PETER RABBIT AND UNC’ BILLY POSSUM KEEP WATCH
“Now,” said Peter Rabbit, as they settled themselves to watch, “we’ll see for ourselves whether Sammy Jay and Sticky-toes have been telling the truth, or if they have been dreaming. If we hear Sammy Jay’s voice down here in the alders to-night, we ought to be able to see who is using it, for pretty soon the moon will be up, and then we can see easily.”
Unc’ Billy Possum didn’t say anything, not a word, but if Peter Rabbit had noticed Unc’ Billy’s eyes, he would have seen a very knowing look there.
The fact is, Unc’ Billy was thinking of the time when he thought he had heard the voice of an old friend of his from way down South, and he was beginning to suspect that he had been right, and that his old friend really was somewhere in the Green Forest.
“Ah reckon he sho’ly is, and he’s plumb full of his ol’ tricks, just like he used to be,” muttered Unc’ Billy.
“What’s that?” asked Peter, pricking up his ears.
“Nothing, nothing, Brer Rabbit, nothing at all. Ah has a habit of just talking foolishness to mahself,” replied Unc’ Billy.
Peter looked at him sharply, but Unc’ Billy’s shrewd little face looked so innocent that Peter was ashamed to doubt what Unc’ Billy said.
“I guess that we better not talk any more, for fear we might be heard and have our watch for nothing,” said Peter.
Unc’ Billy agreed, and side by side they sat as still as if they were made of wood or stone. The black shadows came early to the alders beside the Laughing Brook, and soon it was very dark, so dark that Peter and Unc’ Billy, whose eyes are meant for seeing in the dark as well as in the light, had hard work to make out much. It grew later and later, and still there was not a sound of the voice of either Sammy Jay or Sticky-toes the Tree Toad. Peter began to get hungry. The more he thought about it, the hungrier he grew. He was just about ready to give it up, when the moonbeams began to creep in among the alder trees just as they had crept through the Green Forest the night that Sammy Jay kept awake all night.
The moonbeams crept farther and farther into the thicket of alder trees and bushes where Peter Rabbit and Unc’ Billy Possum were hiding. Then it was that they heard the voice of Sticky-toes the Tree Toad. At any rate, Peter was sure that it was the voice of Sticky-toes until a fierce, angry whisper came down to him from the branch of an alder just over his head. Peter looked up. There sat Sticky-toes himself, but his voice was coming from an alder on the other side of the Laughing Brook.
“Do you hear that? Do you hear that? There’s my voice over there, and here I am here! What do you make of it?” whispered Sticky-toes.
Peter didn’t know what to make of it. All he could do was to gaze at Sticky-toes as if he thought Sticky-toes was a ghost. Just then the voice of Sammy Jay, or what sounded for all the world like Sammy’s voice, screamed “Thief! thief! thief!” from the very spot where they had just heard the voice of Sticky-toes.