"A PLAGUE upon Old Mr. Toad!" grumbled Jimmy, as he ambled up the Lone Little Path through the Green Forest on his way to the hill where Prickly Porky lives. "Of course I'm not afraid, but just the same I don't like meddling with things I don't know anything about. I'm not afraid of anybody I know of, because everybody has the greatest respect for me, but it might be different with a creature without legs or head or tail. Whoever heard of such a thing? It gives me a queer feeling inside."
However, he kept right on, and as he reached the foot of the hill where Prickly Porky lives, he looked sharply in every direction and listened with all his might for strange sounds. But there was nothing unusual to be seen. The Green Forest looked just as it always did. It was very still and quiet there save for the cheerful voice of Redeye the Vireo telling over and over how happy he was.
"That doesn't sound as if there were any terrible stranger around here," muttered Jimmy.
Then he heard a queer, grunting sound, a very queer sound, that seemed to come from somewhere on the top of the hill. Jimmy grinned as he listened. "That's Prickly Porky telling himself how good his dinner tastes," laughed Jimmy. "Funny how some people do like to hear their own voices."
The contented sound of Prickly Porky's voice made Jimmy feel very sure that there could be nothing very terrible about just then, anyway, and so he slowly ambled up the hill, for you know he never hurries. It was an easy matter to find the tree in which Prickly Porky was at work stripping off bark and eating it, because he made so much noise.
"Hello!" said Jimmy Skunk.
Prickly Porky took no notice. He was so busy eating, and making so much noise about it, that he didn't hear Jimmy at all.
"Hello!" shouted Jimmy a little louder. "Hello, there! Are you deaf?" Of course this wasn't polite at all, but Jimmy was feeling a little out of sorts because he had had to make this call. This time Prickly Porky looked down.
"Hello yourself, and see how you like it, Jimmy Skunk!" he cried. "Come on up and have some of this nice bark with me." Then Prickly Porky laughed at his own joke, for he knew perfectly well that Jimmy couldn't climb, and that he wouldn't eat bark if he could.
Jimmy made a face at him. "Thank you, I've just dined. Come down here where I can talk to you without straining my voice," he replied.
"Wait until I get another bite," replied Prickly Porky, stripping off a long piece of bark. Then with this to chew on, he came half way down the tree and made himself comfortable on a big limb. "Now, what is it you've got on your mind?" he demanded.
At once Jimmy told him the queer story Peter Rabbit had told. "I've been sent up here to find out if you have seen this legless, headless, tailless creature. Have you?" he concluded.
Prickly Porky slowly shook his head. "No," said he. "I've been right here all the time, and I haven't seen any such creature."
"That's all I want to know," replied Jimmy. "Peter Rabbit's got something the matter with his eyes, and I'm going straight back to the Old Briar-patch to tell him so. Much obliged." With that Jimmy started back the way he had come, grumbling to himself.