“Yes,” replied the fish, “it was the only way in which I could knock on your door. You see I dare not leave the water, and I wanted you to know that I had some breakfast for you.”
And with that the kind goldfish took a little basket, made of watercress, from off his left front fin, and handed Uncle Wiggily the basket, not his fin, for he needed that to swim with.
“You’ll find some cabbage-salad with snorkery-snickery ell-grass dressing on it, some water-lily cake, and some moss covered eggs for your breakfast,” said the fish. “And I wish you good luck on your travels to-day.”
“Thank you very much,” said Uncle Wiggily, “and I am very much obliged to you for saving me from the alligator last night.”
“Pray do not mention it,” spoke the fish most condescendingly. “I always like to help my friends.” And with that he swam away, and Uncle Wiggily ate his breakfast, and then, taking his crutch and valise, he set off on his travels again.
He hopped on for some time, and finally he came to a place where there were some high, prickly bramble-briar bushes.
“I will rest here in their shade a bit,” thought the old gentleman rabbit, “and then I will go on.”
So he sat down, and, as the sun was quite warm, he fell asleep before he knew it. But he was suddenly awakened by a hissing sound, just like when steam comes out of the parlor radiator on a frosty night. Then a voice cried:
“Now I’ve got you!”
Uncle Wiggily looked up, and there was a big snake, just going to grab him. But do you s’pose the rabbit waited for that snake? Not a bit of it. Catching up his crutch and valise, he gave one tremendous and extraordinary springery-spring, and over the prickery stickery briar and bramble bushes he went, flying through the air, and the snake couldn’t get him.
But when Uncle Wiggily came down on the other side of the bushes! Oh, my! that was a different story. For where do you imagine he landed? Where, indeed, but right in the middle of a big mud pie that two little hedgehog boys were making there. Yes, sir, right into the middle of that squasher-squawshery mud pie fell Uncle Wiggily.
Oh! How the mud splashed up! It went all over the rabbit, and some got on the two little hedgehog boys.
Well, they were as surprised as anything when they saw a nice old gentleman rabbit come down in the middle of their pie, and at first they thought he had done it on purpose.
“Let’s stick him full of our stickery-stockery quills,” said one hedgehog boy.
“Yes, and then let’s pull his ears,” said the other hedgehog boy. But, mind you, they didn’t really mean anything bad, only, perhaps, they thought Uncle Wiggily was a savage fox, or a little white bear.
“Oh, boys, I’m sorry!” said the old gentleman rabbit as soon as he could dig the mud out of his mouth.
“What made you do it?” asked the biggest hedgehog boy, wiping some mud out of his eye.