X. Fatty Coon and the Monster
 

One night Fatty Coon was strolling along the road that wound through the valley. He was in no hurry, for he had just left Farmer Green's apple orchard, where he had bolted all the apples he could possibly eat. The night was dark and though it was not very late, all the country people seemed to be in bed. There were no farmers driving along the road. Fatty had it all to himself. And so he walked slowly homewards. It was then that the terrible monster almost caught him.

This is how it all happened. There was a br-br-br-r-r-r in the air. Fatty really should have heard it long before he did. But he had eaten so many apples that he had begun to feel sleepy; and his ears were not so sharp as they should have been. And when at last Fatty heard that br- r-r-r it was quite loud. He was startled. And he stopped right in the middle of the road to listen. Fatty had never heard such a sound before.

The strange animal was on him before he knew it. Its glaring eyes blinded him. And if it had not screamed at him Fatty would never have escaped. It was the terrible screech of the monster which finally made Fatty jump. It was a frightful cry--like six wildcats all wailing together. And Fatty leaped to one side of the road just before the monster reached him.

The great creature went past Fatty like the wind and tore on up the hill. He seemed to be running so fast that he could not stop. Fatty could hear him panting as he climbed the sharp rise of the road.

Fatty Coon hurried away. He wanted to get home before the monster could stop and come back to look for him.

When Fatty told his mother about his narrow escape Mrs. Coon became much excited. She felt sure that Fatty was not mistaken, for had she not heard that strange cry herself?

There it was again! Woo-ooo-ooo-oo-o! It began low, rose to a shriek, and then died away again.

Mrs. Coon and Fatty climbed to the very top of their old poplar and gazed down the valley.

"Look, Mother!" Fatty cried. "He's stopped at Farmer Green's! You can see his eyes from here!"

Mrs. Coon looked. Sure enough! It was just as Fatty said. And that horrid call echoed across the valley once more.

Farmer Green stuck his head out of his chamber-window, to see what the man in the automobile wanted.

"Where's the nearest village, please?" the stranger asked. And after Farmer Green had told him the man drove his car on again.

From their tree-top Fatty and his mother watched the monster dash down the valley. They knew he had gone, because they could see the gleam of those awful eyes.

"Do you suppose he ate up Farmer Green and his family?" Fatty asked in a frightened voice.

"I hope so," she said. "Then perhaps there'll be no more traps in the woods."

"But who would plant the corn?" Fatty asked.

Mrs. Coon did not appear to hear his question.