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- The Tale of Brownie Beaver - 6/9 -
Brownie Beaver thought that Tired Tim was just trying to scare him.
"I don't believe there's going to be any such thing!" he exclaimed.
"Don't you?" Tim grinned. "You just go and ask Grandaddy Beaver. He's the one that says there's going to be a cyclone."
At that Brownie Beaver stopped working and hurried off to find old Grandaddy Beaver. And to his great dismay, Grandaddy said that what Tired Tim had told him was the truth.
"It's a-coming!" Grandaddy Beaver declared. "I saw one once before in these parts, years before anybody else in this village was born. And when I see a cyclone a-coming I can generally tell it a long way off."
"When is it going to get here?" Brownie asked in a quavering voice.
"Next Tuesday!" Grandaddy replied.
"What makes you think it's coming?"
"Well--everything looks just the way it did before the last cyclone," Grandaddy Beaver explained, as he took a mouthful of willow bark. "The moon looks just the same and the sun looks just the same. I had a twinge of rheumatics in my left shoulder yesterday; and to-day the pain's in my right. It was exactly that way before the last cyclone."
Brownie Beaver did not doubt that the old gentleman knew what he was talking about. He remembered that Grandaddy Beaver had warned everyone there was going to be a freshet. And though people had laughed at the old chap, the freshet had come.
Sadly worried, Brownie went and called on all his neighbors and asked them what they were going to do. And to his surprise he found that they were laughing at Grandaddy once more. They seemed to have forgotten about the freshet.
But Brownie Beaver could not forget that dreadful night. And now he tried to think of some way to keep his new house from being blown away by the great wind, which Grandaddy Beaver said was coming on Tuesday without fail.
GRANDADDY BEAVER THINKS
It was on a Friday that Brownie Beaver first heard the cyclone was coming. And after making sure that Grandaddy Beaver knew what he was talking about when he said the great wind would sweep down upon the village on the following Tuesday, Brownie spent a good deal of time wondering what he had better do.
He wanted to save his house from being blown over the top of Blue Mountain. And he wanted to save himself from being carried along at the same time.
Before Friday was gone Brownie Beaver began to heap more mud and sticks upon his house, to make it stronger. And when Tired Tim came swimming past the lazy scamp laughed harder than ever.
"I see you're afraid of the cyclone," he called. "But what you're doing won't help you any. The wind will blow away those sticks easily enough.... What you ought to do is to dig a house like mine in the bank. Then you won't have to worry about any cyclone."
So Brownie set to work and made him a house like Tired Tim's. On Monday he had finished it. But he didn't like his new home at all.
"It's no better than a rat's hole," he said. "My family have never lived in such a place and I'm not used to it. I prefer my house that's built of sticks and mud. And I'm going to see if there isn't some way I can make it safe."
So Brownie went to Grandaddy Beaver again and asked him what he ought to do.
The old gentleman said he would try to think of a plan to save Brownie's house.
"I wish you would hurry," Brownie urged him. "To-day is Monday; and tomorrow the cyclone will be here.... What are you going to do to your own house, Grandaddy?"
"My house----" said Grandaddy Beaver--"my house is very old. It has had mud and sticks piled upon it every season for over a hundred years. You can see for yourself that it's much bigger than yours. And I reckon it's strong enough to stay where it is, no matter how hard the wind blows. But your house is different.... Let me think a minute!" the old gentleman said.
Brownie waited in silence while the old gentleman thought, with his eyes shut tight. Brownie watched him for a long time. Once or twice he thought he heard something that sounded like a snore. But he knew it couldn't be that--it was only the thoughts trying to get inside Grandaddy's head.
At last Grandaddy sat up with a start.
"Have you thought of something?" Brownie inquired.
"What's that?" Grandaddy asked. "Oh, yes! I've a good idea," he said. "What you must do is to tie your house so the wind can't blow it away."
Brownie thanked him. And he went away feeling quite happy again--until he reached home and started to follow Grandaddy's advice. Then he saw that he had forgotten something. He hadn't anything with which to tie his house and make it safe from the cyclone.
A LUCKY FIND
Brownie Beaver almost wished he hadn't spent so much time waiting for Grandaddy to tell him to tie down his house so it wouldn't be carried away by the big wind on the following day. With no rope--or anything else--to tie the house with, Brownie could not see that Grandaddy's advice was of any use to him.
Anyhow, he was glad he had done as Tired Tim had suggested and dug a house in the bank, where he could hide until the storm passed. But he felt sad at the thought of losing his comfortable home. And since he could hardly bear to look at it and imagine how dreadful it would be to have it blown over the top of Blue Mountain into Pleasant Valley, Brownie went for a stroll through the woods to try to forget his trouble.
He found himself at last in a clearing, where loggers had been at work. They had chopped down many trees. And the sight made Brownie Beaver angry.
"This is an outrage!" he cried aloud. "I'd like to know who has been stealing our trees. I suppose it's Farmer Green; for they say he's always up to such tricks." He took a good look around. And then he turned to go back to the village and tell what he had discovered.
Just as he turned he tripped on something. And something clinked beneath his feet. It didn't sound like a stone. So Brownie Beaver looked down to see what was there.
Now, in his anger he had quite forgotten the great storm. But as he saw what had tripped him he remembered it again. But he was no longer worried.
"Hurrah!" Brownie cried. "Here's just what I need!" And then he hurried back home again--but not to tell about the trees that had been stolen. He hastened home to _chain down his house_ and save it from the great wind. For Brownie Beaver had found a chain, which the loggers had used to haul the logs out of the woods, and had forgotten.
It was almost dark when Brownie reached his house in the village in the pond. He was never a very good walker. And dragging that heavy chain behind him through the forest only made him slower than ever. Sometimes the chain caught on a bush and tripped him. But Brownie was so pleased with his find that he only laughed whenever he fell, for he was not hurt.
The whole village gathered round his house to watch him while he tied the chain on it and anchored the ends of the chain to the bottom of the pond with a big stone.
"Why do you do that?" people asked.
"He's afraid of the cyclone to-morrow," Tired Tim piped up, without waiting for Brownie to answer. "You know, old Grandaddy Beaver says that there's going to be a great wind. This young feller----" said Tim--"he's already dug a house in the bank near mine--ha! ha! He thinks Grandaddy knows. But I say that Grandaddy Beaver is a--a fine, noble, old gentleman," Tired Tim stammered. He had happened to glance around while he was talking; and to his surprise there was Grandaddy floating in the water close behind him.
"He certainly is," everybody agreed. "But we hope he's mistaken about the great wind."
When Tuesday came--which was the very next day--Brownie Beaver crept into his tunnel in the bank at sunrise. And he never came outside again until the sun had set.
When he saw that his house was still there, in the middle of the pond, he shouted with joy.
"Hurrah!" he cried. "The chain saved my house!" Then he noticed that all the other houses were still there, too. "How's this?" he asked Tired Tim, who stood on the bank beside him. "Did my chain save the whole village?"
Tired Tim grinned--for he was not too lazy to do that.
"There wasn't any cyclone," he said. "There wasn't a breath of wind all day. And old Grandaddy Beaver is so upset that he's gone to bed and won't talk with anybody."
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