Chapter X: Paddy Starts His House.

Jerry Muskrat was very much interested when he found that Paddy the Beaver, who you know, is his cousin, was building a house. Jerry is a house-builder himself, and down deep in his heart he very much doubted if Paddy could build as good a house as he could. His house was down in the Smiling Pool, and Jerry thought it a very wonderful house indeed, and was very proud of it. It was built of mud and sod and little alder and willow twigs and bulrushes. Jerry had spent one winter in it, and he had decided to spend another there after he had fixed it up a little. So, as long as he didn't have to build a brand-new house, he could afford the time to watch his cousin Paddy. Perhaps he hoped that Paddy would ask his advice.

But Paddy did nothing of the kind. He had seen Jerry Muskrat's house, and he had smiled. But he had taken great pains not to let Jerry see that smile. He wouldn't have hurt Jerry's feelings for the world. He is too polite and good-natured to do anything like that. So Jerry sat on the end of an old log and watched Paddy work. The first thing to build was the foundation. This was of mud and grass with sticks worked into it to hold it together. Paddy dug the mud from the bottom of his new pond. And because the pond was new, there was a great deal of grassy sod there, which was just what Paddy needed. It was very convenient.

Jerry watched a little while and then, because Jerry is a worker himself, he just had to get busy and help. Rather timidly he told his big cousin that he would like to have a share in building the new house.

"All right," replied Paddy, "that will be fine. You can bring mud while I am getting the sticks and grass."

So Jerry dived down to the bottom of the pond and dug up mud and piled it on the foundation and was happy. The little stars looked down and twinkled merrily as they watched the two workers. So the foundation grew and grew down under the water. Jerry was very much surprised at the size of it. It was ever and ever so much bigger than the foundation for his own house. You see, he had forgotten how much bigger Paddy is.

Each night Jerry and Paddy worked, resting during the daytime. Occasionally Bobby Coon or Reddy Fox or Unc' Billy Possum or Jimmy Skunk would come to the edge of the pond to see what was going on. Peter Rabbit came every night. But they couldn't see much because, you know, Paddy and Jerry were working under water.

But at last Peter was rewarded. There, just above the water, was a splendid platform of mud and grass and sticks. A great many sticks were carefully laid as soon as the platform was above the water, for Paddy was very particular about this. You see, it was to be the floor for the splendid room he was planning to build. When it suited him, he began to pile mud in the very middle.

Jerry puzzled and puzzled over this. Where was Paddy's room going to be, if he piled up the mud that way? But he didn't like to ask questions, so he kept right on helping. Paddy would dive down to the bottom and then come up with double handfuls of mud, which he held against his chest. He would scramble out onto the platform and waddle over to the pile in the middle, where he would put the mud and pat it down. Then back to the bottom for more.

And so the mud pile grew and grew, until it was quite two feet high.

"Now," said Paddy, "I'll build the walls, and I guess you can't help me much with those. I'm going to begin them tomorrow night. Perhaps you will like to see me do it, Cousin Jerry."

"I certainly will," replied Jerry, still puzzling over that pile of mud in the middle.