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

Peter Tries Ol' Mistah Buzzard

P ETER RABBIT sat on the edge of the Smiling Pool and stared at the place where Grandfather Frog had disappeared with a great splash. He watched the tiny waves spread out in rings that grew bigger and bigger and then finally disappeared too. Now what did Grandfather Frog mean when he said: "I'll see you in the spring, Peter Rabbit?" Johnny Chuck had said that very same thing as he had gone down the long hall of his snug house, yet it would be a long, long time before spring, for it was not winter yet. Where did they expect to be all winter, and what did they expect to do? The more Peter puzzled over it, the less he could understand it.

"My head is whirling round and round,

So many funny things I've found;

Folks say it grows too cold to stay,

Yet do not seem to go away.

They talk of meeting in the spring

But don't explain a single thing.

"They just go into their houses and say good-by. I don't understand it at all, at all," said Peter Rabbit, staring at the big lily-pad on which Grandfather Frog had sat all summer, watching for foolish green flies to come his way. Somehow that big lily-pad made Peter Rabbit feel terribly lonely. Then he had a happy thought.

"I'll just run over and ask Ol' Mistah Buzzard what it all means; he'll be sure to know," said Peter Rabbit, and off he started, lipperty-lipperty-lip, for the Green Forest.

When Peter got where he could see the tall dead tree that Ol' Mistah Buzzard had made his favorite resting-place, he could see Ol' Mistah Buzzard stretching his big wings, as if he was getting ready to fly. Peter hurried faster. He didn't want Mistah Buzzard to get away before he could ask him what Johnny Chuck and Grandfather Frog had meant. Peter couldn't shout, because he hasn't much of a voice, you know, and then he was out of breath, anyway. So he just made those long legs of his go as fast as ever they could, which is very fast indeed.

Just as Peter Rabbit almost reached the tall dead tree, Ol' Mistah Buzzard jumped off the branch he had been sitting on, gave two or three flaps with his great wings, and then, spreading them out wide, began to sail round and round and up and up, as only Ol' Mistah Buzzard can.

"Wait! Wait! Please wait!" panted Peter Rabbit, but his voice was so weak that Ol' Mistah Buzzard didn't hear him. He saw Peter, however, but of course he didn't know that Peter wanted to talk with him. With a long swoop, Ol' Mistah Buzzard sailed off right over Peter's head.

"Good-by, Brer Rabbit; Ah'll see yo' in the spring!" said Ol' Mistah Buzzard, and before Peter could say a word, he was out of hearing up in the sky.

Peter watched him go up and up until he was just a speck in the blue, blue sky.

"Now what did he mean by that? Is he going to stay up in the sky until spring?" asked Peter Rabbit of himself. But not knowing, of course he couldn't answer.

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