J OHNNY CHUCK was the first one on hand the next morning. The fact is, Johnny was quite excited over the discovery that he had some near relatives. He always had supposed that the Woodchucks were a family by themselves. Now that he knew that he had some close relatives, he was filled with quite as much curiosity as ever Peter Rabbit possessed. Just as soon as Old Mother Nature was ready to begin, Johnny Chuck was ready with a question. "If you please," said he, "who are my nearest relatives?"
"The Marmots of the Far West," replied Old Mother Nature. "You know, you are a Marmot, and these cousins of yours out there are a great deal like you in a general way. The biggest and handsomest of all is Whistler, who lives in the mountains of the Northwest. The fact is, he is the biggest of all the Marmot family."
"Is he much bigger than Johnny Chuck?" asked Peter Rabbit.
"Considerably bigger," replied Old Mother Nature, nodding her head. "Considerably bigger. I should think he would weigh twice as much as Johnny."
Johnny's eyes opened very wide. "My!" he exclaimed, "I should like to see him. Does he look like me?"
"In his shape he does," said Old Mother Nature, "but he has a very much handsomer coat. His coat is a mixture of dark brown and white hairs which give him a grayish color. The upper part of his head, his feet and nails are black, and so are his ears. A black band runs from behind each ear down to his neck. His chin is pure white and there is white on his nose. Underneath he is a light, rusty color. His fur is thicker and softer than yours, Johnny; this is because he lives where it is colder. His tail is larger, somewhat bushier, and is a blackish-brown."
"If you please, why is he called Whistler?" asked Johnny Chuck eagerly.
"Because he has a sharp, clear whistle which can be heard a very long distance," replied Old Mother Nature. "He sits up just as you do. If he sees danger approaching he whistles, as a warning to all his relatives within hearing."
"I suppose it is foolish to ask if he lives in a hole in the ground as Johnny Chuck does," spoke up Peter Rabbit.
"He does," replied Old Mother Nature. "All Marmots live in holes in the ground, but Whistler lives in entirely different country. He lives up on the sides of the mountains, often so high that no trees grow there and the ground is rocky. He digs his hole down in between the rocks."
The largest of the Marmots. He lives high up on the mountains of the West.
"It must be a nice, safe hole," said Peter. "I guess he doesn't
have to worry about being dug out by
"You guessed quite right," laughed Old Mother Nature. "Nevertheless,
he has reason to fear being dug out. You see, out where he lives,
Grizzly, the big cousin of Buster Bear, also lives, and Grizzly is
very fond of a Marmot dinner when he can get one. He is so big and
strong and has such great claws that he can pull the rocks apart and
dig Whistler out. By the way, I forgot to tell you that Whistler is
also called the Gray Marmot and the Hoary Marmot. He lives on grass
and other green things and, like Johnny Chuck, gets very fat in the
fall and then sleeps all winter. There are one or two other Marmots
in the Far West who live farther south than does Whistler, but their
habits are much the same as those of Whistler and Johnny Chuck. None
of them are social. I mean by that you never find two Marmot homes
very close together. In this they differ from Johnny's smaller cousin,
"Tell us about him," begged Happy Jack Squirrel before Johnny Chuck, who is naturally slow, could ask for the same thing.
"Yap Yap is the smallest of the Marmot family," said Old Mother
Nature. "In a way he is about as closely related to the Ground
Squirrels as he is to the Marmots. Johnny Chuck has only four
claws on each front foot, but
A social little Marmot who lives on the prairies of the West.
"As I said before, Yap Yap is very social by nature. He lives on the great open plains of the West and Southwest, frequently where it is very dry and rain seldom falls. When you find his home you are sure to find the homes of many more Prairie Dogs very close at hand. Sometimes there are hundreds and hundreds of homes, making a regular town. This is because the Prairie Dogs dearly love the company of their own kind."
"Does Yap Yap dig the same kind of a hole that I do?" asked Johnny Chuck.
"In a way it is like yours," replied Old Mother Nature, "but at the
same time it is different. In the first place, it goes almost
straight down for a long distance. In the second place there is no
mound of sand in front of
"Yap Yap loves to visit his neighbors and to have them visit him. They are lively little people and do a great deal of talking among themselves. The instant one of them sees an enemy he gives a signal. Then every Prairie Dog scampers for his own hole and dives in head first. Almost at once he pops his head out again to see what the danger may be."
"How can he do that without going clear to the bottom to turn around?" demanded Peter.
"I wondered if any of you would think of that question," chuckled
Old Mother Nature. "Just a little way down from the entrance
"If it is so dry out where he lives, how does he get water to drink?" asked Happy Jack.
"He doesn't have to drink," replied Old Mother Nature. "Some folks think that he digs down until he finds water way down underneath, but this isn't so. He doesn't have to have water. He gets all the moisture he needs from the green things he eats."
"I suppose, like the rest of us, he has lots of enemies?" said Peter.
Old Mother Nature nodded. "Of course," said she. "Old Man Coyote
"A lot of people believe that
"Why is he called a Dog?" asked Peter.
Old Mother Nature laughed right out. "Goodness knows," said she. "He
doesn't look like a Dog and he doesn't act like a Dog, so why people
should call him a Dog I don't know, unless it is because of his habit
of barking, and even his bark isn't at all like a Dog's—not nearly
so much so as the bark of
"No," cried Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare and
Old Mother Nature laughed good-naturedly. "All right," said she,