The Adventures of Johnny Chuck  by Thornton Burgess

Johnny Chuck Is Kept Busy

J OHNNY CHUCK is naturally lazy. You see, Johnny has very simple tastes and usually he is contented. He does not have to go far from his own doorstep to get all he wants to eat. He does not have to hunt for his food, as so many of the little meadow and forest people do, and so he has a great deal of time to sit on his doorstep and watch the world go by and dream pleasant daydreams and grow fat. Now people who do not have to work usually become lazy. It is the easiest habit in the world to learn and the hardest to get over. And so, because he seldom has to work, Johnny Chuck quite naturally is lazy.

But Johnny can work when there really is need of it. No one, unless it is Digger the Badger or Miner the Mole, can dig faster than Johnny Chuck. And when there is real need of working, Johnny works with a will. When he was a very tiny Chuck, old Mother Chuck had taught him this:

"When work there is that must be done

Don't fret and whine and spoil the day!

The quicker that you do your work

The longer time you'll have to play."

Johnny never has forgotten this, and when it is really necessary that he should work, no one works harder than he does. But he always first makes sure that it is necessary work and that he will not be wasting his time in doing foolish, unnecessary things.

And now Johnny Chuck was the busiest he had ever been in all his life. If he felt lazy these beautiful spring days, he didn't have time to think about it. No, Sir, he actually didn't have time to remember that he is naturally lazy. You see, he had a family to look out for—three babies to find sweet, tender young clover for and to teach all the things that every Chuck should know, and to watch out for, that no harm should come to them. So Johnny Chuck was busy, so busy that he hardly had time to get enough to eat.

Every morning Johnny would come out as soon as jolly, round, red Mr. Sun began his daily climb up in the blue, blue sky. He would look this way and look that way to make sure that Reddy Fox or Granny Fox or Redtail the Hawk or Bowser the Hound or any other danger was nowhere near. And he never forgot to look up in the apple-trees to make sure that Sammy Jay was not there. Then he would call to Polly Chuck and the three baby Chucks.

Polly Chuck would come out with a very worried air, and after her would come the three funny little baby Chucks, who would roll and tumble over each other on the doorstep. When he thought they had played enough, Johnny Chuck would lead the way along a little private path which he had made through the grass. After him, one behind another, would trot the three little Chucks, and behind them would march Polly Chuck, to see that none went astray.

When they reached the patch of tender, sweet, young clover, Johnny Chuck would sit up very straight and still, watching as sharp as he knew how for the least sign of danger. When the three little stomachs were full of sweet, tender, young clover, he would proudly lead the way home again, and then as before he would sit up very straight and watch for danger, while the three baby Chucks sprawled out on the doorstep for a sun-nap.

Oh, those were busy days for Johnny Chuck, and anxious days, too! You see he had not forgotten that Sammy Jay had found out his secret, and he hadn't the least doubt in the world that Sammy Jay would tell Reddy Fox. So, from the first thing in the morning until the very last thing at night, Johnny Chuck was on the watch for danger.

And all the time, though Johnny didn't know it, a pair of sharp eyes were watching him from a snug hiding-place in one of the old apple-trees. Whose were they? Why, Sammy Jay's, to be sure. You see, Sammy Jay hadn't told Johnny Chuck's great secret, after all.