The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse Part 4

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The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse is a Webnovel created by Thornton W. Burgess.
This lightnovel is currently completed.

[Ill.u.s.tration: _”I tell you what, you stay right here!” said Peter_]

Danny Meadow Mouse looked at Peter gratefully. “I will, and thank you ever so much, Peter Rabbit,” he said.

And this is how the dear Old Briar-patch happened to have another tenant.

XIII

Peter Rabbit Visits the Peach Orchard

“Don’t go, Peter Rabbit! Don’t go!” begged Danny Meadow Mouse.

Peter hopped to the edge of the Old Briar-patch and looked over the moonlit, snow-covered meadows to the hill back of Farmer Brown’s house. On that hill was the young peach orchard of which Tommy t.i.t the Chickadee had told him, and ever since Peter’s mouth had watered and watered every time he thought of those young peach trees and the tender bark on them.

“I think I will, Danny, just this once,” said Peter. “It’s a long way, and I’ve never been there before; but I guess it’s just as safe as the Meadows or the Green Forest.”

“_Oh I’m as bold as bold can be!

Sing hoppy-hippy-hippy-hop-o!

I’ll hie me forth the world to see!

Sing hoppy-hippy-hippy-hop-o!

My ears are long, My legs are strong, So now good day; I’ll hie away!

Sing hoppy-hippy-hippy-hop-o!_”

And with that, Peter Rabbit left the dear, safe Old Briar-patch, and away he went lipperty-lipperty-lip, across the Green Meadows toward the hill and the young orchard back of Farmer Brown’s house.

Danny Meadow Mouse watched him go and shook his head in disapproval. “Foolish, foolish, foolish!” he said over and over to himself. “Why can’t Peter be content with the good things that he has?”

Peter Rabbit hurried along through the moonlight, stopping every few minutes to sit up to look and listen. He heard the fierce hunting call of Hooty the Owl way over in the Green Forest, so he felt sure that at present there was nothing to fear from him. He knew that since their return to the Green Meadows and the Green Forest, Granny and Reddy Fox had kept away from Farmer Brown’s, so he did not worry about them.

All in good time Peter came to the young orchard. It was just as Tommy t.i.t the Chickadee had told him. Peter hopped up to the nearest peach tree and nibbled the bark. My, how good it tasted!

He went all around the tree, stripping off the bark. He stood up on his long hind legs and reached as high as he could. Then he dug the snow away and ate down as far as he could. When he could get no more tender young bark, he went on to the next tree.

Now, though Peter didn’t know it, he was in the very worst kind of mischief. You see, when he took off all the bark all the way around the young peach tree, he killed the tree, for you know it is on the inside of the bark that the sap which gives life to a tree and makes it grow goes up from the roots to all the branches. So when Peter ate the bark all the way around the trunk of the young tree, he had made it impossible for the sap to come up in the spring. Oh, it was the worst kind of mischief that Peter Rabbit was in.

But Peter didn’t know it, and he kept right on filling that big stomach of his and enjoying it so much that he forgot to watch out for danger. Suddenly, just as he had begun on another tree, a great roar right behind him made him jump almost out of his skin.

He knew that voice, and without waiting to even look behind him, he started for the stone wall on the other side of the orchard.

Right at his heels, his great mouth wide open, was Bowser the Hound.

XIV

Farmer Brown Sets a Trap

Peter Rabbit was in trouble. He had got into mischief and now, like everyone who gets into mischief, he wished that he hadn’t.

The worst of it was that he was a long way from his home in the dear Old Briar-patch, and he didn’t know how he ever could get back there again. Where was he? Why, in the stone wall on one side of Farmer Brown’s young peach orchard. How Peter blessed the old stone wall in which he had found a safe hiding place! Bowser had hung around nearly all night, so that Peter had not dared to try to go home. Now it was daylight, and Peter knew it would not be safe to put his nose outside.

Peter was worried, so worried that he couldn’t go to sleep as he usually does in the daytime. So he sat hidden in the old wall and waited and watched. By and by he saw Farmer Brown and Farmer Brown’s boy come out into the orchard. Right away they saw the mischief which Peter had done, and he could tell by the sound of their voices that they were very, very angry. They went away, but before long they were back again, and all day long Peter watched them work putting something around each of the young peach trees.

Peter grew so curious that he forgot all about his troubles and how far away from home he was. He could hardly wait for night to come so that he might see what they had been doing.

Just as jolly, round, red Mr. Sun started to go to bed behind the Purple Hills, Farmer Brown and his boy started back to the house. Farmer Brown was smiling now.

“I guess that will fix him!” he said.

“Now what does he mean by that?” thought Peter. “Whom will it fix? Can it be me? I don’t need any fixing.”

[Ill.u.s.tration: _All around the trunk of the tree was wrapped wire netting_]

He waited just as long as he could. When all was still, and the moonlight had begun to make shadows of the trees on the snow, Peter very cautiously crept out of his hiding place. Bowser the Hound was nowhere in sight, and everything was as quiet and peaceful as it had been when he first came into the orchard the night before. Peter had fully made up his mind to go straight home as fast as his long legs would take him, but his dreadful curiosity insisted that first he must find out what Farmer Brown and his boy had been doing to the young peach trees.

So Peter hurried over to the nearest tree. All around the trunk of the tree, from the ground clear up higher than Peter could reach, was wrapped wire netting. Peter couldn’t get so much as a nibble of the delicious bark. He hadn’t intended to take any, for he had meant to go right straight home, but now that he couldn’t get any, he wanted some more than ever–just a bite. Peter looked around. Everything was quiet. He would try the next tree, and then he would go home.

But the next tree was wrapped with wire. Peter hesitated, looked around, turned to go home, thought of how good that bark had tasted the night before, hesitated again, and then hurried over to the third tree. It was protected just like the others. Then Peter forgot all about going home. He wanted some of that delicious bark, and he ran from one tree to another as fast as he could go.

At last, way down at the end of the orchard, Peter found a tree that had no wire around it. “They must have forgotten this one!”

he thought, and his eyes sparkled. All around on the snow were a lot of shiny little wires, but Peter didn’t notice them. All he saw was that delicious bark on the young peach tree. He hopped right into the middle of the wires, and then, just as he reached up to take the first bite of bark, he felt something tugging at one of his hind legs.

XV

Peter Rabbit Is Caught in a Snare

When Peter Rabbit, reaching up to nibble the bark of one of Farmer Brown’s young trees, felt something tugging at one of his hind legs, he was so startled that he jumped to get away. Instead of doing this, he fell flat on his face. The thing on his hind leg had tightened and held him fast. A great fear came to Peter Rabbit, and lying there in the snow, he kicked and struggled with all his might. But the more he kicked, the tighter grew that hateful thing on his leg! Finally he grew too tired to kick any more and lay still. The dreadful thing that held him hurt his leg, but it didn’t pull when he lay still.

When he had grown a little calmer, Peter sat up to examine the thing which held him so fast. It was something like one of the blackberry vines he had sometimes tripped over, only it was bright and shiny, and had no branches or tiny p.r.i.c.kers, and one end was fastened to a stake. Peter tried to bite off the shiny thing, but even his great, sharp front teeth couldn’t cut it.

Then Peter knew what it was. It was wire! It was a snare which Farmer Brown had set to catch him, and which he had walked right into because he had been so greedy for the bark of the young peach tree that he had not used his eyes to look out for danger.

Oh, how Peter Rabbit did wish that he had not been so curious to know what Farmer Brown had been doing that day, and that he had gone straight home as he had meant to do, instead of trying to get one more meal of young peach bark! Big tears rolled down Peter’s cheeks. What should he do? What could he do? For a long time Peter sat in the moonlight, trying to think of something to do. At last he thought of the stake to which that hateful wire was fastened. The stake was of wood, and Peter’s teeth would cut wood. Peter’s heart gave a great leap of hope, and he began at once to dig away the snow from around the stake, and then settled himself to gnaw the stake in two.

Peter had been hard at work on the stake a long time and had it a little more than half cut through, when he heard a loud sniff down at the other end of the orchard. He looked up to see–whom do you think? Why, Bowser the Hound! He hadn’t seen Peter yet, but he had already found Peter’s tracks, and it would be but a few minutes before he found Peter himself.

Poor Peter Rabbit! There wasn’t time to finish cutting off the stake. What could he do? He made a frightened jump just as he had when he first felt the wire tugging at his leg. Just as before, he was thrown flat on his face. He scrambled to his feet and jumped again, only to be thrown just as before. Just then Bowser the Hound saw him and opening his mouth sent forth a great roar.

Peter made one more frantic jump. Snap! The stake had broken!

Peter pitched forward on his head, turned a somersault, and scrambled to his feet. He was free at last! That is, he could run, but after him dragged a piece of the stake.

How Peter did run! It was hard work, for you know he had to drag that piece of stake after him. But he did it, and just in time he crawled into the old stone wall on one side of the orchard, while Bowser the Hound barked his disappointment to the moon.

The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse Part 3

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The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse is a Webnovel created by Thornton W. Burgess.
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A Strange Ride and How It Ended

Danny Meadow Mouse often had sat watching Skimmer the Swallow sailing around up in the blue, blue sky. He had watched Ol’

Mistah Buzzard go up, up, up, until he was nothing but a tiny speck, and Danny had wondered how it would seem to be way up above the Green Meadows and the Green Forest and look down. It had seemed to him that it must be very wonderful and beautiful.

Sometimes he had wished that he had wings and could go up in the air and look down. And now here he was, he, Danny Meadow Mouse, actually doing that very thing!

But Danny could see nothing wonderful or beautiful now. No, indeed! Everything was terrible, for you see, Danny Meadow Mouse wasn’t flying himself. He was being carried. Yes, Sir, Danny Meadow Mouse was being carried through the air in the cruel claws of Hooty the Owl! And all because Danny had forgotten–forgotten to watch up in the sky for danger.

[Ill.u.s.tration: _Danny was being carried through the air in the cruel claws of Hooty the Owl!_]

Poor, poor Danny Meadow Mouse! Hooty’s great cruel claws hurt him dreadfully! But it wasn’t the pain that was the worst. No, indeed! It wasn’t the pain! It was the thought of what would happen when Hooty reached his home in the Green Forest, for he knew that there Hooty would gobble him up, bones and all. As he flew, Hooty kept chuckling, and Danny Meadow Mouse knew just what those chuckles meant. They meant that Hooty was thinking of the good meal he was going to have.

Hanging there in Hooty’s great cruel claws, Danny looked down on the snow-covered Green Meadows he loved so well. They seemed a frightfully long way below him, though really they were not far at all, for Hooty was flying very low. But Danny Meadow Mouse had never in all his life been so high up before, and so it seemed to him that he was way, way up in the sky, and he shut his eyes so as not to see. But he couldn’t keep them shut. No, Sir, he couldn’t keep them shut! He just had to keep opening them. There was the dear old Green Forest drawing nearer and nearer. It always had looked very beautiful to Danny Meadow Mouse, but now it looked terrible, very terrible indeed, because over in it, hidden away there in some dark place, was the home of Hooty the Owl.

Just ahead of him was the Old Briar-patch where Peter Rabbit lives so safely. Every old bramble in it was covered with snow and it was very, very beautiful. Really everything was just as beautiful as ever–the moonlight, the Green Forest, the snow-covered Green Meadows, the Old Briar-patch. The only change was in Danny Meadow Mouse himself, and it was all because he had forgotten.

Suddenly Danny began to wriggle and struggle. “Keep still!”

snapped Hooty the Owl.

But Danny only struggled harder than ever. It seemed to him that Hooty wasn’t holding him as tightly as at first. He felt one of Hooty’s claws slip. It tore his coat and hurt dreadfully, but it slipped! The fact is, Hooty had only grabbed Danny Meadow Mouse by the loose part of his coat, and up in the air he couldn’t get hold of Danny any better. Danny kicked, squirmed, and twisted, and twisted, squirmed, and kicked. He felt his coat tear and of course the skin with it, but he kept right on, for now he was hanging almost free. Hooty had started down now, so as to get a better hold. Danny gave one more kick and then–he felt himself falling!

Danny Meadow Mouse shut his eyes and held his breath. Down, down, down he fell. It seemed to him that he never would strike the snow-covered meadows! Really he fell only a very little distance.

But it seemed a terrible distance to Danny. He hit something that scratched him, and then–plump!–he landed in the soft snow right in the very middle of the Old Briar-patch, and the last thing he remembered was hearing the scream of disappointment and rage of Hooty the Owl.

[Ill.u.s.tration]

XI

Peter Rabbit Gets a Fright

Peter Rabbit sat in his favorite place in the middle of the dear Old Briar-patch, trying to decide which way he would go on his travels that night. The night before he had had a narrow escape from old Granny Fox over in the Green Forest. There was nothing to eat around the Smiling Pool and no one to talk to there any more, and you know that Peter must either eat or ask questions in order to be perfectly happy. No, the Smiling Pool was too dull a place to interest Peter on such a beautiful moonlight night, and Peter had no mind to try his legs against those of old Granny Fox again in the Green Forest.

Early that morning, just after Peter had settled down for his morning nap, Tommy t.i.t the Chickadee had dropped into the dear Old Briar-patch just to be neighborly. Peter was just dozing off when he heard the cheeriest little voice in the world. It was saying:

“_Dee-dee-chickadee!

I see you! Can you see me?_”

Peter began to smile even before he could get his eyes open and look up. There, right over his head, was Tommy t.i.t hanging head down from a nodding old bramble. In a twinkling he was down on the snow right in front of Peter, then up in the brambles again, right side up, upside down, here, there, everywhere, never still a minute, and all the time chattering away in the cheeriest little voice in the world:

“_Dee-dee-chickadee!

I’m as happy as can be!

Find it much the better way To be happy all the day.

Dee-dee-chickadee!

Everybody’s good to me!_”

“h.e.l.lo, Tommy!” said Peter Rabbit. “Where’d you come from?”

“From Farmer Brown’s new orchard up on the hill. It’s a fine orchard, Peter Rabbit, a fine orchard. I go there every morning for my breakfast. If the winter lasts long enough, I’ll have all the trees cleaned up for Farmer Brown.”

Peter looked puzzled. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“Just what I say,” replied Tommy t.i.t, almost turning a somersault in the air. “There’s a million eggs of insects on those young peach trees, but I’m clearing them all off as fast as I can.

They’re mighty fine eating, Peter Rabbit, mighty fine eating!”

And with that Tommy t.i.t had said good-by and flitted away.

Peter was thinking of that young orchard now, as he sat in the moonlight trying to make up his mind where to go. The thought of those young peach trees made his mouth water. It was a long way up to the orchard on the hill, a very long way, and Peter was wondering if it really was safe to go. He had just about made up his mind to try it, for Peter is very, very fond of the bark of young peach trees, when thump! something dropped out of the sky at his very feet.

It startled Peter so that he nearly tumbled over backward. And right at the same instant came the fierce, angry scream of Hooty the Owl. That almost made Peter’s heart stop beating, although he knew that Hooty couldn’t get him down there in the Old Briar-patch.

When Peter got his wits together and his heart didn’t go so jumpy, he looked to see what had dropped so close to him out of the sky. His big eyes grew bigger than ever, and he rubbed them to make quite sure that he really saw what he thought he saw.

Yes, there was no doubt about it–there at his feet lay Danny Meadow Mouse!

[Ill.u.s.tration]

XII

The Old Briar-Patch Has a New Tenant

Danny Meadow Mouse slowly opened his eyes and then closed them again quickly, as if afraid to look around. He could hear someone talking. It was a pleasant voice, not at all like the terrible voice of Hooty the Owl, which was the very last thing that Danny Meadow Mouse could remember. Danny lay still a minute and listened.

“Why, Danny Meadow Mouse, where in the world did you drop from?”

asked the voice. It sounded like–why, very much like Peter Rabbit speaking. Danny opened his eyes again. It was Peter Rabbit.

“Where–where am I?” asked Danny Meadow Mouse in a very weak and small voice.

“In the middle of the dear Old Briar-patch with me,” replied Peter Rabbit. “But how did you get here? You seemed to drop right out of the sky.”

Danny Meadow Mouse shuddered. Suddenly he remembered everything: how Hooty the Owl had caught him in great cruel claws and had carried him through the moonlight across the snow-covered Green Meadows; how he had felt Hooty’s claws slip and then had struggled and kicked and twisted and turned until his coat had torn and he had dropped down, down, down, until he had landed in the soft snow and knocked all the breath out of his little body.

The very last thing he could remember was Hooty’s fierce scream of rage and disappointment. Danny shuddered again.

Then a new thought came to him. He must get out of sight! Hooty might catch him again! Danny tried to scramble to his feet.

“Ouch! Oh!” groaned Danny and lay still again.

“There, there. Keep still, Danny Meadow Mouse. There’s nothing to be afraid of here,” said Peter Rabbit gently. His big eyes filled with tears as he looked at Danny Meadow Mouse, for Danny was all torn and hurt by the cruel claws of Hooty the Owl, and you know Peter has a very tender heart.

So Danny lay still, and while Peter Rabbit tried to make him comfortable and dress his hurts, he told Peter all about how he had forgotten to watch up in the sky and so had been caught by Hooty the Owl, and all about his terrible ride in Hooty’s cruel claws.

“Oh dear, whatever shall I do now?” he ended. “However shall I get back home to my warm house of gra.s.s, my safe little tunnels under the snow, and my little store of seeds in the snug hollow in the old fence post?”

Peter Rabbit looked thoughtful. “You can’t do it,” said he. “You simply can’t do it. It is such a long way for a little fellow like you that it wouldn’t be safe to try. If you went at night, Hooty the Owl might catch you again. If you tried in daylight, old Roughleg the Hawk would be almost sure to see you. And night or day, old Granny Fox or Reddy Fox might come snooping around, and if they did, they would be sure to catch you. I tell you what, you stay right here! The dear Old Briar-patch is the safest place in the world. Why, just think, here you can come out in broad daylight and laugh at Granny and Reddy Fox and at old Roughleg the Hawk, because the good old brambles will keep them out if they try to get you. You can make just as good tunnels under the snow here as you had there, and there are lots and lots of seeds on the ground to eat. You know I don’t care for them myself. I’m lonesome sometimes, living here all alone. You stay here, and we’ll have the Old Briar-patch to ourselves.”

The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse Part 7

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The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse is a Webnovel created by Thornton W. Burgess.
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There was only one who could make such a sound as that–Mr.

Blacksnake.

Now Danny can run very fast along his private little paths, but he knew that Mr. Blacksnake could run faster. “If my legs can’t save me, my wits must,” thought Danny as he started to run as fast as ever he could. “I must reach that fallen old hollow fence post.”

He was almost out of breath when he reached the post and scurried into the open end. He knew by the sound of the rustling that Mr.

Blacksnake was right at his heels. Now the old post was hollow its whole length, but halfway there was an old knothole just big enough for Danny to squeeze through. Mr. Blacksnake didn’t know anything about that hole, and because it was dark inside the old post, he didn’t see Danny pop through it. Danny ran back along the top of the log and was just in time to see the tip of Mr.

Blacksnake’s tail disappear inside. Then what do you think Danny did? Why, he followed Mr. Blacksnake right into the old post, but in doing it he didn’t make the least little bit of noise.

Mr. Blacksnake kept right on through the old post and out the other end, for he was sure that that was the way Danny had gone.

He kept right on along the little path. Now Danny knew that he wouldn’t go very far before he found out that he had been fooled, and of course he would come back. So Danny waited only long enough to get his breath and then ran back along the path to where another little path branched off. For just a minute he paused.

“If Mr. Blacksnake follows me, he will be sure to think that of course I have taken this other little path,” thought Danny, “so I won’t do it.”

Then he ran harder than ever, until he came to a place where two little paths branched off, one to the right and one to the left.

He took the latter and scampered on, sure that by this time Mr.

Blacksnake would be so badly fooled that he would give up the chase. And Danny was right.

“_Brains are better far than speed As wise men long ago agreed,_”

said Danny, as he trotted on his way for the gra.s.s seed he liked so well. “I felt it in my bones that this would be an exciting day. I wonder what next.”

XXII

What Happened Next to Danny Meadow Mouse

Danny is so used to narrow escapes that he doesn’t waste any time thinking about them. He didn’t this time. “He who tries to look two ways at once is pretty sure to see nothing,” says Danny, and he knew that if he thought too much about the things that had already happened, he couldn’t keep a sharp watch for the things that might happen.

Nothing more happened as he hurried along his private little path to the edge of a great patch of gra.s.s so short that he couldn’t hide under it. He had to cross this, and all the way he would be in plain sight of anyone who happened to be near. Very cautiously he peeped out and looked this way and looked that way, not forgetting to look up in the sky. He could see no one anywhere.

Drawing a long breath, Danny started across the open place as fast as his short legs could take him.

Now all the time, Redtail the Hawk had been sitting in a tree some distance away, sitting so still that he looked like a part of the tree itself. That is why Danny hadn’t seen him. But Redtail saw Danny the instant he started across the open place, for Redtail’s eyes are very keen, and he can see a great distance. With a satisfied chuckle, he spread his broad wings and started after Danny.

Just about halfway to the safety of the long gra.s.s on the other side, Danny gave a hurried look behind him, and his heart seemed to jump right into his mouth, for there was Redtail with his cruel claws already set to seize him! Danny gave a frightened squeak, for he thought that surely this time he would be caught.

But he didn’t mean to give up without trying to escape. Three jumps ahead of him was a queer-looking thing. He didn’t know what it was, but if there was a hole in it he might yet fool Redtail.

[Ill.u.s.tration: _With a frightened squeak, Danny dived into the opening just in time_]

One jump! Would he be able to reach it? Two jumps! There was a hole in it! Three jumps! With another frightened squeak, Danny dived into the opening just in time. And what do you think he was in? Why, an old tomato can Farmer Brown’s boy had once used to carry bait in when he went fishing at the Smiling Pool. He had dropped it there on his way home.

Redtail screamed with rage and disappointment as he struck the old can with his great claws. He had been sure, very sure, of Danny Meadow Mouse this time! He tried to pick the can up, but he couldn’t get hold of it. It just rolled away from him every time, try as he would. Finally, in disgust, he gave up and flew back to the tree from which he had first seen Danny.

Of course Danny had been terribly frightened when the can rolled, and by the noise the claws of Redtail made when they struck his queer hiding place. But he wisely decided that the best thing he could do was to stay there for a while. And it was very fortunate that he did so, as he was very soon to find out.

[Ill.u.s.tration]

XXIII

Reddy Fox Grows Curious

Danny Meadow Mouse had sat perfectly still for a long time inside the old tomato can in which he had found a refuge from Redtail the Hawk. He didn’t dare so much as put his head out for a look around, lest Redtail should be circling overhead ready to pounce on him.

“If I stay here long enough, he’ll get tired and go away, if he hasn’t already,” thought Danny. “This has been a pretty exciting morning so far, and I find that I am a little tired. I may as well take a nap while I am waiting to make sure that the way is clear.”

With that Danny curled up in the old tomato can. But it wasn’t meant that Danny should have that nap. He had closed his eyes, but his ears were still open, and presently he heard soft footsteps drawing near. His eyes flew open, and he forgot all about sleep, you may be sure, for those footsteps sounded familiar. They sounded to Danny very, very much like the footsteps of–whom do you think? Why, Reddy Fox! Danny’s heart began to beat faster as he listened. Could it be? He didn’t dare peep out. Presently a little whiff of scent blew into the old tomato can. Then Danny knew–it was Reddy Fox.

“Oh dear! I hope he doesn’t find that I am in here!” thought Danny. “I wonder what under the sun has brought him up here just now.”

If the truth were to be known, it was curiosity that had brought Reddy up there. Reddy had been hunting for his breakfast some distance away on the Green Meadows when Redtail the Hawk had tried so hard to catch Danny Meadow Mouse. Reddy’s sharp eyes had seen Redtail the minute he left the tree in pursuit of Danny, and he had known by the way Redtail flew that he saw something he wanted to catch. He had watched Redtail swoop down and had heard his scream of rage when he missed Danny because Danny had dodged into the old tomato can. He had seen Redtail strike and strike again at something on the ground, and finally fly off in disgust with empty claws.

“Now I wonder what it was Redtail was after and why he didn’t get it,” thought Reddy. “He acts terribly put out and disappointed.

I believe I’ll go over there and find out.”

Off he started at a smart trot toward the patch of short gra.s.s where he had seen Redtail the Hawk striking at something on the ground. As he drew near, he crept very softly until he reached the very edge of the open patch. There he stopped and looked sharply all over it. There was nothing to be seen but an old tomato can. Reddy had seen it many times before.

“Now what under the sun could Redtail have been after here?”

thought Reddy. “The gra.s.s isn’t long enough for a gra.s.shopper to hide in, and yet Redtail didn’t get what he was after. It’s very queer. It certainly is very queer.”

He trotted out and began to run back and forth with his nose to the ground, hoping that his nose would tell him what his eyes couldn’t. Back and forth, back and forth he ran, and then suddenly he stopped.

“Ha!” exclaimed Reddy. He had found the scent left by Danny Meadow Mouse when he ran across toward the old tomato can. Right up to the old can Reddy’s nose led him. He hopped over the old can, but on the other side he could find no scent of Danny Meadow Mouse. In a flash he understood, and a gleam of satisfaction shone in his yellow eyes as he turned back to the old can. He knew that Danny must be hiding in there.

“I’ve got you this time!” he snarled, as he sniffed at the opening in the end of the can.

[Ill.u.s.tration]

XXIV

Reddy Fox Loses His Temper

Reddy Fox had caught Danny Meadow Mouse, and yet he hadn’t caught him. He had found Danny hiding in the old tomato can, and it didn’t enter Reddy’s head that he couldn’t get Danny out when he wanted to. He was in no hurry. He had had a pretty good breakfast of gra.s.shoppers, and so he thought he would torment Danny awhile before gobbling him up. He lay down so that he could peep in at the open end of the old can and see Danny trying to make himself as small as possible at the other end. Reddy grinned until he showed all his long teeth. Reddy always is a bully, especially when his victim is a great deal smaller and weaker than himself.

“I’ve got you this time, Mr. Smarty, haven’t I?” taunted Reddy.

Danny didn’t say anything.

“You think you’ve been very clever because you have fooled me two or three times, don’t you? Well, this time I’ve got you where your tricks won’t work,” continued Reddy, “so what are you going to do about it?”

The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse Part 6

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The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse is a Webnovel created by Thornton W. Burgess.
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XIX

Peter Rabbit and Danny Meadow Mouse Live High

Peter Rabbit sat in his secretest place in the dear Old Briar-patch with one of his long hind legs all swelled up and terribly sore because of the fine wire fast around it and cutting into it. He could hear Farmer Brown’s boy going around on the edge of the dear Old Briar-patch and stopping every little while to do something. In spite of his pain, Peter was curious.

Finally he called Danny Meadow Mouse.

“Danny, you are small and can keep out of sight easier than I can. Go as near as ever you dare to Farmer Brown’s boy and find out what he is doing,” said Peter Rabbit.

So Danny Meadow Mouse crept out as near to Farmer Brown’s boy as ever he dared, and studied and studied to make out what Farmer Brown’s boy was doing. By and by he returned to Peter Rabbit.

“I don’t know what he’s doing, Peter, but he’s putting something in every one of your private little paths leading into the Briar-patch from the Green Meadows.”

“Ha!” said Peter Rabbit.

“There are little loops of that queer stuff you’ve got hanging to your leg, Peter,” continued Danny Meadow Mouse.

“Just so!” said Peter Rabbit.

“And he’s put cabbage leaves and pieces of apple all around,”

said Danny.

“We must be careful!” said Peter Rabbit.

Peter’s leg was in a very bad way, indeed, and Peter suffered a great deal of pain. The worst of it was, he didn’t know how to get off the wire that was cutting into it so. He had tried to cut the wire with his big teeth, but he couldn’t do it. Danny Meadow Mouse had tried and tried to gnaw the wire, but it wasn’t the least bit of use. But Danny wasn’t easily discouraged, and he kept working and working at it. Once he thought he felt it slip a little. He said nothing, but kept right on working. Pretty soon he was sure that it slipped. He went right on working harder than ever. By and by he had it so loose that he slipped it right off Peter’s leg, and Peter didn’t know anything about it. You see, that cruel wire snare had been so tight that Peter didn’t have any feeling except of pain left in his leg, and so when Danny Meadow Mouse pulled the cruel wire snare off, Peter didn’t know it until Danny held it up in front of him.

My, how thankful Peter was, and how he did thank Danny Meadow Mouse! But Danny said that it was nothing at all, just nothing at all, and that he owed more than that to Peter Rabbit for being so good to him and letting him live in the dear Old Briar-patch.

It was a long time before Peter could hop as he used to, but after the first day he managed to get around. He found that Farmer Brown’s boy had spread those miserable wire snares in every one of his private little paths. But Peter knew what they were now. He showed Danny Meadow Mouse how he, because he was so small, could safely run about among the snares and steal all the cabbage leaves and apples which Farmer Brown’s boy had put there for bait.

Danny Meadow Mouse thought this great fun and a great joke on Farmer Brown’s boy. So every day he stole the bait, and he and Peter Rabbit lived high while Peter’s leg was getting well. And all the time Farmer Brown’s boy wondered why he couldn’t catch Peter Rabbit.

[Ill.u.s.tration]

XX

Timid Danny Meadow Mouse

Danny Meadow Mouse is timid. Everybody says so, and what everybody says ought to be so. But just as anybody can make a mistake sometimes, so can everybody. Still, in this case, it is quite likely that everybody is right. Danny Meadow Mouse is timid. Ask Peter Rabbit. Ask Sammy Jay. Ask Striped Chipmunk.

They will all tell you the same thing. Sammy Jay might even tell you that Danny is afraid of his own shadow, or that he tries to run away from his own tail. Of course this isn’t true. Sammy Jay likes to say mean things. It isn’t fair to Danny Meadow Mouse to believe what Sammy Jay says.

But the fact is Danny certainly is timid. More than this, he isn’t ashamed of it–not the least little bit.

“You see, it’s this way,” said Danny, as he sat on his doorstep one sunny morning talking to his friend, old Mr. Toad. “If I weren’t afraid, I wouldn’t be all the time watching out, and if I weren’t all the time watching out, I wouldn’t have any more chance than that foolish red ant running across in front of you.”

Old Mr. Toad looked where Danny was pointing, and his tongue darted out and back again so quickly that Danny wasn’t sure that he saw it at all, but when he looked for the ant it was nowhere to be seen, and there was a satisfied twinkle in Mr. Toad’s eyes.

There was an answering twinkle in Danny’s own eyes as he continued.

“No, Sir,” said he, “I wouldn’t stand a particle more chance than that foolish ant did. Now if I were big and strong, like Old Man Coyote, or had swift wings, like Skimmer the Swallow, or were so homely and ugly looking that no one wanted me, like–like–“

Danny hesitated and then finished rather lamely, “like some folks I know, I suppose I wouldn’t be afraid.”

Old Mr. Toad looked up sharply when Danny mentioned homely and ugly-looking people, but Danny was gazing far out across the Green Meadows and looked so innocent that Mr. Toad concluded that he couldn’t have had him in mind.

“Well,” said he, thoughtfully scratching his nose, “I suppose you may be right, but for my part fear seems a very foolish thing. Now, I don’t know what it is. I mind my own business, and no one ever bothers me. I should think it would be a very uncomfortable feeling.”

“It is,” replied Danny, “but, as I said before, it is a very good thing to keep one on guard when there are as many watching for one as there are for me. Now there’s Mr. Blacksnake and–“

“Where?” exclaimed old Mr. Toad, turning as pale as a toad can turn, and looking uneasily and anxiously in every direction.

[Ill.u.s.tration: _”Where?” exclaimed old Mr. Toad, turning as pale as a toad can turn_]

Danny turned his head to hide a smile. If old Mr. Toad wasn’t showing fear, no one ever did. “Oh,” said he, “I didn’t mean that he is anywhere around here now. What I was going to say was that there is Mr. Blacksnake and Granny Fox and Reddy Fox and Redtail the Hawk and Hooty the Owl and others I might name, always watching for a chance to make a dinner from poor little me. Do you wonder that I am afraid most of the time?”

“No,” replied old Mr. Toad. “No, I don’t wonder that you are afraid. It must be dreadful to feel hungry eyes are watching for you every minute of the day and night, too.”

“Oh, it’s not so bad,” replied Danny. “It’s rather exciting.

Besides, it keeps my wits sharp all the time. I am afraid I should find life very dull indeed if, like you, I feared nothing and n.o.body. By the way, see how queerly that gra.s.s is moving over there. It looks as if Mr. Blacksnake–Why, Mr. Toad, where are you going in such a hurry?”

[Ill.u.s.tration: _”Why, Mr. Toad, where are you going in such a hurry?” asked Danny_]

“I’ve just remembered an important engagement with my cousin, Grandfather Frog, at the Smiling Pool,” shouted old Mr. Toad over his shoulder, as he hurried so that he fell over his own feet.

Danny chuckled as he sat alone on his doorstep. “Oh, no, old Mr.

Toad doesn’t know what fear is!” said he. “Funny how some people won’t admit what everybody can see for themselves. Now, I am afraid, and I’m willing to say so.”

[Ill.u.s.tration]

XXI

An Exciting Day for Danny Meadow Mouse

Danny Meadow Mouse started along one of his private little paths very early one morning. He was on his way to get a supply of a certain kind of gra.s.s seed of which he is very fond. He had been thinking about that seed for some time and waiting for it to get ripe. Now it was just right, as he had found out the day before by a visit to the place where this particular gra.s.s grew. The only trouble was it grew a long way from Danny’s home, and to reach it he had to cross an open place where the gra.s.s was so short that he couldn’t make a path under it.

“I feel it in my bones that this is going to be an exciting day,”

said Danny to himself as he trotted along. “I suppose that if I were really wise, I would stay nearer home and do without that nice seed. But nothing is really worth having unless it is worth working for, and that seed will taste all the better if I have hard work getting it.”

So he trotted along his private little path, his ears wide open, and his eyes wide open, and his little nose carefully testing every Merry Little Breeze who happened along for any scent of danger which it might carry. Most of all he depended upon his ears, for the gra.s.s was so tall that he couldn’t see over it, even when he sat up. He had gone only a little way when he thought he heard a queer rustling behind him. He stopped to listen. There it was again, and it certainly was right in the path behind him! He didn’t need to be told who was making it.