Chapter V: Paddy Keeps His Promise.

Paddy the Beaver kept right on working just as if he hadn't any visitors. You see, it is a big undertaking to build a dam. And when that was done there was a house to build and a supply of food for the winter to cut and store. Oh, Paddy the Beaver had no time for idle gossip, you may be sure! So he kept right on building his dam. It didn't look much like a dam at first, and some of Paddy's visitors turned up their noses when they first saw it. They had heard stories of what a wonderful dam-builder Paddy was, and they had expected to see something like the smooth, grass-covered bank with which Farmer Brown kept the Big River from running back on his low lands. Instead, all they saw was a great pile of poles and sticks which looked like anything but a dam.

"Pooh!" exclaimed Billy Mink, "I guess we needn't worry about the Laughing Brook and the Smiling Pool, if that is the best Paddy can do. Why, the water of the Laughing Brook will work through that in no time."

Of course Paddy heard him, but he said nothing, just kept right on working.

"Just look at the way he has laid those sticks!" continued Billy Mink. "Seems as if anyone would know enough to lay them across the Laughing Brook instead of just the other way. I could build a better dam than that."

Paddy said nothing; he just kept right on working.

"Yes, Sir," Billy boasted. "I could build a better dam than that. Why, that pile of sticks will never stop the water."

"Is something the matter with your eyesight, Billy Mink?" inquired Jerry Muskrat.

"Of course not!" retorted Billy indignantly. "Why?"

"Oh, nothing much, only you don't seem to notice that already the Laughing Brook is over its banks above Paddy's dam," replied Jerry, who had been studying the dam with a great deal of interest.

Billy looked a wee bit foolish, for sure enough there was a little pool just above the dam, and it was growing bigger.

Sammy was terribly put out to think that anything should be going on that he didn't know about first. You know he is very fond of prying into the affairs of other people, and he loves dearly to boast that there is nothing going on in the Green Forest or on the Green Meadows that he doesn't know about. So now his pride was hurt, and he was in a terrible rage as he started after the Merry Little Breezes for the place deep in the Green Forest where they said Paddy the Beaver was at work. He didn't believe a word of it, but he would see for himself.

Paddy still kept at work, saying nothing. He was digging in front of the dam now, and the mud and grass he dug up he stuffed in between the ends of the sticks and patted them down with his hands. He did this all along the front of the dam and on top of it, too, wherever he thought it was needed. Of course this made it harder for the water to work through, and the little pond above the dam began to grow faster. It wasn't a great while before it was nearly to the top of the dam, which at first was very low. Then Paddy brought more sticks. This was easier now, because he could float them down from where he was cutting. He would put them in place on the top of the dam, then hurry for more. Wherever it was needed, he would put in mud. He even rolled a few stones in to help hold the mass.

So the dam grew and grew, and so did the pond above the dam. Of course, it took a good many days to build so big a dam, and a lot of hard work! Every morning the little people of the Green Forest and the Green Meadow would visit it, and every morning they would find that it had grown a great deal in the night, for that is when Paddy likes best to work.

By this time, the Laughing Brook had stopped laughing, and down in the Smiling Pool there was hardly water enough for the minnows to feel safe a minute. Billy Mink had stopped making fun of the dam, and all the little people who live in the Laughing Brook and Smiling Pool were terribly worried.

To be sure, Paddy had warned them of what he was going to do, and had promised that as soon as his pond was big enough, the water would once more run in the Laughing Brook. They tried to believe him, but they couldn't help having just a wee bit of fear that he might not be wholly honest. You see, they didn't know him, for he was a stranger. Jerry Muskrat was the only one who seemed absolutely sure that everything would be all right. Perhaps that was because Paddy is his cousin, and Jerry couldn't help feeling proud of such a big cousin and one who was so smart.

So day by day the dam grew, and pond grew, and one morning Grandfather Frog, down in what had once been the Smiling Pool, heard a sound that made his heart jump for joy. It was a murmur that kept growing and growing, until at last it was the merry laugh of the Laughing Brook. Then he knew that Paddy had kept his word, and water would once more fill the Smiling Pool.