He grinned at the idea, and then he continued his way towards the Smiling Pool. He hoped he might find another Duck there, and he approached the Smiling Pool very, very carefully.
But when he reached a point where he could see all over the Smiling Pool, there was no one to be seen save Jerry Muskrat sitting on the Big Rock and Peter Rabbit on the bank on the other side. Farmer Brown’s boy smiled when he saw them. “Hello, Jerry Muskrat!” said he. “I wonder how a bite of carrot would taste to you.” He felt in his pocket and brought out a couple of carrots. One he put on a little tussock in the water where he knew Jerry would find it. The other he tossed across the Smiling Pool where he felt sure Peter would find it. Presently he noticed two or three feathers on the water close to the edge of the bank. Mrs. Quack had left them there. “I believe that was a Mallard Duck,” said he, as he studied them. “I know what I’ll do. I’ll go straight back home and get some wheat and corn and put it here on the edge of the Smiling Pool. Perhaps she will come back and find it.”
And this is just what Farmer Brown’s boy did.
MRS. QUACK RETURNS
Peter Rabbit just couldn’t go back to the dear Old Briar-patch. He just had to know if Mrs. Quack would come back to the Smiling Pool. He had seen Farmer Brown’s boy come there a second time and scatter wheat and corn among the brown stalks of last summer’s rushes, and he had guessed why Farmer Brown’s boy had done this. He had guessed that they had been put there especially for Mrs. Quack, and if she should come back as she had promised to do, he wanted to be on hand when she found those good things to eat and hear what she would say.
So Peter stayed over near the Smiling Pool and hoped with all his might that Reddy Fox or Old Man Coyote would not take it into his head to come hunting over there. As luck would have it, neither of them did, and Peter had a very pleasant time gossiping with Jerry Muskrat, listening to the sweet voices of unseen singers in the Smiling Pool,—the Hylas, which some people call peepers,—and eating the carrot which Farmer Brown’s boy had left for him.
Jolly, round, red Mr. Sun was just getting ready to go to bed behind the Purple Hills when Mrs. Quack returned. The first Peter knew of her coming was the whistle of her wings as she passed over him. Several times she circled around, high over the Smiling Pool, and Peter simply stared in open-mouthed admiration at the speed with which she flew. It didn’t seem possible that one so big could move through the air so fast. Twice she set her wings and seemed to just slide down almost to the surface of the Smiling Pool, only to start her stout wings in motion once more and circle around again. It was very clear that she was terribly nervous and suspicious. The third time she landed in the water with a splash and sat perfectly still with her head stretched up, looking and listening with all her might.