Pinkie Whiskers by Howard B. Famous

CHAPTER I

LITTLE Pinkie Whiskers was born in a big city and lived with his Father Gray, Mother Gray and two little sisters, Twinkle and Winkle, in a tin box, which was hidden under a big garbage can.

Mother Gray had hunted and found nice scraps of cotton and bits of straw. With these she made a soft, warm nest and here they all lived as cozy and happy as could be.

One day a poor, old man came down the alley and looked in all the garbage cans to see what he could find that he might sell, for that is the way he got his money to buy his food and shelter.

When he came to the garbage can over our family of rats, he did not see their little home and pushed their box right over.

Pinkie Whiskers, Twinkle and Winkle were all alone. They fell out onto the brick pavement and began to cry. Oh, my, how they cried!

Mother Gray and Father Gray were out getting a nice supper for them all. Mother Gray heard her babies cry and came running home as fast as she could.

When she saw what had happened, she was very distressed. She quieted her babies and nestled down with them in the fence corner.

Father Gray said, “Never mind, my dears, I will find you a nice, new home,” and away he went.

Bye and bye he returned and told them with joy that he had found a splendid place for them to live. It was just inside the door of a big apartment building.

Father Gray and Mother Gray gathered together all the pieces of their nest and carried them in their mouths. Then, keeping very close to the fence, they started for their new home.

This new home was a nice square place under the floor and far enough back so that a cat or a dog could not reach them. Soon they were settled and Pinkie Whiskers, Twinkle and Winkle were fast asleep.

In the morning, just as Mrs. Gray was washing her children’s faces, they heard a bell ring right in front of their door.

To their great alarm their home began to tremble and then move. Yes, really move. Up and up it went, faster and faster.

Oh, how frightened they were! All at once their home stopped. They heard people talking and then down, down they went. My, what a queer feeling it gave them!

They heard a voice say, “Your elevator is running fine today, Tom.”

“An elevator!” cried Mother Gray—“Our home is in an elevator. We must move at once for we cannot be always going up and down.”

Father Gray just laughed and laughed, then said: “Well, well, I have heard of elevators, but I never expected to have a ride in one and now we have a home in one. That is a good joke, ha! ha!”

Mother Gray said, “You may laugh all you wish, but I am tired of city life, you are never sure of a safe home. We will go to the country to live.”

“Oh, oh,” cried Pinkie Whiskers, “let us go and live with Uncle Whiskers in the cheese factory.”

“A very good idea,” said Father Gray, and straightway they started for the country.

When they arrived at the cheese factory, they found it dark and deserted, but Father Gray discovered a hole and soon they had all crawled in through this hole. Mother Gray selected a great, big round cheese to live in. Father Gray made an entrance into it and very soon the tired rats were in bed in the cheese.

The next day Pinkie Whiskers, Winkle and Twinkle went out in the meadow to explore and they found a net, which some boy had lost.

Pinkie Whiskers said, “You just watch me catch that butterfly in this net!”

He swiftly ran after the butterfly, but when the butterfly saw Pinkie Whiskers coming, he thought how nice it would be to have a ride on Pinkie Whiskers’ back, so he flew after him.

Now, Pinkie Whiskers did not know much about butterflies and he thought this butterfly was chasing him.

So Pinkie Whiskers started to run for home.

“Don’t let him catch me,” begged Pinkie Whiskers.

Winkle and Twinkle took out their little handkerchiefs and waved them fast and hard. The butterfly was so amazed at the sight, that he forgot about Pinkie Whiskers and flew away.

CHAPTER II

PINKIE WHISKERS ran to Winkle and Twinkle. He was so frightened that he hid behind them. Twinkle laughed and said:

“Do not hide, for the butterfly has gone and anyway it was as afraid of us as you were of it. Butterflies are perfectly harmless. They do not sting or bite. They are as gentle and timid as they are beautiful.”

Pinkie Whiskers looked in every direction, but he could not see the butterfly, so he shook himself and ran about once more. He was glad to know that butterflies were harmless, for he might meet one again.

“Look, look! what is that?” cried Winkle as he pointed to a fat, brown, furry animal which was coming slowly toward them.

“I do not know,” replied Twinkle. “Don’t you think that we had better go now?”

“No, indeed,” said Pinkie Whiskers, who had suddenly become very brave. “I want to wait and see what kind of an animal he is.”

When the fat, brown, furry animal was near enough to hear, Pinkie Whiskers called out:

“Hello! who are you?”

“I am Sammy Woodchuck. I live here in the meadow. You look like strangers. Where do you live?” he inquired.

“Our names are Twinkle Gray, Winkle Gray and Pinkie Whiskers Gray,” replied Pinkie Whiskers. “We live in the cheese factory.”

“Why, that is strange, that is strange,” said Sammy Woodchuck. “You must be relatives of Uncle Whiskers. I have heard him speak of you. Welcome to the country.”

“Thank you very much for your welcome,” replied Pinkie Whiskers, for Mother Gray had taught her children to be very polite.

“Why do you call our Uncle Whiskers, your Uncle Whiskers,” inquired Twinkle. “Is he related to you also?”

Sammy Woodchuck threw back his fat head and laughed until his eyes were full of tears. “No, no!” he cried. “He is not related to me. How could a rat and a woodchuck be related? Everyone calls him Uncle Whiskers because we all love him. He is so kind and good to us all. You see I have known him all my life and ‘Uncle’ is my pet name for him. You ask any of the animals about here and they will tell you the same thing.”

“That is very nice,” said Pinkie Whiskers. “When I get old, I hope everyone will love me enough to call me ‘Uncle.’ I shall try and be good and kind like Uncle Whiskers.”

“Won’t you come home with me?” urged Sammy Woodchuck. “It is just a nice walk from here.”

“Yes, we would love to go home with you,” cried the three little brothers all at once. As they walked along they came to a beautiful tree and at the foot of this tree lay a shiny new axe.

Pinkie Whiskers ran and picked it up. He had never seen anything like it, so he turned it over and over and inquired:

“What is this wonderful thing and what is it for?”

“It is an axe,” replied Sammy Woodchuck. “It is very sharp and Farmer Gale uses it to cut down trees. You see he has already started to chop this tree down. He must have been called away and I am sure that he intends to return soon or he would not have left his axe here.”

“I will help him chop down this tree,” said Pinkie Whiskers.

He took off his little red coat and hung it on a stick, which Farmer Gale had stuck in the ground. Then he put his brown cap on top of his little red coat, rolled up his shirt sleeves and began his work.

He swung the axe high above his head and brought it down against the tree with a great bang! He looked and to his disappointment saw that he had not cut even a tiny chip.

“I will try again,” he vowed. “What others have done, I can do.”

He chopped and chopped at the big tree until he was rewarded by bright, yellow chips flying through the air.

Winkle, Twinkle and Sammy Woodchuck stood by and watched him with great admiration. Sammy Woodchuck said:

“You are doing splendid work, Pinkie Whiskers. I will take some of these chips home with me and put them across my front door. I always use the back door. It is more safe.”

CHAPTER III

WHY do you bother to have a front door if you only pile sticks in front of it and never use it?” inquired Twinkle.

“Just to fool Farmer Gale’s dog and any other animal, which might try to catch me. While they were digging at my front door, I could slip out my back door and escape,” replied Sammy Woodchuck.

“Has Farmer Gale’s dog ever tried to catch you?” asked Pinkie Whiskers.

“Oh, yes, indeed, many times,” answered Sammy Woodchuck. “One time I was fast asleep when I heard a sniff, sniff at my front door. At first I thought that it must be part of a dream.

“I rubbed my eyes, sat up and listened. In a moment I heard the sniff, sniff again. This time it was very loud and near. Then I heard scratching and digging. I knew that dog, for I had seen him many times and I knew that he never stopped until he got what he was after.

“I could hear him digging so fast that I knew it would not be long before he would be right in my house. I began to move slowly and quietly for the back door. I got out safely and was running across the meadow when the dog saw me in the moonlight and gave chase.

“Of course I did not have a chance with him for I am so fat. He was gaining every moment and I was so tired and out of breath that I thought every step would be my last one, when a cat ran right between us.

“Now, the dog hated the cat worse than he did me, so he gave chase to the cat. Away they both ran at a terrible speed. I knew that the cat could run faster than the dog and would soon be safe and sound up a tree, so I rested a moment and then went over to Willie Woodchuck’s and spent the rest of the night.”

“My, that was a dreadful experience,” said Pinkie Whiskers and he shuddered.

“Did you ever live in that house again?” inquired Winkle.

“Oh, no, indeed,” replied Sammy Woodchuck. “That dog was sure to go back and he would never rest until he had dug clear through my home. No, indeed, I could not live there again. I stayed with Willie Woodchuck for a long time until I felt safe to find another spot to build my home.”

Pinkie Whiskers did not chop while Sammy Woodchuck was telling his story. He just leaned upon his axe and listened. Now he said:

“Never mind, Sammy Woodchuck, you need never be afraid in your home again. I will chop down this tree and put it across your front door. No one can dig into your house then.”

The tree was so big and Pinkie Whiskers was so little that Sammy Woodchuck had to smile to himself at the idea of his moving it. However, he did not let Pinkie Whiskers see him smile, for he did not want to hurt his feelings. He said:

“You are very kind, my dear friend, and I appreciate your wish to help me, but my home is too far away for you to drag that big tree to it.”

“Poof! poof!” snorted Pinkie Whiskers. “I will show you what I can do.”

He chopped away so fast and swung the axe so high and rapidly that it was just a shiny streak rushing through the air. Suddenly he missed his aim and the axe came down on his toe instead of the tree.

“Oh, my toe!” he cried. “I’ve cut my toe.”

Poor Pinkie Whiskers! He danced about on one foot in circles, while he held the other foot in his hand.

Sammy Woodchuck caught hold of him and threw him to the ground. Twinkle quickly slipped off the shoe which was badly cut and Winkle pulled off his little white sock.

They all anxiously looked at the toe and to their relief found that it was only cut a very little. In fact it looked as if it had just been scratched.

“We must bind it up with something,” said Sammy Woodchuck.

“Here is my handkerchief,” cried Twinkle.

“Here is mine and it is perfectly clean. Please use it,” urged Winkle.

“I will need both handkerchiefs,” said Sammy Woodchuck.

So he took both handkerchiefs and wound them very neatly around Pinkie Whiskers’ toe and foot.

Pinkie Whiskers felt himself to be quite a hero. His toe did not hurt him any more and he liked all of this sympathy and attention.

CHAPTER IV

PINKIE WHISKERS liked to be a hero so well that he limped about and grunted when he stepped on his foot, even though it did not hurt him. It was so nice to see how sorry everyone looked.

Suddenly he heard a voice above him say, “Too bad! too bad!”

“Why, hello!” cried Sammy Woodchuck. “Where did you come from, Billy Jay?”

“I have been right here in this tree all the time you and your little friends have been here,” laughed Billy Jay.

“Why didn’t you come down and visit with us before, instead of hiding up amongst the leaves,” demanded Sammy Woodchuck rather crossly.

“Because I wanted to see if Pinkie Whiskers could really chop down this tree,” replied Billy Jay.

“Of course I can chop it down. You just watch me,” boasted Pinkie Whiskers. “If I were you, I would leave the tree, for it won’t take me long to chop it in two and you might take a tumble.”

Pinkie Whiskers forgot all about his toe and bandaged foot. He worked as he had never worked before. He became very warm and thirsty. He called to Twinkle:

“Won’t you please bring me some water. I am choking.”

“I would be glad to, if I knew where to find it,” replied Twinkle.

“There is a creek just beyond those trees,” said Billy Jay. “You can take his cap and fill it with water and bring it back to him. I will go with you and show you the way.”

“I will go along also and help Twinkle carry the water back for Pinkie Whiskers. I am sure that cap would be very heavy if it were full of water,” said Winkle.

“Umph! umph!” grunted Sammy Woodchuck. “You have very kind and thoughtful brothers.”

Just then they saw Uncle Whiskers coming across the meadow with a pitch-fork in his hand.

“He must be after some hay to put in his nest,” said Sammy Woodchuck.

Pinkie Whiskers gave a mighty blow at the tree with his axe and turned to look at Uncle Whiskers. It was a fatal mistake, for that last blow chopped the tree in two and it began to sway and totter.

“Run, Pinkie Whiskers, run!” screamed Sammy Woodchuck.

Pinkie Whiskers dropped his axe and ran. Alas! he ran in the wrong direction. As he looked back over his shoulder he saw that the tree was falling right upon him.

“I wish I had run away sooner,” thought Pinkie Whiskers.

Uncle Whiskers saw his danger and shouted, “Dodge to the side, dodge to the side!”

But poor Pinkie Whiskers was so confused that he did not hear. He just ran and ran as fast as his legs could carry him. All the time the tree was falling and in an instant more it would have crashed down and crushed Pinkie Whiskers, had it not been for Billy Jay.

When Billy Jay saw what was happening, he did not say a word, just flew like a streak and grabbed Pinkie Whiskers by his long tail and jerked him out of the way. No, not entirely out of the way, for it was too late for that, but far enough out of the way so that the tree trunk missed him and he was only caught in the branches and covered with green leaves.

“Oh! oh!” cried Twinkle.

“Oh! oh!” cried Winkle. “Our little brother will be killed. Oh! oh!”

They dropped the cap which was full of water and ran to the spot where they had seen Pinkie Whiskers disappear.

Billy Jay came wriggling out and said, “Pinkie Whiskers is all right. Just let him rest where he is for awhile. He is only tired out from running and from fright.”

“Yes, Billy Jay is right. We will let him rest and catch his breath,” said Uncle Whiskers.

It was very hard for Winkle and Twinkle to accept this advice, but they had been taught to obey their elders, so they only looked at one another and stayed where they were.

CHAPTER V

SUDDENLY they heard a sweet, gentle voice calling, “Oh, please come here, oh, please come here.”

They all looked high and low, but they could see no one. Uncle Whiskers cried, “Who are you and where are you? We hear you but we cannot see you.”

“I am the Tree-Fairy and I am right here in the stump of this tree,” came the reply.

They all rushed over to the tree and, sure enough, there was the most beautiful creature they had ever seen. She was lying on her back and her wings were caught in the bark of the stump.

“Won’t you please help me to free my wings,” she begged.

“You must tell us how we can do it without tearing them,” said Sammy Woodchuck. “I fear that I am far too clumsy to touch them anyway.”

Uncle Whiskers looked at the lovely, delicate wings and said, “I can gnaw the bark away from them.”

“Please let me help you,” begged Winkle.

“And please let me help also,” begged Twinkle. “My teeth are as sharp as needles.”

“My bill is very sharp and while you gnaw, I will pick the bark away. I promise to be very careful,” said Billy Jay.

So they all set to work and the Tree-Fairy smiled upon them. Her smile was so full of love that each little animal felt his heart beat faster and was even more eager to free her wings quickly.

“It is perfectly wonderful that Pinkie Whiskers did not cut you in two when he chopped down the tree. We had no idea that you were in it,” said Uncle Whiskers.

The Tree-Fairy laughed a soft, silvery laugh and answered, “No, of course you did not know that I was here. When I am free I will tell you all about how I came to be here.”

Just then Billy Jay picked away a big piece of bark and the Tree-Fairy slowly but surely pulled one wing free.

Uncle Whiskers, Twinkle and Winkle worked all the harder and faster and soon Twinkle cried:

“I think you can move your wing now, dear Tree-Fairy. Try to move it just a tiny bit.”

The Tree-Fairy needed no urging. Very gently and slowly she pulled her wing out from under the bark. Just to show her little friends that she could use them as well as ever, she fluttered them about.

They were so thin that you could see through them and they sparkled and shone in the sunshine like silver.

“Can’t you get up now?” asked Sammy Woodchuck.

“I will try,” replied the Tree-Fairy.

She tried and tried all in vain. She could move, but she could not rise. At last she said:

“My foot is caught. I am so sorry, dear friend, but I cannot leave this stump until my foot is free. It is so far down in the stump that I am afraid you will have a very hard time to loosen it.”

She was right. It seemed for awhile that it was impossible to loosen it. Billy Jay picked and picked. Twinkle and Winkle gnawed and gnawed, but all of their efforts seemed of no use.

Finally Uncle Whiskers said, “I will take the axe and chop away the outside of the stump.”

“I will take the pitch-fork and lift the soft pulp away,” cried Sammy Woodchuck.

So they worked and worked until they had broken the stump apart and the Tree-Fairy was free once more.

As she stepped out into the green meadow, she was so happy that she danced and as she danced, her little silver slippers twinkled and glittered.

“Isn’t she wonderful?” whispered Winkle to Twinkle.

“Yes. She is so lovely that I am afraid she will not stay with us,” whispered Twinkle to Winkle.

Uncle Whiskers looked and looked at the Tree-Fairy until his eyes were almost blinded by her sparkle in the sunshine. He said:

“Please come over here under the shade of this tree, where we can look at you all we wish and then tell us how you came to be in that tree.”

CHAPTER VI

THE Tree-Fairy danced over and sat down under the tree with Uncle Whiskers, Winkle, Twinkle and Sammy Woodchuck. Billy Jay did not care to sit down. He just hopped around and around the Tree-Fairy and stared at her.

In the meantime Pinkie Whiskers had caught his breath and was rested. He tried to get up, but found that a branch of the tree held him down. He wiggled and twisted but he could not rise.

“Help! help!” called Pinkie Whiskers.

“My goodness!” cried Uncle Whiskers. “We forgot all about that blessed Pinkie Whiskers. Come we must help him.”

They all rushed over to the tree and there was Pinkie Whiskers lying on his back and kicking as hard as he could.

“Now just keep perfectly still and we will break the branches away, then you can get up,” said Uncle Whiskers.

Pinkie Whiskers was so glad to see Winkle, Twinkle, Uncle Whiskers, Sammy Woodchuck and Billy Jay that he cried.

“Now, now!” said Uncle Whiskers. “You eat one of those big apples that are just waiting right by your hand for you and you will feel better.”

“When I woke up, it was all so still that I thought you had all gone home and left me,” sobbed Pinkie Whiskers.

“We are here,” cried Twinkle.

“We are here,” cried Winkle, “and we will have you out of that tree in a moment.”

Already Sammy Woodchuck and Uncle Whiskers had broken the branches away and now they lifted Pinkie Whiskers to his feet.

Pinkie Whiskers was all smiles as he stood in the green meadow again, but he said:

“I shall never cut down a tree again. This one nearly killed me.”

“You owe your life to Billy Jay. It was Billy who caught your tail and pulled you out from under the falling tree trunk just in time or you surely would have been crushed,” said Uncle Whiskers.

“All is well that ends well and really, Pinkie Whiskers, you never did such a wonderful thing before and you probably will never do such a wonderful deed in your life again, for you have set the Tree-Fairy free. Look over there and you will see her,” said Sammy Woodchuck.

Pinkie Whiskers looked and he was so surprised that his little mouth flew open, and I am ashamed to say that he stared too. Yes, he actually stared at the Tree-Fairy.

The Tree-Fairy smiled and came dancing over to him. She bowed and said, “I want to thank you for saving my life. If it had not been for you, I would not be standing here in this beautiful sunshine.”

“Do tell us how you came to be in the tree trunk, won’t you please?” begged Twinkle.

“To be sure, I will tell you,” laughed the Tree-Fairy. This is the story she told:

“In Fairyland there are Witches as well as Fairies, just as on Earth there are bad people as well as good people.

“I had always been very friendly with the Witches and they were as kind to me as they could be until one day I went to visit the Witch Discontent. She was never satisfied with anything and never smiled or laughed.

“You know I love everybody and everything. I am happy all the day long and I never fret or worry. On this day I was so happy over the beautiful sunshine and flowers that I was singing and dancing.

“The Witch Discontent could not help but feel my happiness and bye and bye she forgot to whine and scold and actually began to sing with me. She had never been known to sing a note before.

“Then I told her a joke and she laughed. My, how she laughed! We were having the best kind of a time when one of the other Witches entered and found the Witch Discontent enjoying herself.

“The Witch Discontent was so angry to be caught having a good time that she flew into a terrible rage, and drove me from the house.”

CHAPTER VII

WHEN the Tree-Fairy told of the Witch Discontent’s rage, she shuddered, then she continued:

“The Witch Discontent not only drove me from her house, but she chased me and she screamed at me every step of the way. I could run faster than she and I reached my home first. I ran into the house, closed and bolted the door.

“I was just in time for I had only finished locking the door when the Witch Discontent threw herself against it.

“When she found that the door was locked she was more angry than ever. She tore her hair and jumped wildly about. She put her mouth to the key hole and screamed:

“‘I will punish you yet, you just wait. I will sit here in front of your door until you come out.’

“Now, I knew that she could not harm me unless she looked me in the eye and made certain passes with her hands, so I decided right then and there that I would stay in the house and keep the door locked.

“All day long the Witch Discontent sat in front of the door and all the while her rage grew and grew until she was a terrible sight. I peeped out of the window at her several times and each time I was glad she did not see me.

“Night came and she was still there. I went quietly to bed and soon fell asleep. It was bright daylight when I awakened. My first thought was one of happiness and then I remembered about the Witch Discontent and I was eager to see if she was still sitting outside of my door.

“I tip-toed over to the window and looked out. I could not see her so I leaned further out and almost instantly a rough hand grabbed me and dragged me right out of the window and dropped me on the ground.

“I found myself facing the Witch Discontent. She had been waiting under my window for this very chance. She shook me and then held me very tight while she looked me in the eye, made passes and hissed:

“‘You wicked Tree-Fairy! I will drive you from Fairyland. I will send you to Earth and imprison you in a tree forever. You shall never come forth into the sunshine again or dance, laugh or sing unless I will it. Now go,’ she screamed as she flung me from her and made more strange passes with both hands.

“That is all I can remember until I found myself imprisoned in the heart of yonder tree. I could not stir. I was fitted into the tree as if I had grown there.

“I do not know how long I have been in the tree, for I slept a great deal, but always when I was awake I sang little songs of joy to myself and kept a merry heart. But best of all, I never ceased to love the Witch Discontent in spite of what she had done to me.

“You know that love always conquers hate and it was love that sent the man to cut down the tree and when he was called away, it was love that sent Pinkie Whiskers and you, my dear friends, to finish the work and free me.”

As the Tree-Fairy stopped talking there were tears of gratitude and happiness in her eyes. She looked so sweet and beautiful that her new friends wondered how anyone could ever have been unkind to her.

“You certainly have had a very hard time and I am glad that we could help you out of your prison,” said Uncle Whiskers.

“Why are you called a Tree-Fairy if you have only lived in a tree here on Earth?” inquired Pinkie Whiskers.

The Tree-Fairy laughed merrily as she replied: “Bless your heart, I have always lived in a tree. My home was in a tree in Fairyland, but the tree was hollow and I had several rooms. As I told you I even had a door and a window.”

“Fairyland must be a wonderful place,” sighed Twinkle. “I wish that I could make you a visit when you are back in your own home once more.”

The Tree-Fairy put her arms about him and said, “I would love to have you but it is impossible. You could never reach there. I must be going now, but I will never forget your kindness to me and I will always watch over you all and turn your trouble into happiness. In fact, I will tell all of the good Fairies to help you.”

“Pinkie Whiskers, you shall always be protected in time of need. Some day when you are in danger, I will save you as you have saved me and now good-bye, dear friends, good-bye.”

CHAPTER VIII

WHEN Pinkie Whiskers reached home, he told Mother and Father Gray all about how he chopped down the tree and how the beautiful Tree-Fairy was freed from her prison. Mother Gray said:

“My son, you have had a very wonderful experience, but please be careful what you do and where you go. Country life is very different from city life and you are very young.”

“Yes, mother, I will be careful, but I want to do everything that anyone else does,” replied Pinkie Whiskers.

“Now, now,” spoke Uncle Whiskers, “let the boy have his way. I am sure that he is a genius. If Pinkie Whiskers does all of the things which he longs to do, he will be ready for anything. Why, he may be able to write a book about the wonderful things he sees and hears or perhaps he may paint a beautiful picture.”

“That sounds very nice,” replied Mother Gray, “but I am afraid something dreadful will happen to him, while he is doing all of these things.”

Just then Billy Jay flew onto the window-sill and called out, “I invite you all to come with me down to the creek. I want to show you city rats something that you have never seen before.”

“Oh, goodie!” cried Twinkle.

“Oh, goodie!” cried Winkle.

“Hurrah! hurrah!” shouted Pinkie Whiskers.

“Now, children, please stop shouting while I tell you my plan,” begged Mother Gray. “It will soon be supper time, so how would you like to take our supper with us and eat it down by the creek?”

“Oh, yes, a picnic, a picnic! Let us have a picnic!” shouted the three little brothers at once.

They all hurried about and helped Mother Gray put up the lunch and very soon they were all scampering off to the creek for their picnic.

Billy Jay flew ahead of them and they followed him to a place in the creek, where the shore curved and the rocks sheltered the water so that it was as quiet and as still as a pond.

Pinkie Whiskers, Winkle and Twinkle raced down to the creek and looked down into the water. To their amazement, they saw their faces reflected: Pinkie Whiskers cried out:

“Is this the surprise? Is this what you wished to show us?”

“No,” laughed Billy Jay. “You look again and forget about your reflection and tell me what you see.”

They all looked again and this time they saw funny little creatures wiggling and swimming about. Pinkie Whiskers asked:

“What are they and where are they going?”

Mother Gray and Father Gray looked and they also were surprised, for they had never seen or heard of anything like them.

Billy Jay was thoroughly enjoying himself, for it is always fun to show something strange to your friends. He laughed as he answered:

“They are tadpoles and they are not going anywhere. They just swim around and around here near the shore, for this is their home just as the cheese factory is your home.”

“Will they always be small like this?” inquired Pinkie Whiskers.

“Bless your heart, no,” replied Billy Jay. “They will grow into great, big frogs.”

They all watched the tadpoles swim about until Mother Gray said: “Come, children, we will have our supper now.”

They found a very nice place to eat and everyone was so hungry that they began to eat at once.

Pinkie Whiskers kept thinking of the tadpoles and without saying a word he slipped away from the others and went back to the creek. Right beside a big rock, he found a fish rod and net.

He picked them up and began to fish. In a moment a tadpole swallowed the hook. Pinkie Whiskers jerked him out of the water and put the net under him.

“You are the little tadpole I have been fishing for,” he cried.

The little tadpole was so amazed that he could not speak. He just hung and flopped on the hook.

CHAPTER IX

THE longer that Pinkie Whiskers looked at the tadpole, the more proud he grew to think that he had caught him.

At last the tadpole found his voice and said, “Oh, please put me back in the water. I want to go home.”

Pinkie Whiskers jumped when the tadpole spoke. Someway he had not thought about a tadpole having a voice or being able to talk.

“No, my little tadpole. I am not going to let you go back home. I am going to take you to my home. I will put you in a glass of water and you can swim as much as you please,” replied Pinkie Whiskers.

“I have a mother and father just as you have and I do not want to leave them. I want to stay here and I will stay here,” said the tadpole and he jumped about so lively that Pinkie Whiskers had all he could do to keep from falling off the stone.

“Stop pulling my fish line. Stop pulling it, I say,” cried Pinkie Whiskers.

The little tadpole paid no heed to Pinkie Whiskers’ demand. In fact he jumped and pulled all the harder and faster.

The first thing Pinkie Whiskers knew, he had slipped off from the stone and was up to his neck in the water.

But Pinkie Whiskers was not the kind to give up a prize easily. My, no! He remembered to hold fast to the fish rod. The little tadpole swam away as far as he could and tugged and tugged at the line.

Pinkie Whiskers was nearly pulled over in the water, but just in time he threw out his hand and caught hold of the rock, then using all the strength he had, he managed to climb up onto it.

Once more he pulled the tadpole free from the water and slipped the net under it. He was panting for breath but he said:

“Now, little tadpole, I am surely going to take you home with me, but I will not put you in the glass. I will fry you and eat you for my breakfast.”

The poor little tadpole was so frightened that he screamed, “Help! help! help!”

Now Father Frog had gone back on the shore to stretch himself in the sunshine and to see what he could find to eat.

He was returning to the creek when he heard his son call for help. He was very much frightened for he knew that the tadpole could not get up onto the rocks himself and yet the call for help came from the rocks.

Father Frog hopped as fast as he could, but his heart beat so wildly that he could not jump very far at a time.

When he reached the creek he stopped a moment to look and what he saw struck him with such horror that he could not move. His legs would not work.

About this same time Mother Gray went to give Pinkie Whiskers another piece of bread and cheese. To her surprise he was nowhere to be seen. She called and called, but Pinkie Whiskers was too far away to hear.

“Father Gray, you must go and find Pinkie Whiskers,” she cried. “Run as fast as you can. I am afraid that he is in trouble or mischief.”

“Now, now,” said Uncle Whiskers, “you worry too much about Pinkie Whiskers. He is a fine, big boy and can take care of himself.”

“That may be true but I am going to find him now,” said Mother Gray as she ran for the creek.

Father Gray said, “Wait a moment and I will come along with you.”

Winkle cried, “I want to come too.”

Twinkle cried, “I want to come too, please wait for me.”

Uncle Whiskers grumbled, “Well, I never did see such a fuss in my life. I have not had enough to eat yet, but I guess I will join the hunt for Pinkie Whiskers anyway.”

Billy Jay laughed and said, “I will go with you, Uncle Whiskers. We can finish our supper when we return.”

So off they all ran after Pinkie Whiskers and although Mother Gray was worried, she never suspected what serious trouble and danger Pinkie Whiskers was in.

CHAPTER X

AFTER the first shock, Father Frog became very angry with Pinkie Whiskers. His legs began to move once more and he made long hops and jumps until he stood beside Pinkie Whiskers. He puffed out his white throat and croaked:

“Chug-e-rum! chug-e-rum! What are you doing with my son and why did you pull him out of the water?”

Pinkie Whiskers looked at Father Frog and when he saw how big he was, felt rather small and timid himself, but he raised up to his full height and said:

“Is this little tadpole your son? I fished for him just for the sport of it and I did intend to take him home with me.”

“Chug-e-rum! chug-e-rum!” roared Father Frog, “drop my son at once.”

The way Father Frog demanded Pinkie Whiskers to drop the tadpole made him very determined not to do so. It was very naughty of Pinkie Whiskers, and afterwards he was most sorry for having been so rude, unkind and stubborn, but then it was too late.

Pinkie Whiskers said to Father Frog, “I will not drop your son. He is my little tadpole now and I am going to take him home and fry him for my breakfast.”

“Chug-e-rum! chug-e-rum!” growled Father Frog. “You shall do nothing of the kind. Don’t you know that frogs and tadpoles have feelings and hearts as well as yourself?”

“Poof! poof!” scoffed Pinkie Whiskers. “I don’t care. I am going to take my tadpole home with me anyway.”

Father Frog did not say a word. He just jumped against Pinkie Whiskers with such force that the rod flew out of his hand and the little tadpole went flop back into his watery home.

Pinkie Whiskers fell flat upon the stone and when he scrambled to his feet, there beside him stood Father Frog. In his hand he held a long green reed, which he had pulled out of the creek.

Pinkie Whiskers thought that Father Frog intended to whip him with the reed and he begged, “Please do not whip me. I will never touch your little tadpoles again.”

“Indeed you will not touch them again, for you will not be here to fish for them.”

With these words, the Frog grabbed Pinkie Whiskers and threw him up onto his back. He then put the reed around him so that he could not possibly get away.

Pinkie Whiskers kicked and kicked. He jerked and jerked, but the reed was so strong that he could not break it. He tried to bite it with his teeth, but he could not reach around far enough.

Father Frog hopped up onto a big rock that was hanging right over the creek. Pinkie Whiskers screamed and kicked some more, but it was of no use.

“Oh, please put me down, Mr. Frog,” begged Pinkie Whiskers.

“Indeed, I will not. You showed my son no mercy and now you cannot expect me to show you any kindness,” replied Father Frog.

“But he is back in the creek with his brothers and sisters now,” said Pinkie Whiskers.

“Yes, he is back home with a fish hook in his mouth and I will have a hard time to get it out. Besides it was not you or your kindness that put him back home. It was because I made you drop him,” growled Father Frog.

“What are you going to do to me?” cried Pinkie Whiskers.

“I am going to dump you into the water,” replied Father Frog.

“Oh, mother! mother! father! father! help me! Come quick and help me!” screamed Pinkie Whiskers.

Mother Gray and all of the others heard him scream and they ran as fast as they could to his aid. Billy Jay could fly faster than the others could run, and he flew as fast as he could, but even he was too late.

Right before their very eyes, Father Frog leaped into the creek with Pinkie Whiskers on his back.

The last they saw of Pinkie Whiskers was his feet kicking the air and his little red coat-tails flying.

Mother Gray threw herself down on the rock and sobbed, “My dear Pinkie Whiskers, I will never see him again.”

Winkle, Twinkle and Billy Jay all cried, too, but Father Gray blew his nose and wiped a tear from his eye as Uncle Whiskers said, “That boy will come back all safe and sound.”

CHAPTER XI

WHEN Pinkie Whiskers struck the water, he closed his mouth and his eyes tight. He did not open his eyes until he felt Father Frog swimming rapidly down the creek and he wondered where they were going.

He kicked and kicked, but the green reed held him so fast that he could not free himself.

Father Frog swam on and on until they came to the mouth of the creek and the creek flowed into a great, rushing river. Father Frog let loose of the reed and as Pinkie Whiskers fell off from his back, said:

“Now, my little rat, you must take care of yourself. I am going home to take your fish hook out of my poor little tadpole’s mouth. Good-bye.”

The water was so deep and it raced along so swiftly that Pinkie Whiskers was very much frightened, but suddenly a beautiful, soft voice whispered in his ear:

“Do not be afraid. I am the Water-Fairy and I will help you because my dear friend, the Tree-Fairy asked me to do so. She told me all about how you saved her.”

Pinkie Whiskers was so amazed and delighted that he forgot that he was in the water and started to speak. Of course, the water poured into his open mouth and he began to sputter and choke.

The Water-Fairy pushed him to the top of the water and patted him on his back until he was all right once more, then she said:

“I will make it possible for you to stay down under the water and breathe and talk just like a fish and then you will never choke again.”

Pinkie Whiskers smiled his thanks and the Water-Fairy made some passes and, sure enough, he could breathe, talk and swim under water just like a fish.

“Look! look!” cried the Water-Fairy. “There is a ship in the distance and it is headed this way.”

Sure enough, a beautiful, big, white ship was coming down the river. It was coming so fast now they could see men moving about on her.

Pinkie Whiskers took out of his pocket his white handkerchief and waved it around and around his head.

“Ship ahoy! ship ahoy!” he shouted.

“It will do you no good to signal the ship,” said the Water-Fairy. “It would never stop to take a rat on board. Oh, dear no! You will have to get on the ship without anyone seeing you.”

Pinkie Whiskers did not wait to hear any more. He swam for the passing ship. When he was even with the dragging rope he tried to catch it with his teeth, but he was not quick enough and the rope slipped out of his reach.

Again and again he tried and at last he made a quick jump and landed right upon the rope. He just clung to it as tight as he could with his feet and rested.

CHAPTER XII

THE rope was one which the sailors had put out to tell them how many miles an hour they were going. This rope had a wonderful wheel at the end of it which kept twisting and turning in the water.

Every now and then the rope would turn suddenly over and poor Pinkie Whiskers would go under the water with it and nearly fall off. At last he was rested and climbed the rope to the ship. When no one was about he jumped aboard.

Of course, he did not know which way to go, but there was a pleasant smell of cooking in the air and he followed this smell.

He soon found himself in a big kitchen with many people hurrying about. There were cooks with white caps and aprons and waiters with white jackets.

Pinkie Whiskers kept very close to the wall and ran until he saw a white jacket hanging on a nail.

Pinkie Whiskers saw that the jacket had pockets, so he ran up the side of the wall and hid in one of the pockets. He had just nestled down for a little nap, for he was very tired, when along came the owner of the jacket. He took it off from the nail and put it on.

Pinkie Whiskers, did not know what to do, but he decided to keep very still. The waiter took his tray of food and went into the dining room. Pinkie Whiskers peeped out of the pocket and saw many tables with people about them.

Pinkie Whiskers’ head was still out of the pocket when the waiter went up to a table to serve a lady. She saw Pinkie Whiskers and screamed, “A mouse! a mouse!”

Now, Pinkie Whiskers knew that he was a rat and not a mouse, so at first he did not think that she meant him, but when all of the ladies jumped up from the table and started to run, Pinkie Whiskers jumped from the pocket and ran too.

He hid behind the leg of a big chair and did not move until he felt the ship stop and saw everyone going ashore. He started to go ashore too and as everyone had bundles and baggage, he picked up a small hand bag, an umbrella, a can and a cage filled with butterflies, grasshoppers and a lady-bug.

He had only gone a short way when the door of the cage flew open and the insects flew out.

“I never had so much trouble in all my life,” complained Pinkie Whiskers.

He ran after them and caught as many as he could and put them back into the cage for he wanted to take them home as presents to his dear ones.

CHAPTER XIII

PINKIE WHISKERS found it very hard to travel over the country road with all of his baggage. He caught his feet in the cage and fell over it several times.

He did not know the way home and he had to ask every little wild creature that he met where the cheese factory was.

At last he met Billy Jay, for Billy Jay had gone out to search for him. Billy Jay felt sure that Pinkie Whiskers was not drowned and when he met his little friend coming down the road he was not even surprised.

“Hello, Billy Jay!” shouted Pinkie Whiskers. “You see that I am coming home.”

“Hello, Pinkie Whiskers!” cried Billy Jay. “I never was so glad to see anyone in my life. Let me carry something for you.”

“All right, you may carry my handbag, if you wish,” said Pinkie Whiskers.

Now that Pinkie Whiskers had company, it did not seem any time at all before they reached the cheese factory.

Pinkie Whiskers opened the door and walked right in, just as the family was eating supper.

Mother Gray screamed and ran to kiss her son. Father Gray, Winkle, Twinkle and Uncle Whiskers stood by and waited for their turn.

“Now, children, let Pinkie Whiskers eat his supper before you ask him any questions. The poor little fellow must be very, very hungry after his long journey.”

Pinkie Whiskers ate and ate, then he told them all about the good Water-Fairy, who was a friend of the Tree-Fairy and how she had asked the Water-Fairy to help him.

Winkle, Twinkle and Billy Jay were so amazed by Pinkie Whiskers’ story that they stood and stared at him with big eyes.

Uncle Whiskers shook himself and said, “There now, Mother Gray, didn’t I tell you not to worry about Pinkie Whiskers?”

“And, yes,” cried Pinkie Whiskers, “you said perhaps I might write a book and I have already started one. So you see that you are always right, Uncle Whiskers.”