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Chapter 10


NOW though Bobby Coon was made a great deal of by Farmer Brown's boy, and was petted and stuffed with good things to eat until it was a wonder that he wasn't made sick, he was really a prisoner. Excepting when Farmer Brown's boy played with him in the house, he was fastened by a long chain. You see, when at last the bandage was taken off, and the leg was found to have healed, Bobby was kept a prisoner that he might get the full use of that leg once more before having to shift for himself. Day by day the strength came back to that leg until it was as good as ever it had been, and still Bobby was kept a prisoner. The truth is, Farmer Brown's boy had grown so fond of Bobby that he couldn't bear to think of parting with him.

At first, Bobby hadn't minded in the least. It was fine to have all the good things to eat he wanted without the trouble of hunting for them, things he never had had before and never could have in the Green Forest. It was fine to have a warm comfortable bed and not a thing in the world to worry about. So for a time Bobby was quite content to be a prisoner. He didn't mind that chain at all, excepting when he wanted to poke his inquisitive little nose into something he couldn't reach.

But as sweet Mistress Spring awakened those who had slept the long winter away—the trees and flowers and insects, and Old Mr. Toad and Johnny Chuck and Striped Chipmunk and all the rest—and as one after another the birds arrived from the sunny Southland, and Bobby heard them singing and twittering, and watched them flying about, a great longing for the Green Forest crept into his heart.

At first he didn't really know what it was that he wanted. It simply made him uneasy. He couldn't keep still. He walked back and forth, back and forth, at the length of his chain. He began to lose his appetite. Then one day Farmer Brown's boy brought him a fish for his dinner, and all in a flash Bobby knew what it was he wanted. He wanted to go back to the Green Forest. He wanted to fish for himself in the Laughing Brook. He wanted to climb trees. He wanted to visit his old neighbors and see what they were doing. He wanted to hunt for bugs under old logs and around old stumps. He wanted to hunt for nests being built, so that later he might steal the eggs from them. Yes, he did just this, I am sorry to say. Bobby is very fond of eggs, and he considers that he has a perfect right to them if he is smart enough to find them. He wanted to be free—free to do what he pleased when he pleased and how he pleased. He wanted to go back home to the Green Forest.

"Farmer Brown's boy has been very good to me, and I believe he would let me go if only I could tell him what I want," thought Bobby, "but I can't make him understand what I say any more than I can understand what he says. What a great pity it is that we don't all speak the same language. Then we would all understand each other, and I don't believe we little folks of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows would be hunted so much by these men creatures. There's nothing like common speech to make folks understand one another. I know Farmer Brown's boy would let me go if he only knew; I know he would."

Bobby sat down where he could look over towards the Green Forest and sighed and sighed, and all the longing of his heart crept into his eyes.

Thornton W. Burgess

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