CHAPTER TWENTY ONE
"A package came for you while you were out adventuring today," said Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy, the muskrat lady housekeeper, to Uncle Wiggily Longears, the bunny rabbit gentleman, as he hopped down the stairs of the hollow stump bungalow to breakfast one morning.
"I wonder what's in it?" asked the bunny as he put a slice of carrot jam on his bread and held it over the lettuce coffee to have it flavored.
"I don't know. You'll have to open it to find out," answered Nurse Jane. "It is marked 'Glass. With Care.'"
Uncle Wiggily was so eager and excited like that he could not wait to finish his breakfast, but quickly opened the package which Mr. Hummingbird, the lightning express messenger, had left at the bungalow early that morning.
"It's a looking glass!" exclaimed the bunny uncle when he saw what it was. "And it's from Alice in Wonderland—at least she used to live in Wonderland before she came to Woodland to have adventures with me."
"And there's a note with it," spoke Nurse Jane, as she saw a piece of white birch bark, with writing on it; the letters having been made with a burned stick which marks black like a lead pencil.
"Yes, it's a little letter," said Uncle Wiggily as he read it. "And it's from Alice. It says: 'Dear Uncle Wiggily: I send you the Looking Glass I once went through, and on the other side I had many adventures. I wish you the same!'"
"That's queer," said the bunny, as he turned the glass over and looked at the back. "I don't see any hole where Alice went through."
"Maybe it closed up after her, the same as fairy doors always close once you pass through," explained Nurse Jane.
"I believe you are right," said Uncle Wiggily. "But this is a very small glass for a girl like Alice to get through," and indeed the glass was one of the kind you hold in your hand.
"Maybe the glass was larger when Alice went through it," said Nurse Jane, "or else perhaps a few drops from her magic bottles dripped onto the looking glass."
"I guess that was it," agreed Uncle Wiggily. "Anyhow, it is very kind of her to send me the looking glass. I may have an adventure with it. I'll take it out on the front steps and then we'll see what happens next."
So, having finished his breakfast, the bunny went out on the bungalow porch and sat with the looking glass in his paw, waiting for something to happen.
He sat there and sat there and sat there and he was just beginning to wonder if anything would happen, when, all of a sudden, there was a rustling in the bushes, and up on the porch popped a bad old skillery-scalery alligator, with bumps all down the middle of his back like the buttons on a lady's dress.
"Ah, ha! I am just in time, I see!" exclaimed the 'gator.
"For what?" asked Uncle Wiggily, suddenly awakening, for he had fallen into a little sleep while he waited for an adventure to happen with the looking glass. "In time for what?"
"To go away with you," answered the alligator.
"But I am not going away," said the bunny. "At least I did not know I was going," and he looked around rather sad and lonesome, for he did not like the bad alligator, and he wanted to see, Uncle Wiggily did, if brave Nurse Jane Fuzzy would not come out and throw cold water on him—on the alligator, I mean—to drive him away. But the muskrat lady had gone to the store to get some cheese for supper.
"I am not going away," said Uncle Wiggily again.
"Oh, yes you are!" exclaimed the alligator, and he smiled in such a way that it seemed as though the whole top of his head would pop off, so large was the smile. "You may not know it, but you are going away, Uncle Wiggily."
"With whom?" asked the bunny.
"With me," answered the 'gator. "We are going away together. I came on purpose to fetch you. Come along," and with that the bad alligator wound his double-jointed tail around the bunny uncle's ears, lifted him out of the rocking chair and started to walk off the bungalow porch with him.
"Oh, stop it!" cried Uncle Wiggily. "Let me go! Let me go!"
"No! No!" barked the alligator, like a dog. "I'll not let you go, now I have you!" and he started to drag the bunny uncle off to the dark, damp, dismal swamp, where the mosquitoes lived with the tent caterpillars.
"Oh, please don't take me away!" begged the bunny. "I wish someone would help me!" and as he said that the alligator gave him a sudden twist and the looking glass, which Uncle Wiggily still held in his paw, came around in front of the alligator's face.
And, no sooner had the 'gator looked in the glass than he gave a loud cry, and, unwinding his tail from Uncle Wiggily, away the bad creature scurried, leaving the bunny alone and safe. And the alligator cried:
"Oh, excuse me! I didn't mean anything! I'll be good! I won't hurt Uncle Wiggily!"
"Well, I wonder what frightened him away?" asked Uncle Wiggily, out loud.
"Seeing himself in the looking glass," was the answer, and there stood Alice from Wonderland. "That is a magical mirror I sent you, Uncle Wiggily," she explained. "It shows the reflection of anything and anybody just as they are and not as they'd like to be.
"And the alligator is such a mean-looking and ugly chap, that, never before having seen himself, this time when he did, in the looking glass, he was frightened, seeing himself as others see him. He thought he was looking at a ugly dragon who would bite him. So he ran away, leaving you alone."
"And I'm so glad he did," said Uncle Wiggily. "It's a good thing I had your looking glass."
Then Alice and Uncle Wiggily had a good time, and if the clothes pin doesn't pinch the pillow case so hard that it tickles the bedspread and makes it sneeze all the feathers out, I'll tell you next about Uncle Wiggily and the White Queen.