XVII. Corn-Planting Time

It was late in the spring. And Sandy Chipmunk couldn't help wishing it was late in the fall instead. The reason for that was this: He could find very little to eat anywhere in Pleasant Valley. It was too early for fruit or nuts. It was even too early for many insects. And it seemed to Sandy that all the insects flew much higher than they did when there were plenty of other things to eat.

At last Sandy chanced to see Mr. Crow in the woods one day. Mr. Crow was just about to fly somewhere. He seemed to be in a great hurry. In fact, he did not want to stop to talk--which was most unusual with him.

"I can't chat with you to-day," Mr. Crow told Sandy. "I have business to attend to. It's something I've been expecting for a long time. And I don't want to be late."

"Where are you going?" Sandy asked.

"That--" said Mr. Crow--"that is something that doesn't concern you, young man." And then he flapped his way through the woods and out of sight.

Now, it happened that Sandy Chipmunk remembered at once what Uncle Jerry Chuck had said a few days before. Uncle Jerry had said that Mr. Crow had told him Farmer Green was about to plant corn. So Sandy guessed that Mr. Crow was going to the field where Farmer Green and his hired man were working.

"I'll run over there and see what's going on!" Sandy exclaimed. "If they're planting corn I have just as much right to eat some as Mr. Crow has."

Of course, Mr. Crow reached the ploughed field long before Sandy Chipmunk. It took Mr. Crow no time at all to sail through the air and drop down at a good, safe distance from where Farmer Green and his hired man were planting corn. They had already planted several long rows. And Mr. Crow at once set to work to scratch up the yellow kernels and swallow them greedily.

He was enjoying his meal greatly when he caught sight of a small, striped person busily engaged in doing the very same thing. It was Sandy Chipmunk! And Mr. Crow hurried over to the row where Sandy was looking for corn.

"What are you doing here?" Mr. Crow asked angrily.

"I might ask you the same question," Sandy answered.

"You followed me--that's what you did!" Mr. Crow exclaimed. "Of all the prying busybodies I know, you are certainly the worst. This is not your field; and I shall have to ask you to leave it at once."

"Oh! I'll leave the field," said Sandy Chipmunk. "I don't want the field. You can have that. All I want is some of the corn. There ought to be enough for both of us."

Mr. Crow muttered something about impertinence, which Sandy Chipmunk didn't understand. Then Mr. Crow said:

"This corn belongs to Farmer Green. Just because I've come to help him, and because I've scratched up a few of the kernels to see if he's planting them properly, you seem to think I'm eating corn."

"I certainly do," said Sandy Chipmunk.

"Well, what an idea!" Mr. Crow exclaimed.

Strange as it may seem, Farmer Green had the same idea that Sandy Chipmunk had. He happened to catch sight of old Mr. Crow. And pretty soon Johnnie Green came hurrying up the field, along the fence. He hoped Mr. Crow wouldn't see him.

But old Mr. Crow generally saw any one coming his way--especially if the person happened to have a gun on his shoulder.

"I've important business over in the woods," he told Sandy Chipmunk suddenly. And he flew off in great haste.

So Sandy stayed and ate all the corn he wanted. He was so small and so nearly the same color as the ploughed field that Johnnie Green never saw him at all.

After that Mr. Crow would scarcely speak to Sandy for several days. He said that Sandy was a nuisance.

"A person can't go anywhere without that Chipmunk boy following him," Mr. Crow complained. "You know, I'm helping Farmer Green plant his corn. And Sandy Chipmunk followed me to the corn-patch. And what do you think? He actually began to eat the corn! Now, who ever heard of such a thing?"

But Mr. Crow fooled nobody but himself. Every one knew that he ate more of Farmer Green's corn than anybody else unless it was Farmer Green. And he always waited until it was ripe.

The trouble with Mr. Crow was this: He didn't want any one but himself to visit the cornfield. He wanted all the corn for an old gentleman known as Mr. Crow.