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While Jasper Jay, in the beech tree, waited for Grunty Pig, on the ground, to speak up and make his excuses for taking beechnuts, a bur dropped from a twig and landed right in front of Grunty's nose. He fell upon it greedily. And, tearing it open, he devoured the nuts with relish.
For a few moments his action struck Jasper Jay dumb. That blue-coated rascal turned to Frisky Squirrel, who clung to a limb near-by.
"Well, did you ever?" Jasper gasped. And then, having found his voice, Jasper began to use it on Grunty Pig.
Now, Jasper Jay was a wild fellow. He often used words that made the gentler folk in Pleasant Valley shudder. And he called Grunty Pig names that would have made many a person angry.
Grunty Pig, however, never even blinked. And after a while Jasper Jay used up all his special words, which he generally employed at such times. He gave Frisky Squirrel a helpless look.
"My! My! Isn't this chap thick-skinned?" he exclaimed.
"Certainly I am!" cried Grunty Pig. "That's why I like to wallow in mud."
"Ha!" Jasper Jay sniffed. And he spoke again to Frisky Squirrel. "This chap is thick-headed, too. I see that I'm going to have trouble making him understand what I say."
Frisky Squirrel merely grinned at his companion.
"Look here, young Porker!" Jasper called to Grunty Pig. "Doesn't Farmer Green feed you?"
The name "Porker" made Grunty Pig look up.
"I'm Mrs. Pig's son," he said. "Don't call me 'Porker'!"
"Well—Pig, then!" Jasper Jay squalled. "Doesn't Farmer Green feed you?"
"Well, then—don't come here and take our nuts! Didn't your mother ever teach you that things that grow on trees—such things as nuts—belong to the people that live in the trees?"
"Does Johnnie Green live in this tree?" Grunty Pig inquired.
"He spends half his time here—or a quarter, anyhow," Jasper Jay grumbled. "And you may be sure he gets his share of these beechnuts. Goodness knows he leaves few enough for me and my friend here.
"Now," Jasper Jay went on, "I want you to promise not to eat any more of our nuts."
Grunty Pig shook his head.
"I can't promise that, exactly," he said. "But I'll promise not to eat any that I don't find on the ground."
"Huh!" Jasper Jay scoffed. "That means that you won't eat any nuts that you can't reach. That's no promise at all. It's nothing but a threat. It's the same as saying that you're going to eat every nut that drops off this tree."
Grunty Pig made no reply. He would have wandered on, but for a fresh breeze that had begun to whip the branches of the beech tree. He decided to wait there. More burs might fall. And Grunty wanted to be on hand to meet them when they dropped.
"Go home!" Jasper Jay shrieked at him. "Go back to your pigpen where you belong. We don't want you here." And he said many more things that were still ruder.
But Grunty Pig never showed the least sign of anger. He didn't even let Jasper Jay know that he had heard. When the wind died down he waddled off down the road. And Frisky Squirrel followed him through the tree tops. When they had travelled out of Jasper Jay's sight and hearing, Frisky asked Grunty Pig a question.
"I should like to know," he said, "how you managed to keep still when Jasper was abusing you. I know that I should have lost my temper. Can it be that you didn't hear what he said?"
"Oh, I heard him clearly enough," said Grunty. "But there was no sense in my getting angry with him. If he had been standing on the ground near me he would never have dared talk to me as he did. Jasper Jay called me names because he was safe in the tree. If he hadn't had that tree to help him he'd never have dared say what he did.
"To tell the truth, I am a bit out of patience with that beech tree," Grunty confessed. "It played me a mean trick. And I hope there'll be a raging wind to-night that will rob it of every bur it has.... I'd uproot the beech," he added, "if I didn't like beechnuts so much."
"Well, you are an odd one," said Frisky Squirrel.
"If everybody was as odd as I am there'd be fewer Jasper Jays in the world," Grunty Pig declared.
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