One bright sunny day it just happened that a boy named Joe was going to visit his granny. His granny lived in a little village, and Joe lived on a farm. So Joe said, “I’ll cut across the big field and save time going to Granny’s.”
He crawled under a fence and was halfway through the field when it just happened that a whirlwind came blustering along. Joe saw it whirling, and he tried to run out of its way. But in no time the wind was twisting all about him. And when it twirled away, it dropped a great big hat on top of Joe’s head.
“What a hat!” Joe exclaimed. “A regular ten-gallon cowboy hat!”
Joe looked all about. Nobody was near. “It belongs to somebody,” he said, “but I guess the wind picked it up and just happened to drop it here for me.” And Joe went along wearing the big hat that fit down over his eyes.
When Joe left the field and started walking along the lane, he heard a woman cry out, “Stop! Have you seen my small chick by the road? It got away, and I’m trying to catch it. But every time I get close to it, off that chick goes!”
Joe pushed back his hat and, sure enough, he could see a little yellow chick in the weeds. “I’ll get him,” Joe called. He pulled off the hat, crept forward a step or two, and suddenly dropped the hat right over the chick.
“I caught him!” Joe cried. “It’s lucky I just happen to have this hat.” Then he gave the chick to the woman and went on his way.
In just a little while he came upon a man and a horse. They were standing beside a water tap that dripped into a broken watering trough. “Ah me!” the man sighed when he saw Joe. “Here I am with a thirsty horse, a water tap, and a broken trough. There’s no way to catch enough water for my horse to drink.”
Joe said, “I think I know a way!” And he pulled off his hat and held it upside down under the tap. Soon there was enough water in the hat for the horse to drink.
“A big felt cowboy hat makes a good bucket,” Joe explained. “It’s lucky I just happened to have one.”
Later on it just happened that Joe’s hat was used to help a woman carry some apples from a torn paper sack into her house.
And it just happened that Joe also had the big hat handy when he passed a house on the lane. He looked up as he passed and saw a little girl standing at an open window with one of her mother’s best cups in her hand. She called hello to Joe. And when she waved to him, down fell the cup.
But Joe was quicker than the falling cup. He grabbed his hat and caught the cup. “Oh, thank you!” the girl’s mother said when he took the cup to the door and gave it to her. “I’m so glad you just happened to come along.”
“This is a good hat,” Joe said to himself as he walked along. “I wonder who was wearing it before the wind happened to come along.”
By now Joe was close to his granny’s house. He would be there after he crossed the village park. Joe walked along the path looking at the people sitting on the benches. Behind one bench was a dog Joe just happened to know. Joe went across the grass to pat the dog.
A big man sitting on the bench had a newspaper folded into a paper hat that he had placed on his head. Joe heard the man say, “That was the worst whirlwind I have ever seen. It swished about and twisted my clothes and grabbed—”
“Your hat!” shouted Joe, as he ran around in front of the bench.
“Well! Well! How did you happen to get it?” asked the man.
Joe told the man how the hat had come to him. The man reached in his pocket and handed Joe two tickets. “I just happen to have these,” the big man explained. “They’re two tickets to our Wild West Show, and you can use them this afternoon. I’m a performer in the show and need my hat today. I’m certainly glad to get it back! Thanks.”
So that afternoon Joe and his granny went to the Wild West Show. And when it was over, Joe said, “That’s the best Wild West Show I have ever seen. I’m so glad that I just happened to be right where the whirlwind just happened to drop that hat!”