Chapter IV LITTLE JOE OTTER SUPPLIES BUSTER BEAR WITH A BREAKFAST
Getting even just for spite
Doesn’t always pay.
Fact is, it is very apt
To work the other way.
That is just how it came about that Little Joe Otter furnished Buster Bear with the best breakfast he had had for a long time. He didn’t mean to do it. Oh, my, no! The truth is, he thought all the time that he was preventing Buster Bear from getting a breakfast. You see he wasn’t well enough acquainted with Buster to know that Buster is quite as smart as he is, and perhaps a little bit smarter. Spite and selfishness were at the bottom of it. You see Little Joe and Billy Mink had had all the fishing in the Laughing Brook to themselves so long that they thought no one else had any right to fish there. To be sure Bobby Coon caught a few little fish there, but they didn’t mind Bobby. Farmer Brown’s boy fished there too, sometimes, and this always made Little Joe and Billy Mink very angry, but they were so afraid of him that they didn’t dare do anything about it. But when they discovered that Buster Bear was a fisherman, they made up their minds that something had got to be done. At least, Little Joe did.
“He’ll try it again to-morrow morning,” said Little Joe. “I’ll keep watch, and as soon as I see him coming, I’ll drive out all the fish, just as I did to-day. I guess that’ll teach him to let our fish alone.”
So the next morning Little Joe hid before daylight close by the little pool where Buster Bear had given him such a fright. Sure enough, just as the Jolly Sunbeams began to creep through the Green Forest, he saw Buster Bear coming straight over to the little pool. Little Joe slipped into the water and chased all the fish out of the little pool, and stirred up the mud on the bottom so that the water was so muddy that the bottom couldn’t be seen at all. Then he hurried down to the next little pool and did the same thing.
Now Buster Bear is very smart. You know he had guessed the day before who had spoiled his fishing. So this morning he only went far enough to make sure that if Little Joe were watching for him, as he was sure he would be, he would see him coming. Then, instead of keeping on to the little pool, he hurried to a place way down the Laughing Brook, where the water was very shallow, hardly over his feet, and there he sat chuckling to himself. Things happened just as he had expected. The frightened fish Little Joe chased out of the little pools up above swam down the Laughing Brook, because, you know, Little Joe was behind them, and there was nowhere else for them to go. When they came to the place where Buster was waiting, all he had to do was to scoop them out on to the bank. It was great fun. It didn’t take Buster long to catch all the fish he could eat. Then he saved a nice fat trout and waited.
By and by along came Little Joe Otter, chuckling to think how he had spoiled Buster Bear’s fishing. He was so intent on looking behind him to see if Buster was coming that he didn’t see Buster waiting there until he spoke.
“I’m much obliged for the fine breakfast you have given me,” said Buster in his deepest, most grumbly-rumbly voice. “I’ve saved a fat trout for you to make up for the one I ate yesterday. I hope we’ll go fishing together often.”
Then he went off laughing fit to kill himself. Little Joe couldn’t find a word to say. He was so surprised and angry that he went off by himself and sulked. And Billy Mink, who had been watching, ate the fat trout.
Go to Chapter 5 here.