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Chapter 9

IX. BOBBY IS MADE MUCH OF

There's nothing like a stomach full

To make the world seem brighter;

To banish worry, drive out fear,

And make the heart feel lighter.


WHILE Farmer Brown's boy was playing doctor and doing his best to fix Bobby Coon's broken leg so that it would heal and be as good as ever, poor Bobby was wholly in despair, and nothing is more dreadful than to be wholly in despair. There he was, perfectly helpless, for Farmer Brown's boy had bound him so that he couldn't move. You see, Bobby couldn't understand what it all meant. If he could have understood Farmer Brown's boy, it would have been very different. But he couldn't, and so his mind was all the time full of dreadful fear.

When Farmer Brown's boy had bound that broken leg so that it would be held firmly in place to heal, he made a comfortable bed in a deep box out of which Bobby couldn't possibly climb with that broken leg. In this he put Bobby very gently, after taking off the bands with which he had been bound to the board while the broken leg was being fixed. Then he went to the house and presently returned with more good things to eat than Bobby had seen since cold weather began. These he put in the box with Bobby, and then left him alone.

Now at first Bobby made up his mind that he wouldn't taste so much as a crumb. He would starve rather than live a prisoner, which was what he felt himself to be. But his stomach was empty, the smell of those good things tickled his nose, and in spite of himself he began to nibble. The first thing he knew he had filled his stomach, the first good meal he had had for many weeks, because, you know, he had been asleep most of the winter.

Right away Bobby felt sleepy. A full stomach, you know, almost always makes one feel sleepy. Then, too, Bobby was quite tired out with the fright and strange experience he had been through. So he curled up, and in no time at all he had forgotten all his troubles. And for days and days Bobby slept most of the time. You see, he was finishing out that long winter sleep he was used to. And this, it happens, was the very best thing in the world for Bobby. Being asleep, he wasn't tempted to try to pull off that bandage around the broken leg, and so the leg, had just the chance it needed to mend.

Every day Farmer Brown's boy visited Bobby, just as a good doctor should visit a patient, and looked carefully at the bandaged leg to make sure that it was as it should be. And whenever Farmer Brown's boy visited Bobby, he took some goody in his pocket to tempt Bobby's appetite, just as if it needed tempting! Bobby would wake up long enough to eat what had been brought and then would go to sleep again, quite as if he were all alone.

As the weather grew warmer, Bobby grew more wakeful. Of course, he had plenty of time in which to remember and to think. He remembered how dreadfully frightened he had been when Farmer Brown's boy had caught him and brought him to the barn, all because he had not really known Farmer Brown's boy. Now everything was different, so very, very different. It was a fact, an actual fact, that Bobby had learned to know the step of Farmer Brown's boy, and when he heard it coming his way, he was as tickled as once he would have been frightened. You see, Farmer Brown's boy was very, very good to him and made so much of him that I am afraid he was quite spoiling Bobby. Kindness had driven out fear from Bobby's mind, and in its place had come trust. It will do it every time, if given a chance.

Thornton W. Burgess

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