“Now, I must be very careful not to get my new coat dirty, or I won’t look nice at the party,” the old rabbit gentleman was saying to himself as he hopped along. “I must be very careful indeed.”
He went along as carefully as he could, but, just as he was going down a little hill, under the trees, he came to a place which was so slippery that, before he knew it, all of a sudden Uncle Wiggily fell down and slid to the bottom of the hill.
“My goodness!” he cried, as he stood up after his slide. “I did not know there was snow or ice on that hill.”
And when he looked there was not, but it was covered with long, thin pine needles, which are almost as slippery as glass. It was on these that the rabbit gentleman had slipped down hill.
“Well, there is no great harm done,” said Uncle Wiggily to himself, as he found no bones broken. “I had a little slide, that’s all. I must bring Sammie and Susie Littletail here some day, and let them slide on pine needle hill. Johnnie and Billie Bushytail, the two squirrels, would also like it, and so would Nannie and Billie Wagtail, my two goat friends.”
Uncle Wiggily was about to go on to the party when, as he looked at his new coat he saw that it was all torn. In sliding down the slippery pine needle hill the coat had caught on sticks and stones and it had many holes torn in it, and it was also ripped here and there.
“Oh, dear me!” cried Uncle Wiggily. “Oh, sorrow! Oh, unhappiness! Now I’ll have to go back to my hollow stump bungalow and put on my old coat that isn’t torn. For I never can wear my new one to the party. That would never do! But the trouble is, if I go back home I’ll be late! Oh, dear, what trouble I am in!”
Now was the time for some of Uncle Wiggily’s friends to help him in his trouble, as he had often helped them. But, as he looked through the woods, he could not see even a little mouse, or so much as a grasshopper.
“The tailor bird would be just the one I’d like to see now,” said the rabbit uncle. “She could mend my torn coat nicely.” For tailor birds, yon know, can take a piece of grass, with their bill for a needle, and sew leaves together to make a nest, almost as well as your mother can mend a hole in your stocking.
But there was no tailor bird in the woods, and Uncle Wiggily did not know what to do.
“I certainly do not want to be late to Grandpa Goosey’s party,” said the bunny uncle, “nor do I want to go to it in a torn coat. Oh, dear!”
Just then he heard down on the ground near him, a little voice saying:
“Perhaps we could mend your coat for you, Uncle Wiggily.”
“You. Who are you, and how can you mend my torn coat?” the bunny gentleman wanted to know.
“We are some little black ants,” was the answer, “and with the pine needles lying on the ground—some of the same needles on which you slipped—we can sew up your coat, with long grass for thread.”