VII. Uncle Sammy's Store
 

Not long after Uncle Sammy Coon ate half of Sandy Chipmunk's wheat without paying for it he seemed to grow lamer than ever. And he walked less than ever, too. A good many of the forest-folk said that he really wasn't any lamer--but he was lazier.

However that may have been, he began to stay at home a good deal of the time. And finally Sandy Chipmunk heard that Uncle Sammy had opened a store, in which he kept all sorts of good things to eat.

When Sandy learned that he lost no time in going over to Uncle Sammy's house near the swamp.

Sure enough! There he found Uncle Sammy sitting behind a long table. And behind him were shelves loaded with apples, pears, corn, nuts and many other kinds of food.

"I'd like to buy some nuts," Sandy Chipmunk told the old gentleman.

"Nuts?" said Uncle Sammy. "I have some fine nuts."

"Let me see a sample," Sandy said.

But Uncle Sammy never stirred.

"There they are, right on the shelf!" he said. "Look at them all you want to."

"I'll eat one and see how I like it," said Sandy Chipmunk.

But Uncle Sammy shook his head.

"No!" he replied. "That's the old-fashioned way of keeping a store. I don't give away any samples."

When Sandy heard that he was angrier than ever. And he wished he had never given Uncle Sammy any samples of his wheat. But he knew there was no use of appearing angry. So he smiled and asked:

"What is the price of your beechnuts?"

"For one handful, you will have to pay me an ear of corn," Uncle Sammy said.

"I'll take a handful," said Sandy.

Still the old fellow never stirred.

"Where's your ear of corn?" he inquired.

"Oh! I'll give you that the next time I pass this way," said Sandy. And he made up his mind that he would take good care to keep away from Uncle Sammy's house.

But Uncle Sammy Coon was too sharp.

"That won't do at all," he said. "I must have the corn before I give you the nuts."

So Sandy Chipmunk stepped to the door.

"I'll come back soon," he said. And he ran all the way to Farmer Green's cornfield, to get an ear of green corn. And then he ran all the way back to Uncle Sammy's house.

"There!" Sandy said. "There's your ear of corn!" He laid it upon the table. "Now give me a handful of beechnuts."

"Step right in and help yourself," Uncle Sammy answered.

"No!" said Sandy. "You give me the nuts." He knew that Uncle Sammy's hands were much bigger than his own and would hold more nuts.

"I should think you might get them," the old scamp grumbled. "I've a lame knee, you know."

"But I said a 'handful'--not a 'kneeful,'" Sandy answered. "Of course, if you don't want this juicy ear of corn, there are others that would like it." He started to pick the ear of corn off the table when Uncle Sammy rose quickly.

"All right!" he cried. "But it's the old-fashioned way; and I don't like it." Then he gave Sandy a small handful of beechnuts.

Sandy Chipmunk ate them right on the spot. And he began to feel very happy. He had noticed that Uncle Sammy tossed the ear of corn into a basket which stood beneath the table. And the basket was full of corn. Sandy could reach it just as easily from the front of the table as Uncle Sammy could from behind it.

And Sandy Chipmunk had thought all at once of a way to get a good many nuts away from Uncle Sammy, to pay for all the wheat Uncle Sammy had eaten.