Web and Book design,
Copyright, Kellscraft Studio
(Return to Web Text-ures)
CHATTERER HAS A DREADFUL DAY
CHATTERER was feeling quite like himself, his saucy, impudent self, as he peeped out of his doorway at daylight. He felt that he had got the best of Sammy Jay the day before. To be sure he had to get corn for Sammy, but he did not have to go to Farmer Brown's corn-crib for it, and he knew that it was the fun of seeing him take that risk that Sammy wanted more than he did the corn. He felt that he had been smarter than Sammy, and the feeling made him quite like his old self.
"Chickaro and chickaree,
Who is there as smart as me?
Chickaro and chickaree,
Sharper wits you'll never see."
Now that was boasting; and boasting is one of the most foolish habits in the world. But Chatterer always was a boaster and probably always will be. So he whisked in and out of the old stone wall and said this over and over, while he waited for Sammy Jay to appear. He had not gone over to Farmer Brown's corn-crib this morning for his breakfast, because he felt sure that Sammy would come and send him for corn, and he knew that he would have to go. But he meant to go down to his own store-house in the hollow rail on the edge of the cornfield and he could eat his fill there. So he scampered about and wished that Sammy would hurry up, for he was hungry.
At last Sammy came, and just as Chatterer expected, he demanded the corn that Chatterer had promised to get for him whenever he should ask for it.
Right away Chatterer started for the cornfield, running along the fences. He always did like to run along fences, and though it was a long way down there, he didn't mind, for it was a sharp, cold morning and the run made him feel fine. As he ran, he kept chuckling to himself to think how smart he had been to think of that store-house and a way to keep his promise to Sammy Jay without running any risk to himself. He was whisking along the fence on the edge of the cornfield and had almost reached the hollow rail where he had stored the corn. He stopped to sit up on a fence-post and boast once more.
"Chickaro and chickaree!
Who is there as smart — "
He didn't finish. Instead his tongue seemed to stick to the roof of his mouth and his little black eyes looked as if they would pop out of his head. Sitting on a post close to the hollow rail was a straight, black form watching him with cruel, hungry-looking eyes. It was Roughleg the Hawk! Chatterer gave a little gasp of fright. He whirled around and started back along the fence as fast as he could make his legs go. Instantly Roughleg spread his great wings and sailed after him. Chatterer hadn't gone the length of two rails before Roughleg was over him. With his great, cruel claws spread wide, he suddenly swooped down. Chatterer dodged to the under side of the rail just in time, the very nick of time. Roughleg screamed with disappointment, and that scream had such a fierce sound that Chatterer shivered all over.
CHATTERER GAVE A LITTLE GASP OF FRIGHT
How he ever got back to the Old Orchard he hardly knew himself. Ever so many times he just managed to dodge those great claws. But he did get there at last, out of breath and tired and frightened. There sat Sammy Jay, waiting for his corn. He pretended to be very angry because Chatterer had none and threatened to go straight to the Green Forest and tell Shadow the Weasel where Chatterer was living. There was nothing for Chatterer to do but to go over to the corn-crib as soon as he had rested a little.
"It's been a dreadful day, a perfectly dreadful day," said Chatterer to himself, as he curled up in bed for the night. "I wonder — I wonder how old Roughleg happened to be sitting on that fence-post this morning."
But Sammy Jay didn't wonder; he knew.