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Chapter 5

Meeting Major Monkey


Everybody was prompt when the hour came for Mr. Crow's party. In fact, everybody was ahead of time. Old Mr. Crow had talked so much about his old friend Major Monkey and the Major's gold-braided uniform that people simply couldn't wait to see the stranger and his fine clothes.

There was just one difficulty: the Major himself was not on hand.

Old Mr. Crow began to be terribly worried. But he tried not to let anybody know that he was disturbed.

"He'll be here soon," he said when people asked him where Major Monkey was. "I've never known my friend the Major to break an engagement. He's a bit late--that's all. I only hope he isn't lost. You know he's a stranger in these parts."

Now, Mr. Crow was sitting in a tree, gazing toward the haystack in the distance, where he had told the Major to hide. And he had hardly finished speaking when a big red apple struck the tree just above his head with a loud smack and broke into bits.

Mr. Crow jumped. And so did everybody else. But before the party had time to scatter, Major Monkey peeped from behind a neighboring tree and uttered a piercing whistle.

"Don't go, friends!" Mr. Crow cried to his companions. "Here he is now! Here's Major Monkey himself.... That's only one of his jokes," he added, for he noticed that some of his cronies appeared somewhat nervous.

Major Monkey drew nearer. His face bore a wide grin; while in his hand he clutched another red apple, which he threatened playfully to throw at the company.

"Don't do that, Major!" Mr. Crow called. "You might get hungry, you know. And if you do, you can eat that apple."

Major Monkey touched his cap to Mr. Crow. He seemed to think that was good advice, for he lowered the hand that held the apple.

On hearing Mr. Crow's suggestion the whole company began to laugh. They seemed to think that Mr. Crow was joking.

"Who ever heard of anybody going hungry at a party?" Fatty Coon exclaimed. And turning to Mr. Crow, he asked him where the refreshments were.

The old gentleman seemed taken aback.

"I declare," he gasped, "I forgot to tell you all to have your refreshments before you came."

"Isn't there going to be anything to eat?" Fatty Coon asked him anxiously.

Mr. Crow shook his head.

"It really doesn't matter," he said, talking very fast. "You know, I invited everybody to meet my old friend, Major Monkey. And here he is, all ready to tell you about his travels. But first we'll have a little music."

It was now the Major's turn to look uneasy.

"Music!" he echoed. "I hope you haven't gone and got a hand-organ!"

"No--not that!" said Mr. Crow. "The Woodchuck brothers are going to whistle for us."

"Oh!" said the Major, who appeared much relieved. "I was afraid you had a hand-organ. And I don't care for that sort of music. I've heard too much of it on my travels."

At a signal from Mr. Crow, the Woodchuck brothers stepped forward and started to whistle a lively tune, called "Clover Blossoms." Being very fond of clover blossoms, the musicians began whistling in a most spirited fashion. But they had bad luck.

Though he did not know the tune, Major Monkey insisted on whistling, too. And all the company stopped up their ears, except Mr. Crow. He stood the noise as long as he could. And then he ordered the whistlers to stop. "What tune were you whistling?" he asked the Major.

"It's called 'Banana Blossoms,'" Major Monkey explained. "You see, I'm very fond of bananas."

Old Mr. Crow laughed.

"The two tunes don't go well together," he said. "So we won't have any more music."

And Fatty Coon cried that he was glad of that, because when people whistled about things to eat it only made him hungrier than ever.


Arthur Scott Bailey

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