Gateway to the Classics: The Adventures of Sammy Jay by Thornton W. Burgess
The Adventures of Sammy Jay by  Thornton W. Burgess

A Bitter Disappointment

A S he flew through the Green Forest, Sammy Jay chuckled and chuckled to himself. It wasn't a good chuckle to hear. It was the kind of chuckle that only folks who are doing wrong, and think they are smart because they are doing wrong, use. Sammy Jay thought that he was smart, very smart indeed. He had screamed and shrieked and made a great fuss over nothing at all until Chatterer the Red Squirrel had come hurrying over to find out what it all meant. Then Sammy Jay had slipped away unseen and come straight to the store-house of Chatterer the Red Squirrel.

This particular store-house had once been the home of Blacky the Crow. When Blacky deserted it for a new home, Chatterer had taken it for a store-house. He had roofed it over, and all through the pleasant fall he had stored away nuts and acorns in it. Sammy Jay had watched him. He had seen those sweet acorns and nuts put there, and he had never forgotten them. Now, with the snow deep on the ground, the easiest way to get a good meal that he knew of was to steal some of those very acorns. So he chuckled as he pulled apart the roof of Chatterer's store-house in search of those acorns.

Now Chatterer the Red Squirrel is quite as smart as Sammy Jay. Indeed, he is very much like Sammy Jay, for he is a mischief-maker and a thief himself. So, because people who do wrong always are on the watch for others to do wrong, Chatterer the Red Squirrel had kept his sharp eyes wide open all the time he had been filling his store-house in the fall, and he had spied Sammy Jay's smart blue coat when Sammy had thought himself nicely hidden. Chatterer had known what Sammy Jay was hiding there for. His sharp eyes snapped, but he went right on filling his store-house just the same. Then, just as soon as he was sure that Sammy Jay had gone away, Chatterer had taken out every one of the sweet acorns and put them in another store-house inside a hollow tree. He had left nothing but hickory nuts, for he knew that these are too hard for Sammy Jay to crack.

But Sammy Jay didn't know anything about this, and so now, as he broke his way into the store-house, he chuckled greedily. Pretty soon he had a hole big enough to stick his head in, and his mouth watered as he reached in for a sweet acorn. All he could find were hard hickory nuts. What did it mean? In a great rage, Sammy Jay began to tear the store-house to pieces. There must be some sweet acorns there somewhere! Hadn't he seen Chatterer put them there? He forgot that he was stealing. He forgot everything except his disappointment, and the more he thought of this, the angrier he grew. He would have pulled the store-house all to pieces, if Chatterer himself hadn't come home.

Sammy Jay had just stopped for breath when he heard the rattle of claws on the bark of the tree. He knew what that meant, and he didn't wait to look down. He just spread his blue wings and with a scream of rage flew over to the next tree. Then such a dreadful noise as there was in the Green Forest!

"Robber!" screamed Chatterer the Red Squirrel, dancing up and down with anger.

"Thief yourself!" screamed Sammy Jay.

It was a dreadful quarrel, and all the little forest people who were within hearing stopped their ears.

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