Chapter XVIII. Tommy Tit Proves a Friend Indeed
 
Nothing in all the world is so precious as a true friend.
                                          Peter Rabbit.

After Peter Rabbit had saved little Miss Fuzzytail from Black Pussy, the cat who belonged way down at Farmer Brown's house and had no business hunting in the Old Pasture, he went with her as near to her home as she would let him. She said that it wasn't necessary that he should go a single step, but Peter insisted that she needed him to see that no more harm came to her. Miss Fuzzytail laughed at that, for she felt quite able to take care of herself. It had been just stupid carelessness on her part that had given Black Pussy the chance to catch her, she said, and she was very sure that she never would be so careless again. What she didn't tell Peter was that she had been so busy peeping at him and admiring him that she had quite forgotten to watch out for danger for herself.

Finally she said that he could go part way with her. But when they were almost within sight of the bull-briar castle of her father, Old Jed Thumper, the big, gray Rabbit who thought he owned the Old Pasture, she made Peter turn back. You see, she was afraid of what Old Jed Thumper might do to Peter, and--well, the truth is she was afraid of what he might do to her if he should find out that she had made friends with Peter.

So Peter was forced to go back, but he took with him a half promise that she would meet him the next night up near his sunning-bank in the far corner of the Old Pasture.

After that there were many pleasant days for Peter Rabbit. Sometimes little Miss Fuzzytail would meet him, and sometimes she would shyly hide from, him, but somehow, somewhere, he managed to see her every day, and so all the time in Peter's heart was a little song:

  "The sky is blue; the leaves are green;
   The golden sunbeams peep between;
   My heart is joyful as can be,
   And all the world looks bright to me."

And then one day Old Jed Thumper found out all about how his daughter, little Miss Fuzzytail, and Peter Rabbit had become such good friends. Old Jed Thumper went into a terrible rage. He chewed and chewed with nothing in his mouth, that is, nothing but his temper, the way an angry Rabbit will. He vowed and declared that if he never ate another mouthful he would drive Peter Rabbit from the Old Pasture.

My, my, my, those were bad days for Peter Rabbit! Yes, Sir, those certainly were bad days! Old Jed Thumper had found out how little Miss Fuzzytail had been fooling him by making him think Peter was in parts of the Old Pasture in quite the opposite direction from where he really was. Worse still, he found Peter's favorite sunning-bank in the far corner of the Old Pasture and would hide near it and try to catch Peter every time Peter tried to get a few minutes' rest there. He did something worse than that.

One day he saw fierce Mr. Goshawk hunting. He let Mr. Goshawk almost catch him. and then ducked under a bramble-bush. Then he showed himself again and once more escaped in the same way. So he led fierce Mr. Goshawk to a point where Mr. Goshawk could look down and see Peter Rabbit stretched out on his sunning-bank, trying to get a little rest. Right; away Mr. Goshawk forgot all about Old Jed Thumper and sailed up in the sky from where he could swoop down on Peter, while Old Jed Thumper, chuckling to himself wickedly, hid where he could watch what would happen.

That certainly would have been the last of Peter Rabbit if it hadn't been for Tommy Tit the Chickadee. Tommy saw Mr. Goshawk and just in time warned Peter, and so Mr. Goshawk got only his claws full of soft earth for his pains, while Old Jed Thumper once more chewed on nothing in rage and disappointment. Dear me, dear me, those certainly were dreadful days for Peter Rabbit and little Miss Fuzzytail. You see, all the time little Miss Fuzzytail was terribly worried for fear Peter would be caught.