But at last patience and perseverance began to have their reward. Little Master Whiskey said to himself, "Surely this is a nice, kind lady, to take so much pains to give me nuts; she is certainly very considerate;" and with that he edged a little nearer and nearer every day, until, quite to the delight of the small lady, he would come and climb into her lap and seize the nuts, when she rattled them there, and after that he seemed to make exploring voyages all over her person. He would climb up and sit on her shoulder; he would mount and perch himself on her head; and when she held a nut for him between her teeth, he would take it out of her mouth.
After a while he began to make tours of discovery in the house. He would suddenly appear on the minister's writing-table when he was composing his Sunday sermon, and sit cocking his little pert head at him, seeming to wonder what he was about. But in all his explorations he proved himself a true Yankee squirrel, having always a shrewd eye on the main chance. If the parson dropped a nut on the floor, down went Whiskey after it, and into his provision-bag it went, and then he would look up as if he expected another; for he had a wallet on each side of his jaws, and he always wanted both sides handsomely filled before he made for his hole. So busy and active and always intent on this one object was he, that before long the little lady found he had made way with six pounds of hazel-nuts. His general rule was to carry off four nuts at a time--three being stuffed into the side-pockets of his jaws, and the fourth held in his teeth. When he had furnished himself in this way, he would dart like lightning for his hole, and disappear in a moment; but in a short time up he would come, brisk and wide-awake, and ready for the next supply.
Once a person who had the curiosity to dig open a chipping squirrel's hole found in it two quarts of buckwheat, a quantity of grass-seed, nearly a peck of acorns, some Indian corn, and a quart of walnuts; a pretty handsome supply for a squirrel's winter store-room--don't you think so?
Whiskey learned in time to work for his living in many artful ways that his young mistress devised. Sometimes she would tie his nuts up in a paper package, which he would attack with great energy, gnawing the strings, and rustling the nuts out of the paper in wonderfully quick time. Sometimes she would tie a nut to the end of a bit of twine and swing it backward and forward over his head; and after a succession of spry jumps, he would pounce upon it, and hang swinging on the twine, till he had gnawed the nut away.
Another squirrel, doubtless hearing of Whiskey's good luck, began to haunt the same yard; but Whiskey would by no means allow him to cultivate his young mistress's acquaintance. No indeed! he evidently considered that the institution would not support two. Sometimes he would appear to be conversing with the stranger on the most familiar and amicable terms in the back-yard; but if his mistress called his name, he would immediately start and chase his companion quite out of sight, before he came back to her.
So you see that self-seeking is not confined to men alone, and that Whiskey's fine little fur coat covers a very selfish heart.
As winter comes on, Whiskey will go down into his hole, which has many long galleries and winding passages, and a snug little bedroom well lined with leaves. Here he will doze and dream away his long winter months, and nibble out the inside of his store of nuts.
If I hear any more of his cunning tricks, I will tell you of them.