S LOWLY Prickly Porky the Porcupine climbed down from the top of the tall poplar tree where he had been getting his breakfast of tender young bark. He grunted as he worked his way down, for he had with him a bundle of bark to take over to Peter Rabbit's surprise party. When he reached the ground, Prickly Porky shook himself until he rattled the thousand little spears hidden in his long coat.
"Who dares to laugh at me?" demanded Prickly Porky, shaking himself until all the little spears rattled again, and some of them began to peep out of his long coat.
"No one is laughing at you," replied a voice right behind him.
Prickly Porky turned around. There sat old
Prickly Porky scowled, and a few more little spears peeped out of his
long coat. You know no one likes to be laughed at, and it certainly
did look as if old
Mr. Toad stopped laughing and hopped a step nearer. "It's a joke," said he, and slowly winked one eye.
"I don't see any joke," said Prickly Porky, and his voice was very fretful.
Mr. Toad hopped a step nearer. "Are you going to Peter Rabbit's party?"
"Of course I am. What a foolish question," replied Prickly Porky.
"To be sure, a very foolish question, a very foolish question,
Prickly Porky laid down his bundle of tender young bark and stared at
Old Mr. Toad chuckled deep down in his throat. "I was underneath a piece of bark on which Sammy Jay was sitting when the plan was made. Of course he didn't know I was there, and of course I didn't tell him."
"Of course not," interrupted Prickly Porky, beginning to grin.
"Of course not," continued Mr. Toad, grinning, too. Then he told Prickly Porky all about the plan he had overheard, how Reddy Fox and Shadow the Weasel and Blacky the Crow were to hide near Unc' Billy Possum's hollow tree, and how Sammy Jay was to frighten away everybody else by pretending that Bowser the Hound was coming.
"Have you told Peter Rabbit?" asked Prickly Porky.
"Not yet, but I'm going to, by and by," replied old
"Of course I will if I can, but how can I?" answered Prickly Porky promptly.
Old Mr. Toad hopped up, and stretching up on tiptoe, whispered in one of Prickly Porky's ears. Prickly Porky began to smile. Then he began to chuckle. Finally he laughed until he had to hold his sides.
"Will you do it?" asked Mr. Toad.
Prickly Porky reached for his bundle of tender young bark. "Of course
I will," said he, still chuckling. "Come on,