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- Sleepy-Time Tales: The Tale of Fatty Coon - 4/9 -


soon as it grows a little darker."

Well--after a while they set out for the cornfield. And sure enough! old Spot soon began to bark.

"He's treed!" said Farmer Green, pretty soon. And they all hurried over to the edge of the woods, where Spot had chased a coon up into a tall chestnut tree. In the moonlight they could see the coon quite plainly. "Another little feller!" cried Farmer Green. "I declare, all the coons that come to the cornfield seem to be young ones. This one's no bigger than the one we saw last night."

Now, although Farmer Green never guessed it, it was Fatty Coon who was up there in the tall chestnut. He had run almost to the woods this time, before he had to take to a tree. In fact, if Spot hadn't been quite so close to him Fatty could have reached the woods, and then he would have just jumped from one tree to another. But there were no trees near enough the big chestnut for that. Fatty had to stay right there and wait for those men to pass on. He wasn't afraid. He felt perfectly safe in his big tree. And he only smiled when Johnnie Green said to his father--

"I wish I had that young coon. He'd make a fine pet."

"A pet!" exclaimed Farmer Green. "You remember that pet fox you had, that stole my chickens?"

"Oh, I'd be careful," Johnnie promised. "Besides, don't you think we ought to catch him, so he won't eat any more corn?"

Farmer Green smiled. He had been a boy himself, once upon a time, and he had not forgotten the pet coon that he had owned when he was just about Johnnie's age.

"All right!" he said at last. "I'll give you one more chance, Johnnie. But you'll have to see that this young coon doesn't kill any of my poultry."

Johnnie promised that nothing of the sort should happen. And then his father and the hired man picked up their axes; and standing on opposite sides of the tall chestnut tree, they began to chop.

How the chips did fly! At the very first blow Fatty knew that this was an entirely different sort of chopping from that which Johnnie had attempted the night before. The great tree shook as if it knew that it would soon come crashing down upon the ground.

And as for Fatty Coon, he could not see but that he must fall when the tree did. He, too, shivered and shook. And he wrapped himself all the way around a limb and hung on as tight as ever he could.

IX

JOHNNIE GREEN LOSES HIS PET

Now, Farmer Green and his hired man had not chopped long before they stopped to breathe. They had not chopped long--but oh! what great, yawning holes they had made in the big chestnut! From the limb where he clung Fatty Coon looked down. The tree no longer shook. And Fatty felt better at once. You see, he thought that the men would go away, just as Johnnie had gone away the night before. But they had no such idea at all.

"Which way are you going to fell her?" the hired man asked. He said HER, meaning the TREE, of course.

"That way!" said Farmer Green, pointing toward the woods. "We'll have to drop her that way, or she'll fall right across the road, and of course THAT would never do."

"But will she clear the trees on the edge of the woods?" The hired man appeared somewhat doubtful.

"Oh, to be sure--to be sure!" answered Farmer Green.

And with that they set to work again. But this time they both chopped on the same side of the tree--the side toward the woods.

Now, if Fatty Coon was frightened before, you will believe that he was still more frightened when the big chestnut tree began to sag. Yes! it began to lean toward the woods. Slowly, slowly it tipped. And Fatty was scared half out of his mind. He climbed to the very top of the tree, because he wanted to get just as far away from those men as he could. And there he waited. There was nothing else he could do. Yes! he waited until that awful moment should come when the tree would go crashing down upon the ground. What was going to happen to him then? Fatty wondered. And while he was wondering there sounded all at once a great snapping and splitting. And Fatty felt the tree falling, falling. He could hear Johnnie Green shouting. And he shut his eyes and held fast to his branch. Then came the crash.

When Fatty Coon opened his eyes he expected to see Johnnie Green all ready to seize him. But to his great surprise he was still far above the ground. You see, Farmer Green had been mistaken. Either the big chestnut tree was taller than he had guessed, or the woods were nearer than he had thought. For instead of dropping upon the ground, Fatty's tree had fallen right against another tree on the edge of the woods. And there it lay, half-tipped over, with its branches caught fast in the branches of that other tree.

It was no wonder that Johnnie Green shouted. And he shouted still more loudly when he saw Fatty scramble out of the big chestnut and into the other tree, and out of that tree and into another, and then out of THAT tree. Fatty was going straight into the woods.

It was no wonder that Johnnie Green shouted. For he had lost his pet coon. He had lost him before he ever had him. And he was sadly disappointed.

But Fatty Coon was not disappointed, for he had not wanted to be a pet at all. And he was very glad--you may be sure--to get safely home once more.

X

FATTY COON AND THE MONSTER

One night Fatty Coon was strolling along the road that wound through the valley. He was in no hurry, for he had just left Farmer Green's apple orchard, where he had bolted all the apples he could possibly eat. The night was dark and though it was not very late, all the country people seemed to be in bed. There were no farmers driving along the road. Fatty had it all to himself. And so he walked slowly homewards. It was then that the terrible monster almost caught him.

This is how it all happened. There was a br-br-br-r-r-r in the air. Fatty really should have heard it long before he did. But he had eaten so many apples that he had begun to feel sleepy; and his ears were not so sharp as they should have been. And when at last Fatty heard that br- r-r-r it was quite loud. He was startled. And he stopped right in the middle of the road to listen. Fatty had never heard such a sound before.

The strange animal was on him before he knew it. Its glaring eyes blinded him. And if it had not screamed at him Fatty would never have escaped. It was the terrible screech of the monster which finally made Fatty jump. It was a frightful cry--like six wildcats all wailing together. And Fatty leaped to one side of the road just before the monster reached him.

The great creature went past Fatty like the wind and tore on up the hill. He seemed to be running so fast that he could not stop. Fatty could hear him panting as he climbed the sharp rise of the road.

Fatty Coon hurried away. He wanted to get home before the monster could stop and come back to look for him.

When Fatty told his mother about his narrow escape Mrs. Coon became much excited. She felt sure that Fatty was not mistaken, for had she not heard that strange cry herself?

There it was again! Woo-ooo-ooo-oo-o! It began low, rose to a shriek, and then died away again.

Mrs. Coon and Fatty climbed to the very top of their old poplar and gazed down the valley.

"Look, Mother!" Fatty cried. "He's stopped at Farmer Green's! You can see his eyes from here!"

Mrs. Coon looked. Sure enough! It was just as Fatty said. And that horrid call echoed across the valley once more.

Farmer Green stuck his head out of his chamber-window, to see what the man in the automobile wanted.

"Where's the nearest village, please?" the stranger asked. And after Farmer Green had told him the man drove his car on again.

From their tree-top Fatty and his mother watched the monster dash down the valley. They knew he had gone, because they could see the gleam of those awful eyes.

"Do you suppose he ate up Farmer Green and his family?" Fatty asked in a frightened voice.

"I hope so," she said. "Then perhaps there'll be no more traps in the woods."

"But who would plant the corn?" Fatty asked.

Mrs. Coon did not appear to hear his question.

XI

JASPER JAY TELLS SOME NEWS

It was quite late in the fall, and the weather had grown very cold. Mrs. Coon and her family had not left their home for several days; but on this day she thought it would be pleasant to go out in the sunshine and


Sleepy-Time Tales: The Tale of Fatty Coon - 4/9

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