THE TALE OF SANDY CHIPMUNK
ARTHUR SCOTT BAILEY
ILLUSTRATED BY HARRY L. SMITH
I SANDY'S NAME
II SOMETHING IN THE SKY
III THE BROKEN EGG
IV BUILDING A HOUSE
V MRS. CHIPMUNK IS GLAD
VI SAMPLES OF WHEAT
VII UNCLE SAMMY'S STORE
VIII THE BASKET OF CORN
IX WORKING FOR MR. CROW
X MR. CROW SCOLDS SANDY
XI THE MAIL-BOX
XII SANDY GETS A LETTER
XIII A RIDE TO THE MILLER'S
XIV A LUCKY ACCIDENT
XV THE ROWDY OF THE WOODS
XVI ROWDY RUNS AWAY
XVII CORN-PLANTING TIME
XVIII SANDY LIKES MILK
XIX WHAT THE OLD COW DID
SANDY WAS SO STARTLED THAT HE DROPPED THE EGGS
MRS. CHIPMUNK WENT TO THE DOOR WITH SANDY
HE DROPPED THE GRAIN IN FRONT OF UNCLE SAMMY
UNCLE SAMMY SEARCHED HIS SHELVES CAREFULLY
"HERE'S A LETTER FOR ME!" SAID SANDY CHIPMUNK
FARMER GREEN'S CAT LEAPED OUT OF THE DOORWAY
THE TALE OF SANDY CHIPMUNK
In the first place, no doubt you will want to learn why he was known as Sandy. Many others, before you, have wondered how Sandy Chipmunk came by his name.
Whenever any one asked Sandy himself why he was so called, he always said that he was in too great a hurry to stop to explain. And it is a fact that of all the four-footed folk in Pleasant Valley—and on Blue Mountain as well—he was one of the busiest. He was a great worker. And when he played—as he sometimes did—he played just as hard as he worked.
In spite of his being so busy, there may have been another reason why he never would tell any one why he was named Sandy. Jimmy Rabbit was the first to suggest that perhaps Sandy Chipmunk didn't know.
Jimmy and some of his neighbors were sunning themselves in Farmer Green's pasture one day. And while they were idling away the afternoon Sandy Chipmunk scurried past on top of the stone wall, with his cheek-pouches full of nuts.
"There goes Sandy Chipmunk!" Jimmy Rabbit exclaimed. He called to Sandy. But Sandy did not stop. He made no answer, either, beyond a flick of his tail. You see, his mouth was so full that he couldn't say a word.
"I was going to ask him about his name," Jimmy Rabbit remarked. "I've almost made up my mind that he doesn't know any more about it than anybody else."
"Probably he doesn't," Fatty Coon agreed. "But it's easy to see why he's called Sandy. He likes to dig in the sandy soil in this pasture."
"I don't agree with you," Billy Woodchuck said. "I think he was named Sandy on account of his yellowish, reddish, brownish color."
Some of the others thought that Billy might have guessed the right answer. But Frisky Squirrel told them that that wasn't the reason at all.
"It's because he's plucky," he declared. "You know, gritty is the same as plucky. And sandy is the same as gritty. That's the reason," Frisky said. "It's plain as the nose on your face." He was looking straight at Tommy Fox as he said that.
Now, Tommy Fox had a very long nose. And he became angry at once. His face would have grown red, probably, if it hadn't been that color always.
"You don't know what you're talking about!" he snapped.
Old Mr. Crow, who sat in a tree nearby, nodded his head.
"You're all wrong," he told them. "The reason for calling that young Chipmunk boy Sandy is because his real name is Alexander. And everybody who knows anything at all knows that Sandy is just a short way of saying Alexander."
When they heard that, Fatty Coon and Billy Woodchuck and Frisky Squirrel looked foolish. People thought Mr. Crow was a wise old gentleman. And when he said a thing was so, that usually settled it.
"Here he comes again!" Mr. Crow said.
They all looked around. And sure enough! there was Sandy Chipmunk, hurrying along the top of the wall, to get more nuts to store away for the winter.
"Wait a moment!" Mr. Crow called to him. "I want to tell you something."
Sandy Chipmunk came to a halt and sat up on top of a stone, with his tail curled over his back.
"Talk fast, please!" he said. "I'm in a great hurry. Winter will be here before you know it. And I want to store away a great many nuts before somebody else gathers them all."
"I won't keep you long," Mr. Crow told him. "It's about your name—"
"I've no time to stop to explain," Sandy Chipmunk interrupted. "As I said, I'm very busy to-day." And he started to scamper along the wall again.
Once more Mr. Crow stopped him.
"You don't understand," he said. "I don't want to ask you anything. I want to tell you something."
"Oh!" said Sandy. "That's different. What is it?"
"It's quite a joke," Mr. Crow said. And he laughed loudly. "These young fellows here have been trying to tell one another why you're called Sandy. One of 'em says it's because you like to dig in the sandy soil; and another says it's because of your color; and still another claims it's because you're plucky. But I tell 'em it's because your real name is Alexander. And of course I'm right," said old Mr. Crow.
Sandy Chipmunk smiled. And then he started off again. And again Mr. Crow stopped him.
"Quite a joke on these youngsters—isn't it?" he inquired.
"You told me you didn't want to ask me anything," Sandy Chipmunk reminded him. "But I will say this—though I am in a great hurry: So far as I know, you are all of you right. And that's a joke on you, Mr. Crow."
Then Sandy Chipmunk scampered off. And everybody laughed—except Mr. Crow.
"Alexander Chipmunk is a very pert young man," he grumbled.
SOMETHING IN THE SKY
When Sandy Chipmunk was just a little chap his mother began to teach him to take care of himself. She told him that among other enemies he must always watch out for foxes and minks and weasels—especially weasels.
"They are very dangerous," Mrs. Chipmunk said.
"Well, I'll always be safe if I climb a tree—won't I?" Sandy asked her.
"Goodness, no!" his mother replied. "There are many big birds—such as hawks and owls and eagles—that would catch you if they could.... But I'll tell you about them some other time, Sandy."
Well, Sandy Chipmunk went out to play. But he didn't have what you would call a good time, because he couldn't help thinking of his mother's warning. He kept looking all around to see whether a weasel or a mink or a fox might be trying to steal up behind him. And he kept looking up to make sure that no big bird was ready to swoop down upon him.
But nothing of the sort happened—at least, not until the middle of the afternoon. Sandy had begun to believe that his mother was too timid. He did not think there was anything in Farmer Green's pasture to be afraid of. There were the cows—nothing seemed to worry them. They ate grass, or chewed their cuds, and never once looked behind them.
Sandy Chipmunk wandered further and further from home. For a long time he had not taken the trouble to look at the sky. But at last he glanced up. And to his great alarm he saw, hovering in the air far above him, an enormous creature. He had never seen its like before. It seemed all head and tail. Two great eyes stared at Sandy Chipmunk and sent a chill of fear over him. The monster's wide mouth grinned at him cruelly. And its long tail lashed back and forth as if its owner were very angry. Even as Sandy looked at the creature it gave a horrid scream.
Sandy Chipmunk did not wait for anything else. He turned and ran home. And a few of his friends who happened to see him remarked that he seemed to be in a greater hurry than ever.
Sandy felt better when he found himself safe in his mother's house. And he told Mrs. Chipmunk what he had seen.
"It may be an owl," he said, "because it has big, round eyes. But its tail was not like any owl's tail that I ever saw. It was like six catamounts' tails, all tied in knots."
"That's queer!" his mother remarked. "I never knew of a bird with a tail like that."
"Maybe it's a beast that has learned to fly," Sandy suggested.
"Beasts can't fly," Mrs. Chipmunk said.
But Sandy knew better than that.
"There's the Flying-Squirrel family," he reminded her.
"They can only fly from one tree to another," his mother told him. "I think I'll peep out and see for myself what this strange creature looks like."
He begged her not to. But Mrs. Chipmunk said she would be careful. And she went out and looked up at the sky.
Sandy was surprised when she came back laughing.
"What is it, Mother?" he asked. "Is it a bird or a beast?"
"Neither!" Mrs. Chipmunk answered with a smile.
"Then it must be a fish!" Sandy exclaimed.
"No! It's not a fish, either," his mother said. "It's nothing but a kite that Johnnie Green has made. He has painted eyes and a mouth on it. And I must say that if I didn't know a kite when I saw one it might have frightened me."
"But what makes it lash its tail that way?" Sandy asked her.
"The wind is blowing it," Mrs. Chipmunk explained.
"What made it scream?" Sandy inquired.
"It didn't," his mother replied.
Now, Sandy Chipmunk knew better than to contradict his mother. So all he said was this:
"Let's go outside and listen!"
Still smiling, Mrs. Chipmunk went to the door again with Sandy. And pretty soon they heard a long, far-off wail.
"There!" he cried. "That's it! Don't you hear it, Mother?"
"That—" Mrs. Chipmunk said—"that is nothing but the whistle of an engine, way down at the other end of Pleasant Valley."
THE BROKEN EGG
Nuts and grains were what Sandy Chipmunk ate more than anything else. But sometimes when he could not find enough of those, or when he wanted a change of food, he would eat almost any sort of berry, and apples and pears as well. Tomatoes, too, he liked once in a while. And he was very fond of sunflower seeds. He would not refuse a fat insect, either, if it flew his way. But these were not the only dainties that Sandy thought good. There was something else—something to be found in trees—for which Sandy sometimes hunted. And before he came home, after finding what he was looking for, he always wiped his mouth with great care.
If you had ever seen him wiping his mouth like that, you might have guessed that Sandy Chipmunk had been eating birds' eggs. And the reason he was so careful to remove all signs of his feast was because he did not want his mother to know what he had been doing.
Now you have heard the worst there is to know about Sandy Chipmunk.
To you it may seem odd that Mrs. Chipmunk did not think it wrong to rob birds' nests. And now you know the worst about her.
Sandy's mother liked eggs just as much as he did. But her son was such a little fellow that she was afraid he might get hurt climbing trees and looking for eggs. She told him that some day some bird might surprise him when he was enjoying a meal of her eggs, and peck out one or two of his eyes.
"Keep away from the nests!" Mrs. Chipmunk said.
But Sandy had had too many tastes of birds' eggs. He simply couldn't resist eating a few eggs now and then. Of course, when he did that he disobeyed his mother. And of course, if she had known it she would have punished him.
As the spring days sped past, the birds that lived in Farmer Green's pasture grew very angry with Sandy Chipmunk. You see, it was not long before they discovered who it was that was robbing their nests now and then.
"You'd better leave birds' eggs alone!" Mr. Crow warned him one day. "A number of my friends have told me what they're going to do to you, if they catch you near their nests."
But Sandy told Mr. Crow to keep his advice to himself.
"What about Farmer Green's corn?" Sandy asked the old gentleman. "I've heard that Farmer Green is looking for you with a gun."
Mr. Crow didn't even answer him. He just flew away. There were some things he didn't like to talk about.
That very afternoon Sandy Chipmunk spied a robin's nest in a tree not far from where he lived. And in less time than it takes to tell it, he had climbed the tree and run out on the limb where the nest rested.
Sandy Chipmunk smiled as he peered into the robin's nest. The four greenish-blue eggs that he saw there looked very good to him. And he smacked his lips—though his mother had often told him not to. He was just picking the eggs out of the nest when he heard a rustle in the leaves over his head. And Sandy Chipmunk looked up quickly.
It seemed to him, at first, that the air was full of monstrous birds. Actually, there were only three of them—Mr. and Mrs. Robin and a neighbor of theirs. But to Sandy they looked six times as big as they really were. That was because they had caught him robbing the nest.
He was so startled that he dropped the eggs. They fell back into the nest—all except one, which broke upon the ground beneath the tree.
"Robber!" Mrs. Robin screamed.
"Thief!" Mr. Robin roared.
"Villain!" their neighbor cried.
It is a wonder they didn't fly straight at Sandy and knock him off the limb.
At first he was too frightened to say a word. But when he saw that he wasn't hurt, Sandy looked down at the broken egg and said:
"What a pity!" He meant it, too. For he thought it was a shame to waste a perfectly good egg like that, when he might have eaten it.
"You don't mean you're sorry, do you?" Mrs. Robin asked him.
"Certainly I am!" Sandy told her. "I was just counting your eggs. And when you startled me, I dropped that one. I thought it must be a hawk, you all made such a noise."
"You're sure you weren't going to eat our eggs?" Mr. Robin inquired.
"Eat them!" Sandy exclaimed. "Why, my mother has often told me not to eat birds' eggs."
When he heard that, Mr. Robin whispered something to his wife. And then he said to Sandy Chipmunk:
"You go home! And don't let me catch you around this tree again!"
Sandy was glad to escape so easily as that. And though he was sorry to have missed a good meal, there was one thing that made him almost happy: He didn't have to bother to wipe his mouth before he let his mother see him.
BUILDING A HOUSE
There came a day when Sandy Chipmunk decided that he was old enough and big enough to make a house of his own. He was not the sort of person to think and think about a thing and put off the doing of it from one day to another. So the moment the idea of a house popped into his head Sandy Chipmunk began hunting for a good place to dig.
It was not long before he found a bit of ground that seemed to him the very best spot for a home that any one could want.
The place where he intended to make his front door was in the middle of a smooth plot among some beech trees. Farmer Green's cows had clipped the grass short all around. And Sandy knew that he could have a neat dooryard without being obliged to go to the trouble of cutting the grass himself. But what he liked most of all about the place was that as he stood there he could look all around in every direction. That was just what he wanted, because whenever he wished to leave his new house he would be able to peep out and see whether anybody was waiting to catch him.
So Sandy Chipmunk took off his little, short coat, folded it carefully, and laid it down upon the grass. Then he pulled off his necktie and unbuttoned his collar. Just because he was going to dig in the ground there was no reason why he should get his clothes dirty.
After that Sandy Chipmunk set to work. And you should have seen how he made the earth fly. When night came and he had to stop working there was a big heap of dirt beneath the beech trees, to show how busy Sandy had been. There was a big hole in the pasture, too. But it was nothing at all, compared with the hole Sandy had dug by the time he had finished his house.
Every morning Sandy Chipmunk came back to the grove of beech trees to work upon his new house. And it was not many days before his burrow was so deep that when winter came the ground about his chamber would not freeze. It was what Farmer Green would have called "below frost-line."
You must not think it was an easy matter for Sandy Chipmunk to dig a home. You must remember that somehow he had to bring the dirt out of his tunnel to the top of the ground. And he did that by pushing it ahead of him with his nose.
You may laugh when you hear that. But for Sandy Chipmunk it was no laughing matter. If he had laughed, just as likely as not he would have found his mouth full of dirt. And you can understand that that wouldn't have been very pleasant.
As it was, his face was very dirty. But he never went back to his mother's house until he had washed it carefully, just as a cat washes her face.
Sometimes Sandy found stones in his way, down there beneath the pasture. And those he had to push up, too. Sometimes a stone was too big to crowd through the opening into the world outside. And then Sandy had to make the opening bigger. After he had done that, and pushed the stone out upon his dirt-pile, he would make his doorway smaller again by packing earth firmly into it.
You must not suppose that when Sandy brought the loose dirt and stones up through his doorway he left them there. Not at all! He pushed all the litter some distance away. And whenever he turned, to scamper down into his burrow again, he would kick behind him, as hard as he could, to scatter the dirt still further from his new house.
After Sandy had made himself a chamber where he could sleep, and where he could store enough food to last him throughout the winter, any one would naturally imagine that his house was finished. But Sandy Chipmunk was not yet satisfied with his new home. There was still something else that he wanted to do to it.
MRS. CHIPMUNK IS GLAD
After Sandy Chipmunk had dug his chamber underneath Farmer Green's pasture, he liked the inside of his house quite well. But the looks of the outside did not please him at all. He wanted a neat dooryard. And how could he have that, with that yawning hole through which he had pushed earth and stones, which still littered the grass a little distance away?
Luckily, Sandy knew exactly what to do. So he set to work to close the big work-hole. It was no easy task—as you can believe. But at last he managed to pack the hole full of dirt.
Then he had no door at all. And there he was in the dark, inside the hall that led to his chamber and storeroom. But that did not worry Sandy. You see, he knew just what he was about. And before long he had dug a new doorway—a small, neat, round hole, which you would probably have walked right past, without noticing it, it was so hard to see in the grass that grew thickly about it.
You might think that at last Sandy's house was finished. But he was not satisfied with it until he had made still another doorway, in the same fashion. He knew that it was safer to have an extra door through which he could slip out when some enemy was entering by the other one. Then Sandy Chipmunk's house was finished. And he was greatly pleased with it.
But his work was not yet done. He had to furnish his chamber. So he began to hunt about for dry leaves, to make him a bed. These he stuffed into his cheek-pouches and carried into his house. But he didn't march proudly up to one of his two doors. Oh, no! He reached it by careful leaps and bounds. And when he left home again he was particular to go in the same manner in which he had come.
It made no difference which of his doors Sandy used. He always came and went like that, because he didn't want to wear a path to either of his two doors or tramp down the grass around them. If he had been so careless as to let people notice where he lived he would have been almost sure to have enemies prowling about his house. And if a weasel had happened to see one of Sandy's neat doorways he would have pushed right in, in the hope of finding Sandy inside his house.
In that case the weasel would probably have pushed out again, with Sandy inside him. So you can understand that Sandy Chipmunk had the best of reasons for being careful.
After he had made a soft, warm bed for himself, Sandy set to work to gather nuts and grain, to store in his house and eat during the winter. He was particular to choose only well cured (or dried) food, for he knew that that was the only sort that would keep through the long winter, down in his underground storeroom.
He gathered other food, too, besides nuts and grain. Near Farmer Green's house he found some plump sunflower seeds, which he added to his store. Then there were wild-cherry pits, too, which the birds had dropped upon the ground. All these, and many other kinds of food, found their way into Sandy Chipmunk's home.
Much as he liked such things to eat—and especially sunflower seeds—he never ate a single nut or grain or seed while he gathered them for his winter's food. And when you stop to remember that he had to carry everything home in his mouth, you can see that Sandy Chipmunk had what is called self-control.
His mother had always told him that he couldn't get through a winter without that. And so, when Sandy brought her to see his new home, after it was all finished, and his bed was neatly made, and his storeroom full of food, Mrs. Chipmunk was delighted.
"I'm glad to see—" she said—"I'm glad to see that all my talking has done some good."
SAMPLES OF WHEAT
There was so much said about Sandy Chipmunk's store of nuts and grain that a few of the forest-people began to wish they had some of Sandy's winter food for themselves. Uncle Sammy Coon, an old scamp who lived over near the swamp, was one of those who began to plan to get Sandy's hoard away from him.
It was the grain that Uncle Sammy wanted. If he had spent in honest work one-half the time he used in planning some trickery he would have been much better off. But he hated work more than anything else in the world.
Uncle Sammy Coon scarcely slept at all for several days, he was so busy thinking about Sandy's grain. And since he always passed his nights in wandering through the woods, he became almost ill.
The trouble was, Uncle Sammy was far too big to crawl inside Sandy's house. And he knew that the only way he could get at the grain was to persuade somebody to bring it outside for him.
At last he thought of a fine scheme. And as soon as it came into his head he hobbled over to Sandy Chipmunk's home. I say hobbled, because Uncle Sammy had a lame knee. He always claimed that he was injured in battle. But almost every one knew that he hurt his knee one time when Farmer Green caught him stealing a hen.
When he reached the pasture Uncle Sammy found Sandy Chipmunk just starting away to hunt for nuts.
"Good morning!" the old fellow said. He spoke very pleasantly, though he was so sleepy that he felt disagreeable enough. "I've come over to buy something from your store."
"My store!" Sandy Chipmunk exclaimed.
"Yes!" said Uncle Sammy Coon. "I've heard you have a store here with a heap of nuts and grain to sell."
Now, it had never occurred to Sandy Chipmunk to sell any of the food he had gathered for the winter. But when Uncle Sammy put the idea in his head Sandy rather liked it.
"I have a fine stock, to be sure," he said. "The nuts are specially good. How many would you like to buy?"
But Uncle Sammy Coon told him he didn't want any nuts.
"I never eat them," he said. "It's grain that I want. And I'll buy as much as you care to sell.... Bring a sample of it up here," he urged. "I'd like to see if it's as good as people say."
So Sandy Chipmunk darted into his house. And soon he appeared again with his cheek-pouches crammed full of wheat kernels.
"There!" he cried, when he had dropped the grain in front of Uncle Sammy. "Just try a little of it! You'll agree with me that it's very fine."
Uncle Sammy not only tried a little. He gobbled up every single kernel.
"It seems to me to have a queer taste," he said. "Bring up some more!"
And Sandy scurried down into his house again, to bob up in a few moments with another sample of his grain.
Once more Uncle Sammy ate it all.
"It's a bit damp," he remarked, as he smacked his lips. "I hope it's not moldy.... You'd better let me see another sample."
Uncle Sammy declared the next heap of kernels to be altogether too dry. And he kept ordering Sandy to fetch more for him to "taste," as he called it. Some of the wheat he considered too ripe, and some too green. Some of the kernels—so he said—were too little, and others too big. And finally he even told Sandy Chipmunk that he was afraid Sandy was trying to sell him last year's wheat.
Now, Sandy knew that his wheat was fresh—all of it. So he went down and brought up still another load.
Uncle Sammy ate that more slowly, for by this time he had had a good meal.
"How do you like it?" Sandy asked him.
"It's fair," Uncle Sammy replied. "But I believe it's next year's wheat. And of course I wouldn't think of buying that kind.... I guess I can't trade with you, after all." And he started to hobble away.
When Sandy heard that, and saw the old fellow leaving, he began to scold.
"Aren't you going to pay me for what you've eaten?" he asked.
"What! Pay you for the samples?" Uncle Sammy asked. "I guess, young man, you don't know much about keeping a store. Nobody ever pays for samples." And he went away muttering to himself.
Sandy Chipmunk felt very sad. Uncle Sammy had eaten half his winter's supply of wheat.
Sandy was angry, too. And for several days he was busier than ever, trying to think of some way in which he could make Uncle Sammy Coon pay him.
UNCLE SAMMY'S STORE
Not long after Uncle Sammy Coon ate half of Sandy Chipmunk's wheat without paying for it he seemed to grow lamer than ever. And he walked less than ever, too. A good many of the forest-folk said that he really wasn't any lamer—but he was lazier.
However that may have been, he began to stay at home a good deal of the time. And finally Sandy Chipmunk heard that Uncle Sammy had opened a store, in which he kept all sorts of good things to eat.
When Sandy learned that he lost no time in going over to Uncle Sammy's house near the swamp.
Sure enough! There he found Uncle Sammy sitting behind a long table. And behind him were shelves loaded with apples, pears, corn, nuts and many other kinds of food.
"I'd like to buy some nuts," Sandy Chipmunk told the old gentleman.
"Nuts?" said Uncle Sammy. "I have some fine nuts."
"Let me see a sample," Sandy said.
But Uncle Sammy never stirred.
"There they are, right on the shelf!" he said. "Look at them all you want to."
"I'll eat one and see how I like it," said Sandy Chipmunk.
But Uncle Sammy shook his head.
"No!" he replied. "That's the old-fashioned way of keeping a store. I don't give away any samples."
When Sandy heard that he was angrier than ever. And he wished he had never given Uncle Sammy any samples of his wheat. But he knew there was no use of appearing angry. So he smiled and asked:
"What is the price of your beechnuts?"
"For one handful, you will have to pay me an ear of corn," Uncle Sammy said.
"I'll take a handful," said Sandy.
Still the old fellow never stirred.
"Where's your ear of corn?" he inquired.
"Oh! I'll give you that the next time I pass this way," said Sandy. And he made up his mind that he would take good care to keep away from Uncle Sammy's house.
But Uncle Sammy Coon was too sharp.
"That won't do at all," he said. "I must have the corn before I give you the nuts."
So Sandy Chipmunk stepped to the door.
"I'll come back soon," he said. And he ran all the way to Farmer Green's cornfield, to get an ear of green corn. And then he ran all the way back to Uncle Sammy's house.
"There!" Sandy said. "There's your ear of corn!" He laid it upon the table. "Now give me a handful of beechnuts."
"Step right in and help yourself," Uncle Sammy answered.
"No!" said Sandy. "You give me the nuts." He knew that Uncle Sammy's hands were much bigger than his own and would hold more nuts.
"I should think you might get them," the old scamp grumbled. "I've a lame knee, you know."
"But I said a 'handful'—not a 'kneeful,'" Sandy answered. "Of course, if you don't want this juicy ear of corn, there are others that would like it." He started to pick the ear of corn off the table when Uncle Sammy rose quickly.
"All right!" he cried. "But it's the old-fashioned way; and I don't like it." Then he gave Sandy a small handful of beechnuts.
Sandy Chipmunk ate them right on the spot. And he began to feel very happy. He had noticed that Uncle Sammy tossed the ear of corn into a basket which stood beneath the table. And the basket was full of corn. Sandy could reach it just as easily from the front of the table as Uncle Sammy could from behind it.
And Sandy Chipmunk had thought all at once of a way to get a good many nuts away from Uncle Sammy, to pay for all the wheat Uncle Sammy had eaten.
THE BASKET OF CORN
"What are those nuts on the top shelf?" Sandy Chipmunk asked Uncle Sammy Coon.
Now, Uncle Sammy had been keeping store so short a time that he didn't exactly know what was on every one of his shelves. So he wheeled around and looked up. And as soon as his back was turned, Sandy Chipmunk reached down under the table and pulled an ear of corn out of the big basket.
"They're butternuts," Uncle Sammy said. "And they're the same price as the beechnuts."
"Give me one handful," Sandy said.
"Give you a handful—" Uncle Sammy snapped.
But Sandy Chipmunk smiled at him.
"I mean, sell me a handful," he explained. "And here's your ear of corn." It really was Uncle Sammy's ear of corn, you know—just as Sandy said.
But Uncle Sammy didn't know that. He didn't know it had come out of his own basket. So he threw it into the basket and set a handful of butternuts before Sandy Chipmunk.
Sandy was longer eating those, for the shells were harder and thicker than the beechnut shells. But in a little while he was ready for more.
"How about your chestnuts?" he asked.
And Uncle Sammy turned his back again.
"I have a few," he said.
"I'll buy a handful," Sandy told him, as he pulled another ear of corn out of the basket.
And after that Sandy bought hickory nuts and hazelnuts and walnuts.
"How about peanuts?" he asked then. "I've never eaten any; but I've heard they are very good."
Uncle Sammy stood up and searched his shelves very carefully. And while he was searching, Sandy Chipmunk took six ears of green corn out of the big basket under the table.
"I don't seem to have any peanuts," Uncle Sammy Coon said at last.
"Well—have you any nutmegs?" Sandy inquired.
And while Uncle Sammy was looking for nutmegs, Sandy Chipmunk slyly took six more ears from the basket. He had more corn now than he could carry. So he quickly tossed it out through the doorway.
Uncle Sammy Coon had to admit at last that he had no nutmegs. But Sandy kept him busy hunting for almonds and Brazil nuts and pecans, though he knew well enough that nothing of the sort grew in those woods.
By the time Uncle Sammy stopped looking there was no more corn left in his basket. But there was a great pile of corn on the ground just outside his door, where Sandy Chipmunk had thrown it.
Then Sandy said he must be going. And long before Uncle Sammy stirred out of his house Sandy had carried the corn away and hid it in a good, safe place. He thought that if he left it to dry it would make just as good food for winter as the wheat Uncle Sammy had eaten. And that was just what happened.
That night, long after Sandy Chipmunk had left the store, Uncle Sammy Coon had a great surprise. When he went to the basket, to get some green corn for his supper, there was not a single ear there.
"That's queer!" Uncle Sammy Coon exclaimed. "It was full this afternoon. And now there's not an ear left. I don't remember eating it." He thought deeply for a long time. And after a while he said to himself: "I wonder if it could have been that Chipmunk boy?" But he decided that Sandy was too small to have carried away all those big ears under his very nose. "I must have eaten it," he told himself. "I'm getting terribly forgetful."
And since he thought he had already had his supper, Uncle Sammy Coon went to bed without any supper at all.
WORKING FOR MR. CROW
Old Mr. Crow had decided that he would not fly south to spend the winter. He said he was getting almost too old for such a long journey. And he remembered, too, that he had heard the weather was going to be mild that winter.
"There's just one thing that worries me," he told Aunt Polly Woodchuck one day, when he was talking the matter over with her. "I don't know what I shall have to eat."
"Why, you can sleep until spring, just as I do," Aunt Polly said. "Then you won't want anything to eat."
But Mr. Crow said he was a light sleeper and that he could no more sleep the whole winter long than Aunt Polly could fly.
"Then why don't you store up some corn, the way the squirrels do?" she asked him. There was one thing about Aunt Polly—she always had a remedy for everything.
"That's a good idea!" Mr. Crow told her. "Maybe I can get somebody to help me, too."
And that very day he went to Sandy Chipmunk and asked him if he didn't want to gather some food for him.
"How much will you pay me?" Sandy asked him.
"I'll give you half what you gather for me," said Mr. Crow. "And that's certainly fair, I'm sure. It's often done. And it's called 'working at the halves.'"
It seemed fair to Sandy Chipmunk, too.
"That's a bargain," he said. "I'll begin right away. Where do you want me to hide the food for you, Mr. Crow?"
Old Mr. Crow told Sandy to put it in his house in the top of the tall elm tree.
"I don't like to climb so high," Sandy objected. "You know I'm not so good a climber as Frisky Squirrel. He wouldn't mind climbing up to your house. But it might make me dizzy."
"Well," said Mr. Crow, "why don't you bring the food to the foot of my tree and get Frisky Squirrel to carry it to the top?"
"I'll do it," said Sandy Chipmunk—"if Frisky is willing." So he went off to find Frisky Squirrel, who proved to be much interested in the plan.
"How much will you pay me?" he asked Sandy Chipmunk.
"I suppose you ought to have half the food," Sandy said. "That's what Mr. Crow is paying me."
Frisky Squirrel said that that seemed fair. So they set to work at once. And every time Sandy brought a load of food to the foot of the tall elm, where Mr. Crow lived, he found Frisky Squirrel waiting for him.
"Let's see—" Frisky said, when Sandy brought the first load—"since I'm to get half, I'll take everything you bring in your left cheek-pouch. And you can take what you bring in the right one."
Sandy Chipmunk said that that seemed fair. So each time he came to the elm he left with Frisky only what he carried in his left cheek-pouch. And before gathering more food he scampered home to store away his own share.
So the day passed. And when evening came, and the sun was dropping out of sight in the west, Sandy and Frisky decided they had worked long enough for Mr. Crow.
"Don't you suppose he has enough food by this time?" Sandy asked. He looked up at Mr. Crow's house. "We mustn't fill his house too full," he said. "He has to have room for himself, you know."
"I don't think he'll have any trouble getting inside it," Frisky Squirrel answered.
"Well—I'm glad you helped me," Sandy told him. "If it didn't make me dizzy to climb so high I'd like to take a look at Mr. Crow's food. I hope he'll be pleased."
"I hope he will," Frisky Squirrel agreed.
Sandy Chipmunk noticed that Frisky Squirrel was smiling. But he thought that it was only because he was thinking about Mr. Crow, and how happy he would be.
"Let's wait here till he comes home," Sandy suggested.
But Frisky Squirrel said that he was going to bed early that night, because he expected to have a race with the sun the next morning.
"I'm going to try to beat him," he explained. "I'm going to see if I can't get up before he does."
So Frisky said good-night and left Sandy to wait for Mr. Crow alone.
MR. CROW SCOLDS SANDY
When he finally reached home, after Sandy Chipmunk had been working for him all day, Mr. Crow was feeling very pleasant. You know, he thought that his winter's food must be in his house. And that alone is enough to make any one happy. But what Mr. Crow liked most about his bargain was the fact that he wouldn't have to pay Sandy for his work. He had said to Sandy: "I'll agree to give you half what you gather for me." And Sandy Chipmunk had never stopped to think that that was not any pay at all. For he might have gathered the food for himself, and had all, instead of only half of it. As it was, Sandy Chipmunk was paying himself for working for Mr. Crow. And Mr. Crow seemed to be the only one that was wise enough to know it.
Mr. Crow dropped down upon the ground beside Sandy Chipmunk.
"Well," he said, "have you finished?"
"Yes!" Sandy answered. "And I hope you'll like what I've done. I'll wait here until you fly up to your house and look at the food."
"All right!" Mr. Crow told him. He flapped his big, black wings. And soon he had risen to the top of the tall elm.
Sandy watched him as he looked inside his house. At first Mr. Crow only stared—and said nothing. And then—to Sandy's astonishment—he began to scold.
"What's the trouble?" Sandy Chipmunk called.
"Trouble?" Mr. Crow cried, as he flew down again. "There's trouble enough. Why, you haven't kept your bargain!"
Sandy Chipmunk declared that he had done exactly as he had agreed.
"I brought load after load of food to the foot of this tree," heexplained. "Half of it I took for myself—just as you suggested. Of course, I had to pay Frisky Squirrel for helping me. I paid him half the food for carrying it up to your house."
"That's it!" Mr. Crow cried. "That's the trouble! You took half and Frisky Squirrel took half. So of course there was no food left for me. There are two halves in a whole, you know."
"You must be mistaken," Sandy told him politely. "There's only one half in my hole. I put my half there myself, and I ought to know."
Mr. Crow looked as if he thought Sandy Chipmunk must be playing a trick on him. But pretty soon he saw that it was not so.
"You don't seem to understand," Mr. Crow said. "I don't believe you've ever studied fractions."
Sandy Chipmunk admitted that he never had.
"Ah!" Mr. Crow exclaimed. "This is what comes of hiring stupid people to work for one. Here I've wasted all my corn. And I get nothing for it but trouble."
"Corn!" Sandy Chipmunk exclaimed. "I don't know anything about any corn!"
"Well, you certainly are stupid!" Mr. Crow told him crossly. "Didn't you spend the whole day gathering corn for me?"
"No, indeed!" Sandy replied. "I gathered beechnuts, Mr. Crow."
"Beechnuts!" Mr. Crow repeated. "I never told you I wanted nuts. I'd starve, trying to live on nuts; for they don't agree with me at all. And I make it a rule never to eat them. Corn is what I want."
"You didn't say so," Sandy Chipmunk said. "You asked me to gather food for you. And every one knows there's no better food than beechnuts to last through the winter."
"That—" said Mr. Crow—"that is where we do not agree. I supposed you knew I wanted corn. But there's no great harm done, anyhow," he added. "Tomorrow you can gather corn for me—now that you know what I want. No doubt you can get Frisky Squirrel to help you again. But you must pay him with your share of the corn—not with mine."
"But then there wouldn't be any left for me," Sandy objected.
"But just think of all the beechnuts you have," Mr. Crow reminded him.
Sandy Chipmunk shook his head. "I'm afraid I'm too stupid to work for you any more," he told Mr. Crow.
"Oh! I didn't mean what I said," Mr. Crow hastened to explain.
"Then—" Sandy said—"then how do I know that you mean what you say when you tell me you want corn to eat?"
And Mr. Crow could find no answer to that. He was disappointed, too. For he was afraid he would have to go south to spend the winter, after all.
Climbing an oak at the cross-roads one day, not far from Farmer Green's house, Sandy Chipmunk discovered a queer box nailed to the trunk of the tree. Much as he wanted to, he couldn't look inside the box, because its lid was closed. And since Sandy was afraid the box might be some sort of trap, he didn't dare go near it and poke at the lid.
Later that day Sandy told Frisky Squirrel about the strange box. And Frisky told Fatty Coon. And Fatty Coon told somebody else.
So the news traveled, until at last it reached the sharp ears of old Mr. Crow.
By the time Mr. Crow heard the story it had grown amazingly. And it went something like this: Farmer Green had bought a new trap in the village. And he had nailed it on a tree to catch all sorts of animals and birds. And after he had caught all the forest-folk in Pleasant Valley he intended to take the trap to Swift River and set it for fish and eels and turtles.
When Mr. Crow heard the news he haw-hawed loudly.
"What are you laughing about?" Jasper Jay asked him. (It was Jasper who repeated the story to Mr. Crow.) "You wouldn't think it was such a joke if you were caught in the trap."
"Trap!" Mr. Crow sneered. "That's no trap. That's what's called a mail-box. Every day a man with letters and newspapers drives over here from the village. And he stops at the cross-roads and leaves something in the box for Farmer Green."
As soon as he heard that, Jasper Jay flew away to tell everybody about the mail-box. And at last Sandy Chipmunk heard the story. But by the time it reached his ears—after it had been told by one person to another almost forty times—the story was somewhat different from what it had been when Mr. Crow first told it to Jasper Jay. This is what Sandy heard: The thing on the tree was a mailbox. Every day a man drove from the village in a wagon drawn by twelve horses. He had a load of letters as big as six haystacks. And he left a handful of letters in that box, because he wanted to get rid of them so he could go back to the village for more. And any one could take a letter—if it happened to be for him.
It was Frisky Squirrel who told the story to Sandy. Of course, after so much telling it had changed a good deal. But Sandy Chipmunk didn't know that. And he hurried to the cross-roads at once, to watch for the man driving the twelve horses.
When he reached the oak, where the box was, Sandy climbed the tree and perched himself on a limb and waited. He had not sat there long before he saw a man drive up the road. Sandy Chipmunk was surprised when the man stopped beneath the tree and dropped some letters and newspapers into the box. He was surprised because the man drove only one horse, instead of twelve. And the man had only a single bag of mail in his wagon, instead of a great heap—as big as six haystacks.
Sandy Chipmunk was somewhat disappointed. But he was glad of one thing: The man left the lid of the box open. And as soon as he had driven on again, Sandy crept down the tree and crawled right inside the mail-box.
Though he was not expecting a letter from anybody, he thought it would be just as well to look and see if the man had left one for him.
Now, Sandy had never learned to read. And you might think it would do him no good at all to look at the envelopes. But he soon came upon one which he was sure was his. And the reason for that was that he had found an envelope with the picture of a chipmunk in one corner of it!
That was enough for Sandy.
"I'm glad I came!" he said to himself. "Here's a letter for me! And how surprised everybody will be!"
So he took the letter in his mouth and started down the tree.
The very first person he surprised was Farmer Green himself. He had walked to the cross-roads from his house. And he had almost reached the oak when he saw Sandy Chipmunk spring from the tree to the stone wall, with a letter in his mouth, and scamper away.
Farmer Green ran after Sandy. And he threw stones at him. But Sandy Chipmunk ran so fast that Farmer Green soon lost sight of him.
"I'd like to know what was in that letter," Farmer Green said, when he told his family what had happened. "I'll have to warn the letter-carrier to be sure to close the mail-box after this, for I can't have any more of my letters stolen."
Johnnie Green couldn't help laughing, when he heard his father tell about the chipmunk running away with a letter in his mouth.
But Farmer Green didn't seem to see anything to laugh at.
"I only hope," he said, "the letter was nothing of importance."
SANDY GETS A LETTER
After Sandy Chipmunk, with the letter in his mouth, escaped from Farmer Green, he ran home and showed his letter to everybody he met. He felt very proud.
"See!" he said. "There was a letter for me in the mail-box. It's lucky I found it when I did, for I believe Farmer Green would have taken it if I hadn't reached the box before him."
Old Mr. Crow laughed mockingly when Sandy called to him that he had a letter.
"I see you have one," Mr. Crow said. "But the question is, to whom does it really belong? If the truth were known, I guess that letter rightfully belongs to a farmer named Green."
That remark made Sandy angry.
"The letter belongs to me!" he told Mr. Crow. "Here's my picture on it. You can see for yourself."
Now, Mr. Crow could not read either—for all he was so old. And when he saw the picture of a chipmunk on the envelope, exactly like Sandy, he was very much surprised.
"Why don't you open your letter?" he asked.
"I hadn't thought of that," Sandy replied. So he tore open the envelope and pulled out a paper.
"It's certainly for me," he said, "for here's my picture again. But I'd like to know why these other people have their pictures in my letter. They've no business in my letter!"
Mr. Crow looked over Sandy's shoulder—which was not at all a polite thing to do.
"That's queer!" Mr. Crow exclaimed. "There's one of the Red-Squirrel boys and Mrs. Mouse's son. And this young chap here looks a lot like Rinaldo Rat. ... I'd be pretty angry if anybody sent me a letter like that," Mr. Crow then said.
Now, the real trouble with Mr. Crow was that he was jealous because Sandy Chipmunk had a letter, while he had none.
"I'd throw that letter away, if it was mine," remarked Mr. Crow. And he said so much that at last Sandy Chipmunk tossed the letter away and went off to hunt for birds' eggs.
As soon as Sandy was out of sight, Mr. Crow picked up the letter and flew home with it.
He felt better—because at last he had a letter, while Sandy Chipmunk no longer had one.
That very afternoon Farmer Green drove to the village. And on his way he stopped at the houses of several of his neighbors, to talk about the weather and the crops. And each one of them showed him a letter that had come that day, telling all about a new kind of poison, to rid a farmer of chipmunks and red squirrels and rats and mice.
"Sprinkle our powder around your corn-crib," the letter said, "and these little rodents will trouble you no longer."
"I declare!" cried Farmer Green at last. "I seem to be the only person in the neighborhood that didn't get one of those letters." Then he happened to remember the letter Sandy Chipmunk had carried away in his mouth. "It must have been that letter that the chipmunk stole out of my mail-box!" Farmer Green said. And that night, when he reached home and told his family about the letter, his son Johnnie laughed harder than ever.
"That must be a wise chipmunk!" Johnnie Green exclaimed. "I wish I could catch him and put him in my squirrel cage."
"I wish he'd leave my mail alone," said Farmer Green. "The next thing we know, he'll be taking my newspaper to read. And maybe he'll come right into the house and borrow my spectacles."
Johnnie Green seemed to think his father was joking. And perhaps he was.
What do you think about it?
A RIDE TO THE MILLER'S
Do you know about the time Johnnie Green and his grandmother and Sandy Chipmunk started for the miller's with a sack of wheat to be ground? If you never heard the story, this is the way it happened—and if you have heard it, it happened this way, just the same:
Farmer Green's wife had noticed that the flour in her flour-barrel was getting low. So one morning Farmer Green pulled a wagon from under a shed and set a big bag of wheat in it, behind the seat. Then he went into the house to get a piece of string with which to tie the bag. Farmer Green hadn't seen a pair of bright eyes that were watching him from the fence near-by. And he didn't know that as soon as he started to cross the barnyard, Sandy Chipmunk stole up to the wagon, climbed into it, and crept inside the open bag of wheat.
Now, Sandy had not had his breakfast. So he began at once to eat heartily of the wheat kernels, believing that after he had had a good meal it would be time enough to think of carrying some of the wheat away to his house. He only hoped that no one would take the bag away until he had removed all the wheat. There was enough of it—he was sure—to last him for any number of winters.
Now, you must not think that Sandy was greedy, because he wanted all that wheat. He intended all the time to leave the bag for Farmer Green.
The wheat tasted so good that Sandy Chipmunk could think of nothing else. So he never heard Johnnie Green's father when he came back from the house. And before Sandy knew what was happening, Farmer Green had reached into the wagon, drawn the mouth of the bag together, and tied it hard and fast.
There was Sandy Chipmunk, inside the bag. And he was so frightened that he couldn't eat another mouthful. He just shivered and shook, while Farmer Green went into the barn, led out an old, slow horse called Ebenezer, and harnessed him to the wagon.
Then Johnnie Green and his grandmother came out and seated themselves in the wagon. Farmer Green gave Johnnie the reins; and Ebenezer started jogging down the road toward the miller's, with Johnnie's old straw hat and his grandmother's sunbonnet bobbing from side to side, and up and down, and backwards and forwards, as the wagon jolted over ruts and stones and thank-you-ma'ams—which were small ridges built across the road, to turn the water into the ditch when it rained.
Cowering inside the bag, Sandy Chipmunk thought the earth was rocking, for he had never ridden in a wagon before.
Although the sack was a stout one, Sandy could easily have gnawed his way through it if he had not been too frightened to try. And there he stayed, while all the time old Ebenezer kept plodding along toward the grist-mill.
Johnnie Green and his grandmother, talking so near him, only alarmed Sandy all the more. And he thought he could not be more scared than he was. But all at once the wagon lurched forward and Grandmother Green screamed. And Johnnie began to cry "Whoa! whoa!" in a loud voice.
Then Sandy Chipmunk began to shake harder than ever. He had no idea what was happening.
A LUCKY ACCIDENT
It was really no wonder that Johnnie Green's grandmother screamed, when she and Johnnie and Sandy Chipmunk were on their way to the miller's to get the wheat ground into flour.
This was what made the good old lady scream: The ancient horse, Ebenezer, was picking his way slowly down a steep hill, placing one foot carefully in front of another, and taking pains not to step on the stones in the road, so he wouldn't fall.
What happened was not Ebenezer's fault at all. You see, he was wearing an old harness. And just as he was on the steepest part of the hill a strap broke and the wagon rolled right upon his heels.
Now, many horses would have kicked and run, if such a thing had happened to them. But even when Johnnie's grandmother screamed, old Ebenezer was not at all frightened. And even when Johnnie cried "Whoa! whoa!" Ebenezer did not stop. He thought he knew a good deal more about what he ought to do than Johnnie Green did, for he had been pulling a wagon for almost twenty years before Johnnie Green was born.
Johnnie tugged hard upon the reins. But still old Ebenezer went on picking his way even more slowly. And he never stopped until he reached the bottom of the hill. Then he stood stock still; and he looked around at Johnnie Green, as if to say, "There, young man! I've brought you and your grandma safe down that hill. And now I'll let you get out of the wagon, if you want to."
Well, Johnnie Green jumped down from his seat and looked at the harness.
"Dear me!" his grandmother said. "If we only had a piece of string you could mend the harness so we could get to the miller's, at least."
Johnnie felt in all his pockets. And probably that was the first time he had ever found himself without plenty of string. There were enough other things in his pockets—a jackknife and nails, an apple and a lump of maple sugar, an old broken watch and a willow whistle. But not a single piece of string could Johnnie Green find.
Then he happened to think of the string his father had used to tie up the sack of wheat. Johnnie stood the sack on end, tipped it against the back of the seat, so the wheat wouldn't fall out, and unwound the string from the mouth of the bag.
He had hardly begun to tie the harness together when Grandmother Green screamed again.
The horse Ebenezer looked around once more, as if to say, "I wonder what's come over the old lady."
And Johnnie Green turned his head, too.
"My goodness!" his grandmother said. "Did you see that? Something ran right up my back and jumped off my shoulder. There it goes now!" She pointed at a small object which was scurrying through the roadside fence. "Why, it was a chipmunk, I do believe!" she cried. "Now, where do you suppose he came from?"
Johnnie Green didn't know. And to tell the truth, he didn't much care. You see, he felt very proud, mending the harness with nobody to help him. And he was not interested in chipmunks just then.
So Sandy escaped. To be sure, he was so far from home that he didn't know where he was. But he was so glad to get out of the sack of wheat that he didn't worry about being lost. He thought he could find some one who would know where Farmer Green's pasture was.
THE ROWDY OF THE WOODS
One of the most quarrelsome of all Sandy Chipmunk's neighbors was Rowdy Red-Squirrel. He was happiest when he was fighting. But perhaps that was because he had never lost a fight. If Rowdy had had a sound beating, maybe fighting would not have seemed so pleasant to him.
Ever since Rowdy whipped Frisky Squirrel, who (being a gray squirrel) was bigger than he was, Rowdy bullied every squirrel in the neighborhood—no matter what color he might be. As for chipmunks, Rowdy Red-Squirrel boasted that he could whip six chipmunks at a time.
"That is, I could if they would stand still," he said. "Of course, if they ran off in six different directions it might be a hard thing to do."
Rowdy was talking to Jasper Jay, who sat in a tree not far away. His boasting amused Jasper. First Jasper smiled. Then he laughed aloud. And after that he gave a hoarse shriek, which rang through the woods most unpleasantly. At least, that was what Rowdy Red-Squirrel thought.
"What's the joke?" he asked.
"The joke?" Jasper answered. "Why—ha! ha!—you are the joke! I don't believe you can whip one chipmunk. And when you talk of whipping six, I can't help laughing."
"You wouldn't laugh if I could catch you," Rowdy Red-Squirrel growled. And if he hadn't known that Jasper Jay would fly away, he would have jumped into Jasper's tree and chased him.
"You mustn't expect me to believe you can whip six until I've seen you whip one," Jasper went on. "There's Sandy Chipmunk in that beech tree. Why don't you steal over there and show me whether you can whip him?"
"I'll do it!" Rowdy cried. "Not that I find much pleasure in fighting a single chipmunk—for I can whip one with my hands tied behind me."
"Can you?" Jasper Jay asked. "Then let me see you tie your hands."
"I can't!" Rowdy Red-Squirrel replied. "Who ever heard of anybody who could tie his own hands behind him?... You will have to do that for me," he said.
Jasper Jay gave another loud shriek and rocked back and forth on the limb where he sat.
"Another joke!" he gasped—for he was too clever to be caught like that. He had no idea of going near enough to Rowdy Red-Squirrel to tie his hands behind his back.
"Well, I see I'll have to whip Sandy Chipmunk just as I am," Rowdy grumbled. "It won't be much fun for me."
"I don't believe it will," Jasper Jay agreed.
"After I whip him, you'll have to find six more chipmunks for me, if you want to see me fight them all at once," Rowdy Red-Squirrel told Jasper Jay.
"I'll do it—if you whip Sandy," Jasper promised. And he laughed so hard that he almost tumbled off the limb.
ROWDY RUNS AWAY
Rowdy Red-Squirrel jumped from one tree into another until he reached the beech tree in which Jasper Jay had caught sight of Sandy Chipmunk.
Now, Sandy had not seen Rowdy stealing upon him. And the first he knew about the fight was when he happened to turn around. Then he saw Rowdy Red-Squirrel right in front of him. And before Sandy could move, Rowdy had jumped straight at him.
Now, as you know, Sandy Chipmunk was not the most nimble of climbers. He was a ground-squirrel; and though he often climbed into the lower branches of trees, he always felt more comfortable on the top of a rail-fence or a stone wall.
But Rowdy Red-Squirrel could cling to the smallest branch. The more it swayed beneath his weight the better he liked it. His hardest battles had been fought in the tree-tops. You see, he was never the least bit afraid of falling.
Sandy Chipmunk was plucky—as you know. And at first he had no thought of running away, when Rowdy Red-Squirrel jumped at him. Even when Rowdy sank his sharp teeth into one of his ears, Sandy fought his hardest. But when Rowdy pulled on his ear, Sandy's feet almost slipped off the limb.
Then Sandy tried to get away. And at last he tore his ear out of Rowdy Red-Squirrel's mouth and scurried quickly to the ground.
Rowdy Red-Squirrel, dashing after him, shouted with glee.
"He's running away from me! I've whipped him!" he called to Jasper Jay, who had come nearer, to see the fight.
Sandy Chipmunk had reached the stone wall between the woods and the pasture. And he was still running. But the moment Rowdy Red-Squirrel sprang upon the wall, to his great surprise Sandy whisked around and jumped straight at him.
It was Rowdy's turn to be startled. And when Sandy gave his nose a cruel bite Rowdy turned tail and darted off as fast as he could go.
After him dashed Sandy Chipmunk. No longer was he afraid of falling. He was quite at home on the stone wall. He knew every stone in it, and every nook and cranny. He knew exactly the best way to run along that old wall. So all he had to think about now was catching Rowdy Red-Squirrel.
But Rowdy escaped. After he had run a long way he jumped into a tree and climbed to the very top of it, where Sandy Chipmunk did not care to follow him.
"Come down here, if you want to fight," Sandy called to him.
"You can't fool me," Rowdy answered. "The other six of you are hiding behind the wall. And the moment I came down you'd all jump at me again. I said I could whip six chipmunks. But seven are one too many."
Sandy Chipmunk didn't know what Rowdy was talking about. And he could not understand what made Jasper Jay laugh so loudly.
"You played a trick on me!" Rowdy told Jasper Jay. "You had six chipmunks hidden behind that wall. And as soon as I came down where they were, they all sprang at me. With Sandy Chipmunk, there were seven of them. And that's one too many."
"Ha! ha!" laughed Jasper Jay. "Yes! There's one too many for you. Sandy Chipmunk is one too many for you!" And he flew away to tell the joke to every one.
You see, Rowdy had been so frightened when Sandy turned and bit his nose that he actually thought there must be at least seven chipmunks chasing him.
Though he boasted just as much afterwards, Rowdy Red-Squirrel never wanted to fight Sandy Chipmunk again.
It was late in the spring. And Sandy Chipmunk couldn't help wishing it was late in the fall instead. The reason for that was this: He could find very little to eat anywhere in Pleasant Valley. It was too early for fruit or nuts. It was even too early for many insects. And it seemed to Sandy that all the insects flew much higher than they did when there were plenty of other things to eat.
At last Sandy chanced to see Mr. Crow in the woods one day. Mr. Crow was just about to fly somewhere. He seemed to be in a great hurry. In fact, he did not want to stop to talk—which was most unusual with him.
"I can't chat with you to-day," Mr. Crow told Sandy. "I have business to attend to. It's something I've been expecting for a long time. And I don't want to be late."
"Where are you going?" Sandy asked.
"That—" said Mr. Crow—"that is something that doesn't concern you, young man." And then he flapped his way through the woods and out of sight.
Now, it happened that Sandy Chipmunk remembered at once what Uncle Jerry Chuck had said a few days before. Uncle Jerry had said that Mr. Crow had told him Farmer Green was about to plant corn. So Sandy guessed that Mr. Crow was going to the field where Farmer Green and his hired man were working.
"I'll run over there and see what's going on!" Sandy exclaimed. "If they're planting corn I have just as much right to eat some as Mr. Crow has."
Of course, Mr. Crow reached the ploughed field long before Sandy Chipmunk. It took Mr. Crow no time at all to sail through the air and drop down at a good, safe distance from where Farmer Green and his hired man were planting corn. They had already planted several long rows. And Mr. Crow at once set to work to scratch up the yellow kernels and swallow them greedily.
He was enjoying his meal greatly when he caught sight of a small, striped person busily engaged in doing the very same thing. It was Sandy Chipmunk! And Mr. Crow hurried over to the row where Sandy was looking for corn.
"What are you doing here?" Mr. Crow asked angrily.
"I might ask you the same question," Sandy answered.
"You followed me—that's what you did!" Mr. Crow exclaimed. "Of all the prying busybodies I know, you are certainly the worst. This is not your field; and I shall have to ask you to leave it at once."
"Oh! I'll leave the field," said Sandy Chipmunk. "I don't want the field. You can have that. All I want is some of the corn. There ought to be enough for both of us."
Mr. Crow muttered something about impertinence, which Sandy Chipmunk didn't understand. Then Mr. Crow said:
"This corn belongs to Farmer Green. Just because I've come to help him, and because I've scratched up a few of the kernels to see if he's planting them properly, you seem to think I'm eating corn."
"I certainly do," said Sandy Chipmunk.
"Well, what an idea!" Mr. Crow exclaimed.
Strange as it may seem, Farmer Green had the same idea that Sandy Chipmunk had. He happened to catch sight of old Mr. Crow. And pretty soon Johnnie Green came hurrying up the field, along the fence. He hoped Mr. Crow wouldn't see him.
But old Mr. Crow generally saw any one coming his way—especially if the person happened to have a gun on his shoulder.
"I've important business over in the woods," he told Sandy Chipmunk suddenly. And he flew off in great haste.
So Sandy stayed and ate all the corn he wanted. He was so small and so nearly the same color as the ploughed field that Johnnie Green never saw him at all.
After that Mr. Crow would scarcely speak to Sandy for several days. He said that Sandy was a nuisance.
"A person can't go anywhere without that Chipmunk boy following him," Mr. Crow complained. "You know, I'm helping Farmer Green plant his corn. And Sandy Chipmunk followed me to the corn-patch. And what do you think? He actually began to eat the corn! Now, who ever heard of such a thing?"
But Mr. Crow fooled nobody but himself. Every one knew that he ate more of Farmer Green's corn than anybody else unless it was Farmer Green. And he always waited until it was ripe.
The trouble with Mr. Crow was this: He didn't want any one but himself to visit the cornfield. He wanted all the corn for an old gentleman known as Mr. Crow.
SANDY LIKES MILK
Sandy Chipmunk liked milk. He never knew it, though, until he chanced to come upon a saucerful which some one had set out on the big flat stone that served as the back doorstep of the farmhouse.
Sandy crept up and sniffed at the white liquid in the saucer. It smelled very good. So he tasted it. And it tasted so much better, even, than it smelled that he drank every drop of it.
Sandy was sitting on the big stone step, washing his face, when Farmer Green's cat leaped out of the doorway.
The cat was very angry. And it was no wonder, because Sandy Chipmunk had drunk her breakfast. She seemed to think that since Sandy had made away with her breakfast it would be only fair if she should make away with him.
But Sandy did not agree with her at all. Though he had washed only one side of his face, he jumped sideways off the step and ran and hid in the woodpile close by.
You might think he would have had to stay there a long time. For the old cat crouched down and watched the hole into which Sandy had crawled. She seemed to have made up her mind to wait there until Sandy came out of that hole again.
If she had waited for that to happen she would have been there yet. For Sandy crept through the woodpile, stole out the other side of it, and ran home.
He was glad to get away from the cat. But he was sorry there wasn't more of that delicious drink which he had found in the saucer.
Later that day Sandy told Fatty Coon what had happened.
"I know what that was," Fatty Coon exclaimed. "It was milk."
"I wonder where Farmer Green gets it," Sandy said.
"From the cows, of course!" Fatty replied.
"You don't say so!" Sandy Chipmunk cried. "I'm glad to know it." And he scampered off across the pasture, toward three of Farmer Green's cows which were chewing their cuds under the shade of a big maple tree.
When Sandy asked them if they would please give him some milk to drink two of the cows (they were the good-natured ones) only smiled at each other. But the third cow (a surly old creature with long, sharp horns) told him not to be silly.
Well, Sandy Chipmunk saw that he could get no milk there. And he was feeling quite downcast when he chanced to meet Henry Skunk, to whom he told his troubles.
"Of course the cows couldn't give you any milk!" Henry Skunk said. "It's not milking time yet. So what could they do? You go down to the barnyard late this afternoon and you'll find all the milk you could drink in a thousand years."
Sandy Chipmunk thanked him. And somehow he managed to wait until the afternoon was almost gone. Then he skipped down the hill to Farmer Green's barn. He thought it must be milking time, because Johnnie Green and old dog Spot had driven all the cows home.
WHAT THE OLD COW DID
When Sandy Chipmunk reached Farmer Green's barn he crept inside and looked all around. He had expected to find the barn crowded with saucers full of milk. But not a single saucer did he see. There were two long rows of cows stabled in the barn. And Sandy noticed Farmer Green and his boy and his hired man, each sitting on a low stool beside a cow. They were milking the cows. But Sandy did not know it.
He began to think that Henry Skunk had played a trick on him. And he was about to leave the barn when he turned to look at several bright tin pails standing on the floor.
Sandy crept up to one of them and sniffed at it. He was glad that he had done that, for he smelled milk. There was no mistake about it.
Sandy Chipmunk couldn't crawl up the side of the pail, it was so smooth and slippery. So he jumped right up and stood on its edge. And looking inside, he saw that the pail was almost full of milk. He knew then that Henry Skunk had told the truth.
By bending down Sandy was just able to reach the milk. And he began drinking it as fast as he could. It was so delicious that he forgot all about Johnnie Green and his father and the hired man.
With his head inside the pail, of course Sandy couldn't see what happened in the barn. The more he drank, the further down he had to stretch his neck. And when at last he heard a shout, and a milking-stool came sailing through the air not far above the pail, Sandy was so startled that he lost his balance and went plump! into the milk.
Luckily, Sandy Chipmunk knew how to swim. So he managed to keep his nose in the air or he would certainly have drowned.
"Where on earth did that chipmunk go?" he heard Johnnie Green say as he picked up his stool. You see, Johnnie never once thought of looking inside the pail.
Still, Sandy Chipmunk was in a fix. For the inside of the pail was as smooth and slippery as the outside. And of course he couldn't jump out, for there was nothing from which he could spring.
Now it happened that the pail of milk stood not far behind the surly old cow that had told Sandy not to be silly, when he asked her for some milk to drink, in the pasture that day. Johnnie Green's shouting and the stool hurtling through the air displeased her. And since she was not the sort to hide her ill nature, she promptly kicked the milkpail over.
For a moment Sandy Chipmunk thought that this time the end of the world had certainly come. The old cow's foot crashed against the pail and sent it flying against the stone wall on which the barn was built. And Sandy tumbled out upon the floor in a sea of milk.
He didn't wait to learn exactly what had happened. For as soon as he could scramble to his feet he dashed out of the barn and tore across the fields towards the pasture.
Later, when he reached his house and sat down to rest, he soon forgot his fright. For he had a very pleasant time licking himself clean. That was the way Sandy Chipmunk always made himself spick and span. And though there may be some people who would not consider such an act to be in the best of taste, Sandy Chipmunk thought what was left of the milk tasted very good. And since his mother did not object to what he was doing, perhaps no one else ought to.