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Title: Bumper the White Rabbit in the Woods
Author: Walsh, George Ethelbert
Language: English
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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.

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[Illustration: HE LEAPED INTO THE AIR IN ONE TREMENDOUS SPRING THAT
CARRIED HIM CLEAR ACROSS TO THE OTHER SIDE]


Twilight Animal Series

BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT IN THE WOODS

by

GEORGE ETHELBERT WALSH

Author of “Bumper the White Rabbit”, “Bumper the White Rabbit in the
Woods”, “Bumper the White Rabbit and His Foes”, “Bumper the White Rabbit
and His Friends”, “Bobby Gray Squirrel”, “Bobby Gray Squirrel’s
Adventures”, Etc.

Colored Illustrations by Edwin J. Prettie


[Illustration]



The John C. Winston Company
Chicago Philadelphia Toronto


------------------------------------------------------------------------

                         TWILIGHT ANIMAL SERIES
                           FOR BOYS AND GIRLS
                       FROM 4 TO 10 YEARS OF AGE


                                   By
                         GEORGE ETHELBERT WALSH

                             LIST OF TITLES
                1 BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT
                2 BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT IN THE WOODS
                3 BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT AND HIS FOES
                4 BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT AND HIS FRIENDS
                5 BOBBY GRAY SQUIRREL
                6 BOBBY GRAY SQUIRREL’S ADVENTURES
                7 BUSTER THE BIG BROWN BEAR
                8 BUSTER THE BIG BROWN BEAR’S ADVENTURES
                9 WHITE TAIL THE DEER
               10 WHITE TAIL THE DEER’S ADVENTURES
               11 WASHER, THE RACCOON
                     (Other titles in preparation)

                Issued in uniform style with this volume
                     PRICE 65 CENTS EACH, Postpaid

               EACH VOLUME CONTAINS COLORED ILLUSTRATIONS

------------------------------------------------------------------------


Copyright 1922 by
The John C. Winston Company

Copyright MCMXVII by George E. Walsh

------------------------------------------------------------------------



              INTRODUCTION TO THE TWILIGHT ANIMAL STORIES


                             BY THE AUTHOR

All little boys and girls who love animals should become acquainted with
Bumper the white rabbit, with Bobby Gray Squirrel, with Buster the bear,
and with White Tail the deer, for they are all a jolly lot, brave and
fearless in danger, and so lovable that you won’t lay down any one of
the books without saying wistfully, “I almost wish I had them really and
truly as friends and not just storybook acquaintances.” That, of course,
is a splendid wish; but none of us could afford to have a big menagerie
of wild animals, and that’s just what you would have to do if you went
outside of the books. Bumper had many friends, such as Mr. Blind Rabbit,
Fuzzy Wuzz and Goggle Eyes, his country cousins; and Bobby Gray Squirrel
had his near cousins, Stripe the chipmunk and Webb the flying squirrel;
while Buster and White Tail were favored with an endless number of
friends and relatives. If we turned them all loose from the books, and
put them in a ten-acre lot—but no, ten acres wouldn’t be big enough to
accommodate them, perhaps not a hundred acres.

So we will leave them just where they are—in the books—and read about
them, and let our imaginations take us to them where we can see them
playing, skipping, singing, and sometimes fighting, and if we read very
carefully, and _think_ as we go along, we may come to know them even
better than if we went out hunting for them.

Another thing we should remember. By leaving them in the books, hundreds
and thousands of other boys and girls can enjoy them, too, sharing with
us the pleasures of the imagination, which after all is one of the
greatest things in the world. In gathering them together in a real
menagerie, we would be selfish both to Bumper, Bobby, Buster, White Tail
and their friends as well as to thousands of other little readers who
could not share them with us. So these books of Twilight Animal Stories
are dedicated to all little boys and girls who love wild animals. All
others are forbidden to read them! They wouldn’t understand them if they
did.

So come out into the woods with me, and let us listen and watch, and I
promise you it will be worth while.



                                CONTENTS


           STORY                                         PAGE

              I. Bumper Hunts with the Pack                 9

             II. Bumper’s Ignorance Excites Suspicion      16

            III. Bumper Saves Fuzzy Wuzz from Snake        23

             IV. Spotted Tail Shows Enmity                 30

              V. A Test of Fleetness                       37

             VI. A Test of Courage                         44

            VII. A Test of Wits                            51

           VIII. Spotted Tail Stirs up Revolt              58

             IX. The Work of Shrike the Butcher Bird       65

              X. Rusty Warns Bumper                        72

             XI. The Rabbits Rise Against Bumper           78

            XII. Spotted Tail Receives his Punishment      85

           XIII. Bumper  Wins  Spotted Tail’s Friendship   92

            XIV. Spotted Tail Proves His Loyalty           99

             XV. Bumper Makes Fuzzy Wuzz Queen            106



                        Bumper the White Rabbit
                              In the Woods



                                STORY I
                      BUMPER HUNTS WITH THE PACK.


Bumper the White Rabbit, when he escaped from Edith, the red-headed girl
who owned the garden where he lived, found his way into the woods, and,
after many adventures with the Bats, the Crow, the Fox and Buster the
Bear, he was adopted by the wild rabbits as their leader and king. The
Old Blind Rabbit welcomed him, and told the story of how it was
prophesied that some day a pure white rabbit, with pink eyes, would come
to deliver them from their enemies, and teach them how to live in the
woods without fear of danger.

No one had been more surprised than Bumper at this sudden welcome. At
first he was for telling them he was no leader, and not fit to be their
king; but, as he was very lonely and without a home, the fear they might
drive him out of the burrow if he protested and explained he was just an
ordinary timid white rabbit that had strayed from the city decided him
to keep quiet and accept the situation.

Playing king was not an agreeable rôle for Bumper. In the first place,
he felt unequal to it; and, in the second, he felt a good deal like an
impostor. How Jimsy and Wheedles, his two brothers in the city, would
laugh at the idea! They didn’t think he possessed any kingly qualities.
They would even dispute his leadership in their own family.

But one thing gave Bumper considerable self-confidence. He was the only
white rabbit in the woods. None of the wild animals, except Buster the
Bear, who had spent a few years in a city Zoo, had ever seen a white
rabbit. They didn’t believe such a creature lived. And the pink eyes!
Why, they alone were enough to distinguish him from his country cousins,
and set him apart as one to be admired.

There was no question about the admiration all the rabbits felt for him.
Respect amounting almost to awe for his wonderful fur of white, and his
eyes of a delicate shade of pink, made them feel that he was a real king
of their tribe.

Bumper, after a while, grew accustomed to this admiration, and he began
to feel pardonable pride in his beautiful fur. Perhaps, after all, there
was something to the story the Old Blind Rabbit told. If looks made one
a king then certainly Bumper was entitled to the position. He recalled
the words of his mother, when she told him he was the handsomest of her
children, with the purest white fur and the pinkest of pink eyes. Was
that another indication that he was designed by nature to rule over his
wild people?

But on one point Bumper entertained no illusions. He was conscious of
his ignorance of the woods and the ways of the wild creatures. Why, he
hardly knew one from another! He had failed to recognize Mr. Crow on
their first meeting, and it is doubtful if he would have known Mr. Fox
immediately if Mr. Bull-Frog hadn’t pointed him out. Buster the Bear he
had recognized, for he had seen bears in the city Zoo, and the Bats and
Mr. Sewer Rat were old city friends of his.

But the woods were full of other strange animals. He heard Spotted Tail,
a big gray rabbit, and Fuzzy Wuzz, a demure little maiden of a rabbit
with soft brown eyes, refer repeatedly to Billy the Mink, Mr. Beaver,
Sleepy the Opossum, Browny the Muskrat, Washer the Raccoon and Curly the
Skunk. Now to Bumper all these names meant nothing, for he had never met
the owners of them.

Were they friends or enemies of the rabbits? If by chance he should meet
one what would he do? Run away as from a great danger, or greet him
pleasantly? Which were the dangerous animals, and which were the
harmless ones?

Unable to answer this question, and dreading lest he make a mistake that
might cause him embarrassment if he went out hunting with the pack, he
pleaded weariness from his travels, and remained in the burrow for three
whole days.

During this time he made it a point to ply the Old Blind Rabbit with
questions, storing up in his mind for future use any words of wisdom
that dropped from the shrunken lips of the former leader. His attention
flattered the Old Blind Rabbit, who told Bumper many tales and stories
of his people, and of the troubles they experienced in the woods.

“My gravest fear for my people is,” he said, “that they will never learn
to be fearless and self-possessed. A very little thing frightens them
and makes them panicky.”

Bumper stored this bit of information away in a corner of his mind. “I
must not get panicky even if the others do,” he said to himself.

“And another weakness of theirs is that they always do the same thing
over and over again,” continued the Old Blind Rabbit, “and our enemies
know it, and thereby trap them.”

“I must never do the same thing twice alike,” Bumper reflected. “That’s
dangerous in the woods.”

Many other bits of wisdom fell from the lips of the Old Blind Rabbit,
and Bumper remembered all of them.

Of course, he couldn’t stay in the burrow forever. Sooner or later he
had to hunt with the pack. They went out every day to get their food,
and to enjoy the sunshine. So on the fourth day of his coming, when
Spotted Tail asked him if he was going to accompany them, he said yes,
and prepared to lead the way.

And on that first day he applied some of the Old Blind Rabbit’s wisdom,
which greatly increased the respect of his cousins for him. They were
feeding on birch leaves and bark in a clearing a long, long distance
from the burrow when they were startled by the baying of hounds.

“The dogs and hunters are coming,” Spotted Tail exclaimed in fright.
“When they appear we must run to the left.”

“Why to the left?” asked Bumper curiously.

“Because rabbits always run that way, making a wide circle to throw the
hounds off their track.”

“But if you do that you’re sure to come back to the starting point,
aren’t you?” asked Bumper.

Spotted Tail didn’t know. He had never given it much thought; but now
that Bumper mentioned it he did recall many mishaps where rabbits
pursued by the dogs ran plump into the arms of hunters who seemed to be
waiting for them.

“It’s a simple trick,” added Bumper. “They send the dogs after you, and
then stand still until you make a wide circle and come back to the
starting point. Then they shoot you.”

“I don’t know,” replied Spotted Tail. “But we’ve always circled around
to the left.”

“Well,” said Bumper quickly, “we’re going to run straight ahead to-day,
and then when we have left the hounds behind we’ll go back to the burrow
in another way.”

“But all of our people have circled to the left—” began Spotted Tail.

“Come, follow me, straight ahead,” interrupted Bumper.

There was surprise and consternation at this order. Old habits were
strong, and Bumper was too new yet as a leader to impress all. Some
followed him, and others without really intending to do it began
circling around to the left.

Bumper and his followers reached home in safety. They easily shook off
the dogs, and returned to the burrow without sighting the hunters.

But not so with Spotted Tail and the few older ones who had followed
him. They had run plump into the hunters, and while no one was seriously
wounded by the shots fired at them several limped and showed blood on
their coats. The Old Blind Rabbit listened to the accounts of the chase,
and then said:

“What is the use of having a king and leader if you don’t obey his
orders and follow him? The next time, Spotted Tail, you will listen to
wisdom.”



                                STORY II
                 BUMPER’S IGNORANCE EXCITES SUSPICION.


Spotted Tail was not pleased by the rebuff the Old Blind Rabbit gave him
in the presence of the others. In particular he resented it because
Fuzzy Wuzz, who had followed Bumper’s lead, sided against him, and
seemed to think he was in the wrong.

Spotted Tail had aspired to leadership of the family after Old Blind
Rabbit’s death. In fact, he had been acting in that capacity for some
time before Bumper appeared, but always taking his orders from their old
blind leader. The sudden elevation of the white rabbit to the position
he coveted had not improved his temper.

There were several others who sympathized with Spotted Tail, and the
division in the sentiment of the burrow made Bumper feel uncomfortable.
He was no exception to the rule that “uneasy rests the head that wears a
crown”, although in his case it was a crown in name only, that he wore.

But his first triumph in leading the pack gave him new courage, and
perhaps a little bumptiousness. “All I’ve got to do,” he reflected, “is
to use my wits. That’s what saved me from Mr. Crow and Mr. Fox.”

So Bumper began to study the ways of his country people more carefully.
He made friends with Fuzzy Wuzz, and she taught him many things. For
one, that it was much easier to lead the young people into new ways than
the old ones.

But on the other hand Bumper found that the young rabbits were inclined
to be careless and reckless, which often got them in trouble. Indeed,
Fuzzy Wuzz herself was apt to make mistakes by doing things an older and
more experienced rabbit would not.

But it was Bumper who made the greatest mistake of all the young ones,
and through his ignorance nearly lost all the glory he had gained in
leading his followers away from the hunters. It happened on the third
trip from the burrow.

Goggle Eyes, a fat, lazy rabbit, who was forever stuffing himself, and
thinking of his stomach, reported a wonderful feeding ground in a
clearing where a woodsman had put up a cabin and planted fields of
turnips, cabbages, lettuce and other luscious vegetables.

“He’s away all day,” said Goggle Eyes, “and we don’t have to wait until
dark to raid his patch. I crossed it to-day, and ate some of the most
delicious turnips I ever tasted. I’ll lead you to it.”

This was good news to the rabbits, for it was a long time since any of
them had tasted turnips or cabbages. They don’t grow in the wild woods,
and even Bumper hadn’t had a smell of one since he left the red-headed
girl’s garden.

They were all eager to visit the field, and bright and early, under
Goggle Eyes’s leadership, they sallied forth. The way was through the
heart of the big woods, and then along a beautiful stream of water until
they came to the clearing.

The field of vegetables was some distance from the cabin, and after
Goggle Eyes announced that the coast was clear, they hopped through the
rail fence, and began greedily filling their little stomachs. What a
feast it was! Nothing had ever tasted better to Bumper and he munched
the succulent leaves of the cabbages and lettuce and the thick, fleshy
turnips until it seemed as if he couldn’t eat another mouthful.

Then out of sheer happiness he rolled around in the field. The younger
rabbits, taking this as a signal for play, began rolling and frolicking
around, too, chasing each other’s tails in and out among the vegetables.
Bumper forgot all the dignity of a king and played the hardest of any.

Goggle Eyes picked off a big cabbage leaf and tried to hide from the
others under it. Spotted Tail jerked up a small turnip by the roots, and
threw it over his head at him. Fuzzy Wuzz kicked up her hind legs and
sent a shower of dirt all over Goggle Eyes hiding under the leaf.

Not to be outdone by the others, Bumper looked around for something to
throw. Near him, hanging from a low branch of a bush, was a big gray
ball that wasn’t either a vegetable or a stone. He bumped against it
with his nose, and found it so light that he could lift it with his
front paws easily.

“Look out!” he shouted gleefully. “I’m going to throw this ball at you,
Goggle Eyes!”

All the players turned, and when they saw what it was they looked a
little horrified, and then taking Bumper’s threat as a joke they
laughed.

“I dare you to do it!” exclaimed Spotted Tail.

This dare was accepted at once.

“Stand back, all of you, then!” Bumper added. “I want to aim straight.
No,” he continued, changing his mind, “I won’t throw it at Goggle Eyes.
I’ll toss it up in the air, and

                  ‘What goes up must come down,
                  Either on heads or on the ground.’”

“You can’t do it, Bumper!” exclaimed one of the older rabbits.

“Can’t do it!” retorted Bumper, puffing up his cheeks at what he
considered a challenge to his strength. The ball was twice the size of
his head, and at a distance looked big and heavy. But Bumper had tested
its weight, and found it light and easy to handle. Here was a good
chance to make them think he was strong and muscular.

He laughed good-naturedly, and added: “I’ll show you if I can’t! I’ve
thrown bigger balls than this one.”

He turned to grab it in his two front paws, but Fuzzy Wuzz turned
suddenly pale, and cried:

“Oh, Bumper, don’t—please don’t!”

Proud of the attention he was attracting, and pleased at the thought
that Fuzzy Wuzz didn’t want to see him strain himself, he smiled, and
put all the strength he had in the pull that loosened the big ball from
the twig. After that it was easy to lift it in his two paws. It was
almost as light as a toy balloon.

All the rabbits set up an exclamation of surprise and horror. “Oh! Oh!
Run!” they shouted.

Of course, Bumper thought this was from fear that the ball might be
thrown at them, and he smiled. But when they all scampered away to a
great distance, and a queer humming sound came out of the ball he held
in his paws, he began to wonder if he had made a mistake through
ignorance.

It did not take him long to find out. The humming and buzzing inside the
ball increased, and then out of one end appeared Mr. Yellow Jacket and
his wife and all their children. The ball was a hornet’s nest, and the
irate family were pouring out of their home pell-mell.

Bumper felt a sharp sting on the end of his ear, a sting like the
pricking of a thousand needles, and another on the tip of his nose. With
that he gave a squeal of pain, and threw the ball far from him. The next
he scampered away after the others, pursued by a dozen angry Yellow
Jackets.

It was not until they were at a safe distance that they stopped. Then
Spotted Tail turned to Bumper, and said:

“What an idiot you were! Or didn’t you know it was Mr. Yellow Jacket’s
home?”

Bumper was on the point of confessing his ignorance when he thought of
the consequence. A king should know everything, and to admit he didn’t
know a hornet’s nest from a ball would be a terrible blow to his pride.
So he suppressed the groan that the pain on his ear and nose caused, and
said indignantly:

“Know it was Mr. Yellow Jacket’s home! Why, what an idea! But somebody
had to pull it down, or Fuzzy Wuzz and the children might get stung. It
was better that I should suffer than they, wasn’t it?”

Which speech they all applauded, and said that Bumper was as brave as he
was wise.



                               STORY III
                  BUMPER SAVES FUZZY WUZZ FROM SNAKE.


While accepting smilingly the plaudits of the others for what seemed to
be great bravery on his part in tearing down the hornet’s nest in the
vegetable patch, Bumper was greatly disturbed by his display of
ignorance. Had it dawned upon him that the big round ball was the home
of Mr. and Mrs. Yellow Jacket, he would have scampered away with the
rest.

It was a narrow escape from disgrace. Spotted Tail had been suspicious,
but Bumper’s ready wit in turning aside the awkward question had won him
further glory. But right down in his heart he wasn’t sure that Spotted
Tail had been convinced. He eyed Bumper curiously. Bumper was certain
that he was watching him with suspicious eyes.

“I must be more careful,” he reasoned. “Spotted Tail has no love for
me.”

But if Spotted Tail was disloyal, Fuzzy Wuzz was the soul of honor and
loyalty. She looked at Bumper through her meek, brown eyes in a way that
made him happy. Fuzzy Wuzz was a particularly handsome rabbit, and there
was royal blood in her veins. She could trace her ancestry way back to
the first leader of her race, the white rabbit who had predicted the
coming of Bumper. That was so many years ago that none but the Old Blind
Rabbit had any memory of it. But the blood of this royal leader still
showed itself in many of his descendants.

For instance, Fuzzy Wuzz had more white than brown or gray on her back
and head. Her breast was pure white, and most of her head, while there
were patches of it on her sides. But the mixture of blood had given her
some very dark coloring, which made her anything but a white rabbit.

Fuzzy Wuzz was bright and cheerful, always smiling or laughing, and her
wit sometimes equalled that of Bumper. It was not unnatural, therefore,
that Bumper should select her for special marks of friendship. A close
intimacy sprang up between them, and they often hopped off in the woods
together to feed by themselves.

Bumper found that Fuzzy Wuzz knew a lot more about wood lore than he,
and pursuing his plan to gain all the information he could from every
one he made good use of her friendship. Pretending to test her
knowledge, he would ask her all sorts of questions, which she answered
readily like a school boy being quizzed by his teacher.

“Why do you ask me such silly questions?” she asked one day. “You’d
think I didn’t know anything.”

“No, that isn’t it,” replied Bumper, assuming a friendly attitude. “I
don’t want you to get in trouble in the woods and when Old Blind Rabbit
trusts you with me I must be sure you know how to look after yourself if
I should leave you for an instant. What would you do, for instance, if
Mr. Fox should appear and chase you?”

“Why, I’d run if I could. Maybe I’d be so frightened I’d fall down in a
faint.”

“That’s what you shouldn’t do,” cautioned Bumper. “If you get panicky
you’d lose your head, and run right into his jaws.”

“What would you do if he chased you?” she asked.

“I’ll tell you what I did do when Mr. Fox nearly caught me,” he replied.
Then he related to her the story of how he had induced the fox to look
at the sun until he was temporarily blinded. Fuzzy Wuzz laughed at this
until the tears ran down her cheeks. Then she added:

“It was very bright of you. I’m sure I’d never think of such a trick.”

“I’m not so sure of that,” replied Bumper. “You’re bright enough, but if
you lost your wits you might forget what to do.”

It was shortly after this conversation that Fuzzy Wuzz got in trouble,
and Bumper came to her rescue and saved her by his wits. They had been
feeding on the luscious stalks of wild celery near the marsh when they
gradually got separated. Fuzzy Wuzz was nibbling away at the leaves all
unconscious of danger when she was startled by a loud hiss in front of
her.

She looked up in surprise, and saw facing her not a foot away a
tremendous blacksnake. He was the king blacksnake of the woods, with a
body almost as big around as her head, and a tail that stretched way off
in the distance. The rabbits called him Killer the Snake because he had
destroyed so many birds and young bunnies. He was so big and ferocious
that he could swallow a small rabbit whole.

When Fuzzy Wuzz saw Killer the Snake so close to her she became
paralyzed with fear. Instead of using her wits as Bumper had cautioned
when in danger she simply crouched down, and made a pitiful little noise
of terror. Killer, conscious of his magnetic power, swayed his head back
and forth, his small, beady eyes on her, and began approaching in slow,
rhythmic motions. Fuzzy Wuzz for the life of her couldn’t move, but she
kept up her pitiful little moaning.

It was this noise that attracted Bumper, and he called out: “What’s the
matter, Fuzzy Wuzz?”

There was no answer but the moaning continued. Bumper stopped chewing
the delicious leaf he had in his mouth, and hopped in her direction. His
coming must have disturbed Killer, for he shook his head angrily, and
half turned to face this unknown thing hopping through the bushes.

Bumper came upon Killer from behind. He had never seen a snake before,
but the long black body half coiled like a rope instantly told him that
it meant danger. A sight of Fuzzy Wuzz confirmed his suspicions.
Bumper’s first intention was to pounce upon the snake to save Fuzzy
Wuzz. Then he stopped to think. No, this would never do. Killer might
then turn and make short work of him.

Bumper kept at a respectable distance while he tried to work his wits,
although this was difficult with Fuzzy Wuzz’s pitiful moaning in his
ears. Then suddenly he saw his opportunity.

Some distance back from Killer was a big tree that had been snapped off
near the ground by a terrific wind. It was still held suspended in air
by a few branches and the bark that had not been broken by the storm.

Bumper turned and hopped toward this tree. Killer watched him
suspiciously, but as he remained at a safe distance he turned his head
slowly back to Fuzzy Wuzz. Bumper began gnawing at the bark which held
the tree suspended over the spot where Killer lay. He gnawed with his
sharp teeth until they began to bleed.

Fuzzy Wuzz, thinking that he had deserted her, moaned louder than ever,
and Killer, sure now that Bumper wasn’t going to attack him from the
rear, turned all his attention to his victim. It was a moment of
terrible suspense to Bumper. Would Killer reach Fuzzy Wuzz before he
could cut the bark so the tree would fall? How tough the bark seemed! He
gnawed and chewed with all his might, ripping big pieces off it. But
still the tree hung suspended in the air.

Then suddenly, after one desperate effort, Bumper was rewarded by seeing
the giant trunk drop down an inch then two inches, then—

There was a crash like a thunder-clap, and sticks and branches flew in
the air. Bumper jumped to one side as the big trunk fell to the ground,
catching Killer by the tail. The tree fell right across the lower part
of the snake’s body, and pinioned him there.

[Illustration: THE TREE FELL RIGHT ACROSS THE LOWER PART OF THE SNAKE’S
BODY]

“Now run, Fuzzy Wuzz!” shouted Bumper. “There’s no danger!”

Fuzzy Wuzz gave one quick glance at the squirming, twisting snake, and
then darted off toward home, with Bumper close behind her.



                                STORY IV
                       SPOTTED TAIL SHOWS ENMITY


You can imagine how grateful Fuzzy Wuzz was to Bumper for saving her
from Killer the Snake! Not only that, but she was mightily impressed by
his wisdom. Who but a king would have thought of gnawing off the butt of
the tree so it would fall on Killer!

She was so grateful that she told the story again and again to her
people, and they seemed as greatly impressed as Fuzzy Wuzz at Bumper’s
shrewdness. But Spotted Tail was not pleased. Perhaps he was still
suspicious, and thought it was more luck than knowledge that had saved
Bumper’s reputation. He still believed that Bumper had never seen a
hornet’s nest until that day he innocently mistook Mr. Yellow Jacket’s
home for a big, harmless ball.

This fact, coupled with several other little things that he had
observed, Bumper’s avoidance of certain plants, for instance, that he
seemed to think might be poisonous until the others ate them, convinced
him that Bumper was not fit to be the leader of his people.

“If Old Blind Rabbit could see with his eyes,” he reasoned, “he’d know,
too. But some day I’ll catch him, and show him up. He’s no king, for a
king should know everything.”

By letting such things dwell upon his mind, Spotted Tail worked himself
up into a pitch of excitement that was not pleasant. He fancied himself
wronged by Bumper. If the white rabbit hadn’t come into the woods,
Spotted Tail would have been chosen the natural leader.

Jealousy and spite are enough to sour any disposition, and Spotted Tail
was in a fair way of showing that he was not really fitted to be a
leader. A good leader never grows sullen and discontented because
somebody else happens to get more favors than he. Fuzzy Wuzz’s
attachment to Bumper further increased Spotted Tail’s displeasure. In
time he came almost to hating Bumper, and tried to think of ways and
means to disgrace him before the others.

Bumper was only partly conscious of this feeling toward him. He knew
that Spotted Tail was suspicious of his knowledge of wood lore, and he
was on his guard all the time to prevent any mistake that would give him
away. But he never dreamed that the big rabbit was beginning to dislike
him. He seldom hunted with him, and had few words with him, but there
had been no open enmity between them.

Then one day in the woods Bumper found himself unexpectedly separated
from the others, with only Spotted Tail in view. Fuzzy Wuzz and the rest
had crossed the brook on a natural rustic bridge of logs, and were
feeding on the opposite side when Bumper discovered them.

“Hello!” he exclaimed. “How’d they get across there? Surely, they didn’t
jump that distance.”

Spotted Tail, to whom this was addressed, replied:

“You should know by this time that a rabbit never jumps a stream that he
can get across any other way.”

Bumper nodded and smiled. “Still, I don’t see how else they got across.”

Spotted Tail said indifferently:

“Oh, I suppose they crossed on Mr. Beaver’s house.”

This remark caused Bumper to reflect. He had heard of Mr. Beaver, but he
wasn’t sure just what kind of an animal he was. And his house was more
of a mystery to him than anything else.

“On Mr. Beaver’s house?” he asked, before thinking. “Oh, you mean—”

He stopped in confusion, and Spotted Tail smiled gleefully.

“You mean what?” he asked, his eyes twinkling wickedly. “Don’t you know
what kind of a house Mr. Beaver builds?”

“Why, what a question?” laughed Bumper, trying to evade a direct answer.

“I think it’s a very natural question,” added Spotted Tail. “I don’t
believe you ever saw Mr. Beaver or his house.”

Bumper laughed heartily at this, but it was a laugh to conceal his
embarrassment and not an expression of his enjoyment.

“Ho! Ho! You can be very comical if you want to!” he said. “Now maybe
_you_ can describe what sort of a house Mr. Beaver builds. Let me see if
you can.”

But Spotted Tail felt he had Bumper in a corner, and he wasn’t to be
bluffed. “I could describe it,” he said, leering, “but I don’t have to.
If you have any eyes in your head you can see for yourself what it is
like.”

“How’s that?” asked Bumper, growing more uncomfortable.

“Just what I said,” was the quick rejoinder. “We’ve been standing near
it for some time, and you can see it with your own eyes—if you know
where to look for it.”

“Oh! Ho!” laughed Bumper, less joyously than before. “Mr. Beaver’s house
is in plain sight, is it? Well, then, neither one of us will have to
describe it.”

“No, but where is it?” pursued Spotted Tail relentlessly.

Now Bumper was in a terrible quandary. There was nothing in view that
looked like a house. So he cast a glance up at the trees, hoping to find
it among the branches, and then back through the thick, tangled bushes.
There was nothing in sight that suggested the home of any animal.

All the time his eyes were searching around for some evidence of Mr.
Beaver’s house, Spotted Tail was watching him with an exultant grin on
his face.

“Ah! I thought so,” he said finally, with a triumphant grin on his face.
“You don’t know what kind of a house Mr. Beaver builds. You don’t even
know where he builds it. You’ve been looking for it up among the trees,
and back in the woods. Ho! Ho! And you call yourself a leader—the king
of the rabbits! Why, you don’t know anything about the woods.”

Bumper felt he was cornered, and he was mighty glad the others were not
present to witness his discomfit.

“Now, if you’re king, show me where Mr. Beaver’s house is, and where he
builds it!” continued Spotted Tail. “If you can’t I’ll go back and tell
all the others you’re an ignorant impostor. You’re no king! You don’t
know anything about the woods or its people. A king indeed!”

There was such scorn and contempt in the voice that Bumper winced. He
realized for the first time that he had an enemy in Spotted Tail. There
was no other excuse for his words and actions.

“Spotted Tail,” Bumper began in an injured voice, “why do you dislike
me, and try to offend me?”

“Don’t give me any such talk,” rudely interrupted the other. “I see
through it all. You’re trying to avoid the question. Answer me! Where’s
Mr. Beaver’s house? If you don’t know, confess your ignorance.”

Bumper’s wits failed him for the first time. He saw no way out of the
corner. Spotted Tail had him, and the disgrace of confession was
horribly mortifying.

A sudden splash in the water attracted his attention. A big rat-like
animal was swimming toward the shore, with only his head and muzzle
above the surface. Bumper watched him in fascination. When he reached
the shore, he crawled upon it, and said quite angrily:

“I wish, Mr. Spotted Tail, your people would stop crawling across the
roof of my house. It annoys me very much. I was fast asleep when they
thumped over it.”

Spotted Tail was deeply upset by this interruption, and Bumper’s wits,
coming to his rescue, made him smile. Speaking at a venture, he
addressed the rat-like animal.

“I’ll ask them not to do it again, Mr. Beaver. Of course, it is very
annoying to be disturbed when asleep by people climbing over the roof of
your house.”

“Thank you!” replied Mr. Beaver, dipping into the water and swimming
back to his dam. Bumper pointed to the dam across the stream, and said
to Spotted Tail: “There’s Mr. Beaver’s house.”



                                STORY V
                          A TEST OF FLEETNESS


Confident that he had Bumper cornered, and that nothing but the timely
appearance of Mr. Beaver had saved him from disgraceful confession,
Spotted Tail returned to the burrow in an angry mood. He had not stopped
even to look when Bumper triumphantly pointed out the beaver dam. He had
hoped to be able to tell the others how Bumper was ignorant of such a
common thing as a beaver’s dam, and now he had nothing but an empty
triumph. Mr. Beaver had spoilt everything for him—that and Bumper’s
ready wit.

But he was all the more determined to show him up. He began to brag
about his knowledge of woodcraft, telling many stories of his shrewdness
and skill. Bumper remained quiet, and listened with the others.

Spotted Tail then switched to another subject. “But it takes more than
knowledge and skill to be a good leader,” he said. “One must be as swift
as the wind as well as wise as the owl.”

He stopped suddenly and turned to the white rabbit. “A king ought to be
the swiftest runner of his people, Bumper. Don’t you think so?”

“Yes, I suppose he should be, if—”

“Then are you the fleetest runner in the woods?” interrupted Spotted
Tail.

“Why, I’ve never tried it. I’m sure I don’t know,” Bumper stammered.

Spotted Tail, sure of his fleetness of foot, decided to challenge him to
a race. Nothing would humiliate Bumper more than to be defeated in a
speed trial.

“A king should not only be the swiftest and wisest of his people,” he
said slowly, “but there should be no doubt in his own mind of it.”

“A king doesn’t always tell what’s in his mind,” replied Bumper.

“No, but he should prove his skill and ability when challenged,” was the
quick retort.

“I didn’t know that I was challenged,” replied Bumper, in a weak voice.

Spotted Tail smiled wickedly. “But you are, Bumper. I, Spotted Tail, the
swiftest and strongest rabbit in the woods, and the wisest, challenge
you to run a race with me. Are you afraid?”

Spotted Tail’s friends immediately clapped their paws and nodded their
heads. Fuzzy Wuzz and the other followers of Bumper looked a little
worried, but their faith in their white leader came to their rescue.

“Yes, yes,” they said in a breath, “Bumper will race Spotted Tail, and
prove to him that he is no longer the swiftest and strongest rabbit of
the woods.”

“Of course! Of course!” echoed Spotted Tail’s friends. “There will be a
race—a fair race—and a long race. We will all turn out to see it.”

Bumper’s heart began to quake. Spotted Tail had long, powerful legs and
he could use them to good purpose. He was cut out for a fleet runner,
and Bumper had no illusions on that point. His life in the city had
never given him a chance to train for long running, and his muscles had
never been fully developed. He had his misgivings about his speed when
compared with that of this big, powerful wild cousin of his.

Yet, as he recalled the wild flight he had made when pursued by the bats
in the sewer, and of his subsequent race with Mr. Fox in the woods, a
smile crept into his face. He had certainly run fast on those two
occasions.

“Fear makes a rabbit run faster than anything else,” he remembered
hearing the Old Blind Rabbit remark one day.

“I wish then,” Bumper said to himself, “if I must race with Spotted Tail
I’d get a good fright. Maybe I would beat him then.”

There was no way out of the challenge. Spotted Tail had made it, and all
the others, including friends and foes, had taken it up. Bumper could
not withdraw without disgracing himself.

The test of speed was to be one of endurance as well as of fleetness of
foot. It was arranged to run a mile straight out to Mr. Beaver’s dam,
and back again. A committee of four were to wait for them at the dam to
see that each contestant rounded the point. This would prevent any trick
on the part of either one.

Bumper realized right away that it was speed and endurance that would
tell. Wit and wisdom would have nothing to do with the decision. Spotted
Tail really had the advantage, for he was more familiar with the trails
and by-paths so that he could seek out the best in going and coming.

Nevertheless, Bumper put up a brave front, and entered the race with the
determination to do his best. They started from the burrow on even
terms, and shot through the bushes at a tremendous speed. For a time
they kept abreast within sight of each other. Then they became
separated, for Spotted Tail veered off to the right to follow an easier
trail.

Bumper had great difficulty in getting to the beaver’s dam, for twice he
got lost in the bushes, and had hard work finding the trail again. He
lost so much by this that when he reached the dam, he was not surprised
to hear his friends shout:

“Hurry! Hurry, Bumper! Spotted Tail’s on his way back!”

The first half of the race was lost to him; but he could not refrain
from calling back to his friends: “The race is never decided until it’s
finished.”

Fuzzy Wuzz and the others clapped their hands at this confident remark.
Instead of losing faith in him they were more certain than ever that
Bumper would win.

Well, it didn’t look so to Bumper. He felt that he could never overtake
Spotted Tail and beat him to the finish. He might be a quarter of a mile
ahead of him, and running like the wind. The disheartening effect of
being beaten to the first stake told on his speed, and he ran only
half-heartedly.

Then suddenly out of the bushes on his right sprang something red and
flashing. Bumper caught sight of it, and his heart gave a great bound of
fear. It was Mr. Fox!

Bumper’s fright was so great that he sprang over a clump of bushes that
he never thought he could clear. Then, with his heart in his mouth, he
ran for dear life. The Old Blind Rabbit’s wise remark that “fear makes a
rabbit run faster than anything else” never occurred to him. He was too
frightened to think of anything. But, oh, how he ran! His feet barely
touched the ground. He seemed to be flying rather than running.
Never—not even when the Bats pursued him—had he run so fast.

And the fox kept close behind him, gaining a few steps now and then, but
losing whenever Bumper took one of his wild leaps. It was a terrible
race, in which death or life was the stake. If he weakened or faltered
an instant, those red, dripping jaws would have him.

When Bumper came within sight of the burrow near the big rock, he could
see the rabbits waiting for the end of the race. They were talking and
chatting among themselves. Spotted Tail was not in sight. Perhaps he had
already finished.

“Scatter! Scatter for your life!” called Bumper, as he took a wild leap
in the air.

“It’s Bumper!” some one cried. Then they caught sight of the red streak
in pursuit. “Mr. Fox is after him! Run for the burrow!”

They scampered for shelter just as Bumper cleared the starting line and
eluded the fox by a narrow margin. Once inside the burrow, he asked:
“Where’s Spotted Tail?”

“He hasn’t come yet. You won the race, Bumper!”

And later, when Spotted Tail appeared, he was in a crestfallen mood, for
when the race was apparently won by him he had been frightened off the
trail by the sudden appearance of Mr. Fox. Instead of running straight
ahead, he had dodged into the bushes to hide.

“When you’re racing,” remarked Bumper, “you don’t want to turn aside for
anything—not even to save your hide.”



                                STORY VI
                           A TEST OF COURAGE


Spotted Tail was so chagrined by losing the race that he immediately
began to scheme to humiliate Bumper in some other way. He was confident
that the race hadn’t gone to the swiftest and strongest, but he could
not convince the others of this. The story of how the tortoise beat the
hare in a race, because the latter had lain down to sleep on the way,
was an old joke among the rabbits, and Spotted Tail’s excuses only
aroused mirth and derision.

No, clearly, Spotted Tail could not redeem his lost glory by challenging
Bumper to another race. But there were other ways to discredit him in
the eyes of his people.

“Oh, Bumper, King of the rabbits!” he exclaimed one day in mock
courtesy. “The Lion is called the King of the beasts, and he won that
title by his bravery and courage. Do you think that should make one
king?”

“Courage is a quality that every king and leader should have,” replied
Bumper, cautiously.

“Greater than that of any of his subjects?”

Bumper hesitated, for he feared a trap; but when all the others looked
at him, waiting upon his words, he felt that he had to assent.

“Yes, I suppose he should be the bravest of his people.”

“Then,” smiled Spotted Tail, “you must be the bravest of all the rabbits
in the woods—braver than Old Blind Rabbit ever was, or any of the young
ones here.”

“I shouldn’t like to claim that,” faltered Bumper, modestly.

“Then you shouldn’t be king. Isn’t that the law of the woods?”

“A leader should be as brave as any of his people,” Bumper answered,
“not braver. Perhaps that would be impossible.”

“Well said,” muttered the Old Blind Rabbit. “There are many of my people
who are brave as any king, and more could not be asked of their leader.”

Spotted Tail licked his lips and smiled. “We should make a test,” he
added, “to see who are the brave ones among us. All who choose can enter
it. Has any one a test to suggest?”

There was absolute silence. Spotted Tail knew no one would think of a
suitable test on the spur of the moment. So he proposed one himself, one
that he had had in mind for some days.

“Suppose, then,” he added, still smiling, “we cross, one by one,
Swinging Bridge, and those who get over safely will be entitled to be
called brave.”

There was a gasp of surprise and consternation. Swinging Bridge was a
small tree that had fallen across Rocky Ford where the river cut deep
through a narrow gorge. The tree seemed almost suspended in mid-air by
the vines and bushes, and was very dangerous. Every wind swung it back
and forth like a hammock strung between two trees.

No rabbit had ever dared to cross it. It was supposed to be an
impossible feat. The tree was so small and slippery that it afforded
small chance for an animal without claws to walk across it. It hung
fifty feet from the river’s bed so that a fall from it meant almost sure
death.

It was foolhardy to try it. Bobby Gray Squirrel could run across it
easily, but that was because he had claws with which to cling to it.
Sleepy the Opossum and Washer the Raccoon could likewise walk across the
bridge without fear of falling. But for a rabbit, whose feet were not
made to climb, it was a dangerous undertaking.

“Oh, no, not that!” exclaimed Fuzzy Wuzz, shuddering.

“Why not?” asked Spotted Tail. “It will be a wonderful record for any
rabbit who can do it. What do you say, Bumper?”

“I’m willing if you are,” Bumper replied, feeling that he could not
withdraw from the challenge.

“Then we will draw lots to see who goes first,” promptly added Spotted
Tail, who had arranged the whole thing.

“That isn’t fair,” interrupted one of Bumper’s followers. “The
challenger should go first.”

“Since when was drawing lots unfair?” queried Spotted Tail. “I appeal to
your judgment, Old Blind Rabbit. Isn’t it fair?”

The old leader of the rabbits hesitated for a moment, but he had to
admit that this form of selection had been common with his people as
long as he could recollect.

So when he decided in favor of Spotted Tail, the work of choosing their
order of going across the bridge began. There were ten who stepped
forward to accept the challenge. The Old Blind Rabbit held the sticks as
each one stepped up to choose. Bumper got the short one, either through
chance or through some trick Spotted Tail had arranged. No one could say
which it was, but a murmur of dissent went up at once.

“It wasn’t a fair drawing!” they cried. “Try it over again. Spotted Tail
played a trick on Bumper.”

“No,” interrupted Bumper, “we’ll not draw lots again. I’ll cross
Swinging Bridge first.”

This decision was accepted with applause, and the rabbits trooped
through the woods to Swinging Bridge. Bumper’s first sight of it made
him shiver. It was worse than he had imagined. The chasm was at least
thirty feet across, and the butt end of the tree was not more than eight
inches in diameter, while the smaller end seemed to dwindle away into a
mere whip. In fact, the tree could never have remained in its position
if it hadn’t been for the vines suspending it.

“I’ll begin on this end,” Bumper said, choosing the butt end of the
tree. His quick eye had seen the only possible chance for crossing. Half
way across, where the tree grew smaller rapidly, there was a crotch
which offered a firm footing. Bumper decided to walk out to this, and
then reach the other side in one tremendous hop. That would be crossing
the bridge, for nothing in the terms had been said about the manner of
going.

While the others held their breath, and Fuzzy Wuzz shook and trembled
with fear, Bumper hopped on the tree, and began making his way slowly
along. He dared not look below where the river rolled and tossed over
the rocks. He kept his eyes on the crotch ahead.

He reached this without accident. Then paused. The rest of the way was
too perilous for any rabbit to proceed. Spotted Tail smiled to himself.
He knew that it would be the last of the white rabbit if he attempted
it.

Bumper crouched low, fastened his hind feet firmly in the crotch, and
then, to the surprise of all, leaped into the air in one tremendous
spring that carried him clear across to the other side. His heart was
beating at a lively rate, but when he realized that he had performed the
difficult feat a little glow of triumph spread over his face.

“Wonderful! Good for Bumper!” were the cries from the other side that
reached his ears.

“Now Spotted Tail, it’s your turn!” some one said.

But Spotted Tail was white and trembling. He had never expected to be
called upon to attempt it. With the death of Bumper in the river below,
they would call the test off. It would be suicidal for another to try
it. But now all was changed. Bumper was safe on the other side, and they
were calling on him to cross. He crouched in abject fear, and seemed
ready to ask for mercy when Bumper spoke.

“No,” he said, “it isn’t safe. It’s a foolhardy thing to do. I forbid
any one else trying it. You understand, Spotted Tail, I forbid it!”

Spotted Tail raised his head hopefully, and a cunning, cringing
expression came into his eyes.

“The king must be obeyed,” he said.

Then boastfully, walking away: “But I could have crossed without jumping
half the way. That was not included in the terms of the test.”



                               STORY VII
                            THE TEST OF WITS


Of course, Spotted Tail was glad that he had been relieved of making the
terrible test of courage in crossing Swinging Bridge, but, at the same
time, he was chagrined that Bumper had come out of the contest with
greater honors than ever. It seemed as if in some way the white rabbit
managed to make good by successfully crawling out of every corner in
which Spotted Tail put him.

“It’s just luck—blind luck,” growled Spotted Tail to himself. And so it
seemed to him, for he was unwilling to face the truth, and accept it. It
is always easier to blame luck for our failures, and Spotted Rabbit was
like a good many boys and girls in this respect.

Instead of feeling any gratitude to Bumper for saving him the
humiliation of his life by forbidding any rabbit to undertake the
crossing, Spotted Tail allowed his rancor to increase day by day until
he was in a fine frame of mind. He wanted more than ever to “get even”
with Bumper, as he expressed it.

Then one day when the opportunity seemed to come to him, he was prepared
to take advantage of it. It was to be a test of wits, this time. Without
his knowing it, this was the one ground on which Bumper was eager to be
challenged. It is to be feared that Bumper had an inordinate conceit
about his ability to get out of difficult places by using his wits.

So when Spotted Tail started in the usual way to work up to a challenge,
Bumper readily encouraged him. “A good king is always a wise king, isn’t
he, Bumper?” he asked.

“He couldn’t be a good king if he wasn’t wise,” was the smiling retort.

“Just so. I agree with you. But what is wisdom? Can you describe it?”

“Can you describe the sunlight, Spotted Tail? You see it every day, and
you know it when you see it. But can you describe it?”

“I can describe it by saying that it is just the opposite of darkness,”
Spotted Tail replied, a little at a loss for a good answer to this
unexpected question.

“Then I can describe wisdom in the same way. It’s the opposite of
ignorance.”

Spotted Tail frowned when the others laughed and clapped their paws at
this retort.

“But what I meant,” continued the discomfitted rabbit, recovering his
composure, “is the application of wisdom. How do we know a thing is wise
until we’ve tried it?”

“How do we know a thing is hot or cold until we’ve burnt or frozen our
paw? By experience, Spotted Tail, we know that it isn’t necessary to run
into a fire and scorch ourselves every time we see one to find out
whether it is hot.”

“Exactly, Bumper, but some things we don’t know by experience. Suppose
you had never been in the water and didn’t know how to swim, but you’d
seen other animals swim. Now, if you fell in the water, what would you
do? Would the knowledge that you’d seen others swim save you?”

“Perhaps,” replied Bumper, hesitatingly. Then, smiling, he added: “But
the first thing I’d do would be to look around for a raft. That would be
safer than trying to learn to swim. Don’t you think that would be the
wise thing to do?”

“Yes, if there was a raft handy. But suppose there was none in sight.
What would you do then?”

Bumper stretched himself, and answered lazily: “I can’t say, Spotted
Tail, until I was put to the test. But I think I’d use my wits or try
to.”

They had been sunning themselves on a board some hunter had stretched
across a bend in the river. Spotted Tail had lured Bumper to the far end
of the board for his wicked purpose. The middle of the board rested on a
stone, and sometimes the young rabbits used it as a see-saw. By running
out to the ends two rabbits could make it jump up and down so that it
splashed in the water and made a great commotion.

Spotted Tail was sitting next to Bumper on the far end which stretched
over very deep water. He turned now to him, and asked:

“Can you swim, Bumper? Were you ever in the water over your head?”

“No,” Bumper answered truthfully, “but some day I must learn. I think
I’ll begin to take lessons.”

“Well, to-day is as good as any day to begin,” replied Spotted Tail.

Before Bumper realized what he meant by this remark, he leaped high in
the air, and landed on the other end of the spring-board with a thud.
The result was that Bumper was shot straight up into the air nearly two
feet right over the deepest part of the river. He turned a complete
somersault in the air, and made a frantic struggle to reach the end of
the board as he came down. But he missed it by a foot, and fell plump in
the river.

He went down, down, down out of sight. It seemed an age before he came
up again, wet, bedraggled and puffing. The fright caused by his sudden
ducking threatened to make him panicky, and his first thought was to
squeal for help and splash around like a child in a bathtub.

But Spotted Tail’s words aroused him. “Now, Bumper,” he called, “you’ve
got a chance to use your wits. Let me see what you can do to get
ashore.”

It was a cruel, cold-blooded thing to do, and the other rabbits who had
seen the whole thing from the shore came scurrying to the rescue,
shouting: “Shame! Shame on you, Spotted Tail!”

But, of course, this didn’t help Bumper any. The water was very deep
where he had fallen in, and there wasn’t the sign of anything that could
be used as a raft. Could he swim? Not much! By frantic efforts he could
keep his head above water. Nearly every wild animal can do this even
when a tiny baby. But that wouldn’t get him to the shore until he was
exhausted.

But just when he was beginning to feel that he would drown his hind feet
touched something. It was a big rock in the middle of the stream which
could not be seen from the spring-board or the shore. Bumper found that
by standing on his two hind feet on the rock, he could just keep his
head and neck above the surface. This gave him sudden courage, and a
thought. He stood stock still on the rock, and turned to the one who had
thrown him in.

“It is much more dignified for a king to float upright, Spotted Tail,”
he said, “than to swim. Can you stand in the water like this?”

Spotted Tail and the others were amazed by the sight of Bumper standing
perfectly still in the deep water, with his head and neck just above the
surface.

“Come now, Spotted Tail, you have challenged me to everything you could
think of,” continued Bumper. “Now it is your turn to accept my
challenge. Either show me that you can stand in the deep water, or
desist from further attempts to humiliate me. You must do one or the
other, or I shall hold your challenges in contempt hereafter.”

Of course, Spotted Tail knew he could never perform this miracle, and he
was at a loss to understand how Bumper could do it. “Then,” continued
Bumper when he showed no intention of coming in, “you are disgraced
before all of your people.”

All the while Bumper had been watching for a way to get ashore. He had
been feeling with his hind legs for other rocks in the deep river. To
his joy he found one, and quickly stepped to it. There was a series of
stepping-stones, which hunters used to cross the river when it was
shallow. They were hidden from view now by the flood. Bumper made his
way cautiously from one to the other until he reached shallow water, and
then he hopped gracefully ashore, much to Spotted Tail’s chagrin.



                               STORY VIII
                      SPOTTED TAIL STIRS UP REVOLT


Spotted Tail was in disgrace. Not only had he wickedly thrown Bumper
into the deep water in full view of all the others, but he had refused
to accept the first challenge made to him. He knew that he could never
live down both. One was enough to bring him into contempt, but the two
together practically robbed him of all further influence among his
people.

But instead of accepting his disgrace in a contrite spirit, he became
moody and sullen. When the others, including Fuzzy Wuzz, avoided him,
and passed him in silence, he gnashed his teeth in a fine rage.

Then he very naturally laid all the blame to Bumper, excusing himself
from any guilt. This did not improve his manners any, and finally,
satisfied that he could get no sympathy in his home burrow, he decided
to seek revenge outside.

He would spread the tale among all his people in the woods that the
white rabbit was a fraud, and that it was his intention to make them all
submit to his rule. This would naturally cause general anger, and
perhaps stir up a revolt. The coming of Bumper in the woods had not
reached far. Rumors spread slowly unless taken up by the birds, and
Bumper had made no attempt to interest them in his cause. He was too
busy learning the ways of the woods and the duties of a king and leader.

Spotted Tail decided to get ahead of him and spread the news first,
distorting it to suit his purpose. He appealed to Rusty the Blackbird
first. “Rusty, you’ve always been a friend of mine,” he said, meeting
him one day. “Now, will you do me a great favor?”

“Tell me what it is first, Spotted Tail,” was the reply.

“It is this, Rusty. Bumper the White Rabbit has come into the woods from
somewhere, and proclaimed himself king of all the rabbits. He is a cruel
king, and intends to wage warfare upon all the burrows that do not
submit to his rule. I want you to spread the news all over the woods,
and warn all leaders of burrows to rise in revolt.”

Rusty looked at the speaker, and flirted his wings. “No, no, Spotted
Tail,” he replied. “I’m no carrier of evil messages. Besides, I’ve met
Bumper the White Rabbit, and I liked him. He didn’t seem to me cruel or
a bad sort of fellow.”

Spotted Tail appealed next to Mr. Woodpecker, who listened to his story
in silence, and then tapped the trunk of a tree with his long, hard
bill. “No, no, no!” he said, keeping time with his taps. “I don’t
believe your story, Spotted Tail. Bumper’s not that kind. Good-bye.”

Spotted Tail looked disappointed. He was very sore and grouchy. It
seemed as if the birds as well as the rabbits were all against him. Why
did they all like Bumper the White Rabbit so much?

He met Towhee the Chewink next, and approached her with a smile and
friendly greeting, but when he had stated his grievance, and made his
request, modest little Towhee laughed in his face.

“I’ve got better business than spreading such news,” she replied.
“You’ll have to find another messenger.”

In turn Spotted Tail approached Piney the Purple Finch, Mrs. Phœbe Bird
and Mr. Crested Flycatcher, and received from each one the same reply.
None of them would undertake the work of stirring up a revolt against
Bumper.

[Illustration: IT WAS SHRIKE, THE BUTCHER BIRD, WHOSE VERY NAME MADE HIM
DREADED AND HATED]

He was in despair, and was bemoaning his luck when suddenly a voice
startled him. “What’s the matter, Spotted Tail? You look black enough to
obscure the sun.”

It was Shrike the Butcher Bird, whose very name made him dreaded and
hated. Shrike had the unpleasant habit of catching insects, lizards,
frogs, and sometimes small birds, and sticking them on thorns until he
or his mate was ready to eat them. This disgusting and cruel habit made
him an outcast among the birds, and very few would have anything to do
with him. Naturally, it soured his disposition, and made him irritable
and unfriendly.

Spotted Tail looked up and a gleam of hope entered his eyes. Why not ask
the Shrike to spread the message that would stir up trouble? By so doing
he would accomplish two things. He would get even with the birds who had
refused to listen to his plea, and accomplish the downfall of Bumper.

“I have enough trouble to make me look blue,” Spotted Tail replied.
“Even the brightness of the sun doesn’t make me feel happy.”

“It must be trouble indeed, then,” laughed the Shrike, “for it’s a
beautiful day, and everybody else feels happy. What is it?”

“Alack! And alas!” sighed the rabbit. “I’m afraid you won’t sympathize
with me any more than Mr. Woodpecker or Rusty the Blackbird or any of
the others. I have told my tale to them, and they only laught at me.”

A wicked gleam flashed from the eyes of Shrike the Butcher Bird. “Rusty
and Mr. Woodpecker are self-conceited birds, and what they think don’t
amount to much. Little I’d care what they said or did.”

“But they won’t carry my message,” added Spotted Tail. “And if no one
will do it how can I save the rabbits of the woods from the terrible
thing that is coming to them?”

“What is this terrible thing?” queried the Shrike, growing interested.

“It’s about Bumper the White Rabbit,” continued the dejected rabbit,
sighing heavily. “He has come into the woods to rule over all my people,
and he is a cruel, selfish king. He intends to make all of us his
slaves. He won’t listen to reason, but says he’s appointed to rule, and
any one who disputes his right he will drive from the woods.”

The Shrike smiled. “Why don’t you drive him from the woods?” he asked.
“I never knew you to be afraid of anything. I’d quickly put an end to
his rule.”

“Quite right, Mr. Shrike. I would do it if it was only Bumper I had to
fight. But he has come into our burrow, and by tricks and strange ways
won over Old Blind Rabbit, Fuzzy Wuzz, Goggle Eyes, and all the others.
They’re going to help him to rule in the woods.”

“Ah! Hum!” mused the Shrike. “So that’s the trouble! You’re the only
good rabbit in the burrow?”

“Oh, no, I didn’t mean that,” protested Spotted Tail. “I’m no better
than the others, but he couldn’t deceive me. I saw through his tricks,
and because I opposed him I’m in disfavor.”

“And what is this message you want me to carry to the rest of the
rabbits in the woods?”

“I wish to put them on their guard so Bumper cannot deceive them. If
they would rise in their might they could overwhelm him even if all my
family backed him up. If a revolt isn’t begun right away, he will win
them by degrees, and then it will be too late.”

“And Rusty and Mr. Woodpecker refused to carry the message?” queried the
Shrike.

“Yes,” sighed Spotted Tail. “I don’t believe they like me. I’ve never
been very friendly with the birds.”

Shrike the Butcher Bird hesitated for a moment to impale a worm on a
thorn for future use, and then said:

“All right, Spotted Tail. I’ll carry the message to every rabbit burrow
in the woods.”

“Oh, Shrike, you’re so kind!” exclaimed Spotted Tail; but the bird
interrupted him with a harsh laugh.

“It isn’t because I like you, Spotted Tail,” he said, “that I’m doing
this, but just to spite the other birds. I’ll punish them for scorning
and disliking me. That’s why I do it. Good-bye! I’ll begin spreading the
news right away.”



                                STORY IX
                  THE WORK OF SHRIKE THE BUTCHER BIRD


Shrike the Butcher Bird was as good as his word. He was a vindictive
bird, and it actually gave him pleasure in spreading Spotted Tail’s
message because all the other birds had refused. First he went to White
Tail at the far end of the woods, for he knew that White Tail was a big
rabbit who, at one time, had had trouble with the Old Blind Rabbit.

“Oh, White Tail,” called the Shrike, “here is news for you! Bumper the
White Rabbit has been proclaimed king of the woods by Old Blind Rabbit,
and he intends to make all of you his slaves.”

White Tail reared himself on his hind legs, and clicked his teeth. “If
you’d come with good news, Shrike, I wouldn’t have believed you; but as
the carrier of bad news I think there must be something in it. Who sent
you?”

“Spotted Tail.”

“Ah! Spotted Tail! I never did like him, but I never knew him to spread
false news. If Bumper comes to interfere with my family, he will—Well,”
leering, “I will tell him what I think of him. Good-day, Shrike, and
much obliged for your trouble.”

Next, Shrike the Butcher Bird interviewed Brindley the Lame, so named
because of a limp he had from infancy. Brindley was a good-natured
rabbit, and ruled over his burrow with kindness, and was loved wherever
he went.

“Ah, Brindley!” cried Shrike, when he met him in front of his burrow
sunning himself. “You look well to-day, and as fat as butter. Too bad to
spoil your rest with bad news.”

“Bad news never spoil my rest,” was the grinning reply. “I always sleep
over it, and then when I wake up I find it isn’t so bad as it seemed.”

“Well, you’ll think differently when I tell you this. All the rabbits in
the woods are rising in revolt against Bumper the White Rabbit that has
come here to rule over them as king.”

“Indeed! Who are all the rabbits you speak of?”

“Spotted Tail, White Tail, and many others.”

“Ah! Um!” sighed Brindley. “Then Bumper’d better look out. I wouldn’t
want to be wearing his crown.”

“But aren’t you going to join the revolt?” asked the Shrike. “Or are you
so good-natured you’d submit to any tyrant who came along?”

“I’m never so good-natured as when I’m thinking seriously, Shrike,” was
the retort. “Now, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll sleep over it, and
then I won’t do anything hasty.”

There was Crooked Ears, a big rabbit who ruled over a family of twenty
in a burrow buried deep under the cliff; Pink Nose, whose family was
noted for the remarkably pinkish tinge that decorated the tips of their
noses; and Rolly Polly, who was so round and fat that he could roll down
a hill faster than he could run. They lived in different parts of the
woods, and it took all the morning for the Shrike to find them and
spread the news.

They accepted the tale with different degrees of surprise and distrust.
Rolly Polly was too fat and pleasant to let it worry him much, and Pink
Nose was more interested in what Bumper looked like than his mission in
the woods. When the Shrike explained that he was a pure white rabbit,
with pink eyes, Pink Nose eagerly asked:

“What’s the color of his nose?”

Knowing his fondness for pink-nosed rabbits, and fearing that he might
claim kinship with Bumper if he said he had a pink nose, Shrike
purposely stretched the truth.

“It is all white, the same as his fur—everything white except his pink
eyes.”

Pink Nose looked disappointed. “I wish he had a pink nose,” he said
sadly. “Then I’d know he was related to me.”

“Pink! Oh! Ho!” laughed the Shrike. “He hates pink-nosed rabbits.”

“Who told you that?” snapped Pink Nose.

“Spotted Tail!” he lied without blinking.

Pink Nose’s eyes turned a dark green, and the Shrike flew away, knowing
that he had planted the seeds of discord in the mind of a perfectly
good-natured rabbit.

Crooked Ears was a big surly rabbit, whose disposition had been spoilt
when very young by an accident which had twisted his ears so they looked
more like pretzels than anything else. The Shrike was quick to detect
Crooked Ears’ weak point. He was forever trying to hide his crooked
ears, and he lay stretched out in the sun with his paws drawn up over
them as if ashamed to have any one see them.

The Shrike told him the news, but Crooked Ears said peevishly: “Oh, go
away! Don’t disturb me now. I’m very sleepy.”

The Shrike whistled and fluttered his tail feathers in disdain. “All
right, Crooked Ears,” he added. “I thought you’d like to know of the
revolt, and of Bumper’s threat.”

“What was his threat?” asked Crooked Ears, sleepily.

“That he’d bite and twist the ears of every rabbit that opposed him
until they all looked like yours.”

“He said that!” growled Crooked Ears, rising. “He made fun of my ears!”

“Made fun of them! Oh! Ho! What a joke! Listen, Crooked Ears, and I’ll
tell you what he said about them.”

Crooked Ears seemed to be all ears now, for his anger was aroused. “He
said,” continued the Shrike, “that all rabbits with crooked ears should
be run from the woods. They were not fit to live with rabbits that had
good, straight ears. Does that interest you?”

“I don’t believe you!” snapped Crooked Ears, but the Shrike only laughed
shrilly, and flew away to find another burrow. He knew that he had
angered Crooked Ears and poisoned his mind against Bumper.

All the day he flew from burrow to burrow, spreading the evil news,
until by night every rabbit in the woods knew of Bumper’s coming, and
believed that he was going to declare himself king and make every one of
his people a slave. There was a pow-wow that night in every burrow, and
the talk of what to do ran high. Some were angry and indignant; others
more amused than angry, and a few so belligerent that they wanted to set
out on the war path at once.

When the Shrike returned to Spotted Tail, he gleefully told all that he
had done, and seemed greatly amused by the latter’s joy. Spotted Tail
thanked him over and over again until the Shrike’s amusement was
uncontrollable. He laughed and whistled as if it were a very great joke.
Then, cocking his head sideways, he added:

“You needn’t thank me, Spotted Tail, for I didn’t do it to please you.
It was just to spite the other birds.”

“Just the same you have done me a great favor, and I’m grateful for it,”
was the answer.

“Favor! Favor, you call it! Ha! Ha! Ha! Wait and see, Spotted Tail. My
mission isn’t done yet.”

“You haven’t told all the rabbits?”

“Yes, and now I’m going to tell all the animals—Buster the Bear, Mr.
Fox, Billy the Mink, Washer the Raccoon, and all the others. There’ll be
a right merry time when they see you fighting among yourselves. I think
Mr. Fox and Buster may take a hand in it. What a chance they’ll have for
a good meal!”

And still laughing shrilly, he flew away, leaving Spotted Tail in a very
unpleasant frame of mind. Suppose the other animals should take
advantage of the revolt to pounce upon the rabbits. How much innocent
blood would be spilled because of his trickery!



                                STORY X
                           RUSTY WARNS BUMPER


Of course, Bumper knew nothing about the revolt that Spotted Tail had
stirred up in the woods against him. After all, he felt a little
sympathy for Spotted Tail when all the others began to ignore him and
give him the cold shoulder. But really there was nothing he could do,
for Spotted Tail had brought the trouble all on himself because of his
envy and spite.

“Being a king isn’t all lettuce and carrots,” sighed Bumper. “I’m not
sure but I’d rather be just Fuzzy Wuzz, who smiles and laughs all day,
or even Goggle Eyes, who eats altogether too much for himself, but seems
to enjoy it.”

“Then there’s so much a king has to know,” he added a moment later. “I’m
learning all the time new things, but what I don’t know yet frightens
me. I wish sometimes I could take a vacation, and just go off and forget
everything. I wonder why kings don’t have vacations.”

Such a thing as a vacation for a king was unheard of, although all of
the rest could take any day they chose. Bumper couldn’t even steal out
of the burrow alone for a little run without somebody going with him.
The king had to be watched and accompanied all the time.

Now Old Blind Rabbit, in proclaiming Bumper the White Rabbit king, had
thought first of only his own family, for he had no control over the
other burrows; but he was so well known for his wisdom and age that the
leaders of other burrows would listen to his words. He had wanted to
keep Bumper’s coming a secret until he was sure that he had made no
mistake in choosing him.

But now he thought was a good time to take him around to his
friends—Brindley the Lame, Pink Nose, Rolly Polly and Crooked Ears. He
wanted them to meet Bumper and judge for themselves. As leaders of their
families, they knew the prophecy of the coming of a white rabbit, who
some day would rule over all their people and redeem them from their
weak ways.

“Bumper, my days are numbered, but yours are as many as the trees in the
woods,” he said to the White Rabbit. “Before I go I want to see you
accepted as king by Pink Nose, Rolly Polly, Crooked Ears, Brindley the
Lame and White Tail. Then I can die in peace.”

Bumper nodded his head, and asked who all these important people were.

“They are leaders of big families here in the woods, and very
influential. If they accept you all the other rabbits will follow.”

“And if they don’t?”

“Then I fear there will be trouble. You cannot rule over a divided
people and make them happy.”

This bit of wisdom could not be disputed, and Bumper added sadly:
“Neither can the ruler be happy.”

“Well said, Bumper. But the time has come now when we must call on them.
I shall take you in person, and explain to White Tail and the others the
meaning of our call.”

This idea rather frightened Bumper. To meet so many important leaders,
and carry himself as a king should, made him feel like quitting. Just
for an instant he thought of the red-headed girl and her wonderful
garden, and wished he was back with her. How delightful it would be to
do nothing all day long but eat and receive her petting! He even thought
he might be happier with the old woman back in the city.

But only for an instant did his thoughts thus play truant. He was a king
now, with duties to perform, and he wasn’t going to prove unequal to
them. Bumper had very fine qualities, which, after all, fitted him for a
ruler more than his pink eyes and white fur. Goodness and wisdom were
better than fine clothes.

Bumper had been learning rapidly the ways of his people in the woods,
and he was quite familiar with many things that had before startled him.
He had learned to know the difference between the good and bad plants,
so there was no longer any danger of his poisoning himself. He had met
Washer the Raccoon, and had made the acquaintance of Sleepy the Opossum.
He was on good speaking terms with Mr. Beaver, and Billy the Mink had
put himself out to compare his fur with his own beautiful coat.

He knew every trail in the woods, and could scent Mr. Fox from afar. He
had even learned to swim, which he considered necessary for his health.
The birds were his friends, and he had learned much from them.
Frequently they brought him news which guided him in his work.

A few days after the Old Blind Rabbit had announced his intention of
introducing Bumper to White Tail and the others, Rusty the Black Bird
appeared near the burrow, and perched himself on the top of the rock
until the white rabbit appeared.

“Hello, Bumper!” he called.

“Good-morning, Rusty!” replied Bumper. “It’s a long time since I’ve seen
you.”

“If you’d arrange to see me oftener,” was the retort, “you wouldn’t get
in so much trouble.”

“Thank you, Rusty, but I didn’t know I was in trouble.”

“Huh!” whistled Rusty. “Some people don’t know when they are in
trouble.”

“Then it shouldn’t bother them,” laughed Bumper. “If you don’t know you
have any trouble, why worry?”

“That may be good enough for a king, but it would never do for common
people. We must be hunting for trouble all the time to avoid it.”

“If you hunt for it you’ll generally find it. No, I don’t believe in
looking for what you don’t want.”

Rusty was a little provoked at what he took as a personal rebuke, and
was half inclined to fly away; but Bumper’s smile changed his mind.

“Just to show you that trouble comes whether you hunt for it or not, I’m
going to tell you something,” he added. “You’re going to be in a peck of
trouble soon, Bumper.”

“That’s much better than being in a bushel, isn’t it?” he laughed.

“Oh, stop your joking, and be serious. This is a serious matter for
you.”

“All right, I’m listening.”

“Well, then, Spotted Tail has been spreading false rumors about you. He
asked me to carry the message, but I refused, and he asked Mr.
Woodpecker and Towhee the Chewink. They told me so. But they wouldn’t
listen to him.”

“I’m very grateful for that, and you can tell Towhee and Mr. Woodpecker
so. But if nobody carried the news how did it get abroad?”

“Mr. Shrike the Butcher Bird carried it just because we wouldn’t. And
after telling all the rabbits he told the news to Mr. Fox and Buster the
Bear.”

“What is the news he told?” asked Bumper, gravely.

In a few words Rusty told him, and when he was through Bumper was graver
than before. It pained him to think that Spotted Tail would betray him,
and it made him sad to believe that his words could stir up discord
among the rabbits.

“Thank you, Rusty,” he said in conclusion. “I’m glad to know it.
Forewarned is forearmed.”

“Oh! Ho!” laughed Rusty. “Now you begin to change your mind about
trouble. But you don’t have to hunt for it. It’s coming soon. It’s here
now!”



                                STORY XI
                    THE RABBITS RISE AGAINST BUMPER


Forewarned by Rusty, Bumper was partly prepared for the trouble that was
brewing, but not so Old Blind Rabbit. Bumper had intended to tell him
the truth, but he didn’t want to raise unnecessary alarm. Perhaps, after
all, Rusty had exaggerated the danger, and nothing would come of Spotted
Tail’s work.

So one morning he was greatly disturbed when there was a noise outside
the burrow made by the pattering of many little feet. It was Goggle Eyes
who brought the information in to Old Blind Rabbit.

“There is something in the wind, Old Blind Rabbit!” he exclaimed in
excitement. “All the rabbits of the woods have come to visit us. There’s
White Tail, with his huge family; Pink Nose and all his big sons;
Crooked Ears, looking surly and angry; Brindley the Lame, Rolly Polly,
and—oh!—many, many more!”

Old Blind Rabbit did not get excited. It was the way with him. Instead
of always looking for trouble, he expected the best of everything.

“Perhaps it means,” he replied, after a moment’s thought, “that they
have heard of Bumper’s coming, and they have come to meet him. I shall
go out and see them. They’re all welcome.”

“They don’t look very friendly,” stammered Goggle Eyes. “They look and
act positively rude. I don’t believe their coming is for any good.”

“Tut! Tut! You’re always looking for the worst, Goggle Eyes. Now I’ll go
out and greet my brother leaders. Lend me a paw, Goggle Eyes.”

“No,” interrupted Bumper, who had heard the conversation. “You must let
me go out first. I’ll speak to them, and if there’s trouble—”

“Spoken like a king, Bumper,” interrupted Old Blind Rabbit, “but I
should meet White Tail and his friends first. They know me.”

“Listen!” added Bumper. “I have not told you before because I didn’t
believe anything would come of it. But there may be trouble outside.”

“What trouble, Bumper? You mustn’t follow the ways of Goggle Eyes, and
look for evil in everything.”

Bumper knew that he ought to tell, and straightway, without hesitation,
he related all that Rusty had told him. Old Blind Rabbit listened in
silence, but not without surprise and trembling.

“Where is Spotted Tail?” he asked in a voice of thunder when Bumper had
finished.

Spotted Tail was nowhere around. Nobody knew where he was.

“He has betrayed us!” added Old Blind Rabbit, solemnly. “He has spread
false news to our friends, and used Shrike the Butcher Bird as his
messenger. Alack! And alas! that I should live to see this day!”

For a moment Old Blind Rabbit dropped back on his haunches and looked
very sad and depressed. His age told on him, and his breath came slow
and hard. Finally arousing himself, he continued:

“If Spotted Tail has stirred up a revolt, the truth must be told. I will
see the leaders. They will listen to me.”

“No, let me go!” interrupted Bumper again. “If there’s any danger on my
account, I must face it, and not you, Old Blind Rabbit.”

“They will not harm me, but in their passion they might do something to
you, Bumper. It is the part of wisdom that I should see them first.
Isn’t it so?”

All the others agreed to this, and much against his will Bumper stayed
in the burrow, while Old Blind Rabbit was led outside by Goggle Eyes.

And what a sight it was outside the burrow! All the wild rabbits of the
woods were assembled there. White Tail, Pink Nose, Crooked Ears,
Brindley the Lame, Rolly Polly and a lot of other leaders were there
with all their followers. The woods around the rock were literally alive
with rabbits.

They were packed ten deep around the big rock, and scattered in groups
all through the surrounding bushes. And on every face there was an
angry, defiant look, and in every eye sullen discontent. Old Blind
Rabbit could not see all these sights, but he sensed them before any one
spoke. Then a babel of sounds greeted his ears. They were so many, and
so confusing, that nobody could understand anybody else.

Finally Old Blind Rabbit reared himself on his haunches, and raised a
paw for silence. “Listen,” he called. “There’s no sense in jabbering
like silly babies. What is the trouble? Don’t all speak at once, but—”

“Where’s Bumper the White Rabbit!” they shouted back in unison.

Once more the senseless chatter made the air ring until Brindley the
Lame took a tree stump and signalled for silence. “This isn’t a tea
party,” he said, smiling, “and we shouldn’t waste time talking like a
lot of magpies. Let some of the leaders speak for all.”

There was instant silence, and hundreds of heads were nodded. Brindley
then continued:

“As for my part, I’m not sure but we’re all here on a fool’s errand. I
never knew the Shrike to carry news that did any one good. However,
we’re here, and a big crowd we are. We’ve brought all of our families
with us, big and little, and I’m glad to see them—Mrs. White Tail with
her children, and Mrs. Pink Nose—”

Brindley’s jollying pleased the younger rabbits, and they began to laugh
and applaud; but not so the leaders. Crooked Ears rose up, and
interrupted.

“Come to the point, Brindley! We’re here to drive Bumper the White
Rabbit from the woods. That’s the long and short of it. Am I not right?”

A terrifying shout greeted these words, and for a moment it seemed as if
bedlam had broken loose. Even Old Blind Rabbit was frightened, and he
trembled so that Goggle Eyes was afraid he would fall down.

“What has Bumper done that you should want to drive him from the woods?”
was all that Old Blind Rabbit could say.

“It’s not what he’s done,” roared White Tail, leaping to the top of a
fallen tree. “It’s what he’s going to do. He’ll not be king of the
woods!”

“NO! No!” shouted a hundred voices. “We’ll not be his slaves! We’ll not
follow him!”

“Listen, friends!” Old Blind Rabbit called back. “You have been
deceived. Spotted Tail has spread false rumors. He knew they were false,
and he couldn’t get Rusty or Mr. Woodpecker or Towhee or any of the
birds, who were his friends, to carry the message to you. Then when they
all failed him he appealed to Shrike the Butcher Bird.”

He paused, and looked with his sightless eyes over the big assemble.
Then, raising his voice, he continued: “Since when have you come to
believe what Shrike tells! When has he ever spread anything but lies in
the woods? He has no friends among the birds—”

Suddenly there was a commotion on the outskirts of the crowd. Shrike
flew in their midst and whistled sharply. Then out of the bushes crashed
Buster the Bear, followed by Mr. Fox. Screams and shouts went up from
all sides as every rabbit scurried for cover. They ran pell-mell hither
and thither, with Mr. Fox and Buster after them, laughing in their glee
at the fright they had caused.

It was a miracle that some were not killed, for it hardly seemed there
were enough hiding-places in the woods to conceal them. Old Blind Rabbit
stumbled back in his burrow, and invited as many to follow him as the
place would hold.

[Illustration: MR. FOX AND BUSTER THE BEAR WERE MORE INTERESTED IN
FRIGHTENING THEM THAN IN KILLING]



                               STORY XII
                  SPOTTED TAIL RECEIVES HIS PUNISHMENT


Yes, it was certainly a miracle that there wasn’t a great slaughter of
rabbits in the woods when Buster and Mr. Fox broke up the huge assemble!
To this day they marvel at it. The only explanation the leaders could
give was that Mr. Fox and Buster the Bear were more interested in
frightening them than in killing. So they bowled over as many as they
could, and didn’t stop to bite any of them.

What a crowded house Old Blind Rabbit had, though! Every rabbit who
could squeeze through the doorway had followed him in the burrow. It was
the most mixed audience ever gathered in one burrow.

There were followers of Pink Nose huddling alongside of Rolly Polly’s
family, and Brindley the Lame was crowded next to White Tail. They were
packed in so tight that it was difficult for any one to move.

Bumper was crowded way in back alongside Fuzzy Wuzz. Not understanding
the great noise, Bumper had at first stood by the entrance to fight back
any intruders that followed Old Blind Rabbit. He thought they were
crowding in the burrow to get him.

But Goggle Eyes and Fuzzy Wuzz understood his mistake, and they took him
by the paws and forced him to the back part of the burrow. “It’s Mr. Fox
and Buster the Bear!” cried Fuzzy Wuzz in his ears.

Bumper understood immediately, and his wrath turned to kindness. He
helped to make room for all the strangers that came pell-mell in the
burrow. The excitement didn’t quiet down at once. Shivering with terror
at their narrow escape, every one squealed, and tried to talk at once.

There was danger of the little ones being trampled upon and hurt until
the leaders began to get their senses back. “Stop crowding!” shouted
White Tail. “We’re safe in here! Now every one keep quiet while we
think.”

It was so quiet that one could almost hear their thoughts, but they were
so confused that it wouldn’t have done much good. No one could have made
head or tail out of them. It was Old Blind Rabbit who first got over his
scare, and came to his senses.

“How many are here?” he asked, turning to the others for an answer to
his question.

“So many we can’t count them,” replied Goggle Eyes. “My, I was never in
such a crowd before in all my life!”

“Is White Tail here?” continued Old Blind Rabbit.

“Yes, I squeezed in at the last minute, and lost a handful of fur in
doing it.”

“And Pink Nose?”

“Here!” came the answer from a corner.

“And Brindley the Lame?” continued Old Blind Rabbit, as if calling the
roll of all his friends.

“Here!”

“Rolly Polly?”

“Here!”

“Crooked Ears?”

“Here!”

Old Blind Rabbit stopped for a moment.

“Now, as there is no danger of further interruption by Mr. Fox or
Buster,” he added finally, “we might proceed with our business. We were
talking about Shrike the Butcher Bird when we were interrupted. I asked
you then when had Shrike carried other than lies and evil news.”

“Never!” shouted some one, and others started up with various cries. “He
deceived us! He summoned Mr. Fox and Buster the Bear to kill us! I shall
never believe him again!”

A faint smile spread over Old Blind Rabbit’s face.

“Then, if that’s true,” he continued, “how can you believe the rumors he
spread in the woods about Bumper the White Rabbit? Were they not lies
too?”

This question caused a sudden sensation. No one had quite thought of
this. If Shrike had betrayed them to Mr. Fox and Buster, why could it
not be true that the whole story was part of a trick made up by him?

“But Spotted Tail sent the news by him,” said White Tail suddenly.

“Shrike said so, but did you see Spotted Tail himself?” asked Old Blind
Rabbit.

“Why, no, I didn’t see him,” replied White Tail.

“Nor I! Nor I!” spoke up Pink Nose, Rolly Polly, and all the others in
turn.

“Then,” resumed Old Blind Rabbit, “how do we know that the whole story
wasn’t invented by Shrike to stir up trouble?”

“That’s so,” laughed Brindley. “I never thought of that. But where’s
Spotted Tail? Let him speak for himself.”

This was just the thing that Spotted Tail, crouching and trembling in a
corner, dreaded the most. He was so shaken and horrified by the result
of his treachery that he had to be pushed forward when they called him.

“Tell us the truth, Spotted Tail,” said Old Blind Rabbit severely.
“You’re on trial now.”

There is some good even in the worst of us, and although Spotted Tail
had done many wicked things, he still possessed a sense of honor. He
could have lied out of it, and declared his innocence, for no one had
direct evidence that he had started the wicked stories, except the
birds. Yes, he could easily have cleared his skirts by declaring that
Shrike had made up the whole story, and that he knew nothing of it.

But he was frightened and repentant. He was no longer defiant. He looked
so humiliated that some of the gentler rabbits pitied him.

“I’ll tell the truth,” he stammered finally. “I did start the story, and
ask Shrike to spread it. I was jealous of Bumper, and wanted to have him
driven from the woods. I am sorry now, but that won’t help what’s
happened.”

“No,” replied Old Blind Rabbit severely, “after the milk is spilt it
does no good to cry over it. You betrayed your own people, and nearly
caused the death of many of them. Now what punishment do you think you
deserve?”

Spotted Tail hung his head in fear and humiliation.

“There is only one punishment to suit the case,” Old Blind Rabbit said
after a pause, “and that is to be banished from the woods. Never again
can you speak to any of your people, nor shall they speak to you. Go,
Spotted Tail, go, and never return! Is that not a just punishment?”

“Yes! Yes!” cried many, and the leaders of the burrows shook their heads
in assent.

But before he could retire from the burrow in shame and disgrace, Bumper
hopped from his corner, and faced the assembly.

“One minute, Old Blind Rabbit,” he said. “Let me speak a word for
Spotted Tail. His sinning was against me most, and I should be heard. He
is repentant now, and we should give him another chance. I ask you to
take back that sentence.”

Old Blind Rabbit looked hard and severe, as he shook his head. “Sentence
has been passed,” he said sternly, “and justice demands that Spotted
Tail be banished from the woods.”

“But justice tempered with mercy is what I’m asking for,” replied
Bumper.

Again Old Blind Rabbit shook his head, and White Tail, Crooked Ears and
the others agreed with him.

“Then,” resumed Bumper sadly, “I shall go with him. If you banish
Spotted Tail from the woods you banish me too.”

The consternation that followed this remark was so great you could have
heard a pin drop. Every one was looking at the white rabbit, and, as if
fascinated by his pink eyes and white fur, they remained mute and awed.
Finally Old Blind Rabbit, seeing his opportunity, said: “What the king
says must be obeyed!”

“Yes, what the king says must be obeyed!” cried many as if they were
hypnotized, and even White Tail and the other leaders offered no
opposition.

“Long live Bumper the White Rabbit as our king!” quavered Old Blind
Rabbit, his voice cracking.

And every one took up the cry. “Long live Bumper the White Rabbit as our
king!”



                               STORY XIII
                 BUMPER WINS SPOTTED TAIL’S FRIENDSHIP


So Bumper became king of all the rabbits in the woods, and all his
people vowed they would stand loyally by him, and the big leaders—White
Tail, Pink Nose, Crooked Ears, Brindley the Lame and Rolly
Polly—promised to obey him, and teach their children and their
children’s children to love and follow him.

“A king who is merciful to those who hurt him is a good and wise king,”
said White Tail, as he came forward to pay homage.

“Wisdom is greater than courage,” said Brindley, “but greater than
either is mercy.”

“I believed pink noses were the signs of royalty in rabbits,” remarked
Pink Nose, when his turn came next, “but pink eyes are more to be
desired, and I shall teach my children the truth of this.”

“Surely,” said Rolly Polly, his eyes twinkling, “this is a great day for
the rabbits of the North Woods, and anything I can say will never be
remembered. But I hope my next dinner will disagree with me if I ever
speak an ill word of our king.”

Brindley was smiling and chuckling too, when he walked up. The sudden
happy turn of affairs was much to his liking. “O Bumper, our white
king!” he exclaimed. “The winter’s snow is not whiter than your coat,
and your soul is whiter than either. May neither ever fade or grow
tarnished in the use.”

Crooked Ears, who had come to the assembly with a grouch, which he
intended to vent upon Bumper, stood hesitating a moment before he bowed
and took the king’s paw. Then he looked up and smiled. “Ears, O Bumper,
are given to hear, and whether they are crooked or straight they should
gather in the truth and not the lies. Mine have heard the truth to-day,
and may they grow more crooked if they ever listen to the untruth
again.”

Now, when the leaders had finished swearing their allegiance to Bumper,
the others crowded forward, and for half an hour poor Bumper had a hard
time of it. They wanted to shake his paw and feel of his soft fur, and
gaze into his pink eyes, until it seemed as if their curiosity would
never be satisfied. And Bumper was in more danger of being spoilt by
flattery than ever before in his life! From a secret corner Fuzzy Wuzz
watched him through her mild brown eyes, and at times she frowned. If
her eyes could have spoken they would have said something like this:
“Can he stand all that flattery and admiration? I’m afraid for him.”

But Bumper did stand it, for when the visitors began to leave, one by
one, and the burrow became emptied once more, he drew a heavy sigh of
relief. He turned to Fuzzy Wuzz, who was still watching him, and said:

“It’s been an exciting day, Fuzzy Wuzz, hasn’t it? And I for one am glad
it’s over, but gladder because all’s ended well. There’ll be no more
trouble in the woods among our own people.”

Not a word about the remarkable tribute to his looks and wisdom, or
anything about the high position they had placed him in. He was still
plain Bumper when with his own family.

“O Bumper,” exclaimed Fuzzy Wuzz, “I was so afraid—afraid—”

“Afraid! Afraid of what, Fuzzy Wuzz?” he asked in surprise when she
stopped.

Instead of answering directly, she laughed, and said:

“Oh, nothing! I meant I’m so happy!”

“Then I am too. Whatever makes you happy I like.”

But while he smiled into her meek brown eyes, he happened to catch a
glimpse of Spotted Tail crouching in a corner, looking so miserable and
forlorn that his heart smote him.

He left Fuzzy Wuzz, and hopped directly over to him. “Spotted Tail,” he
said, “will you be my friend?”

A look of surprise and wonder came into the sad eyes of the other, and
for a moment he could not understand just what Bumper was asking.

“I don’t understand,” he stammered in confusion. “Oh, you mean will I
promise never to betray you again? Yes, yes, I promise that,
Bumper—promise never to speak ill of you again.”

“I didn’t mean that,” replied Bumper. “I asked if you would be my
friend. You know what friendship means?—trust, faith, loyalty, and all
that?”

“Yes, I trust you,” stammered Spotted Tail. “How could it be otherwise
after what you’ve done for me? And faith, yes, I have faith in you. I
believe you’re a just and upright leader. As for loyalty, Bumper, you
can ask for my life, and I’ll give it to you.”

Bumper smiled happily at these declarations of friendship, but still
Spotted Tail hadn’t quite understood his meaning. How to make him
believe that he forgave everything, and wanted to be his friend,
troubled him.

“Come with me, Spotted Tail,” he said finally, extending a paw. “I want
every one to see that we have forgiven and forgotten, and that we’re
friends now.”

Then, to Spotted Tail’s surprise, Bumper led him up to Fuzzy Wuzz, and
said: “Spotted Tail and I have made up all of our differences, and are
going to be fast friends hereafter. Congratulate both of us, Fuzzy
Wuzz.”

Fuzzy Wuzz was as wise and quick as she was good. She understood
immediately, and, extending a paw, grasped one of Spotted Tail’s. “Let
the past be as if it never were, Spotted Tail,” she said sweetly.
“Bumper’s friends are my friends, and that makes us friends, doesn’t
it?”

Spotted Tail nodded in embarrassment. He was so stupefied with surprise
that he hardly knew what to say. Then to Goggle Eyes and the others,
Bumper took him in turn, and gave them to understand that anything they
said against Spotted Tail they would be saying against him.

The Old Blind Rabbit was the last one they came to. Bumper repeated his
words, but remained a little uncertain just how the stern old leader
would accept the change. Old Blind Rabbit had a stern sense of justice,
and this sudden forgiveness of Spotted Tail might not suit him. But
finally a kindly smile spread over his face, and he laid a paw on the
breast of each.

“I have lived to see justice interpreted, O Bumper,” he said. “There
will be joy in all the North Woods now that we have a king who is as
merciful as he is wise and just. May Spotted Tail learn wisdom from you.
The past is forgotten. We live now only for the future.”

And when they had retired to a corner from the rest, Spotted Tail found
his voice. It was low and husky.

“O Bumper, you have heaped coals of fire on my head!” he exclaimed. “You
have made me ashamed of myself. I wronged you because I was envious and
jealous of your power. I told Shrike to spread the news that you were a
king come to make all the rabbits in the North Woods your slaves. Now
they’re all your friends. But you have one slave. I, Bumper, am your
slave. Ask anything of me, and I will do it.”

“Then I ask one thing, Spotted Tail,” was the reply, “and you’ve
promised to grant it.”

“Yes, I have promised, not knowing what it is.”

“It is very simple, Spotted Tail. Never let me hear you call yourself my
slave again. Instead, speak of me as your friend, and if you wish to
gain my favors call yourself my friend. Is that too much to promise?”

“It’s not enough, O Bumper. But as you say. I’m your friend—now and
forevermore. You believe me?”

“Yes, I know you speak the truth.”



                               STORY XIV
                    SPOTTED TAIL PROVES HIS LOYALTY


Old Blind Rabbit was so pleased with the result of the revolt, and
especially with Bumper’s forgiveness of Spotted Tail, that he
immediately proclaimed a great feast to celebrate it. All the younger
rabbits were sent forth in the woods to gather food for the banquet, and
they came back laden with the most delicious roots and succulent leaves
until their mouths watered. The burrow was piled high with them, as if
it was being stocked against a ten-day siege by Mr. Fox and Buster the
Bear.

“Now we will eat and be merry,” Old Blind Rabbit said when they were all
gathered around the festive board. “May no more trouble come to my
family or to any of the other rabbits of the woods!”

Bumper was called upon to make a speech, which he did, and Spotted Tail
led the others in clapping his paws at the conclusion. While the
excitement was running high, Old Blind Rabbit whispered in Bumper’s ear:

“When you make a friend of your enemy, you have made a friend indeed.
Watch Spotted Tail’s enthusiasm.”

Bumper had already been watching him, and a little glow of pleasure was
in his heart. Even greater than being made king, he thought, was the
winning of Spotted Tail’s loyalty.

“All’s well that ends well,” he murmured.

Of course, Rusty the Blackbird might have doubted the genuineness of
Spotted Tail’s friendship, and so would have Shrike the Butcher Bird,
but that was because they didn’t understand the nature and habits of the
rabbits as Bumper and Old Blind Rabbit did. They knew that Spotted Tail
had changed, and all the envy and hatred had left his heart.

As if to prove this, something happened in the woods a few days later,
which dispelled any doubts that either may have had. Bumper and Spotted
Tail had gone off together in the thickest part of the woods when they
came to an old gravel pit.

This was a deep hole in the ground which had nearly been covered up with
thick weeds and briers. Bumper and Spotted Tail had been hopping along
without thought of danger. Around and over the gravel pit a thick clump
of bushes was growing.

“I think I can take that clump with a big hop,” Bumper remarked,
preparing for a spring.

Spotted Tail glanced up to follow, and then shouted in alarm: “Don’t do
it, Bumper! The gravel pit!”

Spotted Tail had recognized the danger if Bumper should fall short of
his jump, but his warning was too late. Bumper had sprung into the air,
and, just as Spotted Tail had feared, the tops of the bushes interfered
with his leap. Instead of clearing the place, Bumper fell plump through
the mass of weeds into the deep pit.

Down, down he went, scratching his face and body as he fell. Instead of
landing on all four feet as he expected to do, he dropped heavily on one
foot and wrenched his leg.

Spotted Tail heard his groans with alarm. What had happened to Bumper?
He called aloud, and received only groans in reply.

Now perhaps it would have been wiser for Spotted Tail to have run back
to the burrow, and summon help; but he was so worried over the result of
the accident that only one thing occurred to him. He deliberately leaped
into the gravel pit after Bumper. This required a good deal of courage,
for he knew the danger. He recalled stories of how more than one rabbit
in the past had been caught in this natural trap and held there for days
and weeks until nearly famished.

When he landed by the side of Bumper at the bottom of the pit, he found
the king huddled up in a heap, groaning with pain.

“What is it, Bumper?” he asked anxiously.

“I’ve broken my leg or sprained it,” was the reply. “And it pains so
that even a king cannot help moaning.”

“Let me see it,” replied Spotted Tail.

For a long time Spotted Tail rubbed it, and tried to ease the pain.
After a while it grew better, but it was still too lame for Bumper to
stand much weight on it.

“How am I ever going to get out of this hole?” he asked, looking up. “I
can’t jump out of it with this sprained leg.”

“No,” replied Spotted Tail. “No rabbit has ever yet been able to hop out
of the gravel pit. I’m afraid we’re trapped here until the others find
us.”

“Is it so bad as that?”

“Yes, and worse.”

Then Spotted Tail told him the stories of the gravel pit, and of the
many times young rabbits had been caught there.

“It should have been filled in, then, before this,” said Bumper. “When I
get home I’ll give orders to have it filled up.”

“That would be a good idea. But the important question now is, How are
you going to get out?”

“How are you going to get out?” asked Bumper, smiling.

“That doesn’t matter so much if I can get you out.”

“You couldn’t jump to the top?”

“No, no rabbit could—not even you, Bumper.”

“And if we stay here we’ll starve?”

“Unless Mr. Fox happens to discover us, and eats us up. He’s big enough
to scramble down here and out again.”

“It’s a pretty serious position we’re in, then,” mused Bumper.

“I have it!” Spotted Tail exclaimed suddenly. “See that bush fallen in
the hole. The wind must have blown it in here. Now, I’ll climb on it,
and then you climb on my back. I think by standing on my shoulders then
you’ll be able to reach the top and scramble out.”

“But you? How’ll you get out?”

“Oh, I’ll manage it some way.”

This seemed like good advice, and Spotted Tail made his way cautiously
to the highest part of the bush. Then Bumper followed him. Then he
climbed up on Spotted Tail’s back, and stood on his shoulders.

“Now get ready when I raise myself up on my hind legs!” cautioned
Spotted Tail. “You must jump and scramble up before the bush gives way.”

It was quite an acrobatic feat, but they balanced themselves skilfully
until both stood upright on their haunches. “I can’t reach it!”
exclaimed Bumper. “It’s a foot above my head!”

“Jump, then!” exclaimed Spotted Tail. “The bush is sagging down! Quick,
Bumper, jump!”

And Bumper jumped, and scrambled up out of the pit. It was hard work
with his sprained leg, but he reached the top. But Spotted Tail had
fallen back to the bottom, and the bush after him. There was no way he
could get out.

“I’ll run back to the burrow and get help!” Bumper said finally. “We’ll
get you out somehow.”

But the only way they could get Spotted Tail out was to fill in the sand
pit. Bumper hit on this idea after they had tried every other method. By
filling it in Spotted Tail could gradually crawl up higher and higher
until he hopped out.

And Bumper’s method of filling it in was very simple. All the rabbits
turned their faces away from the sand pit and began digging hard with
their hind legs, throwing the dirt and gravel in the pit until it was
nearly on a level with the ground. So the dangerous sand pit was no
longer a trap for the rabbits.



                                STORY XV
                     BUMPER MAKES FUZZY WUZZ QUEEN


A king can’t really be happy without a queen. There was never a king yet
that didn’t have one, or, if he lived alone and refused to take a queen,
he was faithless to his people. If you want to find a grouchy king, look
through history for one that never had a queen to advise and soothe him.

Bumper wasn’t thinking so much of doing a great honor to Fuzzy Wuzz in
asking her to be his queen as he was of making himself happy. Fuzzy Wuzz
had become very dear to him. She seemed to understand him, and they were
both happy when they were together.

So one day, when he asked her to be his queen, and help him to preside
over his people, she modestly consented. She thought as much of Bumper
as he did of her. They made an ideal couple. But a king can’t marry
without the consent of his people, and Bumper took up the question with
Old Blind Rabbit first. He was very modest and uncertain about it, and
you can imagine his nervousness.

“A king can marry, Old Blind Rabbit, and bring a queen home with him to
reign by his side, can’t he?” he began.

Old Blind Rabbit showed a little surprise at this question, and after a
while answered: “A queen, O Bumper, is generally selected by the people.
She must be one that they all like.”

“Isn’t the king consulted?” asked Bumper.

“Not always. Of course, sometimes he is, but his choice must be the same
as that of his people.”

“It seems to me, then,” remarked Bumper, “that a king must have a hard
time selecting a queen.”

“He has, O Bumper, and that is one reason why a king isn’t always happy.
He must think of his people first, and of his own happiness second.”

Bumper bowed meekly, and thought once more that being a king was not as
agreeable as he had always thought.

“And if his queen is not the one the people choose,” he added, “what
becomes of her and the king?”

“They’re often dethroned, O Bumper, driven away into exile!” There was a
threat in the Old Blind Rabbit’s voice as he said this. His blind,
sightless eyes seemed to go through Bumper and read his thoughts.

“You wish to select a queen?” continued Blind Rabbit.

Bumper said yes, and blushed the color of his eyes.

Old Blind Rabbit looked distressed. “You should not have thought of
that,” he said severely, “without first consulting your people. I have
already selected a queen for you!”

Bumper’s heart dropped. This blunt announcement took away all his
happiness. Then a slow sense of anger and rebellion came into his mind.
He wasn’t going to submit to any such dictation.

“And I have selected one for myself!” he replied, stubbornly.

“Then you must give her up, O Bumper! The queen the people select must
be the one to reign with you.”

Bumper’s stubborn nature immediately came to the surface. Rather than
give up Fuzzy Wuzz and take a queen that Old Blind Rabbit had chosen for
him, he would abdicate his throne, and leave the woods. He said as much
to Old Blind Rabbit, who was greatly distressed.

“Think well of your words, O Bumper!” he said. “If you disobey the rules
of your people, they will banish you, and drive you into exile. A king
cannot be above his people.”

“I told you that I would banish myself rather than submit to this,” was
the stubborn reply. “I shall choose my own queen or have none. I must
live with her, and not you.”

This outburst of defiance became a king, and in a good cause it would
have received Old Blind Rabbit’s approval; but just now it ran against
his wishes, and he saw nothing but rebellion in it. It was little short
of treason.

“Even if you banish yourself,” Blind Rabbit added angrily, “it does not
follow you will take your queen away with you. She would not follow you
into the woods. She might consent to be your queen here, but not your
wife in exile.”

“Leave that to me,” replied Bumper, confidently. “I know she will follow
me wherever I go.” Then, smiling at a new thought, he added: “I can take
her back to the garden where the red-headed girl lives. She would
welcome us.”

“We may prevent that, O Bumper! We may decide to hold you prisoner. No,
no, we can’t permit such treason. It’s against the laws of the woods.”

Now the argument was waxing strong, and both were getting very angry.
Perhaps they would have parted as enemies if at that very moment Fuzzy
Wuzz hadn’t entered the burrow. Old Blind Rabbit turned to her, and took
one of her paws in his.

“Here is the queen the people have selected for you, O Bumper,” he said.
“And no other will we have.”

For a moment Bumper stared at the couple in surprise. It seemed for a
moment as if Old Blind Rabbit was playing a joke on him. Then it dawned
suddenly upon his mind that they had each chosen the same one to be
queen. He began to laugh so loudly and excitedly that Old Blind Rabbit
felt mortified. Was Bumper making fun of Fuzzy Wuzz?

“This is very unbecoming to you, O Bumper,” he began, and then Bumper
interrupted him.

“No, no, Blind Rabbit!” he protested. “It isn’t that. Don’t you see I’m
laughing because I’m so happy? We have both been very foolish. We got in
hot words for nothing. Now forgive me, and all will be well.”

“I don’t understand,” murmured Old Blind Rabbit.

“I don’t blame you,” interrupted Bumper. “But if you had eyes, and could
see, you would understand. Fuzzy Wuzz is as happy as I am, and you could
tell it by her eyes.”

Then solemnly, he added: “Old Blind Rabbit, the queen my people have
selected is the one I chose. Fuzzy Wuzz is the one I meant to have, or
none. Now do you understand?”

It really took Old Blind Rabbit some minutes to understand it fully, and
then a gleam of happiness swept across his face. “O Bumper,” he
exclaimed with emotion, “your reign will be a happy one, and a joy to my
people. Long may the king live! And long may the queen live with him!”

He was so excited, and his voice was raised so high, that all the other
rabbits came running in the burrow to see what the trouble was, and when
they learned the news they set up a joyful squeal of approval. They
would now have a queen of their own selection as well as a king.

This time Rusty the Black Bird, Piney the Purple Finch, Mr. Crested
Flycatcher, and all the other birds of the woods agreed to carry the
message to the rabbits of the different burrows. They flew with swift
wings in all directions to announce the wedding of Bumper and Fuzzy
Wuzz, inviting White Tail, Pink Nose, Crooked Ears, Brindley the Lame
and all the others to the feast.

For days and days the woods rang with happy laughter and merry talk.
Every one seemed to be happy. Even Mr. Fox and Buster the Bear were
excited, for who could help it when so many others were looking forward
to the crowning of Fuzzy Wuzz as queen?

And of their reign in the woods you will hear later in other stories,
for they lived happily as king and queen for a good many years, and they
had adventures which you might guess were more exciting than any you
have yet heard. In the land of rabbits they speak of time as having
begun in the reign of King Bumper and Queen Fuzzy Wuzz, and they had
good reason to date their calendars from that year, as you will see
later when you have heard more about them in the book entitled


                “Bumper the White Rabbit and His Foes.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                           WASHER THE RACCOON


                               STORY ONE

                        WASHER’S FIRST ADVENTURE

Washer was the youngest of a family of three Raccoons, born in the woods
close to the shores of Beaver Pond, and not half a mile from Rocky Falls
where the water, as you know, turns into silvery spray that sparkles in
the sunshine like diamonds and rubies. And, indeed, the animals and
birds of the North Woods much prefer this glittering spray and foam that
rise in a steady cloud from the bottom of the falls to all the jewels
and gems ever dug out of the earth! For, though each drop sparkles but a
moment, and then vanishes from sight, there are a million others to
follow it, and when you bathe in them they wash and scour away the dirt,
and make you clean and fresh in body and soul.

Washer had his first great adventure at Rocky Falls, and it is a wonder
that he ever lived to tell the tale, for the water which flows over the
falls is almost as cruel and terrible as it is sparkling and inviting.
But

      The continuation of this interesting story will be found in

                           WASHER THE RACCOON

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                       BUSTER THE BIG BROWN BEAR


                                STORY I

                         WHEN BUSTER WAS A CUB

In the North Woods where Buster was born, a wide river tinkles merrily
over stones that are so white you’d mistake them for snowballs, if you
were not careful, and begin pelting each other with them. The birches
hanging over the water look like white sticks of peppermint candy,
except in the spring of the year when they blossom out in green leaves,
and then they make you think of fairyland where everything is painted
the colors of the rainbow.

The rocks that slope up from the bank of the river are dented and broken
as if some giant in the past had smashed them with his hammer, cracking
some and punching deep holes in others. It was in one of these holes, or
caves, that Buster was born.

He didn’t mind the hard rocky floor of his bed a bit, nor did he mind
the darkness, nor the cold winds that swept through the open doorway. He
was so well protected by his

      The continuation of this interesting story will be found in

                       BUSTER THE BIG BROWN BEAR

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                 BUSTER THE BIG BROWN BEAR’S ADVENTURES


                                STORY I

                      BUSTER VISITS HIS BIRTHPLACE

Buster’s return to the North Woods, after his many travels in different
parts of the country as a trick bear in a circus, was an important event
to him. He had been away so long—ever since he was a little cub—that
nothing seemed familiar to him. His recollection of the river that
flowed in front of the cave where he had been born was very dim and
uncertain, and he was not sure which way to go when he had crossed it.

Browny the Woodchuck had informed him that he was in the North Woods
when he waded up on shore, but Browny had an important engagement with
his family, and immediately left him. Happy and excited that he was now
free in the woods, and no longer in danger of being pursued and
captured, Buster for a time was satisfied in roaming around in the
bushes, eating the wild fruit and berries.

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                 BUSTER THE BIG BROWN BEAR’S ADVENTURES

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                          WHITE TAIL THE DEER


                                STORY I

                       WHITE TAIL’S FIRST LESSON

High among the timberland of the North Woods White Tail the Deer was
born, and if you had stumbled upon his home in the thickets you would
have been surprised by a noise like the rushing of the wind, and then by
a very remarkable silence that could almost be felt. The first was made
by Mother White Tail as she deserted her young and took to quick flight.

White Tail, crouching low down in the bushes, so still that he scarcely
moved a hair, would hide his beautiful head in the branches and leaves
like an obedient child. Left alone he knew that his one chance of escape
was not to move or whimper or cry.

That was the first lesson White Tail was taught by his mother—to keep
absolutely quiet in the presence of danger. When he was so small that he
could hardly hold up his head, she whispered to him: “Listen, White
Tail! When I give the signal that the hunters are coming, you must
flatten yourself down

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                          WHITE TAIL THE DEER

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                        WHITE TAIL’S ADVENTURES


                                STORY I

                 WHITE TAIL JUMPS STEPPING STONE BROOK

White Tail grew rapidly in size and strength, his long, clean limbs
showing taut muscles and great springing power; and his neck grew thick
and short, which is well for a buck, who must use it in savage thrusts
when the head is a battering ram. His horns were short and bony, but
they protruded in front like knobs against which it would be unpleasant
to fall.

But his antlers were his pride. They spread out fan-shape on his head,
crowning it with a glory that made Mother Deer supremely happy. At times
it seemed as if the antlers were too heavy for the head and neck, but
White Tail carried them easily, and when he shook them in sport or anger
any one could see they were just fitted to him.

In time he stood as high as Father Buck, and a head taller than Mother
Deer. The day the tip of his antlers reached an inch above Father
Buck’s, he felt a little thrill of pride.

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                    WHITE TAIL THE DEER’S ADVENTURES

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                          BOBBY GRAY SQUIRREL


                          BOBBY’S INTRODUCTION

There are many squirrels living in the North Woods, but only one real
Bobby Gray Squirrel, and if you saw him once you would never mistake him
for any other. Bobby was a gay, rollicking happy-go-lucky fellow, who
believed in enjoying himself to-day and letting the morrow take care of
itself. He wasn’t exactly lazy, but he didn’t believe in doing work that
wasn’t actually necessary, and sometimes, I’m afraid, he forgot to do
what was really necessary.

Bobby had many friends in the woods, and they all liked him and smiled
at him, but there were some who thought his careless ways might get him
in trouble some day. So instead of chattering pleasantly with him, they
shook their heads and preached to him.

“Why don’t you get busy these pleasant days, Bobby, and store up food
for the winter?” Gray Back the Weasel asked reprovingly one bright,
sunny day.

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                          BOBBY GRAY SQUIRREL

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                    BOBBY GRAY SQUIRREL’S ADVENTURES


                                STORY I

                   AN ADVENTURE WITH DASHER THE HAWK

When Bobby Gray Squirrel left the deserted house where he had spent the
winter with Stripe the Chipmunk and Web the Flying Squirrel, not to
mention White Foot the Deer Mouse, he was in a very serious mood, and
his first thought was to go right to work to build a home for himself in
some friendly tree, and stock it early with nuts for winter use.

His experience that winter, before he had found his fortune in the bag
of nuts in the tower room, had made him very thoughtful. “I’m not going
to put off work again that should be done to-day,” he said to himself as
he frisked along from tree to tree. “I can’t expect to have such good
luck another winter. But my!”—smiling in recollection—“those nuts were
delicious!”

He smacked his lips at the thought, and right on top of it came the low
trill of a bird. It was Goldy the Oriole, who had just returned north.

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                  BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT AND HIS FOES


                                STORY I

                   BUMPER PLANS TO FIGHT HIS ENEMIES

Now in the reign of King Bumper and Queen Fuzzy Wuzz many things
happened in the woods that made exciting times for the wild rabbits and
their friends. They came to pass in the first year of their reign, for
Bumper the white rabbit was not content to be idle when his people were
surrounded by so many enemies that their lives were never safe.

Some kings just eat and drink and make merry the live long day, and
forget all about duty; but lots of such kings have lost their thrones,
and others who have ruled wisely have been blessed with many friends,
and when they died all the people mourned their loss.

Bumper the white rabbit intended to be a good and wise ruler, and
therefore he spent much time in trying to think of ways to help his wild
cousins of the woods. The story of how he escaped from the garden owned
by the

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                  BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT AND HIS FOES

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                BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT AND HIS FRIENDS


                                STORY I

                     BUMPER AND SLEEPY THE OPOSSUM

Bumper, after working hard to trick his enemies so they would be more
afraid of the rabbits in the woods, had decided the ways of peace were
better than those of war. Not that he was going to permit Sneaky the
Wolf or Loup the Lynx to pounce upon his people and eat them up without
fighting, but instead of going around with a chip on his shoulder,
expecting and looking for trouble, he intended to make friends of all
the animals and birds, and be helpful to them.

It is wonderful how much good to others we can overlook if we go about
with our eyes shut. There is plenty to do if we look for it. So Bumper
found in a short time that he had missed a good deal in always looking
for the worst in others instead of for the best.

Only a few days after his change of plans, which was told of in a former
book, Bumper stumbled upon Sleepy the Opossum in a tree, with his eyes
closed in slumber. At first he

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                BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT AND HIS FRIENDS

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                        Bumper the White Rabbit


                                STORY I

                         WHERE BUMPER CAME FROM

There was once an old woman who had so many rabbits that she hardly knew
what to do. They ate her out of house and home, and kept the cupboard so
bare she often had to go to bed hungry. But none of the rabbits suffered
this way. They all had their supper, and their breakfast, too, even if
there wasn’t a crust left in the old woman’s cupboard.

There were big rabbits and little rabbits; lean ones and fat ones;
comical little youngsters who played pranks upon their elders, and
staid, serious old ones who never laughed or smiled the livelong day;
boy rabbits and girl rabbits, mother rabbits and father rabbits, and
goodness knows how many aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins, second
cousins and distant relatives-in-law! They all lived under one big roof
in the

      The continuation of this interesting story will be found in

                        BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT

                        Price 65 Cents Postpaid


                THE JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANY, Publishers
         517 S. Wabash Ave. Winston Building  129 Spadina Ave.
           CHICAGO, ILL.    PHILADELPHIA, PA.  TORONTO, ONT.



------------------------------------------------------------------------



Transcriber’s note:

 1. Silently corrected typographical errors.

 2. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.

 3. Changed “What had happened to Bumper!” to “What had happened to
      Bumper?” on p. 101.





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