XI. Jasper Jay Tells Some News
 

It was quite late in the fall, and the weather had grown very cold. Mrs. Coon and her family had not left their home for several days; but on this day she thought it would be pleasant to go out in the sunshine and get a breath of fresh air and a bite to eat.

Fatty was the only one of her children that was not asleep; and he complained of being very hungry. So Mrs. Coon decided to take him with her.

The hunting was not very good. There were no birds' eggs at all to be found in the trees. The river and the brook and the creek were all frozen over, so Fatty and his mother could not catch any fish. And as for corn--Farmer Green had long ago gathered the last ear of it. Fatty wished that it was summertime. But it only made him hungrier than ever, to think of all the good things to eat that summer brings. He was feeling very unhappy when his mother said to him sharply--

"Run up this tree! Hurry, now! Don't ask any questions."

Now, Fatty did not always mind his mother as quickly as he might have. But this time he saw that she had stopped and was sniffing the air as if there was something about it she did not like.

That was enough for Fatty. He scrambled up the nearest tree. For he knew that his mother had discovered danger of some sort.

Mrs. Coon followed close behind Fatty. And they had. no sooner hidden in the branches than Fatty saw what it was that his mother had smelled.

It was Johnnie Green! He passed right underneath the tree where they were perched. And as Mrs. Coon peeped down at him she shuddered and shivered and shook so hard that Fatty couldn't help noticing it.

"What's the matter?" he asked, as soon as Johnnie Green was out of sight.

"His cap!" Mrs. Coon exclaimed. "He is wearing a coon-skin cap!" Now do you wonder that she was upset? "Don't ever go near Farmer Green's house," she warned Fatty. "You don't want to be made into a cap, or a pair of gloves, or a coat, or anything like that, do you?"

"No, indeed, Mother!" Fatty was quite sure that such an adventure wouldn't please him at all. And he told himself right then and there that he would never go anywhere near Farmer Green's house. We shall see how well Fatty remembered.

That very afternoon Fatty Coon heard some very pleasant news. It was Jasper Jay who told him.

Jasper Jay was a very noisy blue jay who lived in the neighborhood. He did not go south with most of the other birds when the cold weather came. He liked the winter and he was forever tearing about the woods, squalling and scolding at everybody. He was a very noisy fellow.

Well! when Fatty and his mother had reached home after their hunt, Fatty stayed out of doors. He climbed to the top of a tall pine tree nearby and stretched himself along a limb, to enjoy the sunshine, which felt very good upon his broad back. It was there that Jasper Jay found him and told him the pleasant news. And Fatty was very glad to hear the news, because he was still hungry.

This is what Jasper Jay told Fatty: he told him that Farmer Green had as many as forty fat turkeys, which roosted every night in a spreading oak in Farmer Green's front yard.

"If I liked turkeys I would certainly go down there some night and get one," said Jasper Jay.