Chapter VIII FARMER BROWN’S BOY FEELS HIS HAIR RISE
‘Twas just a sudden odd surprise
Made Farmer Brown’s boy’s hair to rise.
That’s a funny thing for hair to do–rise up all of a sudden–isn’t it? But that is just what the hair on Farmer Brown’s boy’s head did the day he went fishing in the Laughing Brook and had no luck at all. There are just two things that make hair rise–anger and fear. Anger sometimes makes the hair on the back and neck of Bowser the Hound and of some other little people bristle and stand up, and you know the hair on the tail of Black Kitty stands on end until her tail looks twice as big as it really is. Both anger and fear make it do that. But there is only one thing that can make the hair on the head of Farmer Brown’s boy rise, and as it isn’t anger, of course it must be fear.
It never had happened before. You see, there isn’t much of anything that Farmer Brown’s boy is really afraid of. Perhaps he wouldn’t have been afraid this time if it hadn’t been for the surprise of what he found. You see when he had found the heads of those trout on the bank he knew right away that some one else had been fishing, and that was why he couldn’t catch any; but it didn’t seem possible that little Billy Mink could have eaten all those trout, and Farmer Brown’s boy didn’t once think of Little Joe Otter, and so he was very, very much puzzled.
He was turning it all over in his mind and studying what it could mean, when he came to a little muddy place on the bank of the Laughing Brook, and there he saw something that made his eyes look as if they would pop right out of his head, and it was right then that he felt his hair rise. Anyway, that is what he said when he told about it afterward. What was it he saw? What do you think? Why, it was a footprint in the soft mud. Yes, Sir, that’s what it was, and all it was. But it was the biggest footprint Farmer Brown’s boy ever had seen, and it looked as if it had been made only a few minutes before. It was the footprint of Buster Bear.
Now Farmer Brown’s boy didn’t know that Buster Bear had come down to the Green Forest to live. He never had heard of a Bear being in the Green Forest. And so he was so surprised that he had hard work to believe his own eyes, and he had a queer feeling all over,–a little chilly feeling, although it was a warm day. Somehow, he didn’t feel like meeting Buster Bear. If he had had his terrible gun with him, it might have been different. But he didn’t, and so he suddenly made up his mind that he didn’t want to fish any more that day. He had a funny feeling, too, that he was being watched, although he couldn’t see any one. He was being watched. Little Joe Otter and Buster Bear were watching him and taking the greatest care to keep out of his sight.
All the way home through the Green Forest, Farmer Brown’s boy kept looking behind him, and he didn’t draw a long breath until he reached the edge of the Green Forest. He hadn’t run, but he had wanted to.
“Huh!” said Buster Bear to Little Joe Otter, “I believe he was afraid!”
And Buster Bear was just exactly right.
Go to Chapter 9 here.