There are some children who are always stubbing their toes and falling down. That was what happened, far too often, to the little boy in this story. And I am going to tell you how Uncle Wiggily helped cure him.
Perhaps you may think it strange that an old rabbit gentleman, with a pink, twinkling nose and a tall, silk hat could cure a boy of stubbing his toes. But this only goes to show that you never can tell what is going to happen in this world.
So we shall start by saying that, once upon a time, there was a boy who slipped and stumbled so often that he was called “Stubby Toes.”
Stubby Toes was not a very big boy. In fact, one of the reasons he stubbed his toe so often (first the big toe of one foot, and then the big toe of the other foot), the reason, I say, was because he was so small. He had not yet grown up so that he knew how to step over things that lay in his path, causing him to stumble.
Why, sometimes that boy would stumble over a pin on the sidewalk. And again I have known him to trip and almost fall because he saw, in his way, a leaf from a tree.
“Upsi-daisey!” his sister would cry as she caught him by the hand, so he would not fall. “Upsi-daisey, Stubby Toes!”
It was Sister who really gave Stubby Toes his name, but she was only in fun, of course.
Well, one day when Uncle Wiggily had started out of his hollow stump bungalow to look for an adventure, Sister took her little brother Stubby Toes for a walk. And, as it happened, the path taken by Sister and Stubby Toes stretched along through the woodland where the bunny gentleman lived.
“I think I’ll go see Baby Bunty to-day,” said Uncle Wiggily to himself, as he hopped along, twinkling his pink nose in the sunshine. “I have a little touch of the rheumatism, and Baby Bunty is so lively, always playing tag, or something like that in the way of games, that she’ll make me spry, and chase the pain away.”
But as the bunny gentleman came near the place where the little boy and his sister were walking, all of a sudden Stubby Toes tripped over a little stone, about as large as the end of your lollypop stick, and—down he almost fell!
“Upsi-daisey!” cried Sister as she pulled Brother to his feet. “Upsi-daisey!”
“Oh, ho! Boo hoo! I—I stubbed my toe!” cried the little boy.
“Of course you did!” said Sister, laughing.
I think I forgot to tell you that Stubby Toes often cried when he slipped this way. Yes, almost every time he cried, and Sister wished he wouldn’t, and so did Mother.
“Boo hoo! Boo hoo!” the boy wailed. “I bunked myself!”
Sister laughed and recited this little verse, which is a good one to sing whenever anything happens. It is a verse I read once, many years ago.
“Oh, fie, Do not cry, If you stub your toe. Say ‘Oh!’ And let it go. Be a man, If you can, And do not cry!”
After Sister had sung this for Brother, she wiped away his tears, which just started to trickle down his cheeks, and they walked on again.
“This is a good little girl,” said Uncle Wiggily to himself, for, hidden in the bushes he had heard and seen all that went on. “I wish I could teach Stubby Toes not to stumble so much. I wonder how I can? I’ll ask Baby Bunty about it.”
So Uncle Wiggily hopped on to Baby Bunty’s bungalow, and, meanwhile Brother and Sister walked through the woods.
Well, I wish you could have seen what happened to Stubby Toes! But, no! Perhaps, on second thought, it is better that you did not. But, oh! So many times as he almost fell!
He tripped over a little baby angle worm, who was crawling to the store to get a loaf of cake for his mother. And next Stubby Toes almost landed on his nose, because the shadow of a bird flitted across his path.
“Oh, Stubby Toes!” cried Sister, as she kept him from falling on his face. “Will you ever learn to walk without stumbling?”
“Boo hoo!” was all that Stubby Toes answered, for, just then he tripped over a blade of grass, and this time he fell down all the way. Only he happened to land on some soft, green moss, so he was not much hurt, I’m glad to say.
“This is too bad!” Uncle Wiggily said to himself, for he had heard and seen it all. “I must get Baby Bunty to teach this little chap how to walk more carefully.”
It was not far to the home of Baby Bunty. That little rabbit girl was out skipping her rope in front of her house.
“Tag, Uncle Wiggily! You’re it!” she cried, as soon as she saw the bunny gentleman.
“Tut! Tut! We have no time for a game now,” said Mr. Longears. “I want you to come with me, Baby Bunty, and teach Stubby Toes a lesson,” and he told about the little boy.
“Oh, I see what you mean,” said Baby Bunty. “You want me to hop along in front of him, and show him how not to stub his toe.”
“That’s it!” said Uncle Wiggily. “Stubby Toes and Sister are kind to animals and will not harm us.”
So, a little later, Uncle Wiggily and Baby Bunty were walking along the woodland path just ahead of the little boy and his sister.
“Now, Baby Bunty,” said Mr. Longears, “show this boy how nicely you can hop along, even if there are sticks and stones on the path.”
Away skipped the little rabbit girl. She came to a stone, but over it she stepped as nicely as you please. She reached a stick, but she gave a hop, and there she was on the other side! And she never stubbed her toe once, because she was careful!
By this time the little boy and his sister had seen Uncle Wiggily and Baby Bunty.
“Oh, look at the funny rabbits!” cried Stubby Toes. “I want to catch ’em!”
“No! No! Mustn’t touch!” said Sister, and she reached out to catch hold of Stubby Toes, but it was too late! He tripped his foot on a dandelion blossom in the grass, and down he went!
“Boo hoo!” he cried.
“Oh, fie!” said Sister, singing the little verse again. “Look at the baby rabbit! She doesn’t stub her toes!”
And, surely enough, Baby Bunty, skipping along on the path in front of Stubby Toes, never fell once. She skipped over pebbles and stones, sticks and clumps of grass, and never once stepped on a flower.
“See if you can’t do that, Stubby Toes!” begged Sister.
And of course that boy didn’t want a little baby rabbit girl to walk better than he did. So he dried his tears, stood up straight and began to walk more firmly, watching where he set down his feet.
He came to a big stone and—over it he stepped without stumbling. He reached a stick—and, over that he put both feet without falling! He passed a lump of dirt—and right over it he JUMPED—and he didn’t stub his toe once! What do you think of that?
“Oh, I’m not going to call you Stubby Toes any more!” laughed Sister. “Now you have learned to walk as well as that baby rabbit.”
Uncle Wiggily laughed so hard that his tall silk hat almost slipped down over his pink, twinkling nose.
“I think we have done enough, Baby Bunty,” he said, “Come on now, and I’ll buy you a carrot lollypop!”
Away hopped the bunnies, and back home went Sister and Brother who was Stubby Toes no longer. Baby Bunty had taught him a good lesson.