The Tale of Sandy Chipmunk by Arthur Scott Bailey
X. Mr. Crow Scolds Sandy
When he finally reached home, after Sandy Chipmunk had been working for him all day, Mr. Crow was feeling very pleasant. You know, he thought that his winter's food must be in his house. And that alone is enough to make any one happy. But what Mr. Crow liked most about his bargain was the fact that he wouldn't have to pay Sandy for his work. He had said to Sandy: "I'll agree to give you half what you gather for me." And Sandy Chipmunk had never stopped to think that that was not any pay at all. For he might have gathered the food for himself, and had all, instead of only half of it. As it was, Sandy Chipmunk was paying himself for working for Mr. Crow. And Mr. Crow seemed to be the only one that was wise enough to know it.
Mr. Crow dropped down upon the ground beside Sandy Chipmunk.
"Well," he said, "have you finished?"
"Yes!" Sandy answered. "And I hope you'll like what I've done. I'll wait here until you fly up to your house and look at the food."
"All right!" Mr. Crow told him. He flapped his big, black wings. And soon he had risen to the top of the tall elm.
Sandy watched him as he looked inside his house. At first Mr. Crow only stared--and said nothing. And then--to Sandy's astonishment--he began to scold.
"What's the trouble?" Sandy Chipmunk called.
"Trouble?" Mr. Crow cried, as he flew down again. "There's trouble enough. Why, you haven't kept your bargain!"
Sandy Chipmunk declared that he had done exactly as he had agreed.
"I brought load after load of food to the foot of this tree," heexplained. "Half of it I took for myself--just as you suggested. Of course, I had to pay Frisky Squirrel for helping me. I paid him half the food for carrying it up to your house."
"That's it!" Mr. Crow cried. "That's the trouble! You took half and Frisky Squirrel took half. So of course there was no food left for me. There are two halves in a whole, you know."
"You must be mistaken," Sandy told him politely. "There's only one half in my hole. I put my half there myself, and I ought to know."
Mr. Crow looked as if he thought Sandy Chipmunk must be playing a trick on him. But pretty soon he saw that it was not so.
"You don't seem to understand," Mr. Crow said. "I don't believe you've ever studied fractions."
Sandy Chipmunk admitted that he never had.
"Ah!" Mr. Crow exclaimed. "This is what comes of hiring stupid people to work for one. Here I've wasted all my corn. And I get nothing for it but trouble."
"Corn!" Sandy Chipmunk exclaimed. "I don't know anything about any corn!"
"Well, you certainly are stupid!" Mr. Crow told him crossly. "Didn't you spend the whole day gathering corn for me?"
"No, indeed!" Sandy replied. "I gathered beechnuts, Mr. Crow."
"Beechnuts!" Mr. Crow repeated. "I never told you I wanted nuts. I'd starve, trying to live on nuts; for they don't agree with me at all. And I make it a rule never to eat them. Corn is what I want."
"You didn't say so," Sandy Chipmunk said. "You asked me to gather food for you. And every one knows there's no better food than beechnuts to last through the winter."
"That--" said Mr. Crow--"that is where we do not agree. I supposed you knew I wanted corn. But there's no great harm done, anyhow," he added. "Tomorrow you can gather corn for me--now that you know what I want. No doubt you can get Frisky Squirrel to help you again. But you must pay him with your share of the corn--not with mine."
"But then there wouldn't be any left for me," Sandy objected.
"But just think of all the beechnuts you have," Mr. Crow reminded him.
Sandy Chipmunk shook his head. "I'm afraid I'm too stupid to work for you any more," he told Mr. Crow.
"Oh! I didn't mean what I said," Mr. Crow hastened to explain.
"Then--" Sandy said--"then how do I know that you mean what you say when you tell me you want corn to eat?"
And Mr. Crow could find no answer to that. He was disappointed, too. For he was afraid he would have to go south to spend the winter, after all.