Grandfather Frog smoothed down his white and yellow waistcoat and looked very wise, for you know that Grandfather Frog is very old.
“Pooh,” said Grandfather Frog. “I know what they are.”
“What?” cried all the Merry Little Breezes together. “Happy Jack says he is sure they do not grow, for there are no strange plants over there.”
Grandfather Frog opened his big mouth and snapped up a foolish green fly that one of the Merry Little Breezes blew over to him.
“Chug-a-rum,” said Grandfather Frog. “Things do not have to be on plants in order to grow. Now I am sure that those things grew, and that they did not grow on a plant.”
The Merry Little Breezes looked puzzled. “What is there that grows and doesn’t grow on a plant?” asked one of them.
“How about the claws on Peter Rabbit’s toes and the hair of Happy Jack’s tail?” asked Grandfather Frog.
The Merry Little Breezes looked foolish. “Of course,” they cried. “We didn’t think of that. But we are quite sure that these queer things that prick so are not claws, and certainly they are not hair.”
“Don’t you be too sure,” said Grandfather Frog. “You go over to the Green Forest and look up in the treetops instead of down on the ground; then come back and tell me what you find.”
Away raced the Merry Little Breezes to the Green Forest and began to search among the treetops. Presently, way up in the top of a big poplar, they found a stranger. He was bigger than any of the little meadow people, and he had long sharp teeth with which he was stripping the bark from the tree. The hair of his coat was long, and out of it peeped a thousand little spears just like the queer things that Happy Jack and Peter Rabbit had told them about.
“Good morning,” said the Merry Little Breezes politely.
“Mornin’,” grunted the stranger in the treetop.
“May we ask where you come from?” said one of the Merry Little Breezes politely.
“I come from the North Woods,” said the stranger and then went on about his business, which seemed to be to strip every bit of the bark from the tree and eat it.
PRICKLY PORKY MAKES FRIENDS
The Merry Little Breezes soon spread the news over the Green Meadows and through the Green Forest that a stranger had come from the North. At once all the little meadow people and forest folk made some excuse to go over to the big poplar tree where the stranger was so busy eating. At first he was very shy and had nothing to say. He was a queer fellow, and he was so big, and his teeth were so sharp and so long, that his visitors kept their distance.
Reddy Fox, who, you know, is a great boaster and likes to brag of how smart he is and how brave he is, came with the rest of the little meadow people.
“Pooh,” exclaimed Reddy Fox. “Who’s afraid of that fellow?”