Albert Bigelow Paine.

The hollow tree and deep woods book : being a new edition in one volume of The hollow tree and In the deep woods with several new stories and pictures added online

. (page 3 of 9)
Online LibraryAlbert Bigelow PaineThe hollow tree and deep woods book : being a new edition in one volume of The hollow tree and In the deep woods with several new stories and pictures added → online text (page 3 of 9)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

that those children would be the death of her, and she wished there was
a school in the neighborhood so they could be sent to it."

[Illustration: A SHINING TIN PLATE.]

"But those children never wanted to learn anything, and never thought
about even knowing their letters, until one day Father 'Coon came home
from town with a brand new shiny tin plate with the alphabet around on
the edge of it. When they saw that they all made a grab for it and
claimed it, but Father 'Coon held it up high and said that it was for
the one that first learned his letters. He said that they were to take
turns using it, a different one each time, and whoever was using it
could study his letters while he was eating. He said that when it had
been all around once he would see who knew the most letters and would
give it to him the next time, and so on, and the first one who knew all
of them should have it for his own, to keep.

"Well, the first night he gave it to a fellow named Bushy and sat down
by him and told him the letters over and over, and all the rest leaned
across the table and looked on instead of eating, all except one
fellow, named Smart, who was good at learning things by heart, and he
just listened and ate, too. He did that right along every meal till it
came his turn, and then he pretended to look very close, but all the
time he was only saying the letters over and over in his head and
laughing to himself to think how he was going to surprise everybody when
the time came to see who knew the most.

"And that's just what he did do. For when the plate had gone clear
around and Father 'Coon called them all up one night after supper to see
who could tell the most letters on it, some only knew three and some
four, and some of them knew six, but when it came Smart's turn he
commenced when Father 'Coon pointed to A, and said every one clear
through to & just as fast as he could say them. Then the others all
began to cry, and Smart took the plate and walked off with it into the
next room and sat down and was saying the alphabet over and over, when
all at once Bushy happened to notice that when Smart pointed out the
letters for himself and said them he was just as apt to begin any place
else as at A, and that he only knew them by heart and didn't know a
single one when he saw it."



"Of course that made Bushy mad, and he ran out and told the rest that
Smart didn't know his alphabet at all, and that he couldn't even tell A
when it was by itself, and all the others set up a great fuss, too. They
said he had to go out with the plate to Father 'Coon again, and Smart
said he wouldn't do it; that it was his plate, and that he had said
his letters once and didn't intend to say them again for anybody. Then
Bushy grabbed the plate and said it was his, because he knew six
letters, and then a little fellow named Stripe grabbed it away from
Bushy because he knew six letters, too, and pretty soon they all got
into a regular fight over it, and made such an awful noise that
Grandmother 'Coon thought the tree was falling down, and came running
in, and when she saw what they were fighting over she grabbed it away
from all of them and opened the window and flung it out just as hard as
ever she could fling it.

"And the tin plate went sailing and shining right straight up in the
air, and kept on sailing and shining till it got to the sky; and then,
of course, it couldn't get any further, but it went right on sailing and
shining in the sky, and has been there, sailing and shining, ever since.

"And that," said Mr. 'Coon, "that's the moon!"

"Oh, pshaw!" said the 'Possum.

"What made those dark spots on it?" said the Rabbit.

Mr. 'Coon didn't know what to say to that just at first, and then he
happened to think.

"Why," he said, "that's where they rubbed the tin off fighting over it."

"Nonsense!" said the Rabbit.



This is the story told by Mr. 'Possum when he and Mr. 'Coon and Jack
Rabbit sat on the edge of the world and hung their feet over and looked
at the moon: -

"Well," said Mr. 'Possum, "a good many years ago, when there were a
great many more chickens than there are now, and Mr. Man took good care
of them for us and let them roost in trees instead of locking them up
every night in an unhealthy little pen, my folks used to go around
sometimes after Mr. Man had gone to bed, and look them over and pick out
what they wanted for the next day.

"I don't know why we ever began the custom of picking out our victuals
at night that way, when it was dark and dangerous, but somehow we always
did it, and have kept it up ever since."

"Humph!" said the 'Coon.

"Yes," continued Mr. 'Possum, "that was before there was any moon, and
the nights were always dark. It wasn't a good time to choose food, and
very often my folks made a mistake and got a seven-year-old bantam hen
instead of a spring pullet, which is about the same size.

"This happened so much that by and by a very wise 'Possum, named
Smoothe, said that if they would keep him in chickens of a youthful and
tender sort he would fix up a light, so they could see and know what
they were doing. They all agreed to do it, and that night Smoothe built
a big fire in the top of a tall tree and sat up there and 'tended to it
until nearly morning, and my folks brought home the finest lot of
chickens that Mr. Man had raised for them in a good many years."


"Well, there was never any trouble after that to pick out young meat,
and Smoothe kept the fire going nights and ate a good deal and got
pretty fat, so that he didn't like to work, and kept planning some way
to make his job easier. He wanted to find a light that he wouldn't have
to 'tend to and keep piling wood on all night. He thought about this for
a long time, and used to fall asleep and dream about it, and once he let
the fire go out, and fell out of the tree and nearly gave up his job


"Well, while he was getting well he had a good deal of company, and one
day a top-knot crow named Dusk came to see him. Now, you know that our
friend Mr. Crow is a wise bird to-day, but in the old times a top-knot
crow was wiser than anything that now flies or walks, and Dusk was a
very old bird. He knew a great deal about Mr. Man and his ways, and he
told Smoothe that he had seen in Mr. Man's pantry, where he went
sometimes, a light that would not go out during a whole night, and that
had a big bright something behind it that would throw the light in any
direction. Dusk, who used to carry off almost everything he saw, whether
he wanted it or not, said that he thought he might carry this light off
if Smoothe would be willing to let him have a few chickens for a party
he was going to give.

"Smoothe told him he might take his pick out of his share of the
chickens for the next six months if he would only bring that light, and
Dusk didn't waste any time, but brought it the very next evening."


"It was a beautiful light, and Smoothe fastened it to the tip top of the
tall tree, so that it would swing in any direction, and the bright round
thing behind it threw the light just where he wanted it. It burned oil,
and he used to fill it up with chicken oil in the evening and it would
burn all night and make a better light than the fire ever did. So all he
had to do was to keep it filled and turned in the direction that my
folks were harvesting their chicken crop, and then he could go to bed
and sleep all night if he wanted to.

"And that's just what he did do. And one night while he was asleep there
came up a terrible storm. Of course, if Smoothe had been awake he would
have taken the light down; but he wasn't awake, and the first he knew he
heard broken limbs falling and crashing all around, and he jumped up and
ran out just in time to see the tip top of the lamp tree break off,
lamp and all, and go whirling round and round, right straight up in the
air till it got to the sky, and there it stuck fast. It never went out,
either, but kept on turning round and round and giving light in
different directions at different times in the month.

"And that," said Mr. 'Possum, "is the moon. And you don't always see it
because sometimes the bright reflecting thing is turned in the other
direction. And when it's turned part way round you see part of it, and
it's always been so ever since that night Smoothe went to sleep and the
storm came up and carried it off."

"Humph!" said the 'Coon.

"What makes those spots on it, then?" said the Rabbit.

"Why," said Mr. 'Possum, thinking as quick as he could, "those - those
are - are some leaves that blew against the reflecting thing and stayed

[Illustration: "'NONSENSE!" SAID THE RABBIT.]

"Nonsense!" said the Rabbit.



This is the story that Mr. Jack Rabbit told to Mr. 'Coon and Mr. 'Possum
when they sat together on the edge of the world and hung their feet over
and looked at the moon. After Mr. 'Possum had finished his story, the
Rabbit leaned back and swung his feet over the Big Nowhere awhile,
thinking. Then he began.

"Well," he said, "my folks used to live in the moon."

"Humph!" said the 'Coon.

"Nonsense!" said the 'Possum.

"Yes," said Jack Rabbit, "they did. The moon is a world, away over on
the other side of the Big Nowhere, and it doesn't stand still and stay
top side up like this world, but keeps moving about and turning over, so
that you have to look sharp and hang on tight to keep from falling off
when it tips bottom side up, or is standing on its edge as it is
to-night. My folks used to live there and Mr. Dog's folks used to live
there, too. That was a long time ago, before Mr. Dog ever went to live
with Mr. Man, and he was big and savage and had no more manners than he
has now.

"My folks never could and never did get along with Mr. Dog's folks worth
a cent, but they could mostly beat Mr. Dog's folks running, so they
didn't have to associate with him unless they wanted to."

[Illustration: "USED TO HIDE AND WATCH FOR US."]

"Of course Mr. Dog's family didn't like that, for they thought they were
just as good as we were, and they used to hide and watch for us, and
when we came by jump out and try to keep up with us for as much as two
or three miles sometimes, just as Mr. Dog tried to keep up with me the
other day, which you may remember."

The 'Possum and 'Coon grinned to themselves and nodded.

"Well," continued Mr. Rabbit, "there are some laws of etiquette - which
means politeness - up there in the Moon, and they are very strict. The
Old Man in the Moon makes these laws, and when one of them is broken he
makes the one that breaks it just go right on doing whatever it is for
nine hundred and ninety-nine years, and sometimes a good deal longer
when it's a worse break than usual.

"Now the very strictest of all these laws used to be the one about Mr.
Dog trying to keep up with our folks. It was called the 'Brush Pile
law.' It didn't say that he couldn't keep up with us if he was able, but
it did say that when we ran behind a brush pile, as we did sometimes, he
must follow around the brush pile and never jump over it, no matter what
happened. This was a hard law for Mr. Dog to keep, for he was mostly fat
and excitable, and my folks would run around and around a brush pile,
as much as a hundred times very often, and tire Mr. Dog so that he
couldn't move. Then my folks would laugh and go home leisurely, while
Mr. Dog would sneak off with his tongue hanging out till it dragged on
the ground."


"Well, one day in the spring, when my family was out for an airing and a
little sunshine, they got a good ways from home, and all of a sudden
here comes Mr. Dog and his whole family, too. My folks didn't want
anything to do with them, and set out for home in several directions,
with Mr. Dog's folks following most all of them. My twenty-first
great-great-grandfather was getting pretty old and couldn't run very
fast, and there was a young, anxious looking dog named Leap quite close
behind him. So the first brush pile he came to my relative paused and
when Leap came around one way he went the other, and they kept that up
until Leap got so mad and excited and worn out that he didn't care for
the 'Brush Pile law' or anything else except my twenty-first
great-great-grandfather, and all of a sudden he gave a great big bark
and a high jump right straight over the top of the brush pile, and just
that second the moon tipped up on its edge and all my folks and all Mr.
Dog's folks came tumbling right down through the Big Nowhere to the
earth, because they were all running and not holding on - all except
Leap, who stayed right up in the air, according to law, and he has been
there ever since.

"And when my folks and Mr. Dog's folks got down to the earth they were
all so scared that my folks ran in one direction and Mr. Dog's folks ran
in another. The dog family kept on running till they got to Mr. Man's
house, and there they hid and stayed."

[Illustration: "IT'S JUST AS PLAIN AS CAN BE."]

"And since that day," concluded Mr. Jack Rabbit, "there has never been
any of our family in the moon, and Leap is the only dog there. He's
still jumping over the brush pile because he broke the law, and you can
see him there any clear night when the moon sits up on its edge as it
does now. And that's what those spots are - a dog jumping over a brush
pile. It's just as plain as can be."

The 'Possum and the 'Coon looked up at the full moon and said that the
spots certainly did look a good deal like Mr. Dog jumping over a brush
pile, but that the Rabbit couldn't prove his story any more than they
could prove theirs, and that it wasn't any better story, if it was as

"Of course I can prove it," said the Rabbit. "There is an old adage
about it, and you can prove anything by an old adage. It goes this
way: -

"The longest way is often best -
Never jump over a cuckoo's nest.

"I don't know just why it says 'cuckoo's nest,' but I suppose cuckoos
always used to build in brush piles in the moon, and maybe they do yet.
Anyhow it proves it."

"Why, yes," said the 'Coon. "Sure enough!"

"That's so! It does!" said the 'Possum.



Once upon a time, said the Story Teller, when the Old Black Crow was
visiting Mr. Dog - -

"Was that the night that Mr. Rabbit and the rest told their moon
stories?" interrupted the Little Lady.

The very same night, and the Crow and Mr. Dog got to telling stories,

They told pig stories because they both knew a good deal about pigs, and
Mr. Dog, being in his own house, let the Crow tell first. Mr. Crow said
he was going to tell a true story, so he lit his pipe and began this
way: -


Well, said Mr. Crow, there was once a lot of little pigs that lived in a
large pen with the big mother pig and were very fat and happy - all but

This poor little fellow was what is called a runt pig, because he was
not nearly so big as the others, nor so strong. They crowded him away at
dinner time, so that he barely got enough to live on, and stayed small
and thin, while the others grew every day fatter and fatter.

At last the little runt pig made up his mind that he would run away
and be a wild pig such as he had heard his brothers and sisters talk
about sometimes after supper.

He thought about it a good deal, and one morning bright and early he
started. Being so little, he squeezed through a small hole in the back
of the pen, and then ran away very fast, without stopping to look
behind. He ran and ran, straight across the barnyard, where there were
some chickens scratching, and out into a big field. When he got so tired
that he could go no further he stopped for a little, and then ran on

[Illustration: "OH, HERE'S THE WOODS!"]

He had to go a long way, but by and by he saw a lot of trees, and said,
"Oh, here's the woods! Now I'll be a wild pig!" So he squeezed between
two boards that made a crack in the fence, and under the trees he saw a
lot of ripe peaches and apples, for he was in a big orchard.

It was just peach time, and the little pig was very hungry.


So he ate and ate, first a lot of peaches, and then a lot of apples;
then a lot more peaches, and then a good many more apples. Then he
picked out only the ripest and finest apples and peaches as he came to
them, and ate and kept on eating until he had pains in his stomach and
began squealing for his mother.

"Oh, oh, oh!" he squealed. "I am going right home!" But when he came to
the fence he had eaten so much fruit that he could not get through the
crack again and stuck fast half way. Then he squealed louder than ever,
and pretty soon somebody said: -

"Why, here's a little pig fast in the fence!" And Mr. Man came through
the orchard and took hold of the little pig's hind legs and pressed the
boards apart so's not to hurt him.

"Whose pig are you, I want to know?" he said as he pulled him out.

Then Mr. Man took the little pig under his arm and went back through the
orchard with him to his house.

"Here's a little runt pig I found stuck fast in our fence," he said to
Mrs. Man when he got there. "He's eaten too many apples and peaches, I
should think, by the way he looks and squeals."

Then he fixed up a nice box for him, with clean straw in it, and gave
him some warm milk in a pan. By and by the little pig went to sleep.

[Illustration: HE TOOK THE FIRST PRIZE.]

Every day Mr. Man and his wife brought him nice things to eat, and soon
the little pig grew so fat that they had to put him in a larger pen.
Then they fed him still more, and, being all alone, he ate just as much
as he wanted. So he grew and grew, fatter and fatter, and every few
weeks they had to put him in a larger pen, until people came from all
over the country to see what a beautiful large pig he was. Then by and
by there was a fair where all the fine pigs were taken for show, and Mr.
Man and Mrs. Man and the little runt pig all went to the fair, but the
little pig wasn't a little runt pig any more, for he took the first
prize for being the largest and finest pig at the fair.



When Mr. Crow had finished the story about the little runt pig Mr. Dog
nodded and said that was a good story and that he knew the mate to it.
So then he filled up his pipe, too, and lit it and leaned back and told
the story about


"This," said Mr. Dog, "is the story of a saucy pig - a saucy, fat pig,
with a curly tail. He wasn't good to his brothers and sisters, and was
greedy, and not very clean, either, because he wouldn't wear his bib at
the table, and often grabbed things and tipped them over, instead of
being polite and taking what his mother put on his plate.

"Besides this, the saucy pig, who was called Curly, used to boast of how
strong he was, and how fast he could run and how far he could jump, and
when he heard some story about a little runt pig who ran away and made
his fortune - the same one you told, perhaps - he went around boasting
that he could do that any day, and that he could run twice as far as any
little runt pig, and get twice as fat and take twice as big a prize at
the fair."

[Illustration: AS BIG AS YOU PLEASE.]

"Well, he talked and bragged about it so much that by and by he really
believed he could do everything he said, and made up his mind to run
away sure enough. He didn't creep out through a hole and slip away, as
your little pig did, but took a pretty valise that he had got for
Christmas and put all his things in it, and some of his brothers' and
sisters' things, too, and then put on his best suit and walked out the
front door, as big as you please, with the others all looking at him and
wishing they were as big and strong as Curly, so they could go, too, or
take their playthings away from him, they didn't care which. Then one of
them ran back and said, 'Oh, ma, Curly's running away! Curly's running
away, ma, and he's taken our things!'

"But Curly's mother didn't worry much. 'Oh, well, just let him go,' she
said. 'He'll be back quick enough.' Then she took her afternoon nap, and
Curly walked out across the meadow, sniffing the sunshine and talking to
himself about what he was going to do."

[Illustration: HE COULDN'T GET THROUGH.]

"Then he remembered that the little runt pig had run, and Curly thought
he ought to run some, too, but he was so fat he couldn't run far, and
had to sit down to rest, and then he walked on again and kept walking
until he thought he must be almost to the edge of the world, which his
mother had told him was just beyond the woods. He was getting very
tired, when all at once he came to a gate and looked up, and there was
an orchard full of ripe apples and peaches, just as the little runt
pig had found. The cracks in the fence were too small for him to try to
get through, but he thought he could wiggle under the gate. So he got
down in the dust with his new clothes and wiggled and wriggled, but he
couldn't get through, and when he tried he couldn't get back, either.

"Then he began to squeal. He could squeal louder than any two other pigs
almost, and by and by Mr. Man, who was working in the next field, heard
him and came running. When Curly heard Mr. Man coming he thought, 'Now
he'll take me home and make me a great pig, just as he did the little
runt pig.' But Mr. Man didn't. 'Here, you rascal!' he said, what are you
doing under my gate? I'll fix you.' Then he picked up a long, scratchy
stick and commenced to beat Mr. Curly, first on one side and then on the
other, till he squealed and howled so loud that you could hear him
almost a mile. Then Mr. Man caught him by the leg and opened the gate
and pulled him out. 'Now, you go home!' he said, and Curly started, but
he was so frightened that he didn't know where home or any place else
was, and he scampered off without his hat or playthings, and ran and ran
and ran till he almost dropped. And just then one of my family, who had
been digging out a mole, happened to see the pig running and took after
him and caught him and dragged him round and round by the ear till Mr.
Man came running and parted them and held my relative by the collar
while he pushed Curly with his foot in the other direction.

"'Now I guess you'll go home!' he said, and Curly thought so, too, and
limped off, trying to run. It was such a long way back home that it
seemed as if he never would get there. Every minute he thought he heard
my cousin coming after him, but he couldn't run any more to save his
life, and his ear was bleeding and hurt him, and he cried and squealed,
and when at last he did get home he slipped in the back way and tried to
wash his face and brush his clothes before they saw him, but they all
saw him come in, with his sore ear and his nice, new clothes all torn
and dirty. Then they began to laugh and point at him, and said: - "

[Illustration: RAN TO HIS MOTHER.]

"'Oh, here comes Curly, the runaway. He's been to the fair and brought
home the red ribbon on his ear!' And that was the very meanest thing
they could say, for, of course, they meant the red blood on his ear, and
poor Curly ran to his mother and cried and sobbed as if his heart would
break and said he would never, never run away again as long as he lived.

"And I've heard," concluded Mr. Dog, "that he never did."



After Mr. Dog had finished his pig story he and Mr. Crow got to talking
over old times and telling what happened to them when they were boys and
how everything had changed and how young fellows now had things pretty
much their own way and no trouble to get an education.

Mr. Crow said that he believed if he'd had half a chance when he was
young he'd have made an artist. He said he used to draw off likenesses
on his slate so that anybody could almost tell who they were and that

1 3 5 6 7 8 9

Online LibraryAlbert Bigelow PaineThe hollow tree and deep woods book : being a new edition in one volume of The hollow tree and In the deep woods with several new stories and pictures added → online text (page 3 of 9)