quinta-feira, 27 de junho de 2013
The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat
By Thornton W. Burguess
The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat tells the story of Jerry, a young muskrat, and his adventures in escaping the Farmer and his son, and saving the Laughing Brook and his home at the Smiling Pool from drying up. The story also features Grandfather Frog, Joe Otter, Billy Mink, and Paddy the Beaver.
Source: Burgess, T.W. (1914). The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat.
What was it Mother Muskrat had said about Farmer Brown’s boy and his traps? Jerry Muskrat sat on the edge of the Big Rock and kicked his heels while he tried to remember. The fact is, Jerry had not half heeded. He had been thinking of other things. Besides, it seemed to him that Mother Muskrat was altogether foolish about a great many things.
“Pooh!” said Jerry, throwing out his chest, “I guess I can take care of myself without being tied to my mother’s apron strings! What if Farmer Brown’s boy is setting traps around the Smiling Pool? I guess he can’t fool your Uncle Jerry. He isn’t so smart as he thinks he is; I can fool him any day.” Jerry chuckled. He was thinking of how he had once fooled Farmer Brown’s boy into thinking a big trout was on his hook.
Slowly Jerry slid into the Smiling Pool and swam over towards his favorite log. Peter Rabbit stuck his head over the edge of the bank. “Hi, Jerry,” he shouted, “last night I saw Farmer Brown’s boy coming over this way with a lot of traps. Better watch out!”
“Go chase yourself, Peter Rabbit. I guess I can look out for myself,” replied Jerry, just a little crossly.
Peter made a wry face and started for the sweet clover patch. Hardly was he out of sight when Billy Mink and Bobby Coon came down the Laughing Brook together. They seemed very much excited. When they saw Jerry Muskrat, they beckoned for him to come over where they were, and when he got there, they both talked at once, and it was all about Farmer Brown’s boy and his traps.
“You’d better watch out, Jerry,” warned Billy Mink, who is a great traveler and has had wide experience.
“Oh, I guess I’m able to take care of myself,” said Jerry airily, and once more started for his favorite log. And what do you suppose he was thinking about as he swam along? He was wishing that he knew what a trap looked like, for despite his boasting he didn’t even know what he was to look out for. As he drew near his favorite log, something tickled his nose. He stopped swimming to sniff and sniff. My, how good it did smell! And it seemed to come right straight from the old log. Jerry began to swim as fast as he could. In a few minutes he scrambled out on the old log. Then Jerry rubbed his eyes three times to be sure that he saw aright. There were luscious pieces of carrot lying right in front of him.
Now there is nothing that Jerry Muskrat likes better than carrot. So he didn’t stop to wonder how it got there. He just reached out for the nearest piece and ate it. Then he reached for the next piece and ate it. Then he did a funny little dance just for joy. When he was quite out of breath, he sat down to rest. Snap! Something had Jerry Muskrat by the tail! Jerry squealed with fright and pain. Oh, how it did hurt! He twisted and turned, but he was held fast and could not see what had him. Then he pulled and pulled, until it seemed as if his tail would pull off. But it didn’t. So he kept pulling, and pretty soon the thing let go so suddenly that Jerry tumbled head first into the water.
When he reached home, Mother Muskrat did his sore tail up for him. “What did I tell you about traps?” she asked severely.
Jerry stopped crying. “Was that a trap?” he asked. Then he remembered that in his fright he didn’t even see it. “Oh, dear,” he moaned, “I wouldn’t know one today if I met it.”
Jolly round, red Mr. Sun looked down on the Smiling Pool. He almost forgot to keep on climbing up in the blue sky, he was so interested in what he saw there. What do you think it was? Why, it was a convention at the Big Rock, the queerest convention he ever had seen. Your papa would say that it was a mass-meeting of angry citizens. Maybe it was, but that is a pretty long term. Anyway, Mother Muskrat said it was a convention, and she ought to know, for she is the one who had called it.
Of course Jerry Muskrat was there, and his uncles and aunts and all his cousins. Billy Mink was there, and all his relations, even old Grandfather Mink, who has lost most of his teeth and is a little hard of hearing.
Little Joe Otter was there, with his father and mother and all his relations even to his third cousins. Bobby Coon was there, and he had brought with him every Coon of his acquaintance who ever fished in the Smiling Pool or along the Laughing Brook. And everybody was looking very solemn, very solemn indeed.
When the last one had arrived, Mother Muskrat climbed up on the Big Rock and called Jerry Muskrat up beside her, where all could see him. Then she made a speech. “Friends of the Smiling Pool and Laughing Brook,” began Mrs. Muskrat, “I have called you together to show you what has happened to my son Jerry and to ask your advice.” She stopped and pointed to Jerry’s sore tail. “What do you think did that?” she demanded.
“Probably Jerry’s been in a fight and got whipped,” said Bobby Coon to his neighbor, for Bobby Coon is a graceless young scamp and does not always show proper respect to his neighbors.
Mrs. Muskrat glared at him, for she had overheard the remark. Then she held up one hand to command silence. “Friends, it was a trap—a trap set by Farmer Brown’s boy! a trap to catch you and me and our children!” said she solemnly. “It is no longer safe for our little folks to play around the Smiling Pool or along the Laughing Brook. What are we going to do about it?”
Everybody looked at everybody else in dismay. Then everybody began to talk at once, and if Farmer Brown’s boy could have heard all the things said about him, his cheeks certainly would have burned. Indeed, I am afraid that they would have blistered. Such excitement! Everybody had a different idea, and nobody would listen to anybody else. Old Mr. Mink lost his temper and called Grandpa Otter a meddlesome know-nothing. It looked very much as if the convention was going to break up in a sad quarrel. Then Mr. Coon climbed up on the Big Rock and with a stick pounded for silence.
“I move,” said he, “that in as much as we cannot agree, we tell Great-Grandfather Frog all about the danger and ask his advice, for he is very old and very wise and remembers when the world was young. All in favor please raise their right hands.”
At once the air was full of hands, and everybody was good-natured once more. So it was agreed to call in Great-Grandfather Frog.
Grandfather Frog sat on his big green lily pad with his eyes half closed, for all the world as if he knew nothing about the meeting at the Big Rock. Of course he did know, for there isn’t much going on around the Smiling Pool which he doesn’t see or at least hear all about. The Merry Little Breezes, who are here, there, and everywhere, told him all that was going on, so that when he saw Jerry Muskrat and Little Joe Otter swimming towards him, he knew what they were coming for. But he pretended to be very much surprised when Jerry Muskrat very politely said: “Good morning, Grandfather Frog.”
“Good morning, Jerry Muskrat. You’re out early this morning,” replied Grandfather Frog.
“If you please, you are wanted over at the Big Rock,” said Jerry.
Grandfather Frog’s eyes twinkled, but he made his voice very deep and gruff as he replied: “Chugarum! You’re a scamp, Jerry Muskrat, and Little Joe Otter is another. What trick are you trying to play on me now?”
Jerry Muskrat and Little Joe Otter looked a wee bit sheepish, for it was true that they were forever trying to play tricks on Grandfather Frog. “Really and truly, Grandfather Frog, there isn’t any trick this time,” said Jerry. “There is a meeting at the Big Rock to try to decide what to do to keep Farmer Brown’s boy from setting traps around the Smiling Pool and along the Laughing Brook, and everybody wants your advice, because you are so old and so wise. Please come.”
Grandfather Frog smoothed down his white and yellow waistcoat and pretended to think the matter over very seriously, while Jerry and Little Joe fidgeted impatiently. Finally he spoke.
“I am very old, as you have said, Jerry Muskrat, and it is a long way over to the Big Rock.”
“Get right on my back and I’ll take you over there,” said Jerry eagerly.
“I’m afraid that you’ll spill me off,” replied Grandfather Frog.
“No, I won’t; just try me and see,” begged Jerry.
So Grandfather Frog climbed on Jerry Muskrat’s back, and Jerry started for the Big Rock as fast as he could go. When all the Minks and the Otters and the Coons and the Muskrats saw them coming, they gave a great shout, for Grandfather Frog is sometimes called the oracle of the Smiling Pool. You know an oracle is one who is very wise.
Bobby Coon helped Grandfather Frog up on the Big Rock, and when he had made himself comfortable, Mrs. Muskrat told him all about Farmer Brown’s boy and his traps, and how Jerry had been caught in one by the tail, and she ended by asking for his advice, because they all knew that he was so wise.
When she said this, Grandfather Frog puffed himself up until it seemed as if his white and yellow waistcoat would surely burst. He sat very still for a while and gazed straight at jolly, round, red Mr. Sun without blinking once. Then he spoke in a very deep voice.
“Tomorrow morning at sunrise I will tell you what to do,” said he. And not another word could they get out of him.
Just as Old Mother West Wind and her Merry Little Breezes came down from the Purple Hills, and jolly, round, red Mr. Sun threw his nightcap off and began his daily climb up in the blue sky, Great-Grandfather Frog climbed up on the Big Rock in the Smiling Pool. Early as he was, all the little people who live along the Laughing Brook and around the Smiling Pool were waiting for him. Bobby Coon had found two traps set by Farmer Brown’s boy, and Billy Mink had almost stepped in a third. No one felt safe any more, yet no one knew what to do. So they all waited for the advice of Great-Grandfather Frog, who, you know, is accounted very, very wise.
Grandfather Frog cleared his throat. “Chugarum!” said he. “You must find all the traps that Farmer Brown’s boy has set.”
“How are we going to do it?” asked Bobby Coon.
“By looking for them,” replied Grandfather Frog tartly.
Bobby Coon looked foolish and slipped out of sight behind his mother.
“All the Coons and all the Minks must search along the banks of the Laughing Brook, and all the Muskrats and all the Otters must search along the banks of the Smiling Pool. You must use your eyes and your noses. When you find things good to eat where you have never found them before, watch out! When you get the first whiff of the man-smell, watch out! Billy Mink, you are small and quick, and your eyes are sharp. You sit here on the Big Rock until you see Farmer Brown’s boy coming. Then go hide in the bulrushes where you can watch him, but where he cannot see you. Follow him everywhere he goes around the Smiling Pool or along the Laughing Brook. Without knowing it, he will show you where every trap is hidden.
“When all the traps have been found, drop a stick or a stone in each. That will spring them, and then they will be harmless. Then you can bury them deep in the mud. But don’t eat any of the food until you have sprung all of the traps, for just as likely as not you will get caught. When all the traps have been sprung, why not bring all the good things to eat which you find around them to the Big Rock and have a grand feast?”
“Hurrah for Grandfather Frog! That’s a great idea!” shouted Little Joe Otter, turning a somersault in the water.
Every one agreed with Little Joe Otter, and immediately they began to plan a grand hunt for the traps of Farmer Brown’s boy. The Muskrats and the Otters started to search the banks of the Smiling Pool, and the Coons and the Minks, all but Billy, started for the Laughing Brook. Billy climbed up on the Big Rock to watch, and Grandfather Frog slowly swam back to his big green lily pad to wait for some foolish green flies for his breakfast.
Everybody was excited. Yes, Sir. Everybody in the Smiling Pool and along the Laughing Brook was just bubbling over with excitement. Even Spotty the Turtle, who usually takes everything so calmly that some people think him stupid, climbed up on the highest point of an old log where he could see what was going on. Only Grandfather Frog, sitting on his big green lily pad and watching for foolish green flies for his breakfast, appeared not to know that something unusual was going on. Really, he was just as much excited as the rest, but because he is very old and accounted very, very wise, it would not do for him to show it.
What was it all about? Why, all the Minks and the Coons and the Otters and the Muskrats, who live and play around the Smiling Pool and the Laughing Brook, were hunting for traps. Yes, Sir, they were hunting for traps set by Farmer Brown’s boy, just as Grandfather Frog had advised them to.
Jerry Muskrat and Little Joe Otter were hunting together. They were swimming along close to shore just where the Laughing Brook leaves the Smiling Pool, when Jerry wrinkled up his funny little nose and stopped swimming. Sniff, sniff, sniff, went Jerry Muskrat. Then little cold shivers ran down his backbone and way out to the tip of his tail.
“What is it?” asked Little Joe Otter.
“It’s the man-smell,” whispered Jerry.
Just then Little Joe Otter gave a long sniff. “My, I smell fish!” he cried, his eyes sparkling, and started in the direction from which the smell came. He swam faster than Jerry, and in a minute he shouted in delight.
“Hi, Jerry! Some one’s left a fish on the edge of the bank: What a feast!”
Jerry hurried as fast as he could swim, his eyes popping out with fright, for the nearer he got, the stronger grew that dreadful man-smell. “Don’t touch it,” he panted. “Don’t touch it, Joe Otter!”
Little Joe laughed. “What’s the matter, Jerry? ‘Fraid I’ll eat it all up before you get here?” he asked, as he reached out for the fish.
“Stop!” shrieked Jerry, and gave Little Joe a push, just as the latter touched the fish.
Snap! A pair of wicked steel jaws flew together and caught Little Joe Otter by a claw of one toe. If it hadn’t been for Jerry’s push, he would have been caught by a foot.
“Oh! Oh! Oh!” cried Little Joe Otter.
“Next time I guess you’ll remember what Grandfather Frog said about watching out when you find things to eat where they never were before,” said Jerry, as he helped Little Joe pull himself free from the trap. But he left the claw behind and had a dreadfully sore toe as a result. Then they buried the trap deep down in the mud and started to look for another.
All around the Smiling Pool and along the Laughing Brook their cousins and uncles and aunts and friends were just as busy, and every once in a while some one would have just as narrow an escape as Little Joe Otter. And all the time up at the farmhouse Farmer Brown’s boy was planning what he would do with the skins of the little animals he was sure he would catch in his traps.
Farmer Brown’s boy was whistling merrily as he tramped down across the Green Meadows. The Merry Little Breezes saw him coming, and they raced over to the Smiling Pool to tell Billy Mink. Farmer Brown’s boy was coming to visit his traps. He was very sure that he would find Billy Mink or Little Joe Otter, or Jerry Muskrat, or perhaps Bobby Coon.
Billy Mink was sitting on top of the Big Rock. He saw the Merry Little Breezes racing across the Green Meadows, and behind them he saw Farmer Brown’s boy. Billy Mink dived head first into the Smiling Pool. Then he swam over to Jerry Muskrat’s house and warned Jerry. Together they hunted up Little Joe Otter, and then the three little scamps in brown hid in the bulrushes, where they could watch Farmer Brown’s boy.
The first place Farmer Brown’s boy visited was Jerry Muskrat’s old log. Very cautiously he peeped over the edge of the bank. The trap was gone!
“Hurrah!” shouted Farmer Brown’s boy. He was very much excited, as he caught hold of the end of the chain, which fastened it to the old log. He was sure that at last he had caught Jerry Muskrat. When he pulled the trap up, it was empty. Between the jaws were a few hairs and a little bit of skin, which Jerry Muskrat had left there when he sprung the trap with his tail.
Farmer Brown’s boy was disappointed. “Well, I’ll get him to-morrow, anyway,” said he to himself. Then he went on to his next trap; it was nowhere to be seen. When he pulled the chain he was so excited that he trembled. The trap did not come up at once. He pulled and pulled, and then suddenly up it came, all covered with mud. In it was one little claw from Little Joe Otter. Very carefully Farmer Brown’s boy set the trap again. If he could have looked over in the bulrushes and have seen Little Joe Otter and Billy Mink and Jerry Muskrat watching him and tickling and laughing, he would not have been so sure that next time he would catch Little Joe Otter.
All around the Smiling Pool and then up and down the Laughing Brook Farmer Brown’s boy tramped, and each trap he found sprung and buried in the mud. He had stopped whistling by this time, and there was a puzzled frown on his freckled face. What did it mean? Could some other boy have found all his traps and played a trick by springing all of them? The more he thought about it, the more puzzled he became. You see, he did not know anything about the busy day the Minks and the Otters and the Muskrats and the Coons had spent the day before.
Old Grandfather Frog, sitting on his big green lily-pad, smoothed down his white and yellow waistcoat and winked up at jolly, round, red Mr. Sun as Farmer Brown’s boy tramped off across the Green Meadows.
“Chugarum!” said Grandfather Frog, as he snapped up a foolish green fly. “Much good it will do you to set those traps again!”
Then Grandfather Frog called to Billy Mink and sent him to tell all the other little people of the Smiling Pool and the Laughing Brook that they must hurry and spring all the traps again as they had before.
This time it was easy, because they knew just where the traps were, so all day long they dropped sticks and stones into the traps and once more sprung them. Then they prepared for a grand feast of the good things to eat which Farmer Brown’s boy had left, scattered around the traps.
Posted by Francisco Augusto Vaz Brasil at 12:40