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Johnny Chuck lay stretched out on the cool, soft grass of the Green Meadows, panting for breath. He was very tired and very sore. His face was scratched and bitten. His clothes were torn, and he smarted dreadfully in a dozen places. But still Johnny Chuck was happy. When he raised his head to look, he could see a gray old Chuck limping off towards the Old Pasture. Once in a while the gray old Chuck would turn his head and show his teeth, but he kept right on towards the Old Pasture. Johnny Chuck smiled.
It had been a great fight, and more than once Johnny Chuck had thought that he should have to give up. He thought of this now, and then he thought with shame of how he had bragged and boasted just before the fight. What if he had lost? He resolved that he would never again brag or boast. But he also made up his mind that if any one should pick a quarrel with him, he would show that he wasn't afraid.
It was getting late in the afternoon when Johnny finally felt rested enough to go on. He had got to find a place to spend the night. He hobbled along, for he was very stiff and sore, until he came to the edge of the Green Meadows, where they meet the Green Forest.
Jolly, round, red Mr. Sun was almost ready to go down to his bed behind the Purple Hills. Shadows were already beginning to creep through the Green Forest. Somehow they gave Johnny Chuck that same lonesome feeling that he had had when he first left his old home. You see he had always lived out in the Green Meadows and somehow he was afraid of the Green Forest in the night.
So, instead of going into the Green Forest, he wandered along the edge of it, looking for a place in which to spend the night. At last he came to a hollow log lying just out on the edge of the Green Meadows. Very carefully Johnny Chuck examined it, to be sure that no one else was using it.
"It's just the place I'm looking for!" he said aloud.
Just then there was a sharp hiss, a very fierce hiss. Johnny Chuck felt the hair on his neck rise as it always did when he heard that hiss, and he wasn't at all surprised, when he turned his head, to find Mr. Blacksnake close by. Mr. Blacksnake glided swiftly up to the old log and coiled himself in front of the opening. Then he raised his head and ran out his tongue in the most impudent way.
"Run along, Johnny Chuck! I've decided to sleep here myself to-night!" he said sharply.
Now when Johnny Chuck was a very little fellow, he had been in great fear of Mr. Blacksnake, as he had had reason to be. And because he didn't know any better, he had been afraid ever since. Mr. Blacksnake knew this and so now he looked as ugly as he knew how. But you see he didn't know about the great fight that Johnny Chuck had just won.
Now to win an honest fight always makes one feel very strong and very sure of oneself. Johnny looked at Mr. Blacksnake and saw that Mr. Blacksnake didn't look half as big as Johnny had always thought he did. He made up his mind that as he had found the old log first, he had the best right to it.
"I found it first and I'm going to keep it!" snapped Johnny Chuck, and with every hair on end and gritting his teeth, he walked straight towards Mr. Blacksnake.
Now Mr. Blacksnake is a great bluffer, while at heart he is really a coward. With a fierce hiss he rushed right at Johnny Chuck, expecting to see him turn tail and run. But Johnny stood his ground and showed all his sharp teeth. Instead of attacking Johnny, Mr. Blacksnake glided past him and sneaked away through the grass.
Johnny Chuck chuckled as he crept into the hollow log.
"Only a coward runs away without fighting," he murmured sleepily.
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In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
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