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STUBBY WOODCHUCK’S EXCITING ADVENTURE
In a few days O. Possum and Stubby Woodchuck were around again as usual, and one fine, bright morning Stubby went out for something to eat. Before he started, however, he got up on his stump and looked in every direction. He did not see anyone to be afraid of, so he concluded the first thing he would do would be to slip down to the Murmuring Brook for a nice fresh drink.

As he went along he stopped every now and then and looked back toward his stump, but everything seemed to be all right, and he went ahead. Then, when he had gone some distance, his heart suddenly seemed to come up in his mouth, he was so frightened. He[Pg 50] was sure he heard a slight noise a little way ahead, among some bushes; and he was sure he saw a crouching form.

Well, poor Stubby was in a pretty bad fix. He looked back at his stump. Then he shivered; his stump was ever so far away. He darted a swift glance around to see if there wasn’t some hole handy, that he could run into.

All he could see was a small hole at the base of a tree a little way off. Stubby didn’t know, of course, whether he could squeeze into that hole or not, but he decided he must run and try anyway. Away he started, as fast as his legs would go, and then he was frightened, for from behind those bushes came Tom Wildcat!

Stubby Woodchuck managed to reach the hole, but he was in a frenzy of fear. Try as he would, he couldn’t squeeze into that small opening. The very next[Pg 51] second Tom Wildcat pounced on him. Poor Stubby was so scared he could not speak. First Tom held him between his paws and glared at him. Then he picked him up in his mouth and carried him out into an open space and set him down again. Stubby promptly started to run away, but Tom Wildcat just put his paw on him and pulled him back.

Old Tom did this exactly the way a cat sometimes plays with a live mouse before he gobbles him up.

“Well, young fellow,” Tom Wildcat said, with a terrible grin, “I guess I’ve got you at last.”

Stubby Woodchuck lay on his side and panted and panted, he was so frightened; but he was glad he was still alive, and he thought he might still find some way of escape. Then all of a sudden he did think of something.

[Pg 52]“Yes,” he said very weakly, “you’ve got me, Tom Wildcat; but I think when you know you’re going to die a little while after eating me, you’ll wish you hadn’t caught me.”

“Ha, ha, ha!” Tom Wildcat laughed. “Yes, I suppose I’ll die after eating you. Ha, ha, ha! Woodchuck is one of my favorite dishes. Ha, ha, ha!”

“Yes,” the clever Stubby said again, very weakly, “if I were healthy, that would be different, but I was poisoned a little while ago, and I was just going down for one last drink, so I could die in comfort!”

“What’s that?” exclaimed Tom Wildcat, jumping up with wide eyes and walking round and round Stubby Woodchuck. “How do you know you are poisoned?” he asked sharply.

“Because,” Stubby answered—and it sounded as if he were about gone—“because I was sick and Doctor Rabbit gave me the wrong medicine. He feels awfully bad about it, and said he could not bear to see me die!”




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