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TOM WILDCAT GETS FRIGHTENED
While Tom Wildcat walked round and round Stubby Woodchuck, looking at him and getting more and more scared every minute, Stubby went right on talking. “Yes,” he said very weakly, “Doctor Rabbit gave me the wrong kind of pills. His calomel pills and his strychnine pills all being white, he made a mistake, and gave me strychnine; and he did not find out until it was too late. Oh, dear me! I can’t last long now. The poison is paining me terribly. Do eat me up quick, I beg of you! Eat me up quick! Yes, I can feel the poison working out through my skin; it is all through me and all over me!”

Well, sir, old Tom Wildcat had been[Pg 55] surprised many times in his life, but this was the biggest surprise he had ever had. And he suddenly remembered he had had his mouth on Stubby Woodchuck. All this time Stubby kept one eye open just the smallest bit, so that he could watch the wily Tom.

When Stubby Woodchuck spoke about feeling the poison coming out on his skin, Tom Wildcat’s eyes grew wide with fear, and he began to spit and spit, because he thought that Stubby was poisoned. Tom began to imagine he could taste something bitter in his own mouth. That’s what happens sometimes when people get to imagining things. Tom Wildcat spit ever so many times to make sure to get all the poison out of his mouth.

After a while he said pretty low, and to himself, although sharp-eared Stubby[Pg 56] heard, “My goodness! I believe I do feel a little queer myself! Sakes alive! I wonder if I am poisoned! Dear me! I wonder what I ought to do if I am! Maybe if I run around real fast, and get warmed up, that will help me. Anyway I’ll try it.”

And away Tom Wildcat ran, round and round in a big circle. But he did not go far off, so Stubby just had to lie quite still.

At last Tom stopped. “Maybe climbing a tree would help me,” he said, and away he went for a tree, then up into the tree; but he was right down again in no time, so Stubby Woodchuck could not move. Tom Wildcat was panting now, ever so hard. He came up and stood looking down at Stubby. Presently he said, “Well, I believe I’m feeling a little better, but I guess I’ll wait around here[Pg 57] a while and see if I get to feeling queer again.”

Tom Wildcat then lay down, with his head between his paws, and was quite still for a long time.

After a while he stretched and yawned, and said, “Ho, hum,” and rubbed his eyes. Now the very minute old Tom rubbed his eyes, he didn’t have to imagine something hurt him; he knew it did—and I’ll tell you what it was. You remember that hot salve that Doctor Rabbit put on the foot the dog had bitten? Well, that hot salve keeps its strength for days and days, and when Tom Wildcat, not thinking, rubbed his eyes, he rubbed some of that hot salve right into one of them. It was in only one eye, but my! how that eye did burn! One eye was certainly enough. Tom Wildcat let out a yell that could be heard[Pg 58] all over the Big Green Woods; and then before he thought, he rubbed his eye again, and of course he rubbed in some more hot salve.

Well, it got to smarting and burning so badly that it nearly set Tom Wildcat crazy. With both eyes shut, and yowling terribly, he began running in every direction. The first thing he ran into was a brush thicket; then he backed out of that and started again, and presently butted his head against a tree.

By this time he had forgotten all about Stubby and everything else except that smarting and burning in his eye.


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