Johnny Chuck Receives Callers
T HE morning after gentle Sister South Wind arrived on the Green Meadows, Peter Rabbit came hopping and skipping down the Lone Little Path from the Green Forest. Peter was happy. He didn't know why. He just was happy. It was in the air. Everybody else seemed happy, too. Peter had to stop every few minutes just to kick up his heels and try to jump over his own shadow. He had felt just that way ever since gentle Sister South Wind arrived.
So sang Peter Rabbit as he hopped and skipped down the Lone Little
Path. Suddenly he stopped right in the middle of the verse. He sat up
very straight and stared down at Johnny Chuck's house. Some one was
sitting on Johnny Chuck's
"Hello, Peter Rabbit! I told you that I would see you in the spring. How did you stand the long winter?"
That certainly was Johnny Chuck's voice. Peter was so delighted that in his hurry he fell over his own feet. "Is it really and truly you, Johnny Chuck?" he cried.
"Of course it's me; who did you think it was?" replied Johnny Chuck rather crossly, for Peter was staring at him as if he had never seen him before.
"I—I—I didn't know," confessed Peter Rabbit. "I thought it was you and I thought it wasn't you. What have you been doing to yourself, Johnny Chuck? Your coat looks three sizes too big for you, and when I last saw you it didn't look big enough." Peter hopped all around Johnny Chuck, looking at him as if he didn't believe his own eyes.
"Oh, Johnny's all right. He's just been living on his own fat," said
another voice. It was Jimmy Skunk who had spoken, and he now stood
holding out his
hand to Johnny Chuck and grinning
Peter's big eyes opened wider than ever. "Do you mean to say that he has been eating his own fat?" he gasped.
Johnny Chuck and Jimmy Skunk both laughed. "No," said Jimmy Skunk, "he didn't eat it, but he lived on it just the same while he was asleep all winter. Don't you see he hasn't got a particle of fat on him now?"
"But how could he live on it, if he didn't eat it?" asked Peter, staring at Johnny Chuck as if he had never seen him before.
Jimmy Skunk shrugged his shoulders. "Don't ask me. That is one of Old Mother Nature's secrets; you'll have to ask her," he replied.
"And don't ask me," said Johnny Chuck, "for I've been asleep all the time. My, but I'm hungry!"
"So am I!" said another voice. There was Reddy Fox grinning at them. Johnny Chuck dove into the doorway of his house with Peter Rabbit at his heels, for there was nowhere else to go. Jimmy Skunk just stood still and chuckled. He knew that Reddy Fox didn't dare touch him.