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Queer Little Folks Harriet Beecher Stowe

The Diverting History of Little Whiskey

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And now, at the last, I am going to tell you something of the ways and doings of one of the queer little people, whom I shall call Whiskey.

You cannot imagine how pretty he is. His back has the most beautiful smooth shining stripes of reddish brown and black, his eyes shine like bright glass beads, and he sits up jauntily on his hind quarters, with his little tail thrown over his back like a ruffle.

And where does he live? Well, "that is telling," as we children say. It was somewhere up in the mountains of Berkshire, in a queer, quaint, old-fashioned garden, that I made Mr. Whiskey's acquaintance.

Here there lives a young parson, who preaches every Sunday in a little brown church, and during week-days goes through all these hills and valleys, visiting the poor, and gathering children into Sunday schools.

His wife is a very small-sized lady--not much bigger than you, my little Mary--but very fond of all sorts of dumb animals; and by constantly watching their actions and ways, she has come to have quite a strange power over them, as I shall relate.

The little lady fixed her mind on Whiskey, and gave him his name without consulting him upon the subject. She admired his bright eyes, and resolved to cultivate his acquaintance.

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By constant watching, she discovered that he had a small hole of his own in the grass-plot a few paces from her back-door. So she used to fill her pocket with hazel-nuts, and go out and sit in the back porch, and make a little noise, such as squirrels make to each other, to attract his attention.

In a minute or two up would pop the little head with the bright eyes, in the grass-plot, and Master Whiskey would sit on his haunches and listen, with one small ear cocked towards her. Then she would throw him a hazel-nut, and he would slip instantly down into his hole again. In a minute or two, however, his curiosity would get the better of his prudence; and she, sitting quiet, would see the little brown-striped head slowly, slowly coming up again, over the tiny green spikes of the grass-plot. Quick as a flash he would dart at the nut, whisk it into a little bag on one side of his jaws, which Madam Nature has furnished him with for his provision-pouch, and down into his hole again. An ungrateful, suspicious little brute he was too; for though in this way he bagged and carried off nut after nut, until the patient little woman had used up a pound of hazelnuts, still he seemed to have the same wild fright at sight of her, and would whisk off and hide himself in his hole the moment she appeared. In vain she called, "Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey," in the most flattering tones; in vain she coaxed and cajoled. No, no; he was not to be caught napping. He had no objection to accepting her nuts, as many as she chose to throw to him; but as to her taking any personal liberty with him, you see, it was by no means to be thought of.

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Queer Little Folks
Harriet Beecher Stowe

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