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CHATTERER FRIGHTENS SAMMY JAY
CHATTERER THE RED SQUIRREL was mightily tickled with himself because he had found a way of getting into Farmer Brown's corn-crib, where was stored so much beautiful yellow corn that it seemed to him that there was enough for all the Squirrels in the world.
The more some people have, the more they want. It is the very worst kind of selfishness and is called greediness. Chatterer had found a way to get all the corn he wanted without working for it, and there was enough to feed him as long as he lived, though he should live to be a hundred years old. To be sure, it wasn't his; it was Farmer Brown's. But Chatterer looked on Farmer Brown and Farmer Brown's boy as his enemies, and he could see nothing wrong in taking things from his enemies. Perhaps he didn't want to see anything wrong. All his life he had stolen from his neighbors. That is one reason they dislike him so. Anyway, if ever a little voice down inside tried to tell him that he was doing wrong, Chatterer didn't listen to it, Perhaps, after a while, the little voice grew tired and didn't try any more.
After Chatterer had made a few successful trips to the corn-crib, he began to look upon it as his own. He would sometimes hide in the old stone wall, where he could watch Farmer Brown's boy open the door of the corn-crib and fill a basket with yellow ears to feed to the hens and the pigs and the horses.
At such times Chatterer would work himself into a great rage, as if Farmer Brown's boy were stealing from him. But there was nothing he could do about it, so he would go back to the Old Orchard and scold for an hour. But what made him still angrier was to see Sammy Jay help himself to a few grains of corn from between the cracks in the walls of the corn-crib. He forgot how Sammy had first told him about the corn-crib, and how Sammy had warned him about Shadow the Weasel. That is the trouble with greed: it forgets everything but the desire to have and to keep others from having. Chatterer didn't say anything to Sammy Jay, because he knew it would be of no use. Besides, if he did, Sammy might meet him over in the corn-crib some day and make such a fuss that Farmer Brown's boy would find him.
Finally Chatterer thought of a plan and chuckled wickedly. The next morning he was over in the corn-crib bright and early. This time he stayed there until it was time for Sammy Jay to arrive. Peeping out of the hole by -which he came and went, he saw Sammy come flying from the Old Orchard. Sammy made no noise, for you see Sammy meant to steal, too. Presently Sammy found a crack against which an ear of corn lay very close. He began to peck at it and pick out the grains. Chatterer stole over to it, taking the greatest care not to make a sound. Presently Sammy's black bill came poking through the crack. Chatterer seized it and held on.
Poor Sammy Jay! He was terribly frightened. He thought that it was some kind of a trap. He beat his wings and tried to scream but couldn't, because he couldn't open his mouth. Then Chatterer let go so suddenly that Sammy almost fell to the ground before he could catch his balance. He didn't wait to see what had caught him. He started for the Green Forest as fast as his wings could take him, and as he went he screamed with fright and anger. Chatterer chuckled, and his chuckle was a very wicked sounding chuckle.
"I guess," said Chatterer, "that Sammy Jay will leave my corn alone after this."