Aunt Polly was at home. And since Mr. Crow could not crawl inside her house, she received him in her dooryard.
As soon as she looked at Mr. Crow’s foot Aunt Polly Woodchuck threw up both her hands.
“You have gout!” she cried. “And it’s the worst case I ever saw.”
That made Mr. Crow feel proud and happy.
“What about a cure?” he inquired. “I shouldn’t like to have my foot like this always. If you could cure it in a week I would be satisfied. But I want at least a week in which to show my foot to my friends.”
“You’ll be lucky if you’re better in a month,” said Aunt Polly Woodchuck. “You must be very careful about what you eat. You may have all the ginseng and Jimson weed and elecampane that you wish. And drink plenty of catnip tea! But until you’re quite well again, don’t touch corn, grasshoppers, birds’ eggs, field-mice, or elderberries. If you eat such things your other foot may swell. And then you’d be unable to walk at all.”
Mr. Crow was no longer happy.
“Those are the things I like best—the last that you mentioned,” he said. “And the food you tell me I may have is exactly the kind I’ve never cared for in the least. As for catnip tea, I can’t swallow it!” he groaned. “Haven’t you some other remedy? Can’t you give me a pill?”
But Aunt Polly Woodehuck said there was no other way.
“I never can remember what you’ve told me,” Mr. Crow objected.
“I can fix that,” said Aunt Polly. And then she went into her house, returning presently with a basket. From the basket she drew forth a handful of herbs, which she gave to Mr. Crow.
“Take these,” she said, “and put them in your right-hand pocket. These are what you may eat—a sample of each herb.”
Straightway she gave Mr. Crow two more handfuls of food.
“And here,” she continued, “here are things you mustn’t eat. Put them in your left-hand pocket. And at dinner time to-night you won’t have the least bit of trouble knowing what you’re allowed to have.”
Mr. Crow thanked her politely. But he felt somewhat angry, just the same. He saw that he was going to have a very unpleasant time. For if there was one thing that Mr. Crow liked, it was good food—and plenty of it.
MR. CROW’S BAD MEMORY
It was true, as Mr. Crow had said, that he had a bad memory. By the time he reached home he had forgotten almost everything the famous doctor, Aunt Polly Woodchuck, had said to him. About all Mr. Crow could recall of their talk was that Aunt Polly had told him his swollen foot was caused by gout; and that she had given him samples of such food as he might eat, and also such as he mightn’t.
He had put the two kinds in different pockets, just as Aunt Polly had suggested. And all he had to do when he was hungry was to look into his pockets and see what food he might safely choose for his meal. Well, Mr. Crow was hungry as a bear by the time he reached his house. And the first thing he did was to feel in his left-hand pocket. He drew forth a kernel of corn.