Mrs. Peter Rabbit by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter XXIV. Danny Meadow Mouse Warns Peter Rabbit
Good advice Is always needed But, alas! is seldom heeded, Peter Rabbit.
Danny Meadow Mouse waited until all the rest of Peter Rabbit's friends had left the Old Briar-patch after paying their respects to Peter and Mrs. Peter, He waited for two reasons, did Danny Meadow Mouse. In the first place, he had seen old Granny Fox and Reddy Fox hanging about a little way off, and though they had disappeared after a while, Danny had an idea that they were not far away, but were hiding so that they might catch him on his way home. Of course, he hadn't the slightest intention of giving them the chance. He had made up his mind to ask Peter if he might spend the night in a corner of the Old Briar-patch, and he was very sure that Peter would say he might, for he and Peter are very good friends, very good friends indeed.
The second good reason Danny had for waiting was this very friendship. You see, Peter had been away from the Green Meadows so long that Danny felt sure he couldn't know all about how things were there now, and so he wanted to warn Peter that the Green Meadows were not nearly as safe as before Old Man Coyote had come there to live. So Danny waited, and when all the rest of the callers had left he called Peter to one side where little Mrs. Peter couldn't hear. Danny stood up on his hind legs so as to whisper in one of Peter's ears.
"Do you know that Old Man Coyote is the most dangerous enemy we have, Peter Rabbit? Do you know that?" he asked.
Peter Rabbit shook his head. "I don't believe that, Danny," said he. "His terrible voice has frightened you so that you just think him as bad as he sounds. Why, Old Man Coyote is a friend of mine."
Then he told Danny how Old Man Coyote had done him a good turn In the Old Pasture in return for a good turn Peter had once done him, and how he said that he always paid his debts.
Danny Meadow Mouse looked doubtful. "What else did he say?" he demanded. "Nothing, excepting that we were even now," replied Peter.
"Ha!" said Danny Meadow Mouse.
The way he said it made Peter turn to look at him sharply.
"Ha!" said Danny again. "If you are even, why you don't owe him anything, and he doesn't owe you anything. Watch out, Peter Rabbit! Watch out! I would stick pretty close to the Old Briar-patch with Mrs. Peter if I were you. I would indeed. You used to think old Granny Fox pretty smart, but Old Man Coyote is smarter. Yes, Sir, he is smarter! And every one of the rest of us has got to be smarter than ever before to keep out of his clutches. Watch out, Peter Rabbit, if you and Old Man Coyote are even. Now, if you don't mind, I'll curl up in my old hiding- place for the night. I really don't dare go back home to-night."
Of course Peter told Danny Meadow Mouse that he was welcome to spend the night in the Old Briar-patch, and thanked Danny for his warning as he bade him good-night. But Peter never carries his troubles with him for long, and by the time he had rejoined little Mrs. Peter he was very much inclined to laugh at Danny's fear.
"What did that funny little Meadow Mouse have to say?" asked Mrs. Peter.
Peter told her and then added, "But I don't believe we have anything to fear from Old Man Coyote. You know he is my friend."
"But I don't know that he is mine!" replied little Mrs. Peter, and the way she said it made Peter look at her anxiously. "I believe Danny Meadow Mouse is right," she continued, "Oh, Peter, you will watch out, won't you?"
And Peter promised her that he would.