Jolly, round, red Mr. Sun was getting ready to go to bed behind the Purple Hills and the Black Shadows were beginning to creep out over the Green Meadows before Mrs. Quack came. In fact, Sammy Jay and Blacky were getting very uneasy. It was almost bed-time for them, for neither of them dared stay out after dark. They had almost made up their minds to leave Peter to tell the news when they saw Mrs. Quack coming swiftly from the direction of the Big River. She looked so sad and discouraged that even Blacky the Crow was sorry for her, and you know Blacky isn’t much given to such feelings.
“What’s the news, Mrs. Quack?” asked Peter, his eyes dancing.
“There isn’t any,” replied Mrs. Quack.
“Oh, yes, there is!” cried Sammy Jay, who couldn’t possibly keep still any longer.
“What is it?” demanded Mrs. Quack eagerly, and it seemed to Peter that there was a wee bit of hope in her voice.
“Did you happen to notice that just before the Laughing Brook joins the Big River it flows through a little swamp?” asked Sammy.
Mrs. Quack nodded her head rapidly. “What of it?” she demanded.
“Nothing much, only if I were you I would go down there after dark,” replied Sammy.
Mrs. Quack looked up at Sammy sharply. “Why should I go down there?” she asked.
“If I tell you, will you wait until I get quite through?” asked Sammy in his turn.
Mrs. Quack promised that she would.
“Well, then,” replied Sammy, “this afternoon I found a stranger hiding in there, a stranger with a beautiful green head and neck and a white collar.”
“Mr. Quack! Oh, it was Mr. Quack!” cried Mrs. Quack joyfully and lifted her wings as if she would start for the swamp at once.
“Stop!” cried Sammy sharply. “You said you would wait until I am through. It won’t do for you to go there until after dark, because there is a hunter hiding very near Mr. Quack’s hiding-place. Wait until it is dark and he has gone home. Then take my advice, and when you have found Mr. Quack, bring him right up here to the Smiling Pool. He can’t fly, but he can swim up the Laughing Brook, and this is the safest place for both of you. Now good night and good luck.”
JERRY MUSKRAT’S GREAT IDEA
A friendly friend is a friend indeed When he proves a friend in the time of need.
Mr. and Mrs. Quack had been so much taken up with each other and with their troubles that they had quite forgotten they were not alone in the Smiling Pool, which they had reached by swimming up the Laughing Brook. So it happened that when Mrs. Quack suggested that if Mr. Quack’s wing got strong they might be able to find a lonesome pond not too far away where they could make their home for the summer, they were a little startled to hear a voice say: “I know where there is one, and you will not have to fly at all to get to it.” Both jumped a little. You see their nerves had been very much upset for a long time, and the least unexpected thing made them jump. Then both laughed.