The Jumping Contest





Having had Mr. Crow's permission, the Muley Cow went on stretching her

legs as much as she pleased. She jumped the pasture fence; and she

jumped it back again. And when she seemed about to stop Billy Woodchuck

whispered to her, "You may as well keep a-stretching them. Keep

a-jumping! And when the time for the real contest with Nimble Deer comes

your legs will be stretched so long that you'll beat Nimble without the

slightest trouble."



So the Muley Cow jumped over the fence and back, over the fence and

back. And when at last she said she was ready for the contest Billy

Woodchuck still urged her to stretch her legs a bit more.



By the time he was willing to let her stop the Muley Cow's sides were

heaving.



Meanwhile Jimmy Rabbit and Billy Woodchuck, with Mr. Crow's help, had

picked out a clump of young hawthorns for the first test. And now that

everybody was ready for the contest Nimble Deer cleared the clump

gracefully, with a foot to spare.



Then came the Muley Cow's turn. She looked worried as she fell into a

lumbering gallop and ran towards the prickly young trees. And with a

mighty effort she tried to fling herself over them.



As she rose into the air she gave a bellow of dismay, to fall

floundering the next instant into the thorny thicket.



Jimmy Rabbit began to hop about in circles. He knew that Nimble had won

the contest and Jimmy was very happy.



Old Mr. Crow haw-hawed. The Muley Cow had lost the contest and he was

glad.



Nimble watched the Muley Cow as she struggled amid the hawthorns, trying

to scramble out of the tangle.



"Can I help you, madam?" he asked.



But she never even thanked him. She was so upset that she neither wanted

anybody to speak to her nor did she wish to speak to anybody else.



As for Billy Woodchuck, he looked frightfully disappointed. He had

expected the Muley Cow to win the jumping contest. And there she was,

beaten at the very first jump!



He stole up to her; and standing on his hind legs, to get as near her as

he could, he said, "It's a pity you lost! I don't believe you stretched

your legs enough."



The Muley Cow snorted.



"That's not the reason why," she snapped. "I stretched my legs too

much. I jumped the fence until I was so tired I could scarcely stand.

It's no wonder that Nimble beat me."



Nimble Deer could see that the Muley Cow was feeling quite glum. After

she had struggled free of the thorns he went up to her and bowed in his

most polite manner. "Is there anything I can do for you?" he asked her.



"Yes! Do let down the bars for me!" she gasped. "I want to go home. And

I couldn't jump that fence again. It would be dangerous for me to try. I

might fall and break a leg off. And then I'd have a short leg the rest

of my life."



"You could stretch it," old Mr. Crow suggested.



But the Muley Cow turned her back on him and walked away.





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