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´╗┐Title: Mother West Wind's Animal Friends
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 "Mother West Wind's Animal Friends" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                          BURGESS TRADE QUADDIES MARK

                       MOTHER WEST WIND'S ANIMAL FRIENDS

                            BY THORNTON W. BURGESS

     Author of "Old Mother West Wind," and "Mother West Wind's Children"

                         _Illustrated by George Kerr_


    BOSTON
    LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
    1920

    _Copyright, 1912_,
    BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY

    _All rights reserved_

       *       *       *       *       *

    IN TENDER, LOVING, REVERENT MEMORY OF MY MOTHER,
        WHO LOVED LITTLE CHILDREN AND WAS BELOVED
          OF THEM, AND TO WHOM I OWE A DEBT
            OF AFFECTION AND OF GRATITUDE
               BEYOND MY POWER TO PAY

       *       *       *       *       *



[Illustration: Suddenly he met Mr. Panther. FRONTISPIECE.]



CONTENTS


CHAPTER PAGE

I. THE MERRY LITTLE BREEZES SAVE THE GREEN MEADOWS 1

II. THE STRANGER IN THE GREEN FOREST 13

III. HOW PRICKLY PORKY GOT HIS QUILLS 29

IV. PETER RABBIT'S EGG ROLLING 47

V. HOW JOHNNY CHUCK RAN AWAY 63

VI. PETER RABBIT'S RUN FOR LIFE 77

VII. A JOKER FOOLED 93

VIII. THE FUSS IN THE BIG PINE 109

IX. JOHNNY CHUCK FINDS A USE FOR HIS BACK DOOR 123

X. BILLY MINK GOES DINNERLESS 135

XI. GRANDFATHER FROG'S JOURNEY 149

XII. WHY BLACKY THE CROW WEARS MOURNING 161

XIII. STRIPED CHIPMUNK FOOLS PETER RABBIT 177

XIV. JERRY MUSKRAT'S NEW HOUSE 195

XV. PETER RABBIT'S BIG COUSIN 211



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


SUDDENLY HE MET MR. PANTHER _FRONTISPIECE_

REDDY STRUTTED OUT IN FRONT OF HIM. "WHO ARE YOU?" HE DEMANDED PAGE 21

"PLEASE, PLEASE WAIT FOR ME, PETER RABBIT," PANTED JOHNNY CHUCK " 69

"COME ON WITH US TO THE BIG RIVER, FISHING," CALLED BILLY MINK " 138

PETER WAS SO SURPRISED THAT HE NEARLY FELL BACKWARD " 189

"I'M GOING TO BUILD A HOUSE," REPLIED JERRY MUSKRAT " 200



MOTHER WEST WIND'S ANIMAL FRIENDS



I

THE MERRY LITTLE BREEZES SAVE THE GREEN MEADOWS


Old Mother West Wind's family is very big, very big indeed. There are
dozens and dozens of Merry Little Breezes, all children of Old Mother
West Wind. Every morning she comes down from the Purple Hills and
tumbles them out of a great bag on to the Green Meadows. Every night she
gathers them into the great bag and, putting it over her shoulder, takes
them to their home behind the Purple Hills.

One morning, just as usual, Old Mother West Wind turned the Merry Little
Breezes out to play on the Green Meadows. Then she hurried away to fill
the sails of the ships and blow them across the great ocean. The Merry
Little Breezes hopped and skipped over the Green Meadows looking for
some one to play with. It was then that one of them discovered
something--something very dreadful.

It was a fire! Yes, Sir, it was a fire in the meadow grass! Some one had
dropped a lighted match, and now little red flames were running through
the grass in all directions. The Merry Little Breeze hastened to tell
all the other Little Breezes and all rushed over as fast as they could
to see for themselves.

They saw how the little red flames were turning to smoke and ashes
everything they touched, and how black and ugly, with nothing alive
there, became that part of the Green Meadows where the little flames
ran. It was dreadful! Then one of them noticed that the little red
flames were running in the direction of Johnny Chuck's new house. Would
the little red flames burn up Johnny Chuck, as they burned up the grass
and the flowers?

"Hi!" cried the Merry Little Breeze, "We must warn Johnny Chuck and all
the other little meadow people!"

So he caught up a capful of smoke and raced off as fast as he could go
to Johnny Chuck's house. Then each of the Merry Little Breezes caught up
a capful of smoke and started to warn one of the little meadow people or
forest folks.

So pretty soon jolly, round, red Mr. Sun, looking down from the blue
sky, saw Johnny Chuck, Jimmy Skunk, Peter Rabbit, Striped Chipmunk,
Danny Meadow Mouse, Reddy Fox, Bobby Coon, Happy Jack Squirrel,
Chatterer the Red Squirrel, Jumper the Hare and old Mr. Toad all
hurrying as fast as they could to the Smiling Pool where live Billy Mink
and Little Joe Otter and Jerry Muskrat and Spotty the Turtle and
Grandfather Frog. There they would be quite safe from the little red
flames.

"Oh," gasped Johnny Chuck, puffing very hard, for you know he is round
and fat and roly-poly and it was hard work for him to run, "what will
become of my nice new house and what will there be left to eat?"

The Merry Little Breeze who had brought him the warning in a capful of
smoke thought for a minute. Then he called all the other Little Breezes
to him.

"We must get Farmer Brown's help or we will have no beautiful Green
Meadows to play on," said the Merry Little Breeze.

So together they rushed back to where the little red flames had grown
into great, angry, red flames that were licking up everything in their
way. The Merry Little Breezes gathered a great cloud of smoke and,
lifting all together, they carried it over and dropped it in Farmer
Brown's dooryard. Then one of them blew a little of the smoke in at an
open window, near which Farmer Brown was eating breakfast. Farmer Brown
coughed and strangled and sprang from his chair.

"Phew!" cried Farmer Brown, "I smell smoke! There must be a fire on the
meadows."

Then he shouted for his boy and for his hired man and the three, with
shovels in their hands, started for the Green Meadows to try to put the
fire out.

The Merry Little Breezes sighed with relief and followed to the fire.
But when they saw how fierce and angry the red flames had become they
knew that Farmer Brown and his boy and his hired man would not be able
to put the fire out. Choking with smoke, they hurried over to tell the
dreadful news to the little meadow people and forest folks gathered at
the Smiling Pool.

"Chug-a-rum! Why don't you help put the fire out?" asked Grandfather
Frog.

"We warned Farmer Brown and his boy and his hired man; what more can we
do?" asked one of the Merry Little Breezes.

"Go find and drive up a rain cloud," replied Grandfather Frog.

"Splendid!" cried all the little meadow people and forest folks. "Hurry!
hurry! Oh, do hurry!"

So the Merry Little Breezes scattered in all directions to hunt for a
rain cloud.

"It is a good thing that Old Mother West Wind has such a big family,"
said Grandfather Frog, "for one of them is sure to find a wandering rain
cloud somewhere."

Then all the little meadow people and forest folks sat down around the
Smiling Pool to wait. They watched the smoke roll up until it hid the
face of jolly, round, red Mr. Sun. Their hearts almost stood still with
fear as they saw the fierce, angry, red flames leap into the air and
climb tall trees on the edge of the Green Forest.

Splash! Something struck in the Smiling Pool right beside Grandfather
Frog's big, green, lily-pad.

Spat! Something hit Johnny Chuck right on the end of his funny little,
black nose.

They were drops of water.

"Hurrah!" cried Johnny Chuck, whirling about. Sure enough, they were
drops of water--rain drops. And there, coming just as fast as the Merry
Little Breezes could push it, and they were pushing very hard, very hard
indeed, was a great, black, rain cloud, spilling down rain as it came.

When it was just over the fire, the great, black, rain cloud split wide
open, and the water poured down so that the fierce, angry, red flames
were drowned in a few minutes.

"Phew!" said Farmer Brown, mopping his face with his handkerchief, "that
was warm work! That shower came up just in time and it is lucky it did."

But you know and I know and all the little meadow people and forest
folks know that it wasn't luck at all, but the quick work and hard work
of Old Mother West Wind's big family of Merry Little Breezes, which
saved the Green Meadows. And this, too, is one reason why Peter Rabbit
and Johnny Chuck and Bobby Coon and all the other little meadow and
forest people love the Merry Little Breezes who play every day on the
Green Meadows.



II

THE STRANGER IN THE GREEN FOREST


Old Mother West Wind, hurrying down from the Purple Hills with her Merry
Little Breezes, discovered the newcomer in the Green Forest on the edge
of the Green Meadows. Of course the Merry Little Breezes saw him, too,
and as soon as Old Mother West Wind had turned them loose on the Green
Meadows they started out to spread the news.

As they hurried along the Crooked Little Path up the hill, they met
Reddy Fox.

"Oh, Reddy Fox," cried the Merry Little Breezes, so excited that all
talked together, "there's a stranger in the Green Forest!"

Reddy Fox sat down and grinned at the Merry Little Breezes. The grin of
Reddy Fox is not pleasant. It irritates and exasperates. It made the
Merry Little Breezes feel very uncomfortable.

"You don't say so," drawled Reddy Fox. "Do you mean to say that you've
just discovered him? Why, your news is so old that it is stale; it is no
news at all. I thought you had something really new to tell me."

The Merry Little Breezes were disappointed. Their faces fell. They had
thought it would be such fun to carry the news through the Green Forest
and over the Green Meadows, and now the very first one they met knew all
about it.

"Who is he, Reddy Fox?" asked one of the Merry Little Breezes.

Reddy Fox pretended not to hear. "I must be going," said he, rising and
stretching. "I have an engagement with Billy Mink down at the Smiling
Pool."

Reddy Fox started down the Crooked Little Path while the Merry Little
Breezes hurried up the Crooked Little Path to tell the news to Jimmy
Skunk, who was looking for beetles for his breakfast.

Now Reddy Fox had not told the truth. He had known nothing whatever of
the stranger in the Green Forest. In fact he had been as surprised as
the Merry Little Breezes could have wished, but he would not show it.
And he had told another untruth, for he had no intention of going down
to the Smiling Pool. No, indeed! He just waited until the Merry Little
Breezes were out of sight, then he slipped into the Green Forest to look
for the stranger seen by the Merry Little Breezes.

Now Reddy Fox does nothing openly. Instead of walking through the Green
Forest like a gentleman, he sneaked along under the bushes and crept
from tree to tree, all the time looking for the stranger of whom the
Merry Little Breezes had told him. All around through the Green Forest
sneaked Reddy Fox, but nothing of the stranger could he see. It didn't
occur to him to look anywhere but on the ground.

"I don't believe there is a stranger here," said Reddy to himself.

Just then he noticed some scraps of bark around the foot of a tall
maple. Looking up to see where it came from he saw--what do you think?
Why, the stranger who had come to the Green Forest. Reddy Fox dodged
back out of sight, for he wanted to find out all he could about the
stranger before the stranger saw him.

Reddy sat down behind a big stump and rubbed his eyes. He could hardly
believe what he saw. There at the top of the tall maple, stripping the
branches of their bark and eating it, was the stranger, sure enough. He
was big, much bigger than Reddy. Could he be a relative of Happy Jack
Squirrel? He didn't look a bit, not the least little bit like Happy
Jack. And he moved slowly, very slowly, indeed, while Happy Jack and his
cousins move quickly. Reddy decided that the stranger could not be
related to Happy Jack.

The longer Reddy looked the more he was puzzled. Also, Reddy began to
feel just a little bit jealous. You see all the little meadow people and
forest folks are afraid of Reddy Fox, but this stranger was so big that
Reddy began to feel something very like fear in his own heart.

The Merry Little Breezes had told the news to Jimmy Skunk and then
hurried over the Green Meadows telling every one they met of the
stranger in the Green Forest--Billy Mink, Little Joe Otter, Johnny
Chuck, Peter Rabbit, Happy Jack Squirrel, Danny Meadow Mouse, Striped
Chipmunk, old Mr. Toad, Grandfather Frog, Sammy Jay, Blacky the Crow,
and each as soon as he heard the news started for the Green Forest to
welcome the newcomer. Even Grandfather Frog left his beloved big, green
lily-pad and started for the Green Forest.

So it was that when finally the stranger decided that he had eaten
enough bark for his breakfast, and climbed slowly down the tall maple,
he found all the little meadow people and forest folks sitting in a big
circle waiting for him. The stranger was anything but handsome, but
his size filled them with respect. The nearer he got to the ground the
bigger he looked. Down he came, and Reddy Fox, noting how slow and
clumsy in his movements was the stranger, decided that there was nothing
to fear.

If the stranger was slow and clumsy in the tree, he was clumsier still
on the ground. His eyes were small and dull. His coat was rough, long
and almost black. His legs were short and stout. His tail was rather
short and broad. Altogether he was anything but handsome. But when the
little meadow people and forest folks saw his huge front teeth they
regarded him with greater respect than ever, all but Reddy Fox.

Reddy strutted out in front of him. "Who are you?" he demanded.

[Illustration: Reddy strutted out in front of him. "Who are you?" he
demanded.]

The stranger paid no attention to Reddy Fox.

"What business have you in our Green Forest?" demanded Reddy, showing
all his teeth.

The stranger just grunted and appeared not to see Reddy Fox. Reddy
swelled himself out until every hair stood on end and he looked twice as
big as he really is. He strutted back and forth in front of the
stranger.

"Don't you know that I'm afraid of nothing and nobody?" snarled Reddy
Fox.

The stranger refused to give him so much as a glance. He just grunted
and kept right on about his business. All the little meadow people and
forest folks began to giggle and then to laugh. Reddy knew that they
were laughing at him and he grew very angry, for no one likes to be
laughed at, least of all Reddy Fox.

"You're a pig!" taunted Reddy. "You're afraid to fight. I bet you're
afraid of Danny Meadow Mouse!"

Still the stranger just grunted and paid no further attention to Reddy
Fox.

Now, with all his boasting Reddy Fox had kept at a safe distance from
the stranger. Happy Jack Squirrel had noticed this. "If you're so brave,
why don't you drive him out, Reddy Fox?" asked Happy Jack, skipping
behind a tree. "You don't dare to!"

Reddy turned and glared at Happy Jack. "I'm not afraid!" he shouted.
"I'm not afraid of anything nor anybody!"

But though he spoke so bravely it was noticed that he went no nearer the
stranger.

Now it happened that that morning Bowser the Hound took it into his head
to take a walk in the Green Forest. Blacky the Crow, sitting on the
tip-top of a big pine, was the first to see him coming. From pure love
of mischief Blacky waited until Bowser was close to the circle around
the stranger. Then he gave the alarm.

"Here's Bowser the Hound! Run!" screamed Blacky the Crow. Then he
laughed so that he had to hold his sides to see the fright down below.
Reddy Fox forgot that he was afraid of nothing and nobody. He was the
first one out of sight, running so fast that his feet seemed hardly to
touch the ground. Peter Rabbit turned a back somersault and suddenly
remembered that he had important business down on the Green Meadows.
Johnny Chuck dodged into a convenient hole. Billy Mink ran into a hollow
tree. Striped Chipmunk hid in an old stump.

Happy Jack Squirrel climbed the nearest tree. In a twinkling the
stranger was alone, facing Bowser the Hound.

Bowser stopped and looked at the stranger in sheer surprise. Then the
hair on the back of his neck stood on end and he growled a deep, ugly
growl. Still the stranger did not run. Bowser didn't know just what to
make of it. Never before had he had such an experience. Could it be that
the stranger was not afraid of him? Bowser walked around the stranger,
growling fiercely. As he walked the stranger turned, so as always to
face him. It was perplexing and very provoking. It really seemed as if
the stranger had no fear of him.

"Bow, wow, wow!" cried Bowser the Hound in his deepest voice, and sprang
at the stranger.

Then something happened, so surprising that Blacky the Crow lost his
balance on the top of the pine where he was watching. The instant that
Bowser sprang, the stranger rolled himself into a tight round ball and
out of the long hair of his coat sprang hundreds of sharp little
yellowish white barbed spears. The stranger looked for all the world
like a huge black and yellow chestnut burr.

Bowser the Hound was as surprised as Blacky the Crow. He stopped short
and his eyes looked as if they would pop out of his head. He looked so
puzzled and so funny that Happy Jack Squirrel laughed aloud.

The stranger did not move. Bowser backed away and began to circle around
again, sniffing and snuffing. Once in a while he barked. Still the
stranger did not move. For all the sign of life he made he might in
truth have been a giant chestnut burr.

Bowser sat down and looked at him. Then he walked around to the other
side and sat down. "What a queer thing," thought Bowser. "What a very
queer thing."

Bowser took a step nearer. Then he took another step. Nothing happened.

Finally Bowser reached out, and with his nose gingerly touched the
prickly ball. Slap! The stranger's tail had struck Bowser full in the
face.

Bowser yelled with pain and rolled over and over on the ground. Sticking
in his tender lips were a dozen sharp little spears, and claw and rub at
them as he would, Bowser could not get them out. Every time he touched
them he yelped with pain. Finally he gave it up and started for home
with his tail between his legs like a whipped puppy, and with every step
he yelped.

When he had disappeared and his yelps had died away in the distance,
the stranger unrolled, the sharp little spears disappeared in the long
hair of his coat and, just as if nothing at all had happened, the
stranger walked slowly over to a tall maple and began to climb it.

And this is how Prickly Porky the Porcupine came to the Green Forest,
and won the respect and admiration of all the little meadow people and
forest folks, including Reddy Fox. Since that day no one has tried to
meddle with Prickly Porky or his business.



III

HOW PRICKLY PORKY GOT HIS QUILLS


The newcomer in the Green Forest was a source of great interest to the
Merry Little Breezes. Ever since they had seen him turn himself into a
huge prickly ball, like a giant chestnut burr, and with a slap of his
tail send Bowser the Hound yelping home with his lips stuck full of
little barbed spears, they had visited the Green Forest every day to
watch Prickly Porky.

He was not very social. Indeed, he was not social at all, but attended
strictly to his own business, which consisted chiefly of stripping bark
from the trees and eating it. Never had the Merry Little Breezes seen
such an appetite! Already that part of the Green Forest where he had
chosen to live had many bare stark trees, killed that Prickly Porky the
Porcupine might live. You see a tree cannot live without bark, and
Prickly Porky had stripped them clean to fill his stomach.

But if Prickly Porky was not social he was not unfriendly. He seemed to
enjoy having the Merry Little Breezes about, and did not in the least
mind having them rumple up the long hair of his coat to feel the sharp
little barbed spears underneath. Some of these were so loose that they
dropped out. Peter Rabbit's curiosity led him to examine some of these
among bits of bark at the foot of a tree. Peter wished that he had left
them alone. One of the sharp little barbs pierced his tender skin and
Peter could not get it out. He had to ask Johnny Chuck to do it for
him, and it had hurt dreadfully.

After that the little meadow people and forest folks held Prickly Porky
in greater respect than ever and left him severely alone, which was just
what he seemed to want.

One morning the Merry Little Breezes failed to find Prickly Porky in the
Green Forest. Could he have left as mysteriously as he had come? They
hurried down to the Smiling Pool to tell Grandfather Frog. Bursting
through the bulrushes on the edge of the Smiling Pool, they nearly upset
Jerry Muskrat, who was sitting on an old log intently watching something
out in the middle of the Smiling Pool. It was Prickly Porky. Some of the
sharp little barbed spears were standing on end; altogether he was the
queerest sight the Smiling Pool had seen for a long time.

He was swimming easily and you may be sure no one tried to bother him.
Little Joe Otter and Billy Mink sat on the Big Rock and for once they
had forgotten to play tricks. When Prickly Porky headed towards the Big
Rock, Little Joe Otter suddenly remembered that he had business down the
Laughing Brook, and Billy Mink recalled that Mother Mink had forbidden
him to play at the Smiling Pool. Prickly Porky had the Smiling Pool
quite to himself.

When he had swum to his heart's content he climbed out, shook himself
and slowly ambled up the Lone Little Path to the Green Forest. The Merry
Little Breezes watched him out of sight. Then they danced over to the
big green lily-pad on which sat Grandfather Frog. The Merry Little
Breezes are great favorites with Grandfather Frog. As usual they brought
him some foolish green flies. Grandfather Frog's eyes twinkled as he
snapped up the last foolish green fly.

"Chug-a-rum!" said Grandfather Frog, "and now I suppose you want a
story." And he folded his hands across his white and yellow waistcoat.

"If you please!" shouted the Merry Little Breezes. "If you please, do
tell us how it is that Prickly Porky has spears on his back!"

Grandfather settled himself comfortably. "Chug-a-rum!" said he. "Once
upon a time when the world was young, Mr. Porcupine, the grandfather a
thousand times removed of Prickly Porky, whom you all know, lived in the
Green Forest where old King Bear ruled. Mr. Porcupine was a slow clumsy
fellow, just as his grandson a thousand times removed is to-day. He was
so slow moving, and when he tried to hurry tumbled over himself so
much, that he had hard work to get enough to eat. Always some one
reached the berry patch before he did. The beetles and the bugs were so
spry that seldom could he catch them. Hunger was in his stomach, and
little else most of the time. Mr. Porcupine grew thin and thinner and
still more thin. His long, shaggy coat looked twice too big for him.
Because he was so hungry he could sleep little, and night as well as day
he roamed the forest, thinking of nothing but his empty stomach, and
looking for something to put in it. So he learned to see by night as
well as by day.

"One day he could not find a single berry and not a beetle or a bug
could he catch. He was so hungry that he sat down with his back against
a big black birch, and clasping both hands over his lean stomach, he
wept. There Sister South Wind found him, and her heart was moved to
pity, for she knew that his wits were as slow as his body. Softly she
stole up behind him.

"'Try the bark of the black birch; it's sweet and good,' whispered
Sister South Wind. Then she hurried on her way.

"Mr. Porcupine still sat with his hands clasped over his lean stomach,
for it took a long time for his slow wit to understand what Sister South
Wind meant. 'Bark, bark, try bark,' said Mr. Porcupine over and over to
himself. He rolled his dull little eyes up at the big black birch. 'I
believe I will try it,' said Mr. Porcupine at last.

"Slowly he turned and began to gnaw the bark of the big black birch. It
was tough, but it tasted good. Clumsily he began to climb, tearing off a
mouthful of bark here and there as he climbed. The higher he got the
tenderer and sweeter the bark became. Finally he reached the top of the
tree, and there on the small branches the bark was so tender and so
sweet that he ate and ate and ate until for the first time in many days
Mr. Porcupine had a full stomach. That night he curled up in a hollow
log and slept all the night through, dreaming of great forests of black
birch and all he wanted to eat.

"The next day he hunted for and found another black birch, and climbing
to the top, he ate and ate until his stomach was full. From that time on
Mr. Porcupine ceased to hunt for berries or beetles or bugs. He grew
stout and stouter. He filled his shaggy coat until it was so tight it
threatened to burst.

"Now while Mr. Porcupine was so thin and lean he had no enemies, but
when he grew stout and then fat, Mr. Panther and Mr. Fisher and Mr.
Bobcat and even old King Bear began to cast longing eyes upon him, for
times were hard and they were hungry. Mr. Porcupine began to grow
afraid. By night he hid in hollow trees and by day he went abroad to eat
only when he was sure that no one bigger than himself was about. And
because he no longer dared to move about as before, he no longer
depended upon the black birch alone, but learned to eat and to like all
kinds of bark.

"One day he had made his breakfast on the bark of a honey-locust. When
he came down the tree he brought with him a strip of bark, and attached
to it were some of the long thorns with which the honey-locust seeks to
protect itself. When he reached the ground whom should he find waiting
for him but Mr. Panther. Mr. Panther was very lean and very hungry, for
hunting had been poor and the times were hard.

"'Good morning, Mr. Porcupine,' said Mr. Panther, with a wicked grin.
'How fat you are!'

"'Good morning, Mr. Panther,' said Mr. Porcupine politely, but his long
hair stood on end with fright, as he looked into Mr. Panther's cruel
yellow eyes.

"'I say, how fat you are,' said Mr. Panther, licking his chops and
showing all his long teeth. 'What do you find to eat these hard times?'

"'Bark, Mr. Panther, just bark,' said Mr. Porcupine, while his teeth
chattered with fear. 'It really is very nice and sweet. Won't you try a
piece, Mr. Panther?' Mr. Porcupine held out the strip of locust bark
which he had brought down the tree for his lunch.

"Now Mr. Panther had never tried bark, but he thought to himself that
if it made Mr. Porcupine so fat it must be good. He would try the piece
of bark first and eat Mr. Porcupine afterward. So he reached out and
snapped up the strip of bark.

"Now the locust thorns were long and they were sharp. They pierced Mr.
Panther's tender lips and his tongue. They stuck in the roof of his
mouth. Mr. Panther spat and yelled with pain and rage and clawed
frantically at his mouth. He rolled over and over trying to get rid of
the thorns. Mr. Porcupine didn't stay to watch him. For once in his life
he hurried. By the time Mr. Panther was rid of the last thorn, Mr.
Porcupine was nowhere to be seen. He was safely hidden inside a hollow
log.

"Mr. Porcupine didn't sleep that night. He just lay and thought and
thought and thought. The next morning, very early, before any one else
was astir, he started out to call on old Mother Nature.

"'Good morning, Mr. Porcupine, what brings you out so early?' asked old
Mother Nature.

"Mr. Porcupine bowed very low. 'If you please, Mother Nature, I want you
to help me,' said he.

"Then he told her all about his meeting with Mr. Panther and how
helpless he was when he met his enemies, and he begged her to give him
stout claws and a big mouth full of long teeth that he might protect
himself.

"Old Mother Nature thought a few minutes. 'Mr. Porcupine,' said she,
'you have always minded your own business. You do not know how to fight.
If I should give you a big mouth full of long teeth you would not know
how to use them. You move too slowly. Instead, I will give you a
thousand little spurs. They shall be hidden in the long hair of your
coat and only when you are in danger shall you use them. Go back to the
Green Forest, and the next time you meet Mr. Panther or Mr. Fisher or
Mr. Bobcat or old King Bear roll yourself into a ball and the thousand
little spears will protect you. Now go!'

"Mr. Porcupine thanked old Mother Nature and started back for the Green
Forest. Once he stopped to smooth down his long, rough coat. Sure
enough, there, under the long hair, he felt a thousand little spears. He
went along happily until suddenly he met Mr. Panther. Yes, Sir, he met
Mr. Panther.

"Mr. Panther was feeling very ugly, for his mouth was sore. He grinned
wickedly when he saw Mr. Porcupine and stepped right out in front of
him, all the time licking his lips. Mr. Porcupine trembled all over,
but he remembered what old Mother Nature had told him. In a flash he had
rolled up into a tight ball. Sure enough, the thousand little spears
sprang out of his long coat, and he looked like a huge chestnut burr.

"Mr. Panther was so surprised he didn't know just what to do. He reached
out a paw and touched Mr. Porcupine. Mr. Porcupine was nervous. He
switched his tail around and it struck Mr. Panther's paw. Mr. Panther
yelled, for there were spears on Mr. Porcupine's tail and they were
worse than the locust thorns. He backed away hurriedly and limped off up
the Lone Little Path, growling horribly. Mr. Porcupine waited until Mr.
Panther was out of sight, then he unrolled, and slowly and happily he
walked back to his home in the Green Forest.

"And since that long-ago day when the world was young, the Porcupines
have feared nothing and have attended strictly to their own business.
And that is how they happen to have a thousand little barbed spears,
which are called quills," concluded Grandfather Frog.

The Merry Little Breezes drew a long breath. "Thank you, Grandfather
Frog, thank you ever so much!" they cried all together. "We are going
back now to tell Prickly Porky that we know all about his little spears
and how he happens to have them."

But first they blew a dozen fat, foolish, green flies over to
Grandfather Frog.



IV

PETER RABBIT'S EGG ROLLING


It was spring. Drummer the Woodpecker was beating the long roll on the
hollow limb of the old hickory, that all the world might know. Old
Mother West Wind, hurrying down from the Purple Hills across the Green
Meadows, stopped long enough to kiss the smiling little bluets that
crowded along the Lone Little Path. All up and down the Laughing Brook
were shy violets turning joyful faces up to jolly, round, red Mr. Sun.
Johnny Chuck was sitting on his doorstep, stretching one short leg and
then another, to get the kinks out, after his long, long winter sleep.
Very beautiful, very beautiful indeed, were the Green Meadows, and very
happy were all the little meadow people--all but Peter Rabbit, who sat
at the top of the Crooked Little Path that winds down the hill. No, Sir,
Peter Rabbit, happy-go-lucky Peter, who usually carries the lightest
heart on the Green Meadows, was not happy. Indeed, he was very unhappy.
As he sat there at the top of the Crooked Little Path and looked down on
the Green Meadows, he saw nothing beautiful at all because, why, because
his big soft eyes were full of tears. Splash! A big tear fell at his
feet in the Crooked Little Path. Splash! That was another tear. Splash!
splash!

"My gracious! My gracious! What _is_ the matter, Peter Rabbit?" asked a
gruff voice close to one of Peter's long ears.

Peter jumped. Then he winked the tears back and looked around. There
sat old Mr. Toad. He looked very solemn, very solemn indeed. He was
wearing a shabby old suit, the very one he had slept in all winter.
Peter forgot his troubles long enough to wonder if old Mr. Toad would
swallow his old clothes when he got a new suit.

"What's the matter, Peter Rabbit, what's the matter?" repeated old Mr.
Toad.

Peter looked a little foolish. He hesitated, coughed, looked this way
and looked that way, hitched his trousers up, and then, why then he
found his tongue and told old Mr. Toad all his troubles.

"You see," said Peter Rabbit, "it's almost Easter and I haven't found a
single egg."

"An egg!" exclaimed old Mr. Toad. "Bless my stars! What do you want of
an egg, Peter Rabbit? You don't eat eggs."

"I don't want just one egg, oh, no, no indeed! I want a lot of eggs,"
said Peter. "You see, Mr. Toad, I was going to have an Easter egg
rolling, and here it is almost Easter and not an egg to be found!"
Peter's eyes filled with tears again.

Old Mr. Toad rolled one eye up at jolly, round, red Mr. Sun and winked.
"Have you seen Mrs. Grouse and Mrs. Pheasant?" asked old Mr. Toad.

"Yes," said Peter Rabbit, "and they won't have any eggs until after
Easter."

"Have you been to see Mrs. Quack?" asked old Mr. Toad.

"Yes," said Peter Rabbit, "and she says she can't spare a single one."

Old Mr. Toad looked very thoughtful. He scratched the tip of his nose
with his left hind foot. Then he winked once more at jolly, round, red
Mr. Sun. "Have you been to see Jimmy Skunk?" he inquired.

Peter Rabbit's big eyes opened very wide. "Jimmy Skunk!" he exclaimed.
"Jimmy Skunk! What does Jimmy Skunk have to do with eggs?"

Old Mr. Toad chuckled deep down in his throat. He chuckled and chuckled
until he shook all over.

"Jimmy Skunk knows more about eggs than all the other little meadow
people put together," said old Mr. Toad. "You take my advice, Peter
Rabbit, and ask Jimmy Skunk to help you get the eggs for your Easter egg
rolling."

Then old Mr. Toad picked up his cane and started down the Crooked Little
Path to the Green Meadows. There he found the Merry Little Breezes
stealing kisses from the bashful little wind flowers. Old Mr. Toad
puffed out his throat and pretended that he disapproved, disapproved
very much indeed, but at the same time he rolled one eye up at jolly,
round, red Mr. Sun and winked.

"Haven't you anything better to do than make bashful little flowers hang
their heads?" asked old Mr. Toad gruffly.

The Merry Little Breezes stopped their dancing and gathered about old
Mr. Toad. "What's the matter with you this morning, Mr. Toad?" asked one
of them. "Do you want us to go find a breakfast for you?"

"No," replied old Mr. Toad sourly. "I am quite able to get breakfast for
myself. But Peter Rabbit is up on the hill crying because he cannot find
any eggs."

"Crying because he cannot find any eggs! Now what does Peter Rabbit
want of eggs?" cried the Merry Little Breezes all together.

"Supposing you go ask him," replied old Mr. Toad tartly, once more
picking up his cane and starting for the Smiling Pool to call on his
cousin, Grandfather Frog.

The Merry Little Breezes stared after him for a few minutes, then they
started in a mad race up the Crooked Little Path to find Peter Rabbit.
He wasn't at the top of the Crooked Little Path. They looked everywhere,
but not so much as the tip of one of his long ears could they see.
Finally they met him just coming away from Jimmy Skunk's house. Peter
was hopping, skipping, jumping up in the air and kicking his long heels
as only Peter can. There was no trace of tears in his big, soft eyes.
Plainly Peter Rabbit was in good spirits, in the very best of spirits.
When he saw the Merry Little Breezes he jumped twice as high as he had
jumped before, then sat up very straight.

"Hello!" said Peter Rabbit.

"Hello yourself," replied the Merry Little Breezes. "Tell us what under
the sun you want of eggs, Peter Rabbit, and we'll try to find some for
you."

Peter's eyes sparkled. "I'm going to have an Easter egg rolling," said
he, "but you needn't look for any eggs, for I am going to have all I
want; Jimmy Skunk has promised to get them for me."

"What is an Easter egg rolling?" asked the Merry Little Breezes.

Peter looked very mysterious. "Wait and see," he replied. Then a sudden
thought popped into his head. "Will you do something for me?" he asked.

Of course the Merry Little Breezes were delighted to do anything they
could for Peter Rabbit, and told him so. So in a few minutes Peter had
them scattering in every direction with invitations to all the little
people of the Green Meadows and all the little folks of the Green Forest
to attend his egg rolling on Easter morning.

Very, very early on Easter morning Old Mother West Wind hurried down
from the Purple Hills and swept all the rain clouds out of the sky.
Jolly, round, red Mr. Sun climbed up in the sky, smiling his broadest.
All the little song birds sang their sweetest, and some who really
cannot sing at all tried to just because they were so happy. Across the
beautiful Green Meadows came all the little meadow people and forest
folks to the smooth, grassy bank where the big hickory grows. Peter
Rabbit was there waiting for them. He had brushed his clothes until you
would hardly have known him. He felt very much excited and very
important and very, very happy, for this was to be the very first egg
rolling the Green Meadows had ever known, and it was all his very own.

Hidden behind the old hickory, tucked under pieces of bark, scattered
among the bluets and wind flowers were big eggs, little eggs and
middle-sized eggs, for Jimmy Skunk had been true to his promise. Where
they came from Jimmy wouldn't tell. Perhaps if old Gray Goose and Mrs.
Quack could have been there, they would have understood why it took so
long to fill their nests. Perhaps if Farmer Brown's boy had happened
along, he would have guessed why he had to hunt so long in the barn and
under the henhouse to get enough eggs for breakfast. But Jimmy Skunk
held his tongue and just smiled to see how happy Peter Rabbit was.

First came Peter's cousin, Jumper the Hare. Then up from the Smiling
Pool came Jerry Muskrat, Little Joe Otter, Billy Mink, Grandfather Frog
and Spotty the Turtle. Johnny Chuck, Danny Meadow Mouse, and old Mr.
Toad came together. Of course Reddy Fox was on hand promptly. Striped
Chipmunk came dancing out from the home no one has been able to find.
Out from the Green Forest trotted Bobby Coon, Happy Jack Squirrel and
Chatterer the Red Squirrel. Behind them shuffled Prickly Porky. Last of
all came Jimmy Skunk, who never hurries, and Jimmy wore his very best
suit of black and white. Up in the old hickory sat Blacky the Crow,
Sammy Jay and Drummer the Woodpecker, to watch the fun.

When all had arrived, Peter Rabbit started them to hunting for the eggs.
Everybody got in the way of everybody else. Even old Mr. Toad caught the
excitement and hopped this way and hopped that way hunting for eggs.
Danny Meadow Mouse found a goose egg bigger than himself and had to get
help to bring it in. Bobby Coon stubbed his toes and fell down with an
egg under each arm. Such a looking sight as he was! He had to go down to
the Smiling Pool to wash.

By and by, when all the eggs had been found, Peter Rabbit sent a big
goose egg rolling down the grassy bank and then raced after it to bring
it back and roll it down again. In a few minutes the green grassy bank
was covered with eggs--big eggs, little eggs, all kinds of eggs. Some
were nearly round and rolled swiftly to the bottom. Some were sharp
pointed at one end and rolled crookedly and sometimes turned end over
end. A big egg knocked Johnny Chuck's legs from under him and, because
Johnny Chuck is round and roly-poly, he just rolled over and over after
the egg clear to the bottom of the green grassy bank. And it was such
fun that he scrambled up and did it all over again.

Then Bobby Coon tried it. Pretty soon every one was trying it, even
Reddy Fox, who seldom forgets his dignity. For once Blacky the Crow and
Sammy Jay almost wished that they hadn't got wings, so that they might
join in the fun.

But the greatest fun of all was when Prickly Porky decided that he, too,
would join in the rolling. He tucked his head down in his vest and made
himself into a perfectly round ball. Now when he did this, all his
hidden spears stood out straight, until he looked like a great, giant,
chestnut burr, and every one hurried to get out of his way. Over and
over, faster and faster, he rolled down the green, grassy bank until he
landed--where do you think? Why right in the midst of a lot of eggs
that had been left when the other little people had scampered out of his
way.

Now, having his head tucked into his vest, Prickly Porky couldn't see
where he was going, so when he reached the bottom and hopped to his feet
he didn't know what to make of the shout that went up from all the
little meadow people. So foolish Prickly Porky lost his temper because
he was being laughed at, and started off up the Lone Little Path to his
home in the Green Forest. And what do you think? Why, stuck fast in a
row on the spears on his back, Prickly Porky carried off six of Peter
Rabbit's Easter eggs, and didn't know it.



V

HOW JOHNNY CHUCK RAN AWAY


Johnny Chuck stood on the doorstep of his house and watched old Mrs.
Chuck start down the Lone Little Path across the Green Meadows towards
Farmer Brown's garden. She had her market basket on her arm, and Johnny
knew that when she returned it would be full of the things he liked
best. But not even the thought of these could chase away the frown that
darkened Johnny Chuck's face. He had never been to Farmer Brown's garden
and he had begged very hard to go that morning with old Mrs. Chuck. But
she had said "No. It isn't safe for such a little chap as you." And
when Mrs. Chuck said "No," Johnny knew that she meant it, and that it
was of no use at all to beg.

So he stood with his hands in his pockets and scowled and scowled as he
thought of old Mrs. Chuck's very last words: "Now, Johnny, don't you
dare put a foot outside of the yard until I get back."

Pretty soon along came Peter Rabbit. Peter was trying to jump over his
own shadow. When he saw Johnny Chuck he stopped abruptly. Then he looked
up at the blue sky and winked at jolly, round, red Mr. Sun. "Looks
mighty showery 'round here," he remarked to no one in particular.

Johnny Chuck smiled in spite of himself. Then he told Peter Rabbit how
he had got to stay at home and mind the house and couldn't put his foot
outside the yard. Now Peter hasn't had the best bringing up in the
world, for his mother has such a big family that she is kept busy just
getting them something to eat. So Peter has been allowed to bring
himself up and do just about as he pleases.

"How long will your mother be gone?" asked Peter.

"Most all the morning," said Johnny Chuck mournfully.

Peter hopped a couple of steps nearer. "Say, Johnny," he whispered, "how
is she going to know whether you stay in the yard all the time or not,
so long as you are here when she gets home? I know where there's the
dandiest sweet-clover patch. We can go over there and back easy before
old Mrs. Chuck gets home, and she won't know anything about it. Come
on!"

Johnny Chuck's mouth watered at the thought of the sweet-clover, but
still he hesitated, for Johnny Chuck had been taught to mind.

"'Fraid cat! 'Fraid cat! Tied to your mother's apron strings!" jeered
Peter Rabbit.

"I ain't either!" cried Johnny Chuck. And then, just to prove it, he
thrust his hands into his pockets and swaggered out into the Lone Little
Path.

"Where's your old clover patch?" asked he.

"I'll show you," said Peter Rabbit, and off he started,
lipperty-lipperty-lip, so fast that Johnny Chuck lost his breath trying
to make his short legs keep up. And all the time Johnny's conscience was
pricking him.

Peter Rabbit left the Lone Little Path across the Green Meadows for some
secret little paths of his own. His long legs took him over the ground
very fast. Johnny Chuck, running behind him, grew tired and hot, for
Johnny's legs are short and he is fat and roly-poly. At times all he
could see was the white patch on the seat of Peter Rabbit's pants. He
began to wish that he had minded old Mrs. Chuck and stayed at home. It
was too late to go back now, for he didn't know the way.

"Wait up, Peter Rabbit!" he called.

Peter Rabbit just flirted his tail and ran faster.

"Please, please wait for me, Peter Rabbit," panted Johnny Chuck, and
began to cry. Yes, Sir, he began to cry. You see he was so hot and
tired, and then he was so afraid that he would lose sight of Peter
Rabbit. If he did he would surely be lost, and then what should he do?
The very thought made him run just a little faster.

[Illustration: "Please, please wait for me, Peter Rabbit," panted Johnny
Chuck.]

Now Peter Rabbit is really one of the best-hearted little fellows in
the world, just happy-go-lucky and careless. So when finally he looked
back and saw Johnny Chuck way, way behind, with the tears running down
his cheeks, and how hot and tired he looked, Peter sat down and waited.
Pretty soon Johnny Chuck came up, puffing and blowing, and threw himself
flat on the ground.

"Please, Peter Rabbit, is it very much farther to the sweet-clover
patch?" he panted, wiping his eyes with the backs of his hands.

"No," replied Peter Rabbit, "just a little way more. We'll rest here a
few minutes and then I won't run so fast."

So Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck lay down in the grass to rest while
Johnny Chuck recovered his breath. Every minute or two Peter would sit
up very straight, prick up his long ears and look this way and look
that way as if he expected to see something unusual. It made Johnny
Chuck nervous.

"What do you keep doing that for, Peter Rabbit?" he asked.

"Oh, nothin'," replied Peter Rabbit. But he kept right on doing it just
the same. Then suddenly, after one of these looks abroad, he crouched
down very flat and whispered in Johnny Chuck's ear in great excitement.

"Old Whitetail is down here and he's headed this way. We'd better be
moving," he said.

Johnny Chuck felt a chill of fear. "Who is Old Whitetail?" he asked, as
he prepared to follow Peter Rabbit.

"Don't you know?" asked Peter in surprise. "Say, you are green! Why,
he's Mr. Marsh Hawk, and if he once gets the chance he'll gobble you up,
skin, bones and all. There's an old stone wall just a little way from
here, and the sooner we get there the better!"

Peter Rabbit led the way, and if he had run fast before it was nothing
to the way he ran now. A great fear made Johnny Chuck forget that he was
tired, and he ran as he had never run before in all his short life. Just
as he dived head-first into a hole between two big stones, a shadow
swept over the grass and something sharp tore a gap in the seat of his
pants and made him squeal with fright and pain. But he wriggled in
beside Peter Rabbit and was safe, while Mr. Marsh Hawk flew off with a
scream of rage and disappointment.

Johnny Chuck had never been so frightened in all his short life. He made
himself as small as possible and crept as far as he could underneath a
friendly stone in the old wall. His pants were torn and his leg smarted
dreadfully where one of Mr. Marsh Hawk's cruel, sharp claws had
scratched him. How he did wish that he had minded old Mrs. Chuck and
stayed in his own yard, as she had told him to.

Peter Rabbit looked at the tear in Johnny Chuck's pants. "Pooh!" said
Peter Rabbit, "don't mind a little thing like that."

"But I'm afraid to go home with my pants torn," said Johnny Chuck.

"Don't go home," replied Peter Rabbit. "I don't unless I feel like it.
You stay away a long time and then your mother will be so glad to see
you that she won't ever think of the pants."

Johnny Chuck looked doubtful, but before he could say anything Peter
Rabbit stuck his head out to see if the way was clear. It was, and
Peter's long legs followed his head. "Come on, Johnny Chuck," he
shouted. "I'm going over to the sweet-clover patch."

But Johnny Chuck was afraid. He was almost sure that Old Whitetail was
waiting just outside to gobble him up. It was a long time before he
would put so much as the tip of his wee black nose out. But without
Peter Rabbit it grew lonesomer and lonesomer in under the old stone
wall. Besides, he was afraid that he would lose Peter Rabbit, and then
he would be lost indeed, for he didn't know the way home.

Finally Johnny Chuck ventured to peep out. There was jolly, round, red
Mr. Sun smiling down just as if he was used to seeing little runaway
chucks every day. Johnny looked and looked for Peter Rabbit, but it was
a long time before he saw him, and when he did all he saw were Peter
Rabbit's funny long ears above the tops of the waving grass, for Peter
Rabbit was hidden in the sweet-clover patch, eating away for dear life.

It was only a little distance, but Johnny Chuck had had such a fright
that he tried three times before he grew brave enough to scurry through
the tall grass and join Peter Rabbit. My, how good that sweet-clover did
taste! Johnny Chuck forgot all about Old Whitetail. He forgot all about
his torn pants. He forgot that he had run away and didn't know the way
home. He just ate and ate and ate until his stomach was so full he
couldn't stuff another piece of sweet-clover into it.

Suddenly Peter Rabbit grabbed him by a sleeve and pulled him down flat.

"Sh-h-h," said Peter Rabbit, "don't move."

Johnny Chuck's heart almost stopped beating. What new danger could there
be now? In a minute he heard a queer noise. Peeping between the stems
of sweet-clover he saw--what do you think? Why, old Mrs. Chuck cutting
sweet-clover to put in the basket of vegetables she was taking home from
Farmer Brown's garden.

Johnny Chuck gave a great sigh of relief, but he kept very still for he
did not want her to find him there after she had told him not to put
foot outside his own dooryard. "You wait here," whispered Peter Rabbit,
and crept off through the clover. Pretty soon Johnny Chuck saw Peter
Rabbit steal up behind old Mrs. Chuck and pull four big lettuce leaves
out of her basket.



VI

PETER RABBIT'S RUN FOR LIFE


"I wish I hadn't run away," said Johnny Chuck dolefully, as he and Peter
Rabbit peeped out from the sweet-clover patch and watched old Mrs. Chuck
start for home with her market basket on her arm.

"You ought to think yourself lucky that your mother didn't find you here
in the sweet-clover patch. If it hadn't been for me she would have,"
said Peter Rabbit.

Johnny Chuck's face grew longer and longer. His pants were torn, his leg
was stiff and sore where old Mr. Marsh Hawk had scratched him that
morning, but worse still his conscience pricked him. Yes, Sir, Johnny
Chuck's conscience was pricking him hard, very hard indeed, because he
had run away from home with Peter Rabbit after old Mrs. Chuck had told
him not to leave the yard while she was away. Now he didn't know the way
home.

"Peter Rabbit, I want to go home," said Johnny Chuck suddenly. "Isn't
there a short cut so that I can get home before my mother does?"

"No, there isn't," said Peter Rabbit. "And if there was what good would
it do you? Old Mrs. Chuck would see that tear in your pants and then
you'd catch it!"

"I don't care. Please won't you show me the way home, Peter Rabbit?"
begged Johnny Chuck.

Peter Rabbit yawned lazily as he replied: "What's the use of going now?
You'll catch it anyway, so you might as well stay and have all fun you
can. Say, I know a dandy old house up on the hill. Jimmy Skunk used to
live there, but no one lives in it now. Let's go up and see it. It's a
dandy place."

Now right down in his heart Johnny Chuck knew that he ought to go home,
but he couldn't go unless Peter Rabbit would show him the way, and then
he did want to see that old house. Perhaps Peter Rabbit was right (in
his heart he knew that he wasn't) and he had better have all the fun he
could. So Johnny Chuck followed Peter Rabbit up the hill to the old
house of Jimmy Skunk.

Cobwebs covered the doorway. Johnny Chuck was going to brush them away,
but Peter Rabbit stopped him. "Let's see if there isn't a back door,"
said he. "Then we can use that, and if Bowser the Hound or Farmer
Brown's boy comes along and finds this door they'll think no one ever
lives here any more and you'll be safer than if you were right in your
own home."

So they hunted and hunted, and by and by Johnny Chuck found the back
door way off at one side and cunningly hidden under a tangle of grass.
Inside was a long dark hall and at the end of that a nice big room. It
was very dirty, and Johnny Chuck, who is very neat, at once began to
clean house and soon had it spick and span. Suddenly they heard a voice
outside the front door.

"Doesn't look as if anybody lives here, but seems as if I smell young
rabbit and--yes, I'm sure I smell young chuck, too. Guess I'll have a
look inside."

"It's old Granny Fox," whispered Peter Rabbit, trembling with fright.

Then Peter Rabbit did a very brave thing. He remembered that Johnny
Chuck could not run very fast and that if it hadn't been for him, Johnny
Chuck would be safe at home. "You stay right here," whispered Peter
Rabbit. Then he slipped out the back door. Half-way down the hill he
stopped and shouted:

    "Old Granny Fox
    Is slower than an ox!"

Then he started for the old brier patch as fast as his long legs could
take him, and after him ran Granny Fox.

Peter Rabbit was running for his life. There was no doubt about it.
Right behind him, grinding her long white teeth, her eyes snapping, ran
old Granny Fox. Peter Rabbit did not like to think what would happen to
him if she should catch him.

Peter Rabbit was used to running for his life. He had to do it at least
once every day. But usually he was near a safe hiding place and he
rather enjoyed the excitement. This time, however, the only place of
safety he could think of was the friendly old brier patch, and that was
a long way off.

Back at the old house on the hill, where Granny Fox had discovered Peter
Rabbit, was little Johnny Chuck, trembling with fright. He crept to the
back door of the old house to watch. He saw Granny Fox getting nearer
and nearer to Peter Rabbit.

"Oh, dear! Oh, dear! She'll catch Peter Rabbit! She'll catch Peter
Rabbit!" wailed Johnny Chuck, wringing his hands in despair.

It certainly looked as if Granny Fox would. She was right at Peter
Rabbit's heels. Poor, happy-go-lucky, little Peter Rabbit! Two more
jumps and Granny Fox would have him! Johnny Chuck shut his eyes tight,
for he didn't want to see.

But Peter Rabbit had no intention of being caught so easily. While he
had seemed to be running his very hardest, really he was not. And all
the time he was watching Granny Fox, for Peter Rabbit's big eyes are so
placed that he can see behind him without turning his head. So he knew
when Granny Fox was near enough to catch him in one more jump. Then
Peter Rabbit dodged. Yes, Sir, Peter Rabbit dodged like a flash, and
away he went in another direction lipperty-lipperty-lip, as fast as he
could go.

Old Granny Fox had been so sure that in another minute she would have
tender young rabbit for her dinner that she had begun to smile and her
mouth actually watered. She did not see where she was going. All she saw
was the white patch on the seat of Peter Rabbit's trousers bobbing up
and down right in front of her nose.

When Peter Rabbit dodged, something surprising happened. Johnny Chuck,
who had opened his eyes to see if all was over, jumped up and shouted
for joy, and did a funny little dance in the doorway of the old house on
the hill. Peter had dodged right in front of a wire fence, a fence with
ugly, sharp barbs, and right smack into it ran Granny Fox! It scratched
her face and tore her bright red cloak. It threw her back flat on the
ground, with all the wind knocked out of her body.

When finally she had gotten her breath and scrambled to her feet, Peter
Rabbit was almost over to the friendly old brier patch. He stopped and
sat up very straight. Then he put his hands on his hips and shouted:

    "Run, Granny, run!
    Here comes a man who's got a gun!"

Granny Fox started nervously and looked this way and looked that way.
There was no one in sight. Then she shook a fist at Peter Rabbit and
started to limp off home.

Johnny Chuck gave a great sigh of relief. "My," said he, "I wish I was
as smart as Peter Rabbit!"

"You will be if you live long enough," said a voice right behind him. It
was old Mr. Toad.

Mr. Toad and Johnny Chuck sat in the doorway of the old house on the
hill and watched old Granny Fox limp off home. "I wonder what it would
seem like not to be afraid of anything in the whole world," said Johnny
Chuck.

"People who mind their own business and don't get into mischief don't
need to be afraid of anything," said Mr. Toad.

Johnny Chuck remembered how safe he had always felt at home with old
Mrs. Chuck and how many times and how badly he had been frightened since
he ran away that morning. "I guess perhaps you are right, Mr. Toad,"
said Johnny Chuck doubtfully.

"Of course I'm right," replied Mr. Toad. "Of course I'm right. Look at
me; I attend strictly to my own affairs and no one ever bothers me."

"That's because you are so homely that no one wants you for a dinner
when he can find anything else," said Peter Rabbit, who had come up from
the friendly old brier patch.

"Better be homely than to need eyes in the back of my head to keep my
skin whole," retorted Mr. Toad. "Now I don't know what it is to be
afraid."

"Not of old Granny Fox?" asked Johnny Chuck.

"No," said Mr. Toad.

"Nor Bowser the Hound?"

"No," said Mr. Toad. "He's a friend of mine." Then Mr. Toad swelled
himself up very big. "I'm not afraid of anything under the sun," boasted
Mr. Toad.

Peter Rabbit looked at Johnny Chuck and slowly winked one eye. "I guess
I'll go up the hill and have a look around," said Peter Rabbit, hitching
up his trousers. So Peter Rabbit went off up the hill, while Mr. Toad
smoothed down his dingy white waistcoat and told Johnny Chuck what a
foolish thing fear is.

By and by there was a queer rustling in the grass back of them. Mr. Toad
hopped around awkwardly. "What was that?" he whispered.

"Just the wind in the grass, I guess," said Johnny Chuck.

For a while all was still and Mr. Toad settled himself comfortably and
began to talk once more. "No, Sir," said Mr. Toad, "I'm not afraid of
anything."

Just then there was another rustle in the grass, a little nearer than
before. Mr. Toad certainly was nervous. He stretched up on the tips of
his toes and looked in the direction of the sound. Then Mr. Toad turned
pale. Yes, Sir, Mr. Toad actually turned pale! His big, bulging eyes
looked as if they would pop out of his head.

"I--I must be going," said Mr. Toad hastily. "I quite forgot an
important engagement down on the Green Meadows. If Mr. Blacksnake should
happen to call, don't mention that you have seen me, will you, Johnny
Chuck?"

Johnny Chuck looked over in the grass. Something long and slim and black
was wriggling through it. When he turned about again, Mr. Toad was
half-way down the hill, going with such big hops that three times he
fell flat on his face, and when he picked himself up he didn't even stop
to brush off his clothes.

"I wonder what it seems like not to be afraid of anything in the world?"
said a voice right behind Johnny Chuck.

There stood Peter Rabbit laughing so that he had to hold his sides, and
in one hand was the end of an old leather strap which he had fooled Mr.
Toad into thinking was Mr. Blacksnake.



VII

A JOKER FOOLED


Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck sat in the doorway of Jimmy Skunk's
deserted old house on the hill and looked down across the Green Meadows.
Every few minutes Peter Rabbit would chuckle as he thought of how he had
fooled Mr. Toad into thinking that an old leather strap was Mr.
Blacksnake.

"Is Mr. Blacksnake so very dangerous?" asked Johnny Chuck, who had seen
very little of the world.

"Not for you or me," replied Peter Rabbit, "because we've grown too big
for him to swallow. But he would like nothing better than to catch Mr.
Toad for his dinner. But if you ever meet Mr. Blacksnake, be polite to
him. He is very quick tempered, is Mr. Blacksnake, but if you don't
bother him he'll not bother you. My goodness, I wonder what's going on
down there in the alders!"

Johnny Chuck looked over to the alder thicket. He saw Sammy Jay, Blacky
the Crow and Mrs. Redwing sitting in the alders. They were calling back
and forth, apparently very much excited. Peter Rabbit looked this way
and that way to see if the coast was clear.

"Come on, Johnny Chuck, let's go down and see what the trouble is," said
he, for you know Peter Rabbit has a great deal of curiosity.

So down to the alder thicket skipped Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck as
fast as they could go. Half-way there they were joined by Danny Meadow
Mouse, for he too had heard the fuss and wanted to know what it all
meant.

"What's the matter?" asked Peter Rabbit of Sammy Jay, but Sammy was too
excited to answer and simply pointed down into the middle of the alder
thicket. So the three of them, one behind the other, very softly crept
in among the alders. A great commotion was going on among the dead
leaves. Danny Meadow Mouse gave one look, then he turned as pale as did
Mr. Toad when Peter Rabbit fooled him with the old leather strap. "This
is no place for me!" exclaimed Danny Meadow Mouse, and started for home
as fast as he could run.

Partly under an old log lay Mr. Blacksnake. There seemed to be something
the matter with him. He looked sick, and threshed and struggled till he
made the leaves fly. Sammy Jay and Blacky the Crow and Mrs. Redwing
called all sorts of insulting things to him, but he paid no attention to
them. Once Mrs. Redwing darted down and pecked him sharply. But Mr.
Blacksnake seemed quite helpless.

"What's the matter with him?" asked Johnny Chuck in a whisper.

"Nothing. Wait and you'll see. Sammy Jay and Mrs. Redwing better watch
out or they'll be sorry," replied Peter Rabbit.

Just then Mr. Blacksnake wedged his head in under the old log and began
to push and wriggle harder than ever. Then Johnny Chuck gasped. Mr.
Blacksnake was crawling out of his clothes! Yes, Sir, his old suit was
coming off wrong side out, just like a glove, and underneath he wore a
splendid new suit of shiny black!

"It's time for us to be moving," whispered Peter Rabbit. "After Mr.
Blacksnake has changed his clothes he is pretty short tempered. Just
hear him hiss at Mrs. Redwing and Sammy Jay!"

They tiptoed out of the alder thicket and started back for the old house
on the hill. Peter Rabbit suddenly giggled out loud. "To-morrow," said
Peter Rabbit "we'll come back and get Mr. Blacksnake's old suit and have
some fun with Danny Meadow Mouse."

The next morning Danny Meadow Mouse sat on his doorstep nodding. He was
dreaming that his tail was long like the tails of all his cousins. One
of Old Mother West Wind's Merry Little Breezes stole up and whispered in
his ear. Danny Meadow Mouse was awake, wide awake in an instant. "So
Peter Rabbit is going to play a joke on me and scare me into fits!" said
Danny Meadow Mouse.

"Yes," said the Merry Little Breeze, "for I overheard him telling
Johnny Chuck all about it."

Danny Meadow Mouse began to laugh softly to himself. "Will you do
something for me?" he asked the Merry Little Breeze.

"Sure," replied the Merry Little Breeze.

"Then go find Cresty the Fly-catcher and tell him that I want to see
him," said Danny Meadow Mouse.

The Merry Little Breeze hurried away, and pretty soon back he came with
Cresty the Fly-catcher.

Now all this time Peter Rabbit had been very busy planning his joke on
Danny Meadow Mouse. He and Johnny Chuck had gone down to the alder
thicket, where they had seen Mr. Blacksnake change his clothes, and they
had found his old suit just as he had left it.

"We'll take this up and stretch it out behind a big tussock of grass
near the home of Danny Meadow Mouse," chuckled Peter Rabbit. "Then I'll
invite Danny Meadow Mouse to take a walk, and when we come by the
tussock of grass he will think he sees Mr. Blacksnake himself all ready
to swallow him. Then we'll see some fun."

So they carried Mr. Blacksnake's old suit of clothes and hid it behind
the big tussock of grass, and arranged it to look as much like Mr.
Blacksnake as they could. Then Johnny Chuck went back to the old house
on the hill to watch the fun, while Peter Rabbit went to call on Danny
Meadow Mouse.

"Good morning, Peter Rabbit," said Danny Meadow Mouse politely.

"Good morning, Danny Meadow Mouse," replied Peter Rabbit. "Don't you
want to take a walk with me this fine morning?"

"I'll be delighted to go," said Danny Meadow Mouse, reaching for his
hat.

So they started out to walk and presently they came to the big tussock
of grass.

Peter Rabbit stopped. "Excuse me, while I tie up my shoe. You go ahead
and I'll join you in a minute," said Peter Rabbit.

So Danny Meadow Mouse went ahead. As soon as his back was turned Peter
Rabbit clapped both hands over his mouth to keep from laughing, for you
see he expected to see Danny Meadow Mouse come flying back in great
fright the minute he turned the big tussock and saw Mr. Blacksnake's old
suit.

Peter Rabbit waited and waited, but no Danny Meadow Mouse. What did it
mean? Peter stopped laughing and peeped around the big tussock. There
sat Danny Meadow Mouse with both hands clapped over his mouth, and
laughing till the tears rolled down his cheeks, and Mr. Blacksnake's old
suit was nowhere to be seen.

"He laughs best who laughs last," said Danny Meadow Mouse to himself,
late that afternoon, as he sat on his doorstep and chuckled softly.

When he had first heard from a Merry Little Breeze that Peter Rabbit and
Johnny Chuck were planning to play a joke on him and scare him into fits
with a suit of Mr. Blacksnake's old clothes, he had tried very hard to
think of some way to turn the joke on the jokers. Then he had remembered
Cresty the Fly-catcher and had sent for him.

Now Cresty the Fly-catcher is a handsome fellow. In fact he is quite the
gentleman, and does not look at all like one who would be at all
interested in any one's old clothes. But he is. He is never satisfied
until he has lined the hollow in the old apple-tree, which is his home,
with the old clothes of Mr. Snake.

So when Danny Meadow Mouse sent for him and whispered in his ear Cresty
the Fly-catcher smiled broadly and winked knowingly. "I certainly will
be there, Danny Meadow Mouse, I certainly will be there," said he. And
he was there. He had hidden in a tree close by the big tussock of grass,
behind which Peter Rabbit had planned to place Mr. Blacksnake's old suit
so as to scare Danny Meadow Mouse. His eyes had sparkled when he saw
what a fine big suit it was. "My, but this will save me a lot of
trouble," said he to himself. "It's the finest old suit I've ever seen."

The minute Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck had turned their backs down
dropped Cresty the Fly-catcher, picked up Mr. Blacksnake's old suit,
and taking it with him, once more hid in the tree. Presently back came
Peter Rabbit with Danny Meadow Mouse. You know what had happened then.

Cresty the Fly-catcher had nearly dropped his prize, it tickled him so
to see Peter Rabbit on one side of the big tussock laughing fit to kill
himself at the scare he thought Danny Meadow Mouse would get when he
first saw Mr. Blacksnake's old suit, and on the other side of the big
tussock Danny Meadow Mouse laughing fit to kill himself over the
surprise Peter Rabbit would get when he found that Mr. Blacksnake's old
clothes had disappeared.

Pretty soon Peter Rabbit had stopped laughing and peeped around the big
tussock. There sat Danny Meadow Mouse laughing fit to kill himself, but
not a trace of the old suit which was to have given him such a scare.
Peter couldn't believe his own eyes, for he had left it there not three
minutes before. Of course it wouldn't do to say anything about it, so he
had hurried around the big tussock as if he was merely trying to catch
up.

"What are you laughing at, Danny Meadow Mouse?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"I was thinking what a joke it would be if we could only find an old
suit of Mr. Blacksnake's and fool old Mr. Toad into thinking that it was
Mr. Blacksnake himself," replied Danny Meadow Mouse. "What are you
looking for, Peter Rabbit? Have you lost something?"

"No," said Peter Rabbit. "I thought I heard footsteps, and I was looking
to see if it could be Reddy Fox creeping through the grass."

Danny Meadow Mouse had stopped laughing. "Excuse me, Peter Rabbit,"
said he hurriedly, "I've just remembered an important engagement." And
off he started for home as fast as he could go.

And to this day Peter Rabbit doesn't know what became of Mr.
Blacksnake's old clothes.



VIII

THE FUSS IN THE BIG PINE


Peter Rabbit hopped down the Crooked Little Path to the Lone Little Path
and down the Lone Little Path to the home of Johnny Chuck. Johnny Chuck
sat on his doorstep dreaming. They were very pleasant dreams, very
pleasant dreams indeed. They were such pleasant dreams that for once
Johnny Chuck forgot to put his funny little ears on guard. So Johnny
Chuck sat on his doorstep dreaming and heard nothing.

Lipperty-lipperty-lip down the Lone Little Path came Peter Rabbit. He
saw Johnny Chuck and he stopped long enough to pluck a long stem of
grass. Then very, very softly he stole up behind Johnny Chuck. Reaching
out with the long stem of grass, he tickled one of Johnny Chuck's ears.

Johnny Chuck slapped at his ear with a little black hand, for he thought
a fly was bothering him, just as Peter Rabbit meant that he should.
Peter tickled the other ear. Johnny Chuck shook his head and slapped at
this with the other little black hand. Peter almost giggled. He sat
still a few minutes, then tickled Johnny Chuck again. Johnny slapped
three or four times at the imaginary fly. This time Peter clapped both
hands over his mouth to keep from laughing.

Once more he tickled Johnny Chuck. This time Johnny jumped clear off his
doorstep. Peter laughed before he could clap his hands over his mouth.
Of course Johnny Chuck heard him and whirled about. When he saw Peter
Rabbit and the long stem of grass he laughed, too.

"Hello, Peter Rabbit! You fooled me that time. Where'd you come from?"
asked Johnny Chuck.

"Down the Lone Little Path from the Crooked Little Path and down the
Crooked Little Path from the top of the Hill," replied Peter Rabbit.

Then they sat down side by side on Johnny Chuck's doorstep to watch
Reddy Fox hunting for his dinner on the Green Meadows.

Pretty soon they heard Blacky the Crow cawing very loudly. They could
see him on the tip-top of a big pine in the Green Forest on the edge of
the Green Meadows.

"Caw, caw, caw," shouted Blacky the Crow, at the top of his lungs.

In a few minutes they saw all of Blacky's aunts and uncles and cousins
flying over to join Blacky at the big pine in the midst of the Green
Forest. Soon there was a big crowd of crows around the big pine, all
talking at once. Such a racket! Such a dreadful racket! Every few
minutes one of them would fly into the big pine and yell at the top of
his lungs. Then all would caw together. Another would fly into the big
pine and they would do it all over again.

Peter Rabbit began to get interested, for you know Peter has a very
great deal of curiosity.

"Now I wonder what Blacky the Crow and his aunts and his uncles and his
cousins are making such a fuss about," said Peter Rabbit.

"I'm sure I don't know," replied Johnny Chuck. "They seem to be having a
good time, anyway. My gracious, how noisy they are!"

Just then along came Sammy Jay, who is, as you know, first cousin to
Blacky the Crow. He was coming from the direction of the big pine.

"Sammy! Oh, Sammy Jay! What is all that fuss about over in the big
pine?" shouted Peter Rabbit.

Sammy Jay stopped and carefully brushed his handsome blue coat, for
Sammy Jay is something of a dandy. He appeared not to have heard Peter
Rabbit.

"Sammy Jay, are you deaf?" inquired Peter Rabbit.

Now of course Sammy Jay had seen Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck all the
time, but he looked up as if very much surprised to find them there.

"Oh, hello, Peter Rabbit!" said Sammy Jay. "Did you speak to me?"

"No, oh, no," replied Peter Rabbit in disgust. "I was talking to
myself, just thinking out loud. I was wondering how many nuts a Jay
could steal if he had the chance."

Johnny Chuck chuckled and Sammy Jay looked foolish. He couldn't find a
word to say, for he knew that all the little meadow people knew how he
once was caught stealing Happy Jack's store of nuts.

"I asked what all that fuss over in the big pine is about," continued
Peter Rabbit.

"Oh," said Sammy Jay, "my cousin, Blacky the Crow, found Hooty the Owl
asleep over there, and now he and his aunts and his uncles and his
cousins are having no end of fun with him. You know Hooty the Owl cannot
see in the daytime very well, and they can do almost anything to him
that they want to. It's great sport."

"I don't see any sport in making other people uncomfortable," said
Johnny Chuck.

"Nor I," said Peter Rabbit. "I'd be ashamed to own a cousin like Blacky
the Crow. I like people who mind their own affairs and leave other
people alone."

Sammy Jay ran out his tongue at Peter Rabbit.

"You are a nice one to talk about minding other folk's affairs!" jeered
Sammy Jay.

    "Peter Rabbit's ears are long;
      I wonder why! I wonder why!
    Because to hear what others say
      He's bound to try! he's bound to try."

It was Peter Rabbit's turn to look discomfited.

"Anyway, I don't try to bully and torment others and I don't steal," he
retorted.

    "Sammy Jay's a handsome chap
      And wears a coat of blue.
    I wonder if it's really his
      Or if he stole _that_, too."

Just then Johnny Chuck's sharp eyes caught sight of something stealing
along the edge of the Green Meadows toward the Green Forest and the big
pine.

"There's Farmer Brown's boy with a gun," cried Johnny Chuck. "There's
going to be trouble at the big pine if Blacky the Crow doesn't watch
out. That's what comes of being so noisy."

Peter Rabbit and Sammy Jay stopped quarreling to look. Sure enough,
there was Farmer Brown's boy with his gun. He had heard Blacky the Crow
and his aunts and his uncles and his cousins and he had hurried to get
his gun, hoping to take them by surprise.

But Blacky the Crow has sharp eyes, too. Indeed, there are none
sharper. Then, too, he is a mischief-maker. Mischief-makers are always
on the watch lest they get caught in their mischief. So Blacky the Crow,
sitting on the tip-top of the big pine, kept one eye out for trouble
while he enjoyed the tormenting of Hooty the Owl by his aunts and his
uncles and his cousins. He had seen Farmer Brown's boy even before
Johnny Chuck had. But he couldn't bear to spoil the fun of tormenting
Hooty the Owl, so he waited just as long as he dared. Then he gave the
signal.

"Caw, caw, caw, caw!" shouted Blacky at the top of his lungs.

"Caw, caw, caw, caw!" replied all his aunts and uncles and cousins,
rising into the air in a black cloud. Then, with Blacky in the lead,
they flew over on to the Green Meadows, laughing and talking noisily as
they went.

Farmer Brown's boy did not try to follow them, for he knew that it was
of not the least bit of use. But he was curious to learn what the crows
had been making such a fuss about, so he kept on towards the big pine.

Johnny Chuck watched him go. Suddenly he remembered Hooty the Owl, and
that Hooty cannot see well in the daytime. Very likely Hooty would think
that the crows had become tired of tormenting him and had gone off of
their own accord. Farmer Brown's boy would find him there and
then--Johnny Chuck shuddered as he thought of what might happen to Hooty
the Owl.

"Run, Peter Rabbit, run as fast as you can down on the Green Meadows
where the Merry Little Breezes are at play and send one of them to tell
Hooty the Owl that Farmer Brown's boy is coming with a gun to the big
pine! Hurry, Peter, hurry!" cried Johnny Chuck.

Peter did not need to be told twice. He saw the danger of Hooty the Owl,
and he started down the Lone Little Path on to the Green Meadows so fast
that in a few minutes all Johnny Chuck and Sammy Jay could see of him
was a little spot of white, which was the patch on the seat of Peter's
pants, bobbing through the grass on the Green Meadows.

Johnny Chuck would have gone himself, but he is round and fat and
roly-poly and cannot run fast, while Peter Rabbit's legs are long and
meant for running. In a few minutes Johnny Chuck saw one of the Merry
Little Breezes start for the big pine as fast as he could go. Johnny
gave a great sigh of relief.

Farmer Brown's boy kept on to the big pine. When he got there he found
no one there, for Hooty the Owl had heeded the warning of the Merry
Little Breeze and had flown into the deepest, darkest part of the Green
Forest, where not even the sharp eyes of Blacky the Crow were likely to
find him.

And back on his doorstep Johnny Chuck chuckled to himself, for he was
happy, was Johnny Chuck, happy because he possessed the best thing in
the world, which is contentment.

And this is all I am going to tell you about the fuss in the big
pine.



IX

JOHNNY CHUCK FINDS A USE FOR HIS BACK DOOR


Johnny Chuck sat in his doorway looking over the Green Meadows. He felt
very fine. He had had a good breakfast in the sweet-clover patch. He had
had a good nap on his own doorstep. By and by he saw the Merry Little
Breezes of old Mother West Wind hurrying in his direction. They seemed
in a very great hurry. They didn't stop to kiss the buttercups or tease
the daisies. Johnny pricked up his small ears and watched them hurry up
the hill.

"Good morning, Johnny Chuck," panted the first Merry Little Breeze to
reach him, "have you heard the news?"

"What news?" asked Johnny Chuck.

"The news about old Mother Chuck," replied the Merry Little Breezes.

Johnny shook his head.

"No," said he. "What is it?"

The Merry Little Breezes grew very, very sober.

"It is bad news," they replied.

"What is it? Tell me quick!" begged Johnny.

Just then Reddy Fox came hopping and skipping down the Lone Little Path.

"Hi, Johnny Chuck, have you heard the news?"

"No," said Johnny Chuck, "do tell me quick!"

Reddy Fox grinned maliciously, for Reddy likes to torment others. "It's
about old Mrs. Chuck," said Reddy.

"I know that already," replied Johnny, "but, please, what is it?"

"Farmer Brown's boy has caught old Mrs. Chuck, and now I wouldn't wonder
but what he will come up here and catch you," replied Reddy, turning a
somersault.

Johnny Chuck grew pale. He had not seen Mother Chuck to speak to since
he ran away from home. Now he was glad that he had run away, and yet
sorry, oh, so sorry that anything had happened to Mrs. Chuck. Two big
tears came into his eyes and ran down his funny little black nose. The
Merry Little Breezes saw this, and one of them hurried over and
whispered in Johnny Chuck's ear.

"Don't cry, Johnny Chuck," whispered the Merry Little Breeze. "Old
Mother Chuck got away, and Farmer Brown's boy is still wondering how she
did it."

Johnny's heart gave a great throb of relief. "I don't believe that
Farmer Brown's boy will catch me," said Johnny Chuck, "for my house has
two back doors."

Johnny Chuck awoke very early the next morning. He stretched and yawned
and then just lay quietly enjoying himself for a few minutes. His
bedchamber, way down underground, was snug and warm and very, very
comfortable. By and by, Johnny Chuck heard a noise up by his front door.

"I wonder what is going on out there," said Johnny Chuck to himself, and
jumping up, he tiptoed softly up the long hall until he had almost
reached his doorway. Then he heard a voice which he had heard before,
and it made little shivers run all over him. It was the voice of Granny
Fox.

"So this is where that fat little Chuck has made his home," said Granny
Fox.

"Yes," replied another voice, "this is where Johnny Chuck lives, for I
saw him here yesterday."

Johnny pricked up his ears, for that was the voice of Reddy Fox.

"Do you think he is in here now?" inquired Granny Fox.

"I am sure of it," replied Reddy, "for I have been watching ever since
jolly, round, red Mr. Sun threw his nightcap off this morning, and
Johnny Chuck has not put his nose out yet."

"Good," said Granny Fox, "I think fat Chuck will taste good for
breakfast."

Johnny felt the cold shivers run over him again as he heard Granny Fox
and Reddy Fox smack their lips. Then Granny Fox spoke again:

"You lie down behind that bunch of grass over there, Reddy, and I will
lie down behind the old apple-tree. When he comes out, you just jump
into his doorway and I will catch him before he can say Jack Robinson."

Johnny waited and listened and listened, but all was as still as still
could be. Then Johnny Chuck tiptoed back along the hall to his bedroom
and sat down to think. He felt sure that Granny Fox and Reddy were
waiting for him, just as he had heard them plan.

"However am I going to know when they leave?" said Johnny Chuck to
himself. Then he remembered the back doors which he had taken such care
to make, and which Peter Rabbit had laughed at him for taking the
trouble to make. He had hidden one so cunningly in the long grass and
had so carefully removed all sand from around it that he felt quite sure
that no one had found it.

Very softly Johnny Chuck crept along the back passageway. Very, very
cautiously he stuck his little black nose out the doorway and sniffed.
Yes, he could smell foxes, but he knew that they were not at his back
door. Little by little he crept out until he could peep through the
grass. There lay Reddy Fox behind a big clump of grass, his eyes fixed
on Johnny Chuck's front door, and there behind the apple-tree lay Granny
Fox taking her ease, but all ready to jump when Reddy should give the
word. Johnny Chuck almost giggled out loud as he saw how eagerly Reddy
Fox was watching for him. Then Johnny Chuck had an idea that made him
giggle harder. His black eyes snapped and he chuckled to himself.

Pretty soon along came Bumble the Bee, looking for honey. He came
bustling and humming through the tall grass and settled on a dandelion
right on the doorstep of Johnny Chuck's back door.

"Good morning," grumbled Bumble the Bee.

Johnny put a hand on his lips and beckoned Bumble to come inside.

Now Bumble the Bee is a gruff and rough fellow, but he is a good fellow,
too, when you know him. Johnny Chuck had many times told him of places
where the flowers grew thick and sweet, so when Johnny beckoned to him,
Bumble came at once.

"Will you do something for me, Bumble?" whispered Johnny Chuck.

"Of course, I will," replied Bumble, in his gruff voice. "What is it?"

Then Johnny Chuck told Bumble the Bee how Granny and Reddy Fox were
waiting for him to come out for his breakfast and how they had planned
to gobble him up for their own breakfast. Bumble the Bee grew very
indignant.

"What do you want me to do, Johnny Chuck?" he asked. "If I can help you,
just tell me how."

Johnny whispered something to Bumble the Bee, and Bumble laughed right
out loud. Then he buzzed up out of the doorway, and Johnny crept up to
watch. Straight over to where Reddy Fox was squatting behind the clump
of grass flew Bumble the Bee, so swiftly that Johnny could hardly see
him. Suddenly Reddy gave a yelp and sprang into the air. Johnny Chuck
clapped both hands over his mouth to keep from laughing out loud, for
you see Bumble the Bee had stuck his sharp little lance into one of the
ears of Reddy Fox.

Granny Fox looked up and scowled. "Keep still," she whispered.

Just then Reddy yelped louder than before, for Bumble had stung him in
the other ear.

"What's the matter?" snapped Granny Fox.

"I don't know," cried Reddy Fox, hanging on to both ears.

"You are--" began Granny Fox, but Johnny Chuck never knew what she was
going to say Reddy Fox was, for you see just then Bumble the Bee thrust
his sharp little lance into one of her ears, and before she could turn
around he had done the same thing to the other ear.

Granny Fox didn't wait for any more. She started off as fast as she
could go, with Reddy Fox after her, and every few steps they rubbed
their ears and shook their heads as if they thought they could shake out
the pain.



X

BILLY MINK GOES DINNERLESS


Down the Laughing Brook came Billy Mink. He was feeling very good that
morning, was Billy Mink, pleased with the world in general and with
himself in particular. When he reached the Smiling Pool he swam out to
the Big Rock. Little Joe Otter was already there, and not far away,
lazily floating, with his head and back out of water, was Jerry Muskrat.

"Hello, Billy Mink," cried Little Joe Otter.

"Hello yourself," replied Billy Mink, with a grin.

"Where are you going?" asked Little Joe Otter.

"Nowhere in particular," replied Billy Mink.

"Let's go fishing down to the Big River," said Little Joe Otter.

"Let's!" cried Billy, diving from the highest point on the Big Rock.

So off they started across the Green Meadows towards the Big River. Half
way there they met Reddy Fox.

"Hello, Reddy! Come on with us to the Big River, fishing," called Billy
Mink.

[Illustration: "Come on with us to the Big River, fishing," called Billy
Mink.]

Now Reddy Fox is no fisherman, though he likes fish to eat well enough.
He remembered the last time he went fishing and how Billy Mink had
laughed at him when he fell into the Smiling Pool. He was just about to
say "no" when he changed his mind.

"All right, I'll go," said Reddy Fox.

So the three of them raced merrily across the Green Meadows until
they came to the Big River. Now Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter are
famous fishermen and can swim even faster than the fish themselves. But
Reddy Fox is a poor swimmer and must depend upon his wits. When they
reached the bank of the Big River they very carefully crawled down to a
sandy beach. There, just a little way out from shore, a school of little
striped perch were at play. Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter prepared to
dive in and each grab a fish, but Reddy Fox knew that he could not swim
well enough for that.

"Wait a minute," whispered Reddy. "Billy Mink, you go up the river a
little way and swim out beyond where the fish are at play. Little Joe
Otter, you go down the river a little way and swim out to join Billy
Mink. Then both together rush in as fast as you can swim. The fish will
be so frightened they will rush in where the water is shallow. Of course
you will each catch one, anyway, and perhaps I may be so lucky as to
catch one in the shallow water."

Billy Mink and little Joe Otter agreed, and did just as Reddy Fox had
told them to. When they were between the playing fish and deep water
they started in with a rush. The little striped perch were young and
foolish. When they saw Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter they rushed madly
away from them without looking to see where they were going to. As Reddy
Fox had foreseen would be the case, a lot of them became stranded where
the water was too shallow for swimming, and there they jumped and
flapped helplessly.

Reddy was waiting for them and in a twinkling his little black paw had
scooped half a dozen fish high and dry on the beach. Billy Mink and
Little Joe Otter were too busy watching the fish to see what Reddy was
doing. He had caught six fish and these he hid under a log. When Billy
Mink and Little Joe Otter swam ashore, Reddy was the picture of
disappointment, for he had nothing to show, while the others each had a
plump little fish.

"Never mind," said Little Joe Otter, "I'll give you the next one I
catch."

But Billy Mink jeered at Reddy Fox. "Pooh! you're no fisherman, Reddy
Fox! If I couldn't catch fish when they are chased right into my hands
I'd never go fishing."

Reddy Fox pretended to be indignant. "I tell you what, Billy Mink," said
he, "if I don't catch more fish than you do to-day I'll bring you the
plumpest chicken in Farmer Brown's dooryard, but if I do catch more fish
than you do you will give me the biggest one you catch. Do you agree?"

Now Billy Mink is very fond of plump chicken and here was a chance to
get one without danger of meeting Bowser the Hound, who guards Farmer
Brown's chickens. So Billy Mink agreed to give Reddy Fox the biggest
fish he caught that day if Reddy could show more fish than he could at
the end of the day. All the time he chuckled to himself, for you know
Billy Mink is a famous fisherman, and he knew that Reddy Fox is a poor
swimmer and does not like the water.

By and by they came to another sandy beach like the first one. They
could see another school of foolish young fish at play. As before, Reddy
Fox remained on shore while the others swam out and drove the fish in.
As before Reddy caught half a dozen, while Billy Mink and Little Joe
Otter each caught one this time. Reddy hid five and then pretended to be
so tickled over catching one, the smallest of the lot, that Billy Mink
didn't once suspect a trick.

Two or three times more Reddy Fox repeated this. Then he discovered a
big pickerel sunning himself beside an old log floating in deep water.
Reddy couldn't catch Mr. Pickerel, for the water was deep. What should
he do? Reddy sat down to think. Finally he thought of a plan. Very
cautiously he backed away so as not to scare the big fish. Then he
called Billy Mink. When Billy saw the big pickerel, his mouth watered,
too, and his little black eyes sparkled.

Very quietly Billy slipped into the water back of the old log. There was
not so much as a ripple to warn the big pickerel. Drawing a long breath,
Billy dived under the log, and coming up under the big pickerel, seized
it by the middle. There was a tremendous thrashing and splashing, and
then Billy Mink swam ashore and proudly laid the big fish on the bank.

"Don't you wish it was yours?" asked Billy Mink.

"It ought to be mine, for I saw it first," said Reddy Fox.

"But you didn't catch it and I did," retorted Billy Mink. "I'm going to
have it for my dinner. My, but I do like fat pickerel!" Billy smacked
his lips.

Reddy Fox said nothing, but tried his best to look disappointed and
dejected. All the time he was chuckling inwardly.

For the rest of the day the fishing was poor. Just as Old Mother West
Wind started for the Green Meadows to take her children, the Merry
Little Breezes, to their home behind the Purple Hills, the three little
fishermen started to count up their catch. Then Reddy brought out all
the fish that he had hidden. When they saw the pile of fish Reddy Fox
had, Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter were so surprised that their eyes
popped out and their jaws dropped. Very foolish they looked, very
foolish indeed, for Reddy had four times as many as either of them.

Reddy walked over to the big pickerel and picking it up, carried it over
to his pile. "What are you doing with my fish?" shouted Billy Mink
angrily.

"It isn't yours, it's mine!" retorted Reddy Fox.

Billy Mink fairly danced up and down he was so angry. "It's not yours!"
he shrieked. "It's mine, for I caught it!"

"And you agreed that your biggest fish should be mine if I caught more
fish than you did. I've caught four times as many, so the pickerel is
mine," retorted Reddy, winking at Little Joe Otter.

Then Billy Mink did a very foolish thing; he lost his temper completely.
He called Reddy Fox bad names. But he did not dare try to take the big
pickerel away from Reddy, for Reddy is much bigger than he. Finally he
worked himself into such a rage that he ran off home leaving his pile of
fish behind.

Reddy Fox and Little Joe Otter took care not to touch Billy Mink's fish,
but Reddy divided his big pile with Little Joe Otter. Then they, too,
started for home, Reddy carrying the big pickerel.

Late that night, when he had recovered his temper, Billy Mink began to
grow hungry. The more he thought of his fish the hungrier he grew.
Finally he could stand it no longer and started for the Big River to
see what had become of his fish. He reached the strip of beach where he
had so foolishly left them just in time to see the last striped perch
disappear down the long throat of Mr. Night Heron.

And this is how it happened that Billy Mink went dinnerless to bed. But
he had learned three things, had Billy, and he never forgot them--that
wit is often better than skill; that it is not only mean but is very
foolish to sneer at another; and that to lose one's temper is the most
foolish thing in the world.



XI

GRANDFATHER FROG'S JOURNEY


Grandfather Frog sat on his big green lily-pad in the Smiling Pool
and--Grandfather Frog was asleep! There was no doubt about it,
Grandfather Frog was really and truly asleep. His hands were folded
across his white and yellow waistcoat and his eyes were closed. Three
times the Merry Little Breezes blew a foolish green fly right past his
nose;--Grandfather Frog didn't so much as blink.

Presently Billy Mink discovered that Grandfather Frog was asleep.
Billy's little black eyes twinkled with mischief as he hurried over to
the slippery slide in search of Little Joe Otter. Then the two scamps
hunted up Jerry Muskrat. They found him very busy storing away a supply
of food in his new house. At first Jerry refused to listen to what they
had to say, but the more they talked the more Jerry became interested.

"We won't hurt Grandfather Frog, not the least little bit," protested
Billy Mink. "It will be just the best joke and the greatest fun ever,
and no harm done."

The more Jerry thought over Billy Mink's plan, the funnier the joke
seemed. Finally Jerry agreed to join Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter.
Then the three put their heads together and with a lot of giggling and
chuckling they planned their joke on Grandfather Frog.

Now Jerry Muskrat can stay a very long time under water, and his teeth
are long and sharp in order to cut the roots on which he depends for
much of his food. So Jerry swam out to the big green lily-pad on which
sat Grandfather Frog fast asleep. Diving way to the bottom of the
Smiling Pool, Jerry cut off the stem of the big green lily-pad close to
its root way down in the mud.

While Jerry was at work doing this, Billy Mink sent the Merry Little
Breezes hurrying over the Green Meadows to call all the little meadow
people to the Smiling Pool. Then, when Jerry Muskrat came up for a
breath of air, Billy Mink dived down and, getting hold of the end of the
lily-pad stem, he began to swim, towing the big green lily-pad after him
very slowly and gently so as not to waken Grandfather Frog. When Billy
had to come up for air, Little Joe Otter took his place. Then Jerry
Muskrat took his turn.

Across the Smiling Pool, past the Big Rock, they towed the big green
lily-pad, while Grandfather Frog slept peacefully, his hands folded
over his white and yellow waistcoat. Past the bulrushes and Jerry
Muskrat's new house, past Little Joe Otter's slippery slide sailed
Grandfather Frog, and still he slept and dreamed of the days when the
world was young.

Out of the Smiling Pool and into the Laughing Brook, where the brown
water flows smoothly, the three little swimmers towed the big green
lily-pad. It floated along of itself now, and all they had to do was to
steer it clear of rocks and old logs. Once it almost got away from them,
on the edge of a tiny waterfall, but all three pulling together towed it
out of danger. At last, in a dear little pool with a mossy green bank,
they anchored the big green lily-pad.

Then Billy Mink hurried back to the Smiling Pool to tell the little
meadow people where to find Grandfather Frog. Little Joe Otter climbed
out on the mossy green bank and Jerry Muskrat joined him there to rest
and dry off. One by one the little meadow people came hurrying up. Reddy
Fox was the first. Then came Johnny Chuck and Striped Chipmunk. Of
course Peter Rabbit was on hand. You can always count Peter in, when
there is anything going on among the little meadow people. Danny Meadow
Mouse and Happy Jack Squirrel arrived quite out of breath. Sammy Jay and
Blacky the Crow were not far behind. Last of all came Jimmy Skunk, who
never hurries.

Each in turn peeped over the edge of the mossy green bank to see
Grandfather Frog still sleeping peacefully on his big green lily-pad in
the dear little pool. Then all hid where they could see him when he
awoke, but where he could not see them.

Presently Billy Mink reached out with a long straw and tickled
Grandfather Frog on the end of his nose. Grandfather Frog opened his
eyes and yawned sleepily. Right over his head he saw jolly, round, red
Mr. Sun smiling down on him just as he last saw him before falling
asleep. He yawned again and then looked to see if Billy Mink was sitting
on the Big Rock.

Where was the Big Rock? Grandfather Frog sat up very suddenly and rubbed
his eyes. There wasn't any Big Rock! Grandfather Frog pinched himself to
make sure that he was awake. Then he rubbed his eyes again and looked
down at the big green lily-pad. Yes, that was his, the very same
lily-pad on which he sat every day.

Grandfather Frog was more perplexed than ever. Slowly he looked around.
Where were the slippery slide and Jerry Muskrat's new house? Where were
the bulrushes and where--where was the _Smiling Pool_? Grandfather
Frog's jaw dropped as he looked about him. His own big green lily-pad
was the only lily-pad in sight. Had the world turned topsy-turvy while
he slept?

"Chug-a-rum!" said Grandfather Frog. "This is very strange, very
strange, indeed!"

Then he turned around three times and pinched himself again. "Very
strange, very strange, indeed," muttered Grandfather Frog over and over
again. He scratched his head first with one hand and then with the
other, and the more he scratched the stranger it all seemed.

Just then he heard a giggle up on the mossy green bank. Grandfather Frog
whirled around. "Chug-a-rum!" he exclaimed. "Billy Mink, come out from
behind that tall grass and tell me where I am and what this means! I
might have known that you were at the bottom of it."

Then out jumped all the little meadow people and the Merry Little
Breezes to shout and laugh and dance and roll over and over on the mossy
green bank. Grandfather Frog looked at one and then at another and
gradually he began to smile. Pretty soon he was laughing as hard as any
of them, as Billy Mink told how they had towed him down to the dear
little pool.

"And now, Grandfather Frog, we'll take you home again," concluded Billy
Mink.

So, as before, Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter and Jerry Muskrat took
turns towing the big green lily-pad, while in the middle of it sat
Grandfather Frog, catching foolish green flies which the Merry Little
Breezes blew over to him.

Reddy Fox, Johnny Chuck, Peter Rabbit, Danny Meadow Mouse, Striped
Chipmunk, Happy Jack Squirrel and Jimmy Skunk raced and capered along
the bank and shouted encouragement to the three little swimmers, while
over-head flew Sammy Jay and Blacky the Crow. And, never once losing his
balance, Grandfather Frog sat on the big green lily-pad, enjoying his
strange ride and smacking his lips over the foolish green flies.

And so they came once more to the Smiling Pool, past the slippery slide,
past the bulrushes and Jerry Muskrat's new house and the Big Rock, until
Grandfather Frog and his queer craft were once more anchored safe and
sound in the old familiar place.

"Chug-a-rum!" said Grandfather Frog. "I think I'd like to go again."



XII

WHY BLACKY THE CROW WEARS MOURNING


Grandfather Frog sat on his big green lily-pad in the Smiling Pool.
Grandfather Frog felt very good that morning, very good indeed,
because--why, because his white and yellow waistcoat was full of foolish
green flies. It is doubtful, very, very doubtful if Grandfather Frog
could have swallowed another foolish green fly to save his life. So he
sat with his hands folded across his white and yellow waistcoat, and
into his eyes, his great goggly eyes, there crept a far, far, far away
look. Grandfather Frog was dreaming of the days when the world was young
and the frogs ruled the world.

Pretty soon the Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind came over
to the Smiling Pool to rock Mrs. Redwing's babies to sleep in their
cradle in the bulrushes. But when they saw Grandfather Frog they forgot
all about Mrs. Redwing and her babies.

"Good morning, Grandfather Frog!" they shouted.

Grandfather Frog awoke from his dream with a funny little jump.

"Goodness, how you startled me!" said Grandfather Frog, smoothing down
his white and yellow waistcoat.

The Merry Little Breezes giggled. "We didn't mean to, truly we didn't,"
said the merriest one of all. "We just wanted to know how you do this
fine morning, and--and--"

"Chug-a-rum," said Grandfather Frog, "you want me to tell you a story."

The Merry Little Breezes giggled again. "How did you ever guess it?"
they cried. "It must be because you are so very, very wise. Will you
tell us a story, Grandfather Frog? Will you please?"

Grandfather Frog looked up and winked one big, goggly eye at jolly,
round, red Mr. Sun, who was smiling down from the blue sky. Then he sat
still so long that the Merry Little Breezes began to fear that
Grandfather Frog was out of sorts and that there would be no story that
morning. They fidgeted about among the bulrushes and danced back and
forth across the lily-pads. They had even begun to think again of Mrs.
Redwing's babies.

"Chug-a-rum!" said Grandfather Frog suddenly. "What shall I tell you
about?"

Just then a black shadow swept across the Smiling Pool. "Caw, caw, caw,
caw!" shouted Blacky the Crow noisily, as he flew over toward Farmer
Brown's cornfield.

"Tell us why Blacky the Crow always wears a coat of black, as if he were
in mourning," shouted the Merry Little Breezes.

Grandfather Frog watched Blacky disappear behind the Lone Pine. Then,
when the Merry Little Breezes had settled down, each in the golden heart
of a white water-lily, he began:

"Once upon a time, when the world was young, old Mr. Crow, the
grandfather a thousand times removed of Blacky, whom you all know, lived
in the Green Forest on the edge of the Green Meadows, just as Blacky
does now, and with him lived his brothers and sisters, his uncles and
aunts, his cousins and all his poor relations.

"Now Mr. Crow was very smart. Indeed, he was the smartest of all the
birds. There wasn't anything that old Mr. Crow couldn't do or didn't
know. At least he thought there wasn't. All the little meadow people and
forest folks began to think so, too, and one after another they got in
the habit of coming to him for advice, until pretty soon they were
bringing all their affairs to Mr. Crow for settlement.

"Now for a while Mr. Crow showed great wisdom, and this so pleased Old
Mother Nature that she gave him a suit of pure, dazzling white, so that
all seeing him might look up to him as a shining example of wisdom and
virtue. Of course all his brothers and sisters, his uncles and aunts,
his cousins and all his poor relations at once put on white, that all
might know that they were of Mr. Crow's family. And of course every one
showed them the greatest attention out of respect to old Mr. Crow, so
that presently they began to hold their heads very high and to think
that because they were related to old Mr. Crow they were a little better
than any of the other little meadow people and forest folks. When they
met old Mr. Rabbit they would pretend not to see him, because he wore a
white patch on the seat of his trousers. When old Mr. Woodchuck said
'good morning,' they would pretend not to hear, for you know Mr.
Woodchuck wore a suit of dingy yellow and lived in a hole in the ground.
Old Mr. Toad was ugly to look upon. Besides, he worked for his living in
a garden. So when they happened to meet him on the road they always
turned their backs.

"For a long time old Mr. Crow himself continued to be a very fine
gentleman and to hold the respect of all his neighbors. He was polite to
every one, and to all who came to him he freely gave of his advice as
wisely as he knew how. Of course it wasn't long before he knew all about
his neighbors and their private affairs. Now it isn't safe to know too
much about your neighbors and what they are doing. It is dangerous
knowledge, very dangerous knowledge indeed," said Grandfather Frog
solemnly.

"To be sure it would have been safe enough," he continued, "if Mr. Crow
had kept it to himself. But after a while Mr. Crow became vain. Yes,
Sir, that is just what happened to old Mr. Crow--he became vain. He
liked to feel that all the little meadow people and forest folks looked
up to him with respect, and whenever he saw one of them coming he would
brush his white coat, swell himself up and look very important. After a
while he began to brag among his relatives of how much he knew about his
neighbors. Of course they were very much interested, very much
interested indeed, and this flattered Mr. Crow so that almost before he
knew it he was telling some of the private affairs which had been
brought to him for his advice. Oh, dear me, Mr. Crow began to gossip.

"Now, gossiping is one of the worst habits in all the world, one of the
very worst. No good ever comes of it. It just makes trouble, trouble,
trouble. It was so now. Mr. Crow's relatives repeated the stories that
they heard. But they took great care that no one should know where they
came from. My, my, my, how trouble did spread on the Green Meadows and
in the Green Forest! No one suspected old Mr. Crow, so he was more in
demand than ever to straighten matters out. His neighbors came to him so
much that they began to be ashamed to ask his advice for nothing, so
they brought him presents so that no more need Mr. Crow hunt for things
to eat. Instead, he lived on the fat of the land without working, and
grew fat and lazy.

"As I have told you, Mr. Crow was smart. Yes, indeed, he certainly was
smart. It did not take him long to see that the more trouble there was
among his neighbors the more they would need his advice, and the more
they needed his advice the more presents he would receive. He grew very
crafty. He would tell tales just to make trouble, and sometimes, when he
saw a chance, he would give advice that he knew would make more trouble.
The fact is, old Mr. Crow became a mischief-maker, the very worst kind
of a mischief-maker. And all the time he appeared to be the fine
gentleman that he used to be. He wore his fine white coat as proudly as
ever.

"Matters grew worse and worse. Never had there been so much trouble on
the Green Meadows or so many quarrels in the Green Forest. Old Mr. Mink
never met old Mr. Otter without picking a fight. Old Mrs. Skunk wouldn't
speak to old Mrs. Coon. Old Mr. Chipmunk turned his back on his cousin,
old Mr. Red Squirrel, whenever their paths crossed. Even my grandfather
a thousand times removed, old Mr. Frog, refused to see his nearest
relative, old Mr. Toad. And all the time old Mr. Crow wore his beautiful
suit of white and grew rich and fat, chuckling to himself over his
ill-gotten wealth.

"Then one day came Old Mother Nature to visit the Green Meadows. It
didn't take her long to find that something was wrong, very wrong
indeed. Old Mr. Crow and all his relatives hastened to pay their
respects and to tell her how much they appreciated their beautiful
white suits. Old Mr. Crow made a full report of all the troubles that
had been brought to him, but he took great care not to let her know that
he had had any part in making trouble. He looked very innocent, oh,
very, very innocent, but not once did he look her straight in the face.

"Now the eyes of Old Mother Nature are wonderfully sharp and they seemed
to bore right through old Mr. Crow. You can't fool Old Mother Nature.
No, Sir, you can't fool Old Mother Nature, and it's of no use to try.
She listened to all that Mr. Crow had to say. Then she sent Mr. North
Wind to blow his great trumpet and call together all the little people
of the Green Meadows and all the little folks of the Green Forest.

"When they had all come together she told them all that had happened.
She told just how Mr. Crow had started the stories in order to make
trouble so that they would seek his advice and bring him presents to pay
for it. When the neighbors of old Mr. Crow heard this they were very
angry, and they demanded of Old Mother Nature that Mr. Crow be punished.

"'Look!' said Old Mother Nature, pointing at old Mr. Crow. 'He has been
punished already.'

"Every one turned to look at Mr. Crow. At first they hardly knew him.
Instead of his suit of spotless white his clothes were black, as black
as the blackest night. So were the clothes of his uncles and aunts, his
brothers and sisters, his cousins and all his poor relations.

"And ever since that long-ago day, when the world was young, the Crows
have been mischief-makers and have worn black, that all who look may
know that they bring nothing but trouble," concluded Grandfather Frog.

"Thank you! Thank you, Grandfather Frog," shouted the Merry Little
Breezes, jumping up to go rock the Redwing babies.

"Caw, caw, caw, caw!" shouted Blacky the Crow, flying over their heads
with a mouthful of corn he had stolen from Farmer Brown's cornfield.



XIII

STRIPED CHIPMUNK FOOLS PETER RABBIT


Peter Rabbit sat at the top of the Crooked Little Path where it starts
down the hill. He was sitting there when jolly, round, red Mr. Sun threw
his nightcap off and began his daily climb up into the blue, blue sky.
He saw Old Mother West Wind hurry down from the Purple Hills and turn
her Merry Little Breezes out to play on the Green Meadows.

Peter yawned. The fact is, Peter had been out nearly all night, and now
he didn't know just what to do with himself. Presently he saw Striped
Chipmunk whisk up on top of an old log. As usual the pockets in Striped
Chipmunk's cheeks were stuffed so full that his head looked to be twice
as big as it really is, and as usual he seemed to be very busy, very
busy indeed. He stopped just long enough to wink one of his saucy black
eyes and shout: "Good morning, Peter Rabbit!"

Then he disappeared as suddenly as he had come. A few minutes later he
was back on the old log, but this time his cheeks were empty.

"Fine day, Peter Rabbit," said Striped Chipmunk, and whisked out of
sight.

Peter Rabbit yawned again. Then he closed his eyes for just a minute.
When he opened them there was Striped Chipmunk on the old log just as
before, and the pockets in both cheeks were so full that it seemed as if
they would burst.

"Nice morning to work, Peter Rabbit," said Striped Chipmunk, in spite of
his full cheeks. Then he was gone.

Once more Peter Rabbit closed his eyes, but hardly were they shut when
Striped Chipmunk shouted:

"Oh, you Peter Rabbit, been out all night?"

Peter snapped his eyes open just in time to see the funny little tail of
Striped Chipmunk vanish over the side of the old log. Peter scratched
one of his long ears and yawned again, for Peter was growing more and
more sleepy. It was a long yawn, but Peter cut it off right in the
middle, for there was Striped Chipmunk back on the old log, and both
pockets in his cheeks were stuffed full.

Now Peter Rabbit is as curious as he is lazy, and you know he is very,
very lazy. The fact is, Peter Rabbit's curiosity is his greatest fault,
and it gets him into a great deal of trouble. It is because of this and
the bad, bad habit of meddling in the affairs of other people into
which it has led him that Peter Rabbit has such long ears.

For a while Peter watched busy Striped Chipmunk. Then he began to wonder
what Striped Chipmunk could be doing. The more he wondered the more he
felt that he really must know. The next time Striped Chipmunk appeared
on the old log, Peter shouted to him.

"Hi, Striped Chipmunk, what are you so busy about? Why don't you play a
little?"

Striped Chipmunk stopped a minute. "I'm building a new house," said he.

"Where?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"That's telling," replied Striped Chipmunk, and whisked out of sight.

Now Peter Rabbit knew where Reddy Fox and Jimmy Skunk and Bobby Coon and
Happy Jack Squirrel and Johnny Chuck and Danny Meadow Mouse lived. He
knew all the little paths leading to their homes. But he did not know
where Striped Chipmunk lived. He never had known. He thought of this as
he watched Striped Chipmunk hurrying back and forth. The more he thought
of it the more curious he grew. He really _must_ know. Pretty soon along
came Jimmy Skunk, looking for some beetles.

"Hello, Jimmy Skunk," said Peter Rabbit.

"Hello, Peter Rabbit," said Jimmy Skunk.

"Do you know where Striped Chipmunk lives?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"No, I don't know where Striped Chipmunk lives, and I don't care; it's
none of my business," replied Jimmy Skunk. "Have you seen any beetles
this morning?"

Peter Rabbit hadn't seen any beetles, so Jimmy Skunk went on down the
Crooked Little Path, still looking for his breakfast.

By and by along came Johnny Chuck.

"Hello, Johnny Chuck!" said Peter Rabbit.

"Hello, yourself!" said Johnny Chuck.

"Do you know where Striped Chipmunk lives?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"No, I don't, for it's none of my business," said Johnny Chuck, and
started on down the Crooked Little Path to the Green Meadows.

Then along came Bobby Coon.

"Hello, Bobby Coon!" said Peter Rabbit.

"Hello!" replied Bobby Coon shortly, for he too had been out all night
and was very sleepy.

"Do you know where Striped Chipmunk lives?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"Don't know and don't want to; it's none of my business," said Bobby
Coon even more shortly than before, and started on for his hollow
chestnut tree to sleep the long, bright day away.

Peter Rabbit could stand it no longer. Curiosity had driven away all
desire to sleep. He simply had to know where Striped Chipmunk lived.

"I'll just follow Striped Chipmunk and see for myself where he lives,"
said Peter to himself.

So Peter Rabbit hid behind a tuft of grass close by the old log and sat
very, very still. It was a very good place to hide, a very good place.
Probably if Peter Rabbit had not been so brimming over with curiosity he
would have succeeded in escaping the sharp eyes of Striped Chipmunk. But
people full of curiosity are forever pricking up their ears to hear
things which do not in the least concern them. It was so with Peter
Rabbit. He was so afraid that he would miss something that both his
long ears were standing up straight, and they came above the grass
behind which Peter Rabbit was hiding.

Of course Striped Chipmunk saw them the very instant he jumped up on the
old log with both pockets in his cheeks stuffed full. He didn't say a
word, but his sharp little eyes twinkled as he jumped off the end of the
old log and scurried along under the bushes, for he guessed what Peter
Rabbit was hiding for, and though he did not once turn his head he knew
that Peter was following him. You see Peter runs with big jumps,
lipperty-lipperty-lip, and people who jump must make a noise.

So, though he tried very hard not to make a sound, Peter was in such a
hurry to keep Striped Chipmunk in sight that he really made a great deal
of noise. The more noise Peter made, the more Striped Chipmunk chuckled
to himself.

Presently Striped Chipmunk stopped. Then he sat up very straight and
looked this way and looked that way, just as if trying to make sure that
no one was watching him. Then he emptied two pocketfuls of shining
yellow gravel on to a nice new mound which he was building. Once more he
sat up and looked this way and looked that way. Then he scuttled back
towards the old log. As he ran Striped Chipmunk chuckled and chuckled to
himself, for all the time he had seen Peter Rabbit lying flat down
behind a little bush and knew that Peter Rabbit was thinking to himself
how smart he had been to find Striped Chipmunk's home when no one else
knew where it was.

No sooner was Striped Chipmunk out of sight than up jumped Peter Rabbit.
He smiled to himself as he hurried over to the shining mound of yellow
gravel. You see Peter's curiosity was so great that not once did he
think how mean he was to spy on Striped Chipmunk.

"Now," thought Peter, "I know where Striped Chipmunk lives. Jimmy Skunk
doesn't know. Johnny Chuck doesn't know. Bobby Coon doesn't know. But
_I_ know. Striped Chipmunk may fool all the others, but he can't fool
me."

By this time Peter Rabbit had reached the shining mound of yellow
gravel. At once he began to hunt for the doorway to Striped Chipmunk's
home. But there wasn't any doorway. No, Sir, there wasn't any doorway!
Look as he would, Peter Rabbit could not find the least sign of a
doorway. He walked 'round and 'round the mound and looked here and
looked there, but not the least sign of a door was to be seen. There
was nothing but the shining mound of yellow gravel, the green grass, the
green bushes and the blue, blue sky, with jolly, round, red Mr. Sun
looking down and laughing at him.

Peter Rabbit sat down on Striped Chipmunk's shining mound of yellow
gravel and scratched his left ear with his left hindfoot. Then he
scratched his right ear with his right hindfoot. It was very perplexing.
Indeed, it was so perplexing that Peter quite forgot that Striped
Chipmunk would soon be coming back. Suddenly right behind Peter's back
Striped Chipmunk spoke.

"How do you like my sand pile, Peter Rabbit? Don't you think it is a
pretty nice sand pile?" asked Striped Chipmunk politely. And all the
time he was chuckling away to himself.

Peter was so surprised that he very nearly fell backward off the
shining mound of yellow gravel. For a minute he didn't know what to
say. Then he found his tongue.

[Illustration: Peter was so surprised that he nearly fell backward.]

"Oh," said Peter Rabbit, apparently in the greatest surprise, "is this
your sand pile, Striped Chipmunk? It's a very nice sand pile indeed. Is
this where you live?"

Striped Chipmunk shook his head. "No, oh, my, no!" said he. "I wouldn't
think of living in such an exposed place! My goodness, no indeed!
Everybody knows where this is. I'm building a new home, you know, and of
course I don't want the gravel to clutter up my dooryard. So I've
brought it all here. Makes a nice sand pile, doesn't it? You are very
welcome to sit on my sand pile whenever you feel like it, Peter Rabbit.
It's a good place to take a sun bath; I hope you'll come often."

All the time Striped Chipmunk was saying this his sharp little eyes
twinkled with mischief and he chuckled softly to himself.

Peter Rabbit was more curious than ever. "Where is your new home,
Striped Chipmunk?" he asked.

"Not far from here; come call on me," said Striped Chipmunk.

Then with a jerk of his funny little tail he was gone. It seemed as if
the earth must have swallowed him up. Striped Chipmunk can move very
quickly, and he had whisked out of sight in the bushes before Peter
Rabbit could turn his head to watch him.

Peter looked behind every bush and under every stone, but nowhere could
he find Striped Chipmunk or a sign of Striped Chipmunk's home, excepting
the shining mound of yellow gravel. At last Peter pushed his inquisitive
nose right into the doorway of Bumble the Bee. Now Bumble the Bee
happened to be at home, and being very short of temper, he thrust a
sharp little needle into the inquisitive nose of Peter Rabbit.

"Oh! oh! oh!" shrieked Peter, clapping both hands to his nose, and
started off home as fast as he could go.

And though he didn't know it and doesn't know it to this day, he went
right across the doorstep of Striped Chipmunk's home. So Peter still
wonders and wonders where Striped Chipmunk lives, and no one can tell
him, not even the Merry Little Breezes. You see there is not even a sign
of a path leading to his doorway, for Striped Chipmunk never goes or
comes twice the same way. His doorway is very small, just large enough
for him to squeeze through, and it is so hidden in the grass that often
the Merry Little Breezes skip right over it without seeing it.

Every grain of sand and gravel from the fine long halls and snug
chambers Striped Chipmunk has built underground he has carefully carried
in the pockets in his cheeks to the shining mound of yellow gravel found
by Peter Rabbit. Not so much as a grain is dropped on his doorstep to
let his secret out.

So in and out among the little meadow people skips Striped Chipmunk all
the long day, and not one has found out where he lives. But no one
really cares excepting Peter Rabbit, who is still curious.



XIV

JERRY MUSKRAT'S NEW HOUSE


Jerry Muskrat wouldn't play. Billy Mink had tried to get him to. Little
Joe Otter had tried to get him to. The Merry Little Breezes had tried to
get him to. It was of no use, no use at all. Jerry Muskrat wouldn't
play.

"Come on, Jerry, come on play with us," they begged all together.

But Jerry shook his head. "Can't," said he.

"Why not? Won't your mother let you?" demanded Billy Mink, making a long
dive into the Smiling Pool. He was up again in time to hear Jerry
reply:

"Yes, my mother will let me. It isn't that. It's because we are going to
have a long winter and a cold winter and I must prepare for it."

Every one laughed, every one except Grandfather Frog, who sat on his big
green lily-pad watching for foolish green flies.

"Pooh!" exclaimed Little Joe Otter. "A lot you know about it, Jerry
Muskrat! Ho, ho, ho! A lot you know about it! Are you clerk of the
weather? It is only fall now--what can you know about what the winter
will be? Oh come, Jerry Muskrat, don't pretend to be so wise. I can swim
twice across the Smiling Pool while you are swimming across once--come
on!"

Jerry Muskrat shook his head. "Haven't time," said he. "I tell you we
are going to have a long winter and a hard winter, and I've got to
prepare for it. When it comes you'll remember what I have told you."

Little Joe Otter made a wry face and slid down his slippery slide,
splash into the Smiling Pool, throwing water all over Jerry Muskrat, who
was sitting on the end of a log close by. Jerry shook the water from his
coat, which is water-proof, you know. Everybody laughed, that is,
everybody but Grandfather Frog. He did not even smile.

"Chug-a-rum!" said Grandfather Frog, who is very wise. "Jerry Muskrat
knows. If Jerry says that we are going to have a long cold winter you
may be sure that he knows what he is talking about."

Billy Mink turned a back somersault into the Smiling Pool so close to
the big green lily-pad on which Grandfather Frog sat that the waves
almost threw Grandfather Frog into the water.

"Pooh," said Billy Mink, "how can Jerry Muskrat know anything more about
it than we do?"

Grandfather Frog looked at Billy Mink severely. He does not like Billy
Mink, who has been known to gobble up some of Grandfather Frog's
children when he thought that no one was looking.

"Old Mother Nature was here and told him," said Grandfather Frog
gruffly.

"Oh!" exclaimed Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter together. "That's
different," and they looked at Jerry Muskrat with greater respect.

"How are you going to prepare for the long cold winter, Jerry Muskrat?"
asked one of the Merry Little Breezes.

"I'm going to build a house, a big, warm house," replied Jerry Muskrat,
"and I'm going to begin right now."

[Illustration: "I'm going, to build a house," replied Jerry Muskrat.]

Splash! Jerry had disappeared into the Smiling Pool. Presently, over on
the far side where the water was shallow, it began to bubble and boil
as if a great fuss was going on underneath the surface. Jerry Muskrat
had begun work. The water grew muddy, very muddy indeed, so muddy that
Little Joe Otter and Billy Mink climbed out on the Big Rock in disgust.
When finally Jerry Muskrat swam out to rest on the end of a log they
shouted to him angrily.

"Hi, Jerry Muskrat, you're spoiling our swimming water! What are you
doing anyway?"

"I'm digging for the foundations for my new house, and it isn't your
water any more than it's mine," replied Jerry Muskrat, drawing a long
breath before he disappeared under water again.

The water grew muddier and muddier, until even Grandfather Frog began to
look annoyed. Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter started off up the
Laughing Brook, where the water was clear. The Merry Little Breezes
danced away across the Green Meadows to play with Johnny Chuck, and
Grandfather Frog settled himself comfortably on his big green lily-pad
to dream of the days when the world was young and the frogs ruled the
world.

But Jerry Muskrat worked steadily, digging and piling sods in a circle
for the foundation of his house. In the center he dug out a chamber from
which he planned a long tunnel to his secret burrow far away in the
bank, and another to the deepest part of the Smiling Pool, where even in
the coldest weather the water would not freeze to the bottom as it would
do in the shallow places.

All day long while Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter and the Merry Little
Breezes and Johnny Chuck and Peter Rabbit and Danny Meadow Mouse and all
the other little meadow people were playing or lazily taking sun naps,
Jerry Muskrat worked steadily. Jolly, round, red Mr. Sun, looking down
from the blue, blue sky, smiled to see how industrious the little fellow
was. That evening, when Old Mother West Wind hurried across the Green
Meadows on her way to her home behind the Purple Hills, she found Jerry
Muskrat sitting on the end of a log eating his supper of fresh-water
clams. Showing just above the water on the edge of the Smiling Pool was
the foundation of Jerry Muskrat's new house.

The next morning Jerry was up and at work even before Old Mother West
Wind, who is a very early riser, came down from the Purple Hills. Of
course every one was interested to see how the new house was coming
along and to offer advice.

"Are you going to build it all of mud?" asked one of the Merry Little
Breezes.

"No," said Jerry Muskrat, "I'm going to use green alder twigs and willow
shoots and bulrush stalks. It's going to be two stories high, with a
room down deep under water and another room up above with a beautiful
bed of grass and soft moss."

"That will be splendid!" cried the Merry Little Breezes.

Then one of them had an idea. He whispered to the other Little Breezes.
They all giggled and clapped their hands. Then they hurried off to find
Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter. They even hunted up Johnny Chuck and
Peter Rabbit and Danny Meadow Mouse.

Jerry Muskrat was so busy that he paid no attention to any one or
anything else. He was attending strictly to the business of building a
house that would keep him warm and comfortable when the long cold winter
should freeze up tight the Smiling Pool.

Pretty soon he was ready for some green twigs to use in the walls of the
new house. He swam across the Smiling Pool to the Laughing Brook, where
the alders grow, to cut the green twigs which he needed. What do you
think he found when he got there? Why, the nicest little pile of green
twigs, all cut ready to use, and Johnny Chuck cutting more.

"Hello, Jerry Muskrat," said Johnny Chuck. "I've cut all these green
twigs for your new house. I hope you can use them."

Jerry was so surprised that he hardly knew what to say. He thanked
Johnny Chuck, and with the bundle of green twigs swam back to his new
house. When he had used the last one he swam across to the bulrushes on
the edge of the Smiling Pool.

"Good morning, Jerry Muskrat," said some one almost hidden by a big pile
of bulrushes, all nicely cut. "I want to help build the new house."

It was Danny Meadow Mouse.

Jerry Muskrat was more surprised than ever. "Oh, thank you, Danny Meadow
Mouse, thank you!" he said, and pushing the pile of bulrushes before him
he swam back to his new house.

When he had used the rushes, Jerry wanted some young willow shoots, so
he started for the place where the willows grow. Before he reached them
he heard some one shouting:

"Hi, Jerry Muskrat! See the pile of willow shoots I've cut for your new
house." It was Peter Rabbit, who is never known to work.

Jerry Muskrat was more surprised than ever and so pleased that all he
could say was, "Thank you, thank you, Peter Rabbit!"

Back to the new house he swam with the pile of young willow shoots. When
he had placed them to suit him he sat up on the walls of his house to
rest. He looked across the Smiling Pool. Then he rubbed his eyes and
looked again. Could it be--yes, it certainly was a bundle of green alder
twigs floating straight across the Smiling Pool towards the new house!
When they got close to him Jerry spied a sharp little black nose pushing
them along, and back of the little black nose twinkled two little black
eyes.

"What are you doing with those alder twigs, Billy Mink?" cried Jerry.

"Bringing them for your new house," shouted Billy Mink, popping out from
behind the bundle of alder twigs.

And that was the beginning of the busiest day that the Smiling Pool had
ever known. Billy Mink brought more alder twigs and willow shoots and
bulrushes as fast as Johnny Chuck and Peter Rabbit and Danny Meadow
Mouse could cut them. Little Joe Otter brought sods and mud to hold them
in place.

Thick and high grew the walls of the new house. In the upper part Jerry
built the nicest little room, and lined it with grass and soft moss, so
that he could sleep warm and comfortable through the long cold winter.
Over all he built a strong, thick roof beautifully rounded.

An hour before it was time for Old Mother West Wind to come for the
Merry Little Breezes, Jerry Muskrat's new house was finished. Then such
a frolic as there was in and around the Smiling Pool! Little Joe Otter
made a new slippery slide down one side of the roof. Billy Mink said
that the new house was better to dive off of than the Big Rock. Then the
two of them, with Jerry Muskrat, cut up all sorts of monkey-shines in
the water, while Johnny Chuck, Peter Rabbit, Danny Meadow Mouse and the
Merry Little Breezes danced on the shore and shouted themselves hoarse.

When at last jolly, round, red Mr. Sun went to bed behind the Purple
Hills, and the black shadows crept ever so softly out across the Smiling
Pool, Jerry Muskrat sat on the roof of his house eating his supper of
fresh-water clams. He was very tired, was Jerry Muskrat, very tired
indeed, but he was very happy, for now he had no fear of the long cold
winter. Best of all his heart was full of love--love for his little
playmates of the Smiling Pool and the Green Meadows.



XV

PETER RABBIT'S BIG COUSIN


Jumper the Hare had come down out of the Great Woods to the Green
Meadows. He is first cousin to Peter Rabbit, you know, and he looks just
like Peter, only he is twice as big. His legs are twice as long and he
can jump twice as far.

All the little meadow people were very polite to Jumper the Hare, all
but Reddy Fox, who is never polite to any one unless he has a favor to
ask. Peter Rabbit was very proud of his big cousin, very proud indeed.
He showed Jumper the Hare all the secret paths in the Green Forest and
across the Green Meadows. He took him to the Smiling Pool and the
Laughing Brook, and everywhere Jumper the Hare was met with the greatest
politeness.

But Jumper the Hare was timid, oh, very timid indeed. Every few jumps he
sat up very straight to look this way and look that way, and to listen
with his long ears. He jumped nervously at the least little noise. Yes,
Sir, Jumper the Hare certainly was very timid.

"He's a coward!" sneered Reddy Fox.

And Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter and Jimmy Skunk, even Johnny Chuck,
seeing Jumper the Hare duck and dodge at the shadow of Blacky the Crow,
agreed with Reddy Fox. Still, they were polite to him for the sake of
Peter Rabbit and because Jumper really was such a big, handsome fellow.
But behind his back they laughed at him. Even little Danny Meadow Mouse
laughed.

Now it happens that Jumper the Hare had lived all his life in the Great
Woods, where Mr. Panther and Tufty the Lynx and fierce Mr. Fisher were
always hunting him, but where the shadows were deep and where there were
plenty of places to hide. Indeed, his whole life had been a game of hide
and seek, and always he had been the one sought. So on the Green
Meadows, where hiding places were few and far between, Jumper the Hare
was nervous.

But the little meadow people, not knowing this, thought him a coward,
and while they were polite to him they had little to do with him, for no
one really likes a coward. Peter Rabbit, however, could see no fault in
his big cousin. He showed him where Farmer Brown's tender young carrots
grow, and the shortest way to the cabbage patch. He made him acquainted
with all his own secret hiding places in the old brier patch.

Then one bright sunny morning something happened. Johnny Chuck saw it.
Jimmy Skunk saw it. Happy Jack Squirrel saw it. Sammy Jay saw it. And
they told all the others.

Very early that morning Reddy Fox had started out to hunt for his
breakfast. He was tiptoeing softly along the edge of the Green Forest
looking for wood mice when whom should he see but Peter Rabbit. Peter
was getting his breakfast in the sweet-clover bed, just beyond the old
brier patch.

Reddy Fox squatted down behind a bush to watch. Peter Rabbit looked
plump and fat. Reddy Fox licked his chops. "Peter Rabbit would make a
better breakfast than wood mice, a very much better breakfast," said
Reddy Fox to himself. Beside, he owed Peter Rabbit a grudge. He had not
forgotten how Peter had tried to save his little brother from Reddy by
bringing up Bowser the Hound.

Reddy Fox licked his chops again. He looked this way and he looked that
way, but he could see no one watching. Old Mother West Wind had gone
about her business. The Merry Little Breezes were over at the Smiling
Pool to pay their respects to Grandfather Frog. Even jolly, round, red
Mr. Sun was behind a cloud. From his hiding place Reddy could not see
Johnny Chuck or Jimmy Skunk or Happy Jack Squirrel or Sammy Jay. "No one
will know what becomes of Peter Rabbit," thought Reddy Fox.

Very cautiously Reddy Fox crept out from behind the bush into the tall
meadow grass. Flat on his stomach he crawled inch by inch. Every few
minutes he stopped to listen and to peep over at the sweet-clover bed.
There sat Peter Rabbit, eating, eating, eating the tender young clover
as if he hadn't a care in the world but to fill his little round
stomach.

Nearer and nearer crawled Reddy Fox. Now he was almost near enough to
spring. "Thump, thump, thump!" The sound came from the brier patch.

"Thump, thump!"

This was Peter Rabbit hitting the ground with one of his hind feet. He
had stopped eating and was sitting up very straight.

"Thump, thump, thump!" came the signal from the brier patch.

"Thump, thump!" responded Peter Rabbit, and started to run.

With a snarl Reddy Fox sprang after him. Then the thing happened. Reddy
Fox caught a glimpse of something going over him and at the same time
he received a blow that rolled him over and over in the grass.

In an instant he was on his feet and had whirled about, his eyes yellow
with anger. There right in front of him sat Jumper the Hare. Reddy Fox
could hardly believe his own eyes! Could it be that Jumper the Hare, the
coward, had dared to strike him such a blow? Reddy forgot all about
Peter Rabbit. With a snarl he rushed at Jumper the Hare.

Then it happened again. As light as a feather Jumper leaped over him,
and as he passed, those big hind legs, at which Reddy Fox had laughed,
came back with a kick that knocked all the breath out of Reddy Fox.

Reddy Fox was furious. Twice more he sprang, and twice more he was sent
sprawling, with the breath knocked out of his body. That was enough.
Tucking his tail between his legs, Reddy Fox sneaked away towards the
Green Forest. As he ran he heard Peter Rabbit thumping in the old brier
patch.

"I'm safe," signaled Peter Rabbit.

"Thump, thump, thump, thump! The coast is clear," replied Jumper the
Hare.

Reddy Fox looked back from the edge of the Green Forest and gnashed his
teeth. Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare were rubbing noses and
contentedly eating tender young clover leaves.

"Now who's the coward?" jeered Sammy Jay from the top of the Lone Pine.

Reddy Fox said nothing, but slunk out of sight. Late that afternoon he
sat on the hill at the top of the Crooked Little Path, and looked down
on the Green Meadows. Over near the Smiling Pool were gathered all the
little meadow people having the jolliest time in the world. While he
watched they joined hands in a big circle and began to dance, Johnny
Chuck, Jimmy Skunk, Bobby Coon, Little Joe Otter, Billy Mink, Happy Jack
Squirrel, Striped Chipmunk, Danny Meadow Mouse, Peter Rabbit, Spotty the
Turtle, even Grandfather Frog and old Mr. Toad. And in the middle,
sitting very straight, was Jumper the Hare.

And since that day Peter Rabbit has been prouder than ever of his big
cousin, Jumper the Hare, for now no one calls him a coward.


THE END

       *       *       *       *       *

BOOKS BY THORNTON W. BURGESS

BEDTIME STORY-BOOKS


    1. THE ADVENTURES OF REDDY FOX

    2. THE ADVENTURES OF JOHNNY CHUCK

    3. THE ADVENTURES OF PETER COTTONTAIL

    4. THE ADVENTURES OF UNC' BILLY POSSUM

    5. THE ADVENTURES OF MR. MOCKER

    6. THE ADVENTURES OF JERRY MUSKRAT

    7. THE ADVENTURES OF DANNY MEADOW MOUSE

    8. THE ADVENTURES OF GRANDFATHER FROG

    9. THE ADVENTURES OF CHATTERER, THE RED SQUIRREL

    10. THE ADVENTURES OF SAMMY JAY

    11. THE ADVENTURES OF BUSTER BEAR

    12. THE ADVENTURES OF OLD MR. TOAD

    13. THE ADVENTURES OF PRICKLY PORKY

    14. THE ADVENTURES OF OLD MAN COYOTE

    15. THE ADVENTURES OF PADDY THE BEAVER

    16. THE ADVENTURES OF POOR MRS. QUACK

    17. THE ADVENTURES OF BOBBY COON

    18. THE ADVENTURES OF JIMMY SKUNK

    19. THE ADVENTURES OF BOB WHITE

    20. THE ADVENTURES OF OL' MISTAH BUZZARD


MOTHER WEST WIND SERIES


    1. OLD MOTHER WEST WIND

    2. MOTHER WEST WIND'S CHILDREN

    3. MOTHER WEST WIND'S ANIMAL FRIENDS

    4. MOTHER WEST WIND'S NEIGHBORS

    5. MOTHER WEST WIND "WHY" STORIES

    6. MOTHER WEST WIND "HOW" STORIES

    7. MOTHER WEST WIND "WHEN" STORIES

    8. MOTHER WEST WIND "WHERE" STORIES


GREEN MEADOW SERIES


    1. HAPPY JACK

    2. MRS. PETER RABBIT

    3. BOWSER THE HOUND

    4. OLD GRANNY FOX


THE BURGESS BIRD BOOK FOR CHILDREN


THE BURGESS ANIMAL BOOK FOR CHILDREN





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