IV. Building a House

There came a day when Sandy Chipmunk decided that he was old enough and big enough to make a house of his own. He was not the sort of person to think and think about a thing and put off the doing of it from one day to another. So the moment the idea of a house popped into his head Sandy Chipmunk began hunting for a good place to dig.

It was not long before he found a bit of ground that seemed to him the very best spot for a home that any one could want.

The place where he intended to make his front door was in the middle of a smooth plot among some beech trees. Farmer Green's cows had clipped the grass short all around. And Sandy knew that he could have a neat dooryard without being obliged to go to the trouble of cutting the grass himself. But what he liked most of all about the place was that as he stood there he could look all around in every direction. That was just what he wanted, because whenever he wished to leave his new house he would be able to peep out and see whether anybody was waiting to catch him.

So Sandy Chipmunk took off his little, short coat, folded it carefully, and laid it down upon the grass. Then he pulled off his necktie and unbuttoned his collar. Just because he was going to dig in the ground there was no reason why he should get his clothes dirty.

After that Sandy Chipmunk set to work. And you should have seen how he made the earth fly. When night came and he had to stop working there was a big heap of dirt beneath the beech trees, to show how busy Sandy had been. There was a big hole in the pasture, too. But it was nothing at all, compared with the hole Sandy had dug by the time he had finished his house.

Every morning Sandy Chipmunk came back to the grove of beech trees to work upon his new house. And it was not many days before his burrow was so deep that when winter came the ground about his chamber would not freeze. It was what Farmer Green would have called "below frost-line."

You must not think it was an easy matter for Sandy Chipmunk to dig a home. You must remember that somehow he had to bring the dirt out of his tunnel to the top of the ground. And he did that by pushing it ahead of him with his nose.

You may laugh when you hear that. But for Sandy Chipmunk it was no laughing matter. If he had laughed, just as likely as not he would have found his mouth full of dirt. And you can understand that that wouldn't have been very pleasant.

As it was, his face was very dirty. But he never went back to his mother's house until he had washed it carefully, just as a cat washes her face.

Sometimes Sandy found stones in his way, down there beneath the pasture. And those he had to push up, too. Sometimes a stone was too big to crowd through the opening into the world outside. And then Sandy had to make the opening bigger. After he had done that, and pushed the stone out upon his dirt-pile, he would make his doorway smaller again by packing earth firmly into it.

You must not suppose that when Sandy brought the loose dirt and stones up through his doorway he left them there. Not at all! He pushed all the litter some distance away. And whenever he turned, to scamper down into his burrow again, he would kick behind him, as hard as he could, to scatter the dirt still further from his new house.

After Sandy had made himself a chamber where he could sleep, and where he could store enough food to last him throughout the winter, any one would naturally imagine that his house was finished. But Sandy Chipmunk was not yet satisfied with his new home. There was still something else that he wanted to do to it.