Chapter VIII: Peter Rabbit Gets a Ducking.

Farmer Brown's boy sat with his chin in his hands staring at the new pond in the Green Forest and at the dam which had made it. That dam puzzled him. Who could have built it? What did they build it for? Why hadn't he heard them chopping? He looked carelessly at the stump of one of the trees, and then a still more puzzled look made deep furrows between his eyes. It looked-- yes, it looked very much as if teeth, and not an axe, had cut down that tree. Farmer Brown's boy stared and stared, his mouth gaping wide open. He looked so funny that Peter Rabbit, who was hiding under an old pile of brush close by, nearly laughed right out.

But Peter didn't laugh. No, Sir, Peter didn't laugh, for just that very minute something happened. Sniff! Sniff! That was right behind him at the very edge of the old brushpile, and every hair on Peter stood on end with fright.

"Bow, wow, wow!" It seemed to Peter that the great voice was right in his very ears. It frightened him so that he just had to jump. He didn't have time to think. And so he jumped right out from under the pile of brush and of course right into plain sight. And the very instant he jumped there came another great roar behind him. Of course it was from Bowser the Hound. You see, Bowser had been following the trail of his master, but as he always stops to sniff at everything he passes, he had been some distance behind. When he came to the pile of brush under which Peter was hiding he had sniffed at that, and of course he had smelled Peter right away.

Now when Peter jumped out so suddenly, he had landed right at one end of the dam. The second roar of Bowser's great voice frightened him still more, and he jumped right up on the dam. There was nothing for him to do now but go across, and it wasn't the best of going. No, indeed, it wasn't the best of going. You see, it was mostly a tangle of sticks. Happy Jack Squirrel or Chatterer the Red Squirrel or Striped Chipmunk would have skipped across it without the least trouble. But Peter Rabbit has no sharp little claws with which to cling to logs and sticks, and right away he was in a peck of trouble. He slipped down between the sticks, scrambled out, slipped again, and then, trying to make a long jump, he lost his balance and--tumbled heels over head into the water.

Poor Peter Rabbit! He gave himself up for lost this time. He could swim, but at best he is a poor swimmer and doesn't like the water. He couldn't dive and keep out of sight like Jerry Muskrat or Billy Mink. All he could do was to paddle as fast as his legs would go. The water had gone up his nose and down his throat so that he choked, and all the time he felt sure that Bowser the Hound would plunge in after him and catch him. And if he shouldn't why Farmer Brown's boy would simply wait for him to come ashore and then catch him.

But Farmer Brown's boy didn't do anything of the kind. No, Sir, he didn't. Instead he shouted to Bowser and called him away. Bowser didn't want to come, but he long ago learned to obey, and very slowly he walked over to where his master was sitting.

"You know it wouldn't be fair, old fellow, to try to catch Peter now. It wouldn't be fair at all, and we never want to do anything unfair, do we?" said he. Perhaps Bowser didn't agree, but he wagged his tail as if he did, and sat down beside his master to watch Peter swim.

It seemed to Peter as if he never, never would reach the shore, though really it was only a very little distance that he had to swim. When he did scramble out, he was a sorry-looking Rabbit. He didn't waste any time, but started for home as fast as he could go, lipperty-lipperty-lip. And Farmer Brown's boy and Bowser the Hound just laughed and didn't try to catch him at all.

"Well, I never!" exclaimed Sammy Jay, who had seen it all from the top of a pine tree. "Well, I never! I guess Farmer Brown's boy isn't so bad, after all."