But unfortunately for Peter, one of the Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind had heard Peter tell the story to Mrs. Peter, and it was such a wonderful and curious and unbelievable story that the Merry Little Breeze straightway repeated it to everybody he met, and soon Peter Rabbit began to receive callers who wanted to hear the story all over again from Peter himself. So Peter was obliged to repeat it ever so many times, and every time it sounded to him more foolish than before. He had to tell it to Jimmy Skunk and to Johnny Chuck and to Danny Meadow Mouse and to Digger the Badger and to Sammy Jay and to Blacky the Crow and to Striped Chipmunk and to Happy Jack Squirrel and to Bobby Coon and to Unc’ Billy Possum and to Old Mr. Toad.
Now, strange to say, no one laughed at Peter, queer as the story sounded. You see, they all remembered how they had laughed at him and made fun of him when he told about the great footprints he had found deep in the Green Forest, and how later it had been proven that he really did see them, for they were made by Buster Bear who had come down from the Great Woods to live in the Green Forest. Then it had been Peter’s turn to laugh at them. So now, impossible as this new story sounded, they didn’t dare laugh at it.
“I never heard of such a creature,” said Jimmy Skunk, “and I can’t quite believe that there is such a one, but it is very clear to me that Peter has seen something strange. You know the old saying that he laughs best who laughs last, and I’m not going to give Peter another chance to have the last laugh and say, ‘I told you so.’”
“That is very true,” replied Old Mr. Toad solemnly. “Probably Peter has seen something out of the ordinary, and in his excitement he has exaggerated it. The thing to do is to make sure whether or not there is a stranger in the Green Forest. Peter says that it came down the hill where Prickly Porky the Porcupine lives. Some one ought to go ask him what he knows about it. If there is such a terrible creature up there, he ought to have seen it. Why don’t you go up there and ask him, Jimmy Skunk? You’re not afraid of anybody or anything.”
“I will,” replied Jimmy promptly, and off he started. You see, he felt very much flattered by Old Mr. Toad’s remark, and he couldn’t very well refuse, for that would look as if he were afraid, after all.
JIMMY SKUNK CALLS ON PRICKLY PORKY
“A plague upon Old Mr. Toad!” grumbled Jimmy, as he ambled up the Lone Little Path through the Green Forest on his way to the hill where Prickly Porky lives. “Of course I’m not afraid, but just the same I don’t like meddling with things I don’t know anything about. I’m not afraid of anybody I know of, because everybody has the greatest respect for me, but it might be different with a creature without legs or head or tail. Whoever heard of such a thing? It gives me a queer feeling inside.”