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Johnny Chuck Finds The Best Thing In The World

from Boys And Girls Bookshelf - STORIES BY FAVORITE AMERICAN WRITERS





BY THORNTON W. BURGESS


Old Mother West Wind had stopped to talk with the Slender Fir Tree.

"I've just come across the Green Meadows," said Old Mother West Wind,
"and there I saw the Best Thing in the World."

Striped Chipmunk was sitting under the Slender Fir Tree, and he
couldn't help hearing what Old Mother West Wind said. "The Best Thing
in the World--now what can that be?" thought Striped Chipmunk. "Why, it
must be heaps and heaps of nuts and acorns! I'll go and find it."

So Striped Chipmunk started down the Lone Little Path through the wood
as fast as he could run. Pretty soon he met Peter Rabbit.

"Where are you going in such a hurry, Striped Chipmunk?" asked Peter
Rabbit.

"Down in the Green Meadows to find the Best Thing in the World,"
replied Striped Chipmunk, and ran faster.

"The Best Thing in the World," said Peter Rabbit, "why, that must be a
great pile of carrots and cabbage! I think I'll go and find it."

So Peter Rabbit started down the Lone Little Path through the wood as
fast as he could go after Striped Chipmunk.

As they passed the great hollow tree Bobby Coon put his head out.
"Where are you going in such a hurry?" asked Bobby Coon.

"Down in the Green Meadows to find the Best Thing in the World!"
shouted Striped Chipmunk and Peter Rabbit, and both began to run
faster.

"The Best Thing in the World," said Bobby Coon to himself; "why, that
must be a whole field of sweet milky corn. I think I'll go and find
it."

So Bobby Coon climbed down out of the great hollow tree and started
down the Lone Little Path through the wood as fast as he could go after
Striped Chipmunk and Peter Rabbit, for there is nothing that Bobby
Coon likes to eat so well as sweet milky corn.

At the edge of the wood they met Jimmy Skunk.

"Where are you going in such a hurry?" asked Jimmy Skunk.

"Down in the Green Meadows to find the Best Thing in the World!"
shouted Striped Chipmunk, and Peter Rabbit, and Bobby Coon. Then they
all tried to run faster.

"The Best Thing in the World," said Jimmy Skunk. "Why, that must be
packs and packs of beetles!" And for once in his life Jimmy Skunk began
to hurry down the Lone Little Path after Striped Chipmunk, and Peter
Rabbit, and Bobby Coon.

They were all running so fast that they didn't see Reddy Fox until he
jumped out of the long grass and asked:

"Where are you going in such a hurry?"

"To find the Best Thing in the World!" shouted Striped Chipmunk, and
Peter Rabbit, and Bobby Coon, and Jimmy Skunk, and each did his best to
run faster.

"The Best Thing in the World," said Reddy Fox to himself, "why, that
must be a whole pen full of tender young chickens, and I must have
them."

So away went Reddy Fox as fast as he could run down the Lone Little
Path after Striped Chipmunk, Peter Rabbit, Bobby Coon, and Jimmy Skunk.

By-and-by they all came to the house of Johnny Chuck.

"Where are you going in such a hurry?" asked Johnny Chuck.

"To find the Best Thing in the World," shouted Striped Chipmunk, and
Peter Rabbit, and Bobby Coon, and Jimmy Skunk, and Reddy Fox.

"The Best Thing in the World," said Johnny Chuck. "Why, I don't know of
anything better than my own little home, and the warm sunshine, and the
beautiful blue sky."

So Johnny Chuck stayed at home and played all day among the flowers
with the Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind, and was as happy
as could be.

But all day long Striped Chipmunk, and Peter Rabbit, and Reddy Fox, and
Bobby Coon, and Jimmy Skunk, ran this way and ran that way over the
Green Meadows trying to find the Best Thing in the World. The sun was
very, very warm, and they ran so far and ran so fast that they were
very, very hot and tired, and still they hadn't found the Best Thing in
the World.

When the long day was over they started up the Lone Little Path past
Johnny Chuck's house to their own homes. They didn't hurry now, for
they were so very, very tired! And they were cross--oh, so cross!

Striped Chipmunk hadn't found so much as the leaf of a cabbage. Bobby
Coon hadn't found the tiniest bit of sweet milky corn. Jimmy Skunk
hadn't seen a single beetle. Reddy Fox hadn't heard so much as the peep
of a chicken. And all were hungry as hungry could be.

Half way up the Lone Little Path they met Old Mother West Wind going to
her home behind the hill. "Did you find the Best Thing in the World?"
asked Old Mother West Wind.

"No!" shouted Striped Chipmunk, and Peter Rabbit, and Bobby Coon, and
Jimmy Skunk, and Reddy Fox, all together.

"Johnny Chuck has it," said Old Mother West Wind. "It is being happy
with the things you have, and not wanting things which some one else
has. And it is called Con-tent-ment."

[A] From "Old Mother West Wind," by Thornton W. Burgess; used
by permission of the author and the publishers, Little, Brown &
Company.





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Previous: The Flag-bearer



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