BY ERNEST THOMPSON SETON
WITH 100 DRAWINGS
AUTHOR OF "WILD ANIMALS AT HOME," "WILD ANIMALS I HAVE KNOWN," "TWO LITTLE SAVAGES," "BIOGRAPHY OF A GRIZZLY," "LIFE HISTORIES OF NORTHERN ANIMALS," "ROLF IN THE WOODS," "THE BOOK OF WOODCRAFT." CHIEF OF THE WOODCRAFT LEAGUE OF AMERICA
GARDEN CITY NEW YORK DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 1922
COPYRIGHT, 1905, 1920, 1921, BY
ERNEST THOMPSON SETON
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OF TRANSLATION INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES, INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN
COPYRIGHT 1903, 1904, BY THE CENTURY COMPANY
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES AT THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS, GARDEN CITY, N. Y.
To the Guide
These Mother Carey Tales were written for children of all ages, who have not outgrown the delight of a fairy tale. It might almost be said that they were written chiefly for myself, for I not only have had the pleasure of telling them to the little ones, and enjoying their quick response, but have also had the greater pleasure of thinking them and setting them down.
As I write, I look from a loved window, across a landscape that I love, and my eye rests on a tall beautiful pine planted with my own hands years ago. It is a mass of green fringes, with gem-like tips of buds and baby cones, beautiful, exquisitely beautiful, whether seen from afar as a green spire, or viewed close at hand as jewellery. It is beautiful, fragile and—unimportant, as the world sees it; yet through its wind-waved mass one can get little glimpses of the thing that backs it all, the storm-defying shaft, the enduring rigid living growing trunk of massive timber that gives it the nobility of strength, and adds value to the rest; sometimes it must be sought for, but it always surely is there, ennobling the lesser pretty things.
I hope this tree is a fair image of my fairy tale. I know my child friends will love the piney fringes and the jewel cones, and they can find the unyielding timber in its underlying truth, if they seek for it. If they do not, it is enough to have them love the cones.
All are not fairy tales. Other chapters set forth things to see, thing to do, things to go to, things to know, things to remember. These, sanctified in the blue outdoors, spell "Woodcraft," the one pursuit of man that never dies or palls, the thing that in the bygone ages gifted him and yet again will gift him with the seeing eye, the thinking hand, the body that fails not, the winged soul that stores up precious memories.
It is hoped that these chapters will show how easy and alluring, and how good a thing it is.
While they are meant for the children six years of age and upward, it is assumed that Mother (or Father) will be active as a leader; therefore it is addressed, first of all, to the parent, whom throughout we shall call the "Guide."
* * * * *
Some of these stories date back to my school days, although the first actually published was "Why the Chicadee Goes Crazy Twice a Year." This in its original form appeared in "Our Animal Friends" in September, 1893. Others, as "The Fingerboard Goldenrod," "Brook-Brownie," "The Bluebird," "Diablo and the Dogwood," "How the Violets Came," "How the Indian Summer Came," "The Twin Stars," "The Fairy Lamps," "How the Littlest Owl Came," "How the Shad Came," appeared in slightly different form in the Century Magazine, 1903 and 1904.
* * * * *
My thanks are due to the Authorities of the American Museum who have helped me with specimens and criticism; to the published writings of Dr. W. J. Holland and Clarence M. Weed for guidance in insect problems; to Britton and Browne's "Illustrated Flora, U. S. and Canada"; and to the Nature Library of Doubleday, Page & Co., for light in matters botanic; to Mrs. Daphne Drake and Mrs. Mary S. Dominick for many valuable suggestions, and to my wife, Grace Gallatin Seton, for help with the purely literary work.
Also to Oliver P. Medsger, the naturalist of Lincoln High School, Jersey City, N. J., for reading with critical care those parts of the manuscript that deal with flowers and insects, as well as for the ballad of the Ox-eye, the story of its coming to America, and the photograph of the Mecha-meck.
Things to See in Springtime
The Seeing Eye
TALE NO. PAGE
1. Blue-eyes, the Snow-child, or the Story of Hepatica 3
2. The Story of the Dawnsinger, or How the Bloodroot Came 5
3. The Prairie-girl with Yellow Hair 6
4. The Cat's-eye Toad, a child of Maka Ina 11
5. How the Bluebird Came 14
6. Robin, the Bird that Loves to Make Clay Pots 17
7. Brook Brownie, or How the Song Sparrow Got his Streaks 20
8. Diablo and the Dogwood 20
9. The Woolly-bear 23
10. How the Violets Came 25
11. Cocoons 26
12. Butterflies and Moths 28
13. The Mourning-cloak Butterfly or the Camberwell Beauty 30
14. The Wandering Monarch 32
15. The Bells of the Solomon Seal 35
16. The Silver Bells of the False Solomon Seal 37
Things to See in Summertime
17. How the Mouse-bird made Fun of the Brownie 43
18. The Pot-herb that Sailed with the Pilgrims 44
19. How the Red Clover Got the White Mark on Its Leaves 47
20. The Shamrock and Her Three Sisters 51
21. The Indian Basket-Maker 53
22. Crinkleroot; or Who Hid the Salad? 56
23. The Mecha-meck 61
24. Dutchman's Breeches 63
25. The Seven Sour Sisters 65
26. Self-heal or Blue-curls in the Grass 65
27. The Four Butterflies You See Every Summer 67
28. The Beautiful Poison Caterpillar 72
29. The Great Splendid Silk-moth or Samia Cecropia 77
30. The Green Fairy with the Long Train 79
31. The Wicked Hoptoad and the Little Yellow Dragon 82
32. The Fairy Bird or the Humming-bird Moth 85
33. Ribgrass or Whiteman's-Foot 88
34. Jack-in-the-Pulpit 91
35. How the Indian Pipe Came 91
36. The Cucumber Under the Brownie's Umbrella 93
37. The Hickory Horn-Devil 95
Things to See in Autumntime
38. The Purple and Gold of Autumn 103
39. Why the Chicadee Goes Crazy Twice a Year 104
40. The Story of the Quaking Aspen or Poplar 107
41. The Witch-hazel 109
42. How the Shad Came and How the Chestnut Got Its Burrs 112
43. How the Littlest Owl Came 113
44. The Wood-witch and the Bog-nuts 114
45. The Mud-dauber Wasp 117
46. The Cicada and the Katydid 121
47. The Digger Wasp That Killed the Cicada 123
48. How the Indian Summer Came 126
Things to See in Wintertime
49. The North Star, or the Home Star 129
50. The Pappoose on the Squaw's Back 131
51. Orion the Hunter, and his Fight with the Bull 133
52. The Pleiades, that Orion Fired at the Bull 134
53. The Twin Stars 136
54. Stoutheart and His Black Cravat 137
55. Tracks and the Stories They Tell 138
56. A Rabbit's Story of His Life 140
57. The Singing Hawk 144
58. The Fingerboard Goldenrod 145
59. Woodchuck Day—February Second 149
Things to Know
The Story of The Trail
60. How the Pine Tree Tells its Own Story 153
61. Blazes 155
62. Totems 155
63. Symbols 159
64. Sign Language 161
65. The Language of Hens 161
66. Why the Squirrel Wears a Bushy Tail 162
67. Why the Dog Wags His Tail 163
68. Why the Dog Turns Around Three Times Before Lying Down 164
69. The Deathcup of Diablo 165
70. The Poison Ivy, or the Three-fingered Demon of the Woods 169
71. The Medicine in the Sky 170
72. The Angel of the Night 172
Things to Do
The Thinking Hand
73. Bird-nesting in Winter 177
74. The Ox-eye Daisy or Marguerite 179
75. The Monkey-hunt 181
76. The Horsetail and the Jungle 185
77. The Woods in Winter 186
78. The Fish and the Pond 187
79. Smoke Prints of Leaves 189
80. Bird-boxes 189
81. A Hunter's Lamp 193
82. The Coon Hunt 194
83. The Indian Pot 195
84. Snowflakes 197
85. Are you Alive? Farsight 199
86. Are you Alive? Quicksight 200
87. Are you Alive? Hearing 200
88. Are you Alive? Feeling 201
89. Are you Alive? Quickness 202
90. Are you Alive? Guessing Length 203
91. Are you Alive? Aim or Limb-control 204
92. A Treasure Hunt 205
93. Moving Pictures 205
94. The Natural Autograph Album 207
95. The Crooked Stick 208
96. The Animal Dance of Nana-bo-jou 209
97. The Caribou Dance 212
98. The Council Robe 216
Things to Remember
The Winged Soul that Stores up Precious Memories.
99. How the Wren Became King of the Birds 221
100. The Snowstorm 222
101. The Fairy Lamps 223
102. The Sweetest Sad Song in the Woods 225
103. Springtime, or the Wedding of Maka Ina and El Sol 227
104. Running the Council 228
105. The Sandpainting of the Fire 229
106. The Woodcraft Kalendar 231
107. Climbing the Mountain 233
108. The Omaha Prayer 235
A List of Books by the Author 236
All-mother! Mater Cara! I have never seen you, but I hungered so to know you that I understood it when you came, unseen, and silently whispered to me that first time in the long ago.
I cannot tell the children what you look like, Mother Carey, for mortal eye hath never rested on your face; and yet I can offer them a portrait, O strong Angel of the Wild Things, neither young nor old—Oh! loving One that neither trembles nor relents!
* * * * *
A mink he was, a young mink and foolish. One of a happy brood, who were seeing the world with their mother—a first glimpse of it. She was anxious and leading, happy and proud, warning, sniffing, inviting, loving, yet angersome at trivial disobedience, doling out her wisdom in nips and examples and shrill warnings that all heeded; except this one, the clever fool of the family, the self-satisfied smart one. He would not be warned, the thing smelt so good. He plunged ahead. Mother was a fool; he was wiser than Mother. Here was a merry feasting for him. Then clank! The iron jaws of a trap sprang from the hiding grass, and clutched on his soft young paws. Screams of pain, futile strainings, writhings, ragings and moanings; bloody jaws on the trap; the mother distraught with grief, eager to take all the punishment herself, but helpless and stunned, unable to leave; the little brothers, aghast at this first touch of passion, this glimpse of reality, skurrying, scared, going and coming, mesmerized, with glowing eyes and bristling shoulder-fur. And the mother, mad with sorrow, goaded by the screaming, green-eyed, vacant-minded, despairing—till a new spirit entered into her, the spirit of Cara the All-mother, Mother Carey the Beneficent, Mother Carey the wise Straightwalker. Then the mother mink, inspired, sprang on her suffering baby. With all the power of her limbs she sprang and clutched; with all the power of her love she craunched. His screams were ended; his days in the land were ended. He had not heeded her wisdom; the family fool was finished. The race was better, better for the suffering fool mink; better for the suffering mother mink.
The spirit left her; left her limp and broken-hearted. And away on the wind went riding, grimly riding her empire.
Four swift steeds for riding, has she, the White Wind, the West Wind, the Wet Wind and the Waking Wind. But mostly she rides the swift West Wind.
She is strong, is Mother Carey, strong, wise, inexorable, calm and direct as an iceberg. And beneficent; but she loves the strong ones best. She ever favours the wise ones. She is building, ceaselessly building. The good brick she sets in a place of honour, and the poor one she grinds into gravel for the workmen to walk on.
She loves you, but far less than she does your race. It may be that you are not wise, and if it seem best, she will drop a tear and crush you into the dust.
Three others there be of power, like Mother Carey: Maka Ina who is Mother Earth; El Sol, the Sun in the Sky, and Diablo the Evil Spirit of Disease and Dread. But over all is the One Great Spirit, the Beginning and the Ruler with these and many messengers, who do His bidding. But mostly you shall hear of Mother Carey.
It is long ago since first I heard her whisper, and though I hear better now than then, I have no happier memory than that earliest message.
"Ho Wayseeker," she called, "I have watched your struggle to find the pathway, and I know that you will love the things that belong to it. Therefore, I will show you the trail, and this is what it will lead you to: a thousand pleasant friendships that will offer honey in little thorny cups, the twelve secrets of the underbrush, the health of sunlight, suppleness of body, the unafraidness of the night, the delight of deep water, the goodness of rain, the story of the trail, the knowledge of the swamp, the aloofness of knowing,—yea, more, a crown and a little kingdom measured to your power and all your own.
"But there is a condition attached. When you have found a trail you are thereby ordained a guide. When you have won a kingdom you must give it to the world or lose it. For those who have got power must with it bear responsibility; evade the one, the other fades away."
This is the pledge I am trying to keep; I want to be your Guide. I am offering you my little kingdom.
THINGS TO SEE IN SPRINGTIME
Things to See in Springtime
Blue-eyes, the Snow Child, or The Story of Hepatica
Have you ever seen El Sol, the Chief of the Wonder-workers, brother to Mother Carey? Yes, you have, though probably you did not know it; at least you could not look him in the face. Well, I am going to tell you about him, and tell of a sad thing that happened to him, and to some one whom he loved more than words can tell.
Tall and of blazing beauty was El Sol, the King of the Wonder-workers; his hair was like shining gold, and stood straight out a yard from his head, as he marched over the hilltops.
Everyone loved him, except a very few, who once had dared to fight him, and had been worsted. Everyone else loved him, and he liked everybody, without really loving them. Until one day, as he walked in his garden, he suddenly came on a beautiful white maiden, whom he had never seen before. Her eyes were of the loveliest blue, her hair was so soft that it floated on the air, and her robe was white, covered with ferns done in white lace.
He fell deeply in love with her at once, but she waved a warning hand, when he tried to come near.
"Who are you, oh radiant princess? I love you even before I hear you speak."
"I am Snowroba, the daughter of the great King Jackfrost," she said.
"I love you as I never loved any one. Will you marry me? I am the King of the Wonder-workers. I will make you the Queen."
"No," said she, "I cannot marry you, for it is written that if one of my people marry one of your people, she will sink down and die in a day."
Then El Sol was very sad. But he said, "May I not see you again?"
"Yes," she answered, "I will meet you here in the morning, for it is pleasant to look on your beauty," and her voice tinkled sweetly.
So she met him in the morning, and again on the third morning. He loved her madly now, and though she held back, he seized her in his arms and kissed her tenderly.
Then her arms fell weakly to her sides, and her eyes half closed as she said: "I know now that the old writing spake truth. I love you, I love you, my love; but you have killed me."
And she sank down, a limp white form, on the leafy ground.
El Sol was wild with grief. He tried to revive her, to bring her back.
She only whispered, "Good-bye, my love. I am going fast. You will see me no more, but come to this place a year from now. It may be Maka Ina will be kind, and will send you a little one that is yours and mine."
Her white body melted away, as he bent over it and wept.
He came back every morning, but saw Snowroba no more. One year from that day, as he lingered sadly over the sacred spot, he saw a new and wonderful flower come forth. Its bloom was of the tenderest violet blue, and it was full of expression. As he gazed, he saw those eyes again; the scalding tears dropped from his eyes, and burned its leaves into a blotched and brownish colour. He remembered, and understood her promise now. He knew that this was their blue-eyed little one.
In the early springtime we can see it. Three sunny days on the edge of the snowdrift will bring it forth. The hunterfolk who find it, say that it is just one of the spring flowers, out earlier than any other, and is called Liverleaf, but we Woodcrafters know better. We know it is Hepatica, the child of El Sol and Snowroba.
The Story of the White Dawnsinger
How the Bloodroot Came
Have you noticed that there are no snow-white birds in our woods during summer? Mother Carey long ago made it a rule that all snow-white landbirds should go north, when the snow was gone in the springtime. And they were quite obedient; they flew, keeping just on the south edge of the melting snow.
But it so happened that one of the sweetest singers of all—the snow-white Dawnsinger with the golden bill and the ruby legs—was flying northward with his bride, when she sprained her wing so she could not fly at all.
There was no other help for it; they must stay in that thicket till her wing grew strong again.
The other white birds flew on, but the Dawnsinger waited. He sang his merriest songs to cheer her. He brought her food: and he warned her when enemies were near.
A moon had come and gone. Now she was well again, and strong on the wing. He was anxious to go on to their northern home. A second warning came from Mother Carey, "White birds go north."
But the sunny woodside had become very pleasant, food was abundant, and the little white lady said, "Why should we go north when it is so much nicer right here?"
The Dawnsinger felt the same way, and the next time the warning came, "White birds go north," he would not listen at all, and they settled down to a joyful life in the woods.
They did not know anything about the Yellow-eyed Whizz. They never would have known, had they gone north at their right time. But the Yellow-eyed Whizz was coming. It came, and It always goes straight after white things in the woods, for brown things It cannot see.
Dawnsinger was high on a tree, praising the light in a glorious song, that he had just made up, when It singled him out by his whiteness, and pierced him through.
He fell fluttering and dying; and as she flew to him, with a cry of distress, the Yellow-eyed wicked Whizz struck her down by his side.
The Chewinks scratched leaves over the two white bodies, and—I think—that Mother Carey dropped a tear on the place.
That was the end of the White Dawnsinger and his bride. Yet every year, at that same place, as the snow goes, the brown leaves move and part, and up from beneath there comes a beautiful white flower.
Its bloom threads are yellow like the Dawnsinger's beak, and its stem is ruby like his legs; all the rest is snow-white like his plumes. It rises, looks about, faces the sun, and sings a little odour-song, a little aroma-lay. If you look deep down into the open soul of the Dawnsinger you will see the little golden thoughts he sings about. Then up from the same grave comes another, just the same, but a little smaller, and for a while they stand up side by side, and praise the light. But the Wither-bloom that haunts the flowers as the Yellow-eyed Whizz does the birds, soon finds them out; their song is ended, their white plumes are scattered, and they shrink back into their grave, to be side by side again.
You can find their little bodies, but deal gently with them, for they are wounded; you may make them bleed again.
And when you hear the Chewinks scratching in the underbrush, remember they are putting leaves on the grave of the White Dawnsinger.
* * * * *
Surely you have guessed the secret; the flower is the Bloodroot, and the Whizz is the Sharp-shinned Hawk.
The Prairie-girl with Yellow Hair
Tall and fair was the Prairie-girl. She was not very pretty, but her form was slender and graceful, and her head was covered with a mass of golden hair that made you see her from afar off. It has been whispered that she was deeply in love with El Sol, for wherever he went, she turned her head to look at him; and when she could not see him, she drooped and languished. But he never seemed to notice her. As she grew older her golden head turned white, and at last the swish of Mother Carey's horses carried away all her white hair, and left her old, bald, and ugly. So she pined and died, and Maka Ina buried her poor little body under the grass. But some say it was Father Time that blew her hair away, and that El Sol had the body cremated.
* * * * *
If you look on the lawns or the fields in springtime, you are sure to find the Prairie-girl. The Guide can show her to you, if you do not know her. But he will call her "Common Dandelion," and I do not know of any flower that has so many things for us children to remember.
If you are learning French, you will see how it got the name "Dandelion"; it used to be written dent de lion; that is, "tooth of a lion"; because its leaves are edged with sharp teeth, like a lion's jaw.
Its golden-yellow flower is said to open when the Swallows arrive from the south, that is, in April; and though it blooms chiefly in springtime it keeps on blooming till long after the Swallows fly away. It certainly thrives as long as the sun shines on it, and fades when the cold dark season comes. But I have seen it out in November; that is, the Dandelion blooms for fully nine months. I do not know of any other flower that does; most of them are done in one month.
When the yellow flower is over, its place is taken by a beautiful globe of soft, white plumes; this is why the story says its golden hair turns white with age. The children believe that this woolly head will tell you the time of day. You hold it up, then pretend you are Father Time blowing her hair away, blow a sharp puff with your breath, then another and another, till the plumes are blown away. If it takes four blows, they say it means four o'clock; but it is not a very true clock.
Some children make a wish, then blow once and say, "this year"; the second time, "next year"; the third time, "some time"; the fourth time, "never." Then begin all over, and keep on as long as any plumes are left, to tell when the wish is coming true.
Now pull the head off the stalk. You will find it leaves a long, open tube that sounds like a trumpet when you blow through it from the small end. If you force your finger into the big end, and keep pushing, you split the tube into two or three pieces; put these in your mouth and they will curl up like ringlets. Some children hang these on their ears for ornaments. Take a stalk for each year of your age; pull its head off. Then you will find that the top end will go into the bottom and make a ring. Use all the stalks you have gathered, to make a chain; now throw this chain into a low tree. If it sticks the first time, your wish will come true this year. Each time it falls puts your wish a year farther away.
This may not be true; but it is a game to play. Some big girls use it, to find out when they are going to be married.
Now dig up the whole plant, root and all—the gardener will be much obliged to you for doing so—take it home, and ask the Guide to make the leaves into a salad; you will find it good to eat; most Europeans eat it regularly, either raw, or boiled as greens.
Last of all, ask the Guide to roast the root, till it is brown and crisp, then grind it in a coffee-mill, and use it to make coffee. Some people think it better than real coffee; at any rate, the doctors say it is much healthier, for it is nourishing food, and does not do one any harm at all. But perhaps you will not like it. You may think all the time you are eating the body of the poor little Prairie-girl, who died of love.
The Cat's-eye Toad, a Child of Maka Ina
When you were little, O Guide! didn't you delight in the tales of gnomes or nibelungen, those strange underground creatures that lived hidden from the light, and busied themselves with precious stones and metals? How unwillingly we gave up those glad beliefs, as we inevitably grew old and lost our fairyland eyes!
But you must not give up all your joyful creeds; you must keep on believing in the weird underground dwarfs; for I am going to tell you of one that the cold calculating Professor Science has at last accepted, and that lives in your own back-yard. That is, the Cat's-eye Toad or Spadefoot. It is much like a common Toad, but a little smoother, the digging spade on its hind foot is bigger and its eye, its beautiful gold-stone eye, has the pupil up and down like that of a Cat, instead of level as in its cousin, the warty Hoptoad.
But the wonderful thing about the Cat's-eye is that it spends most of its life underground, coming out in the early springtime for a few days of the most riotous honeymoon in some small pond, where it sings a loud chorus till mated, lays a few hundred eggs, to be hatched into tadpoles, then backs itself into its underground world by means of the boring machine on its hind feet, to be heard no more that season, and seen no more, unless some one chance to dig it out, just as Hans in the story dug out the mole-gnome.
In the fairy tale the Shepherd-boy was rewarded by the gnome for digging him out; for he received both gold and precious stones. But our gnome does not wish us to dig him out; nevertheless, if you do, you will be rewarded with a golden fact, and a glimpse of two wonderful jewel eyes.
According to one who knows him well, the Cat's-eye buries itself far underground, and sleeps days, or weeks, perhaps years at a time. Once a grave-digger found a Cat's-eye three feet two inches down in the earth with no way out.
How and when are we then to find this strange creature? Only during his noisy honeymoon in April.
Do you know the soft trilling whistle of the common Hoptoad in May? The call of the Cat's-eye is of the same style but very loud and harsh, and heard early in April. If on some warm night in springtime, you hear a song which sounds like a cross between a Toad's whistle and a Chicken's squawk, get a searchlight and go quietly to the place. The light will help you to come close, and in the water up to his chin, you will see him, his gold-stone eyes blazing like jewels and his throat blown out like a mammoth pearl, each time he utters the "squawk" which he intends for a song. And it is a song, and a very successful one, for a visit to the same pond a week or two later, will show you—not the Cat's-eye or his mate, they have gone a-tunnelling—but a swarm of little black pin-like tadpole Cat's-eyes, born and bred in the glorious sunlight but doomed and ready, if they live, to follow in their parents' tracks far underground. Sure proof that the song did win a mate, and was crowned with the success for which all woodland, and marshland song first was made.
How the Bluebird Came
Nana-bo-jou, that some think is the Indian name for El Sol and some say is Mother Carey, was sleeping his winter's sleep in the big island just above the thunder-dam that men call Niagara. Four moons had waned, but still he slept. The frost draperies of his couch were gone; his white blanket was burnt into holes. He turned over a little; then the ice on the river cracked like near-by thunder. When he turned again, it began to slip over the big beaver-dam of Niagara, but still he did not awake.
The great Er-Beaver in his pond, that men call Lake Erie, flapped his tail, and the waves rolled away to the shore, and set the ice heaving, cracking, and groaning; but Nana-bo-jou slept on.
Then the Ice-demons pounded the shore of the island with their clubs. They pushed back the whole river-flood till the channel was dry, then let it rush down like the end of all things, and they shouted together:
"Nana-bo-jou! Nana-bo-jou! Nana-bo-jou! Wake up!"
But still he slept calmly on.
Then came a soft, sweet voice, more gentle than the mating turtle of Miami. It was in the air, but it was nowhere, and yet it was in the trees, in the water, and it was in Nana-bo-jou too. He felt it, and it awoke him. He sat up and looked about. His white blanket was gone; only a few tatters of it were to be seen in the shady places. In the sunny spots the shreds of the fringe with its beads had taken root and were growing into little flowers with beady eyes, Spring Beauties as they are called now. The small voice kept crying: "Awake! the spring is coming!"
Nana-bo-jou said: "Little voice, where are you? Come here."
But the little voice, being everywhere, was nowhere, and could not come at the hero's call.
So he said: "Little voice, you are nowhere because you have no place to live in; I will make you a home."
So Nana-bo-jou took a curl of birch bark and made a little wigwam, and because the voice came from the skies he painted the wigwam with blue mud, and to show that it came from the Sunland he painted a red sun on it. On the floor he spread a scrap of his own white blanket, then for a fire he breathed into it a spark of life, and said: "Here, little voice, is your wigwam." The little voice entered and took possession, but Nana-bo-jou had breathed the spark of life into it. The smoke-vent wings began to move and to flap, and the little wigwam turned into a beautiful Bluebird with a red sun on its breast and a shirt of white. Away it flew, but every year it comes as winter wanes, the Bluebird of the spring. The voice still dwells in it, and we feel that it has lost nothing of its earliest power when we hear it cry: "Awake! the spring is coming!"
Robin, the Bird that Loves to Make Clay Pots
Everyone knows the Robin; his reddish-brown breast, gray back, white throat, and dark wings and tail are easily remembered. If you colour the drawing, you will always remember it afterward. The Robin comes about our houses and lawns; it lets us get close enough to see it. It has a loud, sweet song. All birds have a song[A]; and all sing when they are happy. As they sing most of the time, except when they are asleep, or when moulting, they must have a lot of happiness in their lives.
Here are some things to remember about the Robin. It is one of the earliest of all our birds to get up in the morning, and it begins to sing long before there is daylight.
Birds that live in the trees, hop; birds that live on the ground, walk or run; but the Robin lives partly in the trees and partly on the ground, so sometimes he hops and sometimes he runs.
When he alights on a fence or tree, he looks at you and flashes the white spots on the outer corners of his tail. Again and again he does this. Why? That is his way of letting you know that he is a Robin. He is saying in signal code—flash and wig-wag—"I'm a Robin, I'm a Robin, I'm a Robin." So you will not mistake him for some bird that is less loved.
The Robin invented pottery before men did; his nest is always a clay pot set in a little pile of straws. Sometime, get a Robin's nest after the bird is done with it; dry it well, put it on the fire very gently; leave it till all the straws are burned away, and then if it does not go to pieces, you will find you have a pretty good earthen pot.
The Robin loves to make these pots. I have known a cock Robin make several which he did not need, just for the fun of making them.
A friend of mine said to me once, "Come, and I will show you the nest of a crazy Robin." We went to the woodshed and there on a beam were six perfectly good Robin nests all in a row; all of them empty.
"There," said my friend. "All of these six were built by a cock Robin in about ten days or two weeks. He seemed to do nothing but sing and build nests. Then after finishing the last one, he disappeared. Wasn't he crazy?"
"No," I said, "not at all. He was not crazy; he was industrious. Let me finish the chapter. The hen Robin was sitting on the eggs, the cock bird had nothing else to do, so he put in the time at the two things he did the best and loved the most: singing and nest-building. Then after the young were hatched in the home nest, he had plenty to do caring for them, so he ceased both building and singing, for that season."
I have often heard of such things. Indeed, they are rather common, but not often noticed, because the Robin does not often build all the extra nests in one place.
Do you know the lovely shade called Robin's-egg blue? The next time you see a Robin's nest with eggs in it you will understand why it was so named and feel for a moment, when first you see it, that you have found a casket full of most exquisite jewels.
Next to nest-building, singing is the Robin's gift, and the songs that he sings are full of joy. He says, "cheerup, cheer up, cheerily cheer-up"; and he means it too.
Brook Brownie, or How the Song Sparrow Got His Streaks
His Mother was the Brook and his sisters were the Reeds, They, every one, applauded when he sang about his deeds. His vest was white, his mantle brown, as clear as they could be, And his songs were fairly bubbling o'er with melody and glee. But an envious Neighbour splashed with mud our Brownie's coat and vest, And then a final handful threw that stuck upon his breast. The Brook-bird's mother did her best to wash the stains away; But there they stuck, and, as it seems, are very like to stay. And so he wears the splashes and the mud blotch, as you see; But his songs are bubbling over still with melody and glee.
Diablo and the Dogwood
What a glorious thing is the Maytime Dogwood in our woods! How it does sing out its song! More loudly and clearly it sings than any other spring flower! For it is not one, but a great chorus; and I know it is singing that "The spring, the very spring is in the land!"
I suppose if one had King Solomon's fayland ears, one might hear the Dogwood music like a lot of church bells pealing, like the chorus of the cathedral where Woodthrush is the preacher-priest and the Veeries make responses.
It was Adam's favourite tree, they say, in the Garden of Eden. And it grew so high, flowered so wonderfully, and gave so much pleasure that Diablo, who is also called the Devil, wanted to kill it. He made up his mind that he would blight and scatter every shining leaf of its snowy bloom. So one dark night he climbed a Honey Locust tree near the gate, and swung by his tail over the wall, intending to tear off all the lovely blossoms. But he got a shock when he found that every flower was in the shape of a cross, which put them beyond his power to blight. He was furious at not being able to destroy its beauty, so did the worst he could. Keeping away from the cross he bit a piece out of the edge of every snowy flower leaf, and then jumped back to the Honey Locust tree.
The Locust was ashamed when she found that she had helped Diablo to do such a mean bit of mischief, so she grew a bristling necklace of strong spikes to wear; they were so long and sharp that no one since, not even Diablo himself, has ever been able to climb that Honey Locust tree.
But it was too late to save the Dogwood bloom. The bites were out, and they never healed up again, as you can see to this very day.
Do you know the Woolly-bear Caterpillar? It is divided into three parts; the middle one brown, the two ends black. Everyone notices the Woolly-bear, because it comes out in early spring, as soon as the frost is over, and crawls on the fences and sidewalks as though they belonged to it. It does not seem to be afraid of any one or anything. It will march across the road in front of a motor car, or crawl up the leg of your boot. Sometimes when you brush it off with your hand, little hairs are left sticking in your fingers, because it is really like a small porcupine, protected by short spears sticking out of its skin in all directions. Here at the side of the picture, is one of these hairs seen under a microscope.
Where did the Woolly-bear come from? It was hatched from an egg last summer.
And now what is going to happen? It will stuff itself with rib-grass or other low plants, till it has grown bigger; then it will get a warning from the All-mother to prepare for the great change. In some low dry place under a log, stone or fence-rail, it will spin a cocoon with its own spikey hairs outside for a protector. In this rough hairy coffin it will roll itself up, for its "little death," as the Indians call it, and Mother Carey will come along with her sleeping wand, and touch it, so it will go into sound sleep, but for only a few days. One bright sunny morning old Mother Carey comes around again, touches the Woolly-bear bundle-baby, and out of it comes the Woolly-bear, only now it is changed like the Prince in the story into a beautiful Moth called the Tiger-Moth! Out he comes, and if you look up at one end of the coffin he is leaving, you may see the graveclothes he wore when first he went to sleep. Away he flies now to seek his beautiful mate, and soon she lays a lot of eggs, from each of which will come another little Woolly-bear to grow into a big Woolly-bear, and do it all over again.
How the Violets Came
The Meadow she was sorry For her sister Sky, you see, 'Cause, though her robe of blue was bright, 'Twas plain as it could be.
And so she sent a skylark up To trim the Sky robe right With daisies from the Meadow (You can see them best at night).
And every scrap of blue cut out To make those daisies set Came tumbling down upon the grass And grew a violet.
Everyone loves to go a-hunting. Our forebears were hunters for so many ages that the hunting spirit is strong in all of us, even though held in check by the horror of giving pain to a fellow being. But the pleasure of being outdoors, of seeking for hidden treasures, of finding something that looks at first like old rubbish, and then turns out to be a precious and beautiful thing, that is ours by right of the old law—finders, keepers. That is a kind of hunting that every healthy being loves, and there are many ways and chances for you to enjoy it.
Go out any time between October and April, and look in all the low trees and high bushes for the little natural rag-bundles called "cocoons." Some are bundle-shaped and fast to a twig their whole length. Some hang like a Santa Claus bag on a Christmas tree; but all may be known by their hairiness or the strong, close cover of fine gray or brown fibre or silk, without seams and woven to keep out the wet.
They are so strongly fastened on, that you will have to break the twig to get the bundle down. If it seems very light, and rattled when you shake it, you will likely see one or more small, sharp, round holes in it. This means that an insect enemy has destroyed the little creature sleeping within. If the Cocoon is perfect and seems solid and heavy, take it home, and put it in a cardboard, or wooden box, which has a wire screen, or gauze cover. Keep it in a light place, not too dry, till the springtime comes; then one day a miracle will take place. The case will be cut open from within, and out will come a gorgeous Moth. It is like the dull, dark grave opening up at the resurrection to let forth a new-born, different being with wings to fly in the heavens above.
In the drawing I have shown five different kinds of bundle-baby, then at the bottom have added the jug-handled bundle-baby of the Tomato worm; it does not make a Cocoon but buries itself in the ground when the time comes for the Great Sleep. Kind Mother Earth protects it as she does the Hickory Horn-Devil, so it does not need to make a Cocoon at all.
There is a wonderful story about each of these bundle-babies. You will never get weary if you follow and learn them, for each one differs from the last. Some of them I hope to tell you in this book, and before we begin I want you to know some of the things that men of science have learned, and why a Butterfly is not a Moth.
Butterflies and Moths
Do you remember the dear old fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast? How Beauty had to marry the Beast to save her father's life? But as soon as she had bravely agreed to sacrifice herself—as soon as she gave the fateful "Yes" the Beast stood up on his hind legs, his horns, hoofs and hide rolled off, and he was turned back into his true shape, a splendid young Prince whom she could not help loving; and they lived happy ever after.
Do you know that just such transformations and happy weddings are going on about us all the time? The Beast is an ugly Caterpillar, the Princess Beauty is the Butterfly or the Moth. And when the Beast is changed into the Prince Charming and meets with Princess Beauty, they are just as madly happy as they tell it in the fairy books. I know it, for I have seen the transformation, and I have seen the pair go off on their wedding flight.
Men of science have been trying to explain these strange transformations, and to discover why the Prince and Princess do not need to eat or drink, once they have won their highest form, their life of wings and joy. But they have not got much farther than giving names to the things we have long loved and seen as children, dividing the winged wonders into two big families called Butterflies and Moths.
Do you know the difference between a Butterfly and a Moth?
Taken together they make a large group that are called Scale-wings, because they alone among insects, have scales or tiny feathers like dust on the wings. Butterflies are Scale-wings that fly by day, and have club-shaped feelers; they mostly fold one wing against the other when they alight, and in the chrysalis, or bundle-baby stage, they are naked and look like an African ear-drop.
Moths are Scale-wings that fly by night, and have switch or feather-shaped feelers; they keep their wings spread open when they alight, and in the bundle-baby stage, they are wrapped in a cocoon. There are some that do not keep to these rules, but they are rare, and the shape of the feelers will tell whether it is a Moth or a Butterfly.
All of these Scale-wings are hatched from eggs, and come first, as a worm, grub, or caterpillar; next as a chrysalis pupa or bundle-baby; last as the winged creature. That is, first a Beast and last a Beauty. Each of them must at one time be the ugly one, before the great change comes. But I must tell you a truth that the Fairy Books left out, and which maybe you have guessed—Princess Beauty too was at one time forced to live and look like a Beast, till she had fought her own fight, had worked out her own high destiny, and won her way to wings.
The Mourning-cloak Butterfly, or the Camberwell Beauty
There was once a lady who dwelt in Camberwell. She was so good to see that people called her "The Camberwell Beauty." She dressed so magnificently that her robe was covered with gold, and spangled with precious stones of most amazing colours. Especially proud was she, of the row of big blue diamonds that formed the border; and she loved to go forth into the world to see and be seen; although she knew that the country was full of robbers who would be sure to steal her jewels if they could. Then she made a clever plan, she kept on the beautiful things that she loved to dress in, but over all she hung a black velvet mourning cloak which nobody could possibly want to steal. Then she went up and down the roads as much as she pleased.
* * * * *
Well, this story may be not quite true, but it is partly true, and the beautiful lady is known to-day as the Mourning-cloak Butterfly. There it is, plain to be seen, the black mourning cloak, but peeping from under it, you can see the golden border and some of the blue diamonds too, if you look very carefully.
In the North Woods where I spent my young days, the first butterfly to be seen in the springtime was the Mourning-cloak, and the reason we saw it so early in the season, yes, even in the snowtime, was because this is one of the Butterflies that sometimes sleep all winter, and so live in two different seasons.
Its eggs are laid on the willows, elms, or poplars, in early springtime. The young soon hatch, and eat so much, and grow so fast, that five weeks after the eggs are laid, and three after they are hatched, the caterpillar is full grown, and hangs itself up as a chrysalis under some sheltering board or rail. In two weeks more, the wonderful event takes place, the perfect Butterfly comes forth; and there is another Mourning-cloak to liven the roadside, and amaze us with its half-hidden beauty.
The Wandering Monarch
Did you ever read the old Greek story of Ulysses, King of Ithaca, the Wandering Monarch, who for twenty years roamed over sea and land away from home—always trying to get back, but doomed to keep on travelling, homesick and weary, but still moving on; until his name became a byword for wandering?
In our own woods and our own fields in America we have a Wandering Monarch—the "Big Red Butterfly" as we children called it—the "Monarch" as it is named by the butterfly catchers.
It is called the "Wanderer" chiefly because it is the only one of our Butterflies that migrates like the birds. In the late summer it gathers in great swarms when the bright days are waning, and flies away to warmer lands. I have often seen it going, yet I do not remember that I ever saw it come back in the springtime; but it comes, though not in great flocks like those that went south.
One of the common names of this splendid creature is "Milkweed Butterfly" because its grub or caterpillar is fond of feeding on the leaves of the common milkweed.
The drawing shows the size and style of the grub; in colour it is yellow or yellowish green with black bands.
As soon as it is grown big enough and fat enough, the grub hangs itself up as a "chrysalis" which is a Greek word that may be freely rendered into "golden jewel." The middle drawing shows its shape; in colour it is of a pale green with spots of gold, or as it has been described "a green house with golden nails."
After about two weeks the great change takes place, and the bundle-baby or chrysalis opens to let out the splendid red-brown Butterfly, of nearly the same red as a Cock Robin's breast in springtime, with lines and embroidery of black and its border set with pearls. Near the middle of the hind wing is a dark spot like a thickening of one rib. This has been called a "sachet bag" or "scent-pocket," and though not very ornamental to look at, is of more use to it than the most beautiful white pearl of the border. For this is the battery of its wireless telegraph. We think our ships and aeroplanes very far advanced because they can signal miles away, and yet the Wandering Monarch had an outfit for sending messages long before it was ever dreamed of by man. Maybe it is not a very strong battery, but it certainly reaches for miles; and maybe its messages are not very clear, but they serve at least to let the Monarchs know where their wives are, and how to find them, which is something.
There is one other reason for calling this the Wanderer. Although it is an American by birth, it has travelled to England and the Philippines and is ever going farther over the world till at last no doubt it will have seen all lands and possessed them.
It makes old Ulysses look like a very stay-at-home, for his farthest travels never went beyond the blue Mediterranean, and his whole twenty years of voyaging covered less than the states east of the Mississippi—much less than our Red Wanderer covers in a single summer.
The Bells of the Solomon Seal
Let us go out into the woods, and look for the Solomon Seal. This is May and we should find it in some half open place, where it is neither wet nor dry. Here it is! See the string of bells that hangs from its curving stem. Dig out its roots, wash off the earth, and you will see the mark of King Solomon's Seal that gives its name to the plant. Now listen to the story of it all.
King Solomon had the "second sight" that means the deeper sight, the magic eyesight which made him see through a stone wall, or read men's thoughts. King Solomon had fayland ears; which means, he could hear all sounds from A to Z; while common ears, like yours and mine, hear only the middle sounds from K to Q.
Everything that lives and moves is giving out music; every flower that blooms is singing its song. We cannot hear, our ears are too dull; but King Solomon could. And one day, as he walked through the woods, he heard a new flower-song that made him stop and listen. It had strange music with it, and part of that was a chime of golden bells.
The great King sat down on a bank. His fayland eyes could see right into the ground. He saw the fat fleshy root like a little goblin, reaching its long white fingers down into the soil, picking out the magic crystals to pack away in its pockets; and he could see the tall stem like a wood-elf carrying them up, and spreading them upon its flat hands, so they could soak up the juices of the sun and air. He could see them turning into a wonderful stuff like amber dew, with a tang like new-cut timber. But it was not yet done, so he could not tell just what it might be good for. Now it was springtime, and it would be harvest red moon before the little worker would have the magic healing stored in its treasure bags underground. So to prevent any one harming or hindering the plant till its work was done, the King took out his seal ring and stamped seal marks all along the root, where they are unto this day. And then to make it sure he made the golden bell chimes become visible so every one could see them. There they hang like a row of ringing bells.
But the King never came back to learn the rest of it, for he had to build the temple; and he had many wives who took up a great deal of his time. So the world has never found out just what is the magic power of the plant. But it is there, be sure of that, just as surely as the peal of golden bells is there, and the marks of the great King's Seal.
The Silver Bells of the False Solomon Seal
Over a month later, the King suddenly remembered that he had not been out to see the plant whose root he had sealed. He was very busy at the time, as he had the temple to build, and many wives to look after; so he called Djin, a good goblin, who does hard work and said, "Go and see that no one has harmed that plant," then told him how to find it.
Away went the good goblin, like a flash. He was a very obedient servant, but not very bright; and when he came to the woods, he looked all around for the plant with the chime of bells, for King Solomon had forgotten to say that the bells do not ring after June, and it was now July. So the goblin looked about for a long time. He did not dare to go back and say he could not find it—that would have been a terrible crime, so he looked and looked. At last he heard a little tinkle of bells away off in the woods. He flew to the place, and there was a plant like the one he sought but its bells were of silver, and all in a bunch instead of a long string. The good goblin dug down to the big fat root in the ground and found that the seal marks had grown over—at least he thought they had—for they were nowhere to be seen. So he looked around for something to help. His eye fell on an acorn cup. He took this, and using it for a seal, he stamped the root all over.
Then he took a piece of the root and a sprig and flew back to show the King. Solomon smiled and said: "You did the best you could, but you have marked the wrong root. Listen! This is not the golden chime, but the chime of silver bells."
That is the story of it and that is why it has ever since been called the False Solomon Seal.
[A] Some, like the Turkey-buzzards, have not yet been heard to sing, but I believe they do.
THINGS TO SEE IN SUMMERTIME
Things to See in Summertime
How the Mouse-bird Made Fun of the Brownie
Once there was a conceited Brownie, who thought he could do more things and do them better than any other of his people. He had not tried yet, for he was very young, but he said he was going to do them some day!
One morning a sly old Brownie, really making fun of him, said: "Why don't you catch that Phoebe-bird? It is quite easy if you put a little salt on his tail." Away went Smarty Brownie to try. But the Phoebe would not sit still, and the Brownie came back saying: "He bobbed his tail so, the salt would not stay on."
"Well," said the sly old Brownie, "there is a little Mouse-bird whose tail never bobs. You can easily catch him, for you see, he does not even fly, but crawls like a mouse up the tree," and he pointed to a little brown Creeper. By this time the young Brownie knew that the others were laughing at him, so he said rather hotly, "I'll just show you right now."
He took an acorn cup full of salt, and went after the Mouse-bird. It was at the bottom of the big tree, creeping up, round and round, as if on a spiral staircase, and the Brownie began to climb in the same way. But every little while the climber had to stop and rest. This had strange results, for there is a law in Brownie land, that wherever one of the little people stops to sit down, or rest, a toadstool must spring up for him to sit on. So the track of the Brownie up the trunk became one long staircase of toadstool steps, some close, some far apart, but each showing where the Brownie had rested. They came closer together toward the top where the Brownie had got tired, but he was coming very near to the Creeper now. He got his pinch of salt all ready, as his friends down below kept calling and jeering: "Now you've got him, now is your chance." But just as he was going to leap forward and drop the salt on its tail, the Creeper gave a tiny little laugh like "Tee-tee-tee," spread its wings, for it could fly very well, and sailed away to the bottom of the next tree to do the spiral staircase all over again, while Smarty Brownie was so mad that he jumped to the ground and hid away from his friends for two days. When he came back he did not talk quite so much as he used to. But to this day you can see the staircase of toadstools on the tree trunks where the Brownie went up.
The Pot-herb that Sailed with the Pilgrims
"Come," said the Guide, "to-day I am going to show you a Pot-herb that came from England with the Pilgrim Fathers and spread over the whole of America. There is a story about it that will keep it ever in your memory."
The Pilgrims had landed in Massachusetts, and slowly made farms for themselves as they cleared off the forest. They had a very hard time at first, but the Indians helped them; sometimes with gifts of venison, and sometimes by showing them which things in the woods were good to eat.
There was a Squaw named Monapini, "the Root-digger," who was very clever at finding forest foods. She became friendly with a white woman named Ruth Pilgrim, and so Ruth's family got the benefit of it, and always had on the table many good things that came from the woods.
One day, long after the farms were cleared and doing well, the white woman said, "See, Mother Monapini, thou hast shown me many things, now I have somewhat to show thee. There hath grown up in our wheat field a small herb that must have come from England with the wheat, for hitherto I have not seen it elsewhere. We call it lamb's-quarter, for the lamb doth eat it by choice. Or maybe because we do eat it with a quarter of lamb. Nevertheless it maketh a good pot-herb when boiled."
The old Indian woman's eyes were fixed on the new plant that was good to eat: and she said, "Is it very good, oh white sister?"
"Yes, and our medicine men do say that it driveth out the poison that maketh itch and spots on the skin." After a moment Monapini said, "It looketh to me like the foot of a wild goose."
"Well found," chuckled Ruth, "for sometimes our people do call it by that very name."
"That tells me different," said the Indian.
"What mean you," said Ruth.
"Is not a goose foot very strong, so it never catcheth cold in the icy water?"
"And this hath the shape of a goose foot?"
"Then my Shaman tells that it is by such likeness that the Great Spirit showeth the goose foot plant to be charged with the driving out of colds."
"It may be so," said the white woman, "but this I know. It is very good and helpeth the whole body."
The Indian picked a handful of the pot-herbs, then stared hard at the last; a very tall and strong one.
"What hast thou now, Monapini?" The red woman pointed to the stem of the lamb's-quarter, whereon were long red streaks, and said: "This I see, that, even as the white-man's herb came over the sea and was harmless and clean while it was weak, but grew strong and possessed this field, then was streaked to midheight with blood, so also shall they be who brought it—streaked at last to the very waist with blood—not the white men's but the dark purple blood of the Indian. This the voices tell me is in the coming years, that this is what we shall get again for helping you—destruction in return for kindness. Mine inner eyes have seen it." She threw down the new pot-herb and glided away, to be seen no more in the settlements of the white men.
And Ruth, as she gazed after her, knew that it was true. Had she not heard her people talking and planning? For even as the weed seed came with the wheat, so evil spirits came with the God-fearing Pilgrims, and already these were planning to put the heathens to the sword, when the Colony was strong enough.
So the Indian woman read the truth in the little pot-herb that sailed and landed with the Pilgrims; that stands in our fields to this day, streaked with the blood of the passing race—standing, a thing of remembrance.
How the Red Clover Got the White Mark on Its Leaves
Once upon a time a Bee, a Bug, and a Cow went marching up to Mother Carey's palace in the hemlock grove, to tell her of their troubles. They complained that food was poor and scarce, and they were tired of the kinds that grew along the roadsides.
Mother Carey heard them patiently, then she said: "Yes, you have some reason to complain, so I will send you a new food called Clover. Its flower shall be full of honey for the Bee, its leaves full of cowfood and its cellar shall be stocked with tiny pudding bags of meal for the Bug, that is for good little Bug-folks who live underground."
Now the tribes of the Bee, the Bug, and the Cow had a fine time feasting, for the new food was everywhere.
But Cows are rather stupid you know. They found the new food so good that they kept on munching everything that had three round leaves, thinking it was Clover, and very soon a lot of them were poisoned with strange plants that no wise Cow would think of eating.
So Mother Carey called a Busy Brownie, and put him on guard to keep the Cows from eating the poison plants by mistake.
At first it was good fun, and the Brownie enjoyed it because it made him feel important. But he got very tired of his job and wanted to go to the ball game.
He sat down on a toadstool, and looked very glum. He could hear the other Brownies shouting at the game, and that made him feel worse. Then he heard a great uproar, and voices yelling "A home run!" "A home run!" That drove him wild. He had been whittling the edge of the toadstool with his knife, and now he slashed off a big piece of the cap, he was so mad.
Then up he got and said to the Cows: "See here, you fool Cows, I can't stay here for ever trying to keep you from eating poison, but I'll do this much. I'll stamp all the good-to-eat leaves with a mark that will be your guide."
So he made a rubber stamp out of part of the toadstool he was sitting on, and stamped every Clover leaf in that pasture, so the Cows could be sure, then skipped away to the ball game.
When Mother Carey heard of his running away from his job, she was very angry. She said: "Well, you Bad Brownie, you should be ashamed, but that white mark was a good idea so I'll forgive you, if you go round, and put it on every Clover leaf in the world."
He had to do it, though it looked like an endless task, and he never would have finished it, had not the other Brownies all over the world come to help him; so it was done at last. And that is the reason that every Clover leaf to-day has on it the white mark like an arrowhead, the Brownie sign for "good-to eat."
The Cows get along better now, but still they are very stupid; they go munching ahead without thinking, and will even eat the blossoms which belong to the Bees. And the Bees have to buzz very loudly and even sting the Cows on their noses to keep them from stealing the bee-food. The good little Bugs underground have the best time, for there the Cows can not harm them, and the Bees never come near. They eat when they are hungry and sleep when they are cold, which is their idea of a good time; so except for some little quarrels between the Cows and the Bees they have all gotten along very well ever since.
The Shamrock and Her Three Sisters
The Shamrock is really the White Clover. It is much the same shape as the Red Clover, and has the same food bags in its cellar. It is just as good for Cows and even better for Bees; so the Brownie stamped all its leaves with the white arrow mark, as you can plainly see. This plant, as you know, is the emblem of Ireland.
The story-tellers say that St. Patrick was preaching to Leary, the heathen King of Tara in Ireland hoping to turn him into a Christian. The king listened attentively, but he was puzzled by St. Patrick's account of the Trinity. "Stop," said the king. "How can there be three Gods in one and only one God where there are three. That is impossible." St. Patrick stooped down and picking up a Shamrock leaf, said: "See, there it is, growing in your own soil; there are three parts but only one leaf." The king was so much struck by this proof that he became a Christian and ever since the Shamrock has been the emblem of Ireland.
Now to fill out the history of the Clovers, I should tell you of the other three. The next is called Alsike, or the Pink Clover.
When you look at this Alsike or Alsatian Clover, you might think its mother was a red clover and its father a white one, for it is about half way between them in size, and its bloom is pink on the outside and white in the middle. Evidently, the Brownie didn't think much of it, for he did not put his arrow mark on its leaves. Still the Cows think it is good, the Bees think it is fine, and it always carried lots of food bags in its cellar. So also does the next sister—Melilot, the Yellow Clover or Honey-lotus—and the last and sweetest of them all, is the Sweet Clover that spreads sweet smells in the old-fashioned garden.
The Indian Basket-maker
"Come, little Nagami, my Bird-Singer, you are ten years old, it is time you learned to make baskets. I made my first when I was but eight," said Mother Akoko proudly, for she was the best basket-maker on the river.
So they took a sharp stick, and went into the woods. Akoko looked for spruce trees that had been blown down by the storm, but found none, so she stopped under some standing spruce, at a place with no underbrush and said: "See, Nagami, here we dig for wattap."
The spruce roots or "wattap" were near the surface and easily found, but not easily got out, because they were long, tangled and criss-crossed. Yet, by pulling up, and cutting under, they soon got a bundle of roots like cords, and of different lengths, from two feet to a yard, or more.
"Good," said Akoko; "this is enough and we need not soak them, for it is summer, and the sap is running. If it were fall we should have to boil them. Now you must scrape them clear of the brown bark." So Nagami took her knife and worked for an hour, then came with the bundle saying: "See, Mother, they are smooth, and so white that they have not a brown spot left." "Good," said Akoko, "now you need some bark of the willow for sewing cord. Let us look along the river bank."
There they found the round-leafed, or fish-net willow, and stripped off enough of its strong bark to make a bundle as big as one hand could hold.
This also had to be scraped clear of the brown skin, leaving only the strong whitish inner bark, which, when split into strips, was good for sewing.
"See, my Nagami, when I was a little girl I had only a bone needle made from the leg of a deer, but you have easy work; here is a big steel packing needle, which I bought for you from a trader. This is how you make your basket."
So Akoko began a flat coil with the spruce roots, and sewed it together with the willow bark for thread, until it was a span wide. And whenever a new root was to be added, she cut both old piece and new, to a long point, so they would overlap without a bump.
Then the next coil of the spruce roots was laid on, not flat and level, but raised a little. Also the next, until the walls were as high as four fingers. Then Akoko said, "Good, that is enough. It is a fine corn basket. But we must give it a red rim for good luck."
So they sought in a sunny place along the shore, and found the fruit of the squawberry or blitum. "See," said Akoko, "the miscawa. Gather a handful, my Nagami. They make the red basket-dye."
They crushed the rich red berries, saving the red juice in a clam shell, and soaked a few strands of the white willow bark in the stain. When they were dry, Nagami was taught to add a rim to her basket, by sewing it over and over as in the picture.
Then Akoko said, "Good, my little Bird-Singer, you have done well, you have made some old black roots into a beautiful basket."
* * * * *
N.B. The Guide will remember that rattan and raffia can be used for this when it is impossible to get spruce roots and willow bark. Good dyes may be made from many different berries.
Crinkleroot; or Who Hid the Salad?
It has long been the custom of the Brownies to have a great feast on the first of the merry month of May, to celebrate the return of the spring.
One springtime long ago, they got ready as usual. The King of the Brownies had invited all the leaders; the place for the dinner was chosen in a grove of mandrakes whose flat umbrellas made a perfect roof, rain or shine. The Bell Bird, whose other name is Wood Thrush, was ringing his bell, and calling all the Chief Brownies by name.
"Come to the feasting! ting-a-ling-ling-ling."
A hundred glow worms were told to hurry up with their lights and be ready for that night, and busy Brownies gathered good things from woods and waters, for the feast.
May Day came bright and beautiful. The busy ones had all the "eats" in the Mandrake Hall, the glowworms were sleeping soundly to fill their storage batteries ready for the night. It made the salamanders' mouths water to see so many good things; but they were not asked, so stayed away. There were dewdrops in acorn cups, and honey on the wax. There were clam shells piled up with red checkerberries, and caddis worms on the half shell, with spicebush nubbins. A huge white Mecha-meck was the chief dish, with bog nuts on the side. There were lovely long crinkle salads. And last, there were gumdrops from the sweet birch, while at each place was a pussy willow to dust the food over with golden pollen that gave it a pleasant peppery tang. All the guests were there, and the feast was nearly over, when a terrible thing took place!
Of all the dreaded happenings in the world of beauty there is nothing else so feared as the forest fire. There is not much danger of it in springtime, but it is possible at any season, after a long dry spell. Words cannot tell of the horror it spreads, as it comes raging through the woods destroying all beautiful living things.
And right in the middle of the feast, the dreadful news was carried by a flying Night-bird.
"Fire, Fire, Fire, Fire!" he screamed, and almost at once the smoke came drifting through the banquet hall, so they knew it was true.
There was mad haste to escape, and only two ways were open. One was to get across some big stream, and the other was to hide in a cave underground. The birds took the first way, and the Brownies the second. Every Woodchuck den was just packed with Brownies within a few minutes. But the busy Brownie who was chief steward and had charge of the feast, had no idea of leaving all the good things to burn up, if he could help it. First he sent six of his helpers to make a deep pit for the big Mecha-meck, and while they did that he began hiding all the dishes in the ground. Last he dug some deep holes and quickly buried all the crinkle salads; then he ran for his life into a cave.
The raging fire came along. It is too horrible to tell about, for it was sent by the Evil One. The lovely woods were left black without a living thing. But the very next day, Mother Carey and Mother Earth and El Sol, set about saving the wreck, and in a marvellously short time actually had made it green again. The mayflowers came up a second time that year, the violets came back, and in each place where the Brownies had hid a salad there came up a curious plant that never had been seen before. It had three saw-edged leaves and a long wand, much like the one carried by the Chief Steward. I never was able to find out his name for sure, but I think it was Trileaf or Three-leaves. Anyway, if you dig under his sign and sceptre wand, you will surely find the salad, and very good indeed it is to eat; it was not hurt in the least by the fire.
But from that day, the Brownies have been very shy of feasting during dry weather in the woods. They generally have their banquets now in some meadow, and afterward you can tell the place of the feast by the circle of little toadstools called fairy rings. For you know that wherever a Brownie sits, a toadstool must spring up for him to sit on.
That fearful time when the forest fire set all the Brownies busy burying their food and dishes at the feast-hall, you remember it took six of them to carry and hide the Mecha-meck. For it is a large fat white root as big as a baby, and sometimes it has arms or legs, so that when Monapini told Ruth Pilgrim about it she called it "Man-of-the-earth."
You remember that the busy Brownie hid all the Crinkle salads, and so saved them; and most of us have found the Crinkleroot and eaten it since. But how many of us have found the Mecha-meck? I know only one man who has. We call him the Wise Woodman. He found and dug out the one from which I made the picture. It was two and a half feet long and weighed fifteen pounds—fifteen pounds of good food. Think of it! Above it and growing out of its hiding place was a long trailing vine that looked like a white morning-glory. There is always one of these over the Mecha-meck. And by that you may find it, if you look along the sunny banks outside of the woods. But still it is very hard to find. I never yet got one, though I have found many of the crinkle-root salads. Of course, that is easy to explain, for the busy Brownies buried hundreds of the salads, but only one of the big fat Mecha-meck.
Of course they are not, for no Dutchman I ever saw could wear such tiny things. I will tell you what they really are and how that came to be.
You remember how the Brownies assembled for the feast on May Day when the Glow worms were the lamps and the Wood Thrush rang the bell. Well, it so happened that day that a great crowd of the merrymakers gathered long before the feast was ready, and while they were wondering what to do someone shouted: "See, how fine and warm the water is where the brook spreads out into the ditch. Let us have our first swim of the season right now!"
So they all went with a whoop! stripped off their clothes, and into their swimming breeches with a perfect riot of glee.
Then how they did splash! Some blind folks thought it must be a million early pollywogs splashing. But the swim ended with another racket when the dinner bell rang.
Each splashing Brownie hopped out and hung up his breeches to dry as he got into his clothes.
Then you remember the fire came along and scared them away. Of course the breeches were wet, so they didn't get singed; and there you can see them hanging to this day on the first of May. That is what they really are—Brownies' Breeches. And because the Brownies often swim in a ditch, they are called ditch-man's breeches; but believe me, they are not Dutchman's breeches and never could be.
The Seven Sour Sisters
If you look along any half-open bank in the edge of the woods, or even in the woods itself, you are sure to see one of the Seven Sorrel Sisters, with leaves a little like Clover, only notched in the end and without the white marks, that the Brownie put on the Clover. There are seven of them, according to most doctors; five have yellow eyes, one purple, and one white streaked with blood. Their Latin name means "vinegar" and their Greek name means "acid." "Sorrel" itself means "Little sour one," so you see they have the reputation of a sour bunch. If you eat one of the leaves, you will agree that the name was well-chosen, and understand why the druggists get the tart "salt of lemons" from this family. The French use these Sour Sisters for their sour soup. But in spite of their unsweetness, they are among the pretty things of the woods; their forms are delicate and graceful; their eyes are like jewels, and when the night comes down, they bow their heads, gracefully fold their hands, and sleep like a lot of tired children.
Self-heal or Blue-curls in the Grass
You should know the history of the lowly little flower called Blue-curls; and you must remember that flowers have their troubles just as you have. For one thing, flowers must get their pollen or yellow flower-dust, carried to some other of their kind, or they cannot keep on growing good seed. And since the flower cannot walk about finding places for its pollen, it generally makes a bargain with a bee. It says, "If you will carry my pollen to my cousins yonder, I will give you a sweet sip of nectar." That is where the bees get the stuff for all their honey, and that is how the pollen is carried.
Well, the modest little Blue-curls long had had a working agreement with the Meadow Bees, and got on nicely. But one summer Blue-curls became discontented. She saw all the other plants with wonderful gifts that had power to cure pain and sickness; while she was doing nothing but live her own easy life, and she felt she was a nobody.
So one day as Mother Carey's slowest steed was swishing over the grass, Blue-curls cried out: "Mother Carey, Mother Carey, won't you hear me and grant me a gift?"
"What is it, little one?" said the All-mother.
"Oh, Mother Carey, the pansy cures heartache, the monkshood cures canker-lip, the tansy cures colds, and all the others have some joy and honour of service, but I am good for nothing, Mother Carey so the wise men despise me. Won't you give me a job? Won't you give me some little power?"
"Little one, such an asking never finds me deaf. I love those who would help. I will give you a little bit of all healing so that you shall be good medicine, if not the best, for all ills, and men shall call you 'Self-heal' and 'All-heal' for you shall have all healing in yourself."
And it has been so ever since. So that some who go by looks call the modest little meadow flower, "Blue-curls in the Grass," but the old herb-men who know her goodness call her "All-heal" or "Self-heal."
The Four Butterflies You See Every Summer
There are four Butterflies that you are sure to see every summer, on our fields; and remember that each of them goes through the same changes. First it is an egg, then a greedy grub, next a hanging bundle-baby, and last a beautiful winged fairy, living a life of freedom and joy.
In the picture I have shown the butterflies life size, but you must add the colour as you get each one to copy.
The first is the White or Cabbage Butterfly that flits over our gardens all summer long.
It is not a true American, but came from Europe in 1860 and landed at Quebec, from whence it has spread all over the country. In the drawing I have shown the female; the male is nearly the same but has only one round dark spot on the front wings. Its grub is a little naked green caterpillar, that eats very nearly a million dollars' worth of cabbages a year; so it is a pity it was ever allowed to land in this country. There are moths that we should like to get rid of, but this is the only butterfly that is a pest.
2nd. The Yellow or Clouded Sulphur Butterfly. You are sure to find it, as soon as you begin to look for butterflies. This is the one that is often seen in flocks about mud puddles.
When I was a very small boy, I once caught a dozen of them, and made a little beehive to hold them, thinking that they would settle down and make themselves at home, just like bees or pigeons. But the grown-ups made me let them fly away, for the Sulphur is a kindly creature, and does little or no harm.
One of the most beautiful things I ever came across, was, when about ten years old, I saw on a fence stake ahead of me a big bird that was red, white and blue, with a flaming yellow fan-crest. Then as I came closer, I knew that it was a red-headed woodpecker, with a Sulphur Butterfly in his beak; this made the crest; what I thought was blue turned out to be his glossy black back reflecting the blue sky.
3rd. The next is the Red Admiral or Nettle Butterfly. The "red" part of the name is right, but why "Admiral"? I never could see unless it was misprint for "Admirable."
This beautiful insect lays its eggs and raises its young on nettles, and where nettles are, there is the Red Admiral also. And that means over nearly all the world! Its caterpillar is not very well protected with bristles, not at all when compared with the Woolly-bear, but it lives in the nettles, and, whether they like it or not, the hospitable nettles with their stings protect the caterpillar. The crawler may be grateful, but he shows it in a poor way, for he turns on the faithful nettle, and eats it up. In fact the only food he cares about is nettle-salad, and he indulges in it several times a day, yes all day long, eating, growing and bursting his skin a number of times, till he is big enough to hang himself up for the winter, probably in a nettle. Then next spring he comes forth, in the full dress uniform of a Red Admiral, gold lace, red sash, silver braid and all.
4th. The last of the four is the Tiger Swallowtail. You are sure to see it some day—the big yellow butterfly that is striped like a tiger, with peacock's feathers in its train, and two long prongs, like a swallow-tail, to finish off with. It is found in nearly all parts of the Eastern States and Canada. I saw great flocks of them on the Slave River of the North.
It is remarkable in that there are both blondes and brunettes among its ladies. The one shown in the drawing is a blonde. The brunettes are so much darker as to be nearly black; and so different that at one time everyone thought they were of a different kind altogether.
The Beautiful Poison Caterpillar
The lovely Io Moth is one that you will see early, and never forget, for it is common, and ranges over all the country from Canada to the Gulf. When you see it, you will be inclined to spell its name Eye-oh—for it has on each wing a splendid eye like that on a peacock's tail-feather, while the rest of its dress is brown velvet and gold.
There is a strange chapter in the life of Io, which you should know because it shows that Mother Carey never gives any wonderful gift to her creatures without also giving with it some equal burden of sorrow.
This is how it all came about.
Long ago when the little ones of the Io Moth were small, they were, like most caterpillars, very ugly little things. They felt very badly about it, and so they set out one day for the great Home Place of Mother Carey in the Whispering Grove of the Ages.
There they prayed, "Dear Mother Carey, we are not of an ugly race, why should we be so ugly as caterpillars? Will you not make us beautiful, for beauty is one of the best things of all?"
Mother Carey smiled and waved a finger toward a little Brownie, who came with a tray on which were two cups; one full of bright sparkling pink stuff, and the other with something that looked like dark green oil. But the glasses were joined at the top, there was but one place to drink, and that reached both.
Then Mother Carey said, "These are the goblets of life, one is balm and will give you joy, the other is gall and will give you suffering. You may drink little or much, but you must drink equally of both. Now what would ye?"
The little ugly creatures whispered together, then one said: "Mother Carey, if we drink, will it give us beauty?"
"Yes, my children, the red goblet of life will give you beauty, but with it the other will give you grief."
They whispered together, then all the little crawlers went silently forward, and each took a long drink of the double goblet.
Then they crawled away, and at once became the most beautiful of all caterpillars, brilliant jewel-green with stripes of pink, velvet, and gold. Never before were there seen such exquisite little crawlers.
But now a sad thing happened. They were so beautiful that many creatures became their enemies, and began to kill them and eat them one after another. They crawled as fast as they could, and hid away, but many of them were killed by birds and beasts of prey, as well as by big fierce insects.
They did not know what to do, so next day the few that were left crawled back to the Grove of Ages, and once more stood before Mother Carey.
"Well, my Beauty-crawlers," she said, "what would you?"
"Oh, Mother Carey, it is fearful, everyone seeks to destroy us. Most of us are killed, and many of us wounded. Will you not protect us?"
"You drank of the two goblets, my children. I warned you that your beauty would bring terrible trouble with it."
They bowed their little heads in silent sorrow, for they knew that that was true.
"Now," said the All-Mother, "do you wish to go back and be ugly again?"
They whispered together and said: "No, Mother Carey, it is better to be beautiful and die."
Then Mother Carey looked on them very kindly, and said: "Little ones, I love your brave spirit. You shall not die. Neither shall you lose your beauty. I will give you a defence that will keep off all your enemies but one, that is the Long-stinger Wasp, for you must in some way pay for your loveliness." She waved her wand, and all over each of the Beauty-crawlers, there came out bunches of sharp stickers like porcupine quills, only they were worse than porcupine quills for each of the stickers was poisoned at the tip, so that no creature could touch the Beauty-crawlers without being stung.
The birds and beasts let them alone now, or suffer a terrible punishment from the poison spears. You children, too, must beware of them; touch them not, they will give you festering wounds. There is only one creature now that the Beauty-crawlers truly fear; that is the Long-stinger Wasp. He does indeed take toll of their race, but that is the price they still must pay for their beauty. Did they not drink of the double goblet?
The Great Splendid Silk-Moth or Samia Cecropia
When I was a very small boy, I saw my father bring in from the orchard a ragged looking thing like parchment wrapped up with some tangled hair; it was really the bundle-baby of this Moth. He kept it all winter, and when the spring came, I saw for the first time the great miracle of the insect world—the rag bundle was split open, and out came this glorious creature with wings of red and brown velvet, embroidered with silver and spots that looked like precious stones. It seemed the rarest thing in the world, but I have found out since, that it is one of our common moths, and any of you can get one, if you take the trouble.
* * * * *
Now listen, and you shall hear of what happened long ago to a green crawler who was born to be a splendid Silk-Moth, but who spoiled it all by a bad temper.
It had been a very cold, wet summer, and one day, when the wind was whispering, he cried out: "Mother Carey, when I have done with my working life, and go into the Great Sleep, grant that it may never rain on me for I hate rain, and it has done nothing but pour all summer long." And he shivered the red knobs on his head with peevishness.
"You silly little green crawler, don't you think I know better than you what is good for you? Would you like there to be no rain?"
"Yes, I would," said the red-knobbed Samia rebelliously.
"Would you?" said the All-Mother to another green crawler, who hung on a near-by limb.
"Mother Carey, we have had a wet, cold summer, and the rain has been miserable, but I know you will take care of us."
"Good," said the All-Mother: "then, in this way it shall be. You little Red-Knobs shall have what you so much wish, you shall hang up in a dry loft where not a drop of dew even shall touch you in your bundle-baby sleep. And you little Yellow-Knobs shall hang under a limb where every rain that comes shall drench your outer skin." And she left them.
When the time came to hang up, Red-Knobs was led to a place as dry as could be, under a shed and swung his bundle-baby hammock from the rafters.
Yellow-Knobs hung up his hammock under a twig in the rose garden.
The winter passed, and the springtime came with the great awakening day. Each of the bundle-babies awoke from his hammock and broke his bonds. Each found his new wings, and set about shaking them out to full size and shape. Those of the rain-baby came quickly to their proper form, and away he flew to rejoice in perfect life. But though the other shook and shook, his wings would not fluff out. They seemed dried up; they were numbed and of stunted growth.
Shake as he would, the wings stayed small and twisted. And as he struggled, a Butcher-bird came by. His fierce eye was drawn by the fluttering purple thing. It had no power to escape. He tore its crumpled wings from its feathery form, and made of it a meal. But before dying it had time to say, "Oh, Mother Carey, now I know that your way was the best."
The Green Fairy with the Long Train
Some fairies are Brownies and some are Greenies, and of all that really and truly dance in the moonlight right here in America, Luna Greenie seems the most wonderful; and this is her history:
Once upon a time there was a seed pearl that dropped from the robe of a green fairy. It stuck on the leaf of a butternut tree till one warm day Mother Carey, who knows all the wild things and loves them all, touched it with her magic wand, called Hatch-awake, and out of the seed pearl came an extraordinarily ugly little dwarf, crawling about on many legs. He was just as greedy as he was ugly, and he ate leaf after leaf of the butternut tree, and grew so fat that he burst his skin. Then a new skin grew, and he kept on eating and bursting until he was quite big. But he had also become wise and gentle; he had learned many things, and was not quite so greedy now.
Mother Carey, the All-Mother, had been watching him, and knew that now he was ready for the next step up. She told him to make himself a hammock of rags and leaves, in the butternut tree. When he had crawled into it, she touched him with her wand, the very same as the one she used when she sent the Sleeping Beauty into her long sleep. Then that little dwarf went soundly to sleep, hanging in his hammock.
Summer passed; autumn came; the leaves fell from the butternut tree, taking the bundle-baby with them, exactly as in the old rhyme:
Rock-a-bye baby on the tree-top, When the wind blows, your cradle will rock, When the cold weather makes all the leaves fall, Down tumbles baby and cradle and all.
But the hammock, with its sleeper, landed in a deep bed of leaves, and lay there all winter, quite safe and warm.
Then when the springtime sun came over the hill, Mother Carey came a-riding on the Warm Wind, and waving her wand. She stopped and kissed the sleeping bundle-baby, just as the Prince kissed the Sleeping Beauty, and instantly the baby awoke. Then happened the strangest thing. Out of that ragged old hammock there came the most wonderful and beautiful Green Fairy ever seen, with wings and with two trains; and as it came out and looked shyly around, trembling with new life, Mother Carey whispered, "Go to the butternut grove and see what awaits you there."
So away she went. Oh, how easy and glorious it is to fly! She could remember how once she used to crawl everywhere. And through the soft sweet night she flew, as she was told, straight to the butternut grove. As she came near she saw many green fairies—a great crowd of them—gathered in the moonlight, and dancing round and round in fluttering circles, swooping about and chasing each other, or hiding in the leaves. They did not feast, for these fairies never eat, and they drink only honey from flowers. But there was a spirit of great joy over them all. And there were some there with longer head plumes than those she wore. They seemed stronger and one of them came with a glad greeting to the new Green Dancer and though she flew away, she was bursting with joy that he should single her out. He pursued her till he caught her, and hand in hand they danced together in the moonlight. She was happier than she had known it was possible to be, and danced all night—that wonderful wedding dance. But she was very tired when morning was near, and high in the tree she slept so soundly that she never noticed that many seed pearls that were clustered on the lining of her robe had got loose and rolled into the crevices of the trunk. There they lay until Mother Carey came to touch them with her magic wand, so each became a crawler-dwarf, then a bundle-baby, and at last a dancing fairy.
But the Green Dancer did not know that—she knew only that it was a glorious thing to be alive, and fly, and to dance in the moonlight.
* * * * *
You must never fail to watch under the butternut tree on mid-summer nights, for it is quite possible that you may see the wedding dance of the Luna Greenie and her sisters with the long-trained robes.
The Wicked Hoptoad and the Little Yellow Dragon
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful little Yellow Dragon, who lived a happy and innocent life on the high banks of a prattling stream. The Dragon himself was dumb but he loved a merry noise, and nothing pleased him more than the prattling of the water. Sometimes this pleasant little Dragon went up stream, where it was noisy, and sometimes he went down stream, where it was very silent, and rested awhile in little pools. Here it was that he met with his first enemy, a warty Hoptoad with jealous eyes. That Toad thought that he owned the pools because he bathed there every springtime, and though it was a kind little Dragon, the Toad hated him, and began to plot against him.
"Ho! little Yellow Dragon," he said, "you are very wonderful to see, and you must be very clever; but you haven't got everything you want, have you?"
The Dragon smiled, shook his head, and made silent signs with his lips. Then the Toad understood, for he said: "Ho-ho, I understand that you cannot speak. But are you happy?"
The Dragon smiled sweetly and nodded, then pointed to the stream.
That made the Toad madder than ever, for he thought it meant that the Dragon was claiming the whole stream. So the Toad said: "See, Dragon, there is a wonderful food that you have never tasted, that is a poached egg."
This he said with his heart full of guile, for he knew full well that poached eggs are deadly poison to Dragons.
The Dragon looked puzzled, and the Toad said, "Have you?"
The Dragon shook his head. "Well," said the Toad, "it is the most delicious thing in the woods; now you wait and see."
He went hoppity-hop, to a sand-bank where he had seen a Turtle lay its eggs that morning. He dug out one. He rolled it upon a stone, and split it open with the sharp spur on his heel. As soon as it was stiffened by the sun heat, he said, "Here now, Dragon, swallow it down, while I get another for myself."
The poor innocent little Dragon did not know any better. He tried to swallow the poached egg. The moment he did, it stuck in his throat, and poisoned him. At once his toes sank into the ground. He turned green all over, and his head was changed into a strange new flower. There it is to this day, standing silently where it can hear the brook a-prattling. Its body is green all over, and its head is yellow and its jaws are wide open with a poached egg stuck in its throat. And that is how it all came about. Some call it Toad Flax, and some call it Butter and Eggs, but we who know how it happened call it the Dragon and the Poached Egg.
Poor dear little Yellow Dragon!
The Fairy Bird or the Humming-bird Moth
When I was a schoolboy, a number of my companions brought the news that the strangest bird in the world had come that day to our garden and hovered over the flowers. It was no bigger than a bumble-bee. "No! It was not a humming-bird," they said, "it was smaller by far, much more beautiful, and it came and went so fast that no one could see it go."
Every guess that I made seemed not to fit the wonderful bird, or help to give it a name that would lead us to its history in the books. The summer went by, several schoolmates saw the Wonderbird, and added stories of its marvellous smallness and mysterious habits. Its body, they said, was of green velvet with a satin-white throat; it had a long beak—at least an inch long—a fan-tail of many feathers, two long plumes from its head, "the littlest feet you ever have seen," and large lustrous eyes that seemed filled with human intelligence. "It jest looked right at you, and seemed like a fairy looking at you."
The wonder grew. I made a sketch embodying all the points that my companions noted about the Fairy Bird. The first drawing shows what it looked like, and also gives the exact size they said it was.
It seemed a cruel wrong that let so many of them see the thing that was of chief interest to me, yet left me out. It clearly promised a real fairy, an elfin bird, a wonderful messenger from the land I hungered to believe in.
But at last my turn came. One afternoon two of the boys ran toward me, shouting: "Here it is, the little Fairy Bird, right in the garden over the honeysuckle. C'mon, quick!"
I rushed to the place, more excited than I can tell. Yes, there it was, hovering over the open flowers—tiny, wonderful, humming as it swung on misty wings. I made a quick sweep of my insect net and, marvellous to relate, scooped up the Fairy Bird. I was trembling with excitement now, not without a sense of wickedness that I should dare to net a fairy—practically an angel. But I had done it, and I gloated over my captive, in the meshes. Yes, the velvet body and snowy throat were there, the fan-tail, the plumes and the big dark eyes, but the creature was not a bird; it was an insect! Dimly now I remembered, and in a few hours, learned, as I had feared, that I had not captured a young angel or even a fairy—it was nothing but a Humming-bird Moth, a beautiful insect—common in some regions, scarce in some, such as mine—but perfectly well known to men of science and never afterward forgotten by any of that eager schoolboy group.