As I told you in the last story, little Billy Bunny stopped to rest after escaping from the Miller’s Boy, and while he stood on his hind legs and looked around, who should fly down from a tree but Old Mother Magpie. And the very first thing she said to the little rabbit was, “My goodness, what a dirty little bunny you are.”
And this of course made Billy Bunny very angry, for he didn’t think he was dirty. So he opened his knapsack and took out a little mirror which a lady bunny had dropped one day in the Friendly Forest and looked at himself, and sure enough there was a great black smudge right across his face.
“Ha! Ha!” laughed Old Mother Magpie. “You wouldn’t believe me, would you?” And then she laughed again.
“No, I wouldn’t believe anything you said,” answered the little rabbit, “for you’ve told more untruths about people than anybody I know, and that’s the reason they call you ‘Old Mother Mischief.’”
Well, sir! This made her so mad that she flew at the little rabbit, and maybe she would have pecked his eyes out if he hadn’t put on a pair of goggles that belonged to his dear, kind Uncle Lucky.
“Please go ’way,” said the little rabbit, “I can’t help being rude to you because you’re so rude to other people,” and he hopped away as fast as he could before she could say another unkind word, and by and by he came across Squirrel Nutcracker.
Now the old gentleman squirrel had grown pretty old and was very hard of hearing, and when Billy Bunny said “Good morning” he never heard him at all, but just sat there on the old log and ate a peanut which he had saved from the last circus.
So Billy Bunny hopped up behind him and leaned over and called out quite loud right in his left ear, “Good morning!” And this so startled Old Squirrel Nutcracker that he swallowed the peanut shell, and then he began to choke until he got black and blue in the face.
And, of course, this frightened the little rabbit, too, for he felt it was his fault, so he patted Old Squirrel Nutcracker on the back, and by and by the old gentleman squirrel stopped coughing, although he was dreadfully mad to think that he had swallowed the circus peanut without even tasting it.
“Look here, young rabbit,” he said with a scowl, “don’t you ever again shout in my ear! If you do I’ll pin back both your ears with a pine needle and send you home to your mother!” Wasn’t that a dreadful thing for him to say?
Well, sir, after that Billy Bunny thought it was time to be going, so he bowed to the old squirrel and hopped away, and after maybe a million hops, skips and jumps, he reached the Old Brier Patch, where he found his dear mother standing in the doorway of her little house waiting for her bunny boy.
And that’s a good place to leave him for to-night, don’t you think so? For we’ll know he’s safe and sound with his own dear mother, so go to sleep and to-morrow I’ll tell you another story; yes, I will, if you are good.