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RABBIT SPOTS A FINE IDEA FOR HANDLING MOSQUITOES

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Once upon a time, when everything was summery as could be, all the forest animals had a grand time together. Everyone was always singing and dancing. Except one night something happened down at Mister Wolf's place that everyone in the forest remembers.

You see, Mister Wolf lived down in the swamp. He liked to spend time there with his sister, Miss Wolf, and with his special friend whose name was Ida. All the other creatures liked Ida too. She was so nice that all the creatures liked to visit her and spend the evenings telling stories to her. So they would go down to the swamp house and enjoy themselves immensely.Things went on this way for some time. But then the summer grew hotter and the mosquitoes began to get bad. And you know what it's like in the swamp.

So one night Mister Fox came to visit Mister Wolf's house, and he began to worry because those mosquitoes were as large as life and twice as ferocious, and they were chasing him all over the place. Pretty soon Mister Fox was chasing those mosquitoes, swatting them. But when Mister Wolf caught him doing that, he took Mister Fox by the ear and led him to the gate.

Then Mister Wolf said, "No one who can't put up with my mosquitoes is going to come to my house! No visitor is going to go about swatting them." And he sent Mister Fox away.

Then Mister Mole came by, but he hadn't been there long before he, too, began to swat at the mosquitoes, and Mister Wolf showed him the door. Then came Mister Mink. He couldn't help himself. Those mosquitoes were swarming and buzzing and biting, and soon Mister Mink was swatting and slapping at them. And Mister Wolf sent him away.

It went on this way until nearly all the animals had been down to the swamp for a grand old time, but every one of them ended up swatting at those mosquitoes. And Mister Wolf sent every one of them away. Pretty soon everyone was real sad because no one could visit Ida anymore.

When Mister Rabbit heard about the kind of treatment the others had been catching from Mister Wolf, he decided to see for himself what was what.

No sooner said than done. Off he went, and it wasn't long before he was knocking at Mister Wolf's door. Sister Wolf put down her knitting and called, "Who's there?"

Ida was primping in front of the looking glass. "My goodness," she said. "It's Mister Rabbit. I hear he's a real gentleman. I just hope Mister Wolf doesn't send him away."

Old Sister Wolf settled her cap on her head and snickered. Ida tiptoed to the door and opened it a little ways and peered out. "Why, Mister Rabbit," she said, "we were afraid it was someone who didn't have any business around here, but you're more than welcome. Please come in."

Ida dropped her handkerchief and Mister Rabbit dipped down gracefully and picked it up and passed it to her with a bow.

"Thank you so much," she said. She was charmed because Mister Wolf never did that kind of thing. Then Mister Rabbit came in for a visit.

It wasn't long before Mister Rabbit heard Mister Wolf stomping the mud off his feet on the back porch. By and by he came in. They shook hands, and Mister Rabbit said he was happy to see Mister Wolf. Mister Wolf said he was happy to see Mister Rabbit. Everyone was terribly polite.

They talked on this way until Mister Rabbit heard the mosquitoes. Those big, fat mosquitoes sailed around Mister Rabbit's head and they sang out, "Cousin! Cousin!" You see, mosquitoes claim to be family with anyone they can. And you know the mosquitoes are trying to be close to you when they start calling you cousin.

Mister Rabbit knew he couldn't swat the mosquitoes, so he thought about what he should do. First he asked for a drink of water, and when Mister Wolf gave it to him, he said politely, "Mighty nice water." The mosquitoes zoomed closer.

"Some say it's too full of wiggletails," Mister Wolf answered, and the mosquitoes zoomed in closer still.

"Mighty nice place you've got," said Mister Rabbit, and the mosquitoes buzzed and zoomed.

Mister Wolf smiled. "Some say it's too low in the swamp, Mister Rabbit," he said, and as he watched the mosquitoes soaring and dipping and zipping around, he smiled again.

Soon the mosquitoes were zooming so bad that Mister Rabbit began to get scared. But when Mister Rabbit got scared, his mind worked like a windmill. He knew he couldn't swat those mosquitoes. And soon he had a plan. First he grinned and said, "Went to town today. Saw a sight I never expected to see."

"What was that, Mister Rabbit?" asked Mister Wolf.

"Spotted horse, Mister Wolf. I most surely did."

Nobody knew quite what to say to that, but the mosquitoes zoomed and dipped and dived.

Mister Rabbit just talked faster. "It wasn't just one spotted horse, mind you. It was a whole team. And they went galloping this way and that. And not only that. My granddaddy was spotted."

Sister Wolf and Ida squealed, for they thought it sounded kind of funny. Then Ida said, "Why, Mister Rabbit! Aren't you ashamed of yourself to be talking that way? Whoever heard of a spotted grand-daddy?"

"It's the truth," said Mister Rabbit. "Yessirree, just as sure as you're sitting there, my granddaddy was spotted. All over. See, he had a great big spot right here!"

And Mister Rabbit raised his foot and slapped the side of his face where a mosquito had landed, and no sooner did he do that than another mosquito landed on his leg. But Mister Rabbit just pretended he didn't even notice the mosquitoes and said, "Poor old granddaddy. He looked so funny with all those spots. He had one on the side of his head like I showed you, and he had one right here, on the leg," and thwack! he slapped his leg.

Another mosquito zoomed in and landed between Mister Rabbit's shoulder blades. So he said, "Yep, and my granddaddy had one big black spot up here on his back," and whack! Mister Rabbit slapped himself on the back.

Mister Rabbit talked on this way, slapping here and there, until by and by old Mister Wolf and Sister Wolf began to nod off to sleep because they were tired of hearing about all of Mister Rabbit's granddaddy's spots.

But Ida liked listening to his stories, and so at last, when Mister Wolf and Sister wolf were fast asleep, Mister Rabbit stood up and chased away all those mosquitoes, slapping and swatting them as free as anything.

Then Mister Rabbit and Ida stayed up all night long chatting and laughing and swatting at those big, fat mosquitoes.

And Mister Wolf never did send Mister Rabbit away.