“Well,” said Uncle Wiggily, as he and the black beetle went along through the woods, after the rabbit’s crutch had been taken away from the savage wolf, “don’t you want to come along with me, Mr. Beetle, and help me look for my fortune?”
“Indeed, I would like to very much,” said the funny little insect, “but the truth of the matter is that I have to go to work to-morrow, and so I can’t come.”
“Work–what work do you do?” inquired Uncle Wiggily.
“Oh, I am going to punch holes in trolley car transfers with my strong pincers,” answered the beetle. “Now, I will have to bid you good-by, but if ever any one takes your crutch down a hole again, send for me and I’ll get it back for you.”
So the beetle said good-by to the old gentleman rabbit, and went his way, and Uncle Wiggily, after looking at his crutch to be sure the wolf had not bitten a piece out of it, went on looking for his fortune.
“My! It’s quite lonesome going by yourself,” said the rabbit, as he hopped along through the woods. “I miss the red monkey and the grasshopper and the black beetle. But then they can’t always be with me, so I’ll have to travel on alone.”
On and on he went. Sometimes in the fields he stopped to hear the birds sing, and he heard them talking among themselves about how they must soon get ready to go down South, for cold weather was coming. That made the old gentleman rabbit feel a little sad, and he wished that he could soon go back home, where Sammie and Susie Littletail were waiting for him.
“But I can’t go until I find my fortune,” he said. “I must look harder than ever for it.”
Then, sometimes, when he went through the woods, he heard the little brooks whispering to the ferns, how that soon there would be ice and snow all over, with boys and girls skating and sliding down hill.
“Burr-r-r-r-r-r! That makes me shiver!” exclaimed the rabbit. “I, too, must get ready for winter. Oh, if I could only find that gold and those diamonds I’d go right straight home, and never travel about any more.”
So he looked under stones and down in hollow stumps, but not a piece of gold nor a sparkling diamond could he find. Then it began to get late, and the sun was darkened behind the clouds.
“I wonder where I can stay to-night?” thought Uncle Wiggily. “I must pick out a nice, big stump, fill it with leaves, and sleep in there.”
Well, it didn’t take him long to find what he wanted, and he prepared his bed for the night. Then he built a little fire in front of the stump and cooked his supper. He ate some carrots and a turnip sandwich with peanut butter on it, and the last thing he ate was a large piece of cherry pie. Then he washed the dishes and, curling up on the soft leaves, he was soon asleep, dreaming of his little nephew and niece, Sammie and Susie.
Now, about midnight, the savage alligator, who hadn’t had anything to eat in a long time, started out to find something. And pretty soon he came to the stump where Uncle Wiggily was sleeping.
“Ah, there is a good meal for me!” cried the skillery-scalery creature, as he reared up on the end of his double-jointed tail and put his long nose down in the hollow stump.
“Hey! What’s this? Who is it? Has the red monkey come back?” cried the rabbit, suddenly awakening. “I’m glad to see you, Mr. Monkey. Here is some cherry pie for you.”
And then, being only half awake, Uncle Wiggily took a large piece of the pie and held it out, thinking he was giving it to the monkey. But it slipped from his hand and it fell right into the alligator’s face.
And the cherry juice ran down into the eyes of the skillery-scalery creature, and tickled him so that he sneezed, and then he ran away, for he thought the red monkey might possibly be in the stump, and the alligator was afraid the monkey might throw hot potatoes down his throat.
Uncle Wiggily looked out of the stump, and by the light of the silvery moon he saw the alligator running away, and that was the first time he knew it was the skillery creature, and not the monkey, who had come in so suddenly.
“My! That was a narrow escape!” cried the rabbit. “It’s a good thing I took that cherry pie to bed with me. I must be on the watch, for the alligator may come back.” But the skillery-scalery creature, with the double-jointed tail, didn’t return, though Uncle Wiggily didn’t sleep very good the rest of the night on account of being so anxious and worrying so much.
And in the morning when he awakened from a little nap the old gentleman rabbit felt very strange. He tried to get up, but he found that he couldn’t. He was as dizzy as if he had been on a merry-go-round and he felt very ill.
“It must have been the fright the alligator gave me,” he thought. “Oh, dear, what shall I do? Here I am, all alone in this stump in the woods, and no one to help me. Oh, I’m a poor, forsaken old rabbit, and nobody loves me! Oh, if Sammie or Susie were only here. I’m sure—-“
And just then there was a scratching sound outside the stump.
“Hark! What’s that?” whispered the rabbit. “That must be the alligator coming back to get me! And I can’t even get up to throw some cherry pie at him. Oh, if the red monkey or the black beetle would only come!”
Then the scratching noise sounded some more, and Uncle Wiggily was getting so frightened that he didn’t know what to do. And then, all of a sudden, he saw something white at the top hole of the stump, and a voice exclaimed:
“Well, if there isn’t my dear old Uncle Wiggily! And you are ill, I know you are. I can tell by the way your nose twinkles.”
“Indeed, I am ill,” said the poor rabbit, “but who are you?” For you know he couldn’t see well, as his glasses had fallen off.
“Oh, I am Kittie Kat,” said the voice, and there, surely enough, was the little cat girl. She had been away on her summer vacation, and was just coming back to get ready for school when she happened to walk through the woods. There she heard a voice in the stump, and, going to look, she saw Uncle Wiggily.
“Oh, how glad I am to see you, Kittie Kat,” said the rabbit.
“And how sorry I am to see you ill,” said the cat girl. “But don’t worry. I’m going to make you well. Just keep quiet.”
Then that brave little cat girl scurried around, and gathered some leaves from a plant called catnip.
“For,” said Kittie, “if catnip is good for cats, it must be good for rabbits.” So she made some hot catnip tea, and gave it to Uncle Wiggily, and in an hour he was all better and could sit up. Then Kittie made him some toast with some slices of yellow carrots on it, and he felt better still, and by noon he was as good as ever.
“But I don’t know what I would have done, only for you, Kittie Kat,” said the rabbit. “Thank you, very much. Now I can travel on and seek my fortune.”
“And I’ll come with you,” spoke Kittie Kat. So they traveled on together.