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Chapter 4: Danger
Pudgy, Pipsqueak and Gomer raced back through the hole in the garage, blocking it once again.
Gomer trembled as he re-lived his last run-in with a hawk. The memories. The smell of damp grass, the rush of cold air flitted through his mind, making him even more frightened.
“Everyone calm down!” Pudgy’s voice shook. “We’ve faced worse on the homestead. We can’t let one hawk make us cower in fear.”
Pipsqueak peeked through the crack in the door. “What can we do? The three of us are no match for a hawk.”
“We could always lure it to the garden,” Gomer had stopped trembling and there was a strange gleam in his eyes.
“Why on earth would we do that? Do hawk’s even eat vegetables?”
“No. But I bet they eat chipmunks.”
“Wait a minute,” Pudgy said almost to himself. “The chipmunks.”
“WHAT?!” Pipsqueak was horrified. “Did you see what that hawk just did?! We can’t use them as bait!”
Pudgy shook his head. “No, no, of course not. It would be the worst sort of betrayal. Even for strawberries.” Pudgy rubbed his paws together. “We could join forces with them!”
Gomer and Pipsqueak stared blankly at Pudgy.
“We’ll appeal to their survival instincts. We’ll ask them to join us in protecting the food…and each other from predators.”
After checking to make sure the hawk was not lying in wait for a tasty mouse morsel, the Three Tails raced back to the garden and hid under a large head of lettuce.
“Psssst!” They tried to get the chipmunks attention, but the critters were too busy tearing into a red, juicy tomato to hear.
“Ahem!” Not even a twitch.
“HEY YOU GUYS!” Pipsqueak’s normally soft voice took on a shrill, screechy tone.
Seemingly as one, the chipmunks swiveled their heads, tomato juice dripping from their tiny mouths.
“First,” said Pudgy. “We’d like to express how terribly sorry we are about your loss.”
“Our loss?” asked Leo.
“Yes,” said Pipsqueak. “The hawk just took two of your group.”
“Oh!” said Leo. “That.”
Pipsqueak looked at Pudgy for help.
“Aren’t you sad?” Gomer wrinkled his brow.
“Oh sure,” said Leo as he bit into another juicy tomato. “Heartbroken.”
The other chipmunks chittered.
“*Maybe appealing to their survival instincts is not such a good idea*,” whispered Pipsqueak.
“Look,” said Leo. “If we were sad every time one of our number was eaten, attacked or taken, we’d be crying all the time.” He took a big bite out of a cucumber. “We’ve learned to cope.”
“I can see that,” said Pudgy. “But if we join forces, we can be lookouts for each other. Partners. Maybe even…friends.”
Leo twitched his ears.
“Ok,” said Pipsqueak. “Maybe not friends, but colleagues at the least.”
Leo turned to the rest of his scurry, silently communicating with them. There was a lot of chitters, head shaking and high pitched trills before he finally turned back to the Three Tails.
“You have a deal,” he said. “On one condition.”
“What condition?” asked Pudgy.
Leo took another bite out of the cucumber, chewing slowly. “We share *all* the food.” He wiped his mouth with the back of his paw. “Strawberries included.”