"Bob White! Bob White! I bid the world good cheer!
Bob White! Bob White! I whistle loud and clear!"
T HAT very same morning Bob White had taken it into his head to come over to live not very far from the dear Old Briar-patch where Peter Rabbit lives. Of course, Peter didn't know that Bob had come over there to live. For that matter, I doubt if Bob White knew it himself. He just happened over that way and liked it, and so finally he made up his mind to look about there for a place to make his home.
Now Peter Rabbit had known Bob White for a long time. Peter, in his roaming about, had met Bob a number of times, and they had passed the time of day. Whenever Peter had heard Bob whistling within a reasonable distance he had made it a point to call on him. Bob is such a cheery fellow that somehow Peter always felt better for just a word or two with him. So when Bob began to whistle that spring morning Peter hurried over, lipperty-lipperty-lip, to call. He didn't have far to go, for Bob was sitting on a fence-post just a little way from the dear Old Briar-patch.
"Good morning," said Peter. "You seem to be very cheerful this morning."
"Why not?" replied Bob White. "I'm always cheerful. It's the only way to get along in this world."
"It must be that you don't have much to worry about," retorted Peter. "Now if you had to run for your life as often as I have to, perhaps you wouldn't find it so easy to be always cheerful."
Bob White's bright little eyes twinkled. "The trouble with a lot of people is that they think that no one has worries but themselves," said he. "Now there is Reddy Fox coming this way. What do you suppose he is coming for?"
"For me!" exclaimed Peter promptly, preparing to scamper back to the Old Briar-patch.
"Nothing of the kind," replied Bob White. "Don't think you are so important, Peter. He doesn't know you are over here at all. He has heard me whistling, and he's coming to see if he can't give me a little surprise. It's me and not you he is after. What's your hurry, Peter?"
"I—I think I'd better be going; I'll call again when you haven't other visitors," shouted Peter over his shoulder.
Hardly had Peter reached the dear Old Briar-patch when Reddy Fox reached the fence where Bob White was sitting. "Good morning," said he, trying to make his voice sound as pleasant as he could, "I'm glad to see you over here. I heard you whistling and hurried over here to welcome you. I hope you will like it here so well that you will make your home here."
"That is very nice of you," replied Bob White, his eyes twinkling more than ever, for he knew why Reddy hoped he would make his home there. He knew that Reddy hoped to find that home and make a good dinner on Quail some day. "It is very pleasant over here, and I don't know but I will stay. Everybody seems very neighborly. Peter Rabbit has just called."
Reddy looked about him in a very sly way but with a hungry look in his eyes as he said, "Peter always is neighborly. Is he anywhere about now? I should like to pay my respects to him."
"No," replied Bob White. "Peter left in something of a hurry. Hello! Here comes Old Man Coyote. People certainly are neighborly here. Why, what's your hurry, Reddy?"
"Hello! Here comes Old Man Coyote."
"I have some important matters to attend to over in the Green Forest," replied Reddy, with a hasty glance in the direction of Old Man Coyote. "I hope I'll see you often, Bob White."
"I hope so," replied Bob White politely, and then added under his breath, "but I hope I see you first."