Uncle Wiggily Longears, the nice old gentleman rabbit, was asleep in an easy chair in his hollow-stump bungalow one morning when he heard some one calling:
“Hi, Jack! Ho, Jill! Where are you? Come at once, if you please!”
“Ha! What’s that? Some one calling me?” asked the bunny uncle, sitting up so suddenly that he knocked over his red, white and blue striped barber-pole rheumatism crutch that Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy, the muskrat lady housekeeper, had gnawed for him out of a corn-stalk. “Is any one calling me?” asked Mr. Longears.
“No,” answered Miss Fuzzy Wuzzy. “That’s Mother Goose calling Jack and Jill to get a pail of water.”
“Oh! is that all?” asked the rabbit gentleman, rubbing his pink eyes and making his nose twinkle like the sharp end of an ice cream cone. “Just Mother Goose calling Jack and Jill; eh? Well, I’ll go out and see if I can find them for her.”
Uncle Wiggily was always that way, you know, wanting to help some one. This time it was Mother Goose. His new hollow-stump bungalow was built right near where Mother Goose lived, with all her big family; Peter-Peter Pumpkin-Eater, Little Jack Horner, Bo Peep and many others.
“Ho, Jack! Hi, Jill! Where are you?” called Mother Goose, as Uncle Wiggily came out of his hollow stump.
“Can’t you find those two children?” asked the rabbit gentleman, making a polite good morning bow.
“I am sorry to say I cannot,” answered Mother Goose. “They were over to see the Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe, a while ago, but where they are now I can’t guess, and I need a pail of water for Simple Simon to go fishing in, for to catch a whale.”
“Oh, I’ll get the water for you,” said Uncle Wiggily, taking the pail. “Perhaps Jack and Jill are off playing somewhere, and they have forgotten all about getting the water.”
“And I suppose they’ll forget about tumbling down hill, too,” went on Mother Goose, sort of nervous like. “But they must not. If they don’t fall down, so Jack can break his crown, it won’t be like the story in my book, and everything will be upside down.”
“So Jack has to break his crown; eh?” asked Uncle Wiggily. “That’s too bad. I hope he won’t hurt himself too much.”
“Oh, he’s used to it by this time,” Mother Goose said. “He doesn’t mind falling, nor does Jill mind tumbling down after.”
“Very well, then, I’ll get the pail of water for you,” spoke the bunny uncle, “and Jack and Jill can do the tumbling-down-hill part.”
Uncle Wiggily took the water pail and started for the hill, on top of which was the well owned by Mother Goose. As the bunny uncle was walking along he suddenly heard a voice calling to him from behind a bush.
“Oh, Uncle Wiggily, will you do me a favor?”
“I certainly will,” said Mr. Longears, “but who are you, and where are you?”
“Here I am, over here,” the voice went on. “I’m Jack, and will you please give this to Jill when you see her?”
Out from behind the bush stepped Jack, the little Mother Goose boy. In his hand he held a piece of white birch bark, prettily colored red, green and pink, and on it was a little verse which read:
“Can you tell me, pretty maid,
Tell me and not be afraid,
Who’s the sweetest girl, and true?—
I can; for she’s surely you!”
“What’s this? What’s this?” asked Uncle Wiggily, in surprise. “What’s this?”
“It’s a valentine for Jill,” said Jack. “To-day is Valentine’s Day, you see, but I don’t want Jill to know I sent it, so I went off here and hid until I could see you to ask you to take it to her.”
“All right, I’ll do it,” Uncle Wiggily said, laughing. “I’ll take your valentine to Jill for you. So that’s why you weren’t ’round to get the pail of water; is it?”
“Yes,” answered Jack. “I wanted to finish making my valentine. As soon as you give it to Jill I’ll get the water.”
“Oh, never mind that,” said the bunny uncle. “I’ll get the water, just you do the falling-down-hill part. I’m too old for that.”
“I will,” promised Jack. Then Uncle Wiggily went on up the hill, and pretty soon he heard some one else calling him, and, all of a sudden, out from behind a stump stepped Jill, the little Mother Goose girl.
“Oh, Uncle Wiggily!” said Jill, bashfully holding out a pretty red leaf, shaped like a heart, “will you please give this to Jack. I don’t want him to know I sent it.”
“Of course, I’ll give it to him,” promised the rabbit gentleman. “It’s a valentine, I suppose, and here is something for you,” and while Jill was reading the valentine Jack had sent her, Uncle Wiggily looked at the red heart-shaped leaf. On it Jill had written in blue ink:
“One day when I went to school,
Teacher taught to me this rule:
Eight and one add up to nine;
So I’ll be your valentine.”
“My, that’s nice!” said Uncle Wiggily, laughing. “So that’s why you’re hiding off here for, Jill, to make a valentine for Jack?”
“That’s it,” Jill answered, blushing sort of pink, like the frosting on a strawberry cake. “But I don’t want Jack to know it.”
“I’ll never tell him,” said Uncle Wiggily.
So he went on up the hill to get a pail of water for Mother Goose. And on his way back he gave Jill’s valentine to Jack, who liked it very much.
“And now, since you got the water, Jill and I will go tumble down hill,” said Jack, as he found the little girl, where she was reading his valentine again. Up the hill they went, near the well of water, and Jack fell down, and broke his crown, while Jill came tumbling after, while Uncle Wiggily looked on and laughed. So it all happened just as it did in the book, you see.
Mother Goose was very glad Uncle Wiggily had brought the water for Simple Simon to go fishing in, and that afternoon she gave a valentine party for Sammie and Susie Littletail, the Bushytail squirrel brothers, Nannie and Billie Wagtail, the goats, and all the other animal friends of Uncle Wiggily. And every one had a fine time.