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Sammy Jay
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IN all his life Chatterer had never felt so angry and so helpless. He had thought himself so smart that he could outwit Sammy Jay, and instead Sammy had outwitted him. This was bad enough in itself, but to make matters worse he had to do something which he felt was very dangerous. He had to get Sammy some corn from Farmer Brown's corn-crib right in broad daylight, and there was Black Pussy sitting on the doorstep of Farmer Brown's house, and Farmer Brown's boy himself was chopping wood close by the corn-crib. But if he didn't keep his promise, Sammy would go tell Shadow the Weasel where he was living, and Chatterer was more afraid of Shadow than of Black Pussy and Farmer Brown's boy. Wasn't it a terrible position to be in? Chatterer thought so. And all the time he knew that it was all his own fault. If lie hadn't been so greedy and tried to scare Sammy Jay away from the corn-crib, he wouldn't be in such a fix now.

He ran along the stone wall to the end at the edge of Farmer Brown's dooryard. Then he peeped out. Black Pussy was dozing on the doorstep. Her eyes were closed. Chatterer started across for the tree close by the corncrib, and then his courage failed, and he ran back to the stone wall. Three times he did this, and each time he looked up to see Sammy Jay grinning at him from an apple-tree in the Old Orchard. It was very plain to see that Sammy was enjoying Chatterer's fright. Chatterer almost cried with fear and anger.

The fourth time he gritted his teeth and kept on running as fast as he knew how. He was almost past Black Pussy when she opened her eyes. In a flash she was after him. Chatterer reached the tree first and was up it like a little red streak. There he felt safe. At least, he felt safe from Black Pussy, for she wouldn't dare follow him out on the small branches. But Farmer Brown's boy had seen her rush across to the foot of the tree, and now he stopped chopping wood to watch Black Pussy glaring up at Chatterer.

"What are you so interested in, Puss?" asked Farmer Brown's boy. He couldn't see Chatterer, because Chatterer was smart enough to keep on the other side of the tree trunk. "Is it something you want me to see?" he continued, and started to walk over to the tree.

Chatterer's heart was beating terribly with fright — thump, thump, thump! At just that minute there was a great racket over in the Old Orchard.

"Thief! thief! thief!" screamed Sammy Jay, making a great fuss. Farmer Brown's boy turned to look in that direction.

"I wonder if that fox is prowling around again," said he. And while he was still looking and wondering, Chatterer dropped to the roof of the corncrib and slipped inside, through the hole he had found under the edge of the roof. He gave a great sigh of relief.

"I believe Sammy Jay did that purposely to make Farmer Brown's boy look over there instead of up in the tree," he muttered. And he was right. Sammy had no desire to have any real harm come to Chatterer, and so at just the right minute he had fooled Farmer Brown's boy, just as he often had fooled him before by screaming as if he saw Reddy Fox, when Reddy wasn't there at all.

When Farmer Brown's boy was sure that Reddy was not over in the Old Orchard, he once more turned to Black Pussy, who was still glaring up at the place where Chatterer had been. He looked up, too, but of course there was no one to be seen.

"I guess you must have dreamed you saw something, Puss," said he, stooping to stroke her gently. Then he went back to his wood-chopping. Black Pussy waited a few minutes longer and then went over to the barn to try to console herself with a mouse. Chatterer watched his chance and got back to the old stone wall safely, with his cheeks stuffed full of corn for Sammy Jay.

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