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Thornton W. Burgess

Bobby Bites His Own Tail

"Oh tell me, some one, if you will

Am I awake or dreaming still?"

S O cried Bobby Coon to no one in particular, because no one was there to hear him. Bobby was in a dreadful state of mind. He couldn't tell for the life of him whether he was awake, or asleep and dreaming, and I cannot think of a much worse state of mind than that, can you?

There was that dreadful dream Bobby had had, the dream of the dreadful giant who had chased him into a hollow log and then beat on that log with a great club, frightening Bobby almost to death, filling his ears with a terrible, roaring sound that made his head ache, and sending cold shivers all over him. Bobby was trying to make up his mind to rush out of that hollow log in spite of the dreadful giant, all in his dream you know, when suddenly his eyes flew open and there he was safe in his bed in the hollow chestnut tree which he called his own.

Bobby gave a happy little sigh of relief, it seemed so good to find that dreadful experience only a dream. "Phew!" he exclaimed. "That was a bad, bad dream!" And then right on top of that he gave a little squeal of fear. There was that awful pounding again! Was he still dreaming? Was he awake? For the life of him Bobby couldn't tell. There was that same dreadful pounding he had heard in the hollow log, but he wasn't in the hollow log; he was safe at home in his own warm bed. Had he somehow reached home without knowing it, in the strange way that things are done in dreams, and had the dreadful giant followed him? That must be it. It must be that he was still dreaming. He wished that he would wake up.

Bobby closed his eyes as tightly as he knew how for a few minutes. Pound, pound, pound, sounded the dreadful blows. Then he opened his eyes. Surely this was his hollow tree, and certainly he felt very much awake. There was the sunlight peeping in at his doorway high overhead. Yet still those dreadful blows sounded—pound, pound, pound. His head ached still, harder than ever. And with every blow he jumped, and a cold shiver ran over him from the roots of his tail to the tip of his nose.

Never in all his life had Bobby known such a mixed-up feeling. "Is this I or isn't it I?" he whimpered. "Am I dreaming and think I'm awake, or am I awake and still dreaming? I know what I'll do; I'll bite my tail, and if I feel it I'll know that I must be awake."

So Bobby took the tip of his tail in his mouth and bit it gently. Then he wondered if he really did feel it or just seemed to feel it. So he bit it again, and this time he bit harder.

"Ouch!" cried Bobby. "That hurt. I must be awake. I'm sure I'm awake. But if I'm awake, what dreadful thing is happening? Is there a real giant outside pounding on my tree?"

Then Bobby noticed something else. With every blow his house seemed to tremble. At first he thought he imagined it, but when he put his hands against the wall, he felt it tremble. It gave him a horrid sinking feeling inside. He was sure now that he was awake, very much awake. He was sure, too, that something dreadful was happening to his hollow tree, and he couldn't imagine what it could be. And what is more, he was afraid to climb up to his doorway and look out to see.