Peter’s big eyes opened wider than ever. “Do you mean to say that he has been eating his own fat?” he gasped.
Johnny Chuck and Jimmy Skunk both laughed. “No,” said Jimmy Skunk, “he didn’t eat it, but he lived on it just the same while he was asleep all winter. Don’t you see he hasn’t got a particle of fat on him now?”
“But how could he live on it, if he didn’t eat it?” asked Peter, staring at Johnny Chuck as if he had never seen him before.
Jimmy Skunk shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t ask me. That is one of Old Mother Nature’s secrets; you’ll have to ask her,” he replied.
“And don’t ask me,” said Johnny Chuck, “for I’ve been asleep all the time. My, but I’m hungry!”
“So am I!” said another voice. There was Reddy Fox grinning at them. Johnny Chuck dove into the doorway of his house with Peter Rabbit at his heels, for there was nowhere else to go. Jimmy Skunk just stood still and chuckled. He knew that Reddy Fox didn’t dare touch him.
THE SINGERS OF THE SMILING POOL
Mistress Spring was making everybody happy on the Green Meadows and in the Green Forest and around the Smiling Pool. With her gentle fingers she wakened one by one all the little sleepers who had spent the long winter dreaming of warm summer days and not knowing anything at all of rough, blustering Brother North Wind or Jack Frost. As they wakened, many began to sing for joy. But the clearest, loudest singers of all lived in the Smiling Pool.
It was a long time before Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck knew where they lived. Every night just before going to bed, Johnny Chuck would sit on his door-step just to listen, and as he listened somehow he felt better and happier; and he always had pleasant dreams after listening to the sweet singers of the Smiling Pool. Even after he had curled himself up for the night deep down in his snug bedroom, he could hear those sweet voices, and whenever he waked up in the night he would hear them.
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Spring!
So gentle, so loving, so sweet and so fair!
Oh, who can be cross when there’s love in the air?
Be happy! Be joyful! And join in our song
And help us to send the glad tidings along!
Spring! Spring! Spring! Spring!
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Spring!”
When Johnny Chuck had first heard them, he had looked in all the tree-tops for the singers, but not one could he see. Then he had thought that they must be hidden in the bushes; but when he went to look, he found that the sweet singers were not there. It was very mysterious. Finally he asked Peter Rabbit if he knew who the sweet singers were and where they were. Peter didn’t know, but he was willing to try to find out. Peter is always willing to try to find out about things he doesn’t already know about. So Johnny Chuck and Peter Rabbit started out to find the sweet singers.