The words were no sooner out of Peter’s mouth than a faint bang sounded from way off towards the Big River. Mrs. Quack gave a great start and half lifted her wings as if to fly. But she thought better of it, and then Peter saw that she was trembling all over.
“Did you hear that?” she asked in a faint voice.
Peter nodded. “That was a gun, a terrible gun, but it was a long way from here,” said he.
“It was over on the Big River,” said Mrs. Quack. “That’s why it isn’t safe for me over there. That’s why I just had to find some other place. Oh, dear, the very sound of a gun sets me to shaking and makes my heart feel as if it would stop beating. Are you sure I am perfectly safe here?”
“Perfectly,” spoke up Jerry Muskrat, who had been listening from the top of the Big Rock, where he was lunching on a clam, “unless you are not smart enough to keep out of the clutches of Reddy Fox or Old Man Coyote or Hooty the Owl or Redtail the Hawk.”
“I’m not afraid of them,” declared Mrs. Quack. “It’s those two-legged creatures with terrible guns I’m afraid of,” and she began to swim about more uneasily than ever.
MRS. QUACK IS DISTRUSTFUL
Jerry Muskrat thinks there is no place in the world like the Smiling Pool. So, for the matter of that, does Grandfather Frog and also Spotty the Turtle. You see, they have spent their lives there and know little about the rest of the Great World. When Mrs. Quack explained that all she feared was that a two-legged creature with a terrible gun might find her there, Jerry Muskrat hastened to tell her that she had nothing to worry about on that account.
“No one hunts here now that Farmer Brown’s boy has put away his terrible gun,” explained Jerry. “There was a time when he used to hunt here and set traps, which are worse than terrible guns, but that was long ago, before he knew any better.”
“Who is Farmer Brown’s boy?” demanded Mrs. Quack, looking more anxious than ever. “Is he one of those two-legged creatures?”
“Yes,” said Peter Rabbit, who had been listening with all his ears, “but he is the best friend we Quaddies have got. He is such a good friend that he ought to be a Quaddy himself. Why, this last winter he fed some of us when food was scarce, and he saved Mrs. Grouse when she was caught in a snare, which you know is a kind of trap. He won’t let any harm come to you here, Mrs. Quack.”
“I wouldn’t trust him, not for one single little minute,” declared Mrs. Quack. “I wouldn’t trust one of those two-legged creatures, not one. You say he fed some of you last winter, but that doesn’t mean anything good. Do you know what I’ve known these two-legged creatures to do?”
“What?” demanded Peter and Jerry together.