Read STORY XXIII - JIMMIE IN A TALL TREE of Lulu‚ Alice and Jimmie Wibblewobble, free online book, by Howard R. Garis, on ReadCentral.com.

It had rained in the morning, and of course the grounds were too slippery and wet to play ball.  That is, they were for Sammie Littletail and Billie and Johnnie Bushytail, but naturally Jimmie Wibblewobble, the boy duck, and Bully, the boy frog, would not have minded the wet the least bit.  But there wasn’t any ball game, and so Jimmie was playing all alone in the woods back of his house, and wishing it hadn’t rained.

“Oh!  I wish some of the boys would come over,” he said.  “We could do something, even if it is wet.  I’m lonesome.”

Just then he heard a voice singing in the woods, and he heard the branches of the trees moving about, and bits of bark falling off.  And this is the song he heard:  you have to sing it quite slowly to get the full effect: 

    “Oh! it is such fun if you see the sun
      When the rain has gone away. 
     If you’ll come with me you may climb a tree,
      And in the top we’ll play.

    “Oh! the winds may blow and the cows may crow,
      But what care we for that? 
     As you scamper high, near the bright, blue sky,
      Look out, or you’ll lose your hat.”

And with that who should come scampering out of a tree but Billie and Johnnie Bushytail, the squirrel brothers.  No, Sister Sallie wasn’t with them this time, having stayed at home to wheel her corncob doll in the carriage her brothers had made for her.

“Hello!” cried Billie and Johnnie.  “Hello, Jimmie!”

“Aw, why didn’t you chaps come over to play ball?” asked the little boy duck.

“Oh! it was too wet,” replied Johnnie.  “But say, Jimmie, did you hear us singing?”

“Sure,” answered Jimmie.  “But say; cows don’t crow!”

“I know it,” replied Johnnie.  “Billie made up that verse, and I made the first one.  He said he had to have something like that in it or it wouldn’t be right.  But no matter.  Did you like it?”

“Yes, pretty well.”

“Shall we sing it again?” asked Johnnie.

“No, don’t!” begged his brother.  “He’s been singing it all the morning, and I’m getting tired of it, even if I did make up one verse,” he explained.  “But say, Jimmie, don’t you wish you could climb a tall tree, like this?” and before you could say Salimagundy or maybe incomprehensibility or even disproportionability, why Billie had run to the top of the tree and down again.  “Don’t you wish you could?” he asked again.

“Yes,” answered Jimmie, looking up, “I wish I could climb a tree, but I guess ducks weren’t made for that.  I once tried to fly, and I didn’t succeed very well.  I’ll stay on the ground, I think.  Come on, let’s have a catch.  I’ve got a ball.”

“No,” spoke Johnnie, “I have an idea.  Billie, why can’t you and I teach Jimmie to climb a tree?  If we pick out one with branches close together I’m sure he could get up it.  We can help him, and he can take hold of some limbs in his bill, like a parrot takes hold of the wires in his cage.”

“Fine!” cried Billie.  “Will you do it, Jimmie?”

“Sure,” answered the little boy duck, but he didn’t know what was going to happen, or, maybe, he wouldn’t have tried to climb up.  Well, the squirrels selected quite a tall tree, but rather an easy one, and Jimmie managed to scramble up to the first low limbs, with Billie and Johnnie boosting him.

After that it wasn’t quite so hard, and he was able to get up quite a distance, pulling himself with his yellow bill.  He was not very graceful, and I’m sure if you ever saw a duck climb a tree you would agree with me, but finally, after a great deal of hard work, Jimmie was right on the top branch where the two squirrels sat blinking their eyes.

“How do you like it?” asked Johnnie.

“Fine!” cried Jimmie.  “Quack!  Quack!  Quack!” Now when a duck says “quack” three times, you may know he is very much pleased indeed.  Oh, what a fine view Jimmie had, but he didn’t dare frisk around as Billie and Johnnie did, for he was a trifle dizzy.  Then, after he had been up there some time, he thought he had better go down, for the wind was blowing the treetop, and he wasn’t used to it.  So, after Billie and Johnnie had sung their song again, Jimmie started for the ground.

Well, you know how it is yourself, if you have ever climbed a tree.  It’s easy to go up, but it’s hard to get down.  The limb for your feet is never where you think it is.  Poor Jimmie tried, and Billie and Johnnie helped him, but he didn’t dare turn around to go down, backward, and that’s the only way you can get down a tree, unless you’re a squirrel.

Then Jimmie began to get frightened.  He knew it was time for him to go home, but it began getting darker and darker and darker, and there he was right in the top of the tree, as far away from the ground as ever.  He tried once more, but he didn’t dare let go of one branch with his bill, while he put his foot down on another limb below, and there he was.  Oh, what an unpleasant situation to be in, to say the least!

“Oh, I’ll never get down!” cried Jimmie.  “I wish I’d stayed on the ground!”

Billie and Johnnie began to get frightened, too, for it was partly their fault, and they were just going off for some kind of help, though what kind they didn’t know, when they heard a noise.

It was a swishing, swooping, swoshing noise, and who should fly down out of the sky but that good, kind fishhawk, who once carried Billie and Johnnie on his big back to Lincoln Park.  As soon as the squirrels saw him they cried out: 

“Oh, please help Jimmie Wibblewobble down!  He’s in a tall tree and can’t reach the ground.”

“Why, of course, to be sure,” replied the kind fishhawk, and he alighted in the tree, and Jimmie got upon his strong, broad back, and the fishhawk flew gently to the earth, and that’s how Jimmie got down.  And maybe he wasn’t glad of it!  I know I am, anyhow.

Now, listen:  the moving man didn’t get my typewriter, after all, so if we have cocoanut-chocolate-mustard-apple-pie cake for supper, I can tell you a story to-morrow night, and it will be about the party Alice and Lulu had, and what happened at it.  Something wonderful, too, let, me tell you.