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´╗┐Title: The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel
Author: Burgess, Thornton W. (Thornton Waldo), 1874-1965
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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THE ADVENTURES OF CHATTERER THE RED SQUIRREL

+---------------------------------------------------------+
|                                                         |
|                 BOOKS BY THORNTON W. BURGESS            |
|                                                         |
|       THE BEDTIME STORY-BOOKS                           |
|                                                         |
|       1. THE ADVENTURES OF REDDY FOX                    |
|                                                         |
|       2. THE ADVENTURES OF JOHNNY CHUCK                 |
|                                                         |
|       3. THE ADVENTURES OF PETER COTTONTAIL             |
|                                                         |
|       4. THE ADVENTURES OF UNC' BILLY POSSUM            |
|                                                         |
|       5. THE ADVENTURES OF MR. MOCKER                   |
|                                                         |
|       6. THE ADVENTURES OF JERRY MUSKRAT                |
|                                                         |
|       7. THE ADVENTURES OF DANNY MEADOW MOUSE           |
|                                                         |
|       8. THE ADVENTURES OF GRANDFATHER FROG             |
|                                                         |
|       9. THE ADVENTURES OF CHATTERER, THE RED SQUIRREL  |
|                                                         |
|      10. THE ADVENTURES OF SAMMY JAY                    |
|                                                         |
|      11. THE ADVENTURES OF BUSTER BEAR                  |
|                                                         |
|      12. THE ADVENTURES OF OLD MR. TOAD                 |
|                                                         |
|      13. THE ADVENTURES OF PRICKLY PORKY                |
|                                                         |
|      14. THE ADVENTURES OF OLD MAN COYOTE               |
|                                                         |
|      15. THE ADVENTURES OF PADDY THE BEAVER             |
|                                                         |
|      16. THE ADVENTURES OF POOR MRS. QUACK              |
|                                                         |
|      17. THE ADVENTURES OF BOBBY COON                   |
|                                                         |
|      18. THE ADVENTURES OF JIMMY SKUNK                  |
|                                                         |
|      19. THE ADVENTURES OF BOB WHITE                    |
|                                                         |
|      20. THE ADVENTURES OF OL' MISTAH BUZZARD           |
|                                                         |
|              *       *       *       *       *          |
|                                                         |
|       MOTHER WEST WIND SERIES                           |
|                                                         |
|       1. OLD MOTHER WEST WIND                           |
|                                                         |
|       2. MOTHER WEST WIND'S CHILDREN                    |
|                                                         |
|       3. MOTHER WEST WIND'S ANIMAL FRIENDS              |
|                                                         |
|       4. MOTHER WEST WIND'S NEIGHBORS                   |
|                                                         |
|       5. MOTHER WEST WIND "WHY" STORIES                 |
|                                                         |
|       6. MOTHER WEST WIND "HOW" STORIES                 |
|                                                         |
|       7. MOTHER WEST WIND "WHEN" STORIES                |
|                                                         |
|       8. MOTHER WEST WIND "WHERE" STORIES               |
|                                                         |
|              *       *       *       *       *          |
|                                                         |
|       GREEN MEADOW SERIES                               |
|                                                         |
|       1. HAPPY JACK                                     |
|                                                         |
|       2. MRS. PETER RABBIT                              |
|                                                         |
|       3. BOWSER THE HOUND                               |
|                                                         |
|              *       *       *       *       *          |
|                                                         |
|       THE BURGESS BIRD BOOK FOR CHILDREN                |
|                                                         |
+---------------------------------------------------------+

Illustration: It seemed as if that little voice inside had fairly
shouted in his ears: "I am afraid." Frontispiece. _See Page 118._



  BURGESS QUADDIES (_TRADE MARK_)

  The Bedtime Story-Books

  THE ADVENTURES OF CHATTERER THE RED SQUIRREL

  BY THORNTON W. BURGESS

  Author of "Old Mother West Wind," "The Adventures of Johnny Chuck,"
  "Mother West Wind 'Why' Stories," etc.

  _With Illustrations by HARRISON CADY_

  Illustration

  BOSTON
  LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
  1920

  _Copyright, 1915_

  BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.

  _All rights reserved_



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                  PAGE

      I. CHATTERER THE RED SQUIRREL RUNS FOR HIS LIFE         1

     II. CHATTERER'S LAST CHANCE                              6

    III. CHATTERER TELLS SAMMY JAY ABOUT SHADOW THE WEASEL   11

     IV. CHATTERER LEAVES THE GREEN FOREST                   17

      V. CHATTERER FINDS A HOME                              23

     VI. PETER RABBIT LISTENS TO THE WRONG VOICE             28

    VII. HOW CHATTERER HAD FOOLED PETER RABBIT               33

   VIII. CHATTERER GROWS CARELESS                            38

     IX. CHATTERER GROWS TOO CURIOUS                         43

      X. OLD MR. TROUBLE GETS CHATTERER AT LAST              49

     XI. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT TO CHATTERER                     53

    XII. CHATTERER IS SURE THAT THIS IS HIS LAST DAY         57

   XIII. CHATTERER IS PUT IN PRISON                          62

    XIV. CHATTERER DECIDES TO LIVE                           68

     XV. FARMER BROWN'S BOY TRIES TO MAKE FRIENDS            73

    XVI. CHATTERER HAS A PLEASANT SURPRISE                   78

   XVII. SAMMY JAY'S SHARP EYES                              83

  XVIII. CHATTERER IS MADE FUN OF                            88

    XIX. PETER RABBIT TRIES TO HELP                          93

     XX. CHATTERER HAS ANOTHER GREAT SURPRISE                99

    XXI. CHATTERER HEARS THE SMALL VOICE                    104

   XXII. TOMMY TIT MAKES GOOD HIS BOAST                     110

  XXIII. CHATTERER GROWS VERY, VERY BOLD                    116



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  IT SEEMED AS IF THAT LITTLE VOICE INSIDE HAD FAIRLY SHOUTED IN HIS
      EARS, "I AM AFRAID"                           _Frontispiece_

  "WHAT'S THAT?" SAMMY JAY ASKED SHARPLY                        12

  "HAVE YOU FOUND A NEW HOME YET?" ASKED PETER                  26

  VERY CAUTIOUSLY CHATTERER PEEPED INSIDE THE HOLE              67

  "YOU TELL CHATTERER THAT I'LL GET HIM YET!" SNARLED SHADOW    84

  "I'D BE WILLING TO TRY IT IF IT WAS OF ANY USE. BUT IT ISN'T,"
      SAID PRICKLY PORKY                                        97



THE ADVENTURES OF CHATTERER THE RED SQUIRREL

I CHATTERER THE RED SQUIRREL RUNS FOR HIS LIFE


Chatterer the Red Squirrel had been scolding because there was no
excitement. He had even tried to make some excitement by waking Bobby
Coon and making him so angry that Bobby had threatened to eat him alive.
It had been great fun to dance around and call Bobby names and make fun
of him. Oh, yes, it had been great fun. You see, he knew all the time
that Bobby couldn't catch him if he should try. But now things were
different. Chatterer had all the excitement that he wanted. Indeed, he
had more than he wanted. The truth is, Chatterer was running for his
life, and he knew it.

It is a terrible thing, a very terrible thing to have to run for one's
life. Peter Rabbit knows all about it. He has run for his life often.
Sometimes it has been Reddy Fox behind him, sometimes Bowser the Hound,
and once or twice Old Man Coyote. Peter has known that on his long legs
his life has depended, and more than once a terrible fear has filled his
heart. But Peter has also known that if he could reach the old stone
wall or the dear Old Briar-patch first, he would be safe, and he always
has reached it. So when he has been running with that terrible fear in
his heart, there has always been hope there, too.

But Chatterer the Red Squirrel was running without hope. Yes, Sir, there
was nothing but fear, terrible fear, in his heart, for he knew not where
to go. The hollow tree or the holes in the old stone wall where he would
be safe from any one else, even Farmer Brown's boy, offered him no
safety now, for the one who was following him with hunger in his
anger-red eyes could go anywhere that he could go--could go into any
hole big enough for him to squeeze into. You see, it was Shadow the
Weasel from whom Chatterer was running, and Shadow is so slim that he
can slip in and out of places that even Chatterer cannot get through.

Chatterer knew all this, and so, because it was of no use to run to his
usual safe hiding places, he ran in just the other direction. He didn't
know where he was going. He had just one thought: to run and run as
long as he could and then, well, he would try to fight, though he knew
it would be of no use.

"Oh, dear! Oh, dear!" he sobbed, as he ran out on the branch of a tree
and leaped across to the next tree, "I wish I had minded my own
business! I wish I had kept my tongue still. Shadow the Weasel wouldn't
have known where I was if he hadn't heard my voice. Oh, dear! oh, dear
me! What can I do? What can I do?"

Now in his great fright Chatterer had run and jumped so hard that he was
beginning to grow very tired. Presently he found that he must make a
very long jump to reach the next tree. He had often made as long a jump
as this and thought nothing of it, but now he was so tired that the
distance looked twice as great as it really was. He didn't dare stop to
run down the tree and scamper across. So he took a long breath, ran
swiftly along the branch, and leaped. His hands just touched the tip of
the nearest branch of the other tree. He tried his very best to hold on,
but he couldn't. Then down, down, down he fell. He spread himself out as
flat as he could, and that saved him a little, but still it was a
dreadful fall, and when he landed, it seemed for just a minute as if all
the breath was gone from his body. But it wasn't quite, and in another
minute he was scrambling up the tree.



II CHATTERER'S LAST CHANCE


Chatterer, still running for his life and without the least hope,
suddenly saw a last chance to escape from Shadow the Weasel. That is, he
saw something that might offer him a chance. He couldn't be sure until
he had tried, and even then he might escape from one danger only to run
right into another equally great. What Chatterer saw was a big brown
bunch near the top of a tall chestnut-tree, and he headed for that tree
as fast as ever he could go. What was that big brown bunch? Why it was
Redtail the Hawk, who was dozing there with his head drawn down between
his shoulders dreaming.

Now old Redtail is one of Chatterer's deadliest enemies. He is quite as
fond of Red Squirrel as is Shadow the Weasel, though he doesn't often
try to catch one, because there are other things to eat much easier to
get. Chatterer had had more than one narrow escape from old Redtail and
was very much afraid of him, yet here he was running up the very tree in
which Redtail was sitting. You see, a very daring idea had come into his
head. He had seen at once that Redtail was dozing and hadn't seen him at
all. He knew that Redtail would just as soon have Shadow the Weasel for
dinner as himself, and a very daring plan had popped into his head.

"I may as well be caught by Redtail as Shadow," he thought, as he ran up
the tree, "but if my plan works out right, I won't be caught by either.
Anyway, it is my very last chance."

Up the tree he scrambled, and after him went Shadow the Weasel. Shadow
had been so intent on catching Chatterer that he had not noticed old
Redtail, which was just as Chatterer had hoped. Up, up he scrambled,
straight past old Redtail, but as he passed, he pulled one of Redtail's
long tail feathers, and then ran on to the top of the tree, and with the
last bit of strength he had left, leaped to a neighboring spruce-tree
where, hidden by the thick branches, he stopped to rest and see what
would happen.

Of course, when he felt his tail pulled, old Redtail was wide awake in a
flash; and of course he looked down to see who had dared to pull his
tail. There just below him was Shadow the Weasel, who had just that
minute discovered who was sitting there. Old Redtail hissed sharply,
and the feathers on the top of his head stood up in a way they do when
he is angry. And he was angry--very angry.

Shadow the Weasel stopped short. Then, like a flash, he dodged around to
the other side of the tree. He had no thought of Chatterer now. Things
were changed all in an instant, quite changed. Instead of the hunter, he
was now the hunted. Old Redtail circled in the air just overhead, and
every time he caught sight of Shadow, he swooped at him with great,
cruel claws spread to clutch him. Shadow dodged around the trunk of the
tree. He was more angry than frightened, for his sharp eyes had spied a
little hollow in a branch of the chestnut-tree, and he knew that once
inside of that, he would have nothing to fear. But he was angry clear
through to think that he should be cheated out of that dinner he had
been so sure of only a few minutes before. So he screeched angrily at
old Redtail and then, watching his chance, scampered out to the hollow
and whisked inside, just in the nick of time.

Chatterer, watching from the spruce-tree, gave a great sigh of relief.
He saw Redtail the Hawk post himself on the top of a tall tree where he
could keep watch of that hollow in which Shadow had disappeared, and he
knew that it would be a long time before Shadow would dare poke even his
nose outside. Then, as soon as he was rested, Chatterer stole softly,
oh, so softly, away through the tree-tops until he was sure that Redtail
could not see him. Then he hurried. He wanted to get just as far away
from Shadow the Weasel as he could.



III CHATTERER TELLS SAMMY JAY ABOUT SHADOW THE WEASEL


Chatterer hurried through the Green Forest. He didn't know just where he
was going. He had but one thought, and that was to get as far away from
Shadow the Weasel as he could. It made him have cold shivers all over
every time he thought of Shadow.

"Seems to me you are in a great hurry," said a voice from a pine-tree he
was passing.

Chatterer knew that voice without looking to see who was speaking.
Everybody in the Green Forest knows that voice. It was the voice of
Sammy Jay.

"It looks to me as if you were running away from some one," jeered
Sammy.

Chatterer wanted to stop and pick a quarrel with Sammy, as he usually
did when they met, but the fear of Shadow the Weasel was still upon him.

"I--I--am," he said in a very low voice.

Sammy looked as if he thought he hadn't heard right. Never before had he
known Chatterer to admit that he was afraid, for you know Chatterer is a
great boaster. It must be something very serious to frighten Chatterer
like that.

"What's that?" Sammy asked sharply. "I always knew you to be a coward,
but this is the first time I have ever known you to admit it. Who are
you running away from?"

Illustration: "What's that?" Sammy asked sharply.

"Shadow the Weasel," replied Chatterer, still in a very low voice, as
if he were afraid of being overheard. "Shadow the Weasel is back in the
Green Forest, and I have just had such a narrow escape!"

"Ho!" cried Sammy, "this is important. I thought Shadow was up in the
Old Pasture. If he has come back to the Green Forest, folks ought to
know it. Where is he now?"

Chatterer stopped and told Sammy all about his narrow escape and how he
had left Shadow the Weasel in a hollow of a chestnut-tree with Redtail
the Hawk watching for him to come out. Sammy's eyes sparkled when
Chatterer told how he had pulled the tail of old Redtail. "And he
doesn't know now who did it; he thinks it was Shadow," concluded
Chatterer, with a weak little grin.

"Ho, ho, ho! Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Sammy Jay. "I wish I had been there
to see it."

Then he suddenly grew grave. "Other folks certainly ought to know that
Shadow is back in the Green Forest," said he, "so that they may be on
their guard. Then if they get caught, it is their own fault. I think
I'll go spread the news." You see, for all his mean ways, Sammy Jay does
have some good in him, just as everybody does, and he dearly loves to
tell important news.

"I--I wish you would go first of all and tell my cousin, Happy Jack the
Gray Squirrel," said Chatterer, speaking in a hesitating way.

Sammy Jay leaned over and looked at Chatterer sharply. "I thought you
and Happy Jack were not friends," said he. "You always seem to be
quarreling."

Chatterer looked a little confused, but he is very quick with his
tongue, is Chatterer. "That's just it," he replied quickly. "That's just
it! If anything should happen to Happy Jack, I wouldn't have him to
quarrel with, and it is such fun to see him get mad!"

Now of course the real reason why Chatterer wanted Happy Jack warned was
because down inside he was ashamed of a dreadful thought that had come
to him of leading Shadow the Weasel to Happy Jack's house, so that he
himself might escape. It had been a dreadful thought, a cowardly
thought, and Chatterer had been really ashamed that he should have ever
had such a thought. He thought now that if he could do something for
Happy Jack, he would feel better about it.

Sammy Jay promised to go straight to Happy Jack and warn him that
Shadow the Weasel was back in the Green Forest, and off he started,
screaming the news as he flew, so that all the little people in the
Green Forest might know. Chatterer listened a few minutes and then
started on.

"Where shall I go?" he muttered. "Where shall I go? I don't dare stay in
the Green Forest, for now Shadow will never rest until he catches me."



IV CHATTERER LEAVES THE GREEN FOREST


Chatterer was in a peck of trouble. Yes, Sir, he was in a peck of
trouble. There was no doubt about it. "Oh, dear! Oh, dear! If only I had
kept my tongue still! If only I had kept my tongue still!" he kept
saying over and over to himself, as he hurried through the Green Forest.
You see, Chatterer was just beginning to realize what a lot of trouble
an unruly tongue can get one into. Here it was cold weather, the very
edge of winter, and Chatterer didn't dare stay in the Green Forest where
he had always made his home. His storehouses were full of nuts and seeds
and corn, enough and more than enough to keep him in comfort all
winter, and now he must turn his back on them and go he didn't know
where, and all because of his mean disposition and bad tongue.

If he hadn't called Bobby Coon names that morning at the top of his
voice, Shadow the Weasel might not have found him. He knew that Shadow
has a long memory, and that he would never forget the trick by which
Chatterer had escaped, and so the only way Chatterer would ever be able
to have a moment's peace would be to leave the Green Forest for as long
as Shadow the Weasel chose to stay there. Chatterer shivered inside his
warm, red fur coat as he thought of the long, cold winter and how hard
it would be to find enough to eat. Was ever any one else in such a
dreadful fix?

Presently he came to the edge of the Green Forest. He sat down to rest
in the top of a tree where he could look off over the Green Meadows.
Far, far away he could see the Purple Hills, behind which jolly, round,
red Mr. Sun goes to bed every night. He could see the old stone wall
that separates Farmer Brown's cornfield from the Green Meadows. He could
see Farmer Brown's house and barn and near them the Old Orchard where
Johnny Chuck had spent the summer with Polly Chuck and their baby
Chucks. He knew every nook and corner in the old stone wall and many
times he had been to the Old Orchard. It was there that he had stolen
the eggs of Drummer the Woodpecker. He grinned at the thought of those
eggs and how he had stolen them, and then he shivered as he remembered
how he had finally been caught and how sharp the bills of Drummer and
Mrs. Drummer were.

But all that was in the past, and thinking about it wasn't going to help
him now. He had got to do something right away. Perhaps he might find a
place to live in the old stone wall, and there might, there just might,
be enough grains of corn scattered over the ground of the cornfield for
him to lay up a supply, if he worked very hard and fast. Anyway, he
would have a look. So he hurried down from the tree and out along the
old stone wall. His spirits began to rise as he whisked along, peering
into every hole and jumping from stone to stone. It really seemed as
though he might find a snug home somewhere here. Then he remembered
something that made his heart sink again. He remembered having seen
Shadow the Weasel more than once exploring that very wall. Just as
likely as not he would do it again, for it was so very near the Green
Forest. No, the old stone wall wouldn't do.

Just then along came Peter Rabbit. Peter saw right away that something
was wrong with Chatterer, and he wanted to know what it was. Chatterer
told him. He felt that he had just got to tell some one. Peter looked
thoughtful. He scratched his long left ear with his long right hind
foot.

"You know there is another old stone wall up there by the Old Orchard,"
said he. "It is pretty near Farmer Brown's house, and Black Pussy hunts
there a great deal, but you ought to be smart enough to keep out of her
clutches."

"I should hope so!" exclaimed Chatterer scornfully. "I have never seen
a cat yet that I was afraid of! believe I'll go over and have a look at
that old wall, Peter Rabbit."

"I'll go with you," said Peter, and off they started together.



V CHATTERER FINDS A HOME


    When your plans are upset and all scattered about
    Just make up your mind that you'll find a way out.

Peter rabbit went straight over to the old stone wall on the edge of the
Old Orchard, lipperty-lipperty-lip so fast that it didn't take him long
to get there. But Chatterer the Red Squirrel never feels really safe on
the ground unless there is something to climb close at hand, so he went
a long way round by way of the rail fence. He always did like to run
along a rail fence, and he wouldn't have minded it a bit this morning
if he hadn't been in such a hurry. It seemed to him that he never would
get there. But of course he did.

When he did get there, he found Peter Rabbit sitting on Johnny Chuck's
doorstep, staring down Johnny Chuck's long hall. "They're asleep," said
he, as Chatterer came up all out of breath. "I've thumped and thumped
and thumped, but it isn't the least bit of use. They are asleep, and
they'll stay asleep until Mistress Spring arrives. I can't understand it
at all. No, Sir, I can't understand how anybody can be willing to miss
this splendid cold weather."

Peter shook his head in a puzzled way and continued to stare down the
long empty hall. Of course he was talking about Johnny and Polly Chuck,
who had gone to sleep for the winter. That sleeping business always
puzzles Peter. It seems to him like a terrible waste of time. But
Chatterer had too much on his mind to waste time wondering how other
people could sleep all winter. He couldn't himself, and now that he had
been driven away from his own home in the Green Forest by fear of Shadow
the Weasel, he couldn't waste a minute. He must find a new home and then
spend every minute of daytime laying up a new store of food for the days
when everything would be covered with snow.

Up and down the length of the stone wall he scampered, looking for a
place to make a home, but nothing suited him. You know he likes best to
make his home in a tree. He isn't like Striped Chipmunk, who lives in
the ground. Poor Chatterer! He just couldn't see how he was going to
live in the old stone wall. He sat on top of a big stone to rest and
think it over. He was discouraged. Life didn't seem worth the living
just then. He felt as if his heart had gone way down to his toes. Just
then his eyes saw something that made his heart come up again with a
great bound right where it ought to be, and just then Peter Rabbit came
hopping along.

"Have you found a new home yet?" asked Peter.

"Yes," replied Chatterer, "I think I have.

"That's good," replied Peter. "I was sure you would find one over here.
Where is it?"

Illustration: "Have you found a new home yet?" asked Peter.

Chatterer opened his mouth to tell Peter and then closed it with a snap.
He remembered just in time how hard it is for Peter to keep a secret. If
he should tell Peter, it would be just like Peter to tell some one else
without meaning to, and then it might get back to Shadow the Weasel.

"I'm not going to tell you now, Peter Rabbit," said he. "You see, I
don't want anybody to know where it is until I am sure that it will do.
But I'll tell you this much," he added, as he saw how disappointed Peter
looked, "I'm going to live right here."

Peter brightened up right away. You see, he thought that of course
Chatterer meant that he had found a hole in the old stone wall, and he
felt very sure that he could find it by keeping watch. "That's good," he
said again. "I'll come see you often. But watch out for Black Pussy; her
claws are very sharp. Now I think I'll be going back to the Old
Briar-patch."

"Don't tell where I am," called Chatterer.



VI PETER RABBIT LISTENS TO THE WRONG VOICE


Peter Rabbit didn't play fair. No, Sir, Peter didn't play fair. People
who have too much curiosity about other people's affairs seldom do play
fair. He didn't mean to be unfair. Oh, my, no! Peter didn't mean to be
unfair. When he left Chatterer the Red Squirrel sitting on the old stone
wall on the edge of Farmer Brown's Old Orchard, he intended to go
straight home to the dear Old Briar-patch. He was a little disappointed,
was Peter, that Chatterer hadn't told him just where his new house was.
Not that it really mattered; he just wanted to know, that was all. With
every jump away from the old stone wall, that desire to know just where
Chatterer's new house was seemed to grow. Peter stopped and looked back.
He couldn't see Chatterer now, because the bushes hid him. And if he
couldn't see Chatterer, why of course Chatterer couldn't see him.

Peter sat down and began to pull his whiskers in a way he has when he is
trying to decide something. It seemed as if two little voices were
quarreling inside him. "Go along home like the good fellow you are and
mind your own business," said one. "Steal back to the old wall and watch
Chatterer and so find out just where his new house is; he'll never know
anything about it, and there'll be no harm done," said the other little
voice. It was louder than the first voice, and Peter liked the sound of
it.

"I believe I will," said he, and without waiting to hear what the first
little voice would say to that, he turned about and very carefully and
softly tiptoed back to the old stone wall. Right near it was a thick
little bush. It seemed to Peter that it must have grown there just to
give him a hiding place. He crawled under it and lay very flat. He could
see along the old stone wall in both directions. Chatterer was sitting
just where he had left him. He was looking in the direction that Peter
had gone when he had said good-by. Peter chuckled to himself. "He's
waiting to make sure I have gone before he goes to that new house of
his," thought Peter. "This is the time I'll fool him."

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Peter Rabbit; this is none of your
business," said that little small voice.

"You're not doing a bit of harm. Chatterer has no business to try to
keep his new house a secret, anyway," said the other little voice
inside. And because of his dreadful curiosity, Peter liked the sound of
that voice best and listened to it, and after a while the first voice
grew discouraged and stopped.

Chatterer sat where he was for what seemed to Peter a very long time.
But by and by he gave a sudden funny little flirt of his tail and ran
along the old wall a little way. Then with a hasty look around, he
disappeared in a hole. A minute later he popped his head out for another
look around and then disappeared again. He did this two or three times
as if anxious.

Peter chuckled to himself. "That's his new house right there," said he
to himself, "and now that I know where it is, I think I'll hurry along
home to the dear Old Briar-patch." He was just getting ready to start
when Chatterer popped out of his hole and sat up on a big stone. He was
talking out loud, and Peter listened. Then his long ears began to burn,
for this is what he heard:

    "I'm glad that Peter's not a spy,
      For spies are hateful as can be;
    It's dreadful how some people try
      Affairs of other folks to see."

Chatterer whisked out of sight, and Peter hurried to get away. His ears
still burned, and somehow he didn't feel so tickled over the thought
that he had discovered Chatterer's secret as he had thought he would.
And over in the hole in the old stone wall Chatterer the Red Squirrel
was laughing as if there was some great joke. There was, and the joke
was on Peter Rabbit. You see he hadn't discovered Chatterer's new house
at all.



VII HOW CHATTERER HAD FOOLED PETER RABBIT


Chatterer the Red Squirrel is a scamp himself and not to be trusted.
Nobody in the Green Forest or on the Green Meadows trusts him. And
people who cannot be trusted themselves never trust any one else.
Chatterer never does. He is always suspicious. So when Peter Rabbit had
said good-by and started for the dear Old Briar-patch without knowing
where Chatterer's new house was, Chatterer had made up his mind right
away that Peter would never be satisfied until he knew, or thought he
knew, where that new house was. You see, he knew all about Peter's
dreadful curiosity.

He watched Peter out of sight, then he slipped down out of sight himself
between the stones of the old wall. "I know what Peter will do," said he
to himself. "Peter will come sneaking back, and hide where he can watch
me, and so find out where my new house is. I'll just stay here long
enough to give him a chance to hide, and then I'll fool him."

You see, Chatterer knew that if he had been in Peter's place, he would
have done just that thing. So he waited a little while and then went
back to the place where Peter had left him. There he sat and pretended
to be looking in the direction in which Peter had gone, as if to make
sure that Peter was really on his way home. But all the time Chatterer
was watching out of the corners of his eyes to see if Peter was hiding
anywhere near. He didn't see Peter, but he didn't have the least doubt
that Peter was somewhere about.

After a while, he ran over to a hole between the stones of the old wall
and pretended to be very busy there, just as if it really were the new
house he had found. He kept popping in and out and looking around as if
afraid that some one was watching him. He even got some dry leaves and
took them inside, as if to make a bed. All the time, although he hadn't
seen a sign of Peter, he didn't have the least doubt in the world that
Peter was watching him. When he grew tired, a new idea popped into his
shrewd little head. He popped out of the hole and sat up on the wall.
Then he said aloud that verse which had made Peter's ears burn so. He
had meant to make Peter's ears burn. He said that verse just as if he
really did believe that Peter was not spying on him and was glad of it.
When he had finished, he whisked out of sight again to give Peter a
chance to get away. But this time Chatterer did some peeking himself. He
hid where Peter couldn't see him, but where he himself could see both
ways along the old stone wall, and so it was that he saw Peter crawl out
from under the little bush where he had been hiding and sneak away in
the direction of the Old Briar-patch. And he knew that this time Peter
had gone for good.

Then Chatterer laughed and laughed to think how he had fooled Peter
Rabbit, and wished that he could pat himself on the back for being so
smart. He didn't once think of how dishonest and mean it was of Peter to
spy on him, because, you see, he would have done the same thing himself.
"One has to have one's wits very sharp these days to keep a secret,"
chuckled Chatterer.

But over in the old Briar-patch that afternoon Peter Rabbit sat very
thoughtful and very much ashamed. The thought that he had found out
where Chatterer's new house was didn't give him the pleasure that he had
thought it would. His ears still burned, for he thought that Chatterer
supposed him honest when he wasn't.

"I believe I'll go over to-morrow and tell Chatterer all about it and
how mean I have been," said he at last. And when he had made up his mind
to do this, he felt better.

And all the time he hadn't found Chatterer's new house at all. You see,
it was the old home of Drummer the Woodpecker in an old apple-tree which
Chatterer had decided to live in.



VIII CHATTERER GROWS CARELESS


    When you grow careless even though
      It be in matters small,
    Old Mr. Trouble you will find
      Is bound to make a call.

Some people never seem to learn that. You would suppose that after all
the trouble and worry Chatterer the Red Squirrel had had, he would have
learned a lesson. For a while it seemed as if he had. Morning after
morning, before anybody was up in Farmer Brown's house, he visited
Farmer Brown's corn-crib, taking the greatest care not to be seen and to
get back to his home in the Old Orchard before it was time for Farmer
Brown's boy to come out and do his morning's work. And in the corn-crib
he took the greatest care to steal only where what he took would not be
missed. The empty cobs from which he had eaten the corn he hid in the
darkest corner behind the great pile of yellow corn, where they would
not be found until nearly all the corn had been taken from the crib. Oh,
he was very sly and crafty, was Chatterer the Red Squirrel--at first.

But after a while, when nothing happened, Chatterer grew careless. At
first it had seemed very dangerous to go over to the corn-crib, but
after he had been there often, it didn't seem dangerous at all. Once
inside, he would just give himself up to having a good time. He raced
about over the great pile of beautiful yellow corn and found the
loveliest hiding places in it. Down in a dark corner he made a splendid
bed from pieces of husk which hadn't been stripped from some of the
ears. It was quite the nicest place he had ever dreamed of, was Farmer
Brown's corn-crib. He got to feeling that it was his own and not Farmer
Brown's at all.

The more that feeling grew, the more careless Chatterer became. He
dropped a grain of corn now and then and was too lazy to go down and
pick it up, or else didn't think anything about it. Farmer Brown's boy,
coming every morning for corn for the hens, noticed these grains, but
supposed they were some that had been rubbed from the ears during the
handling of them. Then one morning Chatterer dropped a cob from which he
had eaten all the corn. He meant to get it and hide it, as he had hidden
other cobs, but he didn't want to do it just then. And later--well,
then he forgot all about it. Yes, Sir, he forgot all about it until he
had reached his home in the Old Orchard.

"Oh, well," thought Chatterer, "it doesn't matter. I can get it and hide
it to-morrow morning."

Now a corn-cob is a very simple thing. Farmer Brown's boy knew where
there was a whole pile of them. He added to that pile every day, after
shelling enough corn for the biddies. So it would seem that there was
nothing about a corn-cob to make him open his eyes as he did that
morning, when he saw the one left by Chatterer the Red Squirrel. But you
see he knew that a bare corn-cob had no business inside the corn-crib,
and suddenly those scattered grains of corn had a new meaning for him.

"Ha, ha!" he exclaimed, "A thief has been here, after all! I thought we
were safe from rats and mice, and I don't see now how they got in, for I
don't, I really don't, see how they could climb the stone legs of the
corn-crib. But some one with sharp teeth certainly has been in here. It
must be that I have left the door open some time, and a rat has slipped
in. I'll just have to get after you, Mr. Rat or Mr. Mouse. We can't have
you in our corn-crib."

With that he went into the house. Presently he came back, and in one
hand was a rat-trap and in the other a mouse-trap.



IX CHATTERER GROWS TOO CURIOUS


Everybody knows how curious Peter Rabbit is. He is forever poking his
wobbly little nose in where it has no business to be, and as a result
Peter is forever getting into trouble. Whenever Chatterer the Red
Squirrel has heard a new story about Peter and the scrapes his curiosity
has got him into, Chatterer has said that Peter got no more than he
deserved. As for himself, he might be curious about a thing he saw for
the first time, but he had too much sense to meddle with it until he
knew all about it. So Chatterer has come to be thought very smart, quite
too smart to be caught in a trap--at least to be caught in an ordinary
trap.

Now a great many people manage to make their neighbors think they are a
great deal smarter than they really are, and Chatterer is one of this
kind. If some of his neighbors could have peeped into Farmer Brown's
corn-crib the morning after Farmer Brown's boy found the telltale
corn-cob so carelessly dropped by Chatterer, they would have been
surprised. Yes, Sir, they would have been surprised. They would have
seen Chatterer the Red Squirrel, the boaster, he of the sharp wits,
showing quite as much curiosity as ever possessed Peter Rabbit.

Chatterer had come over to the corn-crib as usual to get his daily
supply of corn. As usual, he had raced about over the great pile of
yellow corn. Quite suddenly his sharp eyes spied something that they
hadn't seen before. It was down on the floor of the corn-crib quite near
the door. Chatterer was sure that it hadn't been there the day before.
It was a very queer looking thing, very queer indeed. And then he spied
another queer looking thing near it, only this was very much smaller.
What could they be? He looked at them suspiciously. They looked harmless
enough. They didn't move. He ran a few steps towards them and scolded,
just as he scolds at anything new he finds out of doors. Still they
didn't move. He ran around on a little ledge where he could look right
down on the queer things. He was sure now that they were not alive. The
biggest one he could see all through. Inside was something to eat. The
littlest thing was round and flat with funny bits of wire on top. It
looked as if it were made of wood, and in the sides were little round
holes too small for him to put his head through.

"Leave them alone," said a small voice inside of Chatterer.

"But I want to see what they are and find out all about them," said
Chatterer.

"No good ever comes of meddling with things you don't know about," said
the small voice.

"But they are such queer looking things, and they're not alive. They
can't hurt me," said Chatterer.

Nevertheless he ran back to the pile of corn and tried to eat. Somehow
he had lost his appetite. He couldn't take his eyes off those two queer
things down on the floor.

"Better keep away," warned the small voice inside.

"It won't do any harm to have a closer look at them," said Chatterer.

So once more he scrambled down from the pile of corn and little by
little drew nearer to the two queer things. The nearer he got, the more
harmless they looked. Finally he reached out and smelled of the
smallest. Then he turned up his nose.

"Smells of mice," muttered Chatterer, "just common barn mice." Then he
reached out a paw and touched it. "Pooh!" said he, "it's nothing to be
afraid of." Just then he touched one of the little wires, and there was
a sudden snap. It frightened Chatterer so that he scurried away. But he
couldn't stay away. That snap was such a funny thing, and it hadn't done
any harm. You see, he hadn't put his paw in at one of the little holes,
or it might have done some harm.

Pretty soon he was back again, meddling with those little wires on top.
Every once in a while there would be a snap, and he would scamper away.
It was very scary and great fun. By and by the thing wouldn't snap any
more, and then Chatterer grew tired of his queer plaything and began to
wonder about the other queer thing. No harm had come from the first one,
and so he was sure no harm could come from the other.



X OLD MR. TROUBLE GETS CHATTERER AT LAST


Of course you have guessed what it was that Chatterer had been meddling
with. It was a mouse-trap, and he had sprung it without getting hurt.
Chatterer didn't know that it was a trap. He ought to have known, but he
didn't. You see, it was not at all like the traps Farmer Brown's boy had
sometimes set for him in the Green Forest. He knew all about those traps
and never, never went near them. Now that there was nothing more
exciting about the mouse-trap, Chatterer turned his attention to the
other queer thing. He walked all around it and looked at it from every
side. It certainly was queer. Yes, Sir, it certainly was queer! It
looked something like a little house only he could see all through it.
He put one paw out and touched it. Nothing happened. He tried it again.
Then he jumped right on top of it. Still nothing happened. He tried his
sharp teeth on it, but he couldn't bite it. You see, it was made of
stout wire.

Inside was something that looked good to eat. It smelled good, too.
Chatterer began to wonder what it would taste like. The more he
wondered, the more he wanted to know. There must be some way of getting
in, and if he could get in, of course he could get out again. He jumped
down to the floor and ran all around the queer little wire house. At
each end was a sort of little wire hallway. Chatterer stuck his head in
one. It seemed perfectly safe. He crept a little way in and then backed
out in a hurry. Nothing happened. He tried it again. Still nothing
happened.

"Better keep away," said a small voice down inside of him.

"Pooh! Who's afraid!" said Chatterer. "This thing can't hurt me."

Then he crept a little farther in. Right in front of him was a little
round doorway with a little wire door. Chatterer pushed the little door
with his nose, and it opened a teeny, weeny bit. He drew back
suspiciously. Then he tried it again, and this time pushed the little
door a little farther open. He did this two or three times until finally
he had his head quite inside, and there, right down below him, was that
food he so wanted to taste.

"I can hop right down and get it and then hop right up again," thought
Chatterer.

"Don't do it," said the small voice inside. "Corn is plenty good enough.
Besides, it is time you were getting back to the Old Orchard."

"It won't take but a minute," said Chatterer, "and I really must know
what that tastes like."

With that he jumped down. Snap! Chatterer looked up. The little wire
door had closed. Old Mr. Trouble had got Chatterer at last. Yes, Sir, he
certainly had got Chatterer this time. You see, he couldn't open that
little wire door from the inside. He was in a trap--the wire rat-trap
set by Farmer Brown's boy.



XI WHAT HAPPENED NEXT TO CHATTERER


Were you ever terribly, terribly frightened? That was the way Chatterer
felt. He was caught; there was no doubt about it! His sharp teeth were
of no use at all on those hard wires. He could look out between them,
but he couldn't get out. He was too frightened to think. His heart
pounded against his sides until it hurt. He forgot all about that queer
food he had so wanted to taste, and which was right before him now.
Indeed, he felt as if he never, never would want to eat again. What was
going to happen to him now? What would Farmer Brown's boy do to him when
he found him there?

Hark! What was that? It was a step just outside the door of the
corn-crib. Farmer Brown's boy was coming! Chatterer raced around his
little wire prison and bit savagely at the hard wires. But it was of no
use, no use at all. It only hurt his mouth cruelly. Then the door of the
corn-crib swung open, a flood of light poured in, and with it came
Farmer Brown's boy.

"Hello!" exclaimed Farmer Brown's boy, as he caught sight of Chatterer.
"So you are the thief who has been stealing our corn, and I thought it
was a rat or a mouse. Well, well, you little red rascal, didn't you know
that thieves come to no good end? You're pretty smart, for I never once
thought of you, but you were not so smart as you thought. Now I wonder
what we had better do with you."

He picked up the trap with Chatterer in it and stepped out into the
beautiful great out-of-doors. Chatterer could see across the dooryard to
the Old Orchard and the familiar old stone wall along which he had
scampered so often. They looked just the same as ever, and yet--well,
they didn't look just the same, for he couldn't look at them without
seeing those cruel wires which were keeping him from them.

Farmer Brown's boy put the trap down on the ground and then began to
call. "Puss, Puss, Puss," called Farmer Brown's boy. Chatterer's heart,
which had been thumping so, almost stopped beating with fright. There
was Black Pussy, whom he had so often teased and made fun of. Her yellow
eyes had a hungry gleam as she walked around the trap and sniffed and
sniffed. Never had Chatterer heard such a terrible sound as those
hungry sniffs so close to him! Black Pussy tried to put a paw between
the wires, and Chatterer saw the great, cruel claws. But Black Pussy
couldn't get her paw between the wires.

"How would you like him for breakfast?" asked Farmer Brown's boy.

"Meow," said Black Pussy, arching her back and rubbing against his legs.

"I suppose that means that you would like him very much," laughed Farmer
Brown's boy. "Do you think you can catch him if I let him out?"

"Meow," replied Black Pussy again, and to poor Chatterer it seemed the
awfullest sound he ever had heard.

"Well, we'll see about it by and by," said Farmer Brown's boy. "There's
the breakfast bell, and I haven't fed the biddies yet."



XII CHATTERER IS SURE THAT THIS IS HIS LAST DAY


There was no hope, not the teeniest, weeniest ray of hope in the heart
of Chatterer, as Farmer Brown's boy picked up the wire rat-trap and
started for the house, Black Pussy, the cat, following at his heels and
looking up at Chatterer with cruel, hungry eyes. Chatterer took a
farewell look at the Old Orchard and way beyond it the Green Forest,
from which he had been driven by fear of Shadow the Weasel. Then the
door of the farmhouse closed and shut it all out. If there had been any
hope in Chatterer's heart, the closing of that door would have shut the
last bit out. But there wasn't any hope. Chatterer was sure that he was
to be given to Black Pussy for her breakfast.

Farmer Brown's boy put the trap on a table. "What have you there?"
called a great voice. It was the voice of Farmer Brown himself, who was
eating his breakfast.

"I've got the thief who has been stealing our corn in the crib," replied
Farmer Brown's boy, "and who do you think it is?"

"One of those pesky rats," replied Farmer Brown. "I'm afraid you've been
careless and left the door open some time, and that is how the rats have
got in there."

"But it isn't a rat, and I don't believe that there is a rat there,"
replied Farmer Brown's boy in triumph. "It's that little scamp of a red
squirrel we've seen racing along the wall at the edge of the Old
Orchard lately. I can't imagine how he got in there, but there he was,
and now here he is."

"What are you going to do with him?" asked Farmer Brown, coming over to
look at Chatterer.

"I don't know," replied Farmer Brown's boy, "unless I give him to Black
Puss for her breakfast. She has been teasing me for him ever since I
found him."

Farmer Brown's boy looked over to the other side of the table as he said
this, and his eyes twinkled with mischief.

"Oh, you mustn't do that! That would be cruel!" cried a soft voice. "You
must take him down to the Green Forest and let him go." A gentle face
with pitying eyes was bent above the trap. "Just see how frightened the
poor little thing is! You must take him straight down to the Green
Forest right after breakfast."

"Isn't that just like Mother?" cried Farmer Brown's boy. "I believe it
would be just the same with the ugliest old rat that ever lived. She
would try to think of some excuse for letting it go."

"God made all the little people who wear fur, and they must have some
place in his great plan," said Mrs. Brown.

Farmer Brown laughed a big, hearty laugh. "True enough, Mother!" said
he. "The trouble is, they get out of place. Now this little rascal's
place is down in the Green Forest and not up in our corn-crib."

"Then put him back in his right place!" was the prompt reply, and they
all laughed.

Now all this time poor Chatterer was thinking that this surely was his
last day. You see, he knew that he had been a thief, and he knew that
Farmer Brown's boy knew it. He just crouched down in a little ball, too
miserable to do anything but tremble every time any one came near. He
was sure that he had seen for the last time the Green Forest and the
Green Meadows and jolly Mr. Sun and all the other beautiful things he
loved so, and it seemed as if his heart would burst with despair.



XIII CHATTERER IS PUT IN PRISON


    Who ever does a deed that's wrong
      Will surely find some day
    That for that naughty act of his
      He'll surely have to pay.

That was the way with Chatterer. Of course he had had no business to
steal corn from Farmer Brown's corn-crib. To be sure he had felt that he
had just as much right to that corn as Farmer Brown had. You see, the
little people of the Green Meadows and the Green Forest feel that
everything that grows belongs to them, if they want it and are smart
enough to get it before some one else does. But it is just there that
Chatterer went wrong. Farmer Brown had harvested that corn and stored
it in his corn-crib, and so, of course, no one else had any right to it.
Right down deep in his heart Chatterer knew this. If he hadn't known it,
he wouldn't have been so sly in taking what he wanted. He knew all the
time that he was stealing, but he tried to make himself believe that it
was all right. So he had kept on stealing and stealing until at last he
was caught in a trap, and now he had got to pay for his wrong-doing.

Chatterer was very miserable, so miserable and frightened that he could
do nothing but sit huddled up in a little shivery ball. He hadn't the
least doubt in the world that this was his very last day, and that
Farmer Brown's boy would turn him over to cruel Black Pussy for her
breakfast. Farmer Brown's boy had left him in the trap in the house and
had gone out. For a long time Chatterer could hear pounding out in the
woodshed, and Farmer Brown's boy was whistling as he pounded. Chatterer
wondered how he could whistle and seem so happy when he meant to do such
a dreadful thing as to give him to Black Pussy. After what seemed a very
long time, ages and ages, Farmer Brown's boy came back. He had with him
a queer looking box.

"There," said he, "is a new home for you, you little red imp! I guess it
will keep you out of trouble for a while."

He slid back a little door in the top of the box, and then, putting on a
stout glove and opening a little door in the trap, he put in his big
hand and closed it around Chatterer.

Poor little Chatterer! He was sure now that this was the end, and that
he was to be given to Black Pussy, who was looking on with hungry,
yellow eyes. He struggled and did his best to bite, but the thick glove
gave his sharp little teeth no chance to hurt the hand that held him.
Even in his terror, he noticed that that big hand tried to be gentle and
squeezed him no tighter than was necessary. Then he was lifted out of
the trap and dropped through the little doorway in the top of the queer
box, and the door was fastened. Nothing terrible had happened, after
all.

At first, Chatterer just sulked in one corner. He still felt sure that
something terrible was going to happen. Farmer Brown's boy took the box
out into the shed and put it where the sun shone into it. For a little
while he stayed watching, but Chatterer still sulked and sulked. By and
by he went away, taking Black Pussy with him, and Chatterer was alone.

When he was quite sure that no one was about, Chatterer began to wonder
what sort of a place he was in, and if there wasn't some way to get out.
He found that one side and the top were of fine, stout wire, through
which he could look out, and that the other sides and the bottom were of
wood covered with wire, so that there was no chance for his sharp teeth
to gnaw a way out. In one corner was a stout piece of an apple-tree,
with two little stubby branches to sit on, and half way up a little
round hole. Very cautiously Chatterer peeped inside the hole. Inside was
a splendid hollow. On the floor of the box was a little heap of shavings
and bits of rag. And there was a little pile of yellow corn. How
Chatterer did hate the sight of that corn! You see, it was corn that had
got him into all this trouble. At least, that is the way Chatterer felt
about it. When he had examined everything, he knew that there was no way
out. Chatterer was in a prison, though that is not what Farmer Brown's
boy called it. He said it was a cage.

Illustration: Very cautiously Chatterer peeped inside the hole.



XIV CHATTERER DECIDES TO LIVE


At first Chatterer decided that he had rather die than live in a prison,
no matter how nice that prison might be. It was a very foolish thing to
do, but he made up his mind that he just wouldn't eat. He wouldn't touch
that nice, yellow corn Farmer Brown's boy had put in his prison for him.
He would starve himself to death. Yes, Sir, he would starve himself to
death. So when he found that there was no way to get out of his prison,
he curled up in the little hollow stump in his prison, where no one
could see him, and made up his mind that he would stay there until he
died. Life wasn't worth living if he had got to spend all the rest of
his days in a prison. He wouldn't even make himself comfortable. There
was that little heap of nice shavings and bits of rag for him to make a
nice comfortable bed of, but he didn't touch them. No, Sir, he just
tried to make himself miserable.

Not once that long day did he poke so much as the tip of his nose out of
his little round doorway. Ever so many times Farmer Brown's boy came to
see him, and whistled and called softly to him. But Chatterer didn't
make a sound. At last night came, and the woodshed where his prison was
grew dark and darker and very still. Now it was about this time that
Chatterer's stomach began to make itself felt. Chatterer tried not to
notice it, but his stomach would be noticed, and Chatterer couldn't
help himself. His stomach was empty, and it kept telling him so.

"I'm going to starve to death," said Chatterer to himself over and over.

"I'm empty, and there is plenty of food to fill me up, if you'll only
stop being silly," whispered his stomach.

The more Chatterer tried not to think of how good something to eat would
taste, the more he did think of it. It made him restless and uneasy. He
twisted and squirmed and turned. At last he decided that he would have
one more look to see if he couldn't find some way to get out of his
prison. He poked his head out of the little round doorway. All was still
and dark. He listened, but not a sound could he hear. Then he softly
crept out and hurriedly examined all the inside of his prison once
more. It was of no use! There wasn't a single place where he could use
his sharp teeth.

"There's that little pile of corn waiting for me," whispered his
stomach.

"I'll never touch it!" said Chatterer fiercely.

Just then he hit something with his foot, and it rolled. He picked it up
and then put it down again. It was a nut, a plump hickory nut. Two or
three times he picked it up and put it down, and each time it was harder
than before to put it down.

"I--I--I'd like to taste one more nut before I starve to death,"
muttered Chatterer, and almost without knowing it, he began to gnaw the
hard shell. When that nut was finished, he found another; and when that
was gone, still another. Then he just had to taste a grain of corn. The
first thing Chatterer knew, the nuts and the corn were all gone, and his
stomach was full. Somehow he felt ever so much better. He didn't feel
like starving to death now.

"I--I believe I'll wait a bit and see what happens," said he to himself,
"and while I'm waiting, I may as well be comfortable."

With that he began to carry the shavings and rags into the hollow stump
and soon had as comfortable a bed as ever he had slept on. Chatterer had
decided to live.



XV FARMER BROWN'S BOY TRIES TO MAKE FRIENDS


    Nobody lives who's wholly bad;
      Some good you'll find in every heart.
    Your enemies will be your friends.
      If only you will do your part.

All his life Chatterer the Red Squirrel had looked on Farmer Brown's boy
as his enemy, just as did all the other little people of the Green
Meadows, the Green Forest, and the Smiling Pool. They feared him, and
because they feared him, they hated him. So whenever he came near, they
ran away. Now at first, Farmer Brown's boy used to run after them for
just one thing--because he wanted to make friends with them, and he
couldn't see how ever he was going to do it unless he caught them. After
a while, when he found that he couldn't catch them by running after
them, he made up his mind that they didn't want to be his friends, and
so then he began to hunt them, because he thought it was fun to try to
outwit them. Of course, when he began to do that, they hated him and
feared him all the more. You see, they didn't understand that really he
had one of the kindest hearts in the world; and he didn't understand
that they hated him just because they didn't know him.

So when Chatterer had been caught in the trap in Farmer Brown's
corn-crib, he hadn't doubted in the least that Farmer Brown's boy would
give him to Black Pussy or do something equally cruel; and even when he
found that he was only to be kept a prisoner in a very comfortable
prison, with plenty to eat and drink, he wasn't willing to believe any
good of Farmer Brown's boy. Indeed, he hated him more than ever, if that
were possible.

But Farmer Brown's boy was very patient. He came to Chatterer's prison
ever so many times a day and whistled and clucked and talked to
Chatterer. And he brought good things to eat. It seemed as if he were
all the time trying to think of some new treat for Chatterer. He never
came without bringing something. At first, Chatterer would hide in his
hollow stump as soon as he saw Farmer Brown's boy coming and wouldn't so
much as peek out until he had gone away. When he was sure that the way
was clear, he would come out again, and always he found some delicious
fat nuts or some other dainty waiting for him. After a little, as soon
as he saw Farmer Brown's boy coming, Chatterer would begin to wonder
what good thing he had brought this time, and would grow terribly
impatient for Farmer Brown's boy to go away so that he could find out.

By and by it got so that he couldn't wait, but would slyly peep out of
his little, round doorway to see what had been brought for him. Then one
day Farmer Brown's boy didn't come at all. Chatterer tried to make
himself believe that he was glad. He told himself that he hated Farmer
Brown's boy, and he hoped that he never, never would see him again. But
all the time he knew that it wasn't true. It was the longest day since
Chatterer had been a prisoner. Early the next morning, before Chatterer
was out of bed, he heard a step in the woodshed, and before he thought
what he was doing, he was out of his hollow stump to see if it really
was Farmer Brown's boy. It was, and he had three great fat nuts which he
dropped into Chatterer's cage. It seemed to Chatterer that he just
couldn't wait for Farmer Brown's boy to go away. Finally he darted
forward and seized one. Then he scampered to the shelter of his hollow
stump to eat it. When it was finished, he just had to have another.
Farmer Brown's boy was still watching, but somehow Chatterer didn't feel
so much afraid. This time he sat up on one of the little branches of the
stump and ate it in plain sight. Farmer Brown's boy smiled, and it was a
pleasant smile.

"I believe we shall be friends, after all," said he.



XVI CHATTERER HAS A PLEASANT SURPRISE


Chatterer the Red Squirrel, the mischief maker of the Green Forest, had
never been more comfortable in his life. No matter how rough Brother
North Wind roared across the Green Meadows and through the Green Forest,
piling the snow in great drifts, he couldn't send so much as one tiny
shiver through the little red coat of Chatterer. And always right at
hand was plenty to eat--corn and nuts and other good things such as
Chatterer loves. No, he never had been so comfortable in all his life.
But he wasn't happy, not truly happy. You see, he was in prison, and no
matter how nice a prison may be, no one can be truly happy there.

Since he had been a prisoner, Chatterer had learned to think very
differently of Farmer Brown's boy from what he used to think. In fact,
he and Farmer Brown's boy had become very good friends, for Farmer
Brown's boy was always very gentle, and always brought him something
good to eat.

"He isn't at all like what I had thought," said Chatterer, "and if I
were free, I wouldn't be afraid of him at all. I--I'd like to tell some
of the other little Green Forest people about him. If only--"

Chatterer didn't finish. Instead a great lump filled his throat. You
see, he was thinking of the Green Forest and the Old Orchard, and how he
used to race through the tree-tops and along the stone wall. Half the
fun in life had been in running and jumping, and now there wasn't room
in this little prison to stretch his legs. If only he could run--run as
hard as ever he knew how--once in a while, he felt that his prison
wouldn't be quite so hard to put up with.

That very afternoon, while Chatterer was taking a nap in his bed in the
hollow stump, something was slipped over his little round doorway, and
Chatterer awoke in a terrible fright to find himself a prisoner inside
his hollow stump. There was nothing he could do about it but just lie
there in his bed, and shake with fright, and wonder what dreadful thing
was going to happen next. He could hear Farmer Brown's boy very busy
about something in his cage. After a long, long time, his little round
doorway let in the light once more. The door had been opened. At first
Chatterer didn't dare go out, but he heard the soft little whistle with
which Farmer Brown's boy always called him when he had something
especially nice for him to eat, so at last he peeped out. There on the
floor of the cage were some of the nicest nuts. Chatterer came out at
once. Then his sharp eyes discovered something else. It was a queer
looking thing made of wire at one end of his cage.

Chatterer looked at it with great suspicion. Could it be a new kind of
trap? But what would a trap be doing there, when he was already a
prisoner? He ate all the nuts, all the time watching this new, queer
looking thing. It seemed harmless enough. He went a little nearer.
Finally he hopped into it. It moved. Of course that frightened him, and
he started to run up. But he didn't go up. No, Sir, he didn't go up.
You see, he was in a wire wheel; and as he ran, the wheel went around.
Chatterer was terribly frightened, and the faster he tried to run, the
faster the wheel went around. Finally he had to stop, because he was out
of breath and too tired to run another step. When he stopped, the wheel
stopped.

Little by little, Chatterer began to understand. Farmer Brown's boy had
made that wheel to give him a chance to run all he wanted to and
whenever he wanted to. When he understood this, Chatterer was as nearly
happy as he could be in a prison. It was such a pleasant surprise! He
would race and race in it until he just had to stop for breath. Farmer
Brown's boy looked on and laughed to see how much happier he had made
Chatterer.



XVII SAMMY JAY'S SHARP EYES


Everybody knows that Sammy Jay has sharp eyes. In fact, there are very
few of the little forest people whose eyes are as sharp as Sammy's. That
is because he uses them so much. A long time ago he found out that the
more he used his eyes, the sharper they became, and so there are very
few minutes when Sammy is awake that he isn't trying to see something.
He is always looking. That is the reason he always knows so much about
what is going on in the Green Forest and on the Green Meadows.

Now of course Chatterer the Red Squirrel couldn't disappear without
being missed, particularly by Sammy Jay. And of course Sammy couldn't
miss Chatterer and not wonder what had become of him. At first, Sammy
thought that Chatterer was hiding, but after peeking and peering and
watching in the Old Orchard for a few days, he was forced to think that
either Chatterer had once more moved or else that something had happened
to him.

"Perhaps Shadow the Weasel has caught him, after all," thought Sammy,
and straightway flew to a certain place in the Green Forest where he
might find Shadow the Weasel. Sure enough, Shadow was there. Now of
course it wouldn't do to ask right out if Shadow had caught Chatterer,
and Sammy was smart enough to know it.

Illustration: "You tell Chatterer that I'll get him yet!" snarled
Shadow.

"Chatterer the Red Squirrel sends his respects and hopes you are
enjoying your hunt for him," called Sammy.

Shadow looked up at Sammy, and anger blazed in his little, red eyes.
"You tell Chatterer that I'll get him yet!" snarled Shadow.

Sammy's eyes sparkled with mischief. He had made Shadow angry, and he
had found out what he wanted to know. He was sure that Shadow had not
caught Chatterer.

"But what can have become of him?" thought Sammy. "I've got no love for
him, but just the same I miss him. I really must find out. Yes, Sir, I
really must."

So every minute that he could spare, Sammy Jay spent trying to find
Chatterer. He asked every one he met if they had seen Chatterer. He
peeked and peered into every hollow and hiding place he could think of.
But look as he would and ask as he would, he could find no trace of
Chatterer. At last he happened to think of Farmer Brown's corn-crib.
Could it be that Chatterer had moved over there or had come to some
dreadful end there? Very early the next morning, Sammy flew over to the
corn-crib. He looked it all over with his sharp eyes and listened for
sounds of Chatterer inside. But not a sound could he hear. Then he
remembered the hole under the edge of the roof through which Chatterer
used to go in and out. Sammy hurried to look at it. It was closed by a
stout board nailed across it. Then Sammy knew that Farmer Brown's boy
had found it.

"He's killed Chatterer, that's what he's done!" cried Sammy, and flew
over to the Old Orchard filled with sad thoughts. He meant to wait until
Farmer Brown's boy came out and then tell him what he thought of him.
After that, he would fly through the Green Forest and over the Green
Meadows to spread the sad news.

After a while, the door of the farmhouse opened, and Farmer Brown's boy
stepped out. Sammy had his mouth open to scream, when his sharp eyes saw
something queer. Farmer Brown's boy had a queer looking box in his arms
which he put on a shelf where the sun would shine on it. It looked to
Sammy as if something moved inside that box. He forgot to scream and say
the bad things he had planned to say. He waited until Farmer Brown's boy
had gone to the barn. Then Sammy flew where he could look right into the
queer box. There was Chatterer the Red Squirrel!



XVIII CHATTERER IS MADE FUN OF


"Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho! Smarty caught at last!" Sammy Jay fairly
shrieked with glee, as he peered down from the top of an apple-tree at
Chatterer, in the cage Farmer Brown's boy had made for him. Sammy was so
relieved to think that Chatterer was not dead, and he was so tickled to
think that Chatterer, who always thought himself so smart, should have
been caught, that he just had to torment Chatterer by laughing at him
and saying mean things to him, until Chatterer lost his temper and said
things back quite in the old way. This tickled Sammy more than ever, for
it sounded so exactly like Chatterer when he had been a free little imp
of mischief in the Green Forest, that Sammy felt sure that Chatterer had
nothing the matter with him.

But he couldn't stop very long to make fun of poor Chatterer. In the
first place Farmer Brown's boy had put his head out the barn door to see
what all the fuss was about. In the second place, Sammy fairly ached all
over to spread the news through the Green Forest and over the Green
Meadows. You know he is a great gossip. And this was such unusual news.
Sammy knew very well that no one would believe him. He knew that they
just couldn't believe that smart Mr. Chatterer had really been caught.
And no one did believe it.

"All right," Sammy would reply. "It doesn't make the least bit of
difference in the world to me whether you believe it or not. You can go
up to Farmer Brown's house and see him in prison yourself, just as I
did."

So late that afternoon, when all was quiet around the farmyard,
Chatterer saw something very familiar behind the old stone wall at the
edge of the Old Orchard. It bobbed up and then dropped out of sight
again. Then it bobbed up again, only to drop out of sight just as
quickly.

"It looks to me very much as if Peter Rabbit is over there and feeling
very nervous," said Chatterer to himself, and then he called sharply,
just as when he was free in the Green Forest. Right away Peter's head
bobbed up for all the world like a jack-in-the-box, and this time it
stayed up. Peter's eyes were round with surprise, as he stared across at
Chatterer's prison.

"Oh, it's true!" gasped Peter, as if it were as hard work to believe his
own eyes as it was to believe Sammy Jay. "I must go right away and see
what can be done to get Chatterer out of trouble." And then, because it
was broad daylight, and he really didn't dare stay another minute, Peter
waved good-by to Chatterer and started for the Green Forest as fast as
his long legs could take him.

A little later who should appear peeping over the stone wall but Reddy
Fox. It seemed very bold of Reddy, but really it wasn't nearly as bold
as it seemed. You see, Reddy knew that Farmer Brown's boy and Bowser the
Hound were over in the Old Pasture, and that he had nothing to fear. He
grinned at Chatterer in the most provoking way. It made Chatterer angry
just to see him.

    "Smarty, Smarty, Mr. Smarty,
    Glad to see you looking hearty!
    Weather's fine, as you can see;
    Won't you take a walk with me?"

So said Reddy Fox, knowing all the time that Chatterer couldn't take a
walk with any one. At first Chatterer scolded and called Reddy all the
bad names he could think of, but after a little he didn't feel so much
like scolding. In fact, he didn't half hear the mean things Reddy Fox
said to him. You see, it was coming over him more and more that nothing
could take the place of freedom. He had a comfortable home, plenty to
eat, and was safe from every harm, but he was a prisoner, and having
these visitors made him realize it more than ever. Something very like
tears filled his eyes, and he crept into his hollow stump where he
couldn't see or be seen.



XIX PETER RABBIT TRIES TO HELP


Peter Rabbit is one of the kindest hearted little people of the Green
Forest or the Green Meadows. He is happy-go-lucky, and his dreadful
curiosity is forever getting him into all kinds of trouble. Perhaps it
is because he has been in so many scrapes himself that he always feels
sorry for others who get into trouble. Anyway, no sooner does Peter hear
of some one in trouble, than he begins to wonder how he can help them.
So just as soon as he found out for himself that Sammy Jay had told the
truth about Chatterer the Red Squirrel, and that Chatterer really was in
a prison at Farmer Brown's house, he began to think and think to find
some way to help Chatterer.

Now of course Peter didn't know what kind of a prison Chatterer was in.
He remembered right away how Prickly Porky the Porcupine had gnawed a
great hole in the box in which Johnny Chuck's lost baby was kept by
Farmer Brown's boy. Why shouldn't Prickly Porky do as much for
Chatterer? He would go see him at once. The trouble with Peter is that
he doesn't think of all sides of a question. He is impulsive. That is,
he goes right ahead and does the thing that comes into his head first,
and sometimes this isn't the wisest or best thing to do. So now he
scampered down into the Green Forest as fast as his long legs would
carry him, to hunt for Prickly Porky. It was no trouble at all to find
him, for he had only to follow the line of trees that had been stripped
of their bark.

"Good afternoon, Prickly Porky. Have you heard the news about
Chatterer?" said Peter, talking very fast, for he was quite out of
breath.

"Yes," replied Prickly Porky. "Serves him right. I hope it will teach
him a lesson."

Peter's heart sank. "Don't you think it is dreadful?" he asked. "Just
think, he will never, never be able to run and play in the Green Forest
again, unless we can get him out."

"So much the better," grunted Prickly Porky. "So much the better. He
always was a nuisance. Never did see such a fellow for making trouble
for other people. No, Sir, I never did. The rest of us can have some
peace now. Serves him right." Prickly Porky went on chewing bark as if
Chatterer's trouble was no concern of his.

Peter's heart sank lower still. He scratched one long ear slowly with a
long hind foot, which is a way he has when he is thinking very hard. He
was so busy thinking that he didn't see the twinkle in the dull little
eyes of Prickly Porky, who really was not so hard-hearted as his words
sounded. After a long time, during which Peter thought and thought, and
Prickly Porky ate and ate, the latter spoke again.

"What have you got on your mind, Peter?" he asked.

"I--I was just thinking how perfectly splendid it would be if you would
go up there and gnaw a way out of his prison for Chatterer," replied
Peter timidly.

"Huh!" grunted Prickly Porky. "Huh! Some folks think my wits are pretty
slow, but even I know better than that. Put on your thinking cap again,
Peter Rabbit."

"Why can't you? You are not afraid of Bowser the Hound or Farmer Brown's
boy, and everybody else is, excepting Jimmy Skunk," persisted Peter.

"For the very good reason that if I could gnaw into his prison,
Chatterer could gnaw out. If he can't gnaw his way out with those sharp
teeth of his, I certainly can't gnaw in. Where's your common sense,
Peter Rabbit?"

"That's so. I hadn't thought of that," replied Peter slowly and
sorrowfully. "I must try to think of some other way to help Chatterer."

"I'd be willing to try if it was of any use. But it isn't," said
Prickly Porky, who didn't want Peter to think that he really was as
hard-hearted as he had seemed at first.

Illustration: "I'd be willing to try it if it was of any use. But it
isn't," said Prickly Porky.

So Peter bade Prickly Porky good-by and started for the dear old
Briar-patch to try to think of some other way to help Chatterer. On the
way he waked up Unc' Billy Possum and Bobby Coon, but they couldn't give
him any help. "There really doesn't seem to be any way I can help,"
sighed Peter. And there really wasn't.



XX CHATTERER HAS ANOTHER GREAT SURPRISE


Chatterer had never had so many surprises--good surprises--in all his
life, as since the day he had been caught in a trap in Farmer Brown's
corn-crib. In the first place, it had been a great surprise to him that
he had not been given to Black Pussy, as he had fully expected to be.
Then had come the even greater surprise of finding that Farmer Brown's
boy was ever and ever so much nicer than he had thought. A later
surprise had been the wire wheel in his cage, so that he could run to
his heart's content. It was such a pleasant and wholly unexpected
surprise that it had quite changed Chatterer's feelings towards Farmer
Brown's boy.

The fact is, Chatterer could have been truly happy but for one thing--he
was a prisoner. Yes, Sir, he was a prisoner, and he couldn't forget it
for one minute while he was awake. He used to watch Farmer Brown's boy
and wish with all his might that he could make him understand how
dreadful it was to be in a prison. But Farmer Brown's boy couldn't
understand what Chatterer said, no matter how hard Chatterer tried to
make him. He seemed to think that Chatterer was happy. He just didn't
understand that not all the good things in the world could make up for
loss of freedom--that it is better to be free, though hungry and cold,
than in a prison with every comfort.

Chatterer had stood it pretty well and made the best of things until
Sammy Jay had found him, and Reddy Fox had made fun of him, and Peter
Rabbit had peeped at him from behind the old stone wall. The very sight
of them going where they pleased and when they pleased had been too much
for Chatterer, and such a great longing for the Green Forest and the Old
Orchard filled his heart that he could think of nothing else. He just
sat in a corner of his cage and looked as miserable as he felt. He lost
his appetite. In vain Farmer Brown's boy brought him the fattest nuts
and other dainties. He couldn't eat for the great longing for freedom
that filled his heart until it seemed ready to burst. He no longer cared
to run in the new wire wheel which had given him so much pleasure at
first. He was homesick, terribly homesick, and he just couldn't help it.

Farmer Brown's boy noticed it, and his face grew sober and thoughtful.
He watched Chatterer when the latter didn't know that he was about, and
if he couldn't understand Chatterer's talk, he could understand
Chatterer's actions. He knew that he was unhappy and guessed why. One
morning Chatterer did not come out of his hollow stump as he usually did
when his cage was placed on the shelf outside the farmhouse door. He
just didn't feel like it. He stayed curled up in his bed for a long,
long time, too sad and miserable to move. At last he crawled up and
peeped out of his little round doorway. Chatterer gave a little gasp and
rubbed his eyes. Was he dreaming? He scrambled out in a hurry and peeped
through the wires of his cage. Then he rubbed his eyes again and rushed
over to the other side of the cage for another look. His cage wasn't on
the usual shelf at all! It was on the snow-covered stone wall at the
edge of the Old Orchard.

Chatterer was so excited he didn't know what to do. He raced around the
cage. Then he jumped into the wire wheel and made it spin round and
round as never before. When he was too tired to run any more, he jumped
out. And right then he discovered something he hadn't noticed before.
The little door in the top of his cage was open! It must be that Farmer
Brown's boy had forgotten to close it when he put in Chatterer's
breakfast. Chatterer forgot that he was tired. Like a little red flash
he was outside and whisking along the snow-covered stone wall straight
for his home in the Old Orchard.

"Chickaree! Chickaree! Chickaree!" he shouted as he ran.



XXI CHATTERER HEARS THE SMALL VOICE


The very first of the little meadow and forest people to see Chatterer
after he had safely reached the Old Orchard, was Tommy Tit the
Chickadee. It just happened that Tommy was very busy in the very
apple-tree in which was the old home of Drummer the Woodpecker when
Chatterer reached it. You know Chatterer had moved into it for the
winter just a little while before he had been caught in the corn-crib by
Farmer Brown's boy.

Yes, Sir, Tommy was very busy, indeed. He was so busy that, sharp as his
bright little eyes are, he had not seen Chatterer racing along the
snow-covered old stone wall. It wasn't until he heard Chatterer's claws
on the trunk of the apple-tree that Tommy saw him at all. Then he was so
surprised that he lost his balance and almost turned a somersault in the
air before he caught another twig. You see, he knew all about Chatterer
and how he had been kept a prisoner by Farmer Brown's boy.

"Why! Whye-e! Is this really you, Chatterer?" he exclaimed. "However did
you get out of your prison? I'm glad, ever and ever so glad, that you
got away."

Chatterer flirted his tail in the saucy way he has, and his eyes
twinkled. Here was just the best chance ever to boast and brag. He could
tell Tommy Tit how smart he had been--smart enough to get away from
Farmer Brown's boy. Tommy Tit would tell the other little people, and
then everybody would think him just as smart as Unc' Billy Possum; and
you know Unc' Billy really was smart enough to get away from Farmer
Brown's boy after being caught. Everybody knew that he had been a
prisoner, and now that he was free, everybody would believe whatever he
told them about how he got away. Was there ever such a chance to make
his friends and neighbors say: "What a smart fellow he is!"

"I--I--" Chatterer stopped. Then he began again. "You see, it was this
way: I--I--" Somehow, Chatterer couldn't say what he had meant to say.
It seemed as if Tommy Tit's bright, merry eyes were looking right into
his head and heart and could see his very thoughts. Of course they
couldn't. The truth is that little small voice inside, which Chatterer
had so often refused to listen to when he was tempted to do wrong, was
talking again. It was saying: "For shame, Chatterer! For shame! Tell the
truth. Tell the truth." It was that little small voice that made
Chatterer hesitate and stop.

"You don't mean to say that you were smart enough to fool Farmer Brown's
boy and get out of that stout little prison he made for you, do you?"
asked Tommy Tit.

"No," replied Chatterer, almost before he thought. "No, I didn't. The
fact is, Tommy Tit, he left the door open purposely. He let me go.
Farmer Brown's boy isn't half so bad as some people think."

"Dee, dee, dee," laughed Tommy Tit. "I've been telling a lot of you
fellows that for a long time, but none of you would believe me. Now I
guess you know it. Why, I'm not the least bit afraid of Farmer Brown's
boy--not the least little bit in the world. If all the little forest and
meadow people would only trust him, instead of running away from him, he
would be the very best friend we have."

"Perhaps so," replied Chatterer doubtfully. "He was very good to me
while I was in his prison, and--and I'm not so very much afraid of him
now. Just the same, I don't mean to let him get hands on me again."

"Pooh!" said Tommy Tit. "Pooh! I'd just as soon eat out of his hand."

"That's all very well for you to say, when you are flying around free,
but I don't believe you dare go up to his house and prove it," retorted
Chatterer.

"Can't now," replied Tommy. "I've got too much to do for him right now,
but some day I'll show you. Dee, dee, dee, chickadee! I'm wasting my
time talking when there is such a lot to be done. I am clearing his
apple-trees of insect eggs."

"Ha, ha, ha! Go it, you little red scamp!" shouted a voice behind him.

Then Chatterer knew that Farmer Brown's boy had not left the little door
open by mistake, but had given him his freedom, and right then he knew
that they were going to be the best of friends.



XXII TOMMY TIT MAKES GOOD HIS BOAST


"Dee, dee, dee, chickadee! See me! See me!" Tommy Tit the Chickadee kept
saying this over and over, as he flew from the Green Forest up through
the Old Orchard on his way to Farmer Brown's dooryard, and his voice was
merry. In fact, his voice was the merriest, cheeriest sound to be heard
that bright, snapping, cold morning. To be sure there were other voices,
but they were not merry, nor were they cheery. There was the voice of
Sammy Jay, but it sounded peevish and discontented. And there was the
voice of Blacky the Crow, but it sounded harsh and unpleasant. And there
was the voice of Chatterer the Red Squirrel, but Chatterer was scolding
just from habit, and his voice was not pleasant to hear.

So every one who heard Tommy Tit's cheery voice that cold winter morning
just had to smile. Yes, Sir, they just had to smile, even Sammy Jay and
Blacky the Crow. They just couldn't help themselves. When Tommy reached
the stone wall that separated the Old Orchard from Farmer Brown's
dooryard, his sharp eyes were not long in finding Peter Rabbit, and
Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel, and Chatterer hiding in the old wall where
they could peep out and see all that happened in Farmer Brown's
dooryard. Looking back through the Old Orchard, he saw what looked like
a little bit of the blue, blue sky flitting silently from tree to tree.
It was Sammy Jay. Over in the very top of a tall maple-tree, a long way
off, was a spot of black. Tommy didn't need to be told that it was
Blacky the Crow, who didn't dare come any nearer.

Tommy fairly bubbled over with joy. He knew what it all meant. He knew
that Peter Rabbit and Happy Jack and Chatterer and Sammy Jay and Blacky
the Crow had come to see him make good his boast to Chatterer that he
would eat from the hand of Farmer Brown's boy, and that not one of them
really believed that he would do it. He tickled all over and cut up all
sorts of capers, just for pure joy. Finally he flew over to the
maple-tree that grows close by Farmer Brown's house.

"Dee, dee, dee, chickadee! See me! See me!" called Tommy Tit, and his
voice sounded cheerier than ever and merrier than ever.

Then the door of Farmer Brown's house opened, and out stepped Farmer
Brown's boy and looked up at Tommy Tit, and the look in his eyes was
gentle and good to see. He pursed up his lips, and from them came the
softest, sweetest whistle, and it sounded like "Phoe-be."

Peter Rabbit pinched himself to be sure that he was awake, for it was
Tommy Tit's own love note, and if Peter had not been looking straight at
Farmer Brown's boy, he would have been sure that it was Tommy himself
who had whistled.

"Phoe-be," whistled Farmer Brown's boy again.

"Phoe-be," replied Tommy Tit, and it was hard to say which whistle was
the softest and sweetest.

"Phoe-be," whistled Farmer Brown's boy once more and held out his hand.
In it was a cracked hickory nut.

"Dee, dee, dee! See me! See me!" cried Tommy Tit and flitted down from
the maple-tree right on to the hand of Farmer Brown's boy, and his
bright little eyes twinkled merrily as he helped himself to a bit of nut
meat.

Peter Rabbit looked at Happy Jack, and Happy Jack looked at Chatterer,
and all three acted as if they couldn't believe their own eyes. Then
they looked back at Farmer Brown's boy, and there on his head sat Tommy
Tit.

"Dee, dee, dee, chickadee! See me! See me!" called Tommy Tit, and his
voice was merrier than ever, for he had made good his boast.



XXIII CHATTERER GROWS VERY, VERY BOLD


"I'm not afraid. I am afraid. I'm not afraid. I am afraid. I'm not
afraid."

Chatterer kept saying these two things over and over and over again to
himself. You see, he really was afraid, and he was trying to make
himself believe that he wasn't afraid. He thought that perhaps if he
said ever and ever so many times that he wasn't afraid, he might
actually make himself believe it. The trouble was that every time he
said it, a little voice, a little, truthful voice down inside, seemed to
speak right up and tell him that he was afraid.

Poor Chatterer! It hurt his pride to have to own to himself that he
wasn't as brave as little Tommy Tit the Chickadee. His common sense told
him that there was no reason in the world why he shouldn't be. Tommy Tit
went every day and took food from the hand of Farmer Brown's boy. It
seemed to Chatterer, and to Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel, and to Peter
Rabbit, and to Sammy Jay, and to Blacky the Crow, all of whom had seen
him do it, as if it were the very bravest thing they ever had seen, and
their respect for Tommy Tit grew wonderfully.

But Tommy Tit himself didn't think it brave at all. No, Sir, Tommy knew
better. You see, he has a great deal of common sense under the little
black cap he wears.

"It may have been brave of me to do it the first time," thought he to
himself, when the others told him how brave they thought him, "but it
isn't brave of me now, because I know that no harm is going to come to
me from Farmer Brown's boy. There isn't any bravery about it, and it
might be just the same way with Chatterer and all the other little
forest and meadow people, if only they would think so, and give Farmer
Brown's boy half a chance."

Chatterer was beginning to have some such thoughts himself, as he tried
to make himself think that he wasn't afraid. He heard the door of Farmer
Brown's house slam and peeped out from the old stone wall. There was
Farmer Brown's boy with a big, fat hickory nut held out in the most
tempting way, and Farmer Brown's boy was whistling the same gentle
little whistle he had used when Chatterer was his prisoner, and he had
brought good things for Chatterer to eat. Of course Chatterer knew
perfectly well that that whistle was a call for him, and that that big
fat hickory nut was intended for him. Almost before he thought, he had
left the old stone wall and was half way over to Farmer Brown's boy.
Then he stopped short. It seemed as if that little voice inside had
fairly shouted in his ears: "I am afraid."

It was true; he was afraid. He was right on the very point of turning to
scurry back to the old stone wall, when he heard another voice. This
time it wasn't a voice inside. No, indeed! It was a voice from the top
of one of the apple-trees in the Old Orchard, and this is what it said:

"Coward! Coward! Coward!"

It was Sammy Jay speaking.

Now it is one thing to tell yourself that you are afraid, and it is
quite another thing to be told by some one else that you are afraid.

"No such thing! No such thing! I'm not afraid!" scolded Chatterer, and
then to prove it, he suddenly raced forward, snatched the fat hickory
nut from the hand of Farmer Brown's boy, and was back in the old stone
wall. It was hard to tell which was the most surprised--Chatterer
himself, Farmer Brown's boy, or Sammy Jay.

"I did it! I did it! I did it!" boasted Chatterer.

"You don't dare do it again, though!" said Sammy Jay, in the most
provoking and unpleasant way.

"I do too!" snapped Chatterer, and he did it. And with the taking of
that second fat nut from the hand of Farmer Brown's boy, the very last
bit of fear of him left Chatterer, and he knew that Tommy Tit the
Chickadee had been right all the time when he insisted that there was
nothing to fear from Farmer Brown's boy.

"Why," thought Chatterer, "if I would have let him, he would have been
my friend long ago!" And so he would have.

And this is all about Chatterer the Red Squirrel for now. Sammy Jay
insists that it is his turn now, and so the next book will be about his
adventures.


THE END





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