UNCLE WIGGILY AND PERCIVAL
Now I'm going to tell you, before I forget it, why old dog Percival was crying that time when he came to the little stone house where the hedgehog lived, and where Uncle Wiggily gave him some cherry pie. And the reason Percival was crying, was because he had stepped on a sharp stone, and hurt his foot.
"But I don't in the least mind now," said Percival, after he had eaten about sixty-'leven pieces of the pie. "My foot is all better."
"I should think that cherry pie would make almost any one better," said the hedgehog, laughing with joy, for he felt better, too. "I know some bad boys to whom I'm going to give some cherry pie, and I hope it makes them better. And to think I threw away the good part of the cherries and cooked the stones in the pie. Oh, excuse me while I laugh again!"
And the hedgehog laughed so hard that he spilled some of the red cherry pie juice on his shirt front, but he didn't care, for he had another shirt.
Well, Uncle Wiggily and Percival, the old circus dog, stayed for some days at the home of the hedgehog, and they had cherry pie, or fritters with maple syrup, at almost every meal. Then, finally, Uncle Wiggily said:
"Well, I guess I must travel on. I can't find my fortune here. I must start off to-morrow."
"And I'll go with you," spoke Percival. "We'll go together, and see what we can find."
Well, he and Uncle Wiggily went on together for some time, and nothing happened, except that they met a poor pussy cat without any tail, and Uncle Wiggily gave her some of the pie. And the next day they met a cat and seven little kittens, and they all had tails, so they had to have some pie, too.
But one night, after Percival and Uncle Wiggily had been traveling all day, they came to a deep, dark, dismal woods.
"Oh, have we got to go through that forest?" asked the old gentleman rabbit, wrinkling up his ears—I mean his nose.
"I guess we have," replied the circus dog. "We may find our fortunes in there."
"It is a pretty dark spot to look for money, or fortunes," said the rabbit. "The best thing we can do is to look for a place to sleep, and in the morning we will hurry out of the woods."
Well, the two animal friends started into the grove of trees, and they hadn't gone very far before it got so dark that they couldn't see to go any farther. Oh, but it was black and lonesome and sort of scary-like! and Uncle Wiggily said:
"Let's stay here, Percival. We'll make a little bed under the trees to sleep in, and we'll build a fire to keep us warm, and cook a little supper."
So Percival thought that would be nice, and soon he and the rabbit had a cheerful little fire blazing, and then it wasn't quite so lonely. Only there was a big owl in a tree, and he kept hollering "Who? Who? Who?" and Percival thought it meant him, and Uncle Wiggily thought it meant him, and they were rather frightened, so they didn't either of them answer the owl, who kept on calling "Who? Who? Who?"
They were just cooking their supper, and cutting up the cherry pie, and putting it on some oak leaves for plates, and they had picked out a nice smooth stump for a table, when, all of a sudden, they heard a voice saying:
"Now you make a jump and grab the rabbit and I'll take the dog. Then we can carry them off to our dens, and that will be the last of them. Get ready now!"
"Did you hear that?" asked Uncle Wiggily of the circus dog.
"Indeed I did," replied Percival. "I wonder if it can be those owls?"
"It doesn't sound like them," said Uncle Wiggily. "I think it is a bad fox, or maybe two of them."
And just then they looked off through the woods, and by the light of the fire they saw two big, savage, ugly wolves. Oh, how their sharp teeth gleamed in the dancing flames, and how red their tongues were!
"Come on! Grab 'em both!" cried one savage wolf. "Grab the rabbit and the dog!"
"Sure! I'm with you!" growled the other savage wolf.
"Oh, what shall we do, Uncle Wiggily?" asked Percival. "They'll eat us up!
"Let me think a minute," said the rabbit. So he thought for maybe half a minute, and then exclaimed: "Oh! I know a good thing to do."
"What?" asked Percival. "Say it quickly, Uncle Wiggily, for those wolves are creeping up on us, and it's so dark we can't see to run away."
And surely enough, those wolves were sneaking up, with their red tongues hanging out longer than ever, for all the world just as if they had eaten cherry pie.
"We must do some funny tricks!" exclaimed Uncle Wiggily. "You know how, Percival, for you were once in a circus, and I learned some when I was with the monkey, and with Fido Flip-Flop. Do some tricks, and maybe these wolves will feel so good-natured that they won't bite us."
So brave Uncle Wiggily stood up on one ear and waved his feet in the air. Then he stood on his nose and turned a somersault. Next he went around and around as fast as a pinwheel, and he whistled a funny tune about a little rubber ball that flew into the air, and when it landed on the ground it would not stay down there.
But I wish you could have seen the tricks Percival did. He jumped through between Uncle Wiggily's long ears, and he walked on his hind legs, and on his front ones. Then he stood on his head, and he made believe he was begging for something to eat, and Uncle Wiggily fed him a carrot, and a piece of pie. Then he put a piece of bread on his nose, tossed it up into the air—tossed the bread, I mean, not his nose—and when it came down he caught it and ate it. Oh, it was great!
Well, those wolves were too surprised for anything. They had never seen tricks like those. First they smiled a bit. Then they smiled some more. Then one laughed, then the other laughed, and finally, when Uncle Wiggily and Percival took turns jumping over each other's backs, the wolves thought it so funny that they had to lie down on the leaves and roll over and over because they were laughing so hard.
And, of course, after that they didn't feel like hurting Uncle Wiggily or Percival. And just then the big alligator came along and chased the wolves away, so the rabbit and dog had no one to bother them except the alligator, and, as he had just had his supper, he wasn't hungry, so he didn't eat them.
So Uncle Wiggily and Percival went to sleep, and so must you, and if the vegetable man brings me a pumpkin Jack o' Lantern, with a pink ribbon on the end of the stem, I'll tell you in the next story about Uncle Wiggily in a well.