Washer the raccoon, p.1
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Washer the Raccoon

HIS BOARD WAS RAISED ON THE CREST OF A WAVE AND THEN TOSSED OVER THE FALLS]


Twilight Animal Series


WASHER THE RACCOON


by


GEORGE ETHELBERT WALSH


Author of "Bumper the White Rabbit," "Bumper the White Rabbitin the Woods," "Bumper the White Rabbit and His Foes," "Bumperthe White Rabbit and His Friends," "Bobby Gray Squirrel," "BobbyGray Squirrel's Adventures," Etc.


Colored Illustrations by Edwin John Prittie


The John C. Winston CompanyChicago Philadelphia Toronto


* * * * * *


TWILIGHT ANIMAL SERIES FOR BOYS AND GIRLS


FROM 4 TO 10 YEARS OF AGE


By GEORGE ETHELBERT WALSH


LIST OF TITLES 1 BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT 2 BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT IN THE WOODS 3 BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT AND HIS FOES 4 BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT AND HIS FRIENDS 5 BOBBY GRAY SQUIRREL 6 BOBBY GRAY SQUIRREL'S ADVENTURES 7 BUSTER THE BIG BROWN BEAR 8 BUSTER THE BIG BROWN BEAR'S ADVENTURES 9 WHITE TAIL THE DEER 10 WHITE TAIL THE DEER'S ADVENTURES 11 WASHER, THE RACCOON


(Other titles in preparation)


Issued in uniform style with this volume


PRICE 65 CENTS EACH, Postpaid


EACH VOLUME CONTAINS COLORED ILLUSTRATIONS


* * * * * *


Printed in U. S. A.Copyright 1922 byThe John C. Winston Company


Copyright MCMXVII by George E. Walsh


INTRODUCTION TO THE TWILIGHT ANIMAL STORIES


BY THE AUTHOR


All little boys and girls who love animals should become acquaintedwith Bumper the white rabbit, with Bobby Gray Squirrel, with Busterthe bear, and with White Tail the deer, for they are all a jolly lot,brave and fearless in danger, and so lovable that you won't laydown any one of the books without saying wistfully, "I almost wishI had them really and truly as friends and not just storybookacquaintances." That, of course, is a splendid wish; but none of uscould afford to have a big menagerie of wild animals, and that's justwhat you would have to do if you went outside of the books. Bumper hadmany friends, such as Mr. Blind Rabbit, Fuzzy Wuzz and Goggle Eyes,his country cousins; and Bobby Gray Squirrel had his near cousins,Stripe the chipmunk and Webb the flying squirrel; while Buster andWhite Tail were favored with an endless number of friends andrelatives. If we turned them all loose from the books, and put themin a ten acre lot--but no, ten acres wouldn't be big enough toaccommodate them, perhaps not a hundred acres.


So we will leave them just where they are--in the books--and readabout them, and let our imaginations take us to them where we can seethem playing, skipping, singing, and sometimes fighting, and if weread very carefully, and _think_ as we go along, we may come to knowthem even better than if we went out hunting for them.


Another thing we should remember. By leaving them in the books,hundreds and thousands of other boys and girls can enjoy them, too,sharing with us the pleasures of the imagination, which after all isone of the greatest things in the world. In gathering them together ina real menagerie, we would be selfish both to Bumper, Bobby, Buster,White Tail and their friends as well as to thousands of other littlereaders who could not share them with us. So these books of TwilightAnimal Stories are dedicated to all little boys and girls who lovewild animals. All others are forbidden to read them! They wouldn'tunderstand them if they did.


So come out into the woods with me, and let us listen and watch, and Ipromise you it will be worth while.





CONTENTS


Washer's First Adventures 9 Washer is Carried to the Wolf's Den 15 Mother Wolf Takes a Hand 21 Mother Wolf Saves Washer's Life 27 Sneaky Visits Black Wolf 35 Mother Wolf Decides to Adopt Washer 43 Washer Learns He is Not a Wolf 51 The Cubs Tree a Stranger 59 Washer Saves One of His Own People 67 Mother Wolf Listens to Washer's Story 75 Washer is Introduced to the Wolf Pack 83 Black Wolf Defies the Pack 91 Washer Goes to the Silver Birch Grove 99 Washer Is Freed by Strangers 107 The Cubs Listen to Washer's Plea 115 Washer Finds His Mother and Brothers 123





WASHER THE RACCOON





STORY ONE


WASHER'S FIRST ADVENTURE


Washer was the youngest of a family of three Raccoons, born in thewoods close to the shores of Beaver Pond, and not half a mile fromRocky Falls where the water, as you know, turns into silvery spraythat sparkles in the sun-shine like diamonds and rubies. And, indeed,the animals and birds of the North Woods much prefer this glitteringspray and foam that rise in a steady cloud from the bottom of thefalls to all the jewels and gems ever dug out of the earth! For,though each drop sparkles but a moment, and then vanishes from sight,there are a million others to follow it, and when you bathe in themthey wash and scour away the dirt, and make you clean and fresh inbody and soul.


Washer had his first great adventure at Rocky Falls, and it is awonder that he ever lived to tell the tale, for the water which flowsover the falls is almost as cruel and terrible as it is sparkling andinviting. But Washer knew nothing of this then, for he was a veryyoung Raccoon, and not quite responsible for all he did. Perhaps itwas Mother Raccoon that was to blame, for it was her duty to lookafter her little ones until they were old enough to hunt forthemselves. It is a law of the woods that any mother of bird or animalwho neglects its young shall be punished.


The nature of the punishment has never been told, but in the case ofWasher's mother you can easily guess what it was. It was an uneasyconscience that her neglect had caused her child's death, and shewould never see him again.


But Washer apparently had as many lives as a cat, for he was notkilled, and he lived long after his mother had given up all hopes ofever seeing him again. No one--certainly no Raccoon--had ever goneover Rocky Falls, and been heard of afterward. Therefore, Washer wasdead. Mother Raccoon believed that, and reported the sad news to allher family and friends.


It was a bright, sunny day. Washer had been playing near the edge ofthe river above the falls with his two brothers--playing very much asthree boys or three girls would do if let loose in the woods. Theywere only baby Raccoons, and could not run very fast, and every timethey dipped a paw in the water they squealed and made a great noise.


It was perfectly safe near the shore, for a big tree blown down by thewind cut off the swift current of the river and formed a little backeddy. Mother Raccoon had told them they could wade around in the shoalwater, but she didn't say anything about not going in anywhere else.


Washer did not think he was doing anything wrong, therefore, whengrowing tired of wading he crawled far out on the end of the big treelying on its side to watch the swift current flowing by. Pieces ofdrift-wood, twigs, knots and sticks of wood of all sizes passed him inan endless procession. He snatched at some of these with his paws, andcaught one or two.


Each time he was successful, he squealed with delight. Of course, hegrew bolder and more reckless until finally he stood on the end of thevery last branch of the fallen tree. From there he could reach moresticks floating down stream. One particularly big one attracted hisattention. It was a little further out than the others, but Washer wassure he could reach it.


But he missed it by an inch, and the force of the blow with his paw atthe stick unbalanced him. He clutched frantically at the tree branch.It broke off close to the trunk, and Washer toppled over into thedeep, dark stream.


When he came up to the surface, he squealed as loud as he could:"Help! Help!"


His two brothers playing inshore heard the cry, but they thought itwas one of Washer's tricks, and they paid no attention to it. ButMother Raccoon, who had been dozing in the bushes, was quick to notethe cry of alarm, and she sprang up a stump to look around.


She had just one last glimpse of Washer. He was in the river,struggling to crawl upon the big board that had caused his mishap.Then board and Raccoon disappeared in the smother of the rapids, whichbegan just above the falls.


Mother Raccoon ran frantically along the banks of the river, callingto Washer, but she knew there was no help for him. Nothing that shecould do would rescue him from the terrible adventure ahead.


Washer himself was more surprised than frightened at first. He was notexactly afraid of the water, and the ducking didn't bother him; butwhen he managed to climb upon the board and looked around he began tofeel more frightened than surprised. His frail boat was being twistedand whirled around like a top, making him dizzy; the shore wasrushing past him, and all about him was foam and spray that sparkledand glittered in the sun-light. But just then Washer wasn't muchinterested in things that glistened.


He saw the top of the falls ahead. Toward that he was being hurried,and the further he drifted the rougher grew the waters. His boardpitched and tossed, making it difficult for the baby Raccoon to clingto it.


Washer was frightened, and in his fear he called loudly for hismother; but the roar of the falls ahead drowned his voice.


It all happened quickly, and the end came before Washer could callmany times for his mother. His board was raised on the crest of awave, and then tossed over the falls, with Washer clinging desperatelyto it.


Down, down, they went together, the water blinding and suffocatinghim. It seemed as if the falls were miles and miles high, and that hewould never reach the river below. Of course, they were not as manyfeet high as Washer mistook for miles. But it was high enough to killor drown most animals who went over the precipice.


It is hard to say just what saved Washer. Perhaps it was because hewas tougher than most Raccoons, or because he clung to the board andwhen it bobbed up to the surface it had to bring him up with it.Anyway, Washer finally got the spray out of his eyes, and foundhimself floating down the lower river with the falls behind him.


He had taken the dip of death, and survived it. He was out of allimmediate danger. For the first time then he had eyes to admire thesparkling mist and spray rising like a million diamonds from the topand bottom of the falls.


"I must get ashore now, and dry myself," he said to himself. "I wasnever so wet in all my life."


He began paddling with his front paws, and in this way graduallydirected his raft toward the shore. When he was near enough he took aflying leap and landed on a log and clung to it.


But he was in a strange country, and far from home, and he began to beafraid again. Just when he thought he would break down and cry, heheard a sniffing noise in the bushes, and looking up he found himselfface to face with a big, shaggy animal, whose fierce, glaring eyessent the shivers all through him. It was Sneaky the Wolf, who had beenwatching him land, and in the next story you will hear of what Sneakydid to him.





STORY TWO


WASHER IS CARRIED TO THE WOLF'S DEN


Washer felt his little heart throb at the sight of the yellow eyeswatching him, and the shaggy body of Sneaky seemed bigger than that ofany animal he had ever dreamed of in the North Woods. Washer gave afrenzied little squeak, and tried to hop back upon his raft; but hedid not get far. Sneaky pounced down upon him, and the double row ofwhite teeth closed upon his back and scruff of the neck.


"Oh, please--please, don't kill me!" shrieked Washer, almost faintingfrom fear.


But Sneaky paid no attention to his appeal. The powerful jaws held hima prisoner. Every moment Washer expected they would close tighter andcrunch his bones.


But apparently the Wolf had no idea of killing him right away. Washer,young as he was, knew that many of the wild animals of the woodsteased and tortured their victims before killing them. Some of his ownpeople had been guilty of this very cruelty. Washer, knowing now howit felt, decided that if he ever escaped he would never torture anyone--no, never, not as long as he lived!


Sneaky picked him up in his mouth, and began trotting away through thebushes, carrying Washer as easily as a cat carries its kittens. Thejaws of the Wolf were closed uncomfortably tight on his neck, butafter all they did not actually hurt the poor little Raccoon. Thesharp, white teeth did not go through his thick fur and tough skin.


For a long time Sneaky trotted along in a mechanical lope, never onceopening his mouth to speak, although Washer kept pleading with him,hoping that he would loosen his hold on his neck the minute he openedhis mouth to say a word. Sneaky was too wise for that, for no Wolf cantalk and still keep his mouth closed. He can growl and grumble, butnot actually talk.


They passed through the thickest part of the woods, and then beganclimbing a rough trail among the rocks and stones. Then they came to abrook, which Sneaky crossed by jumping from stone to stone, and afterthat the Wolf followed a path that lead to the mouth of a cave.


When Washer saw this he opened his mouth in a series of pitiful cries,for he knew this was the entrance to the Wolf's den. He could tellthis by the peculiar smell of the place. The air was filled with odorsthat made the baby Raccoon hold his breath.


But Sneaky was still silent and dumb. He trotted through the entranceand disappeared in the darkness of the cave. At first Washer could seenothing, but then gradually his eyes grew accustomed to the place, andhis last hope vanished when he saw another Wolf almost as big asSneaky and three little cubs playing at her feet.


"What have you here, Sneaky?" Mother Wolf growled when her lordly mateappeared.


Sneaky deposited Washer at the foot of Mother Wolf, and spoke for thefirst time. "A nice little dinner for you and the children," he said."I brought him home alive so you could show the babies how to kill. Itwill be great sport watching them."


At the sound of his voice, Washer made a desperate effort to escape,but Sneaky's paw came down on his back and held him.


"He's a lively little Raccoon," Sneaky remarked, grinning so his whiteteeth showed.


Mother Wolf looked at Washer, turned him over with a paw, and sniffedat him. Then she raised her head and looked at her mate. "He's only ababy Raccoon," she said. "Where'd you find the nest? And what did youdo with the others? Ate them up, I suppose! That's why you're sogenerous in bringing this one home to us."


Washer thought there was a look of disgust in the eyes and voice, andSneaky evidently thought so, too, for he looked a little crestfallen,and then said: "No, I didn't find his nest. He was floating down theriver on a board, and when he landed I caught him."


Mother Wolf sniffed again, and looked a little incredulous. She turnedWasher over again. "He's a mere baby," she murmured, "not much olderthan our dear little ones."


"Yes, and he'll be sweet and tender," added Sneaky, stretchinghimself. "It won't hurt our children to eat part of him after they'vekilled him."


Mother Wolf did not seem anxious to kill Washer, nor was she ready toteach her little ones to kill. "We won't kill him today," she saidfinally. "My little ones are well fed, and they couldn't eat morewithout hurting them. We will keep him until tomorrow."


Sneaky was a little hurt at this remark, for he had planned to helpwith the feast when the others had eaten all they wanted, and hegrowled disconsolately: "What'll we do with him over night? He'll tryto escape from us when we're asleep."


"Put him in with the children, and I'll watch him," replied MotherWolf. "I never sleep with both eyes shut."


Mother Wolf was boss of the den, for Sneaky grumblingly picked upWasher once more and carried him into the darkest corner of the caveand dropped him down among the little sleeping cubs. Their warm bodiesfelt good to Washer, and he crawled up close to them. He knew that hewould not be killed until the next day, and he was very tired andsleepy.


Within ten minutes he was sleeping as soundly as the Wolf cubs,snuggling close up to them with his little body half buried from sightby the legs and paws of his strange bed fellows. He did not know thatonce or twice in the night time, Mother Wolf came over and looked downat him, with a very, very queer expression in her eyes. Each time, shewalked away, grumbling to herself: "He's only a baby--a little baby."


It was morning before Washer opened his eyes, although it was so darkin the cave he could not tell that the sun was shining outside. Sneakyand Mother Wolf were still sleeping, snoring away so that the den wasfilled with queer echoes. But if the parents were asleep, the threelittle Wolf cubs were wide awake. They were rolling and tumbling overeach other, pulling and hauling each other's tails, and pretending tobite and scratch. Before Washer realized it he was being hugged andsqueazed and jerked around as if he was a baby wolf, and not a babyRaccoon.


Of course, his first idea was to snap and bite at the cubs, but onsecond thought he decided, not to. If he hurt one of them Sneaky orMother Wolf would pounce upon him and kill him in a flash. No, he hadto play carefully with his bed-fellows.


They were soft, warm little bodies rolling all over him, and theynever scratched or bit, but merely pretended to. Washer took care thathe was as gentle, and pretty soon he was so absorbed in the play thathe forgot they were his enemies.


Suddenly he looked up, and saw Mother Wolf standing over him. She hadbeen watching him for some time. Fearful lest she had come to killhim, he doubled up in a ball and began to shake and tremble. Fromanother corner, Sneaky yawned and came forth to look at the cubs.Mother Wolf turned to him.


"He's very playful," she said. "I don't think I'll kill him today. Youmust go out and get me something else to eat."
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