“Hi, there, Cousin Chipmunk!” he shouted.
“Hi, there, your own self!” replied Striped Chipmunk, for it was he.
“What are you doing down there?” asked Happy Jack.
“Looking for hickory nuts,” replied Striped Chipmunk, and his eyes twinkled as he said it, for there wasn’t a hickory tree near.
Happy Jack looked hard at Striped Chipmunk, for that sudden thought which had popped into his head when he first saw Striped Chipmunk was growing into a strong, a very strong, suspicion that Striped Chipmunk knew something about those lost hickory nuts. But Striped Chipmunk looked back at him so innocently that Happy Jack didn’t know just what to think.
“Have you begun to fill your storehouse for winter yet?” inquired Happy Jack.
“Of course I have. I don’t mean to let Jack Frost catch me with an empty storehouse,” replied Striped Chipmunk.
“When leaves turn yellow,
brown, and red,
And nuts come pitter, patter down;
When days are short and swiftly sped,
And Autumn wears her colored gown,
I’m up before old Mr. Sun
His nightcap has a chance to doff,
And have my day’s work well begun
When others kick their bedclothes off.”
“What are you filling your storehouse with?” asked Happy Jack, trying not to show too much interest.
“Corn, nice ripe yellow corn, and seeds and acorns and chestnuts,” answered Striped Chipmunk. “And now I’m looking for some big, fat hickory nuts,” he added, and his bright eyes twinkled. “Have you seen any, Happy Jack?”
Happy Jack said that he hadn’t seen any, and Striped Chipmunk remarked that he couldn’t waste any more time talking, and scurried away. Happy Jack watched him go, a puzzled little frown puckering up his brows.
“I believe he knows something about those nuts. I think I’ll follow him and have a peep into his storehouse,” he muttered.
HAPPY JACK SPIES ON STRIPED CHIPMUNK
It’s more important to mind your own affairs than to know what your neighbors are doing, but not nearly so interesting.
Striped Chipmunk was whisking about among the brown-and-yellow leaves that covered the ground on the edge of the Green Forest. He is such a little fellow that he looked almost like a brown leaf himself, and when one of Old Mother West Wind’s Merry Little Breezes whirled the brown leaves in a mad little dance around him, it was the hardest work in the world to see Striped Chipmunk at all. Anyway, Happy Jack Squirrel found it so.
You see, Happy Jack was spying on Striped Chipmunk. Yes, Sir, Happy Jack was spying. Spying, you know, is secretly watching other people and trying to find out what they are doing. It isn’t a nice thing to do, not a bit nice. Happy Jack knew it, and all the time he was doing it, he was feeling very much ashamed of himself. But he said to himself that he just had to know where Striped Chipmunk’s storehouse was, because he just had to peep inside and find out if it held any of the big, fat hickory nuts that had disappeared from under the tall hickory tree while he was quarreling up in the top of it with his cousin, Chatterer the Red Squirrel.