Watch Your Step, Peter Rabbit!
(Copyright, 1920, by Thornton W. Burgess. All rights reserved)
“Watch your step, Peter Rabbit! Watch your step!” shouted Happy Jack Squirrel excitedly as he leaned down from a branch of a hickory-tree and jerked his tail as if he were trying to break it off.
Peter Rabbit stopped short and sat up with a most surprised look on his face. “Why should I watch my step?” he demanded, and stared all about him to see what could have so excited Happy Jack. “Why should I watch my step? What ails you anyway, Happy Jack Squirrel?”
Seeing that Peter had stopped, Happy Jack gave a little sigh. “Thank goodness,” said lie, “you didn’t do it.”
NOTE TO EDITOR: The following: copyrighted story was written by Thornton W. Burgess of Springfield, Mass., well known author of children’s stories, as his contribution toward the success of the Work and Save movement of the Savings Division of the Treasury Department.
It was written for the Savings Division exclusively and may be published or used in any manner deemed fitting for the advancement of the Treasury campaign to make thrift, saving and safe investment a natiunal habit now and among coming generations, provided proper credit is given.
Government Loan Organization.
120 Broadway, New York City.
“Didn’t do what?” demanded Peter looking more puzzled than ever.
“Didn t step on that little tree I planted for my great-great-ever-so-great grandchildren,” replied I lappy Jack promptly. “If you had stepped on it I’m afraid that would have been the end of it. This is a queer world. No matter how thrifty a person may be, the carelessness of someone else may make that thrift useless.”
While Happy Jack was talking Peter Rabbit had continued to stare about him more puzzled than ever. “I don’t see any tree that I could possibly step on,” said he, “Arc you crazy, Happy Jack?”
“No, I’m not crazy,” retorted Happy Jack. “Look right down in front of you under your nose. Do you see that little green plant coming up through the dead leaves ?”
Peter looked down and nodded. “Yes,” said he, “I see it. What of it?”
“That’s a young hickory-tree,” declared Happy Jack, “I planted a hickory-nut there last fall. I planted it for my great-great-ever-so-great grandchildren. Some day, if careless people like you don’t step on it, that will be a big tree like the one I am sitting in, which was planted by my own great-great-ever-so-great grandfather.
Peter turned up his wobbly little nose scornfully. “Do you mean to tell me, Happy Jack Squirrel, that you are worrying about a tree that you won’t live to see grow up, and from which you won’t get so much as one lonesome nut?” he demanded.
“Didn’t I just tell you that it is my great-great-everso-great grandchildren I am thinking about?” retorted Happy Jack sharply. “The trouble with you thriftless people is that you never look ahead. You think only of the present, and that is pure selfishness. You don’t give a thonght to those who come after you. You think only of yourself, and your children and their children will have to scrabble for a living and take what they can find. My great-great-ever-so-great grandfather planted this very tree I am sitting in and a lot of others that I and my family might be sure of having plenty to eat. My grandfather and my father planted trees, and each fall I do the same thing. That sort of thing is thrift, Peter Rabbit.”
Again Peter Rabbit scratched a long ear with a long hindfoot and the puzzled look returned to his face. “I thought,” said he, “that thrift is just saving things.”
“That is one kind of thrift. That is, it is if the things saved are to be used later,” replied Happy Jack. “Rut the best kind of thrift is saving a thing and then putting it where it will increase. That is an investment. I saved that nut last fall and planted it. Already it has begun to grow, and some day there will be thousands of sweet hickory-nuts from just that one. That is, there will if you don’t step on it.”
“I won’t,” interrupted Peter hastily, and backed away a little farther.
“That nut was an in-vest-ment,” added Happy Jack.
“In-vest-ment,” repeated Peter rolling his tongue around the big word as if he enjoyed it. “In-vestment. I never have known the meaning of that word until now.”
“Probably you never heard it before,” said Happy Jack drily.
“I have too heard it before,” retorted Peter. “I heard it this Morning. Farmer Brown’s boy was over by the dear Old Briar-patch and I heard him tell another boy that Thrift Stamps, whatever they are, are the best in-vest-ment in the world for boys and girls, and that he hoped that every boy and girl in the whole country would buy at least one during every week. He said they ought to for their own good and the good of their country. I don’t know anything about Thrift Stamps, but if they are an in-vest-ment it must be that they grow. Anyway, Farmer Brown’s boy was terribly in earnest.”
Happy Jack Squirrel chuckled happily. “Of course they must grow,” said he. “For myself I prefer hickory-nuts, but probably that’s because I am a Squirrel. So there are Thrift Stamps. That is the best news I’ve heard for a long time. If they keep on some day these humans will be as wise as a Squirrel. Thrift Stamps! That’s great! I hope every boy and girl will buy a Thrift Stamp. Well, I can’t stop to gossip any longer. So long, Peter. And for goodness sake do watch your step!”
BUY W. S. S.