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CHAPTER 4.
RUTHIE LEARNS HER LESSON

THE SUN WAS SINKING TOWARD THE HORIZON as Miz Badger led the way back to the clearing. "That's all for today," she said to her pupils. "We'll meet here tomorrow. Class dismissed."

Ruthie was relieved that Miz Badger had not kept her after class to "discuss" her failure to hide promptly. Perhaps Miz Badger felt she had learned her lesson. Ruthie felt sure she had. From now on, she would keep her ears open for suspicious noises and her nose alert for dangerous smells. And she would stay near the door of her underground home for awhile. She hurried to catch up with the other animals.

They were calling, "See you tomorrow," as they each went their separate ways. "'Bye, Ruthie," they said, and she replied meekly, "'Bye." They had given her a sidelong glance or two, but no one had laughed or made cutting remarks. They really were a nice bunch of classmates, she thought. Kathy Possum had even patted her shoulder.

Ruthie had reached her underground burrow. She sank down beside the door and sighed deeply. Looking down at her tattered fur coat, she sighed again and set to work grooming herself.

"Ouch," she said, as she pulled pickery bits from her fur, "ouch." This job was going to take awhile, but at least she was no longer so hungry. The fright she had experienced, along with the carrots she had eaten, had helped drive away hunger.

She raised her head and looked around her. She cocked an ear and sniffed the air, alert for danger. She felt safe now, at the door of her home, but she had learned her lesson. She resolved in the future to be the most watchful of all her classmates. Yes, she had learned her lesson.

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