STORY XXIV                          


Uncle Wiggily Longears and the crying elephant were walking along together one day, talking about the weather, and wondering if it would rain, and all things like that. Only the elephant wasn't crying any more, for the rabbit had pulled the tack that was hurting him, out of the big beast's foot, you remember.

"We'll travel on together to find our fortune, and look for adventures," said the elephant, as he capered about, and stood on his hind legs, because he felt so jolly. "Won't we have fun, Uncle Wiggily?"

"Well, we may," spoke the old gentleman rabbit, "but I don't see how we are going to carry along on our travels enough for us to eat. Of course, I don't need much, but you are such a big chap that you will have to have quite a lot, and my valise is small."

"Don't worry about that," replied the elephant. "Of course you might think I could carry a lot of pie and cake and bread and butter in my trunk, but really I can't you know, for about all that my trunk will hold is water. However, I think I can pick what hay and grass I want from along the road."

"Yes, and perhaps we may meet a man with a hot peanut wagon, once in a while," suggested Uncle Wiggily, "and he may give you some peanuts."

"Oh, joy! I hope he does!" cried the big fellow. "I just love hot peanuts!" Well, they went on together for some time, when, all of a sudden a man jumped out from behind the bushes, and exclaimed:

"Ha, Mr. Elephant! I've been looking for you. Now you come right back with me to the circus where you belong." And he went up to the elephant and took hold of his trunk.

"Oh, I don't want to go," whined the tremendous creature. "I want to stay with Uncle Wiggily, and have some fun."

"But you can't," said the man. "You are needed in the circus. A lot of boys and girls are waiting in the tent, to give you peanuts and popcorn."

"Well, then, I s'pose I'd better go back," sighed the wobbly animal with the long tusks. "I'll see you again, Uncle Wiggily." So the elephant said good-bye to the rabbit, and went back to the circus with the man, while the rabbit gentleman hopped on by himself.

He hadn't gone very far before he heard a loud "Honk-honk!" in the bushes.

"Oh, there is another one of those terrible automobiles!" thought the rabbit. But it wasn't at all. No, it was Grandfather Goosey Gander, and there he sat on a flat stone, "honk-honking" through his yellow bill as hard as he could, and, at the same time crying salty tears that ran down his nose, making it all wet.

"Why, whatever is the matter?" asked Uncle Wiggily, as he went up to his friend, the duck-drake gentleman. "Have you stepped on a tack, too?"

"No, it isn't that," was the answer. "But I am so sick that I don't know what to do, and I'm far from my home, and from my friends, the Wibblewobble family, and, oh, dear! it's just awful."

"Let me look at your tongue," said the rabbit, and when Grandfather Goosey Gander stuck it out, Uncle Wiggily said:

"Why, you have the epizootic very bad. Very bad, indeed! But perhaps I can cure you. Let me see, I think you need some bread and butter, and a cup of catnip tea. I'll make you some."

So Uncle Wiggily made a little fire of sticks, and then he found an empty tin tomato can, and he boiled some water in it over the fire, and made the catnip tea. Then he gave some to Grandfather Goosey Gander, together with some bread and butter.

"Well, I feel a little better," said the old gentleman duck-drake, when he had eaten, "but I am not well yet. It seems to me that if I could have some cherry pie I would feel better."

"Perhaps you would," agreed Uncle Wiggily, "but, though I know how to make nice cherry pie, and though I made some for the hedgehog, I don't see any cherry trees around here, so I can't make you one. There are no cherry trees."

"Yes, there is one over there," said the duck-drake, and he waved one foot toward it, while he quacked real faint and sorrowful-like.

"Sure enough, that is a cherry tree," said Uncle Wiggily, as he hopped over and looked at it. "And the cherries are ripe, too. Now, if I could only get some of them down I could make a cherry pie, and cure Grandfather Goosey Gander."

But it wasn't easy to get the cherries off the tree, and Uncle Wiggily couldn't climb up after them. So he sat down and looked up at them, hoping some would fall off the stems. But none did.

"Oh, dear, I wonder how I'm going to get them?" sighed the rabbit. "Perhaps I can knock off some with a stone."

So he threw a stone, but no cherries came down. The stone did, though, and hit Uncle Wiggily on the nose, making him sneeze.

"Stones are no good!" exclaimed the rabbit. "I'll throw up my crutch." So he threw that into the tree, but it brought no cherries down, and the crutch, in falling, nearly hit Grandfather Goosey Gander, and almost gave him the measles and mumps.

"Well, I'll try and see what throwing up my valise will do," said the rabbit, and he tossed up the satchel, but bless you, that stayed up in the tree, and didn't come down at all, neither did any cherries.

"Oh, I'll have to give up," said Uncle Wiggily. "I'm afraid you can't have any cherry pie, Grandfather Goosey."

"Oh, then I'll never get well," said the old duck-drake gentleman sorrowfully.

"Yes, you will, too!" suddenly cried out a voice, and out from the bushes ran the elephant. "I'll pick the cherries off the tree with my long, nosey trunk," he said, "and you can make all the pie you want to, Uncle Wiggily."

"Why, I thought you went back to the circus," said the rabbit.

"No, I ran away from the man," spoke the elephant. Then he reached up with his long nose, and he picked a bushel of red, ripe, sweet delicious cherries in less than a minute. Then he pulled down Uncle Wiggily's valise out of the tree and then the old gentleman rabbit made three cherry pies. One for Grandfather Goosey Gander, and another, a tremendous big one, as large as a washtub, for the elephant, and a little one for himself. Then they ate their pies, and the old gentleman duck-drake got well almost at once. So all three of them traveled on together, to help the rabbit seek his fortune.

Now in case the ice cream man brings some nice, hot roast chestnuts for our canary bird, I'll tell you in another story about Uncle Wiggily, and Grandfather Goosey Gander.

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