At that moment

Tiny spent the night in the fork of a wild plum tree. For some time
he sat thinking of his mother and Squirreltown, but his lessons in
patience and contentment had made him satisfied with his lot.

The next morning he started upon his journey, bravely following the
narrow, twisting path, ever ready to avoid danger.

[Illustration: HE WAS ABOUT TO TAKE A DRINK WHEN HE SAW WHAT HE TOOK TO
BE A FAIRY STRUGGLING IN THE WATER.]

At length he came to a brook. He was about to take a drink when he saw
what he took to be a fairy struggling in the water. She had been trying
to get out for a long time; but, finally, her wings ceased to move and
she lay very still.

Tiny, who was a good swimmer, hurried out to rescue her. He placed his
nose under her and lifted her from the water. Holding his head high, he
swam to the shore.

The fairy crawled upon a lady’s-slipper close by and flapped her wings
until they were quite dry.

“You have done me a great service,” she said. “I’ll repay you some time
when you least expect it. I can’t tell you how grateful I am.”

“Don’t try,” said Tiny, with a polite bow. “I’ve been taught to protect
the helpless, provided they are not too big for my protection. I hope
you are quite dry now.”

“Yes, I shall be able to fly back to the city as soon as I get my
breath,” she said. “I am a queen bee and I should not be out of my
hive. I left the palace this morning with several thousand followers
and was on my way to a far-off country, when, in some peculiar manner,
I fell into the water. I could not swim, so it is lucky for me that you
came by.”

“I hope that your followers will find you. They must be greatly
distressed.”

“Oh, I hope they’ll find me,” said the queen bee, as she flapped her
wings. “You see, I have thousands and thousands of children; but they
have good nurses and are never much bother. It is not hard to govern
them.”

Tiny gazed at her in surprise.

“I have been queen of a place called the City Wonderful,” she
continued. “I ruled fifty thousand subjects. We lived in a great city
with narrow streets, protected by a beehive. You don’t know what a very
busy place it was all summer long.”

“But it doesn’t seem possible that so many creatures could live
together. Just imagine fifty thousand red squirrels in one tree!”
gasped Tiny.

“That’s different,” responded the queen. “We live together in
co-operation. Each of the workers knows her work and does it without
having to be watched all the time. The workers are females, and they
are very industrious; but the drones are males, and they do not work.
They have to be driven out of the city before winter sets in, or they
would eat all our provisions. The workers toil from morning till night,
stopping up cracks in the hive with wax, carrying food to the baby
bees, and storing it away for winter. They haven’t time to play in the
summer. Each worker has six little pockets which she fills with pollen.
She uses this in making wax for the walls. As soon as the walls are
built, another set of workers make round places, or cells, in them.
Others fill the cells with honey from the honey bags they carry about
when they visit the flowers.”

“But where do the little baby bees stay?” asked Tiny.

“Oh, they stay in the empty honey cells and are watched and cared for
by their nurses until they are old enough to work,” replied the queen.
“There is much to do, but there are many classes of workers, from the
honey gatherers to the bees that stand inside the hive, fanning with
their wings to make currents of air; for without pure air the crowded
City Wonderful would not be a fit place to live in. Another set of bees
cleans out the cells after the baby bees are old enough to come out,
and others guard the gate of the city to keep away moths and other
troublesome creatures.”

“Bees are wise, sensible, industrious, and useful,” declared the
squirrel. “I should like to see the City Wonderful. I am very glad that
I have the privilege of seeing a queen bee. I wasn’t expecting such a
great pleasure.”

The queen bee said that she was equally glad to see the red squirrel,
and that she would be delighted to invite him to see the new City
Wonderful, were it not for the fact that her soldiers might make it
unpleasant for him.

“Are there many kinds of bees?” asked Tiny presently.




“Yes, there are fully seventy known varieties,” replied the queen,
daintily flapping her wings. “There are the plasterer bees. They make
tunnels in the ground, divide them into cells, and fill them with
honey. They have forked tongues to use as trowels in smoothing down
the silken layers which they use in making the tunnels. The flower
riflers, which are very dark in color, make their cells on dry walls.
Their homes look like lumps of mud.”

Tiny asked if all the bees live in great cities.

“Not all of them,” replied the queen, “although they are very sociable
creatures. The upholsterer bee cuts out round pieces from rose leaves,
with which she lines her tiny nest. Would it not be delightful to live
in a nest of sweet-smelling rose leaves? I should much prefer such
sweet quietude to city life. The upholsterer stores honey and pollen
that looks like rose-colored jam. I dare say it is very delicious. The
mason bees take bits of chalk, sand, and woody material, which they
make into tiny bricks to use in building their little houses. Another
kind of bee hunts for an old snail shell in which to make her house.
There is another variety that builds its nest in the heart of the
scarlet poppy. Some bees throw out sweet perfume. Although most bees
work in the sunshine, there is a class, with wings tinted like the
rainbow, that works by moonlight. You may be learned, my friend, but
I could sit here all day and tell you things about bees. You would be
much surprised at many facts I should mention. Bees, wasps, spiders,
and ants are very clever.”

Tiny said that there was nothing that could give him greater pleasure
than to hear her talk.

“But my body guard is coming,” continued the queen. “It is really an
extraordinary thing for a queen bee to be without attendants. They
must be much distressed about losing me.”

Tiny asked why she had left the City Wonderful.

“Because of family troubles,” replied the queen, somewhat ashamed.
“We lived in perfect harmony until I learned that my daughter, the
princess, would come out of her nursery cell in a few days to enter
society. Princess bees are the only ones that cause trouble. They are
fed on the finest food, and the nurses work hard to make their bodies
as smooth and comely as possible. Of course, daughters that live in
luxury and never have any responsibility are likely to be spoiled. Like
all queen bees I am in fear of the eldest princess.”

“Why?” cried Tiny in surprise.

“Oh, you don’t understand bees,” said the queen with a sigh. “When my
eldest princess comes from her nursery and is ready to go into society,
she will try to kill me. She will strive to be queen. It is always that
way with the princesses.”

“What a cruel daughter!” exclaimed the squirrel, much horrified.

“All princesses try to get the queens out of the way,” said the bee in
a sad voice. “As soon as they are big enough to rule others, they want
to control everything. So I have gotten several thousand loyal subjects
and have left the hive to build a city of my own.”

“And will a cruel princess become queen in your place?” asked Tiny.

“Yes,” was the response, “but before long she will become uneasy,
too. Her next younger sister will come out of her nursery and will
want to rule. Perhaps there will be a great contest, but doubtless
the elder princess will have to flee as I have done. She will have
fewer followers than I, and they will be called the after-swarm. Thus
jealousy goes on in the royal family all the time, but the other bees
are usually peaceable and are always busy.”

At that moment Tiny heard a buzz that sounded as though all the insects
in the world were singing together. A great swarm of bees, like a black
cloud, appeared overhead.

“I believe this must have been the first time in history that a queen
ever got away from the rest of the swarm,” said the queen bee. “I have
enjoyed this little visit so much, and I thank you a thousand times for
saving me from drowning.”

Waving her pretty wings in graceful farewell, she joined her army of
soldiers, and with buzzes of delight they carried her away.

“What a dreadful thing it is to be a ruler, in constant fear of death!”
said Tiny, gratefully. “I am glad–oh, so glad–that I am a little
common squirrel, as free as the sunbeams that light my way.”

Continue Reading

SUDDENLY HE SAW A SPIDER BUSY AT WORK UPON HER COUNTRY HOME

Not far from the city of ants, Tiny halted to refresh himself with an
acorn.

“This country is delightful,” he said to himself. “A squirrel does
not often see such a beautiful scene. He has little knowledge of the
great world. I was discontented not long ago, but now I am happy. I
am glad that I saw the ants and their city. They are very industrious
creatures. All have much work to do, yet they do it willingly. They
don’t seem to wish to be idle. Ants never before were interesting to
me, but now I admire them very much. You have taught me a lesson,
friend ant.”

He sat still for a few moments gazing around him. Suddenly he saw a
spider busy at work upon her country home. She wore a snuff-brown
jacket dashed with purple, and her legs were striped like those of a
tiger.

She had just finished digging a tunnel seven inches long in the earth,
and had lined it with a substance that looked like silk. Now she was
spinning a web to cover the outer door, which was really a dry oak
leaf. She left an opening large enough to pass through. Then she pulled
some blades of grass and fastened them across the leaf so securely that
the entrance to her home could not be seen. She worked very busily,
although occasionally a rude wasp came along and tried to sting her.
In spite of disturbing insects, the spider finished building her home.
Then she twined some tiny vines about the entrance, making a green
bower that looked very pretty. When her difficult task was completed,
she crawled into her silk-lined hall and went to sleep.

“Plucky wood spider!” cried Tiny in admiration. “Although the
wasps threaten her life, she never gives up. You work diligently,
little friend. I admire you very much. I have learned a lesson in
perseverance.”

[Illustration: HE SAW A DARK OBJECT SITTING DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF HIM.]




Tiny did not hunt a place in which to sleep until it was quite late.
Indeed, the moon was beginning to shine before he thought of rest. Just
as he was about to leave the path turning to the right, he saw a dark
object sitting directly in front of him. It was singing in a clear and
plaintive voice:

“Wur-r-r, wur-r-r, wur-r-r,
I never complain nor demur,
Though the fox and the bat and the weasel and cat
Are waiting to seize me and roll me out flat,
And swallow me down like a great lump of fat,
Wur-r-r, wur-r-r, wur-r-r.

“Wur-r-r, wur-r-r, wur-r-r,
I have neither feathers nor fur;
I am dusty and wrinkled and warts to me cling,
Yet I’m never unhappy, for Nature, kind thing,
Gave me such a sweet voice; so I constantly sing
Wur-r-r, wur-r-r, wur-r-r.”

“How fortunate it is that an ugly creature may have the power to sing!”
exclaimed Tiny so loudly that the toad who had been singing grew
frightened and leaped into the tall grass.

“You have taught me the song of contentment, Mrs. Toad,” he continued.
“I have many privileges that you do not enjoy, for you only venture
forth at night. Although hundreds of animals are waiting to destroy
you, your song never loses its vigor. Your only recreation is to catch
a few insects and to sit in the moonlight, singing ‘Wur-r-r, wur-r-r,
wur-r-r’.”

Continue Reading

How full of energy they are

The sunbeams shine through the boughs of the trees and the winds rustle
gently. The dewdrops glitter on the grass. The brook bounds joyously
along. The birds sing gaily and the little animals of the wood come
forth to listen to the sweet music. The wild flowers open their pretty
cups.

Now the forest is ringing with glad shouts and songs. The sunbeams
are growing brighter. The winds are dying down and the dewdrops are
passing away. The brook is bounding along more joyously. The birds are
singing more gaily. The little animals are running hither and thither.
The flowers are spreading their pretty cups wide open to catch the
sunlight. At last Tiny is waking.

When Tiny awoke from his slumbers in the hazel brush, he scampered down
to the edge of the brook, washed his face, and combed out his long,
bushy tail. Then he began to call for Chatty, but no answer came. He
finally decided to start alone. He remembered to take the path leading
to the right as the owl had directed him. For a long time he sauntered
along, admiring the elder, oak, and buckeye trees, and occasionally he
darted his piercing gaze at some low-hanging black haw or pawpaw bush,
fearing some animal might attack him.

At last he came to a sandy plain, where he sat down to rest in the
sunshine. Not far away he saw a city. Its streets were filled with busy
inhabitants. Hundreds of them were hurrying to and fro, working with
all their energy. Many little workers were erecting buildings. To lift
a single grain of sand each was toiling with all his might. They did
not stop to rest or to visit, but kept working, working, working. Tiny
thought it would take them a long time to build houses from grains of
sand.

[Illustration: THEY DID NOT STOP TO REST OR VISIT, BUT KEPT WORKING,
WORKING, WORKING.]

While the architects were busy building new homes, some soldiers in
shiny, red clothes moved about as if they were giving orders to the
workers. A crowd of watchmen stood at the gates of the city, ready to
give warning at the approach of an enemy.




Not one of the little creatures was alarmed by the squirrel. They
heeded him no more than Tiny did the tree beneath which he was
crouching. He drew nearer and saw that there were many little rooms
near the surface of the city and that below them was a great public
dining-room and storeroom. Evidently they all ate their meals together.
These rooms were kept in order by a host of servants, who were very
busy all the time carrying out shells, seeds, and the remains of
insects. Others collected all the rubbish and carried it out into a
heap outside the city limits. Scores of nurses were looking after the
babies, and teaching them that the time would soon come when they must
labor like their elders.

Suddenly there was a great commotion in the street. Some food providers
were struggling along with a fly they had found. They were taking it
to the storeroom. The load was so heavy that several household workers
rushed out to lend their help. They toiled along together, slowly, with
one united effort, and with great difficulty; but, finally, they stowed
the fly headlong into the public storeroom. Tiny breathed a sigh of
relief when their hard task was done.

But they did not stop to rest. They turned out to help others bring
in a locust. The workers in the storeroom cleared a place for other
provisions; the watchmen guarded the gates, without taking their eyes
from their work; the architects, steadily and patiently, carried grain
after grain of sand to the tops of their buildings.

“How full of energy they are!” exclaimed Tiny. “By their combined
efforts they can build and support a great city. If something destroys
it, they build it up again. I wish squirrels would work together as
these insects do. Oh, I see! It is as the owl prophet said. I have
learned the lesson of patience. I do feel glad that I was permitted
to study this wonderful city. However, I am surprised to learn such a
noble lesson from the smallest of all creatures–ants!”

Continue Reading

The little red squirrel

Tiny sat for a long time in the top of the tree and looked away as far
as his eyes could see. In the distance rose the big yellow moon. It
shone brightly upon the treetops of the great forest, yet he could not
see Squirreltown.

At last he began to descend slowly, almost frightening to death a tree
toad that was hopping about on its little velvet toes among the green
branches.

[Illustration: TINY’S BUSHY TAIL STIFFENED WITH FRIGHT.]

Tiny’s bushy tail stiffened with fright when he heard a loud, whirring
sound and a shrill cry from the branch over his head. Two big yellow
eyes glared at him through the dense foliage. They scared him so that
he could not scamper away.

“Hoot! hoot!” cried the dreadful creature. “Why are you prowling around
my castle at this time of night? Don’t you know that I am a horned owl?
I like to eat rabbits, squirrels, and mice.”

“I did not mean to disturb you, sir,” said Tiny politely, although
his teeth chattered and his limbs refused to move. “My name is Tiny
Redsquirrel. I have lost my way. Can you tell me where to find
Squirreltown?”

“I wish I knew where it is,” said the owl, “for it wouldn’t take me
long to put an end to it. Come closer that we may have a little chat. I
like squirrels.”

“Mr. Owl, I know that it would not be prudent for me to get closer to
you,” said Tiny, without moving a step. “I want everyone to like me,
but I do not want them to like me well enough to eat me.”

“Well spoken!” cried the owl, clapping his wings and screeching loudly.
“A fairy told me, Tiny, that you were coming to my castle. I promised
her that I would not hurt you. Tell me what gift you desire above all
things else.”

“A good education,” replied Tiny promptly.

“Fine!” exclaimed the owl. “Of course, squirrels cannot expect to know
very much. Red squirrels are too mischievous to learn a great deal.
They worry robins in their nests, frighten field mice, steal from the
farmer’s granary, and spring the traps that hunters set for martens.
Can you tell me who is the wisest of all living creatures?”

“I think it must be the donkey,” said Tiny after hesitating a few
moments.

“The donkey is as stupid as a stump,” said the owl impatiently. “What
makes you think that the donkey is the wisest of all creatures?”

“An animal that makes so much noise must be very wise,” answered the
innocent squirrel.

“When you are older, you will learn that the wisest creatures seldom
make any noise at all,” said the owl with a sage toss of his head. “The
donkey is most unlike the animal that represents wisdom, and he–”

“Perhaps the wisest animal is the loon,” interrupted the squirrel.

Tiny had never heard the expression “crazy as a loon,” or he would not
have made such an absurd guess.

The owl laughed again. “Poor little squirrel,” he continued, “you are
much in need of an education, and I will help you to realize your wish.
An old loon lives two hundred yards from here in some dry muck on the
ruins of an old muskrat house. Whenever she tries to avoid danger, she
always runs the wrong way and jumps into it. Her legs are placed so
far back beneath her body that she cannot walk very long at a time
without toppling over. When she swims, she makes more noise than a
family of beavers. She screeches all the time, and consequently gets
no opportunity to think. You know that to be wise one must be a quiet
thinker. No, the loon is as dull as the donkey.”

“Then who is the wisest of all creatures?” asked Tiny, growing more and
more interested.

“Have you never heard that the owl is the symbol of wisdom?” asked the
curious creature. “There is nothing I do not know.”

“Then perhaps you can tell me where Squirreltown is situated,” said
Tiny, eagerly.

“I do not know,” replied the owl, glaring at Tiny until he again lost
courage. “I do not fill my mind with useless knowledge, since there are
so many important things to know. How ridiculous of you to ask me such
a question! You might just as well ask why the moon, although not so
large as a pumpkin, can light up this great world of ours. There are
many things that learned students cannot explain so ordinary creatures
can understand. I believe, however, that if you live long enough and
keep traveling all the time, you may find Squirreltown one of these
days.”




“This is no time for jesting,” burst forth Tiny, his heart sinking. “I
greatly desire to get home. I started out to gather our winter store in
this hunting-bag, but I got lost. Mother must be quite tired looking
for me.”

“Your mother need not wear her eyes out _looking_ for you, since you
are surely old enough to _see_ for yourself,” retorted the owl.

Tiny said that he must hasten on.

“Do not be in a hurry, my restless quadruped,” said the owl. “Squirrels
are always in a hurry. You are very nervous animals. It makes me dizzy
to look at you. I am the wisest creature of the forest, yet you do not
choose to tarry long enough to get some useful information. Do you
still desire an education, or have you changed your mind?”

“I want to get home,” sobbed Tiny.

“I will see that your wish is granted,” said the owl, more kindly.
“What else do you wish?”

“I wish to grow up to be a useful squirrel. I want to make my mother
and everybody else happy.”

The owl asked him what more he desired.

“That is all,” was the reply.

“Then do as I say,” commanded the owl. “Before you can become truly
wise, you must learn the lessons of patience and industry, and, as you
struggle, you must sing the song of contentment. I am a wise prophet,
and I will see that your wishes are fulfilled.

“To-night you must sleep out in one of those hazel bushes. Be sure to
hide yourself, for sometimes I fly about while asleep. In that case
perhaps I might eat you without knowing it. To-morrow at dawn, follow
the path that leads to the brook. Then turn to your right. If you
should turn to your left, you would soon find yourself in Big Bear
City. Keep your eyes wide open, and when you least expect it, you will
be taught the lesson of patience.

“Follow the footpath till you come to a lovely dell, where a fairy
princess will teach you the lesson of industry and the value of doing
good to others. She probably can show you the way to Squirreltown, for
she knows all about geography. But, ere you reach home, you will have
two dreadful encounters. A four-legged giant with hundreds of darts
will rush upon you when you least expect it. Do not be frightened. Be
calm and cautious. Lie close to the ground so that his darts will pass
above you, should he throw them at you. Seize one of his darts, jab
him; he will then run away.

“Soon you will find yourself in the heart of a jungle that almost all
tame beasts fear to enter. Another giant, a big black one, will try to
hurt you. However, you will be protected. Do as I command, or you will
never get back home.”

“Thank you, Mr. Owl,” said Tiny, willing to endure any hardship if he
could only see his mother again. “Should you come to Squirreltown, the
Mayor will tell you where to find me. He is stopping at the Beech Tree
Inn.”

“What kind of stops does he use?” asked the owl, much amused.

Tiny stared at him in wonderment.

“I suppose you mean that he is _staying_ at the Beech Tree Inn,” said
the owl. “I hope you have enjoyed your visit in my castle. If you will
stay a while longer I will sing. I have a most beautiful voice. I can
sing twice as loud as a village of sparrows.”

The little red squirrel did not insist upon hearing the owl prophet
sing, for that would have been bad manners.

With a polite goodnight, he scurried down the tree to a clump of hazel
bushes, where he hid himself as securely as possible. He slept very
little, for he feared that the wise owl might fly about in his sleep
and possibly devour him.

Continue Reading

He was vexed at the stranger’s ignorance

Chatty smiled foolishly and Tiny laughed heartily. The butterfly rested
a long time. Then she flew away. The birds chattered gayly as the sun
smiled brightly. The brook gurgled with glee and flowed merrily on.
The chipmunk seemed wide awake after his drenching. For a half hour he
scurried briskly along.

“Not far away some fine blackberries grow on low bushes,” he said. “We
will find them and feast until dusk. When we become sleepy we will nap
for a while.”

“We have wandered from our path,” protested Tiny. “We are lost!”

“Nonsense!” exclaimed Chatty. “Someone will show us the way home.
Squirreltown is the greatest city in the world.”

“Do you remember those hunters who passed through Squirreltown not long
ago?” asked Tiny. “They said that London is the largest city in the
world. The East contains many great cities.”

“You are dreaming,” laughed the chipmunk. “I have heard of every large
city. Squirreltown has the most inhabitants, and Gray Fox Center comes
next. How many squirrels live in London?”

“London is filled with people, not with squirrels. Those hunters that
frightened us the other day are people. They live in houses,” explained
Tiny.

“How I should dislike London!” cried Chatty. “Do all people look as
fierce as those hunters? I thought that hunters dwelt in holes in the
ground. I supposed that they played in the trees and wandered about
with huge guns and frightened little animals for amusement. I imagine
that people must look very much like bears.”

“Many of them do,” assented Tiny with a wise nod. “However, they do
not walk on four legs, but straight up like storks. We must roam no
farther. Let us gather these beech nuts and collect them in little
heaps.”

“No, indeed,” said his companion, as he rose from his couch. “I want
some blackberries.”

“O Chatty, an odd-looking animal comes from the trunk of that hollow
tree. It is a bear!” cried Tiny.

“Oh!” gasped Chatty. His eyes opened wide with fear and surprise. “We
must hide.”

For a moment they gazed at the stranger who stood before them. He
sniffed the grass that grew around a stump, but watched them steadily.
The little foragers remained quite still and struggled for courage.

[Illustration: THE LITTLE FORAGERS REMAINED QUITE STILL AND STRUGGLED
FOR COURAGE.]

“Be calm,” said the queer creature in a friendly voice. “I am hunting
for something green and tender. Fear not, for I never attack such small
creatures as you.”

“What are you, sir?” asked Tiny, remembering his mother’s instructions
to speak courteously.

“I am a raccoon and I live in that hollow tree,” said the animal. “I
once dwelt in a village which lies a hundred miles away. Leachburg is
its name. The inhabitants called me Brother Raccoon. My given name
is Sambo, my wife’s name is Serena, and we named our sons Simon and
Solomon. Formerly I was a pet in a family of people. While with them I
learned a number of pretty names for children, as well as many other
things.”

“Tell us something about people,” requested Tiny, drawing nearer. At
last he stood face to face with the raccoon.

“People live a long time if they take good care of their health,”
began Brother Raccoon. “The baby of this family was four years of age.”

Tiny and Chatty laughed outright. The speaker smiled good-naturedly.

“He was surely a backward baby,” chuckled Chatty. “The mayor of
Squirreltown is four years of age and he is very old.”

“Little people are generally happy,” continued the raccoon. “They have
everything their hearts desire. I wish that my little ones had such
good fortune. Alas! we watch Simon and Solomon all the time. They
seldom go out of the house except after night. Little people stay
indoors all night, but little raccoons do not.”




“What lovely times little raccoons must have!” cried Chatty. “If I
were one of them I would run about all night, especially when it is
moonlight. Mother sends me to bed before sunset.”

“No one has more anxiety than a raccoon,” declared the stranger. He
blinked his eyes, which were black and shiny. There were white rings
around them. “Our midnight prowls often cause us great trouble.
Sometimes the raccoons go into the cornfields. While they are eating
corn, a pack of dogs appears and drives them back to the woods. Before
the poor raccoons can hide, the men with their guns attack them.”

“You should not steal the farmer’s corn,” reproved Tiny. “Thieves
deserve punishment.”

“Yes, but the farmer does not treat us right,” replied the raccoon
bitterly. “He steals our fur and eats our flesh. He deceives us and
slays us. He does all sorts of mean things.”

“I am sorry for you,” said Tiny. “Why should little animals of the
forest suffer from the acts of mankind? Are you never safe from harm?”

“No,” continued the raccoon. “Our flesh and fur are so fine that these
terrible people hunt for us by day and by night. One evening I was in a
field of corn which was green and tempting. A party of noisy creatures
called boys came to the field. They chased me back into the forest.
I was so little that I stumbled and fell. A dog caught me. Before he
could hurt me, a small boy seized me and carried me in a bag to his
home. He placed me in a cage.

“The boy’s name was Teddy Root. He greatly admired my dainty feet and
grayish-brown fur. I became so tame that they gave me much freedom. I
soon lost my fear of people. Sometimes they scolded me, because I stole
into the pantry and helped myself to milk, sugar, lard, and butter. I
did not know that I had done wrong. Teddy took cookies from the pantry
without first asking his mother’s permission, so I thought I could do
so, too. However, I yearned for my home in the deep forest. One day I
ran away.

“I wandered a long time before I found the stump that had sheltered me
during my early days. My family had departed. I was alone, but I made
the old house comfortable, and soon forgot my troubles. I preferred a
stump to a gilded cage. One night a party of raccoons went out on an
excursion to a cornfield. They took me with them. It was then that I
met my mate, Serena. Life is happier now than it ever has been before.”

“We thank you for the story of your life,” said Tiny. “Now show us the
way to Squirreltown.”

“I have never heard of such a place,” replied the raccoon, after he had
thought hard for a few moments.

“It is the largest city in the world and it is a very important one,
too,” snapped Chatty. He was vexed at the stranger’s ignorance.

“You are wrong,” said the raccoon as he shook his head doubtfully. “I
know that Coontown is much larger. You must ask some other animal to
show you the way.”

“Thank you,” said Tiny. He never forgot the value of politeness,
although Chatty often did. “We must hasten home.”

“Oh, why did you speak about those blackberries?” he continued, as he
turned to Chatty. “We have lost our way. I fear dear mother grieves for
me.”

“It was no fault of mine that Mr. Raccoon stopped us to tell the stupid
story of his life,” retorted Chatty. “See the acorns under the tree.
Some kind fairy knew that we were coming and threw them down.”

Chatty ate greedily, while Tiny swiftly climbed to the top of a huge
oak tree and gazed all about him. Nowhere could he see the friendly
treetops of Squirreltown.

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