Chapter VI LITTLE JOE OTTER TAKES GRANDFATHER FROG’S ADVICE
Who makes an enemy a friend,
To fear and worry puts an end.
Little Joe Otter found that out when he took Grandfather Frog’s advice. He wouldn’t have admitted that he was afraid of Buster Bear. No one ever likes to admit being afraid, least of all Little Joe Otter. And really Little Joe has a great deal of courage. Very few of the little people of the Green Forest or the Green Meadows would willingly quarrel with him, for Little Joe is a great fighter when he has to fight. As for all those who live in or along the Laughing Brook or in the Smiling Pool, they let Little Joe have his own way in everything.
Now having one’s own way too much is a bad thing. It is apt to make one selfish and thoughtless of other people and very hard to get along with. Little Joe Otter had his way too much. Grandfather Frog knew it and shook his head very soberly when Little Joe had been disrespectful to him.
“Too bad. Too bad! Too bad! Chug-a-rum! It is too bad that such a fine young fellow as Little Joe should spoil a good disposition by such selfish heedlessness. Too bad,” said he.
So, though he didn’t let on that it was so, Grandfather Frog really was delighted when he heard how Buster Bear had been too smart for Little Joe Otter. It tickled him so that he had hard work to keep a straight face. But he did and was as grave and solemn as you please as he advised Little Joe always to make friends with any one who was bigger and stronger and smarter than he. That was good common sense advice, but Little Joe just sniffed and went off declaring that he would get even with Buster Bear yet. Now Little Joe is good-natured and full of fun as a rule, and after he had reached home and his temper had cooled off a little, he began to see the joke on himself,–how when he had worked so hard to frighten the fish in the little pools of the Laughing Brook so that Buster Bear should not catch any, he had all the time been driving them right into Buster’s paws. By and by he grinned. It was a little sheepish grin at first, but at last it grew into a laugh.
“I believe,” said Little Joe as he wiped tears of laughter from his eyes, “that Grandfather Frog is right, and that the best thing I can do is to make friends with Buster Bear. I’ll try it to-morrow morning.”
So very early the next morning Little Joe Otter went to the best fishing pool he knew of in the Laughing Brook, and there he caught the biggest trout he could find. It was so big and fat that it made Little Joe’s mouth water, for you know fat trout are his favorite food. But he didn’t take so much as one bite. Instead he carefully laid it on an old log where Buster Bear would be sure to see it if he should come along that way. Then he hid near by, where he could watch. Buster was late that morning. It seemed to Little Joe that he never would come. Once he nearly lost the fish. He had turned his head for just a minute, and when he looked back again, the trout was nowhere to be seen. Buster couldn’t have stolen up and taken it, because such a big fellow couldn’t possibly have gotten out of sight again.
Little Joe darted over to the log and looked on the other side. There was the fat trout, and there also was Little Joe’s smallest cousin, Shadow the Weasel, who is a great thief and altogether bad. Little Joe sprang at him angrily, but Shadow was too quick and darted away. Little Joe put the fish back on the log and waited. This time he didn’t take his eyes off it. At last, when he was almost ready to give up, he saw Buster Bear shuffling along towards the Laughing Brook. Suddenly Buster stopped and sniffed. One of the Merry Little Breezes had carried the scent of that fat trout over to him. Then he came straight over to where the fish lay, his nose wrinkling, and his eyes twinkling with pleasure.
“Now I wonder who was so thoughtful as to leave this fine breakfast ready for me,” said he out loud.
“Me,” said Little Joe in a rather faint voice. “I caught it especially for you.”
“Thank you,” replied Buster, and his eyes twinkled more than ever. “I think we are going to be friends.”
“I–I hope so,” replied Little Joe.
Go to Chapter 7 here.