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

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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 4 of 9)
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the 'Coon and the 'Possum each had in their rooms in the Big Hollow Tree
pictures of themselves that he had drawn which were just as good to-day
as the day they were made.

Mr. Dog thought it was mighty fine to be talented like that. He said
that his early education had been neglected, too, and that he knew he
might have been a poet, for he could make rhymes just as easy as falling
off a log, and that he knew three rhymes for every word he could think
of except "silver" and "orange." Of course, it was too late now, and
he had mostly given up poetry and thought some of going into society.
All he needed was good clothes and a few instructions in manners and
some dancing lessons. He said he was just as young and just as good
looking as he ever was, and that in a few days he'd have some new
clothes. Then he asked Mr. Crow if he knew of anybody that would give
him some lessons in politeness and dancing.


Mr. Crow thought a while, and then said that he didn't know of a soul in
the neighborhood that could be so polite and dance as well as Mr. Jack
Rabbit, and that he didn't suppose Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Dog were on good
terms. That made Mr. Dog feel pretty bad, 'cause he knew it was just
that way, and by and by he got Mr. Crow to promise that he would go and
call on Jack Rabbit next morning and see if he couldn't fix it up
somehow for him to take a few lessons. So next morning Mr. Crow called
over to see Mr. Rabbit, and found him making soap out in the back yard.
He had a good fire built between some stones and a big kettle full of
brown stuff, which he was stirring with a long stick. He seemed to be
feeling pretty well, for he kept singing,

"Fire and stir, and grease and lye -
Soap to scrub with by and by."

"Ho!" said the Little Lady. "Do they make soap like that?"

They used to in old times. They made what they called a lye by running
water through new wood ashes, and then they put grease in it and boiled
it in a big kettle. It was very strong soap, and people didn't wash
their hands with it, because it got into sore places and burnt and stung
like fury. But they used it a good deal to scrub with, and Jack Rabbit
made it himself because he was smart and knew how.

Well, the Crow told him all about what Mr. Dog had said, and Mr. Rabbit
kept stirring and singing kind of soft like to himself, and smiling a
little, and by and by, when the Crow was done, he said that of course
Mr. Dog wasn't very polite, and that some lessons would certainly do him
good. As for dancing, he said that if Mr. Dog would promise to do just
as he told him he would be able to dance as many as three different
steps in less than five minutes after he got there.

Mr. Crow said that Mr. Dog had promised anything, and that he would send
him over that very afternoon. And, sure enough right after dinner, here
comes Mr. Dog, lickety split, to take lessons. Jack Rabbit had his door
locked and his window open, and was sitting by it and looking out when
Mr. Dog got there. He told Mr. Dog to sit right down and catch his
breath a little, and then the lessons would begin. His kettle of soap
was all done, and he had taken it off of the fire, but the fire wasn't
out yet, though it looked as if it was, because it had burned down to
coals and white ashes.

Mr. Rabbit had his new soap in the house, and he spread some of it on a
cloth and tossed it down to Mr. Dog.

"That's a dance plaster," he said, "but you don't put it on quite yet.
The first thing will be some lessons in politeness. You must look
straight at me and do just as I tell you."


Mr. Dog said that he would do that, and took a seat facing Mr. Rabbit
and paid close attention. Then Jack Rabbit got up and bowed politely, as
if he were meeting ladies, and, of course, took a step or two backward
as he bowed, and then Mr. Dog bowed and took some steps backward, too.
And then he sat down, and Mr. Rabbit told him just where his mistakes
were, and made him do it over and over until Mr. Dog had bowed and
scraped and backed himself almost into the fire, though he didn't know


Next, Jack Rabbit said, they'd have a lesson in paying compliments, and
then the dancing. Now, whenever anybody pays a compliment to Mr. Dog he
always wags his tail; so the Rabbit thought of the very finest
compliment he could think of and paid it to Mr. Dog, and Mr. Dog forgot
that it was only a lesson and was so happy to receive such a compliment
from Mr. Jack Rabbit that he wagged his tail a great big wag sideways
and then up and down, until all at once he gave a howl and jumped
straight up in the air, for he had pounded his tail right into the ashes
and hot coals of Mr. Rabbit's fire.

"Did it burn him much?" asked the Little Lady.

It did that, and he howled and jumped up and down and whirled first one
way and then the other, and Jack Rabbit leaned out of the window and
held his sides and said: -

"That's it! That's the step! Dance, Mr. Dog; dance!"


When Mr. Dog heard that, he thought the Rabbit was really in earnest,
and didn't know, perhaps, he had wagged his tail into the fire; so he
quit howling and really tried to do a few fancy steps, and Jack Rabbit
almost died trying to keep from laughing, but he managed to do it, and
he called out to Mr. Dog that he was doing fine, and that all he needed
now was the dance plaster on his tail. When Mr. Dog heard that, he
thought perhaps a dance plaster would take the smart away, too, and he
sat right down and tied it on, tight. And then pretty soon that soft
soap began to act, and, right then, of all the howling and dancing and
performance that you ever heard of, Mr. Dog did it. Mr. Rabbit couldn't
hold in any longer, and lay back in his chair, and laughed, and rolled
on his bed and shouted, and when Mr. Dog heard him he knew he had been
fooled again, and he took off over the hill toward home a good deal
faster than he came. Every little ways he'd stop to dance and perform,
and try to get that plaster off his tail, and every time he stopped Jack
Rabbit would sing out: -

"That's a new step, Mr. Dog! You're doing fine! Dance, Mr. Dog; dance!"

And for a long time after that Mr. Dog didn't like to go out much,
because everywhere he went somebody would be sure to say to him: -

"That's a new step, Mr. Dog! Dance, Mr. Dog; dance!"



"I think I shall have to tell you about Mr. Polecat," said the Story
Teller, "and about his visit to Mr. Rabbit."

"Who's Mr. Polecat?" said the Little Lady. "You never told me about him

"Well, no, because you see Mr. Polecat is so queer in some of his ways
that people even don't talk about him a great deal. He is really quite a
nice gentleman, though, when he doesn't get excited. But when he does he
loses friends.

"The trouble is with the sort of perfumery he uses when he gets excited,
just as some people use a smelling bottle, and nobody seems to like the
sort Mr. Polecat uses except himself. I suppose he must like it or he
wouldn't be so free with it. But other people go away when he uses
it - mostly in the direction the wind's blowing from - and in a hurry, as
if they were afraid they'd miss a train. Even Mr. Dog doesn't stop to
argue with Mr. Polecat. Nobody does, and all the other deep woods people
do their best to make him happy and to keep him in a good humor
whenever he comes about, and give him their nicest things to eat and a
lot to carry home with him, so he'll start just as soon as possible.

"But more than anything they try to keep him from saying anything about
Mr. Dog or hinting or even thinking about Mr. Dog, for when he does any
of these things he's apt to get excited, and then sometimes he opens up
that perfume of his and his friends fall over each other to get out of
reach. They're never very happy to see him coming, and they're always
glad to see him go, even when he's had a quiet visit and goes pretty
soon, which is just what didn't happen one time when he came to call on
Jack Rabbit, and it's that time I'm going to tell about.

"Mr. Rabbit looked out his door one morning and there was Mr. Polecat,
all dressed up, coming to see him. He wasn't very far off, either, and
Mr. Rabbit hardly had time to jerk down a crayon picture of Mr. Dog that
he'd made the day before, just for practice. He pushed it under the bed
quick, and when Mr. Polecat came up he bowed and smiled, and said what a
nice day it was, and that he'd bring a chair outside if Mr. Polecat
would like to sit there instead of coming in where it wasn't so

"But Mr. Polecat said he guessed he'd come in, as it was a little chilly
and he didn't feel very well anyway. So he came inside, and Jack Rabbit
gave him his best chair and brought out a little table and put a lot of
nice things on it that Mr. Polecat likes, and began right away to pack
a basket for him to take home.

"But Mr. Polecat didn't seem to be in any hurry to go. He ate some of
the nice things, and then leaned back to talk and smoke, and told Mr.
Rabbit all the news he'd heard as he came along, and Mr. Rabbit got more
and more worried, for he knew that just as likely as not Mr. Polecat had
heard something about Mr. Dog and would begin to tell it pretty soon,
and then no knowing what would happen. So Jack Rabbit just said 'Yes'
and 'No' and began to talk about Mr. Robin, because Mr. Robin was a good
friend of everybody and nobody could get excited just talking about Mr.
Robin. But Mr. Polecat says: - 'Oh, yes, I saw Mr. Robin as I came along,
and he called to me that Mr. Dog - - ' And then Jack Rabbit changed the
subject as quick as he could and spoke about Mr. Squirrel, and Mr.
Polecat says: - 'Oh, did you hear how Mr. Squirrel went over to Mr. Man's
house and saw Mr. Dog there - - ' And then poor Mr. Rabbit had to think
quick and change the subject again to the Hollow Tree people, and Mr.
Polecat said: - 'Oh, yes. I stopped by that way as I came along, and they
called out to me from up stairs how you were practising drawing, and
that you gave Mr. Dog some dancing lessons the other day, and then made
a fine picture of him just as he looked when he danced into the hot
coals, so I hurried right over here for just to see that picture.'

"Poor Mr. Rabbit! He didn't know what to do. He knew right away that
the Hollow Tree people had told about the picture to get rid of Mr.
Polecat, and he made up his mind that he'd get even with them some day
for getting him in such a fix. But some day was a long ways off and Mr.
Polecat was right there under his nose, so Mr. Rabbit said, just as
quick as he could say it, that the Hollow Tree people were always making
jokes, and that the picture was just as poor as it could be, and that
he'd be ashamed to show it to anybody, much more to a talented gentleman
like Mr. Polecat. But that made Mr. Polecat all the more anxious to see
it, for he was sure Mr. Rabbit was only modest, and pretty soon he
happened to spy the edge of the picture frame under Mr. Rabbit's bed,
and just reached under and pulled it out, before Mr. Rabbit could help

"Well, he picked up that picture and looked at it a minute, and Jack
Rabbit began to back off toward the door and say a few soothing words,
when all at once Mr. Polecat leaned back and commenced to laugh and
laugh at the funny picture Mr. Dog made where Mr. Rabbit called to him,
'Dance! Mr. Dog, dance!' And then, of course, Mr. Rabbit felt better,
for if his company thought it was funny and laughed there wasn't so much

"'Why,' said Mr. Polecat, 'it's the best thing I ever saw! You could
almost imagine that Mr. Dog himself was right here, howling and barking
and dancing.'

"'Oh, no, hardly that,' said Mr. Rabbit. 'Of course I suppose it is a
little like him, but it's not at all as if he were here, you know - not
at all - and he's ever so far off, I'm sure, and won't come again for a
long time. You know, he's - - '

"'Oh, yes, it is!' declared Mr. Polecat. 'It's just as if he were right
here. And I can just hear him howl and bark, and - - '

"And right there Mr. Polecat stopped and Mr. Rabbit stopped, and both of
them held their breath and listened, for sure enough they did hear Mr.
Dog howling and barking and coming toward the house as straight as he
could come.

"Jack Rabbit gave a jump right up in the air, and hollered, 'Run! Mr.
Polecat, run! and go the back way!' But Mr. Polecat never runs from
anybody - he doesn't have to - he just opens up that perfume of his and
the other people do the running. So Mr. Rabbit gave one more jump, and
this time he jumped straight up the chimney, and didn't stop till he got
to the roof, where he found a loose board and put it over the chimney
quick and sat down on it. Then he called to Mr. Dog, who was coming
lickety-split through the woods: -

"'Why, how are you, Mr. Dog? Glad to see you! Walk right in. There's
company down stairs; just make yourself at home till I come down.' You
see there was no use to stop him now, because Mr. Rabbit could tell by
what was coming up the chimney that it was too late, and he wanted Mr.
Dog to get a good dose of it as well as himself.

"And Mr. Dog did come just as hard as he could tear, for the wind was
blowing toward the house and he couldn't detect anything wrong until he
gave a great big jump into Mr. Rabbit's sitting room and right into the
midst of the most awful smell that was ever turned loose in the Big Deep

"Well, it took Mr. Dog so suddenly that he almost fainted away. Then he
gave a howl, as if a wagon had run over his tail, and tumbled out of
that sitting room and set out for home without once stopping to look
behind him. Then Mr. Rabbit laughed and laughed, and called: -

"'Come back! Mr. Dog. Came back and stay with us. Mr. Polecat's going to
spend a week with me. Come back and have a good time.'

"But Mr. Dog didn't stop, and he didn't seem to hear, and by and by Mr.
Polecat called up that he was going home and that Mr. Rabbit could come
down now, for Mr. Dog was gone and wouldn't come back, he guessed. But
Mr. Rabbit said no, he didn't feel very well yet and guessed he'd stay
where he was for the present, and that if Mr. Polecat was going he might
leave both doors open and let the wind draw through the house, because
he always liked to air his house after Mr. Dog had been to see him. Then
Mr. Polecat took his basket and went, and Jack Rabbit didn't come down
for a long time, and when he did he couldn't stay in his house for the
awful smell. So he went over to stay a week with the Hollow Tree people,
and his clothes didn't smell nice, either, but they had to stand it,
and Mr. Rabbit said it served them right for getting him into such a
fix. It was over a week before he could go back to his house again, and
even then it wasn't just as he wanted it to be, and he aired it every
day for a long time.

"But there was one thing that made him laugh, and that was when he heard
from Mr. Robin how Mr. Dog got home and Mr. Man wouldn't have him about
the house or even in the yard, but made him stay out in the woods for as
much as ten days, until he had got rid of every bit of Mr. Polecat's
nice perfumery."



Well, yes, said the Story Teller, Mr. Dog did have a good deal of
trouble, and it makes me sorry for him sometimes when I think about it.
He still kept good friends with the Crow and the Turtle, though, and was
on pretty fair terms with Mr. Robin and most all the rest of the Bird
family, besides living in the same yard with Mr. Man, who always kept an
eye on him and got him out of trouble when he could. Of course Jack
Rabbit and the Hollow Tree people mostly got the best of Mr. Dog, but
there was one time when they didn't. This is how it happened.

Once upon a time Mr. Jack Rabbit was spending the evening over at the
big Hollow Tree with the Crow and the 'Coon and the 'Possum. They had
all had their supper, and were leaning back and talking about the
weather and what a late spring it had been, and how bad the cold rains
were for young chickens. Mr. Rabbit didn't care for chickens himself,
but he usually kept some for his friends, and always had a nice patch
of young clover and some garden vegetables for his own use. He said the
late frost had killed his early lettuce and young cabbage plants, and
that his clover patch looked as if a fire had been through it.

Mr. 'Coon smoked a little and looked into the fire and said that he
guessed to-morrow would be a warm day, and the Crow said he knew it
would be because he could feel it in his leg, where a stray shot from
Mr. Man's gun happened to hit him once when he was taking a walk in Mr.
Man's cornfield just about this time of year.

The 'Possum put his thumbs in the armholes of his vest and leaned back
against the mantel, and said he had a plan he wanted to tell them about.
When he said that they all kept still to listen, because they knew when
the 'Possum had a plan it always meant something good to eat, and they
were always ready to hear about good things to eat, even when they'd
just got up from the supper table.

Mr. 'Possum puffed a few puffs of smoke, and then he went on to say that
after so much bad weather in April he thought it would be proper for
them to give an outdoor feast and a woods party on the first day of May.
All the others spoke up right off and said that was just the thing. Then
they all began talking at once about what each would bring and whom they
should invite.

Jack Rabbit said he would invite Mr. Chipmunk and Mr Quail, and that he
would speak a piece composed for the occasion. The 'Coon said he would
invite Mr. Fox, because he had the best chickens, and would bring a
basket of them along. The 'Possum said that would be a good plan, and
that they ought to try as much as they could to invite people that would
bring things. That made the Crow laugh, and he said if they wanted to do
that they might invite Mr. Man himself.

Of course all the others laughed at first when they heard that, and
then, all at once, they quit laughing, for speaking of Mr. Man made them
think of Mr. Dog, and they knew how he was always trapesing around the
country where he wasn't wanted, and just as likely as not would walk
right in on them at dinner time and make it unpleasant for everybody.

They all felt pretty lonesome when they thought of that, and then the
Crow laughed again and said he would send over a note by Mr. Robin to
Mr. Dog inviting him to go and see some friends of his that had just
moved across the Wide Grass Lands. He said Mr. Dog would be glad to go,
and that his friends would be glad to see him, and that it would take
all day to make the trip and do no harm to anybody. Then all of them
felt well again.

Mr. Crow wrote the note right away, and when he invited the Robin to the
May party next morning he asked him if he would take Mr. Dog's
invitation over to him and slip it under his door before he was up. He
said it was to be a surprise for Mr. Dog, and he didn't want him to know
just who sent the invitation. He didn't tell the Robin that it was an
invitation for Mr. Dog to get out of the country, because the Robin is a
good bird and wouldn't help to deceive anybody for the world.


Mr. Robin was tickled 'most to death at his own invitation, and slipped
Mr. Dog's in his pocket, and hurried off with it just as fast as ever he
could. He was so excited that he forgot he had a hole in the pocket of
his coat, and never thought of it till he got to Mr. Man's yard, where
Mr. Dog's house was. Then he remembered all at once, and when he felt
for the invitation and turned his pocket inside out there was the hole
all right, but the invitation was gone.


Mr. Robin at first didn't know what to do. Then he happened to think
that all Mr. Crow had said was that he didn't want Mr. Dog to know just
who sent it to him, so he went right up to Mr. Dog's house and rapped.
Mr. Dog came out yawning, but when he heard that he was invited to a May
party he forgot that he'd ever had any trouble in his life, and danced
and rolled over and wagged his tail, till the Robin thought he was
having a fit. Then when Mr. Dog heard that the party was gotten up
mostly on his own account, and was to be a kind of a surprise, he had
another fit, and said he never was so happy in the world. Mr. Robin said
he couldn't tell him just who sent the invitation, but he told him a few
of those invited, and Mr. Dog grew six inches taller and said he must
certainly have some more new clothes for a party like that.



Then Mr. Robin set off home to get ready, for there were only two days
more in April and everybody had to scramble around to be ready in time,
especially Mr. Jack Rabbit, who had to write a poem. Over at Mr. Fox's
house the feathers were flying, and at the Hollow Tree Mr. Crow had his
sleeves rolled up, baking all day long. The 'Coon sat in his room and
rocked and planned games, and the 'Possum followed Mr. Crow about and
told him new things to cook. Everywhere in the woods, and even out in
the Wide Grass Lands, folks were staying up nights to get ready, but
none of them felt as happy or took as much trouble to look well as Mr.
Dog. He knew there couldn't be any joke this time, because Mr. Robin had
invited him, and Mr. Robin wouldn't play a joke on anybody. Every little
while he would go out and roll on the grass in the sun and then go in
and put on his new clothes and stand before the glass. Then he would
march up and down and try to see if his coat wrinkled under the arms and
if his trousers fitted neatly around the waist. As he thought the party
was to be given for him, of course he wasn't expected to bring anything
except all the style he could put on, and when the morning came Mr. Dog
did put on all he could carry, and took one more look at himself in the
glass and started. He had never felt so happy in his life.




Poor Mr. Dog! He did not dream that the Robin had made a big mistake
when he invited him. He was all ready for a grand time and thought he
was to be the guest of honor. But the 'Coon and the 'Possum and all the
rest thought he was in another part of the country that day, and when
they got to the place where the party was to be they shook hands and
laughed about how Mr. Crow had played it on Mr. Dog and then rolled on
the grass and cut up in a great way.

Mr. Fox was there with all his folks, and Mr. Squirrel and his folks,
and Mr. Weasel and Mr. Woodchuck and Mrs. Quail, and ever so many
others. Mr. Rabbit had picked out the spot, which was a pretty, green,
open place in the woods, and right in the centre of it a little weeping
willow tree, with long, trailing branches like ribbons. This was to be
their May pole, and they were so happy that they commenced dancing
almost as soon as they got there. Mr. Dog, of course, hadn't arrived
yet. It had taken him so long to dress, and then he had a long way to
come, so he was late.

Pretty soon Mr. 'Possum puffed and blowed because he was so fat, and
said he thought they ought to sit right down and begin to eat, and let
Mr. Jack Rabbit read his poem to them through the first course. The
Rabbit was willing to do that, for he would rather read his own poetry
than eat any time, and, besides, the first course was something he
didn't like very well. So then they all sat down around the table cloth
which they had spread on the grass, and Mr. Rabbit got up and put his
right hand in the breast of his coat. He commenced by saying that his
friends seemed to think he was a good deal of a poet, but that he had
always been too busy to really write his best, and that all his poems,
like the one he was just about to read, had been little inspirations
tossed off on the spur of the moment. Of course, everybody there knew
that Jack Rabbit had sat up two whole days and nights to write his poem,
but they all cheered and clapped their hands, and Mr. Rabbit bowed and
coughed a little and began to read: -


By J. Rabbit.

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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 4 of 9)