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When Sammy Jay reached the place deep in the Green Forest Where Paddy the Beaver was so hard at work, he didn't hide as had the little four-footed people. You see, of course, he had no reason to hide, because he felt perfectly safe. Paddy had just cut a big tree, and it fell with a crash as Sammy came hurrying up. Sammy was so surprised that for a minute he couldn't find his tongue. He had not supposed that anybody but Farmer Brown or Farmer Brown's boy could cut down so large a tree as that, and it quite took his breath away. But he got it again in a minute. He was boiling with anger, anyway, to think that he should have been the last to learn that Paddy had come down from the North to make his home in the Green Forest, and here was a chance to speak his mind.
"Thief! thief! thief!" He screamed in his harshest voice.
Paddy the Beaver looked up with a twinkle in his eyes. "Hello, Mr. Jay. I see you haven't any better manners than your cousin who lives up where I come from," said he.
"Thief! thief! thief!" screamed Sammy, hopping up and down, he was so angry.
"Meaning yourself, I suppose," said Paddy. "I never did see an honest Jay, and I don't suppose I ever will."
"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Peter Rabbit, who had quite forgotten that he was hiding.
"Oh, how do you do, Mr. Rabbit? I'm very glad you have called on me this morning," said Paddy, just as if he hadn't known all the time just where Peter was. "Mr. Jay seems to have gotten out of the wrong side of his bed this morning."
Peter laughed again. "He always does," said he. "If he didn't, he wouldn't be happy. You wouldn't think it to look at him, but he is happy right now. He doesn't know it, but he is. He always is happy when he can show what a bad temper he has."
Sammy Jay glared down at Peter. Then he glared at Paddy. And all the time he still shrieked "Thief!" as hard as ever he could. Paddy kept right on working, paying no attention to Sammy. This made Sammy more angry than ever. He kept coming nearer and nearer until at last he was in the very tree that Paddy happened to be cutting. Paddy's eyes twinkled.
"I'm no thief!" he exclaimed suddenly.
"You are! You are! Thief! Thief!" shrieked Sammy. "You're steeling our trees!"
"They're not your trees," retorted Paddy. "They belong to the Green Forest, and the Green Forest belongs to all who love it, and we all have a perfect right to take what we need from it. I need these trees, and I've just as much right to take them as you have to take the fat acorns that drop in the fall."
"No such thing!" screamed Sammy. You know he can't talk without screaming, and the more excited he gets, the louder he screams. "No such thing! Acorns are food. They are meant to eat. I have to have them to live. But you are cutting down whole trees. You are spoiling the Green Forest. You don't belong here. Nobody invited you, and nobody wants you. You're a thief!"
Then up spoke Jerry Muskrat who, you know, is cousin to Paddy the Beaver.
"Don't you mind him," said he, pointing at Sammy Jay. "Nobody does. He's the greatest trouble-maker in the Green Forest or on the Green Meadows. He would steal from his own relatives. Don't mind what he says, Cousin Paddy."
Now all this time Paddy had been working away just as if no one was around. Just as Jerry stopped speaking, Paddy thumped the ground with his tail, which is his way of warning people to watch out, and suddenly scurried away as fast as he could run. Sammy Jay was so surprised that he couldn't find his tongue for a minute, and he didn't notice anything peculiar about that tree. Then suddenly he felt himself falling. With a frightened scream, he spread his wings to fly, but branches of the tree swept him down with them right into the Laughing Brook. You see, while Sammy had been speaking his mind, Paddy the Beaver had cut down the very tree in which he was sitting.
Sammy wasn't hurt, but he was wet and muddy and terribly frightened--the most miserable-looking Jay that ever was seen. It was too much for all the little people who were hiding. They just had to laugh. Then they all came out to pay their respects to Paddy the Beaver.
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