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"A, 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-themean 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.

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