Mrs. Peter Rabbit by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter XIV. Some One Fools Old Jed Thumper
You cannot judge a person's temper by his size. There is more meanness in the head of a Weasel than in the whole of a Bear. Peter Rabbit.
Old Jed Thumper sat in his bull-briar castle in the middle of the Old Pasture, scowling fiercely and muttering to himself. He was very angry, was Old Jed Thumper. He was so angry that presently he stopped muttering and began to chew rapidly on nothing at all but his temper, which is a way angry Rabbits have.
The more he chewed his temper, the angrier he grew. He was big and stout and strong and gray. He had lived so long in the Old Pasture that he felt that it belonged to him and that no other Rabbit had any right there unless he said so. Yet here was a strange Rabbit who had had the impudence to come up from the Green Meadows and refused to be driven away. Such impudence!
Of course it was Peter Rabbit of whom Old Jed Thumper was thinking. It was two days since he had caught a glimpse of Peter, but he knew that Peter was still in the Old Pasture, for he had found fresh tracks each day. That very morning he had visited his favorite feeding ground, only to find Peter's tracks there. It had made him so angry that he had lost his appetite, and he had gone straight back to his bull-briar castle to think it over. At last Old Jed Thumper stopped chewing on his temper. He scowled more fiercely than ever and stamped the ground impatiently.
"I'll hunt that fellow till I kill him, or drive him so far from the Old Pasture that he'll never think of coming back. I certainly will!" he said aloud, and started forth to hunt.
Now it would have been better for the plans of Old Jed Thumper if he had kept them to himself instead of speaking aloud. Two dainty little ears heard what he said, and two soft, gentle eyes watched him leave the bull-briar castle. He started straight for the far corner of the Old Pasture where, although he didn't know it, Peter Rabbit had found a warm little sunning-bank. But he hadn't gone far when, from way off in the opposite direction, he heard a sound that made him stop short and prick up his long ears to listen. There it was again--thump, thump! He was just going to thump back an angry reply, when he thought better of it.
"If do that," thought he, "I'll only warn him, and he'll run away, just as he has before."
So instead, he turned and hurried in the direction from which the thumps had come, taking the greatest care to make no noise. Every few jumps he would stop to listen. Twice more he heard those thumps, and each time new rage filled his heart, and for a minute or two he chewed his temper.
"He's down at my blueberry-patch," he muttered.
At last he reached the blueberry-patch. Very softly he crept to a place where he could see and not be seen. No one was there. No, Sir, no one was there! He waited and watched, and there wasn't a hair of Peter Rabbit to be seen. He was just getting ready to go look for Peter's tracks when he heard that thump, thump again. This time it came from his favorite clover-patch where he never allowed even his favorite daughter, little Miss Fuzzytail, to go. Anger nearly choked him as he hurried in that direction. But when he got there, just as before no one was to be seen.
So, all the morning long, Old Jed Thumper hurried from one place to another and never once caught sight of Peter Rabbit. Can you guess why? Well, the reason was that all the time Peter was stretched out on his warm sunning-bank getting the rest he so much needed. It was some one else who was fooling Old Jed Thumper.