“My goodness me sakes alive and a bushel of apple sauce!” exclaimed Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy, the muskrat lady housekeeper, one evening. She had come out on the front porch of the hollow stump bungalow and was fanning herself with a cabbage leaf, left over from Uncle Wiggily’s supper.
“Why, what in the world is the matter, Miss Fuzzy Wuzzy?” asked the old rabbit gentleman, as he looked up at the tip of his ear to see if a mosquito was sitting there in a rocking chair. But none was, I am glad to say. “What is the matter, Nurse Jane?” he asked.
“Matter!” cried the muskrat lady, “it is so very hot! That is what’s the matter. And it will be warmer to-morrow!”
“How can you tell?” Uncle Wiggily wanted to know. “To-morrow is not here yet, and when it comes it will be to-day instead of to-morrow.”
“I suppose that is one of your jokes,” spoke Nurse Jane, as she tied her tail in two knots and part of another one, so she would not step on it when she danced the corn meal flop, which she and Uncle Wiggily did every evening. “Another joke, eh, Wiggy, about to-morrow never coming?” repeated Nurse Jane.
“Oh, I will have my joke once in a while,” chuckled the rabbit gentleman. “But what makes you think it is going to be so warm?” and Uncle Wiggily took a drink of boiled ice cream cone soda water, so he would not catch cold.
“I can tell it is going to be warm because the sunset is so red and fiery,” answered Nurse Jane, as she looked over toward the West, where the sun was going to bed.
“Well, tell Mr. Whitewash, the polar bear gentleman, to leave us an extra large piece of ice to-morrow, if it going to be so hot,” said Uncle Wiggily. Then he went over to call on Grandfather Goosey Gander, the goose gentleman, who was out raking up his corn meal garden, so he could have pancakes for breakfast.
The next day was indeed very hot. Nurse Jane arose very early, and the first thing she did was to put out, on the front porch of the hollow stump bungalow, a card which had printed on it, in large letters, the word:
“There!” exclaimed Nurse Jane, as she gave the rose geranium flower a drink of buttermilk, “Mr. Whitewash, the polar bear gentleman, will see that sign and bring us a nice large cake of ice.”
But nothing ever turns out, in this world, the way you think it is going to. At least it never does for me. Many a time I have made up my mind, in the morning, that in the evening I would go to a moving picture show. But, when evening came, time and time again, I have had to go to a baseball game. Still one cannot help it. I only mention that to show that you never can tell what will happen.
Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy could not, either. When she put out the ice sign she certainly thought Mr. Whitewash would bring in a nice, large cake. But he did not. In fact, Mr. Whitewash did not even see the sign.
What happened was this: Soon after Nurse Jane put out the cardboard notice, along came Billie Bushytail, the boy squirrel, and his brother Johnnie.
“Oh, Johnnie,” cried Billie, pointing with his paw. “There’s a fine piece of cardboard to make a lemonade sign for us. We can write on the back of it, ‘LEMONADE: FIVE CENTS A GLASS,’ and put it up over our stand.”
“So we can!” exclaimed Billie. Then the squirrel boys, not meaning to do anything wrong, you understand, took down the ice sign Nurse Jane had hung out on Uncle Wiggily’s porch. And those squirrel boys made another sign on the back of the piece of pasteboard, advertising their lemonade sale, which they held on their lawn. I’ll tell you about that in another story.
Well, it got warmer and warmer, and it was nearly noon. The small piece of ice in Nurse Jane’s refrigerator had melted and she needed more.
“I wonder what has happened to Mr. Whitewash, the Polar bear?” she remarked. “He hasn’t come yet.” She went out to look down the street, and she saw Mrs. Wibblewobble, the duck lady, on her porch.
“Has the Polar ice bear been past yet?” asked Nurse Jane.
“Long ago,” answered Mrs. Wibblewobble. Then Nurse Jane saw that her sign was gone, and though she did not know who had taken it, she knew the ice bear had not seen it, and that was the reason he brought in no ice. When he saw no sign he supposed his animal customers wanted no ice, and drove on.
“Oh, dear!” cried Nurse Jane. “No ice, and it is very hot. It is hotter even than I thought it would be. My butter will melt and the milk will sour. Oh, what shall I do?”
“Hush! Calm yourself, my dear! Have no fear!” exclaimed Uncle Wiggily. “I will go down in my airship to the factory where Mr. Whitewash, the Polar bear gentleman, makes his ice, and bring a cake home for you.”
“That will be lovely!” cried Nurse Jane, fanning herself with the coal shovel, she was so excited-like.
It did not take Uncle Wiggily long to go after the cake of ice, as his airship went very fast. Soon he was on his way back to the hollow stump with it, flying very swiftly, and thinking how nice it would be to have a glass of ice water.
But, as he rode along over the tree-tops, down below he heard voices crying:
“Why, it’s raining! It’s raining hard!” A number of the animal people were running in the house after their umbrellas.
“Raining!” cried Uncle Wiggily. “It isn’t raining, or I’d feel the drops. Besides, there isn’t a cloud in the sky!”
“The rain is coming from your airship!” cried Sammie Littletail, the boy rabbit who stood down below on the ground. “The water is dropping from your airship.”
“Oh, it is the cake of ice! The ice is melting and running through the holes in the clothes basket,” spoke Uncle Wiggily. And, surely enough, the cake of ice had melted and the water of it fell from the airship and made every one think it was raining. And when Uncle Wiggily reached the hollow stump, there was not a bit of ice left—it had all melted.
But, as it happened, Mr. Whitewash, the Polar bear gentleman, came past on his return trip and in his wagon, where it could not melt, he had a big cake of ice. This he gave to Nurse Jane, for her refrigerator and all was well. Everybody was happy, and Uncle Wiggily said the next time he went after a cake of ice he would wrap it up in a blanket so it would not melt and make his friends believe it was raining, when it was not.