Chapter XI: Peter Rabbit and Jerry Muskrat are Puzzled.
 

Jerry Muskrat was more and more sure that his big cousin, Paddy the Beaver, didn't know quite so much as he might about house-building. Jerry would have liked to offer some suggestions, but he didn't quite dare. You see, he was very anxious not to displease his big cousin. But he felt that he simply had got to speak his mind to someone, so he swam across to where he had seen Peter Rabbit almost every night since Paddy began to build. Sure enough, Peter was there, sitting up very straight and staring with big round eyes at the platform of mud and sticks out in the water where Paddy the Beaver was at work.

"Well, Peter, what do you think of it?" asked Jerry

"What is it?" asked Peter innocently. "Is it another dam?"

Jerry threw back his head and laughed and laughed.

Peter looked at him suspiciously. "I don't see anything to laugh at," said he.

"Why, it's a house, you stupid. It's Paddy's new house," replied Jerry, wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes.

"I'm not stupid!" retorted Peter. "How was I to know that that pile of mud and sticks is meant for a house? It certainly doesn't look it. Where is the door?"

"To tell you the truth, I don't think it is much of a house myself," replied Jerry. "It has got a door, all right. In fact it has got three. You can't see them because they are under water, and there is a passage from each right up through that platform of mud and sticks, which is the foundation of the house. It really is a very fine foundation, Peter; it really is. But what I can't understand is what Paddy is thinking of by building that great pile of mud right in the middle. When he gets his walls built, where will his bedroom be? There won't be any room at all. It won't be a house at all--just a big useless pile of sticks and mud.

Peter scratched his head and then pulled his whiskers thoughtfully as he gazed out at the pile in the water where Paddy the Beaver was at work.

"It does look foolish, that's a fact," said he. "Why don't you point out to him the mistake he is making, Jerry? You have built such a splendid house yourself that you ought to be able to help Paddy and show him his mistakes."

Jerry had smiled a very self-satisfied smile when Peter mentioned his fine house, but he shook his head at the suggestion that he should give Paddy advice.

"I--I don't just like to," he confessed. "You know, he might not like it and--and it doesn't seem as if it would be quite polite.

Peter sniffed. "That wouldn't trouble me any if he were my cousin," said he.

Jerry shook his head, "No, I don't believe it would," he replied, "but it does trouble me and--and--well, I think I'll wait awhile."

Now all this time Paddy had been hard at work. He was bringing the longest branches which he had cut from the trees out of which he had built his dam, and a lot of slender willow and alder poles. He pushed these ahead of him as he swam. When he reached the foundation of his house, he would lean them against the pile of mud in the middle with their big ends resting on the foundation. So he worked all the way around until by and by the mud pile in the middle couldn't be seen. It was completely covered with sticks, and they were cunningly fastened together at the tops.