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Chapter 14

XIV. BOBBY FINDS OUT HIS MISTAKE

If friend of yours a mistake makes

Nor yet has found it out,

I pray that when at last he does

You will not be about.


IT is bad enough to find out for yourself that you have made a mistake, but to have other people know it makes you feel a great deal worse. So the kindest thing that any one can do when they know a friend has made a mistake and it is too late to warn them, is to appear not to know of it at all. So it wasn't nice at all of Peter Rabbit to hang around watching that old hollow log into which Bobby Coon had crawled for a nap.

Presently Peter's long ears caught sounds from inside that hollow log. First there was a rattling and rustling. Then came a series of grunts and squeaks. These were followed by growls and snarls. The latter were from Bobby Coon. He was insisting that he was going to stay right where he was and wouldn't move an inch for any one. Peter clapped one hand over his mouth to keep from laughing aloud when he heard that, and he fastened his eyes, very big and round with expectation, on the opening in the end of the hollow log. You see, Peter knew all about that log and who lived there. That is what he had tried to tell Bobby Coon. He could hear Bobby declaring:

"I won't move a step, not a single step. You can stay right where you are until I finish my nap. If you come any nearer, I'll—"

Peter didn't hear the rest, if indeed Bobby finished what he had started to say. You see, Bobby was interrupted by a great rattling and rustling and a grunt that sounded both angry and very business-like. Once more Bobby growled and snarled and declared he wouldn't move a step, but Peter noticed that Bobby's voice seemed to come from nearer the open end of the log than before. Again there was a grunt and a rattling and rustling.

Then out of the end of the old log backed Bobby Coon, still growling and snarling and declaring he wouldn't move a step. It was too funny for Peter to hold in any longer. He had to laugh. He couldn't help it. Then the black nose and little dull eyes of Prickly Porky the Porcupine appeared. In each of those little dull eyes there was just a wee spark of anger which made them less dull than usual. It was plain that Prickly Porky was provoked.

As soon as he was outside, he made the thousand little spears which he carries hidden in his coat stand on end, and made a quick little rush towards Bobby Coon. Bobby turned tail and ran. The sight of those sharp-pointed little spears was too much for him. He was afraid of them. Everybody is afraid of them, even big Buster Bear. It was these little spears brushing against the inside of the old log that had made the rattling and rustling Peter had heard.

"The impudence of that Coon to walk into my house and go to sleep without so much as asking if he might, and then telling me that I can't come out until he says so! The impudence of him!" grunted Prickly Porky, rattling his thousand little spears.

As for Bobby Coon, he realized now the great mistake he had made in not first finding out whether any one was at home in that old log before trying to take a nap there. It mortified him to think he had been so careless as to make such a mistake, and it mortified him still more to know that Peter Rabbit had seen all that had happened.

Thornton W. Burgess

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