hollow Tree language that everything was all right and to rest easy and enjoy themselves—that they were just then passing the Four Oaks, and that presently they would be in the Sugar Hollow Road, and that he wished they could see out and notice how things went spinning by. Then they heard Mr. Man tell Mr. Dog not to make so much noise, and after that things were quieter, and they just heard the steady buzz of the engine, until by and by Mr. Dog barked out that they were at Great Corners and were stopping in front of the store.
The Hollow Tree people whispered to one another that they had certainly enjoyed it, but what a terrible thing it would be if something should happen now, so far away from home, and among so many confusing things. It seemed an age before Mr. Man came back to the car and got ready to start again, and when he did they heard him talking to some other Mr. Man, who asked if he should put the things under the back seat. Then the Hollow Tree people nearly died, until they heard Mr. Man say, "No, never mind, I'm in too much of a hurry to get home; just drop them in behind there, any place," which made them feel a little better, and pretty soon Mr. Man started the motor again, and they felt the car moving faster and faster, the same as before.
The Hollow Tree people couldn't see a thing, but they knew they were riding faster than ever, for they bounced about a good deal, and held on to one another and would have laughed at the fun if they hadn't been too scared. They were pretty anxious for Mr. Man to get the car back into the barn, so they could scamper home as soon as he went in to breakfast, for they had had about all the excitement they wanted. But they got some more in a minute, for all of a sudden, just as Mr. Dog barked to them that they were in the edge of the Big Deep Woods and would be home soon, there came a good deal rougher bumping, and then the car ran slow, and stopped, and they heard Mr. Man say, "A puncture, by gracious! Now I've got to put in a half hour at that pump!"
Those were awful words. He would be back there in a minute, and then what. For a second or two everything was silent, except that they heard Mr. Man getting out of the car, and they got ready to make a wild jump the moment he lifted the seat cover. But then—right at the instant when they expected him to do it—they heard Mr. Dog break right out into a great, big bark, shouting as loud as he could:
"Come! Come! Come! Mr. Man—it's up a tree!—it's up a tree!—it's up a tree!" and they knew by the sound that he had jumped out and was calling to Mr. Man to come into the woods near the road, and then, a second later, they heard him call to them, in Hollow Tree words—"Now! now! jump and run! Jump and run! Now! Now! Now! Now!"
And the Hollow Tree people didn't have to be told again. All together, they gave a great big push at the cover of the back seat, and lifted it, cushion and all, and scrambled out, and over the side of the car and out the back, and were diving into the deep woods on the other side of the road from Mr. Man, who was looking up a tree and scolding Mr. Dog because he couldn't see anything up there to bark at.
The Hollow Tree people didn't wait to see how it came out, but took out for home, lickety-split, and didn't stop until they were safe in the Hollow Tree. That night Mr. Dog came over to see how they had enjoyed it. He said Mr. Man called him several names because he had not been able to see anything up in the tree, and then had changed the tire and pumped it while Mr. Dog was getting calm. Mr. Man, he said, was surprised to find the back cushion had jumped out of place, but did not suspicion the truth.
Then they all talked it over several times, and were very proud of the great experience, though they decided that they would not try it again.
 See frontispiece.
MR. 'POSSUM'S CAR
MR. 'POSSUM SHOWS HE CAN INVENT THINGS, ESPECIALLY AN AUTOMOBILE LIKE MR. MAN'S
"You may remember," said the Story Teller, one evening, to the Little Lady, "my telling you about Mr. Man's automobile, and how the Hollow Tree people, Mr. 'Coon, Mr. 'Possum, and the Old Black Crow, got a ride in it; how Mr. Dog helped them, you know, and just barely managed to keep them all from being caught by Mr. Man."
"Why, yes," said the Little Lady, "and I do hope they never wanted to take another. They didn't, did they?"
Not in Mr. Man's car—no, they had had enough of that, but they were very much excited over it, and thought if they could just sit up in the seat and ride, like Mr. Dog, and see things go by, and not be down under it, in the dark and danger, they would enjoy it more than anything. Mr. 'Possum thought about it, and talked about it, more than anybody, and after breakfast, while Mr. 'Coon and Mr. Crow were doing up the morning's work, he used to walk up and down in the sun and smoke, thinking and thinking, for Mr. 'Possum is quite thoughtful and a good hand to plan, when work doesn't strain his mind.
Well, one morning, when Mr. Crow and Mr. 'Coon were all through, and came out and sat on a log to smoke in the sun and admire Mr. 'Possum, and think how smart he was and how well he looked for his age, he stopped all at once, right in front of them, and said:
"I've got it!" he said. "I can do it! I can make one as easy as anything!"
"Make what?" said the 'Coon and the Old Black Crow, both together, quite excited.
"I can make an automobile," said Mr. 'Possum. "I have planned it all out. I am going to commence now."
Then Mr. 'Coon and Mr. Crow took their pipes out of their mouths and looked at Mr. 'Possum, but couldn't say a word, they were so astonished.
But Mr. 'Possum just threw his head back a little and blew some smoke, and said that it had been quite hard to plan and had taken all of his best thoughts, but that it seemed easy enough now, and that he might have it done by night.
Then the 'Coon and the Crow did get excited, and said: "Oh yes, Mr. 'Possum, we'll help you. Will you let us help you, Mr. 'Possum?"
And Mr. Possum said that of course he would have to do the most, as he would have to show them how, but that they could do all the easy things, and he said they might begin by bringing down the big wood-box out of Mr. Crow's kitchen, and the big wood-saw, and the hammer, and some nails, and any useful tool that they had borrowed from time to time from Mr. Man during his absence.
So then Mr. 'Coon and Mr. Crow ran up and lugged down Mr. Crow's big wood-box, and got the saw and all the other tools and things they could find, and brought them out to a shady place, for it was a fine spring day and getting quite warm, and Mr. 'Possum showed them a round tree, quite large, that had blown down during the winter, and told them they might saw it in two, first, and then cut off four nice slices, two large and two smaller ones, for the four wheels. Mr. 'Possum sat down on the end of the log and showed them just how to take hold of the saw, one at each end, and pull first one way and then the other, and walked around and sighted across it to see that they were keeping it straight, and got a little cooking-grease and put on it, so it would work faster, and Mr. Coon and Mr. Crow worked, and sweat, and tugged, and panted, and said it was wonderful exercise, and by and by really did get the log sawed in two.