Mrs. Peter Rabbit by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter VII. Peter Finds Tracks
Every day is different from every other day, And always there is something new to see along the way. Peter Rabbit.
Peter Rabbit had sat still just as long as he could. He was stiff and lame and sore from the wounds made by Hooty the Owl, but his curiosity wouldn't let him sit still a minute longer. He just had to explore the Old Pasture. So with many a wry face and many an "Ouch" he limped out from the shelter of the friendly old bramble-bush and started out to see what the Old Pasture was like.
Now Hooty the Owl had taught Peter wisdom. With his torn clothes and his aches and smarts he couldn't very well forget to be careful. First he made sure that there was no danger near, and this time he took pains to look all around in the sky as well as on the ground. Then he limped out to the very patch of sweet clover where Hooty had so nearly caught him the night before.
"A good breakfast," said Peter, "will make a new Rabbit of me." You know Peter thinks a great deal of his stomach. So he began to eat as fast as he could, stopping every other mouthful to look and listen. "I know it's a bad habit to eat fast," said he, "but it's a whole lot worse to have an empty stomach." So he ate and ate and ate as fast as he could make his little jaws go, which is very fast indeed.
When Peter's stomach was stuffed full he gave a great sigh of relief and limped back to the friendly old bramble-bush to rest. But he couldn't sit still long, for he just had to find out all about the Old Pasture. So pretty soon he started out to explore. Such a wonderful place as it seemed to Peter! There were clumps of bushes with little open spaces between, just the nicest kind of playgrounds. Then there were funny spreading, prickly juniper-trees, which made the very safest places to crawl out of harm's way and to hide. Everywhere were paths made by cows. Very wonderful they seemed to Peter, who had never seen any like them before. He liked to follow them because they led to all kinds of queer places.
Sometimes he would come to places where tall trees made him think of the Green Forest, only there were never more than a few trees together. Once he found an old tumble-down stone wall all covered with vines, and he shouted right out with delight.
"It's a regular castle!" cried Peter, and he knew that there he would be safe from every one but Shadow the Weasel. But he never was wholly safe from Shadow the Weasel anywhere, so he didn't let that thought worry him. By and by he came to a wet place called a swamp. The ground was soft, and there were little pools of water. Great ferns grew here just as they did along the bank of the Laughing Brook, only more of them. There were pretty birch-trees and wild cherry-trees. It was still and dark and oh, so peaceful! Peter liked that place and sat down under a big fern to rest. He didn't hear a sound excepting the beautiful silvery voice of Veery the Thrush. Listening to it, Peter fell asleep, for he was very tired.
By and by Peter awoke. For a minute he couldn't think where he was. Then he remembered. But for a long time he sat perfectly still, thinking of his adventures and wondering if he would be missed down on the Green Meadows. Then all of a sudden Peter saw something that made him sit up so suddenly that he cried "Ouch!" for he had forgotten all about how stiff and sore he was.
What do you think Peter saw? Tracks! Yes, Sir, he saw tracks, Rabbit tracks in the soft mud, and Peter knew that he hadn't made them!