The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter XX: Sammy Jay Offers To Help Paddy.
Paddy sat looking thoughtfully at the aspen trees he would have to cut to complete his store of food for the winter. All those near the edge of his pond had been cut. The others were scattered about some little distance away. "I don't know," said Paddy out loud. "I don't know."
"What don't you know?" asked Sammy Jay, who, now that he and Paddy had become friends, was very much interested in what Paddy was doing.
"Why," replied Paddy, "I don't know just how I am going to get those trees. Now that Old Man Coyote is watching for me, it isn't safe for me to go very far from my pond. I suppose I could dig a canal up to some of the nearest trees and then float them down to the pond, but it is hard to work and keep watch for enemies at the same time. I guess I'll have to be content with some of these alders growing close to the water, but he bark of aspens is so much better that I--I wish I could get them."
"What's a canal?" asked Sammy abruptly.
"A canal? Why a canal is a kind of ditch in which water can run," replied Paddy.
Sammy nodded. "I've seen Farmer Brown dig one over on the Green Meadows, but it looked like a great deal of work. I didn't suppose that anyone else could do it. Do you really mean that you can dig a canal, Paddy?"
"Of course I mean it," replied Paddy, in a surprised tone of voice. "I have helped dig lots of canals. You ought to see some of them back where I came from."
"I'd like to," replied Sammy. "I think it is perfectly wonderful. I don't see how you do it."
"It's easy enough when you know how," replied Paddy. "If I dared to, I'd show you."
Sammy had a sudden idea. It almost made him gasp. "I tell you what, you work and I'll keep watch!" he cried. "You know my eyes are very sharp."
"Will you?" cried Paddy eagerly. "That would be perfectly splendid. You have the sharpest eyes of anyone whom I know, and I would feel perfectly safe with you on watch. But I don't want to put you to all to that trouble, Mr. Jay."
"Of course I will," replied Sammy, "and it won't be any trouble at all. I'll just love to do it." You see, it made Sammy feel very proud to have Paddy say that he had such sharp eyes. "When will you begin?"
"Right away, if you will just take a look around and see that it is perfectly safe for me to come out on land."
Sammy didn't wait to hear more. He spread his beautiful blue wings and started off over the Green Forest straight for the Green Meadows. Paddy watched him go with a puzzled and disappointed air. "That's funny," thought he. "I thought he really meant it, and now off he goes without even saying good-by."
In a little while back came Sammy, all out of breath. "It's all right," he panted. "You can go to work just as soon as you please."
Paddy looked more puzzled than ever. "How do you know?" he asked. "I haven't seen you looking around."
"I did better than that," replied Sammy. "If Old Man Coyote had been hiding somewhere in the Green Forest, it might have taken me some time to find him. But he isn't. You see, I flew straight over to his home in the Green Meadows to see if he is there, and he is. He's taking a sun bath and looking as cross as two sticks. I don't think he'll be back here this morning, but I'll keep a sharp watch while you work."
Paddy made Sammy a low bow. "You certainly are smart, Mr. Jay," said he. "I wouldn't have thought of going over to Old Man Coyote's home to see if he was there. I'll feel perfectly safe with you on guard. Now I'll get to work."