Right down into it he fell, and he landed at the bottom with such a bump that he nearly broke his spectacles. At first it was so dark that he couldn’t make out anything, but in a little while he could see something big and black and shaggy coming toward him, and a grillery-growlery voice called out:
“Who’s there? Who dares to come into my den?”
“It is only I,” said the rabbit. “I’m Uncle Wiggily Longears, and I came in here by mistake. I was looking for my fortune.”
“Ah, ha!” cried the bear, for the shaggy creature with the grillery-growlery voice was a bear. “Ah, ha! That is a different story. I am very glad you dropped in to see me, Mr. Longears. I was just wondering what I’d have for my dinner, and now I know—it is going to be rabbit stew, and you are going to be stewed,” and the bear opened the dining-room shutters so he could see to eat the rabbit.
“Oh, how can you be so cruel to me?” asked Uncle Wiggily. “I only came in here by mistake. I found twenty-five cents, and I was looking for more.”
“Found twenty-five cents, did you, eh?” cried the bear, savage-like. “Give it to me at once! I lost that, it’s my money!”
And he took the twenty-five-cent piece right away from Uncle Wiggily. Then the bear was just going to eat up the nice old gentleman rabbit, and Uncle Wiggily didn’t know how to get away, and he was feeling most dreadful, when, all of a sudden, a voice sharply cried:
“Here, you let my friend Uncle Wiggily alone,” and then some one scrambled down through the top hole of the bear’s den.
“Who are you?” asked the shaggy creature with the grillery-growlery voice, and the bear gnashed his teeth.
“I’m the second cousin to Grandfather Prickly Porcupine,” was the answer, “and I’m going to save my rabbit friend.”
And with that the porcupine took out a whole handful of his stickery-ickery quills, like toothpicks, and he stuck them right into the soft and tender nose of that bad bear. And the stickery-ickery quills so tickled the bear and hurt him that he nearly sneezed his head off, and tears came into his eyes.
“Now’s our time! Come on, let’s get away from here!” cried the porcupine to the rabbit, and up out of the bear’s den they scrambled, and got safely away before the bear had finished his sneezing.
“Oh, you saved my life,” said Uncle Wiggily to the prickly porcupine, “and I thank you very much.” Then they traveled on together, and they had an adventure the next day.
What it was I’ll tell you soon, when, in case the boys who go in swimming don’t duck my typewriter under water and make it catch the measles, I’ll tell you about Uncle Wiggily and the toadstool.
UNCLE WIGGILY AND THE TOADSTOOL
“Were you much frightened when you were in the bear’s den?” asked the prickly porcupine as he and Uncle Wiggily went along the road next day. They had slept that night in a hole where an old fox used to live, but just then he was away on his summer vacation at Asbury Park, and so he wasn’t home.