Whose Stew?


When thover the fire not far from the picnic table near his burrow.

Topsy Turvey Turtle was crawling slowly down the path. He looked at the big black pot over the fire. “Whose stew?” he asked.

“Mine,” answered Rimsey Rabbit. “I wouldn’t call it stew yet, though. So far it’s only water.”

“I have some potatoes we could add to it,” offered Topsy Turvey Turtle.

“Thank you.”

Topsy Turvey Turtle and Rimsey Rabbit chopped up the potatoes and added them to the boiling water. As they sat down to wait for the potatoes to cook, Missy Mouse scurried towards them.

“Whose stew?” she asked.

“Ours,” answered Rimsey Rabbit. “I brought the pot and the water, and Topsy Turvey Turtle added the potatoes.”

“Well, I have been to the market to buy these lovely white gloves, and while I was there, I bought some fresh, crisp carrots. Shall I add them to your stew?”

“Oh, yes, please!” said Rimsey Rabbit. “I love carrots.”

After Missy Mouse added the carrots to the stew pot, the three sat down to visit. While they were chatting, Sweetie Skunk waddled down the path.

“Whose stew?” she asked.

“Ours,” answered Rimsey Rabbit. “I brought the pot and the water, Topsy Turvey Turtle added the potatoes, and Missy Mouse donated the carrots.”

“Oh, but you need some seasoning.” Sweetie Skunk took a packet of salt and a packet of pepper out of her pretty sequin purse and added them to the stew. As she was putting the lid back on the pot, Belushy Bear lumbered out of the woods.

“Whose stew?” he asked.

“Ours,” answered Rimsey Rabbit. “I brought the pot and the water, Topsy Turvey Turtle added the potatoes, Missy Mouse donated the carrots, and Sweetie Skunk put in the salt and pepper.”

“You need an onion for stew,” Belushy Bear boomed in his deep voice. “May I add an onion to your stew?”

“Of course,” replied Rimsey Rabbit.

So Belushy Bear pulled an onion out of his backpack and added it to the stew. Not long afterward, Polly Pig sniffed and snuffled her way into the clearing.

“Whose stew?” she asked.

“Ours,” answered Rimsey Rabbit. “I brought the pot and the water, Topsy Turvey Turtle added the potatoes, Missy Mouse donated the carrots, Sweetie Skunk put in the salt and pepper, and Belushy Bear brought the onion.”

“Sounds very tasty, but you need some green beans and peas for your stew. I have some that I could add, if I may,” suggested Polly Pig.

“Beans and peas are very tasty,” said Topsy Turvey Turtle.

“Yes,” everyone agreed. “Please add them to the stew.”

Polly Pig carefully flung her feather boa (scarf) over her shoulder so it wouldn’t get into the stew, then tossed the beans and peas into the pot.

By this time there was such a gathering that it had become a party. Topsy Turvey Turtle played his flute, and they all began to dance. Everyone was laughing and talking so loudly that Hilary Hen had to shout to get anyone to notice her.

“Whose stew?” she hollered.

“Ours!” everyone shouted over the music. Topsy Turvey Turtle stopped playing so that Rimsey Rabbit could explain who had brought what. When he finished, Hilary Hen looked into the pot.

“Would you like some flour to thicken your stew?” she asked. “I have some that I would be happy to donate.”

“Yes, please,” everyone else agreed.

Hilary Hen added the flour to the stew very carefully so that she wouldn’t get her newly polished shoes all dusty.

“I think it’s finally stew,” said Rimsey Rabbit, peering into the pot.

Everyone crowded around. The clearing filled with hungry murmurs of “It certainly looks like stew” and “It smells like stew.”

Rimsey Rabbit dished up steaming bowls of it for everyone, they sat down at the table, and he said a blessing. Then, just as they were about to start eating, they noticed Ragamuffin Raccoon watching them from the edge of the clearing. His clothes were torn and worn but very clean. He looked hungry. “Whose stew?” he asked.

“Ours,” answered Rimsey Rabbit. “I brought the pot and the water, Topsy Turvey Turtle added the potatoes, Missy Mouse donated the carrots, Sweetie Skunk put in the salt and pepper, Belushy Bear brought the onion, Polly Pig added the green beans and peas, and Hilary Hen donated the flour to thicken it.”

“Oh,” said Ragamuffin Raccoon sadly. “I don’t have anything for your stew.” He started back into the forest.

“Wait!” cried Rimsey Rabbit.

“Yes, wait!” shouted Hilary Hen.

“We don’t have a guest,” suggested Belushy Bear.

“And we need a guest,” agreed Sweetie Skunk.

“Will you be our guest?” asked Polly Pig.

“You can sit between us,” invited Topsy Turvey Turtle and Missy Mouse, making room for him.

Rimsey Rabbit served up a delicious bowl of the savory stew for Ragamuffin Raccoon, and he joined them at the table. The stew and the company were so good that everyone had second helpings.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dick Brown