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The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk by  Thornton W. Burgess
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PETER RABBIT DOESN'T ENJOY HIS JOKE

[28]

A
LL the time that Jimmy Skunk was punishing Reddy Fox for rolling him down hill in a barrel, and while Reddy was sneaking away to the green Forest to get out of sight, Peter Rabbit was lying low in the old house of Johnny Chuck, right near the place where Jimmy Skunk's wild ride had come to an end. It had been a great relief to Peter when he had seen Jimmy Skunk get to his feet, and he knew that Jimmy hadn't been hurt in that wild ride. Lying flat in the doorway of Johnny Chuck's old house, Peter could see all that went on without being seen himself, and he could hear all that was said.

He chuckled as he saw Reddy Fox come up and his eyes were popping right out with excitement as he waited for what would happen next. He felt sure that Reddy Fox was in for something unpleasant, and he was glad. Of course, that wasn't a bit nice of Peter. Right down in his heart Peter knew it, but he had been chased so often by Reddy and given so many dreadful frights, that he felt now that he was getting even. So he chuckled as he waited for what was to happen. Suddenly that chuckle broke right off I the middle, and Peter cried "Ouch!" He had felt a pain as if a hot needle had been thrust into him. It made him almost jump out of the doorway. But he remembered in time that it would never, never do for him to show himself outside, for right [30] away Reddy Fox and Jimmy Skunk would suspect that he had had something to do with that wild ride of Jimmy's in the barrel. So it would not do to show himself now. No indeed!

All he could do was to kick and squirm and twist his head around to see what was happening. It didn't take long to find out. Even as he looked, he felt another sharp pain which brought another "Ouch!" from him and made him kick harder than ever. Two very angry little insects were just getting ready to sting him again, and more were coming. They were Yellow Jackets, which you know belong to the wasp family and carry very sharp little lances in their tails. The fact is, this old house of Johnny Chuck's had been deserted so long the Yellow Jackets had decided that as no one else was using it, they [31] would, and they had begun to build their home just inside the hall.

Poor Peter! What could he do? He didn't dare go out, and he simply couldn't stay where he was. Whatever he did must be done quickly, for it looked to him as if a regular army of Yellow Jackets was coming, and those little lances they carried were about the most painful things he knew of. By this time he had lost all interest in what was going on outside. There was quite enough going on inside; too much, in fact. He remembered that Johnny Chuck digs his house deep down in the ground. He looked down the long hall. It was dark down there. Perhaps if he went down there, these angry little warriors wouldn't follow him. It was worth trying, anyway.

So Peter scrambled to his feet and scurried down the long hall, and as he [32] ran, he cried "Ouch! Ouch! Oh! Ohoo!" Those sharp little lances were very busy, and there was no way of fighting back. At the end of the long hall was a snug little room, very dark but cool and comfortable. It was just as he had hoped; the Yellow Jackets did not follow him down there. They had driven him away from their home, which was right near the entrance, and they were satisfied.

But what a fix he was in! What a dreadful fix! He ached and smarted all over. My goodness, how de did smart! And to get out he would have to go right past the Yellow Jacket home again.

"Oh, dear, I wish I had never thought of such a joke," moaned Peter, trying in vain to find a comfortable position. "I guess I am served just right."

I rather think he was, don't you?


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