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

Johnny Chuck Helps Peter

J OHNNY CHUCK had watched Reddy Fox try to fool and catch Peter Rabbit, and sometimes Johnny had been very much afraid that Reddy would succeed. But Peter had been too smart for Reddy every time, and Johnny had laughed with the other little people of the Green Meadows whenever the Merry Little Breezes had brought a new story of how Peter had outwitted Reddy.

"Peter'll have to watch out sharper than ever now, for Granny Fox is almost well, and she is very angry because Reddy could not catch Peter Rabbit for her when she was ill. She says that she is going to show that stupid Reddy how to do it and do it quickly," said Jimmy Skunk, when he stopped to chat with Johnny Chuck one fine morning.

Johnny had just been laughing very hard over one of Peter Rabbit's tricks, but now his face grew very sober, very sober indeed. "It won't do to let old Granny Fox catch Peter. It won't do at all. We must all turn in and help Peter," said Johnny. "Why, what would the Green Meadows and the Green Forest be like with no Peter Rabbit?" he added.

Late that afternoon Johnny Chuck happened to find Peter Rabbit taking a nap. Yes, Sir, Peter had actually gone to sleep outside the dear Old Briar-patch. At first Johnny thought that he would waken him and tell him that Reddy Fox was hunting right near. But just then Johnny's bright eyes saw something that made him chuckle. It was the home of some hot-tempered friends of his, a beautiful home made of what looked like gray paper. It was fastened to a bush just above a little patch leading to the very spot where Peter lay fast asleep. Johnny chuckled again, then off he hurried. He sat down on top of a little hill. Pretty soon Reddy Fox came along through the hollow below.

"Hello, Reddy Fox! Do you want to know how you can catch Peter Rabbit?" asked Johnny.

Reddy looked up. He didn't know just what to say. He knew that Johnny Chuck and Peter had always been the very best of friends. Still, friends fall out sometimes, and perhaps Johnny and Peter had. Reddy decided that he would be polite.

"I certainly do, Johnny Chuck," he replied. "Can you tell me how to do it?"

"Yes," said Johnny. "Peter is fast asleep over yonder behind that little bunch of huckleberry bushes. There is a little path through them. All you have to do is to hurry up that little path as fast as and as still as you can."

Reddy Fox waited to hear no more. His eyes glistened as he started off at the top of his speed up the little path. Just as Johnny had expected, Reddy went in such a hurry that he didn't use his eyes for anything but signs of Peter Rabbit.

Bang! Reddy had run head first into the paper house of Johnny Chuck's hot-tempered friends. In fact he had smashed the whole side in. Out poured old Mrs. Hornet and all her family, and they had their little needles with them. Reddy forgot all about Peter Rabbit. He yelled at the top of his lungs and started for home, slapping at old Mrs. Hornet, whom he never could hit, and stopping every few minutes to roll over and over.

Of course when he yelled, Peter Rabbit awoke and sat up to see what all the fuss was about. He saw Reddy running as if his life depended upon it. Over on the little hill he saw Johnny Chuck laughing so that the tears ran down his face. Then Peter began to laugh, too, and ran over to ask Johnny Chuck to tell him all about it.

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