“Oh, this will be just fine for me!” exclaimed the rabbit, as he hopped inside the stone cave. “I’ll go to sleep here.”
So he stretched out on a pile of leaves, and the little yellow bird began to sing a sleepy song. This is how it went, to the tune “Lum-tum-tum tiddily-iddily-um:”
“Sleep, Uncle Wiggily,
Don’t open your eyes to peep.
I’ll sing you a song,
That’s not very long.
It’s not sad, so please do not weep.”
Well, as true as I’m telling you, before she had sung more than forty-’leven verses the old gentleman rabbit was fast, fast asleep, and, no matter how hot the sun shone down, Uncle Wiggily was nice and cool.
Well, pretty soon, in a little while, a savage, bad hawk-bird flew down from high in the air, where he had seen the little yellow bird sitting on the tree, near the cave, where the rabbit was sleeping. And the hawk made a dash for the yellow bird, and would have eaten her up only the bird flew quickly away and hid in a hollow stump, and that hawk was so mad that he bit a leaf off a tree and tore it into three pieces—the leaf, I mean, not the tree.
Well, after that the yellow bird didn’t dare stay near the cave, for the hawk was on the watch to catch her, and, of course, Uncle Wiggily had no one to awaken him when it was cool enough for him to travel on and seek his fortune.
He slept and he slept, and then he slept a little more, and all of a sudden he awakened and it was nearly night. My! how he did jump up then and rub his eyes with his paws, and he couldn’t think, for a minute or so, just where he was.
“Oh, now I remember!” he exclaimed. “I’m in the cave. Oh, dear me! but it’s coming on night. The yellow bird must have forgotten to wake me up. I wonder what I shall do?”
So he went out of the cave to look for the bird, but he couldn’t find her. The savage hawk was there, however, but when he saw Uncle Wiggily and noted how brave he was, even if he did have the rheumatism, that hawk just gnashed his beak and flew away.
Then it got darker and darker, and poor Uncle Wiggily didn’t know what to do, for he didn’t know whether or not it would be safe to stay in the cave.
“A bear might come along and eat me,” he thought. “This cave might be a bear’s den. I guess I will travel ahead and look for some other place where I can spend the night. But I don’t like traveling in the dark.”
However, there was no help for it, so the old gentleman rabbit, after eating a lettuce sandwich, took up his satchel, grasped his crutch firmly, and started away.
He traveled on through the woods, and it kept getting darker and darker, until at last Uncle Wiggily couldn’t see anything in front of him but just blackness.
“Oh, this will never do!” he cried. “I can’t go on this way. If I only had a lantern it would be all right.”
Then, all at once, he heard a sort of growling noise in the bushes, and then he heard a sniffing-snuffling noise, and pretty soon a voice cried: