T was not very many nights after Big Brother had tumbled
"I wish we could go now," said Big Brother.
"Yes, lots of fun it would be now!" answered Little Brother. "The sun is almost up, and there are no clouds in the sky. We couldn't see a thing unless we shaded our eyes with our fore paws, and if we had to use our fore paws in that way we couldn't eat."
"You do eat at parties, don't you?" asked Little Sister, who had not quite understood what was said.
"Of course," shouted her brothers. "That is what parties are for."
"I thought maybe you talked some," said Big Sister.
"I suppose you do have to, some," said Big Brother, "but I know you eat. I've heard people tell about parties lots of times, and they always began by telling what they ate. That's what makes it a party."
"Oh, I wish it were night and time to go," sighed Little Brother.
"I don't," said Little Sister. "I wouldn't have any fun if I were to go now. I'd rather wait until my stomach is empty."
"There!" said their mother. "You children have talked
long enough. Now curl down and go to sleep. The birds
are already singing their morning songs, and the Owls
and Bats were dreaming long ago. It will make
"We're not a bit sleepy," cried all the young Raccoons together.
"That makes no difference at all," said their mother, and she spoke quite sternly. "Cuddle down for the day now, cover your eyes, and stop talking. I do not say you must sleep, but you must stop talking."
They knew that when she spoke in that way and said "must," there was nothing to do but to mind. So they cuddled down, and every one of them was asleep before you could drop an acorn. Mother Raccoon had known it would be so.
When they awakened, early the next night, each young
Raccoon had to make himself look as neat as possible.
There were long fur to be combed, faces and paws to be
"You've got enough out," he cried. "Let the rest go."
"You should have thought sooner how it would hurt," she said. "You have been told again and again to keep away from the burrs, and you are just as careless as you were the first night you left the tree." Then she took out another burr and dropped it to the ground.
"Ouch!" said he. "Let me go!"
"Not until I am done," she answered. "No child of mine shall ever go to a party looking as you do."
After that Little Brother tried to hold still, and he had time to think how glad he was that he hadn't stuck any more burrs on the other children. If he had gotten more onto them, he would have had to wait while they were pulled off again, and then they might have been late for the party. If he had been very good, he would have been glad they didn't have to be hurt as he was. But he was not very good, and he never thought of that.
When he was ready at last, Mother Raccoon made her four
children sit in a row while she talked to them.
"Remember to walk on your toes," said she, "although
you may stand
All the young Raccoons said, "Yes'm, and thought they
would remember every word. The first moonbeam shone on
the top of the
"Yes'm," said the young Raccoons,
as they walked off very properly toward the pond.
After they were well away from the
Raccoons cannot go very fast, and the moon was shining
brightly when they reached the pond and met their six
friends. Such frolics as they had in the shallow
water, swimming, twisting, turning, scooping up food
with their busy fore paws, going up and down the beach,
and rolling on the sand! They never once remembered
what their mother had told them, and they acted exactly
as they had been in the habit of doing every day. Big
Brother looked admiringly at his own tail every chance
he got, although he had been told particularly not to
act as if he thought himself
The mother of the family of six looked on from a tree near by. The children did not know that she was there. "What manners!" said she. "I shall never have them invited here again." Just then she saw one of her own sons eat without washing his food, and she groaned out loud. "My children are forgetting too," she said. "I have told him hundreds of times that if he did that way every day he would do so at a party, but he has always said he would remember."
The mother of the four young
Raccoons was out hunting and found herself near the pond.
"How noisy those children are!" she said to herself.
"Night people should be quiet." She tiptoed along to a
pile of rocks and peeped between them to see what was
going on. She saw her children's footprints on the
sand. "Aha!" said she. "So they did walk
She heard somebody scrambling down a tree nearby.
That made the mother of the four feel more comfortable. "I know just how that is," said she. "Mine mean to be good, but they are so careless. It is very discouraging."
The two mothers talked for a long time in whispers and then each went to her hole.
When the four young Raccoons came home, it was beginning to grow light, and they kept close together because they were somewhat afraid. Their mother was waiting to see them settled for the day. She asked if they had a good time, and said she was glad they got home promptly. They had been afraid she would ask if they had washed their food and walked on their toes. She even seemed not to notice Little Brother's matted coat.
When they awakened the next night, the mother hurried them off with her to the same pond where they had been to the party. "I am going to visit with the mother of your friends," said she, "and you may play around and amuse yourselves."
The young Raccoons had another fine time, although
Little Brother found it very uncomfortable to wear so
many burrs. They played tag in the trees, and ate, and
swam, and lay on the beach. While they were lying
there, the four from the
After they reached home, Big Brother said, very timidly, to his mother: "Did you know you ate some food without washing it?"
"Oh, yes," she answered; "it is such a bother to dip it all in water."
"And you walked flat-footed," said Little Brother.
"Well, why shouldn't I, if I want to?" said she.
The children began to cry: "
"Oh!" said their mother. "Oh! Oh! So you think that my manners are not so good as yours! Is that it?"
The young Raccoons looked at each other in a very uncomfortable way. "We suppose we don't always do things right ourselves," they answered, "but you are grown up."
"Yes," replied their mother. "And you will be."
For a long time nobody spoke, and Little Sister sobbed
out loud. Then Mrs. Raccoon spoke more gently: "The
sun is rising," said she. "We will go to sleep now,
and when we awaken
Long after the rest were dreaming, Big Sister nudged Big Brother and awakened him. "I understand it now," she said. "She did it on purpose."
"Who did what?" asked he.
"Why, our mother. She was rude on purpose to let us see how it looked."
Big Brother thought for a minute. "Of course," said he. "Of course she did! Well she won't ever have to do it again for me."
"Nor for me," said Big Sister. Then they went to sleep.