id Twinkle, when supper was over and she was nestled snugly inhis lap, "I wish you wouldn't set any more traps for the woodchucks."
"No," said Twinkle.
"And could you tell, on the second day of February (which is woodchuckday, you know), whether it's going to be warm weather, or cold, duringthe next six weeks?"
"I don't believe I could," replied the girl.
"Then," said Mister Woodchuck, "there are some things that we know thatyou don't; and although a woodchuck might not be of much account in oneof your schoolrooms, you must forgive me for saying that I think you'dmake a mighty poor woodchuck."
"I think so, too!" said Twinkle, laughing.
"And now, little human," he resumed, after looking at his watch, "it'snearly time for you to wake up; so if we intend to punish you for allthe misery your people has inflicted on the woodchucks, we won't have aminute to spare."
"Don't be in a hurry," said Twinkle. "I can wait."
"She's trying to get out of it," exclaimed Mrs. Woodchuck, scornfully."Don't you let her, Leander."
"Certainly not, my dear," he replied; "but I haven't decided how topunish her."
"Take her to Judge Stoneyheart," said Mrs. Woodchuck. "He will know whatto do with her."
Chapter VITwinkle is Taken to the Judge
AT this the woodchuck children all hooted with joy, crying: "Take her,Daddy! Take her to old Stoneyheart! Oh, my! won't he give it to her,though!"
"Who is Judge Stoneyheart?" asked Twinkle, a little uneasily.
"A highly respected and aged woodchuck who is cousin to my wife'sgrandfather," was the reply. "We consider him the wisest and mostintelligent of our race; but, while he is very just in all things, thejudge never shows any mercy to evil-doers."
"I haven't done anything wrong," said the girl.
"But your father has, and much wrong is done us by the other farmersaround here. They fight my people without mercy, and kill everywoodchuck they can possibly catch."
Twinkle was silent, for she knew this to be true.
"For my part," continued Mister Woodchuck, "I'm very soft-hearted, andwouldn't even step on an ant if I could help it. Also I am sure you havea kind disposition. But you are a human, and I am a woodchuck; so Ithink I will take you to old Stoneyheart and let him decide your fate."
"Hooray!" yelled the young woodchucks, and away they ran through thepaths of the garden, followed slowly by their fat mother, who held thelace parasol over her head as if she feared she would be sunstruck.
Twinkle was glad to see them go. She didn't care much for the woodchuckchildren, they were so wild and ill-mannered, and their mother was evenmore disagreeable than they were. As for Mister Woodchuck, she did notobject to him so much; in fact, she rather liked to talk to him, for hiswords were polite and his eyes pleasant and kindly.
"Now, my dear," he said, "as we are about to leave this garden, whereyou have been quite secure, I must try to prevent your running away whenwe are outside the wall. I hope it won't hurt your feelings to become areal prisoner for a few minutes."
Then Mister Woodchuck drew from his pocket a leather collar, very muchlike a dog-collar, Twinkle thought, and proceeded to buckle it aroundthe girl's neck. To the collar was attached a fine chain about six feetlong, and the other end of the chain Mister Woodchuck held in his hand.
"Now, then," said he, "please come along quietly, and don't make afuss."
He led her to the end of the garden and opened a wooden gate in thewall, through which they passed. Outside the garden the ground wasnothing but hard, baked earth, without any grass or other green thinggrowing upon it, or any tree or shrub to shade it from the hot sun. Andnot far away stood a round mound, also of baked earth, which Twinkle atonce decided to be a house, because it had a door and some windows init.
There was no living thing in sight--not even a woodchuck--and Twinkledidn't care much for the baked-clay scenery.
Mister Woodchuck, holding fast to the chain, led his prisoner across thebarren space to the round mound, where he paused to rap softly upon thedoor.
Chapter VIITwinkle is Condemned
"COME in!" called a voice.
Mister Woodchuck pushed open the door and entered, drawing Tinkle afterhim by the chain.
In the middle of the room sat a woodchuck whose hair was grizzled withold age. He wore big spectacles upon his nose, and a round knitted cap,with a tassel dangling from the top, upon his head. His only garment wasan old and faded dressing-gown.
When they entered, the old woodchuck was busy playing a game with anumber of baked-clay dominoes, which he shuffled and arranged upon abaked-mud table; nor did he look up for a long time, but continued tomatch the dominoes and to study their arrangement with intense interest.
Finally, however, he finished the game, and then he raised his head andlooked sharply at his visitors.
"Good afternoon, Judge," said Mister Woodchuck, taking off his silk hatand bowing respectfully.
The judge did not answer him, but continued to stare at Twinkle.
"I have called to ask your advice," continued Mister Woodchuck. "By goodchance I have been able to capture one of those fierce humans that arethe greatest enemies of peaceful woodchucks."
The judge nodded his gray head wisely, but still answered nothing.
"But now that I've captured the creature, I don't know what to do withher," went on Mister Woodchuck; "although I believe, of course, sheshould be punished in some way, and made to feel as unhappy as herpeople have made us feel. Yet I realize that it's a dreadful thing tohurt any living creature, and as far as I'm concerned I'm quite willingto forgive her." With these words he wiped his face with a red silkhandkerchief, as if really distressed.
"She's dreaming," said the judge, in a sharp, quick voice.
"Am I?" asked Twinkle.
"Of course. You were probably lying on the wrong side when you went tosleep."
"Oh!" she said. "I wondered what made it."
"Very disagreeable dream, isn't it?" continued the judge.
"Not so very," she answered. "It's interesting to see and hearwoodchucks in their own homes, and Mister Woodchuck has shown me howcruel it is for us to set traps for you."
"Good!" said the judge. "But some dreams are easily forgotten, so I'llteach you a lesson you'll be likely to remember. You shall be caught ina trap yourself."
"Me!" cried Twinkle, in dismay.
"Yes, you. When you find how dreadfully it hurts you'll bear the trapsin mind forever afterward. People don't remember dreams unless thedreams are unusually horrible. But I guess you'll remember this one."
He got up and opened a mud cupboard, from which he took a big steeltrap. Twinkle could see that it was just like the trap papa had set tocatch the woodchucks, only it seemed much bigger and stronger.
The judge got a mallet and with it pounded a stake into the mud floor.Then he fastened the chain of the trap to the stake, and afterwardopened the iron jaws of the cruel-looking thing and set them with alever, so that the slightest touch would spring the trap and make thestrong jaws snap together.
"Now, little girl," said he, "you must step in the trap and get caught."
"Why, it would break my leg!" cried Twinkle.
"Did your father care whether a woodchuck got its leg broken or not?"asked the judge.
"No," she answered, beginning to be greatly frightened.
"Step!" cried the judge, sternly.
"It will hurt awfully," said Mister Woodchuck; "but that can't behelped. Traps are cruel things, at the best."
Twinkle was now trembling with nervousness and fear.
"Step!" called the judge, again.
"Dear me!" said Mister Woodchuck, just then, as he looked earnestly intoTwinkle's face, "I believe she's going to wake up!"
"That's too bad," said the judge.
"No, I'm glad of it," replied Mister Woodchuck.
And just then the girl gave a start and opened her eyes.
She was lying in the clover, and before her was the opening of thewoodchuck's hole, with the trap still set before it.
Chapter VIIITwinkle Remembers
"Why not, my darling?" he asked in surprise.
"They're cruel," she answered. "It must hurt the poor animals dreadfullyto be caught in them."
"I suppose it does," said her father, thoughtfully. "But if I don't trapthe woodchucks they eat our clover and vegetables."
"Never mind that," said Twinkle, earnestly. "Let's divide with them. Godmade the woodchucks, you know, just as He made us, and they can't plantand grow things as we do; so they have to take what they can get, orstarve to death. And surely, papa, there's enough to eat in this big andbeautiful world, for all of God's creatures."
Papa whistled softly, although his face was grave; and then he bent downand kissed his little girl's forehead.
"I won't set any more traps, dear," he said.
And that evening, after Twinkle had been tucked snugly away in bed, herfather walked slowly through the sweet-smelling fields to thewoodchuck's hole; there lay the trap, showing plainly in the brightmoonlight. He picked it up and carried it back to the barn. It was neverused again.
BANDIT JIM CROW
BANDIT JIM CROW
List of Chapters
PAGEI Jim Crow Becomes a Pet.....................73II Jim Crow Runs Away.........................81III Jim Crow Finds a New Home..................86IV Jim Crow Becomes a Robber..................97V Jim Crow Meets Policeman Blue Jay.........105VI Jim Crow Fools the Policeman..............113VII Jim Crow is Punished......................121VIII Jim Crow has Time to Repent His Sins......129
Chapter IJim Crow Becomes a Pet
ONE day, when Twinkle's father was in the corn-field, he shot his gun ata flock of crows that were busy digging up, with their long bills, thekernels of corn he had planted. But Twinkle's father didn't aim verystraight, for the birds screamed at the bang of the gun and quickly flewaway--all except one young crow that fluttered its wings, but couldn'trise into the air, and so began to run along the ground in an effort toescape.
The man chased the young crow, and caught it; and then he found that oneof the little lead bullets had broken the right wing, although the birdseemed not to be hurt in any other way.
It struggled hard, and tried to peck the hands that held it; but it wastoo young to hurt any one, so Twinkle's father decided he would carry ithome to his little girl.
"Here's a pet for you, Twinkle," he said, as he came into the house. "Itcan't fly, because its wing is broken; but don't let it get too nearyour eyes, or it may peck at them. It's very wild and fierce, you know."
Twinkle was delighted with her pet, and at once got her mother tobandage the broken wing, so that it would heal quickly.
The crow had jet black feathers, but there was a pretty purplish andviolet gloss, or sheen, on its back and wings, and its eyes were brightand had a knowing look in them. They were hazel-brown in color, and thebird had a queer way of turning his head on one side to look at Twinklewith his right eye, and then twisting it the other side that he mightsee her with his left eye. She often wondered if she looked the same toboth eyes, or if each one made her seem different.
She named her pet "Jim Crow" because papa said that all crows werecalled Jim, although he never could find out the reason. But the nameseemed to fit her pet as well as any, so Twinkle never bothered aboutthe reason.
Having no cage to keep him in, and fearing he would run away, the girltied a strong cord around one of Jim Crow's legs, and the other end ofthe cord she fastened to the round of a chair--or to the table-leg--whenthey were in the house. The crow would run all around, as far as thestring would let him go; but he couldn't get away. And when they wentout of doors Twinkle held the end of the cord in her hand, as one leadsa dog, and Jim Crow would run along in front of her, and then stop andwait. And when she came near he'd run on again, screaming "Caw! Caw!" atthe top of his shrill little voice.
He soon came to know he belonged to Twinkle, and would often lie in herlap or perch upon her shoulder. And whenever she entered the room wherehe was he would say, "Caw--caw!" to her, in pleading tones, until shepicked him up or took some notice of him.
It was wonderful how quickly a bird that had always lived wild and freeseemed to become tame and gentle. Twinkle's father said that was becausehe was so young, and because his broken wing kept him from flying in theair and rejoining his fellows. But Jim Crow wasn't as tame as he seemed,and he had a very wicked and ungrateful disposition, as you willpresently learn.
For a few weeks, however, he was as nice a pet as any little girl couldwish for. He got into mischief occasionally, and caused mamma someannoyance when he waded into a pan of milk or jumped upon the dinnertable and ate up papa's pumpkin pie before Twinkle could stop him. Butall pets are more or less trouble, at times, so Jim Crow escaped with afew severe scoldings from mamma, which never seemed to worry him in theleast or make him a bit unhappy.
Chapter IIJim Crow Runs Away
AT last Jim got so tame that Twinkle took the cord off his leg and lethim go free, wherever he pleased. So he wandered all over the house andout into the yard, where he chased the ducks and bothered the pigs andmade himself generally disliked. He had a way of perching upon the backof old Tom, papa's favorite horse, and chattering away in Tom's earuntil the horse plunged and pranced in his stall to get rid of hisunwelcome visitor.
Twinkle always kept the bandage on the wounded wing, for she didn't knowwhether it was well yet, or not, and she thought it was better to be onthe safe side. But the truth was, that Jim Crow's wing had healed longago, and was now as strong as ever; and, as the weeks passed by, and hegrew big and fat, a great longing came into his wild heart to fly again--far, far up into the air and away to the lands where there were forestsof trees and brooks of running water.
He didn't ever expect to rejoin his family again. They were far enoughaway by this time. And he didn't care much to associate with othercrows. All he wanted was to be free, and do exactly as he pleased, andnot have some one cuffing him a dozen times a day because he was doingwrong.
So one morning, before Twinkle was up, or even awake, Jim Crow pecked atthe bandage on his wing until he got the end unfastened, and then itwasn't long before the entire strip of cloth was loosened and fell tothe ground.
Now Jim fluttered his feathers, and pruned them with his long bill wherethey had been pressed together, and presently he knew that the wingwhich had been injured was exactly as strong and well as the other one.He could fly away whenever he pleased.
The crow had been well fed by Twinkle and her mamma, and was in splendidhealth. But he was not at all grateful. With the knowledge of hisfreedom a fierce, cruel joy crept into his heart, and he resumed thewild nature that crows are born with and never lay aside as long as theylive.
Having forgotten in an instant that he had ever been tame, and the petof a gentle little girl, Jim Crow had no thought of saying good-bye toTwinkle. Instead, he decided he would do something that would make thesefoolish humans remember him for a long time. So he dashed into a groupof young chickens that had only been hatched a day or two before, andkilled seven of them with his strong, curved claws and his wicked blackbeak. When the mother hen flew at him he pecked at her eyes; and then,screaming a defiance to all the world, Jim Crow flew into the air andsailed away to a new life in another part of the world.
Chapter IIIJim Crow Finds a New Home
I'LL not try to tell you of all the awful things this bad crow didduring the next few days, on his long journey toward the South.
Twinkle almost cried when she found her pet gone; and she really did crywhen she saw the poor murdered chickens. But mamma said she was veryglad to have Jim Crow run away, and papa scowled angrily and declared hewas sorry he had not killed the cruel bird when he shot at it in thecorn-field.
In the mean time the runaway crow flew through the country, and when hewas hungry he woul
d stop at a farm-house and rob a hen's nest and eatthe eggs. It was his knowledge of farm-houses that made him so bold; butthe farmers shot at the thieving bird once or twice, and this frightenedJim Crow so badly that he decided to keep away from the farms and find aliving in some less dangerous way.
And one day he came to a fine forest, where there were big and littletrees of all kinds, with several streams of water running through thewoods.
"Here," said Jim Crow, "I will make my home; for surely this is thefinest place I am ever likely to find."
There were plenty of birds in this forest, for Jim could hear themsinging and twittering everywhere among the trees; and their nests hungsuspended from branches, or nestled in a fork made by two limbs, inalmost every direction he might look. And the birds were of many kinds,too: robins, thrushes, bullfinches, mocking-birds, wrens, yellowtailsand skylarks. Even tiny humming-birds fluttered around the wildflowers that grew in the glades; and in the waters of the brooks wadedlong-legged herons, while kingfishers sat upon overhanging branches andwaited patiently to seize any careless fish that might swim too nearthem. Jim Crow decided this must be a real paradise for birds, becauseit was far away from the houses of men. So he made up his mind to getacquainted with the inhabitants of the forest as soon as possible, andlet them know who he was, and that he must be treated with properrespect.