| Among the Forest People|
|by Clara Dillingham Pierson|
| A charming series of nature stories for young children, including tales of red squirrels, great horned owls, rattlesnakes, and bats. No one can read these realistic conversations of the little creatures of the wood without being most tenderly drawn toward them. Within the context of each story children learn many entertaining facts about the lives and habits of these little people of the forest. Ages 5-7 |
 SEVEN little Rabbits lay on their nest at the end of
the burrow, and wriggled and squirmed and pushed their
soft noses against each other all day long. Life was
very easy for them, and they were contented. The first
thing that they remembered was lying on their bed of
fur, hay, and dried leaves, and feeling a great,
 warm, soft Something close beside them. After a while
they learned that this Something was their Mamma
Rabbit. It was she who had gotten the nest ready for
them and lined it with fur that she tore from her own
breast. She didn't care so much about looking
beautiful as she did about making her babies
It was their Mamma Rabbit, too, who fed them with warm
milk from her own body until they should be old enough
to go out of the burrow. Then they would nibble bark
and tender young shoots from the roots of the trees,
and all the fresh, green, growing things that Rabbits
like. She used to tell them about this food, and they
wondered and wondered how it would taste. They began
to feel very big and strong now. The soft fur was
growing on their naked little bodies and covering even
the soles of their feet. It was growing inside their
cheeks, too, and that made them feel important, for
 Papa Rabbit said that he did not know any other
animals that had fur inside their cheeks. He said it
was something to be very proud of, so they were very
proud, although why one should want fur inside of one's
cheeks it would be hard to say.
What tangles they did get into! Each little Rabbit had
four legs, two short ones in front, and two long ones
behind to help him take long jumps from one place to
another. So, you see, there were twenty-eight legs
there, pushing, catching in the hay, kicking, and
sometimes just waving in the air when their tiny owners
chanced to roll over on their backs and couldn't get
right side up again. Then Mamma Rabbit would come and
poke them this way and that, but getting the nest in
"It is a great deal of work to pick up after children,"
she would say with a tired
 little sigh, "but it
will not be long before they have homes of their own
and are doing the same thing."
Mamma Rabbit was quite right when she said that, for
all of their people set up housekeeping when very
young, and then the cares of life begin.
One fine morning when the children were alone in their
burrow, the biggest little Rabbit had a queer feeling
in his face, below and in front of his long ears, and
above his eager little nose. It almost scared him at
first, for he had never before felt anything at all
like it. Then he guessed what it meant. There were
two bunchy places on his face, that Mamma Rabbit had
told him were eyes. "When you are older," she had said
to him, "these eyes will open, and then you will see."
For the Rabbit children are always blind when they are
When his mother told him that, the biggest little
Rabbit had said, "What do
 you mean when you say I
shall 'see'? Is it anything like eating?"
And Mamma Rabbit said, "No, you cannot taste things
until you touch them, but you can see them when they
are far away."
"Then it is like smelling," said the biggest little
"No, it is not like smelling, either, for there are
many things, like stones, which one cannot smell and
yet can see."
"Then it surely is like hearing," said the biggest
"Oh dear!" exclaimed his mother, who was tired of
having questions asked which could not be answered.
"It is not a bit like hearing. You could never hear a
black cloud coming across the sky, but you could see it
if you were outside your burrow. Nobody can make you
understand what seeing is until your eyes are open, and
then you will find out for yourself without asking."
 This made the biggest little Rabbit lie still for
a while, and then he said: "What is a black cloud, and
why does it come across the sky? And what is the sky,
and why does it let the cloud come? And what is—"
But he did not get any answer, for his mother ran out of
the burrow and he followed part of the way.
And now his eyes were surely opening and he should see!
His tiny heart thumped hard with excitement, and he
rubbed his face with his forepaws to make his eyes open
faster. Ah! There it was; something round and bright
at the other end of the burrow, and some queer, slender
things were waving across it. He wondered if it were
good to eat, but he dared not crawl toward it to see.
He did not know that the round, bright thing was just a
bit of sky which he saw through the end of the burrow,
and that the slender, waving ones were the branches of
a dead tree tossing in the wind. Then he looked
his brothers and sisters as they lay behind him. He
would not have known what they were if he had not felt
of them at the same time.
"I can see!" he cried. "I can see everything that
there is to see! I'm ahead of you! Don't you wish
that you could see, too?"
That was not a very kind thing to say, but in a minute
more his brothers and sisters had reason to be glad
that they couldn't see. Even while he was speaking
and looking toward the light, he saw a brown head with
two round eyes look in at him, and then a great creature
that he thought must surely be a dog ran in toward him.
How frightened he was then! He pushed his nose in
among his blind brothers and sisters and tried to hide
himself among them. He thought something dreadful was
about to happen.
"I wish Mamma Rabbit would come," he squeaked, shutting
his eyes as closely
 as he could. "I wish Mamma
Rabbit would come."
"Why, here I am," she answered. "What are you afraid
The biggest little Rabbit opened his eyes, and there
was the creature who had frightened him so, and it was
his own mother! You can imagine how glad she was to
see that one of her children had his eyes open.
"I will call in some of my Rabbit friends," she said,
"and let you see them, if you will promise not to be
The next day four of the other little Rabbits had their
eyes open, and the day after that they all could see
each other and the shining piece of sky at the end of
the burrow. It was not so very long afterward that the
Rabbit family went out to dine in the forest, and this
was the first time that the children had seen their
father. Often when their mother left them alone in the
burrow she had pulled
 grass and leaves over the
opening to hide it from him, for Rabbit fathers do not
love their children until they are old enough to go out
into the great world, and it would never do for them to
know where their babies are kept. Then their father
taught them how to gnaw tough bark to wear their teeth
down, for Rabbits' teeth grow all the time, and if they
were to eat only soft food, their teeth would get too
long. He taught them, too, how to move their ears in
the right way for keen hearing, and told them that
when chased they must run for the burrow or the nearest
thicket. "Then crouch down on some leaves that are the
color of your fur," he said, "and you may not be seen
"Why should we run?" said the biggest little Rabbit.
"Because you might be caught if you didn't."
"What might catch us?" asked the biggest little Rabbit.
 "Oh, a Hawk, perhaps, or a Weasel."
"What does a Hawk look like?"
"Like a great bird floating in the sky," said Papa
Rabbit. "Now, don't ask me a single question more."
"Does a Hawk look like that bird above us?" asked the
biggest little Rabbit.
His father gave one look upward. "Yes!" he said.
And just as the Hawk swooped down toward the ground, he
saw nine white-tipped tails disappear into a burrow
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