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SAMMY JAY GETS EVEN WITH PETER RABBIT
"I'LL get even with you, Peter Rabbit! I'll get even with you!" Sammy Jay fairly hopped up and down on the branch of the big pine, he was so angry. Peter just thrust his tongue into one cheek in the sauciest way and then laughed at Sammy Jay. Of course it is true, as every one in the Green Forest and on the Green Meadows knows, that Sammy Jay is a thief. But no one likes to be told that he is a thief, even if he is, Sammy Jay least of all. Like a great many other people who do wrong, Sammy Jay likes to pretend that he is a very fine gentleman, and he wants other people to think so too. So he takes great care of his handsome blue coat and struts around a great deal when he thinks other folks are looking at him.
"I'LL GET EVEN WITH YOU, PETER RABBIT!"
So Sammy Jay studied and studied how he could get even with Peter Rabbit. He called Peter names whenever he saw him, but Peter didn't mind that in the least, for he could call names back again. Besides, names never hurt, and it is very foolish to call them. So Sammy Jay studied and studied how he could get even with Peter Rabbit in some other way. Then one day, as he sat in the big pine-tree studying, Sammy heard a voice that gave him an idea. It was the voice of Redtail the Hawk, who, you know, is own cousin to old Whitetail and to Roughleg. Now Sammy Jay can scream so exactly like Redtail the Hawk that you cannot tell their voices apart. When he heard that scream, Sammy Jay chuckled out loud. He had thought of a plan to get even with Peter Rabbit.
Every day after that, Sammy Jay went peeking and prying through the Green Forest and around the edge of the Green Meadows without making a sound, just watching for Peter Rabbit. The snow was almost all gone, and that is how it happened that Redtail had come back from the South where he had spent the winter. Sammy Jay felt quite sure that Peter didn't know that Redtail was back yet. He hoped he didn't, anyway.
Early one morning, Sammy Jay sat hidden on the edge of the Green Forest, watching the Old Briar-patch where Peter Rabbit lives. He saw Peter come out of one of his private little paths and sit up very straight. For a long time Peter sat looking this way and looking that way over the Green Meadows. When he was sure that Reddy and Granny Fox were nowhere about, and that Roughleg was nowhere in sight, Peter kicked up his heels and scampered out on to the Green Meadows away from the dear Old Briar-patch to see if there were any signs of spring.
Sammy waited until Peter had reached the big hickory-tree over by the Smiling Pool, then very silently he flew over to the big hickory-tree. Peter was so busy looking for Jerry Muskrat that he didn't see Sammy Jay at all. Suddenly, right over Peter's head, sounded a fierce, shrill scream. Peter knew that voice. At least, he thought he did. He didn't stop to look. He had learned long ago that it is best to run first and look afterward. So now he started for the dear Old Briar-patch as fast as his long legs would take him, his heart in his mouth.
Again that fierce scream sounded right over him. Peter ran faster than ever, and as he ran, he dodged this way and dodged that way. Every second he expected to feel the sharp claws of Redtail the Hawk. My, such jumps as Peter did take! It seemed to him that he never would reach the dear Old Briar-patch. But he did, and just as soon as he was safely inside, he turned around to see what had become of Red-tail. And what do you think he saw? Why, only Sammy Jay laughing fit to kill himself.
"Fraidcat! Fraidcat!" shouted Sammy Jay.
Peter shook his fist. Then he grinned foolishly. "I guess you are even, Sammy Jay!" he said.