Mrs. Peter Rabbit by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter XXIX. Jimmy Skunk Visits Peter Rabbit
It's hard to keep a secret which you fairly ache to tell; So not to know such secrets is often quite as well. Peter Rabbit.
On her way home from the Old Briar-patch, Jenny Wren stopped to rest in a bush beside the Crooked Little Path that comes down the hill, when who should come along but Jimmy Skunk. Now just as usual Jenny Wren was fidgeting and fussing about, and Jimmy Skunk grinned as he watched her.
"Hello, Jenny Wren!" said he. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm resting on my way home from the Old Briar-patch, if you must know, Jimmy Skunk!" replied Jenny Wren, changing her position half a dozen times while she was speaking.
"Ho, ho, ho!" laughed Jimmy Skunk. "Do you call that resting! That's a joke, Jenny Wren. Resting! Why, you couldn't sit still and rest if you tried!"
"I could so! I'm resting right now, so there, Jimmy Skunk!" protested Jenny Wren in a very indignant tone of voice, and hopped all over the little bush while she was speaking. "I guess if you knew what I know, you'd be excited too."
"Well, I guess the quickest way for me to know is for you to tell me," replied Jimmy. "I'm just aching to be excited."
Jimmy grinned, for you know Jimmy Skunk never does get excited and never hurries, no matter what happens.
"You'll have to keep right on aching then," replied Jenny Wren, with a saucy flirt of her funny little tail. "There's great news in the Old Briar-patch, and I'm the only one that knows it, but I've promised not to tell."
Jimmy pricked up his ears. "News in the Old Briar-patch must have something to do with Peter Rabbit," said he. "What has Peter done now?"
"I'll never tell! I'll never tell!" cried Jenny Wren, growing so excited that it seemed to Jimmy as if there was danger that she would turn herself inside out. "I promised not to and I never will!" Then, for fear that she would in spite of herself, she flew on her way home.
Jimmy watched her out of sight with a puzzled frown. "If I didn't know that she gets so terribly excited over nothing, I'd think that there really is some news in the Old Briar-patch," he muttered to himself. "Anyway, I haven't anything better to do, so I believe I'll drop around that way and make Peter Rabbit a call."
He found Peter in some sweet clover just outside the Old Briar-patch, and it struck Jimmy that Peter looked uncommonly happy. He said as much.
"I am," replied Peter, before he thought. Then he added hastily, "You see, I've been uncommonly happy ever since I returned with Mrs. Peter from the Old Pasture."
"But I hear there's great news over here in the Old Briar-patch," persisted Jimmy Skunk. "What is it, Peter?"
Peter pretended to be very much surprised. "Great news!" he repeated. "Great news! Why, what news can there be over here? Who told you that?"
"A little bird told me," replied Jimmy slyly.
"It must have been Jenny Wren!" said Peter, once more speaking before he thought.
"Then there is news over here!" cried Jimmy triumphantly. "What is it, Peter?"
But Peter shook his head as if he hadn't the slightest idea and couldn't imagine. Jimmy coaxed and teased, but all in vain. Finally he started for home no wiser than before.
"Just the same, I believe that Jenny Wren told the truth and that there is news over in the Old Briar-patch," he muttered to himself. "Something has happened over there, and Peter won't tell. I wonder what it can be."