There was nothing to do but run home as fast as he could. Fatty tried to hurry; but there was that bird, beating and clawing his back, and pulling him first one way and then another. He began to think he would never reach home. But at last he came to the old poplar where his mother lived. And soon, to his great joy, he reached the hole in the big branch; and you may well believe that Fatty was glad to slip down into the darkness where his mother, and his brother Blackie, and Fluffy and Cutey his sisters, were all fast asleep. He was glad, because he knew that no crow could follow him down there.
Mrs. Coon waked up. She saw that Fatty’s back was sadly torn (for coons, you know, can see in the dark just as well as you can see in the daylight).
“What on earth is the matter?” she exclaimed.
Poor Fatty told her. He cried a little, because his back hurt him, and because he was so glad to be safe at home once more.
“What color were those eggs?” Mrs. Coon inquired.
“White!” said Fatty.
“Ah, ha!” Mrs. Coon said. “Don’t you remember that crows’ eggs are a blueish green? That must have been a goshawk’s nest. And a goshawk is the fiercest of all the hawks there are. It’s no wonder your back is clawed. Come here and let me look at it.”
Fatty Coon felt quite proud, as his mother examined the marks of the goshawk’s cruel claws. And he didn’t feel half as sorry for himself as you might think, for he remembered how good the eggs had tasted. He only wished there had been a dozen of them.
FATTY DISCOVERS MRS. TURTLE’S SECRET
After his adventure with the goshawk Fatty Coon did not go near the tree-tops for a long time. Whenever he left home he would crawl down the old poplar tree in which he lived; and he wouldn’t climb a single tree until he came home again. Somehow, he felt safer on the ground. You see, he hadn’t forgotten the fright he had had, nor how the goshawk’s claws had hurt his back.
It was just three days after his scare, to be exact, when Fatty Coon found himself on the bank of the creek which flowed slowly into Swift River. Fatty had been looking for frogs, but he had had no luck at all. To tell the truth, Fatty was a little too young to catch frogs easily, even when he found one; and he was a good deal too fat, for he was so plump that he was not very spry.
Now, Fatty was hiding behind some tall rushes, and his sharp little eyes were looking all about him, and his nose was twitching as he sniffed the air. He wished he might find a frog. But not one frog appeared. Fatty began to think that some other coon must have visited the creek just before him and caught them all. And then he forgot all about frogs.
Yes! Frogs passed completely out of Fatty Coon’s mind. For whom should he spy but Mrs. Turtle! He saw her little black head first, bobbing along through the water of the creek. She was swimming toward the bank where Fatty was hidden. And pretty soon she pulled herself out of the water and waddled a short distance along the sand at the edge of the creek.