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Chapter 21


THE very instant Buster Bear started after Peter Rabbit, down from that tree scrambled Bobby Coon. Never in all his life had he scrambled down a tree faster. He knew that Buster would not follow Peter far, and so he, Bobby, had no time to lose. He would get just as far from that place as he could before Buster should return.

So while Peter Rabbit was running, lipperty-lipperty-lip, in one direction as fast as ever he could, Bobby Coon was running in the opposite direction, and his black feet were moving astonishingly fast. He didn't know where he was going, but he was on his way somewhere, anywhere, to get out of the neighborhood of Buster Bear. So Bobby took little heed of where he was going, but ran until he was too tired to run any more. His heart was beating thumpity-thump-thump, thumpity-thump-thump, and he was breathing so hard that every breath was a gasp and hurt. He just had to stop. He couldn't run another step.

After awhile Bobby's heart stopped going thumpity-thumpity-thump, and he once more breathed easily. He knew that he had escaped. He was safe. He sighed, and that sigh was a happy little sigh. Then he grinned. He was thinking of how hard he had tried to get a chance to sleep that day, and how every time he thought he had found a bed, he had been turned out of it almost as soon as he had closed his eyes. Bobby has a sense of fun, and now he saw the funny side of all his experiences.

"There is one thing sure, and that is being without a home is a more serious matter than I thought it was," said he. "I thought it would be easy enough to find a place to sleep when I wanted to, but I've begun to think that it is about the hardest thing I've ever tried to do. Here I am in a strange part of the Green Forest and homeless. There's no use in going back where I used to live, so I may as well look around here and see what I can find. Perhaps there is an empty house somewhere near. Most anything will do for awhile."

So Bobby began to look about for an empty house. Now, of course, he had in mind a hollow tree or log. He always had lived in a hollow tree, and so he preferred one now. But he soon found that hollow trees were few and far between in that part of the Green Forest, and those he did find didn't have hollows big enough for him. The same thing was true of hollow logs. He was getting discouraged when he came to a ledge of rock which was the foundation of a little hill deep in the Green Forest.

In this ledge of rock Bobby discovered a crack big enough for him to squeeze into. Just out of curiosity he did squeeze into it, and then he discovered that after a little it grew wider and formed the snuggest little cave he ever had seen. It was very dry and comfortable in there. All in a flash it came to Bobby that the only thing needed to make this the snuggest kind of a house was a bed of dry leaves, and these were easy to get. Bobby's eyes danced.

"I've found my new home," he declared out loud. "It can't be cut down as my old home was; Buster Bear can't tear it open with his great claws; no one bigger than I can get into it. It's the safest and best house in all the Green Forest, and I'm going to stay right here."

Right then and there Bobby Coon curled up for that sleep he so much needed.

Thornton W. Burgess

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