Thornton W. Burgess.

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Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Richard J. Shiffer and the PG
Distributed Proofreading Team.







The Bedtime Story-Books




THE ADVENTURES OF PRICKLY PORKY

BY

THORNTON W. BURGESS


Author of "Old Mother West Wind Series," "Mother
West Wind 'How' Stories," "The Bedtime
Story-Books," etc.


_With Illustrations by HARRISON CADY_




BOSTON

LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY

1916




[Illustration: "Do tell me quickly what has happened to Peter!"
FRONTISPIECE. _See page 94._]




CONTENTS


I HAPPY JACK SQUIRREL MAKES A FIND
II THE STRANGER FROM THE NORTH
III PRICKLY PORKY MAKES FRIENDS
IV PETER RABBIT HAS SOME STARTLING NEWS
V PETER RABBIT TELLS HIS STORY
VI PETER HAS TO TELL HIS STORY MANY TIMES
VII JIMMY SKUNK CALLS ON PRICKLY PORKY
VIII PRICKLY PORKY NEARLY CHOKES
IX JIMMY SKUNK AND UNC' BILLY POSSUM TELL DIFFERENT STORIES
X UNC' BILLY POSSUM TELLS JIMMY SKUNK A SECRET
XI WHAT HAPPENED TO REDDY FOX
XII WHAT REDDY FOX SAW AND DID
XIII REDDY FOX IS VERY MISERABLE
XIV REDDY FOX TRIES TO KEEP OUT OF SIGHT
XV OLD GRANNY FOX INVESTIGATES
XVI OLD GRANNY FOX LOSES HER DIGNITY
XVII GRANNY FOX CATCHES PETER RABBIT
XVIII A FRIEND IN NEED IS A FRIEND INDEED
XIX JIMMY SKUNK TAKES WORD TO MRS. PETER
XX A PLOT TO FRIGHTEN OLD MAN COYOTE
XXI SAMMY JAY DELIVERS HIS MESSAGE
XXII OLD MAN COYOTE LOSES HIS APPETITE
XXIII BUSTER BEAR GIVES IT ALL AWAY




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

"DO TELL ME QUICKLY WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO PETER!" _Frontispiece_

"POOH," EXCLAIMED REDDY FOX. "WHO'S AFRAID OF THAT FELLOW?"

THEN HE BRACED HIMSELF AND PULLED WITH ALL HIS MIGHT

REDDY WOULDN'T HAVE BELIEVED THAT IT WAS ALIVE

"DROP HIM!" HE GRUNTED

"I SEE YOU ARE UP TO YOUR OLD TRICKS, PRICKLY PORKY!" HE SHOUTED




THE ADVENTURES OF PRICKLY PORKY




I

HAPPY JACK SQUIRREL MAKES A FIND


Happy Jack Squirrel had had a wonderful day. He had found some big
chestnut-trees that he had never seen before, and which promised to
give him all the nuts he would want for all the next winter. Now he
was thinking of going home, for it was getting late in the afternoon.
He looked out across the open field where Mr. Goshawk had nearly
caught him that morning. His home was on the other side.

"It's a long way 'round," said Happy Jack to himself, "but it is best
to be safe and sure."

So Happy Jack started on his long journey around the open field. Now,
Happy Jack's eyes are bright, and there is very little that Happy Jack
does not see. So, as he was jumping from one tree to another, he spied
something down on the ground which excited his curiosity.

"I must stop and see what that is," said Happy Jack. So down the tree
he ran, and in a few minutes he had found the queer thing, which had
caught his eyes. It was smooth and black and white, and at one end it
was very sharp with a tiny little barb. Happy Jack found it out by
pricking himself with it.

"Ooch," he cried, and dropped the queer thing. Pretty soon he noticed
there were a lot more on the ground.

"I wonder what they are," said Happy Jack. "They don't grow, for they
haven't any roots. They are not thorns, for there is no plant from
which they could come. They are not alive, so what can they be?"

Now, Happy Jack's eyes are bright, but sometimes he doesn't use them
to the very best advantage. He was so busy examining the queer things
on the ground that he never once thought to look up in the tops of the
trees. If he had, perhaps he would not have been so much puzzled. As
it was he just gathered up three or four of the queer things and
started on again. On the way he met Peter Rabbit and showed Peter what
he had. Now, you know Peter Rabbit is very curious. He just couldn't
sit still, but must scamper over to the place Happy Jack Squirrel told
him about.

"You'd better be careful, Peter Rabbit; they're very sharp," shouted
Happy Jack.

But as usual, Peter was in too much of a hurry to heed what was said
to him. Lipperty-lipperty-lip, lipperty-lipperty-lip, went Peter
Rabbit through the woods, as fast as his long legs would take him.
Then suddenly he squealed and sat down to nurse one of his feet. But
he was up again in a flash with another squeal louder than before.
Peter Rabbit had found the queer things that Happy Jack Squirrel had
told him about. One was sticking in his foot, and one was in the white
patch on the seat of his trousers.




II

THE STRANGER FROM THE NORTH


The Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind were excited. Yes,
Sir, they certainly were excited. They had met Happy Jack Squirrel and
Peter Rabbit, and they were full of the news of the queer things that
Happy Jack and Peter Rabbit had found over in the Green Forest. They
hurried this way and that way over the Green Meadows and told every
one they met. Finally they reached the Smiling Pool and excitedly told
Grandfather Frog all about it.

Grandfather Frog smoothed down his white and yellow waistcoat and
looked very wise, for you know that Grandfather Frog is very old.

"Pooh," said Grandfather Frog. "I know what they are."

"What?" cried all the Merry Little Breezes together. "Happy Jack says
he is sure they do not grow, for there are no strange plants over
there."

Grandfather Frog opened his big mouth and snapped up a foolish green
fly that one of the Merry Little Breezes blew over to him.

"Chug-a-rum," said Grandfather Frog. "Things do not have to be on
plants in order to grow. Now I am sure that those things grew, and
that they did not grow on a plant."

The Merry Little Breezes looked puzzled. "What is there that grows and
doesn't grow on a plant?" asked one of them.

"How about the claws on Peter Rabbit's toes and the hair of Happy
Jack's tail?" asked Grandfather Frog.

The Merry Little Breezes looked foolish. "Of course," they cried. "We
didn't think of that. But we are quite sure that these queer things
that prick so are not claws, and certainly they are not hair."

"Don't you be too sure," said Grandfather Frog. "You go over to the
Green Forest and look up in the treetops instead of down on the
ground; then come back and tell me what you find."

Away raced the Merry Little Breezes to the Green Forest and began to
search among the treetops. Presently, way up in the top of a big
poplar, they found a stranger. He was bigger than any of the little
meadow people, and he had long sharp teeth with which he was stripping
the bark from the tree. The hair of his coat was long, and out of it
peeped a thousand little spears just like the queer things that Happy
Jack and Peter Rabbit had told them about.

"Good morning," said the Merry Little Breezes politely.

"Mornin'," grunted the stranger in the treetop.

"May we ask where you come from?" said one of the Merry Little Breezes
politely.

"I come from the North Woods," said the stranger and then went on
about his business, which seemed to be to strip every bit of the bark
from the tree and eat it.




III

PRICKLY PORKY MAKES FRIENDS


The Merry Little Breezes soon spread the news over the Green Meadows
and through the Green Forest that a stranger had come from the North.
At once all the little meadow people and forest folk made some excuse
to go over to the big poplar tree where the stranger was so busy
eating. At first he was very shy and had nothing to say. He was a
queer fellow, and he was so big, and his teeth were so sharp and so
long, that his visitors kept their distance.

Reddy Fox, who, you know, is a great boaster and likes to brag of how
smart he is and how brave he is, came with the rest of the little
meadow people.

"Pooh," exclaimed Reddy Fox. "Who's afraid of that fellow?"

Just then the stranger began to come down the tree. Reddy backed away.

"It looks as if _you_ were afraid, Reddy Fox," said Peter Rabbit.

"I'm not afraid of anything," said Reddy Fox, and swelled himself up
to look twice as big as he really is.

"It seems to me I hear Bowser the Hound," piped up Striped Chipmunk.

[Illustration: "Pooh," exclaimed Reddy Fox. "Who's afraid of that
fellow?" _Page 10._]

Now Striped Chipmunk had not heard Bowser the Hound at all when he
spoke, but just then there was the patter of heavy feet among the
dried leaves, and sure enough there was Bowser himself. My, how
everybody did run, - everybody but the stranger from the North. He kept
on coming down the tree just the same. Bowser saw him and stopped in
surprise. He had never seen anything quite like this big dark fellow.

"Bow, wow, wow!" shouted Bowser in his deepest voice.

Now, when Bowser used that great deep voice of his, he was accustomed
to seeing all the little meadow people and forest folk run, but this
stranger did not even hurry. Bowser was so surprised that he just
stood still and stared. Then he growled his deepest growl. Still the
stranger paid no attention to him. Bowser did not know what to make of
it.

"I'll teach that fellow a lesson," said Bowser to himself. "I'll shake
him, and shake him and shake him until he hasn't any breath left."

By this time the stranger was down on the ground and starting for
another tree, minding his own business. Then something happened.
Bowser made a rush at him, and instead of running, what do you suppose
the stranger did? He just rolled himself up in a tight ball with his
head tucked down in his waistcoat. When he was rolled up that way, all
the little spears hidden in the hair of his coat stood right out until
he looked like a great chestnut-burr. Bowser stopped short. Then he
reached out his nose and sniffed at this queer thing. Slap! The tail
of the stranger struck Bowser the Hound right across the side of his
face, and a dozen of those little spears were left sticking there just
like pins in a pin-cushion.

"Wow! wow! wow! wow!" yelled Bowser at the top of his lungs, and
started for home with his tail between his legs, and yelling with
every jump. Then the stranger unrolled himself and smiled, and all the
little meadow people and forest folk who had been watching shouted
aloud for joy.

And this is the way that Prickly Porky the Porcupine made friends.




IV

PETER RABBIT HAS SOME STARTLING NEWS


Little Mrs. Peter Rabbit, who used to be Little Miss Fuzzytail, sat at
the edge of the dear Old Briar-patch, anxiously looking over towards
the Green Forest. She was worried. There was no doubt about it. Little
Mrs. Peter was very much worried. Why didn't Peter come home? She did
wish that he would be content to stay close by the dear Old
Briar-patch. For her part, she couldn't see why under the sun he
wanted to go way over to the Green Forest. He was always having
dreadful adventures and narrow escapes over there, and yet, in spite
of all she could say, he would persist in going there. She didn't feel
easy in her mind one minute while he was out of her sight. To be sure
he always turned up all right, but she couldn't help feeling that
sometime his dreadful curiosity would get him into trouble that he
couldn't get out of, and so every time he went to the Green Forest,
she was sure, absolutely sure, that she would never see him again.

Peter used to laugh at her and tell her that she was a foolish little
dear, and that he was perfectly able to take care of himself. Then,
when he saw how worried she was, he would promise to be very, very
careful and never do anything rash or foolish. But he wouldn't promise
not to go to the Green Forest. No, Sir, Peter wouldn't promise that.
You see, he has so many friends over there, and there is always so
much news to be gathered that he just couldn't keep away. Once or
twice he had induced Mrs. Peter to go with him, but she had been
frightened almost out of her skin every minute, for it seemed to her
that there was danger lurking behind every tree and under every bush.
It was all very well for Chatterer the Red Squirrel and Happy Jack the
Gray Squirrel, who could jump from tree to tree, but she didn't think
it a safe and proper place for a sensible Rabbit, and she said so.

This particular morning she was unusually anxious. Peter had been gone
all night. Usually he was home by the time Old Mother West Wind came
down from the Purple Hills and emptied her children, the Merry Little
Breezes, out of her big bag to play all day on the Green Meadows, but
this morning Old Mother West Wind had been a long time gone about her
business, and still there was no sign of Peter.

"Something has happened. I just know something has happened!" she
wailed.

"Oh, Peter, Peter, Peter Rabbit
Why will you be so heedless?
Why will you take such dreadful risks,
So foolish and so needless?"

"Don't worry. Peter is smart enough to take care of himself," cried
one of the Merry Little Breezes, who happened along just in time to
overhear her. "He'll be home pretty soon. In fact, I think I see him
coming now."

Mrs. Peter looked in the direction that the Merry Little Breeze was
looking, and sure enough there was Peter. He was heading straight for
the dear Old Briar-patch, and he was running as if he were trying to
show how fast he could run. Mrs. Peter's heart gave a frightened
thump. "It must be that Reddy or Granny Fox or Old Man Coyote is
right at his heels," thought she, but look as hard as she would, she
could see nothing to make Peter run so.

In a few minutes he reached her side. His eyes were very wide, and it
was plain to see that he was bursting with important news.

"What is it, Peter? Do tell me quick! Have you had another narrow
escape?" gasped little Mrs. Peter.

Peter nodded while he panted for breath. "There's another stranger in
the Green Forest, a terrible looking fellow without legs or head or
tail, and he almost caught me!" panted Peter.




V

PETER RABBIT TELLS HIS STORY


When Peter Rabbit could get his breath after his long hard run from
the Green Forest to the dear Old Briar-patch, he had a wonderful story
to tell. It was all about a stranger in the Green Forest, and to have
heard Peter tell about it, you would have thought, as Mrs. Peter did,
that it was a very terrible stranger, for it had no legs, and it had
no head, and it had no tail. At least, that is what Peter said.

"You see, it was this way," declared Peter. "I had stopped longer than
I meant to in the Green Forest, for you know, my dear, I always try to
be home by the time jolly, round, red Mr. Sun gets out of bed and Old
Mother West Wind gets down on the Green Meadows." Mrs. Peter nodded.
"But somehow time slipped away faster than I thought for, or else Mr.
Sun got up earlier than usual," continued Peter. Then he stopped. That
last idea was a new one, and it struck Peter as a good one. "I do
believe that that is just what happened - Mr. Sun must have made a
mistake and crawled out of bed earlier than usual," he cried.

Mrs. Peter looked as if she very much doubted it, but she didn't say
anything, and so Peter went on with his story.

"I had just realized how light it was and had started for home,
hurrying with all my might, when I heard a little noise at the top of
the hill where Prickly Porky the Porcupine lives. Of course I thought
it was Prickly himself starting out for his breakfast, and I looked
up with my mouth open to say hello. But I didn't say hello. No, Sir,
I didn't say a word. I was too scared. There, just starting down the
hill straight towards me, was the most dreadful creature that ever has
been seen in the Green Forest! It didn't have any legs, and it didn't
have any head, and it didn't have any tail, and it was coming straight
after me so fast that I had all I could do to get out of the way!"
Peter's eyes grew very round and wide as he said this. "I took one
good look, and then I jumped. My gracious, how I did jump!" he
continued. "Then I started for home just as fast as ever I could make
my legs go, and here I am, and mighty glad to be here!"

Mrs. Peter had listened with her mouth wide open. When Peter finished,
she closed it with a snap and hopped over and felt of his head.

"Are you sick, Peter?" she asked anxiously.

Peter stared at her. "Sick! Me sick! Not a bit of it!" he exclaimed.
"Never felt better in my life, save that I am a little tired from my
long run. What a silly question! Do I look sick?"

"No-o," replied little Mrs. Peter slowly. "No-o, you don't look sick,
but you talk as if there were something the matter with your head. I
think you must be just a little light-headed, Peter, or else you have
taken a nap somewhere and had a bad dream. Did I understand you to say
that this dreadful creature has no legs, and yet that it chased you?"

"That's what I said!" snapped Peter a wee bit crossly, for he saw that
Mrs. Peter didn't believe a word of his story.

"Will you please tell me how any creature in the Green Forest or out
of it, for that matter, can possibly chase any one unless it has legs
or wings, and you didn't say anything about its having wings,"
demanded Mrs. Peter.

Peter scratched his head in great perplexity. Suddenly he had a happy
thought. "Mr. Blacksnake runs fast enough, but he doesn't have legs,
does he?" he asked in triumph.

Little Mrs. Peter looked a bit discomfited. "No-o," she admitted
slowly, "he doesn't have legs; but I never could understand how he
runs without them."

"Well, then," snapped Peter, "if he can run without legs, why can't
other creatures? Besides, this one didn't run exactly; it rolled. Now
I've told you all I'm going to. I need a long nap, after all I've been
through, so don't let any one disturb me."

"I won't," replied Mrs. Peter meekly. "But, Peter, if I were you, I
wouldn't tell that story to any one else."




VI

PETER HAS TO TELL HIS STORY MANY TIMES

Once you start a story you cannot call it back;
It travels on and on and on and ever on, alack!


That is the reason why you should always be sure that a story you
repeat is a good story. Then you will be glad to have it travel on and
on and on, and will never want to call it back. But if you tell a
story that isn't true or nice, the time is almost sure to come when
you will want to call it back and cannot. You see stories are just
like rivers, - they run on and on forever. Little Mrs. Peter Rabbit
knew this, and that is why she advised Peter not to tell any one else
the strange story he had told her of the dreadful creature without
legs or head or tail that had chased him in the Green Forest. Peter
knew by that that she didn't believe a word of it, but he was too
tired and sleepy to argue with her then, so he settled himself
comfortably for a nice long nap.

When Peter awoke, the first thing he thought of was the terrible
creature he had seen in the Green Forest. The more he thought about
it, the more impossible it seemed, and he didn't wonder that Mrs.
Peter had advised him not to repeat it.

"I won't," said Peter to himself. "I won't repeat it to a soul. No one
will believe it. The truth is, I can hardly believe it myself. I'll
just keep my tongue still."

But unfortunately for Peter, one of the Merry Little Breezes of Old
Mother West Wind had heard Peter tell the story to Mrs. Peter, and it
was such a wonderful and curious and unbelievable story that the Merry
Little Breeze straightway repeated it to everybody he met, and soon
Peter Rabbit began to receive callers who wanted to hear the story all
over again from Peter himself. So Peter was obliged to repeat it ever
so many times, and every time it sounded to him more foolish than
before. He had to tell it to Jimmy Skunk and to Johnny Chuck and to
Danny Meadow Mouse and to Digger the Badger and to Sammy Jay and to
Blacky the Crow and to Striped Chipmunk and to Happy Jack Squirrel and
to Bobby Coon and to Unc' Billy Possum and to Old Mr. Toad.

Now, strange to say, no one laughed at Peter, queer as the story
sounded. You see, they all remembered how they had laughed at him and
made fun of him when he told about the great footprints he had found
deep in the Green Forest, and how later it had been proven that he
really did see them, for they were made by Buster Bear who had come
down from the Great Woods to live in the Green Forest. Then it had
been Peter's turn to laugh at them. So now, impossible as this new
story sounded, they didn't dare laugh at it.

"I never heard of such a creature," said Jimmy Skunk, "and I can't
quite believe that there is such a one, but it is very clear to me
that Peter has seen something strange. You know the old saying that he
laughs best who laughs last, and I'm not going to give Peter another
chance to have the last laugh and say, 'I told you so.'"

"That is very true," replied Old Mr. Toad solemnly. "Probably Peter
has seen something out of the ordinary, and in his excitement he has
exaggerated it. The thing to do is to make sure whether or not there
is a stranger in the Green Forest. Peter says that it came down the
hill where Prickly Porky the Porcupine lives. Some one ought to go ask
him what he knows about it. If there is such a terrible creature up
there, he ought to have seen it. Why don't you go up there and ask
him, Jimmy Skunk? You're not afraid of anybody or anything."

"I will," replied Jimmy promptly, and off he started. You see, he felt
very much flattered by Old Mr. Toad's remark, and he couldn't very
well refuse, for that would look as if he were afraid, after all.




VII

JIMMY SKUNK CALLS ON PRICKLY PORKY


"A plague upon Old Mr. Toad!" grumbled Jimmy, as he ambled up the Lone
Little Path through the Green Forest on his way to the hill where
Prickly Porky lives. "Of course I'm not afraid, but just the same I
don't like meddling with things I don't know anything about. I'm not
afraid of anybody I know of, because everybody has the greatest
respect for me, but it might be different with a creature without legs
or head or tail. Whoever heard of such a thing? It gives me a queer
feeling inside."

However, he kept right on, and as he reached the foot of the hill
where Prickly Porky lives, he looked sharply in every direction and
listened with all his might for strange sounds. But there was nothing
unusual to be seen. The Green Forest looked just as it always did. It
was very still and quiet there save for the cheerful voice of Redeye
the Vireo telling over and over how happy he was.

"That doesn't sound as if there were any terrible stranger around
here," muttered Jimmy.

Then he heard a queer, grunting sound, a very queer sound, that seemed
to come from somewhere on the top of the hill. Jimmy grinned as he
listened. "That's Prickly Porky telling himself how good his dinner
tastes," laughed Jimmy. "Funny how some people do like to hear their
own voices."

The contented sound of Prickly Porky's voice made Jimmy feel very sure
that there could be nothing very terrible about just then, anyway, and
so he slowly ambled up the hill, for you know he never hurries. It was
an easy matter to find the tree in which Prickly Porky was at work
stripping off bark and eating it, because he made so much noise.

"Hello!" said Jimmy Skunk.

Prickly Porky took no notice. He was so busy eating, and making so
much noise about it, that he didn't hear Jimmy at all.

"Hello!" shouted Jimmy a little louder. "Hello, there! Are you deaf?"
Of course this wasn't polite at all, but Jimmy was feeling a little
out of sorts because he had had to make this call. This time Prickly
Porky looked down.

"Hello yourself, and see how you like it, Jimmy Skunk!" he cried.
"Come on up and have some of this nice bark with me." Then Prickly
Porky laughed at his own joke, for he knew perfectly well that Jimmy
couldn't climb, and that he wouldn't eat bark if he could.

Jimmy made a face at him. "Thank you, I've just dined. Come down here
where I can talk to you without straining my voice," he replied.

"Wait until I get another bite," replied Prickly Porky, stripping off
a long piece of bark. Then with this to chew on, he came half way down
the tree and made himself comfortable on a big limb. "Now, what is it
you've got on your mind?" he demanded.

At once Jimmy told him the queer story Peter Rabbit had told. "I've
been sent up here to find out if you have seen this legless,
headless, tailess creature. Have you?" he concluded.

Prickly Porky slowly shook his head. "No," said he. "I've been right
here all the time, and I haven't seen any such creature."

"That's all I want to know," replied Jimmy. "Peter Rabbit's got
something the matter with his eyes, and I'm going straight back to the
Old Briar-patch to tell him so. Much obliged." With that Jimmy started
back the way he had come, grumbling to himself.


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