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´╗┐Title: Two in a Zoo
Author: Dunham, Curtis
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Two in a Zoo" ***

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                             TWO IN A ZOO



[Illustration: He saw the Princess coming, dragging after her a large
man.]



                             TWO IN A ZOO

                                 _By_
                             CURTIS DUNHAM
                                 _and_
                            OLIVER HERFORD

                         WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
                            OLIVER HERFORD

                             INDIANAPOLIS
                       THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
                              PUBLISHERS



                            COPYRIGHT 1904
                       THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY

                               SEPTEMBER


                               PRESS OF
                           BRAUNWORTH & CO.
                       BOOKBINDERS AND PRINTERS
                            BROOKLYN, N. Y.



                             TWO IN A ZOO



                        FULL PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                    PAGE

  He saw the Princess coming, dragging after her
  a large man--_Frontispiece_

  "Toots, tell me as you did yesterday, what the
  elephants are saying"                                                7

  The soft brown eyes of Dozel were fixed on the
  face of the little Limping Boy                                      29

  The coffee-colored little image of its mother lay
  sprawling across her broad nose                                     63

  Suddenly the Princess exclaimed: "Oh, here
  comes Reginald!"                                                    95

  The rabbit stuck one of its ears straight up                       139



                             TWO IN A ZOO



                                   I

                       _The Roar of the Jungle_

    Oh, the sweet, fresh breath of the morning breeze,
      And the trumpet call of my mate!
    Oh, the fierce, wild wind that bends the trees
      Where the great hills sit in state!
    Oh, the tender twigs in the Jungle deeps!
    Oh, the soft, moist earth where the long grass sweeps!

                                        _Song of the Captive Elephant._


Mahmoud, swinging his wrinkled old trunk to and fro dejectedly,
ignored the stack of fresh timothy which the Keeper had dumped on the
floor of the Elephant House. There was a band of iron clasped tightly
just above one of his great forefeet. Mahmoud had surged back in his
discontent till the chain, attached to the iron and to a ring in the
floor, creaked with the strain upon it. His broad ears flapped forward
listlessly, but not far enough to conceal the moisture in his dim old
eyes which gathered now and then into glistening drops that rolled down
his cheeks and were lost in the huge wrinkles at the corners of his
mouth. Duchess, his faithful mate, who stood at his side twisting up
bunches of hay and tucking them into her mouth, understood and was sad.
At intervals in her repast she would pause to stroke Mahmoud's furrowed
cheek with the tip of her trunk. But her sorrowful mate was not to be
wooed from his melancholy.

Presently, from a little distance up the Park walk leading to the door
of the Elephant House, came a familiar tinkling sound that caused
Mahmoud to turn his head in that direction with a show of interest.
A boy was approaching, and at every step some straps of iron on his
little crooked leg clanked together. The sound was not unlike that made
by the iron on Mahmoud's leg. The boy's face was pale, but his eyes
were blue and very bright. A little girl skipped along at his side. The
boy's clothes were shabby, but the little girl's plumage was rich and
as gay as that of some tropical bird. Perhaps it was this that caused
the boy to call her "Princess," when he made slow and deferential
response to her eager chatter. It was plain that she was accustomed
to rule, for whenever she was admonished by the young woman in dark
clothes who followed a few steps behind with a book under her arm, she
would merely shrug her pretty shoulders. Her manner toward the boy was
a trifle condescending, but it was also affectionate, for she called
him "Toots."

The entire front of the Elephant House was open, for it was summer.
When Toots and the Princess had reached the iron railing within a yard
of Mahmoud's swaying trunk, they stopped. The young woman in dark
clothes seemed to understand that this was their destination, for she
seated herself on a bench at the side of the walk, and was soon deep in
the pages of her book.

Mahmoud shuffled forward as far as the chain on his leg would let him,
thrust forth his trunk and felt gently the iron on the boy's crippled
leg.

"Oh, Toots, he knows you!" exclaimed the Princess. "That is what he did
yesterday."

Though the Princess shrank back, Toots showed no fear. Appearing
satisfied as to the boy's identity, Mahmoud turned to his mate, and
they stood cheek by cheek, swaying their trunks in unison.

"They are talking again," said the Princess, with a little shriek of
delight. "Toots, you must tell me what they are saying to each other."

Toots did not stir. A flush of pink had stolen into his pale cheeks.
There was a far-away look in his eyes, yet they were sparkling. His
lips were moving, but no sound came from them at first. Strange
mumblings were coming from the cavernous mouths of the elephants. The
Princess stamped her foot with authority and commanded:

"Toots, tell me, as you did yesterday, what the elephants are saying."

But already, in a low, monotonous voice, as though in a dream, the boy
was interpreting the talk of Mahmoud and his mate.

"Behold, it is the little Limping Boy," said Mahmoud, with his lips
close to the ear of Duchess. "My old eyes are dim, but with my two
fingers have I felt the iron on his leg, and I know it is he."

"Verily, it is he, my Lord," answered Duchess, caressingly. "And with
him again is the strange little bird without wings--or, mayhap the
gaudy creature is of his own people."

"It is well. Do you recall, O Light of my Life, how the little Limping
Boy stood at our door and talked softly to himself? I remember such a
boy long, long ago in the Jungle, before the days of my captivity, only
he was naked and had brown skin--as brown as that of my baby sister."

"I, too, saw and heard him, my Lord. I thought he talked of us and
pitied us in our captivity."

[Illustration: "Toots, tell me as you did yesterday, what the elephants
are saying."]

Now Mahmoud ceased his talk and for a moment reflected deeply. At
length he said:

"Lo, there are two worlds, O Light of my Life, the Master World and the
Menial World; and few there be that stand between. I know not how it
happens that we, thou and I, my beloved, are of the Menial World, but
it is so. We be Menial People, and the little Limping Boy is of the
Master People; yet it clings in my mind that he is nearer."

Again Mahmoud paused to reflect; but Duchess broke in with conviction,
saying:

"My Lord, may it not be that the little Limping Boy is one that stands
between?"

"That is a matter upon which I have pondered deeply," sighed Mahmoud.
"It is evident that he understands our talk. He has the iron upon his
leg, yet his talk is not the talk of the Menial People. Alas, I can
not be sure on this point. These Master People have strange ways and a
strange tongue. When their skins are dark, as they are in the jungle,
their talk is not so difficult; but when their skins are white and
covered with strange raiment, their words convey no meaning to my ears."

Mahmoud's head drooped again. He was very old, and, like all those who
are burdened with years, he was wont to ponder sadly on the joys of his
past. But presently he raised his head and seemed to be listening.

"Look, Friend of my Youth," he said, after a moment, "is it the chirp
of our merry little gossip, the sparrow, that I hear?"

"No, my Lord," answered Duchess, soothingly, "Pwit-Pwit is late this
morning. I tremble when I recall his boastful tale of yesterday; how he
entered the cage of the lioness' treacherous young cubs."

"Be calm, beloved," said Mahmoud, "the cubs are not too young to know
the Law of the Menial People."

It appeared that Duchess, being of the weaker sex, and devoted to her
domestic duties, had but a vague notion of the Law. So Mahmoud, with
much dignity, enlightened her in these words:

"It is the Law of the Menial People, O Joy of my Heart, that Pwit-Pwit,
the sparrow, shall go and come at his pleasure throughout the Menial
World, enjoying the hospitality and protection of all. And of a truth
this is meet, for is not the sparrow official news-gatherer and gossip
for all the Menial People? Verily, is not he the only one of our world
that is not locked fast in a yard or in an iron cage by the Master
People? Lo, when we of the Menial World were brought by our masters
from the forests and plains and jungles to the place of our captivity,
Pwit-Pwit was already here to give us welcome. Therefore, it is the Law
of the Menial World that no claw nor tooth shall be raised against him."

When Mahmoud had finished his discourse the sparrow suddenly dropped
out of the sky at his feet with a chirp and a cheerful toss of his head.

"You are late to breakfast this morning, little one," said Mahmoud;
"but I waited for you, O Messenger of Cheer, though my beloved mate has
eaten a few mouthfuls, being hungrier than I."

"I would have been here sooner," answered the sparrow, "but I found it
necessary to give one of those young lions a lesson. He forgot about
the Law, and tried to catch me in his mouth. But I was too quick for
him. You should have seen me then. I flew at his eyes and gave them a
good pecking. Then I had to go and tell his mother. Didn't you hear
her roaring at the little upstart to behave himself? Oh, you can trust
me to educate those young lions in the Law."

"Verily, I heard the mother lion roar, and feared for you," said
Mahmoud. "But come, there are some choice grass seeds in the deep
wrinkles of my neck, and I will scatter more there for you. If you are
tired, you can step on the end of my trunk and I will lift you up to
your breakfast."

But Pwit-Pwit said that he was not at all tired. He flew up to
Mahmoud's shoulders and was soon pecking greedily at the seeds which
he found in the wrinkles between the great flapping ears. Duchess had
resumed her repast, and Mahmoud began attacking the stack of timothy
with manifest appetite. As the two friends, one so huge and the other
so tiny, took their breakfast together, the sparrow chirped a constant
torrent of gossip, which Toots, never hesitating, interpreted for the
Princess. At length only some scattering wisps were left of the stack
that the Keeper had brought for the old elephant. Mahmoud gathered them
up, sweeping his trunk over the floor daintily, then rolled them into
a little bundle, which he thrust half-way into the side of his mouth.
Then, rolling his trunk about the ends of the wisps containing the
dried grass seeds, he tore them off, and holding them back over his
head, said to Pwit-Pwit:

"Are you there, little one?"

[Illustration]

"Here I am, right between your ears," chirped the sparrow.

"Look then for the large round seeds," said Mahmoud. "But first brace
yourself well behind my ear, little one, for I am going to blow the
dust out of your breakfast. Dust is not good for the stomach."

With these words Mahmoud blew a little puff of wind through his trunk
into the handful of grass seed about which it was curled, and then
dropped the seeds in a little shower right at Pwit-Pwit's feet.

"Thank you," said the sparrow. "You have found me a delicious
breakfast." And he pecked away at the seeds until he could hold no more.

Then Pwit-Pwit noticed that Mahmoud had stopped eating and was swinging
his trunk about in a mournful manner.

"What's the matter, old chap?" chirped the sparrow. "Have you lost
your appetite?"

"Alas!" sighed the old elephant, "I pine for the roar of my native
Jungle, little one. I long to plunge through the great, wild forest and
feel the swish of the branches at my sides. Even the chatter of idle
and foolish monkeys would be music in my ears."

The sparrow hopped up on the rim of Mahmoud's ear, and said cheerily:

"Why don't you go home for a visit?"

"Alas, little one, I am too old, even if the Master People would
release me. Never again shall I breathe the fresh breath of the hills;
never again hear the roar of the Jungle."

Mahmoud's head drooped lower than before. Pwit-Pwit pecked at his ear
to get his attention, and chirped:

"Cheer up, old chap, I can't bring the Jungle to you, 'tis true; but I
think I can manage the roar all right."

"Pride of my Heart," said Mahmoud, turning eagerly to his faithful mate
and stroking her cheek, "do you hear? Pwit-Pwit, the all-wise, says he
can gladden our ears once more with the roar of the Jungle."

"Pwit-Pwit, if you can do that," said Duchess, trembling with joy, "we
will be your slaves."

"Oh, it is nothing, nothing at all," chirped the sparrow with affected
modesty. "I will go and prepare all the Menial People for the signal,
and when I return I will tell you what to do."

Having chirped this promise into Mahmoud's grateful ear, the sparrow
flew down from the old elephant's back, and hopped past the little
Limping Boy and entered the adjoining house of the two-horned
rhinoceros. Toots and the Princess could see all that occurred from
where they stood. The great beast was lazily sharpening his horns on
the hardwood planks of his house. Pwit-Pwit flew at his eyes, at which
he pecked saucily, saying:

"Attention, pig! Be ready for the signal. When you hear it, if you have
any voice left in your fat old carcass, use it, or never hope to hear
the roar of the Jungle again."

Hearing these words, the dull-witted beast began lifting up first
one foot and then another, in a sort of clumsy dance. The sparrow,
perceiving that he was eager for the roar of the Jungle, wasted no
more words on him, but flew straight up in the air and then darted
off toward the house of the lions, tigers and leopards. Toots and the
Princess saw him fly in through the open door, then, after a moment of
silence, heard muffled roars from the lions, followed by the excited
chatter of monkeys in the adjoining house, and soon beheld him emerge
and dart toward the dens of the bears.

"The sparrow is keeping his word," said the Princess, clapping her
hands. "He is warning all the Menial People to be ready for the signal."

"Hush," said the little Limping Boy, in a low voice. "Look at Mahmoud
and the Duchess."

The Princess looked, and beheld a most astonishing sight. The old
elephants had twined their trunks together above their heads and were
waving them as though in time to music.

"They are singing," said Toots. "They are singing about the happy times
they had long, long ago in the great forest where they were born."

The Princess could not hear the song, but she beheld the waving trunks
and felt certain that Toots could hear it. As they sang, the old
elephants grew each moment more excited. So engrossed were they with
the memories that inspired them that they forgot the sparrow utterly.
When Pwit-Pwit returned, he had to fly up and peck at their eyes to get
their attention.

"Do stop your singing and pay attention," chirped the sparrow,
petulantly. "You can sing at any time. Listen. I have prepared all
the Menial People for the signal. They are waiting. You can hear the
chatter of those idiotic monkeys at this moment. A monkey can never
keep a secret."

"The lions," said Mahmoud, eagerly, "are the lions ready?"

"The lions were delighted," answered Pwit-Pwit; "they can hardly wait
for the signal."

"And Caliph and Fatimah, the old hippopotami--"

"They, too, are ready," interrupted the sparrow, impatiently. "I told
you I could manage it, and I have. The signal! The signal!"

As he gave this order, Pwit-Pwit flew up to his favorite perch on
Mahmoud's ear. The elephants, trembling with excitement, turned their
faces toward the Lion House and wagged their trunks aloft. Mahmoud's
eyes opened to twice their usual size, and the little Limping Boy
thought that they shone red, as though from anger. He was half afraid,
and wondered what was going to happen. The Princess clasped his hand
tightly in one of hers, and he could feel that she was trembling.

"It must be all right," said Toots, "or the sparrow would fly away.
See, he still sits on the rim of the old elephant's ear, as calm as
you please."

Suddenly Mahmoud straightened out his trunk to its full length toward
the Lion House, and blew through it a blast that rang in the ears of
the two children for many a day after. Duchess followed with another,
shriller and more ear-splitting. Then the two elephants paused to
listen. Almost immediately they were answered from the Lion House.
First, Sultan replied with a deep, terrible roar that caused Mahmoud's
eyes to sparkle with delight. Then Caliph, the patriarch of all the
hippopotami, joined his voice to that of the old lion. It was a voice
like the sound of a mighty waterfall. Between the roars of Sultan
and Caliph could be heard those of Fatimah and Cyrus, the younger
hippopotami, whose voices were less deep and steady, because not so
well trained.

From all directions came answers to Mahmoud's signal. There was the
snarling scream of the tigers, leopards and pumas; the wolves and
hyenas barked in their wild and dreadful way; the bears growled; eagles
screamed; the shrieking chatter of the monkeys was ear-splitting. The
two-horned rhinoceros grunted terribly. The solitary elephant next
door, who was in disgrace for attacking the Keeper, put his four feet
close together, humped up his back and trumpeted so loudly that Mahmoud
and Duchess held their breath and listened, overcome with joy.

At length, having recognized the voices of all the Menial People,
Mahmoud and Duchess again stretched forth their trunks and trumpeted
with all their might. At this the efforts of all the animals were
redoubled. This was indeed the roar of the Jungle. The ground seemed
to tremble, so terrible was the din. The Keeper, who often went
fearlessly into the cage of Sultan, even putting his hand in the great
brute's mouth, could be seen running from the Lion House, pale, and
with his hair on end. And through it all the sparrow never moved from
his perch on the rim of Mahmoud's ear.

But after a while the roar gradually died out, leaving all the Menial
People breathless and covered with perspiration.

"Aha," said Pwit-Pwit, into the ear of old Mahmoud, "didn't I tell you
I could manage the roar of the Jungle?"

"Little one," answered the grateful beast, gasping for breath, "we are
your slaves from this day on."

"Nonsense," chirped back the sparrow; "it was fun for me, too. Never
before was heard such a roar. The Master People were terrified. Did
you not observe them flying in all directions?"

"Ay, little one, I saw them, and it gladdened my old heart. Even the
Keeper, he that is so proud and stout of heart, fled as I have seen his
brown-skinned brothers flee before my onslaught in the Jungle. Verily,
all the Master People fled--"

Mahmoud stopped, with his eye fixed in astonishment on the little
Limping Boy, who stood as before, with his arms on the iron railing,
calm and unmoved. As though doubting the evidence of his eyes, Mahmoud
put forth his trunk, and with the two fingers at its end felt of the
iron on the boy's leg. Then he turned to Duchess and said:

"Behold, O Light of my Life, of all the Master People only the little
Limping Boy remained, his soul unterrified by the roar of the Jungle.
With my two fingers have I again felt the iron on his leg. No longer
do I doubt."

Then turning to the sparrow, Mahmoud, Lord of all the Menial People,
gave this command:

"Go forth, little one, to all my people; to the lions, to the tigers,
to the hippopotami, to the old dromedary who stands all day blinking in
the sun, yea, even to the chattering monkeys, and say: Lo, this is the
command of Mahmoud, that no harm shall befall the little Limping Boy,
for verily, he doth stand between. I have spoken."

The sparrow flew away to do his master's bidding, and from that day on
Toots was able to interpret for the Princess even the sign language
spoken by the blinking old dromedary, who to all but him was the sphinx
of the Zoo, deep of thought, but generally uncommunicative.



                              CHAPTER II

                         _Despised Relations_

    Oh, behold us, and dispute us if you can!
        Only look upon our faces,
        On our more than human graces,
        And observe the many traces
    Of our kinship with our noble brother, Man!

                                     --_Song of the Ambitious Monkeys._


The great round, soft, brown eyes of Dozel, most slender-limbed and
graceful of the herd of Indian deer, were fixed on the face of the
little Limping Boy. There seemed to be a look of pity in their depths.
She licked Toots' fingers, and the Princess tried in vain to attract
her attention.

"Do you suppose the sparrow has already told her of Mahmoud's command?"
asked the Princess.

"I don't know," answered Toots; "I think so, but I haven't quite made
up my mind yet."

"Dozel seems more affectionate toward you than ever," argued the
Princess. "Yesterday she licked my hand, but to-day she has eyes only
for you, Toots."

"It must be so, then," said the little Limping Boy. "You remember that
when the elephant ordered Pwit-Pwit to go and tell all the Menial
People that I stood between the two worlds, and that no harm should
befall me, the sparrow flew away immediately. But, look! here comes
Pwit-Pwit now. He and Dozel are going to have their morning chat. Keep
quite still, and I'll tell you what they say."

[Illustration: The soft, brown eyes of Dozel were fixed on the face of
the little Limping Boy.]

The Princess put her finger on her lip and looked significantly at
Toots, as the sparrow perched herself on the top rail of the yard,
within a foot of Dozel's ear, and began to chirp. The Princess saw the
familiar, dreamy look come into Toots' eyes, as he began to translate
the gossip of the sparrow and the deer.

"Why are you so sad this morning?" asked Pwit-Pwit. "The weather is
simply perfect."

But Dozel merely sighed, and turned her gaze wistfully in the direction
of the Elephant House. Nothing so delighted her as the loud trumpetings
of Mahmoud and his mate, and she always let her eyes roam in their
direction when anything unusual was on her mind.

"You ought to be happy," continued the sparrow; "you certainly never
looked handsomer, with your brown skin so soft and velvety that the
little white spots scattered over it look like snowflakes, and your
eyes so clear and tender--tut, tut, now Dozel, my dear. The idea of
your crying on a morning like this!"

"I can't help it," whimpered the beautiful creature. "It's enough to
make any one weep."

Pwit-Pwit hopped on to Dozel's back and together they took a turn about
the yard.

"And I'm blest if you're not limping, you, of all people in the world!"
said the sparrow, in astonishment.

"It's out of sympathy," sighed Dozel. "When I think of my own legs, so
straight and slender and swift, I can't help thinking of the little
Limping Boy and his poor, crooked leg, with the iron on it. There he
stands now. Isn't it pitiful? Oh, dear, oh, dear!"

"True, it is very sad," said Pwit-Pwit, soberly; "but what can't be
cured must be endured, you know."

"The worst part of it," said the deer, "is that there is something
about the little Limping Boy's walk that reminds me of those
chattering, screaming monkeys I remember so well in the jungle. There
are some of them over in a corner of the Lion House. I can't bear them."

"Hello!" chirped the sparrow, jubilantly. "So that's your opinion of
'em, too, is it, Dozel, my dear? Well, that's too good to keep. I'll
go straight to the monkeys with that, and when they know that it comes
from you direct, they'll have a bad half-hour, I can tell you. They
won't be any happier than you are then, my dear. Do you know, the
impudent creatures actually claim to be related to the birds! As a
general thing, I pay no attention to 'em, but this is different. They
feel so sure of your good opinion, you're so sweet and sedate with
everybody. My, oh, my, but won't it make 'em wild! I'll go straight to
that idiot, Mr. Kelly. Just listen, and you'll hear him jabber himself
blue in the face."

With this, the malicious little bird flew straight into the Lion House,
and to Mr. Kelly's corner, Toots and the Princess following as fast as
their legs could carry them, the iron on the little Limping Boy's leg
clanking all the way.

Now, Mr. Kelly is a very learned monkey, having enjoyed the society
of men for quite a number of years. He had had breakfast, and was
leisurely picking his teeth. Pwit-Pwit perched himself on the rail just
out of reach of his nimble fingers. Truth to tell, the sparrow was so
startled at Mr. Kelly's resemblance to the man who carried the plaster
when the bear's den was being repaired, that he was quite civil at
first.

"Good morning, Mr. Kelly," he said politely, "are you feeling quite
well?"

[Illustration]

"So-so," answered the monkey, eying the sparrow with much deliberation.
"Except for my neuralgia and a touch of the gout I'm in my usual
health, thank you. You don't happen to have a cigar about you, I
suppose?"

"Bless me!" said Pwit-Pwit, astounded and quite off his guard, "you
don't mean to say you smoke?"

"Had my cigar after breakfast every morning when I was acting in a
theater over in the Bowery," said Mr. Kelly. "Seems that smoking isn't
allowed here. These blue laws are beastly, aren't they?"

"Do you find it hard going without?" asked Pwit-Pwit, unable yet to
assume his accustomed air of superiority.

"If they would let me taper off I wouldn't mind so much," answered the
monkey, with a yawn; "but this stopping all at once is rather trying on
the nerves."

Toots shifted his position in front of the monkey's cage, which caused
the iron on his leg to jingle. This attracted the attention of Mr.
Kelly, who threw away the straw he had been using as a toothpick and
came close to the wire netting that surrounded him.

"You heard the command of Mahmoud to all the Menial People touching the
little Limping Boy," said the sparrow. "Well, here he is."

Instead of replying, Mr. Kelly began twisting his features into the
drollest shapes imaginable.

"Mahmoud's command has made a great stir everywhere," continued
Pwit-Pwit. "It has affected Dozel to tears. I left her just now weeping
over the misfortunes of the little Limping Boy."

At this Mr. Kelly began to snivel and moan, while two tears rolled down
his hairy nose.

[Illustration]

"Hello, there! What's the matter with you?" demanded Pwit-Pwit.

The monkey made no reply, but began limping around his cage, moaning
and shedding tears, as though heart-broken.

"Oh, I see," said the sparrow, "you're sorry for the little Limping
Boy, too."

"I have a fellow-feeling for him," answered Mr. Kelly, and went on with
his moaning.

"Why, you--you miserable upstart!" exclaimed Pwit-Pwit, ruffling up his
feathers in indignation.

The sparrow would have said more but for the sudden change in Mr.
Kelly's manner. The monkey had come back to the front of his cage, and
was touching the side of his head with the forefinger of his right hand.

"What are you up to now?" he demanded.

"Saluting my unfortunate distant relation," said Mr. Kelly, who then
went on moaning and weeping worse than before.

For a moment the sparrow's indignation was such that he seemed to be
deprived of speech. He looked at Mr. Kelly, and then at the little
Limping Boy, and then at the monkey again. Then he ruffled up the
feathers of his neck angrily, and said:

"Do you mean to say that you believe yourself to be related to this
boy, who will grow into a man some day?"

[Illustration]

"That's the tradition in our family," said Mr. Kelly, "and you
doubtless know that tradition is the basis of all history. Besides,
that's what a very celebrated man once said in a lecture at the
theater where I acted, and he had me on the stage with him for an
illustration--so he said. Any one can see that there isn't much
difference between a monkey and a man, except the clothes. Look for
yourself."

And Mr. Kelly placed his right elbow in his left hand, and rested his
chin on his right hand, just as the little Limping Boy was doing.

Pwit-Pwit looked from one to the other, and the resemblance was so
startling that for a moment he was at a loss what answer to make. Then
he caught sight of the monkey's tail, which Mr. Kelly was trying hard
to conceal behind him.

"Aha!" chirped the sparrow, exultantly; "what about the tail?"

"None of your business, you meddlesome, gossiping little wretch!"
screamed Mr. Kelly, in a passion. And he made a grab for Pwit-Pwit
through the wires of his cage, but could not quite reach him.

"Be careful," warned the sparrow. "Remember the Law."

"Know this once for all, you insignificant bearer of tales," snarled
Mr. Kelly. "Mahmoud himself has said that he was in doubt whether I was
of the Menial People, or whether I stood between the two worlds. Ere
long I shall compel him to proclaim that I am neither the one nor the
other, but that I am of the Master People. So beware!"

But Pwit-Pwit nearly burst his sides with laughter.

"Do you know what Dozel says about you?" he said finally; "the
beautiful young Indian doe at whom you have been making eyes through
the wires of your cage ever since she arrived?"

[Illustration]

Mr. Kelly suddenly turned very pale. Noticing this, the sparrow went on
relentlessly:

"She says that you and all your tribe are chattering, screaming
nobodies."

For a moment the blow seemed almost more than Mr. Kelly could endure.

"Aha, Mr. Kelly," said the sparrow, insolently, "chattering, screaming
nobodies! What do you say to that?"

At this taunt Mr. Kelly nearly exploded with passion. He clenched his
hand and shook it at the sparrow, and screamed at the top of his voice:

"Jocko! Jocko! Do you hear? This meddlesome wretch of a sparrow says we
are chattering nobodies."

[Illustration]

Jocko, the tottering old baboon in his cage on the other side of the
Lion House, turned blue in the face with anger.

"Catch him and pull out his tail feathers!" he screamed. "Never mind
the Law."

But Pwit-Pwit kept well out of Mr. Kelly's reach. By this time, the
little, long-tailed monkeys with black caps and high-pitched voices,
living next door to Jocko, were chattering and shrieking at a fearful
rate. The sparrow flew about from one cage to another, hurling taunts
at the enraged creatures, enjoying himself immensely.

When, at length, the monkeys had chattered and shrieked themselves
hoarse, Mr. Kelly commanded them to be silent while he arranged for a
final settlement of the dispute. He walked in a dignified manner about
his cage until he had recovered his breath, and then said sternly to
Pwit-Pwit:

"You are only a foolish little bird, with a great deal to learn. While
we care very little for your opinion, it is well that this matter
should be settled. Is there any one among all the Menial People whose
word you will accept as the eternal truth?"

"Yes," answered the sparrow, promptly. "There is Caliph, the old
hippopotamus. He is very old and very wise, and he always tells the
truth--which is more than can be said of monkeys."

"Very well," said Mr. Kelly, calmly, "go and ask Caliph if it is not
true that the first man and the first monkey were made out of the same
lump of clay long, long ago on the banks of the river Nile. Tell him to
lift up his voice when he answers, so that all can hear."

"Agreed," said Pwit-Pwit; "and when you hear old Caliph's answer
prepare to hang crape on your door-knob, for it will mean the death of
your absurd ambition."

Then, while Mr. Kelly continued to walk about his cage in a dignified
manner, the sparrow, followed by Toots and the Princess, flew quickly
to the Hippopotamus House. Straight up to the edge of the deep pool in
which Caliph lay, with only an island of black back and his two bulging
nostrils showing above the surface of the water, hopped Pwit-Pwit.

"What, ho! Caliph!" chirped the sparrow, "come forth from thy
meditations and give ear to a matter of consequence concerning all the
Menial People."

At first Caliph only blinked his small eyes. Pwit-Pwit bobbed his head
at the monster with evidence of vast respect, and said in a louder
voice:

"Greeting, O master of the deep! It is concerning the general welfare
that I come to disturb thy reflections on the glorious past. The
pretensions of the monkeys have grown past all bounds, so that there is
menace to the general peace. The trouble happened in this wise: Mr.
Kelly, who is only a poor sort of monkey, at best, claims kinship with
the Master World, whereat there is much discontent and not a little
jealousy. He avers that the first monkey and the first man were made
out of the same lump of clay on the banks of the Nile. Is this the
truth? Speak, I pray you, in tones that may be heard by all, that the
trouble which threatens us may be averted."

While the sparrow thus spoke, Caliph raised his head slowly out of the
water. Seven times did he open and close his enormous mouth. At length,
in a voice that rang throughout the Menial World, he spoke as follows:

"Harken unto me, all ye Menial People. As to the first monkey, it was
in this wise: When the first man had been made, his shadow fell upon
some very poor clay that had been thrown away. And it came to pass
that when the first man walked, and his shadow walked after him, the
poor clay upon which the shadow rested rose and ran shrieking into the
forest. And, lo! it was a monkey. Behold, I have spoken."

When Caliph had sunk beneath the water again, Pwit-Pwit, with his head
on one side, listened eagerly for the comments of the other Menial
People, and Toots, with his hand placed warningly on the Princess,
listened, too. First, Mahmoud trumpeted his acquiescence:

"It is true. I heard it from my father in the Jungle one day when these
insolent chatterers were particularly annoying. The monkeys are but as
chips that fall from the hewn log."

"Behold, Caliph's words are the words of wisdom," said Sultan,
patriarch of the lions, in his deepest roar. "I, who was born in the
shadow of the great pyramids, had it from my father, who had it from
the father of Caliph when he went down to the Nile to drink. Lo! the
monkeys are as the chaff when the wheat is winnowed."

"I am not of that country," said the old dromedary from the plains of
Arabia; "but my cousins, the camels, known to all the world as ships
of the desert, brought the news to my people. By the fat in my hump, I
swear that Caliph speaks the truth."

"My grandmother had it from an aged crocodile who crawled up on the
bank of the Nile to sun herself, just as she was laying in the hot sand
the egg that hatched my mother," screamed the old cock ostrich. "The
monkeys are of no more consequence than straws blown by the wind."

And no voice among the Menial People was silent. Those who had no
testimony to add to that of Caliph, roared and screeched and howled
their approval of it. But the monkeys did not remain long abashed at
the verdict against them. When Pwit-Pwit, followed by Toots and the
Princess, returned to observe its effect upon them, they found Mr.
Kelly sitting cross-legged on his overturned water bucket, with his
chin in his hand, meditating deeply.

[Illustration]

"Well," chirped Pwit-Pwit, "did you hear the verdict of old Caliph?"

"Eh?" said Mr. Kelly, raising his head abstractedly. "Hum, ah, oh, yes,
I heard it."

"And the corroboration of all the other Menial People?"

"All my expectations were verified," said Mr. Kelly, complacently.
"Malice and prejudice were so apparent that every logical mind will
at once class the statements of Caliph and his satellites as perjured
testimony. My contention, therefore, is sustained."

Too perplexed and astonished to make any reply, Pwit-Pwit flew away
to his favorite perch on the rim of Mahmoud's ear, where he sat,
crestfallen, for fully three and a quarter minutes.



                              CHAPTER III

    Close thine eyes, my beauty bright,
      Dream, dream of the flowing Nile,
    Where thy mother first saw light--
      (Ah, sweet is thine infant smile!)
    Close thy pretty baby mouth,
      Close, close thy blinking eye;
    Dream of the joyous, sunny South--
      Lullaby, lullaby.

                                          --_Hippopotamus Cradle Song._


All the morning there had been an excited running to and fro among the
Keepers of the Menial World. Evidences of a stupendous mystery were
apparent on every hand. It seemed to center in the Hippopotamus House,
the doors of which were locked and barred, as well as those of the Lion
House adjoining it. The Princess, devoured by curiosity, deluged Toots
with questions. While awaiting developments, they were feeding peanuts
to Zuelma, the vain young mother ostrich. For quite a while the little
Limping Boy was unable to get any light on the mystery.

"If the sparrow were only here," said the Princess, "there would be a
lot of gossip about it; wouldn't there, Toots?"

"Yes," answered the boy; "but we won't have to wait long. Listen,
Mahmoud is beginning to rumble through his trunk. Twice old Sultan has
roared under his breath, and a moment ago the tigers were snarling. The
secret will soon be out--"

At that instant, Sultan, patriarch of the lions, delivered himself of
a mighty roar. Even the Princess could tell by the sound of it that it
was not a roar of anger.

"Good!" said Toots, "that is old Sultan's call for rejoicing. Now
listen."

[Illustration]

Mahmoud was first to reply. The old elephant trumpeted a hearty
response, in which the other elephants joined. After that there were
growls from the bears, snarls from the tigers and pumas, and an
extraordinary chattering among the monkeys. Throughout all the Menial
World there was only one note of discord, one failure to respond
heartily to the call for rejoicing. When the other voices had subsided,
up spoke the aged striped hyena in his evil-tempered voice, demanding:

"Wherefore rejoice? What has befallen in the Lion House that gives
cause for rejoicing?"

The roar with which Sultan prefaced his reply was so terrible that the
ill-favored beast cowered back into the farthest corner of his den.
Said Sultan:

"Not for this suspicious, thieving, ill-conditioned creature, but for
all the loyal inhabitants of the Menial World shall the answer be
given. Harken to the voice of Caliph, the Wise."

For a moment there was deep silence. Then spoke Caliph, patriarch of
the hippopotami, in his rumbling roar, resembling that of the cataracts
of the Upper Nile, within the sound of which his youth had been spent:

"Lo, Fatimah, my beloved mate, hath an infant daughter. Mother and
child are doing well; therefore, rejoice."

Whereat there was such general and hearty rejoicing that all the houses
of the Menial People rocked on their foundations. But when the sound
of it had died away, the aged hyena could be heard snarling:

"Pooh! only one? Though my mate brought me four daughters and a son one
morning as I was gnawing the leg bone of a sheep, yet I made no uproar
about it."

"That is because you are a selfish, thieving, carrion-eating old
hypocrite," thundered back Caliph.

[Illustration]

Zuelma, with her bill wide open, as is her custom while listening,
stood with her long neck craned over the head of the little Limping
Boy, in whose hand that of the Princess--somewhat frightened by the
uproar among the animals--was tightly clasped. Suddenly, Pwit-Pwit, the
Sparrow gossip and news-gatherer for all the Menial People, fluttered
down at her feet.

"I have been expecting you for an hour," said the ostrich. "Now,
thank goodness, we shall know the truth, after all this roaring and
trumpeting. How is it, Pwit-Pwit, that so much fuss is made over a
single baby? Were the other eggs eaten by the crocodiles?"

[Illustration]

"As soon as I heard the call for rejoicing," said the sparrow, "I flew
at once to the Hippopotamus House; but the door was shut and no one
came to let me in. But it sticks in my mind, Zuelma, that the young of
the Hippopotamus are not hatched from eggs."

At this, Zuelma, who was a mother herself, laughed scornfully.

"If you were not a giddy, gadding sparrow," she said, "with neither
mate nor nest of your own, you would know that without eggs and hot
sand to hatch them in, there would be no young in the world. Come, go
and try again. By this time the door should be open."

The sparrow was no quicker than were Toots and the Princess to profit
by this hint. They found the outer door of the Hippopotamus House still
closed; but that of the Lion House was open, and also one connecting
the two. As Pwit-Pwit hopped past the cage of the frolicsome lion cubs,
they tumbled over each other in their eagerness to greet him.

"Ho, Pwit-Pwit," they roared in their babyish voices, "stop and tell us
the news."

[Illustration]

"Wait till I come back," chirped the sparrow; "I'm busy now." And he
hurried on into the Hippopotamus House and to the big tank where old
Caliph was cooling himself after the excitement of the morning. Toots
and the Princess stopped within a yard of him, eager to hear what was
said between them.

"Is it indeed true?" demanded Pwit-Pwit. "Are you for the second time a
father?"

Caliph blinked at the sparrow, and seemed to be turning something over
in his mind. Presently he opened his mouth at least a yard and snorted
so loudly that the sparrow's feathers were drenched with the spray from
his nostrils.

"Such manners!" exclaimed Pwit-Pwit, shaking himself vigorously. "What
on earth are you laughing at?"

"Father for the second time," repeated Caliph, with a broad smile.
"Why, little one, my age is at least three-quarters of a century, and
all of our family wedded young. At least a score of the young with
which Fatimah has presented me are to-day rolling about the broad earth
in gaudily painted wheeled tanks for the amusement of the Master World.
Therefore, excuse me if I smile decorously at your inquiry if it be
true that I am indeed a father for the second time."

"Where are Fatimah and the new baby?" demanded the sparrow, shortly,
for Pwit-Pwit never approved of laughter at his own expense.

"You'll find them over in the next tank," answered the father
hippopotamus. "Never yet was there such a baby for the water. He has
been to the surface to breathe only twice since he was born. He will be
a great hippopotamus when he grows up."

"Do you mean to say," said Pwit-Pwit, in surprise, "that Fatimah found
the baby in the water to begin with?"

"Why, certainly," answered Caliph, "where would you expect to find a
new baby hippopotamus?"

[Illustration]

"Well, I wonder what Zuelma will say to that," chirped the sparrow, as
he hopped along to the margin of Fatimah's tank. All that could be seen
of the mother hippopotamus was a glistening yard or so of her black
back. This was floating about the tank in a manner that indicated no
little agitation below the surface. The cause was apparent when Fatimah
lifted her head out of the water, and said to Caliph:

"Alas! our new-born daughter is lost again. I have searched every
corner of the tank in vain. Oh, what shall I do? What shall I do?"

"Do not agitate yourself, my beloved," answered Caliph. "The little one
is mischievous. Thus it was, I remember, with our first-born. Verily,
it is a good sign."

Suddenly, while Caliph was speaking, Fatimah plunged her nose into
the water, made a scooping motion, and rose quickly to the surface,
bringing the missing baby with her. The Princess shrieked with delight
at sight of the coffee-colored little image of its mother which lay
sprawling across her broad nose, blinking its eyes and blowing spray
from its nostrils.

[Illustration: The coffee-colored little image of its mother lay
sprawling across her broad nose.]

"A fine child, Fatimah," said Pwit-Pwit. "Many happy returns of the
day."

"Thank you very much, I'm sure," said Fatimah, while the new baby shook
its small ears in imitation of its mother. "But what a care these
babies are," she added with a sigh, "nobody but a mother knows."

Toots would have sworn that at this moment Caliph winked slyly at his
new daughter, and that the baby gave her father an answering wink. At
any rate, as Fatimah finished speaking, the baby slid from her nose
into the water with a splash, and sank out of sight.

"Drat the child!" said Fatimah. "There's no use," she added with a
snort that sent a ripple of waves over the surface of the water; "she
will do it. I shall simply leave her there, young as she is, till she
is obliged to come up for air. By the way, Pwit-Pwit, little one, how
are Cleopatra and her monkey baby this morning?"

"Quite well, thank you," answered the sparrow, "and Cleopatra sends
congratulations."

"Caliph, my love," said Fatimah, "I really think that in honor of the
occasion, we should send a polite message to Cleopatra. To be sure, I
don't approve of monkeys at all, but babies are babies, you know."

"Very well," said Caliph, gruffly, "send the chattering young creature
any message you like, only keep me out of it."

"My experience certainly is greater than Cleopatra's," said Fatimah,
addressing the sparrow, "and I would warn her against allowing her baby
to lie overlong in the sun. It is apt to crack the skin. I remember
when my first child was born--"

"Why, bless my eyes!" interrupted Pwit-Pwit, with a giggle, "Cleopatra
asked me to warn you against letting your baby get its feet wet."

"Well, I never!" gasped Fatimah in astonishment, while Caliph opened
his mouth till the Princess told Toots in a whisper that she could see
clear into his stomach, and laughed till the tears rolled down his
cheeks.

"Well, I must be going," said the sparrow. "Everybody is dying for the
news. Have you named the baby yet, Fatimah?"

"She shall be called Delilah, for her beauty," said the proud mother,
as her baby came gasping and sputtering to the surface. As Fatimah put
down her nose for her child to clamber upon, she said in a tone of
loving triumph:

"So-so, my child, it seems you still have some use for mother. Now
will you be good?"

Again the lion cubs roared at Pwit-Pwit as he was passing, demanding
the news:

"Where did the hippopotamus baby come from? Did somebody leave the door
open?"

"Fatimah found it at the bottom of her swimming tank," answered the
sparrow, and he passed on, leaving the cubs staring at each other in
wonderment.

When Pwit-Pwit had made the rounds with his gossip about the new baby,
all the Menial People who felt that their experience entitled them to
give advice touching the bringing up of children, addressed themselves,
one at a time, to Fatimah and Caliph.

"As to the new babe," said the dromedary, speaking first, "I would give
a bit of advice. Many a babe has suffered in its early days from lack
of water. So it was with my brother. His tongue became so parched that
he was never able to converse above a whisper. I pray you, madam, to
see that your babe has water to drink at least once a week."

"Ho-ho, ha-ha!" laughed Caliph. "Water once a week, and only to drink--"

"Hush, my dear," said Fatimah, "the dromedary means well, but, being of
the desert, he knows no better."

"If you would have his legs grow slim and straight," said Dozel, the
Indian doe, "you must let him run over the hills as much as possible
while yet young. But I would warn you to beware of the dogs and wolves."

"For exercise to strengthen the body there is nothing like leaping,"
roared Sultan, the lion. "Before I was a year old I could leap full
twenty feet to the shoulders of an antelope, and never miss."

"Ho-ho, ha-ha!" roared Caliph again, till reproved by Fatimah. But the
picture of any hippopotamus, young or old, running over the hills, or
leaping on to the shoulders of an antelope, was irresistibly funny,
and Caliph continued to chuckle till Duchess, Mahmoud's faithful mate,
concluded the chapter on how to bring up a young hippopotamus with the
following sensible advice:

"Behold, O Fatimah," she said, "one or two matters which may have
slipped your memory, upon which I would give you counsel. If the mother
be sound, and the new-born babe be without blot or blemish, there is
little to be feared. Yet, in my time, have I seen the young over-eager
for their food, so that they grow to be unnaturally ravenous, in
time ruining their digestion and destroying their moral sense. Such
a disposition noticed early in infancy is easily corrected, as you
well know. If your babe displays an inclination to turn her head more
to one side than to the other when sleeping, I would remind you that
this is frequently the cause of an ill-balanced skull, destructive of
that beautiful symmetry characteristic of the normal adult members of
both our species. Moreover, let not thy offspring accustom herself to
chewing her food on one side of her mouth--a common affectation among
infants. The danger from this source is teeth short on one side and
long on the other, and a jaw awry. In these days, as you well know,
Fatimah, it is difficult to obtain for a daughter a desirable mate if
she be not well favored."

"Thank you, my dear," said Fatimah, when Duchess had ceased speaking.
"You'll excuse me now, I'm sure; my baby hasn't had a nap since it was
born."

Presently, all through the Menial World was heard the plaintive melody
of the Hippopotamus Cradle Song, and for an hour after it had ceased,
even Pwit-Pwit and the Monkeys were silent.



                              CHAPTER IV


In the absence of the Princess, it was the little Limping Boy's habit,
when visiting his friends of the Menial World, to interpret for his own
entertainment the conversations he overheard. He believed that he did
this only in his mind, but on several occasions he had translated the
language of Caliph or Mahmoud in such loud tones, influenced by the
exciting character of their discourse, that other visitors had looked
at each other significantly, tapping their foreheads and smiling. Of
all this, however, the little Limping Boy, fortunately, was oblivious.

One morning he stood alone before the door of Mahmoud and the Duchess.
It was the day after the Keeper and several helpers had thrown
Mahmoud's mate on her side, tied her fast with ropes, and, with hammer
and chisel, had pared her toe-nails, which had grown so long as to
lame her. The elephants stood with their heads together, swaying
their trunks. The boy at once perceived that they were discussing the
nail-paring incident.

"Of a truth," said Mahmoud, "when the men came with ropes I was as
apprehensive as thou, O Light of my Life. Thou wert aged and lame,
and I trembled at the thought that they were about to put thee out of
thy misery. Happily, it was not so. And thy lameness this morning, my
beloved, hath it disappeared?"

"My Lord," said Duchess, "my four feet are now as firm on the ground as
when, years ago, I ran free and thoughtless in the Jungle. I feel no
pain, and my heart is filled with gratitude to the men with the knives
who looked so cruel and were yet so kind."

For a moment the two great beasts were silent, gently caressing each
other with their trunks. Then Mahmoud spoke:

"Had I reflected, O Joy of my Heart, I could have saved thee all thy
apprehensions. But it was not until they had released thee that I
remembered. Look thou, Duchess, at the under side of my trunk and tell
me what thou seest there."

Mahmoud raised his trunk in the air, and his mate inspected it
carefully, feeling its under side from lip to tip. Presently she said,
with surprise and some reproach in her tones:

"Why hast thou concealed thy wounds from me, thy faithful mate, my
Lord? Almost from lip to tip thou art scarred as though by lion's
claws. Surely this is since we came from the Jungle? Then, when I was
young and my eyes keen, thou couldst not have concealed from me these
dreadful wounds."

"Calm thyself, O Light of my Life," said Mahmoud, soothingly. "Canst
thou remember the time long before we came to this pleasant place,
when, for many weary months, we were separated, my beloved?"

"Aye, well, my Lord. It was the time when, day after day, I marched at
the head of a long train of gaudily painted wagons in which were Menial
People of every sort, stopping now and then at towns and villages for
the pleasure of the Master People, who came by thousands to see us. And
where wert thou, my Lord, during that dreary time of our separation?"

"In the summer," said Mahmoud, "I roamed the country at the head of a
train of Menial People, as didst thou. But in the winter I was housed
with many others where iron boxes contained fire wherewith to warm us.
It is to this same fire that I owe these wounds."

[Illustration]

"I, too, have seen this red danger," said Duchess, with a shudder.
"Once, in the Jungle, it roared and pursued me among the dried reeds
till my sides were scorched and I was near dying of fatigue. Didst
thou say, my Lord, that the Master People imprison those scorching red
tongues in iron boxes?"

[Illustration]

"Aye, thus it warms, but pursueth not," answered Mahmoud. "Yet is there
sometimes danger, as I am about to relate. It happened one night in the
middle of winter, when the cold was so severe that the man who watched
stretched himself out on the floor at the very side of the iron box,
which was as red without as it was within, that old Sultan, the lion,
escaped from his cage, and walked abroad within the large house. In
passing the red box, he lashed his tail thereon and was stung by the
fire so that he howled. But ere the watcher could rise, Sultan, roaring
with anger, leaped on the red box, overturning it, so that it fell and
held fast the foot of the man that watched. Instantly did the man set
up a great outcry, for the fire stung him also, and the weight of the
red box held him so that he could not rise.

"Now it happened," continued Mahmoud, "that the man who watched had
shown me many kindnesses, and I was loath to see him suffer pain.
Therefore, breaking the chain that held me in my stall, I ran to the
iron box, wrapped my trunk about it and quickly set it on its legs, as,
many times in the Jungle, I have carried the hewn logs for the Master
People. It was not until the watcher was released and arose, limping,
to his feet in safety, that I felt the sting of the fire--"

"Remarkable! Most remarkable!"

[Illustration]

This interruption, uttered in a gruff, unfamiliar voice, caused the
little Limping Boy to turn and look to see who was the speaker. But he
saw only the swaying branches of some shrubbery near by, and so went on
interpreting Mahmoud's tale.

"The pain grew each moment more severe, so that I groaned with the
agony of it," continued the elephant. "The man who watched returned
me to my stall and put oil on my wounds. The oil availed little. For
days my agony continued. The Keeper and his helpers could give me no
relief. Great patches of skin fell from my trunk, leaving my wounds raw
and bleeding. Thus I suffered in the full belief that my wounds were
mortal, and that I should never see thee again, my beloved, when one
day the Keeper brought to my stall a large man with yellow hair and
beard, who carried in his hand a black bag, and who, as he examined my
wounded trunk, kept saying 'hum' and 'ha' in a gruff voice. Yet I felt
in my heart that he desired to afford me relief--"

"Remarkable! Most remarkable!"

It was the same gruff voice; but again the little Limping Boy was
unable to discover whence it came, and so gave his attention once more
to the elephant.

[Illustration]

"Therefore, when men came with ropes," said Mahmoud, "I made no
resistance, but lay down of my own accord and suffered them to bind
me. Thereupon the gruff man opened his black bag and took therefrom
sundry bright knives and needles; also some bottles and strips of
gauze. Though his voice was gruff, I found his touch most soft and
gentle. First, he bathed my wounds with some sweet-smelling stuff,
and then, with a keen knife--so keen was it that I knew not when it
touched me, though it brought streams of blood--the man pared away
the diseased skin. I confess that the gruff man's next act puzzled
me somewhat at first. While his helpers held my trunk out straight,
ever and anon bathing it with a soothing liquid, he washed with great
care the thin, tender skin under my forelegs. A sharp pain, at which I
made no outcry, however, in the same region, caused me to turn my eyes
in that direction. The gruff man, with another very sharp knife, was
taking from my legs narrow strips of the living skin and laying them,
one after another, on the raw flesh of my trunk. Ere long the wounds
were all covered, and when strips of cloth had been bound about them,
holding them fast, the ropes were taken from me, and I was permitted
to rise. From that day all my pain ceased, and soon only the scars
which thou hast seen, O Light of my Life, remained as a witness of the
merciful deed of the gruff man with the yellow hair and beard."

"Remarkable! Most remarkable!"

This time when the little Limping Boy turned at the interruption, he
saw the Princess coming from the shrubbery, eagerly dragging after her
by the hand a large man in whose yellow hair and beard there were some
streaks of gray.

"Oh, Toots!" called out the Princess, as they approached the door
of the Elephant House, "here's papa. We heard your translation of
Mahmoud's story, and it's wonderful. I told papa you could do it, but
he wouldn't believe it till his own ears convinced him."

"And so you're Toots," said the Princess' father. "My little daughter
says that you translate the talk of the animals. Hum, ha, where did
you get that story about the elephant skin-grafting you've just been
telling?"

"Why, papa," said the Princess, reproachfully, "he got it from Mahmoud."

"Hum, ha," grunted the large man to himself, "the boy got it from the
Keeper--probably the same one that took me out to Bridgeport for that
case in Barnum's menagerie. Hum, ha, let's see, that was six years ago
last winter. Hum, ha." And the large man looked sharply at Toots.

"My little daughter calls you 'Toots'; what's your real name?"

"Edward Vine, sir."

"Hum, ha, poetical; goes well with his powerful imagination. What does
your father do?"

"My father is dead, sir."

"Poor boy! Hum, ha. What does your mother do?"

"Makes embroidery, sir."

"Any brothers or sisters?"

"No, sir."

"How old are you?"

"Eleven last June, sir."

"Hum, ha," said the gruff man.

Toots now saw that when the Princess' father said "hum, ha," he was
talking to himself. He stood with his back against the rail in front
of Mahmoud's stall. The old elephant was acting strangely. At every
exclamation of "hum, ha," he would flap his ears and move a step nearer
the large man.

"Hum, ha," mused the large man gruffly, again, as he took off his hat
to wipe the perspiration from his brow, over which swept the grayish
yellow locks. Instantly Mahmoud gave one of his little squeals of
delight and began fondling the large man with the tip of his trunk.

"Why, he remembers you, sir," said Toots. "Or else he mistakes you for
the surgeon who mended his trunk."

"Hum, ha, he doesn't mistake me, boy. I am the surgeon who mended
his trunk. I flatter myself that it was the first case of elephant
skin-grafting ever attempted. Hum, ha." And having closely inspected
the scars on the old elephant's proboscis, the large man said "hum,
ha," several more times, evidently with great satisfaction, then said
to Toots:

"What's the matter with your leg?"

"It's too short, sir."

"Born so?"

"Oh, no, sir. It was broken below the knee when I was six years old,
and my mother was too poor to get a good surgeon."

"Hum, ha; let's have a look at it."

The surgeon, whose hands were large, white and soft, and as gentle as
his voice was gruff, unfastened the straps of iron and felt of Toots'
poor, crippled leg, saying "hum, ha," a great many times as he did so.
At length he replaced the irons, looked the boy sharply in the face,
and asked:

"How would you like to wear it like the other one, for a change?"

"Oh, would that be possible, sir?" asked Toots, turning pale.

"Easy as"--the gruff man looked around to see if he could find anything
so easy as making Toots' leg an inch and a half longer, and noticed
Mahmoud--"easy as growing new skin on an elephant's trunk. Hum, ha,
easier."

"Would it hurt?"

"Not a bit. Do it while you're asleep. Then you lie on your back a
couple of weeks, after which you go out on my farm with my little
daughter and stay till you can jump up and crack your heels together
twice. Hum, ha. Tell your mother to bring you to the hospital at three
o'clock to-morrow afternoon."

[Illustration]

"Oh, thank you! Thank you!" was all Toots could say.

"Hum, ha, any friend of Mahmoud is a friend of mine," said the
Princess' father.

It all happened exactly according to the promise of the gruff man with
the gentle hands--a little dream of pain in his leg, then two weeks on
his back in the hospital bed, where the Princess visited him daily with
all sorts of dainties, and then, when he could walk about a bit, a long
journey into the country.

There, in the bright sunshine, with the birds and butterflies glancing
all about him, and the woods and fields calling to him to explore them,
he grew strong once more, until, little by little, he learned to get
along so gloriously that he could hardly make himself believe that he
was the same boy at all. And for this great blessing, which in all his
life he had never dared hope for, Toots felt from the very bottom of
his heart that he was indebted to the friendship and intimacy which he
had come to have with old Mahmoud.



                               CHAPTER V

    Said the fat white grub to the new spoon hook,
    With a cynical smile and a scornful look:
        "Pray accept my very best wishes.
    It is true you dazzle their eyes, I suppose,
    But the fact remains, as every one knows,
        That I am the food for fishes."

                                          --_Lay of the Minstrel Pike._


Toots sat on the smooth top of a boulder on the river bank, gazing deep
down into the pool at his feet. The pool was shaded by the overhanging
branches of a cottonwood tree. The warm air was filled with the
fragrance of the country. It had painted the boy's cheeks a healthy
brown, and caused him to thrill with a sense of strength that was new
and delightful. The good surgeon's promise was fulfilled; Toots' leg
was now as straight as that of any boy, and no longer was it burdened
by the weight of iron straps. Concerning the iron straps he had just
one regret; when he returned to his friends, the Menial People, would
Mahmoud be able to recognize him, thus bereft of those symbols of
their affinity? He would soon know, for he and the Princess--whose
guest Toots was at her father's country home during the period of his
convalescence--were to return in a few days.

Near where Toots sat, the Princess played beside a little brook
that gurgled over its bed of cobble-stones. She was amusing herself
poking the end of a stick under the stones in the bed of the brook.
Occasionally a crawfish would dart out backward, glare at her savagely
with its beady eyes and snap its clumsy claws at the stick, whereupon
the Princess would utter a ladylike little shriek and retire to
another part of the brook. Suddenly she clapped her hands and exclaimed:

"Oh, here comes Reginald!"

[Illustration]

The Princess ran to meet a trim, precise looking young man in a linen
helmet, canvas coat and trousers and a pair of high boots, who was
coming down the steep bank with a beautiful new rod and reel on his
shoulder. Slung across the other shoulder was a large bag. This was to
put his fish in--when he had caught them. Toots never moved from his
seat on the boulder.

"Now, if you children will keep quiet," said Reginald, as he fastened a
brilliant contrivance of scarlet feathers and glittering silver on the
end of his slender silken line, "we shall have fried pike for supper."

"I'd rather have pickerel, if you please," said Toots.

[Illustration: Suddenly the Princess exclaimed: "Oh, here comes
Reginald!"]

"Pickerel never bite at this time of day," answered Reginald, with
authority. He stepped to the water's edge, where the brook entered
the river, and raised his rod. Swish! went the delicate bit of bamboo
through the air, the reel whizzed and the silken line shot far down
the stream. When the glittering bauble at its end struck the water,
Reginald wound up the reel slowly, anxiously watching the tip of the
rod. Toots and the Princess looked on in silence, the Princess because
of her admiration for the natty figure, and Toots out of politeness.
But the boy had small respect for Reginald's abilities as a
fisherman. Farmer John, with his crooked old pole and grubs for bait,
was Toots' ideal in the fishing line. Besides, John had told him about
the Pickerel Family whose home was in this same pool.

[Illustration]

Yes, John's story must be quite true, for now as he turned his gaze
from the unprofitable fisherman back to the pool, Toots was sure
he could see shadowy figures floating in and out among the rocks.
Certainly there was Grandfather Pickerel, the patriarch of the family.
Toots could see him now quite plainly. He was having a domestic
discussion with two other pickerel who bore a strong family resemblance
to him.

"They must be Father and Mother Pickerel," thought Toots.

[Illustration]

Darting about near by, Toots could see the whole brood of young
pickerels. They were of all sizes, from Big Brother Pickerel, who was
nearly as large as his father, down to Baby Pickerel, who was hardly
larger than a minnow. Suddenly Toots realized that something of unusual
importance was going on at the bottom of the pool, for as his eyes
grew more accustomed to the wavering lights and shadows in the water,
he could see, swimming about in the near neighborhood of the Pickerel
Family, a whole troop of collateral relations. He recognized Uncle
Pike by his fierce look and by the way he ordered the other relations
about. Toots knew Aunt Bass by her plump figure and the bright silver
suit she wore. She was swimming here and there, conversing amiably
with everybody. Miss Catfish, a distant and poor relation, was
lingering modestly in the background. Nobody seemed to be paying any
attention to her except Big Brother Pickerel, who kept edging over in
her direction, only to be pursued, reprimanded and driven back to the
inner family circle by Mother Pickerel. Toots felt that revelations of
the utmost significance were impending. He hardly dared to breathe.
Just then his observations were interrupted by the shrill voice of the
Princess: "Toots! Toots! John's coming!"

This was different. Toots scrambled down from the boulder and ran to
meet the big man with the tattered straw hat who was approaching with
his crooked fish-pole on his shoulder. In one hand John carried a rusty
oyster can which appeared to be full of dirt. Toots stuck his fingers
into the dirt and brought something white to the surface.

"They're grubs," he exclaimed delightedly. "Now we _shall_ have fried
pickerel for supper."

Reginald was reeling in his line. His face wore a look of discontent.

"Don't seem to have much appetite for red feathers to-day, do they?"
said John, as he stuck a grub on his hook and dropped it into the pool.

Reginald muttered something between his teeth, and walked toward
the rock where the Princess was standing. She gave him a look of
consolation. Toots was clambering up beside her. It was a good place
from which to watch John.

"Go away," said the Princess, drawing her short skirts about her. "Go
away; you smell of grubs."

But she held out her hand to Reginald and smiled on him in her most
fascinating manner. Toots went and stood by the side of John. At that
moment the big man gave a sharp tug at the crooked pole, and a shining
pickerel over a foot long lay flopping on the stones. Toots viewed the
fish at close range with bulging eyes, and said:

"Why, I know him. It's the father of the little pickerels."

"That so?" said John, sticking another grub on his hook and dropping it
into the pool again. "Well, we'll eat him fried for supper just the
same."

Toots' lip quivered. "Where will the little pickerels get another
father?" he asked.

"They don't need any," said John. "Grandfather Pickerel will look after
them. He's a wise old chap. Nobody's going to get a chance to fry him
in a hurry. I've hooked him half a dozen times, but I've never had a
chance to fry him yet."

"Did he get away?" asked Toots.

"Well, I should say he did. You never see more than the tip of the old
sinner's nose. When he's given you a glimpse of that, he bites off the
line and flops back into his hole."

Toots reflected for several moments, and then inquired: "What becomes
of the hook, John?"

"Oh, he swallows the hook," answered the big man, testily. "His
stomach must be half full of old iron by this time."

This was an interesting situation. Toots turned it over in his mind
slowly. Presently his attention was diverted by an exclamation from
John.

"Durn his skin!" the big man was saying. "Blest if I don't believe I've
got him again!"

John's line was being dragged frantically about in the pool. The pole
bent and splashed in the water. The big man's hat came off. Reginald
and the Princess interrupted their flirtation to join Toots beside the
pool.

"Out of the way, you folks!" shouted John. "Give me room. I'm going to
land the old sinner this time, or know the reason why."

All at once the crooked pole snapped in two, and John fell backward
with his heels in the air. The next instant he had dashed into the
pool up to his shoulders, and seized the small end of the pole, to
which the line was attached.

"Reel him in, why don't you?" sang out Reginald, laughing.

"Reel nothing," said John, wrathfully, from the middle of the pool.
"The only way to get this fish out is to jump on his back and ride him
out."

[Illustration]

John concluded to compromise by leading him out. He had wound several
yards of the line about his arm, and was wading toward the shore. The
fish was suspiciously quiet. The big man stepped out of the water and
drew in the line, hand over hand. Toots could see the dim outlines of
the fish as he allowed himself to be drawn toward the water's edge.
Suddenly he clapped his hands and cried out gleefully:

"I know him! I know him! It's Grandfather Pickerel."

"So do I know him," said John. "Just you wait till I get my hands on
him."

At length Grandfather Pickerel's long, sharp nose appeared above the
water. The big man stepped back ready for one long, strong pull at the
right instant. The wary old fish opened his lean jaws to their full
width, and brought them together with a vicious snap. It was at exactly
the right moment. Once more John lay on his back with his heels in
the air, while Grandfather Pickerel glided with much dignity into the
depths of the pool.

"Now, if you had had my rod and reel," said Reginald, "you could have--"

"Your rod and reel be durned," said John, as he picked up the fish
lying on the stones, and started up the bank with it. "If ever that old
sinner gets hold of your rod and reel, he'll make toothpicks of 'em."



                              CHAPTER VI

  Food never drops out of a clear sky. When the sky is dark with clouds,
  it sometimes rains toads; that is different. I have yet to hear of a
  barbed iron hook being concealed in the flesh of a toad. Insects and
  other morsels that float down the brook into the pool come to us in
  the regular course of nature, and may be swallowed without question.

                                    --_Maxims of Grandfather Pickerel._


Toots went back to the boulder by the river's margin that same
afternoon, and resumed his observation of the Pickerel Family at home.
Reginald was taking a nap on the grassy slope of the river bank, and
the Princess was tenderly waving her handkerchief over his face to keep
off the flies. On a rainy day not long afterward Toots gave her the
following account of his observations:

[Illustration]

Mother Pickerel was worried. She expected company, and everything was
at sixes and sevens. The little pickerels were quarrelsome, and were
constantly getting in her way. She cuffed them with her fins, and asked
them what they supposed their Aunt Bass would think of their conduct.
The little Pickerels loved their Aunt Bass, she was so amiable and
entertaining. They chattered about her with their noses close together
under the rocks where the brook entered the pool. Aunt Bass was not
fierce and greedy like Uncle Pike. Sometimes she came over to the pool
at sundown, and amused them by leaping far out of the water to catch
fireflies. And she would tell them such lovely stories of all she saw
in the strange upper world, where there was nothing to swim in. She
was delightful. The little pickerels disputed angrily about which of
them should go to meet her. They chased each other about and blundered
rudely into the corner where Grandfather Pickerel was trying to have a
quiet nap. The old fellow grumbled so loudly at this interruption that
Mother Pickerel had to leave her work again. She cuffed them right and
left, saying:

[Illustration]

"How often have I told you not to disturb your grandfather when he is
taking his nap? And his stomach troubling him so! Don't you know it
rained last night? Oh, you bad children, to worry your grandfather
after a rain when his stomach hurts him so."

Just then Father Pickerel came home. Hearing what had happened, he
went at once and apologized to Grandfather Pickerel. Presently Mother
Pickerel joined them. Baby Pickerel sneaked up near enough to hear what
they were saying. After a little she rejoined her brothers and sisters,
looking very important.

"What are they talking about?" demanded the other little pickerels, in
a chorus.

"About Big Brother," said Baby Pickerel. "I just knew that was what
was the matter. He's been gallivanting again after that ill-bred Miss
Catfish. He can't be found anywhere. Uncle Pike's gone after him, and
pretty soon there's going to be a regular picnic, I can tell you. All
the relations are coming. I expect Big Brother's going to catch it this
time."

[Illustration]

Miss Pickerel turned up her nose disdainfully. "The idea of Brother
running after that Catfish girl. What shocking bad taste! Did you
notice what a horrid big mouth she has?"

"And she hasn't got a decent suit of scales to her back," chimed in the
next to the youngest Pickerel.

"She actually eats mud," said Baby Pickerel. "I saw her do it only the
other day. When she noticed that I saw her, she looked ashamed and
sneaked away."

"I am very glad to hear that she is not lost to all sense of shame,"
said Miss Pickerel, with a toss of her head.

"For my part," said one of the little Pickerels who had not yet spoken,
"I'd about as lief be a low-bred catfish as a greedy, quarrelsome pike."

"S-s-s-h!" said Miss Pickerel, warningly, "the Pikes are our
relations."

"I don't care if they are. Uncle Pike is perfectly disgraceful. He
snatches the fattest tadpoles and gulps them down at a single mouthful
before any one else has a chance at them. He has the most enormous
appetite. It's unnatural, too, I'm sure. Yesterday I saw him sneaking
about after Baby. Do you know, I have an idea he could tell what became
of little Cousin Bass last summer. It made me shudder to see him
watching Baby with his big, greedy eyes. I went and told Grandfather,
and they had some warm words about it."

[Illustration]

As they listened to this gruesome tale, the other little pickerels
turned pale and were silent. They did not recover their accustomed
spirits until Aunt Bass bustled in among them, giving each a pat with
her gentle fin. She was closely followed by Uncle Pike, who was
driving before him Big Brother Pickerel and Miss Catfish. Big Brother
Pickerel kept a protecting fin spread above Miss Catfish, and his bold
features bore an expression of defiance. Miss Catfish was pale and
trembling.

[Illustration]

"If I were in her place," whispered Miss Pickerel to her brothers and
sisters, "I should want the earth to open and swallow me up!"

The Pickerel Family and all the relations drew up in line and looked
with severity at Big Brother Pickerel, who continued his protecting
attitude toward Miss Catfish. At length Grandfather Pickerel spoke.

"Grandson," said he, "it is more in sorrow than in anger that we are
gathered here. Speak. Do you insist on bringing that young person into
this respectable family?"

"I do," answered Big Brother Pickerel, firmly; "and as for the
respectability of the family, I don't--"

"That will do, sir!" thundered Grandfather Pickerel, in a terrible
voice. "So be it. Miss Catfish, consider yourself raised to our level.
Your apartment is under the seventeenth cobble-stone to the left of
where the brook enters the pool. Spare your protestations of gratitude,
I beg of you. _Our_ feelings are too deep for words."

At this instant the proceedings were interrupted by a dazzling object
that dropped into the water a short distance down the stream, and came
glinting and whirling through the pool. Big Brother Pickerel made a
dash for it, but Grandfather Pickerel hit him such a slap with the flat
of his tail that he fell back, dazed, to the bottom of the pool.

[Illustration]

"Idiot! Look up and see what you were jumping at."

When the others looked in the direction indicated by Grandfather
Pickerel, they saw a most amusing thing. A dapper young man was
actually trying to deceive them with some scarlet feathers and a silver
bangle at the end of a line. Even Baby Pickerel knew better. Big
Brother Pickerel looked very much ashamed. He tried to explain that his
nervousness over domestic matters had temporarily warped his judgment.

[Illustration]

Grandfather Pickerel rose cautiously toward the surface of the pool
to see whether any more formidable enemy was in sight. He saw Toots
sitting on the boulder, but there was nothing to cause alarm in that.
On the contrary, Grandfather Pickerel regarded Toots in the light of a
friend and sympathizer. He had only one reason to be at all doubtful
concerning him. He sometimes came down to the pool with the terribly
fascinating big man in the tattered straw hat. Grandfather Pickerel
felt a dyspeptic twinge in the pit of his stomach as he recalled his
experiences with the big man. As he sank back into the pool, the other
pickerels noticed that he appeared grave and preoccupied. This meant
that the head of the family was turning something over in his mind
that he would shortly communicate to them. So they approached in a
respectful semicircle, and waited expectantly. Grandfather Pickerel
cast his eye over his audience, and asked:

"Where is my son?"

"Father has gone to see Aunt Bass home," answered Mother Pickerel; "he
will return in a few minutes."

Grandfather Pickerel cleared his throat, and looking severely at Big
Brother Pickerel, said:

"I must again warn you of the necessity of using care and judgment in
the selection of your food. I will pass over the humiliating scene we
have just witnessed, simply reminding you that dazzling objects which
seem to drop out of the sky should never be construed as food. My
youngest grandchild would be ashamed to act as you have done, sir!"

Big Brother Pickerel hung his head, while Baby Pickerel swelled
with pride to twice her natural size. At this instant the brilliant
combination of scarlet and silver again came whirling through the water
above their heads. The whole Pickerel family gazed at it without the
slightest evidence of emotion, whereat Grandfather Pickerel gave them a
benignant smile, and continued:

"As a general rule, everything that drops into the pool is to be
regarded with suspicion. Food never drops out of a clear sky. When the
sky is dark with clouds it sometimes rains toads; that is different.
I have yet to hear of a barbed iron hook being found concealed in the
flesh of a toad. Insects and other morsels that float down the brook
into the pool come to us in the regular course of nature, and may be
swallowed without question."

Here Grandfather Pickerel stopped and reflected for a moment. Presently
he added:

"Regarding objects that seem to drop out of the sky, I think of one
exception--grasshoppers"--the little pickerels smacked their lips at
mention of this delectable morsel--"which may either fly into the pool
from a distance or leap in from the bank.

"I now come," said the patriarch, "to the most deadly danger with which
we have to deal. I refer to the powerful fascination which seems to be
exercised over us by those big two-legged creatures in tattered straw
hats, carrying long, crooked poles over their shoulders, who come down
to the pool and lure us to destruction with grubs impaled on sharp iron
hooks. I don't know how to account for it," said Grandfather Pickerel,
shaking his head and turning pale about the gills, "except on the
theory of hypnotism--"

"Oh, here comes papa!" interrupted Baby Pickerel.

But the others were gazing in consternation at the patriarch, who was
now white clear to the tip of his tail and shaking with terror. He was
staring upward with wild, distended eyes. The others looked also and
understood. The big man was there with his crooked pole. They felt
themselves drawn toward him. He was throwing something into the pool.

"Back! Back!" shouted Grandfather Pickerel. "Back for your lives!" But
the warning was too late. Father Pickerel, approaching from the middle
of the river, jumped at the white grub, and all was over. The bereaved
Pickerel family saw him dangling helplessly at the end of the big man's
line, then disappearing into the unknown world where there is nothing
to swim in.

"Back under the rocks, all of you!" thundered Grandfather Pickerel.
"There is only one thing to be done. I must have that hook, or soon
there'll be none left to tell the tale. Thank heaven, I have two sound
teeth in my head yet."

[Illustration]

With bated breath and quivering fins the other pickerels peered out
from under the rocks at the desperate struggle which immediately
ensued. It was short, but decisive. The waters of the pool were lashed
into foam. The little pickerels were half-mad with terror. All at once
they gave a loud cheer. The victorious patriarch was returning. There
was bloody foam on his jaws, but several inches of fish-line hung from
between them. The aged hero paid no attention to the cheering, but
swam dejectedly into the farthest corner of his den. Mother Pickerel
followed him in silence. When she returned, her eyes were red.

"Didn't Grandfather get the hook after all?" asked Baby Pickerel.

"Hush, dear," said Mother Pickerel, wiping her eyes with the tip of
her tail. "Yes, your grandfather has the hook safe in the pit of his
stomach along with all the others, and it is paining him dreadfully."

The Princess was still fanning the flies away from the face of
Reginald. John was cultivating corn on the high bank of the river.
Every five or six minutes he turned his team near by from one row into
the next one. Toots remembered John's extra pole and line concealed
behind the old cottonwood. He went and got it. But how about bait? Then
Toots had a second inspiration. He recalled Grandfather Pickerel's
remark about grasshoppers. There were plenty of them all about. At that
instant a fat one dropped out of the tree and lay with its long legs on
the rocks at Toots' feet. The boy, as tenderly as possible, stuck it
on the hook and went back to the boulder. First, he would see what was
going on in the bosom of the Pickerel Family.

Mother Pickerel was asking Grandfather Pickerel if he didn't think he'd
better take a bite of something to stay his stomach till dinner-time.

"There's some nice tender tadpoles over in the mouth of the brook," she
said. "Do try half a dozen raw, dearie, won't you?"

It was at that very instant that Toots' grasshopper, with the hook
through the small of his back, jumped out of his hands into the pool.
Before the boy had time to realize what had happened, the line and then
the pole began moving of their own accord toward the water's edge.
Toots grabbed the pole and was nearly dragged into the pool. He looked
around and saw John turning his team on the high bank.

"I've got him, John! Come here quick!" yelled Toots.

Reginald awoke barely in time to seize the end of the pole before it
and Toots had been dragged into the water. John came tearing down the
bank, shouting at the top of his voice:

"Don't fight him yet. Give him the line! Give him the line!"

"He's got the line," said Reginald, "and he seems to want the pole,
too. Now is the time when fifty yards of silk and a good reel--"

"Here, give me the pole," said John; "we'll see who's master this time."

Then followed a most exciting scene. When at last Grandfather
Pickerel's nose appeared above the surface of the pool, John hadn't
a dry rag to his back. The big man was amazed to see that the old
pickerel made no attempt to bite off the line. When he had him safely
landed, the first thing he did was to look in his mouth.

"Well, I'm durned," said John. "The old sinner hasn't a tooth left in
his head."

As Toots gazed on the form of the vanquished patriarch, all his pride
of conquest was swallowed up in a great wave of pity.

"He'll never swallow any more fish-hooks, will he, John?"

"Well, I guess not," said the big man; "the frying pan will stop all
that nonsense."

"It seems a pity to fry the old chap," said Toots. "He's lost all his
teeth and can't do any more damage."

"That's so," answered John, good naturedly; "maybe you'd rather put him
in the spring, and keep him for a pet?"

But Toots was thinking of the grief of the Pickerel Family. How would
Mother Pickerel be able to get along with both Father and Grandfather
Pickerel no more, especially considering the doubtful character of Big
Brother Pickerel, with his tendency to overturn the established order
of society? When he had thought it all over, he said:

"No, John, I'd rather put him back in the pool, where he can continue
to care for the little Pickerels."

And thus the patriarch of the Pickerel Family, wiser than any of his
race, before or since, was restored to those who had such grave need of
his guidance.



                              CHAPTER VII


The country of the Menial People lay white and frozen under its blanket
of snow when Toots and the Princess next visited it. They stood before
the cage of the lion cubs on the morning of the first snowfall of the
year.

"By my claws and teeth, all the earth is white!" exclaimed the largest
of the cubs, as he looked through his barred window.

"The world must be coming to an end," said a shivering puma, curling up
in the farthest corner of his cage.

"Ho, there, Sultan!" cried out one of the young tigers; "you are old
and full of wisdom, tell us why all the land is white, and why our
teeth chatter so."

Old Sultan rose thereupon, and having walked majestically to the front
of his dwelling, lifted up his voice and said:

[Illustration]

"It is well that you children should know that we are no longer in the
Jungle of our fathers. For some reason, I know not what, we have been
brought captive into the far North, where, ever and anon, the earth
is white, and our hair stands out stiff and harsh. However, I would
counsel you to be patient and calm. The food is wholesome and plenty,
and is laid each day conveniently at our very feet."

"That is indeed so," assented the mother lioness. "It is a great burden
off my mind to know that though my claws grow dull with age, and
my limbs too stiff to leap, you children are still unpursued by the
phantom of hunger unappeased. Therefore, let us be thankful." And she
stretched herself out on the floor of her house, and was soon snoring
comfortably.

The wise counsel of the older lions calmed the cubs somewhat, but
filled them with so much curiosity about the jungle home of their
people that throughout the day they kept those who had been born in
freedom busy answering their questions. Thus it happened that neither
Pwit-Pwit, the sparrow, nor the little Limping Boy--who no longer
limped--could get the attention of Mahmoud or Duchess, mate of the aged
elephant, till toward evening.

In the deepest snow of his yard stood Wapiti, the red deer, with his
head aloft, his great branching antlers thrown back and his nostrils
quivering. Pwit-Pwit flew up and alighted on one of the prongs and
chirped merrily into the deer's ear:

"Glorious fun, this snow, isn't it, old fellow?"

But Wapiti stood sniffing the frosty air and was silent.

"I know what is the matter with you," said the sparrow, "you are trying
to remember something that happened when it was winter in the great
woods where you ran free."

Pwit-Pwit picked at the shreds of skin hanging from Wapiti's antlers,
and at length the deer lowered his head and spoke:

"Go away now," he said, "but come back again. I smell something in the
air that makes me feel like leaping and running with all my speed. The
memory of other days is struggling to return. Just now I thought it
was here. Come back after a little, Pwit-Pwit. Give me time to collect
my thoughts."

With this the sparrow hopped down from the deer's antlers at Toots'
feet, and began fluttering his wings and scolding at him.

"He is talking to you now," said the Princess. "What does he say?"

"He wants us to come with him. Lead the way," said Toots to the
sparrow, "and we will follow wherever you go."

Toots took the Princess' hand and started a few steps, whereat
Pwit-Pwit, with a chirp of satisfaction, flew straight to the den of
the bears. When Toots and the Princess arrived, they found the sparrow
exhibiting signs of disappointment and indignation. The great beasts
were curled up fast asleep and snoring.

"Well, what do you think of that?" demanded the sparrow. "A nice way
to receive visitors, that is. They know that I always come when the sun
shines full in their doorway."

"The snow and the cold have made them sleepy," said Toots.

"Perhaps that is so," answered the sparrow--Toots was translating their
talk for the Princess--"but it is stupid of them, and impolite, and I
won't have it."

With these words the sparrow flew at the eyes of the oldest bear,
pecking away with all his might, and chirping:

"Come, now, will you wake up? You have company for breakfast. Shame
upon you!"

But the old bear simply put his great paws over his eyes and was
presently snoring louder than ever. It was the same with the younger
bears. They had eaten their breakfast, and were determined to sleep.

Pwit-Pwit fluttered out of the bears' den, and fixing his sparkling
eyes on Toots' face, said:

[Illustration]

"I know what we'll do. We'll call on the racoons. They're horrible
little chatterboxes, but they are inclined to be sociable. Besides, I
have been neglecting them of late."

So they went a little farther up the hill to the Racoon House, with its
door looking toward the sun, which is always closed at night. No sound
came from within.

"It is a little late to catch them at breakfast," said the sparrow;
"but they are such greedy people that some of them are sure to be
quarreling over the last morsel."

But, to the intense surprise of Pwit-Pwit, all was silent within the
Racoon House. He hopped in at the door, and presently returned, looking
deeply disgusted.

"Would you believe it?" he said testily. "Every one of those silly
people is snoring louder than the bears. Isn't it disgraceful?"

"They are like the bears," said Toots; "the cold makes them drowsy."

"Well, I shan't go without my breakfast any longer, simply because it
is my duty to carry the early news to people who are too stupid to
listen to it," chirped Pwit-Pwit. "I'm half-starved. Come, we will
call on the old gray rabbit. There is no one so wise as he in all the
Menial World--and he always saves a choice morsel for me, though I must
confess that I prefer the fare of Mahmoud."

It was only a few steps to the snowy hillside where the old gray
rabbit watched over his large family, the youngest of which was
a snow-white great-granddaughter. Without waiting for a special
invitation, Pwit-Pwit took possession of a bread crust, and was pecking
at it greedily, when a wonderful thing happened. The old gray rabbit,
ignoring the sparrow, hopped slowly over to where Toots and the
Princess stood leaning upon the top rail of his yard fence.

"Good morning," said the boy.

[Illustration]

The rabbit stuck one of its ears straight up and allowed the other to
hang down over his cheek, meanwhile moving his flexible lips in the
most extraordinary fashion. Toots laughed aloud and clapped his hands,
saying: "Thank you, Grandpa Rabbit, my crooked leg is cured. This is
the Princess. Her father, who is a great surgeon, made it as straight
as its mate. You can see for yourself."

With perfect confidence in Toots' ability to understand the rabbit
language, the Princess bowed, and then stroked Grandfather Rabbit's
ear. Then he hopped still closer to the fence and made a long speech
with his ears and flexible lips. And this is what he said:

[Illustration: The rabbit stuck one of its ears straight up.]

"Little boy, I rejoice at your good fortune. While your poor leg was
still crooked, and the iron clanked upon it, and you were as thin and
pale as you are now brown and stout, you never neglected me. I always
felt that you understood me and mine better than those great careless
men who come with the bread and the cabbage-leaves, but with never a
word of greeting. Even now, when the ground is white and cold, you
do not forget us. We feel that you are one of us. It is not given to
all of the Menial People to speak as plainly as I do, but you have my
earnest assurance that all have the same feeling of affection toward
you."

While the rabbit was speaking, Pwit-Pwit, having satisfied his hunger,
hopped up beside him, and told him of the disgraceful conduct of the
bears and the racoons.

"I could have told you," answered the rabbit, "that the first snow
would deprive you of all companionship on the part of those people. It
was their custom before being taken into captivity to sleep steadily
through all the freezing weather. My people understood it well, for
then we had only the wildcats, the wolves and the foxes to fear."

"But how could they live so long without eating?" demanded Pwit-Pwit.
"When the weather is cold, my appetite is sharper than ever."

"They lived upon their fat," answered the old gray rabbit. "All the
time the leaves were falling the bears ate grapes and berries in the
forest, until they were so fat they could hardly walk. I remember we
were never afraid of them then, they were so slow and clumsy. It was
the same with the racoons. All night they would steal along the margin
of the river, gorging themselves with clams, fish and young ducks, and
sometimes would go into the fields for the juicy, green corn. So, when
the first snow came, they, too, were almost too fat to walk.

"Then," continued the old gray rabbit, "the bears would crawl into
the farthest corner of their caves, while the racoons would curl up
into furry rings at the ends of their burrows, and there they would
sleep soundly until the warm sun should again melt the snow. All these
things I know well, for it is during the first warm days of spring that
the rabbits are ever on the alert because of the gaunt figures of the
half-starved bears, awakened by their hunger, which then prowl over the
land."

"Ah, now I understand," chirped Pwit-Pwit. "Well, now that the bears
and the racoons care no longer for the news, I shall have more time
than ever to devote to dear old Mahmoud, and to Fatimah and the
hippopotamus baby."

Just then there came a wild bellow from the direction of Wapiti's yard.

[Illustration]

"It's Wapiti," said Pwit-Pwit, much excited. "Come at once. He
remembers."

"If it is the deer you are about to visit," said the rabbit, "I would
warn you that his people are apt to be dangerous when the snow is on
the ground. It is then that they suffer from hunger, and are none too
gentle with their sharp prongs."

But Pwit-Pwit said that he had a perfect understanding with Wapiti,
and flew away, followed by Toots and the Princess, both eager to know
what it was that the red deer had remembered. They found him shaking
his antlers and pawing the snow.

[Illustration]

"Now, I remember," he said. "It was on just such a day as this in the
great forest that my gentle, tender-eyed mate was taken from me. There
were two fierce dogs that sprang at her throat. But this was not until
the iron in the man's hand had spoken, and my mate had fallen to her
knees, with the blood gushing from her mouth. Look, Pwit-Pwit, little
one, do you see that prong, broken short off?"

"Yes," answered the sparrow, eagerly.

The red deer tossed his head savagely, then bellowed fiercely:

"It was with that same prong that I pinned one of the dogs to a tree,
so that he never barked again. I left the prong sticking to his heart."

"Served him right," said Pwit-Pwit. "I can't bear dogs; they're as bad
as cats."

"But my poor mate was dead," continued Wapiti, "and while I was
mourning over her body, the men came and bound me fast with cords. That
is why you find me here."

With that, they took leave of the red deer, and with the sparrow in the
lead, proceeded to the Elephant House.

"By this time," said Toots, "the lion cubs will have ceased their
chatter over the white carpet the heavens laid on the earth in the
night, and we shall be able to get in a word."

Mahmoud and the Duchess stood as near the front of their house as the
chains on their legs would let them, and seemed eager for visitors.
They greeted Pwit-Pwit cordially, stretching out their trunks to him.
The sparrow hopped upon that of Mahmoud, and said:

"Where are your eyes, old friend? Here is the little Limping Boy back
again, and you give him not so much as a flap of your ear in greeting."

"Alas, my eyes give me small service these days," said the elephant;
"yet I would have sworn that the lad who follows you hither with the
little butterfly maiden is stout and brown and well-clad, and with two
good, straight legs under him. Can it be that my ears are growing
dull, also, that I failed to hear the clank of the iron on his leg?"

Thus speaking, Mahmoud put forth his trunk, and with the two fingers
at its end felt carefully of Toots' legs, first of one and then of the
other. Then he drew back and blew a puff of wind through his trunk that
ruffled Pwit-Pwit's feathers, saying playfully:

"And so, Pwit-Pwit, little one, thou wouldst jest with thy most
faithful of friends? Nay, the lad is well-favored and good to look
upon, but he is not the little Limping Boy."

And Mahmoud, turning his head resolutely, began carrying to his mouth
the stack of hay the Keeper had placed before him. Toots felt his heart
torn as by a great sorrow.

"Mahmoud! Mahmoud!" he sobbed, holding out his arms.

But the elephant gave no heed to the boy, and the sparrow had flown
away.

Toots burst into tears.

"It is sad," said the Princess, putting her handkerchief to her eyes,
"but it is better to be strong like other boys."

And she led him away, and when next Toots and the Princess visited
their friends of the Menial World, he was tall, with hair on his lip,
and she was slender and very fair; and they looked only in each other's
eyes.

[Illustration: The End]



                          Transcriber's Note:

Italics are indicated by _underscores_.
Small capitals have been rendered in full capitals.
A number of minor spelling errors have been corrected without note.





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