Fourth of July Childrens' Story by Thornton W. Burgess. Published July 4, 1927.

Researched by James R. Heintze. All Rights Reserved.

Bedtime Stories: Every One is Anxious. By Thornton W. Burgess.(Source: New York Herald Tribune, 4 July 1927, 22.)


Thornton Waldo Burgess (1874-1965) was one of the most important authors of childrens stories in his day, with over 170 books and 15,000 stories to his credit. The following delightful story is fun and a suprise happy ending too--a celebration of the Fourth of July with firecrackers by Farmer Brown's Boy.
Old Man Coyote and Mrs. Coyote got no tender young Chucks for dinner that day. In the first place Johnny Chuck's bright eyes had discovered them and he had sharply whistled a warning. At the sound of it Old Man Coyote had snarled under his breath. Lifting his head enough to look over the tops of the grasses, he watched the five young Chucks scampering home. Then, before Polly Chuck could see him, he ducked down out of sight again. Old Man Coyote is one who long ago learned the value of patience. So, though he was disappointed in not being able to surprise those young Chucks, he by no means gave up hope. He and Mrs. Coyote would simply hide close by that Chuck home and wait in patience. Sooner or later those little Chucks would come out. He was sure of it.

So he and Mrs. Coyote hid in the grass close to Polly Chuck's home. Polly Chuck had discovered them and had gone down inside. This satisfied them, for now they could hide without being seen. They knew that Polly would by and by poke her head out for a look around. If she did not see them, she would come out and sit up on her doorstep. Then the young Chucks would come out.

Hardly had Old Man Coyote and Mrs. Coyote made themselves comfortable when over at Farmer Brown's house there was a noise which sounded very much like the bang-bang of a dreadful gun. It made them start nervously. Then it was repeated. This time it sounded like a whole lot of guns. Old Man Coyote stirred uneasily. Mrs. Coyote half rose to her feet.

"Bang-bang-bang-bang!" That sounded as if it were in the Long Lane leading down to the Green Meadows. Old Man Coyote got to his feet. "Let us go, my dear," said he. "I don't know what hunters with terrible guns are out for this time of year, but I don't propose to wait to find out." He led the way at a swift trot and Mrs. Coyote almost trod on his heels.

"Bang-bang-bang-bang!" Old Man Coyote broke into a lope and Mrs. Coyote drew up right along beside him and pressed against him. Far off in the distance they heard other bangs. They seemed to come from all directions. Old Man Coyote was scared and he didn't care who knew it. He just made straight for the Old Pasture as fast as those swift feet of his coul carry him; and Mrs. Coyote stayed right along with him. Straight to their new home they went and into it. There they couldn't hear those dreadful guns.

But Old Man Coyote and Mrs. Coyote were not the only ones to seek hiding. Reddy Fox and Mrs. Reddy did the same thing. Over in the Green Forest Lightfoot the Deer and Mrs. Lightfoot twitched their big ears nervously. Mr. and Mrs. Grouse looked anxious. Peter Rabbit stayed right at home in the dear Old Briar-patch. All the feathered folk remained in hiding as much as possible. Everywhere a great fear lay over the Green Meadows and the Green Forest. No one knew what to make of it. No one could guess what was going to happen. Anxious eyes watched for the appearance of the hunters with the terrible guns, but they watched in vain.

Have you guessed what had caused all this dreadful fright among all the little people of the Green Meadows and the Green Forest, and the big people too? Why, it was the Fourth of July. There wasn't a single hunter out. Farmer Brown's Boy had been celebrating with firecrackers, just as had many other boys who lived farther away. But of course the little people knew nothing about this and so they were afraid. I don't wonder very much, do you?

Another delightful story is "Betty Boston's Fourth of July in England," by Nora Perry, written in 1895. This tale is about "Betty Boston" and her sister Anne from New England who are visiting England. On the Fourth of July Anne attempts to persuade Betty Boston not to set off firecrackers and not celebrate the Fourth so as not to embarass their hosts, the Staffords. Things go awry, however, but the story ends happily. You can find this story in the Los Angeles Times, 30 June 1895, 24.

Yet other delightful stories include: Rosa Graham, "One Fourth of July", The Independent . . . Devoted to the Consideration of Politics, Social . . ., 1 July 1880, 27; Sophie Swett, "The Boy who Lost the Fourth of July," St. Nicholas: An Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks 9/9 (July 1882):709; Frances S. M. Franks, "Dannie B. Button's Fourth of July Adventure," The Youth's Companion, 5 June 1924.

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