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

Johnny Chuck Prepares for Winter

T HERE was something in the air that Peter Rabbit couldn't understand. It made him feel frisky and happy and ready to run a race or have a frolic with any one who might happen along. He couldn't understand why it didn't make all his friends and neighbors on the Green Meadows and in the Green Forest feel the same way. But it didn't. No, Sir, it didn't. Some of those with whom he best liked to play wouldn't play at all, not even for a few minutes; said they hadn't time. Peter was puzzling over it as he scampered down the Lone Little Path, kicking his heels and trying to jump over his own shadow. Just ahead of him, sitting on his own door-step, sat Johnny Chuck.

"My goodness, how fat Johnny Chuck is getting!" thought Peter Rabbit. Then he shouted: "Come on and play hide and seek, Johnny Chuck!"

But Johnny Chuck shook his head. "Can't!" said he. "I've got to get ready for winter."

Peter Rabbit sat down and looked at Johnny Chuck curiously. He couldn't understand why anybody should take the trouble to get ready for winter. He didn't, excepting that he put on a warmer coat. So he couldn't imagine why Johnny Chuck should have to get ready for winter.

"How do you do it?" he asked.

"Do what?" Johnny Chuck looked up in surprise.

"Why, get ready for winter, of course," Peter replied, just a wee bit impatiently.

Johnny Chuck looked at Peter as if he thought Peter was very stupid indeed.

"Why, I eat, of course," said he shortly, and began to stuff himself as if he hadn't had anything to eat for a week, when all the time he was so fat and roly-poly that he could hardly waddle.

Peter's eyes twinkled. "I should think you did!" he exclaimed. "I wouldn't mind getting ready for winter that way myself." You know Peter thinks a very great deal of his stomach. Then he added: "I should think you were trying to eat enough to last you all winter."

Johnny Chuck yawned sleepily and then once more began to eat. "I am," he said briefly, talking with his mouth full.

"What's that?" cried Peter Rabbit, his big eyes popping out.

"I said I'm trying to eat enough to last me all winter! That's the way I get ready for winter," replied Johnny Chuck, just a wee bit crossly. "I think I've got enough now," he added. "How cool it is getting! I think I'll go down and go to sleep. I'll see you in the spring, Peter Rabbit."

"Wha— what's that?" exclaimed Peter Rabbit, looking as if he thought he hadn't heard aright. But Johnny Chuck had disappeared inside his house.

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