"That is the only ferocious thing about me," asserted the Woozy with evident pride. "My growl makes an earthquake blush and the thunder ashamed of itself. If I growled at that creature you call Chiss, it would immediately think the world had cracked in two and bumped against the sun and moon, and that would cause the monster to run as far and as fast as its legs could carry it."
"In that case," said the Shaggy Man, "you are now able to do us all a great favor. Please growl."
"But you forget," returned the Woozy; "my tremendous growl would also frighten you, and if you happen to have heart disease you might expire."
"True; but we must take that risk," decided the Shaggy Man, bravely. "Being warned of what is to occur we must try to bear the terrific noise of your growl; but Chiss won't expect it, and it will scare him away."
The Woozy hesitated.
"I'm fond of you all, and I hate to shock you," it said.
"Never mind," said Ojo.
"You may be made deaf."
"If so, we will forgive you."
"Very well, then," said the Woozy in a determined voice, and advanced a few steps toward the giant porcupine. Pausing to look back, it asked: "All ready?"
"All ready!" they answered.
"Then cover up your ears and brace yourselves firmly. Now, then--look out!"
The Woozy turned toward Chiss, opened wide its mouth and said:
"Go ahead and growl," said Scraps.
"Why, I--I did growl!" retorted the Woozy, who seemed much astonished.
"What, that little squeak?" she cried.
"It is the most awful growl that ever was heard, on land or sea, in caverns or in the sky," protested the Woozy. "I wonder you stood the shock so well. Didn't you feel the ground tremble? I suppose Chiss is now quite dead with fright."
The Shaggy Man laughed merrily.
"Poor Wooz!" said he; "your growl wouldn't scare a fly."
The Woozy seemed to be humiliated and surprised. It hung its head a moment, as if in shame or sorrow, but then it said with renewed confidence: "Anyhow, my eyes can flash fire; and good fire, too; good enough to set fire to a fence!"
"That is true," declared Scraps; "I saw it done myself. But your ferocious growl isn't as loud as the tick of a beetle--or one of Ojo's snores when he's fast asleep."
"Perhaps," said the Woozy, humbly, "I have been mistaken about my growl. It has always sounded very fearful to me, but that may have been because it was so close to my ears."
"Never mind," Ojo said soothingly; "it is a great talent to be able to flash fire from your eyes. No one else can do that."
As they stood hesitating what to do Chiss stirred and suddenly a shower of quills came flying toward them, almost filling the air, they were so many. Scraps realized in an instant that they had gone too near to Chiss for safety, so she sprang in front of Ojo and shielded him from the darts, which stuck their points into her own body until she resembled one of those targets they shoot arrows at in archery games. The Shaggy Man dropped flat on his face to avoid the shower, but one quill struck him in the leg and went far in. As for the Glass Cat, the quills rattled off her body without making even a scratch, and the skin of the Woozy was so thick and tough that he was not hurt at all.
When the attack was over they all ran to the Shaggy Man, who was moaning and groaning, and Scraps promptly pulled the quill out of his leg. Then up he jumped and ran over to Chiss, putting his foot on the monster's neck and holding it a prisoner. The body of the great porcupine was now as smooth as leather, except for the holes where the quills had been, for it had shot every single quill in that one wicked shower.
"Let me go!" it shouted angrily. "How dare you put your foot on Chiss?"
"I'm going to do worse than that, old boy," replied the Shaggy Man. "You have annoyed travelers on this road long enough, and now I shall put an end to you."
"You can't!" returned Chiss. "Nothing can kill me, as you know perfectly well."
"Perhaps that is true," said the Shaggy Man in a tone of disappointment.