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SAMMY JAY DROPS A HINT
WHATEVER faults Chatterer the Red Squirrel may have, and they are many, laziness is not one of them. No, Sir, there is no laziness about Chatterer. When he has work to do, he does it, and he keeps at it until it is finished. Every morning he got up with the sun and raced along the old stone wall and the rail fences down to Farmer Brown's cornfield, where he first ate his breakfast, and then worked to fill the hollow rail of the fence which he had made into a store-house. It was hard work, because he had to do a great deal of hunting for the corn; and it was exciting work, because he had to keep his eyes and ears open every minute to keep from furnishing a dinner for some one else.
Redtail the Hawk, who had not yet gone South, discovered him one morning, and Chatterer dodged behind a fence post just in time. After that, Redtail was on hand every morning, watching from the top of a tree for Chatterer to grow careless and get too far from shelter.
Then one morning Reddy Fox surprised him at the edge of a heap of cornstalks. Chatterer had just time to wriggle his way to the middle of the heap. Reddy had seen him, and he could smell him. Very softly Reddy tiptoed around the pile of cornstalks to see if Chatterer had come out on the other side. Then he came back to where Chatterer had gone in and excitedly began to dig, making the dry stalks fly right and left.
He made so much noise that Chatterer felt sure that he wouldn't hear him move, and he didn't. By the time Reddy had worked his way to the middle of the pile, Chatterer was safe in his store-house in the hollow rail. He had slipped from under the cornstalks, run across to another pile, worked his way through this, and so reached the fence.
After that, Reddy Fox came every morning, hoping to surprise Chatterer. But Chatterer felt quite equal to fooling Reddy and Redtail. Of course they interfered with his work and were very bothersome, but he wasn't afraid of them. The one thing he did fear was that Shadow the Weasel would hear where he was. That thought bothered him a great deal.
One morning Sammy Jay just happened along. He saw Reddy Fox creeping up behind some bushes at the edge of the cornfield, and at once Sammy began to scream as he always does when he thinks he can spoil Reddy's hunting. Reddy looked up at him and showed all his long teeth, but Sammy only grinned and screamed the louder. Then Reddy walked away with a great deal of dignity, for he knew that it wasn't the least use to try to hunt while Sammy Jay was about. When he had disappeared in the Green Forest, Sammy returned to the cornfield, and there he found Chatterer hard at work.
"I'm much obliged, Sammy, for driving that nuisance away; he bothers me a great deal, and I've got to do a lot of work yet to fill my store-house before it is too late," said Chatterer, as he hurried to the hollow rail with his mouth full of corn.
"Have you moved down here?" demanded Sammy Jay. "I thought you were living up in the Old Orchard."
"I am. At least, my house is up there, but there is no food there, and so I have made a store-house down here and am trying to get it full of corn before snow comes," replied Chatterer.
"It will be a long way to come for your food every day," said Sammy.
"I know it," replied Chatterer, "but I guess I'm lucky to have any food to come for."
"Pooh!" said Sammy, "I wouldn't work as you do. I'd use my wits a little. If corn is what you want to eat, why don't you go up to Farmer Brown's? It's nearer to the Old Orchard than this, and the corn is all stored ready for you to help yourself. I get all I want there."