“Did you hear the news, Uncle Wiggily?” asked Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy, the muskrat lady housekeeper, as she sat down one evening in the dining-room of the hollow-stump bungalow, where the rabbit gentleman was eating his supper of lettuce salad, with carrot sauce sprinkled on.
“News! What news?” asked the bunny uncle, reaching for a slice of carrot bread. “Is some one going to have a surprise party and invite us to dance?”
“That’s partly it,” Nurse Jane answered. “Nannie Wagtail, the little goat girl, was going to have a party, but she is ill, and the party will not be given.”
“Nannie ill? That’s too bad,” said Uncle Wiggily, kindly. “I’ll go over to see her after I have my supper. She may need cheering up a bit. Yes, I’ll go see her.”
So after he had finished eating Uncle Wiggily put on his tall silk hat that was like a piece of the stovepipe and away he went, over the fields and through the woods, to the house where the little goat girl lived with her brother Billie and her Uncle Butter, who posted circus pictures on barns and fences.
It was getting dark, but Uncle Wiggily was not afraid, for he knew the moon would soon rise above the tree tops and make a good light.
And on his way to Nannie’s the bunny uncle passed a candy store.
“I’ll just stop in and buy Nannie an ice cream cone,” said Uncle Wiggily. “Winter is nearly over and ice cream cones are in season again. I’ll take two or three, for Billie might like one.”
The bunny uncle bought a bag full of the ice cream cones, and he was walking on again, hoping that Nannie would not be ill long, when, all at once, there was a crash in the bushes beside the rabbit gentleman as if some one had fallen down.
“My goodness me sakes alive and some apple dumplings!” cried Uncle Wiggily, jumping to one side. “Who it is?” He hoped it would not prove to be the bad old fox. “Who is it?” he asked, for it was too dark to see.
“It is I—the moon-man,” was the answer. “I hope I did not scare you?”
“Well, you did, a little,” said Uncle Wiggily. “But what are you doing down on the earth? You ought to be up in the sky.”
“I know I ought,” said the other, “but you know how Mother Goose has it:
“‘The man in the moon came tumbling down,
To inquire the way to Norwich.
He went to the South,
And burned his mouth,
Eating some cold bean porridge.’
“That’s how it was,” said the moon-man. “I had to come tumbling down, you see, for that’s the way it is in the book. But, oh, dear! I am so sorry I burned my mouth! How it hurts!”
“Did you really burn your mouth, in the South, eating cold bean porridge?” asked Uncle Wiggily.
“I did,” said the moon-man. “Only it was hot when I ate it. It’s cold enough now, though. Oh, how I burn! I wish you could help me.”
“I can!” cried Uncle Wiggily. “See, I have here some cold ice cream cones. Eat one of them, and your mouth will stop burning.”
“Oh, thank you!” cried the moon-man, and, surely enough, when he had eaten the ice cream cone, his mouth was as cool as a refrigerator, and he had no more pain.
“You are very kind,” said the moon-man to Uncle Wiggily. “If ever I can do you a favor I will. But now I must jump back to my place in the moon.”
The rabbit gentleman did not see how the moon-man was going to do any one any favors, if he had to jump away up in the moon, high above the earth. But still Uncle Wiggily was too polite to say so.
“Here I go! Good-by!” cried the man, and, giving a big hop, up to the moon he jumped. If you look closely you can see his face there on moonlight nights. He is smiling.
“Good-by!” called Uncle Wiggily, and on he went to the Wagtail goats’ house to see Nannie. She was very glad to have her bunny uncle call, and more pleased still when he gave her an ice cream cone, and also one to her brother Billie.
Uncle Wiggily stayed for quite some time, talking to the goats, and Uncle Butter told a funny story about a circus picture of a dog, which was so natural that a cat ran away when she saw it.
“Well, I’ll be getting back to my bungalow,” said Uncle Wiggily, after a bit. “Nurse Jane will be worrying about me if I stay too late.”
“Oh, how dark it is!” said Billie, looking out the door. “Aren’t you afraid, Uncle Wiggily?”
“Oh, no,” answered the rabbit uncle. But, when the door of the goats’ house was shut, and the pleasant lamplight no longer streamed out, it was very black and dark indeed. “I wish it were time for the lightning bugs,” thought Mr. Longears. “With them brightly flashing I could easily see my way.”
Uncle Wiggily went on as best he could, but pretty soon he bumped into a tree, and hurt his pink, twinkling nose. Next he stumbled against a big rock, and hurt his paw.
“Oh, dear!” he cried. “This is no fun! I wish it were light so I could see where I am going.”
Then he tripped over a log and came down ker-plunk! hurting his rheumatism, and he felt very badly, indeed.
“Oh, I wish some one would help me find my way to my bungalow!” he cried.
“I’ll help you,” said a kind voice, and then the woods were suddenly made almost as bright as day, for the moon rose over the trees, and shone down, so Uncle Wiggily could see the path, and stumbled no more.
“How is that?” asked the moon-man, beaming down on Uncle Wiggily. “Do I make it light enough for you?”
“Yes, indeed! Fine,” said the bunny uncle. “I can see all right now. Thank you.”
So the moon-man, whose mouth no longer burned, thanks to the ice cream cone, shone brightly until Uncle Wiggily safely reached his bungalow.