SOMETIMES HE WOULD RUN A RACE WITH WINKIE WEASEL

Miss Hare’s school was a very studious place during the fall; but when
winter set in, some of the pupils began to lose interest in their
work. The woodchuck, who was the dullest pupil in the language class,
went to his bed of dried clover one night and forgot to wake up until
spring had returned. Tiny, himself, felt very sleepy at times, but he
sat close to the fireplace in the schoolroom and studied as hard as he
could, determined to get a good education. He did his work well. At
recess-time he would run out upon the pile of branches that surrounded
the school building, and play until Miss Hare rang the bell. Sometimes
he would run a race with Winkie Weasel, but, as he always came out
ahead, he soon wearied of the pastime.

At dusk he would go to his cozy room, and for an hour or more he and
Reynard would talk over their lessons and their plans for the future.
There were no pretty fireflies to make light for them, but, when the
moon was shining, they could see quite well. They grew contented to lie
in their soft beds of leaves and reeds, and talk about the coming of
spring.

One cold night they heard a knock. Reynard, who was feeling homesick,
opened the door. There stood Puss Snowball, the cat, looking very
beautiful against the pure white background of ice and snow, upon which
the moon shone brightly.

“Good evening, Snowball,” said Reynard, kindly. “Will you not come in?”

“I thought I would run over and have a little chat with you,” said
Snowball, nestling down in the coziest corner of the room. “My, isn’t
it cold! I believe I have frozen my whiskers and the tip of my nose.”

“Cold weather doesn’t last always,” said Tiny, cheerily. “Reynard and
I do our work quite as well in cold weather as in warm weather. If it
were not for the ice and snow, we would not take so much delight in the
green grass and the spring rains.”

“I suppose not,” said Snowball, his teeth chattering, “but I shouldn’t
mind the cold weather if I had a more agreeable companion. I can’t
understand why Miss Hare insists upon my rooming with Rover. You know
cats and dogs never get along well.”

“If you were too happy together, perhaps you would forget to study,”
suggested Reynard. “You remember, Snowball, how the monkey and the
parrot became so sociable that they had to leave School.”

“Oh, Rover is very mannerly in some ways, but he growls and barks too
much,” complained Snowball, with a sigh. “They say it is natural for
a dog to bark, although I can’t see why he need be so noisy about
it. He frightens me almost to death when he barks, and he is very
unreasonable. To-night he has done many things to tease me. The other
night he told me that my constant purring was very trying to his
nerves. You know that a cat never purs unless he is happy, so I suppose
that my good nature makes him cross. How peculiar some animals are!”

Tiny said that every creature has its peculiarities, and it is best to
overlook things that do not please us, since we all have disagreeable
traits of our own.

“We wanted to organize a singing class,” continued Snowball, changing
the subject, “but when we called in Katie Goose to talk it over with
us, Billy Beaver thrust his nose through the door and said that Miss
Hare would never permit us to sing after night. He added that a cat, a
dog, a goose, and a number of other creatures, would not make a very
tuneful chorus, however fine we might be as soloists.”

“Billy Beaver can’t sing,” said Reynard. “I can see his reason for
objecting to a students’ chorus.”

“He is very rude,” said Snowball, severely. “I shall not forget how
horrid he made me feel the night that Weenie Mouse was missing. I am
sure that he thought I might have eaten him. I was very glad, indeed,
when they found Weenie hiding in Miss Hare’s room, nibbling at an ear
of corn.”

“Recite the poem about the kitten that went to sleep when her mother
had visitors,” begged Tiny. “I am sure that Reynard would like to hear
it.”

Without waiting for Reynard to insist, Snowball recited, in his pretty
purring manner, the following poem, which is said to amuse kittens even
to the present day:

TABBY AND PRUE.

Quoth Dame Tabby Cat to her daughter, Miss Prue,
“I shall teach you a lesson, my dear,
For I am so very much older than you,
And very much wiser, I fear.

“I felt more ashamed than I ever can tell,
When you slept while my callers were here.
If you do it again, I will punish you well;
I will teach you some manners, my dear.”

“Shall I sit wide awake while your busy tongues fly?
Can I keep my eyes open so long?”
“You can, Prudy dear, if you only will try,
But you think it is smart to do wrong.”

The anger of Tabby Cat grew quite intense,
When Prue said, “Please listen, I pray.
May I speak a few words in my own self-defense?”
And Tabby Cat answered, “You may.”

“I ought not to sleep till your friends go away.
Such an act is a sorry mishap;
Yet you taught me to do it, for only to-day
You talked yourself into a nap.”

“My friends stayed so long that I hardly could peep,”
Said Tabby Cat, heaving a sigh;
“But, nevertheless, _you_ must not fall fast asleep,
For you are much younger than I.”

“It is a capital story,” laughed Reynard, when Snowball had finished.
“I saw Tiny laughing many times.”

Before the squirrel could thank the cat for his kindness, Billy Beaver
pounded at the door, and in another moment stood before them.

“I overheard you talking about me, Mr. Snowball; also about Rover and
others,” he said, turning to the cat, who, in the moonlight, looked
very pale and frightened.

“Did I understand you to say that you were eavesdropping?” Snowball
finally inquired, with a show of dignity.

“It is no worse to eavesdrop than it is to gossip about one’s closest
friends,” replied the beaver. “I have seen Miss Hare. I told her that
you were not pleased with your roommate, and she has ordered me to make
a change. In the future you shall room with Weenie Mouse.”

“How terrible!” exclaimed Puss, greatly shocked. “I shall be under
restraint all the time. Poor Rover! Perhaps he has had his hard times,
too. What if I should get vexed at Weenie and swallow him?”

“Miss Hare says that you will never do that, because her pupils are too
strong to yield to temptation,” said the beaver, seriously.

“But why does Miss Hare punish poor Weenie by making him room with a
cat?” gasped Puss.

“Because Weenie was found in Miss Hare’s pantry again, helping himself
to corn and other dainties,” replied Billy Beaver. “Miss Hare wishes
you to room with Weenie so that you can restrain each other. The best
way to cure two disturbers who dislike each other is to make them live
together.”

The little animals of Miss Hare’s school were glad when winter was at
an end. They were anxious to get out of doors; and, when the sun shone
warmer and the trees began to shoot forth their tender leaves, they
felt very happy, indeed.

Tiny studied hard, that he might be able to graduate with his class
in the month of June. He knew that to graduate did not mean to be
educated. A thorough knowledge of language and good manners were about
all that Miss Hare was capable of teaching, for the little creatures
of Animal Kingdom did not require as much learning as people of the
great business world. Miss Hare told her pupils many times that
the schoolroom is simply a place to teach the young how to educate
themselves. Tiny, from past experience, had learned that some of the
greatest lessons are taught outside the schoolroom. He often thought of
the owl prophet, the queen bee, and the City of Ants.

One day Miss Hare gave her pupils a lesson in pronouns, or words used
for names. These little words were at first troublesome to Tiny, but
Miss Hare made him use them over and over again, until he understood
them perfectly. In fact, the words _I_, _we_, _she_, _they_, _who_,
and _it_, used as subjects of sentences, and _me_, _us_, _him_, _her_,
_them_, and _whom_, used as the objects of verbs, became almost as
familiar to Tiny as were good Miss Hare’s spectacles.

In order to keep her pupils from forgetting what they had learned, Miss
Hare taught them the following little song, which they sang over and
over again:

PRONOUNS.

As the subject of a verb, we may use _I_;
Thus, “It was _I_,” or “_I_ have caught a fly;”
And we now will name a few
Pronouns used as subjects, too:
“It was _they_,” “It was _you_,” “It was _who_?”

We may ask, “_Who_ saw the bee upon the rose?”
Or, “_It_ was dressed in very modest clothes,”
Or, “_Who_ scared the little bee?”
“Was it any of us three?”
“Was it _we_?” “Was it _she_?” “Was it _he_?”

Pronouns may be used as objects, you may see;
As, “Good health has kindly favored _him_ and _me_.”
Or, “No matter what we do,
Love will make _us_ strong and true;”
“I love _her_,” “I love _him_,” “I love _you_.”

We may ask, “From _whom_ did owls learn to boast?”
Or, “Around _whom_ does the sunshine linger most?”
Or, perchance, may cry in glee,
“May good fortune come to _thee_,
And to _her_, and to _him_, and to _me_!”

While they were singing their evening song, a knock was heard at the
door. Miss Hare, who was very cautious, went to the door and called out:

“Who is it?”

“Hoot, hoot, hoot!” was the response.

“To whom am I speaking?” continued the teacher, somewhat embarrassed.

“To Mr. Owl, who lives several leagues away,” was the polite reply.

“Whom do you wish to see?” asked Miss Hare.

“I wish to visit Miss Hare’s school.”

[Illustration: SHE OPENED THE DOOR AND ADMITTED THE OWL PROPHET.]

She opened the door and admitted the owl prophet, whose feathers were
smoothed down in perfect condition.

“I am very glad to see you,” said the teacher. “It is so seldom you go
abroad in the daytime that I am honored to have you visit us.”

“Between you and me, I have long been wishing for an opportunity to
visit your school,” returned the owl with a bow.

“With whom are you living now?” asked Miss Hare, offering him a perch
by the side of her desk.

“My brother and I are living with the Bat family. I grew tired of my
old castle, because it was at the edge of the great forest, and the
wind was too strong there. One night he and I were blown from our
perches. Mr. and Mrs. Bat took my brother and me to their home. It is
very comfortable there, and we owls like comfort, you know.”

Mr. Owl then looked over the class with his great, yellow eyes. For the
first time, Tiny observed that owls’ eyes do not move in their sockets
as the eyes of most creatures do; but that, to make up for that, nature
has made it possible for the owl to turn his head almost entirely
around to see objects. Miss Hare’s eyes were quite different from those
of Mr. Owl; for she had no eyelids, and Tiny had learned that, when
she slept, a thin white membrane covered her eyes.

“Will you remain awhile with my pupils and me?” asked Miss Hare.

“Thank you; I’ll stay a few minutes, if I don’t get too sleepy,” said
Mr. Owl.

When his eyes fell upon Tiny, the little squirrel made a polite bow;
but the owl prophet stared at him without speaking a word. He evidently
did not remember the squirrel.

“What has become of Chatty Chipmunk?” he finally asked, after Miss Hare
had again sat down at her desk.

“He left school some time ago,” said Miss Hare, in a pained voice.

“Why?”

“Because it was necessary to punish him. He was very saucy. Once he
ridiculed an animal because she had long ears.”

“Whom did he ridicule?”

“Me.”

“I am sorry for that,” said the owl prophet. “Who punished him?”

“I.”

“It served him right, and I am glad he left school,” said the owl,
flapping his wings in approval. “It makes no difference to either you
or me.”

“Certainly, not,” replied Miss Hare. “He is to blame, not I. The public
must blame him, not me.”

“I hope that I never shall bring you another such unworthy pupil,” said
the owl.

“You brought me one of the best pupils I ever had,” said Miss Hare,
pointing towards Tiny. “He is the little creature here on the front
seat.”

Mr. Owl stared at Tiny; and the little animal bowed politely, very much
embarrassed.

[Illustration: MR. OWL STARED AT TINY AND THE LITTLE ANIMAL BOWED
POLITELY.]

“Can it be he!” exclaimed the owl. “How you have grown, Tiny! Are you
really the squirrel whom I found but a few months ago?”

“Yes, I am the squirrel who was lost,” replied Tiny. “You told me how
to get back to Squirreltown, and taught me many things. I am grateful
to you, sir.”

Mr. Owl seemed greatly pleased, but he checked Tiny’s polite thanks by
saying:

“You look much like Chatty Chipmunk.”

“Yes, but he is smaller than I,” replied Tiny with another bow.

For a few minutes Miss Hare and Mr. Owl talked concerning the school.
It was evident to Tiny that Mr. Owl was one of the trustees and that he
was doing a great deal to make the school successful, as all trustees
should do.

At last he turned to the class and said:

“You must all study very hard; for soon the days will get warmer; then
you will have spring fever. I want each of the graduating class to
write a composition to be recited on the last day of school. A prize
will be given to the pupil who writes the best one. He that wins the
prize will be a very happy creature. Him that wins I will give another
prize of even greater value.”

The scholars were made very happy by this announcement of Mr. Owl; and,
while he was preparing to leave, they all rose from their seats and
stood in respectful silence until Miss Hare sat down again. Then they
began to study harder than ever before.