Uncle Wiggily and his Woodland Friends





STORY VI

UNCLE WIGGILY AND BUTTERCUP

I hope none of you were burned by a sky-cracker or a Roman candle stick when you had your Fourth of July celebration, but if you were I hope you will soon be better, and perhaps if I tell you a story it will make you forget the pain. So here we go, all about Uncle Wiggily and the buttercup.

The old gentleman rabbit spent a few days in an old burrow next to the bumble bee's house, and then one morning, when the sun was shining brightly, he started off again to seek his fortune.

"I never can thank you enough," he said to the bee, "for going after the sparrow children and saving me from the exploding sky-cracker. If ever I find my fortune I will give you some of it."

"Thank you very kindly," said the bee, as she looked in the pantry, "and here are some sweet honey sandwiches for you to eat on your travels. This is some honey that I made myself."

"Then it must be very good," said the old gentleman rabbit politely, as he put the sandwiches in his valise and started off down the dusty road.

Well, he hopped on and on, sometimes in the woods where it was cool and green and shady, and sometimes out in the hot sun, and every minute or so he would stop and look around to see if he could find his fortune.

"For, who knows?" he said, "perhaps I may pick up a bag of gold, or some diamonds at almost any minute. Then I could go back home and buy an automobile for myself to ride around in, and my travels would be over. I have certainly been on the go a long time, but my health is much better than it was."

So he kept on, looking under all the big leaves and clumps of ferns for his fortune. But he didn't find it, and pretty soon he came to a hole in the ground. And in front of this hole was a little sign, printed on a piece of paper, and it read:

"COME IN! EVERYBODY WELCOME."

"Humph! I wonder if that means me?" thought the old gentleman rabbit. "Let's see, gold grows under ground, in mines, and perhaps this is a gold mine. I'm going down. I'm sure there is a fortune waiting for me. Yes, I'll go down."

So he laid aside his valise and barber-pole crutch and got ready to go down in the hole, which wasn't very big.

"But I can scratch it bigger if I need to," said Uncle Wiggily.

Well, he had no sooner gotten his front feet and part of his nose down the hole, but his ears were still sticking out, when he heard a voice calling:

"Here! Where are you going?"

"Down this hole after gold," replied Uncle Wiggily.

"You mustn't go down there," went on the voice, and pulling out his nose and looking about him, the old gentleman rabbit saw a white pussy cat sitting on a stump. And the pussy cat was washing his face with his paws, taking care not to let the claws stick out for fear of scratching his eyes.

"Why can't I go down this hole, Pussy?" asked the rabbit. "Do you have charge of it?"

"No, indeed," was the answer, "but there is a bad snake who lives down there, and he puts up that sign so the animals will come down, and then he eats them. That's the reason he says they are welcome. No, indeed, I wouldn't want to see you go down there!"

"Ha! Hum! I wouldn't like to see myself!" spoke Uncle Wiggily, and he crawled away from the hole just in time, for the snake stuck out his ugly head and was about to bite the rabbit. It was the same snake that had nearly caught the bumble bee.

"Say!" cried the snake, quite angry like, to the pussy cat, "I wish you would get away from here! You are always spoiling my plans. I thought I was going to have a nice rabbit dinner, and now look at what you have done," and that snake was so angry that he hissed like a boiling teakettle.

"I will never let you eat up Uncle Wiggily!" cried the pussy. "Now look out for yourself, Mr. Snake!" and with that the pussy made his back round like a hoop, and he swelled up his tail like a bologna sausage, and he showed his teeth and claws to the snake, and that snake popped down the hole again very quickly, I can tell you, taking his tail with him. Oh, my, yes, and a bucket of sawdust soup besides.

"I thank you very much for telling me about that snake, little pussy cat," said Uncle Wiggily. "Well, I am disappointed about my fortune again. I shall never be rich I fear. But I almost forgot that I have some fine honey sandwiches and I will give you some, for you must be hungry. I know I am."

"I am, too," said the pussy. So Uncle Wiggily opened his valise and took out the honey sandwiches which the bee had given him, but when he went to eat them he found that the bee had forgotten to butter the bread.

"Oh, that is too bad!" cried the pussy, when Uncle Wiggily spoke of it. "Still they will do very well without butter."

"No, we must have some," said the rabbit. "I wonder how I can get butter in the woods?" So he looked all around and the first thing he saw was a yellow buttercup flower. You know the kind I mean. You hold them under your chin to see if you like butter, and the shine of the flower makes your chin yellow.

"Ha!" exclaimed Uncle Wiggily. "Now we will have butter."

"But you are not going to eat the flower, are you?" asked the pussy.

"No, indeed!" cried the rabbit, "I'll show you."

Now there was a cow in the field a short distance away, and Uncle Wiggily went over and got some milk from the cow in a little tin cup. "Butter is made from milk," said the rabbit to the pussy. "So I will just pour some milk in the buttercup flower, and shake it just as if it was a churn, and then we'll have butter for our honey sandwiches."

So he did this. Into the buttercup he poured the milk, and it became yellow like butter at once. But Uncle Wiggily did not have to shake the flower, for a little wind came along just then and shook it for him.

And pretty soon, in a little while, the milk in the buttercup was churned into lovely sweet butter, and the rabbit and pussy spread it on their honey sandwiches, and what a fine feast they had. Just as they were eating it the bad alligator came along, and wanted to take the honey away from them, but the pussy scratched the end of the savage beast's tail with his claws, and the bad alligator ran away as fast as he could.

Then Uncle Wiggily and the pussy traveled on together and the next day they had quite an adventure. What it was I'll tell you in the next story when, in case the steamboat stops at our house for a little girl wearing a green sunbonnet, with horse chestnuts on it, I'll tell you about Uncle Wiggily and the July bug.



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