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Chapter 11

War in the Woods

Although Major Monkey had ordered him out of the army, Peter Mink declared that he wasn't going till he was ready to leave.

"Very well," said the Major easily. "You may stay here; and we'll go."

But Peter Mink was an obstinate fellow. The moment the army started to move, he went along with it. And what was worse, he insisted on walking right behind Major Monkey, and trying to strut just as the Major did.

Some of the generals couldn't help snickering. And of course Major Monkey couldn't overlook such behavior.

"Order in the ranks!" he shouted as fiercely as he knew how.

The generals stopped tittering at once. For a minute or two everybody marched on in silence. And then the cry, "Halt!" rang suddenly out.

The generals all stopped. Major Monkey stopped, too. And his face seemed more wrinkled than ever as he looked every general in the face.

Naturally, that took some time, for there were several dozens of them.

"Who shouted 'Halt?'" the Major asked at last.

But nobody knew. At least, nobody answered. And there was a good deal of low talking and craning of necks. For some reason or other, everybody peered at Peter Mink. But he stared straight ahead in the most innocent fashion.

Major Monkey said nothing more. But he walked behind the army and picked up a stick.

"Forward, march!" he commanded then. And as the army moved on, he continued to walk in the rear, just behind old Mr. Crow.

Soon the cry, "Halt!" sounded again. And as soon as he heard it, Major Monkey threw his stick with great force and caught Peter Mink neatly in the back of his head. Peter Mink toppled over where he stood.

"There!" Major Monkey remarked. "He won't bother us any more to-day." And before the army had stopped gasping, he marched it forward again, leaving Peter Mink stretched upon the ground.

Some of the generals objected, and said that they thought that Peter Mink ought to be looked after.

But Major Monkey told them that they were in the army, and that it was war, and they must expect even worse things to happen.

Now, Jimmy Rabbit was a tender-hearted chap. He couldn't bear the thought of leaving even a rascal like Peter Mink wounded and alone.

"I think you ought to send the cook back to take care of him," Jimmy told Major Monkey.

At that, Mr. Crow--who was the cook--spoke up and said that he was going to stay with the army.

"I don't see," he said, "how you could get along without me. An army without a cook is as good as lost."

Major Monkey promptly agreed with Mr. Crow.

"Certainly we mustn't get lost," he said. "If we were lost, the enemy never could find us. And we might wander about in the woods for years and years."

His remarks made some of the generals a bit uneasy. And one of them--a soldier called Billy Woodchuck--announced that he would have to be leaving.

Arthur Scott Bailey

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