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The Tale of Frisky Squirrel
A Sleepy-Time Tale
By Arthur Scott Bailey, Harry L. Smith
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Frisky Squirrel Finds Much to Do
Frisky squirrel was a lively little chap. And he was very bold, too. You see, he was so nimble that he felt he could always jump right out of danger—no matter whether it was a hawk chasing him, or a fox springing at him, or a boy throwing stones at him. He would chatter and scold at his enemies from some tree-top. And it was seldom that he was so frightened that he ran home and hid inside his mother's house.
Mrs. Squirrel's house was in a hollow limb of a hickory tree. It was a very convenient place to live; for although the tree was old, it still bore nuts. And it is very pleasant to be able to step out of your house and find your dinner all ready for you—simply waiting to be picked.
Of course, Frisky Squirrel and his mother couldn't find their dinner on the tree the whole year 'round—because it was only in the fall that there were nuts on it. But luckily there were other things to eat—such as seeds, of which there were many kinds in the woods. And then there was Farmer Green's wheat—and his corn, too, which Frisky liked most of all.
The woods where Mrs. Squirrel and her son lived were full of the finest trees to climb that anybody could wish for. And Frisky loved to go leaping from branch to branch, and from tree to tree. He was so fearless that he would scamper far out on the ends of the smallest limbs. But no matter how much they bent and swayed beneath his weight, he was never afraid; in fact, that was part of the fun.
As she watched Frisky whisking about among the trees, now swinging on this branch, now leaping far out to that one, Mrs. Squirrel sometimes wondered how he could keep dashing about so madly. Though the old lady was pretty spry, herself, she was content to sit still some of the time. But Frisky Squirrel was almost never still except when he was asleep. There was so much to do! Frisky wished that the days were longer, for though he tried his hardest, he couldn't climb all the trees in the forest. Each night he had to give up his task, only to begin all over again the next morning. If there had been nothing to do but climb the trees Frisky would have been able to climb more of them. But there were other things that took time.
There were the birds, for instance. Friskly simply had to tease them. Perhaps it was just because he was so full of fun—or mischief, as it is sometimes called. Anyhow, he delighted in visiting their nests; and chasing them; and scolding at them. And it was not always the littlest birds, either, that Frisky teased. There was that loud-mouthed fellow, Jasper Jay, the biggest blue jay in the whole neighborhood. Frisky liked nothing better than bothering Jasper Jay—for Jasper always lost his temper and flew straight at Frisky. And then would follow the finest sport of all.
But a time came at last when Frisky teased Jasper Jay almost once too often, though that is another story.CHAPTER 2
Frisky Squirrel Has a Fall
One day Frisky Squirrel came upon Jasper Jay's nest when Jasper and his wife were both away from home. And Frisky simply couldn't resist tearing a few twigs out of it. He had not done much damage, however, before Mrs. Jay returned. When she saw what was happening she screamed loudly for her husband. And soon Jasper came flying up as fast as he could come. He made a noise exactly like a red-tailed hawk; but he did not frighten Frisky at all, for Frisky knew all of Jasper's tricks. Jasper Jay was always trying to scare people by calling like bigger birds—such as red-shouldered hawks, and red-tailed hawks, and sparrow hawks.
When Frisky heard him calling he just laughed and skipped up the trunk of the tree, with Jasper and his wife chasing him. Now, with Jasper and Mrs. Jay both flying at him, Frisky had to be sprier than ever. But he was not afraid. He never thought of danger at all. And he ran down the thick tree-trunk like a flash and bounded across the ground and tore up the tree where he and his mother lived.
"I'll peck your eyes out!" Jasper shouted, as he followed close behind Frisky. Now, no matter how bold one may be, it is not pleasant to hear a thing like that said. And it made Frisky hurry a little faster.
"I'll peck his tongue out!" screamed Mrs. Jay. And somehow it disturbed Frisky the least bit to hear Jasper's wife say that. He decided that he would go home at once. And he gave a great spring toward the hollow limb where he lived.
Then something happened that was a great surprise to Frisky Squirrel. He was right in the middle of his leap when Jasper struck him with a wing. The blow did not hurt Frisky. But it sent him tumbling. He missed the hollow limb, and down he went, head over heels, toward the ground.
Even while he was falling, Frisky Squirrel laughed. You see, he thought it was a good joke on himself. And being a merry little fellow, he was always ready to laugh when anybody played a joke on him. As for the fall, that did not trouble him at all. He knew that he could land on his feet.
It was after he had lighted upon the ground that Frisky was really frightened. For when he looked up, whom should he see but Tommy Fox, not three jumps away! And Tommy Fox was smiling in the most horrid fashion, as if to say—"Ah! I've got you now, my fine fellow!" And then Tommy Fox leaped.
But quick as Tommy was, Frisky Squirrel was even quicker. While Tommy was making one big leap, Frisky was making three smaller leaps. And when Tommy came down on the spot where Frisky had been he found nothing but a heap of dry leaves beneath his paws; and in a moment more Frisky Squirrel's gray tail was disappearing through the doorway of his mother's house.
It was very unlucky for Tommy Fox; but then, one might say that it was very lucky for Frisky Squirrel.CHAPTER 3
The Stone That Walked
One day Frisky Squirrel was playing in the woods when he came upon a chestnut bur which had lain upon the ground all winter. And in a twinkling Frisky had picked the nut from inside it and popped it into his mouth. Then he started home to show his mother what he had found.
But on the way home Frisky began to feel hungry. Just carrying that nut inside his cheek was a little more than he could stand. And he decided that he would eat the nut at once, and tell his mother about it, instead of showing it to her.
So Frisky hopped up on the top of a broad, flat rock. And sitting down right in the center of it, he began to gnaw at the chestnut. He was so busy and so interested in what he was doing that before he knew it the rock began to move. It moved so slowly that it was not until it started to climb a little hummock, and nearly tipped Frisky over on his back, that he noticed what was happening.
At first Frisky thought he must be dreaming. He nipped himself with his sharp teeth to make sure that he was awake. And when he saw that the rock was really walking right away with him he forgot all about eating the chestnut. He let it fall out of his paws and roll away; for he had never seen a rock move like that before.
It was very exciting, though Frisky had never travelled so slowly before. You see, whenever he went anywhere he always hurried as if he had the most important business to attend to. But it was quite different with that rock. It crawled along just as if it didn't care whether it ever got anywhere or not.
For a long time Frisky clung there. Now and then he almost slipped off as the rock tilted. But it never tipped quite over; and Frisky managed to stick on. And then, at last, he decided that he had better hop off onto the ground, for he noticed that the rock was moving straight toward the river. It went down the bank at a faster pace. And Frisky leaped off just in time to escape a wetting, for the next moment the rock dropped splash! into the water.
Frisky Squirrel waited on the shore and watched it, with eyes wide open with astonishment. He had expected to see it sink to the bottom of the river. But the rock swam away as easily as you please. That was the strangest part of it all—a rock which could not only walk, but could swim as well!
Frisky turned about and ran for home as fast as he could jump. This time he certainly did have important business. He had such a strange thing to tell his mother! He reached home quite out of breath. And as soon as he could, he told Mrs. Squirrel what he had seen.
That good lady did not know what to think. She had always found her son to be truthful. But this was certainly a queer story. She lay awake a long time that night thinking about the matter. And early the next morning she took Frisky and set out for Swift River. Frisky led her to the very spot where the stone had swum away.
"There it is! There it is now!" he cried, as they paused upon the bank and he pointed down toward the water's edge.
When Mrs. Squirrel saw what Frisky was pointing at she no longer wondered.
"It's a mud turtle!" she exclaimed. "You had a ride on a mud turtle and you never knew it." She smiled, because she was amused; and because she was happy, too. For she knew that Frisky had told the truth.CHAPTER 4
It was a fine spring day—so pleasant that the children from the little red schoolhouse over the hill came to the woods where Frisky Squirrel lived. They came for the first picnic of the season, and such a noise as they made had never been heard in those woods before.
Frisky Squirrel was frightened at first. But at last he grew accustomed to the uproar, and he crept out on the limb where he lived—not too far away from the door—and looked down and watched the fun.
He was enjoying the picnic quite as much as the merry-makers themselves—until a boy spied him. And then several boys began to throw acorns at him. Frisky did not like that so well; and he hid in a crotch of the tree where he could not be seen from below, until the boys forgot all about him.
When the picnickers went away, Frisky lost no time. He slipped down the tree in a hurry. You see, he had seen the children eating their lunch and he hoped he would be able to find some tidbit which they had left behind them.
Sure enough! there was a feast waiting for him. He was not the only one who was there to enjoy it. For there were three ruffianly red squirrels and a half-dozen chipmunks who appeared on the spot as if by magic.
This second picnic soon came to an end, for the dainties did not last long. But what Frisky found, he enjoyed very much. Most of all he liked a bit of something that was covered with a white coating, which looked a good deal like snow. But it did not taste like snow at all; it was as sweet as sweet could be!
Rusty Red-squirrel found a piece of the same dainty, and he explained to Frisky that it was called "cake."
"I ate some once at Farmer Green's house," he said. "Farmer Green's wife makes it." And Frisky decided on the spot that he would pay a visit to the farmhouse. It was too late to go that day. But the next morning Frisky set out for Farmer Green's house.
In the distance he could see white smoke curling from the red chimney. And though he did not know it, that meant that it was baking-day, and Farmer Green's wife was just as busy as she could be, making good things for her hungry family.
When Frisky Squirrel reached the farmhouse he found the kitchen window wide open. And after making sure that there was no one inside the room, he stole in and jumped up on a shelf where there was a row of dishes with all sorts of tempting things on them.
To Frisky's joy, he found a whole cake exactly like the bit he had discovered in the woods. And he ate all he wanted; there seemed to be no reason why he shouldn't, there was so much of it.
And then a door slammed somewhere. The noise startled Frisky Squirrel and he fell right off the shelf, backwards, and landed plump in the flour-barrel.
He was nearly smothered. And he was frightened, too. But he managed to scramble out again. And you should have seen the white streak that went shooting across the kitchen floor, out the door, and away. It was Frisky Squirrel, of course, covered with flour. He never stopped running until he was halfway home. And then he climbed a tree and sat down to lick himself clean again. To his astonishment, he found that the white powder that covered him tasted very good. It reminded him of wheat. And that is not surprising, since the flour was made of wheat which Farmer Green had grown in his own fields, and which had been ground into flour by the miller who lived further up Swift River.
Though the flour tasted good, Frisky did not like it as well as the cake. He wished he had been covered with that sweet, snowlike frosting.CHAPTER 5
Some Lively Dodging
Frisky squirrel was having his usual fun, leaping through the tree-tops. He went skipping and scrambling among the boughs as if a hundred jays were after him. But they were only make-believe enemies. And after a while Frisky grew tired of playing all alone. He wished he could find Jasper Jay again. He would have liked to tease the rude fellow, until Jasper chased him.
As Frisky paused for a moment to catch his breath he heard a long-drawn, squealing whistle, somewhat like the sound of escaping steam.
"There's Jasper Jay right now!" he exclaimed. "And he's trying to make people think he's a red-tailed hawk. But he can't fool me that way. I'll just go and find him. And then maybe I won't tease him!"
Frisky started toward the place where he had heard that whistle. He called to Jasper Jay; but there was no answer. Nor did he hear the whistle again. He hunted all around; but no Jasper Jay could he find. And he was just going to give up the search when there was a sudden rush through the air.
Frisky dodged just in time; and a big body, grayish-brown, with a rusty-red tail, went tearing past him. He had been mistaken. It wasn't Jasper Jay he had heard whistling, but this fierce red-tailed hawk. Here was even more fun than Frisky had hoped for!
As soon as Mr. Hawk could stop his swift flight he turned and came back again. And there followed the liveliest sort of dodging for Frisky Squirrel. It was well for him that he had had plenty of practice all the spring, or I am afraid he would never have escaped.
He was not afraid. And now and then he laughed at Mr. Hawk. And now and then he shouted "Robber!" at him, and "Thief!" And he asked him how many of Farmer Green's chickens he had stolen lately.
But Mr. Hawk never once answered—except to whistle sometimes as he went sailing past. He paid strict attention to what he was doing. And he seemed to have no idea of stopping until he got Frisky Squirrel in his claws.
After a while Frisky began to tire of the sport. But not Mr. Hawk! He kept flying back and forth, back and forth, past Frisky. And his cruel eyes glared terribly every time he came near.
"You'd better go along home," Frisky called to him. "You can never catch me, if you try till snow flies."
Mr. Hawk lighted on a near-by tree and looked at Frisky. Frisky was a plump little squirrel and Mr. Hawk hated to give him up. But as he thought the matter over he seemed to decide that Frisky was a little too spry for him. And with one more whistle he mounted up above the trees and sailed calmly away.
Frisky Squirrel went home then; and he told his mother what sport he had had, and how Mr. Hawk had at last flown away in despair. "I hope he'll come back again tomorrow," said Frisky.
But Mrs. Squirrel shook her head. She wished that Frisky was less daring.
Excerpted from The Tale of Frisky Squirrel by Arthur Scott Bailey, Harry L. Smith. Copyright © 2013 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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Table of Contents
I. Frisky Squirrel Finds Much to Do,
II. Frisky Squirrel Has a Fall,
III. The Stone That Walked,
IV. The Picnic,
V. Some Lively Dodging,
VI. Mr. Hawk Returns,
VII. A Brave Little Bird,
VIII. Uncle Sammy Coon,
IX. A Bag of Corn,
X. Tails and Ears,
XI. Jimmy Rabbit is Too Late,
XII. Frisky Visits the Gristmill,
XIII. Fun on the Milldam,
XIV. Mrs. Squirrel Has a Visitor,
XV. Helpful Mrs. Crow,
XVI. Caught in the Attic,
XVII. Farmer Green's Cat,
XVIII. The Threshing-Machine,
XIX. Frisky's Prison,
XX. Johnnie Green Forgets Something,
XXI. That Disagreeable Freddie Weasel,
XXII. Catching Freddie Weasel Asleep,