But, of course, Arabella Chick couldn’t run home because she was at home already, so she just looked out of the window once more, and there the dog-soldier stood, and he was looking in his gun to see if it was loaded.
“Well, is Uncle Wiggily coming out?” called the dog again.
“I guess I am—that is—are you sure you want me?” asked the poor old gentleman rabbit, puzzled like.
“Yes, of course I want you,” replied the dog.
“Then I guess I’ve got to go!” exclaimed Uncle Wiggily, as he looked for his crutch and valise. “I guess this is the end of my fortune-hunting. Goodbye everybody!” And he felt so badly that two big tears rolled down his ears—I mean his eyes.
Well, he bravely walked out of the door, and as he did so the dog-soldier, with the gun, exclaimed:
“Ah, here you are at last! Now hurry up, Uncle Wiggily, or we’ll be late for the parade!”
And, would you believe it? that dog was good, kind, old Percival, who used to be in a circus. And of course he wouldn’t hurt the rabbit gentleman for anything. Percival just put his gun to his shoulder, and said:
“Come on, we’ll get in the parade now.”
“Parade? What parade?” asked Uncle Wiggily. “Oh my! how you frightened me!”
“Why the Decoration Day parade,” answered Percival. “To-day is the day when we put flowers on the soldiers’ graves, and remember them for being so brave as to go to war. All old soldiers march in the parade, and so do all their friends. I’m going to march, and I’m going to put flowers on a lot of soldiers’ graves. I happened to remember that you were once in the war, so I came for you. I didn’t mean to scare you. You were in the war, weren’t you?”
“Yes,” said Uncle Wiggily, happy now because he knew he wasn’t going to get shot, “I once went to war, and killed a lot of mosquitoes.”
“Good! I thought so!” exclaimed Percival. “Well, I met Grandfather Goosey Gander, and he said he thought you were at this party, so I came for you. Come on, now, the parade is almost ready to start.”
“Oh, how you did frighten us!” exclaimed Arabella, whose heart was still going pitter-patter. “We thought you were going to hurt Uncle Wiggily, Percival.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry I alarmed you,” spoke the circus dog politely. “I won’t do it again.”
Well, in a little while Percival and Uncle Wiggily were at the parade. The old gentleman rabbit left his satchel at Arabella’s house, and only took his crutch. But he limped along just like a real soldier, and Percival carried his gun as bravely as one could wish.
Oh, I wish you could have heard the bands playing, and the drums beating—the little kind that sound like when you drop beans on the kitchen oil-cloth, and the big drums, that go “Boom-boom!” like thunder and lightning, and the fifes that squeak like a mouse in the cheese trap, and then the big blaring horns, that make a sound like a circus performance.