A FTER old Whitetail the Marshhawk passed Johnny Chuck without offering to touch him, Johnny began to feel very brave and bold and important. He strutted and swaggered along as much as his short legs would let him. He held his head very high. Already he felt that he had had an adventure and he longed for more. He forgot the terrible lonesome feeling of a little while before. He forgot that he had given away the only home he had. He didn't know just why, but right down deep inside he had a sudden feeling that he really didn't care a thing about that old home. In fact, he felt as if he wouldn't care if he never had another home. Yes, Sir, that is the way that Johnny Chuck felt. Do you know why? Just because he had just begun to realize how big and strong he really was.
Now it is a splendid thing to feel big and strong and brave, a very splendid thing! But it is a bad thing to let that feeling turn to pride, foolish pride. Of course old Whitetail hadn't really been afraid of Johnny Chuck. He had simply passed Johnny with a wink, because there was plenty to eat without the trouble of fighting, and Whitetail doesn't fight just for the fun of it.
But foolish Johnny Chuck really thought that old Whitetail was afraid of him. The more he thought about it, the more tickled he felt and the more puffed up he felt. He began to talk to himself and to brag. Yes, Sir, Johnny Chuck began to brag:
"I'm not afraid of any one;
They're all afraid of me!
I only have to show my teeth
To make them turn and flee!"
"Pooh!" said a voice. "Pooh! It would take two like you to make me run away!"
Johnny Chuck gave a startled jump. There was a strange Chuck glaring at him from behind a little bunch of grass. He was a big, gray old Chuck whom Johnny never had seen on the Green Meadows before, and he didn't look the least bit afraid. No, Sir, he didn't look the teeniest, weeniest bit afraid! Somehow, Johnny Chuck didn't feel half so big and strong and brave as he had a few minutes before. But it wouldn't do to let this stranger know it. Of course not! So, though he felt very small inside, Johnny made all his hair bristle up and tried to look very fierce.
"Who are you and what are you doing on my Green Meadows?" he demanded.
"Your Green Meadows! Your Green Meadows! Ho, ho, ho! Your Green Meadows!" The stranger laughed an unpleasant laugh. "How long since you owned the Green Meadows? I have just come down on to them from the Old Pasture, and I like the looks of them so well that I think I will stay. So run along, little boaster! There isn't room for both of us here, and the sooner you trot along the better." The stranger suddenly showed all his teeth and gritted them unpleasantly.
Now when Johnny Chuck heard this, great anger filled his heart. A stranger had ordered him to leave the Green Meadows where he had been born and always lived! He could hardly believe his own ears. He, Johnny Chuck, would show this stranger who was master here!
With a squeal of rage, Johnny sprang at the gray old Chuck. Then began
such a fight as the Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother
With a squeal of rage, Johnny sprang at the gray old Chuck.
Over and over the two little fighters rolled, biting and scratching
and tearing and growling and snarling. Jolly, round, red
Now the stranger was old and his teeth were worn, while Johnny was young and his teeth were very sharp. After a long, long time, Johnny felt the stranger growing weaker. Johnny fought harder than ever. At last the stranger cried "Enough!" and when he could break away, started back towards the Old Pasture. Johnny Chuck had won!