“Hello, Tommy Tit! What ails you?” exclaimed Happy Jack.
“Don’t go in there, Happy Jack!” cried Tommy Tit. “Shadow the Weasel is in there waiting for you!”
Happy Jack turned quite pale. “Are you sure?” he gasped.
Tommy Tit nodded as if he would nod his head off. “I saw him go in, and he hasn’t come out, for I’ve kept watch,” said he. “You better get away from here before he knows you are about.”
That was good advice, but it was too late. Even as Tommy Tit spoke, a sharp face with red, angry eyes was thrust out of Happy Jack’s doorway. It was the face of Shadow the Weasel.
HAPPY JACK’S RUN FOR LIFE
A coward he who runs away
When he should stay and fight,
But wise is he who knows when he
Should run with all his might.
It isn’t cowardly to run away when it is quite useless to stay and fight. So it wasn’t so cowardly of Happy Jack Squirrel to turn tail and run the instant he caught sight of Shadow the Weasel. No, Sir, it wasn’t cowardly at all, although it might have looked so to you had you been there to see, for Happy Jack is bigger than Shadow. But when it comes to a fight, Happy Jack is no match at all for Shadow the Weasel, and he knows it. Shadow is too quick for him, and though Happy Jack were ever so brave, he would have no chance at all in a fight with Shadow.
And so the very instant he saw the cruel face of Shadow with its fierce red eyes glaring at him from his own doorway, Happy Jack turned tail and ran. Yes, Sir, that is just what he did, and it was the wisest thing he could have done. He hoped with a mighty hope that Shadow would not follow him, but he hoped in vain. Shadow had made up his mind to dine on Squirrel, and he didn’t propose to see his dinner run away without trying to catch it. So the instant Happy Jack started, Shadow started after him, stopping only long enough to snarl an ugly threat at Tommy Tit the Chickadee, because Tommy had warned Happy Jack that Shadow was waiting for him.
But Tommy didn’t mind that threat. Oh, my, no! Tommy didn’t mind it at all. He can fly, and so he had no fear of Shadow the Weasel. But he was terribly afraid for Happy Jack. He knew, just as Happy Jack knew, that there wasn’t a single place where Happy Jack could hide into which Shadow could not follow him. So Tommy flitted from tree to tree behind Happy Jack, hoping that in some way he might be able to help him.
From tree to tree raced Happy Jack, making desperately long leaps. Shadow the Weasel followed, and though he ran swiftly, he didn’t appear to be hurrying, and he took no chances on those long leaps. If the leap was too long to take safely, Shadow simply ran back down the tree, across to the next one and up that. It didn’t worry him at all that Happy Jack was so far ahead that he was out of sight. He knew that he could trust his nose to follow the scent of Happy Jack. In fact, it rather pleased him to have Happy Jack race away in such fright, for in that way he would soon tire himself out.