UNCLE WIGGILY AND TOADSTOOL
"Were you much frightened when you were in the bear's den?" asked the prickly porcupine as he and Uncle Wiggily went along the road next day. They had slept that night in a hole where an old fox used to live, but just then he was away on his summer vacation at Asbury Park, and so he wasn't home.
"Was I frightened?" repeated the old gentleman rabbit, as he looked to see if there was any mud on his crutch, "why I was so scared that my heart almost stopped beating. But I'm glad you happened to come along, and that you stuck your stickery-ickery quills into the bear's nose. It was very lucky that you chanced to come past the den."
"Oh, I did it on purpose," said the porcupine. "After you got me out of the trap, and I scurried away, I happened to think that you might go past the bear's house, so I hurried after you, and—well, I'm glad that I did."
"So am I," said the rabbit. "Will you have a bit of my carrot sandwich?"
"I don't mind if I do," said the porcupine, polite-like, so he and the rabbit traveler ate the carrot sandwiches as they walked along.
"Well, I don't believe I'm ever going to find my fortune," said Uncle Wiggily sadly. "I began to have hopes, when I picked up the twenty-five-cent piece, but now the bear has that and I have nothing. Oh, I certainly am very unlucky."
"Never mind," said the porcupine, "I'll help you look." But even with the sharp eyes, and the sharp, stickery-ickery quills of the hedgehog, Uncle Wiggily couldn't find his fortune.
But it is a good thing the old gentleman rabbit had company, for as they were walking along under some trees, all of a sudden a big snake hissed at them, like a coffee-pot boiling over. And then the snake uncoiled himself and tried to grab the rabbit by the ears.
"Here! That will never do!" cried the porcupine, and then and there, without even stopping to take off his necktie, that brave creature stuck twenty-seven and a half stickery-stockery-stackery quills into the snake, and then that snake was glad enough to crawl away. Oh, my, yes, and a basketful of soap bubbles besides!
Well, it wasn't long after that before it was dinner time, and the two friends sat down in a place where there were a lot of toadstools to eat their lunch. They sat on the low toadstools, and the higher ones they used for tables, each one having a toadstool table for himself, just like in a restaurant.
"Now, this is what I call real jolly," said the porcupine, as he ate his third piece of hickory-nut pie with carrot sauce on it.
"Yes, it is real nice," said the rabbit. "After all, it isn't so bad to go hunting for your fortune when you have company, but it's not so much fun all alone."
Well, the two friends were just finishing their meal, and they were getting ready to travel on, when, all at once, there was a terrible crashing sound in the bushes, just as if some one was breaking them all to pieces.
"My! What's that?" asked the porcupine, preparing to pull out some more of his stickery-ickery quills.
"It sounds like the elephant," said the rabbit, as he looked around for a safe place in which to hide in case it should happen to be the bear coming after him.
"Oh, if it's the elephant, we don't have to worry. He is a friend of ours," said the porcupine.
Well, the crashing in the bushes still kept up, and then before you could tickle your pussy cat under the chin-chopper, there burst out of the middle of a prickly briar bush a great big alligator—the same one who once before had tried to catch Uncle Wiggily.
"Oh, look!" cried the porcupine. "He's after us."
"Indeed, I am!" exclaimed the 'gator. "I'll have a fine meal in about a minute. I'll pull all your quills out, and eat you with strawberry sauce on; prickly porcupine."
"Oh, don't you let him do it!" cried Uncle Wiggily. "Stick some of your quills in him, and make him go away, Mr. Porcupine."
"It wouldn't do any good," said the porcupine. "You see, the alligator has such a thick skin on him that even a bullet will hardly go through, so my quills won't hurt him. I guess we had better run away."
Well, they started to run away, but the 'gator, with his skillery-scalery tail, chased after them, and he could go very quickly, too, let me tell you. Right after Uncle Wiggily and the porcupine the alligator raced, and he almost caught both of them. Then the porcupine saw a hole just big enough for him to squeeze down, but not big enough for the alligator to come after.
Down into this hole jumped the prickly porcupine, and he was safe, but there was no hole for Uncle Wiggily to hide in, and the alligator was close after him.
"Jump up on a toadstool, and maybe he can't get you!" called the porcupine, sticking the end of his nose out of the hole.
"I will!" cried the rabbit, and up on top of the biggest toadstool he landed with a jump.
"Oh, I can easily get you off there!" yelled the alligator, savage-like. "I'll have you down in a minute."
He reached up with his claws to get the rabbit, and Uncle Wiggily got right in the middle of the toadstool, as far away as he could, but it wasn't very far. The alligator's claws almost had him, when all of a sudden that toadstool quickly began to grow up tall. Taller and taller it grew, for toadstools grow very fast you know. Higher and higher it went, like an elevator, taking Uncle Wiggily up with it.
"Oh, now I'm safe!" cried the rabbit, for he was quite high in the air by this time.
"No, you're not. I'll get you yet!" cried the alligator, as he reared up on the end of his skillery-scalery tail. He made a grab for the rabbit, but the kind toadstool at once grew itself up as tall as the church steeple, with Uncle Wiggily still on top, and then, of course, the alligator couldn't reach him.
"Oh, now I'm safe, but how ever am I going to get down?" thought the rabbit, for the alligator was still there. But, in another minute, along came a policeman dog, and with his club he made that alligator run away back to the swamp where he belonged. Then the toadstool began to get smaller and smaller, and it sank down close to the ground again and lowered the rabbit just like on an elevator in a store, and Uncle Wiggily was safe on earth once more. And he was very thankful to the toadstool, which grew up so quickly just in time.
"Well, we'd better get along once more," said Uncle Wiggily to the prickly porcupine, after he had thanked the dog-policeman. So the two friends set off together through the woods, and the next day something else happened to them.
I'll tell you what it was on the next page, when, in case the iceman brings me some hot chocolate to put on my bread and butter, the bedtime story will be about Uncle Wiggily and chickie.