Peter Rabbit listened with his mouth wide open. It was just the same kind of a story that Sammy Jay had told. What under the sun could be going on? Peter couldn’t understand it at all. It certainly was very, very curious. He just must find out about it!
PETER RABBIT MEETS UNC’ BILLY POSSUM
After Sticky-toes the Tree Toad had poured out his troubles, Peter went back to the Old Briar-patch, more puzzled than ever. If Sammy Jay was asleep in the far-away Old Pasture on the edge of the mountain, how could he be at the same time down in the Green Forest screaming? And if Sticky-toes the Tree Toad sat all night with his mouth shut tight, how could the voice of Sticky-toes be heard in an altogether different tree than the one Sticky-toes was spending the night in? Wasn’t it enough to drive any one crazy?
The more Peter studied over it, the more puzzled he grew. The next night he started out for the Green Forest with a new plan in his head. He would hide down among the alders by the Laughing Brook. He would see for himself who was screaming with the voice of Sammy Jay and talking with the voice of Sticky-toes the Tree Toad. He just had to know!
So across the Green Meadows and up the Lone Little Path hurried Peter Rabbit, so as to reach the Laughing Brook before jolly, round, red Mr. Sun had wholly turned out his light, after going to bed behind the Purple Hills. He was hurrying so that he almost ran into Unc’ Billy Possum.
“Yo’ seem to be in a powerful hurry, Brer Rabbit,” said Unc’ Billy.
“I am,” replied Peter. “I must get down to the Laughing Brook before dark.”
“‘Pears to me it must be mighty impo’tant to make yo’ hurry this way,” said Unc’ Billy Possum.
“It is,” replied Peter Rabbit. “It’s to keep me from going crazy.”
Unc’ Billy looked at Peter very hard for a few minutes, just as if he thought that Peter was crazy already. Then he put a hand behind one ear just as if he was hard of hearing. “Ah beg yo’ pardon, Brer Rabbit, but Ah don’ seem to have it quite right in mah haid what yo’all am going down to the Laughing Brook for,” said Unc’ Billy in the politest way.
Peter chuckled in spite of himself, as he once more replied:
“It’s to keep me from going crazy.”
Then Peter told Unc’ Billy all about Sammy Jay’s troubles and all about the troubles of Sticky-toes the Tree Toad. It was the first Unc’ Billy Possum had heard about it, for Unc’ Billy had been away from the Green Forest and the Green Meadows for a visit and had just returned. He listened to all that Peter Rabbit had to say, and a funny, pleased sort of look came into his eyes.
“Ah reckon Ah will go along with yo’all,” said he.
So Unc’ Billy Possum went with Peter Rabbit to the Laughing Brook, where they hid underneath the alders.