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Usually Grumpy Weasel did not stray far from a certain corner of Farmer Green's wood lot. He preferred to hunt where he knew the lay of the land. And since he liked especially to hunt along old stone walls, he picked out a long stretch of old tumble-down wall that reached through the woods towards Blue Mountain.
He picked it out as his very own hunting ground and never asked permission of Farmer Green, either.
Now, near the lower end of this wall—the end toward the pasture—a fat person known as Mr. Meadow Mouse sometimes wandered. But he never visited that spot without first inquiring whether Grumpy Weasel had been there the day before. Mr. Meadow Mouse had learned somehow that Grumpy usually moved on each day to a different part of his hunting ground. He was surprised, therefore, to meet Grumpy Weasel face to face one time, when he felt sure that that surly rogue must be a good safe distance away.
Mr. Meadow Mouse cast a quick glance around. But he could see no place to hide. So there was nothing for him to do but to put on a bold front. He bowed pleasantly enough, though he was trembling a little, and remarked that it was a fine day and that he hoped Grumpy was feeling happy—all of which was quite true.
Grumpy Weasel glowered at Mr. Meadow Mouse, for that was his way of replying to a kindly greeting.
"You've not come here to hunt, I hope," he growled. "I'll have you know that this is my private hunting ground and I allow no poaching."
Mr. Meadow Mouse hastened to explain that he was merely out for a stroll.
"I never hunt," he declared. "Of course, if I happen to see a tiny seed I may stop to eat it. But that's all."
"You'd better be careful what you say!" Grumpy Weasel snapped. "Unless I'm mistaken, you were hunting something the moment you saw me. You were hunting a hole."
Mr. Meadow Mouse gasped slightly. He hardly knew what to say.
"Be very careful where you go around here!" Grumpy Weasel warned him. "The holes in this stone wall are all mine. I shouldn't want you to use a single one of them without my permission."
Mr. Meadow Mouse assured him that he wouldn't dream of trespassing.
"And these holes among the roots of the trees—they are mine too," Grumpy Weasel snarled.
"Oh, certainly! Certainly!" Mr. Meadow Mouse cried. He was so quick to agree that for once Grumpy Weasel couldn't think of anything more to find fault about.
"I'll let you crawl into a few of the smaller holes in the stone wall, if you'll be careful not to hurt them," he offered grudgingly.
Mr. Meadow Mouse made haste to thank him.
He said, however, that he thought he would wait till some other time.
"There's no time like the present," Grumpy Weasel grumbled. "To tell the truth, I want to see if you can squeeze through as small a hole as I can."
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