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MOTHER WEST WIND'S CHILDREN
THORNTON W. BURGESS
Author of "Old Mother West Wind"
Illustrated by George Kerr
[Frontispiece: "Yap-yap-yap," barked Reddy Fox, as loud as he could.]
Grosset & Dunlap
By arrangement with Little, Brown and Company
by Thornton W. Burgess.
All rights reserved
ALL THE LITTLE FRIENDS
JOHNNY CHUCK AND REDDY FOX,
ALL WHO LOVE THE GREEN MEADOWS
AND THE SMILING POOL,
THE LAUGHING BROOK AND THE MERRY LITTLE BREEZES,
THIS LITTLE BOOK IS DEDICATED.
I. DANNY MEADOW MOUSE LEARNS WHY HIS TAIL IS SHORT
II. WHY REDDY FOX HAS NO FRIENDS
III. WHY PETER RABBIT'S EARS ARE LONG
IV. REDDY FOX DISOBEYS
V. STRIPED CHIPMUNK'S POCKETS
VI. REDDY FOX, THE BOASTER
VII. JOHNNY CHUCK'S SECRET
VIII. JOHNNY CHUCK'S GREAT FIGHT
IX. MR. TOAD'S OLD SUIT
X. GRANDFATHER FROG GETS EVEN
XI. THE DISAPPOINTED BUSH
XII. WHY BOBBY COON WASHES HIS FOOD
XIII. THE MERRY LITTLE BREEZES HAVE A BUSY DAY
XIV. WHY HOOTY THE OWL DOES NOT PLAY ON THE GREEN MEADOWS
XV. DANNY MEADOW MOUSE LEARNS TO LAUGH
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
"YAP-YAP-YAP," BARKED REDDY FOX, AS LOUD
AS HE COULD . . . . . . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_
MR. RABBIT HAD A GREAT DEAL OF CURIOSITY,
A VERY GREAT DEAL, INDEED
THEN EVERYBODY SHOUTED "HAW! HAW! HAW!"
HE WAS SO SURPRISED HE FORGOT TO CLOSE IT
MOTHER WEST WIND'S CHILDREN
DANNY MEADOW MOUSE LEARNS WHY HIS TAIL IS SHORT
Danny Meadow Mouse sat in his doorway and looked down the Lone Little
Path across the Green Meadows. Way, way over near the Smiling Pool he
could see Old Mother West Wind's Children, the Merry Little Breezes, at
play. Sammy Jay was sitting on a fence post. He pretended to be
taking a sun bath, but really he was planning mischief. You never see
Sammy Jay that he isn't in mischief or planning it.
Reddy Fox had trotted past an hour before in a great hurry. Up on the
hill Danny Meadow Mouse could just see Jimmy Skunk pulling over every
old stick and stone he could find, no matter whose house it might be,
and excusing himself because he was hungry and was looking for beetles.
Jolly, round, red Mr. Sun was playing at hide and seek behind some
fleecy white clouds. All the birds were singing and singing, and the
world was happy - all but Danny Meadow Mouse.
No, Danny Meadow Mouse was not happy. Indeed, he was very far from
happy, and all because his tail was short.
By and by up came old Mr. Toad. It was a warm day and Mr. Toad was
very hot and very, very thirsty. He stopped to rest beside the house
of Danny Meadow Mouse.
"Good morning, Danny Meadow Mouse," said old Mr. Toad, "it's a fine
"Morning," said Danny Meadow Mouse, grumpily.
"I hope your health is good this morning," continued old Mr. Toad, just
as if he hadn't noticed how short and cross Danny Meadow Mouse had
Now old Mr. Toad is very ugly to look upon, but the ugliness is all in
his looks. He has the sunniest of hearts and always he is looking for
a chance to help someone.
"Danny Meadow Mouse," said old Mr. Toad, "you make me think of your
grandfather a thousand times removed. You do indeed. You look just as
he did when he lost the half of his tail and realized that he never,
never could get it back again."
Danny Meadow Mouse sat up suddenly.
"What are you talking about, old Mr. Toad? What are you talking
about?" he asked. "Did my grandfather a thousand times removed lose
the half of his tail, and was it shorter then than mine is now? Was
it, old Mr. Toad? And how did he come to lose the half of it?"
Old Mr. Toad laughed a funny silent laugh. "It's a long story," said
old Mr. Toad, "and I'm afraid I can't tell it. Go down to the Smiling
Pool and ask Great-Grandfather Frog, who is my first cousin, how it
happened your grandfather a thousand times removed lost the half of his
tail. But before you go catch three fat, foolish, green flies and take
them with you as a present to Grandfather Frog."
Danny Meadow Mouse could hardly wait for old Mr. Toad to stop speaking.
In fact, he was in such a hurry that he almost forgot his manners. Not
quite, however, for he shouted "Thank you, Mr. Toad, thank you!" over
his shoulder as he rushed off down the Lone Little Path.
You see his short tail had always been a matter of mortification to
Danny Meadow Mouse. All his cousins in the Mouse family and the Rat
family have long, smooth, tapering tails, and they have always been a
source of envy to Danny Meadow Mouse. He had felt his queer short tail
to be a sort of disgrace. So when he would meet one of his cousins
dancing down the Lone Little Path, with his long, slim, tapering tail
behind him, Danny Meadow Mouse would slip out of sight under the long
grass, he was so ashamed of his own little tail. It looked so mean and
small! He had wondered and wondered if the Meadow Mice had always had
short tails. He used to ask everyone who came his way if they had ever
seen a Meadow Mouse with a long tail, but he had never found any one
"Perhaps," thought Danny Meadow Mouse as he hurried down the Lone
Little Path, "perhaps Grandfather Frog, who is very wise, will know why
my tail is short."
So he hurried this way and he hurried that way over the Green Meadows
in search of fat, foolish, green flies. And when he had caught three,
he caught one more for good measure. Then he started for the Smiling
Pool as fast as his short legs would take him.
When finally he reached the edge of the Smiling Pool he was quite out
of breath. There sat Great-Grandfather Frog on his big, green lily
pad. He was blinking his great goggle eyes at jolly, round, red Mr.
"Oh, Grandfather Frog," said Danny Meadow Mouse in a very small voice,
for you know he was quite out of breath with running, "Oh, Grandfather
Frog, I've brought you four fat, foolish, green flies."
Grandfather Frog put a hand behind an ear and listened. "Did I hear
someone say 'foolish, green flies?'" asked Grandfather Frog.
"Yes, Grandfather Frog, here they are," said Danny Meadow Mouse, still
in a very small voice. Then he gave Grandfather Frog the four fat,
foolish, green flies.
"What is it that you want me to do for you, Danny Meadow Mouse?" asked
Grandfather Frog as he smacked his lips, for he knew that Danny Meadow
Mouse must want something to bring him four fat, foolish, green flies.
"If you please," said Danny Meadow Mouse, very politely, "if you
please, Grandfather Frog, old Mr. Toad told me that you could tell me
how Grandfather Meadow Mouse a thousand times removed lost half of his
tail. Will you, Grandfather Frog - will you?"
"Chug-a-rum," said Grandfather Frog. "My cousin, Mr. Toad, talks too
But he settled himself comfortably on the big lily pad, and this is
what he told Danny Meadow Mouse:
"Once upon a time, when the world was young, Mr. Meadow Mouse, your
grandfather a thousand times removed, was a very fine gentleman. He
took a great deal of pride in his appearance, did Mr. Meadow Mouse, and
they used to say on the Green Meadows that he spent an hour, a full
hour, every day combing his whiskers and brushing his coat.
"Anyway, he was very fine to look upon, was Mr. Meadow Mouse, and not
the least attractive thing about him was his beautiful, long, slim
tail, of which he was very proud.
"Now about this time there was a great deal of trouble on the Green
Meadows and in the Green Forest, for some one was stealing - yes,
stealing! Mr. Rabbit complained first. To be sure, Mr. Rabbit was
lazy and his cabbage patch had grown little more than weeds while he
had been minding other folks' affairs rather than his own, but, then,
that was no reason why he should lose half of the little which he did
raise. And that is just what he said had happened.
"No one really believed what Mr. Rabbit said, for he had such a bad
name for telling things which were not so that when he did tell the
truth no one could be quite sure of it.
"So no one paid much heed to what Mr. Rabbit said until Happy Jack
Squirrel one day went to his snug little hollow in the big chestnut
tree where he stores his nuts and discovered half had been stolen.
Then Striped Chipmunk lost the greater part of his winter store of
corn. A fat trout was stolen from Billy Mink.
"It was a terrible time, for every one suspected every one else, and no
one on the Green Meadows was happy.
"One evening Mr. Meadow Mouse went for a stroll along the Crooked
Little Path up the hill. It was dark, very dark indeed. But just as
he passed Striped Chipmunk's granary, the place where he stores his
supply of corn and acorns for the winter, Mr. Meadow Mouse met his
cousin, Mr. Wharf Rat. Now Mr. Wharf Rat was very big and strong and
Mr. Meadow Mouse had for a long time looked up to and admired him.
"'Good evening, Cousin Meadow Mouse,' said Mr. Wharf Rat, swinging a
bag down from his shoulder. 'Will you do a favor for me?'
"Now Mr. Meadow Mouse felt very much flattered, and as he was a very
obliging fellow anyway, he promptly said he would.
"'All right,' said Mr. Wharf Rat. 'I'm going to get you to tote this
bag down the Crooked Little Path to the hollow chestnut tree. I've got
an errand back on top of the hill.'
"So Mr. Meadow Mouse picked up the bag, which was very heavy, and swung
it over his shoulder. Then he started down the Crooked Little Path.
Half way down he met Striped Chipmunk.
"'Good evening, Mr. Meadow Mouse,' said Striped Chipmunk. 'What are
you toting in the bag across your shoulder?'
"Now, of course, Mr. Meadow Mouse didn't know what was in the bag and
he didn't like to admit that he was working for another, for he was
very proud, was Mr. Meadow Mouse.
"So he said: 'Just a planting of potatoes I begged from Jimmy Skunk,
just a planting of potatoes, Striped Chipmunk.'
"Now no one had ever suspected Mr. Meadow Mouse of stealing - no indeed!
Striped Chipmunk would have gone his way and thought no more about it,
had it not happened that there was a hole in the bag and from it
something dropped at his feet. Striped Chipmunk picked it up and it
_wasn't_ a potato. It was a fat acorn. Striped Chipmunk said nothing
but slipped it into his pocket.
"'Good night,' said Mr. Meadow Mouse, once more shouldering the bag.
"'Good night,' said Striped Chipmunk.
"No sooner had Mr. Meadow Mouse disappeared in the darkness down the
Crooked Little Path than Striped Chipmunk hurried to his granary. Some
one had been there and stolen all his acorns!
"Then Striped Chipmunk ran to the house of his cousin, Happy Jack
Squirrel, and told him how the acorns had been stolen from his granary
and how he had met Mr. Meadow Mouse with a bag over his shoulder and
how Mr. Meadow Mouse had said that he was toting home a planting of
potatoes he had begged from Jimmy Skunk. 'And this,' said Striped
Chipmunk, holding out the fat acorn, 'is what fell out of the bag.'
"Then Striped Chipmunk and Happy Jack Squirrel hurried over to Jimmy
Skunk's house, and, just as they expected, they found that Mr. Meadow
Mouse had not begged a planting of potatoes of Jimmy Skunk.
"So Striped Chipmunk and Happy Jack Squirrel and Jimmy Skunk hurried
over to Mr. Rabbit's and told him all about Mr. Meadow Mouse and the
bag of potatoes that dropped acorns. Mr. Rabbit looked very grave,
very grave indeed. Then Striped Chipmunk and Happy Jack Squirrel and
Jimmy Skunk and Mr. Rabbit started to tell Mr. Coon, who was cousin to
old King Bear.
"On the way they met Hooty the Owl, and because he could fly softly and
quickly, they sent Hooty the Owl to tell all the meadow people who were
awake to come to the hollow chestnut tree. So Hooty the Owl flew away
to tell all the little meadow people who were awake to meet at the
hollow chestnut tree.
"When they reached the hollow chestnut tree whom should they find there
but Mr. Meadow Mouse fast asleep beside the bag he had brought for Mr.
Wharf Rat, who had wisely stayed away.
"Very softly Striped Chipmunk stole up and opened the bag. Out fell
his store of fat acorns. Then they waked Mr. Meadow Mouse and marched
him off to old Mother Nature, where they charged him with being a thief.
"Old Mother Nature listened to all they had to say. She saw the bag of
acorns and she heard how Mr. Meadow Mouse had said that he had a
planting of potatoes. Then she asked him if he had stolen the acorns.
Yes, Sir, she asked him right out if he had stolen the acorns.
"Of course Mr. Meadow Mouse said that he had not stolen the acorns.
"'Then where did you get the bag of acorns?' asked old Mother Nature.
"When she asked this, Mr. Wharf Rat, who was sitting in the crowd of
meadow people, got up and softly tiptoed away when he thought no one
was looking. But old Mother Nature saw him. You can't fool old Mother
Nature. No, Sir, you can't fool old Mother Nature, and it's of no use
"Mr. Meadow Mouse didn't know what to say. He knew now that Mr. Wharf
Rat must be the thief, but Mr. Wharf Rat was his cousin, and he had
always looked up to him as a very fine gentleman. He couldn't tell the
world that Mr. Wharf Rat was a thief. So Mr. Meadow Mouse said nothing.
"Three times old Mother Nature asked Mr. Meadow Mouse where he got the
bag of acorns, and each time Mr. Meadow Mouse said nothing.
"'Mr. Meadow Mouse,' said old Mother Nature, and her voice was very
stern, 'I know that you did not steal the acorns of Striped Chipmunk.
I know that you did not even guess that there were stolen acorns in
that bag. Everyone else thinks that you are the thief who caused so
much trouble on the Green Meadows and in the Green Forest. But I know
who the real thief is and he is stealing away as fast as he can go down
the Lone Little Path this very minute.'
"All of the little meadow people and forest folks turned to look down
the Lone Little Path, but it was so dark none could see, none but Hooty
the Owl, whose eyes are made to see in the dark.
"'I see him!' cried Hooty the Owl. 'It's Mr. Wharf Rat!'
"'Yes,' said old Mother Nature, 'it's Mr. Wharf Rat - he is the thief.
And this shall be his punishment: Always hereafter he will be driven
out wherever he is found. He shall no longer live in the Green Meadows
or the Green Forest. Everyone will turn their backs upon him. He will
live on what others throw away. He will live in filth and there will
be no one to say a good word for him. He will become an outcast
instead of a fine gentleman.'
"'And you, Mr. Meadow Mouse, in order that you may remember always to
avoid bad company, and that while it is a splendid thing to be loyal to
your friends and not to tell tales, it is also a very, very wrong thing
to shield those who have done wrong when by so doing you simply help
them to keep on doing wrong - you shall no longer have the splendid long
tail of which you are so proud, but it shall be short and stubby.'
"Even while old Mother Nature was speaking, Mr. Meadow Mouse felt his
tail grow shorter and shorter, and when she had finished he had just a
little mean stub of a tail.
"Of course he felt terribly. And while Striped Chipmunk hurried to
tell him how sorry he felt, and while all the other little meadow
people also hurried to tell him how sorry they felt, he could not be
comforted. So he slipped away as quickly as he could, and because he
was so ashamed he crept along underneath the long grass that no one
should see his short tail. And ever since that long ago time when the
world was young," concluded Grandfather Frog, "the Meadow Mice have had
short tails and have always scurried along under cover of the long
grass where no one will see them. And the Wharf Rats have never again
lived in the Green Meadows or in the Green Forest, but have lived on
filth and garbage around the homes of men, with every man's hand
"Thank you, Grandfather Frog," said Danny Meadow Mouse, very soberly.
"Now I understand why my tail is short and I shall not forget."
"But it isn't your fault at all, Danny Meadow Mouse," cried the Merry
Little Breezes, who had been listening, "and we love you just as much
as if your tail was long!"
Then they played tag with him all the way up the Lone Little Path to
his house, till Danny Meadow Mouse quite forgot that he had wished that
his tail was long.
WHY REDDY FOX HAS NO FRIENDS
The Green Meadows lay peaceful and still. Mother Moon, sailing high
overhead, looked down upon them and smiled and smiled, flooding them
with her silvery light. All day long the Merry Little Breezes of Old
Mother West Wind had romped there among the asters and goldenrod. They
had played tag through the cat rushes around the Smiling Pool. For
very mischief they had rubbed the fur of the Field Mice babies the
wrong way and had blown a fat green fly right out of Grandfather Frog's
mouth just as his lips came together with a smack. Now they were
safely tucked in bed behind the Purple Hills, and so they missed the
midnight feast at the foot of the Lone Pine.
But Reddy Fox was there. You can always count on Reddy Fox to be about
when mischief or good times are afoot, especially after Mr. Sun has
pulled his nightcap on.
Jimmy Skunk was there. If there is any mischief Reddy Fox does not
think of Jimmy Skunk will be sure to discover it.
Billy Mink was there. Yes indeed, Billy Mink was there! Billy Mink is
another mischief maker. When Reddy Fox and Jimmy Skunk are playing
pranks or in trouble of any kind you are certain to find Billy Mink
close by. That is, you are certain to find him if you look sharp
enough. But Billy Mink is so slim, he moves so quickly, and his wits
are so sharp, that he is not seen half so often as the others.
With Billy Mink came his cousin, Shadow the Weasel, who is sly and
cruel. No one likes Shadow the Weasel.
Little Joe Otter and Jerry Muskrat came. They were late, for the legs
of Little Joe Otter are so short that he is a slow traveler on land,
while Jerry Muskrat feels much more at home in the water than on the
Of course Peter Rabbit was there. Without him no party on the Green
Meadows would be complete, and Peter likes to be abroad at night even
better than by day. With Peter came his cousin, Jumper the Hare, who
had come down from the Pine Forest for a visit.
Boomer the Nighthawk and Hooty the Owl completed the party, though
Hooty had not been invited and no one knew that he was there.
Each was to contribute something to the feast - the thing that he liked
best. Such an array as Mother Moon looked down upon! Reddy Fox had
brought a plump, tender chicken, stolen from Farmer Brown's dooryard.
Very quietly, like a thin, brown shadow, Billy Mink had slipped up to
the duck pond and - alas! Now Mother Quack had one less in her pretty
little flock than when as jolly, round, red Mr. Sun went to bed behind
the Purple Hills, she had counted her babies as they tucked their heads
under their wings.
Little Joe Otter had been fishing and he brought a great fat brother of
the lamented Tommy Trout, who didn't mind.
Jerry Muskrat brought up from the mud of the river bottom some fine
fresh water clams, of which he is very fond.
Jimmy Skunk stole three big eggs from the nest of old Gray Goose.
Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare rolled up a great, tender, fresh
Boomer the Nighthawk said that he was very sorry, but he was on a diet
of insects, which he must swallow one at a time, so to save trouble he
had swallowed them as he caught them.
Now Hooty the Owl is a glutton and is lazy. "Reddy Fox and Jimmy Skunk
and Billy Mink are sure to bring somethink [Transcriber's note:
something?] I like, so what is the use of spending my time hunting for
what someone else will get for me?" said he to himself. So Hooty the
Owl went very early to the Lone Pine and hid among the thick branches
where no one could see him.
Shadow the Weasel is sly and a thief and lives by his wits. So because
he had rather steal than be honest, he too went to the midnight spread
with nothing but his appetite.
Now Reddy Fox is also a glutton and very, very crafty. When he saw the
plump duck brought by Billy Mink, his mouth watered, for Reddy Fox is
very, very fond of young spring ducks. So straightway he began to plan
how he could get possession of Billy Mink's duck.
And when Billy Mink saw the fat trout Little Joe Otter had brought, his
eyes danced and his heart swelled with envy, for Billy Mink is very,
very fond of fish. At once he began to plan how he could secure that
particular fat trout Little Joe Otter guarded so carefully.
Jimmy Skunk was quite contented with the eggs he had stolen from old
Gray Goose - that is, he was until he saw the plump chicken Reddy Fox
had brought from Farmer Brown's dooryard. Then suddenly his stomach
became very empty, very empty indeed for chicken, and Jimmy Skunk began
to think of a way to add the chicken of Reddy Fox to his own stolen
Because Reddy Fox is the largest he was given the place of honor at the
head of the table under the Lone Pine. On his right sat Little Joe
Otter and on his left Jerry Muskrat. Shadow the Weasel was next to
Little Joe Otter, while right across from him was Jimmy Skunk. Peter
Rabbit was next, sitting opposite his cousin, Jumper the Hare. At the
extreme end, facing Reddy Fox, sat Billy Mink, with the plump duck
right under his sharp little nose.
Boomer the Nighthawk excused himself on the plea that he needed
exercise to aid digestion, and as he had brought nothing to the feast,
his excuse was politely accepted.
Reddy Fox is very, very cunning, and his crafty brain had been busily
working out a plan to get all these good things for himself. "Little
brothers of the Green Meadows," began Reddy Fox, "we have met here
to-night for a feast of brotherly love."
Reddy Fox paused a moment to look hungrily at Billy Mink's duck. Billy
Mink cast a longing eye at Little Joe Otter's trout, while Jimmy Skunk
stole an envious glance at Reddy Fox's chicken.
"But there is one missing to make our joy complete," continued Reddy
Fox. "Who has seen Bobby Coon?"
No one had seen Bobby Coon. Somehow happy-go-lucky Bobby Coon had been
overlooked when the invitations were sent out.
"I move," continued Reddy Fox, "that because Billy Mink runs swiftly,
and because he knows where Bobby Coon usually is to be found, he be
appointed a committee of one to find Bobby Coon and bring him to the
Now nothing could have been less to the liking of Billy Mink, but there
was nothing for him to do but to yield as gracefully as he could and go
in search of Bobby Coon.
No sooner had Billy Mink disappeared down the Lone Little Path than
Reddy Fox recalled a nest of grouse eggs he had seen that day under a
big hemlock, and he proposed that inasmuch as Jimmy Skunk already wore
stripes for having stolen a nest of eggs from Mrs. Grouse, he was just
the one to go steal these eggs and bring them to the feast.
Of course there was nothing for Jimmy Skunk to do but to yield as
gracefully as he could and go in search of the nest of eggs under the
No sooner had Jimmy Skunk started off than Reddy Fox remembered a big
shining sucker Farmer Brown's boy had caught that afternoon and tossed
among the rushes beside the Smiling Pool. Little Joe Otter listened
and his mouth watered and watered until he could sit still no longer.
"If you please," said Little Joe Otter, "I'll run down to the Smiling
Pool and get that sucker to add to the feast."
No sooner was Little Joe Otter out of sight than Reddy Fox was reminded
of a field of carrots on the other side of the Green Meadows. Now
Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare are very fond of tender young carrots
and they volunteered to bring a supply for the feast. So away they
hurried with big jumps down the Lone Little Path and out across the
No sooner were Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare fairly started than
Reddy Fox began to tell of some luscious sweet apples he had noticed