Chapter XII. Peter Learns Something From Tommy Tit
 
 When you find a friend in trouble
   Pass along a word of cheer.
 Often it is very helpful
   Just to feel a friend is near.
                              Peter Rabbit.

"Hello, Peter Rabbit! What are you doing way up here, and what are you looking so mournful about?"

Peter gave a great start of pleased surprise. That was the first friendly voice he had heard for days and days.

"Hello yourself, Tommy Tit!" shouted Peter joyously. "My, my, my, but I am glad to see you! But what are you doing up here in the Old Pasture yourself?"

Tommy Tit the Chickadee hung head down from the tip of a slender branch of a maple-tree and winked a saucy bright eye at Peter. "I've got a secret up here," he said.

Now there is nothing in the world Peter Rabbit loves more than a secret. But he cannot keep one to save him. No, Sir, Peter Rabbit can no more keep a secret than he can fly. He means to. His intentions are the very best in the world, but--

Alas! alack! poor Peter's tongue is very, very loosely hung. And so, because he must talk and will talk every chance he gets, he cannot keep a secret. People who talk too much never can.

"What is your secret?" asked Peter eagerly.

Tommy Tit looked down at Peter, and his sharp little eyes twinkled. "It's a nest with six of the dearest little babies in the world in it," he replied.

"Oh, how lovely!" cried Peter. "Where is it, Tommy Tit?"

"In a hollow birch-stub," replied Tommy, his eyes twinkling more than ever.

"But where is the hollow birch-stub?" persisted Peter.

Tommy laughed. "That's my real secret," said he, "and if I should tell you it wouldn't be a secret at all. Now tell me what you are doing up here in the Old Pasture, Peter Rabbit."

Peter saw that it was of no use to tease Tommy Tit for his secret, so instead he poured out all his own troubles. He told how lonesome he had been in the dear Old Briar-patch on the Green Meadows because he didn't dare to go about for fear of Old Man Coyote, and how at last he had decided to visit the Old Pasture. He told how Hooty the Owl had nearly caught him on his way, and then how, ever since his arrival, he had been hunted by the big, gray, old Rabbit so that he could neither eat nor sleep and had become so miserable that at last he had made up his mind to go back to the dear Old Briar-patch.

"Ho!" interrupted Tommy Tit, "I know him. He's Old Jed Thumper, the oldest, biggest, crossest Rabbit anywhere around. He's lived in the Old Pasture so long that he thinks he owns it. It's a wonder that he hasn't killed you."

"I guess perhaps he would have only I can run faster than he can," replied Peter, looking a little shamefaced because he had to own up that he ran away instead of fighting.

Tommy Tit laughed. "That's the very wisest thing you could have done," said he. "But why don't you go back to the dear Old Briar-patch in the Green Meadows?"

Peter hesitated and looked a wee bit foolish. Finally he told Tommy Tit all about the two soft, gentle eyes he had seen peeping at him from behind a big fern, and how he wanted to know who the eyes belonged to.

"If that's all you want to know, I can tell you," said Tommy Tit, jumping out into the air to catch a foolish little bug who tried to fly past. "Those eyes belong to little Miss Fuzzy-tail, and she's the favorite daughter of Old Jed Thumper. You take my advice, Peter Rabbit, and trot along home to the Old Briar-patch before you get into any more trouble. There's my wife calling. Yes, my dear, I'm coming! Chickadee- dee-dee!"

And with a wink and a nod to Peter Rabbit, off flew Tommy Tit.