Mrs. Peter Rabbit by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter XIX. Old Man Coyote Pays a Debt
Some little seeds of goodness You'll find in every heart, To sprout and keep on growing When once they get a start. Peter Rabbit.
Matters went from bad to worse with Peter Rabbit and little Miss Fuzzytail. Peter would have made up his mind to go back to his old home in the dear Old Briar-patch on the Green Meadows, but he felt that he just couldn't leave little Miss Fuzzytail, and little Miss Fuzzytail couldn't make up her mind to go with Peter, because she felt that she just couldn't leave the Old Pasture, which always had been her home. So Peter spent his days and nights ready to jump and run from Jed Thumper, the gray old Rabbit who thought he owned the Old Pasture, and who had declared that he would drive Peter out.
Now Peter, as you know, had an old friend in the Old Pasture, Tommy Tit the Chickadee. One day Tommy took it into his head to fly down to the Green Meadows. There he found everybody wondering what had become of Peter Rabbit, for you remember Peter had stolen away from the dear Old Briar-patch in the night and had told no one where he was going.
Now one of the first to ask Tommy Tit if he had seen Peter Rabbit was Old Man Coyote. Tommy told him where Peter was and of the dreadful time Peter was having, Old Man Coyote asked a lot of questions about the Old Pasture and thanked Tommy very politely as Tommy flew over to the Smiling Pool to call on Grandfather Frog and Jerry Muskrat.
That night, after jolly, round, red Mr. Sun had gone to bed behind the Purple Hills, and the Black Shadows had crept over the Green Meadows, Old Man Coyote started for the Old Pasture, Now, he had never been there before, but he had asked so many questions of Tommy Tit, and he is so smart anyway, that it didn't take him long to go all through the Old Pasture and to find the bull-briar castle of Old Jed Thumper, who was making life so miserable for Peter Rabbit, He wasn't at home, but Old Man Coyote's wonderful nose soon found his tracks, and he followed them swiftly, without making a sound. Pretty soon he came to a bramble-bush, and under it he could see Old Jed Thumper. For just a minute he chuckled, a noiseless chuckle, to himself. Then he opened his mouth and out came that terrible sound which had so frightened all the little people on the Green Meadows when Old Man Coyote had first come there to live.
"Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho! Hee, hee, hee! Ha, ho, hee, ho!"
Old Jed Thumper never had heard anything like that before. It frightened him so that before he thought what he was doing he had jumped out from under the bramble-bush. Of course this was just what Old Man Coyote wanted. In a flash he was after him, and then began such a race as the Old Pasture never had seen before. Round and round, this way and that way, along the cow paths raced Old Jed Thumper with Old Man Coyote at his heels, until at last, out of breath, so tired that it seemed to him he couldn't run another step, frightened almost out of his senses, Old Jed Thumper reached his bull-briar castle and was safe.
Then Old Man Coyote laughed his terrible laugh once more and trotted over to the tumble-down stone-wall in which his keen nose told him Peter Rabbit was hiding.
"One good turn deserves another, and I always pay my debts, Peter Rabbit" said he. "You did me a good turn some time ago down on the Green Meadows, when you told me how Granny and Reddy Fox were planning to make trouble for me by leading Bowser the Hound to the place where I took my daily nap, and now we are even. I don't think that old gray Rabbit will dare to poke so much as his nose out of his bull-briar castle for a week. Now I am going back to the Green Meadows, Good night, Peter Rabbit, and don't forget that I always pay my debts."
"Good night, and thank you, Mr. Coyote," said Peter, and then, when Old Man Coyote had gone, he added to himself in a shame-faced way: "I didn't believe him when he said that he guessed we would be friends."