Uncle Wiggily was walking along the road one morning, after he had slept all night in the hollow stump. He didn’t have any breakfast either, for there was nothing left in his valise, and of course he couldn’t eat his barber-pole crutch. If the crutch had had a hole in it, like in the elephant’s trunk, then the old gentleman rabbit could have carried along some sandwiches. But, as it was, he had nothing for breakfast, and he hadn’t had much supper either, the night before.
“Oh, how hungry I am!” exclaimed Uncle Wiggily. “If only I had a piece of cherry pie now, or an ice cream cone, or a bit of bread and butter and jam I would be all right.”
Well, he just happened to open his valise, and there on the very bottom, among some papers he found a few crumbs of the honey sandwiches the bumble bee had given him. Well, you never can imagine how good those few crumbs tasted to the old gentleman rabbit, which shows you that it is a good thing to be hungry once in a while, because even common things taste good.
But the crumbs weren’t enough for Uncle Wiggily. As he walked along he kept getting hungrier and hungrier and he didn’t know how he was going to stand it.
Then, all of a sudden, as he was passing by a hollow stump, he saw a whole lot of little black creatures crawling around it. They were going up and down, and they were very busy.
“Why, these are ants,” said the rabbit. “Well, I s’pose they have plenty to eat. I almost wish I was an ant.”
“Well! Well!” exclaimed a voice all at once. “If here isn’t Uncle Wiggily. Where did you come from?” and there stood a second cousin to the ant for whom Uncle Wiggily had once carried home a pound of beefsteak with mushrooms on it.
“Oh, I am traveling about seeking my fortune,” said the rabbit. “But I haven’t been very successful. I couldn’t even find my breakfast this morning.”
“That’s too bad!” exclaimed the ant who wore glasses. “We can give you something, however. Come on! everybody, help get breakfast for Uncle Wiggily.”
So all the ants came running up, and some of them brought pieces of boiled eggs, and others brought oatmeal and others parts of oranges and still others parts of cups of coffee. So take it altogether, with seventeen million, four hundred and seventeen thousand, one hundred and eighty-five ants and a baby ant to wait on him, Uncle Wiggily managed to make out a pretty fair sort of a breakfast.
Well, after the old gentleman rabbit had eaten all the breakfast he could, he thanked the kind ants and said good-by to them. Then he started off again. He hadn’t gone on very far through the woods, before, all of a sudden he saw something bright and shining under a blackberry bush.
“Well, I do declare!” cried the old gentleman rabbit. “I think that looks like gold. I hope I’m not fooled this time. I will go up very slowly and carefully. Perhaps I shall find my fortune now.”
So up he walked very softly, and he stooped down and picked up the shining thing. And what do you think it was? Why a bright new penny—as shiny as gold.
“Good luck!” cried Uncle Wiggily, “I am beginning to find money. Soon I will be rich, and then I can stop traveling,” and he put the penny in his pocket.
Well, no sooner had he done so than he heard some one crying over behind a raspberry bush. Oh, such a sad cry as it was, and the old gentleman rabbit knew right away that some one was in trouble.
“Who is there?” he asked, as he felt in his pocket to see if his penny was safe, for he thought that was the beginning of his fortune.
“Oh, I’m lost!” cried the voice. “I came to the store to buy a chocolate lollypop, and I can’t find my way back,” and then out from behind the raspberry bush came a tiny, little striped chipmunk with the tears falling down on her little paws.
“Oh, you poor little dear!” cried Uncle Wiggily. “And so you are lost? Well, don’t you know what to do? As soon as you are lost you must go to a policeman and ask him to take you home. Policemen always know where everybody lives.”
“But there are no policemen here,” said the chipmunk, who was something like a squirrel, only smaller.
“That’s so,” agreed Uncle Wiggily. “Well, pretend that I am a policeman, and I’ll take you home. Where do you live?”
“If I knew,” said the chipmunk, “I would go home myself. All that I know is that I live in a hollow stump.”
“Hum!” exclaimed Uncle Wiggily. “There are so many hollow stumps here, that I can’t tell which one it is. We will go to each one, and when you find the one that is your home, just tell me.”
“But that is not the worst,” said the chipmunk. “I have lost my bright, new penny that my mamma gave me for a chocolate lollypop. Oh dear. Isn’t it terrible.”
“Perhaps this is your penny,” said the old gentleman rabbit a bit sadly, taking from his pocket the one he had found.
“It is the very one!” cried the lost chipmunk, joyfully. “Oh, how good of you to find it for me.”
“Well,” thought Uncle Wiggily with a sorrowful sigh as he handed over the penny, “I thought I had found the beginning of my fortune, but I’ve lost it again. Never mind. I’ll try to-morrow.”
So he gave the penny to the chipmunk, and she stopped crying right away, and took hold of Uncle Wiggily’s paw, and he led her around to all the hollow stumps until she found the right one where she lived.
And he bought her an ice cream cone because he felt sorry for her. And, just as she was eating it, along came a big, black bear and he wanted half of it, but very luckily the July bug flew past just then, and he bit the bear in the eyes, so that the bad bear was glad enough to run home, taking his little stumpy tail with him. Then the chipmunk took Uncle Wiggily back to her home, and he stayed with her papa and mamma all night.