“My goodness! But it’s cold to-day!” exclaimed Uncle Wiggily Longears, the nice rabbit gentleman, as he came down to breakfast in his hollow-stump bungalow one morning. “It is very cold.”
“Indeed it is,” said Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy, the muskrat lady housekeeper, as she put the hot buttered cabbage cakes on the table. “If you go out you had better wear your fur coat.”
“I shall,” spoke the bunny uncle. “And I probably shall call on Mother Goose. She asked me to stop in the next time I went past.”
“What for?” Nurse Jane wanted to know.
“Oh, Little Jack Horner hurt his thumb the last time he pulled a plum out of his Christmas pie, and Mother Goose wanted me to look at it, and see if she had better call in Dr. Possum. So I’ll stop and have a look.”
“Well, give her my love,” said Nurse Jane, and Uncle Wiggily promised that he would.
A little later he started off across the fields and through the woods to the place where Mother Goose lived, not far from his own hollow-stump bungalow. Uncle Wiggily had on his fur overcoat, for it was cold. It had been warm the day before, when he had taken Diller-a-Dollar, the ten o’clock scholar, to school, but now the weather had turned cold again.
“Come in!” called Mother Goose, when Uncle Wiggily had tapped with his paw on her door. “Come in!”
The bunny uncle went in, and looked at the thumb of Little Jack Horner, who was playing marbles with Little Boy Blue.
“Does your thumb hurt you much, Jack?” asked Uncle Wiggily.
“Yes, I am sorry to say it does. I’m not going to pull any more plums out of Christmas pies. I’m going to eat cake instead,” said Jack Horner.
“Well, I’ll go get Dr. Possum for you,” offered Uncle Wiggily. “I think that will be best,” he remarked to Mother Goose.
Wrapped in his warm fur overcoat, Uncle Wiggily once more started off over the fields and through the woods. He had not gone very far before he heard a queer sort of crying noise, like:
“Baa! Baa! Baa!”
“Ha! That sounds like a little lost lamb,” said the bunny uncle, “only there are no little lambs out this time of year. I’ll take a look. It may be some one in trouble, whom I can help.”
Uncle Wiggily looked around the corner of a stone fence, and there he saw a sheep shivering in the cold, for most of his warm, fleecy wool had been sheared off. Oh! how the sheep shivered in the cold.
“Why, what is the matter with you?” asked Uncle Wiggily, kindly.
“I am c-c-c-c-cold,” said the sheep, shiveringly.
“What makes you cold?” the bunny uncle wanted to know.
“Because they cut off so much of my wool. You know how it is with me, for I am in the Mother Goose book. Listen!
“‘Baa-baa, black sheep, have you any wool?
Yes, sir; yes, sir; three bags full.
One for the master, one for the man,
And one for the little boy who lives in the lane.’
“That’s the way I answered when they asked me if I had any wool,” said Baa-baa.
“And what did they do?” asked the bunny uncle.
“Why they sheared off my fleece, three bags of it. I didn’t mind them taking the first bag full, for I had plenty and it was so warm I thought Spring was coming. And it doesn’t hurt to cut off my fleecy wool, any more than it hurts to cut a boy’s hair. And after they took the first bag full of wool for the master they took a second bag for the man. I didn’t mind that, either. But when they took the third——”
“Then they really did take three?” asked Uncle Wiggily, in surprise.
“Oh, yes, to be sure. Why it’s that way in the book of Mother Goose, you know, and they had to do just as the book says.”
“I suppose so,” agreed Uncle Wiggily, sadly like.
“Well, after they took the third bag of wool off my back the weather grew colder, and I began to shiver. Oh! how cold I was; and how I shivered and shook. Of course if the master and the man, and the little boy who lives in the lane, had known I was going to shiver so, they would not have taken the last bag of wool. Especially the little boy, as he is very kind to me. But now it is done, and it will be a long while before my wool grows out again. And as long as it is cold weather I will shiver, I suppose,” said Baa-baa, the black sheep.
“No, you shall not shiver!” cried Uncle Wiggily.
“How can you stop me?” asked the black sheep.
“By wrapping my old fur coat around you,” said the rabbit gentleman. “I have two fur overcoats, a new one and an old one. I am wearing the new one. The old one is at my hollow-stump bungalow. You go there and tell Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy to give it to you. Tell her I said so. Or you can go there and wait for me, as I am going to get Dr. Possum to fix the thumb of Little Jack Horner, who sat in a corner, eating a Christmas pie.”
“You are very kind,” said Baa-baa. “I’ll go to your bungalow and wait there for you.”
So he did, shaking and shivering all the way, but he soon became warm when he sat by Nurse Jane’s fire. And when Uncle Wiggily came back from having sent Dr. Possum to Little Jack Horner, the rabbit gentleman wrapped his old fur coat around Baa-baa, the black sheep, who was soon as warm as toast.
And Baa-baa wore Uncle Wiggily’s old fur coat until warm weather came, when the sheep’s wool grew out long again. So everything was all right, you see.