Here to return to
SHARP EYES MEETS CHUNKY
SHARP EYES’ cage was being lifted down from the wagon, on which it had been brought to the park from the train, when the silver fox called out about the elephant. His cage was set down on the ground, near where some of the big animals, with trunks and tails, were swaying to and fro behind big, strong bars.
“Who did you say it was?” asked Chacko, as his cage was placed beside that of Sharp Eyes.
“Turn Turn, the jolly elephant,” answered the silver fox. “I see him over there.”
“My name is not Turn Turn,” said the elephant, for he had heard what Sharp Eyes said.
“Not Turn Turn!” exclaimed the fox. “Then what is it?”
“My name is Bunga,” was the answer. “But I have heard of your friend Turn Turn. He is in a circus, is he not?”
“Yes,” answered Sharp Eyes. “I met him not long ago. He had been on a sort of vacation in the jungle, but now he is back in the circus. I thought, at first, that you were he.”
“No, but all we elephants look pretty much alike,” said Bunga, “so I don’t wonder you made a mistake. How is Turn Turn?”
“Very well and jolly,” answered Sharp Eyes.
“Oh, he always was that,” said another elephant. “Turn Turn never was cross or unhappy.”
“I was unhappy when my paw was caught in a pinching trap,” said Sharp Eyes. “I hope I shall be happy here.”
“We’ll try to make you so,” put in a long-necked giraffe, looking over the tops of the walls of his cage, in which he was kept next to the elephants. “We are always glad to see new animals come in,” went on the giraffe. “We get sort of lonesome just among ourselves. Tell us, have you had any adventures?”
“No, not any, I’m sorry to say.”
“Oh, yes you have!” chattered Chacko, the monkey, to whom the fox had talked in the train. “You’ve had lots of adventures! You found a wild turkey, and you got out of one trap and into another, and you were chased by a dog.”
“Are those adventures?” asked Sharp Eyes, in surprise.
“Of course,” answered Bunga, the elephant. “Please tell us about them.”
So Sharp Eyes told the zoo animals all that had happened to him.
“And now you are here,” said Bunga, when the fox had finished.
“Yes, I am here,” agreed the fox. “And I expect the next thing they’ll do will be to take off my silver skin and sell it,” he added sadly.
“Take off your skin and sell it? Well, I guess not!” growled a tiger in the next cage. “They would no more skin you than they would me! They keep us for people to look at. Make your mind easy. You will not be hurt while you are in the zoo. You can not get away, it is true, but you will have a good place to stay, and all you want to eat.
“I used to think, when I first came here, that I would like to go back to the jungle, but there I had to sneak out at night to get something to eat, or water to drink. Here they bring it to me. Of course I am shut up in a cage, but it is not so bad.”
“Really won’t they take off my fur?”
“No indeed!” said the elephant.
“Then I’m glad,” went on the fox. “I’ll try to like it here in the zoo, though I’ll miss the North Woods and my father, mother, my sister Winkle and my brother Twinkle.”
“Oh, you’ll like it here after you get used to being stared at by the crowd of boys and girls and the men and women who come in,” said a lion, in a cage next the tiger.
So the animals talked among themselves, trying to make Sharp Eyes feel at home, for an animal gets almost as lonesome and homesick in a strange place as you boys and girls might do.
After a while some men came and lifted up the cage of the silver fox, from where it had been placed when taken off the wagon, and carried it to a large building. Along the walls were many other cages, and in one end was a very large one.
The bars of the big cage were set very far apart, and when the fox saw them he said to himself:
“Ha! if they put me in that cage, with such wide-apart bars in front, I can easily slip out between them and go back to where my father and mother live in the hollow log. I must try to run away.”
Sharp Eyes looked a little closer, and noticed that there was a big pool of water — about a hundred bath tubs full I guess — at one end of the big cage.
“Ha! I’d like to get a drink there,” thought the silver fox. “I am very thirsty!”
Just then, all of a sudden, one of the men carrying the cage in which the fox was still locked, let his end of the box fall. Then the other man dropped his end, and down the fox cage crashed to the stone floor in the animal house.
“Look out!” cried one of the men. “The cage will break and that silver fox will get out!”
And that is just what happened. The cage crashed to the floor, one end burst open, and the next minute Sharp Eyes found himself free.
“Oh, at last I can run away!” he thought to himself. “But first I’ll go and get a drink of water in that pool inside the big-barred cage. Then I’ll run away.”
Before any of the men could grab him, Sharp Eyes made a dash toward the big pool. Down into it ran a sloping walk, or little hill of stone. Down this Sharp Eyes walked until he could put his nose in the water.
Sharp Eyes was just going to take a drink when, all at once, he noticed that the water in the pool was moving. Then, suddenly, something big and dark brown rose up, as if from the bottom. Sharp Eyes saw a big mouth open right in front of him. It was a mouth so big that it looked like the front door of a real house, and inside it was lined with something that seemed to be red flannel. And then, out of the mouth, came a puffing sound, and the big animal who belonged to the big mouth, made a grunting noise, as though gaping and stretching after a sleep.
“Oh, my!” cried Sharp Eyes, as he saw the big mouth. “Who are you, if you please?”
“I might ask the same thing of you,” went on the big animal, as he walked up the stone hill, water dripping off him.
“I am called Sharp Eyes, the silver fox,” was the answer, “and I have had many adventures, but they have not been put into a book as yet.”
You see Sharp Eyes didn’t know about this book just then.
“I’ve had adventures also, and they have been put into a book,” went on the big creature.
“What is your name?” asked Sharp Eyes.
“I am Chunky, the happy hippo, and — ”
“Oh, I’ve heard about you!” interrupted Sharp Eyes.
“You have?” asked Chunky. “Perhaps you read a copy of the book in which I am spoken of?”
“No, I can’t read,” said Sharp Eyes. “But I heard Don, the dog, telling about you. I liked to hear about you.”
“That’s very nice of you,” said Chunky. “Yes, Don and I were great friends. Did Don tell you how I saved the little girl who fell into my pool?”
“Yes,” answered Sharp Eyes, “he did. It was very nice of you to save her.”
“Pooh! that was nothing,” said Chunky. “When I saw you standing on the edge of my pool, I thought it was some one else who had fallen in, and I came up to see about it. But I am glad to meet you.”
“And I’m glad to meet you,” said Sharp Eyes. “Very glad indeed to meet you, Chunky. Now I wonder what I had better do — run away now that I am out of my cage, or stay and let them put me in another? What would you do, Chunky?”
“I’d stay here in the zoo,” said the happy hippo. “They will give you nice things to eat and clean water to drink. It is better than the jungle or the woods. Stay here and be happy.”
“I guess I will,” said Sharp Eyes.
By this time the menagerie men had run toward the hippo’s cage. They saw Sharp Eyes standing by the big, squatty creature.
“Don’t let him get away!” cried a tall man with a long, sharp hook in his hand. “Catch the silver fox! Don’t let him escape!”
So the men, with ropes and long poles, ran to catch Sharp Eyes before he could get out of the hippo’s cage. But Sharp Eyes was not going to run away.
“Get him! Get him!” cried the men, one to the other. “Get the silver fox!”