“How does she do it? I don’t understand it at all,” said Peter, as he scratched his long left ear with his long left hind leg.
Gentle Sister South Wind smiled at Peter. “There are a lot of things in this world that you will never understand, Peter Rabbit. You will just have to believe them without understanding them and be content to know that they are so,” she said, and hurried over to the Green Forest to tell Unc’ Billy Possum that his old friend, Ol’ Mistah Buzzard, was on his way up from ol’ Virginny.
JOHNNY CHUCK RECEIVES CALLERS
The morning after gentle Sister South Wind arrived on the Green Meadows, Peter Rabbit came hopping and skipping down the Lone Little Path from the Green Forest. Peter was happy. He didn’t know why. He just was happy. It was in the air. Everybody else seemed happy, too. Peter had to stop every few minutes just to kick up his heels and try to jump over his own shadow. He had felt just that way ever since gentle Sister South Wind arrived.
“I simply have to kick
I cannot help but gaily prance!
Somehow I feel it in my toes
Whenever gentle South Wind blows.”
So sang Peter Rabbit as he hopped and skipped down the Lone Little Path. Suddenly he stopped right in the middle of the verse. He sat up very straight and stared down at Johnny Chuck’s house. Some one was sitting on Johnny Chuck’s door-step. It looked like Johnny Chuck. No, it looked like the shadow of Johnny Chuck. Peter rubbed his eyes and looked again. Then he hurried as fast as he could, lipperty-lipperty-lip. The nearer he got, the less like Johnny Chuck looked the one sitting on Johnny Chuck’s door-step. Johnny Chuck had gone to sleep round and fat and roly-poly, so fat he could hardly waddle. This fellow was thin, even thinner than Peter Rabbit himself. He waved a thin hand to Peter.
“Hello, Peter Rabbit! I told you that I would see you in the spring. How did you stand the long winter?”
That certainly was Johnny Chuck’s voice. Peter was so delighted that in his hurry he fell over his own feet. “Is it really and truly you, Johnny Chuck?” he cried.
“Of course it’s me; who did you think it was?” replied Johnny Chuck rather crossly, for Peter was staring at him as if he had never seen him before.
“I—I—I didn’t know,” confessed Peter Rabbit. “I thought it was you and I thought it wasn’t you. What have you been doing to yourself, Johnny Chuck? Your coat looks three sizes too big for you, and when I last saw you it didn’t look big enough.” Peter hopped all around Johnny Chuck, looking at him as if he didn’t believe his own eyes.
[Illustration: “Is it really and truly you, Johnny Chuck?” he cried.]
“Oh, Johnny’s all right. He’s just been living on his own fat,” said another voice. It was Jimmy Skunk who had spoken, and he now stood holding out his hand to Johnny Chuck and grinning good-naturedly. He had come up without either of the others seeing him.