“He’ll be all the easier to whip,” muttered Johnny, as he started on again, never once thinking of how unfair it would be to fight with one smaller than himself. That was because he was so angry. Anger never is fair.
Pretty soon he reached the lone elm-tree. The stranger wasn’t to be seen! No, Sir, the stranger wasn’t anywhere in sight. Johnny Chuck sat up and looked this way and looked that way, but the stranger was nowhere in sight.
“Pooh!” said Johnny Chuck, “He’s afraid to fight! He’s a coward. But he can’t get away from me so easily. He’s hiding, and I’ll find him and then—–” Johnny didn’t finish, but he ground his teeth, and it wasn’t a pleasant sound to hear.
So Johnny Chuck hunted for the stranger, and the longer he hunted the angrier he grew. Somehow the stranger managed to keep out of his sight. He was almost ready to give up, when he almost stumbled over the stranger, hiding in a little clump of bushes. And then a funny thing happened. What do you think it was?
Why, all the anger left Johnny Chuck. His hair no longer stood on end. He didn’t know why, but all of a sudden he felt foolish, very foolish indeed.
“Who are you?” he demanded gruffly.
“I—I’m Polly Chuck,” replied the stranger, in a small, timid voice.
THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD
Johnny Chuck had begun to think about his clothes. Yes, Sir, he spent a whole lot of time thinking about how he looked and wishing that he had a handsomer coat. For the first time in all his life he began to envy Reddy Fox, because of the beautiful red coat of which Reddy is so proud. It seemed to Johnny that his own coat was so plain and so dull that no one would look at it twice. Besides, it was torn now, because of the great fight Johnny had had with the old gray Chuck who came down from the Old Pasture. Johnny smoothed it down and brushed it carefully and tried to make himself look as spick and span as he knew how.
“Oh, dear!” he sighed. “I don’t see why Old Mother Nature didn’t give me as handsome a coat as she did Reddy Fox. And there are Jimmy Skunk and Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel and—and—why, almost every one has a handsomer coat than I have!” Now this wasn’t at all like Johnny Chuck. First he had been discontented with his house and had given it to Jimmy Skunk. Now he was discontented with his clothes. What was coming over Johnny Chuck? He really didn’t know himself. At least, he wouldn’t have admitted that he knew. But right down deep in his heart was a great desire—the desire to have Polly Chuck admire him. Yes, Sir, that is what it was! And it seemed to him that she would admire him a great deal more if he wore fine clothes. You see, he hadn’t learned yet what Peter Rabbit had learned a long time ago, which is that
Fine clothes but catch
the passing eye;
Fine deeds win love from low and high.