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GETTING RID OF JASPER
"HAVE you finished your meal?" Jimmy Rabbit asked Reddy Woodpecker, as they faced each other among the beech trees.
"Well, no--I can't say I have," replied Reddy. "When I begin to eat beechnuts I never want to stop. It's something I can't help. And I've been told that Johnnie Green is just like that when he gets a taste of peanuts. You might say that I'll have only one meal all winter long. It started as soon as the beechnuts began to ripen; and it won't be ended until the last nut is gone."
Jimmy Rabbit couldn't help smiling.
"Anyhow, you can't be really hungry," he said. "And if you'll come with me and do just as I tell you, you'll find that Jasper Jay won't trouble you for a good, long time."
"Wait a little while!" Reddy Woodpecker begged him. "I want to eat just a few more beechnuts; and then I'll come with you."
"Hurry, then!" said Jimmy Rabbit. And he watched anxiously while Reddy Woodpecker broke open more beechnuts with his strong bill and greedily ate the sweet meats.
"Come! come!" Jimmy Rabbit urged him.
"Just one more!" Reddy pleaded.
That happened several times, until at last Jimmy Rabbit said that he couldn't wait any longer, and that he was sorry, because he knew he could have helped Reddy in a way that would have pleased him.
He started off then. And at that Reddy Woodpecker hurried after him.
"I think I've eaten enough so I can manage to stay away from the beechnuts a short time," he said with a sigh. "But I hope you won't keep me long."
"Everything depends on the weather," Jimmy Rabbit answered.
But Reddy Woodpecker did not even hear him. His mind was too busy thinking of beechnuts to pay much attention to anything else.
They travelled through the woods for some time, until they reached a low, swampy place. And as soon as they came to it Jimmy Rabbit whispered to Reddy Woodpecker that he must be very still.
"Do exactly as I tell you," he ordered. "And don't even whisper to me, please! I'm going to show you where you must stand. Though the place may not be as dry as you might prefer, you'll have to follow my directions and say nothing--if you want to get rid of Jasper Jay."
"I promise--" said Reddy Woodpecker--"but I wish I had brought along a few beechnuts in my pocket. Just wait a moment!" he added. "Let me see if I haven't some nuts somewhere that I've forgotten."
So Jimmy Rabbit waited while Reddy hunted in all his pockets. He turned every one of them inside out. And since he had fifteen pockets, and he had to turn them all back again, and replace their contents, the proceeding consumed a good deal of time.
Jimmy Rabbit grew very impatient. He kept urging Reddy Woodpecker to make haste. But Reddy told him that if he hurried too much he might overlook a beechnut. So he took his own time.
But the search was all in vain. Not a single nut did he find.
Then Jimmy Rabbit led him silently to a great cedar tree and bade him stand behind it and keep perfectly still.
Reddy made a wry face when he saw that he must put his feet in a deep puddle of water. But he obeyed, all the same.
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