“Can’t Susie come, too, mamma?” asked Sammie, who did not like to go through the woods alone, especially since there were so many boys wandering about on top of the Orange Mountain, now that spring was getting near.
“Yes, Susie may go if she wants to,” answered the rabbit childrens’ mother. “Do you want to, dear?”
“Oh, yes. I’ll go with Sammie. But I think he ought to carry the basket.”
“Of course I will,” said Sammie, and the two set off to the burrow where Mr. Groundhog had his home. It was not far from the underground house where the rabbit family lived, and the children soon reached it. They knocked on the door, and a voice called out:
“Sammie and Susie Littletail,” answered Sammie. “We have some cabbage leaves and preserved clover that mamma sent you.”
“That is very nice,” remarked the groundhog. “Come right in. I am afraid to come to the door, you know.”
Sammie and Susie walked in and gave Mr. Groundhog the things in the basket. Then Susie, who was very curious, asked him a question.
“Why didn’t you want to come to the door?” she inquired.
“Because,” whispered the groundhog, looking around as if he was afraid some one would see him, “I might see my shadow again, you know, and that would make winter longer than ever. You know I went out Candlemas Day and I saw it, and it frightened me so I rushed back in here, and I’m not going out again until March 16, which will be just six weeks. If I hadn’t seen my shadow, winter would not last so long—at least, that’s what people say. I don’t know whether to believe them or not. But I am not going out again until warm weather is here, so I am very glad your mamma sent me something to eat.”
The groundhog gave the bunny children some bits of dried sweet potato he had put away, and they started for home.
“I don’t believe much in that shadow business,” said Sammie, as he and his sister walked along. “How could a groundhog, seeing his shadow, make winter any longer?”
“I don’t know,” answered Susie, “but it must be so, because every one says so; even Uncle Wiggily Longears.”
“I’m going to ask Nurse Jane Fuzzy-Wuzzy when I get home,” declared Sammie. “Come on, let’s go ’round by Farmer Tooker’s cabbage patch. Maybe we can find a stump or two to gnaw. I’m getting hungry. Mr. Groundhog didn’t give me enough sweet potato.”
“Perhaps that was all he had,” suggested Susie.
They were walking along, through a little wood, when, all of a sudden, the two bunnies heard a hiss, just like the steam coming out of the radiator.
“What’s that?” cried Sammie.
“It’s a snake!” shouted Susie. “Look out, Sammie, or he will grab you.”
Sammie tried to jump out of the way, but he was too late, and the big black snake grabbed him. The snake coiled around poor Sammie, and bit the little rabbit’s ear to make him keep quiet, I suppose, for Sammie was trying to get loose.