[Illustration: “Drop him!” he grunted. Page 89.]
“Drop him!” he grunted.
Granny Fox just snarled and backed away, dragging Peter with her and keeping him between Prickly Porky and herself.
By this time Jimmy Skunk had recovered himself. You know he is not afraid of anybody or anything. He sprang out from behind the stump, looking a wee bit shame-faced, and started for old Granny Fox. “You let Peter Rabbit go!” he commanded in a very threatening way. Now the reason Jimmy Skunk is afraid of nobody is because he carries with him a little bag of very strong perfume which makes everybody sick but himself. Granny Fox knows all about this. For just a minute she hesitated. Then she thought that if Jimmy used it, it would be as bad for Peter as for her, and she didn’t believe Jimmy would use it. So she kept on backing away, dragging Peter with her. Then Unc’ Billy Possum took a hand, and his was the bravest deed of all, for he knew that Granny was more than a match for him in a fight. He slipped down from the tree where he had sought safety, crept around behind Granny, and bit her sharply on one heel. Granny let go of Peter to turn and snap at Unc’ Billy. This was Peter’s chance. He slipped out from under Granny’s paws and in a flash was behind Prickly Porky.
JIMMY SKUNK TAKES WORD TO MRS. PETER
When old Granny Fox found Prickly Porky, with his thousand little spears all pointing at her, standing between her and Peter Rabbit, she was the angriest old Fox ever seen. She didn’t dare touch Prickly Porky, for she knew well enough what it would mean to get one of those sharp, barbed little spears in her skin. To think that she actually had caught Peter Rabbit and then lost him was too provoking! It was more than her temper, never of the best, could stand. In her anger she dug up the leaves and earth with her hind feet, and all the time her tongue fairly flew as she called Prickly Porky, Jimmy Skunk, and Unc’ Billy Possum everything bad she could think of. Her yellow eyes snapped so that it seemed almost as if sparks of fire flew from them. It made Peter shiver just to look at her.
Unc’ Billy Possum, who, by slipping up behind her and biting one of her heels, had made her let go of Peter, grinned down at her from a safe place in a tree. Jimmy Skunk stood grinning at her in the most provoking manner, and she couldn’t do a thing about it, because she had no desire to have Jimmy use his little bag of perfume. So she talked herself out and then with many parting threats of what she would do, she started for home. Unc’ Billy noticed that she limped a little with the foot he had nipped so hard, and he couldn’t help feeling just a little bit sorry for her.
When she had gone, the others turned to Peter Rabbit to see how badly he had been hurt. They looked him all over and found that he wasn’t much the worse for his rough experience. He was rather stiff and lame, and the back of his neck was very sore where Granny Fox had seized him, but he would be quite himself in a day or two.