Mrs. Peter Rabbit by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter III. Hooty the Owl Changes His Hunting Grounds
A full stomach makes a pleasant Day; An empty stomach turns the whole world gray. Peter Rabbit.
Hooty the owl sat on the tip-top of a tall dead tree in the Green Forest while the Black Shadows crept swiftly among the trees. He was talking to himself. It wouldn't have done for him to have spoken aloud what he was saying to himself, for then the little people in feathers and fur on whom he likes to make his dinner would have heard him and known just where he was. So he said it to himself, and sat so still that he looked for all the world like a part of the tree on which he was sitting. What he was saying was this:
"Towhit, towhoo! Towhit, towhoo! Will some one tell me what to do? My children have an appetite That keeps me hunting all the night, And though their stomachs I may stuff They never seem to have enough. Towhit, towhoo! Towhit, towhoo! Will some one tell me what to do?"
When it was dark enough he gave his fierce hunting call--"Whooo-hoo- hoo, whoo-hoo!"
Now that is a terrible sound in the dark woods, very terrible indeed to the little forest people, because it sounds so fierce and hungry. It makes them jump and shiver, and that is just what Hooty wants them to do, for in doing it one of them is likely to make just the least scratching with his claws, or to rustle a leaf. If he does, Hooty, whose ears are very, very wonderful, is almost sure to hear, and with his great yellow eyes see him, and then--Hooty has his dinner.
The very night when Peter Rabbit started on his journey to the Old Pasture, Hooty the Owl had made up his mind that something had got to be done to get more food for those hungry babies of his up in the big hemlock-tree in the darkest corner of the Green Forest. Hunting was very poor, very poor indeed, and Hooty was at his wits' end to know what he should do. He had hooted and hooted in vain in the Green Forest, and he had sailed back and forth over the Green Meadows like a great black shadow without seeing so much as a single Mouse.
"It's all because of Old Man Coyote and Granny and Reddy Fox," said Hooty angrily. "They've spoiled the hunting. Yes, Sir, that's just what they have done! If I expect to feed those hungry babies of mine, I must find new hunting grounds. I believe I'll go up to the Old Pasture. Perhaps I'll have better luck up there."
So Hooty the Owl spread his broad wings and started for the Old Pasture just a little while after Peter Rabbit had started for the same place. Of course he didn't know that Peter was on his way there, and of course Peter didn't know that Hooty even thought of the Old Pasture. If he had, perhaps he would have thought twice before starting. Anyway, he would have kept a sharper watch on the sky. But as it was his thoughts were all of Old Man Coyote and Granny Fox, and that is where Peter made a very grave mistake, a very grave mistake indeed, as he was soon to find out.