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The Adventures of Old Mr. Buzzard
By THORNTON W. BURGESS, Harrison Cady
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
A Great Fear on the Green Meadows
IT had been a bad day on the Green Meadows. Yes, Sir, it had been a very bad day, especially for the littlest folks who live there. From the time jolly, round, red Mr. Sun first began his long climb up the blue, blue sky until it was almost time for him to go to bed behind the Purple Hills there had been great fear on the Green Meadows. And it was all because of a black speck way, way up in the sky, a black speck that kept going round and round and round and round in circles.
Danny Meadow Mouse poked his head out of his doorway and nearly twisted his head off as he watched the black speck go round and round. He shivered and ducked back into his house, only to stick his head out a few minutes later and do it all over again.
Peter Rabbit stuck to the dear Old Briar-patch all that day. He was perfectly safe there, but there wasn't any sweet-clover and he didn't dare go out on the Green Meadows to get any. By noon Peter's neck seemed ready to break from being twisted so much to watch that black speck in the sky.
And it was strangely still on the Green Meadows. The little birds forgot to sing. Mrs. Redwing kept close hidden in the bulrushes on the edge of the Smiling Pool. Even Sammy Jay kept to the Green Forest. Only Blacky the Crow ventured out on the Green Meadows, but Blacky is so big that he is not much afraid of anything, and though once in a while he rolled an eye up at the black speck high in the sky, he went on about his business as usual.
Jimmy Skunk, who fears nothing and nobody, stopped to visit with Johnny Chuck. Johnny was sticking very close to his doorway that morning and every minute or two he rolled one eye up to see where the black speck was.
"I don't know what to make of it," said Johnny Chuck. "It isn't Old White-tail the Marsh Hawk, for he always flies close to the tops of the meadow grasses. It isn't fierce Mr. Goshawk, for he spends most of his time in the Green Forest. It isn't old King Eagle, for he never stays so long in one place. It isn't sharp-eyed old Roughleg, for he has gone back to his home in the Far North. And besides, none of them can fly round and round and round without flapping their wings as that fellow does. I wish he would go away."
But he didn't go away, only just kept sailing round and round over the Green Meadows and sometimes over the Green Forest. Every one was sure that it was a Hawk, and you know that most of the little meadow and forest folks are terribly afraid of Hawks, but no one could remember ever having seen such a wonderful flier among the Hawks. This big black fellow just sailed and sailed and sailed. Sometimes he shot down almost to the ground and then all the little meadow people scuttled out of sight. None was brave enough to stay and discover who the stranger was.
Unc' Billy pricked up his ears as he listened. Page 4.
Now Unc' Billy Possum had been asleep all day and so he hadn't heard of the fright on the Green Meadows. It was just about the time that jolly, round, red Mr. Sun goes to bed when Unc' Billy came crawling out of his snug home in the hollow tree. Jimmy Skunk happened along just then. He had just seen the stranger glide down and settle for the night on a dead tree in the Green Forest, and he told Unc' Billy Possum all about it. Unc' Billy pricked up his ears as he listened. Then he grew very much excited.
"Ah reckons that that is mah ol' friend, Ol' Mistah Buzzard!" shouted Unc' Billy, as he started for the dead tree in the Green Forest.CHAPTER 2
Unc' Billy Meets an Old Friend
UNC' BILLY POSSUM lost no time in getting over to the dead tree in the Green Forest where Jimmy Skunk had seen the stranger go to roost for the night. Unc' Billy wanted to get there before the stranger had gone to sleep, for if it really were his old friend, Ol' Mistah Buzzard, as Unc' Billy felt sure it was, he had just got to say "howdy" that very night.
Now Unc' Billy is seldom caught napping, so though he was very sure that this was his old friend, he didn't intend to run any risk of furnishing a good supper for a hungry Hawk. So as Unc' Billy drew near the dead tree he crept up very quietly and carefully until he was where he could see the stranger clearly. There he sat on a branch of the dead tree. He was dressed in sooty black and he sat like an old man, his head drawn down and his shoulders hunched up. His head was bald and wrinkled.
Unc' Billy took one good look, and then he let out a whoop that made the stranger stretch out his long neck and begin to grin in pleased surprise.
"Hello, Ol' Mistah Buzzard! Where'd yo'all come from?" shouted Unc' Billy Possum.
"Ah reckon Ah done come straight from the sunny Souf, and Ah reckon this is the lonesomest land Ah ever done see. Ah'm going straight back where Ah come from. What yo'all staying up here fo' anyway, Unc' Billy?" said Ol' Mistah Buzzard.
Unc' Billy grinned. "Ah'm staying because Ah done like here mighty well, and Ah reckon that yo'all is going to like it mighty well, too," replied Unc' Billy.
Ol' Mistah Buzzard shook his head. "All day Ah done try to make friends, and every one done run away. Ah don' understand it, Unc' Billy. Ah cert'nly don't understand it at all." Ol' Mistah Buzzard shook his head sorrowfully.
Unc' Billy's wits are sharp, and he had guessed right away what the trouble was. So he explained to Ol' Mistah Buzzard how he had been mistaken for a fierce Hawk, and that the reason the Green Meadows had been so lonely was because all the little meadow people had been hiding and shivering with fear as they had watched Ol' Mistah Buzzard sailing round in the sky.
Pretty soon Mistah Buzzard began to see the joke. There he had been sailing round and round in the sky and growing lonesome for some one to talk to, and there down below him had been the very ones he wanted to make friends with, every one of them frightened most to death because they mistook him for a Hawk. Ol' Mistah Buzzard began to chuckle, and then he began to laugh.
"Ah reckon Ah'll have to stay a day or two just to see if yo'all is right," said he.
"Ah reckon yo'all will," replied Unc' Billy Possum. And Ol' Mistah Buzzard did.CHAPTER 3
Ol' Mistah Buzzard Makes Friends
UNC' BILLY POSSUM and Jimmy Skunk tramped through the Green Forest and over the Green Meadows till their feet ached. They had started out to visit the homes of all the little people who live there to tell them that the black stranger who had sailed the skies all the day before and frightened most of them so that they hardly dared put their noses outside of their own doors was as harmless as Peter Rabbit himself. You see they had all taken him for a fierce Hawk and had been frightened almost to death at the very sight of him. And all the time he wasn't a Hawk at all but just an old friend of Unc' Billy Possum, Ol' Mistah Buzzard, who had come up from way down South.
"My!" exclaimed Unc' Billy, as he stopped to mop his face because it was so warm, "Ah didn't know there were so many little people on the Green Meadows and in the Green Forest."
Just then he spied the Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind, and a happy thought came to him. He would get them to take his message around. Why hadn't he thought of it before? Of course the Merry Little Breezes were tickled to death, for they are always looking for something to do for others. So off they raced as fast as they could, while Unc' Billy hurried back to have a chat with Ol' Mistah Buzzard.
At first many of the little meadow people were inclined to be very doubtful of the harmlessness of Ol' Mistah Buzzard. "How do you know?" demanded Danny Meadow Mouse of the Merry Little Breezes.
"Because Unc' Billy Possum has known him for a long time, and he says so," replied the Merry Little Breezes.
"I'll believe it when I see Unc' Billy risking his precious old skin where the stranger can reach him," said Danny, stretching his neck to try to see over the grass-tops.
The Merry Little Breezes clapped their hands joyously. "Look right down there by Farmer Brown's old hayrick," they cried.
Danny came out where he could see. Sure enough, there was Ol' Mistah Buzzard, large as life, sitting on the hayrick, and right down below him was sitting Unc' Billy Possum, and the two were talking and laughing fit to kill themselves. More than that, old Mrs. Possum was hurrying up with a broad grin, and behind her scampered all the little Possum children. When Danny saw that, he made up his mind that Ol' Mistah Buzzard really was harmless, and promptly started down to pay his respects.
One by one all day long the little meadow and forest people stole over to pay their respects to Ol' Mistah Buzzard. They found him all ready to make friends and so full of stories that most of them stayed to listen.
Late that afternoon when Ol' Mistah Buzzard sought the dead tree in the Green Forest to roost for the night, Unc' Billy Possum strolled by that way to see if his old friend was comfortable. Ol' Mistah Buzzard looked down at Unc' Billy, and his eyes twinkled.
"Ah reckon," said Ol' Mistah Buzzard, "that yo'all is right, and Ah sho'ly am going to stay here a right smart while. Ah sho'ly am."CHAPTER 4
A Funny Dispute
WHEN Ah left mah home way down Souf Ah cert'nly did hate to leave Brer Gopher and all the rest of mah friends," said Ol' Mistah Buzzard as he sat on his dead tree in the Green Forest.
"Did I hear you speak of Mr. Gopher?" asked Digger the Badger, who had come up just in time to hear the last words.
"Yo' sho'ly did, Brer Badger, yo' sho'ly did! Ah'm very fond of Brer Gopher," replied Ol' Mistah Buzzard. "Do yo' know him?"
"Do I know him! I should say I do!" exclaimed Digger the Badger, who, you know, came out of the Great West.
"Why, when I was a little fellow Mr. Gopher and I used to have digging matches, and he surely can dig! But I didn't know that he had moved down South."
"Why, what are you talking about, Brer Badger? He and his family have always lived down Souf!" exclaimed Ol' Mistah Buzzard.
Now Digger the Badger is quick-tempered. "You're wrong!" he shouted. "Mr. Gopher and his family have always lived out West!"
To tell any one that they are untruthful is a dreadful thing. Digger shouldn't have said that, even if he did believe that Ol' Mistah Buzzard was telling an untruth. Ol' Mistah Buzzard was so taken aback that for a few minutes he couldn't find his tongue. When he did he talked very plainly to Digger the Badger. He called him names. The noise of the quarrel brought all the other little meadow and forest people on the run to see what it all meant.
"Do I know him! I should say I do!" exclaimed Digger the Badger. Page 11.
"Ah tell yo' Brer Gopher and his family have always lived in the Souf, and Ah don' believe yo' know Brer Gopher at all!" said Ol' Mistah Buzzard.
Digger the Badger fairly danced up and down, he was so mad. "Not know him!" he shrieked. "Not know him! Why I know every hair in his coat!"
Ol' Mistah Buzzard stared at Digger a full minute. "What was that yo' said?" he asked slowly.
"I said I know every hair in Mr. Gopher's coat," snapped Digger.
Ol' Mistah Buzzard looked around the circle of little meadow and forest people in triumph. "Ah knew he didn't know Brer Gopher," said he. "Brer Gopher's coat isn't made of hair at all; it's of shell."
It was Digger's turn to stare. Then he began to laugh. He laughed and laughed and laughed. "Shell!" he gasped. "Shell!" Then he went off into another fit of laughter, while Ol' Mistah Buzzard grew very red and angry.
"What's all this fuss about?" demanded Old Mother West Wind, who was on her way home to the Purple Hills.
When she had heard all about it she began to laugh. "You are both right and both wrong," said she. "Mr. Gopher who lives way down South does wear a shell coat, and he is cousin to Spotty the Turtle, but lives on the land and digs holes in the ground. Mr. Gopher whom Digger the Badger knows does wear a coat of hair, and he is a distant relative of Striped Chipmunk. And the two Mr. Gophers are not related at all. Now make up."
And Ol' Mistah Buzzard and Digger the Badger did.CHAPTER 5
Peter Grows Curious about Ol' Mistah Buzzard
The more we have the more we want;
At least I find that true
With almost every one I know;
Pray, is it so with you?
PETER RABBIT, who had been calling at the Smiling Pool, had learned so many curious and interesting things about Spotty the Turtle and Grandfather Frog that his head almost ached as he started for the Green Forest one morning in the spring after Ol' Mistah Buzzard's first appearance. You would think that Peter's curiosity ought to have been satisfied for once, but it wasn't. You see, curiosity is one of those things that is seldom really satisfied.
As Peter hopped along, lipperty-lipperty-lip, he looked up to see that Redtail the Hawk was not near enough to be dangerous. There was no sign of Redtail, but high up in the blue, blue sky, sailing round and round, was Ol' Mistah Buzzard. Now ever since Ol' Mistah Buzzard had come up the first time from way down in Ol' Virginny to make his home in the Green Forest for the summer, Peter had been greatly interested in him. In the first place no one else could sail and sail and sail without moving his wings as could Ol' Mistah Buzzard. In the second place Ol' Mistah Buzzard was the only one whom Peter was acquainted with who had a bald head. King Eagle is called bald-headed, but isn't bald at all. On the other hand Ol' Mistah Buzzard, who isn't a Buzzard at all but a Vulture, hasn't a feather on his head. He had told the story of how his family first became bald-headed, and ever since then Peter had taken the liveliest interest in Ol' Mistah Buzzard.
This spring Ol' Mistah Buzzard had brought Mrs. Buzzard up from Ol' Virginny with him, and Peter had spent many hours watching them sail round and round high up in the blue, blue sky, so high sometimes that they were little more than specks. This morning as he watched Ol' Mistah Buzzard, it suddenly popped into Peter's head that he hadn't seen Mrs. Buzzard for some time. Ol' Mistah Buzzard was alone now, and he had been alone every time Peter had seen him of late, only Peter hadn't happened to think of it before.
Peter paused and gazed up at Ol' Mistah Buzzard thoughtfully. "I wonder," said he, thinking aloud as he sometimes does, "if anything can have happened to Ol' Mrs. Buzzard, or if she has grown tired of the Green Forest and gone back to her old home." He wrinkled his forehead in a way he has when he is puzzled or trying to think. Then as a thought popped into his head his face cleared.
"I know!" he exclaimed. "It must be that Mrs. Buzzard is keeping house. Of course. Why didn't I think of that before? All my feathered friends, and some who are not my friends, have nests now, so why shouldn't Mistah and Mrs. Buzzard have a nest? They have. I feel it in my bones. They've got a nest somewhere, and Mrs. Buzzard is taking care of the eggs, and that is why I haven't seen her lately. Now I wonder where that nest is. I should like to see it. I believe I'll have a look around in the Green Forest. Such big folks as Ol' Mistah and Mrs. Buzzard must have a big nest, and it ought not to be hard to find it."
Fairly bubbling over with curiosity Peter started to run again towards the Green Forest.CHAPTER 6
Peter Rabbit's Neck Aches
Who blindly seeks will seldom find
The thing he has upon his mind.
IF he does it will be by accident. It will be pure luck. Peter Rabbit should have known this. He had tried it often enough. But Peter is a heedless, happy-go-lucky fellow, and I guess he always will be. So when he made up his mind that he would like to see the nest of Ol' Mistah and Mrs. Buzzard, he promptly started to look for it without having the least idea where to look or what to look for.
He thought he had an idea, but Peter always thinks he has an idea. The trouble is he never thinks enough to know whether or not he has an idea. If Ol' Mistah Buzzard had a nest, of course it must be in the Green Forest, reasoned Peter. And because all the big birds of his acquaintance built big nests high up in the trees, of course Ol' Mistah Buzzard must do the same thing. That was as far as Peter went in his thinking.
"All I need to do is to keep my eyes wide open for a new big nest in a tall tree, and that ought to be easy enough to find," thought Peter, as he scampered into the Green Forest, lipperty-lipperty-lip.
Once in the Green Forest he no longer hurried. It is hard work to hurry with your head tipped back so as to see the tops of the trees. Presently Peter's neck began to ache. He sat down under a friendly little hemlock-tree to rest his aching neck. When it felt better he went on again, his head tipped back as before. Whenever he saw a bundle of sticks or leaves high up in a tree he was sure that he had found Ol' Mistah Buzzard's nest. Then he would sit down and stare at it very hard and presently would discover that it was an old nest of Redtail the Hawk or of Blacky the Crow or of Chatterer the Red Squirrel or his cousin, Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel. Then he would work his head back and forth to get the kink out of his neck, sigh, and start on again.
Excerpted from The Adventures of Old Mr. Buzzard by THORNTON W. BURGESS, Harrison Cady. Copyright © 2013 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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