Mrs. Peter Rabbit by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter XXX. Reddy Fox Learns the Secret
Nothing that you ever do, Nothing good or nothing bad, But has effect on other folks-- Gives them pain or makes them glad. Peter Rabbit.
Of course Jenny Wren didn't mean to tell the secret of the Old Briar- patch, because she had promised Peter Rabbit that she wouldn't. But she didn't see any harm in telling every one she met that there was a secret there, at least that there was great news there, and so, because Jenny Wren is a great gossip, it wasn't long before all the little people on the Green Meadows and in the Green Forest and around the Smiling Pool had heard it and were wondering what the news could be.
After Jimmy Skunk's visit came a whole string of visitors to the Old Briar-patch. One would hardly have left before another would appear. Each one tried to act as if he had just happened around that way and didn't want to pass Peter's home without making a call, but each one asked so many questions that Peter knew what had really brought him there was the desire to find out what the news in the Old Briar-patch could be. But Peter was too smart for them, and they all went away no wiser than they came, that is, all but one, and that one was Reddy Fox.
There isn't much going on in the Green Forest or on the Green Meadows that Reddy doesn't know about. He is sly, is Reddy Fox, and his eyes are sharp and his ears are keen, so little happens that he doesn't see or hear about. Of course he heard the foolish gossip of Jenny Wren and he pricked up his ears.
"So there's news down in the Old Briar-patch, is there? A secret that Jenny Wren won't tell? I think I'll trot down there and make Peter a call. Of course he'll be glad to see me."
Reddy grinned wickedly as he said this to himself, for he knew that there was no one for whom Peter Rabbit had less love, unless it was old Granny Fox.
So Reddy trotted down to the Old Briar-patch. Peter saw him coming and scowled, for he guessed right away what Reddy was coming for, and he made ready to answer all Reddy's questions and still tell him nothing, as he had with all the others who had called.
But Reddy asked no questions. He didn't once mention the fact that he had heard there was news in the Old Briar-patch. He didn't once speak of Jenny Wren. He just talked about the weather and the Old Pasture, where Peter had made such a long visit, and all the time was as pleasant and polite as if he and Peter were the dearest of friends.
But while he was talking, Reddy was using those sharp eyes and those keen ears of his the best he knew how. But the Old Briar-patch was very thick, and he could see only a little way into it, and out of it came no sound to hint of a secret there. Then Reddy began to walk around the Old Briar-patch in quite the most matter-of-fact way, but as he walked that wonderful nose of his was testing every little breath of air that came out of the Old Briar-patch. At last he reached a certain place where a little stronger breath of air tickled his nose. He stopped for a few minutes, and slowly a smile grew and grew. Then, without saying a word, he turned and trotted back towards the Green Forest.
Peter Rabbit watched him go. Then he joined Mrs. Peter in the heart of the Old Briar-patch. "My dear," he said, with a sigh that was almost a sob, "Reddy Fox has found out our secret."
"Never mind," said little Mrs. Peter brightly. "It would have to be found out soon, anyway."
Trotting back up the Lone Little Path, Reddy Fox was grinning broadly. "It is news!" said he. "Jenny Wren was right, it is news! But I don't believe anybody else knows it yet, and I hope they won't find it out right away, least of all Old Man Coyote. What a wonderful thing a good nose is! It tells me what my eyes cannot see nor my ears hear."