Read CHAPTER VI - SAMMY JAY LEARNS PETER RABBIT’S SECRET of The Adventures of Unc Billy Possum, free online book, by Thornton W. Burgess, on

   “I’m Mr. Jaybird, tee-hee-hee! 
    I’m Mr. Jaybird; you watch me! 
    You’ve got to rise ’fore break of day
    If you want to fool old Mr. Jay.”

Over and over Sammy Jay hummed this, as he brushed his handsome blue and white coat.  Then he laughed as he remarked to no one in particular, for no one was near enough to hear:  “Peter Rabbit’s got a secret.  When Peter goes about whispering, it’s a sure sign that he’s got a secret.  He thinks that he can keep it from me, but he can’t.  Oh, my, no!  I never knew of a secret that could be kept by more than two people, and already I’ve seen Peter whisper to five.  I’ll just see what Reddy Fox knows about it.”

With a flirt of his tail Sammy Jay started for the Green Meadows, where Reddy Fox was busy hunting for his breakfast.

“It’s a fine morning, Reddy Fox,” said Sammy Jay.

“It would be finer, if I could fill my stomach faster,” replied Reddy.

“That’s a pretty good secret of Peter Rabbit’s, isn’t it?” asked Sammy, pretending to look very wise.

Reddy pricked up his sharp little ears.

“What secret?” he demanded.

“If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell,” retorted Sammy Jay, just as if he knew all about it, and off he flew to hunt up his cousin, Blacky the Crow.  Blacky knew nothing about Peter Rabbit’s secret, nor did Shadow the Weasel, whom he met by the way.  But Sammy Jay was not in the least bit discouraged.

“I’ll try Johnny Chuck; he’ll know,” said Sammy to himself.

He found Johnny sitting on his doorstep, watching the world go by.

“Good morning, Johnny Chuck,” said Sammy, with a low bow.

“Good morning,” replied Johnny Chuck, who always is polite.

“Isn’t that a fine secret of Peter Rabbit’s?” exclaimed Sammy, just as if he knew all about it.

Johnny Chuck raised his eyebrows and put on the most surprised look.

“Do tell me what it is!” he begged.

“Oh, if you don’t know, I won’t tell, for that wouldn’t be fair,” replied Sammy, and tried to look very honest and innocent, and then he flew over to the Green Forest.  And as he flew, he said to himself:  “Johnny Chuck can’t fool me; he does know Peter Rabbit’s secret.”

Over in the Green Forest he found Drummer the Woodpecker making a great racket on the hollow limb of an old chestnut.  Sammy sat down near by and listened.  “My, that’s fine!  I wish I could do that.  You must be practising,” said Sammy at the end of a long rat-a-tat-tat.

Drummer the Woodpecker felt very much flattered.  “I am,” said he.  “I’m practising for Peter Rabbit’s party.”

“I thought so,” replied Sammy Jay.  Of course he hadn’t thought anything of the kind.

“Won’t Unc’ Billy Possum be surprised?” remarked Drummer the Woodpecker, as he sat down to rest.

“He surely will,” replied Sammy Jay, and then he flattered and flattered Drummer the Woodpecker until finally Drummer told all about Peter’s plan for a surprise party for Unc’ Billy Possum.

By and by, as he flew home, Sammy Jay chuckled and said: 

   “You’ve got to rise ’fore break of day
    If you want to fool old Mr. Jay.”