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Bowser the Hound
By THORNTON W. BURGESS, Harrison Cady
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2003 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Old Man Coyote Leads Bowser Away
Though great or small the matter prove
Be faithful in whate'er you do.
'Tis thus and only thus you may
To others and yourself be true.
Bowser the Hound.
OLD Man Coyote is full of tricks. People with such clever wits as his usually are full of tricks. On the other hand Bowser the Hound isn't tricky at all. He just goes straight ahead with the thing he has to do and does it in the most earnest way. Not being tricky himself, he sometimes forgets to watch out for tricks in others.
One day he found the fresh trail of Old Man Coyote and made up his mind that he would run down Old Man Coyote if he had to run his legs off to do it. He always makes up his mind like that whenever he starts out to hunt. You know there is nothing in the world Bowser enjoys quite so much as to hunt some one who will give him a long, hard run. Any time he will go without eating for the pleasure of chasing Reddy or Granny Fox, or Old Man Coyote.
Now Old Man Coyote was annoyed. He was and he wasn't afraid of Bowser the Hound. That is to say he was afraid to fight Bowser, but he wasn't afraid to be hunted by Bowser, because he was so sure that he was smart enough to get away from Bowser. If Bowser had appeared at almost any other time Old Man Coyote wouldn't have been so annoyed. But to have Bowser appear just then made him angry clear through. You see he had just started out to get his dinner.
"What business has that good-for-nothing dog over here anyway, I'd like to know," he muttered, as he ran swiftly through the Green Forest. "What right has he to meddle in other folks' business? I'll just teach that fellow a lesson; that's what I'll do! I'll teach him that he can't interfere with me and not be sorry for it."
So Old Man Coyote ran and ran and ran, and never once did he try to break his trail. In fact, he took pains to leave a trail that Bowser could follow easily. After him Bowser ran and ran and ran, and all the time his great voice rang out joyously. This was the kind of a hunt he loved. Out of the Green Forest into the Old Pasture, Old Man Coyote led Bowser the Hound. Across the Old Pasture and out on the other side they raced. Farther and farther away from home Old Man Coyote led Bowser the Hound. Instead of circling back as usual, he kept on. Bowser kept on after him. By and by he was in strange country, country he had never visited before. He didn't notice this. He didn't notice anything but the splendid trail Old Man Coyote was making. He didn't even realize that he was getting tired. Always in his nose was the tantalizing scent of Old Man Coyote. Bowser was sure that this time he would catch this fellow who had fooled him so often before.CHAPTER 2
Old Man Coyote Plays a Trick
Of people who play tricks beware,
Lest they may get you in a snare.
You cannot trust them, so watch out
Whenever one may be about.
Bowser the Hound.
THERE is such a thing as being too much interested in the thing you are doing. That is the way accidents very often happen. A person will get so interested in something that he will be blind and deaf to everything else, and so will walk straight into danger or trouble of some kind.
Now just take the case of Bowser the Hound. Bowser was so interested in the chase of Old Man Coyote that he paid no attention whatever to anything but the warm scent of Old Man Coyote which the latter was taking pains to leave. Bowser ran with his nose in Old Man Coyote's tracks and never looked either to left or right. He would lift his head only to look straight ahead in the hope of seeing Old Man Coyote. Then down would go his nose again to follow that scent.
So Bowser didn't notice that Old Man Coyote was leading him far, far away from home into country with which he was quite unacquainted. Bowser has a great, deep, wonderful voice which can be heard a very long distance when he bays on the tracks of some one he is hunting. It can be heard a very long distance indeed. But far as it can be heard, Bowser was far, far beyond hearing distance from Farmer Brown's house before Old Man Coyote began to even think of playing one of his clever tricks in order to make Bowser lose his scent. You see, Old Man Coyote intended to lead Bowser into strange country and there lose him, hoping that he would not be able to find the way home.
Old Man Coyote is himself a tireless runner. He is not so heavy as is Bowser, so does not tire as easily. Then, too, he had not wasted his breath as had Bowser with his steady baying. Old Man Coyote could tell by the sound of Bowser's voice when the latter was beginning to grow tired, and he could tell by the fact that he often had a moment or two to sit down and rest before Bowser got dangerously near.
So at last Old Man Coyote decided that the time had come to play a trick. By and by he came to a river. At that point there was a high, overhanging bank. On the very edge of this bank Old Man Coyote made a long leap to one side. Then he made another long leap to the big trunk of a fallen tree. He ran along this and from the end of it made still another long leap, as long a leap as he could. Then he hid in a little thicket to see what would happen.CHAPTER 3
What Happened to Bowser
When a Coyote seems most honest, watch him closest.
Bowser the Hound.
BOWSER was very, very tired. He wouldn't admit it even to himself, for when he is hunting he will keep on until he drops if his wonderful nose can still catch the scent of the one he is following. Bowser is wonderfully persistent. So, though he was very, very tired, he kept his nose to the ground and tried to run even faster, for the scent of Old Man Coyote was so strong that Bowser felt sure he would soon catch him.
Bowser didn't look to see where he was going. He didn't care. It was enough for him to know that Old Man Coyote had gone that way, and where Old Man Coyote could go Bowser felt sure he could follow. So, still baying with all his might and making the hills ring with the sound of his great voice, Bowser kept on.
Hidden in a little thicket, stretched out so that he might rest better, Old Man Coyote listened to that great voice drawing nearer and nearer. There was a wicked grin on Old Man Coyote's face, and in his yellow eyes a look of great eagerness. In a few minutes Bowser came in sight, his nose in the trail Old Man Coyote had left. Into Bowser's voice crept a new note of eagerness as his nose picked up the scent stronger than ever. Straight on he raced and it seemed as if he had gained new strength. His whole thought was on just one thing—catching Old Man Coyote, and Old Man Coyote knew it.
Bowser didn't see that he was coming to a steep bank. He didn't see it at all until he reached the edge of it, and then he was going so fast that he couldn't stop. Over he went with a frightened yelp! Down, down he fell, and landed with a thump on the ice below. He landed so hard that he broke the ice, and went through into the cold, black water.
Old Man Coyote crept to the edge of the bank and peeped over. Poor Bowser was having a terrible time. You see, the cold water had taken what little breath his fall had not knocked out of him. He doesn't like to go in water anyway. You know the hair of his coat is short and doesn't protect him as it would if it were long. Old Man Coyote grinned wickedly as he watched Bowser struggling feebly to climb out on the ice. Each time he tried he slipped back, and all the time he was whimpering.
Old Man Coyote grinned more wickedly than ever. I suspect that he hoped that Bowser would not be able to get out. But after a little Bowser did manage to crawl out, and stood on the ice, shivering and shaking. Once more Old Man Coyote grinned, then, turning, he trotted back towards Farmer Brown's.CHAPTER 4
Follow a crooked trail and you will find a scamp at the end.
Bowser the Hound.
POOR Bowser! He stood shivering and shaking on the ice of the strange river to which Old Man Coyote had led him, and he knew not which way to turn. Not only was he shivering and shaking from his cold bath, but he was bruised by his fall from the top of the steep bank, and he was so tired by his long run after Old Man Coyote that he could hardly stand.
Old Man Coyote had stayed only long enough to see that Bowser had managed to get out of the water, then had turned back towards the Old Pasture, the Green Meadows and the Green Forest near Farmer Brown's. You see, Old Man Coyote knew the way back. He would take his time about getting there, for it really made no particular difference to him when he reached home. He felt sure he would be able to find something to eat on the way.
But with Bowser it was very different. Poor Bowser didn't know where he was. It would have been bad enough under any circumstances to have been lost, but to be lost and at the same time tired almost to death, bruised and lame, wet and chilled through, was almost too much to bear. He hadn't the least idea which way to turn. He couldn't climb up the bank to find his own trail and follow it back home if he wanted to. You see, that bank was very steep for some distance in each direction, and so it was impossible for Bowser to climb it.
For a few minutes he stood shivering, shaking and whimpering, not knowing which way to turn. Then he started down the river on the ice, for he knew he would freeze if he continued to stand still. He limped badly because one leg had been hurt in his fall. After a while he came to a place where he could get up on the bank. It was in the midst of deep woods and a very, very lonely place. Hard crusted snow covered the ground, but it was better than walking on the ice and for this Bowser was thankful.
Which way should he turn? Where should he go? Night was coming on; he was wet, cold and hungry, and as utterly lost as ever a dog was. Poor Bowser! For a minute or two he sat down and howled from sheer lonesomeness and discouragement. How he did wish he had left Old Man Coyote alone! How he did long for his snug, warm, little house in Farmer Brown's dooryard, and for the good meal he knew was awaiting him there. Now that the excitement of the hunt was over, he realized how very, very hungry he was, and he began to wonder where he would be able to get anything to eat. Do you wonder that he howled?
Old Man Coyote, trotting along on his way home, heard that howl and understood it. Again he grinned that wicked grin of his, and stopped to listen. "I don't think he'll hunt me again in a hurry," he muttered, then trotted on. Poor Bowser! Hunting for anything but his home was farthest from his thoughts.CHAPTER 5
Bowser Spends a Bad Night
There's nothing like just sticking to
The thing you undertake to do.
There'll be no cause then, though you fail,
To hang your head or drop your tail.
Bowser the Hound.
BOWSER was lost, utterly lost. He hadn't the least idea in which direction Farmer Brown's house was. In fact he hadn't the least idea which way to turn to find any house. It was the most lonely kind of a lonely place to which Old Man Coyote had led him and there played the trick on him which had caused him to tumble into the strange river.
But Bowser couldn't stand still for long. Already jolly, round, red Mr. Sun was going to bed behind the Purple Hills, and Bowser knew that cold as had been the day, the night would be still colder. He must keep moving until he found a shelter. If he didn't he would freeze. So whimpering and whining, Bowser limped along.
Bowser was not afraid to be out at night as some folks are. Goodness, no! In fact, on many a moonlight night Bowser had hunted Reddy Fox or Granny Fox all night long. Never once had he felt lonesome then. But now it was very, very different. You see, on those nights when he had hunted he always had known where he was. He had known that at any time he could go straight home if he wanted to. That made all the difference in the world.
It would have been bad enough, being lost this way, had he been feeling at his best. Being lost always makes one feel terribly lonesome. Lonesomeness is one of the worst parts of the feeling of being lost. But added to this was the fact that Bowser was really not in fit condition to be out at all. He was wet, tired, lame and hungry. Do you wonder that he whimpered and whined as he limped along over the hard snow, and hadn't the least idea whether he was headed towards home or deeper into the great woods?
For a long time he kept on until it seemed to him he couldn't drag one foot after another. Then quite suddenly something big and dark loomed up in front of him. It really wasn't as big as it seemed. It was a little house, a sugar camp, just such a one as Farmer Brown has near his home. Bowser crept to the door. It was closed. Bowser sniffed and sniffed and his heart sank, for there was no scent of human beings. Then he knew that that little house was deserted and empty. Still he whined and scratched at the door. By and by the door opened ever so little, for it had not been locked.
Bowser crept in. In one corner he found some hay, and in this he curled up. It was cold, very cold, but not nearly as cold as outside that little house. So Bowser curled up in the hay and shivered and shook and slept a little and wished with all his might that he never had found the tracks of Old Man Coyote.CHAPTER 6
The Surprise of Blacky the Crow
The harder it is to follow a trail
The greater the reason you should not fail.
Bowser the Hound.
AT all seasons of the year Blacky the Crow is something of a traveler. But in winter he is much more of a traveler than in summer. You see, in winter it is not nearly so easy to pick up a living. Food is quite as scarce for Blacky the Crow in winter as for any of the other little people who neither sleep the winter away nor go south. All of the feathered folks have to work and work hard to find food enough to keep them warm. You know it is food that makes heat in the body.
So in the winter Blacky is in the habit of flying long distances in search of food. He often goes some miles from the thick hemlock-tree in the Green Forest where he spends his nights. You may see him starting out early in the morning and returning late in the afternoon.
Now Blacky knew all about that river into which Bowser the Hound had fallen. There was a certain place on that river where Jack Frost never did succeed in making ice. Sometimes things good to eat would be washed up along the edge of this open place. Blacky visited it regularly. He was on the way there now, flying low over the tree-tops.
Presently he came to a little opening among the trees. In the middle of it was a little house, a rough little house. Blacky knew all about it. It was a sugar camp. He knew that only in the spring of the year was he likely to find anybody about there. All the rest of the year it was shut up. Every time he passed that way Blacky flew over it. Blacky's eyes are very sharp indeed, as everybody knows. Now, as he drew near, he noticed right away that the door was partly open. It hadn't been that way the last time he passed.
"Ho!" exclaimed Blacky. "I wonder if the wind blew that open, or if there is some one inside. I think I'll watch a while."
So Blacky flew to the top of a tall tree from which he could look all over the little clearing and could watch the door of the little house.
For a long time he sat there as silent as the trees themselves. Nothing happened. He began to grow tired. Rather, he began to grow so hungry that he became impatient. "If there is anybody in there he must be asleep," muttered Blacky to himself. "I'll see if I can wake him up. Caw, caw, ca-a-w, caw, caw!"
Blacky waited a few minutes, then repeated his cry. He did this three times and had just made up his mind that there was nobody inside that little house when a head appeared in the doorway. Blacky was so surprised that he nearly fell from his perch.
"As I live," he muttered, "that is Bowser the Hound! It certainly is. Now what is he doing way over here? I've never known him to go so far from home before."
Excerpted from Bowser the Hound by THORNTON W. BURGESS, Harrison Cady. Copyright © 2003 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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