Chapter XIV. A New Home at Last




     Home, no matter where it be,
     Or it be big or small,
     Is just the one place in the world
     That dearest is of all.

Johnny Chuck was thinking of this as he worked with might and main. It was a new house that he was building, but already he felt that it was home, and every time he thought of it he felt a queer little tugging at his heart. You see, while it was his home, it was Polly Chuck's home, too, and that made it doubly dear to Johnny Chuck, even before it was finished.

And where do you think Johnny was building his new home? It was clear way over on the edge of Farmer Brown's old orchard! Yes, Sir, after all the fuss Johnny Chuck had made over any other Chuck living on the Green Meadows, and after driving the old gray Chuck back to the Old Pasture, Johnny Chuck had left the Green Meadows himself!

It wasn't of his own accord that Johnny Chuck had left the Green Meadows. No, indeed! He loved them too well for that. But he loved Polly Chuck more, and although he had grumbled a little, he had followed her up to the old orchard, and now they were going to stay there. Sometimes Johnny shivered when he thought how near were Farmer Brown and Farmer Brown's boy and Bowser the Hound.

He had never been so far from his old home on the Green Meadows before, and it was all very strange up here. It was very lovely, too. Besides, it was in this very old orchard that Polly Chuck had been born, and she knew every part of it. Johnny felt better when he found that out. So he set to work to build a home, and this time he meant business. Polly Chuck could change her mind as many times as she pleased; that was going to be their home and that was where they were going to live.

Now Johnny Chuck had grown wise in the ways of the world since he first ran away from the home where he was born. Twice since then he had built a new home, and now this would be better than either of the others. He paid no heed to Polly, when she pouted because he did not dig where she wanted him to. He went from tree to tree, big old apple- trees they were, and at the very last tree, way down in a corner near a tumbled-down stone wall, he found what he wanted--two spreading roots gave him a chance to dig between them.

Polly watched him get ready for work and she pouted some more.

"It would be a lot nicer out in that grassy place, and a lot easier to dig," said she.

Johnny Chuck smiled and made the dirt fly. "It certainly would be easier to dig," said he, when he stopped for breath, "easier for me and easier for Bowser the Hound or for old Granny Fox, if either wanted to dig us out. Now, these old roots are just far enough apart for us to go in and out. They make a beautiful doorway. But Bowser the Hound cannot get through if he tries, and he can't make our doorway any larger. Don't you see how safe it is?"

Polly Chuck had to own up that it was safer than a home in the open could possibly be, and Johnny went on digging. He made a long hall down to the snuggest of bedrooms, deep, deep down under ground. Then he made a long back hall, and all the sand from this he carried out the front way. By and by he made a back door at the end of the back hall, and it opened right behind a big stone fallen from the old stone wall. You would never have guessed that there was a back door there.

His new house was finished now, and Johnny Chuck and Polly Chuck sat on the door-step and watched jolly, round, red Mr. Sun go to bed behind the Purple Hills and were happy.



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