“Where was yours?” Uncle Wiggily wanted to know.
“Jimmie Caw-Caw, the crow boy, had picked it up to hide under the pump,” answered Nurse Jane. “Crows, you know, like to pick up bright and shining things.”
“Yes, I remember,” said Uncle Wiggily. “Very well, I’ll give Mrs. Bow Wow her thimble,” and off the old gentleman rabbit started, limping along on his red, white and blue striped rheumatism crutch, that Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy had gnawed for him out of a bean-pole. Excuse me, I mean corn stalk.
When Uncle Wiggily came to the place where Jackie and Peetie Bow Wow, the little puppy dog boys lived, he saw Mrs. Bow Wow, the dog lady, out in front of the kennel house looking up and down the path that led through the woods.
“Were you looking for me?” asked Uncle Wiggily, making a low and polite bow with his tall silk hat.
“Looking for you? Why, no, not specially,” said Mrs. Bow Wow, “though I am always glad to see you.”
“I thought perhaps you might be looking for your thimble,” went on the bunny uncle. “Nurse Jane has sent it back to you.”
“Oh, thank you!” said the mother of the puppy dog boys. “I’m glad to get my thimble back, but I was really looking for Peetie and Jackie.”
“You don’t mean to say they have run away, do you?” asked Uncle Wiggily, in surprise.
“No, not exactly run away. But they have not come home from school, though the lady mouse, who teaches in the hollow stump, must have let the animal children out long ago.”
“She did,” Uncle Wiggily said. “I came past the hollow stump school on my way here, and every one was gone.”
“Then where can Jackie and Peetie be keeping themselves?” asked Mrs. Bow Wow. “Oh, I’m so worried about them!”
“Don’t be worried or frightened,” said Uncle Wiggily, kindly. “I’ll go look for them for you.”
“Oh, if you will I’ll be so glad!” cried Mrs. Bow Wow. “And if you find them please tell them to come home at once.”
“I will,” promised the bunny uncle.
Giving the dog lady her thimble, Uncle Wiggily set off through the woods to look for Jackie and Peetie Bow Wow. On every side of the woodland path he peered, under trees and bushes and around the corners of moss-covered rocks and big stumps.
But no little puppy dog chaps could he find.
All at once, as Mr. Longears was going past an old log he heard a rustling in the bushes, and a voice said:
“Well, we nearly caught them, didn’t we?”
“We surely did,” said another voice. “And I think if we race after them once more we’ll certainly have them. Let’s rest here a bit, and then chase those puppy dogs some more. That Jackie is a good runner.”
“I think Peetie is better,” said the other voice. “Anyhow, they both got away from us.”
“Ha! This must be Peetie and Jackie Bow Wow they are talking about,” said Uncle Wiggily to himself. “This sounds like trouble. So the puppy dogs were chased, were they? I must see by whom.”