Chapter XVIII: Old Man Coyote Tries Another Plan.

For three nights Old Man Coyote had stolen up through the green Forest with the coming of the Black Shadows and had hidden among the aspen trees where Paddy the Beaver cut his food, and for three nights Paddy had failed to come ashore. Each night he had seemed to have enough food logs in the water to keep him busy without cutting more. Old Man Coyote lay there, and the hungry look in his eyes changed to one of doubt and then to suspicion. Could it be that Paddy the Beaver was smarter than he thought? It began to look very much as if Paddy knew perfectly well that he was hiding there each night. Yes, Sir, that's the way it looked. For three nights Paddy hadn't cut a single tree, and yet each night he had plenty of food logs ready to take to his storehouse in the pond.

"That means that he comes ashore in the daytime and cuts his trees," thought Old Man Coyote as, tired and with black anger in his heart, he trotted home the third night. "He couldn't have found out about me himself; he isn't smart enough. It must be that someone has told him. And nobody knows that I have been over there but Sammy Jay. It must be he who has been the tattletale. I think I'll visit Paddy by daylight tomorrow, and then we'll see!"

Now the trouble with some smart people is that they are never able to believe that others may be as smart as they. Old Man Coyote didn't know that the first time he had visited Paddy's pond he had left behind him a footprint in a little patch of soft mud. If he had known it, he wouldn't have believed that Paddy would be smart enough to guess what that footprint meant. So Old Man coyote laid all the blame at the door of Sammy Jay, and that very morning, when Sammy came flying over the Green Meadows, Old Man Coyote accused him of being a tattletale and threatened the most dreadful things to Sammy if ever he caught him.

Now Sammy had flown down to the green Meadows to tell Old Man Coyote how Paddy was doing all his work on land in the daytime. But when Old Man Coyote began to call him a tattletale and accuse him of having warned Paddy, and to threaten dreadful things, he straightway forgot all his anger at Paddy and turned it all on Old Man Coyote. He called him everything he could think of, and this was a great deal, for Sammy has a wicked tongue. When he hadn't any breath left, he flew over to the Green Forest, and there he hid where he could watch all that was going on.

That afternoon Old Man Coyote tried his new plan. He slipped into the Green Forest, looking this way and that way to be sure that no one saw him. Then very, very softly, he crept up through the Green Forest toward the pond of Paddy the Beaver. As he drew near, he heard a crash, and it make him smile. He knew what it meant. It meant that Paddy was at work cutting down trees. With his stomach almost on the ground, he crept forward little by little, little by little, taking the greatest care not to rustle so much as a leaf. Presently he reached a place where he could see the aspen trees, and there, sure enough, was Paddy, sitting up on his hind legs and hard at work cutting another tree.

Old Man Coyote lay down for a few minutes to watch. Then he wriggled a little nearer. Slowly and carefully he drew his legs under him and made ready for a rush. Paddy the Beaver was his at last! At just that very minute a harsh scream rang out right over his head:

"Thief! thief! thief!"

It was Sammy Jay, who had followed him all the way. Paddy the Beaver didn't stop to even look around. He knew what that meant, and he scrambled down his little path to the water as he never had scrambled before. And as he dived with a great splash, Old Man Coyote landed with a great jump on the very edge of the pond.