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SHADOW THE WEASEL GETS LOST
LL the Green Meadows had heard how Peter Rabbit had
frightened Reddy Fox with an old straw hat, and
everywhere that Reddy went some one was sure to shout
"Reddy Fox is fine to see;
He's as brave as brave can be
'Til he meets an old straw hat,
Then he don't know where he's at!"
Then Reddy would lose his temper and chase his
tormentors. Most of all, he wanted to catch Peter
Rabbit. He lay in wait for Peter in fence corners and
behind bushes and trees, but somehow Peter seemed
always to know that Reddy was there.
In the Old Briar-patch Peter was safe. Reddy had tried
to follow him there, but he had found that it was of no
use at all. Peter's paths were so narrow, and the
brambles tore Reddy's clothes and scratched him so,
that he had to give it up.
Reddy was thinking of this one day as he sat on his
door-step, scowling over at the Old Briar-patch, and
then all of a sudden he thought of Shadow the Weasel.
Shadow is so slim that he can go almost anywhere that
any one else can, and he is so fierce that nearly all
of the Little Meadow people are terribly afraid of him.
Reddy smiled. It was a mean, wicked, crafty smile. Then
he hopped up and hurried to find Shadow the Weasel and
tell him his plan.
Reddy's plan was very simple. Shadow the Weasel was to
follow Peter Rabbit along Peter's narrow little paths
and drive Peter out of the Old Briar-patch on to the
Green Meadows, where Reddy Fox could surely catch him.
So Reddy Fox sat down to wait while Shadow started into
the Old Briar-patch. Peter Rabbit heard him coming and,
of course, Peter began to run. Now, when Peter first
made his home in the Old Briar-patch, he had foreseen
that some day Shadow the Weasel might come to hunt him
there, so Peter had made dozens and dozens of little
paths, twisting and turning and crossing and recrossing
in the most puzzling way. Of course, Peter himself knew
every twist and turn of every one of them, but Shadow
had not gone very far before he was all mixed up. He
kept his sharp little nose to the ground to smell
Peter's footsteps, but Peter kept crossing his own
tracks so often that pretty soon Shadow could not tell
which path Peter had last taken.
Peter led him farther and farther into the middle of
the Old Briar-patch. Right there Shadow came to a great
big puddle of water. Peter had jumped clear across it,
for you know Peter's legs are long and meant for
Now, Shadow hates to get his feet wet, and when he
reached the puddle, he stopped. He glared with fierce
little red eyes across at Peter Rabbit, sitting on the
other side. Then he started around the edge.
Peter waited until Shadow was almost around, and then
he jumped back across the puddle. There was nothing for
Shadow to do but go back around, which he did. Of
course, Peter just did the same thing over again, all
the time laughing in his sleeve, for Shadow the Weasel
was growing angrier and angrier. Finally he grew so
angry that he tried to jump the puddle himself, and in
he fell with a great splash!
When Shadow crawled out, wet and muddy, Peter had
disappeared, and Shadow couldn't tell which path he had
taken. Worse still, he didn't know which path to take
to get out himself. He tried one after another, but
after a little while he would find himself back at the
puddle in the middle of the Old Briar-patch. Shadow the
Weasel was lost! Yes, Sir, Shadow the Weasel was lost
in the Old Briar-patch.
Outside, Reddy Fox waited and watched, but no
frightened Peter Rabbit came jumping out as he
expected. What could it mean? After a long, long time
he saw some one very muddy and very wet and very tired
crawl out of one of Peter Rabbit's little paths. It was
Shadow the Weasel.
Reddy took one good look at him and then he hurried
away. He didn't want to hear what Shadow the Weasel
would say. And as he hurried across the Green Meadows,
he heard Peter Rabbit's voice from the middle of the
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!"
shouted Peter Rabbit.
Reddy Fox ground his teeth.