BILLY BUNNY AND THE MARBLE DEER.
In the story before this I told you how the beautiful peacock sang a song which was dreadful, so very dreadful that little Billy Bunny had to hold his ears and run away from the lovely fountain.
Well, after he had hopped along for maybe a million hops or less, he came to a little deer on a smooth lawn. So he stopped and spoke to him, but the pretty little animal never said a word. He didn't even look at the little rabbit, so Billy Bunny touched him on the nose, but, oh, dear me! It was cold and hard, not at all like the nose of a real little deer.
But the little bunny didn't know it was a marble deer. He just thought it was alive, you see, and he was puzzled and didn't know what to do And then a lovely white dove flew down and said:
"He can't speak. He's only a statue."
"What is that?" asked the little rabbit, for he had never seen one before.
"Why, a statue is a figure carved out of marble or stone," answered the dove, and then she began to coo and comb her feathers with her bill.
"Well, I'll just hop along then," said Billy Bunny, and he said good-by. And after a while he came to a little house all covered with red rambler roses, so he looked inside to see who lived there, for he thought perhaps it might be a fairy who owned this beautiful garden with the lovely fountain and the wonderful peacock.
But there was no one inside, so he hopped in and sat down on a small wicker chair and rocked back and forth. For it was a rocking chair, you know. And, by and by, he fell asleep and dreamed that the beautiful peacock was flying around the fountain and scattering the water drops all about with his mag-nif-i-cent tail. And then, all of a sudden, the little rabbit woke up, for somebody was saying:
"Isn't this a dear little bunny?" And Billy Bunny opened his eyes and saw a little girl with yellow curls leaning over him.
"Give him to me," said a boy's voice. And there stood a small boy dressed in a sailor suit and a big sailor hat on which was written, "Battleship Uncle Sam."
And then Billy Bunny knew it was time to be going. So he gave one big hop and maybe two million and a half little skips and jumps, and soon he was far away, and if he hadn't maybe that little boy would have put him in a cage or a big box and kept him shut up for a long time.
"Goodness!" said the little rabbit, "I must be more careful next time." And then something happened. A little hard ball hit him on the left hind foot, and a man's voice called out, "If it hadn't been for that pesky little rabbit I would have made that hole."
And the big man put his golf stick in the bag and watched Billy Bunny limp away to hide in the woods close by.