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Chapter 3

III. BOBBY'S DREADFUL FRIGHT

POOR, poor Bobby Coon. Now he was sure that he was really and truly awake, he almost wished that he hadn't tried to find out. It would have been some little comfort to have been able to keep his first feeling that maybe it was all a bad dream. But now that he knew positively he was awake, he knew that this terrible pounding, which at first had been part of that bad dream, was also real. The truth is, he could no longer doubt that something terrible was happening to his house, the big hollow chestnut-tree he had lived in so long.

With every blow, and the blows followed each other so fast that he couldn't count them, the big tree trembled, and Bobby trembled with it. What could it mean? What could be going on outside? He wanted to climb up to his doorway and look out, but somehow he didn't dare to. He was afraid of what he might see. Yes, Sir, Bobby Coon was afraid to climb up to his doorway and look out for fear he might see something that would frighten him more than he was already frightened, though how he could possibly have been any more frightened I don't know. Yet all the time it didn't seem to him that he could stay where he was another minute. No, Sir, it didn't. He was too frightened to go and too frightened to stay. Now can you think of anything worse than that?

The tree trembled more and more, and by and by it began to do more than tremble; with a dreadful, a very dreadful sinking of his heart, Bobby felt his house begin to sway, that is, move a little from side to side. A new fear drove everything else out of his head—the fear that his house might be going to fall! He couldn't believe that this could be true, yet he had the feeling that it was so. He couldn't get rid of it He had lived in that house a long, long time and never in all that long, long time had he once had such a feeling as now possessed him. Many a time had rough Brother North Wind used all his strength against that big chestnut-tree. Sometimes he had made it tremble ever so little, but that was all, and Bobby, curled up in his snug bed, had laughed at rough Brother North Wind. He just couldn't imagine anything really happening to his tree.

But something was happening now. There wasn't the smallest doubt about it. The great old tree shivered and shook with every blow. At last Bobby could stand it no longer. He just had to know what was happening, and what it all meant. With his teeth chattering with fright, he crawled up to his doorway and looked down. Badly frightened as he was, what he saw frightened him still more. It frightened him so that he let go his hold and tumbled down to his bed. Of course that didn't hurt him, because it was soft, and in a minute he was scrambling up to his doorway again.

"What shall I do? What can I do?" whimpered Bobby Coon as he looked down with frightened eyes. "I can't run and I can't stay. What can I do? What can I do?"

Bobby Coon was horribly frightened. There was no doubt about it, he was horribly frightened. Have you guessed what it was that he saw? Well, it was Farmer Brown and Farmer Brown's boy chopping down the big chestnut-tree which had been Bobby's home for so long. And looking on was Bowser the Hound.

Thornton W. Burgess

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