JIMMY SKUNK KEEPS HIS WORD
Keep your word, whate'er you do,
And to your inmost self be true.
HEN Jimmy Skunk shouted down the hall of Johnny Chuck's old
house to Peter Rabbit that he would come back at dark,
he was half joking. He did it to make Peter uneasy and
to worry him. The truth is, Jimmy was no longer angry
at all. He had quite recovered his good nature and was
very much inclined to laugh himself over Peter's trick.
But he felt that it wouldn't do to let Peter off
without some kind of punishment, and so he decided to
frighten Peter a little. He knew that Peter wouldn't
 dare come out during the daytime because of the Yellow
Jackets whose home was just inside the doorway of that
old house; and he knew that Peter wouldn't dare face
him, for he would be afraid of being treated as Reddy
Fox had been. So that is why he told Peter that he was
coming back at dark. He felt that if Peter was kept a
prisoner in there for a while, all the time worrying
about how he was to get out, he would be very slow to
try such a trick again.
As Jimmy ambled away to look for some beetles, he
chuckled and chuckled and chuckled. "I guess that by
this time Peter wishes he hadn't thought of the joke on
Reddy Fox and myself," said he. "Perhaps I'll go back
there tonight and perhaps I won't. He won't know
whether I do or not, and he won't dare come out."
The he stopped and scratched his
 head thoughtfully.
Then he sighed. Then he scratched his head again and
once more sighed. "I really don't want to go back there
tonight," he muttered, "but I guess I'll have to. I
said I would, and so I'll have to do it. I believe in
keeping my word. If I shouldn't and some day he should
find it out, he wouldn't believe me the next time I
happened to say I would do a thing. Yes, Sir, I'll have
to go back. There is nothing like making people believe
that when you say a thing you mean it. There is nothing
like keeping your word to make people respect you."
Being naturally rather lazy, Jimmy decided not to go
any farther than the edge of the Old Orchard, which was
only a little way above Johnny Chuck's old house, where
Peter was a prisoner. There Jimmy found a warm, sunny
spot and curled up for a nap. In fact,
 he spent all the
day there. When jolly, round, red Mr. Sun went to bed
behind the Purple Hills, and the Black Shadows came
trooping across the Green Meadows, Jimmy got up,
yawned, chuckled, and then slowly ambled down to Johnny
Chuck's old house. A look at the footprints in the sand
on the door-step told him that Peter had not come out.
Jimmy sat down and waited until it was quite dark. Then
he poked his head in at the doorway. The Yellow Jackets
had gone to bed for the night.
"Come out, Peter. I'm waiting for you!" he called down
the hall, and made his voice sound as angry as he
could. But inside he was chuckling. Then Jimmy skunk
calmly turned and went about his business. He had kept
As for Peter Rabbit, that had been one of the very
worst days he could
re-  call. He had ached and smarted
from the stings of the Yellow Jackets; he had worried
all day about what would happen to him if he did meet
Jimmy Skunk, and he was hungry. He had had just a
little bit of hope, and this was that Jimmy Skunk
wouldn't come back when it grew dark. He had crept part
way up the hall at the first hint of night and
stretched himself out to wait until he could be sure
that those dreadful Yellow Jackets had gone to sleep.
He had just about made up his mind that it was safe for
him to scamper out when Jimmy Skunk's voice came down
the hall to him. Poor Peter! The sound of that voice
almost broke his heart.
"He has come back. He's kept his word," he half sobbed
as he once more went back to Johnny Chuck's old
There he stayed nearly all the rest of
 the night,
though his stomach was so empty it ached. Just before
it was time for Mr. Sun to rise, Peter ventured to dash
out of Johnny Chuck's old house. He got past the home
of the Yellow Jackets safely, for they were not yet
awake. With his heart in his mouth, he sprang out of
the doorway. Jimmy Skunk wasn't there. With a sign of
relief, Peter started for the dear, safe Old
Briar-patch, lipperty-lipperty-lip, as fast as he could
"I'll never, never play another joke," he said, over
and over again as he ran.