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- OLD MOTHER WEST WIND - 5/11 -


of bark turned over so quickly that Jimmy Skunk fell flat on his back.

When Jimmy Skunk had rolled over onto his feet again, there sat old Mr. Toad right in the path, and old Mr. Toad was very, very cross indeed. He swelled and he puffed and he puffed and he swelled, till he was twice as big as Jimmy Skunk had ever seen him before.

"Good morning, Mr. Toad," said Jimmy Skunk. "Have you seen any beetles?"

But Mr. Toad blinked his great round goggly eyes and he said: "What do you mean, Jimmy Skunk, by pulling the roof off my house?"

"Is that the roof of your house?" asked Jimmy Skunk politely. "I won't do it again."

Then Jimmy Skunk stepped right over old Mr. Toad, and went on up the Crooked Little Path to look for some beetles.

By and by he came to an old stump of a tree which was hollow and had the nicest little round hole in one side. Jimmy Skunk took hold of one edge with his two little black paws and pulled and pulled. All of a sudden the whole side of the old stump tore open and Jimmy Skunk fell flat on his back.

When Jimmy Skunk had rolled over onto his feet again there was Striped Chipmunk hopping up and down right in the middle of the path, he was so angry.

"Good morning, Striped Chipmunk," said Jimmy Skunk. "Have you seen any beetles?"

But Striped Chipmunk hopped faster than ever and he said: "What do you mean, Jimmy Skunk, by pulling the side off my house?"

"Is that the side of your house?" asked Jimmy Skunk, politely. "I won't do it again."

Then Jimmy Skunk stepped right over Striped Chipmunk, and went on up the Crooked Little Path to look for some beetles.

Pretty soon he met Peter Rabbit hopping along down the Crooked Little Path. "Good morning, Jimmy Skunk, where are you going so early in the morning?" said Peter Rabbit.

"Good morning, Peter Rabbit. Have you seen any beetles?" asked Jimmy Skunk, politely.

"No, I haven't seen any beetles, but I'll help you find some," said Peter Rabbit. So he turned about and hopped ahead of Jimmy Skunk up the Crooked Little Path.

Now because Peter Rabbit's legs are long and he is always in a hurry, he got to the top of the hill first. When Jimmy Skunk reached the end of the Crooked Little Path on the top of the hill he found Peter Rabbit sitting up very straight and looking and looking very hard at a great flat stone.

"What are you looking at, Peter Rabbit?" asked Jimmy Skunk.

"Sh-h-h!" said Peter Rabbit, "I think there are some beetles under that great flat stone where that little black string is sticking out. Now when I count three you grab that string and pull hard perhaps you'll find a beetle at the other end."

So Jimmy Skunk got ready and Peter Rabbit began to count.

"One!" said Peter. "Two!" said Peter. "Three!"

Jimmy Skunk grabbed the black string and pulled as hard as ever he could and out came--Mr. Black Snake! The string Jimmy Skunk had pulled was Mr. Black Snake's tail, and Mr. Black Snake was very, very angry indeed.

"Ha! Ha! Ha!" laughed Peter Rabbit.

"What do you mean, Jimmy Skunk," said Mr. Black Snake, "by pulling my tail?"

"Was that your tail?" said Jimmy Skunk, politely. "I won't do it again. Have you seen any beetles?"

But Mr. Black Snake hadn't seen any beetles, and he was so cross that Jimmy Skunk went on over the hill to look for some beetles.

Peter Rabbit was still laughing and laughing and laughing. And the more he laughed the angrier grew Mr. Black Snake, till finally he started after Peter Rabbit to teach him a lesson.

Then Peter Rabbit stopped laughing, for Mr. Black Snake can run very fast. Away went Peter Rabbit down the Crooked Little Path as fast as he could go, and away went Mr. Black Snake after him.

But Jimmy Skunk didn't even look once to see if Mr. Black Snake had caught Peter Rabbit to teach him a lesson, for Jimmy Skunk had found some beetles and was eating his breakfast.

CHAPTER VIII BILLY MINK'S SWIMMING PARTY

Billy Mink was coming down the bank of the Laughing Brook. Billy Mink was feeling very good indeed. He had had a good breakfast, the sun was warm, little white cloud ships were sailing across the blue sky and their shadows were sailing across the Green Meadows, the birds were singing and the bees were humming. Billy Mink felt like singing too, but Billy Mink's voice was not meant for singing.

By and by Billy Mink came to the Smiling Pool. Here the Laughing Brook stopped and rested on its way to join the Big River. It stopped its noisy laughing and singing and just lay smiling and smiling in the warm sunshine. The little flowers on the bank leaned over and nodded to it. The beech tree, which was very old, sometimes dropped a leaf into it. The cat-tails kept their feet cool in the edge of it.

Billy Mink jumped out on the Big Rock and looked down into the Smiling Pool. Over on a green lily pad he saw old Grandfather Frog.

"Hello, Grandfather Frog," said Billy Mink.

"Hello, Billy Mink," said Grandfather Frog. "What mischief are you up to this fine sunny morning?"

Just then Billy Mink saw a little brown head swimming along one edge of the Smiling Pool.

"Hello, Jerry Muskrat!" shouted Billy Mink.

"Hello your own self, Billy Mink," shouted Jerry Muskrat, "Come in and have a swim; the water's fine!"

"Good," said Billy Mink. "We'll have a swimming party."

So Billy Mink called all the Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind, who were playing with the flowers on the bank, and sent them to find Little Joe Otter and invite him to come to the swimming party. Pretty soon back came the Little Breezes and with them came Little Joe Otter.

"Hello, Billy Mink," said Little Joe Otter. "Here I am!"

"Hello, Little Joe Otter," said Billy Mink. "Come up here on the Big Rock and see who can dive the deepest into the Smiling Pool."

So Little Joe Otter and Jerry Muskrat climbed up on the Big Rock side of Billy Mink and they all stood side by side in their little brown bathing suits looking down into the Smiling Pool.

"Now when I count three we'll all dive into the Smiling Pool together and see who can dive the deepest. One!" said Billy Mink. "Two!" said Billy Mink. "Three!" said Billy Mink.

And when he said "Three!" in they all went head first. My such a splash as they did make! They upset old Grandfather Frog so that he fell off his lily pad. They frightened Mr. and Mrs. Trout so that they jumped right out of the water. Tiny Tadpole had such a scare that he hid way, way down in the mud with only the tip of his funny little nose sticking out.

"Chug-a-rum," said old Grandfather Frog, climbing out of his lily pad. "If I wasn't so old I would show you how to dive."

"Come on, Grandfather Frog!" cried Billy Mink. "Show us how to dive."

And what do you think? Why, old Grandfather Frog actually got so excited that he climbed up on the Big Rock to show them how to dive. Splash! Went Grandfather Frog into the Smiling Pool. Splash! Went Billy Mink right behind him. Splash! Splash! Went Little Joe Otter and Jerry Muskrat, right at Billy Mink's heels.

"Hurrah!" shouted Mr. Kingfisher, sitting on a branch of the old beech tree. And then just to show them that he could dive, too, splash! He went into the Smiling Pool.

Such a noise as they did make! All the Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind danced for joy on the bank. Blacky the Crow and Sammy Jay flew over to see what was going on.

"Now let's see who can swim the farthest under water," cried Billy Mink.

So they all stood side by side on one edge of the Smiling Pool.

"Go!" shouted Mr. Kingfisher, and in they all plunged. Little ripples ran across the Smiling Pool and then the water became as smooth and smiling as if nothing had gone into it with a plunge.

Now old Grandfather Frog began to realize that he wasn't as young as he used to be, and he couldn't swim as fast as the others anyway. He began to get short of breath, so he swam up to the top and stuck just the tip of his nose out to get some more air. Sammy Jay's sharp eyes saw him.


OLD MOTHER WEST WIND - 5/11

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