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Our Little Swiss Cousin by Wade

I've heard so much about marmots


"I

believe Carl has the whooping-cough," said his father. "He never had it when he was little, and every now and then he gives a regular whoop."

"I wish we had some marmot fat; that would cure him quickly," said his mother. "At any rate, it would make him feel better."

"I have a bottle of the oil in my satchel," said his uncle. "It is good for so many things, I keep it on hand. Here, Carl, open the bag and take a dose at once. I got it from the fat of the last marmot I killed."

"O, uncle, I never saw one in my life. I've heard so much about marmots, I would rather hear you tell about them than take the medicine."

"You may have both the medicine and the story, Carl. While we sit around the stove this evening you shall hear of the fun I have had hunting the shy little creature."

Uncle Fritz was certainly good company. He helped Rudolf and Carl in doing the night's work about the little farm while the supper was made ready. Two or three of the neighbours came in after that. They had heard of Fritz's arrival, and wished to welcome him. It was a very pleasant evening, for Fritz was glad to see his old friends and had much to tell.

Before bedtime came, Carl asked his uncle to tell about marmot hunting. "You know you promised me before supper," he said.

"What

shall I tell?" laughed Fritz. "You all know, to begin with, what a shy little creature it is, and how it passes the winter."

"It lies asleep month after month, doesn't it?" asked Carl. "The schoolmaster told us so."

"Yes, my dear. It lives high up on the mountainsides and close to the snow-line. Of course, the summer season is very short there. All through the long winter of six or eight months the marmot lies in his burrow and does not move. You would hardly call it sleep, though. The little creature scarcely breathes; if you should see him then, you would think he was dead.

"But as soon as there is warmer weather he begins to rouse himself. How thin he is now! At the beginning of winter he was quite fat. That fat has in some wonderful way kept him alive through the long months."

"Does he stay in this burrow all alone, uncle?"

"O, no. Marmots live together in families in the summer-time, and when the time comes for a long rest, a whole family enter the burrow and stretch themselves out close together on the hay."

"Where does the hay come from?" asked one of the visitors.

"Why, the marmots carry it into the burrow and line it as carefully as birds prepare their nests."


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