Chapter XIX. Jerry Muskrat's Great Idea




  A friendly friend is a friend indeed
  When he proves a friend in the time of need.

Mr. and Mrs. Quack had been so much taken up with each other and with their troubles that they had quite forgotten they were not alone in the Smiling Pool, which they had reached by swimming up the Laughing Brook. So it happened that when Mrs. Quack suggested that if Mr. Quack's wing got strong they might be able to find a lonesome pond not too far away where they could make their home for the summer, they were a little startled to hear a voice say: "I know where there is one, and you will not have to fly at all to get to it." Both jumped a little. You see their nerves had been very much upset for a long time, and the least unexpected thing made them jump. Then both laughed.

"Hello, Jerry Muskrat! We'd forgotten all about you," said Mrs. Quack. "What was that you said?"

Jerry good-naturedly repeated what he had said. Mrs. Quack's face brightened. "Do you really mean it?" she asked eagerly. "Do you really mean that you know of a pond where we could live and not be likely to be seen by these two-legged creatures called men?"

"That's what I said," replied Jerry briefly.

"Oh, Jerry, you're not joking, are you? Tell me you're not joking," begged Mrs. Quack.

"Of course I'm not joking," returned Jerry just a little bit indignantly, "I am not the kind of a fellow to joke people who are in such trouble as you and Mr. Quack seem to be in. The idea came to me while you were talking. I couldn't help overhearing what you were saying, and the minute you mentioned a lonesome pond, the idea came to me, and I think it's a perfectly splendid idea. I know of just the lonesomest kind of a lonesome pond, and you won't have to fly a stroke to get to it. If you are smart enough not to be caught by Reddy Fox or Hooty the Owl or Billy Mink or any of those people who hunt for a living, there isn't any reason I know of why you shouldn't spend the summer there in peace and comfort."

Mrs. Quack's eyes fairly shone with hope and eagerness. "Oh, Jerry, tell us where it is, and we'll start for it right away!" she cried.

Jerry's eyes twinkled. "Of course, the owner of that pond might not like to have neighbors. I hadn't thought of that," said he. "Perhaps he ought to be asked first."

Mrs. Quack's face fell. "Who is the owner?" she asked.

"My cousin, Paddy the Beaver. He made it," replied Jerry proudly.

Mrs. Quack's face lighted up again at once. "I'm sure he won't object," said she. "We know a great many of the Beaver family. In fact, they are very good neighbors of ours in our home in the far Northland. I didn't suppose there was a Beaver pond anywhere around here. Tell me where it is, Jerry, and I'll go right up there and call on your cousin."

"All you've got to do is to follow the Laughing Brook way back into the Green Forest, and you'll come to Paddy's pond," said he. "He made that pond himself two years ago. He came down from the Great Woods and built a dam across the Laughing Brook way back there in the Green Forest and gave us a great scare here in the Smiling Pool by cutting off the water for a few days. He has got a very nice pond there now. Honker the Goose and his flock spent a night in it on their way south last fall."

Mrs. Quack waited to hear no more. She shot up into the air and disappeared over the tops of the trees in the Green Forest.

"What do you think of my idea?" asked Jerry, as he and Mr. Quack watched her out of sight.

"I think it is great, just simply great," replied Mr. Quack.



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