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Chatterer was in a peck of trouble. Yes, Sir, he was in a peck of trouble. There was no doubt about it. "Oh, dear! Oh, dear! If only I had kept my tongue still! If only I had kept my tongue still!" he kept saying over and over to himself, as he hurried through the Green Forest. You see, Chatterer was just beginning to realize what a lot of trouble an unruly tongue can get one into. Here it was cold weather, the very edge of winter, and Chatterer didn't dare stay in the Green Forest where he had always made his home. His storehouses were full of nuts and seeds and corn, enough and more than enough to keep him in comfort all winter, and now he must turn his back on them and go he didn't know where, and all because of his mean disposition and bad tongue.
If he hadn't called Bobby Coon names that morning at the top of his voice, Shadow the Weasel might not have found him. He knew that Shadow has a long memory, and that he would never forget the trick by which Chatterer had escaped, and so the only way Chatterer would ever be able to have a moment's peace would be to leave the Green Forest for as long as Shadow the Weasel chose to stay there. Chatterer shivered inside his warm, red fur coat as he thought of the long, cold winter and how hard it would be to find enough to eat. Was ever any one else in such a dreadful fix?
Presently he came to the edge of the Green Forest. He sat down to rest in the top of a tree where he could look off over the Green Meadows. Far, far away he could see the Purple Hills, behind which jolly, round, red Mr. Sun goes to bed every night. He could see the old stone wall that separates Farmer Brown's cornfield from the Green Meadows. He could see Farmer Brown's house and barn and near them the Old Orchard where Johnny Chuck had spent the summer with Polly Chuck and their baby Chucks. He knew every nook and corner in the old stone wall and many times he had been to the Old Orchard. It was there that he had stolen the eggs of Drummer the Woodpecker. He grinned at the thought of those eggs and how he had stolen them, and then he shivered as he remembered how he had finally been caught and how sharp the bills of Drummer and Mrs. Drummer were.
But all that was in the past, and thinking about it wasn't going to help him now. He had got to do something right away. Perhaps he might find a place to live in the old stone wall, and there might, there just might, be enough grains of corn scattered over the ground of the cornfield for him to lay up a supply, if he worked very hard and fast. Anyway, he would have a look. So he hurried down from the tree and out along the old stone wall. His spirits began to rise as he whisked along, peering into every hole and jumping from stone to stone. It really seemed as though he might find a snug home somewhere here. Then he remembered something that made his heart sink again. He remembered having seen Shadow the Weasel more than once exploring that very wall. Just as likely as not he would do it again, for it was so very near the Green Forest. No, the old stone wall wouldn't do.
Just then along came Peter Rabbit. Peter saw right away that something was wrong with Chatterer, and he wanted to know what it was. Chatterer told him. He felt that he had just got to tell some one. Peter looked thoughtful. He scratched his long left ear with his long right hind foot.
"You know there is another old stone wall up there by the Old Orchard," said he. "It is pretty near Farmer Brown's house, and Black Pussy hunts there a great deal, but you ought to be smart enough to keep out of her clutches."
"I should hope so!" exclaimed Chatterer scornfully. "I have never seen a cat yet that I was afraid of! believe I'll go over and have a look at that old wall, Peter Rabbit."
"I'll go with you," said Peter, and off they started together.
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