PETER LEARNS HIS LESSON
ETER RABBIT, curled up in the little bedchamber at the end of the
long hall in the old house made a long time ago by
Grandfather Skunk, twisted and turned and tried to make
himself feel sleepy. But the harder he tried, the more
wide-awake he seemed to feel. Then he began to think of
Reddy and Granny Fox and what would happen if by any
chance they should find him there fast asleep, and
right while he was thinking about it, he heard a noise
that made him jump so that he bumped his head.
Peter didn't think anything about the bump on his head!
No, Sir, Peter didn't even notice it. He was too
frightened. He held his breath and listened, while his
heart went pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat. There it was again,
that noise he had heard before! Some one was in the
long, dark hall! There was no doubt about it. He could
hear claws scratching. Whoever it was, was digging.
Digging! The very thought made every hair on Peter
Rabbit stand on end. He knew that Johnny Chuck had gone
to sleep for the winter. He knew that Jimmy Skunk could
walk right in without any trouble, and that Jimmy never
takes any trouble that he can avoid. He knew that Bobby
Coon and Unc' Billy Possum don't go into houses
underground unless they have to, to get away from
danger, and very seldom then.
If someone was digging in the long, dark hall, it could
mean but one thing—that it must be some one too
big to get in without making the hall larger; and the
only ones he could think of were Bowser the Hound and
Reddy and Granny Fox! Peter shivered and shook, for
unlike Johnny Chuck's house, this one had no back door.
"If it's Bowser the Hound, he may get tired and go
away. Anyway, I can soon tell, for he will sniff and
snuff and blow the sand out of his nose," thought
Peter, and strained his ears to hear the first sniff.
But there were no sniffs or snuffs. Instead, Peter
heard a sound that made his heart almost stop beating
again. It was a bark, a bark that sounded very much
like the bark of Reddy Fox, and it came from just
outside the door! That could mean but one
thing—that old Granny Fox was digging her way in
to the little bedchamber, while Reddy kept watch
"Oh, dear! Oh, dear! Why wasn't I content to live as I
always have lived? Whatever did I try to do something I
never was intended to do for?" cried Peter to himself,
and shook with fright harder than ever.
There was nothing to do but to sit still and wait.
Peter sat as still as ever he could. After a little
while, the noise in the long, dark hall stopped. Peter
waited and waited, but all was still, and he began to
feel better. Perhaps old Granny Fox didn't know that he
was there at all and had grown tired of digging and had
gone away. Peter waited a long time and then peeped out
into the long hall. Way up at the end he could see
light where the doorway was, and by this he knew that
no one was in the hall.
Little by little, his heart going pit-a-pat, Peter
crept up until he could peep outside. No one was to be
seen. With his heart almost in his mouth, Peter sprang
out and started for the dear Old Briar-patch as fast as
his long legs could take him. And then he heard a sound
that made him stop suddenly and sit up.
"Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho! Hee, hee, hee!"
There, behind some bushes, Unc' Billy Possum, Bobby
Coon, and Jimmy Skunk were laughing fit to kill
The Peter knew that they had played a joke on him, and
he shook his fist at them. But down in his heart he was
glad, for he knew that he had learned his
lesson—that he had no business to try to do what
Old Mother Nature had never intended that he should do.
Of course these are not all of Peter Rabbit's
adventures. Oh my, no! But there are so many other
little people who live on the Green Meadows and in the
Green Forest who have adventures, too, and get into
funny scrapes, that I am sure you will be willing to
say good night to Peter for a little while and hear
about the things that have happened to some of the
others. And so, in the next book, I am going to tell
you about the worries and troubles and exciting escapes
of one of Peter's friends—Unc' Billy Possum.
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