“I’ll be there,” said the boy.
That night little Luke went up to his room early. He took off his shoes and threw them heavily upon the floor, and blew out the light. Then he jumped upon his bed, so that it creaked loudly. Without taking off his clothes, he got under the blankets, and when Aunt Martha looked in, he seemed to be sound asleep. She did not look into the closet to see whether his clothes were hanging up there or not.
When he thought Aunt Martha had gone to bed, the little boy got up quietly, took his shoes in his hand, and slipped softly down the back stairs. Silently he unlocked and opened the kitchen door, and went out into the moonlight.
He did not feel that he was doing quite right, but he was afraid to ask Aunt Martha. You see he was afraid that she might ask questions, which he could not answer without telling about the Magic Flower and his wild friends.
He went over to the clover field and sat down in the corner of the stone fence where some bushes hid him from view.
For some time nothing happened. Pretty soon he heard a queer thump! thump! thump! He looked up and there was old Father Wa-poose close beside him. He had come into the field so quietly that little Luke had not heard a sound.
“Hi! hi! there you are, Man-cub,” said the old rabbit. “Now you sit very still, and you’ll see something worth seeing. Of course we are not really afraid of you, but if some of the young folks should see you, they might get nervous. I’ll just go out and get my supper, and when the fun begins I’ll come back and keep you company. I don’t care much for dancing. I leave that mostly to the young people.”
Soon from all sides, rabbits came leaping over the fence into the field. There were young rabbits and old rabbits, big rabbits and little rabbits.
Sometimes one of them would stop and thump the ground with his hind feet. This seemed to be a signal; for when one thumped, another would come hopping toward him. The two would touch noses and then turn to on the sweet, young clover, that had grown up since the July mowing.
Their feast lasted for an hour or more. Then the fun began. Several of them would hop close together in the centre of the field. Then they would skip slowly about in a sort of stately dance. Little by little the movement became faster and faster until they were spinning around like a pinwheel in a brisk breeze. Round and round they went until it made little Luke’s head dizzy to watch them.
Suddenly a rabbit stamped with his hind feet,—thump! thump! thump! Instantly every rabbit squatted motionless. It was a danger signal, but a false one. Nothing happened.
Soon the fun began again. Several of the rabbits had a game of tag. Round and round they went, leaping ten feet or more at each bound. Sometimes in the midst of their race, one of them would take a sky-hop. Up straight into the air he would go as if he were trying to reach the moon.