Mr. Toad stopped laughing and hopped a step nearer. “It’s a joke,” said he, and slowly winked one eye.
“I don’t see any joke,” said Prickly Porky, and his voice was very fretful.
Mr. Toad hopped a step nearer. “Are you going to Peter Rabbit’s party?”
“Of course I am. What a foolish question,” replied Prickly Porky.
“To be sure, a very foolish question, a very foolish question, indeed,” assented Mr. Toad. “Do you know that Sammy Jay and Blacky the Crow and Reddy Fox and Shadow the Weasel, who have not been invited, are planning to break up the party and then gobble up all the good things to eat?” he continued.
Prickly Porky laid down his bundle of tender young bark and stared at old Mr. Toad, “How do you know?” he demanded.
Old Mr. Toad chuckled deep down in his throat. “I was underneath a piece of bark on which Sammy Jay was sitting when the plan was made. Of course he didn’t know I was there, and of course I didn’t tell him.”
“Of course not,” interrupted Prickly Porky, beginning to grin.
“Of course not,” continued Mr. Toad, grinning, too. Then he told Prickly Porky all about the plan he had overheard, how Reddy Fox and Shadow the Weasel and Blacky the Crow were to hide near Unc’ Billy Possum’s hollow tree, and how Sammy Jay was to frighten away everybody else by pretending that Bowser the Hound was coming.
“Have you told Peter Rabbit?” asked Prickly Porky.
“Not yet, but I’m going to, by and by,” replied old Mr. Toad. “But first, I want you to help me fool Sammy Jay and Blacky the Crow and Reddy Fox and Shadow the Weasel. Will you?”
“Of course I will if I can, but how can I?” answered Prickly Porky promptly.
Old Mr. Toad hopped up, and stretching up on tiptoe, whispered in one of Prickly Porky’s ears. Prickly Porky began to smile. Then he began to chuckle. Finally he laughed until he had to hold his sides.
“Will you do it?” asked Mr. Toad.
Prickly Porky reached for his bundle of tender young bark. “Of course I will,” said he, still chuckling. “Come on, Mr. Toad, it’s time we were going.”
THE RUNAWAY CABBAGE
Reddy Fox, hiding with Shadow the Weasel in a hollow log near Unc’ Billy Possum’s home, nudged Shadow with his elbow.
“I hear some one coming,” he whispered.
Shadow peeped out. “It’s old Mr. Toad and Prickly Porky,” he whispered back.
Something that sounded very much like a growl sounded way down deep in the throat of Reddy Fox, for Reddy has no love for Prickly Porky.
“And there comes Jimmy Skunk, with a big-goose egg under each arm!” continued Shadow, smacking his lips. Reddy Fox wriggled up where he could peep out, too.
“My goodness! What’s that coming down the Lone Little Path?” whispered Reddy.
Shadow looked. Then he began to laugh, and Reddy began to laugh, too. But it was laughter that made no sound, for Reddy and Shadow didn’t want any one to know that they were hiding there. It was a funny sight they were peeping out at. It certainly was a funny sight. Down the Lone Little Path came Peter Rabbit and his cousin, Juniper the Hare, rolling a huge cabbage.