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- The Tale of Brownie Beaver - 4/9 -
"Fatty Coon--" Mr. Crow said--"Fatty Coon was confined to his house by illness Tuesday night. He ate too many dried apples."
"Well, well!" Brownie Beaver murmured. And he started to ask Mr. Crow a question. But Mr. Crow interrupted him with more news.
"Mrs. Bear had a birthday on Wednesday. An enjoyable time was had by all--except the pig."
"Pig?" Brownie Beaver asked. "What pig?"
"The pig they ate," said Mr. Crow. And he went right on talking. "On Thursday Mr. Woodchuck went to visit his cousins in the West. Mrs. Woodchuck is worried."
"What's she worried about?" Brownie inquired.
"She's afraid he's coming back again," Mr. Crow explained.
"I _have_ heard he was lazy," Brownie said. "What happened on Friday?"
"Tommy Fox made a visit. But he didn't have a good time at all," Mr. Crow reported, "and he left faster than he came."
Brownie Beaver wanted to know where Tommy Fox made his visit.
"At Farmer Green's hen-house," Mr. Crow explained.
"Why did he hurry away?" Brownie asked.
"Old dog Spot chased him," Mr. Crow replied. "But you mustn't ask questions," he complained. "You can't ask questions of a newspaper, you know."
"Well--what happened on Saturday?"
"There you go again!" cried Mr. Crow. "Another question! I declare, I don't believe you ever took a newspaper before--did you?"
Brownie Beaver admitted that he never had.
"Then--" said Mr. Crow--"then don't interrupt me again, please! I'll tell you all the news I've brought. And when I've finished I'll stop being a newspaper and be myself for a while. And then we can talk. But not before!" he insisted.
Brownie Beaver nodded his head. He was afraid that if he said another word Mr. Crow would grow angry and fly away without telling him any more news.
"On Saturday--this morning, to be exact"--said Mr. Crow, "there came near being a bad accident. Jimmy Rabbit almost cut off Frisky Squirrel's tail."
Mr. Crow paused and looked at Brownie Beaver out of the corner of his eye. He knew that Brownie would want to know what prevented the accident. But he was in no hurry to tell him.
For a few moments Brownie waited to hear the rest. But a few moments was more than he could endure.
"Why didn't Jimmy cut off his tail?" Brownie asked eagerly.
"There!" said Mr. Crow. "You've done just as I told you not to. So I shall not tell you the rest until next Saturday.... You see, you have a few things to learn about taking a newspaper." And 'he would give Brownie no more news that day. To be sure, he was willing to talk--but only about things that had happened where Brownie Beaver lived.
MR. CROW IS UPSET
Brownie Beaver couldn't help feeling that Mr. Crow had not treated him very well, because Mr. Crow hadn't told him all the news about Frisky Squirrel's tail. He thought that maybe there were things about a newspaper that even Mr. Crow didn't know.
Another week had passed. Brownie knew that it had, because since Mr. Crow's last call he had cut a notch in a stick each day. And there were now seven of them.
Late Saturday afternoon Mr. Crow came back again. He lighted on top of Brownie's house and called "Paper!" down the chimney, just as he had a week before.
Brownie Beaver came swimming up once more.
"Look here!" he said to Mr. Crow. "I don't believe yon know much about being a newspaper, do you?"
That surprised Mr. Crow.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"A newspaper--" said Brownie Beaver--"a newspaper is always left on, a person's doorstep. I've talked with a good many people and not one of them ever heard of a paper being left on the roof."
Mr. Crow's face seemed to grow blacker than ever, he was so angry.
"How can anybody leave a newspaper on your doorstep, when the step's under water?" he growled.
Brownie Beaver did not answer that question, for he had something else to say to Mr. Crow.
"I've talked with a good many people," he said once more, "and not one of them ever heard of such rudeness as _shouting down a person's chimney_. If there was anybody asleep in the house, it would certainly wake him; and if a person had a fire in his house, shouting down the chimney might put it out."
Mr. Crow looked rather foolish.
"I'll try to think of some way of leaving your newspaper that will suit us both," he said. Then he _hemmed_ and began to tell Brownie the week's news.
"On Sunday," said Mr. Crow, "there was a freshet."
"I knew that before you did," said Brownie Beaver.
Mr. Crow looked disappointed.
"How?" he asked.
"Why, I live further up the river than you," said Brownie Beaver. "And since freshets always come _down_ a river, this one didn't reach you till after it had passed me."
Something made Mr. Crow peevish.
"I don't believe you'd care to hear any more of my news," he said. "You appear to know it already. Perhaps you'll be kind enough to tell me the sort of news you prefer to hear."
"Certainly!" Brownie Beaver replied. "Now, there's the weather! I've talked with a good many people and they all say that a good newspaper ought to tell the weather for the next day."
Mr. Crow cocked an eye up at the sky.
"To-morrow will be fair," he said.
"I'm told that a good newspaper ought to tell a few jokes," Brownie Beaver continued.
But Mr. Crow sneered openly at that. "I'm a _newspaper_--not a _jest-book_," he announced.
"Then you refuse to tell any jokes, do you?" Brownie Beaver asked him.
"I certainly do!" Mr. Crow cried indignantly.
"Very well!" Brownie said. "I see I'll have to take some other newspaper, though I must say I hate to change--after taking this one so long."
"I hope you'll find one to suit you," Mr. Crow said in a cross voice. And he flew away without another word. He was terribly upset. You see, he had enjoyed being a newspaper, because it gave him an excuse for asking people the most inquisitive questions. He had intended all that week to ask Aunt Polly Woodchuck whether she wore a wig. But he hadn't been able to find her at home. And now it was too late--for Mr. Crow was a newspaper no longer.
As for Brownie Beaver, he succeeded in getting Jasper Jay to be his newspaper. Though Jasper told him many jokes, Brownie found that he could not depend upon Jasper's news. And as a matter of fact, Jasper made up most of it himself. He claimed that the _newest news_ was the best.
"That's why I invent it myself, right on the spot," he explained.
THE SIGN ON THE TREE
On one of Brownie Beaver's long excursions down the stream he came upon a tree to which a sign was nailed. Now, Brownie had never learned to read. But he had heard that Uncle Jerry Chuck could tell what a sign said. So Brownie asked a pleasant young fellow named Frisky Squirrel if he would mind asking Uncle Jerry to come over to Swift River on a matter of important business.
When Uncle Jerry Chuck appeared, Brownie Beaver said he was glad to see him and that Uncle Jerry was looking very well.
"I've sent for you," said Brownie, "because I wanted you to see this sign. I can tell by the tracks under the tree that the sign was put up
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