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FOOLING TOM WILDCAT
Now it so happened that Jack Rabbit came over for an early breakfast of tender blue grass, and he met Doctor Rabbit just at the edge of the woods. Doctor Rabbit was certainly glad of this, because it was pretty dangerous for him to go far out on the Wide Prairie.

Of course Jack Rabbit was very much alarmed when Doctor Rabbit told him Tom Wildcat had planned to eat him.

“My goodness!” was all poor Jack Rabbit could say.

“Now listen!” Doctor Rabbit said. “I’ve a little scheme.” And then to make very sure that no one else heard, he went up close to Jack Rabbit and whispered in his ear for a time. Then they both laughed and danced a jig.

[Pg 20]“Doctor Rabbit, you’re surely the smartest rabbit that ever was!” Jack Rabbit complimented his good friend.

Doctor Rabbit said they would have to hurry now, and they went straight to the big sycamore tree where Jack Rabbit generally lay down to sun himself.

There was a deep, wide hole under this tree, that Farmer Roe’s boy had dug for a playhouse a good while ago. Doctor Rabbit and his friend Jack Rabbit began gathering long, slim, dead sticks and laying them across this hole. All the time they kept laughing to themselves. The sticks were pretty rotten, and when they had a whole lot of them laid across the hole they covered them all over with dead leaves and grass. When they had finished, it looked as if there never had been any hole at all.

They then went to several rabbit nests[Pg 21] Jack Rabbit knew about, and got a lot of rabbit fur. They took this fur and made it into a good-sized, long body. This done, they went up near Farmer Roe’s house and got a pair of jack rabbit’s ears that the farmer’s boy had thrown away. They belonged to a rabbit that had been unfortunate. They brought these ears down to the big tree and fixed them on the fur body they had made. Then Doctor Rabbit—because he was lighter than big Jack Rabbit—walked very, very carefully out on the leaves and sticks over the hole and laid down that make-believe jack rabbit.

Well, sir, you would have been surprised to see how much that did look like the real Jack Rabbit lying there. Doctor Rabbit said he really had to look at Jack Rabbit to make sure it wasn’t he. Then they both laughed a great deal, they[Pg 22] were so glad they had thought of this plan. But it was getting close to noon, and they hurried away and hid in a briar patch, where they could watch.

Doctor Rabbit and his friend Jack did not have to wait long. Suddenly Doctor Rabbit poked Jack Rabbit and told him to keep very still. They both looked. There was Tom Wildcat, creeping through the woods. He was coming very, very cautiously and looking straight toward the tree where Jack Rabbit took his nap. When he got a little closer he crouched down almost flat to the ground. He jerked his tail from side to side and began creeping up more cautiously than ever, because he thought he saw Jack Rabbit lying there sound asleep.

Well, it surely was funny to see how badly slinky Tom was being fooled, and Doctor Rabbit and cheery Jack Rabbit[Pg 23] could scarcely keep from laughing; but of course they didn’t dare make a sound. Tom Wildcat would creep and crawl and stop and watch, then creep and crawl and stop and watch again, until finally he got right behind the tree. Then he crawled up the tree ever so carefully, from behind. Presently he was up to the long limb. Here he stopped and looked down and grinned, and looked as pleased as could be, and then he went crawling out on that limb, slowly and cautiously, until he was right over what he thought was Jack Rabbit.


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