Longlegs and Whitetail Quarrel by Thornton W. Burgess

Don’t lose your temper, you might also lose your meal. In this short animal children’s story, Longlegs, the blue heron learns an important lesson about temper.

“You did!” “I didn’t! I didn’t!” “You did!”
Such a terrible fuss when Grandfather hid!
You see Longlegs the Blue Heron had stood very patiently on one foot all the long morning waiting for Grandfather Frog to go to sleep on his big green lily-pad. He had felt sure he was to have Grandfather Frog for his breakfast and lunch, for he had had no breakfast, and it was now lunch time. He was so hungry that it seemed to him that the sides of his stomach certainly would fall in because there was nothing to hold them up, and then, without any warning at all, old Whitetail the Marsh Hawk had glided out across the Smiling Pool with his great claws stretched out to clutch Grandfather Frog, and Grandfather Frog had dived into the Smiling Pool with a great splash just in the very nick of time.

Now is there anything in the world so hard on the temper as to lose a good meal when you are very, very, very hungry? Of course Longlegs didn’t really have that good meal, but he had thought that he was surely going to have it. So when Grandfather Frog splashed into the Smiling Pool, of course Longlegs lost his temper altogether. His yellow eyes seemed to grow even more yellow.

“You robber! You thief!” he screamed harshly at old Whitetail.

Now old Whitetail was just as hungry as Longlegs, and he had come even nearer to catching Grandfather Frog. He is even quicker tempered than Longlegs. He had whirled like a flash on Jerry Muskrat, but Jerry had just laughed in the most provoking manner and ducked under water. This had made old Whitetail angrier than ever, and then to be called bad names—robber and thief! It was more than any self-respecting Hawk could stand. Yes, Sir, it certainly was! He fairly shook with rage as he turned in the air once more and made straight for Longlegs the Blue Heron.

“I’m no more robber and thief than you are!” he shrieked.

“You frightened away my Frog!” screamed Longlegs.

“I didn’t!”

“You did!”

“I didn’t! It wasn’t your Frog; it was mine!”

“Chugarum!” said Grandfather Frog to Jerry Muskrat, as they peeped out from under some lily-pads. “I didn’t know I belonged to anybody. I really didn’t. Did you?”

“No,” replied Jerry, his eyes sparkling with excitement as he watched Longlegs and Whitetail, “it’s news to me.”

“You’re too lazy to hunt like honest people!” taunted old Whitetail, as he wheeled around Longlegs, watching for a chance to strike with his great, cruel claws.

“I’m too honest to take the food out of other people’s mouths!” retorted Longlegs, dancing around so as always to face Whitetail, one of his great, broad wings held in front of him like a shield, and his long, strong bill ready to strike.

Every feather on Whitetail’s head was standing erect with rage, and he looked very fierce and terrible. At last he saw a chance, or thought he did, and shot down. But all he got was a feather from that great wing which Longlegs kept in front of him, and before he could get away, that long bill had struck him twice, so that he screamed with pain. So they fought and fought, till the ground was covered with feathers, and they were too tired to fight any longer.

Then, slowly and painfully, old Whitetail flew away over the Green Meadows, and with torn and ragged wings, Longlegs flew heavily down the Laughing Brook towards the Big River, and both were sore and stiff and still hungry.

“Dear me! Dear me! What a terrible thing and how useless anger is,” said Grandfather Frog, as he climbed back on his big green lily-pad in the warm sunshine.