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 7 of 9)
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to hear the thunder. Then, pretty soon, Mr. Crow sat up in bed again and
called out:

"Oh, Mr. 'Possum! You forgot to close the parlor window. It will rain in
on your things."

But Mr. 'Possum called back:

"It won't hurt MY things, Mr. Crow. They're all over by the stairs."

And Mr. 'Coon, who was sitting up in bed, listened and laughed in the
dark, too.

Then for a minute Mr. Crow didn't know but that he'd have to go down and
shut that window himself, after all. And while he was thinking how much
he didn't want to, there came another flash of lightning, brighter than
ever, and Mr. Crow and Mr. 'Coon and Mr. 'Possum all bobbed down again
and covered up their heads, so's not to hear the thunder. But Mr. Crow
heard it a little, anyway, and it set him to thinking. So when he sat up
again he called out:

"Oh, Mr. 'Coon, did Jack Rabbit push in the latch string down stairs?"

And Mr. 'Coon called back:

"I s'pose so, Mr. Crow. You told him to. Why?"

"Oh, nothing, only he left in a great hurry, and I thought maybe he
didn't get it quite in."

And Mr. 'Possum listened again, but this time he didn't laugh.

Then Mr. Crow called out to him, too:

"Oh, Mr. 'Possum, did Mr. Rabbit push in the latch string when he left?"

And Mr. 'Possum called back:

"I don't know, Mr. Crow. But you told him to. Why?"

"Oh, nothing; only I heard something just now that sounded like Mr. Dog
barking and coming this way."

And Mr. 'Coon listened again, too, but he didn't laugh any this time,

And just then there was another flash of lightning, a good deal brighter
than any of the other flashes, and down went Mr. Crow again, and down
went Mr. 'Coon again, and down went Mr. 'Possum again, so's not to hear
it thunder. But they did hear it, even under the bedclothes, and being
covered up that way, and thinking about Mr. Dog anyhow, made it sound to
them exactly like Mr. Dog's voice barking and growling, and coming
closer and closer and closer.

And when Mr. 'Coon and Mr. 'Possum heard that they didn't wait another
minute. They just threw back the covers, both of them, and piled out of
bed and made a rush for that down stairs door, as if Mr. Dog was right
behind them, sure enough. And of course neither one knew the other had
started, and when they got to the head of the stairs they bumped
together in the dark, and down they went, over and over, to the bottom.
There was a little flash of lightning just as they got there, and they
saw that Mr. Rabbit had pushed in the latch string after all.

Then they felt foolish, and each began to blame the other for making him
fall down stairs, and both of them said they knew all the time the door
was fastened, and that they weren't afraid of Mr. Dog, anyway. They'd
only got up, they said, to shut the parlor window, and they did shut
it, both together, as they came back. Then they ran up to their beds
quick, while Mr. Crow, who had been listening all the time, laid down
and rolled over and laughed and laughed in the dark.

And just then there came another big, bright flash, and down under the
covers went all three of them, so's not to hear it thunder. They stayed
under a good while that time, and when they put their heads out again
the shower had commenced, and the thunder was passing over.

So then, pretty soon, the 'Possum and the 'Coon and the Old Black Crow
all dropped off to sleep to the sound of the rain falling among the
leaves and branches of the Hollow Tree.



One warm June morning, when the sun was trying to shine and couldn't,
and the air was close and still and sticky, Mr. Jack Rabbit looked out
of the window while he was dressing and thought to himself that it would
be just the very morning for fish to bite.

Jack Rabbit liked to fish better than anything, almost, so right after
breakfast he took an empty tomato can and went out in the back yard and
turned over boards till he had the can about half full of bait, with a
little dirt thrown on top. Then he reached up under the eaves of the
smoke-house and pulled out a long cane pole with a line and hook and
floater on it, all rigged up ready, and flung it over his shoulder and

Mr. Rabbit walked pretty fast - even lazy folks do that when they go
fishing, and Mr. Jack Rabbit wasn't lazy, by a good deal. So pretty soon
he came to the Hollow Tree, and there, looking out of an upstairs
window, he saw the 'Coon, the 'Possum and the Old Black Crow.

"Hello, up there!" he said. "Don't you fellows want to go fishing?"

Mr. 'Possum said he thought fish would bite well on such a morning, and
that he'd like to go first rate. Mr. 'Coon said he knew a place where
you could pull them out as fast as you could throw in your hook, and he
went on and told how he caught a fish there last year that would weigh
more than four pounds, and lost him just as he got him to the top of the
water. Mr. Crow said he'd always noticed that Mr. 'Coon's four pound
fish never got any nearer to him than the top of the water, and that for
his part he didn't care much about fishing. He said, though, that if the
'Coon and the 'Possum wanted to go he'd stay at home and get dinner
while they were gone, so's to have it ready when they all came home
hungry. He told them that he had some nice canned salmon in the cupboard
that he could catch most any time, and that if they really wanted fish
for dinner he s'posed he might as well open it. Then they all laughed,
and in about a minute down came Mr. 'Coon and Mr. 'Possum with their
fishing things. Jack Rabbit said he had plenty of bait, so away they
went. Mr. Crow sat up in the window and watched them off, and Mr. Robin,
who happened along just then, laughed and called after them that he'd
take a few pounds of nice bass when they got home. The Robin just said
that to plague them, of course, and Mr. 'Coon called back that they'd
fool him this time, and then he went on to remark to the 'Possum and
the Rabbit that he'd never in his life seen a finer day for fishing.

Jack Rabbit said yes, that it was fine, and that it was a fine day for
Mr. Dog to be out gallivanting over the country, too, and that they'd
better hurry up and get to the lake and out in his boat before anything
happened. That made Mr. 'Possum take a good deal livelier step, though
he commenced to whistle and said he wasn't afraid of Mr. Dog, anyway.
Mr. 'Coon said he'd always noticed that a fellow mostly whistled when he
wasn't afraid, but for his part he couldn't get to that boat any too
soon. And pretty soon they did get to it, and Mr. 'Possum was the first
one to pile in, though Mr. Dog wasn't anywhere in sight.


Well, they pushed off and Jack Rabbit took one oar and Mr. 'Coon the
other, while the 'Possum sat on the back seat and baited his hook so's
to catch the first fish. Then, when they got out to where Mr. 'Coon said
the good place was, they all went to fishing, and Mr. 'Possum did get
the first bite, but he didn't get anything else when he pulled. Mr.
'Coon told him he pulled too quick, and Jack Rabbit told him he didn't
pull quick enough, and asked him if he expected the fish to climb out on
his pole. Then Mr. Rabbit had a bite himself, and pulled and didn't get
anything, either. Of course, that made Mr. 'Possum laugh, and then, all
at once, the 'Coon had a great big bite that took his float away down
out of sight the first grab.

Mr. 'Coon let him go for a minute and then gave a hard pull and
commenced to call out that he had him this time and that he'd show Mr.
Crow now about only getting fish to the top of the water and having
canned salmon for dinner. Then he stood up in the boat and pulled as
hard as ever he could till all of a sudden his line broke, and down he
went backwards, right on top of Mr. 'Possum, while the Rabbit swung his
hook over where the 'Coon's hook had been and the big fish grabbed it
before you could say Jack Robinson.

That was too bad for the 'Coon and the 'Possum, of course, and it wasn't
as much fun for Jack Rabbit as you might suppose, for he couldn't get
the big fish out to save his life, and he had to hold on to the boat to
keep from being pulled into the lake. Then he called to the others to
help him, and they both got up and took hold of the pole and hauled in
hand over hand till they got to the line, and that was as far as they
could get. So Mr. Rabbit gave the line a twist or two around the iron
ring in the front of his boat, and the big fish started straight for
shore, dragging the boat and everybody in it behind him, just as hard as
ever he could go. Then Mr. 'Coon and Jack Rabbit commenced to quarrel
about whose fish it was, and Mr. 'Possum said he didn't care whose it
was, he was getting a free ride, and he laid back and laughed and looked
at the shore, when all of a sudden he happened to spy there, sitting on
the end of a log, fishing and waiting for them, nobody but Mr. Dog

That wasn't very much, of course, but it was plenty for Mr. 'Possum. He
quit laughing and tumbled down in the bottom of the boat and laid there
calling for Jack Rabbit to cut that fishline or they'd all be chops and
steaks and carried home in a basket in less than five minutes. Jack
Rabbit did try to cut the line, too, but he was so excited he dropped
his knife overboard, and Mr. 'Coon couldn't find his, and Mr. 'Possum
didn't have any. So there they were, and there was Mr. Dog! Then Mr.
Rabbit tried to bite the line off with his teeth, but he couldn't do
that, either, for it was a big, strong line that he'd made himself,
'specially for big fish.

And all the time they were getting closer and closer to the shore, and
Mr. Dog had lifted his line out of the water so it wouldn't be in his
way, and was sitting there waiting, and smiling to see them come.

Then Jack Rabbit knew that something had to be done, and there was no
time to lose. He was just about as scared as he could be, but he knew it
wouldn't do any good to let on, so he sat up straight and smiled some,
too, and looked at Mr. Dog and called out, big and friendly like:

"Hello, Mr. Dog! Here we come! Here we come with a nice dinner, Mr.

Then Mr. Dog laughed and called back:

"That's right, Mr. Rabbit. There's a sure enough nice dinner coming,
this time! Fish for the first course, Mr. Rabbit!"

When Mr. 'Possum heard that he began to groan, and Jack Rabbit and Mr.
'Coon began to shiver, for each thought he knew pretty well what the
next courses of Mr. Dog's dinner would be. But Mr. Rabbit didn't stop
smiling or let on that he knew, and he called out again to Mr. Dog,

"You'll have to help us if we have fish, Mr. Dog! He's a big one and
you'll have to help us catch him!"

And Mr. Dog called back again:

"Don't worry, Mr. Rabbit! I won't leave! I'll be on hand when you get
here, Mr. Rabbit!"

Then he rolled up his trousers a little and waded out into the shallow
water, thinking he would nab Mr. Fish first and drag him out on shore,
and then pull the boat right in after him.


Of course, that was a pretty good plan for Mr. Dog, only like some other
good plans, it didn't work just as he expected it to. You see, he didn't
quite know how big the fish was, nor how hard a big fish is to handle in
shallow water. He made a quick grab at it when it got to him and then,
right away, he had his hands full of business. That fish gave a flop
with his tail that laid Mr. Dog over on his back and then another flop
that set him on his feet again, and a side flop that smacked him against
the water first one way and then the other, and made him breathe hard
and choke and try to let go.

But Mr. Dog couldn't let go, for he'd got the fish line some way tangled
in his teeth. So he began to snap and paw and swallow water, and fall
down and get up again, and sprawl about in the swamp grass, trying to
get back to shore.

And while all this was going on Jack Rabbit and his friends had jumped
out into the shallow water and took a little roundin's to shore, keeping
out of Mr. Dog's way, and made tracks for the top of a hill, where they
would be out of danger and see the fun at the same time. Then they all
stood up there and watched the fight between Mr. Dog and the big fish,
and Jack Rabbit sang out, as loud as ever he could:

"Don't leave, Mr. Dog! Stay with him, Mr. Dog! Hold him to it, Mr. Dog;
you've got him! First course, Mr. Dog!"

And Mr. Dog heard Jack Rabbit and got madder and madder every minute,
till all of a sudden he got a lick on the side of the head from Mr.
Fish's tail that made him see stars and broke the line. And away went
the big fish out into deep water, while Mr. Dog crawled back to shore,
wet and bruised from head to foot, and most dead.

Then Mr. 'Coon and Mr. 'Possum and Jack Rabbit, standing on top of the
hill, gave a great big laugh, all together, and Mr. Rabbit called out:

"How did you like the first course, Mr. Dog?"

That made them all laugh again, and then Mr. 'Coon called out:

"Are you ready for the second course, Mr. Dog?"

And pretty soon Mr. 'Possum he called out:

"Are you ready for a nice roast now, Mr. Dog?"

And that, of course, made them all laugh very loud, for Mr. 'Possum used
slang now and then and meant by a "roast" that people would all make fun
of Mr. Dog wherever he went; which they did, for a long time.

Even Mr. Robin, who was good friends with Mr. Dog, couldn't help calling
out to him, now and then, as he went by:

"Are you ready for the next course, Mr. Dog?"

And Mr. Dog would pretend not to hear and go hurrying by very fast, as
if he were out on special and important business for Mr. Man.



One rainy day when the 'Coon and 'Possum and the Old Black Crow were
rummaging about their house in the Big Hollow Tree where they all lived
together, they found that above each of their rooms there was a good
deal of other room that nobody ever used. That set them to thinking, and
pretty soon Mr. 'Possum said it was too bad to let all that good room go
to waste, and Mr. 'Coon said yes, it was, and that their house was big
enough for a hotel.

Of course he didn't think what he was saying at the time, but it set Mr.
Crow to thinking and walking up and down, whistling, and pretty soon he
stopped still and looked at the 'Coon and 'Possum.

"I'll do the cookin'," he said, "if you'll get the things to cook."

And right then and there they made up their minds to do it, and early
the next morning, while the Old Black Crow was hurrying about inside,
getting things ready for business, the 'Coon and the 'Possum nailed up
a sign outside, and this is what was on it:



Then they went inside to help Mr. Crow get ready, and by and by they all
sat down and waited for people to come. Mr. 'Coon and Mr. 'Possum felt
pretty well, too, for they thought they would have the easiest time. You
see, they had always depended on Mr. Crow a good deal, for, besides
being a good cook, he was a great hand to provide, and knew more about
where to get the best things, and the best time of day or night to get
them, than both of the others put together. So he didn't say anything,
but dressed up nice and spruce in a clean apron and cooking cap and
leaned out of the window, as cooks always do, with his arms folded. By
and by along came Mr. Jack Rabbit.

[Illustration: "HELLO!" HE SAID, "WHAT'S THIS?"]

"Hello!" he said. "What's this?"

Then he read the sign over and looked at Mr. Crow and asked him if it
was a joke. And Mr. Crow said:

"Not much! Come up and see."

So then Mr. Rabbit went up stairs and Mr. 'Coon and Mr. 'Possum showed
him through, and Jack Rabbit said that he didn't feel very well this
summer, any way, and he believed he'd just shut up his house and come
and board a while for a change. He said he guessed he'd take the room
above Mr. 'Coon's, because it had a nice south window and a tall
looking glass, and that he'd pack up a few things that he needed and
come over right away. Then he went home and the 'Coon and 'Possum and
the Old Black Crow all shook hands and danced around in a circle to
think how well they were going to do, for if Mr. Jack Rabbit came they
were sure of having as many others as their house would hold.

And while they were dancing along came Mr. Robin. He read the sign, too,
and laughed, and then knocked at the door till Mr. 'Coon came down and
let him in. He thought it was a joke at first, like the Rabbit, but when
he heard that Jack Rabbit was coming to board he spoke up just as quick
as anything and said he'd come, too, and that he'd have his things there
before supper time. He took the room over Mr. Crow, because he said he
didn't mind the smell of the cooking, and then maybe he'd learn some new
receipts. You see, Mr. Crow and Mr. Robin are sort of kinsfolk, and when
they have time they often get together and trace back to find out just
what relation they are to each other, and that makes them good friends.

Well, Mr. Robin hadn't more'n got out of the house when who should walk
in but Mr. Squirrel.

"What's all this about boarders?" said Mr. Squirrel. "I'm looking for a
place to spend a month or two myself."

So then they showed him the room above Mr. 'Possum's, and he was so
pleased with the view and everything that he paid a week's board in
advance to be sure of keeping anybody else from getting it. When he was
gone the 'Coon and 'Possum and the Old Black Crow did another dance, and
kept saying over and over how rich they'd be and what they would do with
all the money. Then they heard somebody laughing outside, and when they
looked out there was Mr. Turtle laughing and reading the sign.

"Hello!" he said. "This isn't the first of April."

"No," said Mr. Crow, "it's a boarding house, and a good one. All the
best people in the country stop here. Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Robin and Mr.
Squirrel. Sorry, Mr. Turtle, but our rooms are all full."

Then Mr. Turtle did look cheap, for he thought he couldn't be in the
crowd, and it was the very crowd he liked to associate with. But just
then Mr. 'Coon happened to think that they might fit up the big room
below the other big room where they all gathered to eat and talk, and
Mr. Turtle said that would suit him, exactly, because he was large and
heavy and didn't care much about climbing any way. So he hurried off
after his things, too, and he wasn't out of sight before here comes Mr.

Mr. 'Coon and Mr. 'Possum were both looking out the window when he came
up, and they jumped back like lightning. You see, they didn't like Mr.
Dog worth a cent. Then Mr. Crow came and looked out the window and
talked to him. Mr. Dog was just as polite as a basket of chips, and of
course that's the politest thing in the world.

"I've just seen Mr. Robin," said Mr. Dog, "and I came to get a room,

"Awfully sorry, Mr. Dog, but our rooms are all full," said Mr. Crow.

"Why don't you take down your sign, then?" said Mr. Dog.

"Hotels never take down their signs," said Mr. Crow.

"Hotels are never too full for one more, either," said Mr. Dog. "If you
don't let me come in I think I'll wait around here and make a vacancy."





[Illustration: AND UP HE CAME.]

Now, when Mr. 'Possum and Mr. 'Coon heard that their hair stood up
straight, for they knew very well that there'd be two vacant rooms any
way if Mr. Dog ever got inside, and two if he stayed where he was, for
they happened to think that Mr. Rabbit would be coming along presently,
and Mr. Squirrel wouldn't be far behind. So they hurried to the back
window and looked out, and sure enough there was Mr. Rabbit coming with
his trunk on his shoulder and almost there. At first they were
frightened most to death for Mr. Rabbit, and then the 'Coon slipped over
and whispered to the Crow to keep Mr. Dog talking as hard as he could,
so he wouldn't notice anything. All the time he was doing this the
'Possum was motioning to Jack Rabbit to slip up easy-like with his

So Mr. Rabbit slipped up softly on the other side of the house from Mr.
Dog and set his trunk down, and the 'Possum let out a long rope with a
hook on it. Jack Rabbit stood up on his trunk and grabbed the hook as
soon as he could reach it and hooked it under his arms. Then the 'Coon
and the 'Possum pulled and pulled and up he came, and as soon as he was
safe they let down the rope and caught the hook in the trunk handle.
That was a load for all three of them, and even then they couldn't get
it up, and called across to the Crow to come quick and help. So he had
to leave Mr. Dog a minute, and when he did that Mr. Dog walked around
the tree, and there was the trunk just a few feet from the ground, going
up very slowly. That was enough for Mr. Dog. He knew then he'd been
fooled, and he was so mad he didn't know what to do.

He took one look at that trunk and made up his mind he wouldn't stand
it. So he stepped back a little and made a short run and gave a jump for
the trunk, just as high as ever he could.

[Illustration: HE CAUGHT IT AS HE WENT BY.]

But Mr. Dog wasn't very lucky, for instead of landing on the trunk he
landed his nose right against one corner of it, and that made him madder
than ever. He ran and jumped again harder than before, but this time the
trunk was a little higher and Mr. Dog didn't quite hit it. There was a
strap hanging down, though, and he caught it as he went by. He caught it
with his teeth, and two of his teeth went right through two of the holes
where the buckle catches, and there they stayed. He had the trunk all
right enough, but the trunk had him, too.


There he was. His feet didn't quite touch the ground, and he couldn't
get up any higher either. Then all at once the people up stairs saw how
it was, and they commenced to laugh in spite of themselves, and hitched
the rope around a peg under the sill so they could rest a minute. That
was fun for them, but it wasn't for Mr. Dog, by a good deal. He couldn't
laugh, and he couldn't rest, either. And just then Mr. Squirrel came
with his trunk, and Mr. Robin with his satchel and a hand bag, and Mr.
Turtle with his things in a big sack. Mr. 'Coon ran down and let them
all in and locked the door. Then he ran back to the window where Mr. Dog

"If we'll let you down will you go home and not come around this hotel
interfering with our business?" says Mr. 'Possum.

"Yes; will you promise not to try to get any of our guests away from
us?" says Mr. 'Coon.

Mr. Dog couldn't talk much in the fix he was in, but he did the best he
could, and promised yes to everything, so pretty soon, they let the
trunk down till his feet touched the ground, and he could get his teeth
out of the strap. Then he put out for home just about as fast as he
could go, without so much as thanking them for letting him down, and up
went Mr. Rabbit's trunk pretty quick, now that there were plenty to

Then the guests all hurried to their rooms to unpack, and Mr. Crow
bustled around to get supper with what he had in the house, for Mr.
'Possum and Mr. 'Coon hadn't time yet to bring in anything. It was a
pretty good supper, though, and all the guests said so, and said they
knew what a good cook Mr. Crow was if he had things to work with, and
the Crow said he guessed he could do his part if the 'Coon and 'Possum
would do theirs.

Well, it makes a good deal of difference whether you're company at a
house or a boarder. They all felt a good deal like company at first, but
by the next evening at supper time they felt different. Mr. 'Coon and
Mr. 'Possum had been out all day bringing in things, too, and Mr. Crow
had been cooking harder than ever. Mr. Robin was first to make remarks.
He said that the cherries were canned, and not very good ones at that.

"That's what I said," put in Mr. 'Coon, "but Mr. 'Possum said you
wouldn't know the difference."


"Oh, he did, did he?" says Mr. Robin. "Well, I've got better cherries
than these at home," and he got up from the table with a disgusted air.

Then Mr. Squirrel picked up some roasted nuts that the Crow had just
brought in.

"Where'd you get these nuts?" he says, after he'd cracked one or two of

"Down on the slope of Green Bushes," says Mr. 'Coon. "Why, aren't they
good ones?"

"I suppose they were once," says Mr. Squirrel - "two or three years ago.
Nuts have to be fresh to be good."

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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 7 of 9)