E-text prepared by Michael Gray
TWINKLE AND CHUBBINS
Their Astonishing Adventures in Nature-Fairyland
Illustrated by Maginal Wright Enright
Publishers The Reilly & Britton Co. Chicago
Copyright, 1911 by The Reilly & Britton Co.
PAGE I Mr. Woodchuck.................9 II Bandit Jim Crow..............69 III Prarie-Dog Town.............133 IV Prince Mud-Turtle...........195 V Twinkle's Enchantment.......257 VI Sugar-Loaf Mountain.........321
List of Chapters
PAGE I The Trap............................11 II Mr. Woodchuck Captures a Girl.......18 III Mr. Woodchuck Scolds Tinkle.........26 IV Mrs. Woodchuck and Her Family ......35 V Mr. Woodchuck Argues the Question...43 VI Twinkle is Taken to the Judge.......50 VII Twinkle is Condemned................56 VIII Twinkle Remembers...................66
Chapter I The Trap
"THERE'S a woodchuck over on the side hill that is eating my clover," said Twinkle's father, who was a farmer.
"Why don't you set a trap for it?" asked Twinkle's mother.
"I believe I will," answered the man.
So, when the midday dinner was over, the farmer went to the barn and got a steel trap, and carried it over to the clover-field on the hillside.
Twinkle wanted very much to go with him, but she had to help mamma wash the dishes and put them away, and then brush up the dining-room and put it in order. But when the work was done, and she had all the rest of the afternoon to herself, she decided to go over to the woodchuck's hole and see how papa had set the trap, and also discover if the woodchuck had yet been caught.
So the little girl took her blue-and-white sun-bonnet, and climbed over the garden fence and ran across the corn-field and through the rye until she came to the red-clover patch on the hill.
She knew perfectly well where the woodchuck's hole was, for she had looked at it curiously many times; so she approached it carefully and found the trap set just in front of the hole. If the woodchuck stepped on it, when he came out, it would grab his leg and hold him fast; and there was a chain fastened to the trap, and also to a stout post driven into the ground, so that when the woodchuck was caught he couldn't run away with the trap.
But although the day was bright and sunshiny, and just the kind of day woodchucks like, the clover-eater had not yet walked out of his hole to get caught in the trap.
So Twinkle lay down in the clover-field, half hidden by a small bank in front of the woodchuck's hole, and began to watch for the little animal to come out. Her eyes could see right into the hole, which seemed to slant upward into the hill instead of downward; but of course she couldn't see very far in, because the hole wasn't straight, and grew black a little way from the opening.
It was somewhat wearisome, waiting and watching so long, and the warm sun and the soft chirp of the crickets that hopped through the clover made Twinkle drowsy. She didn't intend to go to sleep, because then she might miss the woodchuck; but there was no harm in closing her eyes just one little minute; so she allowed the long lashes to droop over her pretty pink cheeks—just because they felt so heavy, and there was no way to prop them up.
Then, with a start, she opened her eyes again, and saw the trap and the woodchuck hole just as they were before. Not quite, though, come to look carefully. The hole seemed to be bigger than at first; yes, strange as it might seem, the hole was growing bigger every minute! She watched it with much surprise, and then looked at the trap, which remained the same size it had always been. And when she turned her eyes upon the hole once more it had not only become very big and high, but a stone arch appeared over it, and a fine, polished front door now shut it off from the outside world. She could even read a name upon the silver door-plate, and the name was this:
Chapter II Mister Woodchuck Captures a Girl
"WELL, I declare!" whispered Twinkle to herself; "how could all that have happened?"
On each side of the door was a little green bench, big enough for two to sit upon, and between the benches was a doorstep of white marble, with a mat lying on it. On one side Twinkle saw an electric door-bell.
While she gazed at this astonishing sight a sound of rapid footsteps was heard, and a large Jack-Rabbit, almost as big as herself, and dressed in a messenger-boy's uniform, ran up to the woodchuck's front door and rang the bell.
Almost at once the door opened inward, and a curious personage stepped out.
Twinkle saw at a glance that it was the woodchuck himself,—but what a big and queer woodchuck it was!
He wore a swallow-tailed coat, with a waistcoat of white satin and fancy knee-breeches, and upon his feet were shoes with silver buckles. On his head was perched a tall silk hat that made him look just as high as Twinkle's father, and in one paw he held a gold-headed cane. Also he wore big spectacles over his eyes, which made him look more dignified than any other woodchuck Twinkle had ever seen.
When this person opened the door and saw the Jack-Rabbit messenger-boy, he cried out:
"Well, what do you mean by ringing my bell so violently? I suppose you're half an hour late, and trying to make me think you're in a hurry."
The Jack-Rabbit took a telegram from its pocket and handed it to the woodchuck without a word in reply. At once the woodchuck tore open the envelope and read the telegram carefully.
"Thank you. There's no answer," he said; and in an instant the Jack-Rabbit had whisked away and was gone.
"Well, well," said the woodchuck, as if to himself, "the foolish farmer has set a trap for me, it seems, and my friends have sent a telegram to warn me. Let's see—where is the thing?"
He soon discovered the trap, and seizing hold of the chain he pulled the peg out of the ground and threw the whole thing far away into the field.
"I must give that farmer a sound scolding," he muttered, "for he's becoming so impudent lately that soon he will think he owns the whole country."
But now his eyes fell upon Twinkle, who lay in the clover staring up at him; and the woodchuck gave a laugh and grabbed her fast by one arm.
"Oh ho!" he exclaimed; "you're spying upon me, are you?"
"I'm just waiting to see you get caught in the trap," said the girl, standing up because the big creature pulled upon her arm. She wasn't much frightened, strange to say, because this woodchuck had a good-humored way about him that gave her confidence.
"You would have to wait a long time for that," he said, with a laugh that was a sort of low chuckle. "Instead of seeing me caught, you've got caught yourself. That's turning the tables, sure enough; isn't it?"
"I suppose it is," said Twinkle, regretfully. "Am I a prisoner?"
"You might call it that; and then, again, you mightn't," answered the woodchuck. "To tell you the truth, I hardly know what to do with you. But come inside, and we'll talk it over. We musn't be seen out here in the fields."
Still holding fast to her arm, the woodchuck led her through the door, which he carefully closed and locked. Then they passed through a kind of hallway, into which opened several handsomely furnished rooms, and out again into a beautiful garden at the back, all filled with flowers and brightly colored plants, and with a pretty fountain playing in the middle. A high stone wall was built around the garden, shutting it off from all the rest of the world.
The woodchuck led his prisoner to a bench beside the fountain, and told her to sit down and make herself comfortable.
Chapter III Mister Woodchuck Scolds Twinkle
TWINKLE was much pleased with her surroundings, and soon discovered several gold-fishes swimming in the water at the foot of the fountain.
"Well, how does it strike you?" asked the woodchuck, strutting up and down the gravel walk before her and swinging his gold-headed cane rather gracefully.
"It seems like a dream," said Twinkle.
"To be sure," he answered, nodding. "You'd no business to fall asleep in the clover."
"Did I?" she asked, rather startled at the suggestion.
"It stands to reason you did," he replied. "You don't for a moment think this is real, do you?"
"It seems real," she answered. "Aren't you the woodchuck?"
"Mister Woodchuck, if you please. Address me properly, young lady, or you'll make me angry."
"Well, then, aren't you Mister Woodchuck?"
"At present I am; but when you wake up, I won't be," he said.
"Then you think I'm dreaming?"
"You must figure that out for yourself," said Mister Woodchuck.
"What do you suppose made me dream?"
"I don't know."
"Do you think it's something I've eaten?" she asked anxiously.
"I hardly think so. This isn't any nightmare, you know, because there's nothing at all horrible about it so far. You've probably been reading some of those creepy, sensational story-books."
"I haven't read a book in a long time," said Twinkle.
"Dreams," remarked Mister Woodchuck, thoughtfully, "are not always to be accounted for. But this conversation is all wrong. When one is dreaming one doesn't talk about it, or even know it's a dream. So let's speak of something else."
"It's very pleasant in this garden," said Twinkle. "I don't mind being here a bit."
"But you can't stay here," replied Mister Woodchuck, "and you ought to be very uncomfortable in my presence. You see, you're one of the deadliest enemies of my race. All you human beings live for or think of is how to torture and destroy woodchucks."
"Oh, no!" she answered. "We have many more important things than that to think of. But when a woodchuck gets eating our clover and the vegetables, and spoils a lot, we just have to do something to stop it. That's why my papa set the trap."
"You're selfish," said Mister Woodchuck, "and you're cruel to poor little animals that can't help themselves, and have to eat what they can find, or starve. There's enough for all of us growing in the broad fields."
Twinkle felt a little ashamed.
"We have to sell the clover and the vegetables to earn our living," she explained; "and if the animals eat them up we can't sell them."
"We don't eat enough to rob you," said the woodchuck, "and the land belonged to the wild creatures long before you people came here and began to farm. And really, there is no reason why you should be so cruel. It hurts dreadfully to be caught in a trap, and an animal captured in that way sometimes has to suffer for many hours before the man comes to kill it. We don't mind the killing so much. Death doesn't last but an instant. But every minute of suffering seems to be an hour."
"That's true," said Twinkle, feeling sorry and repentant. "I'll ask papa never to set another trap."
"That will be some help," returned Mister Woodchuck, more cheerfully, "and I hope you'll not forget the promise when you wake up. But that isn't enough to settle the account for all our past sufferings, I assure you; so I am trying to think of a suitable way to punish you for the past wickedness of your father, and of all other men that have set traps."
"Why, if you feel that way," said the little girl, "you're just as bad as we are!"
"How's that?" asked Mister Woodchuck, pausing in his walk to look at her.
"It's as naughty to want revenge as it is to be selfish and cruel," she said.
"I believe you are right about that," answered the animal, taking off his silk hat and rubbing the fur smooth with his elbow. "But woodchucks are not perfect, any more than men are, so you'll have to take us as you find us. And now I'll call my family, and exhibit you to them. The children, especially, will enjoy seeing the wild human girl I've had the luck to capture."
"Wild!" she cried, indignantly.
"If you're not wild now, you will be before you wake up," he said.
Chapter IV Mrs. Woodchuck and Her Family
BUT Mister Woodchuck had no need to call his family, for just as he spoke a chatter of voices was heard and Mrs. Woodchuck came walking down a path of the garden with several young woodchucks following after her.
The lady animal was very fussily dressed, with puffs and ruffles and laces all over her silk gown, and perched upon her head was a broad white hat with long ostrich plumes. She was exceedingly fat, even for a woodchuck, and her head fitted close to her body, without any neck whatever to separate them. Although it was shady in the garden, she held a lace parasol over her head, and her walk was so mincing and airy that Twinkle almost laughed in her face.
The young woodchucks were of several sizes and kinds. One little woodchuck girl rolled before her a doll's baby-cab, in which lay a woodchuck doll made of cloth, in quite a perfect imitation of a real woodchuck. It was stuffed with something soft to make it round and fat, and its eyes were two glass beads sewn upon the face. A big boy woodchuck wore knickerbockers and a Tam o' Shanter cap and rolled a hoop; and there were several smaller boy and girl woodchucks, dressed quite as absurdly, who followed after their mother in a long train.
"My dear," said Mister Woodchuck to his wife, "here is a human creature that I captured just outside our front door."
"Huh!" sneered the lady woodchuck, looking at Twinkle in a very haughty way; "why will you bring such an animal into our garden, Leander? It makes me shiver just to look at the horrid thing!"
"Oh, mommer!" yelled one of the children, "see how skinny the beast is!"
"Hasn't any hair on its face at all," said another, "or on its paws!"
"And no sign of a tail!" cried the little woodchuck girl with the doll.
"Yes, it's a very strange and remarkable creature," said the mother. "Don't touch it, my precious darlings. It might bite."
"You needn't worry," said Twinkle, rather provoked at these speeches. "I wouldn't bite a dirty, greasy woodchuck on any account!"
"Whoo! did you hear what she called us, mommer? She says we're greasy and dirty!" shouted the children, and some of them grabbed pebbles from the path in their paws, as if to throw them at Twinkle.
"Tut, tut! don't be cruel," said Mister Woodchuck. "Remember the poor creature is a prisoner, and isn't used to good society; and besides that, she's dreaming."
"Really?" exclaimed Mrs. Woodchuck, looking at the girl curiously.
"To be sure," he answered. "Otherwise she wouldn't see us dressed in such fancy clothes, nor would we be bigger than she is. The whole thing is unnatural, my dear, as you must admit."
"But we're not dreaming; are we, Daddy?" anxiously asked the boy with the hoop.
"Certainly not," Mister Woodchuck answered; "so this is a fine opportunity for you to study one of those human animals who have always been our worst enemies. You will notice they are very curiously made. Aside from their lack of hair in any place except the top of the head, their paws are formed in a strange manner. Those long slits in them make what are called fingers, and their claws are flat and dull—not at all sharp and strong like ours."
"I think the beast is ugly," said Mrs. Woodchuck. "It would give me the shivers to touch its skinny flesh."
"I'm glad of that," said Twinkle, indignantly. "You wouldn't have all the shivers, I can tell you! And you're a disagreeable, ign'rant creature! If you had any manners at all, you'd treat strangers more politely."
"Just listen to the thing!" said Mrs. Woodchuck, in a horrified tone. "Isn't it wild, though!"
Chapter V Mr. Woodchuck Argues the Question
"REALLY," Mister Woodchuck said to his wife, "you should be more considerate of the little human's feelings. She is quite intelligent and tame, for one of her kind, and has a tender heart, I am sure."
"I don't see anything intelligent about her," said the girl woodchuck.
"I guess I've been to school as much as you have," said Twinkle.
"School! Why, what's that?"
"Don't you know what school is?" cried Twinkle, much amused.
"We don't have school here," said Mister Woodchuck, as if proud of the fact.
"Don't you know any geography?" asked the child.
"We haven't any use for it," said Mister Woodchuck; "for we never get far from home, and don't care a rap what state bounds Florida on the south. We don't travel much, and studying geography would be time wasted."
"But don't you study arithmetic?" she asked; "don't you know how to do sums?"
"Why should we?" he returned. "The thing that bothers you humans most, and that's money, is not used by us woodchucks. So we don't need to figure and do sums."
"I don't see how you get along without money," said Twinkle, wonderingly. "You must have to buy all your fine clothes."
"You know very well that woodchucks don't wear clothes, under ordinary circumstances," Mister Woodchuck replied. "It's only because you are dreaming that you see us dressed in this way."
"Perhaps that's true," said Twinkle. "But don't talk to me about not being intelligent, or not knowing things. If you haven't any schools it's certain I know more than your whole family put together!"
"About some things, perhaps," acknowledged Mister Woodchuck. "But tell me: do you know which kind of red clover is the best to eat?"
"No," she said.
"Or how to dig a hole in the ground to live in, with different rooms and passages, so that it slants up hill and the rain won't come in and drown you?"
"No," said Twinkle.
"And could you tell, on the second day of February (which is woodchuck day, you know), whether it's going to be warm weather, or cold, during the next six weeks?"
"I don't believe I could," replied the girl.
"Then," said Mister Woodchuck, "there are some things that we know that you don't; and although a woodchuck might not be of much account in one of your schoolrooms, you must forgive me for saying that I think you'd make a mighty poor woodchuck."
"I think so, too!" said Twinkle, laughing.
"And now, little human," he resumed, after looking at his watch, "it's nearly time for you to wake up; so if we intend to punish you for all the misery your people has inflicted on the woodchucks, we won't have a minute 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 to punish her."
"Take her to Judge Stoneyheart," said Mrs. Woodchuck. "He will know what to do with her."
Chapter VI Twinkle 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's grandfather," was the reply. "We consider him the wisest and most intelligent of our race; but, while he is very just in all things, the judge 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 farmers around here. They fight my people without mercy, and kill every woodchuck 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, and wouldn't even step on an ant if I could help it. Also I am sure you have a kind disposition. But you are a human, and I am a woodchuck; so I think I will take you to old Stoneyheart and let him decide your fate."
"Hooray!" yelled the young woodchucks, and away they ran through the paths of the garden, followed slowly by their fat mother, who held the lace 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 woodchuck children, they were so wild and ill-mannered, and their mother was even more disagreeable than they were. As for Mister Woodchuck, she did not object to him so much; in fact, she rather liked to talk to him, for his words were polite and his eyes pleasant and kindly.
"Now, my dear," he said, "as we are about to leave this garden, where you have been quite secure, I must try to prevent your running away when we are outside the wall. I hope it won't hurt your feelings to become a real prisoner for a few minutes."
Then Mister Woodchuck drew from his pocket a leather collar, very much like a dog-collar, Twinkle thought, and proceeded to buckle it around the girl's neck. To the collar was attached a fine chain about six feet long, 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 a fuss."
He led her to the end of the garden and opened a wooden gate in the wall, through which they passed. Outside the garden the ground was nothing but hard, baked earth, without any grass or other green thing growing upon it, or any tree or shrub to shade it from the hot sun. And not far away stood a round mound, also of baked earth, which Twinkle at once decided to be a house, because it had a door and some windows in it.
There was no living thing in sight—not even a woodchuck—and Twinkle didn't care much for the baked-clay scenery.
Mister Woodchuck, holding fast to the chain, led his prisoner across the barren space to the round mound, where he paused to rap softly upon the door.
Chapter VII Twinkle is Condemned
"COME in!" called a voice.
Mister Woodchuck pushed open the door and entered, drawing Tinkle after him by the chain.
In the middle of the room sat a woodchuck whose hair was grizzled with old 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 was an old and faded dressing-gown.
When they entered, the old woodchuck was busy playing a game with a number of baked-clay dominoes, which he shuffled and arranged upon a baked-mud table; nor did he look up for a long time, but continued to match the dominoes and to study their arrangement with intense interest.
Finally, however, he finished the game, and then he raised his head and looked sharply at his visitors.
"Good afternoon, Judge," said Mister Woodchuck, taking off his silk hat and 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 good chance I have been able to capture one of those fierce humans that are the 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 with her," went on Mister Woodchuck; "although I believe, of course, she should be punished in some way, and made to feel as unhappy as her people have made us feel. Yet I realize that it's a dreadful thing to hurt any living creature, and as far as I'm concerned I'm quite willing to forgive her." With these words he wiped his face with a red silk handkerchief, 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 to sleep."
"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 hear woodchucks in their own homes, and Mister Woodchuck has shown me how cruel it is for us to set traps for you."
"Good!" said the judge. "But some dreams are easily forgotten, so I'll teach you a lesson you'll be likely to remember. You shall be caught in a trap yourself."
"Me!" cried Twinkle, in dismay.
"Yes, you. When you find how dreadfully it hurts you'll bear the traps in mind forever afterward. People don't remember dreams unless the dreams 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 steel trap. Twinkle could see that it was just like the trap papa had set to catch 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 afterward opened the iron jaws of the cruel-looking thing and set them with a lever, so that the slightest touch would spring the trap and make the strong 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 be helped. 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 into Twinkle'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 the woodchuck's hole, with the trap still set before it.
Chapter VIII Twinkle Remembers
"PAPA," said Twinkle, when supper was over and she was nestled snugly in his lap, "I wish you wouldn't set any more traps for the woodchucks."
"Why not, my darling?" he asked in surprise.
"They're cruel," she answered. "It must hurt the poor animals dreadfully to be caught in them."
"I suppose it does," said her father, thoughtfully. "But if I don't trap the woodchucks they eat our clover and vegetables."
"Never mind that," said Twinkle, earnestly. "Let's divide with them. God made the woodchucks, you know, just as He made us, and they can't plant and grow things as we do; so they have to take what they can get, or starve to death. And surely, papa, there's enough to eat in this big and beautiful world, for all of God's creatures."
Papa whistled softly, although his face was grave; and then he bent down and 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, her father walked slowly through the sweet-smelling fields to the woodchuck's hole; there lay the trap, showing plainly in the bright moonlight. He picked it up and carried it back to the barn. It was never used again.
BANDIT JIM CROW
BANDIT JIM CROW
List of Chapters
PAGE I Jim Crow Becomes a Pet.....................73 II Jim Crow Runs Away.........................81 III Jim Crow Finds a New Home..................86 IV Jim Crow Becomes a Robber..................97 V Jim Crow Meets Policeman Blue Jay.........105 VI Jim Crow Fools the Policeman..............113 VII Jim Crow is Punished......................121 VIII Jim Crow has Time to Repent His Sins......129
Chapter I Jim Crow Becomes a Pet
ONE day, when Twinkle's father was in the corn-field, he shot his gun at a flock of crows that were busy digging up, with their long bills, the kernels of corn he had planted. But Twinkle's father didn't aim very straight, for the birds screamed at the bang of the gun and quickly flew away—all except one young crow that fluttered its wings, but couldn't rise into the air, and so began to run along the ground in an effort to escape.
The man chased the young crow, and caught it; and then he found that one of the little lead bullets had broken the right wing, although the bird seemed not to be hurt in any other way.
It struggled hard, and tried to peck the hands that held it; but it was too young to hurt any one, so Twinkle's father decided he would carry it home to his little girl.
"Here's a pet for you, Twinkle," he said, as he came into the house. "It can't fly, because its wing is broken; but don't let it get too near your 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 to bandage the broken wing, so that it would heal quickly.
The crow had jet black feathers, but there was a pretty purplish and violet gloss, or sheen, on its back and wings, and its eyes were bright and had a knowing look in them. They were hazel-brown in color, and the bird had a queer way of turning his head on one side to look at Twinkle with his right eye, and then twisting it the other side that he might see her with his left eye. She often wondered if she looked the same to both eyes, or if each one made her seem different.
She named her pet "Jim Crow" because papa said that all crows were called Jim, although he never could find out the reason. But the name seemed to fit her pet as well as any, so Twinkle never bothered about the reason.
Having no cage to keep him in, and fearing he would run away, the girl tied a strong cord around one of Jim Crow's legs, and the other end of the cord she fastened to the round of a chair—or to the table-leg—when they were in the house. The crow would run all around, as far as the string would let him go; but he couldn't get away. And when they went out of doors Twinkle held the end of the cord in her hand, as one leads a dog, and Jim Crow would run along in front of her, and then stop and wait. And when she came near he'd run on again, screaming "Caw! Caw!" at the top of his shrill little voice.
He soon came to know he belonged to Twinkle, and would often lie in her lap or perch upon her shoulder. And whenever she entered the room where he was he would say, "Caw—caw!" to her, in pleading tones, until she picked him up or took some notice of him.
It was wonderful how quickly a bird that had always lived wild and free seemed to become tame and gentle. Twinkle's father said that was because he was so young, and because his broken wing kept him from flying in the air 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 will presently learn.
For a few weeks, however, he was as nice a pet as any little girl could wish for. He got into mischief occasionally, and caused mamma some annoyance when he waded into a pan of milk or jumped upon the dinner table and ate up papa's pumpkin pie before Twinkle could stop him. But all pets are more or less trouble, at times, so Jim Crow escaped with a few severe scoldings from mamma, which never seemed to worry him in the least or make him a bit unhappy.
Chapter II Jim Crow Runs Away
AT last Jim got so tame that Twinkle took the cord off his leg and let him go free, wherever he pleased. So he wandered all over the house and out into the yard, where he chased the ducks and bothered the pigs and made himself generally disliked. He had a way of perching upon the back of old Tom, papa's favorite horse, and chattering away in Tom's ear until the horse plunged and pranced in his stall to get rid of his unwelcome visitor.
Twinkle always kept the bandage on the wounded wing, for she didn't know whether it was well yet, or not, and she thought it was better to be on the safe side. But the truth was, that Jim Crow's wing had healed long ago, and was now as strong as ever; and, as the weeks passed by, and he grew 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 forests of trees and brooks of running water.
He didn't ever expect to rejoin his family again. They were far enough away by this time. And he didn't care much to associate with other crows. All he wanted was to be free, and do exactly as he pleased, and not have some one cuffing him a dozen times a day because he was doing wrong.
So one morning, before Twinkle was up, or even awake, Jim Crow pecked at the bandage on his wing until he got the end unfastened, and then it wasn't long before the entire strip of cloth was loosened and fell to the ground.
Now Jim fluttered his feathers, and pruned them with his long bill where they had been pressed together, and presently he knew that the wing which 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 splendid health. But he was not at all grateful. With the knowledge of his freedom a fierce, cruel joy crept into his heart, and he resumed the wild nature that crows are born with and never lay aside as long as they live.
Having forgotten in an instant that he had ever been tame, and the pet of a gentle little girl, Jim Crow had no thought of saying good-bye to Twinkle. Instead, he decided he would do something that would make these foolish humans remember him for a long time. So he dashed into a group of young chickens that had only been hatched a day or two before, and killed seven of them with his strong, curved claws and his wicked black beak. 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 and sailed away to a new life in another part of the world.
Chapter III Jim Crow Finds a New Home
I'LL not try to tell you of all the awful things this bad crow did during the next few days, on his long journey toward the South.
Twinkle almost cried when she found her pet gone; and she really did cry when she saw the poor murdered chickens. But mamma said she was very glad to have Jim Crow run away, and papa scowled angrily and declared he was sorry he had not killed the cruel bird when he shot at it in the corn-field.
In the mean time the runaway crow flew through the country, and when he was hungry he would stop at a farm-house and rob a hen's nest and eat the eggs. It was his knowledge of farm-houses that made him so bold; but the farmers shot at the thieving bird once or twice, and this frightened Jim Crow so badly that he decided to keep away from the farms and find a living in some less dangerous way.
And one day he came to a fine forest, where there were big and little trees of all kinds, with several streams of water running through the woods.
"Here," said Jim Crow, "I will make my home; for surely this is the finest place I am ever likely to find."
There were plenty of birds in this forest, for Jim could hear them singing and twittering everywhere among the trees; and their nests hung suspended from branches, or nestled in a fork made by two limbs, in almost every direction he might look. And the birds were of many kinds, too: robins, thrushes, bullfinches, mocking-birds, wrens, yellowtails and skylarks. Even tiny humming-birds fluttered around the wild flowers that grew in the glades; and in the waters of the brooks waded long-legged herons, while kingfishers sat upon overhanging branches and waited patiently to seize any careless fish that might swim too near them. Jim Crow decided this must be a real paradise for birds, because it was far away from the houses of men. So he made up his mind to get acquainted with the inhabitants of the forest as soon as possible, and let them know who he was, and that he must be treated with proper respect.
In a big fir-tree, whose branches reached nearly to the ground, he saw a large gathering of the birds, who sat chattering and gossiping pleasantly together. So he flew down and joined them.
"Good morning, folks," he said; and his voice sounded to them like a harsh croak, because it had become much deeper in tone since he had grown to his full size.
The birds looked at him curiously, and one or two fluttered their wings in a timid and nervous way; but none of them, little or big, thought best to make any reply.
"Well," said Jim Crow, gruffly, "what's the matter with you fellows? Haven't you got tongues? You seemed to talk fast enough a minute ago."
"Excuse me," replied a bullfinch, in a dignified voice; "we haven't the honor of your acquaintance. You are a stranger."
"My name's Jim Crow," he answered, "and I won't be a stranger long, because I'm going to live here."
They all looked grave at this speech, and a little thrush hopped from one branch to another, and remarked:
"We haven't any crows here at all. If you want to find your own folks you must go to some other place."
"What do I care about my own folks?" asked Jim, with a laugh that made the little thrush shudder. "I prefer to live alone."
"Haven't you a mate?" asked a robin, speaking in a very polite tone.
"No; and I don't want any," said Jim Crow. "I'm going to live all by myself. There's plenty of room in this forest, I guess."
"Certainly," replied the bullfinch. "There is plenty of room for you here if you behave yourself and obey the laws."
"Who's going to make me?" he asked, angrily.
"Any decent person, even if he's a crow, is bound to respect the law," answered the bullfinch, calmly.
Jim Crow was a little ashamed, for he didn't wish to acknowledge he wasn't decent. So he said:
"What are your laws?"
"The same as those in all other forests. You must respect the nests and the property of all other birds, and not interfere with them when they're hunting for food. And you must warn your fellow-birds whenever there is danger, and assist them to protect their young from prowling beasts. If you obey these laws, and do not steal from or interfere with your neighbors, you have a right to a nest in our forest."
"To be quite frank with you, though," said the robin, "we prefer your room to your company."
"I'm going to stay," said the crow. "I guess I'm as good as the rest of you; so you fellows just mind your own business and I'll mind mine."
With these words he left them, and when he had mounted to a position above the trees he saw that one tall, slim pine was higher than all the rest, and that at its very top was a big deserted nest.
Chapter IV Jim Crow Becomes a Robber
IT looked like a crow's nest to Jim, so he flew toward the pine tree and lit upon a branch close by. One glance told him that at some time it really must have been the home of birds of his kind, who for some reason had abandoned it long ago. The nest was large and bulky, being made of strong sticks woven together with fine roots and grasses. It was rough outside, but smooth inside, and when Jim Crow had kicked out the dead leaves and twigs that had fallen into it, he decided it was nearly as good as new, and plenty good enough for a solitary crow like him to live in. So with his bill he made a mark on the nest, that every bird might know it belonged to him, and felt that at last he had found a home.
During the next few days he made several attempts to get acquainted with the other birds, but they were cold and distant, though very polite to him; and none of them seemed to care for his society.
No bird ever came near his nest, but he often flew down to the lower trees and perched upon one or another of them, so gradually the birds of the forest got used to seeing him around, and paid very little attention to his actions.
One day Mrs. Wren missed two brown eggs from her nest, and her little heart was nearly broken with grief. It took the mocking bird and the bullfinch a whole afternoon to comfort her, while Mr. Wren hopped around in nearly as much distress as his wife. No animals had been seen in the forest who would do this evil thing, so no one could imagine who the thief might be.
Such an outrage was almost unknown in this pleasant forest, and it made all the birds nervous and fearful. A few days later a still greater horror came upon them, for the helpless young children of Mrs. Linnet were seized one morning from their nest, while their parents were absent in search of food, and were carried away bodily. Mr. Linnet declared that on his way back to his nest he had seen a big black monster leaving it, but had been too frightened to notice just what the creature looked like. But the lark, who had been up very early that morning, stated that he had seen no one near that part of the forest except Jim Crow, who had flown swiftly to his nest in the tall pine-tree.
This was enough to make all the birds look upon Jim Crow with grave suspicion, and Robin Redbreast called a secret meeting of all the birds to discuss the question and decide what must be done to preserve their nests from the robber. Jim Crow was so much bigger and fiercer than any of the others that none dared accuse him openly or venture to quarrel with him; but they had a good friend living not far away who was not afraid of Jim Crow or any one else, so they finally decided to send for him and ask his assistance.
The starling undertook to be the messenger, and as soon as the meeting was over he flew away upon his errand.
"What were all you folks talking about?" asked the crow, flying down and alighting upon a limb near to those who had not yet left the place of meeting.
"We were talking about you," said the thrush, boldly; "and you wouldn't care at all to know what we said, Mister Jim Crow."
Jim looked a trifle guilty and ashamed at hearing this, but knowing they were all afraid of him he burst out into a rude laugh.
"Caw! caw! caw!" he chuckled hoarsely; "what do I care what you say about me? But don't you get saucy, my pretty thrush, or your friends will miss you some fine morning, and never see you again."
This awful threat made them all silent, for they remembered the fate of poor Mrs. Linnet's children, and very few of the birds now had any doubt but that Jim Crow knew more about the death of those helpless little ones than he cared to tell.
Finding they would not talk with him, the crow flew back to his tree, where he sat sullenly perched upon a branch near his nest. And they were very glad to get rid of him so easily.
Chapter V Jim Crow Meets Policeman Blue Jay
NEXT morning Jim Crow woke up hungry, and as he sat lazily in his big nest, he remembered that he had seen four pretty brown eggs, speckled with white, in the nest of the oriole that lived at the edge of the forest.
"Those eggs will taste very good for breakfast," he thought. "I'll go at once and get them; and if old Mammy Oriole makes a fuss, I'll eat her, too."
He hopped out of his nest and on to a branch, and the first thing his sharp eye saw was a big and strange bird sitting upon the tree just opposite him and looking steadily in his direction.
Never having lived among other birds until now, the crow did not know what kind of bird this was, but as he faced the new-comer he had a sort of shiver in his heart that warned him to beware an enemy. Indeed, it was none other than the Blue Jay that had appeared so suddenly, and he had arrived that morning because the starling had told him of the thefts that had taken place, and the Blue Jay is well known as the policeman of the forest and a terror to all evil-doers.
In size he was nearly as big as Jim Crow himself, and he had a large crest of feathers on the top of his head that made him look even more fierce—especially when he ruffled them up. His body was purplish blue color on the back and purplish gray below, and there was a collar of black feathers running all around his neck. But his wings and tail were a beautiful rich blue, as delightful in color as the sky on a fine May morning; so in personal appearance Policeman Blue Jay was much handsomer than Jim Crow. But it was the sharp, stout beak that most alarmed the crow, and had Jim been wiser he would have known that before him was the most deadly foe of his race, and that the greatest pleasure a Blue Jay finds in life is to fight with and punish a crow.
But Jim was not very wise; and so he imagined, after his first terror had passed away, that he could bully this bird as he had the others, and make it fear him.
"Well, what are you doing here?" he called out, in his crossest voice, for he was anxious to get away and rob the oriole's nest.
The Blue Jay gave a scornful, chattering laugh as he answered:
"That's none of your business, Jim Crow."
"Take care!" warned the crow; "you'll be sorry if you don't treat me with proper respect."
The Blue Jay winked solemnly, in a way that would have been very comical to any observer other than the angry crow.
"Don't hurt me—please don't!" he said, fluttering on the branch as if greatly frightened. "My mother would feel dreadful bad if anything happened to me."
"Well, then, behave yourself," returned the crow, strutting proudly along a limb and flopping his broad wings in an impressive manner. For he was foolish enough to think he had made the other afraid.
But no sooner had he taken flight and soared into the air than the Blue Jay darted at him like an arrow from a bow, and before Jim Crow could turn to defend himself the bill of his enemy struck him full in the breast. Then, with a shriek of shrill laughter, the policeman darted away and disappeared in the forest, leaving the crow to whirl around in the air once or twice and then sink slowly down, with some of his own torn feathers floating near him as witnesses to his defeat.
The attack had dazed and astonished him beyond measure; but he found he was not much hurt, after all. Crows are tougher than most birds. Jim managed to reach one of the brooks, where he bathed his breast in the cool water, and soon he felt much refreshed and more like his old self again.
But he decided not to go to the oriole's nest that morning, but to search for grabs and beetles amongst the mosses beneath the oak-trees.
Chapter VI Jim Crow Fools the Policeman
FROM that time on Policeman Blue Jay made his home in the forest, keeping a sharp eye upon the actions of Jim Crow. And one day he flew away to the southward and returned with Mrs. Blue Jay, who was even more beautiful than her mate. Together they built a fine nest in a tree that stood near to the crow's tall pine, and soon after they had settled down to housekeeping Mrs. Blue Jay began to lay eggs of a pretty brown color mottled with darker brown specks.
Had Jim Crow known what was best for him he would have flown away from this forest and found himself a new home. Within a short flight were many bits of woodland where a crow might get a good living and not be bothered by blue jays. But Jim was obstinate and foolish, and had made up his mind that he never would again be happy until he had been revenged upon his enemy.
He dared no longer rob the nests so boldly as he had before, so he became sly and cunning. He soon found out that the Blue Jay could not fly as high as he could, nor as fast; so, if he kept a sharp lookout for the approach of his foe, he had no trouble in escaping. But if he went near to the nests of the smaller birds, there was the blue policeman standing guard, and ready and anxious to fight at a moment's notice. It was really no place for a robber at all, unless the robber was clever.
One day Jim Crow discovered a chalkpit among the rocks at the north of the forest, just beyond the edge of trees. The chalk was soft and in some places crumbled to a fine powder, so that when he had rolled himself for a few minutes in the dust all his feathers became as white as snow. This fact gave to Jim Crow a bright idea. No longer black, but white as a dove, he flew away to the forest and passed right by Policeman Blue Jay, who only noticed that a big white bird had flown amongst the trees, and did not suspect it was the thieving crow in a clever disguise.
Jim found a robin's nest that was not protected, both the robin and his wife being away in search of food. So he ate up the eggs and kicked the nest to pieces and then flew away again, passing the Blue Jay a second time all unnoticed.
When he reached a brook he washed all the chalk away from his feathers and then returned to his nest as black as ever.
All the birds were angry and dismayed when they found what had happened, but none could imagine who had robbed the robins. Mrs. Robin, who was not easily discouraged, built another nest and laid more eggs in it; but the next day a second nest in the forest was robbed, and then another and another, until the birds complained that Policeman Blue Jay did not protect them at all.
"I can't understand it in the least," said the policeman, "for I have watched carefully, and I know Jim Crow has never dared to come near to your trees."
"Then some one else is the robber," declared the thrush fussily.
"The only stranger I have noticed around here is a big white bird," replied the Blue Jay, "and white birds never rob nests or eat eggs, as you all know very well."
So they were no nearer the truth than before, and the thefts continued; for each day Jim Crow would make himself white in the chalk-pit, fly into the forest and destroy the precious eggs of some innocent little bird, and afterward wash himself in some far-away brook, and return to his nest chuckling with glee to think he had fooled the Blue Jay so nicely.
But the Blue Jay, although stupid and unsuspecting at first, presently began to get a little wisdom. He remembered that all this trouble had commenced when the strange white bird first arrived in the forest; and although it was doubtless true that white birds never eat eggs and have honest reputations, he decided to watch this stranger and make sure that it was innocent of the frightful crimes that had so aroused the dwellers in the forest.
Chapter VII Jim Crow is Punished
SO one day Policeman Blue Jay hid himself in some thick bushes until he saw the big white bird fly by, and then he followed quietly after it, flitting from tree to tree and keeping out of sight as much as possible, until at last he saw the white bird alight near a bullfinch's nest and eat up all the eggs it contained.
Then, ruffling his crest angrily, Policeman Blue Jay flew to attack the big white robber, and was astonished to find he could not catch it. For the white bird flew higher into the air than he could, and also flew much faster, so that it soon escaped and passed out of sight.
"It must be a white crow," thought the Blue Jay; "for only a crow can beat me at flying, and some of that race are said to be white, although I have never seen one."
So he called together all the birds, and told them what he had seen, and they all agreed to hide themselves the next day and lie in wait for the thief.
By this time Jim Crow thought himself perfectly safe, and success had made him as bold as he was wicked. Therefore he suspected nothing when, after rolling himself in the chalk, he flew down the next day into the forest to feast upon birds' eggs. He soon came to a pretty nest, and was just about to rob it, when a chorus of shrill cries arose on every side of him and hundreds, of birds—so many that they quite filled the air— flew straight at the white one, pecking him with their bills and striking him with their wings; for anger had made even the most timid of the little birds fierce, and there were so many of them that they gave each other courage.
Jim Crow tried to escape, but whichever way he might fly his foes clustered all around him, getting in his way so that he could not use his big wings properly. And all the time they were pecking at him and fighting him as hard as they could. Also, the chalk was brushed from his feathers, by degrees, and soon the birds were able to recognize their old enemy the crow, and then, indeed, they became more furious than ever.
Policeman Blue Jay was especially angry at the deception practiced upon him, and if he could have got at the crow just then he would have killed it instantly. But the little birds were all in his way, so he was forced to hold aloof.
Filled with terror and smarting with pain, Jim Crow had only one thought: to get to the shelter of his nest in the pine-tree. In some way he managed to do this, and to sink exhausted into the hollow of his nest. But many of his enemies followed him, and although the thick feathers of his back and wings protected his body, Jim's head and eyes were at the mercy of the sharp bills of the vengeful birds.
When at last they left him, thinking he had been sufficiently punished, Jim Crow was as nearly dead as a bird could be. But crows are tough, and this one was unlucky enough to remain alive. For when his wounds had healed he had become totally blind, and day after day he sat in his nest, helpless and alone, and dared not leave it.
Chapter VIII Jim Crow Has Time to Repent His Sins
"WHERE are you going, my dear?" asked the Blue Jay of his wife.
"I'm going to carry some grubs to Jim Crow," she answered. "I'll be back in a minute."
"Jim Crow is a robber and a murderer!" said the policeman, harshly.
"I know," she replied, in a sweet voice; "but he is blind."
"Well, fly along," said her husband; "but hurry back again."
And the robin-redbreast and his wife filled a cup-shaped flower with water from the brook, and then carried it in their bills to the pine-tree, without spilling a drop.
"Where are you going?" asked the oriole, as they passed.
"We're just taking some water to Jim Crow," replied Mrs. Robin.
"He's a thief and a scoundrel!" cried the oriole, indignantly.
"That is true." said Mrs. Robin, in a soft, pitiful voice; "but he is blind."
"Let me help you." exclaimed the oriole. "I'll carry this side of the cup, so it can't tip."
So Jim Crow, blind and helpless, sat in his nest day after day and week after week, while the little birds he had so cruelly wronged brought him food and water and cared for him as generously as they could.
And I wonder what his thoughts were—don't you?
List of Chapters PAGE I The Picnic...........................137 II Prairie-Dog Town.....................145 III Mr. Bowko, the Mayor.................150 IV Presto Digi, the Magician............158 V The Home of the Puff-Pudgys..........166 VI Teenty and Weenty....................174 VII The Mayor Gives a Luncheon...........181 VIII On Top of the Earth Again............189
Chapter I The Picnic
ON the great western prairies of Dakota is a little town called Edgeley, because it is on the edge of civilization—a very big word which means some folks have found a better way to live than other folks. The Edgeley people have a good way to live, for there are almost seventeen wooden houses there, and among them is a school-house, a church, a store and a blacksmith-shop. If people walked out their front doors they were upon the little street; if they walked out the back doors they were on the broad prairies. That was why Twinkle, who was a farmer's little girl, lived so near the town that she could easily walk to school.
She was a pretty, rosy-cheeked little thing, with long, fluffy hair, and big round eyes that everybody smiled into when they saw them. It was hard to keep that fluffy hair from getting tangled; so mamma used to tie it in the back with a big, broad ribbon. And Twinkle wore calico slips for school days and gingham dresses when she wanted to "dress up" or look especially nice. And to keep the sun from spotting her face with freckles, she wore sunbonnets made of the same goods as her dresses.
Twinkle's best chum was a little boy called Chubbins, who was the only child of the tired-faced school-teacher. Chubbins was about as old as Twinkle; but he wasn't so tall and slender for his age as she was, being short and rather fat. The hair on his little round head was cut close, and he usually wore a shirt-waist and "knickers," with a wide straw hat on the back of his head. Chubbins's face was very solemn. He never said many words when grown folks were around, but he could talk fast enough when he and Twinkle were playing together alone.
Well, one Saturday the school had a picnic, and Twinkle and Chubbins both went. On the Dakota prairies there are no shade-trees at all, and very little water except what they they get by boring deep holes in the ground; so you may wonder where the people could possibly have a picnic. But about three miles from the town a little stream of water (which they called a "river," but we would call only a brook) ran slow and muddy across the prairie; and where the road crossed it a flat bridge had been built. If you climbed down the banks of the river you would find a nice shady place under the wooden bridge; and so here it was that the picnics were held.
All the village went to the picnic, and they started bright and early in the morning, with horses and farm-wagons, and baskets full of good things to eat, and soon arrived at the bridge.
There was room enough in its shade for all to be comfortable; so they unhitched the horses and carried the baskets to the river bank, and began to laugh and be as merry as they could.
Twinkle and Chubbins, however, didn't care much for the shade of the bridge. This was a strange place to them, so they decided to explore it and see if it was any different from any other part of the prairie. Without telling anybody where they were going, they took hold of hands and trotted across the bridge and away into the plains on the other side.
The ground here wasn't flat, but had long rolls to it, like big waves on the ocean, so that as soon as the little girl and boy had climbed over the top of the first wave, or hill, those by the river lost sight of them.
They saw nothing but grass in the first hollow, but there was another hill just beyond, so they kept going, and climbed over that too. And now they found, lying in the second hollow, one of the most curious sights that the western prairies afford.
"What is it?" asked Chubbins, wonderingly.
"Why, it's a Prairie-Dog Town," said Twinkle.
Chapter II Prarie-Dog Town
LYING in every direction, and quite filling the little hollow, were round mounds of earth, each one having a hole in the center. The mounds were about two feet high and as big around as a wash-tub, and the edges of the holes were pounded hard and smooth by the pattering feet of the little creatures that lived within.
"Isn't it funny!" said Chubbins, staring at the mounds.
"Awful," replied Twinkle, staring too. "Do you know, Chub, there are an'mals living in every single one of those holes?"
"What kind?" asked Chubbins.
"Well, they're something like squirrels, only they aren't squirrels," she explained. "They're prairie-dogs."
"Don't like dogs," said the boy, looking a bit uneasy.
"Oh, they're not dogs at all," said Twinkle; "they're soft and fluffy, and gentle."
"Do they bark?" he asked.
"Yes; but they don't bite."
"How d' you know, Twink?"
"Papa has told me about them, lots of times. He says they're so shy that they run into their holes when anybody's around; but if you keep quiet and watch, they'll stick their heads out in a few minutes."
"Let's watch," said Chubbins.
"All right," she agreed.
Very near to some of the mounds was a raised bank, covered with soft grass; so the children stole softly up to this bank and lay down upon it in such a way that their heads just stuck over the top of it, while their bodies were hidden from the eyes of any of the folks of Prairie-Dog Town.
"Are you comferble, Chub?" asked the little girl.
"Then lie still and don't talk, and keep your eyes open, and perhaps the an'mals will stick their heads up."
"All right," says Chubbins.
So they kept quiet and waited, and it seemed a long time to both the boy and the girl before a soft, furry head popped out of a near-by hole, and two big, gentle brown eyes looked at them curiously.
Chapter III Mr. Bowko, the Mayor
"DEAR me!" said the prairie-dog, speaking almost in a whisper; "here are some of those queer humans from the village."
"Let me see! Let me see!" cried two shrill little voices, and the wee heads of two small creatures popped out of the hole and fixed their bright eyes upon the heads of Twinkle and Chubbins.
"Go down at once!" said the mother prairie-dog. "Do you want to get hurt, you naughty little things?"
"Oh, they won't get hurt," said another deeper voice, and the children turned their eyes toward a second mound, on top of which sat a plump prairie-dog whose reddish fur was tipped with white on the end of each hair. He seemed to be quite old, or at least well along in years, and he had a wise and thoughtful look on his face.
"They're humans," said the mother.
"True enough; but they're only human children, and wouldn't hurt your little ones for the world," the old one said.
"That's so!" called Twinkle. "All we want, is to get acquainted."
"Why, in that case," replied the old prairie-dog, "you are very welcome in our town, and we're glad to see you."
"Thank you," said Twinkle, gratefully. It didn't occur to her just then that it was wonderful to be talking to the little prairie-dogs just as if they were people. It seemed very natural they should speak with each other and be friendly.
As if attracted by the sound of voices, little heads began to pop out of the other mounds—one here and one there—until the town was alive with the pretty creatures, all squatting near the edges of their holes and eyeing Chubbins and Twinkle with grave and curious looks.
"Let me introduce myself," said the old one that had first proved friendly. "My name is Bowko, and I'm the Mayor and High Chief of Prairie-Dog Town."
"Don't you have a king?" asked Twinkle.
"Not in this town," he answered. "There seems to be no place for kings in this free United States. And a Mayor and High Chief is just as good as a king, any day."
"I think so, too," answered the girl.
"Better!" declared Chubbins.
The Mayor smiled, as if pleased.
"I see you've been properly brought up," he continued; "and now let me introduce to you some of my fellow-citizens. This," pointing with one little paw to the hole where the mother and her two children were sitting, "is Mrs. Puff-Pudgy and her family—Teenty and Weenty. Mr. Puff-Pudgy, I regret to say, was recently chased out of town for saying his prayers backwards."
"How could he?" asked Chubbins, much surprised.
"He was always contrary," answered the Mayor, with a sigh, "and wouldn't do things the same way that others did. His good wife, Mrs. Puff-Pudgy, had to scold him all day long; so we finally made him leave the town, and I don't know where he's gone to."
"Won't he be sorry not to have his little children any more?" asked Twinkle, regretfully.
"I suppose so; but if people are contrary, and won't behave, they must take the consequences. This is Mr. Chuckledorf," continued the Mayor, and a very fat prairie-dog bowed to them most politely; "and here is Mrs. Fuzcum; and Mrs. Chatterby; and Mr. Sneezeley, and Doctor Dosem."
All these folks bowed gravely and politely, and Chubbins and Twinkle bobbed their heads in return until their necks ached, for it seemed as if the Mayor would never get through introducing the hundreds of prairie-dogs that were squatting around.
"I'll never be able to tell one from the other," whispered the girl; "'cause they all look exactly alike."
"Some of 'em's fatter," observed Chubbins; "but I don't know which."
Chapter IV Presto Digi, the Magician
"AND now, if you like, we will be pleased to have you visit some of our houses," said Mr. Bowko, the Mayor, in a friendly tone.
"But we can't!" exclaimed Twinkle. "We're too big," and she got up and sat down upon the bank, to show him how big she really was when compared with the prairie-dogs.
"Oh, that doesn't matter in the least," the Mayor replied. "I'll have Presto Digi, our magician, reduce you to our size."
"Can he?" asked Twinkle, doubtfully.
"Our magician can do anything," declared the Mayor. Then he sat up and put both his front paws to his mouth and made a curious sound that was something like a bark and something like a whistle, but not exactly like either one.
Then everybody waited in silence until a queer old prairie-dog slowly put his head out of a big mound near the center of the village.
"Good morning, Mr. Presto Digi," said the Mayor.
"Morning!" answered the magician, blinking his eyes as if he had just awakened from sleep.
Twinkle nearly laughed at this scrawny, skinny personage; but by good fortune, for she didn't wish to offend him, she kept her face straight and did not even smile.
"We have two guests here, this morning," continued the Mayor, addressing the magician, "who are a little too large to get into our houses. So, as they are invited to stay to luncheon, it would please us all if you would kindly reduce them to fit our underground rooms."
"Is that all you want?" asked Mr. Presto Digi, bobbing his head at the children.
"It seems to me a great deal," answered Twinkle. "I'm afraid you never could do it."
"Wow!" said the magician, in a scornful voice that was almost a bark. "I can do that with one paw. Come here to me, and don't step on any of our mounds while you're so big and clumsy."
So Twinkle and Chubbins got up and walked slowly toward the magician, taking great care where they stepped. Teenty and Weenty were frightened, and ducked their heads with little squeals as the big children passed their mound; but they bobbed up again the next moment, being curious to see what would happen.
When the boy and girl stopped before Mr. Presto Digi's mound, he began waving one of his thin, scraggy paws and at the same time made a gurgling noise that was deep down in his throat. And his eyes rolled and twisted around in a very odd way.
Neither Twinkle nor Chubbins felt any effect from the magic, nor any different from ordinary; but they knew they were growing smaller, because their eyes were getting closer to the magician.
"Is that enough?" asked Mr. Presto, after a while.
"Just a little more, please," replied the Mayor; "I don't want them to bump their heads against the doorways."
So the magician again waved his paw and chuckled and gurgled and blinked, until Twinkle suddenly found she had to look up at him as he squatted on his mound.
"Stop!" she screamed; "if you keep on, we won't be anything at all!"
"You're just about the right size," said the Mayor, looking them over with much pleasure, and when the girl turned around she found Mr. Bowko and Mrs. Puff-Pudgy standing beside her, and she could easily see that Chubbins was no bigger than they, and she was no bigger than Chubbins.
"Kindly follow me," said Mrs. Puff-Pudgy, "for my little darlings are anxious to make your acquaintance, and as I was the first to discover you, you are to be my guests first of all, and afterward go to the Mayor's to luncheon."
Chapter V The Home of the Puff-Pudgys
SO Twinkle and Chubbins, still holding hands, trotted along to the Puff-Pudgy mound, and it was strange how rough the ground now seemed to their tiny feet. They climbed up the slope of the mound rather clumsily, and when they came to the hole it seemed to them as big as a well. Then they saw that it wasn't a deep hole, but a sort of tunnel leading down hill into the mound, and Twinkle knew if they were careful they were not likely to slip or tumble down.
Mrs. Puff-Pudgy popped into the hole like a flash, for she was used to it, and waited just below the opening to guide them. So, Twinkle slipped down to the floor of the tunnel and Chubbins followed close after her, and then they began to go downward.
"It's a little dark right here," said Mrs. Puff-Pudgy; "but I've ordered the maid to light the candles for you, so you'll see well enough when you're in the rooms."
"Thank you," said Twinkle, walking along the hall and feeling her way by keeping her hand upon the smooth sides of the passage. "I hope you won't go to any trouble, or put on airs, just because we've come to visit you."
"If I do," replied Mrs. Puffy-Pudgy, "it's because I know the right way to treat company. We've always belonged to the 'four hundred,' you know. Some folks never know what to do, or how to do it, but that isn't the way with the Puff-Pudgys. Hi! you, Teenty and Weenty—get out of here and behave yourselves! You'll soon have a good look at our visitors."
And now they came into a room so comfortable and even splendid that Twinkle's eyes opened wide with amazement.
It was big, and of a round shape, and on the walls were painted very handsome portraits of different prairie-dogs of the Puff-Pudgy family. The furniture was made of white clay, baked hard in the sun and decorated with paints made from blue clay and red clay and yellow clay. This gave it a gorgeous appearance. There was a round table in the middle of the room, and several comfortable chairs and sofas. Around the walls were little brackets with candles in them, lighting the place very pleasantly.
"Sit down, please," said Mrs. Puff-Pudgy. "You'll want to rest a minute before I show you around."
So Twinkle and Chubbins sat upon the pretty clay chairs, and Teenty and Weenty sat opposite them and stared with their mischievous round eyes as hard as they could.
"What nice furniture," exclaimed the girl.
"Yes," replied Mrs. Puff-Pudgy, looking up at the picture of a sad-faced prairie-dog; "Mr. Puff-Pudgy made it all himself. He was very handy at such things. It's a shame he turned out so obstinate."
"Did he build the house too?"
"Why, he dug it out, if that's what you mean. But I advised him how to do it, so I deserve some credit for it myself. Next to the Mayor's, it's the best house in town, which accounts for our high social standing. Weenty! take your paw out of your mouth. You're biting your claws again."
"I'm not!" said Weenty.
"And now," continued Mrs. Puff-Pudgy, "if you are rested, I'll show you through the rest of our house."
So, they got up and followed her, and she led the children through an archway into the dining-room. Here was a cupboard full of the cunningest little dishes Twinkle had ever seen. They were all made of clay, baked hard in the sun, and were of graceful shapes, and nearly as smooth and perfect as our own dishes.
Chapter VI Teenty and Weenty
ALL around the sides of the dining-room were pockets, or bins, in the wall; and these were full of those things the prairie-dogs are most fond of eating. Clover-seeds filled one bin, and sweet roots another; dried mulberry leaves—that must have come from a long distance—were in another bin, and even kernels of yellow field corn were heaped in one place. The Puff-Pudgys were surely in no danger of starving for some time to come.
"Teenty! Put back that grain of wheat," commanded the mother, in a severe voice.
Instead of obeying, Teenty put the wheat in his mouth and ate it as quickly as possible.
"The little dears are so restless," Mrs. Puff-Pudgy said to Twinkle, "that it's hard to manage them."
"They don't behave," remarked Chubbins, staring hard at the children.
"No, they have a share of their father's obstinate nature," replied Mrs. Puff-Pudgy. "Excuse me a minute and I'll cuff them; It'll do them good."
But before their mother could reach them, the children found trouble of their own. Teenty sprang at Weenty and began to fight, because his brother had pinched him, and Weenty fought back with all his might and main. They scratched with their claws and bit with their teeth, and rolled over and over upon the floor, bumping into the wall and upsetting the chairs, and snarling and growling all the while like two puppies.
Mrs. Puff-Pudgy sat down and watched them, but did not interfere.
"Won't they hurt themselves?" asked Twinkle, anxiously.
"Perhaps so," said the mother; "but if they do, it will punish them for being so naughty. I always let them fight it out, because they are so sore for a day or two afterward that they have to keep quiet, and then I get a little rest."
Weenty set up a great howling, just then, and Teenty drew away from his defeated brother and looked at him closely. The fur on both of them was badly mussed up, and Weenty had a long scratch on his nose, that must have hurt him, or he wouldn't have howled so. Teenty's left eye was closed tight, but if it hurt him he bore the pain in silence.
Mrs. Puff-Pudgy now pushed them both into a little room and shut them up, saying they must stay there until bedtime; and then she led Twinkle and Chubbins into the kitchen and showed them a pool of clear water, in a big clay basin, that had been caught during the last rain and saved for drinking purposes. The children drank of it, and found it cool and refreshing.
Then they saw the bedrooms, and learned that the beds of prairie-dogs were nothing more than round hollows made in heaps of clay. These animals always curl themselves up when they sleep, and the round hollows just fitted their bodies; so, no doubt, they found them very comfortable.
There were several bedrooms, for the Puff-Pudgy house was really very large. It was also very cool and pleasant, being all underground and not a bit damp.
After they had admired everything in a way that made Mrs. Puff-Pudgy very proud and happy, their hostess took one of the lighted candles from a bracket and said she would now escort them to the house of the Honorable Mr. Bowko, the Mayor.
Chapter VII The Mayor Gives a Luncheon
"DON'T we have to go upstairs and out of doors?" asked Twinkle.
"Oh, no," replied the prairie-dog, "we have halls connecting all the different houses of importance. Just follow me, and you can't get lost."
They might easily have been lost without their guide, the little girl thought, after they had gone through several winding passages. They turned this way and that, in quite a bewildering manner, and there were so many underground tunnels going in every direction that it was a wonder Mrs. Puff-Pudgy knew which way to go.
"You ought to have sign-posts," said Chubbins, who had once been in a city.
"Why, as for that, every one in the town knows which way to go," answered their guide; "and it isn't often we have visitors. Last week a gray owl stopped with us for a couple of days, and we had a fine ball in her honor. But you are the first humans that have ever been entertained in our town, so it's quite an event with us." A few minutes later she said: "Here we are, at the Mayor's house," and as they passed under a broad archway she blew out her candle, because the Mayor's house was so brilliantly lighted.
"Welcome!" said Mr. Bowko, greeting the children with polite bows. "You are just in time, for luncheon is about ready and my guests are waiting for you."
He led them at once into a big dining-room that was so magnificently painted with colored clays that the walls were as bright as a June rainbow.
"How pretty!" cried Twinkle, clapping her hands together in delight.
"I'm glad you like it," said the Mayor, much pleased. "Some people, who are lacking in good taste, think it's a little overdone, but a Mayor's house should be gorgeous, I think, so as to be a credit to the community. My grandfather, who designed and painted this house, was a very fine artist. But luncheon is ready, so pray be seated."
They sat down on little clay chairs that were placed at the round table. The Mayor sat on one side of Twinkle and Mrs. Puff-Pudgy on the other, and Chubbins was between the skinny old magician and Mr. Sneezeley. Also, in other chairs sat Dr. Dosem, and Mrs. Chatterby, and Mrs. Fuzcum, and several others. It was a large company, indeed, which showed that the Mayor considered this a very important occasion.
They were waited upon by several sleek prairie-dog maids in white aprons and white caps, who looked neat and respectable, and were very graceful in their motions.
Neither Twinkle nor Chubbins was very hungry, but they were curious to know what kind of food the prairie-dogs ate, so they watched carefully when the different dishes were passed around. Only grains and vegetables were used, for prairie-dogs do not eat meat. There was a milk-weed soup at first; and then yellow corn, boiled and sliced thin. Afterward they had a salad of thistle leaves, and some bread made of barley. The dessert was a dish of the sweet, dark honey made by prairie-bees, and some cakes flavored with sweet and spicy roots that only prairie-dogs know how to find.
The children tasted of several dishes, just to show their politeness; but they couldn't eat much. Chubbins spent most of his time watching Mr. Presto Digi, who ate up everything that was near him and seemed to be as hungry after the luncheon as he had been before.
Mrs. Puff-Pudgy talked so much about the social standing and dignity of the Puff-Pudgys that she couldn't find time to eat much, although she asked for the recipe of the milk-weed soup. But most of the others present paid strict attention to the meal and ate with very good appetites.
Chapter VIII On Top of the Earth Again
AFTERWARD they all went into the big drawing-room, where Mrs. Fuzcum sang a song for them in a very shrill voice, and Mr. Sneezeley and Mrs. Chatterby danced a graceful minuet that was much admired by all present.
"We ought to be going home," said Twinkle, after this entertainment was over. "I'm afraid our folks will worry about us."
"We regret to part with you," replied the Mayor; "but, if you really think you ought to go, we will not be so impolite as to urge you to stay."
"You'll find we have excellent manners," added Mrs. Puff-Pudgy.
"I want to get big again," said Chubbins.
"Very well; please step this way," said the Mayor.
So they all followed him through a long passage until they began to go upward, as if climbing a hill. And then a gleam of daylight showed just ahead of them, and a few more steps brought them to the hole in the middle of the mound.
The Mayor and Mrs. Puff-Pudgy jumped up first, and then they helped Twinkle and Chubbins to scramble out. The strong sunlight made them blink their eyes for a time, but when they were able to look around they found one or more heads of prairie-dogs sticking from every mound.
"Now, Mr. Presto Digi," said the Mayor, when all the party were standing on the ground, "please enlarge our friends to their natural sizes again."
"That is very easy," said the magician, with a sigh. "I really wish, Mr. Mayor, that you would find something for me to do that is difficult."
"I will, some time," promised the Mayor. "Just now, this is all I can require of you."
So the magician waved his paw and gurgled, much in the same way he had done before, and Twinkle and Chubbins began to grow, and swell out until they were as large as ever, and the prairie-dogs again seemed very small beside them.
"Good-bye," said the little girl, "and thank you all, very much, for your kindness to us."
"Good-bye!" answered a chorus of small voices, and then all the prairie-dogs popped into their holes and quickly disappeared.
Twinkle and Chubbins found they were sitting on the green bank again, at the edge of Prairie-Dog Town.
"Do you think we've been asleep, Chub?" asked the girl.
"'Course not," replied Chubbins, with a big yawn. "It's easy 'nough to know that, Twink, 'cause I'm sleepy now!"
List of Chapters PAGE I Twinkle Captures the Turtle.....................199 II Twinkle Discovers the Turtle can Talk...........207 III The Turtle Tells of the Corrugated Giant........214 IV Prince Turtle Remembers His Magic...............223 V Twinkle Promises to be Brave....................232 VI Twinkle Meets the Corrugated Giant..............239 VII Prince Mud-Turtle Becomes Prince Melga..........244 VIII Twinkle Receives a Medal........................250
Chapter I Twinkle Captures the Turtle
ONE hot summer day Twinkle went down into the meadow to where the brook ran tinkling over its stones or rushed and whirled around the curves of the banks or floated lazily through the more wide and shallow parts. It wasn't much of a brook, to tell the facts, for there were many places where an active child could leap across it. But it was the only brook for miles around, and to Twinkle it was a never-ending source of delight. Nothing amused or refreshed the little girl more than to go wading on the pebbly bottom and let the little waves wash around her slim ankles.
There was one place, just below the pasture lot, where it was deeper; and here there were real fishes swimming about, such as "horned aces" and "chubs" and "shiners"; and once in a while you could catch a mud-turtle under the edges of the flat stones or in hollows beneath the banks. The deep part was not very big, being merely a pool, but Twinkle never waded in it, because the water would come quite up to her waist, and then she would be sure to get her skirts wet, which would mean a good scolding from mamma.
To-day she climbed the fence in the lane, just where the rickety wooden bridge crossed the brook, and at once sat down upon the grassy bank and took off her shoes and stockings. Then, wearing her sun-bonnet to shield her face from the sun, she stepped softly into the brook and stood watching the cool water rush by her legs.
It was very nice and pleasant; but Twinkle never could stand still for very long, so she began to wade slowly down the stream, keeping in the middle of the brook, and being able to see through the clear water all the best places to put her feet.
Pretty soon she had to duck her head to pass under the fence that separated the meadow from the pasture lot; but she got through all right, and then kept on down the stream, until she came close to the deep pool. She couldn't wade through this, as I have explained; so she got on dry land and crept on her hands and knees up to the edge of the bank, so as not to scare the fishes, if any were swimming in the pool.
By good luck there were several fishes in the pool to-day, and they didn't seem to notice that Twinkle was looking at them, so quiet had she been. One little fellow shone like silver when the sunshine caught his glossy sides, and the little girl watched him wiggling here and there with much delight. There was also a big, mud-colored fish that lay a long time upon the bottom without moving anything except his fins and the tip of his tail, and Twinkle also discovered a group of several small fishes not over an inch long, that always swam together in a bunch, as if they belonged to one family.
The girl watched these little creatures long and earnestly. The pool was all of the world these simple fishes would ever know. They were born here, and would die here, without ever getting away from the place, or even knowing there was a much bigger world outside of it.
After a time the child noticed that the water had become a little muddy near the edge of the bank where she lay, and as it slowly grew clear again she saw a beautiful turtle lying just under her head and against the side of the bank. It was a little bigger around than a silver dollar, and instead of its shell being of a dull brown color, like that of all other mud-turtles she had seen, this one's back was streaked with brilliant patches of yellow and red.
"I must get that lovely turtle!" thought Twinkle; and as the water was shallow where it lay she suddenly plunged in her hand, grabbed the turtle, and flung it out of the water on to the bank, where it fell upon its back, wiggling its four fat legs desperately in an attempt to turn over.
Chapter II Twinkle Discovers the Turtle Can Talk
AT this sudden commotion in their water, the fishes darted away and disappeared in a flash. But Twinkle didn't mind that, for all her interest was now centered in the struggling turtle.
She knelt upon the grass and bent over to watch it, and just then she thought she heard a small voice say:
"It's no use; I can't do it!" and then the turtle drew its head and legs between the shells and remained still.
"Good gracious!" said Twinkle, much astonished. Then, addressing the turtle, she asked:
"Did you say anything, a minute ago?"
There was no reply. The turtle lay as quiet as if it were dead. Twinkle thought she must have been mistaken; so she picked up the turtle and held it in the palm of her hand while she got into the water again and waded slowly back to where she had left her shoes and stockings.
When she got home she put the mud-turtle in a tub which her papa had made by sawing a barrel in two. Then she put a little water into the tub and blocked it up by putting a brick under one side, so that the turtle could either stay in the water or crawl up the inclined bottom of the tub to where it was dry, whichever he pleased. She did this because mamma said that turtles sometimes liked to stay in the water and sometimes on land, and Twinkle's turtle could now take his choice. He couldn't climb up the steep sides of the tub and so get away, and the little girl thoughtfully placed crumbs of bread and fine bits of meat, where the turtle could get them whenever he felt hungry.
After that, Twinkle often sat for hours watching the turtle, which would crawl around the bottom of the tub, and swim in the little pool of water and eat the food placed before him in an eager and amusing way.
At times she took him in her hand and examined him closely, and then the mud-turtle would put out its little head and look at her with its bright eyes as curiously as the girl looked at him.
She had owned her turtle just a week, when she came to the tub one afternoon and held him in her hand, intending to feed her pet some scraps of meat she had brought with her. But as soon as the turtle put out its head it said to her, in a small but distinct voice:
"Good morning, Twinkle."
She was so surprised that the meat dropped from her hand, and she nearly dropped the turtle, too. But she managed to control her astonishment, and asked, in a voice that trembled a little:
"Can you talk?"
"To be sure," replied the turtle; "but only on every seventh day—which of course is every Saturday. On other days I cannot talk at all."
"Then I really must have heard you speak when I caught you; didn't I?"
"I believe you did. I was so startled at being captured that I spoke before I thought, which is a bad habit to get into. But afterward I resolved not to answer when you questioned me, for I didn't know you then, and feared it would be unwise to trust you with my secret. Even now I must ask you not to tell any one that you have a turtle that knows how to talk."
Chapter III The Turtle Tells of the Corrugated Giant
"WHY, it's wonderful!" said Twinkle, who had listened eagerly to the turtle's speech.
"It would be wonderful, indeed, if I were but a simple turtle," was the reply.
"But aren't you a turtle?"
"Of course, so far as my outward appearance goes, I'm a common little mud-turtle," it answered; "and I think you will agree with me that it was rather clever in the Corrugated Giant to transform me into such a creature."
"What's a Corrulated Giant?" asked Twinkle, with breathless interest.
"The Corrugated Giant is a monster that is full of deep wrinkles, because he has no bones inside him to hold his flesh up properly," said the turtle. "I hated this giant, who is both wicked and cruel, I assure you; and this giant hated me in return. So, when one day I tried to destroy him, the monster transformed me into the helpless little being you see before you."
"But who were you before you were transformed?" asked the girl.
"A fairy prince named Melga, the seventh son of the fairy Queen Flutterlight, who rules all the fairies in the north part of this land."
"And how long have you been a turtle?"
"Fourteen years," replied the creature, with a deep sigh. "At least, I think it is fourteen years; but of course when one is swimming around in brooks and grubbing in the mud for food, one is apt to lose all track of time."
"I should think so, indeed," said Twinkle. "But, according to that, you're older than I am."
"Much older," declared the turtle. "I had lived about four hundred years before the Corrugated Giant turned me into a turtle."
"Was your head gray?" she asked; "and did you have white whiskers?"
"No, indeed!" said the turtle. "Fairies are always young and beautiful in appearance, no matter how many years they have lived. And, as they never die, they're bound to get pretty old sometimes, as a matter of course."
"Of course!" agreed Twinkle. "Mama has told me about the fairies. But must you always be a mud-turtle?"
"That will depend on whether you are willing to help me or not," was the answer.
"Why, it sounds just like a fairy tale in a book!" cried the little girl.
"Yes," replied the turtle, "these things have been happening ever since there were fairies, and you might expect some of our adventures would get into books. But are you willing to help me? That is the important thing just now."
"I'll do anything I can," said Twinkle.
"Then," said the turtle, "I may expect to get back to my own form again in a reasonably short time. But you must be brave, and not shrink from such a little thing as danger."
That made Twinkle look solemn.
"Of course I don't want to get hurt," she said. "My mama and papa would go distructed if anything happened to me."
"Something will happen, sure," declared the turtle; "but nothing that happens will hurt you in the least if you do exactly as I tell you."
"I won't have to fight that Carbolated Giant, will I?" Twinkle asked doubtfully.
"He isn't carbolated; he's corrugated. No, you won't have to fight at all. When the proper time comes I'll do the fighting myself. But you may have to come with me to the Black Mountains, in order to set me free."
"Is it far?" she asked.
"Yes; but it won't take us long to go there," answered the turtle. "Now, I'll tell you what to do and, if you follow my advice no one will ever know you've been mixed up with fairies and strange adventures."
"And Collerated Giants," she added.
"Corrugated," he corrected. "It is too late, this Saturday, to start upon our journey, so we must wait another week. But next Saturday morning do you come to me bright and early, as soon as you've had breakfast, and then I'll tell you what to do."
"All right," said Twinkle; "I won't forget."
"In the mean time, do give me a little clean water now and then. I'm a mud-turtle, sure enough; but I'm also a fairy prince, and I must say I prefer clean water."
"I'll attend to it," promised the girl.
"Now put me down and run away," continued the turtle. "It will take me all the week to think over my plans, and decide exactly what we are to do."
Chapter IV Prince Turtle Remembers His Magic
TWINKLE was as nervous as she could be during all the week that followed this strange conversation with Prince Turtle. Every day, as soon as school was out, she would run to the tub to see if the turtle was still safe—for she worried lest it should run away or disappear in some strange manner. And during school hours it was such hard work to keep her mind on her lessons that teacher scolded her more than once.