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 8 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 8 of 9)
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"That's what I told him," says Mr. 'Possum; "but he said you wouldn't
know the difference."

"Oh, he did, did he?" says Mr. Squirrel. "Well, I've got better nuts
than these at home," and Mr. Squirrel he got up and left the table.

Then Jack Rabbit began.

"Where'd you get this salad?" he says, turning up his nose.

"Out by Mr. Man's back gate," says Mr. 'Possum. "Why, isn't it good?"

"Might have been once," says Mr. Rabbit. "I s'pose it's some Mr. Man
threw out because it was wilted."

"That's what I told him," says Mr. 'Coon, "but he said you wouldn't know
the difference."

"Oh, he did, did he? Well, I've got better salad than this at home," and
Jack Rabbit he got up and he left the table.

And then, pretty soon, Mr. Turtle made a face over the fish because they
were salt mackerel and not nice fresh fish, such as he was used to at
home. So he got up and left the table, too, and there sat the 'Coon and
'Possum and the Old Black Crow all by themselves and looking cheap
enough to fall through the floor. Mr. Crow said it wasn't his fault, and
then Mr. 'Coon and Mr. 'Possum commenced to blame it on each other, and
nearly got into a fight. They were just about to fight when Mr. Crow
happened to think of something. Mr. Crow always did think of things.

"I'll tell you!" he says. "We'll just rent rooms."

"Do what?" says Mr. 'Possum and Mr. 'Coon together.

"Why, just rent each of our guests his room and let him take his meals
out. Then we won't have any work."

"Whoo-ee!" says Mr. 'Possum and Mr. 'Coon both together, as loud as ever
they could. That made all the guests come running back, and when they
heard the new plan they all cheered, too, and said it was just the

So then Mr. 'Possum went down and got the sign and brought it up and
changed it to read:



And that was how business began at last in the Hollow Tree.



Well, you remember that the Hollow Tree people took four of their
friends to live with them and called it the Hollow Tree Inn. Mr. Robin
came, and Mr. Turtle, also Jack Rabbit and Mr. Squirrel, and they made a
jolly crowd after they got settled and knew about each getting his own
things to eat, because the Hollow Tree people - the 'Coon and 'Possum and
the old black Crow - found they couldn't suit their guests exactly when
it came to a steady diet. So they all kept house together, and used to
go out days (and nights, too, sometimes, when Mr. Man and Mr. Dog were
tired and asleep and didn't want to be disturbed) and get nice things.
Then they'd bring them in and fix them to suit themselves, and have them
all on the big table down stairs, nice and comfortable, where they could
sit and talk as long as they pleased.

It was a good deal like a big family when they were all together that
way, and they used to say how nice it was, and once Mr. 'Possum said he
always did think a big family was nice, anyway. Then Jack Rabbit laughed
and said he should think Mr. 'Possum was just the kind of a man for a
big family, being fond of good things to eat and not very fond of
getting them for himself, and mostly fat and sleepy like. He said if
there was just a nice, spry Mrs. 'Possum, now, to keep house and look
after things he should think it would be ever so much better than living
in bachelor quarters, or, rather, thirds, with Mr. 'Coon and Mr. Crow,
and not having things very orderly. Of course, with himself, Jack Rabbit
said, it was different, but even at his house it got lonesome, too, now
and then.

Well, Mr. 'Possum thought a minute, and then he said that there was such
a thing as folks being too spry, and that it was because he had always
been afraid of getting that kind that he had been pretty well satisfied
to live in the Hollow Tree just as he was. He said that he had once had
an uncle that something happened to in that line, and whenever he
thought about poor Uncle Lovejoy he didn't seem to care much about
trying anything he wasn't used to. Then they all wanted him to tell
about Uncle Lovejoy and what happened to him. So Mr. 'Possum did tell,
and it went this way:

"Once upon a time," he said, "Uncle Lovejoy - we always called him Uncle
Silas then, and he was uncle on my mother's side, and lived with Aunt
Melissy in a nice place just beyond the Wide Pawpaw Hollows - once upon a
time, as I was saying, he had to go to town on some business, and that
was something that never happened to Uncle Lovejoy before."


"Well, Aunt Melissy was always a spry woman, as I said, and
stirring - very stirring, and primpy, too. But she was never as stirring
and spry and primpy as she was the day that Uncle Silas started for
town. She dressed him all up neat and proper in his very best things,
and tied his tie for him, and while she was tying it she says:

"'Now, Silas,' she says, 'when you get to town you buy a few little
articles right away and put them on. You don't want folks to see that
you come from the country, you know, and you don't want Cousin Glenwood
to be ashamed of you before folks. Cousin Glen will know just what
things you need and where to get them.' Then she told him not to get run
over by anything, or blow out the gas, or let anybody see that he wasn't
used to things, because, you see, Aunt Melissy was proud, being a
Glenwood herself. Then Uncle Lovejoy promised all those things, and that
he would use his napkin and not eat pie out of his hand or drink out of
his finger bowl, and a lot more things that Aunt Melissy remembered at
the last minute. So you see by the time he got on the train he had a
good deal to think about, and he kept thinking about it until by the
time he got to the city he'd made up his mind he'd try to do for once
everything she told him to and give her a pleasant surprise with the
way he had fixed up and improved his manners when he got back. Uncle
Lovejoy was good natured and always anxious to please folks, especially
Aunt Melissy."


"Well, Cousin Glenwood met him at the station, and about the first thing
Uncle Silas said was to ask him where he got his clothes, and to tell
him that Aunt Melissy had said he was to fix up, so's folks wouldn't
think he came from the country, which, of course, she had. That just
suited Cousin Glenwood, for he liked to spend money and show off what he
knew about the city; so he took Uncle Lovejoy 'most everywhere, and
told him to buy 'most everything he saw. And of course Uncle Silas did
it, because he wanted to surprise Aunt Melissy when he got back and make
her feel happy for once in her life."




"Cousin Glen took Uncle Lovejoy to the stores first, and then to a good
many different kinds of places afterward, and every place where there
was a mirror Uncle Lovejoy would stand before it and admire himself and
wonder what Aunt Melissy would say when he got home. He kept buying new
things every day, because every day he'd see somebody with something on
or carrying or leading something, and when he remembered what Aunt
Melissy said, he made up his mind he'd have to have all the things to
please her, and he got them as far as he could. Even Cousin Glenwood
had to commence buying things pretty soon to keep up, and before long
people used to stop on the street and look at them when they went by.
Uncle Silas didn't want to go home, either, when the time came, but of
course he had to, and he put on his best clothes for the trip, and took
a young man he'd hired to wait on him, and started.

"He didn't tell Aunt Melissy just what time he'd be there, so it was a
surprise sure enough. He walked right into the yard, and behind was the
young man he'd hired, carrying his things. Aunt Melissy was getting
dinner, and had just come to the door a minute to see what time it was
by the sun, when all of a sudden, as she looked up, there he was! He had
his hat in one hand and a cane in the other, and was leading a game
chicken by a string. All his boxes and bundles and the young man were
behind him. Uncle Lovejoy wore an eyeglass, too, and smoked a paper
thing he said was a cigarette. My little cousins, who were there, told
me afterward that their pa had never looked so fine in his life before
or since. They didn't know him at all, and neither did Aunt Melissy. She
thought he was somebody with something to sell at first, and when he


"'Aw, there, Melissah!' she threw up her hands and was just about to
call for help, when just that minute she saw it was Uncle Silas.

"Poor Uncle Silas! He meant to surprise her, and he did it sure enough.
He meant to please her, though, and he didn't do that worth a cent. It
seemed funny, but she was mad. That's just the trouble about women
folks; you never know when you're going to please them. My little
cousins said they never saw their ma so mad before or since. She made
Uncle Lovejoy take off all his nice clothes, and the young man, too, and
she cooked the game chicken for dinner. Then, right after dinner, she
picked up a bag of shinney sticks that Uncle Lovejoy had brought home,
and she says to him and the young man:"


"'Now you get out in the garden,' she says, 'both of you, and try to
earn back some of this money you've been spending.' And Uncle Lovejoy
didn't feel very much like it, but he went, and so did the young man.
So did Aunt Melissy, and she used up most of those shinney sticks on
Uncle Silas and the young man before fall, and Uncle Silas never saw any
of his nice clothes again, though they had the best garden they ever did
have, so my little cousins said.

"And that," said Mr. 'Possum, leaning back in his chair to smoke,
"that's why I've always been afraid to try family life. It's easier to
please one than two, especially when the other one is a spry, stirring
person like Aunt Melissy Lovejoy."

"What became of all the good clothes?" asked Jack Rabbit, who was always
very stylish.

"Why, I've heard," said Mr. 'Possum, "that Aunt Melissy made some of
them over for my little cousins, and that she traded off the rest of
them to a pedler for patent medicine to give Uncle Silas for a weak
mind, and I think he needed it some myself for trying to please her in
the first place."

Mr. Rabbit nodded.

"It takes all kind of people to make a world," he said.

Mr. 'Coon yawned and rubbed his eyes. The others were fast asleep.




Once upon a time, when it was getting along toward fall in the Hollow
Tree where Jack Rabbit and Mr. Robin and the others had come to live
with the 'Coon and 'Possum and the old black Crow, there began to be
long evenings, and the Hollow Tree people used to think of new ways to
pass the time. They tried games at first, and sleight of hand tricks.
Then they tried doing things, and Mr. Turtle carried them all together
twice around the big parlor room on his back. But even that wasn't so
funny after the first evening, and Mr. Crow, who did most of the
thinking, had to scratch his head and think pretty hard what to do next.

All at once he happened to remember that Jack Rabbit, who was the big
man of the party, was also a first rate poet, and liked to read his own
poetry better than anything. So, when he thought of that, he said:

"I'll tell you. We'll have a poetry club."

And of course that made Mr. Rabbit wake up right away.

"What's that?" he said. "What kind of a thing is a poetry club?"

"Why," said Mr. Crow, "it's a place where the members each write a poem
and read it at the next meeting. You're the only real, sure enough poet,
of course, and will be president, and write the best poem, but the rest
of us can try, and you can tell us our mistakes. I've heard that Mr. Man
has them, and they're ever so much fun."

Jack Rabbit thought so, too, and all the others liked the plan. So they
elected Mr. Rabbit president and then went to work on their poems. They
couldn't have the first meeting very soon, for it took longer to write
poems in those days than it does now, so before they got half ready the
news got out some way, and even Mr. Dog had heard of it.

[Illustration: POOR MR. DOG.]

Poor Mr. Dog! It made him really quite ill to think he wasn't on very
good terms with the Hollow Tree people, for he thought he could write
pretty nice poetry, too, and he wanted to belong to that club worse than
anything he could think of. He wanted to so bad that at last he told Mr.
Robin that if they'd just let him come he'd promise anything they asked.

They didn't want to let him, though, until Mr. Crow, who always felt
kind of sorry for Mr. Dog, said he didn't see why Mr. Dog shouldn't come
and look in through the window shutters, and that they could nail a seat
for him on a limb just outside. They could pull him up to it with a rope
and he could sit there and listen and applaud the poems all through
without being able to do any damage to the poets, and he would be glad
enough to be let down by the time they got done reciting.

So they sent him an invitation, and Mr. Dog was as happy as a king. He
went right to work on his poem, and he worked all night and walked up
and down the yard all day trying to think up rhymes for "joyful" and
"meeting," and a lot of other nice words. Even when he was asleep he
dreamed about it, and said over some of the lines out loud and jerked
his paws about as if he were reciting it and making motions. You see,
Mr. Dog hadn't always done just right by the Hollow Tree people, and he
was anxious to make a good impression and fix up things. He fixed
himself all up, too, when the night came for the meeting, and took his
poem under his arm and lit a cigar that he'd borrowed of Mr. Man for the
occasion, and away he went.

The Hollow Tree people were on the lookout for him and had the rope down
and ready. So Mr. Dog tied it around under his arms, and they pulled and
pulled, and up he came. Then, when he got pretty close to the window,
they closed the shutter and put the rope through and pulled him up still
a little higher, so that he could reach the seat on the limb, which was
fixed just right for him to sit there and lean on the window sill while
he listened and looked in.

Of course, Mr. Dog wished he was inside, like the others, but he knew
why he wasn't, and he was glad enough to be there at all. He peeked
through the slats at the big room and smiled and said some nice things
about how pretty the room looked, till they all got real sociable with
him. Then Jack Rabbit called the meeting to order and made a few

[Illustration: MR. RABBIT BOWED.]

He said the duties of his office had kept him from writing quite as long
and as good a poem as he would have liked to write, but that he hoped
they might be willing to hear what he had done. Then they all shouted,
"Yes, yes!" and "Hear, hear!" and Mr. Rabbit bowed first to the ones
inside and then to Mr. Dog outside, and began:



Oh, sweet the joys of poetry
In the merry days of spring,
When the dew is on the meadow
And the duck is on the wing!
For 'tis then, from Dan to Dover,
I'm a rover 'mid the clover,
Seeking rhymes the country over
With a ring, sing, swing -
With a ding, dong, ding,
And a ting a ling a ling -
For I'm the rhyming rover of the spring.

Oh, sweet the joys of poetry
In the pleasant summer time!
For 'tis then I have no trouble
To compose my gentle rhyme;
In a nooklet by the brooklet
I can think up quite a booklet,
As with fishing line and hooklet
I assist the fish to climb
To the music of my chime,
For with rollick and with rhyme
I'm the poet of the pleasant summer time.

Oh, sweet the joys of poetry
When any days have come,
When the autumn zephyrs whisper
Or the winter breezes hum!
For 'tis then my thoughts unfurling,
While the smoke goes upward curling,
Come a whirling, swirling, twirling,
With a rumty, tumty, turn,
Come a twirling, swirling, whirling,
Like the rattle of a drum.
Come a whirling, come a swirling;
For in spring or in the summer,
In the autumn or the winter
I'm the rumty, tumty, tummer
That rejoices in the seasons as they come.

Well, when Mr. Rabbit got through everybody sat still for a minute, till
Mr. Dog called out for somebody to come and unwind him so he could get
his breath again. Then they all commenced to laugh and shout and pound
on the table. And Mr. Rabbit coughed and looked pleased and said it was
easy enough to do when you knew how.


Then Mr. 'Possum, who was next on the program, said he hoped they'd let
him off this time because he could only think of four lines, and that he
was a better hand at the dinner table than he was at poetry, anyway. But
they wouldn't do it, so he got up and looked foolish and swallowed two
or three times before he could get started.



I love the fragrant chicken pie
That blooms in early spring;
I love a chicken stew or fry,
Or any old thing.

Mr. 'Possum's poem was short, but it went right to the spot, and the way
they applauded almost made Jack Rabbit jealous. He said that it was
'most too true to be good poetry, but that it was good for a first
effort, and that being short helped it. Then Mr. Robin spoke his piece:



When the bud breaks out on the maple bough
Mother and me we build our nest -
A twig from the yard and a wisp from the mow
And four blue eggs 'neath the mother breast.
Up in the tree, mother and me,
Happy and blithe and contented are we.

When the daisies fall and the roses die,
An empty nest in the boughs to swing -
Four young robins that learn to fly
And a sweet adieu till another spring.
Then up in the tree, mother and me,
Happy once more and contented we'll be.

The applause wasn't so loud after Mr. Robin's poem, but they all said it
was very pretty, and Mr. 'Possum even wiped his eyes with his
handkerchief, because it made him remember something sad. Mr. Rabbit
said that it ought to be "Mother and I," but that it didn't make much
difference, he supposed, about grammar, so long as it rhymed and sounded
nice. Then Mr. Crow got up.



While others may sing of the pleasures of spring,
Or winter or summer or fall,
I'll sing not of these, because, if you please,
I'll sing of just nothing at all.
Just nothing at all, because, oh, ho!
I'll sing of myself, an old black crow.

As black as a coal and as homely as sin -
What more can I tell you, I pray?
For when you have nothing to sing of, why, then,
Of course there is nothing to say.
Nothing to say at all, oh, ho!
Except goodby to the old black crow -
The rollicking old black crow!

They made a good deal of fuss over Mr. Crow's poem. They applauded, of
course, but they said it wasn't so at all, and that Mr. Crow was a good
deal more than "just nothing." They said that it was he who had got up
this party, and that he was the best man to plan and cook anywhere. Mr.
'Possum said he even liked Mr. Crow's April fool chicken pies, and then
they all remembered and laughed, even to Mr. Crow himself. After that it
was Mr. Squirrel's turn. Mr. Squirrel coughed twice and straightened
his vest before he began, so they knew his poem wasn't to be funny.



Once on a time, the story goes,
A silly squirrel lad
One summer day did run away -
Which made his ma feel bad.

She hunted for him up and down
And round and round she ran -
Alas, that foolish squirrel boy
Was caught by Mr. Man.

For he had tried to climb a tree
As Mr. Man came past.
"I'll make you climb!" said Mr. Man,
And walked home pretty fast.

When he got there a boy came out
As Mr. Man went in.
That silly squirrel soon was put
Into a house of tin.

"Now you can climb!" said Mr. Man,
But when he did he found
That nice tin house, so bright and new,
Turned round and round and round.

And there he climbs and climbs all day
And never seems to stop,
And I have heard my mother say
He'll never reach the top.

When Mr. Squirrel sat down there wasn't a dry eye in the room, and even
Mr. Dog outside was affected. He said he'd seen that poor little
squirrel at Mr. Man's house turning and turning away in his tin wheel,
and felt so sorry for him that two or three times he'd tried to get him
out. He said, though, that Mr. Man had always caught him at it and that
then they didn't get on well for a day or two. He was so tender-hearted,
though, he said, that he couldn't help pitying the little fellow,
climbing and climbing all day long and never getting anywhere. Mr.
'Possum shivered, and said it reminded him of bad dreams he'd had
sometimes, when he'd eaten too much supper, and dreamed of climbing the
rainbow. Then they all sat still and waited for Mr. Turtle, who came



Oh, what do I care for your houses of wood,
Your houses of brick or of stone,
When I have a house that is cosy and good -
A beautiful house of my own?
And the doors will not sag and the roof will not crack
Of the house that I carry about on my back.

It is never too large and 'tis never too small,
It is with me wherever I roam.
In spring or in summer, in winter or fall,
I always can find my way home.
For it isn't so hard to remember the track
To the house that you carry about on your back.

Well, of course, everybody applauded that, and then it was Mr. 'Coon's
time. Mr. 'Coon said he was like Mr. 'Possum. He wasn't much on poetry,
and only had four lines. He said they were some like Mr. 'Possum's,



I like the spring, I like the fall,
I like the cold and heat,
And poems, too, but best of all
I like good things to eat.


That brought the house down, and the Hollow Tree people thought the
entertainment was over. They were going to have supper right away, but
Mr. Dog called out to wait a minute. He said he had a little poem
himself that he wanted to read. So out of politeness they all sat still,
though they didn't expect very much. Then Mr. Dog unrolled his poem and
leaned over close to the blinds and commenced to read.



Oh, dear to me my forest friends,
Especially Mr. Rabbit -
I love his poetry very much,
And every gentle habit.

And dear to me is Mr. 'Coon,
And also Mr. 'Possum;
I hope to win their friendship soon -
'Twill be a precious blossom.

And Mr. Crow and Robin, too,
With fancy sweet and fertile,
And Mr. Squirrel, kind and true,
And likewise Mr. Turtle.

Oh, dear to me my forest friends,
Especially Mr. Rabbit -
I love his poetry very much
And every gentle habit.

Before Mr. Dog was half through reading the Hollow Tree people had
gathered around the window to listen. By the time he got to the end of
the third stanza he had to stop for them to cheer, and when he read the
last one, Jack Rabbit pounded on the shutter with his fist and shouted,
"Hurrah for Mr. Dog! Hurrah for Mr. Dog!" just as loud as ever he could,
while all the others crowded up and shouted and tried to pound, too.

Well, maybe the shutter wasn't very strong, or maybe they crowded and
pounded too hard in their excitement over Mr. Dog's nice poem, for all
at once there was a loud crack and the shutter flew open and out went
Mr. Rabbit right smack into the arms of Mr. Dog!


I tell you that was pretty sudden and - Mr. Rabbit was scared. So were
all the others and they were going to grab the shutter and close it
again and leave Mr. Rabbit out there. But Jack Rabbit thinks quick.

"Oh Mr. Dog," he said, "that was the nicest poem I ever heard. Let me
embrace you, Mr. Dog, and be your friend forever after!"

Then he hugged Mr. Dog just as tight as he could, and Mr. Dog hugged
him, too, and shed tears, he was that happy. He had been wanting to make
up with the forest people for a long time, but he hadn't expected this.
Then the others all saw how it was and they shouted, "Hurrah for Mr.

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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 8 of 9)