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CHATTERER HAS TO KEEP HIS PROMISE
CHATTERER wished now that he hadn't been quite so greedy. If he had been content to let Sammy Jay get what corn he could from Farmer Brown's corn-crib, instead of playing that sharp trick to frighten him away, Chatterer wouldn't have had to make that promise to get the corn for Sammy and put it wherever Sammy wanted it put. It wasn't much to do. Chatterer really didn't mind doing the thing itself; it was the thought that Sammy could make him do it.
Now Chatterer has sharp wits, and Sammy Jay has sharp wits. Chatterer had always thought his the sharpest, and it hurt his pride to feel that Sammy had got the best of him. He couldn't think of anything else as he curled up for the night in his snug bed in the old home of Drummer the Woodpecker up in the Old Orchard. He thought and thought and thought and thought, trying to find some way to wriggle out of his promise, and just before he fell asleep, an idea came to him. He would go over to the corn-crib before Sammy Jay was awake, eat his fill, and then hide from Sammy.
"Why didn't I think of that before?" he murmured sleepily and smiled to think how, after all, his wits were sharper than those of Sammy Jay. The next morning, very early, Chatterer visited the corn-crib, ate a hurried breakfast, and then hid in the old stone wall to watch for Sammy Jay. But Sammy didn't come at the time he used to visit the corn-crib before Chatterer had given him that terrible scare. Chatterer waited and waited, but no Sammy Jay. Chatterer began to get impatient, but still he didn't dare leave his hiding place for fear that Sammy might come. At last Chatterer decided that Sammy had gone somewhere else that morning, so he came out of his hiding place and frisked along the stone wall at one edge of the Old Orchard. After a while he forgot all about Sammy Jay. Anyway, he was sure that Sammy wouldn't think of going to the corn-crib so late in the morning, for it wouldn't be safe at all. Farmer Brown's boy would be almost sure to see him. So Chatterer forgot his troubles and frisked about and had a splendid time all by himself.
Right in the midst of it, Sammy Jay arrived in the Old Orchard.
"Good morning, Chatterer," said he. "I fear I am a little late for breakfast."
"Breakfast!" sneered Chatterer, "Breakfast! Why, it's nearer dinner time. I had my breakfast hours ago."
"I thought likely," replied Sammy, and there was a mischievous look in his sharp black eyes, "but I was rather tired this morning, and as long as I hadn't got to go way over to the corncrib myself, I thought I wouldn't hurry. I suppose you have plenty of corn ready for me here."
"Corn ready for you? I should say not!" snapped Chatterer. "You didn't say anything about getting corn for you this morning."
"Didn't I? Well, I guess I must have forgotten to. Never mind — you can run over there and get some for me now," replied Sammy.
"Go yourself!" snapped Chatterer.
"I think I'd rather not," replied Sammy. "Farmer Brown's boy is chopping wood right close by the corncrib, so I prefer to have you go."
"I won't!" Chatterer fairly screamed and danced about in his rage. "I won't!"
"Oh, all right," replied Sammy, yawning. "I saw Shadow the Weasel down in the Green Forest this morning, and he inquired for you. I think I'll go look him up again."
Chatterer turned pale. He feared Shadow the Weasel more than any one else under the sun. He would rather face Farmer Brown's boy. "I — I'll go," he stammered weakly. There was no way out of it; he just had to keep his promise.