CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE
"Oh, Uncle Wiggily!" cried a voice, as the old rabbit gentleman started out from his hollow stump bungalow one morning to walk in the woods and look for an adventure. "Oh, Uncle Wiggily, be careful!"
"Be careful of what, if you please, and who are you, if I may ask?" politely inquired the bunny.
"I am your friend Alice, from Wonderland," was the answer, "and I want you to be careful and not get hurt today."
"I always am careful," answered Uncle Wiggily. "I look for cabbage and turnip traps wherever I go, and I never pick up a bit of carrot on the Woodland path without first making sure there is no string fast to it, to catch me. What do you mean, Alice?" he asked the little flaxen-haired girl as she came out of the bushes and sat down on the stoop of the hollow stump bungalow. "What do you mean?"
"I don't know just what I do mean, Uncle Wiggily," said Alice. "But last night I dreamed you were in trouble and I could not help you. I felt so sorry! As soon as I woke up this morning I hurried over to tell you to be careful."
"Oh, I'll be careful," promised the bunny gentleman. "But in your dream did no one help me?"
"Yes, after a while two funny little fat boys did," answered Alice. "But I don't remember that part of my dream. However, if you are going for a walk I'll go with you and do what I can in case the Jabberwocky or the Hop Scotch bird try to chase you."
"The Hop Scotch isn't a bird," said Uncle Wiggily, with a laugh that made his pink nose twinkle like the strawberry on top of a cheese cake. "It's a bit of candy."
"Oh, Uncle Wiggily! It's a game!" cried Susie Littletail, the rabbit girl, coming out from behind a stump just then. "It's a game where you jump around on the pavement, and if you and Alice are going to play it, please may I watch you?"
"We aren't going to play," said Alice. "It's long past play time."
"I am going to look for an adventure," said Uncle Wiggily.
"Then, please, may I come?" begged Susie. "I'll help look."
"Come along!" cried jolly Uncle Wiggily and soon the three of them were on their way through the woods.
They had not gone very far, over the paths with the big green ferns on either side, when, all of a onceness out from behind a big log jumped the two bad old skillery-scalery alligators, one with the humps on his tail and the other with his tail all double-jointed, so he could wiggle it seven ways from Sunday.
"Ah, ha!" cried the hump-tailed 'gator.
"Ha, ha!" cried the double-jointed one. "At last we have caught you!" and they both made a grab for the rabbit gentleman, one catching him on the left side and the other on the right, and holding him fast.
"Oh!" cried Uncle Wiggily. "Oh, dear! Please let me go!"
"No!" snapped the first 'gator. And "No!" snapped the second, both flapping their tails.
"Oh, this is my dream! This is my dream!" said Alice, sadly. "But where are the two fat boys that saved Uncle Wiggily. Where are they?"
"Here is one, if you please," answered a voice, and out stepped Tweedledee, the queer little fat chap from the Alice in Wonderland book. "I'll help you, Uncle Wiggily."
"Thank you, very much," spoke the rabbit gentleman. "If you would kindly make these alligators let me go—"
"Pooh! Huh! Humph! What! Him make us let you go? Well, I should say NOT!" sniffed the first alligator.
"The very idea" sneered the second. "It will take a great deal more than one fat boy to make us let go of a nice, fat, juicy rabbit once we have caught him. Certainly NOT!"
"Ahem! How about TWO fat boys?" suddenly asked another voice, and there stood another beside Tweedledee, a fat boy, who looked just the same exactly; even as you seem to yourself when you peek at your reflection in the bath room mirror.
"No, we won't let you go for two fat boys, either," said the double-jointed alligator, while Alice murmured:
"Oh, this is my dream! This is my dream! I wish I could remember how it came out!"
"Was Uncle Wiggily saved?" asked Susie Littletail in a whisper.
"Yes," said Alice.
"Then it's all right," spoke the rabbit girl.
"Let Uncle Wiggily go!" cried Tweedledee in his most grown-up sort of voice.
"Yes, let him go at once!" added Tweedledum.
"No, indeed!" snapped both alligators together like twins, only, of course, they weren't.
"Well, then," went on Tweedledee, "don't you dare to take away or hurt him unless you guess which are our names. Now tell me truly who am I? And, remember, if you don't guess right, you can't have Uncle Wiggily!"
"You are Tweedledum," said the hump-tailed 'gator.
"No, he is Tweedledee," said the other 'gator. "The one standing next to him is Tweedledum. I guess I ought to know!"
"You're wrong," said the hump-tailed 'gator. "The one I saw first is Tweedledum. I guess I ought to know!"
"I know better!" the double-jointed alligator declared. "He is Tweedledee!"
"Tweedledum!" shouted the other 'gator.
"Tweedledee!" snapped his chum. And then they both began disputing, calling each other names, and throwing mud at one another, until, finally, they were so mixed up about Tweedledum and Tweedledee that they let go of Uncle Wiggily and began shaking their claws at one another, so the rabbit gentleman and Alice and Susie (as well as the two fat boys who looked exactly alike) ran safely away and the bunny was saved, just as Alice had dreamed.
"And to think, if the alligators had only looked at our collars, they would have seen our right names," Tweedledum laughed.
"Of course," said Tweedledee.
But everything came out all right and the alligators only had sawdust for supper. And if the wash lady doesn't take my best collar button to fasten the tablecloth to the ironing board in the clothes basket, I'll tell you next about Uncle Wiggily and the pool of tears.