Uncle Wiggily and his Woodland Friends





STORY XXIX

UNCLE WIGGILY AND THE CAMP FIRE

"Well, how do you find yourself this morning?" asked the berry bush of Uncle Wiggily as the old gentleman rabbit peeped out to see if the bad three-headed wushky-woshky had come back. "Are you all right?"

"Oh, yes, thank you kindly," spoke the rabbit, "but I was just wondering how I could get out of here to go on and seek my fortune without being scratched all to pieces."

"Can't you jump out just as you jumped in?" asked the bush, waving her prickly arms, but taking care not to so much as even tickle Uncle Wiggily.

"No, there isn't room enough for me to get started to jump out," replied the rabbit. "I'm afraid I'll have to stay here a long time, and I really ought to be going on."

"Oh, I have a plan!" suddenly cried the bush. "You are a very good digger, so why can't you dig a tunnel right under me? Start it inside here and curve it up so that it comes outside of my prickly branches, and then you won't be scratched."

"I'll do it!" cried Uncle Wiggily, so with his strong front feet he dug a tunnel, just as you sometimes make in the sand, and soon he was safely outside the berry bush.

"Take some of my berries with you," said the bush, "so you won't get hungry."

"I will," answered the rabbit, and he filled his valise with nice, big blackberries. He felt a little sad about the nice lunch the wushky-woshky had eaten, but there was no help for it—that lunch was gone completely.

So Uncle Wiggily said good-by to the kind berry bush, and traveled on once more to seek his fortune.

"Watch out for the wushky-woshky," called the bush to the rabbit, as she waved her friendly stickery branches at him.

"I will," he said, and then he passed up over the hill and out of sight.

The first place he came to was an old hollow stump, where an old owl had once lived. The rabbit looked down inside the stump, but there was no fortune there.

The second place he came to was a curious little house built of bark, where an old dog, who was a friend to Peetie and Jackie Bow Wow, used to live, but the old dog was away on his vacation at Ocean Grove, so he wasn't at home.

"Perhaps there is a fortune in here," thought the rabbit, but there wasn't any and he went on.

Now the third place he came to was a little house, made out of clothespins, where a pussy cat lived, and the pussy wasn't home, for she had just gone to the store to get some milk.

But the rabbit didn't know this, so he went inside the house to see if there was any fortune there. And the first thing he saw on the mantelpiece was a tin bank, and when he shook it something inside of it rattled, and when he peeped in Uncle Wiggily saw a whole lot of pennies in the tin bank.

"Oh fine!" he cried, "now I have my fortune at last. Some one has gone away and left all this money, so I might as well take it."

Well, he was just putting the bank full of pennies into his valise, when the pussy came back with the bottle of milk.

"Oh! are you going to take my bank away from me?" she cried, very sadly. "I have been saving up my pennies for a long time, and now you have them."

"Oh, I wouldn't take them for the world!" cried the rabbit. "I didn't know they were yours, it's all a mistake," and he placed the bank right back on the mantel. "But perhaps you could tell me where to find my fortune," said Uncle Wiggily, and he told the pussy all about his travels.

"First we will have a drink of milk," said the pussy, and she poured out some for the rabbit. "Then I will go into the woods a little way with you and help you look for your fortune."

"Perhaps we had better take some lunch with us," said the rabbit, so he went to the store and got a nice lunch, which he put up in his valise, and then he and the pussy started off together to the woods.

They looked here and there and everywhere and even around corners, but no fortune could they find, and pretty soon it began to get a little dark. And then suddenly it got all dark.

"Oh, I can never find my way back home!" cried the pussy. "And I am afraid in these lonesome woods."

"Oh! don't be frightened," said Uncle Wiggily, who was very brave. "I will build a camp fire and we can stay here all night. I will cook some supper and in the morning I will take you home."

Then the pussy wasn't afraid any more. She helped the rabbit to gather up some dry leaves and little sticks, and also some big sticks, and soon Uncle Wiggily had a fine fire merrily blazing away in the woods, and it was nice and light. Then he took some leafy branches and made a little house for himself and the pussy and then they cooked supper, making some coffee in an old empty tomato can they found near a wrinkly-crinkly stump.

"Oh, this is real jolly!" cried the pussy, as she warmed her paws and her nose at the blaze. "It is much better than drinking milk out of a bottle."

"I think so myself," said the rabbit. "Now, if I could only find my fortune I would be happy. But, perhaps, I shall to-morrow."

Well, pretty soon Uncle Wiggily and the pussy became sleepy so they thought they would go to bed. They made their beds in the little green bower-house on some soft, dried leaves.

"And I must have plenty of wood to put on the camp fire," said the rabbit, "for in the night some bad animal might try to eat us, but when they see the blaze they will be afraid and run away."

So he gathered a big pile of wood, and then he and the pussy went to sleep. And in the middle of the night, as true as I'm telling you, yes, indeed, along came sneaking the wushky-woshky with his three heads and two tails and his one crinkly leg.

"Now, I'll have a fine meal," thought the wushky-woshky as he saw the rabbit and the pussy sleeping. "Which one shall I take first?"

But all of a sudden his foot slipped on a stone and he made a noise, and Uncle Wiggily awakened in an instant and cried out:

"Some one is after us!" Then the brave rabbit threw some wood on the camp fire, and it blazed up so quickly that it burned the whiskers of the wushky-woshky and he gave three howls, one with each of his mouths, and away he hopped on his one leg, taking his two tails with him.

"My!" cried the pussy, "it's a good thing we had the camp fire, or we would have been eaten up."

"Indeed it is," said the rabbit. "I'll keep it blazing all night." So he did this, and no more wushky-woshkys came to bother them. And in the morning the pussy and the rabbit traveled on together and they had quite an adventure.

What it was I'll relate to you almost immediately, when, in case a little girl named Elizabeth learns how to swim by standing on one toe and holding a red balloon under water, I'll tell you about Uncle Wiggily and the cowbird.



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