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CHATTERER SCREWS UP HIS COURAGE
EVER since Sammy Jay had dropped a hint about the plentiful supply of corn over at Farmer Brown's and how easy it was to get all that one wanted, Chatterer had been trying to screw up his courage to go see for himself if Sammy had told the truth. Chatterer had spent most of his life in or close to the Green Forest. He had a very wholesome fear of Farmer Brown's boy and his dreadful gun, and he always had been content to keep away from Farmer Brown's door‑yard. The truth is, he was afraid to go up there. You see, there were Black Pussy the Cat and Bowser the Hound and Farmer Brown's boy — why, it was a terribly dangerous place!
And yet Sammy Jay went up there every day and didn't seem to be in the least afraid. He even scolded and said impudent things to Farmer Brown's boy. If Sammy dared go up there, why shouldn't he? He certainly was as brave as Sammy Jay! Right down in his heart Chatterer had always thought Sammy Jay very much of a coward. Yet here was Sammy going up there and helping himself to corn, just as if it belonged to him. Chatterer thought how hard he worked every day to fill that store-house in the hollow fence-rail, and how every minute of the time he had to watch out for Redtail the Hawk and Reddy Fox. It seemed as if he never, never could get enough corn to keep him all winter. And then it was a long way to go every day from the Old Orchard down to the cornfield. Chatterer sighed at the thought.
"If Sammy Jay told me the truth, and it is so easy to get all the corn one wants over there at Farmer Brown's, it will be ever so much easier in bad weather," thought Chatterer. "Anyway, it won't do any harm to have a look and see for myself how things are."
So Chatterer started running briskly along the old stone wall which led right up to Farmer Brown's yard. As he drew near, he would stop every few steps to make sure that the way was clear. At last he reached the very end of the wall, and hiding between two stones, he peeked out. Right across a wide road was Farmer Brown's house, and in the sun on the back doorstep sat Black Pussy dozing. Chatterer had hard work to hold his tongue. The very sight of her made him so angry that he almost forgot that he didn't want to be seen. He just longed to tell her what he thought of her. But he kept still and set his sharp little eyes to discover where Farmer Brown kept his corn. He could see Bowser the Hound fast asleep in front of his own special little house. He could see the big barn and the henhouse and the shed where the wagons were kept and the long woodshed.
"I wonder," said Chatterer to himself, "I wonder if that corn is kept in any of those places, and how Sammy Jay gets it if it is."
Just then Farmer Brown's boy came out of the barn. Chatterer dodged back at sight of him. He wanted to scold, just as he had wanted to scold at Black Pussy, but he wisely held his tongue. Farmer Brown's boy didn't even look towards him but went straight over to a queer little building standing high on four legs and with wide cracks between the boards of the walls, through which something yellow showed. Farmer Brown's boy went up several steps and opened a door. Chatterer gave a little gasp. There was the corn, more corn than he ever had seen in all his life, more corn than he had supposed the whole world held! Chatterer made up his mind right then and there that he was going to have some of that corn in spite of Black Pussy and Bowser the Hound and Farmer Brown's boy. The very sight of it screwed his courage up till he felt brave enough to dare anything.
"FARMER BROWN 'S BOY DIDN'T EVEN LOOK TOWARDS HIM"