THE OLD BRIAR-PATCH HAS A NEW TENANT
ANNY MEADOW MOUSE slowly opened his eyes and then closed them again
quickly, as if afraid to look around. He could hear
some one talking. It was a pleasant voice, not at all
like the terrible voice of Hooty the Owl, which was the
very last thing that Danny Meadow Mouse could remember.
Danny lay still a minute and listened.
"Why, Danny Meadow Mouse, where in the world did you
drop from?" asked the voice. It sounded like—why,
very much like Peter Rabbit speaking. Danny opened his
eyes again. It was Peter Rabbit.
"Where—where am I?" asked Danny Meadow Mouse in a
very weak and small voice.
"In the middle of the dear Old Briar-patch with me,"
replied Peter Rabbit. "But how did you get here? You
seemed to drop right out of the sky."
Danny Meadow Mouse shuddered. Suddenly he remembered
everything: how Hooty the Owl had caught him in great
cruel claws and had carried him through the moonlight
across the snow-covered Green Meadows, how he had felt
Hooty's claws slip and then had struggled and kicked
and twisted and turned until his coat had torn and he
had dropped down, down, down until he had landed in the
soft snow and knocked all the breath out of his little
body. The very last thing he could remember was Hooty's
fierce scream of rage and disappointment. Danny
Then a new thought came to him. He must get out of
sight! Hooty might catch him again! Danny tried to
scramble to his feet.
"Ooch! Oh!" groaned Danny and lay still again.
"There, there. Keep still, Danny Meadow Mouse. There's
nothing to be afraid of here," said Peter Rabbit
gently. His big eyes filled with tears as he looked at
Danny Meadow Mouse, for Danny was all torn and hurt by
the cruel claws of Hooty the Owl, and you know Peter
has a very tender heart.
So Danny lay still, and while Peter Rabbit tried to
make him comfortable and dress his hurts, he told Peter
all about how he had forgotten to watch up in the ksy
and so had been caught by Hooty the Owl, and all about
his terrible ride in Hooty's cruel claws.
"Oh, dear, whatever shall I do now?" he ended. "However
shall I get back home to my warm house of grass, my
safe little tunnels under the snow, and my little store
of seeds in the snug hollow in the old fence-post?"
Peter Rabbit looked thoughtful. "You can't do it," said
he. "You simply can't do it. It is such a long way for
a little fellow like you that it wouldn't be safe to
try. If you went at night, Hooty the Owl might catch
you again. If you tried in daylight, old Roughleg the
Hawk would be almost sure to see you. And night or day
old Granny Fox or Reddy Fox might come snooping around,
and if they did, they would be sure to catch you. I
tell you what, you stay right here! The dear Old
Briar-patch is the safest place in the world. Why, just
think, here you can come out in broad daylight and
laugh at Granny and Reddy Fox and at old Roughleg the
Hawk, because the good old brambles will keep them out,
if they try to get you. You can make just as good
tunnels under the snow here as you had there, and there
are lots and lots of seeds on the ground to eat. You
know I don't care for them myself. I'm lonesome
sometimes, living here all alone. You stay here, and
we'll have the Old Briar-patch to ourselves."
Danny Meadow Mouse looked at Peter gratefully. "I will,
and thank you ever so much, Peter Rabbit," he said.
And this is how the dear Old Briar-patch happened to
have another tenant.
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