THE FLEET





THE FLEET

Something had happened in the Shady Forest since Busy Beaver had built his dam. You see, as it held back the Bubbling Brook, the water grew deeper and deeper, and by and by it began to spread all around, until after a while, there was a pond.

This didn’t trouble the Little People of the Shady Forest. No, indeed. They liked to have a pond in the forest. But they didn’t like to have the Big Chestnut Tree right in the middle of it. No, sir. The water had spread all around the biggest and finest nut tree in the whole forest, and, of course, now no one could gather the nuts.

“What are we going to do?” asked Chippy Chipmunk.

“Make a boat and sail over,” answered Featherhead, the gray squirrel. This wasn’t a bad idea, but who was going to make the boat? Nobody in the Shady Forest knew how to build one.

Professor Crow suggested that the birds carry the nuts for the four-footed people, but they answered that they had all they could do to feed themselves and couldn’t spare the time. And Grandmother Magpie said she wouldn’t carry nuts for anybody, even if she had all the time that was wasted every day by some people right there in the Shady Forest.

Just then along came Old Squirrel Nutcracker.

“Why not make rafts out of twigs? You don’t need a boat builder for that, you know.”

This seemed a splendid idea, and at once all the squirrels set to work, and in a short time quite a fleet was ready to be launched. There wasn’t room for more than one squirrel on a raft, so some of the squirrels had to stay ashore.

Featherhead was the first to shove off. He had a little sack and a large oar, and spread out his tail for a sail.

Billy Breeze was very kind and blew the rafts over to the island on which the Big Chestnut Tree stood. Then all the squirrels went ashore and commenced to fill their sacks with nuts, when, all of a sudden, Old Barney Owl looked out of his nest and said:

“This is my tree and these nuts belong to me. If you wish any, you must pay a penny!”

“If we bring you something to-morrow, will that do?” asked Twinkle Tail.

“Yes,” answered the old owl.

So the squirrels filled their sacks and sailed home.

But soon the news from Squirrelville
Spread o’er the meadow to the hill,
And up the Shady Forest Trail,
And through the quiet verdant vale.

It’s strange how Rumor quickly goes;
It runs on very nimble toes,
And everybody hears the news
Before it has worn out its shoes.



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