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The Hollow Tree Snowed-in Book by Paine

Turtle wasn't the least bit mad


You

see, they could never get used to the notion of Mr. Turtle's being so old--as old as their twenty-seventh great-grandfathers would have been, if they had lived.

"Yes," said Mr. Turtle, "and it all comes back to me as plain as day. It happened two hundred and fifty-eight years ago last June. They used to call us the Tortoise family then, and I was a young fellow of sixty-seven and fond of a joke. But I was surprised when I went sailing over that fence, and I didn't mean to carry off Mr. Hare's tail. Dear me, how time passes! I'm three hundred and twenty-five now, though I don't feel it."

Then they all looked at Mr. Turtle again, for though they believed he was old, and might possibly have been there, they thought it pretty strange that he could be the very Mr. Tortoise who had won the race.

Mr. 'Possum said, pretty soon, that when anybody said a thing like that, there ought to be some way to prove it.

Then Mr. Turtle got up and began taking off his coat, and all the others began to get out of the way, for they didn't know what was going to happen to Mr. 'Possum, and they wanted to be safe; and Mr. 'Possum rolled under the table, and said that he didn't mean anything--that he loved Mr. Turtle, and that Mr. Turtle hadn't understood the way he meant it at all.

But Mr. Turtle wasn't the least bit mad. He just

laid off his coat, quietly, and unbuttoned his shirt collar, and told Mr. 'Coon and Mr. Crow to look on the back of his shell.

And then Mr. Dog held a candle, and they all looked, one after another, and there, sure enough, carved right in Mr. Turtle's shell, were the words:

BEAT MR. HARE FOOT-RACE JUNE 10, 1649

"That," said Mr. Turtle, "was my greatest joke, and I had it carved on my shell."

And all the rest of the forest people said that a thing like that was worth carving on anybody's shell that had one, and when Mr. Turtle put on his coat they gave him the best seat by the fire, and sat and looked at him and asked questions about it, and finally all went to sleep in their chairs, while the fire burned low and the soft snow was banking up deeper and deeper, outside, in the dark.

THE "SNOWED-IN" LITERARY CLUB

MR. RABBIT PROPOSES SOMETHING TO PASS THE TIME

"DID the Hollow Tree People and their company sleep in their chairs all night?" asks the Little Lady, as soon as she has finished her supper. "And were they snowed in when they woke up next morning?"

The Story Teller is not quite ready to answer. He has to fill his pipe first, and puff a little and look into the fire before he sits down, and the Little Lady climbs into her place. The Little Lady knows the Story Teller, and waits. When he begins to rock a little she knows he has remembered, and then pretty soon he tells her about the "Snowed-In" Literary Club.

Well, the Hollow Tree People went to sleep there by the fire and they stayed asleep a long while, for they were tired with all the good times and all the good things to eat they had been having. And when they woke up once, they thought it was still night, for it was dark, though they thought it must be about morning, because the fire was nearly out, and Mr. 'Possum said if there was anybody who wasn't too stiff he wished they'd put on a stick of wood, as he was frozen so hard that he knew if he tried to move he'd break.


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