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- Sleepy-Time Tales: The Tale of Fatty Coon - 5/9 -


get a breath of fresh air and a bite to eat.

Fatty was the only one of her children that was not asleep; and he complained of being very hungry. So Mrs. Coon decided to take him with her.

The hunting was not very good. There were no birds' eggs at all to be found in the trees. The river and the brook and the creek were all frozen over, so Fatty and his mother could not catch any fish. And as for corn--Farmer Green had long ago gathered the last ear of it. Fatty wished that it was summertime. But it only made him hungrier than ever, to think of all the good things to eat that summer brings. He was feeling very unhappy when his mother said to him sharply--

"Run up this tree! Hurry, now! Don't ask any questions."

Now, Fatty did not always mind his mother as quickly as he might have. But this time he saw that she had stopped and was sniffing the air as if there was something about it she did not like.

That was enough for Fatty. He scrambled up the nearest tree. For he knew that his mother had discovered danger of some sort.

Mrs. Coon followed close behind Fatty. And they had. no sooner hidden in the branches than Fatty saw what it was that his mother had smelled.

It was Johnnie Green! He passed right underneath the tree where they were perched. And as Mrs. Coon peeped down at him she shuddered and shivered and shook so hard that Fatty couldn't help noticing it.

"What's the matter?" he asked, as soon as Johnnie Green was out of sight.

"His cap!" Mrs. Coon exclaimed. "He is wearing a coon-skin cap!" Now do you wonder that she was upset? "Don't ever go near Farmer Green's house," she warned Fatty. "You don't want to be made into a cap, or a pair of gloves, or a coat, or anything like that, do you?"

"No, indeed, Mother!" Fatty was quite sure that such an adventure wouldn't please him at all. And he told himself right then and there that he would never go anywhere near Farmer Green's house. We shall see how well Fatty remembered.

That very afternoon Fatty Coon heard some very pleasant news. It was Jasper Jay who told him.

Jasper Jay was a very noisy blue jay who lived in the neighborhood. He did not go south with most of the other birds when the cold weather came. He liked the winter and he was forever tearing about the woods, squalling and scolding at everybody. He was a very noisy fellow.

Well! when Fatty and his mother had reached home after their hunt, Fatty stayed out of doors. He climbed to the top of a tall pine tree nearby and stretched himself along a limb, to enjoy the sunshine, which felt very good upon his broad back. It was there that Jasper Jay found him and told him the pleasant news. And Fatty was very glad to hear the news, because he was still hungry.

This is what Jasper Jay told Fatty: he told him that Farmer Green had as many as forty fat turkeys, which roosted every night in a spreading oak in Farmer Green's front yard.

"If I liked turkeys I would certainly go down there some night and get one," said Jasper Jay.

XII

FORTY FAT TURKEYS

When Jasper Jay told Fatty Coon about Farmer Green's forty fat turkeys Fatty felt hungrier than ever.

"Oh! I mustn't go near Farmer Green's house!" he said. "My mother told me to keep away from there. . . . What time did you say the turkeys go to roost?"

"Oh! they go to roost every night at sundown," Jasper Jay explained. "And there they sit, up in the tree, all night long. They're fast asleep. And you would have no trouble at all in catching as many as you wanted. . . . But of course, if you're afraid--why there's no use of MY talking about it. There's a plenty of other coons in these woods who'd be glad to know about those turkeys. And maybe they'd have the manners to say 'Thank you!' too." And with a hoarse, sneering laugh Jasper Jay flew away.

That was enough for Fatty. He made up his mind that he would show Jasper Jay that HE was not afraid. And he wanted a turkey to eat, too. He said nothing to his mother about Jasper's news. But that very night, when the moon came up, and the lights in Farmer Green's house were all out, Fatty Coon went stealing across the fields.

He was not afraid, for he knew that Farmer Green and all his family were in their beds. And it was so cold that Fatty felt sure that Farmer Green's dogs would be inside their kennels.

Fatty did not intend to make any noise. The turkeys were asleep--so Jasper Jay had told him--and he expected to grab one of them so swiftly and silently that the other turkeys would never know it.

When Fatty Coon came to Farmer Green's yard he had no trouble at all in finding the spreading oak. He could see the turkeys plainly where they dozed on the bare branches. And in less time than it takes to tell it Fatty had climbed the tree. On the very lowest limb there was a row of four plump turkeys, all sound asleep. And Fatty reached out and seized the nearest one. He seized the turkey by the neck, so that the big bird could not call out. But Fatty was not quite quick enough. Before he could pull her off her perch the turkey began to flap her wings, and she struck the turkey next her, so that THAT turkey woke up and began to gobble and flap HER wings. Then the next turkey on the limb woke up. And the first thing that Fatty Coon knew, every one of the thirty-nine turkeys that were left was going gobble-gob-gob-gob-gobble! And some of them went sailing off across the yard. One of them lighted on top of the porch just outside Farmer Green's window and it seemed to Fatty that that one made the greatest racket of all.

Farmer Green's window flew up; and Farmer Green's voice called "Spot! Spot!"

Fatty Coon did not wait to hear anything more. He dropped the turkey he had seized and slipped down to the ground. And then he ran toward the woods as fast as he could go.

Farmer Green's dog Spot was barking now. And Fatty wanted to climb one of the trees by the roadside. But he remembered, the narrow escape he had had when the dog had treed him near the cornfield. So he never stopped until he reached the woods. Then he went nimbly up into the trees. And while Spot was barking at the foot of the first tree he climbed, Fatty was travelling through the tree-tops toward home.

He never said anything to his mother about Farmer Green's turkeys. But the next time he saw Jasper Jay Fatty told him exactly what he thought of him.

"Ha! ha!" Jasper Jay only laughed. And he did not seem at all surprised that Fatty had fallen into trouble. To tell the truth, he was only sorry because Fatty had escaped. Jasper Jay did not like Fatty Coon. And he had told him about the forty fat turkeys because he hoped that Fatty would get caught if he tried to steal one of them.

"Wait till I catch you!" Fatty said.

But Jasper Jay only laughed harder than ever when Fatty said that. He seemed to think it was a great joke. He was most annoying.

XIII

FATTY MEETS JIMMY RABBIT

For once Fatty Coon was not hungry. He had eaten so much of Farmer Green's corn that he felt as if he could not swallow another mouthful. He was strolling homewards through the woods when someone called to him. It was Jimmy Rabbit.

"Where are you going, Fatty?" Jimmy Rabbit asked.

"Home!" said Fatty.

"Are you hungry?" Jimmy Rabbit asked anxiously.

"I should say not!" Fatty answered. "I've just had the finest meal I ever ate in my life."

Jimmy Rabbit seemed to be relieved to hear that.

"Come on over and play," he said. "My brother and I are playing barber- shop over in the old sycamore tree; and we need you."

"All right!" said Fatty. It was not often that any of the smaller forest-people were willing to play with him, because generally Fatty couldn't help getting hungry and then he usually tried to eat his playmates. "What do you need me for?" Fatty asked, as he trudged along beside Jimmy Rabbit.

"We need you for the barber's pole," Jimmy explained. "You can come inside the hollow tree and stick your tail out through a hole. It will make a fine barber's pole--though the stripes DO run the wrong way, to be sure."

Fatty Coon was greatly pleased. He looked around at his tail and felt very proud.

"I've got a beautiful tail--haven't I?" he asked.

"Um--yes!" Jimmy Rabbit replied, "though I must say it isn't one that I would care for myself... But come along! There may be people waiting to get their hair cut."

Sure enough! When they reached the make-believe barber-shop there was a gray squirrel inside, and Jimmy Rabbit's brother was busily snipping the fur off Mr. Squirrel's head.

"How much do you charge for a hair-cut?" Fatty asked.


Sleepy-Time Tales: The Tale of Fatty Coon - 5/9

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