The New Army
"Now, then--fall in!" Major Monkey shouted to the whole company of field-and forest-folk.
But nobody had the slightest idea what he meant.
"You don't suppose he expects us to fall in the brook, do you?" Tommy Fox asked his nearest neighbor. If there was anything that Tommy disliked, it was getting his feet wet.
Major Monkey soon saw that nobody knew what to do.
"Form a long line, two deep!" he directed.
And then there was trouble, because everyone wanted to be in the front rank (as Major Monkey called it) in order to see everything.
After a good deal of jostling and squirming on the part of the company, and much loud talk on the part of Major Monkey, the new army at last stood stretched out in a double line along the pasture-fence.
Major Monkey seemed much pleased as he walked up and down in front of his soldiers. And then he happened to glance up.
There was Mr. Crow, perched on a limb over his head.
"Here, you!" the Major shouted. "Didn't you hear me say 'Fall in?'"
"Certainly!" said Mr. Crow. "But I'm a general, you know."
"Well, what of that?" the Major snapped. "So are all these people generals! You didn't think--did you?--that I'd have anybody in my army that wasn't at least a general?"
For a wonder, Mr. Crow said never a word. He was angry. But he didn't want to be left out of the army. So he decided that he had better obey. And he flapped down and took his place just in front of the front rank.
"You mustn't stand there!" Major Monkey said to him severely. "You're late falling in. There's no place left for you. So you'll have to stand behind all the others."
That was just a little more than old Mr. Crow could bear.
"I'll do nothing of the sort!" he squawked. "And I must say that this is shabby treatment to receive from an old friend."
Major Monkey certainly didn't want any trouble right at the beginning. So he hastened to soothe Mr. Crow's wounded feelings.
"Look here," he said to the old gentleman, "if I were you I shouldn't care to be a common general."
"What else can I be?" asked Mr. Crow with a hopeful gleam in his eye.
"You can be the cook," the Major suggested. "There are dozens of generals; but you'd be the only cook, you see."
Mr. Crow rather liked that idea.
"I accept your offer," he said somewhat stiffly. And then he marched down the line and took his place behind it.
Major Monkey breathed a sigh of relief. He was glad that the trouble had proved no worse. And now he turned once more to inspect the crowd of generals that was to make up his army.
"Here, you!" he said suddenly, pointing to a brownish gentleman at one end of the front rank. "What's your name?"
"Rusty Wren!" was the meek reply.
"Don't stick your tail up in the air like that!" Major Monkey cried. "You're spoiling the looks of the whole army."
Rusty Wren replied that it was very hard for him to keep his tail down for longer than a few moments at a stretch.
"I don't believe I'll be in the army," he announced. "Probably my wife is wondering where I am this moment. So I'm going home." And thereupon he flew away toward Farmer Green's dooryard, where he lived.
"Well, we're rid of him, anyhow," said Major Monkey. And then he noticed something else that wasn't as it should have been.
"Here, you!" he called to Peter Mink. "Pull in your neck! It's too long! It sticks out and spoils the looks of the whole army."
Now, Peter Mink was a rude fellow. And he made such a rude reply that Major Monkey discharged him on the spot.
"Go away!" he cried. "We don't want any rowdies in our army."