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TOM WILDCAT HAS AN ACCIDENT
When Tom Wildcat had crawled out on the limb and got to the place from which he thought it would be best to jump, he stood up and grinned ever so broadly at what he considered his good fortune. Then down he jumped, and crash! he went right through those rotten sticks and into that deep hole!

Then Doctor Rabbit and Jack Rabbit ran out of the briar patch, and shouted and laughed and laughed. By and by Doctor Rabbit crept up to the hole and looked down on Tom Wildcat.

“Why, how do you do, Friend Tom? You must be digging a well to-day!” Doctor Rabbit said, as if he meant it.

Then Jack Rabbit came up to the hole[Pg 25] and looked down, and said, “Well, well, our friend, Tom Wildcat! This is a pleasant day, isn’t it, Tom? You seem to be making a dinner of rabbit fur; I notice you have a good deal down there!”

Tom ground his sharp teeth in anger and glared up at Doctor Rabbit and Jack Rabbit. Then suddenly he thought that if he acted pleasant, he might deceive them, and get out. He smiled up as politely as anybody, and said, “Oh, I can get out easily, if I want to, but I’ll always be the best of friends with you if you will just drop down that small log that I noticed up there by the tree. The fact is, I rather enjoy the joke; but now that we’ve had a good time, I know you won’t mind slipping that log down end first. Then we can fix this hole up again, and play a good joke on some of our other friends.” And Tom Wildcat smiled[Pg 26] and looked so pleasant that it seemed as if he were as kind and good as anybody.

But Doctor Rabbit and Jack Rabbit just chuckled to themselves, and Doctor Rabbit said, “Oh, we won’t trouble ourselves with getting you the log, Smarty Wildcat. You can get out easily, if you want to!”

Then Doctor Rabbit and jolly Jack Rabbit both laughed right out loud, and Jack Rabbit said cheerfully, “No, Tom, we won’t bother about that log, because you can get out so easily if you want to!”

“Yes, of course he can!” laughed Doctor Rabbit. “Well, I hope you enjoy your juicy dinner of rabbit fur, Tom. You have a lot of it down there. Ha, ha, ha! Good day, Thomas!” And away went Doctor Rabbit and his friend Jack Rabbit to tell all their little woods[Pg 27] neighbors about getting Tom Wildcat into a deep hole where he could not get out.

In a short time everyone knew what had happened, and that afternoon Tom Wildcat found out what all the little creatures of the Big Green Woods thought of him. When Blue Jay and Jenny Jay heard of it, they flew straight to the limb over Tom’s head and scolded him to their hearts’ content. “He’s a thief and a robber. He ate my eggs, and I hate him! I’ll peck his eyes out!” Jenny Jay shouted.

“I hate him, too!” Chatty Red Squirrel barked out angrily from a limb overhead. “He’s as mean as he can be! I hate him! I hate him!”

Cheepy Chipmunk frisked up to the hole and away again, because he was afraid even to look at Tom Wildcat.[Pg 28] But all the time he was frisking back and forth, saucy Cheepy scolded as hard as he could. Stubby Woodchuck sat on a near-by stump and poured forth his scorn for Tom Wildcat. Jim Crow and Robin-the-Red threatened from the tree where they were perched, and all afternoon the little creatures of the Big Green Woods nagged old Tom and told him he was the ugliest and meanest person that ever lived.

After a while there were so many little creatures around the hole and in the tree over it, all scolding at the same time, that Tom Wildcat was about deafened with the noise. He put his paws over his ears and ground his teeth in rage. Now and then Stubby Woodchuck slipped up to the hole and pushed a clod in on Tom’s head, and then everyone shouted for joy. But once or twice Tom Wildcat[Pg 29] jumped so high he nearly jumped out, and that scared everyone dreadfully.

After he sprang as high as he could and found he could not get out, he sat down in that hole and just growled and growled. The little creatures thought they had better be going then. For, even if Tom Wildcat was down in that hole, he might get out. And his growls! They were terrible; so they all scampered away.


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