NCE upon a time there was a farm-house, and
it was painted white and had green
blinds; and it stood not far from the
road. In the fence was a wide gate to
the wagons through to the barn. And the
wagons, going through, had made a little
track that led up past the kitchen door
and past the shed and past the barn and
past the orchard to the
When little Charles was ten years old,
Uncle John thought he was big enough to
have a gun. So he bought a new gun and
gave it to him. It was really for little
Charles and little John both, but little
John wouldn't be big enough to use it
until he was ten years old. Little
Charles was very glad to have a gun, and
made him feel like a very big boy. As
soon as he had it, he wanted to shoot
something with it. So Uncle John showed
him just how to load it and fire it and
clean it, and then little Charles went
after another boy who was just as old as
he was, and he asked that boy to come to
The next morning, that other boy, who
was named Charles, too, came to the
They walked down the little track and out of the wide gate and along the road until they came to the little lane that went up between the fields. They turned in there, and walked along the lane to the woods where they had caught the woodchuck, and along the road in the woods for a little way. Then they began to go very carefully and to look about in the trees, to see if there were not some squirrels there.
Pretty soon little John called out, "I
see one." So they all looked, and there
was a fat gray squirrel, sitting up on
the branch of a tree, eating a nut. He
held the nut with his paws, just as if
they were hands, and he cracked the
off with his teeth and got the meat out.
A squirrel's teeth are very sharp, and
some of them are long, like
A great many squirrels were in those woods, so after a while the other Charles saw one. That one was on the ground, poking about among the leaves, looking for something to eat. The gun was already loaded, this time, so little Charles raised it up and put the big end of it against his shoulder. Then the squirrel saw the little boys and the gun, and he hurried to a tree and began to run up on the bark, holding on with his sharp claws. Little Charles pointed the gun at the squirrel as well as he could, but it was too heavy for him to hold it very steady, and he was excited, thinking what he was trying to do, so the end of the gun waved around a good deal. And the squirrel wouldn't keep still, but kept dodging around the tree. Little Charles knew he couldn't hit the squirrel, so he didn't shoot, but waited.
Then the squirrel got up the tree, part way, and he came around and sat on a branch, to see what the boys were doing.
Then little Charles asked little John to stand up in front of him, so that he could rest the gun on little John's shoulder and make it steady. And little John stood up in front, and little Charles rested the gun on his shoulder and made it steady, and when he thought it was aimed just right, he pulled the trigger, to fire it.
Little Charles rested the gun on his shoulder.
But just as little Charles pulled the trigger, the squirrel dodged around the tree to the other side, and the shot only hit the tree and rattled among the leaves, and didn't hit the squirrel at all. Then that squirrel ran away.
Little Charles didn't like to miss the squirrel, so they went along looking for another. And when they saw another, it was the other Charles's turn to shoot. So little John stood in front again, and the other Charles rested the gun on his shoulder and aimed it. But squirrels are hard to hit, because they dodge around the trees to the other side, and the little boys hadn't learned how to hit them. So that squirrel got away, too. And they kept looking on for more squirrels, and they saw three more, but they didn't hit any of them.
After that, the boys didn't see any more squirrels, and when they had looked a long time, they thought they might as well go home.
So they walked back along the little
lane, and between the fields to the
And they went along the road to the
Then little Charles had to sit down and clean the gun. And the other Charles helped him, and little John watched.
And that's all.