In Freddy the Cowboy, Freddy buys a pony, learns to ride, and winds up in a tussle with the rascaliest varmint in Centerboro. It seems Mr. Flint, owner of the dude ranch, is plotting to rob the First Animal Bank where the animals keep their valuables. And from there on in Freddy and Flint develop a mutual dislike for one another-so much so that Flint lets it be known he will shoot Freddy on sight! With the aid of a brave mouse, the Horrible Ten, and the Bean Farm gang-not to mention Cy, his trusty mount-Freddy shoots it out with Flint in the aisles of the cosmetics department of the Busy Bee. The Wild West was never like this!
About the Author
Kurt Wiese (1887-1974) illustrated over 300 children’s book and wrote and illustrated another 20 books. He received two Newbery Awards and two Caldecott Honor Book Awards.
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Freddy the Cowboy
By Walter R. Brooks, Kurt Wiese
The Overlook PressCopyright © 1950 Walter R. Brooks
All rights reserved.
Charles' friends rather enjoyed listening to his speeches when they didn't have anything else to do. If he was supposed to be speaking about patriotism, for instance, it was fun to see how long he could go on without really saying anything about it. But today the other animals felt that he was being a nuisance. For this meeting had been called for a purpose, and listening to this rooster wasn't getting them anywhere.
The chairman of the committee, Freddy, the pig, was sitting in a chair propped against the wall on the shady side of the pig pen. He would have been more comfortable on the ground with the others, for pigs aren't built for chairs. Any more than chairs are built for pigs. Pigs' legs are too short, and chairs' legs are too long. But of course the place for a chairman is in a chair, not lolling in the grass.
Eeny, one of the mice, had spoken first. Life on the Bean farm was getting dull, and, said Eeny: "I like excitement, adventure. What are we going to do to make life more interesting?"
At that Charles had flown up on to the back of Freddy's chair. "Friends and fellow Beanites," he shouted, "my distinguished colleague, Eeny, has said the word. Excitement, adventure! Those are the words. Interest, excitement, even danger. Yes, my friends, danger. For danger is truly the spice of life." And he went on for some time in praise of danger, with many instances of the gay and careless manner in which he himself had met the most terrifying situations.
"Danger!" the rooster shouted. "I rise to meet it with laughter on my lips."
"Ho, hum!" said Jinx, the black cat, and he reached out and hooked a claw around the leg of Freddy's tipped-back chair and yanked hard. There was a squeal from Freddy and a squawk from Charles and a crash from the chair as they all came down together. "There you are, rooster," said the cat. "There's your catastrophe. Let's see you rise to that with a loud Ha, ha!"
Charles rose all right, and with wings spread and beak lowered he went for the cat. "You big bully!" he said. "I'll teach you to play smart-aleck jokes on me!"
But Jinx bounded off and up a tree, and stretched out along a limb above the rooster, who was dancing with rage: "What are you kicking about?" he said. "You claim you love danger and excitement, and then when I give them to you, you get mad. There's just no pleasing some folks."
Freddy had got up and was rubbing his head, which had got bumped against the wall of the pig pen. "Look here, Jinx," he said crossly, "this is a committee meeting, not a battle. You know that the thing to do is to let Charles make his speech, and when he's finished we can go on with the meeting."
"Yeah," said the cat. "Well, I can figure out plenty of kinds of excitement. But listening to a silly old rooster telling me how brave he is isn't one of them. Heck, I don't have to get a committee together; I can give you all the excitement you want. You want some, hey? OK, leave it to me." And he dropped from the limb, made a quick pass at Charles, then dodged and dashed off down towards the farmhouse.
"Well," said Freddy, when he had set up the chair again and climbed back into it, "Now that we've heard Charles, has anyone else any suggestions?"
"But I haven't finished!" the rooster protested.
"You never do finish, Charles," said Mrs. Wiggins, the cow. "The only time you stop is when your audience walks out on you. So why not let somebody else talk now?"
"You, I suppose?" said Charles sarcastically.
"Land sakes, I'm no speechifier," the cow said. "But I'd like to make a suggestion. In the first place, we don't want Jinx's kind of excitement—pulling chairs out from under people."
"If Jinx wants real excitement," said Quik, "He might try dropping a nice squashy tomato on Mr. Bean when he comes out of the house after dinner."
The other mice giggled and nudged one another, but Freddy frowned at them, and they were just quieting down when Hank burst into a loud neighing laugh. Hank always had a hard time making up his mind about anything, and it had taken him quite a while to decide if Quik's remark was funny. But when he finally decided, he gave it all he had. He roared with laughter. "Good squashy tomato, hey?" he said. "That wouldn't be excitement, mouse, that would be murder. Cat murder. Caticide would be the word for it, hey, Freddy?"
"Yeah," said the pig, "Very funny. And now suppose we let Mrs. Wiggins finish what she started to say."
"Well," said the cow, "I was just going to say that it's sort of foolish to sit around and moan about how life is so dull, and complain that nothing ever happens. The thing to do is to go out and make things happen. And no committee is going to do that for us; we have to do it ourselves."
"You mean like when we started the First Animal Bank?" said Freddy. "That was interesting all right. But it goes along so smoothly now that there isn't any excitement in it any more. And by the way, Eeny, you haven't paid back that ten cents you borrowed two months ago."
As President of the First Animal, Freddy had to keep track of money that was loaned out. The animals were mostly pretty honest, and paid back as soon as they could, but there were a few like Eeny who had to be reminded a good many times.
"Well, you don't need to dun me for it right in front of everybody," said Eeny crossly.
"That's the only way we can ever get some of you animals to pay up," said Freddy. "Let everybody know about it, and then you get ashamed and bring the money back. Anyway, you didn't tell the truth about what you wanted the money for. You said it was to go to the movies in Centerboro. But I've found out that you mice always get into the movie free. You get in through the hole beside the cellar window and go up through the partition into the balcony, and so you didn't need the money for a ticket."
Eeny looked scared. "Well," he stammered, "I—I didn't think you'd let me have the m-money if I told you why I wanted it. We wanted to give Quik a birthday party and I used it to buy cheese."
"Why, of course the bank would have let you have it, Eeny," said the pig, "But—"
Mrs. Wiggins interrupted him. "Great grief, Freddy, can't you forget your old ten cents long enough to let me finish what I started to say? What have mice in the movies got to do with this meeting? I wanted to say that the way to make life more interesting isn't to sit around and growl about it, it is to go out and hunt up something. Look for adventures. Suppose we all start out in a different direction. I'll bet you that not one of us would go half a mile off the farm before something interesting would turn up."
"If it's interesting to be eaten up by a cat or a hawk, I guess you're right," said Eek. "How far do you think a mouse would get, starting out in search of adventure?"
"You don't have to go alone," said Freddy. "One of you could go with each of us. My gracious, that's a good idea, Mrs. Wiggins. Suppose we leave this afternoon, and then meet back here in a week's time and tell our adventures. Come on, let's tell the other animals and see who wants to go."
So that afternoon quite a number of the animals came up to the pig pen, all ready for the road. And they drew lots for the direction they were to start in. Hank, with Eeny on his back, went east; Freddy and Quik went northeast; Mrs. Wiggins went north; Charles and his wife Henrietta went northwest; Jinx went west; Robert the collie, and Cousin Augustus southwest; Bill, the goat, with Eek, went south, and Georgie, the little brown dog, and Mrs. Wurzburger, one of Mrs. Wiggins' sisters, went southeast.
All the animals were in high spirits except Charles. He hadn't wanted Henrietta to go. "Who ever heard of a knight errant starting out in search of adventure and taking his wife along!" he grumbled. "You'd think I was going to a party."
"You will be if you go running around the country alone," said the hen. "Only you'll be the one on the platter, and the rest of the guests will be tucking their napkins under their chins. No, sir, either I go or you stay home. There's got to be somebody along to get you out of the scrapes you'll get into."
Mr. and Mrs. Bean stood on the back porch looking up towards the pig pen as the animals all started out. "What on earth do you suppose they're up to now?" said Mrs. Bean, "Some new game?"
Mr. Bean shook his head. He never interfered with his animals as long as they did the little jobs around the farm that he expected of them. He turned to go in and caught sight of a folded piece of paper lying near the door. He picked it up, looked at it right side up, sideways and upside down, then handed it to Mrs. Bean. "You got your specs on," he said. "What's it say?"
"Why, it's addressed to Freddy," said Mrs. Bean, "Wonder how it got here?"
Mr. Bean took his pipe out of his mouth and gave a shrill whistle. The pig pen was so far from the house that he couldn't call to the pig, so when the animals looked down towards him, he crooked his first finger and held it behind him like a tail. And as Freddy was the only animal there with a short curly tail he started down towards the house.
"That was right smart of you, Mr. B," said Mrs. Bean. "What would you have done if you'd wanted the rooster?"
Mr. Bean put the tips of his fingers together and made a beak of them, with which he pecked at the railing as if picking up corn. Then he said: "Mrs. Wiggins," and stuck his forefingers up beside his head like horns.
"Ah, but how about the mice?" said Mrs. Bean.
"Easy." He made his hand into a mouse and ran it along the railing and up a post.
Mrs. Bean laughed, and as Freddy came up she handed him the paper. "I just found this on the floor," she said. "I guess it's yours."
Mr. Bean stuck his pipe back in his mouth and went indoors. He was proud of his animals because they could talk, but it always made him nervous if he heard them.
"Goodness!" said Freddy, as he unfolded and read the paper. That was a pretty weak expression, considering what was printed on it in rather shaky capitals. "Beware!" it said. "The Horrible Ten are after you. The order for your execution has been signed. Return the jewels in ten days or it will be carried out. Get smart, fat boy. Our knives thirst for your blood.
(Signed) THE HORRIBLE TEN."
And there were ten little knives drawn at the bottom of the sheet.
"Golly!" said Freddy. Mrs. Bean had gone into the house. Most of the animals had disappeared in the directions assigned to them, but Hank was still in sight, plodding slowly eastward across the pasture, and two moving dots up towards the woods were Charles and Henrietta. There was no one to talk to about this new and terrifying development except Mrs. Wiggins' slow-witted sister, Mrs. Wogus, and she would be no help. "Golly!" said Freddy hopelessly, and went slowly back to the pig pen.CHAPTER 2
Quik was waiting impatiently. He shouted to Freddy to hurry, but a mouse's voice is pretty small, and Freddy couldn't hear him until he got very close. Then he said irritably, "Oh, shut up! Haven't I got enough on my mind without you yelling at me? Look at this." And he showed the mouse the letter.
"'The Horrible Ten,'" said Quik. "Never heard of 'em." "Neither did I," said the pig.
"I suppose you could look 'em up in the phone book," said Quik. "Whose jewels did you steal, Freddy?"
"Oh, my goodness, I didn't steal any jewels," said Freddy crossly. "I never heard of them till five minutes ago. Or of these horrible whatever-they-are's."
Quik gave a small sniff. "That's what you say," he said. "They seem to know you all right, though." He shook his head thoughtfully. "I don't know," he said: "Remember all the trouble you had with the Ignormus? ... and there was only one of him. If I were you I'd give the stuff back."
"I keep telling you I haven't got any 'stuff,'" said Freddy angrily.
"Sure, sure," said the mouse soothingly. "But they think you have. In that case I'd just quietly leave the country."
"That's just what I'm going to do," Freddy said. "I mean I'm going out in search of adventure, just as we planned. Only I'm going in disguise, so if these people are after me they won't recognize me."
He had a number of disguises that he used in his detective work, and now he put on a red and green checked suit that Mr. Bean had once bought in Paris but had never had the nerve to wear. Mrs. Bean had cut it down for Freddy. It wasn't very becoming, but at least he didn't look like a pig in it. I don't know what he did look like.
So with Quik in one side pocket and the letter from the Horrible Ten in the other, he went northeast, up through the pasture and across the upper road and through a corner of the Big Woods past the Witherspoon farm. A hill and a valley and another hill, and there was Otesaraga Lake sparkling in the sunshine before them.
"Do we have to keep straight on northeast, Freddy?" Quik asked. "Because if we do we'll have some adventures with fish." He had climbed to Freddy's shoulder.
"This is the east end of the lake," said Freddy. "We'll go round it and then on. That's Mr. Camphor's big house—see?—off there to the left. I guess he'd hide us there if that gang was after us."
"What do you mean—us?" the mouse demanded. "It's you they're after, not me. I haven't stolen any jewels."
"Say, look, mouse," said Freddy. "How'd you like to walk home alone, on your own four little legs?"
"Walk home?" said Quik incredulously. "From here? Why, it would take me a couple of days."
"That's right," said the pig. "That's what it will take you if you don't pipe down about my stealing things."
So Quik didn't say any more. They went on around past the cabins at the end of the lake and plunged into the woods, for this was the southern edge of the Adirondack forest. It was dark under the trees, and very still except for the queer little rustlings and whisperings that—well, Freddy couldn't help imagining that it might be the Horrible Ten creeping along after him, slipping from tree to tree, grinning and muttering and brandishing their sharp little knives.
"What you shivering for—you cold?" Quik asked.
"Got a little chill, I guess," said Freddy. "Coming out of the sunshine into this damp shade."
"It doesn't bother me any," said the mouse. "Maybe if you gave those jewels back your teeth wouldn't chatter so much."
"Say, look," Freddy said. "I keep telling you that I don't know any more about that business than you do. I—" He stopped suddenly, for somewhere off to the right a man had started shouting angrily. "Wonder what that is?" said the pig, and turned towards the sound.
After a short distance the trees thinned, and then he was standing at the edge of an open pasture. Beyond was a long low house and, beyond that, other fields stretched for half a mile or so before the woods enclosed them again. There were barns and other buildings, and near the house a fenced- in space with a dozen horses scattered about in it. And just outside the fenced-in space—which from the Western movies he had seen Freddy knew must be a corral—a man was holding a horse by the bridle and beating him over the head with a heavy whip.
Freddy forgot all about the Horrible Ten. "Hey!" he shouted. "You quit that." And he started across the pasture.
The man paused with the whip raised and looked round. He was dressed like a cowboy, in blue jeans, boots, a bright-colored shirt and a ten-gallon hat. Freddy couldn't imagine what he was doing there, in the middle of New York State. Probably the man had just as much trouble trying to account for Freddy, for what he saw come stumbling towards him was a little man about four feet high in a suit of a plaid so bright that most people would be scared to wear even a necktie made of it.
"You quit beating that horse!" Freddy shouted again.
The man just looked at him. He didn't smile and he didn't glare angrily. He was tall and thin and sour looking, and that's really about all you can say about him. And all the times that Freddy saw him his face never changed; it had no more expression on it than a pickle.
He spoke in a low creaky drawl, as if his voice needed oiling. "What you aimin' to do about it, pardner? He's my horse."
"What are you licking him for?" Freddy asked.
"Not that it's any of your business," said the man, "But this horse is one of the meanest, orneriest critters I ever—Hey!" he shouted, and ducked as the horse jerked back on the bridle and then snapped at his arm with long vicious-looking teeth.
Excerpted from Freddy the Cowboy by Walter R. Brooks, Kurt Wiese. Copyright © 1950 Walter R. Brooks. Excerpted by permission of The Overlook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This one along with Freddy Goes Camping are two of Walter Brooks BEST! The addition of Cy, Freddys' western pony who appears in other great stories is a wonderful dimension to Freddys' adventures. Cal Flint is one of Brooks most detestable villians. Freddys western ' drawl ' and his unique way of enlisting the Bean mice Eek,Quik,Eeny and Cousin Augustus to help him,all add up to non-stop action,excitement and adventure! A treasure!