Copyright
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 5 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 5 of 9)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Oh, 'tis happy in the woodland
When Mr. Dog's away;
'Tis happy in the woodland
Upon the first of May.
He's gone across the grassland
We hope he's gone to stay;
Then don't forget the feast is set
And Mr. Dog's away.

The Robin was just about to speak up at this moment and say that Mr. Dog
was surely coming, but the others cheered so that nobody heard him, and
Mr. Rabbit went on with his poem.

Then 'tis hey! for Mr. Woodchuck!
And tis hi! for Mrs. Quail!
And 'tis ho! for Mr. 'Possum
With a bowknot on his tail!
Then 'tis hip! for Mr. Robin
And for all the rest, hurray!
The friends are met, the feast is set,
And Mr. Dog's away.

"Hurray! hurray!" shouted all the others. "The friends are met, the
feast is set, and Mr. Dog's away!"

Then hand around the glasses
And fill them to the brim,
And drink a health to Mr. Dog,
For we are fond of him.
And, though he be not present
Upon this happy day,
We'll fill the cup and drink it up
To Mr. Dog away!

[Illustration: SAW THAT SOMETHING WAS WRONG.]

At the last line everybody was just about to lift their glasses and give
a great big cheer for the poem, when all at once they saw by Jack
Rabbit's face that something was wrong. Then they all looked where he
was looking, and there, right before them, bowing and smiling, stood
Mr. Dog himself! He had just come in time to hear the last stanza of the
poem and was ready to dance with joy, he was so happy to think they were
drinking his health when he wasn't there.

He felt so good that he didn't notice how surprised they looked, and
slipped into a seat at the table, saying he was sorry to be late, and
that he had just heard the last lines of Mr. Rabbit's poem, but that
they had made him very proud and happy, and he hoped Mr. Jack Rabbit
would read it again for his benefit.

Of course, nearly everybody there was scared almost into fits, but they
didn't dare to let on, for they saw that there had been an awful mistake
somewhere, and if Mr. Dog found it out and knew he hadn't been invited
no telling what might happen. Jack Rabbit smiled, kind of sickly like,
and said that he had been overcome by the excitement, and didn't feel
quite able to read the poem again. He said he hoped Mr. Dog would judge
the first verses, though, by the last, and feel just as glad to be there
as they were to have him. And all the rest said, "Oh, yes, so glad to
have Mr. Dog with us," and kept piling things oh his plate, so he
wouldn't want anything to eat besides his dinner. Mr. Dog felt so well
and was in such a good humor that he commenced pretty soon to tell
stories and jokes on himself, and by and by told about the time he went
over to take dancing lessons of Jack Rabbit.

[Illustration: HE SET OUT FOR HOME.]

Everybody thought at first that they'd better laugh at Mr. Dog's jokes,
and they did laugh like everything, but when he started that story about
what Mr. Rabbit had done to him they didn't know whether to laugh or
not. Some laughed a little and some didn't, and Mr. Rabbit said he
thought it was getting a little too warm for him there in the sun, and
he believed he'd go and sit in the shade a minute and cool off, so he
went over behind some waxberry bushes, where it was shady, and the
minute he got where Mr. Dog couldn't see him he set out for home just
about as fast as he could travel, without stopping to say goodby or to
look behind him.

Pretty soon Mr. 'Coon said he thought mebbe Mr. Rabbit was sicker than
he let on, and he guessed he'd better go and see about it. So he went
over behind the waxberry bushes, too, and was half way home before you
could say "Jack Robinson." Then Mr. 'Possum told Mr. Crow that he hoped
he and the others would entertain Mr. Dog a while, for he knew Mr. 'Coon
would need help, and away he went, and before long Mr. Fox and Mr.
Woodchuck, and Mr. Squirrel and all their folks had gone over behind the
waxberry bushes to look after Mr. Rabbit too, and none of them wasted a
minute's time making tracks for home as soon as they got out of sight.

But the Crow and the Turtle and the Robin didn't go because they were
all on good terms with Mr. Dog. Mrs. Quail didn't go either, though
before long most everybody else had gone. Then Mr. Crow said he guessed
poor Mr. Rabbit's friends had taken him home, and Mr. Dog said he was
sorry, and that it was too bad anything should happen that way when
folks were having such a good time. He said he'd call at Jack Rabbit's
house next day to see how he was and hear the rest of that poem. Then
Mr. Crow and Mr. Turtle laughed and laughed, and Mr. Dog didn't know
what they were laughing at, but he felt so well that he laughed too, and
Mr. Robin, who had found out by this time what a bad mistake he had
made, couldn't help laughing some himself.

[Illustration: MR. DOG MADE A SPEECH.]

Then they had dessert, and Mr. Dog made a speech and thanked them for
the fine party and surprise in his honor, and declared he had never
spent such a happy day in all his life. He said there had been a little
misunderstanding now and then between himself and some of the forest
folks, but he knew now that all was forgiven, and that he would never
forget this happy May party.

And Mr. Dog never did forget it, concluded the Story Teller - at least
not for a long time - and he doesn't know to this day that the party
wasn't given specially for him, or that Mr. Jack Rabbit's poem wasn't
written in his honor.

"You can sing the Hollow Tree Song, now," said the Little Lady,
drowsily.

[Illustration: THE THREE FRIENDS.]

So then the Story Teller sang the song that the forest people sing when,
on dark nights in the far depths of the Deep Woods, they are feasting at
the table of the 'Coon, the 'Possum and the Old Black Crow.

Long before he had finished, the Little Lady was in the land of dreams.

And the Story Teller had been dreaming, too, while he sang.

THE HOLLOW TREE SONG.

Oh, there was an old 'Possum in the Big Deep Woods -
As fat as a 'Possum could be -
And he lived in a hollow, hollow,
hollow, hollow, hollow,
He lived in a hollow tree.

Oh, there was an old Coon in the Big Deep Woods -
As sly as a 'Coon could be -
And he lived in a hollow, hollow,
hollow, hollow, hollow,
He lived in a hollow tree.

Oh, there was an old Crow in the Big Deep Woods -
As black as a Crow could be -
And he lived in a hollow, hollow,
hollow, hollow, hollow,
He lived in a hollow tree.

For they all lived together in the Big Deep Woods,
As you can plainly see,
And the 'Possum made one, and the 'Coon made two,
And the Old Black Crow made three.

Then here's to the 'Possum, and the Old Black Crow,
And the 'Coon, with a one, two, three!
And here's to the hollow, hollow,
hollow, hollow, hollow,
And here's to the hollow tree.

[Illustration]




[Illustration]




THE LITTLE LADY'S VACATION AND HER RETURN


The Little Lady who lives in the House of Many Windows (sometimes called
a flat or an apartment by people who, because they are grown up, do not
know any better) had been spending the summer on a nice farm in the Land
of Pleasant Fields. There had been many things to see - little pigs among
other things, and some very small chickens. Also a cow with two
calves - one a dark red one, and one spotted, even to its tail, that
looked like a barber pole.

Amid all this, and a great deal more, not forgetting the Hillside of
Sweet Fruits, the Little Lady had almost forgotten a number of people
who lived in the Big Deep Woods, and whose acquaintance she had made
through the Story Teller during the winter before, while sailing at
evening in the Rockaby Chair for the Shore of White Pillows.

But when the cold winds began to blow and they were all back to the
City of Rumbling Streets in the House of Many Windows again and she
heard the wind men moaning in the speaking tube, she forgot even the
striped tailed calf, and remembered all at once the dark forest and the
queer people who dwelt there. And when the Story Teller that night had
drawn his chair up before the fire and sat rocking she climbed upon his
knee and rocked, too, while he thought, and smoked, and looked into the
blaze.

The Little Lady waited a good while. Then she took hold of the lapel of
his coat and tugged it gently and looked up into the Story Teller's
face.

"Tell me a story," she commanded softly. "One about Mr. Crow and Mr.
'Possum, and Mr. Jack Rabbit and all the others. What did they do this
summer? You know; tell it."

The Story Teller grumbled something about not having met any of these
fellows lately, and rocked a little harder and thought very fast.

"I s'pose you've heard about Mr. Crow's April fool," he said, as he
knocked the ashes from his pipe into the grate.

"No, I haven't - not that story - I never heard that story," she said
eagerly.

So, then, the Story Teller rocked some more, and half shut his eyes and
began.




THE STORY OF THE C. X. PIE

MR. CROW PLANS AN APRIL FIRST PARTY AND PREPARES A SURPRISE FOR THE
OCCASION


[Illustration: TOLD THE 'COON AND 'POSSUM ABOUT IT RIGHT AWAY.]

Once upon a time when the Crow and the 'Coon and the 'Possum lived
together in three big hollow branches of a great Hollow Tree in the Big
Deep Woods, and used to meet and have good times together in the parlor
down stairs, the Crow made up his mind to have a party next day. He told
the 'Coon and the 'Possum about it right away, and they asked him if he
was going to have Mr. Dog this time, and Mr. Crow said "No" and looked
foolish, because once he did have Mr. Dog just for a joke and got the
worst of it himself.

"I remember about that," said the Little Lady.

That's what the Crow did, too - remembered, and he had never felt just
right about the way he had been fooled when he meant to fool the others.
So when they reminded him about Mr. Dog he said to himself that he would
fool them yet, and he'd do it at this very party.

But he made b'lieve he was very meek and said he was going to have Mr.
Jack Rabbit over, and Mr. Turtle, to make a full table, and that they
would have chicken pie and hot biscuits with maple syrup for dinner.
This suited the 'Coon and the 'Possum exactly, for Mr. Crow was the best
cook anywhere in the country, and they were both fond of good things.
The 'Coon said he'd go right away with the invitation for Jack Rabbit,
and the 'Possum said that he felt like taking a walk anyway, and that
he'd pass around by the Wide Blue Water where Mr. Turtle lived, and tell
him. So off they went and left Mr. Crow all alone to think about it and
get ready.

[Illustration: HE WALKED BACK AND FORTH A WHILE IN HIS OWN ROOM.]

[Illustration]

He walked back and forth a while in his own room and scratched his head,
and then he went down stairs out in the sun and thought some more. All
at once he jumped right straight up and laughed, for he happened to
remember that it was the last day of March, and that it was the very
thing to have a party on April fool day, and fool the 'Possum and the
'Coon in some way, so that the others would laugh and say it was the
best joke of the season. Then he thought of a way to fool them, and
pretty soon he had that fixed, too.

[Illustration: WENT RIGHT TO COOKING AND BAKING.]

He didn't wait a minute, but went right to cooking and baking just as
hard as ever he could, and pretty soon he had three chicken pies done,
as fine looking as any you ever saw. And two of them were fine, sure
enough - just as fine as Mr. Crow could make them - but the other wasn't
chicken at all. It was made out of leaves and sticks, and the only thing
good about it was the crust. This pie he intended for the 'Coon and
the 'Possum, and one of the good ones was for Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Turtle.
The last one was for himself, with an extra piece over for anybody that
might happen to want a second helping.

Well, he set them all in a row on the kitchen table, and walked up and
down looking at them and laughing and thinking what fun it would be for
the others when Mr. 'Possum and Mr. 'Coon cut their pie and tried to eat
what was inside of it. He had the pies set on the table so he knew just
which was which, and besides had made some letters on the upper crust so
the right ones would be sure to get them. On the leaf pie he had
"P. C.," for 'Possum and 'Coon. On one of the others he had "R. T.," for
Rabbit and Turtle. On the last one he had "C. X.," which stood for Crow,
and an extra piece for manners. He had put these letters where the fancy
thing is in the centre of pies, and had joined them together so you'd
hardly notice them at first.

All at once, while he was looking at them and laughing, he heard Mr.
'Coon and Mr. 'Possum coming back. Then he called out to them and asked
them if they had invited the guests and told them to come up and see the
pies he had made while they were gone. So they came up and looked at
them, and said they certainly were fine, and that Mr. Rabbit and Mr.
Turtle were busy getting out their best clothes, and would be there
early.

Then the Crow said he guessed he'd slip over to Mr. Man's pantry and
borrow some maple syrup while Mr. Man was at dinner and be back for
early supper. So off he went and left the 'Coon and the 'Possum there
together.

[Illustration: STOOD AND LOOKED AT THEM.]

When he'd been gone awhile Mr. 'Possum said he believed he'd take one
more look at those nice pies, and Mr. 'Coon said he guessed he would,
too. So they went up to Mr. Crow's kitchen again and stood and looked at
them till they were so hungry that Mr. 'Possum licked out his tongue and
walked up and smelled of them. First he smelled a good long smell of the
C. X. pie - so - and said, "O-o-oh! How nice!" Then he smelled a very long
smell of the R. T. pie - so - - and said, "O-o-o-o-oh! How delicious!"
Then he smelled a very, very long smell of the P. C. pie - so - - - and
said, "O-o-o-o-o-oh! How strange!"

[Illustration]

That made the 'Coon want to smell, too, and when he had smelled of all
three he said that there certainly did seem to be a difference in those
pies, and that the last one had a sort of a woodsy spring-like flavor,
like the first of April. That made the 'Possum jump, and he said he had
not remembered till that very minute that to-morrow was the first, sure
enough. Then he said he didn't suppose Mr. Crow would care how the pies
were set on the table, so he moved them about and put the P. C. pie
where the C. X. pie had stood, and the C. X. pie at the end instead of
the P. C. pie. But while he was doing it he happened to notice the
joined letters in the middle of the pies, which he hadn't seen before.
He looked at first one and then the other, and studied a minute what to
do. Then he picked up an old thin knife that Mr. Crow used for cutting
around cake and slipping pies out sometimes when they stuck to the pan.

[Illustration: "OH," SAID MR. 'COON, "I HOPE YOU'RE NOT GOING TO CUT
THEM."]

"Oh," said Mr. 'Coon. "I hope you're not going to cut them!"

"Well," said Mr. 'Possum, "Not so's you'll notice it."

[Illustration]

Then he slipped the thin knife around the top crust of the P. C. pie and
lifted it off carefully and looked in and made a very queer face. Mr.
'Coon came and looked in, too, and made another very queer face. Then
Mr. 'Possum lifted off the top of the C. X. pie and looked in and
smiled, and Mr. 'Coon looked in and smiled, too. There were two nice,
fat chicken legs right on top, and Mr. 'Coon took one and Mr. 'Possum
the other, because they said that as this was to be their pie any way,
they might just as well have a little taste of it beforehand. Then they
changed the covers and put the P. C. cover on the good pie and C. X.
cover on the fool pie, and just then they heard Mr. Crow coming home,
and slipped down into the parlor and up into their own rooms and
pretended to be asleep when he came in.




THE STORY OF THE C. X. PIE

CONTINUED

MR. CROW'S PARTY AND THE OPENING OF THE PIES


Well, next morning Mr. Crow was down stairs bright and early, putting
the big parlor room in order and setting the table. Pretty soon the
'Coon and 'Possum came down, too, and helped him, and now and then, when
they happened to look at each other across the table, they would wink
and smile, but they didn't say a word. By and by the three pies were
brought in and set in a row at one end of the table, and nobody could
tell from looking at them but what they were exactly as the Crow had
baked them.

[Illustration: MR. RABBIT CAME IN CARRYING A LARGE BUNCH OF EARLY
FLOWERS.]

Just then there was a knock down stairs, and Mr. Rabbit came in carrying
a large bunch of early flowers that he had gathered as he came along,
and dressed in his new spring suit. They saw a little white roll in one
of his coat pockets, too, and they knew it was a poem for the occasion,
for Jack Rabbit writes poems whenever he gets a chance, specially in the
early springtime.

Mr. Crow hurried out and got the pair of pink glass vases that Mr.
'Coon had given him for Christmas and put the flowers in them for the
table, while he asked Jack Rabbit if it was muddy walking and if he had
seen anything of Mr. Turtle.

[Illustration: MR. TURTLE HIMSELF WADDLED IN.]

[Illustration: LEFT THE OTHERS TO SIT AROUND THE TABLE AND TALK.]

Mr. Rabbit said that the ground was rather damp, but that he could pick
his way pretty well, and that he had never seen such a wet spring since
the year that the Wide Blue Water came up over his back garden and
drowned his early pease. He hadn't seen Mr. Turtle, but just then Mr.
Turtle himself waddled in with a basket of nice water salad, which he
had gathered before starting. Then Mr. Crow hurried off to put his
biscuits in the oven and left the others to sit around the table and
talk.

After they had talked about the weather and told the latest things that
had happened to Mr. Dog, who lived with Mr. Man, and whom none of them
liked very well, the 'Possum said all at once that being this was April
First he shouldn't wonder if it was to be a sort of surprise party in
some way.

That made Mr. Turtle and Jack Rabbit curious right away, and they wanted
to know what kind of a surprise he thought it was going to be and if he
thought it would be a pleasant one. Mr. 'Possum said he was sure it
would be pleasant, and then he looked at the three fine pies on the
table and said it was just as apt to be in one of those pies as
anywhere. Then Mr. Turtle said he'd heard of "four and twenty blackbirds
baked in a pie," and how they began to sing when the pie was opened, but
he hoped it wouldn't be that kind of a surprise, for he didn't care
much for blackbirds himself, specially in pies. The 'Possum said there
might be one black bird sing when these pies were opened, but he didn't
b'lieve there'd be any more, which made the 'Coon laugh so he nearly
fell off his chair. Just then they heard the Crow coming, and the
'Possum whispered quick to the Turtle and the Rabbit that they must be
sure and eat their pie all up and ask for more, as Mr. Crow was proud of
his cooking and always felt offended when people didn't eat heartily.

Well, Mr. Crow came in carrying a great pan of fine biscuits and set
them down in the middle of the table, while everybody said, "What lovely
biscuits!" and asked whether they were made with buttermilk or baking
powder, and wanted his recipe. Mr. Crow said he didn't have any recipe,
but just took a pinch of this and a pinch of that, and that there was a
good deal in the knack and in having things come natural, just as it was
natural for Mr. Rabbit to write poetry. Then he said he hoped Mr. Rabbit
hadn't forgotten to think up a few thoughts for this occasion, and Mr.
Rabbit said that he had been too busy with spring work to write much
lately, but that he did have a few lines in his pocket that they might
be willing to listen to. So then he took out the roll he had brought and
put on his glasses and stood up, while all the others sat still and
listened.

[Illustration]

Oh, sweet the month of April,
When birds begin to twitter!
When dewdrops on the clover
And tender grasses glitter!
When every shoot of lettuce
That from the ground arises
Gives promise of a salad -
Oh, month of sweet surprises!

You see Mr. Rabbit is a great gardener, and specially fond of young
clover and tender salad.

Oh, sweet the month of April,
When youthful chicks are hatching,
And gayly in the meadows
Around their ma are scratching!
The finest way to eat them
In dumpling or in pies is -
Oh, here's to you, sweet April,
With all your glad surprises!

Mr. Rabbit knew that the Crow would have chicken either in dumpling or
pies, and anyhow he needed "pies is" to rhyme with "surprises," and when
he came to those lines and sat down the others shouted and laughed and
Mr. Crow pounded on the table and declared he couldn't have done better
if he'd been a poet and written it himself! And the 'Coon and the
'Possum both pounded too and said "That's so! That's so!"

Then Mr. Crow shoved the R. T. pie over between Jack Rabbit and Mr.
Turtle and the pie that was marked P. C. between the 'Coon and the
'Possum. The C. X. pie he pulled up in front of himself, for of course
he never even suspected that the top crust on them had been changed by
the 'Possum.

The finest way to eat them
In dumpling or in pies is -

he said, quoting Mr. Rabbit's poem,

Oh, here's to you, sweet April,
With all your glad surprises!

[Illustration: MR. TURTLE WAS WATCHING HIM PRETTY ANXIOUSLY.]

Then he told them not to be bashful, but to help themselves and remember
there was plenty more where that came from. Just as he said this he
picked up his knife and stuck it down deep into the C. X. pie. Mr.
'Possum picked up his knife and stuck it down deep into the P. C. pie,
and Mr. Rabbit picked up his knife and stuck it into the R. T. pie and
cut it in half. Mr. Turtle was watching him pretty anxiously, for he
remembered what the 'Possum had said about a surprise, but when Jack
Rabbit laid a smoking half with the gravy running out of it on his plate
he forgot all about everything else.

[Illustration: THEN, ALL OF A SUDDEN, HE DIDN'T WANT TO LAUGH ANY MORE.]

Mr. 'Possum didn't divide the P. C. pie just yet, but kept cutting as if
it cut very hard, and talking a good deal while he cut. He said that,
speaking of surprises, it used to be quite a fashion to fool people on
the first of April, and that he'd known lots of the biggest kind of
jokes played on people that day. The biggest jokes, though, he said,
were those that came back on the people who played them, and that he
knew one of that kind once that made him laugh now every time he thought
about it. Then he did laugh some, and sawed away and said he guessed
he'd struck a bone; and the 'Coon laughed, too, and Mr. Crow was nearly
dying with trying to keep from laughing, for he thought Mr. 'Possum was
sawing away on an old stick. He didn't want to let on, though, so he
quit looking and commenced cutting his own pie. He laughed to himself
and cut a minute, and then, all of a sudden, he didn't want to laugh any
more, for he had cut a hole in the top of the C. X. pie and he saw
something and smelled something that made him right sick. He looked over
quick to Mr. 'Possum's plate, and what he saw there made him sicker yet.
For there lay a half of the P. C. pie, and Mr. Crow saw with one look
that it was just as fine a chicken pie as ever came out of an oven.

Mr. 'Coon had a piece on his plate, too, and they were saying what a
fine pie it was, and Mr. Turtle and Mr. Rabbit said so, too, and that
Mr. Crow was certainly the finest cook in those parts.




THE STORY OF THE C. X. PIE

CONTINUED

WHAT HAPPENS TO MR. CROW AND HIS PIE


Poor Mr. Crow! You never saw anybody look as sickly and foolish as he
did. He thought that he had made a dreadful mistake in marking the pies,
and that now he had got to eat or pretend to eat the mess of old leaves
and sticks that filled up the C. X. pie clear to the top. He never
thought of Mr. 'Possum's changing the crust, and even if he had, he
wouldn't have felt any better.

[Illustration: I DON'T SUPPOSE YOU'LL EVER KNOW JUST HOW BAD MR. CROW
DID FEEL.]

I don't suppose you'll ever know just how bad Mr. Crow did feel, unless
you get into a fix like that some time yourself. First he got hot and


1 2 3 5 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 5 of 9)