“Good morning,” said Sammy Jay, and tried very hard to make his voice sound smooth and pleasant, a very hard thing for Sammy to do, for his voice, you know, is naturally harsh and unpleasant. “You seem to be looking as happy as ever.”
“Of course I am,” replied Happy Jack. “Why shouldn’t I be? I haven’t a thing to worry about. Of course I’m happy, and I hope you’re just as happy as I am. I’m going to get my breakfast now, and then I’ll be happier still.”
“That’s so. There’s nothing like a good breakfast to make one happy,” said Sammy Jay, helping himself to some suet tied to a branch of the maple tree. “By the way, I saw an old friend of yours yesterday. He inquired after you particularly. He didn’t exactly send his love, but he said that he hoped you are as well and fat as ever, and that he will see you again some time. He said that he didn’t know of any one he likes to look at better than you.”
Happy Jack looked flattered. “That was very nice of him,” said he. “Who was it?”
“Guess,” replied Sammy.
Happy Jack scratched his head thoughtfully. There were not many friends in winter. Most of them were asleep or had gone to the far away southland.
“Peter Rabbit,” he ventured.
Sammy shook his head.
Again Sammy shook his head.
“Jumper the Hare!”
“Guess again,” said Sammy, chuckling.
“Little Joe Otter!”
“Wrong,” replied Sammy.
“I give up. Who was it? Do tell me,” begged Happy Jack.
“It was Shadow the Weasel!” cried Sammy, triumphantly.
Happy Jack dropped the nut he was just going to eat, and in place of happiness something very like fear grew and grew in his eyes. “I—I don’t believe you,” he stammered. “Farmer Brown’s boy took him away and put an end to him. I saw him take him.”
“But you didn’t see him put an end to Shadow,” declared Sammy, “because he didn’t. He took him ’way up in the Old Pasture and let him go, and I saw him up there yesterday. That’s what comes of guessing at things. Shadow is no more dead than you are. Well, I must be going along. I hope you’ll enjoy your breakfast.”
With this, off flew Sammy Jay, chuckling as if he thought he had done a very smart thing in upsetting Happy Jack, which goes to show what queer ideas some people have.
As for Happy Jack, he worried for a while, but as Shadow didn’t come, and there was nothing else to worry about, little by little Happy Jack’s high spirits returned, until he was as happy as ever. And now, though he has had many adventures since then, I must leave him, for there is no more room in this book. Perhaps if you ask him, he will tell you of these other adventures himself. Meanwhile, bashful little Mrs. Peter Rabbit is anxious that you should know something about her. So I have promised to call the next book, “Mrs. Peter Rabbit.”