Whitefoot the Wood Mouse.
by Thornton W. Burgess (1874-1965)
I.. Whitefoot Spends A Happy Winter.
II.. Whitefoot Sees Queer Things.
III.. Farmer Brown's Boy Becomes Acquainted.
IV.. Whitefoot Grows Anxious.
V.. The End Of Whitefoot's Worries.
VI.. A Very Careless Jump.
VII.. Whitefoot Gives Up Hope.
VIII.. The Rescue.
IX.. Two Timid Persons Meet.
X.. The White Watchers.
XI.. Jumper Is In Doubt.
XII.. Whitey The Owl Saves Jumper.
XIII.. Whitefoot Decides Quickly.
XIV.. Shadows Return.
XV.. Whitefoots Dreadful Journey.
XVI.. Whitefoot Climbs A Tree.
XVII.. Whihtefoot Finds A Hole Just In Time.
XVIII.. An Unpleasant Suprise.
XIX.. Whitefoot Finds A Home A Last.
XX.. Whitefoot Makes Himself At Home.
XXI.. Whitefoot Envies Timmy.
XXII.. Timmy Proves To Be A True Neighbor.
XXIII.. Whitefoot Spends A Dreadful Night.
XXIV.. Whitefoot The Wood Mouse Is Unhappy.
XXV.. Whitefoot Finds Out What The Matter Was.
XXVI.. Love Fillss The Heart Of Whitefoot.
XXVII.. Mr. And Mrs. Whitefoot.
XXVIII.. Mrs. Whitefoot Decides On A Home.
XXIX.. Making Over An Old House.
XXX.. The Whitefoots Enjoy Their New Home.
XXXI.. Whitefoot Is Hurt.
XXXII.. The Surprise.
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Title: Whitefoot the Wood Mouse
Author: Thornton W. Burgess
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WHITEFOOT THE WOOD MOUSE
BY THORNTON W. BURGESS
CHAPTER I: Whitefoot Spends A Happy Winter
In all his short life Whitefoot the Wood Mouse never had spent such
a happy winter. Whitefoot is one of those wise little people who
never allow unpleasant things of the past to spoil their present
happiness, and who never borrow trouble from the future.
Whitefoot believes in getting the most from the present. The things
which are past are past, and that is all there is to it. There is
no use in thinking about them. As for the things of the future,
it will be time enough to think about them when they happen.
If you and I had as many things to worry about as does Whitefoot the
Wood Mouse, we probably never would be happy at all. But Whitefoot
is happy whenever he has a chance to be, and in this he is wiser
than most human beings. You see, there is not one of all the little
people in the Green Forest who has so many enemies to watch out for
as has Whitefoot. There are ever so many who would like nothing
better than to dine on plump little Whitefoot. There are Buster
Bear and Billy Mink and Shadow the Weasel and Unc' Billy Possum and
Hooty the Owl and all the members of the Hawk family, not to mention
Blacky the Crow in times when other food is scarce. Reddy and
Granny Fox and Old Man Coyote are always looking for him.
So you see Whitefoot never knows at what instant he may have to run
for his life. That is why he is such a timid little fellow and is
always running away at the least little unexpected sound. In spite
of all this he is a happy little chap.
It was early in the winter that Whitefoot found a little hole in a
corner of Farmer Brown's sugar-house and crept inside to see what it
was like in there. It didn't take him long to decide that it was
the most delightful place he ever had found. He promptly decided to
move in and spend the winter. In one end of the sugar-house was
a pile of wood. Down under this Whitefoot made himself a warm,
comfortable nest. It was a regular castle to Whitefoot. He moved
over to it the store of seeds he had laid up for winter use.
Not one of his enemies ever thought of visiting the sugar-house in
search of Whitefoot, and they wouldn't have been able to get in if
they had. When rough Brother North Wind howled outside, and sleet
and snow were making other little people shiver, Whitefoot was warm
and comfortable. There was all the room he needed or wanted in
which to run about and play. He could go outside when he chose to,
but he didn't choose to very often. For days at a time he didn't
have a single fright. Yes indeed, Whitefoot spent a happy winter.
CHAPTER II: Whitefoot Sees Queer Things
Whitefoot had spent the winter undisturbed in Farmer Brown's
sugar-house. He had almost forgotten the meaning of fear. He had
come to look on that sugar-house as belonging to him. It wasn't
until Farmer Brown's boy came over to prepare things for sugaring
that Whitefoot got a single real fright. The instant Farmer Brown's
boy opened the door, Whitefoot scampered down under the pile of wood
to his snug little nest, and there he lay, listening to the strange
sounds. At last he could stand it no longer and crept to a place
where he could peep out and see what was going on. It didn't take
him long to discover that this great two-legged creature was not
looking for him, and right away he felt better. After a while
Farmer Brown's boy went away, and Whitefoot had the little
sugar-house to himself again.
But Farmer Brown's boy had carelessly left the door wide open.
Whitefoot didn't like that open door. It made him nervous.
There was nothing to prevent those who hunt him from walking right in.
So the rest of that night Whitefoot felt uncomfortable and anxious.
He felt still more anxious when next day Farmer Brown's boy returned
and became very busy putting things to right. Then Farmer Brown
himself came and strange things began to happen. It became as warm
as in summer. You see Farmer Brown had built a fire under the
evaporator. Whitefoot's curiosity kept him at a place where he
could peep out and watch all that was done. He saw Farmer Brown and
Farmer Brown's boy pour pails of sap into a great pan. By and by a
delicious odor filled the sugar-house. It didn't take him a great
while to discover that these two-legged creatures were so busy that
he had nothing to fear from them, and so he crept out to watch. He
saw them draw the golden syrup from one end of the evaporator and
fill shining tin cans with it. Day after day they did the same
thing. At night when they had left and all was quiet inside the
sugar-house, Whitefoot stole out and found delicious crumbs where
they had eaten their lunch. He tasted that thick golden stuff and
found it sweet and good. Later he watched them make sugar and
nearly made himself sick that night when they had gone home, for
they had left some of that sugar where he could get at it.
He didn't understand these queer doings at all. But he was no
CHAPTER III: Farmer Brown's Boy Becomes Acquainted
It didn't take Farmer Brown's boy long to discover that Whitefoot
the Wood Mouse was living in the little sugar-house. He caught
glimpses of Whitefoot peeping out at him. Now Farmer Brown's boy
is wise in the ways of the little people of the Green Forest.
Right away he made up his mind to get acquainted with Whitefoot.
He knew that not in all the Green Forest is there a more timid
little fellow than Whitefoot, and he thought it would be a fine thing
to be able to win the confidence of such a shy little chap.
So at first Farmer Brown's boy paid no attention whatever to Whitefoot.
He took care that Whitefoot shouldn't even know that he had been seen.
Every day when he ate his lunch, Farmer Brown's boy scattered
a lot of crumbs close to the pile of wood under which Whitefoot had
made his home. Then he and Farmer Brown would go out
to collect sap. When they returned not a crumb would be left.
One day Farmer Brown's boy scattered some particularly delicious crumbs.
Then, instead of going out, he sat down on a bench and kept
perfectly still. Farmer Brown and Bowser the Hound went out.
Of course Whitefoot heard them go out, and right away he poked his
little head out from under the pile of wood to see if the way was clear.
Farmer Brown's boy sat there right in plain sight, but Whitefoot
didn't see him. That was because Farmer Brown's boy didn't move
the least bit. Whitefoot ran out and at once began to eat
those delicious crumbs. When he had filled his little stomach,
he began to carry the remainder back to his storehouse underneath
the woodpile. While he was gone on one of these trips, Farmer
Brown's boy scattered more crumbs in a line that led right up to his
foot. Right there he placed a big piece of bread crust.
Whitefoot was working so hard and so fast to get all those delicious
bits of food that he took no notice of anything else until he
reached that piece of crust. Then he happened to look up right into
the eyes of Farmer Brown's boy. With a frightened little squeak
Whitefoot darted back, and for a long time he was afraid to come out
But Farmer Brown's boy didn't move, and at last Whitefoot could
stand the temptation no longer. He darted out halfway, scurried
back, came out again, and at last ventured right up to the crust.
Then he began to drag it back to the woodpile. Still Farmer Brown's
boy did not move.
For two or three days the same thing happened. By this time,
Whitefoot had lost all fear. He knew that Farmer Brown's boy would
not harm him, and it was not long before he ventured to take a bit
of food from Farmer Brown's boy's hand. After that Farmer Brown's
boy took care that no crumbs should be scattered on the ground.
Whitefoot had to come to him for his food, and always Farmer Brown's
boy had something delicious for him.
CHAPTER IV: Whitefoot Grows Anxious
'Tis sad indeed to trust a friend
Then have that trust abruptly end.
I know of nothing that is more sad than to feel that a friend is
no longer to be trusted. There came a time when Whitefoot the
Wood Mouse almost had this feeling. It was a very, very anxious time
You see, Whitefoot and Farmer Brown's boy had become the very best
of friends there in the little sugar-house. They had become such
good friends that Whitefoot did not hesitate to take food from the
hands of Farmer Brown's boy. Never in all his life had he had so
much to eat or such good things to eat. He was getting so fat that
his handsome little coat was uncomfortably tight. He ran about
fearlessly while Farmer Brown and Farmer Brown's boy were making
maple syrup and maple sugar. He had even lost his fear of Bowser
the Hound, for Bowser had paid no attention to him whatever.
Now you remember that Whitefoot had made his home way down beneath
the great pile of wood in the sugar-house. Of course Farmer Brown
and Farmer Brown's boy used that wood for the fire to boil the sap
to make the syrup and sugar. Whitefoot thought nothing of this
until one day he discovered that his little home was no longer as
dark as it had been. A little ray of light crept down between the
sticks. Presently another little ray of light crept down between
It was then that Whitefoot began to grow anxious. It was then
he realized that that pile of wood was growing smaller and smaller,
and if it kept on growing smaller, by and by there wouldn't
be any pile of wood and his little home wouldn't be hidden at all.
Of course Whitefoot didn't understand why that wood was slipping away.
In spite of himself he began to grow suspicious. He couldn't think
of any reason why that wood should be taken away, unless it was
to look for his little home. Farmer Brown's boy was just as
kind and friendly as ever, but all the time more and more light
crept in, as the wood vanished.
"Oh dear, what does it mean?" cried Whitefoot to himself.
"They must be looking for my home, yet they have been so good to me
that it is hard to believe they mean any harm. I do hope they will stop
taking this wood away. I won't have any hiding-place at all, and
then I will have to go outside back to my old home in the hollow stump.
I don't want to do that. Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I was so happy
and now I am so worried! Why can't happy times last always?"
CHAPTER V: The End Of Whitefoot's Worries
You never can tell! You never can tell!
Things going wrong will often end well.
The next time you meet him just ask Whitefoot if this isn't so.
Things had been going very wrong for Whitefoot. It had begun to
look to Whitefoot as if he would no longer have a snug, hidden
little home in Farmer Brown's sugar-house. The pile of wood under
which he had made that snug little home was disappearing so fast
that it began to look as if in a little while there would be no wood
Whitefoot quite lost his appetite. He no longer came out to take
food from Farmer Brown's boy's hand. He stayed right in his snug
little home and worried.
Now Farmer Brown's boy had not once thought of the trouble he was
making. He wondered what had become of Whitefoot, and in his turn
he began to worry. He was afraid that something had happened to his
little friend. He was thinking of this as he fed the sticks of wood
to the fire for boiling the sap to make syrup and sugar. Finally,
as he pulled away two big sticks, he saw something that made him
whistle with surprise. It was Whitefoot's nest which he had so
cleverly hidden way down underneath that pile of wood when he had
first moved into the sugar-house. With a frightened little squeak,
Whitefoot ran out, scurried across the little sugar-house and out
though the open door.
Farmer Brown's boy understood. He understood perfectly that little
people like Whitefoot want their homes hidden away in the dark.
"Poor little chap," said Farmer Brown's boy." He had a regular
castle here and we have destroyed it. He's got the snuggest kind of
a little nest here, but he won't come back to it so long as it is
right out in plain sight. He probably thinks we have been hunting
for this little home of his. Hello! Here's his storehouse!
I've often wondered how the little rascal could eat so much, but
now I understand. He stored away here more than half of the good
things I have given him. I am glad he did. If he hadn't, he might
not come back, but I feel sure that to-night, when all is quiet, he
will come back to take away all his food. I must do something to keep
Farmer Brown's boy sat down to think things over. Then he got
an old box and made a little round hole in one end of it.
Very carefully he took up Whitefoot's nest and placed it under the
old box in the darkest corner of the sugar-house. Then he carried all
Whitefoot's supplies over there and put them under the box. He went
outside, and got some branches of hemlock and threw these in a little
pile over the box. After this he scattered some crumbs just outside.
Late that night Whitefoot did come back. The crumbs led him to the
old box. He crept inside. There was his snug little home! All in
a second Whitefoot understood, and trust and happiness returned.
CHAPTER VI: A Very Careless Jump
Whitefoot once more was happy. When he found his snug little nest
and his store of food under that old box in the darkest corner of
Farmer Brown's sugar-house, he knew that Farmer Brown's boy must
have placed them there. It was better than the old place under the
woodpile. It was the best place for a home Whitefoot ever had had.
It didn't take him long to change his mind about leaving the little
sugar-house. Somehow he seemed to know right down inside that his
home would not again be disturbed.
So he proceeded to rearrange his nest and to put all his supplies
of food in one corner of the old box. When everything was placed
to suit him he ventured out, for now that he no longer feared
Farmer Brown's boy he wanted to see all that was going on. He liked
to jump up on the bench where Farmer Brown's boy sometimes sat.
He would climb up to where Farmer Brown's boy's coat hung and explore
the pockets of it. Once he stole Farmer Brown's boy's handkerchief.
He wanted it to add to the material his nest was made of.
Farmer Brown's boy discovered it just as it was disappearing, and how
he laughed as he pulled it away.
So, what with eating and sleeping and playing about, secure in the
feeling that no harm could come to him, Whitefoot was happier than
ever before in his little life. He knew that Farmer Brown's boy and
Farmer Brown and Bowser the Hound were his friends. He knew, too,
that so long as they were about, none of his enemies would dare come
near. This being so, of course there was nothing to be afraid of.
No harm could possibly come to him. At least, that is what
But you know, enemies are not the only dangers to watch out for.
Accidents will happen. When they do happen, it is very likely to
be when the possibility of them is farthest from your thoughts.
Almost always they are due to heedlessness or carelessness.
It was heedlessness that got Whitefoot into one of the worst mishaps
of his whole life.
He had been running and jumping all around the inside of the little
sugar-house. He loves to run and jump, and he had been having just
the best time ever. Finally Whitefoot ran along the old bench and
jumped from the end of it for a box standing on end, which Farmer
Brown's boy sometimes used to sit on. It wasn't a very long jump,
but somehow Whitefoot misjudged it. He was heedless, and he didn't
jump quite far enough. Right beside that box was a tin pail half
filled with sap. Instead of landing on the box, Whitefoot landed
with a splash in that pail of sap.
CHAPTER VII: Whitefoot Gives Up Hope
Whitefoot had been in many tight places. Yes, indeed, Whitefoot had
been in many tight places. He had had narrow escapes of all kinds.
But never had he felt so utterly hopeless as now. The moment he
landed in that sap, Whitefoot began to swim frantically. He isn't a
particularly good swimmer, but he could swim well enough to keep
afloat for a while. His first thought was to scramble up the side
of the tin pail, but when he reached it and tried to fasten his
sharp little claws into it in order to climb, he discovered that he
couldn't. Sharp as they were, his little claws just slipped, and
his struggles to get up only resulted in tiring him out and in
plunging him wholly beneath the sap. He came up choking and
gasping. Then round and round inside that pail he paddled, stopping
every two or three seconds to try to climb up that hateful, smooth,
The more he tried to climb out, the more frightened he became.
He was in a perfect panic of fear. He quite lost his head,
did Whitefoot. The harder he struggled, the more tired he became,
and the greater was his danger of drowning.
Whitefoot squeaked pitifully. He didn't want to drown. Of course not.
He wanted to live. But unless he could get out of that pail
very soon, he would drown. He knew it. He knew that he couldn't
hold on much longer. He knew that just as soon as he stopped
paddling, he would sink. Already he was so tired from his frantic
efforts to escape that it seemed to him that he couldn't hold out
any longer. But somehow he kept his legs moving, and so kept afloat.
Just why he kept struggling, Whitefoot couldn't have told. It wasn't
because he had any hope. He didn't have the least bit of hope.
He knew now that he couldn't climb the sides of that pail,
and there was no other way of getting out. Still he kept on paddling.
It was the only way to keep from drowning, and though he felt
sure that he had got to drown at last, he just wouldn't until
he actually had to. And all the time Whitefoot squeaked hopelessly,
despairingly, pitifully. He did it without knowing that he did it,
just as he kept paddling round and round.
CHAPTER VIII: The Rescue
When Whitefoot made the heedless jump that landed him in a pail half
filled with sap, no one else was in the little sugar-house.
Whitefoot was quite alone. You see, Farmer Brown and Farmer Brown's
boy were out collecting sap from the trees, and Bowser the Hound was
Farmer Brown's boy was the first to return. He came in just after
Whitefoot had given up all hope. He went at once to the fire to
put more wood on. As he finished this job he heard the faintest
of little squeaks. It was a very pitiful little squeak. Farmer
Brown's boy stood perfectly still and listened. He heard it again.
He knew right away that it was the voice of Whitefoot.
"Hello!" exclaimed Farmer Brown's boy. "That sounds as if
Whitefoot is in trouble of some kind. I wonder where the little
rascal is. I wonder what can have happened to him. I must look
into this." Again Farmer Brown's boy heard that faint little
squeak. It was so faint that he couldn't tell where it came
from. Hurriedly and anxiously he looked all over the little
sugar-house, stopping every few seconds to listen for that
pitiful little squeak. It seemed to come from nowhere in particular.
Also it was growing fainter.
At last Farmer Brown's boy happened to stand still close to that tin
pail half filled with sap. He heard the faint little squeak again and
with it a little splash. It was the sound of the little splash that
led him to look down. In a flash he understood what had happened.
He saw poor little Whitefoot struggling feebly, and even as he
looked Whitefoot's head went under. He was very nearly drowned.
Stooping quickly, Farmer Brown's boy grabbed Whitefoot's long tail
and pulled him out. Whitefoot was so nearly drowned that he didn't have
strength enough to even kick. A great pity filled the eyes of Farmer
Brown's boy as he held Whitefoot's head down and gently shook him.
He was trying to shake some of the sap out of Whitefoot. It ran out
of Whitefoot's nose and out of his mouth. Whitefoot began to gasp.
Then Farmer Brown's boy spread his coat close by the fire, rolled
Whitefoot up in his handkerchief and gently placed him on the coat.
For some time Whitefoot lay just gasping. But presently his breath
came easier, and after a while he was breathing naturally. But he
was too weak and tired to move, so he just lay there while Farmer
Brown's boy gently stroked his head and told him how sorry he was.
Little by little Whitefoot recovered his strength. At last he could
sit up, and finally he began to move about a little, although he was
still wobbly on his legs. Farmer Brown's boy put some bits of food
where Whitefoot could get them, and as he ate, Whitefoot's beautiful
soft eyes were filled with gratitude.
CHAPTER IX: Two Timid Persons Meet
Thus always you will meet life's test --
To do the thing you can do best.
Jumper the Hare sat crouched at the foot of a tree in the Green Forest.
Had you happened along there, you would not have seen him. At least,
I doubt if you would. If you had seen him, you probably wouldn't
have known it. You see, in his white coat Jumper was so exactly
the color of the snow that he looked like nothing more than
a little heap of snow.
Just in front of Juniper was a little round hole. He gave it no
attention. It didn't interest him in the least. All through the
Green Forest were little holes in the snow. Jumper was so used to
them that he seldom noticed them. So he took no notice of this one
until something moved down in that hole. Jumper's eyes opened a
little wider and he watched. A sharp little face with very bright
eyes filled that little round hole. Jumper moved just the tiniest
bit, and in a flash that sharp little face with the bright eyes
disappeared. Jumper sat still and waited. After a long wait the
sharp little face with bright eyes appeared again. "Don't be
frightened, Whitefoot," said Jumper softly. At the first word the
sharp little face disappeared, but in a moment it was back, and the
sharp little eyes were fixed on Jumper suspiciously. After a long
stare the suspicion left them, and out of the little round hole came
trim little Whitefoot in a soft brown coat with white waistcoat and
with white feet and a long, slim tail. This winter he was not
living in Farmer Brown's sugarhouse.
"Gracious, Jumper, how you did scare me!" said he.
Jumper chuckled. "Whitefoot, I believe you are more timid than I am,"
"Why shouldn't I be? I'm ever so much smaller, and I have more enemies,"
"It is true you are smaller, but I am not so sure that you have more
enemies," replied Jumper thoughtfully. "It sometimes seems to me that
I couldn't have more, especially in winter."
"Name them," commanded Whitefoot.
"Hooty the Great Horned Owl, Yowler the Bob Cat, Old Man Coyote,
Reddy Fox, Terror the Goshawk, Shadow the Weasel, Billy Mink."
"Is that all?" demanded Whitefoot.
"Isn't that enough?" retorted Jumper rather sharply.
"I have all of those and Blacky the Crow and Butcher the Shrike and
Sammy Jay in winter, and Buster Hear and Jimmy Skunk and several of
the Snake family in summer," replied Whitefoot. "It seems to me
sometimes as if I need eyes and ears all over me. Night and day
there is always some one hunting for poor little me. And then some
folks wonder why I am so timid. If I were not as timid as I am,
I wouldn't be alive now; I would have been caught long ago. Folks may
laugh at me for being so easily frightened, but I don't care.
That is what saves my life a dozen times a day."
Jumper looked interested. "I hadn't thought of that," said he.
"I'm a very timid person myself, and sometimes I have been ashamed of
being so easily frightened. But come to think of it, I guess you are
right; the more timid I am, the longer I am likely to live."
Whitefoot suddenly darted into his hole. Jumper didn't move, but
his eyes widened with fear. A great white bird had just alighted on
a stump a short distance away. It was Whitey the Snowy Owl, down
from the Far North.
"There is another enemy we both forgot," thought Jumper,
and tried not to shiver.
CHAPTER X: The White Watchers
Much may be gained by sitting still
If you but have the strength of will.
Jumper the Hare crouched at the foot of a tree in the Green Forest,
and a little way from him on a stump sat Whitey the Snowy Owl.
Had you been there to see them, both would have appeared as white as
the snow around them unless you had looked very closely. Then you might
have seen two narrow black lines back of Jumper's head. They were
the tips of his ears, for these remain black. And near the upper
part of the white mound which was Whitey you might have seen two
round yellow spots, his eyes.
There they were for all the world like two little heaps of snow.
Jumper didn't move so much as a hair. Whitey didn't move so much as
a feather. Both were waiting and watching. Jumper didn't move
because he knew that Whitey was there. Whitey didn't move because
he didn't want any one to know he was there, and didn't know that
Jumper was there. Jumper was sitting still because he was afraid.
Whitey was sitting still because he was hungry.
So there they sat, each in plain sight of the other but only one
seeing the other. This was because Juniper had been fortunate
enough to see Whitey alight on that stump. Jumper had been sitting
still when Whitey arrived, and so those fierce yellow eyes had not
yet seen him. But had Jumper so much as lifted one of those long
ears, Whitey would have seen, and his great claws would have been
reaching for Jumper.
Jumper didn't want to sit still. No, indeed! He wanted to run.
You know it is on those long legs of his that Jumper depends almost
wholly for safety. But there are times for running and times for
sitting still, and this was a time for sitting still. He knew that
Whitey didn't know that he was anywhere near. But just the same it
was hard, very hard to sit there with one he so greatly feared
watching so near. It seemed as if those fierce yellow eyes of
Whitey must see him. They seemed to look right through him.
They made him shake inside.
"I want to run. I want to run. I want to run," Jumper kept saying
to himself. Then he would say, "But I mustn't. I mustn't. I mustn't."
And so Jumper did the hardest thing in the world, -- sat still and
stared danger in the face. He was sitting still to save his life.
Whitey the Snowy Owl was sitting still to catch a dinner. I know
that sounds queer, but it was so. He knew that so long as he sat
still, he was not likely to be seen. It was for this purpose that
Old Mother Nature had given him that coat of white. In the Far North,
which was his real home, everything is white for months and months,
and any one dressed in a dark suit can be seen a long distance.
So Whitey had been given that white coat that he might have
a better chance to catch food enough to keep him alive.
And he had learned how to make the best use of it. Yes, indeed,
he knew how to make the best use of it. It was by doing just what
he was doing now, -- sitting perfectly still. Just before he had
alighted on that stump he had seen something move at the entrance
to a little round hole in the snow. He was sure of it.
"A Mouse," thought Whitey, and alighted on that stump. "He saw me
flying, but he'll forget about it after a while and will come out
again. He won't see me then if I don't move. And I won't move
until he is far enough from that hole for me to catch him before he
can get back to it."
So the two watchers in white sat without moving for the longest time,
one watching for a dinner and the other watching the other watcher.
CHAPTER XI: Jumper Is In Doubt
When doubtful what course to pursue
'Tis sometimes best to nothing do.
Jumper the Hare was beginning to feel easier in his mind. He was no
longer shaking inside. In fact, he was beginning to feel quite safe.
There he was in plain sight of Whitey the Snowy Owl, sitting motionless
on a stump only a short distance away, yet Whitey hadn't seen him.
Whitey had looked straight at him many times, but because Jumper
had not moved so much as a hair Whitey had mistaken him for a
little heap of snow.
"All I have to do is to keep right on sitting perfectly still, and
I'll be as safe as if Whitey were nowhere about. Yes, sir, I will,"
thought Jumper. "By and by he will become tired and fly away.
I do hope he'll do that before Whitefoot comes out again.
If Whitefoot should come out, I couldn't warn him because that
would draw Whitey's attention to me, and he wouldn't look twice
at a Wood Mouse when there was a chance to get a Hare for his dinner.
"This is a queer world. It is so. Old Mother Nature does queer things.
Here she has given me a white coat in winter so that I may not
be easily seen when there is snow on the ground, and at the same
time she has given one of those I fear most a white coat so that he
may not be easily seen, either. It certainly is a queer world."
Jumper forgot that Whitey was only a chance visitor from the Far North
and that it was only once in a great while that he came down
there, while up in the Far North where he belonged nearly everybody
was dressed in white.
Jumper hadn't moved once, but once in a while Whitey turned his
great round head for a look all about in every direction. But it
was done in such a way that only eyes watching him sharply would
have noticed it. Most of the time he kept his fierce yellow eyes
fixed on the little hole in the snow in which Whitefoot had
disappeared. You know Whitey can see by day quite as well as any
Jumper, having stopped worrying about himself, began to worry about
Whitefoot. He knew that Whitefoot had seen Whitey arrive on that
stump and that was why he had dodged back into bis hole and since
then had not even poked his nose out. But that had been so long ago
that by this time Whitefoot must think that Whitey had gone on about
his business, and Jumper expected to see Whitefoot appear any moment.
What Jumper didn't know was that Whitefoot's bright little eyes
had all the time been watching Whitey from another little hole
in the snow some distance away. A tunnel led from this little hole
to the first little hole.
Suddenly off among the trees something moved. At least,
Jumper thought he saw something move. Yes, there it was, a little
black spot moving swiftly this way and that way over the snow.
Jumper stared very hard. And then his heart seemed to jump right up
in his throat. It did so. He felt as if he would choke. That black spot
was the tip end of a tail, the tail of a small, very slim fellow
dressed all in white, the only other one in all the Green Forest who
dresses all in white. It was Shadow the Weasel! In his white
winter coat he is called Ermine.
He was running this way and that way, back and forth, with his nose
to the snow. He was hunting, and Jumper knew that sooner or later
Shadow would find him. Safety from Shadow lay in making the best
possible use of those long legs of his, but to do that would bring
Whitey the Owl swooping after him. What to do Jumper didn't know.
And so he did nothing. It happened to be the wisest thing he could
CHAPTER XII: Whitey The Owl Saves Jumper
It often happens in the end
An enemy may prove a friend.
Was ever any one in a worse position than Jumper the Hare? To move
would be to give himself away to Whitey the Snowy Owl. If he
remained where he was very likely Shadow the Weasel would find him,
and the result would be the same as if he were caught by Whitey the Owl.
Neither Whitey nor Shadow knew he was there, but it would be only
a few minutes before one of them knew it. At least, that is
the way it looked to Jumper.
Whitey wouldn't know it unless he moved, but Shadow the Weasel
would find his tracks, and his nose would lead him straight there.
Back and forth, back and forth, this way, that way and the other way,
just a little distance off, Shadow was running with his nose to the snow.
He was hunting -- hunting for the scent of some one whom he could kill.
In a few minutes he would be sure to find where Jumper had been,
and then his nose would lead him straight to that tree at the
foot of which Jumper was crouching.
Nearer and nearer came Shadow. He was slim and trim and didn't look
at all terrible. Yet there was no one in all the Green Forest more
feared by the little people in fur, by Jumper, by Peter Rabbit, by
Whitefoot, even by Chatterer the Red Squirrel.
"Perhaps," thought Jumper, "he won't find my scent after all.
Perhaps he'll go in another direction." But all the time Jumper
felt in his bones that Shadow would find that scent. "When he does,
I'll run," said Jumper to himself. "I'll have at least a chance to
dodge Whitey. I am afraid he will catch me, but I'll have a chance.
I won't have any chance at all if Shadow finds me."
Suddenly Shadow stopped running and sat up to look about with
fierce little eyes, all the time testing the air with his nose.
Jumper's heart sank. He knew that Shadow had caught a faint scent
of some one. Then Shadow began to run back and forth once more,
but more carefully than before. And then he started straight for
where Jumper was crouching! Jumper knew then that Shadow had found his
Jumper drew a long breath and settled his long hind feet for a great
jump, hoping to so take Whitey the Owl by surprise that he might be
able to get away. And as Jumper did this, he looked over to that
stump where Whitey had been sitting so long. Whitey was just
leaving it on his great silent wings, and his fierce yellow eyes
were fixed in the direction of Shadow the Weasel. He had seen that
moving black spot which was the tip of Shadow's tail.
Jumper didn't have time to jump before Whitey was swooping down
at Shadow. So Juniper just kept still and watched with eyes almost
popping from his head with fear and excitement.
Shadow hadn't seen Whitey until just as Whitey was reaching for him
with his great cruel claws. Now if there is any one who can move
more quickly than Shadow the Weasel I don't know who it is.
Whitey's claws closed on nothing but snow; Shadow had dodged.
Then began a game, Whitey swooping and Shadow dodging, and all the time
they were getting farther and farther from where Jumper was.
The instant it was safe to do so, Jumper took to his long heels and
the way he disappeared, lipperty-lipperty-lip, was worth seeing.
Whitey the Snowy Owl had saved him from Shadow the Weasel and didn't
know it. An enemy had proved to be a friend.
CHAPTER XIII: Whitefoot Decides Quickly
Your mind made up a certain way
Be swift to act; do not delay.
When Whitefoot had discovered Whitey the Snowy Owl, he had dodged
down in the little hole in the snow beside which he had been sitting.
He had not been badly frightened. But he was somewhat upset.
Yes, sir, he was somewhat upset. You see, he had so many enemies
to watch out for, and here was another.
"Just as if I didn't have troubles enough without having this white
robber to add to them," grumbled Whitefoot. "Why doesn't he stay
where he belongs, way up in the Far North? It must be that food is
scarce up there. Well, now that I know he is here, he will have to
be smarter than I think he is to catch me. I hope Jumper the Hare
will have sense enough to keep perfectly still. I've sometimes
envied him his long legs, but I guess I am better off than he is, at
that. Once he has been seen by an enemy, only those long legs of his
can save him, but I have a hundred hiding-places down under the snow.
Whitey is watching the hole where I disappeared; he thinks
I'll come out there again after a while. I'll fool him."
Whitefoot scampered along through a little tunnel and presently very
cautiously peeped out of another little round hole in the snow.
Sure enough, there was Whitey the Snowy Owl back to him on a stump,
watching the hole down which he had disappeared a few minutes
before. Whitefoot grinned. Then he looked over to where he had
last seen Jumper. Jumper was still there; it was clear that he
hadn't moved, and so Whitey hadn't seen him. Again Whitefoot grinned.
Then he settled himself to watch patiently for Whitey to become tired
of watching that hole and fly away.
So it was that Whitefoot saw all that happened. He saw Whitey
suddenly sail out on silent wings from that stump and swoop with
great claws reaching for some one. And then he saw who that some
one was, -- Shadow the Weasel! He saw Shadow dodge in the very nick
of time. Then he watched Whitey swoop again and again as Shadow
dodged this way and that way. Finally both disappeared amongst the
trees. Then he turned just in time to see Jumper the Hare bounding
away with all the speed of his wonderful, long legs.
Fear, the greatest fear he had known for a long time, took possession
of Whitefoot. "Shadow the Weasel!" he gasped and had such a thing
been possible he certainly would have turned pale. "Whitey won't
catch him; Shadow is too quick for him. And when Whitey has given up
and flown away, Shadow will come back. He probably had found the
tracks of Jumper the Hare and he will come back. I know him; he'll
come back. Jumper is safe enough from him now, because he has such a
long start, but Shadow will be sure to find one of my holes in the snow.
Oh, dear! Oh, dear! What shall I do?"
You see Shadow the Weasel is the one enemy that can follow Whitefoot
into most of his hiding-places.
For a minute or two Whitefoot sat there, shaking with fright. Then
he made up his mind. "I'll get away from here before he returns,"
thought Whitefoot. "I've got to. I've spent a comfortable winter
here so far, but there will be no safety for me here any longer.
I don't know where to go, but anywhere will be better than here now."
Without waiting another second, Whitefoot scampered away. And how
he did hope that his scent would have disappeared by the time Shadow
returned. If it hadn't, there would be little hope for him and he
CHAPTER XIV: Shadows Return
He little gains and has no pride
Who from his purpose turns aside.
Shadow the Weasel believes in persistence. When he sets out to do a
thing, he keeps at it until it is done or he knows for a certainty
it cannot be done. He is not easily discouraged. This is one
reason he is so feared by the little people he delights to hunt.
They know that once he gets on their trail, they will be fortunate
indeed if they escape him.
When Whitey the Snowy Owl swooped at him and so nearly caught him,
he was not afraid as he dodged this way and that way. Any other of
the little people with the exception of his cousin, Billy Mink,
would have been frightened half to death. But Shadow was simply angry.
He was angry that any one should try to catch him. He was still
more angry because his hunt for Jumper the Hare was interfered with.
You see, he had just found Jumper's trail when Whitey swooped at him.
So Shadow's little eyes grew red with rage as he dodged this way and
that and was gradually driven away from the place where he had
found the trail of Jumper the Hare. At last he saw a hole in an
old log and into this he darted. Whitey couldn't get him there.
Whitey knew this and he knew, too, that waiting for Shadow to come out
again would be a waste of time. So Whitey promptly flew away.
Hardly had he disappeared when Shadow popped out of that hole, for he
had been peeping out and watching Whitey. Without a moment's pause he
turned straight back for the place where he had found the trail of
Jumper the Hare. He had no intention of giving up that hunt just
because he had been driven away. Straight to the very spot where
Whitey had first swooped at him he ran, and there once more his keen
little nose took up the trail of Jumper. It led him straight to the
foot of the tree where Jumper had crouched so long.
But, as you know, Jumper wasn't there then. Shadow ran in a circle
and presently he found where Jumper had landed on the snow at the
end of that first bound. Shadow snarled. He understood exactly
what had happened.
"Jumper was under that tree when that white robber from the Far
North tried to catch me, and he took that chance to leave in a hurry.
I can tell that by the length of this jump. Probably he is
still going. It is useless to follow him because he has too long a
start," said Shadow, and he snarled again in rage and disappointment.
Then, for such is his way, he wasted no more time or thought on
Jumper the Hare. Instead he began to look for other trails. So
it was that he found one of the little holes of Whitefoot the Wood Mouse.
"Ha! So this is where Whitefoot has been living this winter!"
he exclaimed. Once more his eyes glowed red, but this time with
eagerness and the joy of the hunt. He plunged down into that little
hole in the snow. Down there the scent of Whitefoot was strong.
Shadow followed it until it led out of another little hole in the snow.
But there he lost it. You see, it was so long since Whitefoot
had hurriedly left that the scent on the surface had disappeared.
Shadow ran swiftly this way and that way in a big circle, but he
couldn't find Whitefoot's trail again. Snarling with anger and
disappointment, he returned to the little hole in the snow and
vanished. Then he followed all Whitefoot's little tunnels. He found
Whitefoot's nest. He found his store of seeds. But he didn't find
"He'll come back," muttered Shadow, and curled up in Whitefoot's
nest to wait.
CHAPTER XV: Whitefoots Dreadful Journey
Danger may be anywhere,
So I expect it everywhere.
Whitefoot the Wood Mouse was terribly frightened. Yes, sir, he was
terribly frightened. It was a long, long time since he had been
as frightened as he now was. He is used to frights, is Whitefoot.
He has them every day and every night, but usually they are sudden
frights, quickly over and as quickly forgotten.
This fright was different. You see Whitefoot had caught a glimpse
of Shadow the Weasel. And he knew that if Shadow returned he would
be sure to find the little round holes in the snow that led down to
Whitefoot's private little tunnels underneath.
The only thing for Whitefoot to do was to get just as far from that
place as he could before Shadow should return. And so poor little
Whitefoot started out on a journey that was to take him he knew not
where. All he could do was to go and go and go until he could find
a safe hiding-place.
My, my, but that was a dreadful journey! Every time a twig snapped,
Whitefoot's heart seemed to jump right up in his throat. Every time
he saw a moving shadow, and the branches of the trees moving in the
wind were constantly making moving shadows on the snow, he dodged
behind a tree trunk or under a piece of bark or wherever he could
find a hiding-place.
You see, Whitefoot has so many enemies always looking for him that
he hides whenever he sees anything moving. When at home, he is
forever dodging in and out of his hiding-places. So, because
everything was strange to him, and because of the great fear of
Shadow the Weasel, he suspected everything that moved and every sound
he heard. For a long way no one saw him, for no one was about.
Yet all that way Whitefoot twisted and dodged and darted from place to
place and was just as badly frightened as if there had been enemies
"Oh, dear! Oh, dear me!" he kept saying over and over to himself.
"Wherever shall I go? Whatever shall I do? However shall I get
enough to eat? I won't dare go back to get food from my little
storehouses, and I shall have to live in a strange place where I
won't know where to look for food. I am getting tired. My legs ache.
I 'm getting hungry. I want my nice, warm, soft bed. Oh, dear!
Oh, dear! Oh, dear me!"
But in spite of his frights, Whitefoot kept on. You see, he was
more afraid to stop than he was to go on. He just had to get as far
from Shadow the Weasel as he could. Being such a little fellow, what
would be a short distance for you or me is a long distance for Whitefoot.
And so that journey was to him very long indeed. Of course, it
seemed longer because of the constant frights which came one right
after another. It really was a terrible journey. Yet if he had only
known it, there wasn't a thing along the whole way to be afraid of.
You know it often happens that people are frightened more by what
they don't know than by what they do know.
CHAPTER XVI: Whitefoot Climbs A Tree
I'd rather be frightened With no cause for fear
Than fearful of nothing When danger is near.
Whitefoot kept on going and going. Every time he thought that he
was so tired he must stop, he would think of Shadow the Weasel and
then go on again. By and by he became so tired that not even the
thought of Shadow the Weasel could make him go much farther. So he
began to look about for a safe hiding-place in which to rest.
Now the home which he had left had been a snug little room beneath
the roots of a certain old stump. There he had lived for a long
time in the greatest comfort. Little tunnels led to his storehouses
and up to the surface of the snow. It had been a splendid place
and one in which he had felt perfectly safe until Shadow the Weasel
had appeared. Had you seen him playing about there, you would have
thought him one of the little people of the ground, like his cousin
Danny Meadow Mouse.
But Whitefoot is quite as much at home in trees as on the ground.
In fact, he is quite as much at home in trees as is Chatterer the
Red Squirrel, and a lot more at home in trees than is Striped Chipmunk,
although Striped Chipmunk belongs to the Squirrel family.
So now that he must find a hiding-place, Whitefoot decided that he
would feel much safer in a tree than on the ground.
"If only I can find a hollow tree," whimpered Whitefoot. "I will
feel ever so much safer in a tree than hiding in or near the ground
in a strange place."
So Whitefoot began to look for a dead tree. You see, he knew that
there was more likely to be a hollow in a dead tree than in a living
tree. By and by he came to a tall, dead tree. He knew it was a
dead tree, because there was no bark on it. But, of course, he
couldn't tell whether or not that tree was hollow. I mean he couldn't
tell from the ground.
"Oh, dear!" he whimpered again. "Oh, dear! I suppose I will
have to climb this, and I am so tired. It ought to be hollow.
There ought to be splendid holes in it. It is just the kind of a tree
that Drummer the Woodpecker likes to make his house in. I shall be
terribly disappointed if I don't find one of his houses somewhere in
it, but I wish I hadn't got to climb it to find out. Well, here
He looked anxiously this way. He looked anxiously that way. He looked
anxiously the other way. In fact, he looked anxiously every way.
But he saw no one and nothing to be afraid of, and so he started up
He was half-way up when, glancing down, he saw a shadow moving
across the snow. Once more Whitefoot's heart seemed to jump right
up in his throat. That shadow was the shadow of some one flying.
There couldn't be the least bit of doubt about it. Whitefoot
flattened himself against the side of the tree and peeked around it.
He was just in time to see a gray and black and white bird almost
the size of Sammy Jay alight in the very next tree. He had come
along near the ground and then risen sharply into the tree.
His bill was black, and there was just a tiny hook on the end of it.
Whitefoot knew who it was. It was Butcher the Shrike. Whitefoot
CHAPTER XVII: Whitefoot Finds A Hole Just In Time
Just in time, not just too late,
Will make you master of your fate.
Whitefoot, half-way up that dead tree, flattened himself against the
trunk and, with his heart going pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat with fright,
peered around the tree at an enemy he had not seen for so long that
he had quite forgotten there was such a one. It was Butcher the
Shrike. Often he is called just Butcher Bird. He did not look at
all terrible. He was not quite as big as Sammy Jay. He had no
terrible claws like the Hawks and Owls. There was a tiny hook at
the end of his black bill, but it wasn't big enough to look very
dreadful. But you can not always judge a person by looks, and
Whitefoot knew that Butcher was one to be feared.
So his heart went pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat as he wondered if Butcher had
seen him. He didn't have to wait long to find out. Butcher flew to
a tree back of Whitefoot and then straight at him. Whitefoot dodged
around to the other side of the tree. Then began a dreadful game.
At least, it was dreadful to Whitefoot. This way and that way
around the trunk of that tree he dodged, while Butcher did his best
to catch him.
Whitefoot would not have minded this so much, had he not been so tired,
and had he known of a hiding-place close at hand. But he was tired,
very tired, for you remember he had had what was a very long and
terrible journey to him. He had felt almost too tired to climb that
tree in the first place to see if it had any holes in it higher up.
Now he didn't know whether to keep on going up or to go down.
Two or three times he dodged around the tree without doing either.
Then he decided to go up.
Now Butcher was enjoying this game of dodge. If he should catch
Whitefoot, he would have a good dinner. If he didn't catch Whitefoot,
he would simply go hungry a little longer. So you see, there was
a very big difference in the feelings of Whitefoot and Butcher.
Whitefoot had his life to lose, while Butcher had only a dinner
Dodging this way and dodging that way, Whitefoot climbed higher and
higher. Twice he whisked around that tree trunk barely in time.
All the time he was growing more and more tired, and more and more
discouraged. Supposing he should find no hole in that tree!
"There must be one. There must be one," he kept saying over and
over to himself, to keep his courage up. "I can't keep dodging much
longer. If I don't find a hole pretty soon, Butcher will surely
catch me. Oh, dear! Oh, dear!"
Just above Whitefoot was a broken branch. Only the stub of it remained.
The next time he dodged around the trunk he found himself just below
that stub. Oh, joy! There, close under that stub, was a round hole.
Whitefoot didn't hesitate a second. He didn't wait to find out
whether or not any one was in that hole. He didn't even think that
there might be some one in there. With a tiny little squeak of
relief he darted in. He was just in time. He was just in the nick
of time. Butcher struck at him and just missed him as he
disappeared in that hole. Whitefoot had saved his life and Butcher
had missed a dinner.
CHAPTER XVIII: An Unpleasant Surprise
Be careful never to be rude
Enough to thoughtlessly intrude.
If ever anybody in the Great World felt relief and thankfulness, it
was Whitefoot when he dodged into that hole in the dead tree just as
Butcher the Shrike all but caught him. For a few minutes he did
nothing but pant, for he was quite out of breath.
"I was right," he said over and over to himself, "I was right. I
was sure there must be a hole in this tree. It is one of the old
houses of Drummer the Woodpecker. Now I am safe."
Presently he peeped out. He wanted to see if Butcher was watching
outside. He was just in time to see Butcher's gray and black and
white coat disappearing among the trees. Butcher was not foolish
enough to waste time watching for Whitefoot to come out. Whitefoot
sighed happily. For the first time since he had started on his
dreadful journey he felt safe. Nothing else mattered. He was
hungry, but he didn't mind that. He was willing to go hungry for
the sake of being safe.
Whitefoot watched until Butcher was out of sight. Then he turned to
see what that house was like. Right away he discovered that there
was a soft, warm bed in it. It was made of leaves, grass, moss, and
the lining of bark. It was a very fine bed indeed.
"My, my, my, but I am lucky," said Whitefoot to himself. "I wonder
who could have made this fine bed. I certainly shall sleep
comfortably here. Goodness knows, I need a rest. If I can find
food enough near here, I'll make this my home. I couldn't ask for a
Chuckling happily, Whitefoot began to pull away the top of that
bed so as to get to the middle of it. And then he got a surprise.
It was an unpleasant surprise. It was a most unpleasant surprise.
There was some one in that bed! Yes, sir, there was some one curled
up in a little round ball in the middle of that fine bed. It was
some one with a coat of the softest, finest fur. Can you guess who
it was? It was Timmy the Flying Squirrel.
It seemed to Whitefoot as if his heart flopped right over. You see
at first he didn't recognize Timmy. Whitefoot is himself so very
timid that his thought was to run; to get out of there as quickly as
possible. But he had no place to run to, so he hesitated. Never in
all his life had Whitefoot had a greater disappointment. He knew
now that this splendid house was not for him.
Timmy the Flying Squirrel didn't move. He remained curled up in a
soft little ball. He was asleep. Whitefoot remembered that Timmy
sleeps during the day and seldom comes out until the Black Shadows
come creeping out from the Purple Hills at the close of day.
Whitefoot felt easier in his mind then. Timmy was so sound asleep
that he knew nothing of his visitor. And so Whitefoot felt safe in
staying long enough to get rested. Then he would go out and hunt
for another home.
So down in the middle of that soft, warm bed Timmy the Flying
Squirrel, curled up in a little round ball with his flat tail
wrapped around him, slept peacefully, and on top of that soft bed
Whitefoot the Wood Mouse rested and wondered what he should do next.
Not in all the Green Forest could two more timid little people be
found than the two in that old home of Drummer the Woodpecker.
CHAPTER XIX: Whitefoot Finds A Home At Last
True independence he has known
Whose home has been his very own.
Curled up in his splendid warm bed, Timmy the Flying Squirrel slept
peacefully. He didn't know he had a visitor. He didn't know that
on top of that same bed lay Whitefoot the Wood Mouse. Whitefoot
wasn't asleep. No, indeed! Whitefoot was too worried to sleep.
He knew he couldn't stay in that fine house because it belonged
to Timmy. He knew that as soon as Timmy awoke, he, Whitefoot,
would have to get out. Where should he go? He wished he knew.
How he did long for the old home he had left. But when he thought
of that, he remembered Shadow the Weasel. It was better to be
homeless than to feel that at any minute Shadow the Weasel might
It was getting late in the afternoon. Before long, jolly, round,
red Mr. Sun would go to bed behind the Purple Hills, and the Black
Shadows would come creeping through the Green Forest. Then Timmy
the Flying Squirrel would awake. "It won't do for me to be here
then," said Whitefoot to himself. "I must find some other place
before he wakes. If only I knew this part of the Green Forest I
might know where to go. As it is, I shall have to go hunt for a
new home and trust to luck. Did ever a poor little Mouse have so
After awhile Whitefoot felt rested and peeped out of the doorway.
No enemy was to be seen anywhere. Whitefoot crept out and climbed
a little higher up in the tree. Presently he found another hole.
He peeped inside and listened long and carefully. He didn't intend
to make the mistake of going into another house where some one might
At last, sure that there was no one in there, he crept in. Then he
made a discovery. There were beech nuts in there and there were seeds.
It was a storehouse! Whitefoot knew at once that it must be Timmy's
storehouse. Right away he realized how very, very hungry he was.
Of course, he had no right to any of those seeds or nuts. Certainly not!
That is, he wouldn't have had any right had he been a boy or girl.
But it is the law of the Green Forest that whatever any one finds he
may help himself to if he can.
So Whitefoot began to fill his empty little stomach with some of those
seeds. He ate and ate and ate and quite forgot all his troubles.
Just as he felt that he hadn't room for another seed, he heard the
sound of claws outside on the trunk of the tree. In a flash he knew
that Timmy the Flying Squirrel was awake, and that it wouldn't do to
be found in there by him. In a jiffy Whitefoot was outside. He was
just in time. Timmy was almost up to the entrance.
"Hi, there!" cried Timmy. "What were you doing in my storehouse?"
"I -- I -- I was looking for a new home," stammered Whitefoot.
"You mean you were stealing some of my food," snapped Timmy suspiciously.
"I -- I -- I did take a few seeds because I was almost starved.
But truly I was looking for a new home," replied Whitefoot.
"What was the matter with your old home?" demanded Timmy.
Then Whitefoot told Timmy all about how he had been obliged to leave
his old home because of Shadow the Weasel, of the terrible journey
he had had, and how he didn't know where to go or what to do.
Timmy listened suspiciously at first, but soon he made up his mind
that Whitefoot was telling the truth. The mere mention of Shadow
the Weasel made him very sober.
He scratched his nose thoughtfully. "Over in that tall, dead stub
you can see from here is an old home of mine," said he. "No one
lives in it now. I guess you can live there until you can find a
better home. But remember to keep away from my storehouse."
So it was that Whitefoot found a new home.
CHAPTER XX: Whitefoot Makes Himself At Home
Look not too much on that behind
Lest to the future you be blind.
Whitefoot didn't wait to be told twice of that empty house.
He thanked Timmy and then scampered over to that stub as fast as his
legs would take him. Up the stub he climbed, and near the top he
found a little round hole. Timmy had said no one was living there now,
and so Whitefoot didn't hesitate to pop inside.
There was even a bed in there. It was an old bed, but it was dry
and soft. It was quite clear that no one had been in there for a
long time. With a little sigh of pure happiness, Whitefoot curled
up in that bed for the sleep he so much needed. His stomach was
full, and once more he felt safe. The very fact that this was an
old house in which no one had lived for a long time made it safer.
Whitefoot knew that those who lived in that part of the Green Forest
probably knew that no one lived in that old stub, and so no one was
likely to visit it.
He was so tired that he slept all night. Whitefoot is one of those
who sleeps when he feels sleepy, whether it be by day or night.
He prefers the night to be out and about in, because he feels safer
then, but he often comes out by day. So when he awoke in the early
morning, he promptly went out for a look about and to get acquainted
with his new surroundings.
Just a little way off was the tall, dead tree in which Timmy the
Flying Squirrel had his home. Timmy was nowhere to be seen.
You see, he had been out most of the night and had gone to bed to
sleep through the day. Whitefoot thought longingly of the good
things in Timmy's storehouse in that same tree, but decided that it
would be wisest to keep away from there. So he scurried about to
see what he could find for a breakfast. It didn't take him long to
find some pine cones in which a few seeds were still clinging.
These would do nicely. Whitefoot ate what he wanted and then
carried some of them back to his new home in the tall stub.
Then he went to work to tear to pieces the old bed in there and
make it over to suit himself. It was an old bed of Timmy the
Flying Squirrel, for you know this was Timmy's old house.
Whitefoot soon had the bed made over to suit him. And when this was
done he felt quite at home. Then he started out to explore all
about within a short distance of the old stub. He wanted to know
every hole and every possible hiding-place all around, for it is on
such knowledge that his life depends.
When at last he returned home he was very well satisfied. "It is going
to be a good place to live," said he to himself. "There are plenty
of hiding-places and I am going to be able to find enough to eat.
It will be very nice to have Timmy the Flying Squirrel for a neighbor.
I am sure he and I will get along together very nicely. I don't
believe Shadow the Weasel, even if he should come around here, would
bother to climb up this old stub. He probably would expect to find
me living down in the ground or close to it, anyway. I certainly am
glad that I am such a good climber. Now if Buster Bear doesn't come
along in the spring and pull this old stub over, I'll have as fine a
home as any one could ask for."
And then, because happily it is the way with the little people of
the Green Forest and the Green Meadows, Whitefoot forgot all about
his terrible journey and the dreadful time he had had in finding his
CHAPTER XXI: Whitefoot Envies Timmy
A useless thing is envy;
A foolish thing to boot.
Why should a Fox who has a bark
Want like an Owl to hoot?
Whitefoot was beginning to feel quite at home. He would have been
wholly contented but for one thing, --he had no well-filled storehouse.
This meant that each day he must hunt for his food.
It wasn't that Whitefoot minded hunting for food. He would have
done that anyway, even though he had had close at hand a store-house
with plenty in it. But he would have felt easier in his mind.
He would have had the comfortable feeling that if the weather turned
so bad that he could not easily get out and about, he would not have
to go hungry.
But Whitefoot is a happy little fellow and wisely made the best of
things. At first he came out very little by day. He knew that
there were many sharp eyes watching for him, and that he was more
likely to be seen in the light of day than when the Black Shadows
had crept all through the Green Forest.
He would peek out of his doorway and watch for chance visitors in
the daytime. Twice he saw Butcher the Shrike alight a short
distance from the tree in which Timmy lived. He knew Butcher had
not forgotten that he had chased a badly frightened Mouse into a
hole in that tree. Once he saw Whitey the Snowy Owl and so knew
that Whitey had not yet returned to the Far North. Once Reddy Fox
trotted along right past the foot of the old stub in which Whitefoot
lived, and didn't even suspect that he was anywhere near. Twice he
saw Old Man Coyote trotting past, and once Terror the Goshawk
alighted on that very stub, and sat there for half an hour.
So Whitefoot formed the habit of doing just what Timmy the Flying
Squirrel did; he remained in his house for most of the day and came
out when the Black Shadows began to creep in among the trees. Timmy
came out about the same time, and they had become the best of friends.
Now Whitefoot is not much given to envying others, but as night
after night he watched Timmy a little envy crept into his heart in
spite of all he could do. Timmy would nimbly climb to the top of a
tree and then jump. Down he would come in a long beautiful glide,
for all the world as if he were sliding on the air.
The first time Whitefoot saw him do it he held his breath. He
really didn't know what to make of it. The nearest tree to the one
from which Timmy had jumped was so far away that it didn't seem
possible any one without wings could reach it without first going to
"Oh!" squeaked Whitefoot. "Oh! he'll kill himself! He surely
will kill himself! He'll break his neck!" But Timmy did nothing of
the kind. He sailed down, down, down and alighted on that distant
tree a foot or two from the bottom; and without stopping a second
scampered up to the top of that tree and once more jumped.
Whitefoot had hard work to believe his own eyes. Timmy seemed to be
jumping just for the pleasure of it. As a matter of fact, he was.
He was getting his evening exercise.
Whitefoot sighed. "I wish I could jump like that," said he to himself.
"I wouldn't ever be afraid of anybody if I could jump like that.
I envy Timmy. I do so."
CHAPTER XXII: Timmy Proves To Be A True Neighbor
He proves himself a neighbor true
Who seeks a kindly deed to do.
Occasionally Timmy the Flying Squirrel came over to visit Whitefoot.
If Whitefoot was in his house he always knew when Timmy arrived.
He would hear a soft thump down near the bottom of the tall stub.
He would know instantly that thump was made by Timmy striking the
foot of the stub after a long jump from the top of a tree.
Whitefoot would poke his head out of his doorway and there, sure
enough, would be Timmy scrambling up towards him.
Whitefoot had grown to admire Timmy with all his might. It seemed
to him that Timmy was the most wonderful of all the people he knew.
You see there was none of the others who could jump as Timmy could.
Timmy on his part enjoyed having Whitefoot for a neighbor. Few of
the little people of the Green Forest are more timid than Timmy the
Flying Squirrel, but here was one beside whom Timmy actually felt
bold. It was such a new feeling that Timmy enjoyed it.
So it was that in the dusk of early evening, just after the Black
Shadows had come creeping out from the Purple Hills across the Green
Meadows and through the Green Forest, these two little neighbors
would start out to hunt for food. Whitefoot never went far from
the tall, dead stub in which he was now living. He didn't dare to.
He wanted to be where at the first sign of danger he could scamper
back there to safety. Timmy would go some distance, but he was
seldom gone long. He liked to be where he could watch and talk with
Whitefoot. You see Timmy is very much like other people, -- he
likes to gossip a little.
One evening Whitefoot had found it hard work to find enough food to
fill his stomach. He had kept going a little farther and a little
farther from home. Finally he was farther from it than he had ever
been before. Timmy had filled his stomach and from near the top of
a tree was watching Whitefoot. Suddenly what seemed like a great
Black Shadow floated right over the tree in which Timmy was sitting,
and stopped on the top of a tall, dead tree. It was Hooty the Owl,
and it was simply good fortune that Timmy happened to see him.
Timmy did not move. He knew that he was safe so long as he kept
perfectly still. He knew that Hooty didn't know he was there.
Unless he moved, those great eyes of Hooty's, wonderful as they
were, would not see him.
Timmy looked over to where he had last seen Whitefoot. There he was
picking out seeds from a pine cone on the ground. The trunk of a
tree was between him and Hooty. But Timmy knew that Whitefoot
hadn't seen Hooty, and that any minute he might run out from behind
that tree. If he did Hooty would see him, and silently as a shadow
would swoop down and catch him. What was to be done?
"It's no business of mine," said Timmy to himself. "Whitefoot must
look out for himself. It is no business of mine at all. Perhaps
Hooty will fly away before Whitefoot moves. I don't want anything
to happen to Whitefoot, but if something does, it will be his own
fault; he should keep better watch."
For a few minutes nothing happened. Then Whitefoot finished the
last seed in that cone and started to look for more. Timmy knew that
in a moment Hooty would see Whitefoot. What do you think Timmy did?
He jumped. Yes, sir, he jumped. Down, down, down, straight past
the tree on which sat Hooty the Owl, Timmy sailed. Hooty saw him.
Of course. He couldn't help but see him. He spread his great wings
and was after Timmy in an instant. Timmy struck near the foot of a
tree and without wasting a second darted around to the other side.
He was just in time. Hooty was already reaching for him. Up the
tree ran Timmy and jumped again. Again Hooty was too late. And so
Timmy led Hooty the Owl away from Whitefoot the Wood Mouse.
CHAPTER XXIII: Whitefoot Spends A Dreadful Night
Pity those who suffer fright
In the dark and stilly night.
One night of his life Whitefoot will never forget so long as he
lives. Even now it makes him shiver just to think of it. Yes, sir,
he shivers even now whenever he thinks of that night. The Black
Shadows had come early that evening, so that it was quite dusk when
Whitefoot crept out of his snug little bed and climbed up to the
round hole which was the doorway of his home. He had just poked his
nose out that little round doorway when there was the most terrible
sound. It seemed to him as if it was in his very ears, so loud and
terrible was it. It frightened him so that he simply let go and
tumbled backward down inside his house. Of course it didn't hurt
him any, for he landed on his soft bed.
"Whooo-hoo-hoo, whooo-hoo!" came that terrible sound again, and
Whitefoot shook until his little teeth rattled. At least, that is
the way it seemed to him. It was the voice of Hooty the Owl, and
Whitefoot knew that Hooty was sitting on the top of that very stub.
He was, so to speak, on the roof of Whitefoot's house.
Now in all the Green Forest there is no sound that strikes terror to
the hearts of the little people of feathers and fur equal to the
hunting call of Hooty the Owl. Hooty knows this. No one knows it
better than he does. That is why he uses it. He knows that many of
the little people are asleep, safely hidden away. He knows that it
would be quite useless for him to simply look for them. He would
starve before he could find a dinner in that way. But he knows that
any one wakened from sleep in great fright is sure to move, and if
they do this they are almost equally sure to make some little sound.
His ears are so wonderful that they can catch the faintest sound and
tell exactly where it comes from. So he uses that terrible hunting
cry to frighten the little people and make them move.
Now Whitefoot knew that he was safe. Hooty couldn't possibly get at
him, even should he find out that he was in there. There was
nothing to fear, but just the same, Whitefoot shivered and shook and
jumped almost out of his skin every time that Hooty hooted. He just
couldn't help it.
"He can't get me. I know he can't get me. I'm perfectly safe.
I'm just as safe as if he were miles away. There's nothing to be
afraid of. It is silly to be afraid. Probably Hooty doesn't even
know I am inside here. Even if he does, it doesn't really matter."
Whitefoot said these things to himself over and over again. Then
Hooty would send out that fierce, terrible hunting call and Whitefoot
would jump and shake just as before.
After awhile all was still. Gradually Whitefoot stopped trembling.
He guessed that Hooty had flown away. Still he remained right where
he was for a very long time. He didn't intend to foolishly take any
chances. So he waited and waited and waited.
At last he was sure that Hooty had left. Once more he climbed up to
his little round doorway and there he waited some time before poking
even his nose outside. Then, just as he had made up his mind to go out,
that terrible sound rang out again, and just as before he tumbled
heels over head down on his bed.
Whitefoot didn't go out that night at all. It was a moonlight night
and just the kind of a night to be out. Instead Whitefoot lay in
his little bed and shivered and shook, for all through that long
night every once in a while Hooty the Owl would hoot from the top of
CHAPTER XXIV: Whitefoot The Wood Mouse Is Unhappy
Unhappiness without a cause you never, never find;
It may be in the stomach, or it may be in the mind.
Whitefoot the Wood Mouse should have been happy, but he wasn't.
Winter had gone and sweet Mistress Spring had brought joy to all the
Green Forest. Every one was happy, Whitefoot no less so than his
neighbors at first. Up from the Sunny South came the feathered
friends and at once began planning new homes. Twitterings and songs
filled the air. Joy was everywhere. Food became plentiful, and
Whitefoot became sleek and fat. That is, he became as fat as a
lively Wood Mouse ever does become. None of his enemies had
discovered his new home, and he had little to worry about.
But by and by Whitefoot began to feel less joyous. Day by day he
grew more and more unhappy. He no longer took pleasure in his
fine home. He began to wander about for no particular reason.
He wandered much farther from home than he had ever been in the
habit of doing. At times he would sit and listen, but what he was
listening for he didn't know. "There is something the matter with
me, and I don't know what it is," said Whitefoot to himself forlornly.
"It can't be anything I have eaten. I have nothing to worry about.
Yet there is something wrong with me. I'm losing my appetite.
Nothing tastes good any more. I want something, but I don't know
what it is I want."
He tried to tell his troubles to his nearest neighbor, Timmy the
Flying Squirrel, but Timmy was too busy to listen. When Peter
Rabbit happened along, Whitefoot tried to tell him. But Peter
himself was too happy and too eager to learn all the news in the
Green Forest to listen. No one had any interest in Whitefoot's
troubles. Every one was too busy with his own affairs.
So day by day Whitefoot the Wood Mouse grew more and more unhappy,
and when the dusk of early evening came creeping through the Green
Forest, he sat about and moped instead of running about and playing
as he had been in the habit of doing. The beautiful song of Melody
the Wood Thrush somehow filled him with sadness instead of with the
joy he had always felt before. The very happiness of those about
him seemed to make him more unhappy.
Once he almost decided to go hunt for another home, but somehow he
couldn't get interested even in this. He did start out, but he had
not gone far before he had forgotten all about what he had started
for. Always he had loved to run about and climb and jump for the
pure pleasure of it, but now he no longer did these things.
He was unhappy, was Whitefoot. Yes, sir, he was unhappy; and for no
cause at all so far as he could see.
CHAPTER XXV: Whitefoot Finds Out What The Matter Was
Pity the lonely, for deep in the heart
Is an ache that no doctor can heal by his art.
Of all the little people of the Green Forest Whitefoot seemed to be
the only one who was unhappy. And because he didn't know why he
felt so he became day by day more unhappy. Perhaps I should say
that night by night he became more unhappy, for during the
brightness of the day he slept most of the time.
"There is something wrong, something wrong," he would say
over and over to himself.
"It must be with me, because everybody else is happy, and this is
the happiest time of all the year. I wish some one would tell me
what ails me. I want to be happy, but somehow I just can't be."
One evening he wandered a little farther from home than usual.
He wasn't going anywhere in particular. He had nothing in
particular to do. He was just wandering about because somehow he
couldn't remain at home. Not far away Melody the Wood Thrush was
pouring out his beautiful evening song. Whitefoot stopped to
listen. Somehow it made him more unhappy than ever. Melody stopped
singing for a few moments. It was just then that Whitefoot heard a
faint sound. It was a gentle drumming. Whitefoot pricked up his
ears and listened. There it was again. He knew instantly how that
sound was made. It was made by dainty little feet beating very fast
on an old log. Whitefoot had drummed that way himself many times.
It was soft, but clear, and it lasted only a moment.
Right then something very strange happened to Whitefoot. Yes, sir,
something very strange happened to Whitefoot. All in a flash he
felt better. At first he didn't know why. He just did, that was all.
Without thinking what he was doing, he began to drum himself. Then
he listened. At first he heard nothing. Then, soft and low, came
that drumming sound again. Whitefoot replied to it. All the time
he kept feeling better. He ran a little nearer to the place from
which that drumming sound had come and then once more drummed.
At first he got no reply.
Then in a few minutes he heard it again, only this time it came from
a different place. Whitefoot became quite excited. He knew that
that drumming was done by another Wood Mouse, and all in a flash it
came over him what had been the matter with him.
"I have been lonely!" exclaimed Whitefoot. "That is all that has
been the trouble with me. I have been lonely and didn't know it.
I wonder if that other Wood Mouse has felt the same way."
Again he drummed and again came that soft reply. Once more
Whitefoot hurried in the direction of it, and once more he was
disappointed when the next reply came from a different place.
By now he was getting quite excited. He was bound to find that other
Wood Mouse. Every time he heard that drumming, funny little thrills
ran all over him. He didn't know why. They just did, that was all.
He simply must find that other Wood Mouse. He forgot everything else.
He didn't even notice where he was going. He would drum, then wait
for a reply. As soon as he heard it, he would scamper in the
direction of it, and then pause to drum again. Sometimes the reply
would be very near, then again it would be so far away that a great
fear would fill Whitefoot's heart that the stranger was running away.
CHAPTER XXVI: Love Fills The Heart Of Whitefoot
Joyous all the winds that blow
To the heart with love aglow.
It was a wonderful game of hide-and-seek that Whitefoot the Wood
Mouse was playing in the dusk of early evening. Whitefoot was "it"
all the time. That is, he was the one who had to do all the hunting.
Just who he was hunting for he didn't know. He knew it was another
Wood Mouse, but it was a stranger, and do what he would, he couldn't
get so much as a glimpse of this little stranger. He would drum
with his feet and after a slight pause there would be an answering
drum. Then Whitefoot would run as fast as he could in that direction
only to find no one at all. Then he would drum again and the reply
would come from another direction.
Every moment Whitefoot became more excited. He forgot everything,
even danger, in his desire to see that little drummer. Once or
twice he actually lost his temper in his disappointment. But this
was only for a moment. He was too eager to find that little drummer
to be angry very long.
At last there came a time when there was no reply to his drumming.
He drummed and listened, then drummed again and listened. Nothing
was to be heard. There was no reply. Whitefoot's heart sank.
All the old lonesomeness crept over him again. He didn't know which
way to turn to look for that stranger. When he had drummed until he
was tired, he sat on the end of an old log, a perfect picture of
disappointment. He was so disappointed that he could have cried if
it would have done any good.
Just as he had about made up his mind that there was nothing to do but
to try to find his way home, his keen little ears caught the faintest
rustle of dry leaves. Instantly Whitefoot was alert and watchful.
Long ago he had learned to be suspicious of rustling leaves.
They might have been rustled by the feet of an enemy stealing up on
him. No Wood Mouse who wants to live long is ever heedless of
rustling leaves. As still as if he couldn't move, Whitefoot sat
staring at the place from which that faint sound had seemed to come.
For two or three minutes he heard and saw nothing. Then another
leaf rustled a little bit to one side. Whitefoot turned like a
flash, his feet gathered under him ready for a long jump for safety.
At first he saw nothing. Then he became aware of two bright, soft
little eyes watching him. He stared at them very hard and then all
over him crept those funny thrills he had felt when he had first
heard the drumming of the stranger. He knew without being told that
those eyes belonged to the little drummer with whom he had been
playing hide and seek so long.
Whitefoot held his breath, he was so afraid that those eyes would vanish.
Finally he rather timidly jumped down from the log and started
toward those two soft eyes. They vanished. Whitefoot's heart sank.
He was tempted to rush forward, but he didn't. He sat still.
There was a slight rustle off to the right. A little ray of
moonlight made its way down through the branches of the trees just
there, and in the middle of the light spot it made sat a timid
little person. It seemed to Whitefoot that he was looking at the
most beautiful Wood Mouse in all the Great World. Suddenly he felt
very shy and timid himself.
"Who -- who -- who are you?" he stammered.
"I am little Miss Dainty," replied the stranger bashfully.
Right then and there Whitefoot's heart was filled so full of
something that it seemed as if it would burst. It was love. All in
that instant he knew that he had found the most wonderful thing in
all the Great World, which of course is love. He knew that he just
couldn't live without little Miss Dainty.
CHAPTER XXVII: Mr. And Mrs. Whitefoot
When all is said and all is done
'Tis only love of two makes one.
Little Miss Dainty, the most beautiful and wonderful Wood Mouse in all
the Great World, according to Whitefoot, was very shy and very timid.
It took Whitefoot a long time to make her believe that he really
couldn't live without her. At least, she pretended not to believe it.
If the truth were known, little Miss Dainty felt just the same way
about Whitefoot. But Whitefoot didn't know this, and I am afraid
she teased him a great deal before she told him that she loved him
just as he loved her.
But at last little Miss Dainty shyly admitted that she loved Whitefoot
just as much as he loved her and was willing to become Mrs. Whitefoot.
Secretly she thought Whitefoot the most wonderful Wood Mouse in the
Great World, but she didn't tell him so. The truth is, she made him
feel as if she were doing him a great favor.
As for Whitefoot, he was so happy that he actually tried to sing.
Yes, sir, Whitefoot tried to sing, and he really did very well for a
Mouse. He was ready and eager to do anything that Mrs. Whitefoot
wanted to do. Together they scampered about in the moonlight,
hunting for good things to eat, and poking their inquisitive little
noses into every little place they could find. Whitefoot forgot
that he had ever been sad and lonely. He raced about and did all
sorts of funny things from pure joy, but he never once forgot to
watch out for danger. In fact he was more watchful than ever, for
now he was watching for Mrs. Whitefoot as well as for himself.
At last Whitefoot rather timidly suggested that they should go see
his fine home in a certain hollow stub. Mrs. Whitefoot insisted
that they should go to her home. Whitefoot agreed on condition that
she would afterwards visit his home. So together they went back to
Mrs. Whitefoot's home. Whitefoot pretended that he liked it very
much, but in his heart he thought his own home was very much better,
and he felt quite sure that Mrs. Whitefoot would agree with him once
she had seen it.
But Mrs. Whitefoot was very well satisfied with her old home and not
at all anxious to leave it. It was in an old hollow stump close to
the ground. It was just such a place as Shadow the Weasel would be
sure to visit should he happen along that way. It didn't seem at
all safe to Whitefoot. In fact it worried him. Then, too, it was
not in such a pleasant place as was his own home. Of course he
didn't say this, but pretended to admire everything.
Two days and nights they spent there. Then Whitefoot suggested that
they should visit his home. "Of course, my dear, we will not have
to live there unless you want to, but I want you to see it," said he.
Mrs. Whitefoot didn't appear at all anxious to go. She began to
make excuses for staying right where they were. You see, she had a
great love for that old home. They were sitting just outside the
doorway talking about the matter when Whitefoot caught a glimpse of
a swiftly moving form not far off. It was Shadow the Weasel.
Neither of them breathed. Shadow passed without looking in their
direction. When he was out of sight, Mrs. Whitefoot shivered.
"Let's go over to your home right away," she whispered. "I've never
seen Shadow about here before, but now that he has been here once,
he may come again."
"We'll start at once," replied Whitefoot, and for once he was glad
that Shadow the Weasel was about.
CHAPTER XVIII: Mrs. Whitefoot Decides On A Home
When Mrs. Mouse makes up her mind
Then Mr. Mouse best get behind.
Whitefoot the Wood Mouse was very proud of his home. He showed it
as he led Mrs. Whitefoot there. He felt sure that she would say at
once that that would be the place for them to live. You remember
that it was high up in a tall, dead stub and had once been the home
of Timmy the Flying Squirrel.
"There, my dear, what do you think of that?" said Whitefoot proudly
as they reached the little round doorway.
Mrs. Whitefoot said nothing, but at once went inside. She was gone
what seemed a long time to Whitefoot, anxiously waiting outside.
You see, Mrs. Whitefoot is a very thorough small person, and she was
examining the inside of that house from top to bottom. At last she
appeared at the doorway.
"Don't you think this is a splendid house?" asked Whitefoot
"It is very good of its kind," replied Mrs. Whitefoot.
Whitefoot's heart sank. He didn't like the tone in which Mrs.
Whitefoot had said that.
"Just what do you mean, my dear?" Whitefoot asked.
"I mean," replied Mrs. Whitefoot, in a most decided way, "that it is
a very good house for winter, but it won't do at all for summer.
That is, it won't do for me. In the first place it is so high up
that if we should have babies, I would worry all the time for fear
the darlings would have a bad fall. Besides, I don't like an inside
house for summer. I think, Whitefoot, we must look around and find
a new home."
As she spoke Mrs. Whitefoot was already starting down the stub.
"All right, my dear, all right," said he meekly. "You know best.
This seems to me like a very fine home, but of course, if you don't
like it we'll look for another."
Mrs. Whitefoot said nothing, but led the way down the tree with
Whitefoot meekly following. Then began a patient search all about.
Mrs. Whitefoot appeared to know just what she wanted and turned up
her nose at several places Whitefoot thought would make fine homes.
She hardly glanced at a fine hollow log Whitefoot found. She merely
poked her nose in at a splendid hole beneath the roots of an old stump.
Whitefoot began to grow tired from running about and climbing stumps
and trees and bushes.
He stopped to rest and lost sight of Mrs. Whitefoot. A moment later he
heard her calling excitedly. When he found her, she was up in a small
tree, sitting on the edge of an old nest a few feet above the ground.
It was a nest that had once belonged to Melody the Wood Thrush.
Mrs. Whitefoot was sitting on the edge of it, and her bright eyes
snapped with excitement and pleasure.
"I've found it!" she cried. "I've found it! It is just what I
have been looking for."
"Found what?" Whitefoot asked. "I don't see anything but an old
nest of Melody's."
"I've found the home we've been looking for, stupid," retorted
Still Whitefoot stared. "I don't see any house," said he.
Mrs. Whitefoot stamped her feet impatiently. "Right here, stupid,"
said she. "This old nest will make us the finest and safest home
that ever was. No one will ever think of looking for us here.
We must get busy at once and fix it up."
Even then Whitefoot didn't understand. Always he had lived either
in a hole in the ground, or in a hollow stump or tree. How they
were to live in that old nest he couldn't see at all.
CHAPTER XXIX: Making Over An Old House
A home is always what you make it.
With love there you will ne'er forsake it.
Whitefoot climbed up to the old nest of Melody the Wood Thrush over
the edge of which little Mrs. Whitefoot was looking down at him.
It took Whitefoot hardly a moment to get up there, for the nest was
only a few feet above the ground in a young tree, and you know
Whitefoot is a very good climber.
He found Mrs. Whitefoot very much excited. She was delighted with
that old nest and she showed it. For his part, Whitefoot couldn't
see anything but a deserted old house of no use to any one. To be
sure, it had been a very good home in its time. It had been made of
tiny twigs, stalks of old weeds, leaves, little fine roots and mud.
It was still quite solid, and was firmly fixed in a crotch of the
young tree. But Whitefoot couldn't see how it could be turned into
a home for a Mouse. He said as much.
Little Mrs. Whitefoot became more excited than ever. "You dear old
stupid," said she, "whatever is the matter with you? Don't you see
that all we need do is to put a roof on, make an entrance on the
under side, and make a soft comfortable bed inside to make it a
"I don't see why we don't make a new home altogether," protested
Whitefoot. "It seems to me that hollow stub of mine is ever so much
better than this. That has good solid walls, and we won't have to
do a thing to it."
"I told you once before that it doesn't suit me for summer," replied
little Mrs. Whitefoot rather sharply, because she was beginning to
lose patience. "It will be all right for winter, but winter is a
long way off. It may suit you for summer, but it doesn't suit me,
and this place does. So this is where we are going to live."
"Certainly, my dear. Certainly," replied Whitefoot very meekly.
"If you want to live here, here we will live. But I must confess it
isn't clear to me yet how we are going to make a decent home out of
this old nest."
"Don't you worry about that," replied Mrs. Whitefoot. "You can get
the material, and I'll attend to the rest. Let us waste no time
about it. I am anxious to get our home finished and to feel a
little bit settled. I have already planned just what has got to be
done and how we will do it. Now you go look for some nice soft, dry
weed stalks and strips of soft bark, and moss and any other soft, tough
material that you can find. Just get busy and don't stop to talk."
Of course Whitefoot did as he was told. He ran down to the ground
and began to hunt for the things Mrs. Whitefoot wanted. He was very
particular about it. He still didn't think much of her idea of
making over that old home of Melody's, but if she would do it, he
meant that she should have the very best of materials to do it with.
So back and forth from the ground to the old nest in the tree
Whitefoot hurried, and presently there was quite a pile of weed
stalks and soft grass and strips of bark in the old nest.
Mrs. Whitefoot joined Whitefoot in hunting for just the right
things, but she spent more time in arranging the material.
Over that old nest she made a fine high roof. Down through the
lower side she cut a little round doorway just big enough for them
to pass through. Unless you happened to be underneath looking up,
you never would have guessed there was an entrance at all. Inside
was a snug, round room, and in this she made the softest and most
comfortable of beds. As it began to look more and more like a home,
Whitefoot himself became as excited and eager as Mrs. Whitefoot had
been from the beginning. "It certainly is going to be a fine home,"
"Didn't I tell you it would be?" retorted Mrs. Whitefoot.
CHAPTER XXX: The Whitefoots Enjoy Their New Home
No home is ever mean or poor
Where love awaits you at the door.
"There," said Mrs. Whitefoot, as she worked a strip of white birch
bark into the roof of the new home she and Whitefoot had been
building out of the old home of Melody the Wood Thrush, "this
finishes the roof. I don't think any water will get through it even
in the hardest rain."
"It is wonderful," declared Whitefoot admiringly. "Wherever did you
learn to build such a house as this?"
"From my mother" replied Mrs. Whitefoot. "I was born in just such
a home. It makes the finest kind of a home for Wood Mouse babies."
"You don't think there is danger that the wind will blow it down, do
you?" ventured Whitefoot.
"Of course I don't," retorted little Mrs. Whitefoot scornfully.
"Hasn't this old nest remained right where it is for over a year?
Do you suppose that if I had thought there was the least bit of
danger that it would blow down, I would have used it? Do credit me
with a little sense, my dear."
"Yes'm, I do," replied Whitefoot meekly. "You are the most sensible
person in all the Great World. I wasn't finding fault. You see, I
have always lived in a hole in the ground or a hollow stump, or a
hole in a tree, and I have not yet become used to a home that moves
about and rocks as this one does when the wind blows. But if you
say it is all right, why of course it is all right. Probably I will
get used to it after awhile."
Whitefoot did get used to it. After living in it for a few days, it
no longer seemed strange, and he no longer minded its swaying when
the wind blew. The fact is, he rather enjoyed it. So Whitefoot and
Mrs. Whitefoot settled down to enjoy their new home. Now and then
they added a bit to it here and there.
Somehow Whitefoot felt unusually safe, safer than he had ever felt
in any of his other homes. You see, he had seen several feathered
folk alight close to it and not give it a second look. He knew that
they had seen that home, but had mistaken it for what it had once
been, the deserted home of one of their own number.
Whitefoot had chuckled. He had chuckled long and heartily.
"If they make that mistake," said he to himself, "everybody else is
likely to make it. That home of ours is right in plain sight, yet I
do believe it is safer than the best hidden home I ever had before.
Shadow the Weasel never will think of climbing up this little tree
to look at an old nest, and Shadow is the one I am most afraid of."
It was only a day or two later that Buster Bear happened along that
way. Now Buster is very fond of tender Wood Mouse. More than once
Whitefoot had had a narrow escape from Buster's big claws as they
tore open an old stump or dug into the ground after him. He saw
Buster glance up at the new home without the slightest interest in
those shrewd little eyes of his. Then Buster shuffled on to roll
over an old log and lick up the ants he found under it. Again
Whitefoot chuckled. "Yes, sir," said he. "It is the safest home I
've ever had."
So Whitefoot and little Mrs. Whitefoot were very happy in the home
which they had built, and for once in his life Whitefoot did very
little worrying. Life seemed more beautiful than it had ever been
before. And he almost forgot that there was such a thing as a
CHAPTER XXXI: Whitefoot Is Hurt
The hurts that hardest are to bear
Come from those for whom we care.
Whitefoot was hurt. Yes, sir, Whitefoot was hurt. He was very much
hurt. It wasn't a bodily hurt; it was an inside hurt. It was a
hurt that made his heart ache. And to make it worse, he couldn't
understand it at all. One evening he had been met at the little
round doorway by little Mrs. Whitefoot.
"You can't come in," said she.
"Why can't I?" demanded Whitefoot, in the greatest surprise.
"Never mind why. You can't, and that is all there is to it,"
replied Mrs. Whitefoot.
"You mean I can't ever come in any more?" asked Whitefoot.
"I don't know about that," replied Mrs. Whitefoot, "but you can't
come in now, nor for some time. I think the best thing you can do
is to go back to your old home in the hollow stub."
Whitefoot stared at little Mrs. Whitefoot quite as if he thought
she had gone crazy. Then he lost his temper. "I guess I'll come in
if I want to," said he. "This home is quite as much my home as it
is yours. You have no right to keep me out of it. Just you get out
of my way."
But little Mrs. Whitefoot didn't get out of his way, and do what
he would, Whitefoot couldn't get in. You see she quite filled that
little round doorway. Finally, he had to give up trying. Three times
he came back and each time he found little Mrs. Whitefoot in the
doorway. And each time she drove him away. Finally, for lack of
any other place to go to, he returned to his old home in the old
stub. Once he had thought this the finest home possible, but now
somehow it didn't suit him at all. The truth is he missed little
Mrs. Whitefoot, and so what had once been a home was now only a
place in which to hide and sleep.
Whitefoot's anger did not last long. It was replaced by that
hurt feeling. He felt that he must have done something little
Mrs. Whitefoot did not like, but though he thought and thought he
couldn't remember a single thing. Several times he went back to see
if Mrs. Whitefoot felt any differently, but found she didn't.
Finally she told him rather sharply to go away and stay away.
After that Whitefoot didn't venture over to the new home. He would
sometimes sit a short distance away and gaze at it longingly.
All the joy had gone out of the beautiful springtime for him.
He was quite as unhappy as he had been before he met little
Mrs. Whitefoot. You see, he was even more lonely than he had been
then. And added to this loneliness was that hurt feeling, which
made it ever and ever so much worse. It was very hard to bear.
"If I could understand it, it wouldn't be so bad," he kept saying
over and over again to himself, "but I don't understand it. I don't
understand why Mrs. Whitefoot doesn't love me any more."
CHAPTER XXXII: The Surprise
Surprises sometimes are so great
You're tempted to believe in fate.
One never-to-be forgotten evening Whitefoot met Mrs. Whitefoot and
she invited him to come back to their home. Of course Whitefoot was
"Sh-h-h," said little Mrs. Whitefoot, as Whitefoot entered the snug
little room of the house they had built in the old nest of Melody
the Wood Thrush. Whitefoot hesitated. In the first place, it was
dark in there. In the second place, he had the feeling that somehow
that little bedroom seemed crowded. It hadn't been that way the
last time he was there. Mrs. Whitefoot was right in front of him,
and she seemed very much excited about something.
Presently she crowded to one side. "Come here and look," said she.
Whitefoot looked. In the middle of a soft bed of moss was a
squirming mass of legs and funny little heads. At first that was
all Whitefoot could make out.
"Don't you think this is the most wonderful surprise that ever was?"
whispered little Mrs. Whitefoot. "Aren't they darlings? Aren't you
proud of them?"
By this time Whitefoot had made out that that squirming mass of legs
and heads was composed of baby Mice. He counted them. There were four.
"Whose are they, and what are they doing here?" Whitefoot asked
in a queer voice.
"Why, you old stupid, they are yours, -- yours and mine," declared
little Mrs. Whitefoot. "Did you ever, ever see such beautiful babies?
Now I guess you understand why I kept you away from here."
Whitefoot shook his head. "No," said he, "I don't understand at all.
I don't see yet what you drove me away for."
"Why, you blessed old dear, there wasn't room for you when those
babies came; I had to have all the room there was. It wouldn't have
done to have had you running in and out and disturbing them when
they were so tiny. I had to be alone with them, and that is why I
made you go off and live by yourself. I am so proud of them, I
don't know what to do. Aren't you proud, Whitefoot? Aren't you the
proudest Wood Mouse in all the Green Forest?"
Of course Whitefoot should have promptly said that he was, but the
truth is, Whitefoot wasn't proud at all. You see, he was so
surprised that he hadn't yet had time to feel that they were
really his. In fact, just then he felt a wee bit jealous of them.
It came over him that they would take all the time and attention of
little Mrs. Whitefoot. So Whitefoot didn't answer that question.
He simply sat and stared at those four squirming babies.
Finally little Mrs. Whitefoot gently pushed him out and followed him.
"Of course," said she, "there isn't room for you to stay here now.
You will have to sleep in your old home because there isn't room in
here for both of us and the babies too."
Whitefoot's heart sank. He had thought that he was to stay and that
everything would be just as it had been before. "Can't I come over
here any more?" he asked rather timidly.
"What a foolish question!" cried little Mrs. Whitefoot. "Of course
you can. You will have to help take care of these babies. Just as
soon as they are big enough, you will have to help teach them how to
hunt for food and how to watch out for danger, and all the things that
a wise Wood Mouse knows. Why, they couldn't get along without you.
Neither could I," she added softly.
At that Whitefoot felt better. And suddenly there was a queer
swelling in his heart. It was the beginning of pride, pride in
those wonderful babies.
"You have given me the best surprise that ever was, my dear," said
Whitefoot softly. "Now I think I will go and look for some supper."
So now we will leave Whitefoot and his family. You see there are
two very lively little people of the Green Forest who demand
attention and insist on having it. They are Buster Bear's Twins,
and this is to be the title of the next book.
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