Albert Paine.

Making Up with Mr. Dog. Hollow Tree Stories



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Mr. Rabbit looked out his door one morning and there was Mr. Polecat, all dressed up, coming to see him. He wasn't very far off, either, and Mr. Rabbit hardly had time to jerk down a crayon picture of Mr. Dog that he'd made the day before, just for practice. He pushed it under the bed quick, and when Mr. Polecat came up he bowed and smiled, and said what a nice day it was, and that he'd bring a chair outside if Mr. Polecat would like to sit there instead of coming in where it wasn't so pleasant.

But Mr. Polecat said he guessed he'd come in, as it was a little chilly and he didn't feel very well anyway. So he came inside, and Jack Rabbit gave him his best chair and brought out a little table and put a lot of nice things on it that Mr. Polecat likes, and began right away to pack a basket for him to take home.

But Mr. Polecat didn't seem to be in any hurry to go. He ate some of the nice things, and then leaned back to talk and smoke, and told Mr. Rabbit all the news he'd heard as he came along, and Mr. Rabbit got more and more worried, for he knew that just as likely as not Mr. Polecat had heard something about Mr. Dog and would begin to tell it pretty soon, and then no knowing what would happen. So Jack Rabbit just said "Yes" and "No" and began to talk about Mr. Robin, because Mr. Robin was a good friend of everybody and nobody could get excited just talking about Mr. Robin. But Mr. Polecat says: —

"Oh, yes, I saw Mr. Robin as I came along, and he called to me that Mr. Dog – "

And then Jack Rabbit changed the subject as quick as he could and spoke about Mr. Squirrel, and Mr. Polecat says: —

"Oh, did you hear how Mr. Squirrel went over to Mr. Man's house and saw Mr. Dog there – "

And then poor Mr. Rabbit had to think quick and change the subject again to the Hollow Tree people, and Mr. Polecat said: —

"Oh, yes. I stopped by that way as I came along, and they called out to me from up stairs how you were practising drawing, and that you gave Mr. Dog some dancing lessons the other day, and then made a fine picture of him just as he looked when he danced into the hot coals, so I hurried right over here for just to see that picture."

Poor Mr. Rabbit! He didn't know what to do. He knew right away that the Hollow Tree people had told about the picture to get rid of Mr. Polecat, and he made up his mind that he'd get even with them some day for getting him in such a fix. But some day was a long ways off and Mr. Polecat was right there under his nose, so Mr. Rabbit said, just as quick as he could say it, that the Hollow Tree people were always making jokes, and that the picture was just as poor as it could be, and that he'd be ashamed to show it to anybody, much more to a talented gentleman like Mr. Polecat. But that made Mr. Polecat all the more anxious to see it, for he was sure Mr. Rabbit was only modest, and pretty soon he happened to spy the edge of the picture frame under Mr. Rabbit's bed, and just reached under and pulled it out, before Mr.

Rabbit could help himself.

Well, he picked up that picture and looked at it a minute, and Jack Rabbit began to back off toward the door and say a few soothing words, when all at once Mr. Polecat leaned back and commenced to laugh and laugh at the funny picture Mr. Dog made where Mr. Rabbit called to him, "Dance! Mr. Dog; dance!" And then, of course, Mr. Rabbit felt better, for if his company thought it was funny and laughed there wasn't so much danger.

"Why," said Mr. Polecat, "it's the best thing I ever saw! You could almost imagine that Mr. Dog himself was right here, howling and barking and dancing."

"Oh, no, hardly that," said Mr. Rabbit. "Of course I suppose it is a little like him, but it's not at all as if he were here, you know – not at all – and he's ever so far off, I'm sure, and won't come again for a long time. You know, he's – "

"Oh, yes, it is!" declared Mr. Polecat. "It's just as if he were right here. And I can just hear him howl and bark, and – "

And right there Mr. Polecat stopped and Mr. Rabbit stopped, and both of them held their breath and listened, for sure enough they did hear Mr. Dog howling and barking and coming toward the house as straight as he could come.

Jack Rabbit gave a jump right up in the air, and hollered, "Run! Mr. Polecat, run! and go the back way!" But Mr. Polecat never runs from anybody – he doesn't have to – he just opens up that perfume of his and the other people do the running. So Mr. Rabbit gave one more jump, and this time he jumped straight up the chimney, and didn't stop till he got to the roof, where he found a loose board and put it over the chimney quick and sat down on it. Then he called to Mr. Dog, who was coming lickety split through the woods: —

"Why, how are you, Mr. Dog? Glad to see you! Walk right in. There's company down stairs; just make yourself at home till I come down." You see there was no use to stop him now, because Mr. Rabbit could tell by what was coming up the chimney that it was too late, and he wanted Mr. Dog to get a good dose of it as well as himself.

And Mr. Dog did come just as hard as he could tear, for the wind was blowing toward the house and he couldn't detect anything wrong until he gave a great big jump into Mr. Rabbit's sitting room and right into the midst of the most awful smell that was ever turned loose in the Big Deep Woods.

Well, it took Mr. Dog so suddenly that he almost fainted away. Then he gave a howl, as if a wagon had run over his tail, and tumbled out of that sitting room and set out for home without once stopping to look behind him. Then Mr. Rabbit laughed and laughed, and called: —

"Come back, Mr. Dog! Come back and stay with us. Mr. Polecat's going to spend a week with me. Come back and have a good time."

But Mr. Dog didn't stop, and he didn't seem to hear, and by and by Mr. Polecat called up that he was going home and that Mr. Rabbit could come down now, for Mr. Dog was gone and wouldn't come back, he guessed. But Mr. Rabbit said no, he didn't feel very well yet, and guessed he'd stay where he was for the present, and that if Mr. Polecat was going he might leave both doors open and let the wind draw through the house, because he always liked to air his house after Mr. Dog had been to see him. Then Mr. Polecat took his basket and went, and Jack Rabbit didn't come down for a long time, and when he did he couldn't stay in his house for the awful smell. So he went over to stay a week with the Hollow Tree people, and his clothes didn't smell nice, either, but they had to stand it, and Mr. Rabbit said it served them right for getting him into such a fix. It was over a week before he could go back to his house again, and even then it wasn't just as he wanted it to be, and he aired it every day for a long time.

But there was one thing that made him laugh, and that was when he heard from Mr. Robin how Mr. Dog got home and Mr. Man wouldn't have him about the house or even in the yard, but made him stay out in the woods for as much as ten days, until he had got rid of every bit of Mr. Polecat's nice perfumery.

MR. 'POSSUM EXPLAINS
HOW UNCLE SILAS TRIED TO PLEASE AUNT MELISSY

WELL, you remember that the Hollow Tree people took four of their friends to live with them and called it the Hollow Tree Inn. Mr. Robin came, and Mr. Turtle, also Jack Rabbit and Mr. Squirrel, and they made a jolly crowd after they got settled and knew about each getting his own things to eat, because the Hollow Tree people – the 'Coon and 'Possum and the Old Black Crow – found they couldn't suit their guests exactly when it came to a steady diet. So they all kept house together, and used to go out days (and nights, too, sometimes) and get nice things. Then they'd bring them in and fix them to suit themselves, and have them all on the big table down stairs, nice and comfortable, where they could sit and talk as long as they pleased.

It was a good deal like a big family when they were all together that way, and they used to say how nice it was, and once Mr. 'Possum said he always did think a big family was nice, anyway. Then Jack Rabbit laughed and said he should think Mr. 'Possum was just the kind of a man for a big family, being fond of good things to eat and not very fond of getting them for himself, and mostly fat and sleepy like. He said if there was just a nice, spry Mrs. 'Possum, now, to keep house and look after things he should think it would be ever so much better than living in bachelor quarters, or, rather, thirds, with Mr. 'Coon and Mr. Crow, and not having things very orderly. Of course, with himself, Jack Rabbit said, it was different, but even at his house it got lonesome, too, now and then.

Well, Mr. 'Possum thought a minute, and then he said that there was such a thing as folks being too spry, and that it was because he had always been afraid of getting that kind that he had been pretty well satisfied to live in the Hollow Tree just as he was. He said that he had once had an uncle that something happened to in that line, and whenever he thought about poor Uncle Lovejoy he didn't seem to care much about trying anything he wasn't used to. Then they all wanted him to tell about Uncle Lovejoy and what happened to him. So Mr. 'Possum did tell, and it went this way: —

"Once upon a time," he said, "Uncle Lovejoy – we always called him Uncle Silas then – he was uncle on my mother's side, and lived with Aunt Melissy in a nice place just beyond the Wide Paw-paw Hollows – once upon a time, as I was saying, he had to go to town on some business, and that was something that never happened to Uncle Lovejoy before.

"Well, Aunt Melissy was always a spry woman, as I said, and stirring – very stirring, and primpy, too. But she was never as stirring and spry and primpy as she was the day that Uncle Silas started for town. She dressed him all up neat and proper in his very best things, and tied his tie for him, and while she was tying it she says: —

"'Now, Silas,' she says, 'when you get to town you buy a few little articles right away and put them on. You don't want folks to see that you come from the country, you know, and you don't want Cousin Glenwood to be ashamed of you before folks. Cousin Glen will know just what things you need and where to get them.' Then she told him not to get run over by anything, or blow out the gas, or let anybody see that he wasn't used to things, because, you see, Aunt Melissy was proud, being a Glenwood herself. Then Uncle Lovejoy promised all those things, and that he would use his napkin and not eat pie out of his hand or drink out of his finger bowl, and a lot more things that Aunt Melissy remembered at the last minute. So you see by the time he got on the train he had a good deal to think about, and he kept thinking about it until by the time he got to the city he'd made up his mind he'd try to do for once everything she told him to and give her a pleasant surprise with the way he had fixed up and improved his manners when he got back. Uncle Lovejoy was good natured, and always anxious to please folks, especially Aunt Melissy.

"Well, Cousin Glenwood met him at the station, and about the first thing Uncle Silas said was to ask him where he got his clothes, and to tell him that Aunt Melissy had said he was to fix up, so's folks wouldn't think he came from the country, which, of course, she had. That just suited Cousin Glenwood, for he liked to spend money and show off what he knew about the city; so he took Uncle Lovejoy 'most everywhere, and told him to buy 'most everything he saw. And of course Uncle Silas did it, because he wanted to surprise Aunt Melissy when he got back, and make her feel happy for once in her life.

"Cousin Glen took Uncle Lovejoy to the stores first, and then to a good many different kinds of places afterward, and every place where there was a mirror Uncle Lovejoy would stand before it and admire himself and wonder what Aunt Melissy would say when he got home. He kept buying new things every day, because every day he'd see somebody with something on or carrying or leading something, and when he remembered what Aunt Melissy said, he made up his mind he'd have to have all the things to please her, and he got them as far as he could. Even Cousin Glenwood had to commence buying things pretty soon to keep up, and before long people used to stop on the street and look at them when they went by. Uncle Silas didn't want to go home, either, when the time came, but of course he had to, and he put on his best clothes for the trip, and took a young man he'd hired to wait on him, and started.

"He didn't tell Aunt Melissy just what time he'd be there, so it was a surprise sure enough. He walked right into the yard, and behind was the young man he'd hired, carrying his things. Aunt Melissy was getting dinner, and had just come to the door a minute to see what time it was by the sun, when all of a sudden, as she looked up, there he was! He had his hat in one hand and a cane in the other, and was leading a game chicken by a string. All his boxes and bundles and the young man were behind him. Uncle Lovejoy wore an eyeglass, too, and smoked a paper thing he said was a cigarette. My little cousins, who were there, told me afterward that their pa had never looked so fine in his life before or since. They didn't know him at all, and neither did Aunt Melissy. She thought he was somebody with something to sell at first, and when he said, 'Aw, there, Melissah!' she threw up her hands and was about to call for help, when just that minute she saw it was Uncle Silas.

"Poor Uncle Silas! He meant to surprise her, and he did it sure enough. He meant to please her, though, and he didn't do that worth a cent. It seemed funny, but she was mad. That's just the trouble about women folks; you never know when you're going to please them. My little cousins said they never saw their ma so mad before or since. She made Uncle Lovejoy take off all his nice clothes, and the young man, too, and she cooked the game chicken for dinner. Then, right after dinner, she picked up a bag of shinney sticks that Uncle Lovejoy had brought home, and she says to him and the young man: —

"'Now you get out in the garden,' she says, 'both of you, and try to earn back some of this money you've been spending.' And Uncle Lovejoy didn't feel very much like it, but he went, and so did the young man. So did Aunt Melissy, and she used up most of those shinney sticks on Uncle Silas and the young man before fall, and Uncle Silas never saw any of his nice clothes again, though they had the best garden they ever did have, so my little cousins said.

"And that," said Mr. 'Possum, leaning back in his chair to smoke, "that's why I've always been afraid to try family life. It's easier to please one than two, especially when the other one is a spry, stirring person like Aunt Melissy Lovejoy."

"What became of all the good clothes?" asked Jack Rabbit, who was always very stylish.

"Why, I've heard," said Mr. 'Possum, "that Aunt Melissy made some of them over for my little cousins, and that she traded off the rest of them to a pedler for patent medicine to give Uncle Silas for a weak mind, and I think he needed it some myself for trying to please her in the first place."

Mr. Rabbit nodded.

"It takes all kinds of people to make a world," he said.

Mr. 'Coon yawned and rubbed his eyes. The others were fast asleep.

AROUND THE WORLD AND BACK AGAIN

ONCE upon a time, when Mr. Dog was over spending the evening with the Hollow Tree people, he told them that Mr. Man had said the world was round, like a ball. Of course this was after Mr. Dog got to be good friends with the 'Possum and the 'Coon and the Old Black Crow, and he often used to come over to the Hollow Tree, where they lived, for a quiet talk and smoke, and to tell the things that Mr. Man said and did, and what he had on his table for dinner.

The Hollow Tree people liked to hear about Mr. Man, too; but when they heard what he said about the world being round they thought there must be some mistake in the way Mr. Dog had understood it. Mr. 'Coon said that it couldn't be so, for the edge of the world was just beyond the last trees of the Big Deep Woods, and that he'd often sat there and hung his feet over and watched the moon come up. Mr. 'Possum said so, too; and Mr. Crow said that the other edge was over along the Wide Blue Water, where Mr. Turtle lived, and that of course the water was flat, as everybody could see. Anyway, it would spill out if it wasn't.

But Mr. Dog stuck to it that Mr. Man had said just what Mr. Dog had said he said, and that, what was more, Mr. Man had said that the world turned over every day, and that the sun and moon and stars all went round it. And Mr. Man had said, too, that people sometimes went around the world, and didn't turn over or fall off into the sky when they were underneath, but kept on, and came up on the other side, right back to the very place they started from.

Well, that made them all wonder a good deal more than ever; and Mr. Jack Rabbit, who came in just then for the evening, said he shouldn't be a bit surprised if it were true, for he'd often noticed how the seasons went round and round, and he thought, now, they must travel around the world some way, too. He said he'd composed some poetry on Spring as he came along, and that now he understood some lines of it better than he had at the start; for, of course, when poetry just comes to anybody, as it does to Mr. Rabbit, it isn't expected that even the poet himself will understand it very well at first.

Then they all wanted to hear Jack Rabbit's poem, and Mr. Rabbit said that it really wasn't just as he wanted it yet, but that if they wouldn't expect too much, he'd let them hear how it went, anyway.

WHICH WAY, SPRING?
BY J. RABBIT
 
O Spring,
Ho, Spring!
Whither do you go, Spring?
If I did but know, Spring,
I would go there, too.
Pray, Spring,
Say, Spring,
Whither and away, Spring?
I would start to-day, Spring,
If I go with you.
 

And Spring answers: —

 
Why, sir,
I, sir,
Just go tripping by, sir —
If you did but try, sir,
You could go with me.
Follow,
Follow,
Over hill and hollow —
Where the bluebirds call, O,
I am sure to be.
 

Well, everybody applauded that, of course; and Mr. 'Coon said that for his part he was tired of cold weather, and that if to-morrow was a bright day, and anybody'd go with him, he'd start out at sunrise and follow Spring clear around the world. Then Mr. 'Possum said he'd go just to see whether Mr. Man was right or not, and Mr. Crow said he'd go, too. Mr. Rabbit wanted to go to prove some things in his poem, but he had to make a garden if it was a good day, and Mr. Dog had an engagement to dig moles for Mr. Man.

So the next morning, bright and early, the three Hollow Tree people got up and started. They packed some lunch in a basket, so they wouldn't get hungry, in case they were gone all day, and set out in high spirits; for it was a beautiful morning in April, and they knew Spring had come at last.

They saw a bluebird up in a tree not far away, and they remembered what Mr. Rabbit's poem had said about following him over hill and hollow; so they went along in that direction, talking and whistling and singing, because they felt so good in the fresh morning sunlight.

And Mr. Bluebird hopped and whistled and flew along ahead, until, by and by, they came to where Mr. Fox lived.

"Where are you fellows going so early?" called Mr. Fox.

"We're following Spring around the world," called back Mr. Crow; and then they told him all that Mr. Dog had said.

Then Mr. Fox looked very wise, for he didn't know if Mr. Dog was playing a trick on them, or if it were really true that the world was round and he hadn't heard of it. Anyway, he wasn't going to let on, so he said: —

"Why, of course! I knew that all the time. You just keep right on until you come to that big elm over yonder, and turn to the right. Anybody over there can show you the way." Then Mr. Fox coughed and went back into the house, but he made up his mind he wouldn't laugh until he had seen Mr. Dog and was sure it was all a joke. And the Hollow Tree people kept on to the elm tree, and, sure enough, there was Mr. Bluebird, hopping and whistling and flying on ahead, for he'd been listening to what Mr. Fox had told them.

So they hurried right along after him till they came to Mr. Wolf's place. Mr. Wolf was looking out of his door as they came by.

"Hello, you early birds!" he called. "Whose hen roost you been after?"

Then they told him they weren't thinking of such things as that on a beautiful morning like this, but that they were following Spring around the world. And they told him all that Mr. Man had said to Mr. Dog, and what Mr. Fox had said, and about Jack Rabbit's poem. Mr. Wolf thought he'd better be wise, too, until he found out just how things were, so he said: —

"Sure enough! That's a good plan. I'd go along if I had time. I know the way well. You just keep on till you come to that creek yonder, then cross and turn to the right, and after that any one can show you the way."



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