III. The Broken Egg

Nuts and grains were what Sandy Chipmunk ate more than anything else. But sometimes when he could not find enough of those, or when he wanted a change of food, he would eat almost any sort of berry, and apples and pears as well. Tomatoes, too, he liked once in a while. And he was very fond of sunflower seeds. He would not refuse a fat insect, either, if it flew his way. But these were not the only dainties that Sandy thought good. There was something else--something to be found in trees--for which Sandy sometimes hunted. And before he came home, after finding what he was looking for, he always wiped his mouth with great care.

If you had ever seen him wiping his mouth like that, you might have guessed that Sandy Chipmunk had been eating birds' eggs. And the reason he was so careful to remove all signs of his feast was because he did not want his mother to know what he had been doing.

Now you have heard the worst there is to know about Sandy Chipmunk.

To you it may seem odd that Mrs. Chipmunk did not think it wrong to rob birds' nests. And now you know the worst about her.

Sandy's mother liked eggs just as much as he did. But her son was such a little fellow that she was afraid he might get hurt climbing trees and looking for eggs. She told him that some day some bird might surprise him when he was enjoying a meal of her eggs, and peck out one or two of his eyes.

"Keep away from the nests!" Mrs. Chipmunk said.

But Sandy had had too many tastes of birds' eggs. He simply couldn't resist eating a few eggs now and then. Of course, when he did that he disobeyed his mother. And of course, if she had known it she would have punished him.

As the spring days sped past, the birds that lived in Farmer Green's pasture grew very angry with Sandy Chipmunk. You see, it was not long before they discovered who it was that was robbing their nests now and then.

"You'd better leave birds' eggs alone!" Mr. Crow warned him one day. "A number of my friends have told me what they're going to do to you, if they catch you near their nests."

But Sandy told Mr. Crow to keep his advice to himself.

"What about Farmer Green's corn?" Sandy asked the old gentleman. "I've heard that Farmer Green is looking for you with a gun."

Mr. Crow didn't even answer him. He just flew away. There were some things he didn't like to talk about.

That very afternoon Sandy Chipmunk spied a robin's nest in a tree not far from where he lived. And in less time than it takes to tell it, he had climbed the tree and run out on the limb where the nest rested.

Sandy Chipmunk smiled as he peered into the robin's nest. The four greenish-blue eggs that he saw there looked very good to him. And he smacked his lips--though his mother had often told him not to. He was just picking the eggs out of the nest when he heard a rustle in the leaves over his head. And Sandy Chipmunk looked up quickly.

It seemed to him, at first, that the air was full of monstrous birds. Actually, there were only three of them--Mr. and Mrs. Robin and a neighbor of theirs. But to Sandy they looked six times as big as they really were. That was because they had caught him robbing the nest.

He was so startled that he dropped the eggs. They fell back into the nest--all except one, which broke upon the ground beneath the tree.

"Robber!" Mrs. Robin screamed.

"Thief!" Mr. Robin roared.

"Villain!" their neighbor cried.

It is a wonder they didn't fly straight at Sandy and knock him off the limb.

At first he was too frightened to say a word. But when he saw that he wasn't hurt, Sandy looked down at the broken egg and said:

"What a pity!" He meant it, too. For he thought it was a shame to waste a perfectly good egg like that, when he might have eaten it.

"You don't mean you're sorry, do you?" Mrs. Robin asked him.

"Certainly I am!" Sandy told her. "I was just counting your eggs. And when you startled me, I dropped that one. I thought it must be a hawk, you all made such a noise."

"You're sure you weren't going to eat our eggs?" Mr. Robin inquired.

"Eat them!" Sandy exclaimed. "Why, my mother has often told me not to eat birds' eggs."

When he heard that, Mr. Robin whispered something to his wife. And then he said to Sandy Chipmunk:

"You go home! And don't let me catch you around this tree again!"

Sandy was glad to escape so easily as that. And though he was sorry to have missed a good meal, there was one thing that made him almost happy: He didn't have to bother to wipe his mouth before he let his mother see him.