Read STORY XXIX - GRANDFATHER GOOSEY-GANDER’S TALL HAT of Lulu‚ Alice and Jimmie Wibblewobble, free online book, by Howard R. Garis, on ReadCentral.com.

Jimmie Wibblewobble was in the back lots, playing ball with Billie and Johnnie Bushytail, Sammie Littletail, and Bully, the frog, besides some other friends of his.  They were having a fine time, knocking the ball this way and that, just as if the ball didn’t care what happened to it.  When it came Jimmie’s turn to bat, he called out: 

“Watch me knock it away over the tree,” and land sakes, goodness me and a pop-corn cake! if that ball didn’t fly away over the tree, just like a little bird.  Well, — Jimmie was pretty proud, I can tell you, and he was such a good hitter that Bully said: 

“Let Jimmie knock some more balls for us to catch.”

So he did, after Billie Bushytail had run to get the one that went over the tree, and brought it back.

Well, so the game went on, and pretty soon, oh, I guess it must have been about as long as it takes to eat two pieces of bread and butter, but not with jam on, mind you; I guess in about that time, it was Billie Bushytail’s turn to bat.  And just as he stepped up to hit the ball, if all the boy animals didn’t see something black moving along by the hedge fence.  It was black and round and shiny, this moving object was, and as soon as Sammie Littletail saw it he cried out: 

“Oh, there’s a bad fox.  Let’s see who can hit him.”

So they all caught up stones to throw at the bad fox, to drive him away.

Jimmie had the largest stone, and he could throw the straightest, so it is no wonder he hit the tall, round, shining black thing by the hedge.  But this is the funny part of it, that black thing wasn’t a fox at all.  No, siree!

It was Grandfather Goosey-Gander’s new tall hat, and that wasn’t at all funny, I do assure you.  And the worst part of it was that Grandfather Goosey-Gander was under that hat!  For, you know, a tall hat couldn’t walk along by a hedge, all alone its own self, now, could it?  Of course, I know it could if this were a fairy story, but it isn’t.

Well, something dreadful happened.  The stone which Jimmie threw hit grandfather’s tall hat, went inside, just grazing the top of the old gentleman duck’s head, and then, what do you think?  Well, I don’t believe you could guess if you tried a week, so I’ll tell you.

That stone came out on the other side.  It went right through the hat, making a hole where it went in, and another hole where it came out.  Two holes; you could easily have counted them if you had been there.

Of course, as soon as Jimmie heard the noise, made by the stone which he threw, hitting the hat, he could tell by the plinkity-plunkity sound that there was going to be trouble.  And there was.

Grandfather Goosey-Gander jumped up in the air.  He uttered a loud quack, and then he took off his tall hat.  He looked at the two ragged holes in it, and then he looked over at the boys in the field.  He knew right away they had done it, but he didn’t know which one.  Jimmie, however, was a good boy, and he wasn’t going to have any one else blamed for what he had done.  So he ran to where his grandfather stood, sorrowfully looking at his hat, and Jimmie said: 

“I did it, grandpa.  I cannot tell a story.  I did it with my little stone.”

“Ha!  Hum!  Did you; eh?” cried Grandfather Goosey-Gander.  “Well, that’s a pretty bad thing to do, Jimmie.  This is my best hat.  I put it on to go down to the bank, to put money in.  I mean to put money in the bank, not in the hat, of course.  I always wear it when I go to the bank, so folks will know I am rich.  Now I can’t wear it any more.  It’s too bad!” And the old gentleman duck looked very sorrowful.

“Yes,” agreed Jimmie, “it is too bad,” for he couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“You will have to pay for a new hat for me,” went on his grandfather.

“I haven’t any money,” said Jimmie, and tears began to run down his broad, yellow bill, for the little boy duck felt pretty bad, I can tell you.

“You will have to save up all the pennies you get,” decided Grandfather Goosey-Gander.  “Boys should not be so careless.”

“We thought you were a fox,” said Billie Bushytail.

“And we all threw stones at you,” added Sammie Littletail.

“But I’m the only one who hit your hat, though,” admitted Jimmie.

“Do I look like a fox?” demanded the old duck.  “That’s what I want to know.  Do I look like a fox?” Well, of course, you know he didn’t, and the ball players had to admit it.  “You will have to pay for my hat, Jimmie,” grandpa continued, looking again at two ragged holes.  “Have you any money now?”

“No,” said Jimmie, and he was crying real hard by this time.  Then all the other boys felt badly, too, and they were just looking in their pockets to see if they had any money, but they hadn’t.  All they had was some marbles, and tops, and broken knives, and chewing gum, all sticky, and some strings.

Then it began to look as if Grandfather Goosey-Gander would never have a new hat, but, all at once, there was a buzzing sound in the air, and what should come flying along but a darning needle.  You know what I mean:  one of those funny, long bugs sometimes called a dragon fly, with beautiful wings, and long legs and body.

“What is the trouble?” asked the darning needle, and then the boys told him about the broken hat.  “Ah,” said the darning needle, careless-like, “do not distress yourself, Jimmie.  I know you are a good boy.  To fix that hat is a mere trifle for me, and I’ll do it.”

And what did that dragon-fly-darning-needle do but buzz back and forth, all around the holes in Grandfather Goosey-Gander’s tall hat, right through the hat itself, until he had the holes all sewed up, and you could hardly tell where they were.

Then Mrs. Spider came along, and she spun some glossy silk web over the places where the seams were, and presto-chango! if that hat wasn’t as good as ever!

Well, you can just imagine how glad Jimmie was that he didn’t have to pay for it.  And his grandpa was pleased, too, and so were the boys.  Then the darning needle flew away, Mrs. Spider crawled off, Grandfather Goosey-Gander went to the bank, the boys played ball some more and everything was lovely.

Now, if the window curtain doesn’t fly up lickety-split and come off the roller, I’ll tell you to-morrow night about Jimmie flying a kite.