A STRANGE RIDE AND HOW IT ENDED
ANNY MEADOW MOUSE often had sat watching Skimmer the Swallow sailing
around up in the blue, blue sky. He had watched Ol'
Mistah Buzzard go up, up, up, until he was nothing but
a tiny speck, and Danny had wondered how it would seem
to be way up above the Green Meadows and the Green
Forest and look down. It had seemed to him that it must
be very wonderful and beautiful. Sometimes he had
wished that he had wings and could go up in the air and
look down. And now here he was, he, Danny Meadow Mouse,
actually doing that very thing!
But Danny could see nothing wonderful or beautiful now.
No, indeed! Everything was terrible, for you see Danny
Meadow Mouse wasn't flying himself. He was being
carried. Yes, Sir, Danny Meadow Mouse was being carried
through the air in the cruel claws of Hooty the Owl!
And all because Danny had forgotten—forgotten to
watch up in the sky for danger.
Poor, poor Danny Meadow Mouse! Hooty's great cruel
claws hurt him dreadfully! But it wasn't the pain that
was the worst. No, indeed! It wasn't the pain! It was
the thought of what would happen when Hooty reached his
home in the Green Forest, for he knew that there Hooty
would gobble him up, bones and all. As he flew, Hooty
kept chuckling, and Danny Meadow Mouse knew just what
those chuckles meant. They meant that Hooty was
thinking of the good meal he was going to have.
Hanging there in Hooty's great cruel claws, Danny
looked down on the snow-covered Green Meadows he loved
so well. They seemed a frightfully long way below him,
though really they were not far at all, for Hooty was
flying very low. But Danny Meadow Mouse had never in
all his life been so high up before, and so it seemed
to him that he was way, way up in the sky, and he shut
his eyes so as not to see. But he couldn't keep them
shut. No, Sir, he couldn't keep them shut! He just
had to keep opening them. There was the dear old
Green Forest drawing nearer and nearer. It always had
looked very beautiful to Danny Meadow Mouse, but now it
looked terrible, very terrible indeed, because over in
it, in some dark place, was the home of Hooty the Owl.
Just ahead of him was the Old Briar-patch where Peter
Rabbit lives so safely. Every old bramble in it was
covered with snow and it was very, very beautiful.
Really everything was just as beautiful as
ever—the moonlight, the Green Forest, the
snow-covered Green Meadows, the Old Briar-patch. The
only change was in Danny Meadow Mouse himself, and it
was all because he had forgotten.
Suddenly Danny began to wriggle and struggle. "Keep
still!" snapped Hooty the Owl.
But Danny only struggled harder than ever. It seemed to
him that Hooty wasn't holding him as tightly at first.
He felt only one of Hooty's claws slip. It tore his
coat and hurt dreadfully but it slipped! The fact is,
Hooty had only grabbed Danny Meadow Mouse by the loose
part of his coat, and up in the air he couldn't get
hold of Danny any better. Danny kicked, squirmed and
twisted, and twisted, squirmed, and kicked. He felt his
coat tear and of course the skin with it, but he kept
right on, for now he was hanging almost free. Hooty had
started down now, so as to get a better hold. Danny
gave one more kick and then—he felt himself
Danny Meadow Mouse shut his eyes and held his breath.
Down, down, down he fell. It seemed to him that he
never would strike the snow-covered meadows! Really he
fell only a very little distance. But it seemed a
terrible distance to Danny. He hit something that
scratched him, and then plump! He landed in the soft
snow right in the very middle of the Old Briar-patch,
and the last thing he remembered was hearing the scream
of disappointment and rage of Hooty the Owl.