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The Famous Bedtime Story Books

by Thornton W. Burgess
revised by Tim Brown & daughters
illustrated by Chris Silverman

The Adventures of Dani Meadow Mouse

1915 • 2024

  1. Dani Meadow Mouse Is Worried
  2. Dani Meadow Mouse and her Short Tail
  3. Dani Meadow Mouse Plays Hide and Seek
  4. Old Granny Fox Tries for Dani Meadow Mouse
  5. What Happened on the Green Meadows
  6. Dani Meadow Mouse Remembers and Reddy Fox Forgets
  7. Old Granny Fox Tries a New Plan
  8. Brother North Wind Proves a Friend
  9. Dani Meadow Mouse Is Caught at Last
  10. A Strange Ride and How It Ended
  11. Peter Rabbit Gets a Fright
  12. The Old Briar Patch Has a New Tenant
  13. Peter Rabbit Visits the Peach Orchard
  14. Farmer Brown Sets a Trap
  15. Peter Rabbit Is Caught in a Snare
  16. Peter Rabbit’s Hard Journey
  17. Dani Meadow Mouse Becomes Worried
  18. Dani Meadow Mouse Returns a Kindness
  19. Peter Rabbit and Dani Meadow Mouse Live High
  20. Timid Dani Meadow Mouse
  21. An Exciting Day for Dani Meadow Mouse
  22. What Happened Next to Dani Meadow Mouse
  23. Reddy Fox Grows Curious
  24. Reddy Fox Loses his Temper

I Dani Meadow Mouse Is Worried

Dani Meadow Mouse sat on her doorstep with her chin in her hands, and it was very plain to see that Dani had something on her mind. She had only a nod for Jenny Skunk, and even Peter Rabbit could get no more than a grumpy “Good morning.” It wasn’t that she had been caught napping the day before by Reddy Fox and nearly made an end of. No, it wasn’t that. Dani had learned her lesson, and Reddy would never catch her again. It wasn’t that she was all alone with no one to play with. Dani was rather glad that she was alone. The fact is, Dani Meadow Mouse was worried.

Now worry is one of the worst things in the world, and it didn’t seem as if there was anything that Dani Meadow Mouse need worry about. But you know it is the easiest thing in the world to find something to worry over and make yourself uncomfortable about. And when you make yourself uncomfortable, you are almost sure to make everyone around you equally uncomfortable. It was so with Dani Meadow Mouse. Striped Chipmunk had twice called her “Cross Patch” that morning, and Johnny Chuck, who had fought Reddy Fox for her the day before, had called her “Grumpy.” And what do you think was the matter with Dani Meadow Mouse? Why, she was worrying because her tail was short. Yes, sir, that is all that ailed Dani Meadow Mouse that bright morning.

You know some people let their looks make them miserable. They worry because they are homely or freckled, or short or tall, or thin or stout, all of which is very foolish. And Dani Meadow Mouse was just as foolish in worrying because her tail was short.

It is short! It certainly is all of that! Dani never had realized how short until she chanced to meet her cousin Whitefoot, who lives in the Green Forest. He was very elegantly dressed, but the most imposing thing about him was his long, slim, beautiful tail. Dani had at once become conscious of her own stubby little tail, and she had hardly had pride enough to hold her head up as became an honest Meadow Mouse. Ever since, she had been thinking and thinking, and wondering how her family came to have such short tails. Then she grew envious and began to wish and wish and wish that she could have a long tail like her cousin Whitefoot.

She was so busy wishing that she had a long tail, that she quite forgot to take care of the tail she did have, and she pretty nearly lost it — and her life with it. Old Whitetail the Marsh Hawk spied Dani sitting there moping on her doorstep, and came sailing over the tops of the meadow grasses so softly that he all but caught Dani. If it hadn’t been for one of the Merry Little Breezes, Dani would have been caught. And all because she was envious. It’s a bad, bad habit.

II Dani Meadow Mouse and her Short Tail

All Dani Meadow Mouse could think about was her short tail. She was so ashamed of it that whenever anyone passed, she crawled out of sight so that they should not see how short her tail was. Instead of playing in the sunshine as she used to do, she sat and sulked. Pretty soon her friends began to pass without stopping. Finally one day Old Mrs. Toad sat down in front of Dani and began to ask questions.

“What’s the matter?” asked Old Mrs. Toad.

“Nothing,” replied Dani Meadow Mouse.

“I don’t suppose there really is anything the matter, but what do you think is the matter?” said Old Mrs. Toad.

Dani fidgeted, and Old Mrs. Toad looked up at jolly, round, red Mr. Sun and winked. “Sun is just as bright as ever, isn’t it?” she inquired.

“Yes,” said Dani.

“Got plenty to eat and drink, haven’t you?” continued Mrs. Toad.

“Yes,” said Dani.

“Seems to me that that is a pretty good-looking suit of clothes you’re wearing,” said Mrs. Toad, eyeing Dani critically. “Sunny weather, plenty to eat and drink, and good clothes — must be you don’t know when you’re well off, Dani Meadow Mouse.”

Dani hung her head. Finally she looked up and caught a kindly twinkle in Old Mrs. Toad’s eyes. “Mrs. Toad, how can I get a long tail like my cousin Whitefoot of the Green Forest?” she asked.

“So that’s what’s the matter! Ha! ha! ha! Dani Meadow Mouse, I’m ashamed of you! I certainly am ashamed of you!” said Mrs. Toad. “What good would a long tail do you? Tell me that.”

For a minute Dani didn’t know just what to say. “I—I—I’d look so much better if I had a long tail,” she ventured.

Old Mrs. Toad just laughed. “You never saw a Meadow Mouse with a long tail, did you? Of course not. What a sight it would be! Why, everybody on the Green Meadows would laugh themselves sick at the sight! You see you need to be slim and trim and handsome to carry a long tail well. And then what a nuisance it would be! You would always have to be thinking of your tail and taking care to keep it out of harm’s way. Look at me. I’m homely. Some folks call me ugly to look at. But no one tries to catch me as Farmer Brown’s girl does Billy Mink because of his fine coat; and no one wants to put me in a cage because of a fine voice. I am satisfied to be just as I am, and if you’ll take my advice, Dani Meadow Mouse, you’ll be satisfied to be just as you are.”

“Perhaps you are right,” said Dani Meadow Mouse after a little. “I’ll try.”

III Dani Meadow Mouse Plays Hide and Seek

Life is always a game of hide and seek to Dani Meadow Mouse. You see, she is such a fat little thing that there are a great many other furry-coated people, and almost as many who wear feathers, who would gobble Dani up for breakfast or for dinner if they could. Some of them pretend to be her friends, but Dani always keeps her eyes open when they are around and always begins to play hide and seek. Peter Rabbit and Jenny Skunk and Striped Chipmunk and Happy Jill Squirrel are all friends whom she can trust, but she always has a bright twinkling eye open for Reddy Fox and Billy Mink and Shadow the Weasel and old Whitetail the Marsh Hawk, and several more, especially Hooty the Owl at night.

Now Dani Meadow Mouse is stout-hearted, and when rough Brother North Wind came shouting across the Green Meadows, tearing to pieces the snow clouds and shaking out the snowflakes until they covered the Green Meadows deep, deep, deep, Dani just snuggled down in her warm coat in her snug little house of grass and waited. Dani liked the snow. Yes, sir, Dani Meadow Mouse liked the snow. She just loved to dig in it and make tunnels. Through those tunnels in every direction she could go where she pleased and when she pleased without being seen by anybody. It was great fun!

Every little way she made a little round doorway up beside a stiff stalk of grass. Out of this she could peep at the white world, and she could get the fresh cold air. Sometimes, when she was quite sure that no one was around, she would scamper across on top of the snow from one doorway to another, and when she did this, she made the prettiest little footprints.

Now Reddy Fox knew all about those doorways and who made them. Reddy was having hard work to get enough to eat in this cold weather, and he was hungry most of the time. One morning, as he came tiptoeing softly over the meadows, what should he see just ahead of him but the head of Dani Meadow Mouse pop out of one of those little round doorways. Reddy’s mouth watered, and he stole forward more softly than ever. When he got within jumping distance, he drew his stout hind legs under him and made ready to spring. Presto! Dani Meadow Mouse had disappeared! Reddy Fox jumped just the same and began to dig as fast as he could make his paws go. He could smell Dani Meadow Mouse and that made him almost frantic.

All the time Dani Meadow Mouse was scurrying along one of her little tunnels, and when finally Reddy Fox stopped digging because he was quite out of breath, Dani popped her head out of another little doorway and laughed at Reddy. Of course Reddy saw her, and of course Reddy tried to catch her there, and dug frantically just as before. And of course Dani Meadow Mouse wasn’t there.

After a while Reddy Fox grew tired of this kind of game and tried another plan. The next time he saw Dani Meadow Mouse stick her head out, Reddy pretended not to see her. He stretched himself out on the ground and made believe that he was very tired and sleepy. He closed his eyes. Then he opened them just the tiniest bit, so that he could see Dani Meadow Mouse and yet seem to be asleep. Dani watched him for a long time. Then she chuckled to herself and dropped out of sight.

No sooner was she gone than Reddy Fox stole over close to the little doorway and waited. “She’ll surely stick her head out again to see if I’m asleep, and then I’ll have her,” said Reddy to himself. So he waited and waited and waited. By and by he turned his head. There was Dani Meadow Mouse at another little doorway laughing at him!

IV Old Granny Fox Tries for Dani Meadow Mouse

Dani Meadow Mouse had not enjoyed anything so much for a long time as she did that game of hide and seek. She tickled and chuckled all the afternoon as she thought about it. Of course Reddy had been “it.” He had been “it” all the time, for never once had he caught Dani Meadow Mouse. If he had — well, there wouldn’t have been any more stories about Dani Meadow Mouse, because there wouldn’t have been any Dani Meadow Mouse any more.

But Dani never let herself think about this. She had enjoyed the game all the more because it had been such a dangerous game. It had been such fun to dive into one of her little round doorways in the snow, run along one of her own little tunnels, and then peep out at another doorway and watch Reddy Fox digging as fast as ever he could at the doorway Dani had just left. Finally Reddy had given up in disgust and gone off muttering angrily to try to find something else for dinner. Dani had sat up on the snow and watched him go. In her funny little squeaky voice Dani shouted:

“Though Reddy Fox is smart and sly,
I’m just as smart and twice as spry.

That night Reddy Fox told old Granny Fox all about how he had tried to catch Dani Meadow Mouse. Granny listened with her head cocked on one side. When Reddy told how fat Dani Meadow Mouse was, her mouth watered. You see now that snow covered the Green Meadows and the Green Forest, Granny and Reddy Fox had hard work to get enough to eat, and they were hungry most of the time.

“I’ll go with you down on the meadows tomorrow morning, and then we’ll see if Dani Meadow Mouse is as smart as she thinks she is,” said Granny Fox.

So, bright and early the next morning, old Granny Fox and Reddy Fox went down on the meadows where Dani Meadow Mouse lives. Dani had felt in her bones that Reddy would come back, so she was watching, and she saw them as soon as they came out of the Green Forest. When she saw old Granny Fox, Dani’s heart beat a little faster than before, for she knew that Granny Fox is very smart and very wise and has learned most of the tricks of all the other little meadow and forest people.

“This is going to be a more exciting game than the other,” said Dani to herself, and scurried down out of sight to see that all her little tunnels were clear so that she could run fast through them if she had to. Then she peeped out of one of her little doorways hidden in a clump of tall grass.

Old Granny Fox set Reddy to hunting for Dani’s little round doorways, and as fast as he found them, Granny came up and sniffed at each. Dani knew that she could tell by the smell which one she had been at last. Finally she came straight towards the tall bunch of grass. Dani ducked down and scurried along one of her little tunnels. She heard Granny Fox sniff at the doorway she had just left. Suddenly something plunged down through the snow right at her very heels. Dani didn’t have to look to know that it was Granny Fox herself, and she squeaked with fright.

V What Happened on the Green Meadows

Thick and fast things were happening to Dani Meadow Mouse down on the snow-covered Green Meadows. Rather, they were almost happening. She hadn’t minded when Reddy Fox all alone tried to catch her. Indeed, she had made a regular game of hide and seek of it and had enjoyed it immensely. But now it was different. Granny Fox wasn’t so easily fooled as Reddy Fox. Just Granny alone would have made the game dangerous for Dani Meadow Mouse. But Reddy was with her, and so Dani had two to look out for, and she got so many frights that it seemed to her as if her heart had moved right up into her mouth and was going to stay there. Yes, sir, that is just how it seemed.

Down in her little tunnels underneath the snow Dani Meadow Mouse felt perfectly safe from Reddy Fox, who would stop and dig frantically at the little round doorway where he had last seen Dani. But old Granny Fox knew all about those little tunnels, and she didn’t waste any time digging at the doorways. Instead she cocked her sharp little ears and listened with all her might. Now Granny Fox has very keen ears, oh, very keen ears, and she heard just what she hoped she would hear. She heard Dani Meadow Mouse running along one of her little tunnels under the snow.

Plunge! Old Granny Fox dived right into the snow and right through into the tunnel of Dani Meadow Mouse. Her two black paws actually touched Dani’s tail. Dani was glad then that it was no longer.

“Ha!” cried Granny Fox, “I almost got her that time!”

Then she ran ahead a little way over the snow, listening as before. Plunge! Into the snow she went again. It was lucky for her that Dani had just turned into another tunnel, for otherwise she would surely have caught her.

Granny Fox blew the snow out of her nose. “Next time I’ll get her!” said she.

Now Reddy Fox is quick to learn, especially when it is a way to get something to eat. He watched Granny Fox, and when he understood what she was doing, he made up his mind to have a try himself, for he was afraid that if she caught Dani Meadow Mouse, she would think that she was not big enough to divide. Perhaps that was because Reddy is very selfish himself. So the next time Granny plunged into the snow and missed Dani Meadow Mouse just as before, Reddy rushed in ahead of her, and the minute he heard Dani running down below, he plunged in just as he had seen Granny do. But he didn’t take the pains to make sure of just where Dani was, and so of course he didn’t come anywhere near her. But he frightened Dani still more and made old Granny Fox lose her temper.

Poor Dani Meadow Mouse! She had never been so frightened in all her life. She didn’t know which way to turn or where to run. And so she sat still, which, although she didn’t know it, was the very best thing she could do. When she sat still she made no noise, and so of course Granny and Reddy Fox could not tell where she was. Old Granny Fox sat and listened and listened and listened, and wondered where Dani Meadow Mouse was. And down under the snow Dani Meadow Mouse sat and listened and listened and listened, and wondered where Granny and Reddy Fox were.

“Pooh!” said Granny Fox after a while, “That Meadow Mouse thinks she can fool me by sitting still. I’ll give her a scare.”

Then she began to plunge into the snow this way and that way, and sure enough, pretty soon she landed so close to Dani Meadow Mouse that one of her claws scratched her.

VI Dani Meadow Mouse Remembers and Reddy Fox Forgets

“There she goes!” cried old Granny Fox. “Don’t let her sit still again!”

“I hear her!” shouted Reddy Fox, and plunged down into the snow just as Granny Fox had done a minute before. But he didn’t catch anything, and when he had blown the snow out of his nose and wiped it out of his eyes, he saw Granny Fox dive into the snow with no better luck.

“Never mind,” said Granny Fox, “As long as we keep her running, we can hear her, and some one of these times we’ll catch her. Pretty soon she’ll get too tired to be so spry, and when she is—” Granny didn’t finish, but licked her chops and smacked her lips. Reddy Fox grinned, then licked his chops and smacked his lips. Then once more they took turns diving into the snow.

And down underneath in the little tunnels she had made, Dani Meadow Mouse was running for her life. She was getting tired, just as old Granny Fox had said she would. She was almost out of breath. She was sore and one leg smarted, for in one of her jumps old Granny Fox had so nearly caught her that her claws had torn her pants and scratched her.

“Oh, dear! Oh, dear! If only I had time to think!” panted Dani Meadow Mouse, and then she squealed in still greater fright as Reddy Fox crashed down into her tunnel right at her very heels. “I’ve got to get somewhere! I’ve got to get somewhere where they can’t get at me!” she sobbed. And right that very instant she remembered the old fence-post!

The old fence-post lay on the ground and was hollow. Fastened to it were long wires with sharp cruel barbs. Dani had made a tunnel over to that old fence-post the very first day after the snow came, for in that hollow in the old post she had a secret store of seeds. Why hadn’t she thought of it before? It must have been because she was too frightened to think. But she remembered now, and she dodged into the tunnel that led to the old fence-post, running faster than ever, for though her heart was in her mouth from fear, in her heart was hope, and hope is a wonderful thing.

Now old Granny Fox knew all about that old fence-post and she remembered all about those barbed wires fastened to it. Although they were covered with snow she knew just about where they lay, and just before she reached them she stopped plunging down into the snow. Reddy Fox knew about those wires too, but he was so excited that he forgot all about them.

“Stop!” cried old Granny Fox sharply.

But Reddy Fox didn’t hear, or if he heard he didn’t heed. His sharp ears could hear Dani Meadow Mouse running almost underneath him. Granny Fox could stop if she wanted to, but he was going to have Dani Meadow Mouse for his breakfast! Down into the snow he plunged as hard as ever he could.

“Oh! Oh! Wow! Wow! Oh, dear! Oh, dear!”

That wasn’t the voice of Dani Meadow Mouse. Oh, my, no! It was the voice of Reddy Fox. Yes, sir, it was the voice of Reddy Fox. He had landed with one of his black paws right on one of those sharp wire barbs, and it did hurt dreadfully.

“I never did know a young Fox who could get into as much trouble as you can!” snapped old Granny Fox, as Reddy hobbled along on three legs behind her, across the snow-covered Green Meadows. “It serves you right for forgetting!”

“Yes’m,” said Reddy meekly.

And safe in the hollow of the old fence-post, Dani Meadow Mouse was dressing the scratch on her leg made by the claws of old Granny Fox.

VII Old Granny Fox Tries a New Plan

Old Granny Fox kept thinking about Dani Meadow Mouse. She knew that she was fat, and it made her mouth water every time she thought of her. She made up her mind that she must and would have her. She knew that Dani had been very, very much frightened when she and Reddy Fox had tried so hard to catch her by plunging down through the snow into her little tunnels after her, and she felt pretty sure that she wouldn’t go far away from the old fence-post, in the hollow of which she was snug and safe.

Old Granny Fox is very smart. “Dani Meadow Mouse won’t put her nose out of that old fence-post for a day or two. Then she’ll get tired of staying inside all the time, and she’ll peep out of one of her little round doorways to see if the way is clear. If she doesn’t see any danger, she’ll come out and run around on top of the snow to get some of the seeds in the tops of the tall grasses that stick out through the snow. If nothing frightens her, she’ll keep going, a little farther and a little farther from that old fence-post. I must see to it that Dani Meadow Mouse isn’t frightened for a few days.” So said old Granny Fox to herself, as she lay under a hemlock tree, studying how she could best get the next meal.

Then she called Reddy Fox to her and forbade him to go down on the meadows until she should tell him he might. Reddy grumbled and mumbled and didn’t see why he shouldn’t go where he pleased, but he didn’t dare disobey. You see he had a sore foot. He had hurt it on a wire barb when he was plunging through the snow after Dani Meadow Mouse, and now he had to run on three legs. That meant that he must depend upon Granny Fox to help him get enough to eat. So Reddy didn’t dare to disobey.

It all came out just as Granny Fox had thought it would. Dani Meadow Mouse did get tired of staying in the old fence-post. She did peep out first, and then she did run a little way on the snow, and then a little farther and a little farther. But all the time she took great care not to get more than a jump or two from one of her little round doorways leading down to her tunnels under the snow.

Hidden on the edge of the Green Forest, Granny Fox watched her. She looked up at the sky, and she knew that it was going to snow again. “That’s good,” said she. “Tomorrow morning I’ll have fat Meadow Mouse for breakfast,” and she smiled a hungry smile.

The next morning, before jolly, round, red Mr. Sun was out of bed, old Granny Fox trotted down onto the meadows and straight over to where, down under the snow, lay the old fence-post. It had snowed again, and all the little doorways of Dani Meadow Mouse were covered up with soft, fleecy snow. Behind Granny Fox limped Reddy Fox, grumbling to himself.

When they reached the place where the old fence-post lay buried under the snow, old Granny Fox stretched out as flat as she could. Then she told Reddy to cover her up with the new soft snow. Reddy did as he was told, but all the time he grumbled. “Now you go off to the Green Forest and keep out of sight,” said Granny Fox. “By and by I’ll bring you some Meadow Mouse for your breakfast,” and Granny Fox chuckled to think how smart she was and how she was going to catch Dani Meadow Mouse.

VIII Brother North Wind Proves a Friend

Dani Meadow Mouse had seen nothing of old Granny Fox or Reddy Fox for several days. Every morning the first thing she did, even before she had breakfast, was to climb up to one of her little round doorways and peep out over the beautiful white meadows, to see if there was any danger near. But every time she did so, Dani used a different doorway. “For,” said Dani to herself, “if any one should happen, just happen, to see me this morning, they might be waiting just outside my doorway to catch me tomorrow morning.” You see there is a great deal of wisdom in the little head that Dani Meadow Mouse carries on her shoulders.

But the first day and the second day and the third day she saw nothing of old Granny Fox or of Reddy Fox, and she began to enjoy running through her tunnels under the snow and scurrying across from one doorway to another on top of the snow, just as she had before the Foxes had tried so hard to catch her. But she hadn’t forgotten, as Granny Fox had hoped she would. No, indeed, Dani Meadow Mouse hadn’t forgotten. She was too wise for that.

One morning, when she started to climb up to one of her little doorways, she found that it was closed. Yes, sir, it was closed. In fact, there wasn’t any doorway. More snow had fallen from the clouds in the night and had covered up every one of the little round doorways of Dani Meadow Mouse.

“Ha!” said Dani, “I shall have a busy day, a very busy day, opening all my doorways. I’ll eat my breakfast, and then I’ll go to work.”

So Dani Meadow Mouse ate a good breakfast of seeds which she had stored in the hollow in the old fence-post buried under the snow, and then she began work on the nearest doorway. It really wasn’t work at all, for you see the snow was soft and light, and Dani dearly loved to dig in it. In a few minutes she had made a wee hole through which she could peep up at jolly, round Mr. Sun. In a few minutes more she had made it big enough to put her head out. She looked this way and she looked that way. Far, far off on the top of a tree she could see old Roughleg the Hawk, but she was so far away that Dani didn’t fear her at all.

“I don’t see anything or anybody to be afraid of,” said Dani and poked her head out a little farther.

Then she sat and studied everything around her a long, long time. It was a beautiful white world, a very beautiful white world. Everything was so white and pure and beautiful that it didn’t seem possible that harm or danger for anyone could even be thought of. But Dani Meadow Mouse learned long ago that things are not always what they seem, and so she sat with just her little head sticking out of her doorway and studied and studied. Just a little way off was a little heap of snow.

“I don’t remember that,” said Dani. “And I don’t remember anything that would make that. There isn’t any little bush or old log or anything underneath it. Perhaps rough Brother North Wind heaped it up, just for fun.”

But all the time Dani Meadow Mouse kept studying and studying that little heap of snow. Pretty soon she saw rough Brother North Wind coming her way and tossing the snow about as he came. He caught a handful from the top of the little heap of snow that Dani was studying, and when he had passed, Dani’s sharp eyes saw something red there. It was just the color of the cloak old Granny Fox wears.

“Granny Fox, you can’t fool me!
I see you plain as plain can be!”

shouted Dani Meadow Mouse and dropped down out of sight, while old Granny Fox shook the snow from her red cloak and, with a snarl of disappointment and anger, slowly started for the Green Forest, where Reddy Fox was waiting for her.

IX Dani Meadow Mouse Is Caught at Last

Play and frolic in the snow!
Now you see me! Now you don’t!
Think you’ll catch me, but you won’t!
Oh, such fun to play in snow!”

Dani Meadow Mouse sang this, or at least she tried to sing it, as she skipped about on the snow that covered the Green Meadows. But Dani Meadow Mouse has such a little voice, such a funny little squeaky voice, that had you been there you probably would never have guessed that she was singing. She thought she was, though, and was enjoying it just as much as if she had the most beautiful voice in the world. You know singing is nothing in the world but happiness in the heart making itself heard.

Oh, yes, Dani Meadow Mouse was happy! Why shouldn’t she have been? Hadn’t she proved herself smarter than old Granny Fox? That is something to make anyone happy. Some folks may fool Granny Fox once; some may fool her twice; but there are very few who can keep right on fooling her until she gives up in disgust. That is just what Dani Meadow Mouse had done, and she felt very smart and of course she felt very happy.

So Dani sang her little song and skipped about in the moonlight, and dodged in and out of her little round doorways, and all the time kept her sharp little eyes open for any sign of Granny Fox or Reddy Fox. But with all her smartness, Dani forgot. Yes, sir, Dani forgot one thing. She forgot to watch up in the sky. She knew that of course old Roughleg the Hawk was asleep, so she had nothing to fear from her. But she never once thought of Hooty the Owl.

Dear me, dear me! Forgetting is a dreadful habit. If nobody ever forgot, there wouldn’t be nearly so much trouble in the world. No, indeed, there wouldn’t be nearly so much trouble. And Dani Meadow Mouse forgot. She skipped and sang and was happy as could be, and never once thought to watch up in the sky.

Over in the Green Forest Hooty the Owl had had poor hunting, and he was feeling cross. You see, Hooty was hungry, and hunger is apt to make one feel cross. The longer he hunted, the hungrier and crosser he grew. Suddenly he thought of Dani Meadow Mouse.

“I suppose she is asleep somewhere safe and snug under the snow,” grumbled Hooty, “but she might be, she just might be out for a frolic in the moonlight. I believe I’ll go down on the meadows and see.”

Now Hooty the Owl can fly without making the teeniest, weeniest sound. It seems as if he just drifts along through the air like a great shadow. Now he spread his great wings and floated out over the meadows. You know Hooty can see as well at night as most folks can by day, and it was not long before he saw Dani Meadow Mouse skipping about on the snow and dodging in and out of her little round doorways. Hooty’s great eyes grew brighter and fiercer. Without a sound he floated through the moonlight until he was just over Dani Meadow Mouse.

Too late Dani looked up. Her little song ended in a tiny squeak of fear, and she started for her nearest little round doorway. Hooty the Owl reached down with his long cruel claws and — Dani Meadow Mouse was caught at last!

X A Strange Ride and How It Ended

Dani Meadow Mouse often had sat watching Skimmer the Swallow sailing around up in the blue, blue sky. She had watched Ol’ Mistah Buzzard go up, up, up, until he was nothing but a tiny speck, and Dani had wondered how it would seem to be way up above the Green Meadows and the Green Forest and look down. It had seemed to her that it must be very wonderful and beautiful. Sometimes she had wished that she had wings and could go up in the air and look down. And now here she was, she, Dani Meadow Mouse, actually doing that very thing!

But Dani could see nothing wonderful or beautiful now. No, indeed! Everything was terrible, for you see Dani Meadow Mouse wasn’t flying herself. She was being carried. Yes, sir, Dani Meadow Mouse was being carried through the air in the cruel claws of Hooty the Owl! And all because Dani had forgotten — forgotten to watch up in the sky for danger.

Poor, poor Dani Meadow Mouse! Hooty’s great cruel claws hurt her dreadfully! But it wasn’t the pain that was the worst. No, indeed! It wasn’t the pain! It was the thought of what would happen when Hooty reached his home in the Green Forest, for she knew that there Hooty would gobble her up, bones and all. As he flew, Hooty kept chuckling, and Dani Meadow Mouse knew just what those chuckles meant. They meant that Hooty was thinking of the good meal he was going to have.

Hanging there in Hooty’s great cruel claws, Dani looked down on the snow-covered Green Meadows she loved so well. They seemed a frightfully long way below her, though really they were not far at all, for Hooty was flying very low. But Dani Meadow Mouse had never in all her life been so high up before, and so it seemed to her that she was way, way up in the sky, and she shut her eyes so as not to see. But she couldn’t keep them shut. No, sir, she couldn’t keep them shut! She just had to keep opening them. There was the dear old Green Forest drawing nearer and nearer. It always had looked very beautiful to Dani Meadow Mouse, but now it looked terrible, very terrible indeed, because over in it, hidden away there in some dark place, was the home of Hooty the Owl.

Just ahead of her was the Old Briar-patch where Peter Rabbit lives so safely. Every old bramble in it was covered with snow and it was very, very beautiful. Really everything was just as beautiful as ever — the moonlight, the Green Forest, the snow-covered Green Meadows, the Old Briar-patch. The only change was in Dani Meadow Mouse herself, and it was all because she had forgotten.

Suddenly Dani began to wriggle and struggle. “Keep still!” snapped Hooty the Owl.

But Dani only struggled harder than ever. It seemed to her that Hooty wasn’t holding her as tightly as at first. She felt one of Hooty’s claws slip. It tore her coat and hurt dreadfully, but it slipped! The fact is, Hooty had only grabbed Dani Meadow Mouse by the loose part of her coat, and up in the air he couldn’t get hold of Dani any better. Dani kicked, squirmed, and twisted, and twisted, squirmed, and kicked. She felt her coat tear and of course the skin with it, but she kept right on, for now she was hanging almost free. Hooty had started down now, so as to get a better hold. Dani gave one more kick and then — she felt herself falling!

Dani Meadow Mouse shut her eyes and held her breath. Down, down, down she fell. It seemed to her that she never would strike the snow-covered meadows! Really she fell only a very little distance. But it seemed a terrible distance to Dani. She hit something that scratched her, and then plump! She landed in the soft snow right in the very middle of the Old Briar-patch, and the last thing she remembered was hearing the scream of disappointment and rage of Hooty the Owl.

XI Peter Rabbit Gets a Fright

Peter Rabbit sat in his favorite place in the middle of the dear Old Briar-patch, trying to decide which way he would go on his travels that night. The night before he had had a narrow escape from old Granny Fox over in the Green Forest. There was nothing to eat around the Smiling Pool and no one to talk to there any more, and you know that Peter must either eat or ask questions in order to be perfectly happy. No, the Smiling Pool was too dull a place to interest Peter on such a beautiful moonlight night, and Peter had no mind to try his legs against those of old Granny Fox again in the Green Forest.

Early that morning, just after Peter had settled down for his morning nap, Charlotte Chickadee had dropped into the dear Old Briar-patch just to be neighborly. Peter was just dozing off when he heard the cheeriest little voice in the world. It was saying:

I see you! Can you see me?”

Peter began to smile even before he could get his eyes open and look up. There, right over her head, was Charlotte hanging head down from a nodding old bramble. In a twinkling she was down on the snow right in front of Peter, then up in the brambles again, right side up, upside down, here, there, everywhere, never still a minute, and all the time chattering away in the cheeriest little voice in the world.

I’m as happy as can be!
Find it much the better way
To be happy all the day.
Everybody’s good to me!"

“Hello, Charlotte!” said Peter Rabbit. “Where’d you come from?”

“From Farmer Brown’s new orchard up on the hill. It’s a fine orchard, Peter Rabbit, a fine orchard. I go there every morning for my breakfast. If the winter lasts long enough, I’ll have all the trees cleaned up for Farmer Brown.”

Peter looked puzzled. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“Just what I say,” replied Charlotte, almost turning a somersault in the air. “There’s a million eggs of insects on those young peach trees, but I’m clearing them all off as fast as I can. They’re mighty fine eating, Peter Rabbit, mighty fine eating!” And with that Charlotte had said good-by and flitted away.

Peter was thinking of that young orchard now, as he sat in the moonlight trying to make up his mind where to go. The thought of those young peach trees made his mouth water. It was a long way up to the orchard on the hill, a very long way, and Peter was wondering if it really was safe to go. He had just about made up his mind to try it, for Peter is very, very fond of the bark of young peach trees, when thump! something dropped out of the sky at his very feet.

It startled Peter so that he nearly tumbled over backward. And right at the same instant came the fierce, angry scream of Hooty the Owl. That almost made Peter’s heart stop beating, although he knew that Hooty couldn’t get him down there in the Old Briar-patch. When Peter got his wits together and his heart didn’t go so jumpy, he looked to see what had dropped so close to him out of the sky. His big eyes grew bigger than ever, and he rubbed them to make quite sure that he really saw what he thought she saw. Yes, there was no doubt about it — there at his feet lay Dani Meadow Mouse!

XII The Old Briar-patch Has a New Tenant

Dani Meadow Mouse slowly opened her eyes and then closed them again quickly, as if afraid to look around. She could hear someone talking. It was a pleasant voice, not at all like the terrible voice of Hooty the Owl, which was the very last thing that Dani Meadow Mouse could remember. Dani lay still a minute and listened.

“Why, Dani Meadow Mouse, where in the world did you drop from?” asked the voice. It sounded like — why, very much like Peter Rabbit speaking. Dani opened her eyes again. It was Peter Rabbit.

“Where — where am I?” asked Dani Meadow Mouse in a very weak and small voice.

“In the middle of the dear Old Briar-patch with me," replied Peter Rabbit. “But how did you get here? You seemed to drop right out of the sky.”

Dani Meadow Mouse shuddered. Suddenly she remembered everything: how Hooty the Owl had caught her in great cruel claws and had carried her through the moonlight across the snow-covered Green Meadows; how she had felt Hooty’s claws slip and then had struggled and kicked and twisted and turned until her coat had torn and she had dropped down, down, down until she had landed in the soft snow and knocked all the breath out of her little body. The very last thing she could remember was Hooty’s fierce scream of rage and disappointment. Dani shuddered again.

Then a new thought came to her. She must get out of sight! Hooty might catch her again! Dani tried to scramble to her feet.

“Ouch! Oh!” groaned Dani and lay still again.

“There, there. Keep still, Dani Meadow Mouse. There’s nothing to be afraid of here,” said Peter Rabbit gently. His big eyes filled with tears as he looked at Dani Meadow Mouse, for Dani was all torn and hurt by the cruel claws of Hooty the Owl, and you know Peter has a very tender heart.

So Dani lay still, and while Peter Rabbit tried to make her comfortable and dress her hurts, she told Peter all about how she had forgotten to watch up in the sky and so had been caught by Hooty the Owl, and all about her terrible ride in Hooty’s cruel claws.

“Oh, dear, whatever shall I do now?” she ended. “However shall I get back home to my warm house of grass, my safe little tunnels under the snow, and my little store of seeds in the snug hollow in the old fence-post?”

Peter Rabbit looked thoughtful. “You can’t do it,” said he. “You simply can’t do it. It is such a long way for a little fellow like you that it wouldn’t be safe to try. If you went at night, Hooty the Owl might catch you again. If you tried in daylight, old Roughleg the Hawk would be almost sure to see you. And night or day old Granny Fox or Reddy Fox might come snooping around, and if they did, they would be sure to catch you. I tell you what, you stay right here! The dear Old Briar-patch is the safest place in the world. Why, just think, here you can come out in broad daylight and laugh at Granny and Reddy Fox and at old Roughleg the Hawk, because the good old brambles will keep them out, if they try to get you. You can make just as good tunnels under the snow here as you had there, and there are lots and lots of seeds on the ground to eat. You know I don’t care for them myself. I’m lonesome sometimes, living here all alone. You stay here, and we’ll have the Old Briar-patch to ourselves.”

Dani Meadow Mouse looked at Peter gratefully. “I will, and thank you ever so much, Peter Rabbit,” she said.

And this is how the dear Old Briar-patch happened to have another tenant.

XIII Peter Rabbit Visits the Peach Orchard

“Don’t go, Peter Rabbit! Don’t go!” begged Dani Meadow Mouse.

Peter hopped to the edge of the Old Briar-patch and looked over the moonlit, snow-covered meadows to the hill back of Farmer Brown’s house. On that hill was the young peach orchard of which Charlotte Chickadee had told him, and ever since Peter’s mouth had watered and watered every time she thought of those young peach trees and the tender bark on them.

“I think I will, Dani, just this once,” said Peter. “It’s a long way, and I’ve never been there before; but I guess it’s just as safe as the Meadows or the Green Forest.

“Oh I’m as bold as bold can be!
Sing hoppy-hippy-hippy-hop-o!
I’ll hie me forth the world to see!
Sing hoppy-hippy-hippy-hop-o!
My ears are long,
My legs are strong,
So now good day;
I’ll hie away!
Sing hoppy-hippy-hippy-hop-o!”

And with that, Peter Rabbit left the dear safe Old Briar-patch, and away he went lipperty-lipperty-lip, across the Green Meadows towards the hill and the young orchard back of Farmer Brown’s house.

Dani Meadow Mouse watched him go and shook her head in disapproval. “Foolish, foolish, foolish!” she said over and over to herself. “Why can’t Peter be content with the good things that he has?”

Peter Rabbit hurried along through the moonlight, stopping every few minutes to sit up to look and listen. He heard the fierce hunting call of Hooty the Owl way over in the Green Forest, so he felt sure that at present there was nothing to fear from him. He knew that since their return to the Green Meadows and the Green Forest, Granny and Reddy Fox had kept away from Farmer Brown’s, so he did not worry about them.

All in good time Peter came to the young orchard. It was just as Charlotte Chickadee had told him. Peter hopped up to the nearest peach tree and nibbled the bark. My, how good it tasted! He went all around the tree, stripping off the bark. He stood up on his long hind legs and reached as high as he could. Then he dug the snow away and ate down as far as he could. When he could get no more tender young bark, he went on to the next tree.

Now though Peter didn’t know it, he was in the very worst kind of mischief. You see, when he took off all the bark all the way around the young peach tree he killed the tree, for you know it is on the inside of the bark that the sap which gives life to a tree and makes it grow goes up from the roots to all the branches. So when Peter ate the bark all the way around the trunk of the young tree, he had made it impossible for the sap to come up in the spring. Oh, it was the worst kind of mischief that Peter Rabbit was in.

But Peter didn’t know it, and he kept right on filling that big stomach of his and enjoying it so much that he forgot to watch out for danger. Suddenly, just as he had begun on another tree, a great roar right behind him made him jump almost out of his skin. He knew that voice, and without waiting to even look behind him, he started for the stone wall on the other side of the orchard. Right at his heels, her great mouth wide open, was Bella the Hound.

XIV Farmer Brown Sets a Trap

Peter Rabbit was in trouble. He had got into mischief and now, like everyone who gets into mischief, he wished that he hadn’t. The worst of it was that he was a long way from his home in the dear Old Briar-patch, and he didn’t know how he ever could get back there again. Where was he? Why, in the stone wall on one side of Farmer Brown’s young peach orchard. How Peter blessed the old stone wall in which he had found a safe hiding-place! Bella had hung around nearly all night, so that Peter had not dared to try to go home. Now it was daylight, and Peter knew it would not be safe to put his nose outside.

Peter was worried, so worried that he couldn’t go to sleep as he usually does in the daytime. So he sat hidden in the old wall and waited and watched. By and by he saw Farmer Brown and Farmer Brown’s girl come out into the orchard. Right away they saw the mischief which Peter had done, and he could tell by the sound of their voices that they were very, very angry. They went away, but before long they were back again, and all day long Peter watched them work putting something around each of the young peach-trees. Peter grew so curious that he forgot all about his troubles and how far away from home he was. He could hardly wait for night to come so that he might see what they had been doing.

Just as jolly, round, red Mr. Sun started to go to bed behind the Purple Hills, Farmer Brown and his girl started back to the house. Farmer Brown was smiling now.

“I guess that will fix him!” he said.

“Now what does he mean by that?” thought Peter. “Whom will it fix? Can it be me? I don’t need any fixing.”

He waited just as long as he could. When all was still, and the moonlight had begun to make shadows of the trees on the snow, Peter very cautiously crept out of his hiding-place. Bella the Hound was nowhere in sight, and everything was as quiet and peaceful as it had been when he first came into the orchard the night before. Peter had fully made up his mind to go straight home as fast as his long legs would take him, but his dreadful curiosity insisted that first he must find out what Farmer Brown and his girl had been doing to the young peach trees.

So Peter hurried over to the nearest tree. All around the trunk of the tree, from the ground clear up higher than Peter could reach, was wrapped wire netting. Peter couldn’t get so much as a nibble of the delicious bark. He hadn’t intended to take any, for he had meant to go right straight home, but now that he couldn’t get any, he wanted some more than ever — just a bite. Peter looked around. Everything was quiet. He would try the next tree, and then he would go home.

But the next tree was wrapped with wire. Peter hesitated, looked around, turned to go home, thought of how good that bark had tasted the night before, hesitated again, and then hurried over to the third tree. It was protected just like the others. Then Peter forgot all about going home. He wanted some of that delicious bark, and he ran from one tree to another as fast as he could go.

At last, way down at the end of the orchard, Peter found a tree that had no wire around it. “They must have forgotten this one!” he thought, and his eyes sparkled. All around on the snow were a lot of little, shiny wires, but Peter didn’t notice them. All he saw was that delicious bark on the young peach tree. He hopped right into the middle of the wires, and then, just as he reached up to take the first bite of bark, he felt something tugging at one of his hind legs.

XV Peter Rabbit Is Caught in a Snare

When Peter Rabbit, reaching up to nibble the bark of one of Farmer Brown’s young trees, felt something tugging at one of his hind legs, he was so startled that he jumped to get away. Instead of doing this, he fell flat on his face. The thing on his hind leg had tightened and held him fast. A great fear came to Peter Rabbit, and lying there in the snow, he kicked and struggled with all his might. But the more he kicked, the tighter grew that hateful thing on his leg! Finally he grew too tired to kick any more and lay still. The dreadful thing that held him hurt his leg, but it didn’t pull when he lay still.

When he had grown a little calmer, Peter sat up to examine the thing which held him so fast. It was something like one of the blackberry vines he had sometimes tripped over, only it was bright and shiny, and had no branches or tiny prickers, and one end was fastened to a stake. Peter tried to bite off the shiny thing, but even his great, sharp front teeth couldn’t cut it. Then Peter knew what it was. It was wire! It was a snare which Farmer Brown had set to catch him, and which he had walked right into because he had been so greedy for the bark of the young peach tree that he had not used his eyes to look out for danger.

Oh, how Peter Rabbit did wish that he had not been so curious to know what Farmer Brown had been doing that day, and that he had gone straight home as he had meant to do, instead of trying to get one more meal of young peach bark! Big tears rolled down Peter’s cheeks. What should he do? What could he do? For a long time Peter sat in the moonlight, trying to think of something to do. At last he thought of the stake to which that hateful wire was fastened. The stake was of wood, and Peter’s teeth would cut wood. Peter’s heart gave a great leap of hope, and he began at once to dig away the snow from around the stake, and then settled himself to gnaw the stake in two.

Peter had been hard at work on the stake a long time and had it a little more than half cut through, when he heard a loud sniff down at the other end of the orchard. He looked up to see — whom do you think? Why, Bella the Hound! She hadn’t seen Peter yet, but she had already found Peter’s tracks, and it would be but a few minutes before she found Peter himself.

Poor Peter Rabbit! There wasn’t time to finish cutting off the stake. What could he do? He made a frightened jump just as he had when he first felt the wire tugging at his leg. Just as before, he was thrown flat on his face. He scrambled to his feet and jumped again, only to be thrown just as before. Just then Bella the Hound saw him and opening her mouth sent forth a great roar. Peter made one more frantic jump. Snap! the stake had broken! Peter pitched forward on his head, turned a somersault, and scrambled to his feet. He was free at last! That is, he could run, but after him dragged a piece of the stake.

How Peter did run! It was hard work, for you know he had to drag that piece of stake after him. But he did it, and just in time he crawled into the old stone wall on one side of the orchard, while Bella the Hound barked her disappointment to the moon.

XVI Peter Rabbit’s Hard Journey

Peter Rabbit sat in the old stone wall along one side of Farmer Brown’s orchard, waiting for Mrs. Moon to put out her light and leave the world in darkness until jolly, round, red Mr. Sun should kick off his rosy bedclothes and begin his daily climb up in the blue, blue sky. In the winter, Mr. Sun is a late sleeper, and Peter knew that there would be two or three hours after Mrs. Moon put out her light when it would be quite dark. And Peter also knew too that by this time Hooty the Owl would probably have caught his dinner. So would old Granny Fox and Reddy Fox. Bella the Hound would be too sleepy to be on the watch. It would be the very safest time for Peter to try to get to his home in the dear Old Briar-patch.

So Peter waited and waited. Twice Bella the Hound, who had chased him into the old wall, came over and barked at him and tried to get at him. But the old wall kept Peter safe, and Bella gave it up. And all the time Peter sat waiting he was in great pain. You see that shiny wire was drawn so tight that it cut into his flesh and hurt dreadfully, and to the other end of the wire was fastened a piece of wood, part of the stake to which the snare had been made fast and which Peter had managed to gnaw and break off.

It was on account of this that Peter was waiting for Mrs. Moon to put out her light. He knew that with that stake dragging after him he would have to go very slowly, and he could not run any more risk of danger than he actually had to. So he waited and waited, and by and by, sure enough, Mrs. Moon put out her light. Peter waited a little longer, listening with all his might. Everything was still. Then Peter crept out of the old stone wall.

Right away trouble began. The stake dragging at the end of the wire fast to his leg caught among the stones and pulled Peter up short. My, how it did hurt! It made the tears come. But Peter shut his teeth hard, and turning back, he worked until he got the stake free. Then he started on once more, dragging the stake after him.

Very slowly across the orchard and under the fence on the other side crept Peter Rabbit, his leg so stiff and sore that he could hardly touch it to the snow, and all the time dragging that piece of stake, which seemed to grow heavier and harder to drag every minute. Peter did not dare to go out across the open fields, for fear some danger might happen along, and he would have no place to hide. So he crept along close to the fences where bushes grow, and this made it very, very hard, for the dragging stake was forever catching in the bushes with a yank at the sore leg which brought Peter up short with a squeal of pain.

This was bad enough, but all the time Peter was filled with a dreadful fear that Hooty the Owl or Granny Fox might just happen along. He had to stop to rest very, very often, and then he would listen and listen. Over and over again he said to himself:

“Oh, dear, whatever did I go up to the young peach orchard for when I knew I had no business there? Why couldn’t I have been content with all the good things that were mine in the Green Forest and on the Green Meadows? Oh, dear! Oh, dear!"

Just as jolly, round, red Mr. Sun began to light up the Green Meadows, Peter Rabbit reached the dear Old Briar-patch. Dani Meadow Mouse was sitting on the edge of it anxiously watching for him. Peter crawled up and started to creep in along one of her little private paths. she got in himself, but the dragging stake caught among the brambles, and Peter just fell down in the snow right where he was, too tired and worn out to move.

I Dani Meadow Mouse Is Worried



Dani Meadow Mouse Becomes Worried

Dani Meadow Mouse limped around through the dear Old Briar-patch, where she had lived with Peter Rabbit ever since she had squirmed out of the claws of Hooty the Owl and dropped there, right at the feet of Peter Rabbit. Dani limped because she was still lame and sore from Hooty’s terrible claws, but she didn’t let himself think much about that, because she was so thankful to be alive at all. So he limped around in the Old Briar-patch, picking up seed which had fallen on the snow, and sometimes pulling down a few of the red berries which cling all winter to the wild rose bushes. The seeds in these were very nice indeed, and Dani always felt especially good after a meal of them.

Dani Meadow Mouse had grown very fond of Peter Rabbit, for Peter had been very, very good to him. Dani felt that she never, never could repay all of Peter’s kindness. It had been very good of Peter to offer to share the Old Briar-patch with Dani, because Dani was so far from her own home that it would not be safe for him to try to get back there. But Peter had done more than that. she had taken care of Dani, such good care, during the first few days after Dani’s escape from Hooty the Owl. she had brought good things to eat while Dani was too weak and sore to get things for himself. Oh, Peter had been very good indeed to him!

But now, as Dani limped around, she was not happy. No, sir, she was not happy. The truth is, Dani Meadow Mouse was worried. It was a different kind of worry from any she had known before. You see, for the first time in her life, Dani was worrying about someone else. He was worrying about Peter Rabbit. Peter had been gone from the Old Briar-patch a whole night and a whole day. she often was gone all night, but never all day too. Dani was sure that something had happened to Peter. she thought of how she had begged Peter not to go up to Farmer Brown’s young peach orchard. she had felt in her bones that it was not safe, that something dreadful would happen to Peter. How Peter had laughed at him and bravely started off! Why hadn’t he come home?

As she limped around, Dani talked to himself:

“Why cannot people be content With all the good things that are sent, And mind their own affairs at home Instead of going forth to roam?"

It was now the second night since Peter Rabbit had gone away. Dani Meadow Mouse couldn’t sleep at all. Round and round through the Old Briar-patch she limped, and finally sat down at the edge of it to wait and watch. At last, just as jolly, round, red Mr. Sun sent her first long rays of light across the Green Meadows, Dani saw something crawling towards the Old Briar-patch. she rubbed her eyes and looked again. It was--no, it couldn’t be--yes, it was Peter Rabbit! But what was the matter with him? Always before Peter had come home lipperty-lipperty-lipperty-lip, but now she was crawling, actually crawling! Dani Meadow Mouse didn’t know what to make of it.

Nearer and nearer came Peter. Something was following him. No, Peter was dragging something after him. At last Peter started to crawl along one of her little private paths into the Old Briar-patch. The thing dragging behind caught in the brambles, and Peter fell headlong in the snow, too tired and worn out to move. Then Dani saw what the trouble was. A wire was fast to one of Peter’s long hind legs, and to the other end of the wire was fastened part of a stake. Peter had been caught in a snare! Dani hurried over to Peter and tears stood in her eyes.

"Poor Peter Rabbit! Oh, I’m so sorry, Peter!" she wherpered.

I Dani Meadow Mouse Is Worried


Dani Meadow Mouse Returns a Kindness

There Peter Rabbit lay. she had dragged that piece of stake a long way, a very long way, indeed. But now she could drag it no farther, for it had caught in the bramble bushes. So Peter just dropped on the snow and cried. Yes, sir, she cried! You see she was so tired and worn out and frightened, and her leg was so stiff and sore and hurt him so! And then it was so dreadful to actually get home and be stopped right on your very own doorstep. So Peter just lay there and cried. Just supposing old Granny Fox should come poking around and find Peter caught that way! All she would have to do would be to get hold of that hateful stake caught in the bramble bushes and pull Peter out where she could get him. Do you wonder that Peter cried?

By and by she became aware that someone was wiping away her tears. It was Dani Meadow Mouse. And Dani was singing in a funny little voice. Pretty soon Peter stopped crying and listened, and this is what she heard:

“Isn’t any use to cry! Not a bit! Not a bit! Wipe your eyes and wipe ’em dry! Use your wit! Use your wit! Just remember that tomorrow Never brings a single sorrow. Yesterday has gone forever And tomorrow gets here never. Chase your worries all away; Nothing’s worse than just to-day."

Peter smiled in spite of himself.

"That’s right! That’s right! Smile away, Peter Rabbit. Smile away! Your troubles, sir, are all to-day. And between you and me, I don’t believe they are so bad as you think they are. Now you lie still just where you are, while I go see what can be done."

With that off wherked Dani Meadow Mouse as spry as you please, in spite of her lame leg, and in a few minutes Peter knew by little twitches of the wire on her leg that Dani was doing something at the other end. she was. Dani Meadow Mouse had set out to gnaw that piece of stake all to splinters. So there she sat and gnawed and gnawed and gnawed. Jolly, round, red Mr. Sun climbed higher and higher in the sky, and Dani Meadow Mouse grew hungry, but still he kept right on gnawing at that bothersome stake.

[Illustration: Dani gnawed the stake which held Peter.]

By and by, happening to look across the snow-covered Green Meadows, he saw something that made her heart jump. It was Farmer Brown’s boy coming straight over towards the dear Old Briar-patch.

Dani didn’t say a word to Peter Rabbit, but gnawed faster than ever.

Farmer Brown’s boy was almost there when Dani stopped gnawing. There was only a tiny bit of the stake left now, and Dani hurried to tell Peter Rabbit that there was nothing to stop him now from going to her most secret retreat in the very heart of the Old Briar-patch. While Peter slowly dragged her way along, Dani trotted behind to see that the wire did not catch on the bushes.

They had safely reached Peter Rabbit’s secretest retreat when Farmer Brown’s boy came up to the edge of the dear Old Briar-patch.

"So this is where that rabbit that killed our peach tree lives!" said he. “We’ll try a few snares and put you out of mischief."

And for the rest of the afternoon Farmer Brown’s boy was very busy around the edge of the Old Briar-patch.

I Dani Meadow Mouse Is Worried


Peter Rabbit and Dani Meadow Mouse Live High

Peter Rabbit sat in her secretest place in the dear Old Briar-patch with one of her long hind legs all swelled up and terribly sore because of the fine wire fast around it and cutting into it. He could hear Farmer Brown’s boy going around on the edge of the dear Old Briar-patch and stopping every little while to do something. In spite of her pain, Peter was curious. Finally she called Dani Meadow Mouse.

"Dani, you are small and can keep out of sight easier than I can. Go as near as ever you dare to Farmer Brown’s boy and find out what he is doing," said Peter Rabbit.

So Dani Meadow Mouse crept out as near to Farmer Brown’s boy as ever she dared and studied and studied to make out what Farmer Brown’s boy was doing. By and by she returned to Peter Rabbit.

"I don’t know what he’s doing, Peter, but he’s putting something in every one of your private little paths leading into the Briar-patch from the Green Meadows."

"Ha!" said Peter Rabbit.

"There are little loops of that strange stuff you’ve got hanging to your leg, Peter," continued Dani Meadow Mouse.

"Just so!" said Peter Rabbit.

"And he’s put cabbage leaves and pieces of apple all around," said Dani.

"We must be careful!" said Peter Rabbit.

Peter’s leg was in a very bad way, indeed, and Peter suffered a great deal of pain. The worst of it was, she didn’t know how to get off the wire that was cutting into it so. she had tried to cut the wire with her big teeth, but she couldn’t do it. Dani Meadow Mouse had tried and tried to gnaw the wire, but it wasn’t the least bit of use. But Dani wasn’t easily discouraged, and she kept working and working at it. Once she thought she felt it slip a little. she said nothing, but kept right on working. Pretty soon she was sure that it slipped. she went right on working harder than ever. By and by she had it so loose that she slipped it right off of Peter’s leg, and Peter didn’t know anything about it. You see, that cruel wire snare had been so tight that Peter didn’t have any feeling except of pain left in her leg, and so when Dani Meadow Mouse pulled the cruel wire snare off, Peter didn’t know it until Dani held it up in front of him.

My, how thankful Peter was, and how she did thank Dani Meadow Mouse! But Dani said that it was nothing at all, just nothing at all, and that she owed more than that to Peter Rabbit for being so good to him and letting him live in the dear Old Briar-patch.

It was a long time before Peter could hop as she used to, but after the first day she managed to get around. she found that Farmer Brown’s boy had spread those miserable wire snares in every one of her private little paths. But Peter knew what they were now. she showed Dani Meadow Mouse how he, because she was so small, could safely run about among the snares and steal all the cabbage leaves and apples which Farmer Brown’s boy had put there for bait.

Dani Meadow Mouse thought this great fun and a great joke on Farmer Brown’s boy. So every day she stole the bait, and she and Peter Rabbit lived high while Peter’s leg was getting well. And all the time Farmer Brown’s boy wondered why she couldn’t catch Peter Rabbit.

I Dani Meadow Mouse Is Worried


Timid Dani Meadow Mouse

Dani Meadow Mouse is timid. Everybody says so, and what everybody says ought to be so. But just as anybody can make a mistake sometimes, so can everybody. Still, in this case, it is quite likely that everybody is right. Dani Meadow Mouse is timid. Ask Peter Rabbit. Ask Sammy Jay. Ask Striped Chipmunk. They will all tell you the same thing. Sammy Jay might even tell you that Dani is afraid of her own shadow, or that she tries to run away from her own tail. Of course this isn’t true. Sammy Jay likes to say mean things. It isn’t fair to Dani Meadow Mouse to believe what Sammy Jay says.

But the fact is Dani certainly is timid. More than ther, she isn’t ashamed of it--not the least little bit.

"You see, it’s this way," said Dani, as she sat on her doorstep one sunny morning talking to her friend, old Mrs. Toad. “If I weren’t afraid, I wouldn’t be all the time watching out, and if I weren’t all the time watching out, I wouldn’t have any more chance than that foolish red ant running across in front of you."

Old Mrs. Toad looked where Dani was pointing, and her tongue darted out and back again so quickly that Dani wasn’t sure that she saw it at all, but when she looked for the ant it was nowhere to be seen, and there was a satisfied twinkle in Mrs. Toad’s eyes. There was an answering twinkle in Dani’s own eyes as she continued.

"No, sir," said he, “I wouldn’t stand a particle more chance than that foolish ant did. Now if I were big and strong, like Old Man Coyote, or had swift wings, like Skimmer the Swallow, or were so homely and ugly-looking that no one wanted me, like--like--" Dani hesitated and then finished rather lamely, “like some folks I know, I suppose I wouldn’t be afraid."

Old Mrs. Toad looked up sharply when Dani mentioned homely and ugly-looking people, but Dani was gazing far out across the Green Meadows and looked so innocent that Mrs. Toad concluded that he couldn’t have had him in mind.

"Well," said he, thoughtfully scratching her nose, “I suppose you may be right, but for my part fear seems a very foolish thing. Now, I don’t know what it is. I mind my own business, and no one ever bothers me. I should think it would be a very uncomfortable feeling."

"It is," replied Dani, “but, as I said before, it is a very good thing to keep one on guard when there are as many watching for one as there are for me. Now there’s Mr. Blacksnake and--"

"Where?" exclaimed old Mrs. Toad, turning as pale as a toad can turn, and looking uneasily and anxiously in every direction.

Dani turned her head to hide a smile. If old Mrs. Toad wasn’t showing fear, no one ever did. “Oh," said he, “I didn’t mean that he is anywhere around here now. What I was going to say was that there is Mr. Blacksnake and Granny Fox and Reddy Fox and Redtail the Hawk and Hooty the Owl and others I might name, always watching for a chance to make a dinner from poor little me. Do you wonder that I am afraid most of the time?"

"No," replied old Mrs. Toad. “No, I don’t wonder that you are afraid. It must be dreadful to feel hungry eyes are watching for you every minute of the day and night, too."

"Oh, it’s not so bad," replied Dani. “It’s rather exciting. Besides, it keeps my wits sharp all the time. I am afraid I should find life very dull indeed if, like you, I feared nothing and nobody. By the way, see how that grass is moving over there. It looks as if Mr. Blacksnake--Why, Mrs. Toad, where are you going in such a hurry?"

"I’ve just remembered an important engagement with my cousin, Grandfather Frog, at the Smiling Pool," shouted old Mrs. Toad over her shoulder, as she hurried so that she fell over her own feet.

Dani chuckled as she sat alone on her doorstep. “Oh, no, old Mr. Toad doesn’t know what fear is!" said he. “Funny how some people won’t admit what everybody can see for themselves. Now, I am afraid, and I’m willing to say so."

I Dani Meadow Mouse Is Worried


An Exciting Day for Dani Meadow Mouse

Dani Meadow Mouse started along one of her private little paths very early one morning. she was on her way to get a supply of a certain kind of grass seed of which she is very fond. she had been thinking about that seed for some time and waiting for it to get ripe. Now it was just right, as she had found out the day before by a visit to the place where this particular grass grew. The only trouble was it grew a long way from Dani’s home, and to reach it he had to cross an open place where the grass was so short that he couldn’t make a path under it.

"I feel it in my bones that this is going to be an exciting day," said Dani to himself as she trotted along. “I suppose that if I were really wise, I would stay nearer home and do without that nice seed. But nothing is really worth having unless it is worth working for, and that seed will taste all the better if I have hard work getting it."

So she trotted along her private little path, her ears wide open, and her eyes wide open, and her little nose carefully testing every Merry Little Breeze who happened along for any scent of danger which it might carry. Most of all she depended upon her ears, for the grass was so tall that she couldn’t see over it, even when she sat up. He had gone only a little way when she thought she heard a quiet rustling behind him. she stopped to listen. There it was again, and it certainly was right in the path behind him! she didn’t need to be told who was making it. There was only one who could make such a sound as that--Mr. Blacksnake.

Now Dani can run very fast along her private little paths, but he knew that Mr. Blacksnake could run faster. “If my legs can’t save me, my wits must," thought Dani as she started to run as fast as ever she could. “I must reach that fallen old hollow fence-post."

He was almost out of breath when she reached the post and scurried into the open end. she knew by the sound of the rustling that Mr. Blacksnake was right at her heels. Now the old post was hollow its whole length, but halfway there was an old knot-hole just big enough for Dani to squeeze through. Mr. Blacksnake didn’t know anything about that hole; and because it was dark inside the old post, he didn’t see Dani pop through it. Dani ran back along the top of the log and was just in time to see the tip of Mr. Blacksnake’s tail disappear inside. Then what do you think Dani did? Why, she followed Mr. Blacksnake right into the old post, but in doing it she didn’t make the least little bit of noise.

Mr. Blacksnake kept right on through the old post and out the other end, for she was sure that that was the way Dani had gone. she kept right on along the little path. Now Dani knew that she wouldn’t go very far before she found out that she had been fooled, and of course he would come back. So Dani waited only long enough to get her breath and then ran back along the path to where another little path branched off. For just a minute she paused.

"If Mr. Blacksnake follows me, she will be sure to think that of course I have taken this other little path," thought Dani, “so I won’t do it."

Then she ran harder than ever, until she came to a place where two little paths branched off, one to the right and one to the left. He took the latter and scampered on, sure that by this time Mr. Blacksnake would be so badly fooled that she would give up the chase. And Dani was right.

“Brains are better far than speed As wise men long ago agreed,"

said Dani, as she trotted on her way for the grass seed she liked so well. “I felt it in my bones that this would be an exciting day. I wonder what next."

I Dani Meadow Mouse Is Worried


What Happened Next to Dani Meadow Mouse

Dani is so used to narrow escapes that she doesn’t waste any time thinking about them. she didn’t this time. “He who tries to look two ways at once is pretty sure to see nothing," says Dani, and she knew that if she thought too much about the things that had already happened, she couldn’t keep a sharp watch for the things that might happen.

Nothing more happened as she hurried along her private little path to the edge of a great patch of grass so short that she couldn’t hide under it. she had to cross ther, and all the way she would be in plain sight of anyone who happened to be near. Very cautiously she peeped out and looked this way and looked that way, not forgetting to look up in the sky. she could see no one anywhere. Drawing a long breath, Dani started across the open place as fast as her short legs could take him.

Now all the time, Redtail the Hawk had been sitting in a tree some distance away, sitting so still that she looked like a part of the tree itself. That is why Dani hadn’t seen him. But Redtail saw Dani the instant she started across the open place, for Redtail’s eyes are very keen, and she can see a great distance. With a satisfied chuckle, she spread her broad wings and started after Dani.

Just about halfway to the safety of the long grass on the other side, Dani gave a hurried look behind him, and her heart seemed to jump right into her mouth, for there was Redtail with her cruel claws already set to seize him! Dani gave a frightened squeak, for he thought that surely this time she would be caught. But she didn’t mean to give up without trying to escape. Three jumps ahead of him was a queer-looking thing. she didn’t know what it was, but if there was a hole in it she might yet fool Redtail.

One jump! Would she be able to reach it? Two jumps! There was a hole in it! Three jumps! With another frightened squeak, Dani dived into the opening just in time. And what do you think she was in? Why, an old tomato can Farmer Brown’s boy had once used to carry bait in when she went fishing at the Smiling Pool. she had dropped it there on her way home.

Redtail screamed with rage and disappointment as she struck the old can with her great claws. she had been sure, very sure of Dani Meadow Mouse this time! she tried to pick the can up, but she couldn’t get hold of it. It just rolled away from him every time, try as he would. Finally, in disgust, she gave up and flew back to the tree from which she had first seen Dani.

[Illustration: Redtail the Hawk screamed with rage as Dani escaped.]

Of course Dani had been terribly frightened when the can rolled, and by the noise the claws of Redtail made when they struck her queer hiding-place. But she wisely decided that the best thing he could do was to stay there for a while. And it was very fortunate that she did so, as she was very soon to find out.

I Dani Meadow Mouse Is Worried


Reddy Fox Grows Curious

Dani Meadow Mouse had sat perfectly still for a long time inside the old tomato can in which she had found a refuge from Redtail the Hawk. she didn’t dare so much as put her head out for a look around, lest Redtail should be circling overhead ready to pounce on him.

"If I stay here long enough, he’ll get tired and go away, if he hasn’t already," thought Dani. “Ther has been a pretty exciting morning so far, and I find that I am a little tired. I may as well take a nap while I am waiting to make sure that the way is clear."

With that Dani curled up in the old tomato can. But it wasn’t meant that Dani should have that nap. she had closed her eyes, but her ears were still open, and presently she heard soft footsteps drawing near. her eyes flew open, and she forgot all about sleep, you may be sure, for those footsteps sounded familiar. They sounded to Dani very, very much like the footsteps of--whom do you think? Why, Reddy Fox! Dani’s heart began to beat faster as she listened. Could it be? He didn’t dare peep out. Presently a little whiff of scent blew into the old tomato can. Then Dani knew--it was Reddy Fox.

"Oh, dear! I hope she doesn’t find that I am in here!" thought Dani. "I wonder what under the sun has brought him up here just now."

If the truth were to be known, it was curiosity that had brought Reddy up there. Reddy had been hunting for her breakfast some distance away on the Green Meadows when Redtail the Hawk had tried so hard to catch Dani Meadow Mouse. Reddy’s sharp eyes had seen Redtail the minute she left the tree in pursuit of Dani, and she had known by the way Redtail flew that she saw something she wanted to catch. she had watched Redtail swoop down and had heard her scream of rage when she missed Dani because Dani had dodged into the old tomato can. she had seen Redtail strike and strike again at something on the ground, and finally fly off in disgust with empty claws.

"Now, I wonder what it was Redtail was after and why she didn’t get it," thought Reddy. “He acts terribly put out and disappointed. I believe I’ll go over there and find out."

Off she started at a smart trot towards the patch of short grass where she had seen Redtail the Hawk striking at something on the ground. As she drew near, she crept very softly until she reached the very edge of the open patch. There she stopped and looked sharply all over it. There was nothing to be seen but an old tomato can. Reddy had seen it many times before.

"Now what under the sun could Redtail have been after here?" thought Reddy. “The grass isn’t long enough for a grasshopper to hide in, and yet Redtail didn’t get what she was after. It’s very queer. It certainly is very strange."

He trotted out and began to run back and forth with her nose to the ground, hoping that her nose would tell him what her eyes couldn’t. Back and forth, back and forth she ran, and then suddenly she stopped.

"Ha!" exclaimed Reddy. she had found the scent left by Dani Meadow Mouse when she ran across towards the old tomato can. Right up to the old can Reddy’s nose led him. she hopped over the old can, but on the other side she could find no scent of Dani Meadow Mouse. In a flash he understood, and a gleam of satisfaction shone in her yellow eyes as she turned back to the old can. she knew that Dani must be hiding in there.

"I’ve got you this time!" she snarled, as she sniffed at the opening in the end of the can.

I Dani Meadow Mouse Is Worried


Reddy Fox Loses her Temper

Reddy Fox had caught Dani Meadow Mouse, and yet she hadn’t caught him. she had found Dani hiding in the old tomato can, and it didn’t enter Reddy’s head that she couldn’t get Dani out when she wanted to. He was in no hurry. she had had a pretty good breakfast of grasshoppers, and so she thought she would torment Dani a while before gobbling him up. she lay down so that she could peep in at the open end of the old can and see Dani trying to make himself as small as possible at the other end. Reddy grinned until she showed all her long teeth. Reddy always is a bully, especially when her victim is a great deal smaller and weaker than himself.

"I’ve got you this time, Mr. Smarty, haven’t I?" taunted Reddy.

Dani didn’t say anything.

"You think you’ve been very clever because you have fooled me two or three times, don’t you? Well, this time I’ve got you where your tricks won’t work," continued Reddy, “so what are you going to do about it?"

Dani didn’t answer. The fact is, she was too frightened to answer. Besides, she didn’t know what she could do. So she just kept still, but her bright eyes never once left Reddy’s cruel face. For all her fright, Dani was doing some hard thinking. she had been in tight places before and had learned never to give up hope. Something might happen to frighten Reddy away. Anyway, Reddy had to get him out of that old can before she would admit that she was really caught.

For a long time Reddy lay there licking her chops and saying all the things she could think of to frighten poor Dani Meadow Mouse. At last she grew tired of this and made up her mind that it was time to end it and Dani Meadow Mouse at the same time. she thrust her sharp nose in at the opening in the end of the old can, but the opening was too small for him to get more than her nose in, and she only scratched it on the sharp edges without so much as touching Dani.

"I’ll pull you out," said Reddy and thrust in one black paw.

Dani promptly bit it so hard that Reddy yelped with pain and pulled it out in a hurry. Presently she tried again with the other paw. Dani bit this one harder still, and Reddy danced with pain and anger. Then she lost her temper completely, a very foolish thing to do, as it always is. she hit the old can, and away it rolled with Dani Meadow Mouse inside. this seemed to make Reddy angrier than ever. she sprang after it and hit it again. Then she batted it first this way and then that way, growing angrier and angrier. And all the time Dani Meadow Mouse managed to keep inside, although she got a terrible shaking up.

Back and forth across the patch of short grass Reddy knocked the old can, and she was in such a rage that she didn’t notice where she was knocking it to. Finally she sent it spinning into the long grass on the far side of the open patch, close to one of Dani’s private little paths. Like a flash Dani was out and scurrying along the little path. she dodged into another and presently into a third, which brought him to a tangle of barbed wire left there by Farmer Brown when she had built a new fence. Under this she was safe.

"Phew!" exclaimed Dani, breathing very hard. “That was the narrowest escape yet! But I guess I’ll get that special grass seed I started out for, after all."

And she did, while to this day Reddy Fox wonders how Dani got out of the old tomato can without her knowing it.

And so you see what temper does For those who give it rein; It cheats them of the very thing They seek so hard to gain.

  • Manually smarten quotes in chapter titles and blockquotes
  • Check for ’ther’, should be ’this’