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Sammy Jay hadn't had so much fun for a long time as he found in watching the funny little school in Farmer Brown's old orchard, where Johnny Chuck was teaching his three baby Chucks the things that every little Chuck must learn, if he would grow up into a big Chuck. When they had learned to mind without waiting to ask why, and had learned the signals which told them just what to do when danger was near, Johnny began to lead them farther and farther away from home.
He took them up along the old stone wall and showed them how to find safe hiding-places among the stones. Then he took them off a little way and suddenly gave the danger signal. It was funny, very funny indeed to see the three little Chucks scamper for the old stone wall and crawl out of sight.
The first time, two of them tried to squeeze into the same hole together, and each was in such a hurry that he wouldn't let the other go first. Then both lost their tempers and they began to fight about it, quite forgetting that if there was really any danger near, they surely would come to harm. Such a scolding as Johnny Chuck did give those two little Chucks! Then he made them try it all over again.
Once he found a foot print which Reddy Fox had made in some soft earth during the night, and made each little Chuck smell of it, while he told them all about Reddy and old Granny Fox and how smart and sly they were and how very, very fond they were of tender young Chucks for dinner.
The three little Chucks shivered when they smelled of Reddy's track, and the hair along their backs stood up in a way that was very funny to see.
Then Johnny Chuck took them over to the edge of the old orchard, where they could peep out over the Green Meadows. He pointed out old Whitetail the Marshhawk, sailing back and forth over the meadows, and told them how once, when he was a little Chuck and had run away from home, old Whitetail had nearly caught him. He told them about Farmer Brown's boy and about Bowser the Hound and a great many other things that little Chucks should learn about.
Now all the time that Johnny Chuck was teaching these things, he was keeping the sharpest kind of a watch for danger, and there were many times when he would give the danger signal. Then they would all lie flat down in the grass and keep perfectly still, or else scamper as fast as they could along the little paths which Johnny had made, to the safety of the snug home under the old apple-tree. But even the most watchful are surprised sometimes.
One morning, when Johnny Chuck had led the three little Chucks farther from home than usual, Farmer Brown's boy took it into his head to visit the old orchard. Johnny Chuck did not see him coming. You see, the orchard grass had grown so tall that even when he sat up his very straightest, Johnny could not always see over the top of it. So this morning he failed to see Farmer Brown's boy coming.
But Sammy Jay, sitting in his snug hiding-place in the top of one of the old apple-trees, saw him. At first Sammy Jay's sharp eyes twinkled. There would be some fun now! Perhaps Farmer Brown's boy would catch one of the little Chucks! Sammy Jay could picture to himself the fright of Johnny Chuck and the three little Chucks. He fairly hugged himself in delight, for you know Sammy Jay dearly loves to see other people in trouble.
Then he thought of all the fun he had had watching those three little Chucks learn their lessons, and suddenly the thought of anything happening to them made Sammy Jay feel uncomfortable. Almost without stopping to think, he screamed at the top of his lungs:
"Run, Johnny Chuck, run! Here comes Farmer Brown's boy!"
And Johnny Chuck ran. He didn't wait to ask questions or even to look. He started the three little Chucks ahead of him, and he nipped their heels to make them run faster. And just in time they reached the snug house under the old apple-tree in the far corner.
Farmer Brown's boy was just in time to see them disappear. He watched Sammy Jay flying over to the Green Forest and screaming "Thief! thief!" as he flew.
"I wonder now if that jay warned those chucks purposely," said he, as he scratched his head thoughtfully.
If Peter Rabbit had been there, he could have told him that Sammy Jay did, for he knows all about Sammy Jay and his tricks. But Peter wasn't there. The fact is, Peter was very busy doing the most foolish of all the foolish things he has ever done--trying to change his name. You may read all about it in The Adventures of Peter Cottontail. You see it takes a whole book to tell all about Peter and his doings.
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