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That was the way with Chatterer. Of course he had had no business to steal corn from Farmer Brown's corn-crib. To be sure he had felt that he had just as much right to that corn as Farmer Brown had. You see, the little people of the Green Meadows and the Green Forest feel that everything that grows belongs to them, if they want it and are smart enough to get it before some one else does. But it is just there that Chatterer went wrong. Farmer Brown had harvested that corn and stored it in his corn-crib, and so, of course, no one else had any right to it. Right down deep in his heart Chatterer knew this. If he hadn't known it, he wouldn't have been so sly in taking what he wanted. He knew all the time that he was stealing, but he tried to make himself believe that it was all right. So he had kept on stealing and stealing until at last he was caught in a trap, and now he had got to pay for his wrong-doing.
Chatterer was very miserable, so miserable and frightened that he could do nothing but sit huddled up in a little shivery ball. He hadn't the least doubt in the world that this was his very last day, and that Farmer Brown's boy would turn him over to cruel Black Pussy for her breakfast. Farmer Brown's boy had left him in the trap in the house and had gone out. For a long time Chatterer could hear pounding out in the woodshed, and Farmer Brown's boy was whistling as he pounded. Chatterer wondered how he could whistle and seem so happy when he meant to do such a dreadful thing as to give him to Black Pussy. After what seemed a very long time, ages and ages, Farmer Brown's boy came back. He had with him a queer looking box.
"There," said he, "is a new home for you, you little red imp! I guess it will keep you out of trouble for a while."
He slid back a little door in the top of the box, and then, putting on a stout glove and opening a little door in the trap, he put in his big hand and closed it around Chatterer.
Poor little Chatterer! He was sure now that this was the end, and that he was to be given to Black Pussy, who was looking on with hungry, yellow eyes. He struggled and did his best to bite, but the thick glove gave his sharp little teeth no chance to hurt the hand that held him. Even in his terror, he noticed that that big hand tried to be gentle and squeezed him no tighter than was necessary. Then he was lifted out of the trap and dropped through the little doorway in the top of the queer box, and the door was fastened. Nothing terrible had happened, after all.
At first, Chatterer just sulked in one corner. He still felt sure that something terrible was going to happen. Farmer Brown's boy took the box out into the shed and put it where the sun shone into it. For a little while he stayed watching, but Chatterer still sulked and sulked. By and by he went away, taking Black Pussy with him, and Chatterer was alone.
When he was quite sure that no one was about, Chatterer began to wonder what sort of a place he was in, and if there wasn't some way to get out. He found that one side and the top were of fine, stout wire, through which he could look out, and that the other sides and the bottom were of wood covered with wire, so that there was no chance for his sharp teeth to gnaw a way out. In one corner was a stout piece of an apple-tree, with two little stubby branches to sit on, and half way up a little round hole. Very cautiously Chatterer peeped inside the hole. Inside was a splendid hollow. On the floor of the box was a little heap of shavings and bits of rag. And there was a little pile of yellow corn. How Chatterer did hate the sight of that corn! You see, it was corn that had got him into all this trouble. At least, that is the way Chatterer felt about it. When he had examined everything, he knew that there was no way out. Chatterer was in a prison, though that is not what Farmer Brown's boy called it. He said it was a cage.
Very cautiously Chatterer peeped inside the hole.
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