"Why, we want them for teacher," explained Alice.
"I don't," declared Jimmie. "Boys never bring the teacher flowers; that is unless they don't want to be kept in when there's a ball game. But don't you like pussy willows, Aunt Lettie?"
"Oh, no indeed," she answered. "I don't like cats of any description."
"But these are only pussy willows," said Alice.
"Oh, they'll turn into cats quickly enough," remarked Aunt Lettie. "There was a family who once lived next to us, and they had kittens. Why it wasn't any time at all before those kittens had turned into cats, and land goodness, how they did howl nights and keep me awake! And I had lumbago that summer, too! Oh, yes, indeed, kittens are all very well, but when they turn into old cats they're not so nice."
"Oh, but Aunt Lettie, you don't understand," explained Jimmie, smiling the least bit. "You see these are only plant pussies. They can't ever become real cats you know."
"They grow, don't they?" asked the old lady goat, shaking her horns again, "Don't they grow?"
"Yes," admitted Lulu. "They certainly grow."
"Well, if they're pussies now they'll grow to be cats soon enough, you mark my words," went on Aunt Lettie quite sorrowfully. "That is unless they drown in that water," she added quickly.
"Why, no; pussy willows can't drown in water," said Lulu. "We put them there to keep them fresh. You don't need to worry about those pussy willows, dear Aunt Lettie."
But Aunt Lettie did worry. In fact she had to worry about something, anyhow, so I suppose it is just as well that she worried about the pussy willows. And, when they all went to bed that night, the last thing she said was:
"Now, you mark my words! Those pussies will be cats before you know it."
But Lulu and Alice and Jimmie did not think so. However you just wait and see what happened.
Along in the middle of the night, when it was all still and quiet, and when even the frogs had stopped croaking, and it wasn't time for the roosters to begin to crow; yes, when it was dark, and still and silent and not a sound was heard, suddenly what should happen but that right in the Wibblewobble house there came a loud: "Mew! Mew! Mew!"
"There!" exclaimed Aunt Lettie, jumping out of bed. "What did I tell you? Those pussy willows have turned into cats, and the house will be full of them! Oh, dear! Why did you bring them in here? It's dreadfully bad luck!"
Lulu and Jimmie and Alice jumped out of bed, too. So did Mr. and Mrs. Wibblewobble. All the while they kept hearing that: "Mew! Mew! Mew!"
"Whatever can it be?" asked Mamma Wibblewobble. "Maybe it's a burglar."
"Nonsense!" replied Mr. Wibblewobble, "burglars don't mew. I'll go look."
So he went to look, and what do you think he found? Why, right under a vase of the pussy willows, on a cushion, was a dear, sweet, little white kitten. Yes, sir, as true as I'm telling you! And so soon as Lulu saw it she cried: "It's mine! One of my pussy willows has turned into a kittie! Oh, how glad I am!"
And, honestly, the kittie was right under Lulu's vase of pussy willows, just as sure as that two and two make four.
"I told you so!" cried Aunt Lettie. "Now, maybe you'll believe me next time. The pussy willows turned into a kitten."
"Oh, but this kitten can't be from those willows," said Papa Wibblewobble. "This is a real pussy. It must have come in from out of doors. I guess I must have left a window open."
And the funny part of it was that he had left a window up, and it was a real kittie that had wandered in, straying away from its mamma. But Aunt Lettie was sure it had come from a pussy willow. Lulu didn't care, because she was allowed to keep the kittie for herself, and what do you think? Why that kittie joined Jimmie's baseball nine, and to-morrow night I'll tell you about a game of ball that was played. That is if the man in the moon doesn't tumble down and hurt his nose.
PLAYING A BALL GAME
One day Jimmie Wibblewobble was going over to where Bully, the frog, lived.
"Come on!" cried the little boy duck, to the frog. "Let's get up a ball game. We'll find Johnnie and Billie Bushytail, and Sammie Littletail, and have some fun. Have you seen Uncle Wiggily Longears? He will umpire for us, I know, and tell who's out, and when the balls go straight, and all that. Have you seen him?"
"I saw him limping along a while ago," answered Bully. "He can't have gone very far, for his rheumatism is bad again."
"Let's hurry up and catch him," suggested Jimmie. So they ran on through the woods as fast as they could and, sure enough, they soon saw the old gentleman rabbit.
"Will you come to our ball game?" asked Jimmie.
"Why, of course, to be sure," answered Uncle Wiggily. "But I can't play very well, you know, on account of—Oh my! Ouch! Oh dear! Um Um! Present arms! Ready! Aim! Fire! Oh! Oh! Oh!" That's the way he cried all of a sudden.
"What's the matter?" asked Jimmie.
"Matter? Why my rheumatism; that's what's the matter! It does seem to catch me at the wrong time. I'm afraid I won't be able to play ball to-day after all, boys. I'm sorry, but—Oh dear! There it goes again!" and that poor, old gentleman rabbit had to lean on his crutch, because his legs hurt him so.
"Oh, we only want you to look on, and tell us when the game is going all right," said Jimmie very kindly. "You can have a seat in the shade, and you will decide who's out, and who makes a run, and which side wins."
"Well, I might manage that," replied Uncle Wiggily. "Come on, but please walk very slowly."
So they walked on very slowly, and pretty soon they met Johnnie and Billie Bushytail with Sister Sallie. And the little girl squirrel was singing:
"Hippity-hop to the barber shop To buy a lolly-pop-lally. One for me and one for thee And one for Sister Sallie."
"Come on, let's play ball," called Jimmie to Johnnie and Billie. The Bushytail brothers said they would, and on they all went, through the woods and over the fields, and pretty soon, oh, maybe in about two quacks and a half, whom should they meet but Sammie and Susie Littletail. Sammie said he would play ball, and Susie said she would look on. Then along came Lulu and Alice Wibblewobble, and Lulu had her white kittie with her.
"My kittie ought to play, as long as I can't play, especially as she knew how to roll a ball," spoke Lulu. So Jimmie said the kittie could very nicely with her paws.
"But that's all the girls who are going to be on the team," said Jimmie very decidedly.
Well, they started to play, and they had an old wooden door knob for a ball. I just wish you could have seen them, honestly I do. It was as good as going to a show, where they charge five pins to get in. Bully, the frog, was the catcher, for all he had to do was to open his large mouth, and the ball would go right in. Uncle Wiggily was a sort of judge, or umpire. That is, he sat in the shade, on a pile of soft leaves, and told when it was right for one of the players to give up the bat, and let some one else have a chance.
Now whom do you suppose threw the ball? Why, Johnnie Bushytail. And Billie was on first base, while Jimmie Wibblewobble had the bat, which was a piece of hickory stick. He was to hit the ball and Sammie Littletail and the white kittie, whose name was Sadie, were to chase it.
Oh, what fun they had! Jimmie knocked the ball as hard as he could, and then he ran, and Sadie and Sammie tried to put him out, that is to tag him with the ball, for that's the way they played. Then it came Bully's turn to bat, while Johnnie Bushytail caught, and then you should have seen how cutely Sadie, the kittie, would roll the ball along to first base whenever any one hit it.
And as for Billie Bushytail, when it was his turn, he knocked a ball away over in the field, and Lulu ran after it, even if she wasn't supposed to play. She threw it back too, and then she went and sat down with Alice and Susie and Sister Sallie. Uncle Wiggily did fine at umpiring, and he was as kind and good as could be, so no one found fault with what he said, even when he had to rub his leg that had rheumatism in it.
But something dreadful happened. I've got to tell about it, or else it wouldn't be fair, and we must always be honest and fair in this world, no matter whether we want to or not. It was Jimmie's turn at the bat again. He hit the ball very hard.
Away it sailed, over the fence and across the field, and then, oh, don't breathe or wiggle for a few seconds now! then, if that ball didn't smash, bang, crash right into the window of Grandfather Goosey-Gander's house! Yes, sir, it broke the window all to flinders, and out rushed Grandfather Goosey-Gander! Oh, but he was angry! He quacked, and he squawked, and he called out:
"Who broke my window?"
"I—I did, please sir," answered Jimmie. "But I didn't mean to. It was an accident."
"Ha, hum! An accident, eh? Well, you'll have to pay for it," said Grandfather Goosey-Gander. "Yes, that's what you will!"
"Oh we'll all chip in and pay for it," said Bully, quickly. "That's what we always do in a ball game when a window is broken. I'll pay my share."
"Ha! Hum!" cried Grandfather Goosey-Gander, and then he sneezed, for he had run out without his cap on and he was bald headed.
So they all agreed to pay for the window, and even Sister Sallie said she would help. But they didn't have to. No, sir, as true as I'm telling you, if Aunt Lettie didn't happen along just then, and, when she heard what the matter was, she just took out her purse and said:
"I'll pay for the window which Jimmie broke. I am rich, and I'll never miss the money. Boys and girls must have some fun."
"Fine!" cried Uncle Wiggily. "I'm the umpire and I say that's just fine."
Now, wasn't that kind of Aunt Lettie? Well, I guess so! Then the game went on, and Billie and Johnnie Bushytail won, but no more windows were broken. Now, if we don't get an April shower to-morrow, you shall hear, in the next story, to-morrow night, about how the duck's pen caught fire, and who put it out.
THE WIBBLEWOBBLE HOME ON FIRE
After the ball game, which I told you about last night, all the players, and those who had looked on, and Uncle Wiggily, the umpire, started for home. On the way they talked of how kind Aunt Lettie was.
"She's the kindest person I have ever known," said Uncle Wiggily, as he limped along on his crutch that Nurse Jane Fuzzy-Wuzzy had gnawed out of a cornstalk for him. "She is very—Oh dear! Oh me! Oh my! Oh disproportionability! Wow! Ouch! My rheumatism again!" and it hurt him so he had to stand still and waggle his ears as hard as ever he could. Then he felt better, especially after he had rubbed a horse chestnut on his sore leg.
You see the rheumatism which was cured by a red fairy, as I told you about in the first book, came back because Uncle Wiggily got his feet wet going out one day without his umbrella.
Of course Papa and Mamma Wibblewobble were much surprised to hear about the ball game, and the broken window, but they didn't scold Jimmie very much, and pretty soon, oh, in a little while after supper, you know, it was bedtime for the duck children and they went to bed.
Well, it got darker and darker, and soon it was nice and quiet around the pond where the ducks lived. Only the frogs seemed to be awake, and they were croaking away in the water. And pretty soon Lulu and Alice were dreaming and so was Jimmie, and the funny part of it is that they all dreamed different things.
Pretty soon it got even darker, and then up popped the silvery moon, and it wasn't quite so dark. But it was more quiet. Oh my, yes! It was so quiet that I believe if a feather had fallen off a duck's back it would have made a noise when it struck the ground. Oh, it was very quiet.
Then, all of a sudden Jimmie awakened. He sniffed and he snuffed, and he smelled smoke. So he got up and he called to Lulu and Alice in the next room:
"Say, don't you smell smoke?"
"Yes," said Alice, "I do."
"Maybe it's Grandfather Goosey-Gander smoking his pipe," suggested Lulu.
"No, he doesn't smoke as late as this," said Jimmie.
Then the smell of smoke got stronger, and, in about as long as it would take you to count one and a half, what should happen but that the whole duckhouse was suddenly lighted up. Then there came a crackling, roaring sound, and Papa and Mamma Wibblewobble jumped up.
"Oh, dear! It's burglars! I know it's burglars!" cried Mrs. Wibblewobble. "Quack real loud, Leander" (you see Mr. Wibblewobble's name was Leander). "Quack real loud, and call the police!"
So Mr. Leander Wibblewobble quacked as loudly as he could, and just then Aunt Lettie jumped out of bed.
"Oh dear! Oh dear! Oh dear!" she cried, three times, just like that. "The house is on fire! The house is burning up! Run! Jump, everybody!"
And, sure enough, the ducks' house was on fire, and it wasn't a burglar at all; no sir! Whether the moon was so hot that it caused the fire, or whether it was sparks from grandfather's pipe, I can't say, but anyhow, the house was on fire, and it was burning fiercely.
"Oh dear! Oh dear!" cried Aunt Lettie again. And Mamma Wibblewobble cried just the same, too. Then they all ran and jumped out of the second-story window, but it didn't hurt them, for they could fly a little bit, you know, and they came down like balloons. That is all but Aunt Lettie, and she was used to jumping, so she came down like a lot of dishes falling off the table.
Well, you should have seen that house burn! Oh, it was a dreadful sight. All the other ducks and the geese and the chickens gathered around. The rooster crowed the alarm. Box number twenty-one it was, but of course there were no engines to come and put out the fire.
"Oh, we must save the house!" shouted Papa Wibblewobble.
"Everybody bring water from the pond and throw it on the fire!" cried Aunt Lettie, and she ran down and filled her two horns, which she carried on her head. The horns were hollow and had the tops sawed off, so she could fill them quickly and pour out the water just as easily. She splashed some water on the fire, but it didn't do much good. Then Lulu and Alice and Jimmie, they filled their bills with water and threw it on the blaze, but that didn't do much good.
No, sad to tell, all the water the ducks and the geese and Aunt Lettie could carry, to say nothing of the rooster who couldn't bring much, because he stopped to crow every now and then—all this water didn't do a bit of good, and the house was burning faster and faster.
Then, what do you think happened? Why, all at once there came running up old Nero, the big, shaggy, yellow dog, who was so old and kind that he would never hurt any one. Yes, he ran right up and called out:
"Make way, if you please. I will put out that fire!"
So he ran down into the pond as fast as he could run and soaked himself in the water. Then he ran up close to the fire and shook himself hard, and the drops of water scattered from his shaggy sides all over the blaze, just like a rain storm. And the fire was partly out.
Then he ran down again and got all wet and shook himself, and scattered some more water over the fire. And that fire was pretty nearly out.
Then for the third time that dog, Nero, ran down into the water and got all soaking wet, and scattered the drops over the blaze, like two showers and a half. And then that fire was all completely out! Oh, wasn't he a good dog, though?
Well, the house wasn't burned so much after all, and the ducks could go back into it. And maybe they weren't thankful to Nero, but he only said:
"Ah, you should have watched me gnaw bones when I was a young dog. That was a sight worth seeing." But I think it was great for him to put out the fire, don't you? Now, to-morrow night's story, providing my automobile doesn't hit a balloon, will be about how the fairy prince was caught.
HOW THE FAIRY PRINCE WAS CAUGHT
Aunt Lettie, the nice old lady goat, wanted Lulu and Alice and Jimmie to have a good time, so one day she fixed them up a basket of lunch to take off in the woods and eat. She made some jam tarts—oh, such lovely, flaky ones!—and there were cookies and bread and butter and I don't know what all. I just wish I had that basket of lunch now, don't you? But, of course, we wouldn't want to take it away from the duck children, would we?
So they started off, and as they passed by Nero, he opened one eye—only one, mind you, and looked at them. And he said: "I am feeling a little hungry, but I don't s'pose you have anything for me."
"Yes," said Lulu, "you may have a jam tart because you saved our house from burning up."
So they gave Nero one tart, and he gobbled it up as quickly as you can cross your "t" or dot your "i" when you're writing in school.
Pretty soon, well, not so very long, you know, the three duck children came to the woods. Oh, the woods were the nicest place you ever saw!
There was a little brook running in and out among the trees, and it sounded like music when it went over the stones. Well, they sat down on the grass, near a mossy old stump, and ate their lunch, until there wasn't even so much as a crumb of a jam tart left. They had just gotten through when, all of a sudden, they heard a big noise. It was like some one stamping his feet down and breaking sticks.
The duck children were terribly frightened, for they thought maybe it was an elephant or a rhinoceros coming along, but Jimmie peeked through the bushes and whispered to his sisters:
"It's a big boy!"
"What's he doing?" asked Alice.
"I guess he's going fishing," said Lulu, "for he has a fish pole over his shoulder."
And, sure enough, that boy was going fishing! He walked on a little farther, stepping on sticks and breaking them, and then he sat down on the edge of the little brook and began to fish. Then the duck children weren't so much afraid, and they watched him.
Pretty soon the boy pulled up his line with a jerk, but there wasn't anything on it. Then he said:
"Oh, dear! That was a big fish, but he got away."
"I'm glad it got away," whispered Alice, "for I don't like to see the poor fish caught."
Then, in about two quacks and a waddle, the boy pulled up his pole again, and this time he didn't have anything on the hook, either. So he said again:
"Oh, dear me, and an angle worm! That's two big fish that have gotten loose."
Then he threw in his line again, and the next time when he pulled it up something came with it. Something wiggily, and black and yellow and red-spotted with wrinkly legs and a long snaky neck and head.
"Ker-thump!" it landed on the bank and the boy ran up to it. "Why, I've caught a mud turtle!" he cried.
"I am not!" the mud turtle called out, only he couldn't speak very plainly, for the hook was in his mouth. "I'm a fairy prince, and you had no right to catch me," he said.
Now, of course, the boy couldn't hear this, for he didn't understand the language used by the fairy prince. But Alice heard him, and so did Lulu and Jimmie.
"Oh, dear!" cried Alice. "That bad boy has caught the fairy prince! Let's run out and make him let the prince go!"
"Oh, no!" answered Lulu, "the boy might catch us then."
"I know what let's do," whispered Jimmie. "We'll get in the bushes right behind that boy, and quack and squawk as loud as we can: That will scare him and make him run away. I don't believe the mud turtle is fairy prince, but I don't want to see him hurt. Come on, girls. Now when I say: 'ready,' quack real loud."
So the three duck children went softly up to a bush right behind where that fisherman—I mean fisherboy—was sitting.
All this while the fairy prince was talking to the boy, and asking to be let go, for the hook hurt him. The boy finally did take the hook out, not hurting the mud-turtle any more than he could help, for he was not a bad boy.
Then, in an instant, or maybe in an instant and a half, Jimmie cried, "Ready!" and he and his sisters quacked as loudly as possible, or even louder. The boy was just going to put the mud turtle into the basket, but when he heard the quacking, coming right out of the bushes behind him, he was so frightened that he dropped the fairy prince on the ground.
And the fairy prince crawled off as fast as he could, let me tell you. Then the boy saw that it was the duck children who had frightened him, and he laughed; but they didn't care, not a bit.
Then the boy said: "Oh, I guess there is no good fishing here. I'm going to try a new place," so he walked away.
Then Alice went right up to the mud turtle and said: "O fairy prince, art thou much hurt?"
"I am hurt considerable," said the mud turtle. "I am hurt in two ways. My mouth hurts where the hook went in, and my feelings are hurt because the boy didn't believe I was a fairy prince."
"Well, if you are a fairy prince," asked Jimmie, "why didn't you turn him into an elephant or a lion and scare him, or why didn't you change him into a bug or a mosquito, so he could fly away? Why didn't you do that, eh?"
"There are several reasons," replied the mud turtle.
"Oh, wilt thou tell them to us?" asked Alice, romantically.
"Not now," replied the fairy prince, "but I will later. Return here to-morrow and I will tell you," and he stretched first one wrinkly leg, and then the other, and went to sleep.
"We will return," said Alice, and then the duck children hurried home, and to-morrow night you shall hear about a magic trick and why the fairy prince didn't turn that boy into an elephant or a lion. That is, if the Thanksgiving turkey doesn't go to a football game.
THE FAIRY PRINCE DOES A MAGIC TRICK
One day, after they had been out roller skating, Lulu and Alice and Jimmie Wibblewobble suddenly remembered that it was time they went back to the woods to meet the fairy prince, who was to tell them why he didn't turn that fisher-boy into a lion or an elephant. So they took off their skates and hurried to the place, and by and by, after awhile, not so very long, they got there. Then they stopped and looked around.
"Hu!" exclaimed Jimmie. "He isn't here. I thought he was fooling us."
"Hush!" begged Alice. "He may be only hiding to test us, to see if we really believe in him. He may appear any moment in a big balloon or on the back of a great bird."
"Somebody's coming now," said Lulu, suddenly, for she heard a rustling in the bushes. They all turned around, and whom do you think they saw coming right out of the woods? Why, Uncle Wiggily Longears! The old gentleman rabbit was limping along, making his nose go up and down and sideways at the same time, the way you have seen all the bunnies do, you know.
"Ha! Ha!" he exclaimed. "What have we here? Why, I do declare! If it isn't Jimmie Wibblewobble and his sisters! What are you doing here, little ones?"
"We came here to meet the fairy prince," replied Jimmie. "He was going to tell us about why he didn't change a boy into an elephant. But he isn't here."
"Who—the fairy prince, the boy or the elephant?" asked Uncle Wiggily, gently rubbing a horse chestnut on his left hind leg, that had the worst rheumatism in it.
"Neither one," said Alice, "but the fairy prince is sure to come."
"Stuff and nonsense. Nonsense and stuff, also snuff and red pepper!" cried Uncle Wiggily. "Fairy prince indeed! There's no such thing!"
"Oh, yes, there is!" said Alice. "Pray do not speak so loudly. He might hear you."
"Thank you, my dear, for trusting in me!" exclaimed a voice suddenly, and honestly, you may not believe me, but if there wasn't that mud turtle! Yes, sir, as true as I'm telling you, he appeared right from behind a bush!
"Thank you, my dear, for believing me," said the fairy prince to Alice again. "As for this—ahem!—this person!" and the mud turtle looked very severely at Uncle Wiggily, very severely indeed, "as for this person, I will soon show him! Oh, my, yes! and a tortoiseshell comb in addition," he said; and then the turtle stuck out its long neck, straight at the old rabbit, until Uncle Wiggily thought it was a snake.
"Fairy prince, we salute thee!" exclaimed Alice, making a low bow.
"Good, very good," remarked the mud turtle. "I believe I promised you I would tell you why I did not change the boy, who caught me, into something strange, say an elephant or a lion."
"Yes," replied Jimmie, "you did promise us. Go ahead, please."
"That's not the way to talk to a fairy prince," objected Alice. "You should speak more politely."
"Never mind him, he doesn't know any better," went on the mud turtle. "I will now give you my reasons. In the first place I did not want to scare that boy after the way you frightened him. He had been punished enough, I thought. Besides, if I had turned him into a lion or an elephant he would have run through the woods, scaring every one he met, and that would not have been right. And the reason I didn't change him into a bug or a mosquito was because he might fly away, and then, when the magic spell had passed off, and he was changed back into a boy again, the transformation might have happened in the air, and he would fall right down on somebody's head, and that would never do, never, never, not in a year and a half. So I concluded not to do anything to him."
"I don't believe you could have changed him into anything at all," said Uncle Wiggily, quite boldly. "I don't even believe you are a fairy prince."
"There it goes again!" cried the mud turtle, and he wept big tears that made a little puddle of water. "Very few persons do believe in me. But I assure you I am a fairy prince," he added, "and, what's more, all I would have had to say to that boy was 'Oskaluluhinniumhaddy,' and he would have been turned into anything I liked. But I see you still do not believe me—that is, all but Alice. So I will just do a magic trick for you. Return here in an hour, and in this very spot you shall find a round stone. Take a rock and break open the stone and you will see what happens."
So the Wibblewobble children and Uncle Wiggily went away, wondering what was going to happen. They came back in an hour, and, sure enough, right where the mud turtle had been standing was a large, round stone.
"Wonderful!" cried Alice.
"Let's see what's inside," suggested Jimmie.
So he and Uncle Wiggily took up a rock, and hit that stone once, and they hit it twice, and they hit it three times, and, at the third blow, if that stone didn't break open, and out stepped the mud turtle fairy prince! He was right inside that stone! Now, wasn't that a magic trick? I think so, anyhow.
"Oh, tell us how you did it!" begged Lulu.
"It was very simple, very simple," said the turtle, as he flicked a bit of mud off his nose. "You see, I just rolled myself up in some soft clay, and then made it round like a stone. Then I stayed in the sun until it was baked as hard as a rock, and then I rolled along here to wait for you. Very simple, indeed. But, now, do you believe I am a fairy prince?" And they all declared they did, even Uncle Wiggily, and Alice said three times: "We salute thee, fairy prince." Oh, it was as good as a play!
Well, now, let's see about to-morrow night. How about a story of the rat who took the eggs? Do you think you would like that? Very well, then, you shall hear it, providing my golden slipper doesn't fall off.
THE RATS WHO TOOK THE EGGS
Nothing had happened at the Wibblewobble house in several days, and Jimmie and Lulu and Alice were beginning to feel that it was about time they went off on another picnic, or else tried to find the fairy prince again. But, one day, just as Jimmie was looking for his baseball and his catching glove, his mamma came out of the pantry, where she had gone to get some dishes to set the table.
"Did any of you children take my eggs?" she asked, and she looked very severely at them.
"What? Are the eggs gone?" asked Aunt Lettie, the old lady goat.
"Yes," said Mamma Wibblewobble, "there were just thirteen eggs, and now there are only ten. Three have been taken, and I hope Lulu and Alice and Jimmie didn't touch them."
"Oh, no indeed, mamma," spoke Alice very quickly, as she finished tying a sky-blue-pink ribbon around her neck. "I never touched them."
"Neither did I," added Lulu.
"Nor me," said Jimmie. "I don't like eggs anyhow."
"I was saving them to hatch more little ducklings out of," went on Mamma Wibblewobble, in sorrowful tones. "Now I shall have to wait. Oh, it's such a disappointment to me!"
"Maybe they fell off the shelf," suggested Jimmie.
"No," replied his mother. "If they had fallen from the shelf out of the basket, where I had them, the eggs would have broken, and made a mark on the floor," and, of course, you know they would, for when an egg breaks on the floor it makes a splish and a splash and a big yellow and white spot that you can't help but see; now, doesn't it? So Mamma Wibblewobble knew the eggs couldn't have fallen.
"Well," remarked Aunt Lettie, "it's very strange. Perhaps they have been stolen. You should notify the police."
"Or tell Mr. Cock A. Doodle, the rooster," added Jimmie. "He would crow over it; and if we offered a reward, maybe we would get the eggs back."
"Well, I'm glad you children didn't take them, at all events," said their mother. "Run along and play now. Aunt Lettie has made some molasses cookies, with corn meal and raisins on top, and you may have some of them."
So Lulu and Alice and Jimmie went out to play, but all the while they were thinking of the missing eggs. It was very strange. Their mamma and Aunt Lettie hunted all over the duck pen for them, but the eggs couldn't be found, any more than you can find a penny after you drop it down a crack in the board walk.
Well, when Papa Wibblewobble came home, he was told about the three missing eggs. He was much surprised, but he said at once:
"Why, a burglar has taken them; that's what! I remember now I heard a suspicious noise last night. It was some one sneezing. That was the burglar taking the eggs. I thought of getting up and going down to catch him, but I was too sleepy, so I stayed in bed."
"No, it wasn't a burglar who sneezed," said Aunt Lettie. "It was I. I left my window open, and I caught a little cold."
"Then who did sneeze and take the eggs?" asked Papa Wibblewobble.
But no one could tell him, and it was more mysterious and wonderful than ever, yes indeed. Not a trace of those eggs could be found, and Mamma Wibblewobble felt terribly.
Well, that night Jimmie thought of a plan. He decided he would catch the bad burglar, or whoever it was that had taken the eggs, for the little boy duck thought if they took three eggs they would come back for more.
"I'm going to hide in the pantry to-night," he said to Lulu and Alice, "and when the burglar comes I'm going to grab him."
"Won't you be afraid?" asked Alice, shivering.
"Afraid? Humph! I guess not," replied her brother.
So that night, after every one had gone to bed, and it was all still and quiet in the house, and Aunt Lettie was snoring the least little bit, Jimmie crawled softly out of bed. Oh, so softly, and went and hid in the pantry.
It was dark, so he took a candle and was all ready to light it whenever he heard a sound. Well, he had to wait quite some time, and it was getting pretty lonesome, and he was beginning to feel sleepy when, all of a sudden, he heard a noise! Then he heard another noise, and then a scratching and a squeaking. Then he lighted the candle as quickly as he could, and what do you suppose he saw?
Why, two great big rats, no relation to good, kind Nurse Jane Fuzzy-Wuzzy, the muskrat, oh, not at all, but two other bad rats!
Well, as true as I'm telling you, if one rat didn't climb up on the shelf, where the duck eggs were in the basket, and take one up in his paws; and then what do you suppose he did? Why, he went to the edge of the shelf and dropped the egg to the rat on the floor below.
Then the rat on the floor caught it and lay down on his back, and hugged the egg in his four paws, and the rat on the shelf ran down and got hold of the tail of the rat that had the egg and began pulling him along the floor, just as if he were a little wagon or sled with an egg on it. All this Jimmie saw, and he cried out:
"Oh, you bad rats, you, to steal my mamma's eggs!"
Well, you should have seen how frightened those rats were at that! One dropped the egg out of his paws and ran away, and the other followed. Oh, but they were frightened, though! and wasn't Jimmie brave to hide in the pantry and discover them? So that's how the first three eggs were taken, but no more were, for Papa Wibblewobble stopped up the rat hole.
And that's the end of this story. The one to-morrow night will be about how Jimmie tried to stand on his head, that is, if the pussy cat doesn't go to sleep in the milk bottle.
HOW JIMMIE STOOD ON HIS HEAD
Jimmie Wibblewobble was quite a hero after he had found out about the rats taking the eggs, and every time he walked in the chicken yard the old rooster would crow and say:
"There goes Jimmie, the boy who scared the rats."
But do you s'pose Jimmie was proud? Not a bit of it. He was just as nice as ever, and Lulu and Alice thought a lot of him, let me tell you.
Well, one day, Bully, the frog, came over to play with Jimmie. They tossed a baseball around, Bully catching it in his mouth. All of a sudden the frog boy cried out:
"Oh, my, I'm so warm, I think I'll jump in the pond and cool off." So he jumped into the pond just as easily as butter melts on a hot stove, and when he came up he felt better. Then he said to Jimmie:
"Why don't you dive down under the water the way I do? It's lots of fun."
"I would," answered Jimmie, "only I can't stay under water as you do. I have to float on top. I can put my head under, to dig in the mud for snails and sweet, spicy weeds, but I can't get my whole body under."
"I know how you could do it," went on Bully.
"How?" asked Jimmie, and he wobbled his tail so fast you could hardly see it move.
"Tie a stone around your neck," went on Bully. That will make you sink under water, and you can then dive as good as I can. Come on, we'll have some fun."
"Oh, don't you do it, Jimmie!" cried Lulu, who came along just then with Alice. "Maybe you can't get the stone loose, and you'll be drowned!"
"Oh, I guess not," answered Jimmie. "I can stay under water a long time. I want to see how it feels to dive in—ker plunk!—like a frog."
"I'm going to tell mamma," cried Alice.
"Tattle-tale! Tattle-tale!" called Jimmie. "I never tell on you!"
"Well, then, I won't tell," said Alice, "but Lulu and I will stay close by, so if you can't get the stone off we can help you."
"Well, that's kind of you," spoke her brother, "but I'll be all right. You will see me stand on my head, just like Bully does, and dive under the water."
So he got a stone and a piece of long grass for a string, and Bully tied the stone around Jimmie's neck. Now, this was a very risky thing to do, but, you see, Jimmie didn't know any better. Neither did Bully. But you just wait and see what happens. I'm coming to it very shortly now.
Pretty soon the stone was tied on good and tight, and then Jimmie and Bully stood on the edge of the pond.
"Are you all ready?" asked Bully.
"Yep," replied Jimmie, and he stretched out his neck, for it felt funny to have a stone tied around it. Oh, how foolish some ducks are; now, aren't they, honestly?
"All ready," went on Bully. "One for the money, two for a show, three to make ready and FOUR to go!" and he yelled the "FOUR" real loudly.
Then they jumped in, Jimmie and Bully, ker-splash, ker-splosh, ker-splish, ker-thump! Oh what a lot of water they scattered about, wetting Lulu and Alice, but the girl ducks didn't mind it. Of course, Bully went right to the bottom, and so did Jimmie, too. His head went right down in the mud, the way Lulu's did that terrible day I told you about once. And poor Jimmie's yellow feet were right up in the air, and that's where a duck's feet ought never to be. Oh my, no! and some shingle nails besides.
Well, Jimmie tried to swim along under water, as he saw Bully doing, but he couldn't. No, sir, not the least bit. You see the stone was too heavy, and it held him down. Besides, his feet were out of the water, and as a duck has to have his feet in water to swim with, of course, Jimmie couldn't move along at all.
There he was, held down under water, and all the while his breath was getting shorter and shorter, and he kept feeling worse and worse, and he wished he had taken Lulu's advice and not tried to stand on his head and dive.
Well, naturally, when Jimmie didn't come up in some time, Lulu and Alice got worried. Bully popped up, after swimming across the pond under water and out of sight, and they asked him what had become of Jimmie.
"I'll go look," he said, and when he dived down, and came back, he was pale green instead of dark green as he usually was. You see he turned pale green because he was so frightened.
"Oh, dear!" cried Bully. "Jimmie is held fast down there by the stone on his neck, and can't get up."
"Can't you bite the stone loose?" asked Alice. Then Bully tried, but he couldn't, and Lulu and Alice tried, but they couldn't. And there wasn't any one else around to help, and it began to look pretty bad for poor Jimmie.
And then, just as he surely thought he would never see his papa, and mamma, and sisters, and Aunt Lettie again, who should come walking along the bottom of the pond but the mud turtle fairy prince. He saw right away what the matter was, and it didn't take him a second, with his sharp jaws, to bite through the grass that held, the stone around Jimmie's neck, and up popped the little boy duck!
His life had been saved just in time, let me tell you! And oh, how thankful Alice and Lulu were, to say nothing of Jimmie; and how they thanked the fairy prince.
"Maybe you will believe that I am a fairy now," said the mud turtle to Jimmie, and Jimmie said he would. He also said he would never stand on his head again, with a stone tied around his neck, and I'm glad to say he never did. Now, in case I should see a sky-blue-pink-green rose in blossom to-morrow I'll tell you a story about Lulu, and how Aunt Lettie did her a great favor.
LULU AND AUNT LETTIE
Lulu Wibblewobble was walking in the deep, dark woods, and, what is more, she was all alone. Yes, and she wasn't afraid. You see, Jimmie had gone off with the boys in the lots back of the duck pond to play ball, and Alice had gone shopping with her mamma. Lulu could have gone, too, only felt she would rather go walking in the woods, so she went.
At first it was very pleasant with the birds singing in the trees, and the wind blowing through the leaves, and making music, and Lulu liked it very much. She found some fine eel grass in a little brook, and she was eating the green stems, and thinking how nice it was, when all at once she heard a funny noise. It was just like when a great, big door swings on rusty hinges.
Lulu stopped eating eel grass at once, and she called right out loud:
"My goodness! What's that?"
Then it was all still, and quiet; as quiet, you know, as when a little mouse walks along, and doesn't want any one to hear him, going after the crackers and cheese, and maybe the jam tarts, too; who knows? Well, it was just as still and quiet as it could be, when all of a sudden the noise came again.
"Oh, dear!" cried Lulu. "I believe I'm going to be frightened. I wish Jimmie was here!"
But Jimmie, the brave boy duck, was a long way off, playing ball with Bully, the frog, and his other friends, though he would have come at once to help his sister if he had known what a dreadful thing was almost going to happen to her.
Well, as I said, the noise sounded again, and then, when Lulu looked right at a tree, what should she see but something big and bushy, waving in the wind.
"Oh, maybe it's Johnnie and Billie Bushytail, and perhaps Sister Sallie is with them!" she said, aloud, and she didn't feel quite so frightened. Then that terrible noise came again, and the bushy thing got bigger, and Lulu saw that it was the tail of a great, big black dog. Oh, such a big black dog as it was! And he was growling, and that's what made the sound like a big door creaking on big, rusty hinges.
The dog came out from behind the tree, and he stared right in the face of Lulu, as bold as bold could be.
"Who are you?" growled the dog.
"If—if you please, kind sir, I'm Lulu," she answered.
"Bur-r-r-r!" growled the dog. "I'm not a kind Sir at all. I'm a bad dog! Bur-r-r-r! Bur-r-r-r! What's your last name? Bur-r-r-r!"
"My last name is Wibblewobble, Bad Dog," she replied.
"Bur-r-r-r! What are you calling me names for?" he asked, and he showed his teeth something frightful, yes, indeed! Now cuddle up close to me if you want to, and you won't be a bit afraid, because, in a few minutes Lulu is going to be saved in a wonderful way. Just you wait and see.
"Why do you call me names?" asked the dog again.
"I—I—If you please," said Lulu, "I thought you said your name was Bad Dog, sir."
"Bur-r-r-r!" cried the dog. "I didn't at all. No matter what my name is. I am a bad dog, however, and I'm proud of it!" Oh, wasn't he the bold, ugly dog, though? Then he looked at Lulu some more, and growled even louder, and he asked her:
"What are you, a chicken or a turkey?"
"Neither," replied Lulu, "I'm a duck, if you please."
"Ha!" exclaimed the bad dog. "A duck! The very idea! Of all things I love ducks! I just dote on 'em! I love 'em just like you love jam tarts, I expect. But why aren't you larger, Lulu? I like big ducks."
"Oh!" cried the little duck girl, "are you going to eat me up?"
"Yes," replied the dog, "I am."
"Then," went on Lulu, very bravely, for she was trying to think of a way to get out of the deep, dark woods, "if you will wait a year or two, I will be larger."
"No," said the dog. "I can't wait. I'm in a hurry. I must have you now."
Then he growled some more, and rushed right at Lulu, and I suppose he would have eaten her up, feathers and all, only for what happened.
Now, what do you suppose prevented him? Why, just as he was about to grab the little duck girl there was a crashing and a smashing in the bushes and who should appear but dear Aunt Lettie, the old lady goat! As soon as she laid eyes on that dog she knew what he was going to do, and without speaking a word, she rushed right at him and lowered her horns.
Now, it's a good thing for that dog that the sharp ends of Aunt Lettie's horns had been sawed off. So, you see, when she stuck them in that dog's ribs, they only tickled him and he had to laugh, instead of sticking right through him. Oh, how hard he laughed! But he didn't want to, not a bit.
Then Aunt Lettie just lowered her head, and then she raised it up, and over her back that bad dog went, right up in the air, and he was tossed in some briars and brambles that scratched him well.
But he wasn't satisfied yet, and he rushed back at Lulu, but Aunt Lettie tickled him in the ribs again, and he laughed: "Ha! Ho!" though he didn't want to at all, and over into the briars and brambles he was tossed once more.
Then he had had enough, and he ran off, howling instead of laughing, and that's the way it was that Aunt Lettie saved Lulu. You see the old lady goat happened to be walking in the woods, when she heard the dog growl and she ran up just in time. Then she went home with Lulu, and Jimmie said if he ever saw that dog he would throw a stone at him, and I wouldn't blame him, would you?
Now to-morrow night I think the story is going to be about how Alice cut her foot, and what happened after it. But I can't tell it unless I happen to see a grasshopper standing on his head and eating jam tarts.
HOW ALICE CUT HER FOOT
Did you ever go barefooted in the summer time? I suppose you have, and I don't blame you a bit, especially on hot days, or when you are at Asbury Park or Ocean Grove. Now, to go barefooted, you know, you have to take off your shoes and stockings, and that's quite a bother at times.
Well, Alice Wibblewobble didn't have to do this when she wanted to go barefooted, for, you know, she never wore shoes and stockings in summer. You see it would be too much trouble to take them off every time she went in swimming with Lulu and Jimmie, so that's why it was arranged that she never had to wear any.
Now it happened one day, oh, I guess it must have been about a week and a minute after Lulu had been frightened by that big dog, that Alice was going to the store for her mother. The store was kept by Mr. Drake, who had a little round door knob on the top of his head, so his hat wouldn't blow off in windy weather.
"Bring me a pound of butter and some cornmeal, Alice," her mother had said to her, "and be sure the cornmeal is fresh. I am going to fry some for your father's supper."
So Alice said she would be sure about it, and she started off.
"Want me to come, Alice?" asked Lulu.
"No, dear," replied her sister. "I think it is too hot for you to-day. I'll soon be back again."
"Better take Jimmie," went on Lulu. "You may meet the bad dog or an ugly fox."
"No," spoke Alice again, "I think I'll go alone. Besides, Jimmie is off with Sammie Littletail, playing leapfrog. I'll go alone."
So off she went. Now I'm going to tell you why she wanted to go alone, but don't whisper it to any one. You see, Alice thought maybe she might meet the fairy prince, for she still hoped that some day he would change into a king with a golden diamond crown on his head.
But, as she walked on toward Mr. Drake's store she saw nothing of the fairy prince, though she kept a sharp lookout. Well, she got the pound of butter and the cornmeal, and to make sure it was fresh she ate a little, for that's the surest way to tell. Then she started for home, with the butter under one wing and the cornmeal under the other.
Well, all of a sudden, just as she got past the weeping willow tree, if she didn't step on a sharp stone and cut her foot, because, you see, she had no shoes on, and the stone was very, very sharp, almost as sharp as an exclamation point; yes, indeed! There, I had the printer put one in (!) so you could see how very sharp it is. Always be careful of exclamation points, children.
"Oh! Oh! Oh!" cried Alice, as she felt the sharp stone go in her foot, and she had to sink down to the ground, it hurt her so. Then the cornmeal fell from under her wing and the bag burst and it spilled all over. Then the butter fell from under the other wing, but that didn't get hurt any. It only got some dents in it, and you know that doesn't matter, for butter.
"Oh, dear! Whatever shall I do?" cried Alice again. "I—I can't walk on my sore foot, and I can't carry the cornmeal and the butter! Oh, dear! Oh, dear! My foot's bleeding, too!" and, sure enough it was. Poor Alice! How sorry I feel for her.
"Ah, if only the fairy prince would appear now," she went on. "He would cause a golden chariot to take me home!"
You see, Alice hadn't gotten over being romantic, even if she had cut her foot. Oh, my, no, and a diamond earring besides!
Well, as true as I'm telling you, no sooner had she made that wish about the fairy prince than a voice called out:
"Who is crying? Does any one need help?"
"Yes," replied Alice, "I do. I've cut my foot, and I've dented the butter in several places, but that doesn't matter much, and I've spilled the cornmeal."
"Oh, what a lot of troubles for one poor little duck girl!" cried the voice again. "Perhaps, I can help you," and who should come along but Uncle Wiggily Longears, the nice old gentleman rabbit. "Let us see what's the trouble," he went on, and he put his strongest spectacles over his nose and he looked at the cut in Alice's foot. Then he cried:
"Oh, I should say that was a cut! Oh, my, yes! No doubt about it whatever! But there, don't cry," he added, for he saw some tears running down Alice's yellow bill. "I'll fix it for you."
So he got some nice, soft leaves, and he tied them on her sore foot with some stout grass. Then she felt better, but she couldn't walk, and she didn't know how she was ever going to get home. So she asked Uncle Wiggily.
"Why, the easiest thing in the world!" cried Uncle Wiggily. "All I have to do is to say a little verse, and I'll think of a way." So he said this little verse:
"Wiggily, waggily, woggily wome, How shall I get Alice home? She has hurt herself quite much And she'll have to use my crutch."
Of course, Uncle Wiggily knew that wasn't a very good verse, but it was the best he could do.
"You shall use my cornstalk crutch, that Nurse Jane Fuzzy-Wuzzy made for me," he went on. "It will be just the thing."
"Won't you need it?" asked Alice, very politely.
"No," said Uncle Wiggily. "My rheumatism is much better to-day. You may have it," and he fitted it under Alice's wing, and she could walk pretty well, not having to use her sore foot.
Then that kind old rabbit scraped up all the cornmeal, and he put some in his big left ear and some in his big right ear, because the bag was broken, and he carried the dented butter, which wasn't hurt the least mite.
Then they started for the duck pen and they reached it safely, Alice limping along as well as she could. And Uncle Wiggily told Mamma Wibblewobble about the accident, after he had emptied his left ear and his right ear of the cornmeal and had handed over the dented butter. Dr. Possum was called in to put some salve on Alice's foot, and she was soon better.
Now that's all to-night, but, if the moving man doesn't take my typewriter away, I shall tell you to-morrow night about Jimmie in a tall tree.
JIMMIE IN A TALL TREE
It had rained in the morning, and of course the grounds were too slippery and wet to play ball. That is, they were for Sammie Littletail and Billie and Johnnie Bushytail, but naturally Jimmie Wibblewobble, the boy duck, and Bully, the boy frog, would not have minded the wet the least bit. But there wasn't any ball game, and so Jimmie was playing all alone in the woods back of his house, and wishing it hadn't rained.
"Oh! I wish some of the boys would come over," he said. "We could do something, even if it is wet. I'm lonesome."
Just then he heard a voice singing in the woods, and he heard the branches of the trees moving about, and bits of bark falling off. And this is the song he heard: you have to sing it quite slowly to get the full effect:
"Oh! it is such fun if you see the sun When the rain has gone away. If you'll come with me you may climb a tree, And in the top we'll play.
"Oh! the winds may blow and the cows may crow, But what care we for that? As you scamper high, near the bright, blue sky, Look out, or you'll lose your hat."
And with that who should come scampering out of a tree but Billie and Johnnie Bushytail, the squirrel brothers. No, Sister Sallie wasn't with them this time, having stayed at home to wheel her corncob doll in the carriage her brothers had made for her.
"Hello!" cried Billie and Johnnie. "Hello, Jimmie!"
"Aw, why didn't you chaps come over to play ball?" asked the little boy duck.
"Oh! it was too wet," replied Johnnie. "But say, Jimmie, did you hear us singing?"
"Sure," answered Jimmie. "But say; cows don't crow!"
"I know it," replied Johnnie. "Billie made up that verse, and I made the first one. He said he had to have something like that in it or it wouldn't be right. But no matter. Did you like it?"
"Yes, pretty well."
"Shall we sing it again?" asked Johnnie.
"No, don't!" begged his brother. "He's been singing it all the morning, and I'm getting tired of it, even if I did make up one verse," he explained. "But say, Jimmie, don't you wish you could climb a tall tree, like this?" and before you could say Salimagundy or maybe incomprehensibility or even disproportionability, why Billie had run to the top of the tree and down again. "Don't you wish you could?" he asked again.
"Yes," answered Jimmie, looking up, "I wish I could climb a tree, but I guess ducks weren't made for that. I once tried to fly, and I didn't succeed very well. I'll stay on the ground, I think. Come on, let's have a catch. I've got a ball."
"No," spoke Johnnie, "I have an idea. Billie, why can't you and I teach Jimmie to climb a tree? If we pick out one with branches close together I'm sure he could get up it. We can help him, and he can take hold of some limbs in his bill, like a parrot takes hold of the wires in his cage."
"Fine!" cried Billie. "Will you do it, Jimmie?"
"Sure," answered the little boy duck, but he didn't know what was going to happen, or, maybe, he wouldn't have tried to climb up. Well, the squirrels selected quite a tall tree, but rather an easy one, and Jimmie managed to scramble up to the first low limbs, with Billie and Johnnie boosting him.
After that it wasn't quite so hard, and he was able to get up quite a distance, pulling himself with his yellow bill. He was not very graceful, and I'm sure if you ever saw a duck climb a tree you would agree with me, but finally, after a great deal of hard work, Jimmie was right on the top branch where the two squirrels sat blinking their eyes.
"How do you like it?" asked Johnnie.
"Fine!" cried Jimmie. "Quack! Quack! Quack!" Now when a duck says "quack" three times, you may know he is very much pleased indeed. Oh, what a fine view Jimmie had, but he didn't dare frisk around as Billie and Johnnie did, for he was a trifle dizzy. Then, after he had been up there some time, he thought he had better go down, for the wind was blowing the treetop, and he wasn't used to it. So, after Billie and Johnnie had sung their song again, Jimmie started for the ground.
Well, you know how it is yourself, if you have ever climbed a tree. It's easy to go up, but it's hard to get down. The limb for your feet is never where you think it is. Poor Jimmie tried, and Billie and Johnnie helped him, but he didn't dare turn around to go down, backward, and that's the only way you can get down a tree, unless you're a squirrel.
Then Jimmie began to get frightened. He knew it was time for him to go home, but it began getting darker and darker and darker, and there he was right in the top of the tree, as far away from the ground as ever. He tried once more, but he didn't dare let go of one branch with his bill, while he put his foot down on another limb below, and there he was. Oh, what an unpleasant situation to be in, to say the least!
"Oh, I'll never get down!" cried Jimmie. "I wish I'd stayed on the ground!"
Billie and Johnnie began to get frightened, too, for it was partly their fault, and they were just going off for some kind of help, though what kind they didn't know, when they heard a noise.
It was a swishing, swooping, swoshing noise, and who should fly down out of the sky but that good, kind fishhawk, who once carried Billie and Johnnie on his big back to Lincoln Park. As soon as the squirrels saw him they cried out:
"Oh, please help Jimmie Wibblewobble down! He's in a tall tree and can't reach the ground."
"Why, of course, to be sure," replied the kind fishhawk, and he alighted in the tree, and Jimmie got upon his strong, broad back, and the fishhawk flew gently to the earth, and that's how Jimmie got down. And maybe he wasn't glad of it! I know I am, anyhow.
Now, listen: the moving man didn't get my typewriter, after all, so if we have cocoanut-chocolate-mustard-apple-pie cake for supper, I can tell you a story to-morrow night, and it will be about the party Alice and Lulu had, and what happened at it. Something wonderful, too, let, me tell you.
THE WIBBLEWOBBLES' PARTY
There was great excitement in the duck pen. And the reason for it was that Lulu and Alice were going to have a party. It was the first party they had ever had, and it was on their birthday. You see, it was this way: Lulu and Alice both had the same birthday; that is, they, were twins. Jimmie was a day older than they were, and he wasn't a twin. There, now I've explained it all to you, and I'll get on with the story.
Well, Mamma Wibblewobble arranged for the party. She did all the baking and got the ice cream ready and made the pies and tarts, and Alice and Lulu sent out the invitations. They were written on nice little pieces of white birch bark that Johnnie and Billie Bushytail gnawed off the trees for the little duck girls.
Of course, Johnnie and Billie were invited, and so was Sammie Littletail, and Susie and Sister Sallie, and Mr. and Mrs. Bushytail, and Mr. and Mrs. Littletail, and Uncle Wiggily Longears, and Nurse Jane Fuzzy-Wuzzy, and Grandfather Goosey-Gander, and Bully, the frog, and the goldfish, and, let me see, who else? Oh, of course, the fairy prince. Alice would not have had him left out for anything.
Alice and Lulu had their best hair ribbons on and their new dresses, and were all dressed up for the party nearly an hour before it was time. Jimmie got ready, too. That is, he put on a clean collar and a new, red necktie, and he looked very nice. But he really didn't care much about the party. He said he and the boys would go off by themselves and talk about baseball.
"No," said his mother, "you must not do that. I want you and the boys to entertain the little girls. Be nice, now, Jimmie."
So Jimmie said he would, and pretty soon the company began to come. Bully, the frog, hopped along first, and right after him came Grandfather Goosey-Gander, and, would you believe me, he never said a word about Jimmie breaking his window that time.
"We are very glad to see you," said Alice and Lulu, as they stood at the front door to receive their friends. Aunt Lettie, the nice old lady goat, was also there, and as the guests came up, she called out:
"Now, girls, walk right in the bedroom and put your things on the bed. You boys take your things in Jimmie's room." Oh, it was a real party, let me tell you.
Uncle Wiggily was the last to arrive, and you know why that was. It was because his rheumatism hurt him so. But he finally got there, and then the party was complete; that is, all but the fairy prince, and even the goldfish didn't know what had become of him.
First the boys all stayed on one side of the room and the girls on the other, but when Alice said, "Let's play spin the platter," they all cried out, "Oh, yes, let's do it." And they used one of Mamma Wibblewobble's dishes for the platter, and didn't break it a bit. Jimmie was "it" part of the time, and so was Johnnie Bushytail.
"Now let's play going to Jerusalem," proposed Lulu, and they did, Grandfather Goosey-Gander whistling through his bill, just like a fife, to make the music. Then they played blind-duck-bluff, and post-office and clap-in clap-out, and forfeits and, oh, such lots of games that I can hardly remember them. Oh, yes, there was one more, puss in the corner, and whom do you suppose was the puss? Why the little kittie; Lulu's little kittie, you know, that Aunt Lettie thought had come from the pussy-willows.
"When are we going to eat?" asked Bushytail, after a while, and he spoke out loud.
"Hush!" cried Sister Sallie. "You mustn't ask that, Billie; it isn't polite!"
"Well, I wanted to know," said the little boy squirrel.
"Bless your heart!" exclaimed Aunt Lettie. "Of course you do. It must be time to serve the refreshments. I'll go ask Mrs. Wibblewobble."
"I don't want refreshments," objected Billie, in a whisper to Sister Sallie. "I'm hungry, and I want something to eat!"
"Hush!" cried his little sister again. "Refreshments are good things to eat!"
"Oh," said Billie, and just then in came Mamma Wibblewobble and Aunt Lettie and Mrs. Bushytail and Mrs. Littletail and Nurse Jane Fuzzy-Wuzzy, all of whom helped serve the good things to eat.
Oh, what a lot of refreshments there were, including maple sugar, hickorynut ice cream and chocolate-covered carrots, and cornmeal made into little balls with cocoanut marshmallow on the outside, and candied cabbage leaves, and water-cress flavored with spearmint, and the land knows what!
Well, those children at Alice's and Lulu's party ate so much it's a wonder that they ever got home. They had a lovely time, though Alice felt disappointed because the fairy prince didn't come, and everyone wished Alice and Lulu many happy returns, and Bully, the frog, said:
"When you have a party, Jimmie, I'm coming to that, too."
"Sure," answered Jimmie. "I'll have one next week, if mamma will let me," for you see he found he liked parties better than he thought he would.
Well, they played some more games, including one called hide the peanut, and then it was time to go home; and now comes the queer part of it. Just as they were all saying good-night, and Uncle Wiggily was looking for his crutch, there sounded out in the woods three blasts from a silver trumpet. "Ta-ra-ta-ra-ta-ra!"
You know, just like when the procession starts in a circus, and who should come riding up to the ducks' house but a little boy, all dressed in silver and gold, with a long white plume in his hat and he was on a white horse. Once more the trumpet sounded, and the boy called out:
"Am I too late for the party?"
"Yes, you are," said Uncle Wiggily, leaning on his crutch, which he found behind the door. "But who are you?"
"Me? I am the fairy prince!" cried the boy, and the trumpets blew again.
"What? Not the mud turtle fairy prince?" asked Alice, fanning herself, so she wouldn't faint.
"The very same," answered the boy. "I got tired of being a mud turtle, but I am still a fairy prince!"
"I don't believe it!" exclaimed Uncle Wiggily. "You are only a little boy on a horse, and not a fairy prince at all!"
"Wait, and you shall see!" cried the boy, waving his hand, and the silver trumpet blew again, "Ta-ra-ta-ra-ta-ra!" and the horse reared up on his hind legs. "I certainly am the fairy prince, and to prove it I will do something wonderful. Come to the woods to-morrow, Uncle Wiggily Longears, and see!"
"What will I see?" asked Uncle Wiggily.
"You will see a red fairy," answered the boy who used to be mud turtle, "and the red fairy will do something wonderful for you."
"Oh!" cried Uncle Wiggily, "I don't believe in fairies!"
But, all the same, he had to, after what happened, for he went back to the woods, and met a red fairy, and the red fairy stopped Uncle Wiggily's rheumatism for a time, as you can find out by reading the first book of this series, entitled "Sammie and Susie Littletail," which tells a lot about two little rabbit children and their friends, as well as about Uncle Wiggily Longears.
Now I've reached the end of this story, but there's another one for to-morrow night, in case you don't hit anybody with your bean shooter, and it's going to be about Lulu and the Golden fairy.
LULU AND THE GOLDEN FAIRY
Once upon a time it was raining very hard one morning. It was just when Lulu and Alice and Jimmie Wibblewobble were looking out of the window of the duck pen, getting ready for school.
"Jimmie, is your hair combed?" asked his mamma.
"No, ma'am," he answered; "but I'm just going to comb it."
"And did you brush your teeth?"
"No, mamma, but I'm just going—"
"Now, now, Jimmie, that's what you always say. Hurry to the bathroom and clean your teeth at once, or else there'll be a dentist coming to the school looking into your mouth and goodness knows what will happen then. Hurry, now, or you'll be late."
Jimmie cleaned his teeth quickly, and ran on to school so he wouldn't be late and get a bad mark. What's that? You didn't know ducks had teeth? Well, the next time you get a chance, when a duck opens his mouth real wide, you look in, and maybe you'll see them. They're very small, I know, but that doesn't count.
Well, Lulu and Alice ran on ahead, and Jimmie came following after. He wasn't late at school because he met Bully the frog, who hopped, and so Jimmie had to run to keep up. The little boy duck was the first one in the classroom, and the teacher said:
"Why, Jimmie, this is a delightful surprise. You are not late this morning, though you were every other day this week."
"Yes, ma'am," was all Jimmie said, as he took his seat.
Well, you should have seen it rain! Honestly, I don't know when it ever rained so hard before; maybe not since the animals came out of the ark, or the last time I wanted to go to a picnic. Some of the kindergarten children got quite wet, because, you see, they were so little that they couldn't hold their umbrellas up straight. And even some of the high school girls got wet, too; but they didn't mind.
Jimmie and his sisters didn't need an umbrella, for, you know, water always runs off a duck's back, and doesn't do a bit of harm. It rained when the duck children got home from school, and it was still raining when Mrs. Wibblewobble said:
"My dears, I don't like to ask you to go out in the storm again, but I do wish you would run over to Grandfather Goosey-Gander's house. He is ill, and I want to send him some hot watercress tea."
Now Alice didn't want to go because her foot, that she once had cut on a stone, pained her. And Jimmie, well, no sooner had he gotten in the house, and taken some bread and butter, with jam on it, than he had run out in the rain again, to play with Bully, the frog. That left only Lulu to go to Grandfather Goosey-Gander's house, but she said she didn't mind in the least, and afterward she was very glad she went, for she saw a most wonderful sight. Just you wait, and I'll tell you about it.
So Mrs. Wibblewobble put the hot tea in a tin pan, and covered it over with a burdock leaf, to keep the rain out, and then she put some cold potatoes in a dish, for she thought the old gentleman duck might like them as well. Then Lulu started off through the woods to go to her grandfather's house. It was still raining, but she didn't mind, and pretty soon, oh, maybe in about ten quacks, she came to where Mr. Gander lived.
Well, you would have felt sorry for him if you could have seen him. There he was, sitting on a stool, with his feet in a pail of hot water, and seven bottles of medicine on a table at his right wing, and six bottles of pills on a table at his left wing, and there was a blanket up around his neck, and he had a nightcap on, and he was groaning something terrible; yes, really he was.
"Oh, grandfather!" cried Lulu. "Are you very sick?"
"Yes," he replied, "I am very sick. I think I have the pip, or maybe the epizoodic."
"Which is worse?" asked Lulu, as she set the hot tea and the cold potatoes on the table.
"They are both worse," answered the old gentleman duck. "That is, they seem so, when you have them both at once. But I think I would feel better if I had a hot cornmeal poultice on the back of my neck. Only I can't make it and put it there, for I can't take my feet out of the hot water, and I don't know where the cornmeal is, and I'm home all alone, for my wife has gone shopping."
"Oh, I'll make it for you," said Lulu very kindly. "I know where the cornmeal is." So she went to get some, and, on the way to the meal box she began to think:
"Wouldn't it be lovely if a blue fairy, or a green one or a purple one, or even a skilligimink colored one would appear now? I would ask her to make grandfather better. But I don't s'pose one will come, for I never have any luck seeing fairies," and she sighed three times as she opened the cornmeal box.
Then, all of a sudden, as she lifted the cover, as true as I'm telling you, if she didn't see something all glittering and shining down in one corner of the box. At first she thought it was the yellow meal, but then she saw that it was a little creature, all gold, with shimmering wings, like those of a humming bird.
"Oh!" cried Lulu, "are you a fairy?"
"Yes," replied the little creature, "I am the golden cornmeal fairy. I have been shut up here for ever and ever so long, and I thought I would never get out. But, since you have let me out, I will do anything in the world for you," and she waved her golden wings, and sang a jolly, golden song about diamonds.
"Will you?" cried Lulu. "Then please make my grandfather better, for he is very sick and has to take thirteen kinds of medicine."
"I will make him well," said the fairy, as she flew out of the box, "and it is very kind of you to ask that, instead of something for yourself. Now, you make a nice hot poultice of this meal, which is magical, and put it on the back of his neck.
"Then you say this fairy word: Bibbilybab-bilyboobily-bag,' and see what happens. But don't tell your grandfather I am a fairy; in fact, say nothing to any one about it, for we fairies are going away for a time, but we may come back later." Then the golden fairy waved her wings and disappeared.
But Lulu did just as she had been told, even to saying that magical word, and, my gracious! if Grandfather Goosey-Gander didn't get all well in a second, and he thanked Lulu very much. She felt sorry about the fairy disappearing so suddenly, but you can't always have fairies, you know. Now, if you girls don't lose your pink hair ribbon I'll tell you to-morrow night about Jimmie and the black cow.
JIMMIE AND THE BLACK COW
Lulu Wibblewobble felt quite proud of having seen the golden fairy in the corn meal box. In fact she was the only one of her family who saw a fairy for ever and ever so long after that, because the fairies happened to go away from that part of the country.
Of course, Lulu wondered how the tiny creature got into the meal box, and she wondered if she might tell Alice and Jimmie about having seen her, but she decided she had better not.
Now it was about a week after Lulu had taken Grandfather Goosey-Gander the hot tea and the cold potatoes, that something happened to Jimmie Wibblewobble.
It was one afternoon when he was on his way home from school, and he was all alone, for he had been kept in for missing his spelling lesson, and all the other children had gone on. You see he couldn't spell "vinegar." Of course that's an easy word, I know, but Jimmie didn't like sour things, and I suppose that's why he missed vinegar. He put the "x" and a "k" of the word in the wrong places. Anyway he was kept in, and he had to write "ketchup" on his paper fifty times.
Well, after he was let out Jimmie started off through the woods and over the fields. Pretty soon, right after he was passing along a deep, dark, dingly dell, which is a sort of little valley, with flowers and ferns growing in it, he heard a bell ring. "Ding-dong! Ding-dong! Ding-dong!" went the bell. At first Jimmie thought he was near a church, but just then the bell rang differently.
This time it went: "Tinkle-tankle! Tinkle-tankle! Tinkle-tank—" just like that.
"Why!" exclaimed Jimmie. "I wonder what that can be?"
Then he went on a little farther, and he came out of the deep, dark dingle-dell, and he heard the bell more plainly still. This time it rang very rapidly, and right after it Jimmie heard a loud voice calling: "Moo! Moo! Moo! Help me, will you; will you?"
"Why!" cried Jimmie. "That's a cow!"
Then, in another moment he came from behind a big tree, and what should he see but a big, black cow, standing in a swamp. The cow was shaking her head and shaking her horns at the same time, and ringing the bell, which was fastened around her neck by a strap, and she was mooing as hard as she could moo.
"Why, what's the matter?" asked Jimmie, wobbling up quite close to her. "What ever is the matter?"
"Lots and lots is the matter," answered the cow. "But aren't you afraid of me, little boy duck; afraid of me and my sharp horns?"
"Why no," answered Jimmie, after he had thought it over for a minute or two. "I don't believe I am afraid of you. Why should I be afraid?"
"No reason at all; none in the world," replied the cow. "But since I'm in trouble so many creatures seem to be afraid of me. I saw a frog hopping past, and I asked him to help me, but I guess he was afraid I'd step on him, so he wouldn't come near, but hopped off as far as he could."
"That must have been Bully," said Jimmie. "He's afraid of lots of things. But maybe he was in a hurry," he added, for he did not want to say that Bully was afraid if the frog wasn't frightened, you know.
"Well," agreed the cow, "maybe he was. Then a rabbit boy hopped past, and I asked him to help me, but he was afraid, too."
"That must have been Sammie Littletail," said Jimmie. "But I don't believe he was afraid. Sammie is very brave. Maybe he was in a hurry."
"Well," admitted the cow, "maybe he was. But then two little squirrel boys came along, and I asked them to help me, but they ran away, frisking their tails. I guess they were afraid."
"No," answered Jimmie, "they weren't afraid. They were Billie and Johnnie Bushytail, and the reason they ran was to get some one to help you, for they are very kind. Maybe Bully and Sammie will bring some one to help you, also. But what seems to be the matter?"
"My foot is caught under a stone," said the cow, and she blinked her big brown eyes as fast as she could. In fact, they opened and shut so rapidly that big tears came from them, and splashed down her nose.
"Oh! I am so sorry!" cried Jimmie. "Your foot caught under a stone!"
"Wait a minute! Hold on!" exclaimed the cow. "That is not the worst of it! You have not heard all! My foot is under a stone, and the stone is under water, so I can't see to get my foot out. That's why I feel so badly about it. You can see for yourself, Johnnie—"
"My name is Jimmie," said the little boy duck quickly.
"Well, Jimmie, then," went on the cow. "You can see for yourself how it is, or, rather, you can't see, for the water is in the way," and then Jimmie noticed that one of the cow's hoofs was down in a puddle of water, and no matter how hard she pulled she couldn't get loose from that stone; no, sir, any more than you can tie a string to one of your teeth and get the tooth loose—that is, not counting a tooth that needs pulling, of course.
"Well," remarked Jimmie, after he had looked very carefully at the puddle where the cow's foot was, "it's too bad."
"It certainly is," agreed the cow. "You see if the stone wasn't under water I could see to loosen it with my horn, but as it is I can't, and I've tried several times," and she tried once more, just to show she was telling the truth.
"I've been here some time," the cow went on, "and no one seems able to help me," and she mooed some more, and the bell tinkled some more, and more of her tears fell splish-splash in the puddle of water, making it bigger than ever.
"I will help you!" cried Jimmie, suddenly. "I am a duck, and I know all about water!"
So he jumped right in that puddle, and he commenced to splash with his wings and his yellow feet, and my goodness gracious sakes alive! if in about two quacks he didn't have all the water splashed out of that hole where the poor cow's foot was fast.
Then the cow could see to loosen the stone with her horn, and she could walk home. And because Jimmie was so kind she gave him a pail of milk to take to the duck pen for Alice and Lulu. Now to-morrow night the story will be about Alice and the puppy dogs, providing the automobile does not turn upside down and spill me out.
ALICE AND THE PUPPY DOGS
Alice Wibblewobble had been over to pay a visit to Sister Sallie, the little squirrel-sister of Johnnie and Billie Bushytail, and she had ever so much fun; and a good time, and such a nice supper! ending up with butternut ice cream, with maple sugar for dessert. Well, before Alice knew it, night had come, and it was all dark.
"Oh! dear!" she cried, "I didn't know it was so late."
"Are you afraid to go home in the dark?" asked Mrs. Bushytail.
"No, not exactly," answered Alice, "but you see it's so dark I might tumble into a hole, or cut my foot again on a sharp stone. I'm not exactly afraid of the dark, but—"
"Oh! I understand," said Mamma Bushytail. "But I hardly know what to do," she went on. "My husband is away this evening, or he would take you home, and Billie and Johnnie are over at Grandpa Lightfoot's, and I'm so busy getting through my spring housecleaning, and sewing a new dress for Sister Sallie, that I don't believe I could spare the time to go."
"Oh! I wouldn't think of asking you," spoke Alice quickly, but she looked out into the dark, and she didn't feel very happy, even if she had just eaten a large plate of butternut ice cream.
"Couldn't you stay all night, my dear?" asked Sister Sallie's mother.
"No, I'm afraid my mamma would worry," replied Alice.
"Perhaps Jimmie will come for you pretty soon," suggested Sister Sallie, and then she hummed that little verse about going hippity-hop to the barber shop to buy a lolly-pop lally. You remember it, I dare say.
"Maybe he will," agreed Alice, so she and Sister Sallie played another game, but it got darker and darker, and no Jimmie came, and then Alice knew she must start for home, or her papa and mamma would be worried. But she didn't like to go out in the black night, and she was almost ready to cry, and didn't know what to do, when, all of a sudden, Sister Sallie called out:
"Oh, mamma, I know the very thing! I'll run next door, to where Mrs. Bow Wow lives, and ask her to send Jackie and Peetie home with Alice."
"Who are Peetie and Jackie?" asked the little girl duck.
"They are puppy dogs," replied Sister Sallie, "and the cutest ones you ever saw! Oh, they are darlings! They'll go home with you through the woods, because they are very brave. Some day they will grow to be big dogs, and guard the house. I'll ask Mrs. Bow Wow, their mamma, to let them take you home."
"That will be a good plan," agreed Mrs. Bushytail. "Run in and ask Mrs. Bow Wow, Sister Sallie."
So Sister Sallie ran in next door, and pretty soon she came back with two of the cutest puppy dogs Alice had ever seen.
"Which one is Peetie and which one is Jackie?" Alice asked, as they tumbled about on the floor, getting up and falling down again.
"I am Peetie," answered one. "You can tell that because I am all white with a black spot on my nose."
"And I am Jackie," said his brother. "I am all black, with a white spot on my nose. So you see it is easy to tell us apart."
"Yes," agreed Alice with a laugh, "I see; that is, I would see if you kept still long enough, only you don't, for you wiggle and tumble about so much. But will you please take me home?"
"Of course we will," answered Jackie, rubbing the black spot on his brother's nose with his paw. Just then, if those two puppy dogs didn't see one of Papa Bushytail's boots, and, land sakes alive! if one didn't grab one end and one the other end, and they began to pull and growl. Puppy dogs always do such things, you know.
"Oh! Oh! You mustn't do that," cried Mamma Bushytail. "You must take Alice home."
"We will," answered Peetie, rubbing the black spot on his own nose with his little white paw. "We were only doing this for practice. Come on, Alice! Bow-wow! Bow-wow!"
So pretty soon, after a while, oh, not so very long, Alice started for the duck pen, with Jackie and Peetie Bow Wow tumbling over each other in their eagerness to see which would walk at her right wing, and which at her left. Well, weren't those puppy dogs brave, though, to go out in the dark night? They never thought anything about it, really; any more than you mind going to bed in the dark.
Then, all of a sudden, as they were walking through a very dismal place in the woods, Jackie began to growl.
"Oh, don't do that!" cried Alice, "you frighten me! Did you see a burglar or a wolf?"
"Why, I only growled because I smelled a bone," said Jackie, and he laughed, and fell over and over, turning a complete somersault.
"I smelled the bone first!" cried Peetie, "and I'm going to have it!" Then the two of them made a rush for the nice, juicy bone, and they each got hold of it and began to pull, one on one end and one on the other, and they fell down and slipped and stumbled all over in the darkness, getting mixed up in the leaves, growling and snarling; but, of course, it was all in fun, you know, for the puppy dogs loved each other.
"Oh, don't do that, Peetie!" begged Alice, touching one of the puppy dogs with her foot. "Don't tumble about so, Peetie!"
"I'm not Peetie; I'm Jackie!" was the answer. "Can't you tell by the white spot on my nose? Peetie has a black spot."
"I can't see very well in the dark," replied Alice.
Then something very funny happened, for when Jackie opened his mouth to speak to Alice he had to let go of the bone, and of course Peetie ran off with it and hid it. But that was a good thing, for they couldn't pull on it any more, and when Peetie came back they both rubbed noses, and went on through the dark woods, taking Alice home.
They had only one accident. That is, they fell down a hole, but they weren't hurt at all, I'm glad to say. Then, when Alice was safe in the duckpen, the puppy dogs ran back home and went right to sleep.
Now, if you don't spill the salt in the sugar bowl, I'm going to tell you to-morrow night about Jimmie and Jackie.
JIMMIE AND JACKIE BOW WOW
When Alice reached the duckpen that night, after she had gone visiting Sister Sallie, and was brought home by the puppy dogs, she told her folks all about it.
"Jackie and Peetie Bow Wow, eh?" remarked Jimmie, her brother, when she had told their names. "I never heard of them. They must be new around here."
"They are," answered Alice. "But they are just as cute as they can be; really they are."
"Cute, eh?" asked Jimmie. "Can they play ball?"
"I don't know," replied his sister. "But you ought to see them pull on that old boot and the bone! Oh, it was too funny!"
"And they took good care of you, didn't they," asked Lulu.
"Indeed, they did," answered Alice. "They weren't afraid of anything, even when an owl hooted."
So the next day, which was Saturday, when there wasn't any school, Jimmie started off with his wooden bat over his shoulder, his catching glove under one wing and his ball under the other.
"Where are you going?" asked his mother.
"I'm going over to Mrs. Bow Wow's house to see if I can find the puppy dogs," he said. "I want to get acquainted with them."
"All right, Jimmie, but be sure to wipe your feet if you go in Mrs. Bow Wow's house, and don't forget to take off your cap and say 'yes, ma'am,' and 'no, ma'am,' Jimmie."
"S'posin' she doesn't ask me anything?" inquired Jimmie. "What'll I say?"
"Well, then, of course, you needn't say anything; but be polite," warned the little boy duck's mother, for sometimes he forgot, though he didn't mean to.
Well, he was walking along through the woods, and over the green fields where the dandelions were just coming up, looking like buttons on a policeman's coat, if the policeman's coat was green instead of blue, and I think green would be a nice color. But no matter about that.
Jimmie was walking along, when, all of a sudden, he heard a little growl. At first he thought it was the bad fox after him again, but in a moment he saw a little black ball of fur rolling along, and then he saw a little white spot, and he thought that might be Sammie Littletail, only he knew the rabbit boy never growled. Then, all at once, if that ball of fur didn't unroll, and there stood a puppy dog!
"Hello!" called Jimmie Wibblewobble, real friendly-like.
"Hello!" answered the puppy dog.
"Are you Peetie or Jackie Bow Wow?" asked the little boy duck, for he knew the puppy dog must be one or the other.
"I'm Jackie," was the answer. "Can't you tell? I'm all black with a white spot on my nose, and my brother, Peetie, is all white with a black spot on his nose. See? I'm black with a black spot—no, I mean I'm black with a white spot, and Jackie he's black—no, hold on—he's white—no, I'm Jackie, and he's Peetie—he's white with a white—no, a black spot—"
"Oh, for mercy sakes, stop!" cried Jimmie. "I'm all tangled up with white spots and black spots!"
"So am I," admitted Jackie. "It's hard to tell who I am, sometimes."
"Is it, really?" asked Jimmie.
"Yes, it is. In fact I'm mixed up now. Would you kindly look and tell me if I have a white or a black spot on my nose. I could look myself, only it makes me cross-eyed, and I don't like that."
So Jimmie looked, very carefully, and he saw a white spot on the puppy dog's nose, and told him so.
"It's all right. I'm Jackie then," answered the little fellow. "I thought I was, but it's best to make sure."
"Can you play ball?" asked Jimmie. "My sister told me about you. It was very kind of you to bring her home. You haven't lived here very long, have you?"
"Not very. But I'm glad I could help your sister. She is a nice girl."
"Where's your brother, Peetie?" asked Jimmie.
"Oh, he's gone to the store for mamma."
"Then let's you and I have a catch until he comes back. You can play ball, can't you?"
So Jimmie tossed the ball to Jackie, and the puppy dog stood up on his hind legs and caught it in his front paws, and then he fell right over, ker-thump, and rolled along the ground.
"Here!" cried the boy duck. "That's no way to play ball! You must stand up and catch."
"Oh, I know that," declared Jackie. "You see I was only practising at biting the ball with my teeth. I always bite things to sharpen my teeth so I can gnaw big bones when I get to be a big dog."
"Well, you needn't sharpen your teeth on my new ball!" cried Jimmie, and he felt a little angry; not much, you know, but a little and he took the ball and was going home, for he didn't like Jackie, he thought.
It was too bad the little creatures had had a falling-out so soon, but please wait just a moment and see what happens. No sooner had Jimmie started to go home—Jackie didn't know why, you see, for he didn't know it was wrong to bite the ball—no sooner, I say, did Jimmie start home, than out from the bushes jumped a great big water rat, with ugly, cruel, sharp teeth and wicked eyes.
Oh, how frightened Jimmie was, for he knew big water rats ate ducks. But what do you suppose Jackie, that puppy dog, did? Why he just growled away down in his throat, and he stuck up one ear as far as it would go, and he let the other ear fall down as far as it would fall, and he opened his mouth, and he showed his teeth, that he had sharpened on Jimmie's ball, and he jumped right at that bad rat! Yes, sir, right at him, growling all the while!
At first the rat was going to fight, but when it saw how brave Jackie was, it turned and ran away. And then that puppy dog just put his little tail between his legs, and howled, and ran away, too; Jimmie waddling after him. You see Jackie was frightened after it was all over, but he had frightened the rat worse yet.
"How brave you were!" cried Jimmie, when they were at Mrs. Bow Wow's house. "You were very brave, indeed."
"Do you really think so?" asked Jackie. "Then I must be."
"You can bite my ball all you want to," went on Jimmie, and then Peetie came home from the store, and they all had a fine time playing catch. Now to-morrow night I'm going to tell you about Grandfather Goosey-Gander's tall hat, if I don't lose a penny off the front stoop.
GRANDFATHER GOOSEY-GANDER'S TALL HAT
Jimmie Wibblewobble was in the back lots, playing ball with Billie and Johnnie Bushytail, Sammie Littletail, and Bully, the frog, besides some other friends of his. They were having a fine time, knocking the ball this way and that, just as if the ball didn't care what happened to it. When it came Jimmie's turn to bat, he called out:
"Watch me knock it away over the tree," and land sakes, goodness me and a pop-corn cake! if that ball didn't fly away over the tree, just like a little bird. Well,—Jimmie was pretty proud, I can tell you, and he was such a good hitter that Bully said:
"Let Jimmie knock some more balls for us to catch."
So he did, after Billie Bushytail had run to get the one that went over the tree, and brought it back.
Well, so the game went on, and pretty soon, oh, I guess it must have been about as long as it takes to eat two pieces of bread and butter, but not with jam on, mind you; I guess in about that time, it was Billie Bushytail's turn to bat. And just as he stepped up to hit the ball, if all the boy animals didn't see something black moving along by the hedge fence. It was black and round and shiny, this moving object was, and as soon as Sammie Littletail saw it he cried out:
"Oh, there's a bad fox. Let's see who can hit him."
So they all caught up stones to throw at the bad fox, to drive him away.
Jimmie had the largest stone, and he could throw the straightest, so it is no wonder he hit the tall, round, shining black thing by the hedge. But this is the funny part of it, that black thing wasn't a fox at all. No, siree!
It was Grandfather Goosey-Gander's new tall hat, and that wasn't at all funny, I do assure you. And the worst part of it was that Grandfather Goosey-Gander was under that hat! For, you know, a tall hat couldn't walk along by a hedge, all alone its own self, now, could it? Of course, I know it could if this were a fairy story, but it isn't.
Well, something dreadful happened. The stone which Jimmie threw hit grandfather's tall hat, went inside, just grazing the top of the old gentleman duck's head, and then, what do you think? Well, I don't believe you could guess if you tried a week, so I'll tell you.
That stone came out on the other side. It went right through the hat, making a hole where it went in, and another hole where it came out. Two holes; you could easily have counted them if you had been there.
Of course, as soon as Jimmie heard the noise, made by the stone which he threw, hitting the hat, he could tell by the plinkity-plunkity sound that there was going to be trouble. And there was.
Grandfather Goosey-Gander jumped up in the air. He uttered a loud quack, and then he took off his tall hat. He looked at the two ragged holes in it, and then he looked over at the boys in the field. He knew right away they had done it, but he didn't know which one. Jimmie, however, was a good boy, and he wasn't going to have any one else blamed for what he had done. So he ran to where his grandfather stood, sorrowfully looking at his hat, and Jimmie said:
"I did it, grandpa. I cannot tell a story. I did it with my little stone."
"Ha! Hum! Did you; eh?" cried Grandfather Goosey-Gander. "Well, that's a pretty bad thing to do, Jimmie. This is my best hat. I put it on to go down to the bank, to put money in. I mean to put money in the bank, not in the hat, of course. I always wear it when I go to the bank, so folks will know I am rich. Now I can't wear it any more. It's too bad!" And the old gentleman duck looked very sorrowful.
"Yes," agreed Jimmie, "it is too bad," for he couldn't think of anything else to say.
"You will have to pay for a new hat for me," went on his grandfather.
"I haven't any money," said Jimmie, and tears began to run down his broad, yellow bill, for the little boy duck felt pretty bad, I can tell you.
"You will have to save up all the pennies you get," decided Grandfather Goosey-Gander. "Boys should not be so careless."
"We thought you were a fox," said Billie Bushytail.
"And we all threw stones at you," added Sammie Littletail.
"But I'm the only one who hit your hat, though," admitted Jimmie.
"Do I look like a fox?" demanded the old duck. "That's what I want to know. Do I look like a fox?" Well, of course, you know he didn't, and the ball players had to admit it. "You will have to pay for my hat, Jimmie," grandpa continued, looking again at two ragged holes. "Have you any money now?"
"No," said Jimmie, and he was crying real hard by this time. Then all the other boys felt badly, too, and they were just looking in their pockets to see if they had any money, but they hadn't. All they had was some marbles, and tops, and broken knives, and chewing gum, all sticky, and some strings.
Then it began to look as if Grandfather Goosey-Gander would never have a new hat, but, all at once, there was a buzzing sound in the air, and what should come flying along but a darning needle. You know what I mean: one of those funny, long bugs sometimes called a dragon fly, with beautiful wings, and long legs and body.
"What is the trouble?" asked the darning needle, and then the boys told him about the broken hat. "Ah," said the darning needle, careless-like, "do not distress yourself, Jimmie. I know you are a good boy. To fix that hat is a mere trifle for me, and I'll do it."
And what did that dragon-fly-darning-needle do but buzz back and forth, all around the holes in Grandfather Goosey-Gander's tall hat, right through the hat itself, until he had the holes all sewed up, and you could hardly tell where they were.
Then Mrs. Spider came along, and she spun some glossy silk web over the places where the seams were, and presto-chango! if that hat wasn't as good as ever!
Well, you can just imagine how glad Jimmie was that he didn't have to pay for it. And his grandpa was pleased, too, and so were the boys. Then the darning needle flew away, Mrs. Spider crawled off, Grandfather Goosey-Gander went to the bank, the boys played ball some more and everything was lovely.
Now, if the window curtain doesn't fly up lickety-split and come off the roller, I'll tell you to-morrow night about Jimmie flying a kite.
JIMMIE WIBBLEWOBBLE'S KITE
Jimmie Wibblewobble was out flying his kite. He had made it all himself, out of sticks, and paste, and paper and strings, and it was a very fine kite indeed. It was nearly as large as the little boy duck, and it was the kind of a kite that doesn't need a tail. That was good, because a tail gets all tangled up in the weeds.
Well, Jimmie was flying his kite, and the wind was pretty strong, and the kite was pulling real hard, just like a little dog pulls, when you tie a rope to his collar, and he wants to get away. Pretty soon along came Bully, the frog.