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- The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat - 1/9 -
THE ADVENTURES OF JERRY MUSKRAT
BY THORNTON W. BURGESS
CHAPTER I: Jerry Muskrat Has A Fright
What was it Mother Muskrat had said about Farmer Brown's boy and his traps? Jerry Muskrat sat on the edge of the Big Rock and kicked his heels while he tried to remember. The fact is, Jerry had not half heeded. He had been thinking of other things. Besides, it seemed to him that Mother Muskrat was altogether foolish about a great many things.
"Pooh!" said Jerry, throwing out his chest, "I guess I can take care of myself without being tied to my mother's apron strings! What if Farmer Brown's boy is setting traps around the Smiling Pool? I guess he can't fool your Uncle Jerry. He isn't so smart as he thinks he is; I can fool him any day." Jerry chuckled. He was thinking of how he had once fooled Farmer Brown's boy into thinking a big trout was on his hook.
Slowly Jerry slid into the Smiling Pool and swam over towards his favorite log. Peter Rabbit stuck his head over the edge of the bank. "Hi, Jerry," he shouted, "last night I saw Farmer Brown's boy coming over this way with a lot of traps. Better watch out!"
"Go chase yourself, Peter Rabbit. I guess I can look out for myself," replied Jerry, just a little crossly.
Peter made a wry face and started for the sweet clover patch. Hardly was he out of sight when Billy Mink and Bobby Coon came down the Laughing Brook together. They seemed very much excited. When they saw Jerry Muskrat, they beckoned for him to come over where they were, and when he got there, they both talked at once, and it was all about Farmer Brown's boy and his traps.
"You'd better watch out, Jerry," warned Billy Mink, who is a great traveler and has had wide experience.
"Oh, I guess I'm able to take care of myself," said Jerry airily, and once more started for his favorite log. And what do you suppose he was thinking about as he swam along? He was wishing that he knew what a trap looked like, for despite his boasting he didn't even know what he was to look out for. As he drew near his favorite log, something tickled his nose. He stopped swimming to sniff and sniff. My, how good it did smell! And it seemed to come right straight from the old log. Jerry began to swim as fast as he could. In a few minutes he scrambled out on the old log. Then Jerry rubbed his eyes three times to be sure that he saw aright. There were luscious pieces of carrot lying right in front of him.
Now there is nothing that Jerry Muskrat likes better than carrot. So he didn't stop to wonder how it got there. He just reached out for the nearest piece and ate it. Then he reached for the next piece and ate it. Then he did a funny little dance just for joy. When he was quite out of breath, he sat down to rest. Snap! Something had Jerry Muskrat by the tail! Jerry squealed with fright and pain. Oh, how it did hurt! He twisted and turned, but he was held fast and could not see what had him. Then he pulled and pulled, until it seemed as if his tail would pull off. But it didn't. So he kept pulling, and pretty soon the thing let go so suddenly that Jerry tumbled head first into the water.
When he reached home, Mother Muskrat did his sore tail up for him. "What did I tell you about traps?" she asked severely.
Jerry stopped crying. "Was that a trap?" he asked. Then he remembered that in his fright he didn't even see it. "Oh, dear," he moaned, "I wouldn't know one to-day if I met it."
CHAPTER II: The Convention At Ther Big Rock
Jolly round, red Mr. Sun looked down on the Smiling Pool. He almost forgot to keep on climbing up in the blue sky, he was so interested in what he saw there. What do you think it was? Why, it was a convention at the Big Rock, the queerest convention he ever had seen. Your papa would say that it was a mass-meeting of angry citizens. Maybe it was, but that is a pretty long term. Anyway, Mother Muskrat said it was a convention, and she ought to know, for she is the one who had called it.
Of course Jerry Muskrat was there, and his uncles and aunts and all his cousins. Billy Mink was there, and all his relations, even old Grandfather Mink, who has lost most of his teeth and is a little hard of hearing.
Little Joe Otter was there, with his father and mother and all his relations even to his third cousins. Bobby Coon was there, and he had brought with him every Coon of his acquaintance who ever fished in the Smiling Pool or along the Laughing Brook. And everybody was looking very solemn, very solemn indeed.
When the last one had arrived, Mother Muskrat climbed up on the Big Rock and called Jerry Muskrat up beside her, where all could see him. Then she made a speech. "Friends of the Smiling Pool and Laughing Brook," began Mrs. Muskrat, "I have called you together to show you what has happened to my son Jerry and to ask your advice." She stopped and pointed to Jerry's sore tail. "What do you think did that?" she demanded.
"Probably Jerry's been in a fight and got whipped," said Bobby Coon to his neighbor, for Bobby Coon is a graceless young scamp and does not always show proper respect to his neighbors.
Mrs. Muskrat glared at him, for she had overheard the remark. Then she held up one hand to command silence. "Friends, it was a trap -- a trap set by Farmer Brown's boy! a trap to catch you and me and our children!" said she solemnly. "It is no longer safe for our little folks to play around the Smiling Pool or along the Laughing Brook. What are we going to do about it?"
Everybody looked at everybody else in dismay. Then everybody began to talk at once, and if Farmer Brown's boy could have heard all the things said about him, his cheeks certainly would have burned. Indeed, I am afraid that they would have blistered. Such excitement! Everybody had a different idea, and nobody would listen to anybody else. Old Mr. Mink lost his temper and called Grandpa Otter a meddlesome know-nothing. It looked very much as if the convention was going to break up in a sad quarrel. Then Mr. Coon climbed up on the Big Rock and with a stick pounded for silence.
"I move," said he, "that in as much as we cannot agree, we tell Great-Grandfather Frog all about the danger and ask his advice, for he is very old and very wise and remembers when the world was young. All in favor please raise their right hands."
At once the air was full of hands, and everybody was good-natured once more. So it was agreed to call in Great-Grandfather Frog.
CHAPTER III: The Oracle Of The Smiling Pool
Grandfather Frog sat on his big green lily-pad with his eyes half closed, for all the world as if he knew nothing about the meeting at the Big Rock. Of course he did know, for there isn't much going on around the Smiling Pool which he doesn't see or at least hear all about. The Merry Little Breezes, who are here, there, and everywhere, told him all that was going on, so that when he saw Jerry Muskrat and Little Joe Otter swimming towards him, he knew what they were coming for. But he pretended to be very much surprised when Jerry Muskrat very politely said: "Good morning, Grandfather Frog."
"Good morning, Jerry Muskrat. You're out early this morning," replied Grandfather Frog.
"If you please, you are wanted over at the Big Rock," said Jerry.
Grandfather Frog's eyes twinkled, but he made his voice very deep and gruff as he replied: "Chugarum! You're a scamp, Jerry Muskrat, and Little Joe Otter is another. What trick are you trying to play on me now?"
Jerry Muskrat and Little Joe Otter looked a wee bit sheepish, for it was true that they were forever trying to play tricks on Grandfather Frog. "Really and truly, Grandfather Frog, there isn't any trick this time," said Jerry. "There is a meeting at the Big Rock to try to decide what to do to keep Farmer Brown's boy from setting traps around the Smiling Pool and along the Laughing Brook, and everybody wants your advice, because you are so old and so wise. Please come."
Grandfather Frog smoothed down his white and yellow waistcoat and pretended to think the matter over very seriously, while Jerry and Little Joe fidgeted impatiently. Finally he spoke.
"I am very old, as you have said, Jerry Muskrat, and it is a long way over to the Big Rock."
"Get right on my back and I'll take you over there," said Jerry eagerly.
"I'm afraid that you'll spill me off," replied Grandfather Frog.
"No, I won't; just try me and see," begged Jerry.
So Grandfather Frog climbed on Jerry Muskrat's back, and Jerry started for the Big Rock as fast as he could go. When all the Minks and the Otters and the Coons and the Muskrats saw them coming, they gave a great shout, for Grandfather Frog is sometimes called the oracle of the Smiling Pool. You know an oracle is one who is very wise.
Bobby Coon helped Grandfather Frog up on the Big Rock, and when he had made himself comfortable, Mrs. Muskrat told him all about Farmer Brown's boy and his traps, and how Jerry had been caught in one by the tail, and she ended by asking for his advice, because they all knew that he was so wise.
When she said this, Grandfather Frog puffed himself up until it seemed as if his white and yellow waistcoat would surely burst. He sat very still for a while and gazed straight at jolly, round, red Mr. Sun without blinking once. Then he spoke in a very deep voice.
"To-morrow morning at sunrise I will tell you what to do," said he. And not another word could they get out of him.
CHAPTER IV: Grandfather Frog's Plan
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