The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter II: Paddy Plans a Pond.
Paddy the Beaver was busy cutting down trees for the dam he had planned to build. Up in the woods of the North from which he had come to the Green Forest, he had learned all about tree-cutting and dam-building and canal-digging and house-building. Paddy's father and mother had been very wise in the Beaver world, and Paddy had been quick to learn. So now he knew just what to do and the best way of doing it. You know, a great many people waste time and labor doing things the wrong way, so that they have to be done over again. They forget to be sure they are right, and so they go ahead until they find they are wrong, and all their work goes for nothing.
But Paddy the Beaver isn't this kind. Paddy would never have leaped into the spring with the steep sides without looking, as Grandfather Frog did. So now he carefully picked out the trees to cut. He could not afford to waste time cutting down a tree that wasn't going to be just what he wanted when it was down. When he was sure that the tree was right, he looked up at the top to find out whether, when he had cut it, it would fall clear of other trees. He had learned to do that when he was quite young and heedless. He remembered just how he had felt when, after working hard, oh, so hard, to cut a big tree, he had warned all his friends to get out of the way so that they would not be hurt when it fell, and then it hadn't fallen at all because the top had caught in another tree. He was so mortified that he didn't get over it for a long time.
So now he made sure that a tree was going to fall clear and just where he wanted it. Then he sat up on his hind legs, and with his great broad tail for a brace, began to make the chips fly. You know Paddy has the most wonderful teeth for cutting. They are long and broad and sharp. He would begin by making a deep bite, and then another just a little way below. Then he would pry out the little piece of wood between. When he had cut very deep on one side so that the tree would fall that way, he would work around to the other side. Just as soon as the tree began to lean and he was sure that it was going to fall, he would scamper away so as to be out of danger. He loved to see those tall trees lean forward slowly, then faster and faster, till they struck the ground with a crash.
Just as soon as they were down, he would trim off the branches until the trees where just long poles. This was easy work, for he could take off a good-sized branch with one bite. On many he left their bushy tops. When he had trimmed them to suit him and had cut them into the right lengths, he would tug and pull them down to the place where he meant to build his dam.
There he placed the poles side by side, not across the Laughing Brook like a bridge, but with the big ends pointing up the Laughing Brook, which was quite broad but shallow right there. To keep them from floating away, he rolled stones and piled mud on the bushy ends. Clear across on both sides he laid those poles until the water began to rise. Then he dragged more poles and piled them on top of these and wedged short sticks crosswise between them.
And all the time the Laughing Brook was having harder and harder work to run. Its merry laugh grew less merry and finally almost stopped, because, you see, the water could not get through between all those poles and sticks fast enough. It was just about that time that the little people of the Smiling Pool decided that it was time to see just what Paddy was doing, and they started up the Laughing Brook, leaving only Grandfather Frog and the tadpoles in the Smiling Pool, which for a little while would smile no more.