Chapter XVII: Old Man Coyote is Disappointed.

Old Man Coyote lay stretched out in his favorite napping place on the Green Meadows. He was thinking of what he had found out up in the Green Forest that morning--that Paddy the Beaver was living there. Old Man Coyote's thoughts seemed very pleasant to himself, though really they were very dreadful thoughts. You see, he was thinking how easy it was going to be to catch Paddy the Beaver, and what a splendid meal he would make. He licked his chops at the thought.

"He doesn't know I know he's here," thought Old Man Coyote. "In fact, I don't believe heaven knows that I am anywhere around. Of course he won't be watching for me. He cuts his trees at night, so all I will have to do is to hide right close by where he is at work, and he'll walk right into my mouth. Sammy Jay knows I was up there this morning, but Sammy sleeps at night, so he will not give the alarm. My, my, how good that Beaver will taste!" He licked his chops once more, then yawned and closed his eyes for a nap.

Old Man Coyote waited until jolly, round red Mr. Sun had gone to bed behind the Purple Hills, and the Black Shadows had crept out across the Green Meadows. Then, keeping in the blackest of them, and looking very much like a shadow of himself, he slipped into the Green Forest. It was dark in there, and he made straight for Paddy's new pond, trotting along swiftly without making a sound. When he was near the aspen trees which he knew Paddy was planning to cut, he crept forward very slowly and carefully. Everything was still as still could be.

"Good!" thought Old Man Coyote. "I am here first, and now all I need do is to hide and wait for Paddy to come ashore."

So he stretched himself flat behind some brush close beside the little path Paddy had made up from the edge of the water and waited. It was very still, so still that it seemed almost as if he could hear his heart beat. He could see the little stars twinkling in the sky and their own reflections twinkling back at them from the water of Paddy's pond. Old Man Coyote waited and waited. He is very patient when there is something to gain by it. For such a splendid dinner as Paddy the Beaver would make, he felt that he could well afford to be patient. So he waited and waited, and everything was as still as if no living thing but the trees where there. Even the trees seemed to be asleep.

At last, after a long, long time, he heard just the faintest splash. He pricked up his ears and peeped out on the pond with the hungriest look in his yellow eyes. There was a little line of silver coming straight toward him. He knew that it was made by Paddy the Beaver swimming. Nearer and nearer it drew. Old Man Coyote chuckled way down deep inside, without making a sound. He could see Paddy's head now, and Paddy was coming straight in, as if he hadn't a fear in the world.

Almost to the edge of the pond swam Paddy. Then he stopped. In a few minutes he began to swim again, but this time it was back in the direction of his house, and he seemed to be carrying something. It was one of the little food logs he had cut that day, and he was taking it out to his storehouse. Then back he came for another. And so he kept on, never once coming ashore. Old Man Coyote waited until Paddy had carried the last log to his storehouse and then, with a loud whack on the water with his broad tail, had dived and disappeared in his house.

Then Old Man Coyote arose and started elsewhere to look for his dinner, and in his heart was bitter disappointment.