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´╗┐Title: The Adventures of Prickly Porky
Author: Burgess, Thornton W. (Thornton Waldo), 1874-1965
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Adventures of Prickly Porky" ***

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The Bedtime Story-Books




Author of "Old Mother West Wind Series," "Mother
West Wind 'How' Stories," "The Bedtime
Story-Books," etc.

_With Illustrations by HARRISON CADY_




[Illustration: "Do tell me quickly what has happened to Peter!"
FRONTISPIECE. _See page 94._]













Happy Jack Squirrel had had a wonderful day. He had found some big
chestnut-trees that he had never seen before, and which promised to
give him all the nuts he would want for all the next winter. Now he
was thinking of going home, for it was getting late in the afternoon.
He looked out across the open field where Mr. Goshawk had nearly
caught him that morning. His home was on the other side.

"It's a long way 'round," said Happy Jack to himself, "but it is best
to be safe and sure."

So Happy Jack started on his long journey around the open field. Now,
Happy Jack's eyes are bright, and there is very little that Happy Jack
does not see. So, as he was jumping from one tree to another, he spied
something down on the ground which excited his curiosity.

"I must stop and see what that is," said Happy Jack. So down the tree
he ran, and in a few minutes he had found the queer thing, which had
caught his eyes. It was smooth and black and white, and at one end it
was very sharp with a tiny little barb. Happy Jack found it out by
pricking himself with it.

"Ooch," he cried, and dropped the queer thing. Pretty soon he noticed
there were a lot more on the ground.

"I wonder what they are," said Happy Jack. "They don't grow, for they
haven't any roots. They are not thorns, for there is no plant from
which they could come. They are not alive, so what can they be?"

Now, Happy Jack's eyes are bright, but sometimes he doesn't use them
to the very best advantage. He was so busy examining the queer things
on the ground that he never once thought to look up in the tops of the
trees. If he had, perhaps he would not have been so much puzzled. As
it was he just gathered up three or four of the queer things and
started on again. On the way he met Peter Rabbit and showed Peter what
he had. Now, you know Peter Rabbit is very curious. He just couldn't
sit still, but must scamper over to the place Happy Jack Squirrel told
him about.

"You'd better be careful, Peter Rabbit; they're very sharp," shouted
Happy Jack.

But as usual, Peter was in too much of a hurry to heed what was said
to him. Lipperty-lipperty-lip, lipperty-lipperty-lip, went Peter
Rabbit through the woods, as fast as his long legs would take him.
Then suddenly he squealed and sat down to nurse one of his feet. But
he was up again in a flash with another squeal louder than before.
Peter Rabbit had found the queer things that Happy Jack Squirrel had
told him about. One was sticking in his foot, and one was in the white
patch on the seat of his trousers.



The Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind were excited. Yes,
Sir, they certainly were excited. They had met Happy Jack Squirrel and
Peter Rabbit, and they were full of the news of the queer things that
Happy Jack and Peter Rabbit had found over in the Green Forest. They
hurried this way and that way over the Green Meadows and told every
one they met. Finally they reached the Smiling Pool and excitedly told
Grandfather Frog all about it.

Grandfather Frog smoothed down his white and yellow waistcoat and
looked very wise, for you know that Grandfather Frog is very old.

"Pooh," said Grandfather Frog. "I know what they are."

"What?" cried all the Merry Little Breezes together. "Happy Jack says
he is sure they do not grow, for there are no strange plants over

Grandfather Frog opened his big mouth and snapped up a foolish green
fly that one of the Merry Little Breezes blew over to him.

"Chug-a-rum," said Grandfather Frog. "Things do not have to be on
plants in order to grow. Now I am sure that those things grew, and
that they did not grow on a plant."

The Merry Little Breezes looked puzzled. "What is there that grows and
doesn't grow on a plant?" asked one of them.

"How about the claws on Peter Rabbit's toes and the hair of Happy
Jack's tail?" asked Grandfather Frog.

The Merry Little Breezes looked foolish. "Of course," they cried. "We
didn't think of that. But we are quite sure that these queer things
that prick so are not claws, and certainly they are not hair."

"Don't you be too sure," said Grandfather Frog. "You go over to the
Green Forest and look up in the treetops instead of down on the
ground; then come back and tell me what you find."

Away raced the Merry Little Breezes to the Green Forest and began to
search among the treetops. Presently, way up in the top of a big
poplar, they found a stranger. He was bigger than any of the little
meadow people, and he had long sharp teeth with which he was stripping
the bark from the tree. The hair of his coat was long, and out of it
peeped a thousand little spears just like the queer things that Happy
Jack and Peter Rabbit had told them about.

"Good morning," said the Merry Little Breezes politely.

"Mornin'," grunted the stranger in the treetop.

"May we ask where you come from?" said one of the Merry Little Breezes

"I come from the North Woods," said the stranger and then went on
about his business, which seemed to be to strip every bit of the bark
from the tree and eat it.



The Merry Little Breezes soon spread the news over the Green Meadows
and through the Green Forest that a stranger had come from the North.
At once all the little meadow people and forest folk made some excuse
to go over to the big poplar tree where the stranger was so busy
eating. At first he was very shy and had nothing to say. He was a
queer fellow, and he was so big, and his teeth were so sharp and so
long, that his visitors kept their distance.

Reddy Fox, who, you know, is a great boaster and likes to brag of how
smart he is and how brave he is, came with the rest of the little
meadow people.

"Pooh," exclaimed Reddy Fox. "Who's afraid of that fellow?"

Just then the stranger began to come down the tree. Reddy backed away.

"It looks as if _you_ were afraid, Reddy Fox," said Peter Rabbit.

"I'm not afraid of anything," said Reddy Fox, and swelled himself up
to look twice as big as he really is.

"It seems to me I hear Bowser the Hound," piped up Striped Chipmunk.

[Illustration: "Pooh," exclaimed Reddy Fox. "Who's afraid of that
fellow?" _Page 10._]

Now Striped Chipmunk had not heard Bowser the Hound at all when he
spoke, but just then there was the patter of heavy feet among the
dried leaves, and sure enough there was Bowser himself. My, how
everybody did run,--everybody but the stranger from the North. He kept
on coming down the tree just the same. Bowser saw him and stopped in
surprise. He had never seen anything quite like this big dark fellow.

"Bow, wow, wow!" shouted Bowser in his deepest voice.

Now, when Bowser used that great deep voice of his, he was accustomed
to seeing all the little meadow people and forest folk run, but this
stranger did not even hurry. Bowser was so surprised that he just
stood still and stared. Then he growled his deepest growl. Still the
stranger paid no attention to him. Bowser did not know what to make of

"I'll teach that fellow a lesson," said Bowser to himself. "I'll shake
him, and shake him and shake him until he hasn't any breath left."

By this time the stranger was down on the ground and starting for
another tree, minding his own business. Then something happened.
Bowser made a rush at him, and instead of running, what do you suppose
the stranger did? He just rolled himself up in a tight ball with his
head tucked down in his waistcoat. When he was rolled up that way, all
the little spears hidden in the hair of his coat stood right out until
he looked like a great chestnut-burr. Bowser stopped short. Then he
reached out his nose and sniffed at this queer thing. Slap! The tail
of the stranger struck Bowser the Hound right across the side of his
face, and a dozen of those little spears were left sticking there just
like pins in a pin-cushion.

"Wow! wow! wow! wow!" yelled Bowser at the top of his lungs, and
started for home with his tail between his legs, and yelling with
every jump. Then the stranger unrolled himself and smiled, and all the
little meadow people and forest folk who had been watching shouted
aloud for joy.

And this is the way that Prickly Porky the Porcupine made friends.



Little Mrs. Peter Rabbit, who used to be Little Miss Fuzzytail, sat at
the edge of the dear Old Briar-patch, anxiously looking over towards
the Green Forest. She was worried. There was no doubt about it. Little
Mrs. Peter was very much worried. Why didn't Peter come home? She did
wish that he would be content to stay close by the dear Old
Briar-patch. For her part, she couldn't see why under the sun he
wanted to go way over to the Green Forest. He was always having
dreadful adventures and narrow escapes over there, and yet, in spite
of all she could say, he would persist in going there. She didn't feel
easy in her mind one minute while he was out of her sight. To be sure
he always turned up all right, but she couldn't help feeling that
sometime his dreadful curiosity would get him into trouble that he
couldn't get out of, and so every time he went to the Green Forest,
she was sure, absolutely sure, that she would never see him again.

Peter used to laugh at her and tell her that she was a foolish little
dear, and that he was perfectly able to take care of himself. Then,
when he saw how worried she was, he would promise to be very, very
careful and never do anything rash or foolish. But he wouldn't promise
not to go to the Green Forest. No, Sir, Peter wouldn't promise that.
You see, he has so many friends over there, and there is always so
much news to be gathered that he just couldn't keep away. Once or
twice he had induced Mrs. Peter to go with him, but she had been
frightened almost out of her skin every minute, for it seemed to her
that there was danger lurking behind every tree and under every bush.
It was all very well for Chatterer the Red Squirrel and Happy Jack the
Gray Squirrel, who could jump from tree to tree, but she didn't think
it a safe and proper place for a sensible Rabbit, and she said so.

This particular morning she was unusually anxious. Peter had been gone
all night. Usually he was home by the time Old Mother West Wind came
down from the Purple Hills and emptied her children, the Merry Little
Breezes, out of her big bag to play all day on the Green Meadows, but
this morning Old Mother West Wind had been a long time gone about her
business, and still there was no sign of Peter.

"Something has happened. I just know something has happened!" she

    "Oh, Peter, Peter, Peter Rabbit
      Why will you be so heedless?
    Why will you take such dreadful risks,
      So foolish and so needless?"

"Don't worry. Peter is smart enough to take care of himself," cried
one of the Merry Little Breezes, who happened along just in time to
overhear her. "He'll be home pretty soon. In fact, I think I see him
coming now."

Mrs. Peter looked in the direction that the Merry Little Breeze was
looking, and sure enough there was Peter. He was heading straight for
the dear Old Briar-patch, and he was running as if he were trying to
show how fast he could run. Mrs. Peter's heart gave a frightened
thump. "It must be that Reddy or Granny Fox or Old Man Coyote is
right at his heels," thought she, but look as hard as she would, she
could see nothing to make Peter run so.

In a few minutes he reached her side. His eyes were very wide, and it
was plain to see that he was bursting with important news.

"What is it, Peter? Do tell me quick! Have you had another narrow
escape?" gasped little Mrs. Peter.

Peter nodded while he panted for breath. "There's another stranger in
the Green Forest, a terrible looking fellow without legs or head or
tail, and he almost caught me!" panted Peter.



When Peter Rabbit could get his breath after his long hard run from
the Green Forest to the dear Old Briar-patch, he had a wonderful story
to tell. It was all about a stranger in the Green Forest, and to have
heard Peter tell about it, you would have thought, as Mrs. Peter did,
that it was a very terrible stranger, for it had no legs, and it had
no head, and it had no tail. At least, that is what Peter said.

"You see, it was this way," declared Peter. "I had stopped longer than
I meant to in the Green Forest, for you know, my dear, I always try to
be home by the time jolly, round, red Mr. Sun gets out of bed and Old
Mother West Wind gets down on the Green Meadows." Mrs. Peter nodded.
"But somehow time slipped away faster than I thought for, or else Mr.
Sun got up earlier than usual," continued Peter. Then he stopped. That
last idea was a new one, and it struck Peter as a good one. "I do
believe that that is just what happened--Mr. Sun must have made a
mistake and crawled out of bed earlier than usual," he cried.

Mrs. Peter looked as if she very much doubted it, but she didn't say
anything, and so Peter went on with his story.

"I had just realized how light it was and had started for home,
hurrying with all my might, when I heard a little noise at the top of
the hill where Prickly Porky the Porcupine lives. Of course I thought
it was Prickly himself starting out for his breakfast, and I looked
up with my mouth open to say hello. But I didn't say hello. No, Sir,
I didn't say a word. I was too scared. There, just starting down the
hill straight towards me, was the most dreadful creature that ever has
been seen in the Green Forest! It didn't have any legs, and it didn't
have any head, and it didn't have any tail, and it was coming straight
after me so fast that I had all I could do to get out of the way!"
Peter's eyes grew very round and wide as he said this. "I took one
good look, and then I jumped. My gracious, how I did jump!" he
continued. "Then I started for home just as fast as ever I could make
my legs go, and here I am, and mighty glad to be here!"

Mrs. Peter had listened with her mouth wide open. When Peter finished,
she closed it with a snap and hopped over and felt of his head.

"Are you sick, Peter?" she asked anxiously.

Peter stared at her. "Sick! Me sick! Not a bit of it!" he exclaimed.
"Never felt better in my life, save that I am a little tired from my
long run. What a silly question! Do I look sick?"

"No-o," replied little Mrs. Peter slowly. "No-o, you don't look sick,
but you talk as if there were something the matter with your head. I
think you must be just a little light-headed, Peter, or else you have
taken a nap somewhere and had a bad dream. Did I understand you to say
that this dreadful creature has no legs, and yet that it chased you?"

"That's what I said!" snapped Peter a wee bit crossly, for he saw that
Mrs. Peter didn't believe a word of his story.

"Will you please tell me how any creature in the Green Forest or out
of it, for that matter, can possibly chase any one unless it has legs
or wings, and you didn't say anything about its having wings,"
demanded Mrs. Peter.

Peter scratched his head in great perplexity. Suddenly he had a happy
thought. "Mr. Blacksnake runs fast enough, but he doesn't have legs,
does he?" he asked in triumph.

Little Mrs. Peter looked a bit discomfited. "No-o," she admitted
slowly, "he doesn't have legs; but I never could understand how he
runs without them."

"Well, then," snapped Peter, "if he can run without legs, why can't
other creatures? Besides, this one didn't run exactly; it rolled. Now
I've told you all I'm going to. I need a long nap, after all I've been
through, so don't let any one disturb me."

"I won't," replied Mrs. Peter meekly. "But, Peter, if I were you, I
wouldn't tell that story to any one else."



    Once you start a story you cannot call it back;
    It travels on and on and on and ever on, alack!

That is the reason why you should always be sure that a story you
repeat is a good story. Then you will be glad to have it travel on and
on and on, and will never want to call it back. But if you tell a
story that isn't true or nice, the time is almost sure to come when
you will want to call it back and cannot. You see stories are just
like rivers,--they run on and on forever. Little Mrs. Peter Rabbit
knew this, and that is why she advised Peter not to tell any one else
the strange story he had told her of the dreadful creature without
legs or head or tail that had chased him in the Green Forest. Peter
knew by that that she didn't believe a word of it, but he was too
tired and sleepy to argue with her then, so he settled himself
comfortably for a nice long nap.

When Peter awoke, the first thing he thought of was the terrible
creature he had seen in the Green Forest. The more he thought about
it, the more impossible it seemed, and he didn't wonder that Mrs.
Peter had advised him not to repeat it.

"I won't," said Peter to himself. "I won't repeat it to a soul. No one
will believe it. The truth is, I can hardly believe it myself. I'll
just keep my tongue still."

But unfortunately for Peter, one of the Merry Little Breezes of Old
Mother West Wind had heard Peter tell the story to Mrs. Peter, and it
was such a wonderful and curious and unbelievable story that the Merry
Little Breeze straightway repeated it to everybody he met, and soon
Peter Rabbit began to receive callers who wanted to hear the story all
over again from Peter himself. So Peter was obliged to repeat it ever
so many times, and every time it sounded to him more foolish than
before. He had to tell it to Jimmy Skunk and to Johnny Chuck and to
Danny Meadow Mouse and to Digger the Badger and to Sammy Jay and to
Blacky the Crow and to Striped Chipmunk and to Happy Jack Squirrel and
to Bobby Coon and to Unc' Billy Possum and to Old Mr. Toad.

Now, strange to say, no one laughed at Peter, queer as the story
sounded. You see, they all remembered how they had laughed at him and
made fun of him when he told about the great footprints he had found
deep in the Green Forest, and how later it had been proven that he
really did see them, for they were made by Buster Bear who had come
down from the Great Woods to live in the Green Forest. Then it had
been Peter's turn to laugh at them. So now, impossible as this new
story sounded, they didn't dare laugh at it.

"I never heard of such a creature," said Jimmy Skunk, "and I can't
quite believe that there is such a one, but it is very clear to me
that Peter has seen something strange. You know the old saying that he
laughs best who laughs last, and I'm not going to give Peter another
chance to have the last laugh and say, 'I told you so.'"

"That is very true," replied Old Mr. Toad solemnly. "Probably Peter
has seen something out of the ordinary, and in his excitement he has
exaggerated it. The thing to do is to make sure whether or not there
is a stranger in the Green Forest. Peter says that it came down the
hill where Prickly Porky the Porcupine lives. Some one ought to go ask
him what he knows about it. If there is such a terrible creature up
there, he ought to have seen it. Why don't you go up there and ask
him, Jimmy Skunk? You're not afraid of anybody or anything."

"I will," replied Jimmy promptly, and off he started. You see, he felt
very much flattered by Old Mr. Toad's remark, and he couldn't very
well refuse, for that would look as if he were afraid, after all.



"A plague upon Old Mr. Toad!" grumbled Jimmy, as he ambled up the Lone
Little Path through the Green Forest on his way to the hill where
Prickly Porky lives. "Of course I'm not afraid, but just the same I
don't like meddling with things I don't know anything about. I'm not
afraid of anybody I know of, because everybody has the greatest
respect for me, but it might be different with a creature without legs
or head or tail. Whoever heard of such a thing? It gives me a queer
feeling inside."

However, he kept right on, and as he reached the foot of the hill
where Prickly Porky lives, he looked sharply in every direction and
listened with all his might for strange sounds. But there was nothing
unusual to be seen. The Green Forest looked just as it always did. It
was very still and quiet there save for the cheerful voice of Redeye
the Vireo telling over and over how happy he was.

"That doesn't sound as if there were any terrible stranger around
here," muttered Jimmy.

Then he heard a queer, grunting sound, a very queer sound, that seemed
to come from somewhere on the top of the hill. Jimmy grinned as he
listened. "That's Prickly Porky telling himself how good his dinner
tastes," laughed Jimmy. "Funny how some people do like to hear their
own voices."

The contented sound of Prickly Porky's voice made Jimmy feel very sure
that there could be nothing very terrible about just then, anyway, and
so he slowly ambled up the hill, for you know he never hurries. It was
an easy matter to find the tree in which Prickly Porky was at work
stripping off bark and eating it, because he made so much noise.

"Hello!" said Jimmy Skunk.

Prickly Porky took no notice. He was so busy eating, and making so
much noise about it, that he didn't hear Jimmy at all.

"Hello!" shouted Jimmy a little louder. "Hello, there! Are you deaf?"
Of course this wasn't polite at all, but Jimmy was feeling a little
out of sorts because he had had to make this call. This time Prickly
Porky looked down.

"Hello yourself, and see how you like it, Jimmy Skunk!" he cried.
"Come on up and have some of this nice bark with me." Then Prickly
Porky laughed at his own joke, for he knew perfectly well that Jimmy
couldn't climb, and that he wouldn't eat bark if he could.

Jimmy made a face at him. "Thank you, I've just dined. Come down here
where I can talk to you without straining my voice," he replied.

"Wait until I get another bite," replied Prickly Porky, stripping off
a long piece of bark. Then with this to chew on, he came half way down
the tree and made himself comfortable on a big limb. "Now, what is it
you've got on your mind?" he demanded.

At once Jimmy told him the queer story Peter Rabbit had told. "I've
been sent up here to find out if you have seen this legless,
headless, tailess creature. Have you?" he concluded.

Prickly Porky slowly shook his head. "No," said he. "I've been right
here all the time, and I haven't seen any such creature."

"That's all I want to know," replied Jimmy. "Peter Rabbit's got
something the matter with his eyes, and I'm going straight back to the
Old Briar-patch to tell him so. Much obliged." With that Jimmy started
back the way he had come, grumbling to himself.



Hardly was Jimmy Skunk beyond sight and hearing after having made his
call than Redeye the Vireo, whose home is in a tree just at the foot
of the hill where Prickly Porky lives, heard a very strange noise. He
was very busy, was Redeye, telling all who would listen how happy he
was and what a beautiful world this is. Redeye seems to think that
this is his special mission in life, that he was put in the Green
Forest for this one special purpose,--to sing all day long, even in
the hottest weather when other birds forget to sing, his little song
of gladness and happiness. It never seems to enter his head that he
is making other people happy just by being happy himself and saying

At first he hardly noticed the strange noise, but when he stopped
singing for a bit of a rest, he heard it very plainly, and it sounded
so very queer that he flew up the hill towards the place from which it
seemed to come, and there his bright eyes soon discovered Prickly
Porky. Right away he saw that Prickly Porky was in some kind of
trouble, and that it was he who was making the queer noise. Prickly
Porky was on the ground at the foot of a tree, and he was rolling over
and kicking and clawing at his mouth, from which a little piece of
bark was hanging. It was such a strange performance that Redeye simply
stared for a minute. Then in a flash it came to him what it meant.
Prickly Porky was choking, and if something wasn't done to help him,
he might choke to death!

Now there was nothing that Redeye himself could do to help, for he was
too small. He must get help somewhere else, and he must do it quickly.
Anxiously he looked this way and that way, but there was no one in
sight. Then he remembered that Unc' Billy Possum's hollow tree was not
far away. Perhaps Unc' Billy could help. He hoped that Unc' Billy was
at home, and he wasted no time in finding out. Unc' Billy was at home,
and when he heard that his old friend Prickly Porky was in trouble, he
hurried up the hill as fast as ever he could. He saw right away what
was the trouble.

"Yo' keep still just a minute, Brer Porky!" he commanded, for he did
not dare go very near while Prickly Porky was rolling and kicking
around so, for fear that he would get against some of the thousand
little spears Prickly Porky carries hidden in his coat. Prickly Porky
did as he was told. Indeed, he was so weak from his long struggle that
he was glad to. Unc' Billy caught hold of the piece of bark hanging
from Prickly Porky's mouth. Then he braced himself and pulled with all
his might. For a minute the piece of bark held. Then it gave way so
suddenly that Unc' Billy fell over flat on his back. Unc' Billy
scrambled to his feet and looked reprovingly at Prickly Porky, who lay
panting for breath, and with big tears rolling down his face.

[Illustration: Then he braced himself and pulled with all his might.
_Page 30._]

"Ah cert'nly am surprised, Brer Porky; Ah cert'nly am surprised that
yo' should be so greedy that yo' choke yo'self," said Unc' Billy,
shaking his head.

Prickly Porky grinned weakly and rather foolishly. "It wasn't greed,
Unc' Billy. It wasn't greed at all," he replied.

"Then what was it, may Ah ask?" demanded Unc' Billy severely.

"I thought of something funny right in the middle of my meal, and I
laughed just as I started to swallow, and the piece of bark went down
the wrong way," explained Prickly Porky. And then, as if the mere
thought of the thing that had made him laugh before was too much for
him, he began to laugh again. He laughed and laughed and laughed,
until finally Unc' Billy quite lost patience.

"Yo' cert'nly have lost your manners, Brer Porky!" he snapped.

Prickly Porky wiped the tears from his eyes. "Come closer so that I
can whisper, Unc' Billy," said he.

A little bit suspiciously Unc' Billy came near enough for Prickly
Porky to whisper, and when he had finished, Unc' Billy was wiping
tears of laughter from his own eyes.



The little people of the Green Meadows and the Green Forest didn't
know what to believe. First came Peter Rabbit with the strangest kind
of a story about being chased by a terrible creature without legs,
head, or tail. He said that it had come down the hill where Prickly
Porky the Porcupine lives in the Green Forest. Jimmy Skunk had been
sent to call on Prickly Porky and ask him if he had seen any strange
creature such as Peter Rabbit had told about. Prickly Porky had said
that he hadn't seen any stranger in that part of the Green Forest, and
Jimmy had straightway returned to the Green Meadows and told all his
friends there that Peter Rabbit must have had something the matter
with his eyes or else was crazy, for Prickly Porky hadn't been away
from home and yet had seen nothing unusual.

At the same time Unc' Billy Possum was going about in the Green Forest
telling everybody whom he met that he had called on Prickly Porky, and
that Prickly Porky had told him that Peter Rabbit undoubtedly had seen
something strange. Of course Jimmy Skunk's story soon spread through
the Green Forest, and Unc' Billy Possum's story soon spread over the
Green Meadows, and so nobody knew what to believe or think. If Jimmy
Skunk was right, why Peter Rabbit's queer story wasn't to be believed
at all. If Unc' Billy was right, why Peter's story wasn't as crazy as
it sounded.

Of course all this aroused a great deal of talk and curiosity, and
those who had the most courage began to make visits to the hill where
Prickly Porky lives to see if they could see for themselves anything
out of the ordinary. But they always found that part of the Green
Forest just as usual and always, if they saw Prickly Porky at all, he
seemed to be fast asleep, and no one liked to wake him to ask
questions. Little by little they began to think that Jimmy Skunk was
right, and that Peter Rabbit's terrible creature existed only in
Peter's imagination.

About this time Unc' Billy told of having just such an experience as
Peter had. It happened exactly as it did with Peter, very early in the
morning, when he was passing the foot of the hill where Prickly Porky

"Ah was just passing along, minding mah own business, when Ah heard a
noise up on the hill behind me," said Unc' Billy, "and when Ah looked
up, there was something coming straight down at me, and Ah couldn't
see any legs or head or tail."

"What did you do, Unc' Billy?" asked Bobby Coon.

"What did Ah do? Ah did just what yo'alls would have done,--Ah done
run!" replied Unc' Billy, looking around the little circle of forest
and meadow people, listening with round eyes and open mouths. "Yes,
Sah, Ah done run, and Ah didn't turn around until Ah was safe in mah
holler tree."

"Pooh!" sneered Reddy Fox, who had been listening. "You're a coward. I
wouldn't have run! I would have waited and found out what it was. You
and Peter Rabbit would run away from your own shadows."

"You don't dare go there yourself at daybreak to-morrow!" retorted
Unc' Billy.

"I do too!" declared Reddy angrily, though he didn't have the least
intention of going.

"All right. Ah'm going to be in a tree where Ah can watch to-morrow
mo'ning and see if yo' are as brave as yo' talk," declared Unc' Billy.

Then Reddy knew that he would have to go or else be called a coward.
"I'll be there," he snarled angrily, as he slunk away.



    Be sure before you drop a friend
    That you've done nothing to offend.

A friend is always worth keeping. Unc' Billy Possum says so, and he
knows. He ought to, for he has made a lot of them in the Green Forest
and on the Green Meadows, in spite of the pranks he has cut up and the
tricks he has played. And when Unc' Billy makes a friend, he keeps
him. He says that it is easier and a lot better to keep a friend than
to make a new one. And this is the way he goes about it: Whenever he
finds that a friend is angry with him, he refuses to be angry
himself. Instead, he goes to that friend, finds out what the trouble
is, explains it all away, and then does something nice.

Jimmy Skunk and Unc' Billy had been friends from the time that Unc'
Billy came up from ol' Virginny to live in the Green Forest. In fact,
they had been partners in stealing eggs from the hen-house of Farmer
Brown's boy. So when Jimmy Skunk, who had made a special call on
Prickly Porky to find out if he had seen the strange creature without
head, tail, or legs, told everybody that Prickly Porky had seen
nothing of such a creature, he was very much put out and quite
offended to hear that Unc' Billy was telling how Prickly Porky had
said that Peter might really have some reason for his queer story. It
seemed to him that either Prickly Porky had told an untruth or that
Unc' Billy was telling an untruth. It made him very angry.

The afternoon of the day when Unc' Billy had dared Reddy Fox to go at
sun-up the next morning to the hill where Prickly Porky lives he met
Jimmy Skunk coming down the Crooked Little Path. Jimmy scowled and was
going to pass without so much as speaking. Unc' Billy's shrewd little
eyes twinkled, and he grinned as only Unc' Billy can grin. "Howdy,
Brer Skunk," said he.

Jimmy just frowned harder than ever and tried to pass.

"Howdy, Brer Skunk," repeated Unc' Billy Possum. "Yo' must have
something on your mind."

Jimmy Skunk stopped. "I have!" he snapped. "I want to know whether it
is you or Prickly Porky who has been telling an untruth. He told me
that he hadn't seen anything like what Peter Rabbit said chased him,
and you've been telling around how he told you that Peter may have had
good grounds for that foolish story. If Peter saw that thing, Prickly
Porky would know it, for he hasn't been away from home this summer.
Why would he tell me that he hasn't seen it if he has?"

"Don' be hasty, Brer Skunk. Don' be hasty," replied Unc' Billy
soothingly. "Ah haven't said that Brer Porky told me that he had
_seen_ the thing that Peter says chased him. He told the truth when he
told you that he hadn't seen any stranger around his hill. What he
told me was that--" Here Unc' Billy whispered.

Jimmy Skunk's face cleared. "That's different," said he.

"Of course it is," replied Unc' Billy. "Yo' see Peter _did_ see
something strange, even if Brer Porky didn't. Ah have seen it
mahself, and now Ah invites yo' to be over at the foot of Brer Porky's
hill at sun-up to-morrow mo'ning and see what happens when Brer Fox
tries to show how brave he is. Only don' forget that it's a secret."

Jimmy was chuckling by this time. "I won't forget, and I'll be there,"
he promised. "I'm glad to know that nobody has been telling untruths,
and I beg your pardon, Unc' Billy, for thinking you might have been."

"Don' mention it, Brer Skunk, don' mention it. Ah'll be looking fo'
yo' to-morrow mo'ning," replied Unc' Billy, with a sly wink that made
Jimmy laugh aloud.



Reddy Fox wished with all his might that he had kept his tongue still
about not being afraid to meet the strange creature that had given
Peter Rabbit such a fright. When he had boasted that he would stop and
find out all about it if he happened to meet it, he didn't have the
least intention of doing anything of the kind. He was just idly
boasting and nothing more. You see, Reddy is one of the greatest
boasters in the Green Forest or on the Green Meadows. He likes to
strut around and talk big. But like most boasters, he is a coward at

Unc' Billy Possum knew this, and that is why he dared Reddy to go the
next morning to the foot of the hill where Prickly Porky the Porcupine
lives, and where Peter Rabbit had had his strange adventure, and where
Unc' Billy himself claimed to have seen the same strange creature
without head, tail, or legs which had so frightened Peter. Unc' Billy
had said that he would be there himself up in a tree where he could
see whether Reddy really did come or not, and so there was nothing for
Reddy to do but to go and make good his foolish boast, if the strange
creature should appear. You see, a number of little people had heard
him boast and had heard Unc' Billy dare him, and he knew that if he
didn't make good, he would never hear the end of it and would be
called a coward by everybody.

Reddy didn't sleep at all well that afternoon, and when at dusk he
started to hunt for his supper, he found that he had lost his
appetite. Instead of hunting, he spent most of the night in trying to
think of some good reason for not appearing at Prickly Porky's hill at
daybreak. But think as he would, he couldn't think of a single excuse
that would sound reasonable. "If only Bowser the Hound wasn't chained
up at night, I would get him to chase me, and then I would have the
very best kind of an excuse," thought he. But he knew that Bowser
_was_ chained. Nevertheless he did go up to Farmer Brown's dooryard to
make sure. It was just as he expected,--Bowser was chained.

Reddy sneaked away without even a look at Farmer Brown's hen-house. He
didn't see that the door had carelessly been left open, and even if he
had, it would have made no difference. He hadn't a bit of appetite.
No, Sir. Reddy Fox wouldn't have eaten the fattest chicken there if it
had been right before him. All he could think of was that queer story
told by Peter Rabbit and Unc' Billy Possum, and the scrape he had got
himself into by his foolish boasting. He just wandered about
restlessly, waiting for daybreak and hoping that something would turn
up to prevent him from going to Prickly Porky's hill. He didn't dare
to tell old Granny Fox about it. He knew just what she would say. It
seemed as if he could hear her sharp voice and the very words:

"Serves you right for boasting about something you don't know anything
about. How many times have I told you that no good comes of boasting?
A wise Fox never goes near strange things until he has found out all
about them. That is the only way to keep out of trouble and live to a
ripe old age. Wisdom is nothing but knowledge, and a wise Fox always
knows what he is doing."

So Reddy wandered about all the long night. It seemed as if it never
would pass, and yet he wished it would last forever. The more he
thought about it, the more afraid he grew. At last he saw the first
beams from jolly, round, red Mr. Sun creeping through the Green
Forest. The time had come, and he must choose between making his boast
good or being called a coward by everybody. Very, very slowly, Reddy
Fox began to walk towards the hill where Prickly Porky lives.



    Who guards his tongue as he would keep
      A treasure rich and rare,
    Will keep himself from trouble free,
      And dodge both fear and care.

The trouble with a great many people is that they remember this too
late. Reddy Fox is one of these. Reddy is smart and sly and clever in
some ways, but he hasn't learned yet to guard his tongue, and half the
trouble he gets into is because of that unruly member. You see it is a
boastful tongue and an untruthful tongue and that is the worst
combination for making trouble that I know of. It has landed him in
all kinds of scrapes in the past, and here he was in another, all on
account of that tongue.

Jolly, round, red Mr. Sun had kicked his rosy blankets off and was
smiling down on the Great World as he began his daily climb up in the
blue, blue sky. The Jolly Little Sunbeams were already dancing through
the Green Forest, chasing out the Black Shadows, and Reddy knew that
it was high time for him to be over by the hill where Prickly Porky
the Porcupine lives. With lagging steps he sneaked along from tree to
tree, peering out from behind each anxiously, afraid to go on, and
still more afraid not to, for fear that he would be called a coward.

He had almost reached the foot of the hill without seeing anything out
of the usual and without any signs of Unc' Billy Possum. He was just
beginning to hope that Unc' Billy wasn't there, as he had said he
would be, when a voice right over his head said:

"Ah cert'nly am glad to see that yo' are as good as your word, Brer
Fox, fo' we need some one brave like yo' to find out what this strange
creature is that has been chasing we-uns."

Reddy looked up with a sickly grin. There sat Unc' Billy Possum in a
pine tree right over his head. He knew now that there was no backing
out; he had got to go on. He tried to swagger and look very bold and

"I told you I'm not afraid. If there's anything queer around here,
I'll find out what it is," he once more boasted, but Unc' Billy
noticed that his voice sounded just a wee bit trembly.

"Keep right on to the foot of the hill; that's where Ah saw it
yesterday. My, Ah'm glad that we've got some one so truly brave!"
replied Unc' Billy.

Reddy looked at him sharply, but there wasn't a trace of a smile on
Unc' Billy's face, and Reddy couldn't tell whether Unc' Billy was
making fun of him or not. So, there being nothing else to do, he went
on. He reached the foot of the hill without seeing or hearing a thing
out of the usual. The Green Forest seemed just as it always had
seemed. Redeye the Vireo was pouring out his little song of gladness,
quite as if everything was just as it should be. Reddy's courage began
to come back. Nothing had happened, and nothing was going to happen.
Of course not! It was all some of Peter Rabbit's foolishness. Some day
he would catch Peter Rabbit and put an end to such silly tales.

"Ah! What was that?" Reddy's sharp ears had caught a sound up near the
top of the hill. He stopped short and looked up. For just a little wee
minute Reddy couldn't believe that his eyes saw right. Coming down
the hill straight towards him was the strangest thing he ever had
seen. He couldn't see any legs. He couldn't see any head. He couldn't
see any tail. It was round like a ball, but it was the strangest
looking ball that ever was. It was covered with old leaves. Reddy
wouldn't have believed that it was alive but for the noises it was
making. For just a wee minute he stared, and then, what do you think
he did? Why, he gave a frightened yelp, put his tail between his legs,
and ran just as fast as he could make his legs go. Yes, Sir, that's
just what Reddy Fox did.

[Illustration: Reddy wouldn't have believed that it was alive.
_Page 69._]



When Reddy Fox put his tail between his legs and started away from
that terrible creature coming down the hill where Prickly Porky lives,
he thought of nothing but of getting as far away as he could in the
shortest time that he could, and so, with a little frightened yelp
with every jump, he ran as he seldom had run before. He forgot all
about Unc' Billy Possum watching from the safety of a big pine-tree.
He didn't see Jimmy Skunk poking his head out from behind an old stump
and laughing fit to kill himself. When he reached the edge of the
Green Forest, he didn't even see Peter Rabbit jump out of his path
and dodge into a hollow log.

When Reddy was safely past, Peter came out. He sat up very straight,
with his ears pointing right up to the sky and his eyes wide open with
surprise as he stared after Reddy. "Why! Why, my gracious, I do
believe Reddy has had a fright!" exclaimed Peter. Then, being Peter,
he right away began to wonder what could have frightened Reddy so, and
in a minute he thought of the strange creature which had frightened
him a few days before. "I do believe that was it!" he cried. "I do
believe it was. Reddy is coming from the direction of Prickly Porky's,
and that was where I got my fright. I--I--"

Peter hesitated. The truth is he was wondering if he dared go up there
and see if that strange creature without head, tail, or legs really
was around again. He knew it would be a foolish thing to do, for he
might walk right into danger. He knew that little Mrs. Peter was
waiting for him over in the dear Old Briar-patch and that she would
worry, for he ought to be there this very blessed minute. But he was
very curious to know what had frightened Reddy so, and his curiosity,
which has led him into so many scrapes, grew greater with every
passing minute.

"It won't do any harm to go part way up there," thought Peter.
"Perhaps I will find out something without going way up there."

So, instead of starting for home as he should have done, he turned
back through the Green Forest and, stopping every few hops to look and
listen, made his way clear to the foot of the hill where Prickly Porky
lives. There he hid under a little hemlock-tree and looked in every
direction for the strange creature which had frightened him so the
last time he was there. But nobody was to be seen but Prickly Porky,
Jimmy Skunk, and Unc' Billy Possum rolling around in the leaves at the
top of the hill and laughing fit to kill themselves.

"There's no danger here; that is sure," thought Peter shrewdly, "and I
believe those fellows have been up to some trick."

With that he boldly hopped up the hill and joined them. "What's the
joke?" he demanded.

"Did you meet Reddy Fox?" asked Jimmy Skunk, wiping the tears of
laughter from his eyes.

"Did I meet him? Why, he almost ran into me and didn't see me at all.
I guess he's running yet. Now, what's the joke?" Peter demanded.

When the others could stop laughing long enough, they gathered around
Peter and told him something that sent Peter off into such a fit of
laughter that it made his sides ache, "That's a good one on Reddy, and
it was just as good a one on me," he declared. "Now who else can we

All of which shows that there was something very like mischief being
planned on the hill where Prickly Porky the Porcupine lives.



Never in all his life was Reddy Fox more uncomfortable in his mind. He
knew that by this time everybody in the Green Forest, on the Green
Meadows, around the Smiling Pool, and along the Laughing Brook, knew
how he had put his tail between his legs and run with all his might at
the first glimpse of the strange creature which had rolled down the
hill of Prickly Porky. And he was right; everybody _did_ know it, and
everybody _was_ laughing about it. Unc' Billy Possum, Jimmy Skunk,
Prickly Porky, and Peter Rabbit had seen him run, and you may be sure
they told everybody they met about it, and news like that travels
very fast.

It wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't boasted beforehand that if
he met the strange creature he would wait for it and find out what it
was. As it was, he had run just as Peter Rabbit had run when he saw
it, and he had been just as much frightened as Peter had. Now, as he
sneaked along trying to find something to eat, for he was hungry, he
did his very best to keep out of sight. Usually he is very proud of
his handsome red coat, but now he wished that he could get rid of it.
It is very hard to keep out of sight when you have bright colored
clothes. Presently Sammy Jay's sharp eyes spied him as he tried to
crawl up on the young family of Mrs. Grouse. At once Sammy flew over
there screaming at the top of his lungs:

    "Reddy Fox is very brave when there's no danger near;
    But where there is, alas, alack! he runs away in fear."

Reddy looked up at Sammy and snarled. It was of no use at all now to
try to surprise and catch any of the family of Mrs. Grouse, so he
turned around and hurried away, trying to escape from Sammy's sharp
eyes. He had gone only a little way when a sharp voice called:
"Coward! Coward! Coward!" It was Chatterer the Red Squirrel.

No sooner had he got out out of Chatterer's sight than he heard
another voice. It was saying over and over:

    "Dee, dee, dee! Oh, me, me!
    Some folks can talk so very brave
    And then such cowards be."

It was Tommy Tit the Chickadee. Reddy couldn't think of a thing to say
in reply, and so he hurried on, trying to find a place where he would
be left in peace. But nowhere that he could go was he free from those
taunting voices. Not even when he had crawled into his house was he
free from them, for buzzing around his doorway was Bumble Bee and
Bumble was humming:

    "Bumble, grumble, rumble, hum!
    Reddy surely can run some."

Late that afternoon old Granny Fox called him out, and it was clear to
see that Granny was very much put out about something. "What is this I
hear everywhere I go about you being a coward?" she demanded sharply,
as soon as he put his head out of the doorway.

Reddy hung his head, and in a very shamefaced way he told her about
the terrible fright he had had and all about the strange creature
without legs, head, or tail that had rolled down the hill where
Prickly Porky lives.

"Serves you right for boasting!" snapped Granny. "How many times have
I told you that no good comes of boasting? Probably somebody has
played a trick on you. I've lived a good many years, and I never
before heard of such a creature. If there were one, I'd have seen it
before now. You go back into the house and stay there. You are a
disgrace to the Fox family. I am going to have a look about and find
out what is going on. If this is some trick, they'll find that old
Granny Fox isn't so easily fooled."



In-vest-i-gate is a great big word, but its meaning is very simple. To
in-vest-i-gate is to look into and try to find out all about
something. That is what old Granny Fox started to do after Reddy had
told her about the terrible fright he had had at the hill where
Prickly Porky lives.

Now old Granny Fox is very sly and smart and clever, as you all know.
Compared with her, Reddy Fox is almost stupid. He may be as sly and
smart and clever some day, but he has got a lot to learn before then.
Now if it had been Reddy who was going to investigate, he would have
gone straight over to Prickly Porky's hill and looked around and
asked sly questions, and everybody whom he met would have known that
he was trying to find out something.

But old Granny Fox did nothing of the kind. Oh, my, no! She went about
hunting her dinner just as usual and didn't appear to be paying the
least attention to what was going on about her. With her nose to the
ground she ran this way and ran that way as if hunting for a trail.
She peered into old hollow logs and looked under little brush piles,
and so, in course of time, she came to the hill where Prickly Porky

Now Reddy had told Granny that the terrible creature that had so
frightened him had rolled down the hill at him, for he was at the
bottom. Granny had heard that the same thing had happened to Peter
Rabbit and to Unc' Billy Possum. So instead of coming to the hill
along the hollow at the bottom, she came to it from the other way.
"If there is anything there, I'll be behind it instead of in front of
it," she thought shrewdly.

As she drew near where Prickly Porky lives, she kept eyes and ears
wide open, all the time pretending to pay attention to nothing but the
hunt for her dinner. No one would ever have guessed that she was
thinking of anything else. She ran this way and that way all over the
hill, but nothing out of the usual did she see or hear excepting one
thing: she did find some queer marks down the hill as if something
might have rolled there. She followed these down to the bottom, but
there they disappeared.

As she was trotting home along the Lone Little Path through the Green
Forest, she met Unc' Billy Possum. No, she didn't exactly meet him,
because he saw her before she saw him, and he promptly climbed a

"Ah suppose yo'all heard of the terrible creature that scared Reddy
almost out of his wits early this mo'ning," said Unc' Billy.

Granny stopped and looked up. "It doesn't take much to scare the young
and innocent, Mr. Possum," she replied. "I don't believe all I hear.
I've just been hunting all over the hill where Prickly Porky lives,
and I couldn't find so much as a Wood Mouse for dinner. Do you believe
such a foolish tale, Mr. Possum?"

Unc' Billy coughed behind one hand. "Yes, Mrs. Fox, Ah confess Ah done
have to believe it," he replied. "Yo' see, Ah done see that thing mah
own self, and Ah just naturally has to believe mah own eyes."

"Huh! I'd like to see it! Maybe I'd believe it then!" snapped Granny

"The only time to see it is just at sun-up," replied Unc' Billy.
"Anybody that comes along through that hollow at the foot of Brer
Porky's hill at sun-up is likely never to forget it. Ah wouldn't do it
again. No, Sah, once is enough fo' your Unc' Billy."

"Huh!" snorted Granny and trotted on.

Unc' Billy watched her out of sight and grinned broadly. "As sho' as
Brer Sun gets up to-morrow mo'ning, Ol' Granny Fox will be there," he
chuckled. "Ah must get word to Brer Porky and Brer Skunk and Brer



Unc' Billy Possum had passed the word along to Jimmy Skunk, Peter
Rabbit, and Prickly Porky that old Granny Fox would be on hand at
sun-up to see for herself the strange creature which had frightened
Reddy Fox at the foot of the hill where Prickly Porky lives. How did
Unc' Billy know? Well, he just guessed. He is quite as shrewd and
clever as Granny Fox herself, and when he told her that the only time
the strange creature everybody was talking about was seen was at
sun-up, he guessed by the very way she sniffed and pretended not to
believe it at all that she would visit Prickly Porky's hill the next

"The ol' lady suspects that there is some trick, and we-uns have got
to be very careful," warned Unc' Billy, as he and his three friends
put their heads together in the early evening. "She is done bound to
come snooping around before sun-up," he continued, "and we-uns must be
out of sight, all excepting Brer Porky. She'll come just the way she
did this afternoon,--from back of the hill instead of along the

Unc' Billy was quite right. Old Granny Fox felt very sure that some
one was playing tricks, so she didn't wait until jolly, round, red Mr.
Sun was out of bed. She was at the top of the hill where Prickly Porky
lives a full hour before sun-up, and there she sat down to wait. She
couldn't see or hear anything in the least suspicious. You see, Unc'
Billy Possum was quite out of sight, as he sat in the thickest part of
a hemlock-tree, and Peter Rabbit was sitting perfectly still in a
hollow log, and Jimmy Skunk wasn't showing so much as the tip of his
nose, as he lay just inside the doorway of an old house under the
roots of a big stump. Only Prickly Porky was to be seen, and he seemed
to be asleep in his favorite tree. Everything seemed to be just as old
Granny Fox had seen it a hundred times before.

At last the Jolly Little Sunbeams began to dance through the Green
Forest, chasing out the Black Shadows. Redeye the Vireo awoke and at
once began to sing, as is his way, not even waiting to get a mouthful
of breakfast. Prickly Porky yawned and grunted. Then he climbed down
from the tree he had been sitting in, walked slowly over to another,
started to climb it, changed his mind, and began to poke around in the
dead leaves. Old Granny Fox arose and slowly stretched. She glanced at
Prickly Porky contemptuously. She had seen him act in this stupid,
uncertain way dozens of times before. Then slowly, watching out
sharply on both sides of her, without appearing to do so, she walked
down the hill to the hollow at the foot.

Now old Granny Fox can be very dignified when she wants to be, and she
was now. She didn't hurry the least little bit. She carried her big,
plumey tail just so. And she didn't once look behind her, for she felt
sure that there was nothing out of the way there, and to have done so
would have been quite undignified. She had reached the bottom of the
hill and was walking along the hollow, smiling to herself to think how
easily some people are frightened, when her sharp ears caught a sound
on the hill behind her. She turned like a flash and then--well, for a
minute old Granny Fox was too surprised to do anything but stare.
There, rolling down the hill straight towards her, was the very thing
Reddy had told her about.

At first Granny decided to stay right where she was and find out what
this thing was, but the nearer it got, the stranger and more terrible
it seemed. It was just a great ball all covered with dried leaves, and
yet somehow Granny felt sure that it was alive, although she could see
no head or tail or legs. The nearer it got, the stranger and more
terrible it seemed. Then Granny forgot her dignity. Yes, Sir, she
forgot her dignity. In fact, she quite lost it altogether. Granny Fox
ran just as Reddy had run!



    Now listen to this little tale
      That deals somewhat with folly,
    And shows how sometimes one may be
      A little bit too jolly.

No sooner was old Granny Fox out of sight, running as if she thought
that every jump might be her last, than Jimmy Skunk came out from the
hole under a big stump where he had been hiding, Peter Rabbit came out
of the hollow log from which he had been peeping, and Unc' Billy
Possum dropped down from the hemlock-tree in which he had so carefully
kept out of sight, and all three began to dance around Prickly Porky,
laughing as if they were trying to split their sides.

"Ho, ho, ho!" shouted Jimmy Skunk. "I wonder what Reddy Fox would have
said if he could have seen old Granny go down that hollow!"

"Ha, ha, ha!" shouted Peter Rabbit. "Did you see how her eyes popped

"Hee, hee, hee!" squeaked Unc' Billy Possum in his funny cracked
voice. "Ah reckons she am bound to have sore feet if she keeps on
running the way she started."

Prickly Porky didn't say a word. He just smiled in a quiet sort of way
as he slowly climbed up to the top of the hill.

Now old Granny Fox had been badly frightened. Who wouldn't have been
at seeing a strange creature without head, tail, or legs rolling down
hill straight towards them? But Granny was too old and wise to run
very far without cause. She was hardly out of sight of the four little
scamps who had been watching her when she stopped to see if that
strange creature were following her. It didn't take her long to decide
that it wasn't. Then she did some quick thinking.

"I said beforehand that there was some trick, and now I'm sure of it,"
she muttered. "I have an idea that that good-for-nothing old Billy
Possum knows something about it, and I'm just going back to find out."

She wasted no time thinking about it, but began to steal back the way
she had come. Now, no one is lighter of foot than old Granny Fox, and
no one knows better how to keep out of sight. From tree to tree she
crawled, sometimes flat on her stomach, until at last she reached the
foot of the hill where she had just had such a fright. There was
nothing to be seen there, but up at the top of the hill she saw
something that made a fierce, angry gleam come into her yellow eyes.
Then she smiled grimly. "The last laugh always is the best laugh, and
this time I guess it is going to be mine," she said to herself. Very
slowly and carefully, so as not to so much as rustle a leaf, she began
to crawl around so as to come up on the back side of the hill.

Now what old Granny Fox had seen was Peter Rabbit and Jimmy Skunk and
Unc' Billy Possum rolling over and over in the dried leaves, turning
somersaults, and shouting and laughing, while Prickly Porky sat
looking on and smiling. Granny knew well enough what was tickling them
so, and she knew too that they didn't dream but that she was still
running away in fright. At last they were so tired with their good
time that they just had to stop for a rest.

"Oh, dear, I'm all out of breath," panted Peter, as he threw himself
flat on the ground. "That was the funniest thing I ever saw. I wonder
who we--"

Peter didn't finish. No, Sir, Peter didn't finish. Instead, he gave a
frightened shriek as something red flashed out from under a
low-growing hemlock-tree close behind him, and two black paws pinned
him down, and sharp teeth caught him by the back of the neck. Old
Granny Fox had caught Peter Rabbit at last!



    The friendship which is truest, best,
    Is that which meets the trouble test.

No one really knows who his best friends are until he gets in trouble.
When everything is lovely and there is no sign of trouble anywhere,
one may have ever and ever so many friends. At least, it may seem so.
But let trouble come, and all too often these seeming friends
disappear as if by magic, until only a few, sometimes a very few, are
left. These are the real friends, the true friends, and they are worth
more than all the others put together. Remember that if you are a true
friend to any one, you will stand by him and help him, no matter what
happens. Sometimes it is almost worth while getting into trouble just
to find out who your real friends are.

Peter Rabbit found out who some of his truest friends are when,
because of his own carelessness, old Granny Fox caught him. Peter has
been in many tight places and had many terrible frights in his life,
but never did he feel quite so helpless and hopeless as when he felt
the black paws of old Granny Fox pinning him down and Granny's sharp
teeth in the loose skin on the back of his neck. All he could do was
to kick with all his might, and kicking was quite useless, for Granny
took great care to keep out of the way of those stout hind legs of

Many, many times Granny Fox had tried to catch Peter, and always
before Peter had been too smart for her, and had just made fun of her
and laughed at her. Now it was her turn to laugh, all because he had
been careless and foolish. You see, Peter had been so sure that Granny
had had such a fright when she ran away from the strange creature that
rolled down Prickly Porky's hill at her that she wouldn't think of
coming back, and so he had just given himself up to enjoying Granny's
fright. At Peter's scream of fright, Unc' Billy Possum scampered for
the nearest tree, and Jimmy Skunk dodged behind a big stump. You see,
it was so sudden that they really didn't know what had happened. But
Prickly Porky, whom some people call stupid, made no move to run away.
He happened to be looking at Peter when Granny caught him, and so he
knew just what it meant. A spark of anger flashed in his usually dull
eyes and for once in his life Prickly Porky moved quickly. The
thousand little spears hidden in his coat suddenly stood on end and
Prickly Porky made a fierce little rush forward.

[Illustration: "Drop him!" he grunted. _Page 89._]

"Drop him!" he grunted.

Granny Fox just snarled and backed away, dragging Peter with her and
keeping him between Prickly Porky and herself.

By this time Jimmy Skunk had recovered himself. You know he is not
afraid of anybody or anything. He sprang out from behind the stump,
looking a wee bit shame-faced, and started for old Granny Fox. "You
let Peter Rabbit go!" he commanded in a very threatening way. Now the
reason Jimmy Skunk is afraid of nobody is because he carries with him
a little bag of very strong perfume which makes everybody sick but
himself. Granny Fox knows all about this. For just a minute she
hesitated. Then she thought that if Jimmy used it, it would be as bad
for Peter as for her, and she didn't believe Jimmy would use it. So
she kept on backing away, dragging Peter with her. Then Unc' Billy
Possum took a hand, and his was the bravest deed of all, for he knew
that Granny was more than a match for him in a fight. He slipped down
from the tree where he had sought safety, crept around behind Granny,
and bit her sharply on one heel. Granny let go of Peter to turn and
snap at Unc' Billy. This was Peter's chance. He slipped out from under
Granny's paws and in a flash was behind Prickly Porky.



When old Granny Fox found Prickly Porky, with his thousand little
spears all pointing at her, standing between her and Peter Rabbit, she
was the angriest old Fox ever seen. She didn't dare touch Prickly
Porky, for she knew well enough what it would mean to get one of those
sharp, barbed little spears in her skin. To think that she actually
had caught Peter Rabbit and then lost him was too provoking! It was
more than her temper, never of the best, could stand. In her anger she
dug up the leaves and earth with her hind feet, and all the time her
tongue fairly flew as she called Prickly Porky, Jimmy Skunk, and Unc'
Billy Possum everything bad she could think of. Her yellow eyes
snapped so that it seemed almost as if sparks of fire flew from them.
It made Peter shiver just to look at her.

Unc' Billy Possum, who, by slipping up behind her and biting one of
her heels, had made her let go of Peter, grinned down at her from a
safe place in a tree. Jimmy Skunk stood grinning at her in the most
provoking manner, and she couldn't do a thing about it, because she
had no desire to have Jimmy use his little bag of perfume. So she
talked herself out and then with many parting threats of what she
would do, she started for home. Unc' Billy noticed that she limped a
little with the foot he had nipped so hard, and he couldn't help
feeling just a little bit sorry for her.

When she had gone, the others turned to Peter Rabbit to see how badly
he had been hurt. They looked him all over and found that he wasn't
much the worse for his rough experience. He was rather stiff and lame,
and the back of his neck was very sore where Granny Fox had seized
him, but he would be quite himself in a day or two.

"I must get home now," said he in a rather faint voice. "Mrs. Peter
will be sure that something has happened to me and will be worried
almost to death."

"No, you don't!" declared Jimmy Skunk. "You are going to stay right
here where we can take care of you. It wouldn't be safe for you to try
to go to the Old Briar-patch now, because if you should meet Old Man
Coyote or Reddy Fox or Whitetail the Marshhawk, you would not be able
to run fast enough to get away. I will go down and tell Mrs. Peter,
and you will make yourself comfortable in the old house behind that
stump where I was hiding."

Peter tried to insist on going home, but the others wouldn't hear of
it, and Jimmy Skunk settled the matter by starting for the dear Old
Briar-patch. He found little Mrs. Peter anxiously looking towards the
Green Forest for some sign of Peter.

"Oh!" she cried, "you have come to bring me bad news. Do tell me
quickly what has happened to Peter!"

"Nothing much has happened to Peter," replied Jimmy promptly. Then in
the drollest way he told all about the fright of Granny Fox when she
first saw the terrible creature rolling down the hill and all that
happened after, but he took great care to make light of Peter's
escape, and explained that he was just going to rest up there on
Prickly Porky's hill for that day and would be home the next night.
But little Mrs. Peter wasn't wholly satisfied.

"I've begged him and begged him to keep away from the Green Forest,"
said she, "but now if he is hurt so that he can't come home, he needs
me, and I'm going straight up there myself!"

Nothing that Jimmy could say had the least effect, and so at last he
agreed to take her to Peter. And so, hopping behind Jimmy Skunk, timid
little Mrs. Peter Rabbit actually went into the Green Forest of which
she was so much afraid, which shows how brave love can be sometimes.



    Mischief leads to mischief, for it is almost sure
    To never, never be content without a little more.

Now you would think that after Peter Rabbit's very, very, narrow
escape from the clutches of Old Granny Fox that Jimmy Skunk, Unc'
Billy Possum, Peter Rabbit, and Prickly Porky would have been
satisfied with the pranks they already had played. No, Sir, they were
not! You see, when danger is over, it is quickly forgotten. No sooner
had Peter been made comfortable in the old house behind the big stump
on the hill where Prickly Porky lives than the four scamps began to
wonder who else they could scare with the terrible creature without
head, legs, or tail which had so frightened Reddy and Old Granny Fox.

"There is Old Man Coyote; he is forever frightening those smaller and
weaker than himself. I'd just love to see him run," said Peter Rabbit.

"The very one!" cried Jimmy Skunk. "I wonder if he would be afraid.
You know he is even smarter than Granny Fox, and though she was
frightened at first, she soon got over it. How do you suppose we can
get him over here?"

"We-uns will take Brer Jay into our secret. Brer Jay will tell Brer
Coyote that Brer Rabbit is up here on Brer Porky's hill, hurt so that
he can't get home," said Unc' Billy Possum. "That's all Brer Jay need
to say. Brer Coyote is gwine to come up here hot foot with his tongue
hanging out fo' that dinner he's sho' is waiting fo' him here."

"You won't do anything of the kind!" spoke up little Mrs. Peter, who,
you know, had bravely left the dear Old Briar-patch and come up here
in the Green Forest to take care of Peter. "Peter has had trouble
enough already, and I'm not going to let him have any more, so there!"

"Peter isn't going to get into any trouble," spoke up Jimmy Skunk.
"Peter and you are going to be just as safe as if you were over in the
Old Briar-patch, for you will be in that old house where nothing can
harm you. Now, please, Mrs. Peter, don't be foolish. You don't like
Old Man Coyote, do you? You'd like to see him get a great scare to
make up for the scares he has given Peter and you, wouldn't you?"

Little Mrs. Peter was forced to admit that she would, and after a
little more teasing she finally agreed to let them try their plan for
giving Old Man Coyote a scare. Sammy Jay happened along just as Jimmy
Skunk was starting out to look for him, and when he was told what was
wanted of him, he agreed to do his part. You know Sammy is always
ready for any mischief. Just as he started to look for Old Man Coyote,
Unc' Billy Possum made another suggestion.

"We-uns have had a lot of fun with Reddy and Granny Fox," said he,
"and now it seems to me that it is no more than fair to invite them
over to see Old Man Coyote and what he will do when he first sees the
terrible creature that has frightened them so. Granny knows now that
there is nothing to be afraid of, and perhaps she will forget her
anger if she has a chance to see Old Man Coyote run away. Yo' know she
isn't wasting any love on him. What do yo' alls say?"

Peter and Mrs. Peter said "No!" right away, but Jimmy Skunk and
Prickly Porky thought it a good idea, and of course Sammy Jay was
willing. After a little, when it was once more pointed out to them how
they would be perfectly safe in the old house behind the big stump,
Peter and Mrs. Peter agreed, and Sammy started off on his errand.



Sammy Jay has been the bearer of so many messages that no one knows
better than he how to deliver one. He knows when to be polite, and no
one can be more polite than he. First he went over to the home of
Reddy and Granny Fox and invited them to come over to the hill where
Prickly Porky lives and see the terrible creature which had frightened
them so give Old Man Coyote a scare. Both Reddy and Granny promptly
said they would do nothing of the kind, that probably Sammy was
engaged in some kind of mischief, and that anyway they knew that there
was no such creature without head, legs, or tail, and though they had
been fooled once, they didn't propose to be fooled again.

"All right," replied Sammy, quite as if it made no difference to him.
"You admit that smart as you are you were fooled, and we thought you
might like to see the same thing happen to Old Man Coyote."

With this he flew on his way to the Green Meadows to look for Old Man
Coyote, and as he flew he chuckled to himself. "They'll be there," he
muttered. "I know them well enough to know that nothing would keep
them away when there is a chance to see some one else frightened,
especially Old Man Coyote. They'll try to keep out of sight, but
they'll be there."

Sammy found Old Man Coyote taking a sun-bath. "Good morning, Mr.
Coyote. I hope you are feeling well," said Sammy in his politest

"Fairly, fairly, thank you," replied Old Man Coyote, all the time
watching Sammy sharply out of the corners of his shrewd eyes. "What's
the news in the Green Forest?"

"There isn't any, that is, none to amount to anything," declared
Sammy. "I never did see such a dull summer. Is there any news down
here on the Green Meadows? I hear Danny Meadow Mouse has found his
lost baby."

"So I hear," replied Old Man Coyote. "I tried to find it for him. You
know I believe in being neighborly."

Sammy grinned, for as he said this, Old Man Coyote had winked one eye
ever so little, and Sammy knew very well that if he had found that
lost baby, Danny Meadow Mouse would never have seen him again. "By the
way," said Sammy in the most matter-of-fact tone, "as I was coming
through the Green Forest, I saw Peter Rabbit over on the hill where
Prickly Porky lives, and Peter seems to have been in some kind of
trouble. He was so lame that he said he didn't dare try to go home to
the Old Briar-patch for fear that he might meet some one looking for a
Rabbit dinner, and he knew that, feeling as he did, he wouldn't be
able to save himself. Peter is going to come to a bad end some day if
he doesn't watch out."

"That depends on what you call a bad end," replied Old Man Coyote with
a sly grin. "It might be bad for Peter and at the same time be very
good for some one else."

Sammy laughed right out. "That's one way of looking at it," said he.
"Well, I should hate to have anything happen to Peter, because I have
lots of fun quarreling with him and should miss him dreadfully. I
think I'll go up to the Old Orchard and see what is going on there."

Off flew Sammy in the direction of the Old Orchard, and once more he
chuckled as he flew. He had seen Old Man Coyote's ears prick up ever
so little when he had mentioned that Peter was over in the Green
Forest so lame that he didn't dare go home. "Old Man Coyote will start
for the Green Forest as soon as I am out of sight," thought Sammy. And
that is just what Old Man Coyote did.



Hardly was Sammy Jay out of sight, flying towards the Old Orchard,
before Old Man Coyote started for the Green Forest. He is very sharp,
is Old Man Coyote, so sharp that it is not very often that he is
fooled. If Sammy Jay had gone to him and told him what a splendid
chance he would have to catch Peter Rabbit if he hurried up to the
Green Forest right away, Old Man Coyote would have suspected a trick
of some kind. Sammy had been clever enough to know this. So he had
just mentioned in the most matter-of-fact way that he had seen Peter
over on Prickly Porky's hill and that Peter appeared to have been in
trouble, so that he was too lame to go to his home in the dear Old
Briar-patch. There wasn't even a hint that Old Man Coyote should go
over there. This was what made him sure that the news about Peter was
probably true.

Now as soon as Sammy was sure that Old Man Coyote couldn't see him, he
headed straight for the Green Forest and the hill where Prickly Porky,
Jimmy Skunk, Unc' Billy Possum, and Peter and Mrs. Peter Rabbit were
waiting. As he flew, he saw Reddy Fox and old Granny Fox stretched
flat behind an old log some distance away, but where they could see
all that might happen.

"I knew they would be on hand," he chuckled.

When he reached the others, he reported that he had delivered the
message to Old Man Coyote, and that he was very sure, in fact he was
positive, that Old Man Coyote was already on his way there in the hope
that he would be able to catch Peter Rabbit. It was decided that
everybody but Peter should get out of sight at once. So Unc' Billy
Possum climbed a tree. Jimmy Skunk crawled into a hollow log. Sammy
Jay hid in the thickest part of a hemlock tree. Prickly Porky got
behind a big stump right at the top of the hill. Little Mrs. Peter,
with her heart going pit-a-pat, crept into the old house between the
roots of this same old stump, and only Peter was to be seen when at
last Old Man Coyote came tiptoeing along the hollow at the foot of the
hill, as noiseless as a gray shadow.

He saw Peter almost as soon as Peter saw him, and the instant he saw
him, he stopped as still as if he were made of stone. Peter took a
couple of steps, and it was very plain to see that he was lame, just
as Sammy Jay had said.

"That good-for-nothing Jay told the truth for once," thought Old Man
Coyote, with a hungry gleam in his eyes.

Whenever Old Man Coyote thought that Peter was not looking his way, he
would crawl on his stomach from one tree to another, always getting a
little nearer to Peter. He would lie perfectly still when Peter seemed
to be looking towards him. Now of course Peter knew just what was
going on, and he took the greatest care not to get more than a couple
of jumps away from the old house under the big stump, where Mrs. Peter
was hiding and wishing with all her might that she and Peter were back
in the dear Old Briar-patch. It was very still in the Green Forest
save for the song of happiness of Redeye the Vireo who, if he knew
what was going on, made no sign. My, but it was exciting to those who
were watching!

Old Man Coyote had crept half-way up the hill, and Peter was wondering
how much nearer he could let him get with safety, when a sudden
grunting broke out right behind him. Peter knew what it meant and
jumped to one side. Then down the hill, rolling straight towards Old
Man Coyote, started the strange, headless, tailess, legless creature
that had so frightened Reddy and Granny Fox.

Old Man Coyote took one good look, hesitated, looked again, and then
turned tail and started for the Green Meadows as fast as his long legs
would take him. It was plain to see that he was afraid, very much
afraid. Quite suddenly he had lost his appetite.



It was very clear that Old Man Coyote wasn't thinking about his
stomach just then, but about his legs and how fast they could go. He
had been half-way up the hill when he first saw the terrible creature
without head, tail, or legs rolling down straight at him. He stopped
only long enough for one good look and then he started for the bottom
of the hill as fast as he could make his legs go. Now, it is a very
bad plan to run fast down-hill. Yes, Sir, it is a very bad plan. You
see, once you are started, it is not the easiest thing in the world to
stop. And then again, you are quite likely to stub your toes.

This is what Old Man Coyote did. He stubbed his toes and turned a
complete somersault. He looked so funny that the little scamps
watching him had all they could do to keep from shouting right out.
Old Granny Fox and Reddy Fox, looking on from a safe distance, did
laugh. You know they had not been friendly with Old Man Coyote since
he came to live on the Green Meadows, and as they had themselves had a
terrible fright when they first saw the strange creature, they
rejoiced in seeing him frightened.

But Old Man Coyote didn't stop for a little thing like a tumble. Oh,
my, no! He just rolled over on to his feet and was off again, harder
than before. Now there are very few people who can see behind them
without turning their heads as Peter Rabbit can, and Old Man Coyote
is not one of them. Trying to watch behind him, he didn't see where
he was going, and the first thing he knew he ran bump into--guess who!
Why, Buster Bear, to be sure.

Where Buster had come from nobody knew, but there he was, as big as
life. When Old Man Coyote ran into him, he growled a deep, provoked
growl and whirled around with one big paw raised to cuff whoever had
so nearly upset him. Old Man Coyote, more frightened than ever, yelped
and ran harder than before, so that by the time Buster Bear saw who it
was who had run into him, he was safely out of reach and still

Then it was that Buster Bear first saw, rolling down the hill, the
strange creature which had so frightened Old Man Coyote. Unc' Billy
Possum, Jimmy Skunk, Sammy Jay, Peter Rabbit and Mrs. Peter, watching
from safe hiding places, wondered if Buster would run too. If he did,
it would be almost too good to be true. But he didn't. He looked first
at the strange creature rolling down the hill, then at Old Man Coyote
running as hard as ever he could, and his shrewd little eyes began to
twinkle. Then he began to laugh.

"Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho! Ha, ha, ho! I see you are up to your old
tricks, Prickly Porky!" he shouted, as the strange creature rolled
past, almost over his toes and brought up against a little tree at the
foot of the hill.

[Illustration: "I see you are up to your old tricks, Prickly Porky!"
he shouted. _Page 114._]

Old Man Coyote heard him and stopped short and turned to see what it
meant. Very slowly the strange creature unrolled and turned over.
There was a head now and a tail and four legs. It was none other than
Prickly Porky himself! There was no doubt about it, though he still
looked very strange, for he was covered with dead leaves which clung
to the thousand little spears hidden in his coat. Prickly Porky

"You shouldn't have given me away, Buster Bear, just because you have
seen me roll down hill before in the Great Woods where we both came
from," said he.

"I think it was high time I did," replied Buster Bear, still
chuckling. "You might have scared somebody to death down here where
they don't know you."

Then everybody came out of their hiding places, laughing and talking
all at once, as they told Buster Bear of the joke they had played on
Old Man Coyote, and how it had all grown out of the fright Peter
Rabbit had received when he just happened along as Prickly Porky was
rolling down hill just for fun. As for Old Man Coyote, he sneaked
away, grinding his teeth angrily. Like a great many other people, he
couldn't take a joke on himself.

So Prickly Porky made himself at home in the Green Forest and took his
place among the little people who live there. In just the same way Old
Man Coyote came as a stranger to the Green Meadows and established
himself there. In the next book you may read all about how he came to
the Green Meadows and of some of his adventures there and in the Green


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