Jerry Muskrat wouldn’t play. Billy Mink had tried to get him to. Little Joe Otter had tried to get him to. The Merry Little Breezes had tried to get him to. It was of no use, no use at all. Jerry Muskrat wouldn’t play.
“Come on, Jerry, come on play with us,” they begged all together.
But Jerry shook his head. “Can’t,” said he.
“Why not? Won’t your mother let you?” demanded Billy Mink, making a long dive into the Smiling Pool. He was up again in time to hear Jerry reply,
“Yes, my mother will let me. It isn’t that. It’s because we are going to have a long winter and a cold winter and I must prepare for it.”
Every one laughed, every one except Grandfather Frog, who sat on his big green lily-pad watching for foolish green ﬂies.
“Pooh!” exclaimed Little Joe Otter. “A lot you know about it, Jerry Muskrat! Ho, ho, ho! A lot you know about it! Are you clerk of the weather? It is only fall now—what can you know about what the winter will be? Oh come, Jerry Muskrat, don’t pretend to be so wise. I can swim twice across the Smiling Pool while you are swimming across once—come on!”
Jerry Muskrat shook his head. “Haven’t time,” said he. “I tell you we are going to have a long winter and a hard winter, and I’ve got to prepare for it. When it comes you’ll remember what I have told you.”
Little Joe Otter made a wry face and slid down his slippery slide, splash into the Smiling Pool, throwing water all over Jerry Muskrat, who was sitting on the end of a log close by. Jerry shook the water from his coat, which is water-proof, you know. Everybody laughed, that is, everybody but Grandfather Frog. He did not even smile.
“Chug-a-rum!” said Grandfather Frog, who is very wise. “Jerry Muskrat knows. If Jerry says that we are going to have a long cold winter you may be sure that he knows what he is talking about.”
Billy Mink turned a back somersault into the Smiling Pool so close to the big green lily-pad on which Grandfather Frog sat that the waves almost threw Grandfather Frog into the water.
“Pooh,” said Billy Mink, “how can Jerry Muskrat know anything more about it than we do?”
Grandfather Frog looked at Billy Mink severely. He does not like Billy Mink, who has been known to gobble up some of Grandfather Frog’s children when he thought that no one was looking.
“Old Mother Nature was here and told him,” said Grandfather Frog grufﬂy.
“Oh!” exclaimed Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter together. “That’s different,” and they looked at Jerry Muskrat with greater respect.
“How are you going to prepare for the long cold winter, Jerry Muskrat?” asked one of the Merry Little Breezes.
“I’m going to build a house, a big, warm house,” replied Jerry Muskrat, “and I’m going to begin right now.”
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