An Unexpected Party





Nimble's mother's plans went all awry. She had expected to give her son

a treat by taking him quietly to Farmer Green's carrot patch, so that

he might have his first taste of carrots. So it wasn't strange that it

upset her a bit when she found that there were dozens of other forest

folk all ready and waiting to go along with them. One extra member of

the party wouldn't have displeased her, especially when that one was

Jimmy Rabbit. But she had never gone near the farm buildings with more

than two others. And she didn't intend to break her rule now.



Besides, it annoyed her above all to know that her son had spread the

news of the excursion far and wide.



"Did you invite these people?" she asked Nimble in a low voice.



"No! Oh, no!"



"Then what brings them here?" she demanded.



"Their legs, I suppose," he replied.



"Be careful!" she said. "Be very careful!"



Then Nimble began to whine. And that was something he almost never did.



"They said they'd like to come," he told his mother. "And I said maybe

you wouldn't mind."



"Well, I do mind," she declared firmly. "When I take a child to the

carrot patch for the first time I don't want company. One of this crowd

is more than likely to rouse old dog Spot. And we can't have him

ranging around while we're dining."



"Then tell everybody to go home!" Nimble suggested. "Tell them to go

'way!"



"No!" said his mother. "That wouldn't be polite."



She was silent for a few moments. And then she explained to Jimmy Rabbit

and to the owners of the pairs of eyes that still stared at her out of

the darkness. She explained that on account of an unexpected party she

wasn't going to the carrot patch that night.



"When are you going?" asked the owner of one pair of specially bright

eyes.



"Ha!" Nimble's mother exclaimed. "Is that Cuffy Bear speaking?"



"Yessum!" said the same voice.



"I fear," she told him, "I may not be able to go for a long time."



"Never mind!" Cuffy cried. "I can go any night--that is, until I den up

for the winter."



And every one in the company declared that he hadn't a single engagement

that would prevent him from visiting the garden whenever Nimble's mother

should say the word.



"Well," said she, "it won't be to-night, anyhow." And with that she

turned around and began to walk along the runway again, away from the

pasture fence.



As Nimble followed her Jimmy Rabbit skipped alongside him and whispered

in his ear.



"Don't fail to let me know when the time comes!"



But Nimble said never a word. Somehow he suspected that he had made a

great mistake.



He knew he had, a little later.





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