Just then the stranger began to come down the tree. Reddy backed away.
“It looks as if you were afraid, Reddy Fox,” said Peter Rabbit.
“I’m not afraid of anything,” said Reddy Fox, and swelled himself up to look twice as big as he really is.
“It seems to me I hear Bowser the Hound,” piped up Striped Chipmunk.
[Illustration: “Pooh,” exclaimed Reddy Fox. “Who’s afraid of that fellow?” Page 10.]
Now Striped Chipmunk had not heard Bowser the Hound at all when he spoke, but just then there was the patter of heavy feet among the dried leaves, and sure enough there was Bowser himself. My, how everybody did run,—everybody but the stranger from the North. He kept on coming down the tree just the same. Bowser saw him and stopped in surprise. He had never seen anything quite like this big dark fellow.
“Bow, wow, wow!” shouted Bowser in his deepest voice.
Now, when Bowser used that great deep voice of his, he was accustomed to seeing all the little meadow people and forest folk run, but this stranger did not even hurry. Bowser was so surprised that he just stood still and stared. Then he growled his deepest growl. Still the stranger paid no attention to him. Bowser did not know what to make of it.
“I’ll teach that fellow a lesson,” said Bowser to himself. “I’ll shake him, and shake him and shake him until he hasn’t any breath left.”
By this time the stranger was down on the ground and starting for another tree, minding his own business. Then something happened. Bowser made a rush at him, and instead of running, what do you suppose the stranger did? He just rolled himself up in a tight ball with his head tucked down in his waistcoat. When he was rolled up that way, all the little spears hidden in the hair of his coat stood right out until he looked like a great chestnut-burr. Bowser stopped short. Then he reached out his nose and sniffed at this queer thing. Slap! The tail of the stranger struck Bowser the Hound right across the side of his face, and a dozen of those little spears were left sticking there just like pins in a pin-cushion.
“Wow! wow! wow! wow!” yelled Bowser at the top of his lungs, and started for home with his tail between his legs, and yelling with every jump. Then the stranger unrolled himself and smiled, and all the little meadow people and forest folk who had been watching shouted aloud for joy.
And this is the way that Prickly Porky the Porcupine made friends.
PETER RABBIT HAS SOME STARTLING NEWS