“Then it must be very good,” said the old gentleman rabbit politely, as he put the sandwiches in his valise and started off down the dusty road.
Well, he hopped on and on, sometimes in the woods where it was cool and green and shady, and sometimes out in the hot sun, and every minute or so he would stop and look around to see if he could find his fortune.
“For, who knows?” he said, “perhaps I may pick up a bag of gold, or some diamonds at almost any minute. Then I could go back home and buy an automobile for myself to ride around in, and my travels would be over. I have certainly been on the go a long time, but my health is much better than it was.”
So he kept on, looking under all the big leaves and clumps of ferns for his fortune. But he didn’t find it, and pretty soon he came to a hole in the ground. And in front of this hole was a little sign, printed on a piece of paper, and it read:
“Come in! Everybody welcome.”
“Humph! I wonder if that means me?” thought the old gentleman rabbit. “Let’s see, gold grows under ground, in mines, and perhaps this is a gold mine. I’m going down. I’m sure there is a fortune waiting for me. Yes, I’ll go down.”
So he laid aside his valise and barber-pole crutch and got ready to go down in the hole, which wasn’t very big.
“But I can scratch it bigger if I need to,” said Uncle Wiggily.
Well, he had no sooner gotten his front feet and part of his nose down the hole, but his ears were still sticking out, when he heard a voice calling:
“Here! Where are you going?”
“Down this hole after gold,” replied Uncle Wiggily.
“You mustn’t go down there,” went on the voice, and pulling out his nose and looking about him, the old gentleman rabbit saw a white pussy cat sitting on a stump. And the pussy cat was washing his face with his paws, taking care not to let the claws stick out for fear of scratching his eyes.
“Why can’t I go down this hole, Pussy?” asked the rabbit. “Do you have charge of it?”
“No, indeed,” was the answer, “but there is a bad snake who lives down there, and he puts up that sign so the animals will come down, and then he eats them. That’s the reason he says they are welcome. No, indeed, I wouldn’t want to see you go down there!”
“Ha! Hum! I wouldn’t like to see myself!” spoke Uncle Wiggily, and he crawled away from the hole just in time, for the snake stuck out his ugly head and was about to bite the rabbit. It was the same snake that had nearly caught the bumble bee.
“Say!” cried the snake, quite angry like, to the pussy cat, “I wish you would get away from here! You are always spoiling my plans. I thought I was going to have a nice rabbit dinner, and now look at what you have done,” and that snake was so angry that he hissed like a boiling teakettle.
“I will never let you eat up Uncle Wiggily!” cried the pussy. “Now look out for yourself, Mr. Snake!” and with that the pussy made his back round like a hoop, and he swelled up his tail like a bologna sausage, and he showed his teeth and claws to the snake, and that snake popped down the hole again very quickly, I can tell you, taking his tail with him. Oh, my, yes, and a bucket of sawdust soup besides.