Gateway to the Classics: The Adventures of Peter Cottontail by Thornton W. Burgess
The Adventures of Peter Cottontail by  Thornton W. Burgess

Happy Jack Squirrel Is Too Busy To Talk

P ETER RABBIT sat with his mouth wide open staring up into the blue, blue sky, where Ol' Mistah Buzzard was growing smaller and smaller. Finally he was just a teeny, weeny speck, and then Peter couldn't see him at all. Peter hitched up his trousers and sat for a long time, looking very thoughtful. He was troubled in his mind, was Peter Rabbit. First Johnny Chuck had said: "I'll see you in the spring," and had disappeared underground; then Grandfather Frog had said: "I'll see you in the spring," and had disappeared in the Smiling Pool; now Ol' Mistah Buzzard had said: "Ah'll see yo' in the spring," and had disappeared up in the blue, blue sky.

"And they all spoke just as if they meant it," said Peter to himself. "I believe I'll go over and see Happy Jack Squirrel. Perhaps he can tell me what it all means."

So off started Peter Rabbit, lipperty-lipperty-lip, through the Green Forest, looking for Happy Jack Squirrel. Pretty soon he caught a glimpse of Happy Jack's gray coat.

"Hi, Happy Jack!" called Peter, hurrying as fast as he could.

"Hello, Peter Rabbit! Don't bother me this morning. I've got too much to do to be bothered," said Happy Jack, digging a little hole in the ground while he talked.

Peter grew curious at once, so curious that he forgot all about what he was going to ask Happy Jack. He sat down and watched Happy Jack put a nut in the hole and cover it up. Then Happy Jack hurried to dig another hole and do the same thing over again.

"What are you doing that for?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"Doing it for? Why, I'm getting ready for winter, of course, stupid!" said Happy Jack, as he paused for breath.

"But I thought you stored your nuts and corn in a hollow tree!" exclaimed Peter Rabbit.

"So I do," replied Happy Jack, "but I would be foolish to put all my supplies in one place, so I bury some of them."

"But how do you remember where you bury them?" persisted Peter.

"I don't always, but when I forget, my nose helps me out. Then I just dig down and get them," said Happy Jack. "Now I can't stop to talk any more, for I am late this year, and the first thing I know winter will be here."

Then Peter remembered what he had come for. "Oh, Happy Jack, what did Johnny Chuck and Grandfather Frog and Ol' Mistah Buzzard mean by saying that they would see me in the spring?" he cried.

"Can't stop to tell you now!" replied Happy Jack, running this way and that way, and pulling over the fallen leaves to hunt for another nut. "Winter's coming, and I've got to be ready for it. Can't stop to talk."

And that was all Peter Rabbit could get out of him, although he followed Happy Jack about and bothered him with questions until Happy Jack quite lost his temper. Peter sighed. He saw Chatterer the Red Squirrel and Striped Chipmunk both quite as busy as Happy Jack.

"It's of no use to ask them, for they are doing the same thing as Happy Jack is," thought Peter. "I don't see the use of all this fuss about winter, anyway. I don't have to get ready for it. I believe I'll go down to the Smiling Pool again and see if maybe Grandfather Frog has come up."

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