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A BIG SURPRISE
All the little creatures surely were glad that Tom Wildcat had fallen down into the deep hole. They held a big meeting that night in Doctor Rabbit’s front yard, and talked the matter over. While they talked, however, Doctor Rabbit sent Jack Rabbit to a place near the hole, “because,” Doctor Rabbit said to his friends, “old Thomas is mighty cunning, and he might manage somehow to get out. And if he should happen to scramble out—well, he’d be pretty angry, and pretty hungry, too.”

“Indeed he would!” gasped Stubby Woodchuck in a frightened whisper. “I believe I’ll go home this very minute!” And he did, as fast as his short legs would carry him.

[Pg 31]“I think it’s about time I was in bed,” Cheepy Chipmunk said, and away he scampered to his stump.

That broke up the meeting, and every one of them hurried to his home. Pretty soon Jack Rabbit came hopping back to report to Doctor Rabbit. “He’s still in the hole,” Jack Rabbit said. “I don’t think he can get out. I have a long way to go before I reach home, and I guess I’d better be going. I told Mrs. Jack Rabbit I wouldn’t be out late. I’ll see you in the morning, Doctor.” And with that Jack Rabbit started off on a run, and went like a streak through the woods toward the Wide Prairie.

The next morning, a little after daylight, Doctor Rabbit was awakened by the loud, harsh cries of Blue Jay, just outside the upstairs window.

Doctor Rabbit hurried out.

[Pg 32]“He’s out and he’s gone!” Blue Jay shouted. “Tom Wildcat is out of that hole! I just came from there this minute!”

“He is?” Doctor Rabbit exclaimed in a frightened voice.

“Yes, sir, he is!” Blue Jay replied, all in a flutter of excitement.

Doctor Rabbit scratched his head in wonder. “I was just a little afraid of that,” he said half to himself, “because old Tom is certainly cunning; but I wonder how he got out.”

“Well,” said Blue Jay, “I looked into that hole pretty close, and I saw just how he managed it. He dug two holes in one side, where there were some small roots. Then he dug two more holes a little higher up. And then he dug two more a little higher up, and then he crawled up a little and dug two more[Pg 33] holes, and so on till he got to the top. There was a good deal of loose dirt in the hole, and I’ve an idea that Tom must have fallen back quite a number of times before he finally reached the top. He must have had a mighty hard time of it. As like as not he had to work most of the night.”


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