Peter Discovers Two Old Friends
OUGH Brother North Wind and Jack Frost were not far behind
Honker the Goose. In a night Peter Rabbit's world was
transformed. It had become a new world, a world of pure white.
The last laggard among Peter's feathered friends who spend the
winter in the
Now Peter rather likes the snow. He likes to run about in it, and
so he followed Tommy Tit up to the Old Orchard. He felt sure that
he would find company there besides Tommy Tit, and he was not
disappointed. Downy and Hairy the Woodpeckers were getting their
breakfast from a piece of suet Farmer Brown's boy had
thoughtfully fastened in one of the
These were the only ones Peter really had expected to find in the
Old Orchard, and so you can guess how pleased he was as he hopped
over the old stone wall to hear the voice of one whom he had
almost forgotten. It was the voice of
On the trunk of an apple-tree he caught sight of a gray and black and white bird about the size of Downy the Woodpecker. The top of his head and upper part of his back were shining black. The rest of his back was bluish-gray. The sides of his head and his breast were white. The outer feathers of his tail were black with white patches near their tips.
But Peter didn't need to see how
As Peter approached,
Yank-Yank turned around so that he was once more head down, and his eyes twinkled as he looked down at Peter. "You're mistaken Peter," said he. "This isn't home. I've simply come down here for the winter. You know home is where you raise your children, and my home is in the Great Woods farther north. There is too much ice and snow up there, so I have come down here to spend the winter."
"Well anyway, it's a kind of home; it's your winter home,"
protested Peter, "and I certainly am glad to see you back. The
Old Orchard wouldn't be quite the same without you. Did you have
a pleasant summer? And if you please,
"Yes, Mr. Curiosity, I had a very pleasant summer," replied
"Yes," retorted Peter promptly. "I want to know how it is that you can walk head first down the trunk of a tree without losing your balance and tumbling off."
Yank-Yank chuckled happily. "I discovered a long time ago, Peter," said he, "that the people who get on best in this world are those who make the most of what they have and waste no time wishing they could have what other people have. I suppose you have noticed that all the Woodpecker family have stiff tail feathers and use them to brace themselves when they are climbing a tree. They have become so dependent on them that they don't dare move about on the trunk of a tree without using them. If they want to come down a tree they have to back down.
"Now Old Mother Nature didn't give me stiff tail feathers, but
she gave me a very good pair of feet with three toes in front and
one behind and when I was a very little fellow I learned to make
the most of those feet. Each toe has a sharp claw. When I go up a
tree the three front claws on each foot hook into the bark. When
I come down a tree I simply twist one foot around so that I can
use the claws of this foot to keep me from falling. It is just as
easy for me to go down a tree as it is to
go up, and I can go
right around the trunk just as easily and comfortably." Suiting
action to the word,
"Do you live altogether on grubs and worms and insects and their eggs?" he asked.
"I should say not!" exclaimed
"I don't see how such a little fellow as you can eat such hard things as acorns and beechnuts," protested Peter a little doubtfully.
Yank-Yank laughed right out. "Sometime when I see you over in the
Green Forest I'll show you," said he. "When I find a fat beechnut
I take it to a little crack in a tree that will just hold it;
then with this stout bill of mine I crack the shell. It really is
quite easy when you know how. Cracking a nut open that way is
sometimes called hatching, and that is how I come by the name of
Nuthatch. Hello! There's
As Yank-Yank spoke, a little brown bird alighted at the very foot
of the next tree. He was just a trifle bigger than Jenny Wren but
not at all like Jenny, for while Jenny's tail usually is cocked
in the sauciest way,
Seep-Seep didn't stop an instant but started up the trunk of that
tree, going round and round it as he climbed, and picking out
things to eat from under the bark. His way of climbing that tree
was very like creeping, and Peter thought to himself that
Round and round up the trunk of the tree he went, and when he
reached the top at once flew down to the bottom of the next tree
and without a pause started up that. He wasted no time exploring
the branches, but stuck to the trunk. Once in a while he would
cry in a thin little voice,
"Does he build his nest in a hole in a tree?" asked Peter of
Yank-Yank shook his head. "No," he replied. "He hunts
for a tree or stub with a piece of loose bark hanging to it. In
behind this he tucks his nest made of twigs, strips of bark and
moss. He's a funny little fellow and I don't know of any one in
all the great world who more strictly attends to his own business
"Not yet," replied Peter, "but I think he must be here. I'm glad you reminded me of him. I'll go look for him."