Digger and His Cousin Glutton
"W ELL, Peter," said Old Mother Nature, "did you visit Digger the Badger yesterday?"
"Yes'm," replied Peter, "I visited him, but I didn't find out much. He's a regular old grouch. He isn't the least bit neighborly. It took me a long time to find him. He has more holes than anybody I ever knew, and I couldn't tell which one is his home. When I did find him, he gave me a terrible scare. I didn't see him until I was right on top of him, and if I hadn't jumped, and jumped quickly, I guess I wouldn't be here this morning. He was lying flat down in the grass and he was so very flat that I just didn't see him. When I told him that I wanted to know all about him and his ways, he replied that it was none of my business how he lived or what he did, and that was all I could get out of him.
"I sat around awhile and watched him, but he didn't do much except take a sun bath. He certainly is a queer-looking fellow to be a member of the Weasel family. There's nothing about him that looks like a Weasel, that I could see. Of course, he isn't as broad as he is long, but he looks almost that when he is lying flat down and that long hair of his is spread out on both sides. He really has a handsome coat when you come to look at it. It is silvery gray and silky looking. It seems to be parted right down the middle of his back. His tail is rather short, but stout and hairy. His head and face are really handsome. His cheeks, chin and a broad stripe from his nose right straight back over his head are white. On each cheek is a bar of black. The back part of each ear is black, and so are his feet. He has rather a sharp nose. Somehow when he is walking he makes me think of a little, flattened-out Bear with very short legs. And such claws as he has on his front feet! I don't know any one with such big strong claws for his size. I guess that must be because he is such a digger."
"That's a very good guess, Peter," said Old Mother Nature. "Has any one here ever seen him dig?"
"I did once," replied Peter. "I happened to be over near where he lives when Farmer Brown's boy came along and surprised Digger some distance from one of his holes. Digger didn't try to get to one of those holes; he simply began to dig. My gracious, how the sand did fly! He was out of sight in the ground before Farmer Brown's boy could get to him. Johnny Chuck is pretty good at digging, but he simply isn't in the same class with Digger the Badger. No one is that I know of, unless it is Miner the Mole. I guess this is all I know about him, excepting that he is a great fighter. Once I saw him whip a dog almost twice his size. I never heard such hissing and snarling and growling. He wouldn't tell me anything about how he lives."
"Very good, Peter, very good," replied Old Mother Nature, "That's as much as I expected you would be able to find out. Digger is a queer fellow. His home is on the great plains and in the flat, open country of the Middle West and Far West, where Gophers and Ground Squirrels and Prairie Dogs live. They furnish him with the greater part of his food. All of them are good diggers, but they don't stand any chance when he sets out to dig them out.
"Digger spends most of his time under ground during daylight, seldom coming out except for a sun bath. But as soon as jolly, round, red Mr. Sun goes to bed for the night, Digger appears and travels about in search of a dinner. His legs are so short and he is so stout and heavy that he is slow and rather clumsy, but he makes up for that by his ability to dig. He doesn't expect to catch any one on the surface, unless he happens to surprise a Meadow Mouse within jumping distance. He goes hunting for the holes of Ground Squirrels and other burrowers, and when he finds one promptly digs. He eats Grasshoppers, Beetles and small Snakes, as well as such small animals as he catches. It was well for you, Peter, that you jumped when you did, for I suspect that Digger would have enjoyed a Rabbit dinner.
"Very little is known of Digger's family life, but he is a good husband. In winter he sleeps as Johnny Chuck does, coming out soon after the snow disappears in the spring. Of all my little people, none has greater courage. When he is cornered he will fight as long as there is a breath of life in him. His skin is very tough and he is further protected by his long hair. His teeth are sharp and strong and he can always give a good account of himself in a fight. He is afraid of no one of his own size.
"Man hunts him for his fur, but man is very stupid in many things and
this is an example. You see, Digger is worth a great deal more alive
than dead, because of the great number of destructive Rodents he
kills. The only thing that can be brought against him is the number
holes he digs. Mr. and
"While Digger the Badger is a lover of the open country and doesn't like the Green Forest at all he has a cousin who is found only in the Green Forest and usually very deep in the Green Forest at that. This is Glutton the Wolverine, the largest and ugliest member of the family. None of you have seen him, because he lives almost wholly in the great forests of the North. He hasn't a single friend that I know of, but that doesn't trouble him in the least.
"Glutton has several names. He is called 'Carcajou' in the Far North, and out in the Far West is often called 'Skunkbear.' The latter name probably is given him because in shape and color he looks a good deal as though he might be half Skunk and half Bear. He is about three feet long with a tail six inches long, and is thickset and heavy. His legs are short and very stout. His hair, including that on the tail, is long and shaggy. It is blackish-brown, becoming grayish on the upper part of his head and cheeks. His feet are black. When he walks he puts his feet flat on the ground as a Bear does.
"Being so short of leg and heavy of body, he is slow in his movements.
But what he lacks in this respect he makes up in strength and cunning.
"Mrs. Glutton has two or three babies in the spring. They live
in a cave, but if a cave cannot be found, they use a hole in the
"I think this will do for
Such a look of dismay as swept over the faces of all those little
people, with the exception of Jimmy Skunk and Prickly Porky!
"If—if—if you please, I don't think I'll come
"I—I—I think I shall be too busy at home and will have to miss that lesson," said Striped Chipmunk.
Old Mother Nature smiled. "Don't worry, little folks," said she. "You ought to know that if I had Shadow here I wouldn't let him hurt one of you. But I am afraid if he were here you would pay no attention to me, so I promise you that Shadow will not be anywhere near."