“Now, if I could only get over there I’d be safe,” said the old gentleman rabbit. “I guess I’ll wade across.”
Well, he started to do so, but he soon found that the water was too deep for him to wade. It was over his head.
“I’ll have to swim across,” said Uncle Wiggily.
But, as soon as he got ready to do that, he found himself in more trouble. For he couldn’t carry his crutch and valise across with him if he swam, and he didn’t like to leave them on the shore, for fear the alligator would get them.
“Oh, I certainly am in great trouble,” said the rabbit. “It’s getting darker and darker, and I have no place to stay. I haven’t even any paper with which to make me a paper house, but if I could only get across to the wooden house, I’d be safe.”
And, just as he spoke, there came a little puff of wind, and lo and behold! a nice piece of paper was blown right down out of a tree, where it had been caught on a branch. Right at Uncle Wiggily’s side it fell; that paper did.
“Oh, joy!” the rabbit gentleman cried. “Here is paper to make me a house with.” But when he looked more closely at it, he saw that it wasn’t big enough for a house, and it wasn’t the kind of paper that would keep out the rain, either.
“That will never do,” said Uncle Wiggily, sadly. “Ah! But I have an idea. I will make me a paper boat, as Billie Goat once did, and in the boat I’ll sail across the stream, and sleep in the little wooden house.”
So he folded up the paper, first like a soldier’s hat, and then like a fireman’s hat, and then he pulled on the two ends, and, presto change! he had a paper boat. Then he took his crutch, and stuck it up in the middle of the boat, and put a piece of paper on the crutch, and he had a sail. Then he put the boat in the water, and got in it himself. I mean he got in the boat, not the water—with his valise.
“Here we go!” cried the old gentleman rabbit, and he shoved the boat out from the shore. The wind caught in the little paper sail, and away Uncle Wiggily went, as fine as fine could be.
“I’ll soon be on the other shore,” he said, and just then he looked down, and he saw some water coming inside the boat. “Hum! That’s bad,” he cried. “I’m afraid my boat is leaking.”
The wind blew harder, and the boat went faster, but more water came in, for you see the paper was sort of melting, and falling apart, like an ice cream cone, for it wasn’t the waxed kind of paper from the inside of cracker boxes—the kind that water won’t hurt.
Well, the boat began to sink, and the water came up to Uncle Wiggily’s knees, and then, all of a sudden there was a funny sound on shore, a snipping snooping woofing-woofing sound, and into the water jumped the alligator with the skiller-scalery, swooping tail.
“Now I’ve got you!” he cried, snapping his jaws at the poor old gentleman rabbit. And really it did seem as if Uncle Wiggily would be eaten up. But you never can tell what is going to happen in this world; never indeed.