Then he heard the voice again:
“Where are you?” asked the rabbit. “I’ll help you hunt for your sister Phoebe. Where are you, little girl?”
But the voice only called again:
“I guess she can’t hear me,” said the rabbit. “I’ll shout more loudly.”
So he cried out at the top of his voice:
“I’ll help you find Phoebe. Tell me where you are, and we’ll go off together to hunt for her.”
But this time the calling voice was farther off, though still the rabbit could hear it saying:
“My goodness me, sakes alive, and a bottle of stove polish! I can’t make this out,” said Uncle Wiggily. “That little girl is so worried about her lost sister that she doesn’t pay any attention to me. But I’ll help her just the same.”
So he hopped on toward where he heard the voice calling, and pretty soon, believe me, he heard two voices. One cried out:
And the other one called just the same, only a little more slowly, like this:
“Now, there are two of her sisters calling for the lost one,” said the rabbit. “They must be very much worried about Phoebe. Perhaps a bear has eaten her. That would be dreadful! I must help them!”
So he hopped on through the woods, faster than ever, crying out:
“I’m coming! I’m coming! Old Uncle Wiggily is going to help you find Phoebe.”
And then, would you believe me, Uncle Wiggily heard seven voices, all calling at once:
“Phoebe! Phoebe! Phoebe! Phoebe! Phoebe! Phoebe! Phoebe!”
“Oh, now the whole family is after that lost child,” said the rabbit. “I had better go for a policeman.” And then he happened to look up, and he saw a whole lot of little birds sitting on a tree, and each one was calling:
“Phoebe!” just like that. Really I’m not fooling a bit; honestly.
“Oh my! How surprised I am!” cried the rabbit. “Was that you birds calling for the little lost girl?”
“It was,” said the largest bird, “but there isn’t any lost girl. You see we are Phoebe birds, and that is the way we always sing. We always say ‘Phoebe—Phoebe’ over and over again. We didn’t mean to fool you. It’s only our way of calling.”
“Oh, that’s all right,” said the rabbit. “I don’t mind. It was good exercise for me to run after you.”
Well, those birds liked Uncle Wiggily so much that they sang their prettiest for him, and asked him to stay to dinner, which he did. And he had chocolate cake with candied carrots on top.
And that’s all to this story, if you please, but in case a red bird brings me some green flower seeds to plant in my garden so I can grow some lollypops, I’ll tell you next about Uncle Wiggily and the milkman.