XII. Forty Fat Turkeys
 

When Jasper Jay told Fatty Coon about Farmer Green's forty fat turkeys Fatty felt hungrier than ever.

"Oh! I mustn't go near Farmer Green's house!" he said. "My mother told me to keep away from there. . . . What time did you say the turkeys go to roost?"

"Oh! they go to roost every night at sundown," Jasper Jay explained. "And there they sit, up in the tree, all night long. They're fast asleep. And you would have no trouble at all in catching as many as you wanted. . . . But of course, if you're afraid--why there's no use of my talking about it. There's a plenty of other coons in these woods who'd be glad to know about those turkeys. And maybe they'd have the manners to say 'Thank you!' too." And with a hoarse, sneering laugh Jasper Jay flew away.

That was enough for Fatty. He made up his mind that he would show Jasper Jay that he was not afraid. And he wanted a turkey to eat, too. He said nothing to his mother about Jasper's news. But that very night, when the moon came up, and the lights in Farmer Green's house were all out, Fatty Coon went stealing across the fields.

He was not afraid, for he knew that Farmer Green and all his family were in their beds. And it was so cold that Fatty felt sure that Farmer Green's dogs would be inside their kennels.

Fatty did not intend to make any noise. The turkeys were asleep--so Jasper Jay had told him--and he expected to grab one of them so swiftly and silently that the other turkeys would never know it.

When Fatty Coon came to Farmer Green's yard he had no trouble at all in finding the spreading oak. He could see the turkeys plainly where they dozed on the bare branches. And in less time than it takes to tell it Fatty had climbed the tree. On the very lowest limb there was a row of four plump turkeys, all sound asleep. And Fatty reached out and seized the nearest one. He seized the turkey by the neck, so that the big bird could not call out. But Fatty was not quite quick enough. Before he could pull her off her perch the turkey began to flap her wings, and she struck the turkey next her, so that that turkey woke up and began to gobble and flap her wings. Then the next turkey on the limb woke up. And the first thing that Fatty Coon knew, every one of the thirty-nine turkeys that were left was going gobble-gob-gob-gob-gobble! And some of them went sailing off across the yard. One of them lighted on top of the porch just outside Farmer Green's window and it seemed to Fatty that that one made the greatest racket of all.

Farmer Green's window flew up; and Farmer Green's voice called "Spot! Spot!"

Fatty Coon did not wait to hear anything more. He dropped the turkey he had seized and slipped down to the ground. And then he ran toward the woods as fast as he could go.

Farmer Green's dog Spot was barking now. And Fatty wanted to climb one of the trees by the roadside. But he remembered, the narrow escape he had had when the dog had treed him near the cornfield. So he never stopped until he reached the woods. Then he went nimbly up into the trees. And while Spot was barking at the foot of the first tree he climbed, Fatty was travelling through the tree-tops toward home.

He never said anything to his mother about Farmer Green's turkeys. But the next time he saw Jasper Jay Fatty told him exactly what he thought of him.

"Ha! ha!" Jasper Jay only laughed. And he did not seem at all surprised that Fatty had fallen into trouble. To tell the truth, he was only sorry because Fatty had escaped. Jasper Jay did not like Fatty Coon. And he had told him about the forty fat turkeys because he hoped that Fatty would get caught if he tried to steal one of them.

"Wait till I catch you!" Fatty said.

But Jasper Jay only laughed harder than ever when Fatty said that. He seemed to think it was a great joke. He was most annoying.