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CHATTERER IS SURE THAT THIS IS HIS LAST DAY
THERE was no hope, not the teeniest, weeniest ray of hope in the heart of Chatterer, as Farmer Brown's boy picked up the wire rat-trap and started for the house, Black Pussy, the cat, following at his heels and looking up at Chatterer with cruel, hungry eyes. Chatterer took a farewell look at the Old Orchard and way beyond it the Green Forest, from which he had been driven by fear of Shadow the Weasel. Then the door of the farmhouse closed and shut it all out. If there had been any hope in Chatterer's heart, the closing of that door would have shut the last bit out. But there wasn't any hope. Chatterer was sure that he was to be given to Black Pussy for her breakfast.
Farmer Brown's boy put the trap on a table. "What have you there," called a great voice. It was the voice of Farmer Brown himself, who was eating his breakfast.
"I've got the thief who has been stealing our corn in the crib," replied Farmer Brown's boy, "and who do you think it is?"
"One of those pesky rats," replied Farmer Brown. "I'm afraid you've been careless and left the door open some time, and that is how the rats have got in there."
"But it isn't a rat, and I don't believe that there is a rat there," replied Farmer Brown's boy in triumph. "It's that little scamp of a red squirrel we've seen racing along the wall at the edge of the Old Orchard lately. I can't imagine how he got in there, but there he was, and now here he is."
"What are you going to do with him?" asked Farmer Brown, coming over to look at Chatterer.
"I don't know," replied Farmer Brown's boy, "unless I give him to Black Puss for her breakfast. She has been teasing me for him ever since I found him."
Farmer Brown's boy looked over to the other side of the table as he said this, and his eyes twinkled with mischief. .
"Oh, you mustn't do that! That would be cruel!" cried a soft voice. "You must take him down to the Green Forest and let him go." A gentle face with pitying eyes was bent above the trap. "Just see how frightened the poor little thing is! You must take him straight down to the Green Forest right after breakfast."
"Isn't that just like Mother?" cried Farmer Brown's boy. "I believe it would be just the same with the ugliest old rat that ever lived. She would try to think of some excuse for letting it go."
"God made all the little people who wear fur, and they must have some place in his great plan," said Mrs. Brown.
Farmer Brown laughed a big, hearty laugh. "True enough, Mother!" said he. "The trouble is, they get out of place. Now this little rascal's place is down in the Green Forest and not up in our corn-crib."
"Then put him back in his right place!" was the prompt reply, and they all laughed.
Now all this time poor Chatterer was thinking that this surely was his last day. You see, he knew that he had been a thief, and he knew that Farmer Brown's boy knew it. He just crouched down in a little ball, too miserable to do anything but tremble every time any one came near. He was sure that he had seen for the last time the Green Forest and the Green Meadows and jolly Mr. Sun and all the other beautiful things he loved so, and it seemed as if his heart would burst with despair.