Thornton W. Burgess.

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Produced by David Newman and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.




THE ADVENTURES OF MR. MOCKER

BY
THORNTON W. BURGESS

Author of "The Adventures of Reddy Fox," "Old Mother West Wind," etc.

_With Illustrations by_
HARRISON CADY

1914




CONTENTS

I. THE LONE TRAVELER
II. UNC' BILLY POSSUM GROWS EXCITED
III. UNC' BILLY'S VAIN SEARCH
IV. UNC' BILLY COMES HOME
V. SAMMY JAY IS INDIGNANT
VI. SAMMY JAY THINKS HE'S GOING CRAZY
VII. SAMMY JAY SITS UP ALL NIGHT
VIII. SAMMY JAY IS GLAD HE SAT UP ALL NIGHT
IX. THE MYSTERY GROWS
X. SAMMY JAY SEEKS ADVICE
XI. HOW BLACKY THE CROW'S PLAN WORKED OUT
XII. NO ONE BELIEVES PETER RABBIT
XIII. STICKY-TOES THE TREE TOAD POURS OUT HIS TROUBLES
XIV. PETER RABBIT MEETS UNC' BILLY POSSUM
XV. PETER RABBIT AND UNC' BILLY POSSUM KEEP WATCH
XVI. UNC' BILLY POSSUM DOES A LITTLE SURPRISING HIMSELF
XVII. THE MEETING OF TWO OLD FRIENDS
XVIII. THE MISCHIEF-MAKERS
XIX. BOBBY COON MAKES A DISCOVERY
XX. BOBBY COON AND OL' MISTAH BUZZARD HAVE A TALK
XXI. BOBBY COON HAS A BUSY DAY
XXII. UNC' BILLY POSSUM SEES MANY BACKS
XXIII. UNC' BILLY POSSUM CONSULTS OL' MISTAH BUZZARD
XXIV. UNC' BILLY POSSUM GIVES A PARTY
XXV. UNC' BILLY POSSUM'S SURPRISE
XXVI. MR. MOCKER MAKES HIMSELF AT HOME




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

"I DON'T KNOW THAT IT'S ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS!" SAID STICKY-TOES.

SUCH A THING AS UNC' BILLY FORGETTING TO SAY GOOD-BY HAD NEVER HAPPENED
BEFORE

BLACKY'S EYES TWINKLED AS HE LISTENED TO SAMMY JAY'S TALE OF WOE.

"GOOD MO'NING, BRER COON," SAID OL' MISTAH BUZZARD

THERE SAT THE THREE LITTLE SCAMPS ON THE BIG ROCK

SOMETIMES HE WOKE UP IN THE NIGHT AND WOULD SING FOR VERY JOY




THE ADVENTURES OF MISTAH MOCKER




I


THE LONE TRAVELER

When Mistress Spring starts from way down South to bring joy and gladness
to the Green Meadows and the Green Forest, the Laughing Brook and the
Smiling Pool, a great many travelers start with her or follow her. Winsome
Bluebird goes just a little way ahead of her, for Winsome is the herald of
Mistress Spring. Then comes Honker the Goose, and all the world hearing his
voice from way, way, up in the blue, blue sky knows that truly Mistress
Spring is on her way. And with her come Little Friend the Song Sparrow, and
Cheerful Robin and Mr. and Mrs. Redwing. Then follow other travelers, ever
so many of them, all eager to get back to the beautiful Green Forest and
Green Meadows.

Now there are a few feathered folk who think the far away South is quite
good enough for them to live there all the year round. Ol' Mistah Buzzard
used to think that way. Indeed, he used to think that there was no place
like the dear "Ol' Souf," and it wasn't until he went looking for his old
friend, Unc' Billy Possum, who had come up to live in the Green Forest,
that he found out how nice it is where the Laughing Brook dances down
through the Green Forest to the Smiling Pool and then through the Green
Meadows to the Big River. Now, when he is sure that there is no danger
that he will have cold feet or that he will catch cold in his bald head,
he likes to come up to spend the summer near Unc' Billy Possum.

Of course Ol' Mistah Buzzard has wonderful stories to tell when he goes
back South in the fall, and all winter long he warms his toes on the
chimney tops while he tells his friends about the wonderful things he has
seen in his travels. Now there is a certain friend of his, and of Unc'
Billy Possum, who had listened to these stories for a long time without
seeming in the least interested. But he was. Yes, Sir, he was. He was so
much interested that he began to wish he could see for himself all these
things Ol' Mistah Buzzard was telling about. But he didn't say a word, not
a word. He just listened and listened and then went on about his business.

But when all the other little people in feathers had flown to that far away
country Ol' Mistah Buzzard had told about, even Ol' Mistah Buzzard himself,
then did this friend of his, and of Unc' Billy Possum, make up his mind
that he would go too. He didn't say anything about it to any one, but he
just started off by himself. Now of course he didn't know the way, never
having been that way before, but he kept on going and going, keeping out of
sight as much as he could, and asking no questions. Sometimes he wondered
if he would know the Green Forest when he reached it, and then he would
remember how Ol' Mistah Buzzard dearly loves to fly round and round high
up in the blue, blue sky.

"All Ah done got to do is to keep on going till Ah see Brer Buzzard,"
thought he. So he traveled and traveled without speaking to any one, and
always looking up in the blue, blue sky. Then one day he saw a black speck
high up in the blue, blue sky, and it went round and round and round and
round. Finally it dropped down, down, down until it disappeared among the
trees.

"It's Brer Buzzard and that must be the Green Forest where Unc' Billy
Possum lives," thought the lone traveler, and chuckled. "Ah reckon Ah'll
give Unc' Billy a surprise. Yes, Sah, Ah reckon so."

And all the time Unc' Billy Possum and Ol' Mistah Buzzard knew nothing at
all about the coming of their old friend and neighbor, but thought him
far, far away down in Ol' Virginny where they had left him.




II


UNC' BILLY POSSUM GROWS EXCITED

Unc' Billy Possum sat at the foot of the great hollow tree in which his
home is. Unc' Billy felt very fine that morning. He had had a good
breakfast, and you know a good breakfast is one of the best things in the
world to make one feel fine. Then Unc' Billy's worries were at an end, for
Farmer Brown's boy no longer hunted with his dreadful gun through the Green
forest or on the Green Meadows. Then, too, old Granny Fox and Reddy Fox had
moved way, way off to the Old Pasture on the edge of the mountain, and so
Unc' Billy felt that his eight little Possums could play about without
danger.

So he sat with his back to the great hollow tree, wondering if it wouldn't
be perfectly safe for him to slip up to Farmer Brown's hen-house in the
dark of the next night for some fresh eggs. He could hear old Mrs. Possum
cleaning house and scolding the little Possums who kept climbing up on her
back. As he listened, Unc' Billy grinned and began to sing in a queer
cracked voice:

"Mah ol' woman am a plain ol' dame -
'Deed she am! 'Deed she am!
Quick with her broom, with her tongue the same -
'Deed she am! 'Deed she am!
But she keeps mah house all spick and span;
She has good vittles fo' her ol' man;
She spanks the chillun, but she loves 'em, too;
She sho' am sharp, but she's good and true -
'Deed she am! 'Deed she am!"

"You'all better stop lazing and hustle about fo' something fo' dinner,"
said old Mrs. Possum, sticking her sharp little face out of the doorway.

"Yas'm, yas'm, Ah was just aiming to do that very thing," replied Unc'
Billy meekly, as he scrambled to his feet.

Just then out tumbled his eight children, making such a racket that Unc'
Billy clapped both hands over his ears. "Mah goodness gracious sakes
alive!" he exclaimed. One pulled Unc' Billy's tail. Two scrambled up on
his back. In two minutes Unc' Billy was down on the ground, rolling and
tumbling in the maddest kind of a frolic with his eight children.

Right in the midst of it Unc' Billy sprang to his feet. His eyes were
shining, and his funny little ears were pricked up. "Hush, yo'alls!" he
commanded. "How do yo'alls think Ah can hear anything with yo'alls making
such a racket?" He boxed the ears of one and shook another, and then, when
all were still, he stood with his right hand behind his right ear,
listening and listening.

"Ah cert'nly thought Ah heard the voice of an ol' friend from way down
Souf! Ah cert'nly did!" he muttered, and without another word he started
off into the Green Forest, more excited than he had been since his family
came up from "Ol' Virginny."




III


UNC' BILLY'S VAIN SEARCH

Unc' Billy Possum was excited. Any one would have known it just to look at
him. He hurried off up the Lone Little Path through the Green Forest
without even saying good-by to old Mrs. Possum and all the little Possums.
They just stared after Unc' Billy and didn't know what to make of it, for
such a thing as Unc' Billy forgetting to say good-by had never happened
before. Yes, indeed, Unc' Billy certainly was excited.

Old Mrs. Possum sat in the doorway of their home in the great hollow tree
and watched Unc' Billy out of sight. Her sharp little eyes seemed to grow
sharper as she watched. "Ah done sent that no-account Possum to hunt fo'
something fo' dinner, but 'pears to me he's plumb forgot it already," she
muttered. "Just look at him with his head up in the air like he thought
dinner fo' we uns would drap right down to him out o' the sky! If he's
aiming to find a bird's nest with eggs in it this time o' year, he sho'ly
am plumb foolish in his haid. No, Sah! That onery Possum has clean
fo'gotten what Ah just done tole him, and if we uns am going to have any
dinner, Ah cert'nly have got to flax 'round right smart spry mahself!"

Old Mrs. Possum chased the eight little Possums into the house and warned
them not to so much as put their heads outside the door while she was gone.
Then she started out to hunt for their dinner, still muttering as she went.

Old Mrs. Possum was quite right. Unc' Billy had forgotten all about that
dinner. You see he had something else on his mind. While he had been
playing with his children, he had thought that he heard a voice way off in
the distance, and it had sounded very, very much like the voice of an old
friend from way down South in "Ol' Virginny." He had listened and listened
but didn't hear it again, and yet he was sure he had heard it that once.
The very thought that that old friend of his might be somewhere in the
Green Forest excited Unc' Billy so that it fairly made him homesick. He
just _had_ to go look for him.

So all the rest of that day Unc' Billy Possum walked and walked through the
Green Forest, peering up in the tree-tops and looking into the bushes until
his neck ached. But nowhere did he catch a glimpse of his old friend. The
longer he looked, the more excited he grew.

"What's the matter with you?" asked Jimmy Skunk, meeting Unc' Billy on the
Crooked Little Path near the top of the hill.

"Nuffin, nuffin, Sah! Ah'm just walking fo' mah health," replied Unc' Billy
over his shoulder, as he hurried on. You see he didn't like to tell any one
what he thought he had heard, for fear that it might not be true, and then
they would laugh at him.

"Didn't suppose Unc' Billy ever worried about his health," muttered Jimmy
Skunk with a puzzled look, as he watched Unc' Billy disappear.

Just as jolly, round, red Mr. Sun dropped out of sight behind the Purple
Hills, Unc' Billy gave it up and turned toward home. His neck ached from
looking up in the tree-tops, and his feet were sore from walking. And just
then Unc' Billy for the first time thought of that dinner that old Mrs.
Possum had sent him to get. Unc' Billy sat down and mopped his brow in
dismay.

"Ah 'specks Ah'm in fo' it this time, sho' enough!" he said.




IV


UNC' BILLY COMES HOME

Unc' Billy Possum crept along in the darkest shadows he could find as he
drew near to the great hollow tree which is his home.

"Ah 'specks Ah'm in fo' it. Ah 'specks Ah sho'ly am in fo' it this time,"
he kept muttering.

So Unc' Billy crept along in the black shadows until he got where he could
look up and see his own doorway. Then he sat down and watched a while. All
was still. There wasn't a sound in the great hollow tree.

"Perhaps mah ol' woman am out calling, and Ah can slip in and go to bed
before she gets back," said Unc' Billy hopefully to himself, as he started
to climb the great hollow tree.

But at the first scratch of his toe-nails on the bark the sharp face of old
Mrs. Possum appeared in the doorway.

"Good evening, mah dear," said Unc' Billy, in the mildest kind of a voice.

Old Mrs. Possum said nothing, but Unc' Billy felt as if her sharp black
eyes were looking right through him.

Unc' Billy grinned a sickly kind of grin as he said:

"Ah hopes yo'alls are feeling good tonight."

"Where's that dinner Ah sent yo' fo'?" demanded old Mrs. Possum sharply.

Unc' Billy fidgeted uneasily. "Ah done brought yo' two eggs from Farmer
Brown's hen-house," he replied meekly.

"Two eggs! Two eggs! How do yo' think Ah am going to feed eight hungry
mouths on two eggs?" snapped old Mrs. Possum.

Unc' Billy hung his head. He hadn't a word to say. He just couldn't tell
her that he had spent the whole day tramping through the Green Forest
looking for an old friend, whose voice he had thought he heard, when he
ought to have been helping her find a dinner for the eight little Possums.
No, Sir, Unc' Billy hadn't a word to say.

My, my, my, how old Mrs. Possum did scold, as she came down the great
hollow tree to get the two eggs. Unc' Billy knew that he deserved every bit
of it. He felt very miserable, and he was too tired to have a bit of spirit
left. So he just sat at the foot of the great hollow tree and said nothing,
while old Mrs. Possum bit a hole in the end of one egg and began to suck
it. All the time she was looking at Unc' Billy with those sharp eyes of
hers. When she had finished the egg, she pushed the other over to him.

"Yo' eat that!" she said shortly. "Yo' look as if yo' hadn't had anything
to eat to-day" (which was true). "Then yo' hustle up to bed; it's all ready
fo' yo'."

Unc' Billy did as he was bid, and as he tucked himself into his snug, warm
bed he murmured sleepily:

"Ol' Mrs. Possum has a sharp, sharp tongue,
But her bark is worse than her bite.
For Ol' Mrs. Possum has a soft, soft heart
Though she hides it way out of sight."




V


SAMMY JAY IS INDIGNANT

Sammy Jay was indignant. Yes, Sir, Sammy Jay was very much put out. In
fact, Sammy was just plain downright mad! It is bad enough to be found out
and blamed for the things you really do, but to be blamed for things that
you don't do and don't even know anything about is more than even Mr.
Jaybird can stand. It had begun when he met Jimmy Skunk early in the
morning.

"Hello, Sammy Jay! What were you doing up so late last night?" said Jimmy
Skunk.

"I wasn't up late; I went to bed at my usual hour, just after Mr. Sun went
to bed behind the Purple Hills," replied Sammy Jay.

"Oh, come, Sammy Jay, be honest for once in your life! It was a long, long,
long time after Mr. Sun went to bed that I heard you screaming and making a
great fuss over in the Green Forest. What was it all about?"

Sammy Jay stamped one foot. He was beginning to lose his temper. You know
he loses it very easily. "I am honest!" he screamed. "I tell you I went to
bed just as I always do, and I didn't wake up until this morning."

"Then you must talk something dreadful in your sleep," said Jimmy Skunk,
turning his back on Sammy Jay, who was so mad by this time that for a few
minutes he couldn't find his tongue. When he did, he flew off screaming at
the top of his lungs. He was still screaming when he flew over the Old
Briar-patch where Peter Rabbit was just beginning to doze off.

Peter was sleepy. He didn't like to have his morning nap disturbed.

"Hi, Sammy Jay! Didn't you make racket enough last night to give honest
folks a little peace and quiet to-day?" shouted Peter Rabbit.

Sammy Jay flew up into a young cherry tree on the edge of the Old
Briar-patch, and his eyes were fairly red with anger as he glared down at
Peter Rabbit.

"What's the joke, Peter Rabbit? That's the second time this morning that
I've been told that I was screaming last night, when all the time I was
fast asleep," said Sammy Jay.

"Then it's a funny way you have of sleeping," replied Peter Rabbit. "Come,
Sammy, be honest and tell me what you were yelling 'thief' for, over in the
Green Forest?"

"Peter Rabbit, you and Jimmy Skunk are crazy, just as crazy as loons!"
sputtered Sammy Jay. "I tell you I was asleep, and I guess I ought to
know!"

"And I guess I know your voice when I hear it!" replied Peter Rabbit. "It's
bad enough in daytime, but if I was you, I'd quit yelling in the night.
Some one of these times Hooty the Owl will hear you, and that will be the
end of you and your noise. Now go away; I want to sleep."

Sammy went. He was mad clear through, and yet he didn't know what to make
of it. Were they just trying to make him mad, or had he really been
screaming in his sleep? He flew over to the Smiling Pool. Jerry Muskrat
looked up and saw him.

"What were you yelling about in the night, Sammy Jay?" asked Jerry.

This was too much. Sammy Jay let his wings and his tail droop dejectedly
and hung his head.

"I don't know. I really don't know anything about it," he said.




VI


SAMMY JAY THINKS HE'S GOING CRAZY

"Sammy Jay screams all day long,
And now what do you think?
Why, Sammy sits and yells all night
And doesn't sleep a wink!"

Everywhere he went Sammy Jay heard that shouted after him. Dozens and
dozens of times a day he heard it. At first he lost his temper and was the
very maddest Jaybird ever seen on the Green Meadows or in the Green Forest.

"It isn't true! It isn't true! It isn't true!" he would scream at the top
of his lungs.

And then everybody within hearing would shout: "It _is_ true!"

Sammy would just dance up and down and scream and scream and scream, he was
so angry. And then he was sure to hear some one pipe up:

"Sammy's mad and we are glad,
And we know how to tease him!
But some dark night he'll get a fright,
For Hooty'll come and seize him!"

That really began to worry him. At first he had thought that it was all a
joke on the part of the little people of the Green Forest and the Green
Meadows, and that they had made up the story about hearing him in the
night. Then he began to think that it might be true that he did talk in his
sleep, and this worried him a whole lot. If he did that, Hooty the Owl
would surely find him sooner or later, and in the morning there wouldn't be
anything left of him but a few feathers from his fine coat.

The more he thought about it, the more worried Sammy Jay became. He lost
his appetite and began to grow thin. He kept out of sight whenever possible
and no longer screamed "Thief! thief!" through the Green Forest. In fact
his voice was rarely heard during the day. But it seemed that he must be
talking just as much as ever in the night. At least everybody said that he
was. Worse still, different ones said that they heard him in different
places in the Green Forest and even down on the Green Meadows. Could it be
that he was flying about as well as talking in his sleep? And nobody
believed him when he said that he was asleep all night. They thought that
he was awake and doing it purposely. They might have known that he couldn't
see in the night, for his eyes are made for daylight and not for darkness,
like the eyes of Boomer the Nighthawk and Hooty the Owl. But they didn't
seem to think of this, and insisted that almost every night they heard him
down in the alders along the Laughing Brook. Yet every morning when he
awoke, Sammy would find himself just where he went to sleep the night
before, safely hidden in the thickest part of a big pine-tree.

"If they are not all crazy, then I must be," said. Sammy Jay to himself, as
he turned away from the breakfast which he could not eat. Then he had a
happy idea. "Why didn't I think of it before? I'll sleep all day, and then
I'll keep awake all night and see what happens then!" he exclaimed.

So Sammy Jay hurried away to the darkest part of the Green Forest and tried
to sleep through the day.




VII


SAMMY JAY SITS UP ALL NIGHT

Sammy Jay sat in the dark and shivered. Sammy was lonely, more lonely than
he had ever supposed anybody could be. And to tell the truth Sammy Jay was
scared. Yes, Sir, that was just the way Sammy Jay felt - scared. Every time
a leaf rustled, Sammy jumped almost out of his skin. His heart went
pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat. He could hear it himself, or at least he
thought he could, and it seemed to him that if Hooty the Owl should happen
to come along, he would surely hear it.

You see it was the first time in all his life that Sammy Jay had not gone
to sleep just as soon as jolly, round, red Mr. Sun had pulled his rosy
night-cap on and gone to bed behind the Purple Hills. But to-night Sammy
sat in the darkest, thickest part of a big pine-tree and kept blinking his
eyes to keep from going to sleep. He had made up his mind that he wouldn't
go to sleep at all that night, no matter how lonely and frightened he might
be. He just would keep his eyes and his ears wide open.

What was he doing it for? Why, because all the little meadow and forest
people insisted that every night lately Sammy Jay had spent a great part of
his time screaming in the harsh, unpleasant way he does during the day, and
some of them were very cross, because they said that he waked them up when
they wanted to sleep. Now Sammy knew better. He never in his life had
screamed in the night unless - well, unless he did it in his sleep and
didn't know it. So he had made up his mind to keep awake all of this night
and see if in the morning any one would say that he had waked them up.

He had watched the black shadows creep through the Green Forest and grow
blacker and blacker. The blacker they grew, the lonesomer he became. By and
by it was so dark that he couldn't see anything at all, and every little
noise made him shiver. It is easy to be brave in daylight, but in the dark,
when you cannot see a thing, every little sound seems twice as loud as it
really is and gives you such a creepy, creepy feeling. Sammy Jay had it
now. He felt so creepy that it seemed as if he would crawl right out of his
skin. He kept saying over and over to himself: "There's nothing to be
afraid of. There's nothing to be afraid of. I'm just as safe as if I was
fast asleep." But still he shivered and shook.

By and by, looking up through the top of the big pine-tree, he saw the
little stars come out one by one. They seemed to be looking right down at
him and winking at him in the jolliest way. Somehow, he didn't feel quite
so lonely then, and he tried to wink back. Then little, soft, silvery bars
of light began to creep through the branches of the trees and along the
ground. They were moonbeams, and Sammy could see just a little, a very
little. He began to feel better.

"Whooo-hoo-hoo, whooo-hoo!"

It was a terrible sound, fierce and hungry. Sammy Jay nearly fell from his
perch. He opened his mouth to scream with fright. Then he remembered just
in time and closed it without a sound. It was the hunting-cry of Hooty the
Owl. Sammy Jay sat huddled in a little, forlorn, shivering heap, while
twice more that fierce cry rang through the Green Forest. Then a shadow
floated over the big pine-tree. Hooty the Owl had flown away without seeing
him, and Sammy breathed easier.




VIII


SAMMY JAY IS GLAD HE SAT UP ALL NIGHT

Sammy Jay was having no trouble in keeping awake now. Not a bit! He
couldn't have gone to sleep if he wanted to - not since Hooty the Owl had
frightened him almost out of his skin with his fierce, hungry hunting-call.
He was too frightened and shivery and creepy to sleep. But he didn't want
to, anyway.

So he sat in the thickest part of the big pine-tree, shivering and creepy
and miserable. He heard Bobby Coon go down the Lone Little Path on his way
to Fanner Brown's cornfield, where the corn was just beginning to get milky
and sweet. Out in a patch of bright moonlight he saw Peter Rabbit jumping
and dancing and having the greatest kind of a time all by himself. Pretty
soon Peter was joined by his cousin, Jumper the Hare. Such antics as they
did cut up! Sammy Jay almost laughed aloud as he watched. It was less
lonely with them there, and he did want to call to them dreadfully. But
that would never, never do, for no one must know that he was sitting up
awake all night.

By and by along came Jimmy Skunk, walking out into the patch of bright
moonlight. He touched noses with Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare, which is
one way of saying "good evening" in the Green Forest.

"Isn't it most time for Sammy Jay to scream in his sleep?" asked Peter
Rabbit.

Sammy pricked up his ears. "Scream in his sleep! Nonsense! Sammy Jay isn't
any more asleep than I am. He just screams out of pure meanness to wake up
and frighten good honest folks who want to sleep. For my part, I don't see


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