PETER RABBIT PLANS A JOKE
The Imp of Mischief, woe is me,
Is always busy as a bee.
HAT is why so many people are forever getting into trouble.
He won't keep still. No, Sir, he won't keep still
unless he is made to. Once let him get started there is
no knowing where he will stop. Peter Rabbit had just
seen Jimmy Skunk disappear inside an old barrel, lying
on its side at the top of the hill, and at once the Imp
be-  gan to whisper to Peter. Of course Peter
shouldn't have listened. Certainly not. But he did. You
know Peter dearly loves a joke when it is on some one
else. He sat right where he was and watched to see if
Jimmy would come out of the barrel. Jimmy didn't come
out, and after a little Peter stole over to the barrel
and peeped inside. There was Jimmy Skunk curled up for
Peter tiptoed away very softly. All the time the Imp of
Mischief was whispering to him that
this was a splendid chance to play a joke on Jimmy. You
know it is very easy to play a joke on any one who is
asleep. Peter doesn't often have a chance to play a
joke on Jimmy Skunk. It isn't a very safe thing to do,
not if Jimmy is awake. No one knows that better than
Peter. He sat down some distance from the barrel
where he could keep an eye on it. The he went into a
brown study, which is one way of saying that he thought
very hard. He wanted to play a joke on Jimmy, but like
most jokers he didn't want the joke to come back on
himself. In fact, he felt that it would be a great deal
better for him if Jimmy shouldn't know that he had
anything to do with the joke.
As he sat there in a brown study, he happened to glance
over on the Green Meadows and there he saw something
red. He looked very hard, and in a minute he saw that
it was Reddy Fox. Right away, Peter's nimble wits began
to plan how he could use Reddy Fox to play a joke on
Jimmy. All in a flash, an idea came to him, an idea
that made him laugh right out. You see, the Imp of
Mischief was very, very busy whispering to Peter.
 "If Reddy were only up here, I believe I could do it,
and it would be a joke on Reddy as well as on Jimmy,"
thought Peter, and laughed right out again.
"What are you laughing at?" asked a voice. It was the
voice of Sammy Jay.
Right away a plan for getting Reddy up there flashed
into Peter's head. He would get Sammy angry, and that
would make Sammy scream. Reddy would be sure to come up
there to see what Sammy Jay was making such a fuss
about. Sammy, you know, is very quick-tempered. No one
knows this better than Peter. So instead of replying
politely to Sammy, as he should have done, Peter spoke
"Fly away, Sammy, fly away! It is no business of yours
what I am laughing at," said he.
 Right away Sammy's quick temper flared up. He began to
call Peter names, and Peter answered back. This angered
Sammy still more, and as he always screams when he is
angry, he was soon making such a racket that Reddy Fox
down on the Green Meadows couldn't help but hear it.
Peter saw him lift his head to listen. In a few minutes
he began to trot that way. He was coming to find out
what that fuss was about. Peter knew that Reddy
wouldn't come straight up there. That isn't Reddy's
way. He would steal around back of the old stone wall
on the edge of the Old Orchard, which was back of
Peter, and would try to see what was going on without
being seen himself.
"As soon as he sees me he will think that at
last he has a chance to catch me," thought Peter. "I
shall have to
 run my very fastest, but if everything
goes right, he will soon forget all about me. I do hope
that the noise Sammy Jay is making will not waken Jimmy
Skunk and bring him out to see what is going on."
So with one eye on the barrel where Jimmy Skunk was
taking a nap, and the other eye on the old stone wall
behind which he expected Reddy Fox to come stealing up,
Peter waited and didn't mind in the least the names
that Sammy Jay was calling him.
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