One day, not very long after the elephant had picked the cherries off the tree, so that Uncle Wiggily could make the cherry pies for Grandpa Goosey, the three friends were traveling along together through a deep, dark, dismal woods.
“Where are we going?” asked the elephant, who had run away from the circus man to travel by himself.
“Oh, to some place where we may find our fortune,” said the old gentleman rabbit.
“I would much rather find some snails to eat,” said Grandfather Goosey Gander, the old gentleman duck, as I shall call him for short. “For I am very hungry.”
“What’s that?” cried the rabbit. “Hungry after the nice pie I made for you?”
“Oh, that was some time ago. I could eat another pie right now,” spoke the old duck. But there wasn’t any pie for him, so he had to eat a cornmeal sandwich with watercress salad on, and Uncle Wiggily ate some carrots and cabbage, and the elephant ate a lot of grass from a field—oh! a terrible lot—about ten bushels, I guess.
Then, all at once, as they were walking along over a bridge, a man suddenly jumped out from behind a tree, and cried:
“Ah, ha! Now you won’t get away from me, Mr. Elephant. This time I am surely going to take you back to the circus.” And with that he threw a rope around the elephant’s trunk, and led him away. The elephant cried so many tears that there was a muddy puddle right near the bridge, and the big animal begged to be allowed to stay with Uncle Wiggily and Grandpa Goosey Gander, but the man said it could not be done.
“Well, then, you and I will have to go on together,” said the old gentleman rabbit to the duck, after a bit. “Perhaps we may find our fortune.”
“I think I could make money calling out ‘honk-honk!’ on an automobile,” said the grandfather. “Jimmie Wibblewobble once did that for a man. I think I’ll look for a nice automobile gentleman to work for, and if I get money enough we’ll be rich.”
Well, he looked and looked, but no one seemed to want an old duck for an auto horn, and the rabbit and Grandfather Goosey Gander kept on traveling together, over the fields and through the woods.
Pretty soon they came to a place where a June bug was sitting on the edge of a stone wall, buzzing his wings.
“Let’s ask him where we can find our fortunes,” said Uncle Wiggily. So they asked the June bug.
“Well,” replied the buzzing creature, “I am not sure, but a little way from here are two roads. One or the other might bring you to your fortune. One goes to the right, the other to the left hand.”
“We will take the left hand road,” said Uncle Wiggily. “We will go down that for some distance, and if we do not find a pot of gold, or some ice cream cones at the end of it, we will come back, and try the other road.”
So Uncle Wiggily and Grandfather Goosey Gander went down the left road. On and on they went, walking in the dust when there was any dust, and in the mud when there was any mud. But they didn’t find any gold.
“Oh, let’s go back and try the other road,” said the rabbit gentleman after a bit. “Perhaps that will be better.”
So back they went, stopping on the way to look at a big apple tree, to see if there were any ripe apples on it. But there was none, so they didn’t eat any. And I hope you children do the same this summer. Never eat green apples, never, never, never! Wait until they are ripe.
Well, by and by, after a while, not so very long, Uncle Wiggily, who was hopping along on his crutch, suddenly exclaimed:
“Oh, I’ve lost my valise! What shall I do? I can’t go on without it, for it has our lunch in it.”
“I think you left it under the green-apple tree,” said the duck. “You had better go back for it, and I will wait here in the shade,” for Grandpa Goosey knew the rabbit could hop faster than he could waddle.
Back Uncle Wiggily started, and, surely enough, he found his valise under the apple tree, where he had forgotten it. He picked it up, and was walking along with it back to where Grandfather Goosey Gander was waiting for him when, all of a sudden, out from behind a stump came Jennie Chipmunk, with a basket of popcorn balls.
“Oh, Uncle Wiggily!” she exclaimed. “Don’t you want to buy some popcorn balls? Our church is having a little fair, and we are all trying to earn some money. I am selling popcorn, to help the little heathen children buy red-colored handkerchiefs.”
“Of course, I’ll take some,” said the old gentleman rabbit, “popcorn balls, I mean—not children, or hankerchiefs,” he said quickly. So he bought a pink one, and a white one, and a chocolate colored one, popcorn balls you know—not children—and put them in his valise.
Then Uncle Wiggily sent his love to Sammie and Susie Littletail, by Jennie Chipmunk, and off he started to go back to where Grandfather Goosey Gander was waiting for him.
Well, something terrible was happening to the poor old gentleman duck, and I’ll tell you all about it. No sooner had the rabbit gotten near the shady tree under which the grandfather gentleman was resting, than he heard a cry:
“Help! Help! Help!” called the duck. “Oh, help me quickly, somebody!”
“What is the matter?” asked Uncle Wiggily, limping along as fast as he could.
“Oh, a bad snake has caught me!” cried the duck. “He has wound himself around my legs, and I can’t walk, and he is going to eat me up! He jumped on me out of the bushes. He will eat me!”
“He shall never do that!” cried the rabbit, bravely. “I will save you.” So he ran up to that snake, but the snake stuck out his tongue, like a fork, at the rabbit, and Uncle Wiggily was frightened. Then he tried to hit the snake with a stick, but the crawly creature hid down behind Grandfather Goosey, and so got out of the way.
“I have it!” suddenly cried Uncle Wiggily. “The popcorn balls. Snakes love them! I’ll make him eat them, and then he’ll let Grandpa Goosey go.” So from his valise the brave rabbit took the red and the white and the chocolate colored popcorn balls, and he rolled them along the ground, close to the snake’s nose. And the snake smelled them, and he was so hungry for them that he uncoiled himself from Grandfather Goosey’s legs, and let the old gentleman duck go. And the snake chased after the corn balls and ate them all up, and then he didn’t want anything more for a long while, and he went to sleep for six months and dreamed about turning into a hoop, and so he didn’t bother anybody.
So that’s how Uncle Wiggily saved the duck, and next, in case the pretty baby across the street doesn’t fall down and bump its nose, I’ll tell you about Uncle Wiggily and the ice cream cones.