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

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Adventures of Peter Cottontail" ***

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



THE ADVENTURES OF PETER COTTONTAIL

By Thornton W. Burgess

Author of "The Adventures of Reddy Fox"

"Old Mother West Wind," etc.

With Illustrations by Harrison Cady

Boston

Little, Brown, And Company

1917



THE ADVENTURES OF PETER COTTONTAIL



I. PETER RABBIT DECIDES TO CHANGE HIS NAME

|PETER RABBIT! Peter Rabbit! I don't see what Mother Nature ever gave
me such a common sounding name as that for. People laugh at me, but if I
had a fine sounding name they wouldn't laugh. Some folks say that a name
doesn't amount to anything, but it does. If I should do some wonderful
thing, nobody would think anything of it. No, Sir, nobody would think
anything of it at all just because--why just because it was done by
Peter Rabbit."

Peter was talking out loud, but he was talking to himself. He sat in the
dear Old Briar-patch with an ugly scowl on his usually happy face. The
sun was shining, the Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind were
dancing over the Green Meadows, the birds were singing, and happiness,
the glad, joyous happiness of springtime, was everywhere but in Peter
Rabbit's heart. There there seeded to be no room for anything but
discontent. And such foolish discontent--discontent with his name! And
yet, do you know, there are lots of people just as foolish as Peter
Rabbit.

"Well, what are you going to do about it?"

The voice made Peter Rabbit jump and turn around hastily. There was
Jimmy Skunk poking his head in at the opening of one of Peter's private
little paths. He was grinning, and Peter knew by that grin that Jimmy
had heard what he had said. Peter didn't know what to say. He hung his
head in a very shame-faced way.

"You've got something to learn," said Jimmy Skunk.

"What is it?" asked Peter.

"It's just this," replied Jimmy.

               "There's nothing in a name except

                   Just what we choose to make it.

               It lies with us and no one else

                   How other folks shall take it.

               It's what we do and what we say

               And how we live each passing day

               That makes it big or makes it small


               A name just stands for what we are;

                   It's what we choose to make it.

               And that's the way and only way

               That other folks will take it."

Peter Rabbit made a face at Jimmy Skunk. "I don't like being preached
to."

"I'm not preaching; I'm just telling you what you ought to know without
being told," replied Jimmy Skunk. "If you don't like your name, why
don't you change it?"

"What's that?" cried Peter sharply.

"If you don't like your name, why don't you change it?" repeated Jimmy.

Peter sat up and the disagreeable frown had left his face. "I--I--hadn't
thought of that," he said slowly. "Do you suppose I could, Jimmy Skunk?"

"Easiest thing in the world," replied Jimmy Skunk. "Just decide what
name you like and then ask all your friends to call you by it."

"I believe I will!" cried Peter Rabbit.

"Well, let me know what it is when you have decided," said Jimmy, as
he started for home. And all the way up the Crooked Little Path, Jimmy
chuckled to himself as he thought of foolish Peter Rabbit trying to
change his name.



II. PETER FINDS A NAME

|PETER RABBIT had quite lost his appetite. When Peter forgets to eat you
may make up your mind that Peter has something very important to
think about. At least he has something on his mind that he thinks is
important. The fact is, Peter had fully made up his mind to change his
name. He thought Peter Rabbit too common a name. But when he tried to
think of a better one, he found that no name that he could think of
really pleased him any more. So he thought and he thought and he thought
and he thought. And the more he thought the less appetite he had.

Now Jimmy Skunk was the only one to whom Peter had told how discontented
he was with his name, and it was Jimmy who had suggested to Peter that
he change it. Jimmy thought it a great joke, and he straightway passed
the word along among all the little meadow and forest people that Peter
Rabbit was going to change his name. Everybody laughed and chuckled over
the thought of Peter Rabbit's foolishness, and they planned to have
a great deal of fun with Peter as soon as he should tell them his new
name.

Peter was sitting on the edge of the Old Briar-patch one morning when
Ol' Mistah Buzzard passed, flying low. "Good mo'ning, Brer Cottontail,"
said Ol' Mistah Buzzard, with a twinkle in his eye.

At first Peter didn't understand that Ol' Mistah Buzzard was speaking
to him, and by the time he did it was too late to reply, for Ol' Mistah
Buzzard was way, way up in the blue, blue sky. "Cottontail, Cottontail."
said Peter over and over to himself and began to smile. Every time he
said it he liked it better.

[Illustration: 0024]

"Cottontail, Peter Cottontail! How much better sounding that is than
Peter Rabbit! That sounds as if I really was somebody. Yes, Sir, that's
the very name I want. Now I must send word to all my friends that
hereafter I am no longer Peter Rabbit, but Peter Cottontail."

Peter kicked up his heels in just the funny way he always does when he
is pleased. Suddenly he remembered that such a fine, long, high-sounding
name as Peter Cottontail demanded dignity. So he stopped kicking up his
heels and began to practise putting on airs. But first he called to the
Merry Little Breezes and told them about his change of name and asked
them to tell all his friends that in the future he would not answer to
the name of Peter Rabbit, but only to the name of Peter Cottontail. He
was very grave and earnest and important as he explained it to the Merry
Little Breezes. The Merry Little Breezes kept their faces straight while
he was talking, but as soon, as they had left him to carry his message
they burst out laughing. It was such a joke!

And they giggled as they delivered this message to each of the little
forest and meadow people:

               "Peter Rabbit's changed his name.

                   In the future without fail

               You must call him, if you please,

                   Mr. Peter Cottontail."

While they were doing this, Peter was back in the Old Briar-patch
practising new airs and trying to look very high and mighty and
important, as became one with such a fine sounding name as Peter
Cottontail.



III. THERE'S NOTHING LIKE THE OLD NAME AFTER ALL

|BOBBY COON and Jimmy Skunk had their heads together. Now when these
two put their heads together, you may make up your mind that they are
planning mischief. Yes, Sir, there is sure to be mischief afoot when
Bobby Coon and Jimmy Skunk put their heads together as they were doing
now. Had Peter Rabbit seen them, he might not have felt so easy in his
mind as he did. But Peter didn't see them. He was too much taken up with
trying to look as important as his new name sounded. He was putting on
airs and holding his head very high as he went down to the Smiling Pool
to call on Jeny Muskrat.

Whenever any one called him by his old name, Peter pretended not to
hear. He pretended that he had never heard that name and didn't know
that he was being spoken to. Bobby Coon and Jimmy Skunk thought it a
great joke and they made up their minds that they would have some fun
with Peter and perhaps make him see how very foolish he was. Yes, Sir,
they planned to teach Peter a lesson. Bobby Coon hurried away to find
Reddy Fox and tell him that Peter had gone down to the Smiling Pool, and
that if he hid beside the path, he might catch Peter on the way back.

Jimmy Skunk hunted up Blacky the Crow and Sammy Jay and told them of his
plan and what he wanted them to do to help. Of course they promised that
they would. Then he went to Ol' Mistah Buzzard and told him. Ol' Mistah
Buzzard grinned and promised that he would do his share. Then Bobby Coon
and Jimmy Skunk hid where they could see all that would happen.

Peter had reached the Smiling Pool and now sat on the bank admiring his
own reflection in the water and talking to Jerry Muskrat. He had just
told Jerry that when his old name was called out he didn't hear it any
more when along came Blacky the Crow.

"Hello, Peter Rabbit! You're just the fellow I am looking for; I've a
very important message for you," shouted Blacky.

Peter kept right on talking with Jerry Muskrat just as if he didn't
hear, although he was burning with curiosity to know what the message
was.

"I say, Peter Rabbit, are you deaf?" shouted Blacky the Crow.

Jerry Muskrat looked up at Blacky and winked. "Peter Rabbit isn't here,"
said he. "This is Peter Cottontail."

[Illustration: 0030]

"Oh!" said Blacky. "My message is for Peter Rabbit, and it's something
he really ought to know. I'm sorry he isn't here." And with that, away
flew Blacky the Crow, chuckling to himself.

Peter looked quite as uncomfortable as he felt, but of course he
couldn't say a word after boasting that he didn't hear people who called
him Peter Rabbit. Pretty soon along came Sammy Jay. Sammy seemed very
much excited.

"Oh, Peter Rabbit, I'm so glad I've found you!" he cried. "I've some
very important news for you."

Peter had all he could do to sit still and pretend not to hear, but he
did.

"This is Peter Cottontail," said Jerry Muskrat, winking at Sammy Jay.

"Oh," replied Sammy, "my news is for Peter Rabbit!" and off he flew,
chuckling to himself.

Peter looked and felt more uncomfortable than ever. He bade Jerry
Muskrat good-by and started for the dear Old Briar-patch to think things
over. When he was half way there, Ol' Mistah Buzzard came sailing down
out of the sky.

"Brer Cottontail," said he, "if yo' see anything of Brer Rabbit, yo'
tell him that Brer Fox am hiding behind that big bunch of grass just
ahead."

Peter stopped short, and his heart gave a great leap. There, behind the
clump of grass, was something red, sure enough. Peter didn't wait to see
more. He started for a hiding place he knew of in the Green Forest as
fast as he could go, and behind him raced Reddy Fox. As he ran, he heard
Blacky the Crow and Sammy Jay laughing, and then he knew that this was
the news that they had had for him.

"I--I--guess that Peter Rabbit is a good enough name, after all," he
panted.



IV. PETER RABBIT FOOLS JIMMY SKUNK

|PETER RABBIT came hopping and skipping down the Crooked Little Path.
Unc' Billy Possum always calls him Brer Rabbit, but everybody else calls
him Peter. Peter was feeling very fine that morning, very fine indeed.
Every few minutes he jumped up in the air, and kicked his heels
together, just for fun. Presently he met Jimmy Skunk.

Jimmy was on his way back from Farmer Brown's corn field, where he had
been helping Blacky the Crow get free from a snare. Jimmy was still
tickling and laughing over the way Blacky the Crow had been caught. He
had to tell Peter Rabbit all about it.

Peter thought it just as good a joke as did Jimmy, and the two trotted
along side by side, planning how they would spread the news all over
the Green Meadows that Blacky the Crow, who thinks himself so smart, had
been caught.

"That reminds me," said Jimmy Skunk suddenly, "I haven't had my
breakfast yet. Have you seen any beetles this morning, Peter Rabbit?"

Peter Rabbit stopped and scratched his long left ear with his long left
hind foot.

"Now you speak of it, it seems to me that I did," said Peter Rabbit.

"Where?" asked Jimmy Skunk eagerly.

Peter pretended to think very hard.

"It seems to me that it was back at the top of the Crooked Little Path
up the hill," said Peter.

"I think I will go look for them at once," replied Jimmy.

"All right," replied Peter, "I'll show you the way."

So up the Crooked Little Path hopped Peter Rabbit, and right behind him
trotted Jimmy Skunk. By and by they came to an old pine stump. Peter
Rabbit stopped. He put one hand on his lips.

"Hush!" whispered Peter. "I think there is a whole family of beetles on
the other side of this stump. You creep around the other side, and I'll
creep around this side. When I thump the ground, you spring right around
and grab them before they can run away."

So Jimmy Skunk crept around one side of the stump, and Peter Rabbit
crept around the other side. Suddenly Peter thumped the ground hard,
twice. Jimmy Skunk was waiting and all ready to spring. When he heard
those thumps, he just sprang as quickly as he could. What do you think
happened?

Why, Jimmy Skunk landed _thump!_ right on Reddy Fox, who was taking a
sun nap on the other side of the pine stump!

"Ha, ha, ha," shouted Peter Rabbit, and started down the Crooked Little
Path as fast as his long legs could take him.



V. REDDY POX GETS INTO TROUBLE

|REDDY FOX, curled up behind the big pine stump, was dreaming of a coop
full of chickens, where there was no Bowser the Hound to watch over
them. Suddenly something landed on him with a thump that knocked all his
breath out. For an instant it frightened Reddy so that he just shook and
shook. Then he got his senses together and discovered that it was Jimmy
Skunk who had jumped on him.

Jimmy was very polite. He begged Reddy's pardon. He protested that it
was all a mistake. He explained how Peter Rabbit had played a trick
on both of them, and how he himself was just looking for beetles for
breakfast.

Now, Reddy Fox is very quick tempered, and as soon as he realized that
he had been made the victim of a joke, he lost his temper completely. He
glared at Jimmy Skunk. He was so angry that he stuttered.

"Y-y-you, y-y-y-you, y-y-y-you did that on p-p-purpose," said Reddy Fox.

"No such thing!" declared Jimmy Skunk. "I tell you it was a joke on the
part of Peter Rabbit, and if you don't believe me, just look down there
on the Green Meadows."

Reddy Fox looked. There sat Peter, his hands on his hips, his long ears
pointed straight up to the blue sky, and his mouth wide open, as he
laughed at the results of his joke.

Reddy shook his fist.

"Ha, ha, ha," shouted Peter Rabbit.

Reddy Fox looked hard at Jimmy Skunk, but like all the other little
meadow and forest people, he has a very great respect for Jimmy Skunk,
and though he would have liked to quarrel with Jimmy, he thought it
wisest not to. Instead, he started after Peter Rabbit as fast as his
legs could go.

Now, Reddy Fox can run very fast, and when Peter saw him coming, Peter
knew that he would have to use his own long legs to the very best of his
ability. Away they went across the Green Meadows. Jimmy Skunk, sitting
on top of the hill, could see the white patch on the seat of Peter
Rabbit's trousers bobbing this way and that way, and right behind him
was Reddy Fox. Now, Peter Rabbit could run fast enough to keep away from
Reddy for a while. You remember that Peter's eyes are so placed that he
can see behind him without turning his head. So he knew when Reddy was
getting too near.

In and out among the bushes along the edge of the Green Meadows they
dodged, and the more he had to run, the angrier Reddy Fox grew. He paid
no attention to where they were going; his whole thought was of catching
Peter Rabbit.

Now, when Peter began to grow tired he began to work over towards Farmer
Brown's corn field, where he knew that Farmer Brown's boy was hiding,
with Bowser the Hound. Dodging this way and that way, Peter worked over
to the fence corner, where Jimmy Skunk had watched Blacky the Crow get
caught in a snare. He let Reddy almost catch him, then he dodged out
into the open corn field, and Reddy, of course, followed him, "Bow-wow,
bow-wow-wow!"

Reddy did not need to turn to know what had happened. Bowser the Hound
had seen him and was after him. Peter just ducked behind a big bunch of
grass and sat down to get his breath, while Reddy started off as hard as
he could go, with Bowser the Hound behind him.



VI. REDDY FOOLS BOWSER THE HOUND

|AWAY across the Green Meadows and up the hill through the Green Forest
raced Reddy Fox at the top of his speed. Behind him, nose to the ground,
came Bowser the Hound, baying at the top of his lungs. Reddy ran along
an old stone wall and jumped as far out into the field as he could.

"I guess that will fool him for a while," panted Reddy, as he sat down
to get his breath.

When Bowser came to the place where Reddy had jumped on the stone wall,
he just grinned.

"That's too old a trick to fool me one minute," said Bowser to himself,
and he just made a big circle, so that in a few minutes he had found
Reddy's tracks again.

Every trick that Reddy had heard old Granny Fox tell about he tried,
in order to fool Bowser the Hound, but it was of no use at all. Bowser
seemed to know exactly what Reddy was doing, and wasted no time.

Reddy was beginning to get worried. He was getting dreadfully out of
breath. His legs ached. His big, plumey tail, of which he is very, very
proud, had become dreadfully heavy. Granny Fox had warned him never,
never to run into the snug house they had dug unless he was obliged to
to save his life, for that would tell Bowser the Hound where they lived,
and then they would have to move.

How Reddy did wish that wise old Granny Fox would come to his relief. He
was running along the back of Farmer Brown's pasture, and he could hear
Bowser the Hound altogether too near for comfort. He looked this way and
he looked that way for a chance to escape. Just ahead of him he saw
a lot of woolly friends. They were Farmer Brown's sheep. Reddy had a
bright idea. Like a flash he sprang on the back of one of the sheep. It
frightened the sheep as badly as Reddy had been frightened, when Jimmy
Skunk had landed on him that morning.

"Baa, baa, baa!" cried the sheep and started to run. Reddy hung on
tightly, and away they raced across the pasture.

Now Bowser the Hound trusts wholly to his nose to follow Reddy Fox or
Peter Rabbit or his master, Farmer Brown's boy. So he did not see Reddy
jump on the back of the sheep, and, of course, when he reached the
place where Reddy had found his strange horse, he was puzzled. Round and
round, and round and round Bowser worked in a circle, but no trace of
Reddy could he find.

And all the time Reddy sat behind the stone wall on the far side of the
pasture, getting his wind and laughing and laughing at the smart way in
which he had fooled Bowser the Hound.



VII. REDDY INVITES PETER RABBIT TO TAKE A WALK

|OLD GRANNY FOX was not feeling well. For three days she had been
unable to go out hunting, and for three days Reddy Fox had tried to find
something to tempt Granny's appetite. He had brought in a tender young
chicken from Farmer Brown's hen yard, and he had stolen a plump trout
from Billy Mink's storehouse, but Granny had just turned up her nose.

"What I need," said Granny Fox, "is a tender young rabbit."

Now, Reddy Fox is very fond of Granny Fox, and when she said that she
needed a tender young rabbit, Reddy made up his mind that he would get
it for her, though how he was going to do it he didn't know. Dozens of
times he had tried to catch Peter Rabbit, and every time Peter's long
legs had taken him to a place of safety. "I'll just have to fool Peter
Rabbit," said Reddy Fox, as he sat on his door-steps and looked over the
Green Meadows.

Reddy Fox is very sly. He is so sly that it is hard work to be sure
when he is honest and when he is playing a trick. As he sat on his
door-steps, looking across the Green Meadows, he saw the Merry Little
Breezes coming his way. Reddy smiled to himself. When they got near
enough, he shouted to them.

"Will you do something for me?" he asked.

"Of course we will," shouted the Merry Little Breezes, who are always
delighted to do something for others.

"I wish you would find Peter Rabbit and tell him that I have found a new
bed of tender young carrots in Farmer Brown's garden, and invite him to
go there with me to-morrow morning at sun-up," said Reddy Fox.

Away raced the Merry Little Breezes to find Peter Rabbit and give him
the invitation of Reddy Fox. Pretty soon back they came to tell Reddy
that Peter Rabbit would be delighted to meet Reddy on the edge of the
Old Briar-patch at sun-up the next morning, and go with him to get some
tender young carrots.

Reddy smiled to himself, for now he was sure that he would get Peter
Rabbit for Granny's breakfast.

Early the next morning, just before sun-up, Reddy Fox started down
the Lone Little Path and hurried across the Green Meadows to the Old
Briar-patch. Reddy was dressed in his very best suit of clothes, and
very smart and handsome he looked. When he reached the Old Briar-patch
he could see nothing of Peter Rabbit. He waited and waited and waited,
but still Peter Rabbit did not come. Finally he gave it up and decided
that he would go over and have a look at the young carrots in Farmer
Brown's garden. When he got there, what do you think he saw? Why,
all around that bed of tender young carrots were footprints, and the
footprints were Peter Rabbit's!

Reddy Fox ground his teeth and snarled wickedly, for he knew then that
instead of fooling Peter Rabbit, Peter Rabbit had fooled him. Just then
up came one of the Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind.

"Good morning, Reddy Fox," said the Merry Little Breeze.

"Good morning," replied Reddy Fox, and if you could have seen him
and heard him, you would never have suspected how ill-tempered he was
feeling.

"Peter Rabbit asked me to come and tell you that he is very sorry that
he could not meet you at the Briar-patch this morning, but that he grew
so hungry thinking of those tender young carrots that he just had to
come and get some before sun-up, and he is very much obliged to you for
telling him about them. He says they are the finest young carrots that
he has ever tasted," said the Merry Little Breeze.

The heart of Reddy Fox was filled with rage, but he did not let the
Merry Little Breeze know it. He just smiled and sent the Merry Little
Breeze back to Peter Rabbit to tell him how glad he was that Peter
enjoyed the carrots, and to invite Peter to meet him the next morning on
the edge of the Old Briar-patch at sun-up, to go with him to a patch of
sweet clover which he had just found near the old hickory-tree.

The Merry Little Breeze danced off with the message. Pretty soon he
was back to say that Peter Rabbit would be delighted to go to the sweet
clover patch the next morning.

Reddy grinned as he trudged off home. "I'll just be at the clover patch
an hour before sun-up to-morrow morning, and then we'll see!" he said to
himself.



VIII. PETER RABBIT GETS AN EARLY BREAKFAST

|PETER RABBIT crept out of his snug little bed in the middle of the
Old Briar-patch two hours before sun-up and hurried over to the big
hickory-tree. Sure enough, close by, he found a beautiful bed of sweet
clover, just as Reddy Fox had said was there. Peter chuckled to himself
as he ate and ate and ate, until his little round stomach was so full
that he could hardly hop.

When he had eaten all that he could, he hurried back to the Old
Briar-patch to finish his morning nap, and all the time he kept
chuckling to himself. You see, Peter was suspicious of Reddy Fox, and so
he had gone over to the sweet clover bed alone two hours before sun-up.

Peter Rabbit had hardly left the sweet clover bed when Reddy Fox
arrived. Reddy lay down in the long meadow grass and grinned to himself
as he waited. Slowly the minutes went by, until up from behind the
Purple Hills came jolly, round, red Mr. Sun--but no Peter Rabbit. Reddy
stopped grinning.

"Perhaps," said he to himself, "Peter is waiting for me on the edge of
the Old Briar-patch and wasn't going to try to fool me."

So Reddy hurried over to the Old Briar-patch, and sure enough there was
Peter Rabbit 'sitting on the edge of it. When Peter saw him coming, he
dodged in behind a big clump of friendly old brambles. Reddy came up
with his broadest smile.

"Good morning, Peter Rabbit," said Reddy. "Shall we go over to that
sweet clover bed?"

[Illustration: 0056]

Peter put one hand over his mouth to hide a smile. "Oh," said he, "I was
so dreadfully hungry for sweet clover that I couldn't wait until sun-up,
and so I went over two hours ago. I hope you will excuse me, Reddy Fox.
I certainly do appreciate your kindness in telling me of that new, sweet
clover bed and I hope I have not put you out."

"Certainly not," replied Reddy Fox, in his pleasantest manner, and you
know Reddy Fox can be very pleasant indeed when he wants to be. "It is a
very great pleasure to be able to give you pleasure. There is nothing
I so like to do as to give pleasure to others. By the way, I have just
heard that Farmer Brown has a new planting of young cabbage in the
corner of his garden. Will you meet me here at sun-up to-morrow morning
to go over there?"

"I will be delighted to, I will indeed!" replied Peter Rabbit, and all
the time he smiled to himself behind his hand.

Reddy Fox bade Peter Rabbit good-by in the pleasantest way you can
imagine, yet all the time, down in his heart, Reddy was so angry that he
hardly knew what to do, for you see he had got to go back to Granny Fox
without the tender young rabbit which he had promised her.

"This time I will be there two hours before sun-up, and then we will
see, Peter Rabbit, who is the smartest!" said Reddy Fox to himself.



IX. REDDY FOX GETS A SCARE

|PETER RABBIT looked up at the silvery moon and laughed aloud. Then he
kicked up his heels and laughed again as he started out across the Green
Meadows towards Fanner Brown's garden. You see, Peter was suspicious,
very suspicious indeed of Reddy Fox. So, as it was a beautiful night for
a walk, he thought he would just run over to Farmer Brown's garden and
see if he could find that bed of newly planted cabbage, about which
Reddy Fox had told him.

So Peter hopped and skipped across the Green Meadows, singing as he
went;

               "Hold, ol' Miss Moon, hold up your light!

                   Show the way! show the way!

               The little stars are shining bright;

                   Night folks all are out to play."

When Peter reached Farmer Brown's garden, he had no trouble in finding
the new planting of cabbage. It was tender. It was good. My, how good it
was! Peter started in to fill his little round stomach. He ate and ate
and ate and ate! By and by, just when he thought he couldn't eat another
mouthful, he happened to look over to a patch of moonlight. For just
a second Peter's heart stopped beating. There was Reddy Fox coming
straight over to the new cabbage bed!

Peter Rabbit didn't know what to do. Reddy Fox hadn't seen him yet, but
he would in a minute or two, unless Peter could hide. He was too far
from the dear Old Briar-patch to run there. Peter looked this way and
looked that way. Ha! ha! There lay Fanner Brown's boy's old straw hat,
just where he had left it when the supper horn blew. Peter crawled under
it. It covered him completely.

Peter peeped out from under one edge. He saw Reddy Fox standing in the
moonlight, looking at the bed of newly set cabbage. Reddy was smiling as
if his thoughts were very pleasant. Peter shivered. He could just guess
what Reddy was thinking--how he would gobble up Peter, when once he got
him away from the safety of the Old Briar-patch.

The thought made Peter so indignant that he forgot that he was hiding,
and he sat up on his hind legs. Of course, he lifted the straw hat with
him. Then he remembered and sat down again in a hurry. Of course, the
straw hat went down quite as quickly.

Presently Peter peeped out. Reddy Fox was staring and staring at the old
straw hat, and he wasn't smiling now. He actually looked frightened. It
gave Peter an idea. He made three long hops straight towards Reddy Fox,
all the time keeping the old straw hat over him. Of course the hat went
along with him, and, because it covered Peter all up, it looked for all
the world as if the hat was alive.

Reddy Fox gave one more long look at the strange thing coming towards
him through the cabbage bed, and then he started for home as fast as he
could go, his tail between his legs.

Peter Rabbit just lay down right where he was and laughed and laughed
and laughed. And it almost seemed as if the old straw hat laughed too.



X. PETER HAS ANOTHER GREAT LAUGH

|IT was just sun-up as Reddy Fox started down the Lone Little Path
to the Green Meadows. Reddy was late. He should be over at the Old
Briar-patch by this time. He was afraid now that Peter Rabbit would not
be there. When he came in sight of the Old Briar-patch, there sat Peter
on the edge of it.

"Good morning, Peter Rabbit," said Reddy Fox, in his politest manner.
"I am sorry to have kept you waiting; it is all because I had a terrible
fright last night."

"Is that so? What was it?" asked Peter, ducking down behind a big
bramble bush to hide his smile.

"Why, I went over to Farmer Brown's garden to see if that new planting
of young cabbage was all right, and there I met a terrible monster.
It frightened me so that I did not dare to come out this morning until
jolly, round Mr. Sun had begun to climb up in the sky, and so I am a
little late. Are you ready, Peter Rabbit, to go up to the new planting
of young cabbage with me?" asked Reddy, in his pleasantest manner.

Now, what do you think Peter Rabbit did? Why, Peter just began to laugh.
He laughed and laughed and shouted! He lay down on his back and kicked
his heels for very joy! But all the time he took care to keep behind a
big, friendly bramble bush.

Reddy Fox stared at Peter Rabbit. He just didn't know what to make of
it. He began to think that Peter had gone crazy. He couldn't see a thing
to laugh at, yet here was Peter laughing fit to kill himself. Finally
Peter stopped and sat up.

"Did--did--the monster catch you, Reddy Fox?" he asked, wiping his eyes.

"No," replied Reddy, "it didn't catch me, because I could run faster
than it could, but it chased me all the way home."

"In that case, I think I'll not go up to the cabbage bed this morning,
for you know I cannot run as fast as you can, Reddy, and the monster
might catch me," replied Peter, very gravely. "Besides," he added, "I
have had my fill of tender young cabbage, and it was very nice indeed."

"What!" shouted Reddy Fox.

"Yes," continued Peter Rabbit, "I just couldn't wait till morning, so I
went up there early last night. I'm much obliged to you for telling me
of it, Reddy Fox; I am indeed."

For just a little minute an ugly look crept into Reddy's face, for now
he knew that once more Peter Rabbit had fooled him. But he kept his
temper and managed to smile, as he said:

"Oh, don't mention it, Peter Rabbit, don't mention it. But tell me,
didn't you meet the monster?"

"No," replied Peter Rabbit. And then, do what he would, he couldn't keep
sober another minute, but began to laugh just as he had before.

"What's the joke, Peter Rabbit? Tell me so that I can laugh too," begged
Reddy Fox.

"Why," said Peter Rabbit, when he could get his breath, "the joke is
that the monster that frightened you so was the old straw hat of Farmer
Brown's boy, and I was underneath it. Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho!"

Then Reddy Fox knew just how badly Peter Rabbit had fooled him. With a
snarl he sprang right over the bramble bush at Peter Rabbit, but Peter
was watching and darted away along one of his own special little paths
through the Old Briar-patch. Reddy tried to follow, but the brambles
tore his clothes and scratched his face and stuck in his feet. Finally
he had to give it up. Tom and bleeding and angry, he tinned back home,
and as he left the Old Briar-patch, he could still hear Peter Rabbit
laughing.



XI. SHADOW THE WEASEL GETS LOST

|ALL the Green Meadows had heard how Peter Rabbit had frightened Reddy
Fox with an old straw hat, and everywhere that Reddy went some one was
sure to shout after him:

                   "Reddy Fox is fine to see;

                   He's as brave as brave can be

                   'Til he meets an old straw hat,

                   Then he don't know where he's at!"

Then Reddy would lose his temper and chase his tormentors. Most of
all, he wanted to catch Peter Rabbit. He lay in wait for Peter in fence
corners and behind bushes and trees, but somehow Peter seemed always to
know that Reddy was there.

In the Old Briar-patch Peter was safe. Reddy had tried to follow him
there, but he had found that it was of no use at all. Peter's paths were
so narrow, and the brambles tore Reddy's clothes and scratched him so,
that he had to give it up.

Reddy was thinking of this one day as he sat on his door-step, scowling
over at the Old Briar-patch, and then all of a sudden he thought of
Shadow the Weasel. Shadow is so slim that he can go almost anywhere
that any one else can, and he is so fierce that nearly all of the Little
Meadow people are terribly afraid of him. Reddy smiled. It was a mean,
wicked, crafty smile. Then he hopped up and hurried to find Shadow the
Weasel and tell him his plan.

Shadow listened, and then he too began to smile. "It's easy, Reddy Fox,
the easiest thing in the world! We'll get Peter Rabbit just as sure
as fat hens are good eating," said he, as they started for the Old
Briar-patch.

Reddy's plan was very simple. Shadow the Weasel was to follow Peter
Rabbit along Peter's narrow little paths and drive Peter out of the Old
Briar-patch on to the Green Meadows, where Reddy Fox could surely catch
him.

So Reddy Fox sat down to wait while Shadow started into the Old
Briar-patch. Peter Rabbit heard him coming and, of course, Peter began
to run. Now, when Peter first made his home in the Old Briar-patch,
he had foreseen that some day Shadow the Weasel might come to hunt him
there, so Peter had made dozens and dozens of little paths, twisting and
turning and crossing and recrossing in the most puzzling way. Of course,
Peter himself knew every twist and turn of every one of them, but Shadow
had not gone very far before he was all mixed up. He kept his sharp
little nose to the ground to smell Peter's footsteps, but Peter kept
crossing his own tracks so often that pretty soon Shadow could not tell
which path Peter had last taken.

Peter led him farther and farther into the middle of the Old
Briar-patch. Right there Shadow came to a great big puddle of water.
Peter had jumped clear across it, for you know Peter's legs are long and
meant for jumping.

Now, Shadow hates to get his feet wet, and when he reached the puddle,
he stopped. He glared with fierce little red eyes across at Peter
Rabbit, sitting on the other side. Then he started around the edge.

Peter waited until Shadow was almost around, and then he jumped back
across the puddle. There was nothing for Shadow to do but go back
around, which he did. Of course, Peter just did the same thing over
again, all the time laugh-ing in his sleeve, for Shadow the Weasel was
growing angrier and angrier. Finally he grew so angry that he tried to
jump the puddle himself, and in he fell with a great splash!

When Shadow crawled out, wet and muddy, Peter had disappeared, and
Shadow couldn't tell which path he had taken. Worse still, he didn't
know which path to take to get out himself. He tried one after another,
but after a little while he would find himself back at the puddle in
the middle of the Old Briar-patch. Shadow the Weasel was lost! Yes, Sir,
Shadow the Weasel was lost in the Old Briar-patch.

Outside, Reddy Fox waited and watched, but no frightened Peter Rabbit
came jumping out as he expected. What could it mean? After a long, long
time he saw some one very muddy and very wet and very tired crawl out of
one of Peter Rabbit's little paths. It was Shadow the Weasel.

Reddy took one good look at him and then he hurried away. He didn't want
to hear what Shadow the Weasel would say. And as he hurried across the
Green Meadows, he heard Peter Rabbit's voice from the middle of the Old
Briar-patch.

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!" shouted Peter Rabbit.

Reddy Fox ground his teeth.



XII. THE PLOT OF TWO SCAMPS

|SAMMY JAY, looking around for mischief, found Reddy Fox sitting on
his door-step with his chin in both hands and looking as if he hadn't a
friend in the world.

"What are you doing?" asked Sammy Jay.

"I'm just a-studying," replied Reddy Fox.

"What are you studying? Perhaps I can help you," said Sammy Jay.

Reddy Fox heaved a long sigh. "I'm a-studying how I can catch Peter
Rabbit," replied Reddy.

Sammy Jay scratched his head thoughtfully. Reddy Fox still sat with his
chin in his hands and thought and thought and thought. Sammy Jay sat
on one foot and scratched and scratched and scratched his head with the
other. Suddenly Sammy looked up.

"I have it!" said he. "You remember the hollow log over beyond the old
hickory-tree?"

Reddy nodded his head.

"Well, I'll go down and invite Peter Rabbit to come over there and see
the strangest thing in the world. You know what great curiosity Peter
Rabbit has. Now, you be hiding in the hollow log, and when you hear me
say to Peter Rabbit, 'the strangest thing in the world is waiting for
you over there, Peter,' you spring out, and you'll have Peter."

Reddy Fox brightened up. This plan certainly did look good to Reddy.
Peter had fooled him so many times that he was almost in despair. He
knew that if he sent another invitation to Peter, Peter would suspect
right away that it meant mischief. But Peter wouldn't think that Sammy
Jay was planning mischief, because he knew that Sammy is the greatest
news teller in the Green Forest.

So Reddy Fox trotted off to the hollow log down by the big hickory-tree
and crept inside. Sammy Jay flew over to the Old Briar-patch to look for
Peter Rabbit. He found him sitting under a big bramble bush.

"Good morning, Peter Rabbit," said Sammy Jay, with his finest manner.

Peter looked at Sammy sharply as he returned his greeting. Sammy Jay
wasn't in the habit of being so polite to Peter, and Peter began to
study just what it could mean.

"I saw the strangest thing in the world this morning," said Sammy Jay.

Peter pricked up his ears. In spite of himself, he began to grow
curious. "What was it, Sammy Jay?" he asked.

Sammy looked very mysterious. "I really don't know what it is," he
replied, "but I can show it to you, if you want to see for yourself,
Peter Rabbit."

Of course Peter wanted to see it, so he started out across the Green
Meadows with Sammy Jay. Now the farther he went, the more time he had to
think, and by the time he had nearly reached the old hickory-tree, Peter
began to suspect a trick.

Sammy Jay motioned Peter to approach very carefully. "It's right over
there, in that hollow log, Peter," he whispered. "You go peep in, and
you'll see it." Then Sammy prepared to give the signal to Reddy Fox.

Peter hopped a couple of steps nearer, and then he sat up very straight
and gazed at the hollow log. Somehow he didn't just like the looks of
it. He didn't know why, but he just didn't. Then along came one of Old
Mother West Wind's Merry Little Breezes, dancing right past the hollow
log and up to Peter Rabbit, and with him he brought a funny smell.

Peter's little wobbly nose wrinkled. That funny smell certainly reminded
Peter of Reddy Fox. He wrinkled his nose again. Then he suddenly whirled
about. "Excuse me, Sammy Jay," he exclaimed. "I just remember something
very important!" And before Sammy Jay could open his mouth, Peter had
started like a little brown streak for the Old Briar-patch.



XIII. REDDY FOX COMES TO LIFE

|REDDY FOX lay on the side hill. Bobby Coon found him there, and when
Bobby spoke to him, Reddy made no reply. Bobby went over and looked
at him. Reddy's eyes were closed. Bobby grinned to himself, then he
tip-toed a little nearer and shouted "boo" right in one of Reddy's
little black ears. Still Reddy did not move. Bobby Coon's face grew
sober. He poked Reddy with his foot, but still Reddy did not move. Then
he pulled Reddy's tail, and still Reddy did not move. "It must be that
Reddy Fox is dead," thought Bobby Coon, and he hurried away to tell the
news.

[Illustration: 0082]

There was great excitement on the Green Meadows and in the Green Forest
when the little people there heard that Reddy Fox was dead. Of course,
every one wanted to see Reddy, and soon there was a procession of
little meadow and forest people hurrying across the Green Meadows to
the hillside where Reddy Fox lay. Jimmy Skunk, Johnny Chuck, Billy Mink,
Little Joe Otter, Unc' Billy Possum, Danny Meadow Mouse, Spotty the
Turtle, Old Mr. Toad, Grandfather Frog, Jerry Muskrat, Sammy Jay,
Blacky the Crow, Happy Jack Squirrel, Striped Chipmunk, Jumper the Hare,
Prickly Porky, all were there. They formed a big circle around Reddy
Fox.

Then they began to talk about Reddy. Some told of the good things that
Reddy had done and what a fine gentleman he was. Others told of the mean
things that Reddy Fox had done and how glad they were that they would
no longer have to watch out for him. It was surprising the number of bad
things that were said. But then, they felt safe in saying them, for was
not Reddy lying right there before them, stone dead?

Now, Peter Rabbit had not heard the news until late in the day, and when
he did hear it, he started as fast as his long legs could take him
to have a last look at Reddy. Half way there he suddenly stopped and
scratched one of his long ears. Peter was thinking. It was mighty funny
that Reddy Fox should have died without any one having heard that he was
sick. Peter started on again, but this time he did not hurry. Presently
he cut a long twig, which he carried along with him. When he reached the
circle around Reddy Fox, he stole up behind Prickly Porky the Porcupine
and whispered in his ear.

Prickly Porky took the long twig which Peter handed to him, while Peter
went off at a little distance and climbed up on an old stump where he
could see. Prickly Porky reached over and tickled one of Reddy's black
ears. For a minute nothing happened. Then the black ear twitched.
Prickly Porky tickled the end of Reddy's little black nose; then he
tickled it again. What do you think happened? Why, Reddy Fox sneezed!

My, my, my! How that circle around Reddy Fox did disappear! All the
little people who were afraid of Reddy Fox scampered away as fast as
they could run, while all the other little people who were not afraid
of Reddy Fox began to laugh, and the one who laughed loudest of all was
Peter Rabbit, as he started back to the Old Briar-patch.

Of course, Reddy Fox knew then that it was of no use at all to pretend
that he was dead, so he sprang to his feet and started after Peter
Rabbit at the top of his speed, but when he reached the Old Briar-patch,
Peter was safely inside, and Reddy could hear him laughing as if he
would split his sides.

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!" shouted Peter Rabbit.



XIV. PETER RABBIT IN A TIGHT PLACE



                   "Hop along, skip along,

                        The sun is shining bright;

                   Hum a song, sing a song,

                        My heart is always light."

|IT is true, Peter Rabbit always is light-hearted. For days and days
Reddy Fox had been trying to catch Peter, and Peter had had to keep his
wits very sharp indeed in order to keep out of Reddy's way. Still, it
didn't seem to worry Peter much. Just now he was hopping and skipping
down the Lone Little Path without a care in the world.

Presently Peter found a nice, shady spot close by a big rock. Underneath
one edge of the rock was a place just big enough for Peter to crawl
in--it was just the place for a nap. Peter was beginning to feel sleepy,
so he crawled in there and soon was fast asleep.

By and by Peter began to dream. He dreamed that he had gone for a long
walk, way, way off from the safe Old Briar-patch, and that out from
behind a big bush had sprung Reddy Fox. Just as Reddy's teeth were about
to close on Peter, Peter woke up. It was such a relief to find that
he was really snug and safe under the big rock that he almost shouted
aloud. But he didn't, and a minute later he was, oh, so glad he hadn't,
for he heard a voice that seemed as if it was right in his ear. It was
the voice of Reddy Fox. Yes, Sir, it was the voice of Reddy Fox.

Peter hardly dared to breathe, and you may be sure that he did not make
even the smallest sound, for Reddy Fox was sitting on the very rock
under which Peter was resting. Reddy Fox was talking to Blacky the Crow.
Peter listened with all his might, for what do you think Reddy Fox was
saying? Why, he was telling Blacky the Crow of a new plan to catch Peter
Rabbit and was asking Blacky to help him.

Peter had never been so frightened in his life, for here was Reddy Fox
so close to him that Peter could have reached out and touched one of
Reddy's legs, as he kicked his heels over the edge of the big rock. By
and by Blacky the Crow spoke.

"I saw Peter Rabbit coming down this way early this morning," said
Blacky, "and I don't think he has gone home. Why don't you go over and
hide near the Old Briar-patch and catch Peter when he comes back? I
will watch out, and if I see Peter, I will tell him that you have gone
hunting your breakfast way over beyond the big hill. Then he will not be
on the watch."

"The very thing," exclaimed Reddy Fox, "and if I catch him, I will
surely do something for you, Blacky. I believe that I will go right
away."

Then the two rascals planned, and chuckled as they thought how they
would outwit Peter Rabbit.

"I'm getting hungry," said Reddy Fox, as he arose and stretched. "I
wonder if there is a field mouse hiding under this old rock. I believe
I'll look and see."

Peter's heart almost stood still as he heard Reddy Fox slide down off
the big rock. He wriggled himself still further under the rock and held
his breath. Just then Blacky the Crow gave a sharp "Caw, caw, caw!" That
meant that Blacky saw something, and almost at once Peter heard a sound
that sometimes filled his heart with fear but which now filled it with
great joy. It was the voice of Bowser the Hound. Reddy Fox heard it,
too, and he didn't stop to look under the big rock.

A little later Peter very cautiously crawled out of his resting place
and climbed up where he could look over the Green Meadows. Way over on
the far side he could see Reddy Fox running at the top of his speed, and
behind him was Bowser the Hound.

"My! but that was a tight place," said Peter Rabbit, as he stretched
himself.



XV. JOHNNY CHUCK HELPS PETER

|JOHNNY CHUCK had watched Reddy Fox try to fool and catch Peter Rabbit,
and sometimes Johnny had been very much afraid that Reddy would succeed.
But Peter had been too smart for Reddy every time, and Johnny had
laughed with the other little people of the Green Meadows whenever the
Merry Little Breezes had brought a new story of how Peter had outwitted
Reddy.

"Peter'll have to watch out sharper than ever now, for Granny Fox is
almost well, and she is very angry because Reddy could not catch Peter
Rabbit for her when she was ill. She says that she is going to show that
stupid Reddy how to do it and do it quickly," said Jimmy Skunk, when he
stopped to chat with Johnny Chuck one fine morning.

Johnny had just been laughing very hard over one of Peter Rabbit's
tricks, but now his face grew very sober, very sober indeed. "It won't
do to let old Granny Fox catch Peter. It won't do at all. We must all
turn in and help Peter," said Johnny. "Why, what would the Green Meadows
and the Green Forest be like with no Peter Rabbit?" he added.

Late that afternoon Johnny Chuck happened to find Peter Rabbit taking
a nap. Yes, Sir, Peter had actually gone to sleep outside the dear Old
Briar-patch. At first Johnny thought that he would waken him and tell
him that Reddy Fox was hunting right near. But just then Johnny's
bright eyes saw something that made him chuckle. It was the home of some
hot-tempered friends of his, a beautiful home made of what looked like
gray paper. It was fastened to a bush just above a little path leading
to the very spot where Peter lay fast asleep. Johnny chuckled again,
then off he hurried. He sat down on top of a little hill. Pretty soon
Reddy Fox came along through the hollow below.

"Hello, Reddy Fox! Do you want to know how you can catch Peter Rabbit?"
asked Johnny.

Reddy looked up. He didn't know just what to say. He knew that Johnny
Chuck and Peter had always been the very best of friends. Still, friends
fall out sometimes, and perhaps Johnny and Peter had. Reddy decided that
he would be polite.

"I certainly do, Johnny Chuck," he replied. "Can you tell me how to do
it?"

"Yes," said Johnny. "Peter is fast asleep over yonder behind that little
bunch of huckleberry bushes. There is a little path through them. All
you have to do is to hurry up that little path as fast and as still as
you can."

Reddy Fox waited to hear no more. His eyes glistened as he started off
at the top of his speed up the little path. Just as Johnny had expected,
Reddy went in such a hurry that he didn't use his eyes for anything but
signs of Peter Rabbit.

Bang! Reddy had run head first into the paper house of Johnny Chuck's
hot-tempered friends. In fact he had smashed the whole side in. Out
poured old Mrs. Hornet and all her family, and they had their little
needles with them. Reddy forgot all about Peter Rabbit. He yelled at the
top of his lungs and started for home, slapping at old Mrs. Hornet,
whom he never could hit, and stopping every few minutes to roll over and
over.

Of course when he yelled, Peter Rabbit awoke and sat up to see what all
the fuss was about. He saw Reddy running as if his life depended upon
it. Over on the little hill he saw Johnny Chuck laughing so that the
tears ran down his face. Then Peter began to laugh, too, and ran over to
ask Johnny Chuck to tell him all about it.



XVI. REDDY FOX TELLS A WRONG STORY

|REDDY FOX was a sight! There was no doubt about that. When he started
down on to the Green Meadows that morning he limped like an old, old
man. Yes indeed, Reddy was a sorry looking sight. His head was swelled
so that one eye was closed, and he could hardly see out of the other.
Reddy never would have ventured out but that he just had to have some
fresh mud from the Smiling Pool.

Reddy had waited until most of the little meadow people were out of the
way. Then he had tried to hurry so as to get back again as quickly as
possible. But Johnny Chuck's sharp eyes had spied Reddy, and Johnny had
guessed right away what the trouble was. He hurried over to tell Peter
Rabbit. Then the two little scalawags hunted up Jimmy Skunk and Bobby
Coon to tell them, and the four hid near the Lone Little Path to wait
for Reddy's return.

Pretty soon Reddy came limping along. Even Johnny Chuck was surprised
at the way Reddy's face had swelled. It was plastered all over with mud,
and he was a sorry sight indeed.

Bobby Coon appeared very much astonished to see Reddy in such condition,
though of course Johnny Chuck had told him all about how Reddy had
run head first into the home of old Mrs. Hornet and her family the day
before.

Bobby stepped out in the Lone Little Path.

"Why, Reddy Fox, what has happened to you?" he exclaimed.

Reddy didn't see the others hiding in the long grass. He didn't want
Bobby Coon to know that he had been so careless as to run his head into
a hornets' nest, so he told a wrong story. He put on a long face. That
is, it was as long as he could make it, considering that it was so
swelled.

"I've had a most terrible accident, Bobby Coon," said Reddy, sighing
pitifully. "It happened yesterday as I was returning from an errand over
beyond the hill. Just as I was coming through the deepest part of the
wood I heard some one crying. Of course I stopped to find out what the
matter was."

"Of course!" interrupted Bobby Coon. "Certainly! To be sure! Of course!"
Reddy looked at him suspiciously, but went on with his tale. "Right
down in the thickest, blackest place I found one of Unc' Billy Possum's
children being worried to death by Digger the Badger. I couldn't see
that little Possum hurt."

"Of course not!" broke in Bobby Coon.

"So I jumped in and tackled old man Badger, and I had him almost
whipped, when I slipped over the edge of a big rock on the side of the
hill. It took the skin off my face and bruised me something terrible.
But I don't care, so long as I saved that little Possum child,"
concluded Reddy, as he started on.

Johnny Chuck stole up behind him and thrust a sharp brier into the seat
of Reddy's pants. At the same time Johnny made a noise like a whole
family of hornets. Reddy Fox forgot his limp. He never even turned his
head to look behind. Instead, he started off at his best speed, and it
wasn't until he heard a roar of laughter behind him that he realized
that he had been fooled again.



XVII. REDDY ALMOST GETS PETER RABBIT

|REDDY FOX really was almost ill from the effects of the stings which
old Mrs. Hornet and her family had given him when he knocked in the
side of their house. For several days he limped around, his head badly
swollen. Yes, Sir, Reddy Fox was in a dreadful bad way. The worst of it
was that none of the other little meadow and forest people seemed to be
the least bit sorry for him. Some of them actually laughed at him. Peter
Rabbit did. Reddy Fox had made life very uncomfortable for Peter for a
long time, and now Peter was actually enjoying Reddy's discomfort. Now,
while he was laid up this way, Reddy had plenty of time to think. He
noticed that when he went out to walk, all those who kept at a safe
distance when he was well now hardly got out of his way. They knew that
he felt too sore and mean to try to catch them. Peter Rabbit hardly
turned out of his path. A bright idea came to Reddy. He would continue
to appear to feel badly, even after he was well. He would keep his head
bound up and would limp down to the Smiling Pool for some mud every day.
Then, when Peter Rabbit came near enough, Reddy would catch him.

So day after day Reddy limped down to the Smiling Pool. He kept his head
tied up as if it was as bad as ever, and as he walked, he groaned as
if in great pain. Even some of those who hated him most began to feel
a little bit sorry for Reddy Fox. Peter has a very soft heart, and
although he knew that Reddy Fox would like nothing better than to gobble
him up, he began to feel sorry for Reddy.

One morning Peter sat just outside the Old Briar-patch, when Reddy came
limping along. He looked more miserable than usual. Just as it had been
for several days, one of Reddy's eyes was closed.

"It must be hard work to see with only one eye," said Peter Rabbit.

"It is," replied Reddy, with a great sigh. "It is very hard work,
indeed."

"I don't see how you manage to get enough to eat," continued Peter, in
his most sympathetic voice.

Reddy sighed again. "I don't, Peter Rabbit. I don't get enough to eat,
and I'm nearly starved this very minute." When he said this such a note
of longing crept into his voice that Peter instantly grew suspicious.
While he was sorry for Reddy, he had no desire to make Reddy feel better
by furnishing himself for a meal. Peter hopped around to the blind side
of Reddy and turned his back to him, as he inquired for the health of
old Granny Fox.

Now, you know that Peter's eyes are so placed in his head that he can
see behind him without turning his head. Reddy Fox did not know this, or
if he did he had forgotten it. Very slowly and craftily the closed eye
opened a wee bit, and in that line of yellow was a hungry look. Peter
Rabbit saw it and with a great jump landed behind a friendly bramble
bush in the Old Briar-patch.

"Ha! ha!" shouted Peter, "I'd rather talk with you, Reddy Fox, when you
haven't got a closed eye with such a hungry look in it. Ta, ta!"

Reddy Fox just shook his fist at Peter Rabbit, and started off home,
pulling the bandage from his head as he went.



XVIII. JOHNNY CHUCK PREPARES FOR WINTER

|THERE was something in the air that Peter Rabbit couldn't understand.
It made him feel frisky and happy and ready to run a race or have a
frolic with any one who might happen along. He couldn't understand why
it didn't make all his friends and neighbors on the Green Meadows and in
the Green Forest feel the same way. But it didn't. No, Sir, it didn't.
Some of those with whom he best liked to play wouldn't play at all, not
even for a few minutes; said they hadn't time. Peter was puzzling over
it as he scampered down the Lone Little Path, kicking his heels and
trying to jump over his own shadow. Just ahead of him, sitting on his
own door-step, sat Johnny Chuck.

"My goodness, how fat Johnny Chuck is getting!" thought Peter Rabbit.
Then he shouted: "Come on and play hide and seek, Johnny Chuck!"

But Johnny Chuck shook his head. "Can't!" said he. "I've got to get
ready for winter."

Peter Rabbit sat down and looked at Johnny Chuck curiously. He couldn't
understand why anybody should take the trouble to get ready for winter.
He didn't, excepting that he put on a warmer coat. So he couldn't
imagine why Johnny Chuck should have to get ready for winter.

"How do you do it?" he asked.

"Do what?" Johnny Chuck looked up in surprise.

"Why, get ready for winter, of course," Peter replied, just a wee bit
impatiently.

Johnny Chuck looked at Peter as if he thought Peter very stupid indeed.

"Why, I eat, of course," said he shortly, and began to stuff himself as
if he hadn't had anything to eat for a week, when all the time he was so
fat and roly-poly that he could hardly waddle.

Peter's eyes twinkled. "I should think you did!" he exclaimed. "I
wouldn't mind getting ready for winter that way myself." You know Peter
thinks a very great deal of his stomach. Then he added: "I should think
you were trying to eat enough to last you all winter."

Johnny Chuck yawned sleepily and then once more began to eat. "I am," he
said briefly, talking with his mouth full.

"What's that?" cried Peter Rabbit, his big eyes popping out.

"I said I'm trying to eat enough to last me all winter! That's the way I
get ready for winter," replied Johnny Chuck, just a wee bit crossly. "I
think I've got enough now," he added. "How cool it is getting! I think
I'll go down and go to sleep. I'll see you in the spring, Peter Rabbit."

"Wha--what's that?" exclaimed

Peter Rabbit, looking as if he thought he hadn't heard aright. But
Johnny Chuck had disappeared inside his house.



XIX. PETER RABBIT GETS ANOTHER SURPRISE

|PETER RABBIT sat on Johnny Chuck's door-step for five long minutes,
scratching his head first with one hand, then with the other.

"Now, what did Johnny Chuck mean by saying that he would see me in the
spring?" said Peter Rabbit to himself. "Here it isn't winter yet, and it
will be a long, long time before spring, yet Johnny Chuck spoke just as
if he didn't expect to see me until winter has passed. Is he going away
somewhere? If he isn't, why won't I see him all winter, just as I have
all summer?"

The more Peter thought about it, the more puzzled he became. At last
he had a happy thought. "I'll just run down to the Smiling Pool and ask
Grandfather Frog. He is very old and very wise, and he will surely know
what Johnny Chuck meant."

So, kicking up his heels, Peter Rabbit started down the Lone Little
Path, lip-perty-lipperty-lip, across the Green Meadows to the Smiling
Pool. There he found Grandfather Frog sitting as usual on his big
lily-pad, but the lily-pad wasn't as green as it used to be, and
Grandfather Frog didn't look as smart as usual. His big, goggly eyes
looked heavy and dull, just as if they didn't see much of anything at
all. Grandfather Frog nodded sleepily and once nearly fell off the big
lily-pad.

"Good morning, Grandfather Frog!" shouted Peter Rabbit.

"Eh? What?" said Grandfather Frog, blinking his eyes and putting one
hand behind an ear, as if he was hard of hearing.

"I said good morning, Grandfather Frog!" shouted Peter Rabbit, a little
louder than before.

"No," replied Grandfather Frog grumpily, "it isn't a good morning; it's
too chilly." He shivered as he spoke.

Peter Rabbit pretended not to notice how grumpy Grandfather Frog was. In
his most polite way he asked: "Can you tell me, Grandfather Frog, where
Johnny Chuck spends the winter?"

"Spends it at home, of course. Don't bother me with such foolish
questions!" snapped Grandfather Frog.

"But if he is going to spend the winter at home, what did he mean by
saying that he would see me in the spring, just as if he didn't expect
to see me before then?" persisted Peter Rabbit.

Grandfather Frog yawned, shook himself, yawned again, and said:

"Johnny Chuck probably meant just what he said, and I think I'll follow
his example. It's getting too cold for an old fellow like me. I begin
to feel it in my bones. I'm getting so sleepy that I guess the sooner I
hunt up my bed in the mud at the bottom of the Smiling Pool the better.
Chugarum! Johnny Chuck is wise. I'll see you in the spring, Peter
Rabbit, and tell you all about it."

And with that, Grandfather Frog dived with a great splash into the
Smiling Pool.



XX. PETER TRIES OL' MISTAH BUZZARD

|PETER RABBIT sat on the edge of the Smiling Pool and stared at the
place where Grandfather Frog had disappeared with a great splash. He
watched the tiny waves spread out in rings that grew bigger and bigger
and then finally disappeared too. Now what did Grandfather Frog mean
when he said: "I'll see you in the spring, Peter Rabbit?" Johnny Chuck
had said that very same thing as he had gone down the long hall of his
snug house, yet it would be a long, long time before spring, for it was
not winter yet. Where did they expect to be all winter, and what did
they expect to do? The more Peter puzzled over it, the less he could
understand it.

                   "My head is whirling round and round,

                   So many funny things I've found;

                   Folks say it grows too cold to stay,

                   Yet do not seem to go away.

                   They talk of meeting in the spring

                   But don't explain a single thing.

"They just go into their houses and say good-by. I don't understand it
at all, at all," said Peter Rabbit, staring at the big lily-pad on which
Grandfather Frog had sat all summer, watching for foolish green flies to
come his way. Somehow that big lily-pad made Peter Rabbit feel terribly
lonely. Then he had a happy thought.

"I'll just run over and ask Ol' Mistah Buzzard what it all means;
he'll be sure to know," said Peter Rabbit, and off he started,
lipperty-lipperty-lip, for the Green Forest.

When Peter got where he could see the tall dead tree that Ol' Mistah
Buzzard had made his favorite resting-place, he could see Ol' Mistah
Buzzard stretching his big wings, as if he was getting ready to fly.
Peter hurried faster. He didn't want Mistah Buzzard to get away before
he could ask him what Johnny Chuck and Grandfather Frog had meant. Peter
couldn't shout, because he hasn't much of a voice, you know, and then he
was out of breath, anyway. So he just made those long legs of his go as
fast as ever they could, which is very fast indeed.

Just as Peter Rabbit almost reached the tall dead tree, Ol' Mistah
Buzzard jumped off the branch he had been sitting on, gave two or three
flaps with his great wings, and then, spreading them out wide, began to
sail round and round and up and up, as only Ol' Mistah Buzzard can.

"Wait! Wait! Please wait!" panted Peter Rabbit, but his voice was so
weak that Ol' Mistah Buzzard didn't hear him. He saw Peter, however, but
of course he didn't know that Peter wanted to talk with him. With a long
swoop, Ol' Mistah Buzzard sailed off right over Peter's head.

"Good-by, Brer Rabbit; Ah'll see yo' in the spring!" said Ol' Mistah
Buzzard, and before Peter could say a word, he was out of hearing up in
the sky.

Peter watched him go up and up until he was just a speck in the blue,
blue sky.

"Now what did he mean by that? Is he going to stay up in the sky until
spring?" asked Peter Rabbit of himself. But not knowing, of course he
couldn't answer.



XI. HAPPY JACK SQUIRREL IS TO BUSY TO TALK

|PETER RABBIT sat with his mouth wide open staring up into the blue,
blue sky, where Ol' Mistah Buzzard was growing smaller and smaller.
Finally he was just a teeny, weeny speck, and then Peter couldn't see
him at all. Peter hitched up his trousers and sat for a long time,
looking very thoughtful. He was troubled in his mind, was Peter Rabbit.
First Johnny Chuck had said: "I'll see you in the spring," and had
disappeared underground; then Grandfather Frog had said: "I'll see you
in the spring," and had disappeared in the Smiling Pool; now Ol' Mistah
Buzzard had said: "Ah'll see yo' in the spring," and had disappeared up
in the blue, blue sky.

"And they all spoke just as if they meant it," said Peter to himself. "I
believe I'll go over and see Happy Jack Squirrel. Perhaps he can tell me
what it all means."

So off started Peter Rabbit, lipperty-lipperty-lip, through the Green
Forest, looking for Happy Jack Squirrel. Pretty soon he caught a glimpse
of Happy Jack's gray coat.

"Hi, Happy Jack!" called Peter, hurrying as fast as he could.

"Hello, Peter Rabbit! Don't bother me this morning. I've got too much to
do to be bothered," said Happy Jack, digging a little hole in the ground
while he talked.

Peter grew curious at once, so curious that he forgot all about what he
was going to ask Happy Jack. He sat down and watched Happy Jack put a
nut in the hole and cover it up. Then Happy Jack hurried to dig another
hole and do the same thing over again.

"What are you doing that for?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"Doing it for? Why, I'm getting ready for winter, of course, stupid!"
said Happy Jack, as he paused for breath.

"But I thought you stored your nuts and corn in a hollow tree!"
exclaimed Peter Rabbit.

"So I do," replied Happy Jack, "but I would be foolish to put all my
supplies in one place, so I bury some of them."

"But how do you remember where you bury them?" persisted Peter.

"I don't always, but when I forget, my nose helps me out. Then I just
dig down and get them," said Happy Jack. "Now I can't stop to talk any
more, for I am late this year, and the first thing I know winter will be
here."

Then Peter remembered what he had come for. "Oh, Happy Jack, what did
Johnny Chuck and Grandfather Frog and Ol' Mistah Buzzard mean by saying
that they would see me in the spring?" he cried.

"Can't stop to tell you now!" replied Happy Jack, running this way and
that way, and pulling over the fallen leaves to hunt for another nut.
"Winter's coming, and I've got to be ready for it. Can't stop to talk."

And that was all Peter Rabbit could get out of him, although he followed
Happy Jack about and bothered him with questions until Happy Jack quite
lost his temper. Peter sighed. He saw Chatterer the Red Squirrel and
Striped Chipmunk both quite as busy as Happy Jack.

"It's of no use to ask them, for they are doing the same thing that
Happy Jack is," thought Peter. "I don't see the use of all this fuss
about winter, anyway. I don't have to get ready for it. I believe I'll
go down to the Smiling Pool again and see if maybe Grandfather Frog has
come up."



XXII. UNC' BILLY POSSUM EXPLAINS THINGS

|PETER RABBIT had sat still all day long in his safe hiding-place in the
middle of the dear Old Briar-patch. Jolly, round, red Mr. Sun had gone
to bed behind the Purple Hills, and the black shadows had raced out
across the Green Meadows and into the Green Forest. Now the moonlight
was driving them back a little way. Peter hopped out of the Old
Briar-patch into the moonlight and stretched first one leg and then
another. Then he jumped up and down three or four times to get the kinks
out of his long hind legs, and finally started off up the Lone Little
Path, lipperty-lipperty-lip.

Half way up the Lone Little Path Peter almost ran headlong into Unc'
Billy Possum.

"Mah goodness, Brer Rabbit, yo'all done give me a powerful start!"
exclaimed Unc' Billy. "What yo'all in such a right smart hurry fo'?"

Peter Rabbit grinned as he stopped running. "I didn't mean to frighten
you, Uncle Billy. The fact is, I was on my way up to your house to
see how you and old Mrs. Possum and all the children do this fine fall
weather," said Peter Rabbit.

Unc' Billy Possum looked at Peter Rabbit sharply. "Seems to me that
yo'all have taken a powerful sudden interest in we-alls. Ah don'
remember seeing yo' up our way fo' a long time, Brer Rabbit," said he.

Peter looked a little foolish, for it was true that he hadn't been near
Unc' Billy's hollow tree for a long time. "You see, I've been very busy
getting ready for winter," said Peter, by way of an excuse.

Unc' Billy began to chuckle and then to laugh. He rested both hands on
his knees and laughed and laughed.

Peter Rabbit couldn't see anything to laugh at and he began to get just
a wee bit provoked.

"What's the joke?" he demanded.

"The very idea of Brer Rabbit getting ready for winter or of being busy
about anything but other people's affairs!" cried Unc' Billy, wiping his
eyes.

Peter tried to feel and to look very angry, but he couldn't. No, Sir, he
couldn't. The very twinkle in Unc' Billy Possum's eyes made Peter want
to laugh, too. In fact Peter just had to laugh. Finally both stopped
laughing, and Peter told Unc' Billy all about the things that had
troubled him.

"Johnny Chuck disappeared down in his house and said he would see me in
the spring; what did he mean by that?" asked Peter.

"Just what he said," replied Unc' Billy. "He done gone down to his bed
and gone to sleep, and he's gwine to stay asleep until next spring."

Peter's eyes looked as if they would pop right out of his head. "And
Grandfather Frog, what has become of him?" he asked.

"Oh, Grandfather Frog, he done gone to sleep, too, down in the mud at
the bottom of the Smiling Pool. Ah reckon yo' will see Grandfather Frog
come up right pert in the spring," said Unc' Billy.

"And Ol' Mistah Buzzard--he shouted down from the blue, blue sky that he
would see me in the spring; has he gone to sleep up there?" asked Peter.

Unc' Billy Possum threw back his head and laughed fit to kill himself.

"Bless yo' long ears, no, Brer Rabbit! No indeed! Oh my, no! Brer
Buzzard done fly away down Souf to ol' Virginny to stay through the
cold winter. And Ah most wish Ah was right along with him," added Unc'
Billy, suddenly growing sober.

Then Peter Rabbit had a sudden thought. "You aren't going away to sleep
all winter, are you, Uncle Billy?" he asked anxiously.

The grin came back to Unc' Billy's face. "No, Brer Rabbit. Ah reckons
yo'all can find me right in mah hollow tree most any time this winter,
if yo' knock loud enough. But Ah don' reckon on going out much, and Ah
do reckon Ah'm going to have a right smart lot of sleep," replied Unc'
Billy.



XXIII. PETER RABBIT HAS A BRIGHT IDEA

|PETER RABBIT had a bright idea. At least Peter thought it was, and he
chuckled over it a great deal. The more he thought about it, the better
it seemed. What was it? Why, to follow the plan of Johnny Chuck and
Grandfather Frog to avoid the cold, stormy weather by sleeping all
winter. Yes, Sir, that was Peter Rabbit's bright idea.

               "If Johnny Chuck can sleep and sleep

                   The whole long, stormy winter through,

               It ought to be, it seems to me,

                   The very thing for me to do."

Peter Rabbit said this to himself, as he sat in the middle of the Old
Briar-patch, chewing the end of a straw. If Johnny Chuck could do it, of
course he could do it. All he would have to do would be to find a snug,
warm house which nobody else was using, fix himself a comfortable bed,
curl up, and go to sleep. Peter tried to picture himself sleeping away
while the snow lay deep all over the Green Meadows and the Smiling Pool
could smile no more because the ice, the hard, black ice, would not let
it.

Finally Peter could sit still no longer. He just had to tell some one
about his bright idea and--and--well, he wasn't quite sure of just the
way to go to sleep and sleep so long, for never in his life had Peter
Rabbit slept more than a very, very short time without waking to see
that no danger was near.

"I'll just run up and see Uncle Billy Possum!" said Peter.

Unc' Billy Possum was sitting in his doorway in his big, hollow tree in
the Green Forest when Peter Rabbit came hurrying up,
lipperty-lipperty-lip. Peter hardly waited to say good morning before he
began to tell Unc' Billy all about his bright idea. Unc' Billy listened
gravely, although there was a twinkle in his eyes.

"The first thing yo' must do is to find a warm place to sleep, Brer
Rabbit," said Unc' Billy.

[Illustration: 0130]

"Oh, that's easy enough!" said Peter.

"And then yo' must get fat, Brer Rabbit," continued Unc' Billy.

"What's that?" exclaimed Peter Rabbit, looking very much puzzled.

"Ah say yo' must get fat," repeated Unc' Billy, slapping his own fat
sides.

"What for?" asked Peter.

"To keep yo' warm while yo' are asleep," replied Unc' Billy.

"Must I get very fat?" Peter asked,

"Yes, Sah, yo' must get very fat indeed," said Unc' Billy, and smiled,
for it was hard to think of Peter Rabbit as very fat.

"How--how can I get fat?" asked Peter, and looked just a little bit
worried.

"By eating and eating and eating, and between times sitting still,"
replied Unc' Billy Possum.

"That's easy, at least the eating is!" said Peter, who, you know, thinks
a great deal of his stomach. "Is that all, Uncle Billy?"

"That's about all, excepting yo' mustn't have anything on yo' mind when
yo' try to go to sleep, Brer Rabbit. Yo' mustn't get to worrying fo'
fear Brer Fox gwine to find yo' while yo' are asleep," said Unc' Billy,
and grinned when Peter happened to turn his head.

Peter thanked Unc' Billy and hurried back to the Old Briar-patch to
think over all that Unc' Billy had told him.

"I certainly will try it," said Peter.



XXIV. PETER PREPARES FOR A LONG SLEEP

|DAY after day Peter Rabbit ran about this way and that over the Green
Meadows and through the Green Forest, as if he had something on his
mind. Jimmy Skunk noticed it. So did Billy Mink and Bobby Coon. But
Peter wouldn't stop to explain. Indeed, he was always in such a hurry
that he wouldn't stop at all, but when he met them would shout "Hello!"
over his shoulder and keep right on running, lip-perty-lipperty-lip.
Unc' Possum was the only one who guessed what it meant.

Unc' Billy grinned as he watched Peter running about with such a serious
and important air. "Brer Rabbit is trying dreadful hard to fool hisself.
Ah reckon he's looking fo' a place to curl up and try to sleep all
winter," said Unc' Billy.

Unc' Billy had guessed just right. Peter was looking for a place to
curl up to sleep all winter. Peter was too lazy to dig a new house for
himself. Then it was too late in the fall, anyway. He would just find
some old, deserted house that some of Jimmy Skunk's relatives or Johnny
Chuck's relations had given up using. So Peter went poking into every
old house he knew of, trying to find one that wasn't so tumble-down that
it wouldn't do. At last he found one that he thought would be just the
place, and Peter chuckled to himself as he planned how he would curl up
in the bedchamber, way down at the end of the long hall.

"Nobody'll ever guess where I am!" he said to himself and laughed aloud.

Then Peter remembered that Unc' Billy Possum had told him that it was
necessary to eat a great deal so as to be very fat before going to
sleep, for that was the way to keep warm all winter. So Peter started
out to grow fat. This would be fun, the very best kind of fun, for there
is nothing Peter Rabbit loves more than to fill his stomach, unless it
is to satisfy his curiosity.

               Peter Rabbit's stomach is

                   A thing that's most amazing;

               It takes so long to fill it up

                   His time is short for lazing.

Perhaps this is the reason why, when Peter isn't eating, he wants to
loaf around and watch other people work. Anyway, Peter is a tremendous
eater, and now that he wanted to grow fat, he felt that he must eat more
than ever. So he began at once to eat and eat and eat. But there was one
very important thing that Peter had forgotten. He had quite forgotten
that it was now late in the fall, and the tender, young, green things
which Peter dearly loves to eat were gone. He could no longer go down to
the sweet clover patch and fill himself full to bursting. Farmer Brown
had taken away all the cabbages and carrots and turnips that had made
his garden so attractive to Peter.

So now Peter had to hunt for what he had to eat. That made a great deal
of running about, and it is very hard work to grow fat when one runs
about. The more Peter ate, the more he had to hunt for his food; and the
more he had to hunt for his food, the more he had to run about; and the
more he had to run about, the more he hurried and the faster he ran.
Now, of course running takes fat off.

"Oh, dear!" cried Peter Rabbit. "Getting fat is not as easy as I
thought!"



XXV. UNC' BILLY POSSUM PLAYS A JOKE



                   Some folks never seem to be

                   Satisfied or quite content;

                   Always wanting something more

                   That fo' them was never meant."

|UNC' BILLY POSSUM said this to himself as he watched Peter Rabbit
hurrying about through the Green Forest and over the Green Meadows,
eating as fast as ever he could so as to grow fat that he might keep
warm while he slept all winter. Now Unc' Billy Possum knew perfectly
well that Peter Rabbit couldn't sleep all winter as Johnny Chuck does,
for Old Mother Nature had never planned that Peter should. But Unc'
Billy knew that it was of no use to tell Peter that, for Peter wouldn't
believe him. So he chuckled as he watched Peter rush around hunting for
food and actually running off what little fat he did have, instead of
putting on more.

Of course it just happened that Unc' Billy Possum was right over near
the old house built by Grandfather Skunk a long time ago, which Peter
Rabbit had decided to sleep in all winter. It just happened that he saw
Peter when he finally went down to the little bedchamber at the end of
the long hall to curl up and try to go to sleep.

Unc' Billy grinned. Then he chuckled. Finally he laughed until his fat
sides shook.

"Ah reckon Ah'm gwine to have some fun with Brer Rabbit," said Unc'
Billy, still chuckling, as he trotted off through the Green Forest. He
went over to Bobby Coon's house and found Bobby, who had been out all
night, just getting ready for bed. But Bobby is always ready to play a
joke, and when Unc' Billy told him about Peter Rabbit and what fun it
would be to give Peter a scare, Bobby scrambled down from his hollow
tree right away. Then they hunted up Jimmy Skunk, and the three started
for the old house of Grandfather Skunk, where Peter Rabbit was trying to
go to sleep for the winter.

"Ah done tell Peter that when he tried to go to sleep he mustn't get to
thinking about what would happen if Brer Fox should jes' happen along
and find him asleep. Ah reckons that that is the very first thing Peter
did think of, as soon as he curled himself up and that he's thinking of
it more'n ever right this blessed minute. Yo'alls wait while Ah listen
at the door."

Unc' Billy stole very softly to the door of the old house. Then he began
to grin and beckoned to Bobby Coon and Jimmy Skunk to come listen. They
could hear long sighs from way down in the bedchamber at the end of the
long hall. They heard Peter twist and turn, as he tried to make himself
comfortable. But when they heard him saying a verse over and over to
try to make himself go to sleep, they had to clap their hands over their
mouths to keep from laughing out loud.

When they grew tired of listening, Unc' Billy whispered to Jimmy Skunk.
Jimmy Skunk grinned, and then he crept a little way down the long hall
and began to scratch with his stout claws, as if he were digging. When
he stopped, Unc' Billy put his mouth down close to the doorway and
barked as nearly like Reddy Fox as he could. Then Jimmy began to dig
again, and pretty soon Unc' Billy barked again. Then all three stole
softly away and hid behind some bushes.

"Ah reckon Brer Rabbit is right smart wide-awake instead of going to
sleep fo' the winter!" chuckled Unc' Billy.



XXVI. PETER RABBIT LEARNS HIS LESSON

|PETER RABBIT, curled up in the little bedchamber at the end of the long
hall in the old house made a long time ago by Grandfather Skunk, twisted
and turned and tried to make himself feel sleepy. But the harder he
tried, the more wide-awake he seemed to feel. Then he began to think of
Reddy and Granny Fox and what would happen if by any chance they should
find him there fast asleep, and right while he was thinking about it, he
heard a noise that made him jump so that he bumped his head.

Peter didn't think anything about the bump on his head! No, Sir, Peter
didn't even notice it. He was too frightened. He held his breath and
listened, while his heart went pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat. There it was again,
that noise he had heard before! Some one was in the long, dark hall!
There was no doubt about it. He could hear claws scratching. Whoever
it was, was digging. Digging! The very thought made every hair on Peter
Rabbit stand on end. He knew that Johnny Chuck had gone to sleep for
the winter. He knew that Jimmy Skunk could walk right in without any
trouble, and that Jimmy never takes any trouble that he can avoid.
He knew that Bobby Coon and Unc' Billy Possum don't go into houses
underground unless they have to, to get away from danger, and very
seldom then.

If some one was digging in the long, dark hall, it could mean but one
thing--that it must be some one too big to get in without making the
hall larger; and the only ones he could think of were Bowser the Hound
and Reddy and Granny Fox! Peter shivered and shook, for unlike Johnny
Chuck's house, this one had no back door.

"If it's Bowser the Hound, he may get tired and go away. Anyway, I can
soon tell, for he will sniff and snuff and blow the sand out of his
nose," thought Peter, and strained his ears to hear the first sniff.

But there were no sniffs or snuffs. Instead, Peter heard a sound that
made his heart almost stop beating again. It was a bark, a bark that
sounded very much like the bark of Reddy Fox, and it came from just
outside the door! That could mean but one thing--that old Granny Fox
was digging her way in to the little bedchamber, while Reddy kept watch
outside.

"Oh, dear! Oh, dear! Why wasn't I content to live as I always have
lived? Whatever did I try to do something I never was intended to do
for?" cried Peter to himself, and shook with fright harder than ever.

There was nothing to do but to sit still and wait. Peter sat as still
as ever he could. After a little while, the noise in the long, dark hall
stopped. Peter waited and waited, but all was still, and he began to
feel better. Perhaps old Granny Fox didn't know that he was there at all
and had grown tired of digging and had gone away. Peter waited a long
time and then peeped out into the long hall. Way up at the end he could
see light where the doorway was, and by this he knew that no one was in
the hall.

Little by little, his heart going pit-a-pat, Peter crept up until he
could peep outside. No one was to be seen. With his heart almost in his
mouth, Peter sprang out and started for the dear Old Briar-patch as fast
as his long legs could take him. And then he heard a sound that made him
stop suddenly and sit up.

"Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, hoi Hee, hee, hee!"

There, behind some bushes, Unc' Billy Possum, Bobby Coon, and Jimmy
Skunk were laughing fit to kill themselves.

Then Peter knew that they had played a joke on him, and he shook his
fist at them. But down in his heart he was glad, for he knew that he had
learned his lesson--that he had no business to try to do what Old Mother
Nature had never intended that he should do.

Of course these are not all of Peter Rabbit's adventures. Oh my, no! But
there are so many other little people who live on the Green Meadows
and in the Green Forest who have adventures, too, and get into funny
scrapes, that I am sure you will be willing to say good night to Peter
for a little while and hear about the things that have happened to some
of the others. And so, in the next book, I am going to tell you
about the worries and troubles and exciting escapes of one of Peter's
friends--Unc' Billy Possum.





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