Mrs. Peter Rabbit by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter XXV. Peter Rabbit's Heedlessness
Heedlessness is just the twin of thoughtlessness, you know, And where you find them both at once, there trouble's sure to grow. Peter Rabbit.
Peter Rabbit didn't mean to be heedless. No, indeed! Oh, my, no! Peter thought so much of Mrs. Peter, he meant to be so thoughtful that she never would have a thing to worry about. But Peter was heedless. He always was heedless. This is the worst of a bad habit--you can try to let go of it, but it won't let go of you.
So it was with Peter. He had been heedless so long that now he actually didn't know when he was heedless.
When there was nobody but himself to think about, and no one to worry about him, his heedlessness didn't so much matter. If anything had happened to him then, there would have been no one to suffer. But now all this was changed. You see, there was little Mrs. Peter. At first Peter had been perfectly content to stay with her in the dear Old Briar- patch. He had led her through all his private little paths, and they had planned where they would make two or three more. He had showed her all his secret hiding-places and the shortest way to the sweet-clover patch. He had pointed out where the Lone Little Path came down to the edge of the Green Forest and so out on to the Green Meadows. He had shown her where the Crooked Little Path came down the hill. Little Mrs. Peter had been delighted with everything, and not once had she complained of being homesick for the Old Pasture.
But after a little while Peter began to get uneasy. You see in the days before Old Man Coyote had come to live on the Green Meadows, Peter had come and gone about as he pleased. Of course he had had to watch out for Granny and Reddy Fox, but he had had to watch out for them ever since he was a baby, so he didn't fear them very much in spite of their smartness. He felt quite as smart as they and perhaps a little bit smarter. Anyway, they never had caught him, and he didn't believe they ever would. So he had come and gone as he pleased, and poked his nose into everybody's business, and gossiped with everybody.
Of course it was quite natural that Peter should want to call on all his old friends and visit the Green Forest, the Old Orchard, the Laughing Brook, and the Smiling Pool. Probably Mrs. Peter wouldn't have worried very much if it hadn't been for the warning left by Danny Meadow Mouse.
Danny had said that Old Man Coyote was more to be feared than all the Hawk family and all the Fox family together, because he was smarter and slyer than any of them. At first Peter had looked very serious, but after Danny had gone back to his own home Peter had laughed at Danny for being so afraid, and he began to go farther and farther away from the safe Old Briar-patch.
One day he had ventured as far as halfway up the Crooked Little Path. He was thinking so hard of a surprise he was planning for little Mrs. Peter that he forgot to watch out and almost ran into Old Man Coyote before he saw him. There was a hungry look, such a hungry look in Old Man Coyote's eyes as he grinned and said "Good morning" that Peter didn't even stop to be polite. He remembered that Jimmy Skunk's old house was near, and he reached it just one jump ahead of Old Man Coyote.
"I thought you said that we were friends," panted Peter, as he heard Mr. Coyote sniffing at the doorway.
"So we were until I had paid my debt to you. Now that I've paid that, we are even, and it is everybody watch out for himself," replied Old Man Coyote. "But don't forget that I always pay my debts, Peter Rabbit."