Chapter XIII. Peter Tells About Mrs. Quack
 
      To get things done, if you'll but try,
      You'll always find there is a way.
      What you yourself can't do alone
      The chances are another may.

When Peter Rabbit was once more safely back in the dear Old Briar-patch, he told Mrs. Peter all about poor Mrs. Quack and her troubles. Then for a long, long time he sat in a brown study. A brown study, you know, is sitting perfectly still and thinking very hard. That was what Peter did. He sat so still that if you had happened along, you probably would have thought him asleep. But he wasn't asleep. No, indeed! He was just thinking and thinking. He was trying to think of some way to help Mrs. Quack. At last he gave a little sigh of disappointment.

"It can't be done," said he. "There isn't any way."

"What can't be done?" demanded a voice right over his head.

Peter looked up. There sat Sammy Jay. Peter had been thinking so hard that he hadn't seen Sammy arrive.

"What can't be done?" repeated Sammy. "There isn't anything that can't be done. There are plenty of things that you can't do, but what you can't do some one else can. Just tuck that fact away in that empty head of yours and never say can't." You know Sammy dearly loves to tease Peter.

Peter made a good-natured face at Sammy. "Which means, I suppose, that what I can't do you can. You always did have a pretty good opinion of yourself, Sammy," said he.

"Nothing of the kind," retorted Sammy. "I simply mean that nobody can do everything, and that very often two heads are better than one. It struck me that you had something on your mind, and I thought I might be able to help you get rid of it. But of course, if you don't want my help, supposing I could and would give it to you, that is an end of the matter, and I guess I'll be on my way. The Old Briar-patch is rather a dull place anyway."

Peter started to make a sharp retort, but thought better of it. Instead he replied mildly: "I was just trying to think of some way to help poor Mrs. Quack."

"Help Mrs. Quack!" exclaimed Sammy in surprise. "Where under the sun did you get acquainted with Mrs. Quack? What's the matter with her? She always has looked to me quite able to help herself."

"Well, she isn't. That is, she needs others to help her just now," replied Peter, "and I've been most thinking my head off trying to find a way to help her." Then he told Sammy how he had met Mrs. Quack at the Smiling Pool and how terrible her long journey up from the sunny Southland had been, and how Mr. Quack had been shot by a hunter with a terrible gun, and how poor Mrs. Quack was quite heartbroken, and how she had gone over to the Big River to look for him but didn't dare go near the places where he might be hiding if he were still alive and hurt so that he couldn't fly, and how cruel and terribly unfair were the men with terrible guns, and all the other things he had learned from Mrs. Quack.

Sammy listened with his head cocked on one side, and for once he didn't interrupt Peter or try to tease him or make fun of him. In fact, as Peter looked up at him, he could see that Sammy was very serious and thoughtful, and that the more he heard of Mrs. Quack's story the more thoughtful he looked. When Peter finished, Sammy flew down a little nearer to Peter.

"I beg your pardon for saying your head is empty, Peter," said he. "Your heart is right, anyway. Of course, there isn't anything you can do to help Mrs. Quack, but as I told you in the beginning, what you can't do others can. Now I don't say that I can help Mrs. Quack, but I can try. I believe I'll do a little thinking myself."

So Sammy Jay in his turn went into a brown study, and Peter watched him anxiously and a little hopefully.