Slowly I backed the canoe away till it was out of sight around the point, though I could still see the mother bird through the bushes. She swam rapidly about where the canoe had been, calling more loudly; but the little fellow had lost confidence in her, or was too frightened, and refused to show himself. At last she discovered him, and with quacks and flutters that looked to me a bit hysteric pulled him out of his hiding place. How she fussed over him! How she hurried and helped and praised and scolded him all the way over; and fluttered on ahead, and clucked the brood out of their hiding places to meet him! Then, with all her young about her, she swept round the point into the quiet bay that was their training school.
And I, drifting slowly up the lake into the sunset over the glassy water, was thinking how human it all was. “Doth he not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?”
Br’er Rabbit is a funny fellow. No wonder that Uncle Remus makes him the hero of so many adventures! Uncle Remus had watched him, no doubt, on some moonlight night when he gathered his boon companions together for a frolic. In the heart of the woods it was, in a little opening where the moonlight came streaming in through the pines, making soft gray shadows for hide-and-seek, and where no prowling fox ever dreamed of looking.
With most of us, I fear, the acquaintance with Bunny is too limited for us to appreciate his frolicsome ways and his happy, fun-loving disposition. The tame things which we sometimes see about country yards are often stupid, like a playful kitten spoiled by too much handling; and the flying glimpse we sometimes get of a bundle of brown fur, scurrying helter-skelter through and over the huckleberry bushes, generally leaves us staring in astonishment at the swaying leaves where it disappeared, and wondering curiously what it was all about. It was only a brown rabbit that you almost stepped upon in your autumn walk through the woods.
Look under the crimson sumach yonder, there in the bit of brown grass, with the purple asters hanging over, and you will find his form, where he has been sitting all the morning and where he watched you all the way up the hill. But you need not follow; you will not find him again. He never runs straight; the swaying leaves there where he disappeared mark the beginning of his turn, whether to right or left you will never know. Now he has come around his circle and is near you again—watching you this minute, out of his bit of brown grass. As you move slowly away in the direction he took, peering here and there among the bushes, Bunny behind you sits up straight in his old form again, with his little paws held very prim, his long ears pointed after you, and his deep brown eyes shining like the waters of a hidden spring among the asters. And he chuckles to himself, and thinks how he fooled you that time, sure.