Out behind the big red barn at the edge of the walnut grove is a most magnificent pond shaded by an old oak tree. I’ll tell you right now, before it’s too late. It belongs to McFeeglebee.
And McFeeglebee absolutely forbids fishing in that pond. He’s put up five signs to prove it. "Before I’ll allow any little boys to fish in there," he says, "I’d rather remove it."
"Little boys make too much noise. They’d scare the fish, being shouters and laughers and slappers. They’d muddy the water, and leave gum wrappers. No — I’d be a fool to let them fish in my pool."
So for a long time nobody dared to fish in that pool. That is, not until little Georgie P. Johnson decided to break the rule. "I’m gonna fish there," he said, "under the oak, where it’s cool."
"I’m gonna lie down with my knees in the air and the pole through my toes and doze like a lazy catfish in summer. Nobody will catch me. I’m a fast runner.
Everyone warned him. "A pool is not the sea. You can’t fish for free, it’s stealing. Besides, there’s all sorts of surprises in McFeeglebee’s pond. Nobody knows just what is in there besides fish and old shoes and the things people lose. You’ll catch something dangerous so you’d better beware. Fish in that pond? I wouldn’t dare!"
But little Georgie P. Johnson just wiggled his nose and pretended not to hear, as if he had molasses stuck in his ear. Of fishing he was very fond, why should he fear McFeeglebee’s pond?
So early one morning with his pole in his hand, he crept past the red barn on McFeeglebee’s land out to the edge of the grove to the pond, where he baited his hook, sinking it deep. Then Georgie P. Johnson fell asleep.
All of a sudden with a bob and a jerk, the fishing line woke him. Grabbing the pole and holding on tight he used every muscle to fight what was without doubt the biggest of trout.
He pulled ten minutes before seeing that what he had caught was not a trout, but a huge grisly catfish. How could he have been so wrong? Its whiskers alone were a foot long!
He dug in his heels, held on even tighter, nobody could say he wasn’t a fighter. The water seething and boiling, turned bright red then dark as that grisly catfish became a shark.
A shark twenty feet long with a mouth like a barrel and teeth that could bite. That was a sight! But with a splash of its tail it turned into a whale.
Now a whale in McFeeglebee’s pond, that’s really something! As big as three houses with breath like a gale, it looked rather hungry which made Georgie pale.
When the question becomes who’s catching who, little Georgie knew what to do. It’s silly to fish when fishing’s no fun, so he dropped his pole and started to run.
But it was too late. That whale became a sea dragon. It sloshed out of that pond with its slimy scales, reaching for Georgie with crooked nails.
Now he wished he’d taken his friends’ advice. At any price it was better than this. Just as the dragon was about to sup, little Georgie P. Johnson woke up.
It was after all only a dream though there was a fish on his line. But catching it was a cinch. It was only a goldfish, barely an inch.
And after that dream it hardly seemed worth it. So releasing the hook he threw it back where it belonged, in McFeeglebee’s pond.
Now when friends ask him what happened out there, he wiggles his nose and gives them a stare. "Of fishing I’m particularly fond. But there’s just too many surprises in McFeeglebee’s pond."