The Adventures of Reddy Fox by Thornton W. Burgess
IX. Peter Rabbit Hears the News
Johnny Chuck came running up to the edge of the Old Briarpatch quite out of breath. You see, he is so round and fat and roly-poly that to run makes him puff and blow. Johnny Chuck's eyes danced with excitement as he peered into the Old Briar-patch, trying to see Peter Rabbit.
"Peter! Peter Rabbit! Oh, Peter!" he called. No one answered. Johnny Chuck looked disappointed. It was the middle of the morning, and he had thought that Peter would surely be at home then. He would try once more. "Oh, you Peter Rabbit!" he shouted in such a high-pitched voice that it was almost a squeal.
"What you want?" asked a sleepy voice from the middle of the Old Briar-patch.
Johnny Chuck's face lighted up. "Come out here, Peter, where I can look at you," cried Johnny.
"Go away, Johnny Chuck! I'm sleepy," said Peter Rabbit, and his voice sounded just a wee bit cross, for Peter had been out all night, a habit which Peter has.
"I've got some news for you, Peter," called Johnny Chuck eagerly.
"How do you know it's news to me?" asked Peter, and Johnny noticed that his voice wasn't quite so cross.
"I'm almost sure it is, for I've just heard it myself, and I've hurried right down here to tell you because I think you'll want to know it," replied Johnny Chuck.
"Pooh!" said Peter Rabbit, "it's probably as old as the hills to me. You folks who go to bed with the sun don't hear the news until it's old. What is it?"
"It's about Reddy Fox," began Johnny Chuck, but Peter Rabbit interrupted him.
"Shucks, Johnny Chuck! You are slow! Why, it was all over Green Meadows last night how Reddy Fox had been shot by Farmer Brown's boy!" jeered Peter Rabbit. "That's no news. And here you've waked me up to tell me something I knew before you went to bed last night! Serves Reddy Fox right. Hope he'll be lame for a week," added Peter Rabbit.
"He can't walk at all!" cried Johnny Chuck in triumph, sure now that Peter Rabbit hadn't heard the news.
"What's that?" demanded Peter, and Johnny Chuck could hear him begin to hop along one of his little private paths in the heart of the Old Briar-patch. He knew now that Peter Rabbit's curiosity was aroused, and he smiled to himself.
In a few minutes Peter thrust a sleepy-looking face out from the Old Briar-patch and grinned rather sheepishly. "What was that you were saying about Reddy Fox?" he asked again.
"I've a good mind not to tell you, Mr. Know-it-all," exclaimed Johnny Chuck.
"Oh, please, Johnny Chuck," pleaded Peter Rabbit.
Finally Johnny gave in. "I said that Reddy Fox can't walk. Aren't you glad, Peter?"
"How do you know?" asked Peter, for Peter is very suspicious of Reddy Fox, and has to watch out for his tricks all the time.
"Jimmy Skunk told me. He was up by Reddy's house early this morning and saw Reddy try to walk. He tried and tried and couldn't. You won't have to watch out for Reddy Fox for some time, Peter. Serves him right, doesn't it?''
"Let's go up and see if it really is true!" said Peter suddenly.
"All right," said Johnny Chuck, and off they started.