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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?"
"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!"
What's that?" Sammy asked sharply.
"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."