BILLY BUNNY





STORY XXXVI.

BILLY BUNNY AND WOODCHUCK.

You remember in the last story that just as Billy Bunny hopped into the hollow stump a voice said, "What are you doing in here?"

"I came in to get out of the wet," answered the little rabbit, and then the voice replied:

"What! Is it raining? I'll lend you an umbrella!" and an old woodchuck opened a little door in the side of the stump and winked at Billy Bunny.

"That's very kind of you," said the little rabbit, and he opened his knapsack and gave the woodchuck a nice lollypop, and after that the woodchuck said: "I think you'd better stay here with me until the rain is over. Don't you think so?"

And Billy Bunny said yes, for the woodchuck was very nice and had such good manners that the little rabbit felt quite at home.

But oh, dear me! it began to rain so hard right then and there that the water just poured into the old hollow stump, and pretty soon it was very uncomfortable. So the woodchuck said:

"Now don't you ever tell anybody where I'm going to take you. For it's my very own house, and I never let anybody know just where I do live. You see, so many people are after me, some with guns and some with sharp teeth and claws, that I have to be very careful."

So the little rabbit promised, and then he followed the woodchuck through the little door and down a long passage until they came to a nice, large, comfortable room.

"Now, this is where I live," said the woodchuck, and he went over to the cupboard and took out a carrot candy gumdrop and gave it to Billy Bunny, and then he lighted a big cigar and sat down in his old armchair and smoked.

And all the time they could hear the rain pattering on the grass overhead, for it's wonderful how you can hear all sorts of sounds when you're under ground and have big ears like a rabbit, you know.

"Now, I'll tell you a story," said the old woodchuck after he had blown some lovely round rings of smoke into the air.

    "Once upon a time,
     Not so very long ago,
     A band of tiny fairies
     Lived in the woodland near.
     And often I would hear them
     A-singing soft and low
     When all was dark and quiet
     And the moon shone bright and clear.
     So one evening I stole softly
     Out of the hollow stump,
     And found them dancing merrily
     With tiny skip and jump;
     And just as I was going
     To say how do you do,
     The Fairy Queen began to scream.
     And then away she flew.
     And then her tiny subjects
     Took fright and ran off, too,
     And now I never see them more
     A-dancing near my old stump door."

"That's too bad," said the little rabbit, for he was so interested in what the old woodchuck was saying that he had forgotten all about his lollypop and had dropped it on the floor.




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