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

Reddy Invites Peter Rabbit To Take a Walk

O LD GRANNY FOX was not feeling well. For three days she had been unable to go out hunting, and for three days Reddy Fox had tried to find something to tempt Granny's appetite. He had brought in a tender young chicken from Farmer Brown's hen yard, and he had stolen a plump trout from Billy Mink's storehouse, but Granny had just turned up her nose.

"What I need," said Granny Fox, "is a tender young rabbit."

Now, Reddy Fox is very fond of Granny Fox, and when she said that she needed a tender young rabbit, Reddy made up his mind that he would get it for her, though how he was going to do it he didn't know. Dozens of times he had tried to catch Peter Rabbit, and every time Peter's long legs had taken him to a place of safety. "I'll just have to fool Peter Rabbit," said Reddy Fox, as he sat on his door-step and looked over the Green Meadows.

Reddy Fox is very sly. He is so sly that it is hard work to be sure when he is honest and when he is playing a trick. As he sat on his door-step, looking across the Green Meadows, he saw the Merry Little Breezes coming his way. Reddy smiled to himself. When they got near enough, he shouted to them.

"Will you do something for me?" he asked.

"Of course we will," shouted the Merry Little Breezes, who are always delighted to do something for others.

"I wish you would find Peter Rabbit and tell him that I have found a new bed of tender young carrots in Farmer Brown's garden, and invite him to go there with me to-morrow morning at sun-up," said Reddy Fox.

Away raced the Merry Little Breezes to find Peter Rabbit and give him the invitation of Reddy Fox. Pretty soon back they came to tell Reddy that Peter Rabbit would be delighted to meet Reddy on the edge of the Old Briar-patch at sun-up the next morning, and go with him to get some tender young carrots.

Reddy smiled to himself, for now he was sure that he would get Peter Rabbit for Granny's breakfast.

Early the next morning, just before sun-up, Reddy Fox started down the Lone Little Path and hurried across the Green Meadows to the Old Briar-patch. Reddy was dressed in his very best suit of clothes, and very smart and handsome he looked. When he reached the Old Briar-patch he could see nothing of Peter Rabbit. He waited and waited and waited, but still Peter Rabbit did not come. Finally he gave it up and decided that he would go over and have a look at the young carrots in Farmer Brown's garden. When he got there, what do you think he saw? Why, all around that bed of tender young carrots were footprints and the footprints were Peter Rabbit's!

Reddy Fox ground his teeth and snarled wickedly, for he knew then that instead of fooling Peter Rabbit, Peter Rabbit had fooled him. Just then up came one of the Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind.

"Good morning, Reddy Fox," said the Merry Little Breeze.

"Good morning," replied Reddy Fox, and if you could have seen him and heard him, you would never have suspected how ill-tempered he was feeling.

"Peter Rabbit asked me to come and tell you that he is very sorry that he could not meet you at the Briar-patch this morning, but that he grew so hungry thinking of those tender young carrots that he just had to come and get some before sun-up, and he is very much obliged to you for telling him about them. He says they are the finest young carrots that he has ever tasted," said the Merry Little Breeze.

The heart of Reddy Fox was filled with rage, but he did not let the Merry Little Breeze know it. He just smiled and sent the Merry Little Breeze back to Peter Rabbit to tell him how glad he was that Peter enjoyed the carrots, and to invite Peter to meet him the next morning on the edge of the Old Briar-patch at sun-up, to go with him to a patch of sweet clover which he had just found near the old hickory-tree.

The Merry Little Breeze danced off with the message. Pretty soon he was back to say that Peter Rabbit would be delighted to go to the sweet clover patch the next morning.

Reddy grinned as he trudged off home. "I'll just be at the clover patch an hour before sun-up tomorrow morning, and then we'll see!" he said to himself.

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