FRIENDLY FAIRIES

Illustrated Children's Book by Johnny Gruelle 1919 - online version

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"But when the catfish got by themselves and they thought there was no one else to overhear them, they would make up fairy tales of wonderful adventures they had gone through, and fierce monsters they had destroyed. One would say 'I wish I were large enough to drag home the enormous giant eel I killed today. He was sixteen feet long, and weighed five hundred pounds.' Another would say, 'Pooh, that is nothing! Why, you ought to see an Indian who tried to catch me in a net! Why, I not only pulled him in the water and dragged him all over the bottom, but I made him promise he would never disturb any of the catfish tribe after this!'
"Just then a little bird flew over the water and his shadow so startled the boastful catfish, they buried themselves in the mud at the bottom of the stream.
"After a while," Grand'pa Skeeterhawk continued, "They got up courage to peek out of the mud, and as they saw nothing to frighten them, they formed in a circle and told more tales of their fighting qualities.
"One old catfish who had been the leader because he could tell the biggest tales and hide under the mud quicker than any of the others finally said: 'We are the best fish in the water, as you all know, so I think it will be a good plan to fight everything that comes near the water from the land!'