“But where are you?” the puzzled old gentleman rabbit wanted to know. “I can’t see you.”
“No, and for a very good reason,” answered the voice. “You see I have very weak eyes, and if I came out in the sun, without my smoked glasses on, I might get blind. So I have to hide down in this hollow stump.”
“Then put on your glasses and come out where I can see you,” invited the old gentleman rabbit, and all the while he was trying to remember where he had heard that voice before. At first he thought it might be Grandfather Goosey Gander, or Uncle Butter, the goat, yet it didn’t sound like either of them.
“I have sent my glasses to the store to be fixed, so I can’t wear them and come out,” went on the voice. “But if you are seeking your fortune I know the very place where you can find it.”
“Where?” asked Uncle Wiggily, eagerly.
“Right down in this hollow stump,” was the reply. “There are all kinds of fortunes here, and you may take any kind you like Mr. Longears.”
“Ha! That is very nice,” thought the rabbit. “I have not had to travel far before finding my fortune. I wonder if there is a cure for rheumatism in that stump, too?” So he asked about it.
“Of course, your rheumatism can be cured in here,” came the quick answer. “In fact, I guarantee to cure any disease—measles, chicken-pox, mumps and even toothache. So if you have any friends you want cured send them to me.”
“I wish I could find out who you were,” spoke the rabbit. “I seem to know your voice, but I can’t think of your name.”
“Oh, you’ll know me as soon as you see me,” said the voice. “Just hop down inside this hollow stump, and your fortune is as good as made, and your rheumatism will soon be gone. Hop right down.”
Well, Uncle Wiggily didn’t like the looks of the black hole down inside the stump, and he peered into it to see what he could see, but it was so black that all he could make out was something like a lump of coal.
“Well, Dr. Possum said I needed to have a change of scene, and some adventures,” said the rabbit, “so I guess I’ll chance it. I’ll go down, and perhaps I may find my fortune.”
Then, carefully holding his crutch and his satchel, Uncle Wiggily hopped down inside the stump. He felt something soft, and furry, and fuzzy, pressing close to him, and at first he thought he had bumped into Dottie or Willie Lambkin.
But then, all of a sudden, a harsh voice cried out:
“Ha! Now I have you! I was just wishing some one would come along with my dinner, and you did! Get in there, and see if you can find your fortune, Uncle Wiggily!” And with that what should happen but that big, black bear, who had been hiding in the stump, pushed Uncle Wiggily into a dark closet, and locked the door! And there the poor rabbit was, and the bear was getting ready to eat him up.
But don’t worry, I’ll find a way to get him out, and in case we have ice cream pancakes for supper I’ll tell you, in the next story, how Uncle Wiggily got out of the bear’s den, and how he went fishing—I mean Uncle Wiggily went fishing, not the bear.