So, instead of starting for home as he should have done, he turned back through the Green Forest and, stopping every few hops to look and listen, made his way clear to the foot of the hill where Prickly Porky lives. There he hid under a little hemlock-tree and looked in every direction for the strange creature which had frightened him so the last time he was there. But nobody was to be seen but Prickly Porky, Jimmy Skunk, and Unc’ Billy Possum rolling around in the leaves at the top of the hill and laughing fit to kill themselves.
“There’s no danger here; that is sure,” thought Peter shrewdly, “and I believe those fellows have been up to some trick.”
With that he boldly hopped up the hill and joined them. “What’s the joke?” he demanded.
“Did you meet Reddy Fox?” asked Jimmy Skunk, wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes.
“Did I meet him? Why, he almost ran into me and didn’t see me at all. I guess he’s running yet. Now, what’s the joke?” Peter demanded.
When the others could stop laughing long enough, they gathered around Peter and told him something that sent Peter off into such a fit of laughter that it made his sides ache, “That’s a good one on Reddy, and it was just as good a one on me,” he declared. “Now who else can we scare?”
All of which shows that there was something very like mischief being planned on the hill where Prickly Porky the Porcupine lives.
REDDY FOX TRIES TO KEEP OUT OF SIGHT
Never in all his life was Reddy Fox more uncomfortable in his mind. He knew that by this time everybody in the Green Forest, on the Green Meadows, around the Smiling Pool, and along the Laughing Brook, knew how he had put his tail between his legs and run with all his might at the first glimpse of the strange creature which had rolled down the hill of Prickly Porky. And he was right; everybody did know it, and everybody was laughing about it. Unc’ Billy Possum, Jimmy Skunk, Prickly Porky, and Peter Rabbit had seen him run, and you may be sure they told everybody they met about it, and news like that travels very fast.
It wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t boasted beforehand that if he met the strange creature he would wait for it and find out what it was. As it was, he had run just as Peter Rabbit had run when he saw it, and he had been just as much frightened as Peter had. Now, as he sneaked along trying to find something to eat, for he was hungry, he did his very best to keep out of sight. Usually he is very proud of his handsome red coat, but now he wished that he could get rid of it. It is very hard to keep out of sight when you have bright colored clothes. Presently Sammy Jay’s sharp eyes spied him as he tried to crawl up on the young family of Mrs. Grouse. At once Sammy flew over there screaming at the top of his lungs:
“Reddy Fox is very brave
when there’s no danger near;
But where there is, alas, alack! he runs away in fear.”