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THE MAJOR HESITATES
MAJOR MONKEY'S army soon became known far and wide. Its fame reached beyond Pleasant Valley, to the other side of Blue Mountain. And a good many persons who had been in the habit of making excursions into the valley now and then began to think that it was a good place to avoid.
Old Mr. Crow had a good deal to do with spreading the news. He took several long trips, just to tell people that the army was ready – and eager – to fight all strangers.
In fact, the Major said he wished Mr. Crow would mind his own affairs. For how was the army ever going to fight, if all the enemies kept out of its way?
All the generals began to tell one another that Major Monkey was a very brave soldier. And certainly he said nothing to change their opinion of him. He was always telling how much he liked to fight, and complaining that he was only wasting his valuable time in Pleasant Valley.
In a way the Major was right. And probably there never would have been the least trouble if Johnnie Green and his friends hadn't happened to have a picnic in the woods on the same day and in the same spot that the Major had chosen to call his generals together.
Of course, the Major couldn't drill his soldiers with Johnnie Green and a halfdozen other boys on hand to watch. So the generals lurked behind trees and wished that the picnickers would go away.
Meanwhile Major Monkey himself sulked in the tree-tops, hidden high up among the leafy branches, where nobody would be likely to spy him. He watched the boys while they ate their luncheon, which they devoured as soon as they reached the picnic grove. And then he looked on while they played games – hide-and-seek, and duck-on-the-rock, and follow-my-leader, and ever so many others.
Now and then old Mr. Crow flew up and tried to talk with Major Monkey. But the Major had very little to say. And at last Mr. Crow lost all patience with him.
"Are you going to sit here all day and do nothing?" Mr. Crow demanded.
"S-sh!" Major Monkey said. "Do be quiet! Do you want them to hear you?"
"I don't care if they hear me," Mr. Crow cried. "It's plain to me that these boys will stay here all day, if they're not driven away."
"No doubt!" Major Monkey agreed, as he plucked a tender shoot off the tree and ate it. "But what can we do?"
"Do!" said Mr. Crow. "What's the army for – I'd like to know – if not to fight?"
Major Monkey's wrinkled face seemed somewhat pale.
"Quite true!" he agreed again. "But I'm not sure we're strong enough to do anything against these ruffians down below. I'm not sure that I can depend on the army in a pinch."
To the Major's great alarm, Mr. Crow squalled with rage.
"You've insulted me!" he shrieked. And he made such a commotion that Major Monkey scampered off, beckoning to Mr. Crow to follow him.
Just as they left, a stone came crashing through the leaves, thrown by some boy who had noticed Mr. Crow's hoarse cries.
And that made Major Monkey
run all the faster.