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"Come right in!" Mrs. Rabbit said. "It's Jimmy! I want you to look at him. He wouldn't eat any dinner, and his cheeks stick out very queerly."
Old Aunt Polly gave Jimmy a sharp pinch on one of his puffed-out cheeks.
"Ouch!" he said.
"Did that hurt?" Aunt Polly asked him.
"Yessum!" he answered.
"Hm--I thought so!" she said. You see, Aunt Polly was a good doctor. She generally knew what was what.
Then she reached into her basket and drew out a green apple, and gave it to Jimmy Rabbit.
"Here!" she said. "Take a big bite!"
Jimmy did just as she told him to. And then he cried "Ouch!" again.
"Did it hurt?" she asked him.
"Yessum!" he said.
"I thought so!" Aunt Polly replied. And turning to Mrs. Rabbit, she said, "This boy has mumps."
"You don't say so!" Mrs. Rabbit exclaimed.
"I do, indeed!" Aunt Polly declared. "Give him a cup of catnip tea and put him to bed. And let him have a hot-water bottle at his feet. And if everything isn't all right, just send for me again." So she went away.
And Jimmy went to bed.
He kept his mother busy for a few days, for he was always asking her to fill his hot-water bottle with hotter water. But she was glad to do that for him. And she was pleased to see that he was improving.
Then one day Mrs. Rabbit discovered that the hot-water bottle was full of small holes. The water ran out of it almost as fast as she poured it in.
Mrs. Rabbit was surprised. She was worried, too, for it was no easy matter to get a new hot-water bottle where she lived.
"Aunt Polly said to send for her again if everything wasn't all right,"
she said to Mr. Rabbit. "So you'd better go and tell her to come over at once."
[Ill.u.s.tration: 20 A Queer Cure]
A Queer Cure
When that famous doctor, Aunt Polly Woodchuck, reached Mrs. Rabbit's house, she said:
"Is Jimmy worse? He ought to be almost well by this time; for mumps don't last long, as a rule."
"It isn't Jimmy," Mrs. Rabbit told her. "It's the hot-water bottle! I find that it's full of holes; and I can't think how they came there."
Aunt Polly put on another pair of spectacles.
"Let me see it!" she said. "Aha!" she exclaimed, as she looked at the hot-water bottle closely. "I thought so!" she said.
"What is it?" Mrs. Rabbit inquired. "I hope it's nothing catching. For just think what a fix we'd be in if all the children should have that same trouble!"
Aunt Polly told her not to worry.
"You'd better get a new bottle," she said, "for this one can't be cured.
But I'll show you what to do to prevent the new hot-water bottle from getting full of holes like this one.... Get me a piece of string!" said Aunt Polly.
Now, for some reason or other, Jimmy Rabbit began to feel very uncomfortable. He was no longer in bed. And when he heard Aunt Polly ask for a piece of string he started to sneak out of the room.
But Aunt Polly saw him.
"Come back here!" she said. "I want you!" And she made Jimmy sit at her feet and wait until his mother returned.
"Here!" Mrs. Rabbit said when she came back at last. "Is this string what you need? It's a very strong piece."
"Just the thing!" Aunt Polly told her. And she took hold of Jimmy Rabbit.
He began to howl. And he squirmed. And he would have kicked, if he had dared.
Aunt Polly Woodchuck did a strange thing then. She hung the hot-water bottle from Jimmy's neck.
"There!" she said. "Just let him wear that for a few days! I don't think you'll have any more trouble with holes in hot-water bottles."
"Have you known cases like this before?" Mrs. Rabbit asked her.
"A few!" said Aunt Polly. "And this is by far the best way to treat them. I've never known it to fail."
"It seems to me it's rather hard on Jimmy," Mrs. Rabbit said.
"Don't you worry about him!" Aunt Polly told her. "It will do him a world of good."
Jimmy Rabbit hung his head. He hated to have that hot-water bottle dangling from his neck. And he made up his mind that he would never p.r.i.c.k another pin-hole in anything else so long as he lived.
But he was glad of one thing. He was glad Aunt Polly hadn't told his mother what he had done.
[Ill.u.s.tration: The End]