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Title: Golden Dicky, The Story of a Canary and His Friends
Author: Saunders, Marshall
Language: English
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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.

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  GOLDEN DICKY


  [Illustration: GOLDEN DICKY]



  GOLDEN DICKY

  THE STORY OF A CANARY
  AND HIS FRIENDS

  BY

  MARSHALL SAUNDERS
  _Author of “Beautiful Joe,” etc._

  _WITH FRONTISPIECE IN COLOR BY GEORGE W. HOOD_

  [Illustration]

  “_For I am my brother’s keeper
    And I will fight his fight;
  And speak the word for beast and bird
    Till the world shall set things right._”

  —ELLA WHEELER WILCOX

  NEW YORK
  FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
  PUBLISHERS



  _Copyright, 1919, by_
  FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY

  _All Rights Reserved_



I dedicate this story to my fellow-members of the TORONTO HUMANE
SOCIETY and especially to our President, THE RIGHT REVEREND JAMES
FIELDING SWEENEY, Lord Bishop of Toronto, who at all times takes a
most faithful and painstaking interest in our work for dumb animals
and for children.

                   MARSHALL SAUNDERS



         CONTENTS


         CHAPTER                                       PAGE

         INTRODUCTION                                    ix

      I. I BEGIN THE STORY OF MY LIFE                     1

     II. A TRIP DOWNSTAIRS                               17

    III. SAMMY-SAM AND LUCY-LOO                          26

     IV. A SAD TIME FOR A CANARY FAMILY                  32

      V. MY NEW FRIEND, CHUMMY HOLE-IN-THE-WALL          41

     VI. CHUMMY TELLS THE STORY OF A NAUGHTY SQUIRREL    51

    VII. MORE ABOUT SQUIRRIE                             66

   VIII. CHUMMY’S OPINIONS                               72

     IX. A BIRD’S AFTERNOON TEA                          84

      X. ANOTHER CALL FROM CHUMMY                        95

     XI. BILLIE SUNDAE BEGINS THE STORY OF HER LIFE     103

    XII. JUST ONE THING AFTER ANOTHER                   120

   XIII. MRS. MARTIN ADOPTS BILLIE                      129

    XIV. BILLIE AND I HAVE ONE OF OUR TALKS             143

     XV. THE CHILDREN NEXT DOOR                         154

    XVI. STORIES ABOUT THE OLD BARN                     166

   XVII. I LOSE MY TAIL                                 183

  XVIII. NELLA THE MONKEY                               195

    XIX. SQUIRRIE’S PUNISHMENT                          206

     XX. SISTER SUSIE                                   218

    XXI. MORE ABOUT SISTER SUSIE                        227

   XXII. A TALKING DOG                                  236

  XXIII. THIRD COUSIN ANNIE                             248

   XXIV. BLACK THOMAS CATCHES A BURGLAR                 256

    XXV. THE CHILDREN’S RED CROSS ENTERTAINMENT         265

   XXVI. THE BEGINNING OF MY FAMILY CARES               272



INTRODUCTION


Known the world over as the champion of the dumb animals, to which her
lively imagination has given human speech, Marshall Saunders, the
author of “Beautiful Joe,” a book translated into many languages, has
enlarged her range of humanitarian interests to take the feathered
world into her protecting care. A new story of hers, entitled “Golden
Dicky, the Story of a Canary and His Friends,” presents a moving plea,
not only in behalf of those prime favorites of the household, the
canaries, but of other birds as well, even the too much despised
sparrow coming in for anything but half-hearted defence. While one may
feel that his imagination must take to itself powerful pinions to
follow the story, particularly in the dialogues, yet at the same time
he is made aware of how largely the practical enters into it. Miss
Saunders has made a careful study of animal and bird life, and
introduces into her pages much interesting information of the ways and
the needs of her humble protégés, and many useful hints as to their
proper care, so that the story is something more than entertaining.

While Dicky-Dick’s chronicles mainly concern the familiar feathered
folk of our homes and their leafy environment, the author cannot
forego an excursion into her old haunts, and in Billie Sundae, the
fox-terrier, a capital new chapter is added to the literature of dog
biography and autobiography. The squirrels also come in for a share of
attention. Squirrie, the bad squirrel, supplies a proper villain to
the cast of characters, with the sensible and good Chickari to redeem
his race from opprobrium.

The children who read these delightful pages will surely form lasting
friendships with Dicky-Dick, the cheery songster, and Chummy, the
stout-hearted little sparrow, and all the robins and grackles and
crows who with the dogs and squirrels and Nella, the monkey, make up
the lively company embraced in these chronicles. In Mrs. Martin, the
kind-hearted lover and protector of birds, and her gentle daughter,
“Our Mary,” we have illustrated the kindly relations which should
obtain between man and the beasts of the field and the fowl of the
air, over which the Creator has given him the responsibility of
dominion.

                   EDWARD S. CASWELL.



  _PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS_


  DICKY-DICK, _the canary_.
  DIXIE, _his mother_.
  NORFOLK, _his father_.
  GREEN-TOP, _his brother_.
  SILVER-THROAT, _his uncle_.
  CHUMMY HOLE-IN-THE-WALL, _his friend the sparrow_.
  MRS. MARTIN, _who owns_ DICKY-DICK.
  OUR MARY, _her daughter_.
  MR. MARTIN, _her husband_.
  SAMMY-SAM, _her nephew_.
  LUCY-LOO, _her niece_.
  BILLIE SUNDAE, _her dog_.
  SISTER SUSIE, _her dove_.
  VOX CLAMANTI, _the robin_.
  SLOW-BOY, _the pigeon_.
  SUSAN, _his mate_.
  SQUIRRIE, _a bad squirrel_.
  CHICKARI, _a good squirrel_.
  BLACK THOMAS, _the boarding-house cat_.
  NELLA, _the monkey_.
  FREDDIE,  }
  BEATRICE, } _Children in the boarding-house_.
  NIGER, _the talking dog_.



GOLDEN DICKY



GOLDEN DICKY



CHAPTER I

I BEGIN THE STORY OF MY LIFE


When I look in a mirror and see my tiny, bright black eyes, it seems
queer to think that once upon a time, when I was a baby bird, I was
more blind than a bat.

My sense of sight was the last to wake up. I could hear, smell, taste
and touch, before I could see. We were three naked little canary
babies in a nest, and at intervals, we all rose up, threw back our
heads, opened our beaks, and our mother Dixie daintily put the lovely
egg food down our tiny throats. Oh, how good it used to taste! I never
had enough, and yet I did have enough, for my mother knew how much to
feed me, and when I got older, I understood that most young things
would stuff themselves to death, if the old ones did not watch them.

I shall never forget the first day my eyes opened. I couldn’t see
things properly for hours. There was a golden mist or cloud always
before me. That was my mother’s beautiful yellow breast, for she
hovered closely over us, to keep us warm. Then I was conscious of
eyes, bright black ones, like my own. My mother was looking us all
over affectionately, to see that we were well-fed, warm and clean, for
canary housekeepers are just like human beings. Some are careful and
orderly, others are careless and neglectful.

Then my father would come and stare at us. He is a handsome Norwich
canary, of a deep gold color, with a beautiful crest that hangs over
his eyes, and partly obscures his sight, making him look like a little
terrier dog. He used to fling up this crest and look at us from under
it. Then he would say, “Very fine babies, quite plump this lot,” and
he would fly away for more lettuce or egg food, or crushed hemp, for
we had enormous appetites, and it took a great deal of his time to
help my mother keep our crops quite full and rounded out.

How we grew! Soon I was able to look in the mirror opposite our nest,
and I could see the change in us from day to day. Canaries grow up
very quickly, and when we were a fortnight old, we had nice feathers
and were beginning to feed ourselves. There was myself, a little
brother, and a sister. I had a great deal to learn in those fourteen
days, which would be like two or three years in the life of a child.

My little mother Dixie used to tell us stories as she brooded over us.
Some people do not know that when a mother bird hovers over her little
ones, and twitters softly to them, that she is telling them tales,
just as a human mother amuses her babies.

My mother told us that we ought to be very happy little birds, for we
were not in a cage where canaries are usually hatched, but in a
good-sized bird-room, in a comfortable nest. This nest was a small
wooden box, placed on a shelf high up on the wall, and we could stand
on the edge of it and look all about the room.

My mother also told us that we must love, next to our parents, the
young girl who owned this bird-room and who came in many times a day
to feed and water us and to see that we were all comfortable.

I shall never forget how I felt the first day I rose up in our nest,
stepped to the edge of our box, and looked about the bird-room.

It seemed enormous to me. I gasped and fell back in the nest. Then I
looked again, and this time the sight did not make me feel so weak,
and I straightened things out.

It was, or is, for I often visit it yet, a good-sized attic room, with
one big window looking east, and a door opening into a hall. Standing
two and three deep all round the room were rows of fir trees, straight
but not very tall, and looking like little soldiers. They were in big
pots of earth, and my mother told me that every few months they were
taken out and fresh ones were put in. Running between the trees and
resting on their branches were long, slender poles and perches, for
fir branches are not usually very good to sit on. A bird likes a
spreading branch, not one that hugs the tree.

In the middle of the room was a tiny fountain, with rock work round
it. Night and day it murmured its pretty little song, and the birds
splashed and bathed and played games in the shallow basin under it.
There were not big birds in the room, so we did not need a deep
bathing pool.

Beyond the fountain were the trays of green sods and dishes of food
and seeds. Oh, what good things we had to eat, for as we were not
caged birds, we could have quite rich food. Then we took so much
exercise flying to and fro that it sharpened our appetites. I shall
never forget the good taste of the egg food that I fed myself, and the
bread and milk, the bits of banana and orange, and pineapple and
apples, and pears and grapes—the little saucers of corn meal and
wheat and oatmeal porridge, and the nice, firm, dry seeds—rape,
millet, canary, hemp and sometimes as a great treat a little poppy
seed.

The floor was covered with gravel and old lime, and once a month a man
came in and swept it all up and put down a fresh lot.

Near the fountain was one small wicker chair, and there Miss Martin,
the lame girl who owned us all, used to sit by the hour and watch us.

As I sat, a weak young thing, on the edge of my nest, looking down
into the room, it seemed to me that there were a great many birds
flying about, and I should never be able to tell one from the other.
However, I soon learned who they all were. First of all, there was my
lovely mother Dixie, an American canary, with dainty whirls of
feathers on her wings, my golden colored father Norfolk, my father’s
sister Silkie, her roller canary mate Silver-Throat, who was a tiny,
mottled bird, with an exquisite voice, and about twenty other canaries
of different breeds, some Australian parakeets, African love-birds,
nonpareils, and indigoes, and in the nest beside me my little sister
Cayenna and my brother Green-Top, so called from his green crest. I am
a plainhead.

My mother told me a great many stories about all these other birds,
but I will not put them down just now.

I must tell, though, about my naming. I had a trouble just as soon as
my eyes opened. My big brother Green-Top was jealous of me. He is a
larger, handsomer bird than I am, but even when we were babies my
parents said that his voice would not be as good as mine. Just as soon
as he got the use of his wings he began to beat me. My parents
naturally stood up for me, because I am smaller and weaker and plainer
looking. It was really surprising that I should turn out to be such an
ordinary-looking little bird, when I have such handsome parents.

Green-Top told me that the old birds in the room said I was the exact
image of my grandmother Meenie, who was a very common little bird from
very common stock, that Miss Mary Martin brought into the bird-room
out of pity for her.

Well, anyway, our Mary Martin was not slow in finding out that I was
set upon, and one day as she stood watching us, she said to me, “Come
here, you golden baby. I haven’t named you yet.”

She held out her hand as she spoke, and I lighted on her shoulder and
got a lump of sugar for being obedient.

“I like the way you stand up to that naughty brother of yours,” she
said. “You are a little hero. I am going to call you Richard the
Lion-Hearted and Dicky-Dick for short.”

All the birds were listening to her, and when she stopped speaking you
could hear all over the room the funny little canary sounds, like
question marks, “Eh! What! La! La! Now what do you think of that! Such
a grand name for a little plainhead bird!”

Naming a bird was a very exciting event in the bird-room and always
caused a great deal of talk.

Green-Top was furious. His name sounded quite short and of no account,
compared with Richard the Lion-Hearted. To show his displeasure he
dashed across the room and brushed our Mary’s ears with his wings.
That was a favorite trick of the birds—to brush the hair or the ears
of Miss Mary, or to light on her head, and the way they did it showed
the state of their feelings toward her.

“Naughty boy!” she said, shaking her head at him. “Hemp seed for every
bird in the room except Green-Top,” and she fed us an extra portion of
this seed we liked best while he, knowing better than to come forward,
sat in a corner and sulked.

She was just like a mother to us all, so good and indulgent, but she
would not have any bullies in her bird home, and if a bird got too bad
she gave him away.

After a while she went out of the room, and Green-Top flew at me, beat
me, and was beginning to chase me most wickedly, when our father
called us to have a singing lesson.

By this time we were six weeks old, and had been driven out of our
nest three weeks ago. My mother was now getting ready for a second
family. Miss Mary had given her a fresh box with a new nest in it, and
my mother was lining it with soft cow hair, moss, dry grass, and short
lengths of soft, white string. Our Mary never gave her birds long bits
of anything, for they would have caught on their claws and tripped
them up.

We young ones watched her jealously. We had cried bitterly when we
were put out of the nest. Our mother did not beat us, but our father
did.

“Don’t you understand, babies,” she said, as she turned herself round
and round in the nest to shape it with her breast, “that I must get
ready for this second family? I could not have you hanging about your
old home. You would step on the nestlings. You must go out in the room
and get acquainted with some of the young birds, for a year hence you
will be choosing mates of your own.”

“I don’t want to go out in the room, mother,” I chirped bitterly. “I
want to stay with you. Green-Top is so ugly to me and sets my cousins
on to tease me. They crowd me at night on the perch, they make me wait
at the food dishes till they have eaten. I want to live with you. You
are so pretty and so good and comfortable.”

“Darling, darling,” she twittered in her lovely soft tones. “Come at
night and perch near me. Wait till your father puts his head under his
wing.”

This was very soothing, and at least I had happy nights, although my
days were always more or less worried. Parents don’t know what a lot
of trouble their young ones have when they first leave the home nest.

To come back to our singing lesson. My father was terribly strict with
us, and we just hated it, though our mother told us to get all we
could out of him, for as soon as the new nestlings came he would not
pay much attention to us.

“Then what will you do,” she said, “for a canary that can not sing is
a no-account canary?”

“I wish I were a hen-bird like Cayenna,” I said sulkily. “She never
has to sing.”

“Hen birds never sing,” said my mother. “Cayenna’s beauty and the
exquisite coloring that she will have later on, for I shall make her
eat plenty of pepper food, will carry her through life. You are a very
plain little bird, my darling. Your voice will be your only charm.
Promise me, promise me, that you will mind what your daddy says.”

“I’ll try, mother,” I used to say every time she talked to me, but at
nearly every lesson, when my father lost his temper, I forgot what I
had promised her, and lost mine too. This day I was particularly
sulky, and it wasn’t long before I was getting a good pecking from my
father Norfolk.

“I never heard such harsh and broken tones,” he said angrily. “Listen
to Green-Top, how he holds his song like an endless strain.”

I tried again, but unfortunately I caught my uncle Silver-Throat’s
eye, and broke down and gurgled and laughed in my father’s beak.

Didn’t I catch it! He and Green-Top both fell on me, and to save my
feathers I flew straight to the most sheltered fir tree in the room,
where Uncle Silver-Throat sat hunched up all day long, holding against
the wall that part of his body which had once been a lovely tail.

He is a little Hartz Mountain canary, with a fluffy, mottled breast,
and he has the most wonderful voice in the room.

He was laughing now. “Come here, poor little birdie,” he said. “There
is no use trying to learn from your father; he is too impatient. He
can’t sing, anyway. He is an English bird, and all his race are bred
for form and appearance. My race is for song. It doesn’t matter how we
look. Can he teach you the water-bubble, deep roll, bell, flute,
warble, whistle, and the numberless trills I can? Does his voice have
a range of four octaves?”

“No, indeed,” I said, “but he is my father, and I would like to learn
from him.”

“That’s right,” he said heartily. “I really think you should control
yourself a little more. Well, we’ll leave it this way. Go back to your
father, when he becomes calm, and learn all you can from him, but come
to me for extra lessons. I’ll teach you to sing much better than that
scamp Green-Top does, for your voice is sweeter than his. He is a very
disrespectful, saucy young bird. It is he that puts your father up to
abusing you, I believe.”

“Uncle,” I said timidly, “two days ago you had a fine tail. Now you
have none. Why is it?”

He smiled. “I am quite a deep thinker, birdie, and yesterday as I sat
dreaming on this branch, I failed to notice that new, golden spangled
Lizard canary who has lately come to the bird-room. She was acting
queerly about the five eggs she has just laid. Finally I did remark
that she was breaking and eating them. It seems she had a poor home
before she came here, where she was fed stale seeds. So Avis, being
scantily fed and having no dainties given her, used to eat a nice
fresh egg whenever she could get it. ‘Well,’ I said to myself, ‘they
are her own eggs. She has a right to eat them if she chooses,’ so I
didn’t interfere.

“Her mate Spotty came along after a while and fell into a rage. He
asked if any bird had seen her at this mischief, and I said I had.

“He asked why I hadn’t stopped her, and I said it was none of my
business.

“He said it was, that all the birds in the room, even the parakeets
and the love-birds who are pretty selfish, had made up their minds to
stop this business of egg-breaking; then they all fell on me and
picked out my tail feathers to remind me to interfere when I saw
another bird doing anything wrong.”

“Do you feel badly about it, uncle?” I asked.

“My tail is pretty sore, but my mind is tranquil. I did wrong, but I
have been punished for it, and my feathers will grow. Why worry about
it? I am sorry for Spotty. He expected to have a nice lot of young
ones in thirteen days, and now he will have to wait for weeks.”

“Why would Avis eat her eggs, when she has plenty of lime and crushed
egg shell and all sorts of food here?” I asked.

“Habit, my birdie. She had the naughty trick and could not get over
it. If I had only shrieked at her, it would have frightened her and
kept her from murdering all her future nestlings, as Spotty says. But
there is your cayenne pepper food coming. Go and eat some, so that
your feathers will be reddish gold. It is a good throat tonic, too.”

Our Mary was just coming in with a saucer of mixed egg food, grated
sweet bread, granulated sugar and cayenne pepper sprinkled on the top
of it. She also had a deep dish of something purple.

“Blueberries, birds,” she said, as she put it down. “Nice canned
blueberries, almost as fresh as if they had just come off the bushes.”

Nearly every bird in the room uttered a satisfied note, then they all
flew to her feet where she set the dishes.

I was not hungry, and ate little. When she opened the door a few
minutes later to go out, I flew to her and lighted on her arm.

My father was taking a nap, and I knew by the wicked look in
Green-Top’s eye that he would begin bullying me as soon as she left
the room.

“Take me out,” I chirped, “take me out,” for I knew that she often
took good steady little birds out into her own part of the house.

She understood me. “But, Dicky-Dick,” she said, “you are so young. I
fear you might fly away.”

“I’ll be good. I’ll be good,” I sang in my unsteady young voice, and,
relenting, she put out a finger, urged me gently to her shoulder where
she usually carried her birds, that being the safest foothold, and
walked out into the hall.

My mother saw me going and called out a warning. “Be careful, Dicky-Dick.
You will see strange sights. Don’t lose your head. Keep close to our
Mary.”

“I’ll be careful, careful,” I called back, but my heart was going
pit-a-pat when the bird-room door closed behind me, and I went out
into the strange new world of the hall.



CHAPTER II

A TRIP DOWNSTAIRS


Oh, what a different air the hall had—very quiet and peaceful, no
twittering of birds and never-stopping flying and fluttering, and
chattering and singing, and with the murmur of the fountain going on,
even in our sleep! There was no gravel on this floor, just a
soft-looking thing the color of grass, that I found out afterward was
called a carpet.

Our Mary hopped cheerfully down the stairs. She was quite a young
girl, and had had a fall when a baby, that had made her very lame. Her
parents gave her the bird-room to amuse her, so my mother had told me,
for she could not go much on the street.

On the floor below the attic were some wide cheerful rooms with sunny
windows. These were all called bedrooms, and her parents and two
little cousins slept in them. There was nobody in them on this morning
of my first visit to the big world outside the bird-room, and we went
down another long staircase. Here was a wider hall than the others,
and several rooms as large as two or three bird-rooms put together.

Our Mary took me in between long curtains to a very beautiful place,
with many things to sit on and a covering for the floor just as soft
as our grass sods. She was quite out of breath, and dropping down on a
little chair, put up a finger for me to step on it from her shoulder,
and sat smiling at me.

“What big eyes, birdie!” she said. “What are you frightened of?”

“Of everything,” I peeped; “of this big world, and the huge things in
it.”

She laughed heartily. “Oh, Dicky-Dick, our modest house overcomes you.
I wish you could see some of the mansions up the street.”

“Oh, this is large enough for me, large enough, large enough,” I was
just replying, when I got a terrible fright.

A big monster, ever so much higher than our Mary and dressed
differently, was just coming into the room.

I gave a cry of alarm, and mounted, mounted in the air till I reached
something with branching arms that came down from the ceiling. I
found out afterward that light came from this brass thing. I sat on
it, and looking down with my head thrust forward and my frightened
feathers packed closely to my body, I called out, “Mary, Mary, I’m
scary, scary!” which was a call I had learned from the older birds.

Mary was kissing the monster, and then she sat down close beside him
and held on to one of his black arms.

“Dicky, Dicky,” she sang back to me, “this is my daddy, don’t be
scary. Why, I thought he had been in the bird-room since you were
hatched. Come down, honey.”

Of course if he was her father, he would not hurt me, so I flew back
to her shoulder, but what a queer-looking, enormous father! I was glad
my parent did not look like that.

He was very loving with her, though, and, stroking her hair, he said,
“Don’t tire yourself too much with your birds, Mary.”

“They rest me, father,” she said, shaking her brown head at him, “and
this new baby amuses me very much. He is so inquiring and clever and
such a little victim, for his bigger brother beats the life out of
him.”

“The canary world is like the human world,” said Mary’s father,
“sleep, eat, fight, play, over and over again—will your young pet let
me stroke him?”

“I think so,” she said, “now that he knows who you are.”

“Why, certainly, certainly,” I twittered. “Everybody’s kind but
brother.”

The man laid a big finger, that seemed to me as heavy as a banana, on
my golden head, and stroked me till I bent under the caress.

Fortunately some other person came in the room and he turned his head.

This was our Mary’s mother, Mrs. Martin. I knew her well, for she
often came into the bird-room. She was a very large, cheerful lady,
not very handsome, nor remarkable in any way, and yet different from
most women, so the old birds said. I had heard them talking about her,
and they said she is one that understands birds and beasts, and it is
on account of her understanding that our Mary loves us. They said she
is a very wonderful woman, and that there is power in her eye—power
over human beings and animals, and more wisdom even than our Mary has,
for she is old, and her daughter is young.

“The young can not know everything,” the old birds often sang; “let
them listen to the old ones and be guided by them.”

When Mrs. Martin came in, her quick brown eyes swept over the room,
taking in her daughter, her husband, and even little me perched on our
Mary’s finger.

“Thank fortune, I’m not late for lunch,” she said, sinking into a
chair, “and thank fortune, we have a guest. Excuse me for being late,
birdie,” she said in a most natural way, and treating me with as much
courtesy as if I had been as big as the picture of the eagle on our
bird-room wall.

That’s what the birds said about her, that she believes even a canary
has a position in the world, and has rights. She just hates to have
any creature imposed on or ill-used.

“Come here, dearie,” she said, holding out her plump hand toward me,
“and kiss me.”

I flew to her at once, and, putting up my tiny bill, touched her red,
full lips. Such a big lady she was, and yet she reminded me of my
little golden mother.

“Now we will go in to the table,” she said, “and little guest will sit
on my right hand. Anna, bring the fern dish.”

Anna was a fair-haired girl who waited on the Martins and sometimes
helped our Mary in the bird-room, so I knew her quite well. I had
heard of the fern dish from bird guests of the Martins, and I watched
her with great interest as she set it on the huge white table, that
looked so queer to me that first day.

In the middle of the low, round dish of ferns was a little platform
and on the platform was a perch. The bird guest sat on the perch and
ate the food placed before him. He was not expected to run over the
Martins’ table and help himself.

“Dearie, you will not care for soup,” said Mrs. Martin, when Anna
placed a big thing like one of our bathing dishes before her.

I had never seen human beings eating, and as I sat on my perch in the
fern dish I could not help smiling. They did not put their mouths down
to their food, they brought the food up to their mouths by means of
their arms, which are like our wings. Their legs they kept under the
table.

The room in which they had their huge dishes of food and their
enormous table was a wide and pleasant place with a little glass house
off it, in which green and pleasant plants and flowers grew. I loved
the air of this place, so peaceful and quiet, with the nice smell of
food and no bad brother to bother me.

“Feed me, feed me,” I chirped, for I was getting hungry now.

“Wait, my angel pet,” said Mrs. Martin; “wait for the next course.”

Later on I described what came next to my mother, and she said it was
the leg of a soft, woolly young creature that played on the meadows,
and she wondered that good people like the Martins would eat it.

“No meat for birdie,” said Mrs. Martin, “but a scrap of carrot and
lettuce and potato and a bit of that nice graham bread.”

“Thank you, thank you,” I chirped to her, “and now a drink.”

Down among the ferns I had discovered a little egg cup which Mrs.
Martin now filled with water for me. I was excited and thirsty and
drank freely.

When the meat and vegetables were carried out by Anna, fruit and a
pudding came on. I had a little of the pudding which was made of bread
and jam and milk; then Mrs. Martin gave me a grape to peck.

“And now, baby,” she said, “you have had enough. Can’t you warble a
little for us?”

I did my best, but my song did not amount to much. All this time Mr.
Martin and dear Mary had been looking at me very kindly, and when I
finished they both clapped their hands.

At the sound of their applause, there was a great clatter outside in
the hall, and a leaping and bounding and a noise, and a queer animal
not as big as these human beings, but as large as twenty canaries,
came running into the room.

I had never seen anything like this, and giving one shriek of fright,
I sprang from the fern dish and flew high, high up in the air to the
very top of the room. Fluttering wildly round the walls, I found no
support for my claws; then I heard a calm voice saying, “Come down,
come down, dearie, the animal is a dog, a very good dog. She won’t
hurt you.”

Panting violently, I dropped halfway down to a picture hung on the
wall and sat there, staring at the table.

The animal was on Mr. Martin’s knee. He had pushed his chair from the
table, and sat with his arm round it. Such a queer-looking thing, and
yet not vicious. A kind of a wide forehead and staring eyes, and a
good deal of beak, which I found out later was called a muzzle.

I was ashamed of myself, and flew right back to the fern dish. Young
as I was, I knew these kind people would not let anything harm me.

“Excuse me, excuse me,” I gasped. “I was scary, scary again.”

“That is Billie, our dog,” said Mrs. Martin; “she is good to birds.
Mary, have you never had Billie in to see your pets?”

“No,” said her daughter. “You know she has not been here very long.”

“I would like her to be friends with them,” said Mrs. Martin. “Please
take her in soon, but put her out on the front steps now.” Then she
turned to me. “You are going to have another fright, I fear. By
certain signs and tokens, I think my two adopted children are coming
home for lunch.”



CHAPTER III

SAMMY-SAM AND LUCY-LOO


I was very glad I had been warned, for there was a terrible noise out
in the street that I afterward learned was caused by young creatures
called children, shouting and calling to each other. Then the front
door slammed and there was quiet.

Presently two very calm young beings—for Mrs. Martin would allow no
shouting in her dining-room—came in, a boy and a girl.

“Lucy-Loo and Sammy-Sam,” said Mrs. Martin, with a merry twinkle in
her eye, for she was a great joker, “here is a new baby bird come
downstairs for the first time.”

The boy was a straight, well set-up young thing, eight years old, I
heard afterward. The girl was a year younger, and she had light hair
and big, staring eyes—very bright, intelligent eyes.

Our Mary was much older than her young cousins, and she was pretty
strict with them about her birds, for they were never allowed to come
into her bird-room.

The boy sat down at the table, and to my surprise said as he stared at
me, “Not much of a bird, that—haven’t you got anything better looking
to show off?”

He was taking his soup quite sulkily.

His little sister was pouting. “I think Cousin Mary is very mean,” she
said to her aunt. “She might let us go in her old bird-room. We
wouldn’t hurt anything.”

Our Mary said nothing, but Mrs. Martin spoke. “You remember, Lucy,
that one day when Mary was out, a certain little girl and a certain
little boy took a troop of young friends into the bird-room, and some
baby birds died of fright, and some old ones got out, and were
restored to their home with difficulty.”

Our Mary raised her head. “I have forgiven them, mother, and some day
soon I am going to let them see my birds, but they must promise never
to go into the bird-room without me.”

The boy and girl both spoke up eagerly. “We promise. Will you take us
in to-day?”

“No, not to-day,” said our Mary. “To-morrow.”

Their young faces fell, and they went on taking their soup.

“Canaries are very gentle, timid creatures,” said Mrs. Martin. “You
know, it is possible to kill them, without in the least intending to
do so. This one we have down here to-day seems an exception. He gets
frightened, but soon overcomes it. I think he is going to be an
explorer.”

“It is his unpleasant life in the bird-room that makes him wish to
come out,” said our Mary. “His little brother teases him most
shamefully.”

“Just the way Sammy-Sam teases me,” said Lucy poutingly.

“I don’t tease you,” said Sammy. “You are a cry-baby.”

“I’m not a cry-baby,” she said.

Mrs. Martin interposed in her cheerful way. “Would you rather take
your lunch, my darlings, or go out in the hall and continue your
discussion?”

“Lunch first,” said the boy promptly, “but I’ll argue the head off
Lucy afterward.”

“Take an arm or a leg,” said his aunt. “The head is such an important
member to lose.”

I thought this a good time for a little song, so in a broken way I
told of my troubles with Green-Top, and how he beat me and pulled out
my feathers.

The boy and girl were delighted. “Sure he’s some bird,” said Sammy,
and Lucy cried out, “Little sweet thing—I love you.”

After lunch Mr. Martin said he would take our Mary for a drive. The
children hurried back to school, and Mrs. Martin said she would go and
lie down, for she was tired. “Come with me, little boy,” she said to
me, “or would you rather go to the bird-room?”

I flew to the ribbon shoulder knot on her dress. I admired her very
much and wished to stay with her.

“Mary,” she said delightedly, “I love to have this little Dicky with
me. I wish you would bring one of your small cages downstairs. Put
seeds and water in it and hang it on the wall of the sitting-room.
Leave the door open, so he can go in and out. Of course he must spend
some time each day with the old birds to perfect his song, but I would
like him to have the run of the house. I think I see in him an unusual
sympathy and understanding of human beings.”

“He is a pet,” said our Mary. “I will be glad to have him downstairs a
good deal.”

So it came about that I had a little home of my own in the room of one
of the best friends of birds in the city. Our Mary was darling, but
she was young. Her mother had known trouble, and she had known great
joy, and she could look deep into the hearts of men and beasts and
birds. I had a very happy time with her, and got to know many
interesting animals and other birds. At the same time I was free to go
into the bird-room whenever I wished to do so, but I found after I had
become accustomed to human beings that many of the birds there seemed
narrow and very taken up with their own nests, not seeing much into,
nor caring much about, the great bird world outside our little room.

Therefore, to help canaries and to help friends of canaries to understand
them, I am giving this little account of my life—an insignificant
little life, perhaps, and yet an important little life, for even a
canary is a link in the great chain of life that binds the world
together.



CHAPTER IV

A SAD TIME FOR A CANARY FAMILY


Time went by, and autumn came and then winter. I had been hatched in
the early summer, and by winter time it seemed to me that I was a very
old bird and knew a great deal.

I had become quite a member of the Martin family, and sometimes I did
not go in the bird-room for days together.

My sleeping place was a cage in the family sitting-room upstairs. The
door was never closed, and I flew in and out at will. Oh, how
interested I was in the world of the house! I used to fly from room to
room and sometimes I even went in the kitchen and watched Hester doing
the cooking. She had a little shelf near a window filled with plants,
and I always lighted there, for she did not like me to fly about and
get on her ironing board or pastry table. I became so interested in
the family that I thought I would never get tired of exploring the
house, but when winter came I found myself staring out in the street.
I wanted to get out and see what the great out-of-doors was like.

Early in the winter we had much excitement in the bird-room. A very
happy time called Christmas was coming. Everybody gave presents, and
Mr. Martin’s gift to his daughter was money to build a fine large
flying place on the roof for her birds. We would not be able to use it
until spring, but he said the work had better be done in the winter
because it was easier to get carpenters than it would be later on, and
there were some poor men he wished to employ during the cold weather.

What chirping and chattering and gossip there were among the birds!
There was no nesting going on now, and not much to talk about. Soon
two men came, and from the big window we birds watched them putting up
a good-sized framework out on the roof and nailing netting to it. What
a fine large place we should have right out in the sunshine.

There were no fir trees put out there on account of fire. Mr. Martin
said sparks from chimneys might start a blaze, but the men made things
like trees of metal, with nice spreading branches. A part of this
flying cage was covered over—and up under the roof, where no rain
could wet them, the men put tiny nesting boxes.

“Why, we shall be just like wild birds,” said my mother joyfully,
“with nests outside in the fresh air. What lovely, strong young ones
we shall have! It has been a trifle hot in the bird-room in summer.”

My poor little mother had felt the heat terribly through the latter
part of the summer, but that had not prevented her from doing her duty
by her second family of young ones. They were very interesting little
fledglings—three male birds, and three hen-birds, and strange to say
my naughty brother Green-Top was as kind to them as he had been unkind
to me.

It is no easy matter to feed six hearty young canaries, and it was the
prettiest sight in the world to see him fly to the dish of egg food,
stuff his beak and hurry to the nestlings with it. He was a great help
to my parents. He was the only young canary in the bird-room that
helped his parents feed new babies, and the old birds gave him great
credit for it.

He would not let me go near the nest. I had politely offered to help
him, but he told me in an angry way that I was a rover and despised my
home, and if I did not get out, he would pick at my eyes and blind me
for life.

“Don’t mind him, darling, darling,” sang my dear mother, who never
forgot me. Norfolk, my father, paid no attention to me now. A steely
look came into his eyes whenever I went near him, and one day he sang
coldly at me, “Who are you, who are you?” though he knew quite well I
was his son.

Green-Top was his favorite now. My brother just loved our father and
perched near him at night, and was so attentive to him that the old
birds said, “That young one will never mate. He loves his parents too
well. He will always live with them.”

I never dared sing in the bird-room now, for if I did Green-Top always
pulled my tail or looked down my throat. These are great tricks with
canaries, to take the conceit out of a bird they think vain. Often
when in the gladness, of my heart at getting back into the bird-room I
would burst into song, Green-Top would steal behind me and tweak my
tail severely, and if he was busy about something, he would wink at
one of my cousins to do it for him.

A terrible trouble, a most unspeakable and dreadful trouble, came upon
us as a family and poisoned our happiness that winter. My beautiful
mother Dixie, who had been allowed to have too many nests and raise
too many nestlings in her short life, sickened and died. I shall never
forget seeing her fail from day to day. First she had asthma and sat
gasping for breath, with her beak wide open. Our Mary did everything
for her. She gave her iron tonic and different medicines, but nothing
did any good. Day by day her poor little body looked like a puff-ball,
and her quick, short gasps for breath were most painful to hear. Her
voice failed, and she had to take castor oil and paregoric and
glycerine and had rock-candy in her drinking water.

“It is no use,” said our Mary one day. “My dear Dixie, you will have
to go, but I think there is a little bird heaven somewhere where you
will be happy, and will not suffer any more, and some day all your
little family will go to it, and fly about gaily with you ever after.”

My little mother opened her eyes, her very beautiful eyes, though all
the rest of her body was drooping and disfigured now. They opened so
wide that I thought perhaps she was going to get better. Many times
since I have seen that strange look in the eyes of a dying bird—a
look of great astonishment, as if they had suddenly caught sight of
something they had not seen before. Then the lovely eyes closed, her
tiny head fell over, and our Mary said softly, “Her little bird spirit
has flown away.”

She held her out in the palm of her hand for all the birds to see,
then she took her away, and though it was winter and deep snow was on
the ground, she had the gardener dig a little grave and she buried her
in a tin box, quite deep in the ground, where no roaming cats nor dogs
would get her.

We watched her from the window, all of us except my father Norfolk. He
sang all the rest of the day at the top of his voice, almost a
screaming song. He sang because he thought his heart was breaking, but
in a few weeks he was flying about with Avis, the canary who ate her
eggs. Her mate Spotty had died, and our Mary was pleased to have her
take up with Norfolk, for he was a steady bird and always at home, not
like poor Spotty, who used to be mostly at the opposite end of the
bird-room from his home, gossiping and chattering with canaries when
he should have been attending to his mate.

My mother’s death saddened me terribly, and for a long time I spent a
large part of every day in the bird-room with my young brothers and
sisters, all of whom had nice names. The hen-birds were Pretty Girl,
Beauty, and Cantala, and the males were Pretty Boy, Redgold, and
Cresto. Such little dear things they were, all gentle and good, no
fighters among them.

At first Green-Top let me help him father them. Then when he got over
his grief he began to beat me again, and I lost feathers.

When I speak of beating, I must not be taken too seriously. When
canaries fight, they fly up into the air and down again, fluttering
wings, crying out, and making dashes at each other—a great fuss and
flurry, but not much harm done. The hen-birds fight this way a good
deal in nesting time, then their mates come and help them, and the
whole bird-room is in a commotion.

A more serious way of fighting is chasing. One bird takes a dislike to
another bird and pursues him unmercifully, striking him about the head
till his beak is sore and bleeding. That is the way Green-Top served
me, and soon I made up my mind that I was not needed in the bird-room
and I got into the habit of spending about all my time downstairs,
only coming up once in a while to see how all the birds were, and find
out if they were getting anything to eat that I did not have.

Everybody was so good to me. Hester put little tidbits on my shelf in
the kitchen, Mrs. Martin was always handing dainties to me, and even
Mr. Martin would bring home a fine apple or some grapes or an orange
for me to peck at.

The children were the best of all. Not a bit of candy or cake did they
get but what a bit was saved for me, and many a greasy or sticky
little morsel that I just pretended to eat was laid before me.

It was curious about those children. They were rather naughty with
human beings, but ever since their cousin Mary allowed them to go in
the bird-room, once a day with her, they had become nicer to birds and
animals.



CHAPTER V

MY NEW FRIEND, CHUMMY HOLE-IN-THE-WALL


As I have said before, a strange longing to be out of doors came over
me as winter passed away and spring approached. I never wearied of
sitting on the window ledges and watching the plucky little English
sparrows who sometimes came to the bird-room window and talked over
the news of the day with us.

Most of the canaries were very haughty with them, and looked down on
them as inferior birds. So the sparrows rarely approached us, unless
they had important news to communicate, when eagerness to hear what
they had to say made the canaries forget to snub them.

That clever woman, Mrs. Martin, knew that I wished to get out in the
street, and one day when there was a sudden thaw after very cold
weather, she said to me, as I sat on her bedroom window sill, “I
believe my little boy would like a fly out of doors.”

“Dear Missie, Missie, Missie,” I sang, “how sweet you are to me, how
sweet!”

“Fly away, then,” she said, throwing up the window. “I don’t think the
air is cold enough to hurt you.”

“Thank you, thank you,” I sang, as I flew by her and out into the
fresh air.

How can I ever describe my feelings on my first flight into the great
big out-of-doors. I had, in my callow innocence, thought the Martin
house very large and grand. Why, this big, out-door house had a
ceiling so far away that only a very strong bird could ever fly to the
top of it.

I felt breathless and confused, and flying straight to a big tree in
front of the window, flattened myself against a dark limb, and
crouched there half frightened, half enchanted with myself.

Suddenly a sharp little voice twittered, “Oho! little golden bird, and
who are you?”

I knew that a street sparrow’s eyes are everywhere, so I was not
surprised on looking up to see a male bird, with quite a pretty black
throat patch, sitting on a limb above me.

“I am a canary,” I said.

“I know that,” he replied, rather impatiently, “but how is it that you
are so strong of wing? You fly like a wild bird.”

“I have not always been in the bird-room,” I said; “I have flown all
over the house and exercise has strengthened my wings.”

“Oh, you are the little youngster I have noticed looking from between
the window curtains. How is it that you were allowed to leave the
bird-room?”

“The canaries call me Dicky-Dick the Rover. At an early age I found
the bird-room small,” I said, not wishing to tell him about my
troubles with my brother.

“How old are you?” he asked.

“Nearly a year.”

“What is your name?”

“Richard the Lion-Hearted,” I said, thinking to impress him by its
length, “but my mistress says that is too heavy a name for such a tiny
bird, so she shortens it to Dicky-Dick and sometimes Dicky-Duck.”

“The Lion-Hearted,” repeated the sparrow. “That name doesn’t suit you.
You seem to be a very gentle bird.”

“I am gentle till I am roused,” I said meekly; “then I am a fair
fighter. Now, will you tell me what your name is?”

“Chummy Hole-in-the-Wall.”

This beat my name, and I said, “That’s a double, double surname.”

“Yes,” he said proudly. “It’s a good name, given to me by all the
sparrows of the neighborhood.”

“And may I ask how old you are?”

“Six years.”

“You must be very wise,” I said. “I feel as if I knew a great deal,
and I am not one year yet.”

“I know everything about this neighborhood,” he said grandly. “If you
wish the life history or habits of any bird here, I can inform you of
them.”

“I shall be sure to come to you for information,” I said. Then I asked
anxiously, “What are the birds like in this street?”

“Pretty decent, on the whole. There were some bad sparrows and two
ugly old pigeons, but we had a midwinter drive, and chased them all
down in St. John’s ward, where the common birds live. You know we
sparrows have our own quarters all over this city.”

“Have you?” I said. “Like big bird-rooms?”

“Yes, my little sir, we in this district near the gray old university
are known as the Varsity sparrows. We are bounded on the north by
Bloor Street, on the south by College Street, on the east by Yonge
Street, and on the west by Spadina Avenue, and this is the worst
street of all for food.”

“I have heard that this has been a very hard winter for all birds,” I
said.

“It has been perfectly terrible. It snowed, and it snowed, and it
snowed. Every scrap of food was under a white blanket. If it hadn’t
been for covers left off trash cans, and a few kind people who threw
out crumbs, the sparrows would all have died.”

“The snow is going now,” I said, with a smile.

He laughed a queer, hard little sparrow laugh, and looked up and down
the street. The high rounded snow banks were no longer white and
beautiful, but grimy and soot-laden, and they were weeping rivers of
dusky tears. The icy sidewalks were so slippery with standing water
that ladies and children went into the street, but it was not much
better there, and often they lost their rubbers, which went sailing
down the streams like little black boats.

However, up in the blue heaven, the sun was shining, and there was
warmth in it, for this was February and spring would soon be with us.

I looked up and down the street. It seemed very quaint to me, and I
stretched out my neck to find out whether I could see the end of it. I
could not. It went away up, up toward a hill with trees on it, and, as
I found out later, away down south to a big lake where the wharves
are, and the ships and the railroads, and the noise and the traffic,
and also a lovely island that I had heard the Martins say was a fine
place for a summer outing.

The sparrow was watching me, and at last he said, “How do you like it
out here?”

“Very much,” I said. “It is so big and wonderful, and there are so
many houses standing away back from the street. I thought there were
no houses in the world but just the Martins’, and those I could see
from their windows.”

He smiled at me, but said nothing, and I went on, “And the trees are
so enormous and so friendly. I love to see them reaching their gaunt
arms across the street to shake hands. Our fir trees in the bird-room
will seem very small to me now.”

He shook his little dull-colored head. “Alas! the neighborhood is not
what it used to be. A few years ago all these were private houses. Now
boarding houses and lodging houses and even shops are creeping up from
town.”

I didn’t know much about this, but I said timidly, “Isn’t that better
for you sparrows? Aren’t there more scraps?”

“No, not so many. When the rich people lived here, we knew what we had
to depend on. Either they would feed us, or they would not. Several
kind-hearted ladies used to have their servants throw out food for
neighborhood birds at a certain hour every day, and your Mrs. Martin
has always kept a little dish full of water on her lawn beside the
feeding-table. I suppose you have seen that from your bird-room
window.”

“Oh, yes,” I said. “We canaries used to sit on the window sill on cold
mornings and watch Mr. Martin wading through the snow with the nice
warm food that his wife was sending out for the birds.”

“These boarding-house and lodging-house people come and go,” the
sparrow went on. “Some feed us, and some don’t. Usually we are stuffed
in summer, and starved in winter.”

“I have heard Mrs. Martin say,” I observed, “that wild birds should be
assisted over bad seasons and fed whenever their natural supply gives
out.”

“Sparrows don’t need food in summer,” said Chummy, “because then we
expect to do our duty to human beings by eating all the insects we
can, and the bad weed seeds.”

I said nothing. I thought I had not known my new friend long enough to
find fault with him, but I wanted very much to ask him if he really
thought English sparrows did do their duty by human beings.

“Would you like to see my little house?” he asked.

“Very much,” I replied, and I followed him as he flew to another tree.
We were now further up the street where we could look back at our red
brick house which is a double one, and quite wide. Now we were in
front of one that stood a little way from its neighbors. It was tall
and narrow, and in the middle of its high north wall was a small hole
where a brick had fallen out.

Chummy pointed to it proudly. “There’s not a snugger sparrow bedroom
in the city than that,” he said, “for right behind the open place is a
hole in the brick work next the furnace chimney. No matter how cold
and hungry I am when I go to bed, I’m kept warm till breakfast time,
when I can look for scraps. Many a feeble old sparrow and many a weak
one has died in the bitter cold this winter. They went to bed with
empty crops and never woke up. We’ve had twelve weeks of frost,
instead of our usual six, and this is only the fifth day of thawing
weather that we’ve had all winter.”

“Everything seems topsy-turvy this winter,” I said. “Human beings are
short of coal and food, and they’re worried and anxious. I am very
sorry for them.

“But times will improve, Chummy. The old birds say that black hours
come, but no darkness can keep the sun from breaking through. He is
the king of the world.”

Chummy raised his little dark head up to the sunlight. “I’m not
complaining, Dicky. I wish every little bird in the world had such a
snug home as mine.”

“How did the hole come in the wall?” I asked.

“Some workmen had a scaffold up there to repair the top of the
chimney. When they took it down, they knocked a brick out.”

“Is it large enough for you in nesting time?”

“Oh, yes; don’t you want to come and see it? You’re not afraid?”

“Oh, no,” I said warmly. “I know whenever I get a good look into a
bird’s eye whether I can trust him or not.”

“Come along, then,” said Chummy, deeply gratified, and I flew beside
him to his little house.



CHAPTER VI

CHUMMY TELLS THE STORY OF A NAUGHTY SQUIRREL


“Oh, how snug!” I exclaimed. “You have a little hall and a bedroom,
and how clean it is! The old birds say they like to see a bird tidy
his nest from one year to another. Do you keep the same mate?”

“I do,” he replied. “I always have Jennie, but as you probably know,
sparrows don’t pair till spring. In the winter the birds are in
flocks. Jennie is spending these hard months with her parents downtown
near the station because the food supply is better there. I often go
to see her, and I expect her back soon to begin housekeeping. We like
to get ahead of the others in nesting, for there are evil birds who
try every year to drive us from our desirable home.”

“Everything born has to fight,” I said cheerfully.

“I don’t know much about canaries,” said Chummy. “All that I have seen
were very exclusive and haughty, and looked down on us street birds.”

“Some of my family are that way,” I sighed, “but I have been much with
human beings and my little head has more wisdom in it.”

“I like you,” Chummy began to say heartily; then he stopped short,
cried out, and said, “Duck your head quick and come inside!”

I scuttled from his wide open hallway into his little bedroom,
wondering what had happened. A shower of nutshells had just been
dropped past our beaks. “Who’s doing that?” I asked.

“Squirrie—he hates me because he can’t get a foothold to explore this
house.”

“And who is Squirrie?” I asked.

“The worst little rascal of a squirrel that you ever saw. He respects
nobody, and what do you think is his favorite song?—not that he can
sing. His voice is like a crow’s.”

“I can’t imagine what kind of songs a squirrel would sing,” I said.

“I’ll run over it for you,” said Chummy, “though I haven’t a very good
voice myself.

  “‘I care for nobody, no not I,
    And nobody cares for me.
    I live in the middle of Pleasant Street
    And happy will I be!’

“Now what do you think of that for a selfish song in these hard
times?”

I laughed heartily. “Perhaps you take Squirrie too seriously. I’d like
to see the little rogue. Does he live in this house of yours?”

“Yes, right up over us under the roof. He gnawed a hole through from
the outside this summer, and stored an enormous quantity of nuts that
he stole from good Mrs. Lacey at the corner grocery on the next
street. He has an enormous place to scamper about in if he wishes to
stretch his legs. He says in the corner of it he has a delightfully
warm little bed-place, lined with tiny soft bits of wool and fur torn
from ladies’ dresses, for he has the run of most of the bedrooms in
the neighborhood. Have you seen the two old maids that live in the big
attic of this house?”

“Yes, my mistress calls them the bachelor girls,” I said politely.

“Girls,” he said scornfully; “they’re more like old women. Well,
anyway, they’re afraid of mice and rats, and when Squirrie wakes up
and scampers across the boards to his pantry to get a nut, and rolls
it about, and gnaws it, and nibbles it, they nearly have a fit, and
run to the landlady and hurry her up the three flights of stairs.

“She listens and pants, and says, ‘It must be a rat, it’s too noisy
for a mouse.’ Then she goes down cellar and gets a rat-trap and props
its big jaws open with a bit of cheese and sets it in a corner of the
room.

“Squirrie watches them through a tiny hole in the trapdoor in the
ceiling that he made to spy on them, and he nearly dies laughing, for
he loves to tease people, and he hisses at them in a low voice, ‘The
trap isn’t made yet that will catch me. I hope you’ll nip your own old
toes in it.’”

“What very disrespectful talk,” I exclaimed.

“Oh, he doesn’t care for anybody, and the other night his dreadful
wish came true, and he was so delighted that he most lost his breath
and had squirrel apoplexy.”

“How did it happen?” I asked.

The sparrow ran his little tongue out over his beak, for he dearly
loves to talk, and went on, “You see, the bachelor ladies were moving
their furniture about to make their room look prettier, and they
forgot the trap, and Miss Maggie did catch her toe in it, and there
was such a yelling and screaming that it woke me out of a sound sleep.

“The lodgers all came running upstairs with fire extinguishers, and
flat irons, and pokers, and one man had a revolver. I thought the
house was on fire, and I flew out of my little hole in the wall to
this tree. I came here, and from a high limb I could look right in the
attic window. The lodgers were all bursting into the room and poor
Miss Maggie, in curl papers and pink pajamas, was shrieking and
dancing on one foot, and holding up the other with the trap on the toe
of her bedroom slipper.

“Out on the roof, Squirrie was bending down to look at her. He was
lying on his wicked little stomach, and he laughed so hard that at
last he had to roll over in the snow on the roof to get cool. He
looked terrible, and we all hoped he was going to pass away in the
night, but the next morning as we sat round on the tree talking about
him, and trying to think of some good thing he had done, he poked his
head out of the hole which is his front door, and made the most ugly
faces at us that you can imagine. He is certainly a dreadful creature,
and I shall be sorry for the housekeepers about here when the spring
comes.”

I smiled at Chummy’s earnestness and settled down more comfortably
with my breast against the bricks. The day was so pleasant that I
thought I would stay out a little longer. I knew by the look in his
little, bright eye that the sparrow liked talking to me. We were in a
patch of sunlight that crept in his front door, and after the long
cold winter the nice warm feeling on our feathers was very comforting.

“How does Squirrie trouble the housekeepers?” I asked.

“Well, to begin with, he bothers them because he has no home duties.
He is an ugly, odd, old bachelor, and never gets a mate in the spring,
because no self-respecting young squirrel will take up with such a
scamp.”

“Poor creature!” I said. “It is enough to make any one ugly to live
alone.”

Chummy went on: “Squirrie has been two years only in this
neighborhood. He never stays long anywhere, for his bad deeds make
enemies for him, and he is driven away. When he first came here he
lived in Snug Hollow, that big hole in the half-dead elm at the
corner. Just opposite the tree is a lodging-house. You can see it from
here, that one with the upper verandas. It is kept by a soldier’s
widow, and she is rather poor. She could not afford to put in window
screens, and Squirrie had a royal time with one of her lodgers, a
young student up in the third story. He was very odd, and would eat no
meat. He lived on nuts, cheese, fruit, eggs, and bread—just the
things Squirrie likes. So he made up his mind to board with the
student. The young man was a fresh-air fiend, and never closed his
windows. This just suited Squirrie, so whenever this young Dolliver
went over to the University, Squirrie would spring from a tree branch
to the roof, and was down on the veranda and into the room in a trice.
He rarely ate anything on the spot. He carried everything away to his
hole in the tree, so the student thought that the maid who did his
room must be stealing his things.

“He questioned her, but she said she knew nothing about his food. Then
he locked the chest of drawers where he kept his supplies. Squirrie
climbed up the back, enlarged a knothole and went in that way. The
student thought the girl must have a key. So he went to the landlady.
She dismissed the maid and got another, but the student’s things went
faster than ever.

“The next thing was that the student lost his temper and told the
soldier’s widow that she would do well to feed her maid better, and
she told him that if he didn’t like her house he could get out.

“However, she sent this second girl away and got another. It was the
same old story—nuts, fruit, cheese, bread still vanished. Then the
student got in a worse temper, and turned all the clothes out of his
trunk and made that his pantry, and carried the key in his pocket.

“Now he lost nothing, for Squirrie, clever as he was, could not get in
a locked trunk. He was up a tree, indeed, but he was clever enough to
find a way down. The soldier’s widow was his next victim, and he would
watch the windows and see where she was, and often when her back was
turned he would dart in the house, seize some bit of food, and run
away with it.

“‘Now,’ said the soldier’s widow, ‘this last girl is dishonest, too.
She can’t get into the student’s trunk, and she has turned against
me.’ So she sent her away, though the girl cried and said she was well
brought up, and would not steal a pin.

“By this time the house had such a bad name among maids that the
soldier’s widow could not get another, and she had too much work to do
and became thin and miserable, and still the stealing went on, till at
last she said, ‘I must be a thief myself, and don’t know it.’

“However, any one who does wrong is always paid up for it, and
Squirrie was soon caught. By this time he was so fat he could scarcely
run, and he had enough nuts and hard biscuits laid up to last him for
two winters. To keep down his flesh, he began to tease the dog in the
lodging-house. Not in the daytime, for he did not wish to be seen. He
used to chatter, chatter to Rover as he lay on the porch in the warm
summer evenings, and tease him by sitting up on his hind legs and
daring him to play chase. There was no cat in the house to head
Squirrie off, so he would run round and round the yard and sometimes
in the front door, and out the back, with old Rover loping after him,
his tongue hanging out of his mouth, and his face quite silly.

“‘The dog has gone crazy,’ said the soldier’s widow one evening, as
she saw Rover running about the yard and sometimes down to the old
barn behind the house and back again. ‘He will have to be poisoned.’

“Rover was nearly crazy. He left the mischievous squirrel and ran to
his good mistress, and put his paws on her knees, but she did not
understand and pushed him away.

“I felt terribly and wondered whether I could not do something to
help.”

“How did you know all this?” I interrupted. “You would be in bed dark
evenings.”

“Why surely you know,” said Chummy, “that all birds of the day tell
their news to the birds of the night—to owls, to bats, and even to
some insects. Then, in turn, we get the news of the night. I had a
very smart young screech-owl watching Squirrie for me.”

“Yes, yes,” I said hurriedly. “We cage birds are more handicapped than
you wild ones. I know, though, about the bird exchange. I’ve heard the
old birds say that they have even had to depend on cockroaches
sometimes for items of news, when they couldn’t get about themselves.”

“Well,” continued Chummy, “I made up my mind something had to be done
to enlighten the soldier’s widow, so the next morning I just hovered
round and gave up all thought of breakfast for myself, though of
course I rose extra early, and fed the young ones before my mate got
up.

“I watched the soldier’s widow when she took the bottle of milk from
the refrigerator and put it on the pantry shelf. I watched her when
she poured some in a little pitcher and put it on the dining-room
table. I still kept my eye on her when she went to the back door to
speak to the vegetable man, but after that I watched Squirrie.

“The little beast was darting into the dining-room. He went straight
for the milk pitcher and holding on the edge with his paws, he ran his
head away down into it, to get a good long drink.

“I lighted on the window sill and gave a loud squawk. The soldier’s
widow turned round, looked past me, and saw Squirrie with his head in
the milk pitcher. She gave a loud and joyful squeal, dropped the
cabbage she was holding and ran in the room, just in time to see
Squirrie with a very milky face darting out the other door to the
front of the house.

“Oh, how happy she was! It had all come over her in a flash what a
goose she had been not to have guessed it was a squirrel that was
defrauding her. She ran up to the student’s room to tell him the good
news, and he went to the window and shook his fist at Squirrie and
called him the red plague.”

“What did Squirrie say?” I asked.

“Squirrie said, ‘I don’t care,’ and instead of hiding from them, as he
had always done before, he came boldly out on a branch, and licked his
milky paws. Then he moved six doors down the street to a house where
two maiden ladies lived. They have gone away now, but they kept a
small tea-room and sold cake and candy. Squirrie went creeping round
them, and they thought it was cute to have a little pet, so they used
to put nuts for him on their windows.”

“Didn’t they know what mischief he had done at the corner?” I asked.

“No—you young things don’t know how it is in a city. No one knows or
cares who lives near by. In the nice, kind country you know everyone
for miles round. Well, Squirrie got so familiar with these ladies that
he used to sleep in the house and tease the family cat. He didn’t do
much mischief at first. He knew he was in a good place, but one day
just before Easter, Satan entered into him, and he played the poor
ladies a very scurvy trick.

“They had been getting their baskets all ready for Easter sales, and
had them in rows on a big table—such cute-looking little Japanese
baskets, they were, all red and yellow and filled with layers of nuts
and candy.

“This day both ladies went downtown to buy more things for more
baskets, and Squirrie got into the room and began playing with those
that were finished. I saw him through the window, but what could I do?
When I chirped to him that he was a bad beast to spoil the work of the
two ladies who had been so good to him, he chattered his teeth and
made a face at me.

“Now, if he had just played with one or two baskets, it would not have
mattered so much, but he is like Silly Bob in cherry time.”

“Who is Silly Bob?” I asked.

“A robin who is weak in his head. Instead of eating a few cherries, he
runs all over a tree, and gives each cherry a dab in the cheek—ruins
them all and makes the gardeners furious with him. Squirrie ran up and
down the rows of tempting-looking baskets, so afraid was he that he
could not get all his mischief in before the ladies came back. He bit
a few straws on the top of each one, then he attacked the sides and
then the bottom. Then he tore the covers off and threw the candy and
nuts on the floor.”

“What! Out of every one?” I asked, in a shocked voice.

“Every one, I tell you. Oh, they were a sight! Every basket was
ruined. The nuts he carried off to his hole in the tree.”

“And what did the poor ladies say when they came back?” I asked.

“You should have seen their faces. They had paid fifty cents apiece
for the baskets, and you know how expensive nuts and candies and
raisins are. Then they got angry and hired a carpenter to come and
nail up Squirrie’s hole in the tree, taking good care to see that he
was out of it first. If he went near the house, they threw things at
him.”

“And what did Squirrie do?”

“He said he was tired of city life and needed country air, and he went
up on North Hill, and stayed till the ladies moved away, then he came
back to their neighborhood and played another trick almost as bad, on
a nice old grandfather.”



CHAPTER VII

MORE ABOUT SQUIRRIE


“Why, Squirrie is the mischief-maker of the neighborhood,” I said.

“He is indeed, and I would not advise you to cultivate him. He would
be sure to get you into trouble.”

“What did he do to the grandfather?” I asked.

“Caused him to commit sin by beating an innocent dog,” said Chummy
solemnly.

“Who was the dog?” I asked.

“Pluto was his name, but we all called him Cross-Patch, because he had
a snarly temper. He was a good dog, though, for he tried so hard to
overcome his faults. He had been a thief, but Grandfather had reasoned
with him, and whipped him, till at last he was a perfectly honest
dog—but he got a bad beating that Christmas.”

“Who was Grandfather?” I asked.

“Grandfather was a nice foreign man who lived in a little house round
the corner. He had made some money in selling old clothes, and he was
bringing up his daughter’s children. At Christmas time he had saved
enough money to buy a nice tree for his grandchildren. He stayed up
late Christmas eve to trim the tree, and Cross-Patch watched him. The
blinds were up and another red squirrel called Chickari, who was a
tremendous climber, told me that he watched the old man too, and it
was pretty to see him hanging little bags of candy and candles and
strings of popcorn on the branches.

“When he got through, he said, ‘Now, doggie, don’t you touch anything,
and when the children strip the tree in the morning, you shall have
your share of good things.’

“Cross-Patch wagged his tail. He had had a good supper, and was not
hungry, and then he was a reformed dog.

“Unfortunately the old man, in trotting to and fro from the kitchen to
the dining-room, where the tree was, forgot to bring Cross-Patch out,
and he had to sleep in the room with the tree. Of course he touched
nothing, but didn’t that scamp of a squirrel get in through some hole
or corner.”

“What were those squirrels doing out on a winter night?” I asked.

“Red squirrels don’t sleep like logs through the winter, as some
squirrels do,” said Chummy. “Chickari was prowling because his
supplies had run low. Squirrie was out for mischief. He has a long
head and always lays up enough and more than enough. Perhaps he felt
the Christmas stir in the air. Anyway, he got into this old rickety
cottage and ran up and down the Christmas tree, as if he were crazy,
but he scarcely touched anything at the top. Just to tease Cross-Patch
he nibbled and bit and tore at everything on the lower limbs.”

“Why didn’t Cross-Patch chase him?” I said indignantly.

“He did, but what can a dog do with a lively squirrel? Besides
Cross-Patch could not see very well, although there was a moon shining
in the room. He is getting old. However, he became so angry that at
last he made a splendid leap in the air, and caught the tip end of
Squirrie’s tail which is like a fine bushy flag. He got a mouthful of
hair, and the tail did not look so fine afterward.

“Just when the noise was at its worst, Grandfather woke up and came
in. Of course, Squirrie hid, and there stood Cross-Patch trembling in
every limb, his sorry eyes going to the torn candy bags and popcorn
strewed over the floor.

“‘So—you are a backslider,’ said the old man. ‘Well, you have robbed
my children, and I shall have to beat you.’ He was a patient old man,
but now he was angry, and Cross-Patch was getting some good whacks and
stripes from a rope end, when he began to choke over the squirrel fur
in his mouth.

“The old man stopped beating, stared at him, and took the little bunch
of fur that Cross-Patch spat out, and examined it. Then he dropped his
rope and went to the tree.

“His face fell, and he looked sad. ‘Punish first, and examine
afterward,’ he said. ‘How many persons do that with children. Why did
I not observe that a dog could not have so despoiled this little tree
without knocking it over? It is that pest of a squirrel who has been
here. I might have known. Dog, I beg your pardon,’ and he shook hands
quite solemnly with Cross-Patch who took on the air of a suffering
martyr.”

“And what did Squirrie do?” I asked. “Was his heart touched?”

“Not a bit of it. He went home chuckling, but what do you think he
found?”

“I don’t know much about squirrel ways,” I said.

“I do,” said Chummy, “and they are fine-spirited little creatures,
except the few that like to suck birds’ eggs and kill young. All the
sparrows liked Chickari, and after that night he was a perfect hero
among us. He knew Squirrie pretty well, and was sure he would remain
to gloat over his mischief, so he whipped off to his cupboard—”

“Whose cupboard?” I asked. “His own, or Squirrie’s?”

“Squirrie’s—you know the little scamp’s old home in the tree called
Snug Hollow had been boarded up, and the only place in the
neighborhood he had been able to get was a poor refuge up on a roof.
Well, Chickari knew where it was, and he had dashed off to it, and
carried away nearly all of Squirrie’s nice winter hoard before he got
back. Wasn’t Squirrie furious! He danced with rage on the moonlit
roof when he got home. So a sparrow who slept up there told us. The
noise woke him up, and he could plainly see Squirrie scampering,
leaping, chattering—nose now up, now down, his four legs digging the
snow, his tail wig-wagging! Oh, he was in a rage! He had to go south
for the rest of the winter, but he came back in the spring, more
wicked than ever, for it was in the following June that he became a
murderer.”

“A murderer!” I said in a horrified tone.

“Yes—I will tell you about it, if you are not tired of my chirping.”

“No, no—I just love to hear you,” I said warmly.



CHAPTER VIII

CHUMMY’S OPINIONS


“That year Jennie and I had a lovely lot of young ones, quite early in
June,” said Chummy. “One day we were out getting brown-tail moths, for
I assure you we sparrows do eat lots of insect pests. We were just
hurrying back to our hole in the wall with our beaks full, when a
friendly warbler who was flying by said, ‘Wee-chee chee, chee, hurry,
hurry, Squirrie is coming out of your hole licking red paws.’

“We dropped our loads and flew madly through the air.”

“Why, I thought you said he could not get up that sheer wall,” I
remarked, looking at it as it stretched above and below us, for we had
moved back to Chummy’s front doorway.

“So I did, but a workman had come to do something to the chimney, and
had left a ladder standing against the wall.”

“You don’t mean to say Squirrie had killed your young ones?”

“Every one; there they lay in the nest, their dear little throats
bitten.”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“My mate Jennie was nearly crazy, and so was I. I called up some of my
sparrow friends, Jim and Dandy and Johnny White-Tail and Black Gorget,
and Squirrie got the most awful pecking a squirrel ever had. We chased
him all over the housetops and on to the trees. He leaped from one
branch to another, and we took nips out of him till he was red, too,
and very sore. You see, he had no Snug Hollow to run to.”

“If he had been a good squirrel,” I said, “those ladies would not have
had his home boarded up.”

“Just so. Squirrie was beginning to find out that a bad squirrel
always gets punished by some bird or beast. Well, at last the little
wretch found his breath giving out, and he chattered, ‘Mer-mer-mercy!’
We all gathered round him, as he lay panting on a limb flat on his
stomach to get cool. We bound him over to keep the peace, telling him
that if he ever killed another sparrow, he would be driven out of
the neighborhood.”

“I wonder if you should not have driven him away then, in the
interests of other little birds?”

“But there are so many bird murderers,” said the sparrow patiently.
“Boys stone us and shoot us, cats hunt us. Black Thomas, the cat in
the boarding-house, boasts that he catches fifty birds a year,
foreigners kill us, especially Italians who will shoot even a
chickadee to put in their soup. It seems to me that everybody is down
on birds, and they are hardest of all on sparrows.”

“Chummy,” I said, “I have known you only this afternoon, but I feel as
if I had been acquainted with you for as long a time as if you had
been brought up in the bird-room with me, and now I am going to ask
you a very personal question. Don’t sparrows do some very wrong
things?”

He smiled. “Oh, I see you have heard that anti-sparrow talk. I am not
touchy about it. You can discuss it with me.”

“You seem a sensible bird,” I said. “Come now, tell me what you think
you do that is wrong.”

He hung his little, dark head, and pretended to pick a feather from
his black bib. “We are regular John Bull, Anglo-Saxon stock,” he said,
“and we love to push on and settle in new countries. We were brought
to the United States and Canada about fifty years ago to kill the
canker worm. Some gentlemen near Toronto raised a subscription to
bring us here. We spread all over this continent. We had to fight for
our existence, and all the weak ones died. The strong ones became
stronger, then we multiplied too much. Men should have watched us.”

“Good,” I said, “you believe that human beings come first and all
birds should be subject to them.”

“Certainly,” he replied, “that is the first article in a sparrow’s
creed, and there is no bird in the world that sticks to man as closely
as the sparrow does. Why, we even sleep round men’s houses, tucked
away in the most uncomfortable holes and corners. We really love human
beings though they rarely pet us.”

“Our Mary pets sparrows,” I said stoutly; “so does her mother.”

“They are exceptions,” said Chummy, “few persons are as kind-hearted
as the Martins. I just wish all human beings would do as well by us as
they have done by you canaries. They keep you in order, and let you
increase or decrease just as is necessary, but they have let sparrows
run wild, and it is as hard for us as for them. There is a great hue
and cry against sparrows now, and men and women going along the street
look up at us and say, ‘You little nuisances,’ and I chirp back, ‘It
is your own fault.’”

“What could they do to you?” I asked. “You don’t want to be shot.”

“No, indeed,” said Chummy, “nor poisoned. Our eggs should be destroyed
for a few years; then there would not be so many of us.”

“But that is very hard on the mothers,” I said. “They cry so when an
egg is broken.”

“My Jennie would cry,” said Chummy, “but she would understand, and she
would not make so many nests. She knows that food and nests make all
the trouble in the world. That’s what the seagulls tell us about the
great war human beings had over the sea. They say it was all about
food and homes that wicked people wanted to take away from good ones.”

A sudden thought dawned upon me. “Is that the reason why you sparrows
are so cruel to the birds who come into the city from the country?”

“Yes, it’s a question of food shortage. There isn’t enough to go
round. If there were, it would be equal rights. I don’t hate wild
birds. I have many friends among them, and I never drive them away if
there is enough for their little ones and mine, but if there is only a
sufficient supply for little sparrowkins, I fear I am a bad, hard,
father bird.”

“Do you ever kill them?” I asked fearfully.

“Never,” he said decidedly. “I take their nests, and sometimes when
they are very obstinate, I beat them.”

“I don’t know what to think,” I said in a puzzled voice. “You seem a
sensible bird, yet I don’t like the thought of your beating dear
little wild birds.”

He swelled his little self all up till his feathers stood out round
him like a balloon. Then he said with a burst of eloquence, “How can
you understand, you caged bird, with your table always set? Imagine
yourself in the street, no friends, no food, a cold wind blowing, four
or five hungry nestlings with their tiny beaks open and nothing
to put in them; your poor little mate hovering over them trying to
keep them warm so they will be less hungry. Wouldn’t you steal or beat
to satisfy those cries?”

“Oh, I don’t know, I don’t know!” I said. “I never was in such a
position. I am only a young bird. There has always been enough good
food for us all in the bird-room. I don’t think I could hurt another
bird to save my own young ones, but I don’t know.”

“Of course you don’t know,” said Chummy bluntly. “You never do know
what you’ll do till you run up against some dreadful trouble; but I
tell you, Dicky, I’ve made up my mind never to beat another wild bird.
I’ll move away first.”

“That’s right, Chummy,” I said. “Those words have a nice sound.”

“The bird question is a queer question,” said Chummy. “I’ve heard old,
old sparrows talk about it. They said that birds and beasts when left
to themselves keep what is called the balance of nature, but when man
comes in, he begins to make gardens and orchards, and plants strange
things and shoots wolves and foxes and bears and deer and birds, and
brings into the country odd foreign insects—”

“Why, Chummy,” I said, “how can he do that?”

“They come on grain and plants he gets from lands over the sea. Now,
if he shoots the birds, they can’t eat the insects, so his grain
suffers.”

“Well,” I said, “I understand that, but I don’t understand why he
should not shoot wild beasts like wolves and foxes.”

“I don’t say that he shouldn’t, I merely say he does it, and suffers
for it, because those animals kill little animals like mice and hares
and squirrels which get into his crop. I’m trying to explain to you,
Dicky, that man is great and wonderful, but very upsetting. Now, he is
talking of wiping out sparrows and I say, ‘Don’t wipe out any
creatures. Keep them down.’”

“Now I understand,” I said, “and I suppose you would say, ‘Don’t even
put an end to cats, for they do some good.’”

“Certainly—I do hate them. I wish Black Thomas, the boarding-house
cat, would drop dead this minute, but, Dicky, there’s no use in
denying that a cat is the best rat-trap in the world. Down town where
my Jennie’s parents live in the roof of the old station, they had lots
of rats, and the station hands started to poison them. A little
darling boy traveling with his mother fished a piece of rat biscuit
out of a hole in the corner when his mother’s back was turned, ate it,
and nearly died. The station master was in a fury, and made the men
gather up all the rat biscuit which kills the animals in a very cruel
way, and go out and buy some nice, wise cats. Jennie says another bad
thing happened which the station master didn’t know. A lady traveling
with a little pet dog, one of those Mexican Chihuahua dogs, so small
that they stand on your hand, had it run from her and get into a hole
in the flooring. She was days looking for it, and one of the men found
it in a cruel rat-trap, one that catches the poor beast by the paw.
The little dog was dead. Its tiny velvet foot was all broken, and the
lady cried herself ill.”

“Chummy,” I said, “this is all very sad. I’m going to change the
subject with your permission, and tell you that I’m glad I met you
and I like to hear you talk.”

“I like you too,” he said with feeling, “and I think we shall become
great cronies.”

“You express yourself so nicely,” I said, “not at all in a common
way.”

He drew his little self up proudly. “We Varsity sparrows are supposed
to be the brainiest in the city. We listen to the students’ talk and
especially to the professors and learn to express ourselves properly.
Hardly a sparrow in this neighborhood uses slang, but you just ought
to hear the birds down in St. John’s ward. Their vulgar expressions
are most reprehensible, and they all talk with their beaks shut tight.
They sound like human beings who talk through their noses. You’ll see
some of them some day. They come up here, but we drive them away
pretty quickly.”

“That reminds me,” I said, “am I safe to fly in and out of the house
here, and to go about this street a bit? I have told you that I am
accustomed to much liberty, and I should like to learn something about
this big, wonderful out-of-doors.”

“I’ll answer for the sparrows,” he said, “I’ll pass the word round
that no one is to molest you, and I’ll tell Slow-Boy the pigeon to
warn all his set. The crows won’t bother you, for they rarely come
here, and when they do, it is very early in the morning before a bird
of your luxurious habits would be up.”

“If one should challenge me, what should I say?” I asked anxiously. “I
suppose you have a password.”

“Yes, say ‘Varsity’; that will protect you.”

“What about the robins and the small wild birds that nest in city
gardens?” I asked. “They have mostly frightened eyes, but they can
fight. I have heard this from the old birds.”

“The robins won’t be here for a while yet,” said Chummy, “and when
they come, I’ll speak to their head bird, Vox Clamanti.”

“Thank you a thousand times,” I exclaimed. “I’m just crazy to travel
all about this neighborhood. It’s grand to have a powerful friend. I
shall sing a nice little song about you to Mrs. Martin to-night.”

Chummy did not reply. He was looking at the red sun which was just
beginning to hide behind the huge white milk bottle up in the sky,
which is an advertisement on the top of an enormous dairy building on
the street next to ours.

“If you’ll excuse me,” he said, “I’ll have to go look for something to
eat before it gets dark. I see the neighbors are putting out their
trash cans.”



CHAPTER IX

A BIRD’S AFTERNOON TEA


“I’ll give you something,” I said, “if you’ll come into my house with
me.”

He gave me a long, searching look, then he said, “I’ll trust you, but
how shall I get in, and if I get in, what about that meek looking dog
who is nevertheless a dog?”

“Oh, Billie Sundae would not hurt any guest of mine,” I said, “and the
window is always open a crack in the afternoon to air the sitting
room, because no one sits there till evening.”

“Is Mrs. Martin not at home?” he asked.

I glanced at the big yellow boarding-house set away back from the
street next Chummy’s house and said, “At half past four she is going
in there to have tea with a friend.”

“What do you offer me for afternoon tea?” asked Chummy.

I was rather taken aback, for this question did not seem a very
polite one to me. However, I reflected that he had had a street
upbringing, and could not be expected to observe fine points of
etiquette, such as not asking your host what he is going to set before
you.

“Your question is very businesslike,” I said gaily, but with a thought
of giving him just a gentle dig, “and I may say that there will be
first of all a few crumbs of sponge cake.”

“That’s nice,” he said, clacking his horny beak with satisfaction.

“Then a nice little nibble of fresh, rosy-faced apple.”

“Fine!” he exclaimed. “It’s very hard for sparrows to get fresh fruit
this weather.”

“Then I have a small bit of hard boiled egg left from breakfast,” I
said.

“Egg!” he almost screamed, “and they at a dollar a dozen.”

I was slightly surprised that he mentioned the price of eggs. However,
I went on, “The Martins always have the best of food, even if they
have to save on clothes. Don’t you see how shabby Mrs. Martin and our
Mary look?”

“The flowers in Mrs. Martin’s hat are pretty,” said the sparrow, “but
they look as if they had been rained on. Now what comes after the egg?”

I was just a little put out at this question, and I said, “A nice
drink of cold water.”

“Of course I can always get that outside,” he said.

“When everything is frozen?”

“There’s always Lake Ontario,” he said, “that doesn’t freeze over.”

I was afraid he would think I was impolite, and no matter how abrupt
he was with me, I as entertainer should be courteous to him. So I
said, “The greatest treat comes last. I’ve noticed you from the window
several times, and I have been sorry to see your worried look, and I
felt we should become acquainted, so I saved you a nice lot of hemp
seed.”

“You saved seeds for me,” he exclaimed.

“Certainly, why not?”

“Why, I never had anyone do that for me before,” he said, “except my
parents.”

“I do it to please myself,” I said. “If I could tell you how I love to
see all birds safe and happy and with their crops sticking out.”

“Your talk has a good sound,” he said gravely. “I wish Squirrie could
hear you. He says, ‘Birds, if my tummy is full and comfy, I don’t care
if yours is shrunk all to wrinkles.’”

“Ha! ha! ha!” cried a wicked little voice, and I nearly fell head
foremost out of the hole in the wall. As Chummy and I talked, we had
gradually edged forward to his front door, and looking up we saw that
impudent red squirrel hanging over the roof edge, listening to us.

Chummy was so angry, that he made a wild dart up to the roof, and gave
a savage peck at Squirrie’s eyes. Of no use, the little rogue had
scampered in again.

Chummy and I flew to the top of the front porch, and sat breathing
hard and fast.

Mrs. Martin opened the door of our house and came out. I gazed down at
the beloved brown figure and uttered a glad, “Peep!”

She whistled back to me, “Dear O! Cheer O!” then looking up, she said
“Eh! making friends. Tell your sparrow bird that I bought some rice
for him to-day, and I think he will like it better than the bread
crumbs I have been putting out on the food table lately.”

The grateful Chummy leaned forward, gave his tail a joyous flirt, and
said “T-check! chook! chook!”

“I’ll throw some right here for him in the morning,” said Missie, and
she pointed to the hard-packed snow under the library window. “There’s
such a crowd round the food table.”

Chummy gave a loud, joyful call. He was sure of a good tea to-night
and a fine breakfast in the morning, and what more could a sparrow ask
than two meals in advance?

“If she had feathers, she would be a very beautiful bird,” he said, as
we watched her going toward the boarding-house, “and that is more than
you can say of some of the women that go up and down this street.”

“What a sad looking boarding-house that is,” I said as we watched her
going toward it. “Those black streaks up and down its yellow walls
look as if it had been crying.”

Chummy was staring through the big drawing-room window that had fine
yellow silk curtains.

“Just look at those women in there,” he said, “they have a nice fire,
a white table and a maid bringing in hot muffins and cake and lovely
thin slices of bread and butter to say nothing of the big silver
tea-pot and the cream jug, and a whole bowl of sugar. I wish I had
some of it, and they sit and stuff themselves, and never throw us any
of it, and when summer comes they wouldn’t have a rose if we didn’t
pick the plant lice off their bushes.”

“Come, come,” I said, “you are too hard on those nice ladies who are
all working for the soldiers, and must have good food to sustain them.
I am sure they don’t realize what birds do for them. If they did, they
would not wear us on their hats.”

“Human beings would all die if it weren’t for us birds,” said the
sparrow. “Poisons and sprays are all very fine to kill insect pests,
but there’s nothing like the bill of a bird.”

“Mrs. Martin says that farmers are beginning to find that out,” I
replied, “and are making wise laws to protect birds. Women don’t
understand, except a few like our Mary and her mother.”

The sparrow sighed. “I suppose you have heard that half the wild birds
are dying this winter. The crows say that little brown and gray and
blue bodies are scattered all over the snow.”

“Even though the ground is snowy,” I said, “couldn’t they still get
the larvae of insects on the branches?”

“The branches are ice glazed. The other day when the city people were
saying how beautiful and how like fairyland everything looked here,
the birds were staring in dismay at their food supply all locked up.”

“The farmers should have put out grain for them,” I said.

“They do in some places, but birds will never be properly looked after
till the Government does it. They are servants to the public, and the
public ought to protect them—but I am forgetting my afternoon tea.
Shall we go in?”

“Yes, yes,” I said hastily, and I flew before him to the window.

Chummy stayed on the sill while I spoke to Billie who was lying on the
hearthrug before the fire.

“Allow me to introduce my friend Chummy Hole-In-The-Wall,” I said. “He
is going to make the neighborhood safe for me,” I added pointedly, for
Billie dislikes strangers.

She wagged her tail slightly, very slightly, and lay down again, as
if to say, “Have any friend in you like, but don’t bore me.”

Chummy is a very sensible bird. He did not fuss and fidget about
coming into a house, and say that he was afraid something might hurt
him. He merely said, “This is a very unusual thing for a sparrow to
do, and a number of my friends outside are wondering why I came in.
However, I am very hungry and I trust you. But of course you
understand, you will be held responsible for my safety.”

I smiled. I knew what he meant. A number of bright-eyed sparrows had
been watching me as I talked to him. If anything happened to him in
this room, Green-Top’s beatings would be nothing compared to the one
they would give me.

“You are as safe here as in your hole in the wall,” I said earnestly.
“Now do come into my cage. You can’t reach the things very well from
the outside.”

He went right in, and it did me good to see him eat. After he had
stuffed himself, he said, “If I could tell you how sweet these seeds
taste, and how delicious it is to get a bit of gravel. There isn’t an
inch of ground visible in this whole city. Snow feet deep—never was
anything like it before. Nearly every sparrow has indigestion from
sloppy, wet, or frozen food, and no gravel to grind it.”

“Be thankful you are not a European bird,” I said. “They have had
perfectly dreadful times of suffering over there.”

“Have you heard the story about the little British canary that was
killed during the war by one of its own guns?” asked Chummy.

“No,” I said, “I haven’t.”

“Well,” he replied, “you know when the Allies mined under the enemy’s
line, they carried canaries in cages with them so that if there was
any fire damp in the big holes they made, they could tell by the
canaries’ actions. Well, one little war bird flew away from his task.
He evidently was an idle bird, and did not wish to work. He perched on
a small bush in the middle of No Man’s Land and began to sing, ‘I
won’t work, I won’t work. I want to play.’

“The Allied soldiers were in a terrible fright. If their enemies saw
the canary, they would know they were mining, and would send shells at
them and kill them all. So the Allied men signaled to their infantry
to fire on the bird. They did so, but he was so small a target that
they could not strike him, and he hopped from twig to twig unhurt.
Finally they had to call on the artillery, and a big trench gun sent a
shell that blew birdie and his bush into the air.”

“What a pity!” I said sadly. “If he had done his duty and stayed with
the workers, he might be yet alive. I can tell you a cat war story, if
you like.”

“What is it?” asked Chummy.

“The tale of a cat and her kittens. One day the Allied soldiers saw a
cat come across No Man’s Land. She walked as evenly as Black Thomas
does when he is taking an airing on this quiet street. No one fired at
her, and she crossed the first line of trenches, the support behind
them, and went back to the officers’ dugouts. She inspected all of
them, then she returned across this dangerous land to the enemy’s
lines. The trenches were pretty close together, and the men all roared
with amusement, for on this trip she had a tiny kitten in her mouth.

“She carried it back to the best-looking dugout, and laid it on an
officer’s coat. Then she went back and got a second kitten, and then a
third. The soldiers cheered her, and no one thought of harming her.
Mrs. Martin’s nephew wrote her this nice story, and he said that the
mother cat and her three kittens were the idols of the soldiers and
always wore pink ribbons on their necks. They called them Ginger,
Shrapnel, and Surprise Party.”

“What a good story,” said the sparrow thickly.

His beak was full of sponge cake, and, seeing it, I said warmly, “Oh,
Chummy dear, if I could only feed all the poor hungry birds as I am
feeding you, how happy should I be!”



CHAPTER X

ANOTHER CALL FROM CHUMMY


After this first day of our meeting, Chummy called on me very often.
In fact, he would fly in whenever he saw the window open, for he knew
Billie was an honest dog and would not chase him.

The lovely thaw did not last long, and we had some more very cold
weather. I did not go out-of-doors very often, and was quite glad to
get the outside news from my sparrow friend.

Billie grumbled a little bit about him. “That fellow is throwing dust
in your eyes,” she said to me one day during the last of February.

I smiled at her. “And do you think that I think that Chummy comes here
merely for the pleasure of looking into my bright eyes?”

Billie began to mumble something under her breath about greedy birds,
and emptying my seed dish.

“Dear Billie,” I went on, “don’t plunge that little white muzzle of
yours too deeply into bird affairs. You would find them as strangely
mixed as are dog matters. When you fawn on Mrs. Martin as she comes
from town, is the fawning pure love or just a little bit of hope that
in her muff is hidden some dainty for Billie?”

“I love Mrs. Martin,” said Billie stubbornly. “You know I do. I would
live with her if she fed me on crusts.”

“Of course you would,” I said soothingly, “but do you know, it seems
to me a strange thing that you, a dog bred in poverty and having to
toil painfully in looking for your food, should be harder on another
toiler than I am, I a bird that was bred in the lap of luxury.”

Billie looked rather sheepish, and I said, “You have a kind heart, and
I wish you would not be so stiff with the sparrow. Won’t you do
something to amuse him some time when he comes?”

“Yes, I will,” she said. “I think perhaps I have not been very polite
to him. Indeed, I do know how hard it is for birds and beasts to get a
living out of this cold world.”

“Hush,” I said; “here he comes,” and sure enough there was Chummy
sitting on the window sill, twitching his tail, and saying, “How are
you, Dicky-Dick? It’s a bitterly cold day—sharpens one’s appetite
like a knife.”

I flew to meet him and said, “Come right over to my cage and help
yourself to seeds. Missie filled my dish before she went out.”

Chummy looked pleased, but he said, “I hope your Missie doesn’t mind
feeding me as well as you.”

“Oh, no, she doesn’t care,” I said, “even though bird seed is dear
now. She has a heart as big as a cabbage and she is sorry for all
suffering things. She says she has been hungry once or twice in her
own life, and she knows the dreadful feeling of an empty stomach.”

“Well, I’ll eat to her health,” said Chummy, and he stepped right into
my cage and poked his dusky beak into a tiny dish of bread and milk.

“What’s the news of the neighborhood?” I asked.

“Squirrie came out for five minutes this morning,” he said, “just to
let us know he wasn’t dead. He ate a few nuts and threw the shells
down at Black Thomas.”

“I know Thomas,” I said; “jet black, white spot on breast, yellow
eyes, fierce, proud temper.”

“He’s a case,” said Chummy, “and he vows he’ll have Squirrie’s life
yet.”

“Anything else happened?” I asked.

“Oh, yes—two strange pigeons, dusky brown, have been in the
neighborhood all the morning, looking for a nesting place, and Susan
and Slow-Boy have worn themselves out driving them away.”

Billie rarely opened her mouth when Chummy called. She lay dozing, or
pretending to doze, by the fire; but to-day she spoke up and said,
“Who are Susan and Slow-Boy?”

I waited politely for Chummy to speak, but his beak was too full, so I
answered for him.

“They are the two oldest neighborhood pigeons, and they live in the
old barn back of our yard. They are very particular about any pigeon
that settles near here; still, if the strangers are agreeable they
might let them have that ledge outside the barn.”

“They’re not agreeable,” said Chummy. “Their feathers are in miserable
condition. They haven’t taken good care of them, and Slow-Boy says he
knows by the look of them they have vermin.”

“Lice!” exclaimed Billie suddenly. “That is dreadful. Some of the
Italians where I used to live had pigeons that scratched themselves
all the time. It was sad to hear them at night. They could not sleep.
They would all rise up together on their perches and shake
themselves.”

Chummy took a drink from my water dish in which was a rusty nail to
give me a little iron for my blood, then he said, “We’re clean birds
in this neighborhood. Varsity birds hate lice, so I think Slow-Boy and
Susan were quite right to drive these strangers away—what do you
think, Dicky-Dick?”

I sighed quite heavily, for such a small bird as I am. Then I said,
“It is true, though it oughtn’t to be, that clean birds instead of
taking dirty birds in hand and trying to do them good, usually drive
them away. It seems the easiest way.”

Chummy was wiping his beak hard on one of my perches. “Your Missie
certainly knows where to buy her seeds. These are remarkably fresh and
crisp.”

“She always goes to wholesale houses,” I said, “and watches the man to
see that he takes the seeds out of a bag or big box. Some women buy
their seeds in packages which perhaps have been standing on the
grocer’s shelf for months.”

“You look a well-nourished bird,” said Chummy. “My Jennie is very
particular with our young ones, and we have the finest-looking ones in
the neighborhood. If she is giving a brown-tail moth larva, for
example, she hammers it well before she puts it in the baby beaks.
Some sparrows are so careless, and thrust food to their young ones
that is only partly prepared.”

I said nothing, for I had not yet seen any of Chummy’s young ones, and
he came out of the cage and, settling down on the top of it, began to
clean his feathers and pick little bits of dead flesh off his skin.

“Billie,” I said, “it’s early in the afternoon and you’ve had your
first nap; can’t you amuse our caller by telling him about your early
life? He said the other day he’d like to hear it.”

Billie rose and stretched herself. She knew that I knew she would like
to do something for Chummy because she had spoken harshly about him.

Chummy spoke up, “I like you, Billie, for I notice you never chase
birds as some of the neighborhood dogs do.”

Billie hung her head. “I know too well what it feels like to be
chased,” she said.

“You can’t see us up here on the wall very well, Billie,” I said. “You
would have to stretch your neck to look up at us. Suppose we fly down,
Chummy.”

“All right,” he said agreeably, so we flew to a pot of hyacinths on
the table and crouched down with our feet on the nice warm earth and
our breasts against the rim of the pot.

Billie jumped up in a big chair by the table to be near us, and began,
“First of all, you mustn’t interrupt. It puts me out.”

“All right,” said the sparrow, “but what a spoiled dog you are! I
don’t know another one in the neighborhood that is allowed to sit in
any chair he or she chooses.”

Billie hung her head again, and I gave the sparrow a nudge. “Do be
quiet. She’s sensitive on that subject.”

“It’s on account of my early training,” said Billie at last. “There
was nothing sacred to the poor people I was with. A bed or a chair was
no better than the floor and I can’t get over that feeling. I have
been whipped and whipped and reasoned with, but it’s of no use. I
can’t remember.”

“It’s just like birds,” said the sparrow cheerfully. “What’s bred in
the bone comes out in the flesh. If I indulge a youngster and let him
take the best place in the nest, I can’t get him out of it when he’s
older.”

“Begin, Billie,” I said, “we’re waiting, and, Chummy, don’t interrupt
again. It’s quite a long story, and the afternoon is going, and Missie
will soon be home.”



CHAPTER XI

BILLIE SUNDAE BEGINS THE STORY OF HER LIFE


“Well,” said Billie, “my name used to be Tina when I was a puppy, and
the first thing I can remember is a kick that landed me in the middle
of the floor.

“I must have had many kicks before, and I had many after, but I
remember that one because I was too small and short-legged to climb
back into bed. I had to spend the night on the floor, and as it was
winter the occurrence was stamped on my puppy brain.

“I slept with some Italian children who belonged to a man called
Antonio and his wife, Angelina. They lived in a tiny house in the
Bronx neighborhood in New York. They were rather kind people in their
way, except when they flew in a rage. Then the woman would chase me
with her broom and the man would kick me. I am rather a stupid little
dog, and timid too, and I used to get in their way.

“The children mauled me, but I liked them, for whenever they tumbled
down to sleep anywhere, whether it was on the floor or on their queer,
rickety bed heaped high with old clothes and torn blankets, I was
allowed to snuggle up to them and keep warm.

“Antonio, the father of the family, used to get his living by digging
drains in the new roads they were making about New York, and when he
came home at night, he would feel my sides, and if I seemed very
hollow, he would say to his wife, ‘A bit of bread for the creature,’
and if I seemed fat, he would say, ‘She needs nothing. Give the food
to the little ones.’

“You can imagine that this treatment made me get my own living. I had
to spend a great deal of time every day in running from one back yard
to another, to see if I could pick up scraps from the old boxes and
barrels in which the Italians in the neighborhood used to put their
rubbish, for they did not have nice shiny trash cans, like rich
people.

“Other dogs got their living in the same way I did, and as I am no
fighter, I had to work pretty hard to get enough to eat.

“The way I managed was to rise very early in the morning, before the
other dogs were let loose. Nearly all the poor people in the
neighborhood had gardens or milk farms, or chickens, or pigeons, and
they kept dogs to frighten thieves away. These poor animals were
chained all night long to miserable kennels and they made a great
noise barking and howling, but the more noise they made, the better
pleased were their owners.

“When I heard them on cold winter nights, I used to cuddle down all
the closer in bed beside the children, and thank my lucky stars that I
was not fastened outside.

“My Italians tried to keep chickens, but they always died. The woman
was too ignorant to know that if you wish to have healthy, wholesome
fowls, that will lay well, you must feed them good food and keep them
clean. I used to bark at her when she stood looking at her sick
chickens, but she did not understand my language. ‘Woman,’ I was
trying to say, ‘pretend that your chickens are children. Your little
ones are fat and healthy because you feed them well, keep them out of
doors, and have them fairly clean.’

“As time went on my Italians became poorer. Antonio was out of work
for a time, and lounged about the house and became very sulky.
Sometimes he would go to a near-by café for a drink, and I usually
followed him, for some of the men when they saw me skulking about and
looking hungry, would be sure to throw me bits of cheese or salt fish,
or ends of sandwiches with salty stuff inside that made me run to the
Bronx River to get a drink.

“One unhappy day, when I had had enough to eat and was crouching close
to the hot-water pipes in a corner, a rough-looking man who acted very
sleepy and was talking very queerly asked Antonio how much he would
take for me.

“He said one dollar.

“‘She’s only a cur,’ said the other man. ‘I’ll give you fifty cents.’

“To my great dismay, my master held out his hand for the money, a rope
was tied round my neck, and I was led away in an opposite direction
from my home.

“In vain I pulled back and squealed. The man only laughed and dragged
me along more quickly.

“He could not walk very straight, but after a while we arrived in
front of a nice, neat-looking house, and a kind-faced woman opened the
door for us.

“She was a dressmaker, and she had the sleeve of a woman’s dress in
her hand. She gave me a quick, pleasant look, but she became very sad
when she saw the mud on her husband’s clothes where he had splashed
through puddles of dirty water.

“It seems she had long wanted a dog to bear her company while her
husband was away from home. So she was very pleased to see me, and
threw an old coat in a corner of the kitchen for me to lie on, and
gave me a beef bone to gnaw.

“I was delighted to get a good meal, and a quiet bed, for as I told
you the children used to kick me a good deal in their sleep. However,
I was not happy in this new place.

“I was surprised at myself. This was a much nicer house than the
Italian’s, but I didn’t care for that. I wanted my own home.

“There was a sleek, gray cat with dark eyes in the house, and the next
day I had a talk with her.

“‘You are uneasy,’ she said, ‘because this isn’t your very own home.
Dogs are very faithful. You miss the children and that man and his
wife, though by the look of you they were not very good to you.’

“Of course I had not said anything to this cat against my family. I
knew they were not perfect, but something told me it would not be
right to discuss my own family with strangers.

“‘Your coat is very grimy and dirty,’ she said. ‘You look as if you
had not been washed for a long time. Have you?’

“I hesitated, for to tell the truth I remembered no washings except
the ones my poor little spotted mother had given me with her tongue
when I was a puppy. Only the rain and the snow had cleansed me since
then. At last I said, ‘Water was scarce with us. It had to be carried
from a pump.’

“‘Missis is very clean,’ she said; ‘she will likely give you a bath
first thing.’

“Missis did wash me that very day. First she spread a lot of
newspapers on the kitchen floor. Then she set a tub on them and filled
it half full of warm water. I was ordered to step into the tub, which
I did very gingerly, and then the dressmaker sopped me all over with
a cloth covered with carbolic acid soapsuds.

“I must confess that although I liked the idea of being clean and
getting rid of some of my fleas, the bath was a sad ordeal. I thought
I should scream when the dressmaker wrapped an end of the towel round
her finger and poked it inside my ears. Persons should be very careful
how they wash dogs’ ears. However, she was pretty gentle, and I merely
groaned and did not howl or yell, as I wished to do. Finally she
poured lukewarm rinsing water over me, and my bath was done. She
wrapped me in a blanket and put me under the kitchen stove. I felt
terribly for a while. My wet hair was torture to me, but presently I
began to get warm, my hair dried, and I became quite happy.

“Was it possible that I, a little neglected dog, was lying clean and
dry under a nice hot stove, and with a comfortable feeling inside me,
and not my usual ache for good food?

“I licked one of my paws sticking out from under the blanket, a paw
that looked so strangely white and clean, and I said to myself, ‘I
must always stay with this good woman.’

“Alas! the very next day such a sick, dreadful feeling came over me,
that I told the cat I must run away.

“‘You are a simpleton,’ she said crossly. ‘You don’t know when you are
well off. Could anything be nicer than this quiet house—the master
gone all day and so stupid and staggering when he comes home that he
gives no trouble?’

“I said nothing, and she went on, ‘And mistress sewing so quietly and
giving us regular meals. Then if you wish to take a walk we have a
nice back yard with a fence all round it, and no other yard near us
and if you wish to go further than that, we have that fine large field
where they dump the ashes from the next town. I tell you, the place is
ideal.’

“‘I know all that,’ I said, ‘but I wasn’t brought up here, and I want
the neighbors’ dogs and the children, and I’ve never been used to cat
society.’

“‘You listen to a word of advice from me,’ she said, ‘and don’t take
too much stock in people or animals. They move away, but nice, quiet
yards and dump heaps go on forever.’

“‘I’m sorry,’ I said, ‘but I’ve got to run for it. I’m just wild
inside.’

“‘Well, make sure of one good meal before you leave,’ she said
scornfully. ‘Mistress is cooking liver and bacon and liver is very
good for dogs.’

“‘Thank you for all your kindness to me,’ I said. ‘I suppose you think
I am a very stupid dog.’

“‘I’ve not done much for you,’ she said. ‘I don’t mind showing a few
favors to a friend, if it doesn’t put me out.’

“I stared at her. I had several times obliged her by barking at
strange cats and this had cost me quite an effort, for I was
dreadfully afraid they would turn and spit at me, or scratch my eyes
out. However, I said nothing. You can’t reason with cats. They’re very
pig-headed.

“Presently she asked me how I felt about cheating our good, kind
mistress out of fifty cents, ‘for that is what you told me master paid
for you,’ she said.

“‘I feel badly about that,’ I replied. ‘Indeed, I may say that it
grieves me.’

“‘I’ll tell you where you can get fifty cents,’ she said cunningly.

“‘Where?’ I asked eagerly.

“‘Why, last night when master went out to the road to get a paper,
he fumbled in his pocket for a penny and brought out a handful of
change. One piece dropped on the ground. I can show you where it
lies.’

“‘Why didn’t you pick it up?’ I asked.

“‘Why bother with money, when it’s no good to you?’ she said. ‘It’s
dirty stuff, anyway, and covered with germs.’

“‘I’m not afraid of it,’ I said joyfully, and I ran and got the
fifty-cent piece and laid it at mistress’ feet. She took it and looked
at me, then she patted me and hugged me, a thing she had not done
before.

“‘Doggie, you are a comfort to me,’ she said. ‘I hope you will stay
with me always.’

“I stood on my hind legs. I pawed the air and squealed. I tried to
tell her that I would like to stay, but that I could not resist the
thing inside me that was pulling like a string toward my old home.

“I ran away that night—ran sadly and with shame. I was about two
miles from my old home, and it was no trouble at all for me to find it.

“When I got there, I scratched at the door and the Italian woman
opened it and gave a squeal when she saw me. The children had not gone
to sleep, and I gave a leap past her and into the bed with them.

“Oh, how glad they were to see me! I jumped and squealed and licked
them, and they petted me and hugged me, and the mother stood over us
laughing to see her children well pleased.

“Wasn’t I delighted that I had come home! I settled down among them
for a good night’s sleep, and I thought, ‘Now we are going to be happy
ever after’—but dogs never know what is going to happen to them.

“Just when I was having a lovely dream about my friend the cat, in
which she was changed into a nice, sensible dog, I felt a fierce grip
on my neck, and, giving a scream, I jumped up.

“The Italian man stood over me, his face as black as a thundercloud.
He had got work by this time—work outside, for Italians hate to be
employed inside a building. He was a train hand now and he got good
wages, but he was not willing to keep me.

“One hand dragged me out of bed, and the other shook a fist at me.
‘You, you animal,’ he said, ‘I’m going to take you away. If you come
back, I shoot,’ and he took hold of the old gun standing in a corner
of the room and shook it at me. ‘You saw me shoot a cat one day,’ he
went on. ‘Well, I kill you if you come back. Hear that?’ Then he
kicked me out of doors.

“I did not run away. I sat on a heap of ashes at a little distance,
staring at the house. There I remained all night. I was confused and
unhappy and stupid. I did not know what to do. I knew I could never
live with the children again, but something just chained me to the
spot.

“I sat there all the next morning. The children were afraid to play
with me, for their father was sleeping inside the house, but they
threw me some crusts. I was very thirsty, but I did not dare to go
near the house, and something kept me from losing sight of it, so I
did not run to the river to get a drink.

“At dusk the man came out of the house and, catching sight of me, he
yelled for me to go to him. I went inch by inch, and crawling on my
stomach. He took a string out of his pocket, tied it round my neck,
and set off walking toward the railway.

“I gave one last look over my shoulder at the cottage, and the
children. They were crying, poor little souls, and their mother had
her arms round them.

“The man made me trot pretty fast after him. He did not know and would
not have cared if he had known that my thirst was getting more and
more painful, and that I was almost choked to death with fear. For we
were approaching the railway tracks and all my life long I had been
frightened to death of noises, especially train noises.

“Suddenly a suspicion struck me that he might be going to throw me
under the wheels of a train. Half mad with fear, I gave a violent leap
away from him, dragging the cord from his hand, and then I ran, ran
like a creature bereft of its senses, for my flying feet took me right
toward the trains, instead of away from them.

“I was aware of a rush and a roar, and then something gave me a pound
on the back, then a blow on my head. I rolled over and over, and for a
time I knew nothing.

“When I recovered, the Italian was bending over me, his face quite
frightened and sympathetic.

“‘Poor dog!’ he said; then when I tried to get up, he lifted me and
put me under his arm. I found he was climbing on a train.

“Another man was grinning at him. ‘We gave your dog a fine clip as we
came in,’ he said. ‘He got a roll and a turnover fast enough.’

“The Italian said nothing. He was not a bad man. He was just
thoughtless. I knew he was sorry for me and his children, but times
were hard and the price of food was high, and he thought they could
not afford to keep me. He knew the children often gave me bits of
their bread, and he knew, too, that sometimes when the hunger rat was
gnawing too sharply I would even steal.

“I found out that he was a fireman on a freight train which had a big
engine, not like the neat electric ones on the passenger trains.

“He put me down on some lumps of coal, and I sat and stared stupidly
at him.

“Presently the train started, and, though I was still terrified, I
found it was not as bad to be on the thing as to watch it going by.

“I had only a short trip on it. In about five minutes we stopped at a
station, and to my immense surprise he picked me up, threw his coat
over me, and sprang to the platform.

“I felt myself jammed against something hard, then the coat was pulled
off me, and I was alone. He had deserted me.

“I looked about me. I was on a high platform, railway tracks on both
sides of me; and beyond me were other platforms and more railway
tracks. This was the One Hundred and Eightieth Railway Station in the
Bronx, I found out afterward. The Italian had put me close to the door
of a waiting-room, and you may be sure that I was in no haste to leave
my shelter. It was just a tiny corner, but I flattened myself in it,
for even if I had wished to leave it, my limbs were too tired and sore
to carry me.

“Trains came dashing by every few minutes, first on one side, then on
the other. It seemed to me that I would go crazy with the noise and
confusion, and I was sure that each train would strike me. That was
very stupid in me. There were the tracks, why should the trains leave
them? But my head was still dizzy from the blow I had received, and my
dog mind was bewildered. I was crazy for the time. Then back of all
fright and body pain was the dreadful ache of homesickness. I had no
place to go. No one can tell the terror of a lost dog, especially when
that dog is timid. I had been torn from my home—a poor home, but
still a dear one to me, and I was out in a world of confusion and
fright and hurry. If I stepped from my corner, some of those rushing
people might hurl me to the railway track in front of one of the
cruel-looking engines, which would grind me to pieces. Oh, if some one
would only come to my aid, and I stared and stared at the nice faces
whirling by. My eyes felt as big as the engine headlights. Why could
not some one read my story in them?

“It is astonishing how few people can tell when a dog is lost. They
don’t even know when it is unhappy. Yet dogs have expression in their
faces. So many kind men and women gave me a glance. Some even said,
‘Good doggie.’ One nice old lady in glasses remarked, ‘The emblem of
faithfulness is a dog. See that one sitting there, waiting for his
master’s return.’

“Unthinking old lady! My master would never return, and where, oh,
where was I to get some water, for by this time my tongue was so dry
that it felt swollen and my throat was as parched as a brick.

“Hour after hour I sat there, and the dreadful railway rush of New
York went on. You know nothing about that rush here in this
comparatively quiet city of Toronto. The station hands and ticket
sellers were all downstairs, for I was on the elevated part of the
station. Finally two young men stopped in front of me, and one of them
said, ‘What a dismayed-looking dog! I wonder if we could do anything
for it?’

“‘Come on,’ said the other. ‘Here’s the White Plains train.’

“The first young man went away, looking over his shoulder. He wasn’t
interested enough to stay.”



CHAPTER XII

JUST ONE THING AFTER ANOTHER


“The painful hours went by, and I heard nine, ten, and eleven o’clock
strike, and at last twelve. There weren’t so many passengers now. I
was to be left here all night. A chilly breeze sprang up, my limbs
began to get cold and shaky, and it seemed to me that I must just lie
down and die.

“Then something seemed to come over me. I would not give up yet, and I
braced up and flattened myself more tightly against the corner, in
order to get as far as possible from the dreadful trains that came
roaring and bellowing at me like bull monsters. They should not get me
yet, and I propped myself up on my trembling legs. Oh, why could I not
cry or squeal or beg, or do tricks to attract the attention of some of
the passers-by? Alas! I was not that kind of a dog. I have always been
timid and retiring. A dog that forages for himself does not learn to
attract the attention of the public.

“At a quarter past twelve, when one poor tired-out paw was just
crumpling under me, another subway train from New York rumbled in, and
the passengers ran up the steps to catch the Boston and Westchester
train whose track was nearest me.

“The last two passengers to come up were ladies. A number of men were
ahead of them, and they passed me by, but the ladies stood and looked
at me.

“They were laughing and talking about going to hear a man preach
called Billy Sunday, and getting on a wrong train that took them to
the Bronx Park where the animals are in the Zoological Garden.

“Suddenly one of the ladies said quickly, ‘Lost dog!’ and stooping
down, she stared in my face.

“‘How do you know?’ said the other.

“‘By the look in her eyes,’ the first one went on. ‘She’s dirty,
neglected, and probably hungry; likely has been deserted. We have ten
minutes before our train leaves. I’ll run down and speak to the man in
the ticket office.’

“This dear lady, who was Mrs. Martin, has told to her friends so many
times the story of her experiences that I know just what happened. She
went first to the office by the gate she had come through, and asked
the man sitting there if he knew anything about the lost dog on the
platform above.

“He said he did not, but probably some one had dropped it there from a
train.

“‘Could it have come in from the street?’ Mrs. Martin asked.

“‘It might,’ he said, ‘but it would have a long passage to come
through, and would have to pass in this narrow gate. I guess it’s
deserted,’ he said. ‘No dogs ever climb up there.’

“‘Would you take care of it for the night?’ asked Mrs. Martin.
‘Perhaps to-morrow some one might come to look for it.’

“He looked bored, and said he would not.

“‘Do you suppose there is any one about the station that would take
charge of it?’ she went on.

“‘No,’ he said; he knew there wasn’t.

“‘Then will you give me a piece of string?’ she asked.

“He gave her a bit of twine and she hurried upstairs to me. Bending
over me, she tied her handkerchief round my neck—that little
handkerchief would not go round my fat neck now—then she fastened the
twine to it.

“A few minutes later the train came roaring in, and she pulled on the
twine, but I would not budge. How could I go near that horrible
monster?

“‘Nothing to do but carry you,’ she said, and she lifted me up and
took me on the train and sat me down on her lap, and the black patch
on my back where the wheels of the train struck me made a grease spot
on her coat.

“Now one is not allowed to carry dogs on these trains unless they are
in the baggage car, but it was late in the evening and not many
persons were traveling, and my new friend did not say a word to the
conductor, and he did not say a word to her.

“We passed several stations, then we reached the pretty town of New
Rochelle. The two ladies got out of the train and now I was willing to
follow, for we were leaving the terrible railway behind us. I ran down
the station steps beside my new friend, and when we got in the street
and I felt real grass under my feet, I felt like barking with joy. But
my dry mouth would not open, and I just sagged along, a happy feeling
inside me, for I knew I should have a drink of water as soon as we
reached the lady’s home.

“The lady who was with my new friend was younger and had rosy cheeks
and dark eyes. ‘What are you going to do with your lost animal?’ she
said.

“‘I think I will put her in the garage for the night,’ said Mrs.
Martin.

“‘Don’t do that. The creature will be lonely. Bring her in the house.’

“‘Well, it’s your hotel,’ said Mrs. Martin. ‘If you’re willing to have
her, I will bring her in.’

“‘Put her in my bathroom. I’ll take care of her,’ said Miss Rosy
Cheeks, whose name I found out later was Miss Patricia MacGill.

“‘No, thank you—you have enough to do without having a dog added to
your cares,’ said my friend. ‘I’ll take care of the burden thrust upon
us through going to hear Billy Sunday.’

“Miss MacGill, who was very fond of a joke, began to laugh, and
looking down at me, said, ‘Welcome to New Rochelle, Billy Sunday.’

“We were walking all this time along streets lighted and with nice
shops each side. I just lifted my weary head occasionally to glance at
them; then suddenly the street was not so bright and, looking up, I
saw that the shops were behind us, and we were in a region of pretty
homes and gardens. I had a confused impression of being in a very
grand neighborhood. It was nothing extraordinary, but I had been
brought up in a very poor way, and up to that time the biggest house I
had seen was the café and the railway stations. Soon we came to a
corner where there were three houses joined together by broad
verandas.

“There my two nice ladies turned in, went up a stone walk, crossed a
veranda, and entered a big front door.

“‘Do you wish anything for the dog?’ asked Miss MacGill.

“‘No, thank you,’ said Mrs. Martin. ‘I know the kitchen and pantry are
shut up, and the boys in bed, so I will do with what I have in my
room.’

“I was nearly dropping in my tracks by this time. While the two
friends said good night I stood still and tried to steady myself.
Everything inside the house was going round and round, and everything
was red. In a few seconds things cleared, and then I saw I was in a
hall brightly lighted, and with a red stair carpet. Poor little
ignorant dog—I did not know that hotel keepers in New York State are
obliged to keep their halls lighted all night, in case of fire.

“Mrs. Martin was pretty clever. She looked down at me as I stood with
my feet braced far apart, then she bent over me, took my dirty little
body in her arms and toiled up the stairs with me, for she was pretty
tired herself.

“I closed my eyes. She was not a person that needed watching. Then I
felt myself let down gently, a button snapped to turn on the light,
and there I was in the middle of what seemed to me a great big lovely
nest, that smelt of flowers.

“Later on I heard even grand ladies who came to call on Mrs. Martin
say it was a pretty room, so imagine what it was like to me, a little
dog from the dumps!

“It was all pink and white and soft looking, but I did not take in all
the furnishings that night. I smelt water and I staggered toward the
table where was a big glass jug of ice water.

“Mrs. Martin filled a glass and put it down on the floor. I drank it,
and she filled another. I drank that, and then she said, ‘Moderation
in all things, doggie. Wait a few minutes before you have any more.’

“I flopped down on a soft fur rug and put my nose on my paws.

“‘Poor little victim!’ she said. ‘I will make up your bed.’

“Opening a drawer, she took out a big soft shawl. ‘It came from
Canada,’ she said. ‘It belonged to my aunt, who liked dogs.’

“I did not know then what she meant by Canada, but I was glad to hear
her aunt liked dogs, and when she went to a closet and arranged the
shawl in a corner of it, I staggered after her and dropped on it.

“There were some dresses hanging over me, and I felt as if I were in
an arbor like the one at the back of the café, where the men used to
sit in summer over their drinks, with green leaves all round them.

“‘Happy, eh?’ she said in an amused voice, as she stood looking down
at me. ‘Now for something for the inner dog,’ and she went to a little
table where there were shiny-looking dishes. She snapped another
button, and presently I heard the hissing of hot water. Then she went
to one of her windows, opened it, and took in a bottle.

“In a few minutes I had set before me what I never had had before,
namely, a bowl of delicious bread and cream.

“I wagged my tail and agitated my muzzle. The very smell of this warm
food put new life into me. Then I half raised myself on my bed, put my
head in the bowl, and just gobbled.

“Talk about manners! When I look back, I wonder that Mrs. Martin was
not disgusted with my greediness. But she is a very sensible woman,
and she merely smiled, and, taking the bowl from me as I was trying to
lick it nice and clean for her, she pushed me back on my soft shawl,
with a gentle, ‘Pleasant dreams, doggie.’”



CHAPTER XIII

MRS. MARTIN ADOPTS BILLIE


“There was no need for me to watch that night. I knew that the kind
person in the brass bed would not let anything hurt me, but I never
had such troubled dreams in my life. I was running over vast dump
heaps, and everywhere I went a terrible monster pursued me, with two
enormous red eyes. I tried to hide in the ashes, and behind heaps of
tin cans, but it came round every corner and leaped over every
obstacle, and several times I had nightmare and cried out in my
anguish.

“Mrs. Martin spoke to me very quietly, and then I sank down on my bed
again. Not until I heard the rattle of milk cans as the dairyman came
up the back entrance to the hotel did I sink into a really refreshing
sleep.

“When I woke up it was high noon, and Mrs. Martin sat by a window
sewing. I was ashamed of myself, and lay trembling in every limb, for
I quite well remembered the nightmare.

“She threw down her work and looked at me. ‘Poor little creature, how
you must have been hunted! Come here and tell me your life history.’

“I shambled out of the closet, walking with my legs half doubled under
me, as if I were a very old dog.

“‘Stand up, Billy Sunday,’ she said. ‘I am not going to hurt you. Now
tell me, where did you come from?’

I stood up beside her, looking this way and that way, my ears laid
back. I fancy I appeared a perfect simpleton. Suddenly I caught sight
of another poor, dirty, whipped-looking cur across the room, and I
gave a frightened ‘Bow-wow,’ and ran back to my closet.

“She was laughing heartily. ‘Poor doggie, did you never see a cheval
glass before? Come here and look at yourself.’

“With every hair bristling, I walked stiff-legged out of the closet,
all ready to snarl at my rival. I went close up to the glass, touched
it with my muzzle, then I looked behind it. Where was the dog?

“‘Goosie,’ said Mrs. Martin, ‘it’s yourself! Evidently they had no
mirrors where you came from. Listen to this,’ and she set something
going on a table in the corner of the room.

“It was a man, laughing hideously, I thought. He did not stop for
about five minutes. What kind of a lady was this that had things that
looked and sounded like human beings and animals, but were only pieces
of wood?

“‘Oh, how funny your face is, doggie,’ she said: ‘Now hear this,’ and
she went to the wall and took up a queer thing, like a horn.

“‘Do you wish some scraps for the dog?’

“I pricked up my ears. It was a faint and squeaky voice, but still
quite distinct. I was a very, very much astonished dog, and seeing it,
she put down this curious thing and said, ‘Dog, I think you have come
out of a poor family.’

“I said nothing. I still felt weak and bewildered, and she said, ‘Come
out to the fresh air,’ and, taking up a hat and coat, she went out of
the room and down the red staircase to the veranda.

“‘Stay here till I come back,’ she said, and I walked down to the lawn
and ate some of the freshest, nicest grass blades I had ever tasted.

“Presently she returned with my breakfast, and such a breakfast! Toast
crusts—nice buttered toast crusts, and little bits of bacon.

“‘Just scraps from plates,’ she said, as she put the dish down on the
lawn, ‘but very good.’

“I soon disposed of this breakfast. Then she went up to the birds’
bath on a stand and lifted down a nice, shallow green dish for me to
have a drink.

“‘And now,’ she said, when I stood gazing adoringly up at her and
wagging my tail gratefully, ‘hey ho! for the veterinary’s.’

“I did not know what she meant, but by this time I was ready to follow
her anywhere, and I trotted after her down to the sidewalk, where
stood one of the fast automobiles that we saw dashing by our cottage
in the Bronx, but that never stopped anywhere near us.

“‘Come in,’ she said, and held open the door.

“I was terrified and drew back. It was not so bad as a train, but I
just hated to go near it.

“‘Now, doggie,’ she said, ‘can’t you trust me?’

“I could not move, and she had to lift me up and put me on the seat.
Then she put her arm round me, and little by little I began to lose my
fright. How we hurried through the streets, but it was not nearly so
bad as the train, for here it was open and pleasant, and I could look
about me as we flew along.

“The thing we were in was called a taxi, and now I am not at all
afraid of one, and Mrs. Martin jokes me and says she has seen me on
the corner of the street waving my paw for the taxi men to stop and
take me in when I feel lazy.

“‘A dog in very humble circumstances,’ she said, ‘for even the poor
drive in automobiles now.’

“When we arrived at the veterinary’s I jumped out and followed her. I
was struck dumb with surprise. Mrs. Martin had explained to me that
the man who lived here earned his living by doctoring dogs and horses.
The house was a very fine one, much larger than the café, and it had a
lovely neat garden and not a trash can or ugly box in sight.

“We went past the house to a stable, and there we found a nice-looking
man, and a colored servant boy.

“‘Good morning, doctor,’ said Mrs. Martin. ‘I have brought you another
cur. Please tell me whether she is sound in wind and limb. Otherwise,
we will——’ She nodded her head toward a closet, and I trembled like
a leaf. I knew what she meant. If I were not a healthy dog they would
kill me.

“How would they do it? and I lay down on the floor and panted. I knew
death would mean an end of my troubles, but I had seen dogs killed,
and cats and chickens, and it was not till a long time after that I
found out that one can kill without torturing.

“The doctor poked my ribs, examined my teeth and rubbed back my hair.
Then he said, ‘A healthy dog, three-quarters smooth-haired
fox-terrier; age, about three years; a few fleas, coat harsh and
uncared for, skin not too dirty, has been washed recently—been struck
by motor car or railway train, judging by black plaster on rump.’

“‘Will you let your boy wash her again?’ asked Mrs. Martin.

“‘Certainly,’ said the doctor. ‘Jim, take the dog into the bathroom.’

“A bathroom for dogs! I nearly fainted as I thought of the pump the
Italians went to. But was this right for me to have a bathroom, and
the poor human beings to have none? My education, or lack of it, had
early taught me that a dog is much lower in the scale of beings than
men and women. In fact, we Bronx dogs were not taught to think half
enough of ourselves.

“For the second time in my life, and within one week, I,
three-year-old dog, was given a bath, and this time it was almost a
pleasure, for though the colored boy had great, heavy hands like
sledge hammers, he had been taught to use them carefully.

“While he was passing his soapy hands carefully over me, a number of
dogs in near-by stalls screamed and jumped and barked jealously.

“‘You boardah dogs hush up,’ he said, ‘or Jim will lick de stuffin’
outen you.’

“They yelled all the louder at this, and I saw he was very indulgent
with them.

“I was put in a hot box to dry, and then Mrs. Martin gave Jim a
quarter and the doctor fifty cents, and we sauntered out to the
street.

“Oh, how perfectly delicious the air felt on my clean skin! I tried to
gambol a little, but did not make much of a success of it, as I was
still stiff from my blow of yesterday from the car wheels.

“We went back to the hotel by way of the main street, and that day I
enjoyed looking at the people and into the shop windows. Dogs like a
gay, pretty little town, much better than a big city. When I went to
New York for a few days and had to wear a muzzle I thought I should
die, but that is another story.

“To my unutterable delight, Mrs. Martin went into a harness shop and
asked to look at collars.

“‘What color?’ asked the man.

“‘The Lord has made her yellow and white,’ said Mrs. Martin, ‘suffrage
colors. Give me a yellow and white one, please.’

“How often in the Bronx had I admired proud, rich dogs trotting by our
cottage with handsome collars on and things dangling from them! True,
mine was very uncomfortable, but what did that matter? I was ‘dressed
to kill,’ as Angelina used to say when her friends got new blue or
green dresses. Oh, if she and the children could only see me now!

“I held my head up, walked high and pricked my ears as we went down
the street, being often gratified by remarks from passing ladies and
children, ‘What a stylish dog! What a pretty creature! What a clean
little fox-terrier!’

“When we got back to the hotel the ladies sitting knitting on the
veranda called out, ‘Why, Mrs. Martin—where did you get that dog?’

“She smiled and told them about the night before, and one dear old
lady, when she finished said, ‘I believe my grandchildren would like
to have it.’

“My ears went down like a spaniel’s, and I pressed myself against Mrs.
Martin’s dress. I had suffered much from the hands of children that I
loved. How could I let myself be mauled by children that I did not
love?

“Mrs. Martin heard me moaning, and gave me a sympathetic look, but
said nothing.

“How I tried to please her the next few days! I ate nicely and not
greedily, and if she went out of the room I left my choicest big beef
bone to follow her. If we were out walking I kept closely at her heels
and did not speak to a single dog we met. If she put me in her room
and said she was going to see her sick sister, I wagged my tail and
tried to look cheerful.

“The day after she found me I had discovered that Mrs. Martin was far
away from her own home and she had come to New Rochelle to be with her
younger sister who lived there and had been quite ill.

“In my anxiety to please her I grew quite sad faced, as I saw in the
cheval glass. I wished her to be my new owner, for I had given up all
thought of returning the few miles to the Bronx, as I knew Antonio
would keep his word and shoot me.

“Mrs. Martin said nothing at first to reassure me, but sometimes she
took me on her lap and rocked me. That did not look like giving me
away, and one day I ventured to whimper and laid a paw on her arm.

“‘It’s all right, Billy,’ she said; ‘I understand. You are not to
leave me.’

“I jumped off her lap and ran round and round the room very soberly
and quietly, and trying to avoid the furniture, but still running.

“She laughed gaily, ‘And some people say that dogs don’t know what we
say to them. Now remember, Billy, you’re to be my own true dog, and
not run away nor do naughty things, and I’ll give you a home as long
as you live. Do you promise?’

“‘Oh, yes, yes, yes!’ I barked loudly and joyfully, raising myself
from the floor on my forelegs each time I opened my mouth.

“‘And bear in your dog mind,’ she said, ‘that I will talk to you a
good deal and I expect you to talk to me. If I do not understand your
language at first, you must be patient with me.’

“I went right down on the floor before her. I felt so humble. To think
of this big, stout, grand lady saying that she would try to understand
what a poor little cur dog was trying to tell her! I have never
forgotten that remark of my beloved new mistress, and I do wish there
were more people in the world who would try to understand dog
language.

“‘Now come for a walk,’ she said. ‘I must do something that will seal
this bargain, for the town authorities are very particular about dogs,
and I may have to stay a long time yet.’

“I just tore down the staircase and into the street. We went right to
the little red brick city hall and Mrs. Martin inquired for the
license room. She paid a man a dollar and got a little tag which she
fastened to my collar, and if you go to the New Rochelle town hall
to-day you will see in a big book, ‘Billy Sunday, fox-terrier, 1917,
N. R. D. T. L. 442.’

“My paws were just dancing when we came out, and when we got back to
the hotel and met the dear old lady who wished to get me for her
grandchildren I did the newest dog-trot all round her.

“‘The children are coming for that dog to-day,’ she said.

“‘The veterinary has a nice one for them,’ replied my new mistress. ‘I
am going to keep Billy.’

“The old lady looked astonished. ‘But she is such a trouble to you.’

“‘Oh, no,’ said Mrs. Martin cheerfully. ‘I have nothing to do here but
go to the hospital once a day to see my sister. It is good for me to
have a dog to exercise.’

“The old lady looked down at me and exclaimed, ‘I believe that
creature understands what you are saying.’

“‘Oh, Mrs. James,’ said my dear new mistress, ‘if you only knew! Dogs
and cats and birds and all animals have a language of their own. They
are crying out to us, begging us to listen to them, to sympathize, but
we are blind and deaf. We do not try to understand.’

“‘Well, there’s one thing I understand,’ said Mrs. James bluntly, ‘you
are calling that dog Billy Sunday when she ought to be Ma Sunday.’

“Mrs. Martin dearly loved a joke, and she burst out laughing. ‘I sent
word to the famous preacher that I had named a dog for him, and I
don’t think he approved, for I received no message, so I am going to
change her name to Billie Sundae.’

“‘Which will be much sweeter,’ said the old lady, ‘though I am not one
to run down a preacher. I suppose eventually you will take your sweet
dog to Canada, and make her sing _God Save the King_.’

“‘Not if she wishes to sing _The Star-Spangled Banner_,’ said
Mrs. Martin. ‘We Canadians have always been good friends with you
Americans, and since we have fought side by side for the freedom of
the world I feel as if we were brothers and sisters.’

“The old lady nodded her head a great many times and said, ‘Quite
right, quite right’—and now, you two birds, I am tired and want to go
to sleep,” and suddenly stopping her tale, Billie dropped down on the
hearth rug and put her nose on her paws.

“Won’t you tell us about the sudden death of Mrs. Martin’s sister and
your trip here with her and the two children, Sammy-Sam and Lucy-Loo?”
I asked.

“Some other day,” she said sleepily.

“I’d love Chummy to hear that, and also about Fort Slocum and the
lovely American soldier boys.”

She did not reply, and Chummy spoke up, “Thank you, Billie. I’ve
enjoyed hearing about your adventures. Lost dogs and lost birds have a
very sad time of it, and now I must be going. It will soon be dark.
Thank you for a pleasant time, Dicky-Dick,” and flying out the window,
he went to his hole in the wall.



CHAPTER XIV

BILLIE AND I HAVE ONE OF OUR TALKS


Mrs. Martin has a great deal of work to do for soldiers. The dear
woman never gets tired of going to hospitals, and the day after Billie
had told Chummy and me the story of her life our Missie left home
quite early.

I felt lonely, so I called to Billie who was curled up on the sofa,
“You are certainly the sleepiest dog I ever saw.”

Billie blinked at me. “I am the most tired dog that ever lived. It
seems to me I will never make up the sleep I lost during the first
part of my life, when the children’s feet were always making
earthquakes under me in the bed. Then you must remember that Mrs.
Martin gives me lovely long walks.”

“And you take lovely long ones yourself,” I said suspiciously. “I
believe you have been foraging in back yards this very day.”

Billie gave a heavy sigh. “A neglected pup makes a disobedient dog,
Dicky-Dick.”

“And our Mary gave you a heaping plate of food for your lunch,
Billie,” I went on. “You’re like that Tommy boy at the corner. He only
minds his mother half the time, and Chummy says it’s because he had
his own way too much when he was a little fellow.”

“I know I’m forbidden to eat in the neighbors’ yards,” said Billie,
“but what can I do? My paws just ache—they carry me where I don’t
want to go.”

“But why don’t you come home when you’re called? I was up on the roof
the other day, and heard Mrs. Martin whistling for you, and you stayed
stuffing yourself by a trash can. Why didn’t you mind her?”

“I don’t know,” she said.

“You heard her, didn’t you?”

“Oh, yes, quite plainly. I never was deaf.”

“It’s a mystery,” I said. “I see how you can be a little bad, but I
don’t see how you can be so very bad. You knew Mrs. Martin would give
you some good taps when you got back—and you pretend to be so fond of
her.”

“I just love her,” said Billie warmly. “She may beat me all day if she
likes.”

“She doesn’t like,” I said, “and you know it. She hates to give pain.”

Billie curled her lip in a dog smile. “You don’t understand,
Dicky-Dick. You were brought up in a proper way, and it’s no trouble
for you to mind, and then, anyway, it’s easier for a bird to be good
than a dog.”

“Easier!” I exclaimed. “Don’t I want to disobey? I’m crazy to go next
door and see that little canary, Daisy, in her tiny cage, but our Mary
and Mrs. Martin warned me about the treacherous cat in the house.”

“So you have troubles,” said Billie.

“Yes, I have—and mine are worse than yours—it’s dreadful to be
lonely.”

“Lonely, in a nice, lively house like this; with plenty of animals and
human beings about you, and that fine bird-room upstairs to visit!
Dicky-Dick, you are ungrateful.”

“You don’t understand about the bird-room,” I said. “I’ve got weaned
away from it. I can’t live there steadily. The birds are suspicious of
me, and will not let any of the young ones play with me. I really
have no bird society.”

“You have Chummy.”

“A street sparrow—he is good as far as he goes, but he only opens up
one side of my nature. I am a highly cultured bird, whose family has
been civilized for three hundred and fifty years.”

“I didn’t know your family was as old as that,” said Billie.

“Indeed it is—we are descended from the wild birds of the Canary
Islands and Madeira, but canaries are like Jews, they have spread all
over the world and have become parts of many nations. I am not
boasting, Billie. I am merely stating a fact.”

“Well,” said Billie, going back to what I had first said, “I never
dreamed you were lonely. Why don’t you sing a little song about it to
our Mary, or her mother, and they will get you another bird from
downtown to play with.”

“I want Daisy, and didn’t I sit for an hour this morning with my
throat puffed out, singing about her to our good Missie as she sat
sewing?”

“And what did she say?”

“Yes, Dicky-Dick—I know all about your little lonely cage, and the
spring coming, and how you would like to have a playmate; and if
you’ll wait till I get my next month’s allowance I’ll try to buy Daisy
for you, for I think she’s neglected in that lodging house.”

“Then what are you squealing about now?” asked Billie.

“Nothing—I just want you to know that birds have troubles and things
to put up with, as well as dogs.”

“Everybody has troubles,” said Billie. “There’s something the matter
with good Mr. Martin. He sighs when his wife is not in the room, and
his eyes are troubled—Dicky-Dick, I’m going to sleep again.”

“Oh, no, Billie,” I said; “keep awake and talk to me. Wouldn’t you
like to hear a story about a canary that belonged to a friend of our
Mary? It could talk and said quite well, ‘Baby! Baby!’”

Billie became wide awake. “Nonsense!” she said sharply. “Canaries
can’t talk.”

“Billie dear,” I said gently, for I was afraid of rousing her temper,
which is pretty quick sometimes, “you have lived in a very quiet way,
and you have traveled only from New York to Toronto. How can you know
everything about canaries?”

“I used to know one in the café,” said Billie sharply, “a little green
fellow with a top-knot. He died after a while. The smoke from the
men’s pipes killed him.”

“And did you know another one?”

“Yes, the grocer at the Four Corners had a yellow one, but he never
talked. I mean real talk that human beings could understand. Of
course, we animals have our own language that people don’t know at
all. In fact, we can talk right before them, and they don’t know it.”

“Then you have known two canaries only in your life,” I said, “and yet
you lay down rules about them. Do you know that there are Scotch Fancy
canaries with flat snakelike heads and half circle bodies, and big
English canaries, notably the Manchester Coppy?”

“What’s that?” asked Billie. “It sounds like a policeman.”

“Well, the Coppy is a policeman among canaries, for he has an enormous
body, often eight inches long. His coloring is lovely, and his head
most imposing. Coppy comes from crest, or copping, our Mary says. Then
there are the Belgian canaries, all sharp angles. They are very
sensitive birds, and their owners do not handle them, but touch them
with little sticks when they wish them to step from one cage to
another.”

“You’re of English descent, aren’t you?” asked Billie.

“Of mixed English and American blood. English people breed their birds
for looks and coloring.”

Billie began to snicker.

I was going to be annoyed with her, then I thought, “What’s the use?”
So I said quite pleasantly, “I know I’m not English in that way. I am
more like a German canary. Germans don’t care how a bird looks if he
sings well.”

“Is there a French canary?” inquired Billie.

“Oh, yes, a very pretty little bird with whorls of feathers on its
breast and sides—now, Billie, I haven’t time to tell you all the
other kinds of canaries. I will go back to what I was going to say. My
father, who has seen hundreds of canaries, for he was a show bird
before our Mary got him, says that if trainers will have patience with
young birds they can teach them to say certain things. Why, right in
your own United States was a canary who talked.”

“Where?” asked Billie.

“In Boston. A lady had a canary that she petted very much. He used to
light on her head when she was knitting and pull her hair.”

“Why did he do that foolish thing?” asked Billie.

“He wished her to play with him. She would shake her knitting needle
at him and say, ‘Fly high, Toby, fly high.’

“To her surprise, the bird one day repeated her words. ‘Fly high,
Toby, fly high.’ She at once began to train other young birds, and
made quite a good living at teaching short sentences to them, but it
took a great deal of patience. So you see, if human beings spent more
time in teaching us, we’d be more clever.”

Billie looked dreadfully. “Don’t speak about training birds and
animals too much, Dicky-Dick. It makes me shudder. If you knew what
horrible things are done to animals who appear in public.”

“I do know,” I said. “I’ve heard shocking tales from Chummy, told him
by downtown pigeons.”

“Once,” said Billie, “I met a strange dog looking for food on the
dumps. You never saw such a scarecrow, and he was frightened of his
own shadow. He told me he had run away from The Talented Terrier
Traveling Troupe. He said his life had been simply awful. A big man
used to stand over him with a whip, and make him mount ladders and
hang by his paws and do idiotic things that no self-respecting dog
should be required to do.”

“Billie,” I said, “I do know about these things, and the whole subject
is so affecting to me that I often have nightmare over it. I dare not
tell you the horrible things they sometimes do to the little
performing birds you see on the stage. Starvation is one of the least
dreadful ways of making them do their tricks.”

“Why do human beings who are often so sensible allow this wickedness?”
asked Billie wistfully.

“Oh, I don’t know, I don’t know,” I said. “It breaks my heart to think
of little gentle birds and nice dogs and cats and monkeys and other
creatures being hurried from city to city in little stuffy traveling
boxes, and whipped on to a stage, and made to bow and act silly to
please great theaters full of people who applaud and praise, and don’t
know what they’re doing. If they did know, if the great big
kind-hearted public knew what those smooth-looking men in the
long-tailed coats do to their animals behind the scenes, they would
get up in a body and walk out whenever an animal act is put on the
stage.”

“That’s the best way to put these fellows out of business,” said
Billie warmly. “Let no one patronize their shows. Then they would have
to earn their living in some honest way—but there is Chummy at the
window. I wonder what’s happened.”

We both looked at the little fellow as he stood by the open window.

“News! News!” said Chummy, flapping his little dusky wings. “New
arrivals in the neighborhood—a boy and a girl and their parents in
the yellow boarding-house.”

“Some canaries are afraid of strange children,” I said, “because they
come so close and poke their fingers at them, but I can always get
away from them.”

“I like children,” said Chummy, “for if they have food, they nearly
always throw some to me.”

“There are very few children in this neighborhood,” I said.

“Yes, because there are so few private houses. Come on out and see
them, Dicky.”

“If you will excuse me,” I said to Billie. “I will talk to you some
other time on this subject of performing animals.”

Billie grumbled something between her teeth. Now that I was called
away, she wanted me to stay.

“You come out, too, dear Billie,” I said. “If you do not, I will stay
with you.”

Billie got up and sauntered out of the room and downstairs to the
sidewalk where she sat down in the sun, on a black snow-bank, which
had become that color in the long thaw we were having.



CHAPTER XV

THE CHILDREN NEXT DOOR


Chummy and I flew up into our favorite elm tree, sat on our feet to
keep them warm, and stared at the boarding house. A taxi was standing
before the front door, and two children were running up and down the
graveled drive, running as if they were glad to be able to stretch
their young legs.

“Their parents went in the house,” said Chummy. “They are choosing
rooms. I can see them going from window to window. I wonder whether
these children will throw me some of the seed cakes they are eating.”

“How little they know that our sharp eyes are on them,” I said.

Chummy clacked his beak together in a bird laugh. “I often think that
as I sit here and listen to what persons say as they go up and down
the street. If I could tell you the secrets I know! I know a very bad
story about that black-haired woman in the red house.”

“I don’t want to hear it, Chummy,” I said. “I dislike gossipy
stories.”

“You’re a funny bird,” he said, with a sidelong glance from his queer,
tired, yet very shiny eyes.

Suddenly I had a mischievous impulse to sing. “Spring is coming,
coming,” I sang, all up and down the scale, then I broke into my
latest song that a very early white-throated sparrow was teaching
me—“I—love—dear—Canada—Canada—Canada.”

The children were so astonished that they rushed over to the tree and
stared up at me.

“Is it a sparrow?” asked the little boy, who was straight and slim and
handsome.

The girl, who was big and bouncing and had golden hair and blue eyes,
burst into a merry laugh. “Oh, Freddie, whoever heard of a sparrow
singing! It’s a wild canary. How I wish we could catch it! I’m going
to see if there’s a cage anywhere in the boarding house,” and she ran
away.

Her brother came quietly under the tree. “Pretty bird,” he said
quietly, “come down and have some of my cake,” and he threw quite a
large piece on the ground.

“Fly down, Chummy,” I said, “and get it. What a joke that the little
girl thinks I am a wild bird!”

“Lots of grown people make her mistake,” said Chummy. “They speak
about seeing wild canaries, when we haven’t such a thing in Canada.
They mean yellow summer warblers or goldfinches. Well, I’m going down
for the cake.”

The boy stood very still and watched him eat it, so I knew he was a
good child.

Presently his little sister came hurrying out of the house with a
battered old cage in one hand and something clasped tightly in the
other.

“Cook gave me something that she said would be sure to catch the
little fellow,” she called out to her brother, “if I can only get near
enough to put it on his tail.”

“What is it?” asked the little boy.

“Nice fine white salt. She says the least pinch on his tail will make
him as tame as a cat. Stand back, Freddie, till I put the cage on the
low branch of this tree. I have some crumbs in it.”

It was amusing to see the two little creatures stand away back in the
drive waiting for me to go in the cage.

Chummy was nearly killing himself laughing. “Naughty cook to spring
that old joke on these innocents!”

“Would you dare me to go in, and let them put salt on my tail?” I
asked.

Chummy was very much taken aback. “You never would, would you?”

“Why not? I never saw a cage yet that could keep me between its bars.
I am so slim that I can slip between anything, and you know what a
swift flier I am.”

“Go on, then,” said Chummy. “I dare you; but take care you don’t get
trapped.”

I made two or three scalloping flights about the children’s heads, as
they stood open-mouthed staring at me, then I darted in the open door
and pretended to eat the bread crumbs—things I dislike very much.

The little girl screamed with delight and loud enough to frighten the
flock of wild geese we had just seen passing overhead on their way
north. Then she ran to the branch, took the cage off, and sticking her
chubby young hand in the door, eagerly sprinkled a generous handful
of moist salt on my tail.

I kept my head down, so none of it would go in my beak, and cast a
glance up at Chummy, who was sitting on his branch, rocking with
laughter. Some of the neighborhood sparrows were with him now, staring
their eyes out at me, and up on the roof Slow-Boy, the pompous old
pigeon, was bending over the edge to look at me, with the most amusing
expression I had ever seen on the face of a bird.

I felt full of fun, and pretended to be quite happy in my new home.
Hopping up on the perch, I gazed at the little girl with twinkling
eyes.

Children are very sharp little creatures. She plunged her own blue
eyes deep into mine and said what an older person would never have
thought of saying, “Freddie, this bird looks as if he were laughing at
me.”

Her brother gave me a long stare; then he said, with a puzzled face,
“Sure—he’s laughing. What makes him laugh?”

“He’s planning to fly away,” she said, with amazing promptness. “Let’s
take him in the house.”

This did not suit my plans at all. I had no desire for a further
acquaintance with Black Thomas, so I promptly flew between the bars of
the cage, and, lighting on a near-by shrub, favored the children with
one of my best songs.

They were delighted, and old Thomas, who had been watching the whole
performance from some hole or corner, came out on the front doorstep,
and said, “Meow! Meow!” a great many times.

Of course the children did not understand him, but I did. He was
saying to me, “You think you’re pretty smart, don’t you, to fool the
children in my house? Hold on, I’ll get you some day.”

At this, Billie who had been fussing about on her snowbank in great
anxiety, came forward. “If you ever touch that little bird, or even
frighten him, Black Thomas, I’ll choke you to death.”

Thomas made a terrible face and began to spit at her, and I called
out, “Serves you right, you old murderer! We’ll both attend your
funeral. What is that behind you?”

He looked over his shoulder, then he ran away. It was the dead body of
Johnny White-Tail, one of Chummy’s sparrow friends. He had been
ailing for some time, and probably Thomas had sprung on him while he
sat moping and killed him.

Chummy gave a cry of dismay and flew to the steps. This attracted the
children’s attention and, seeing the dead bird, they exclaimed, “Oh,
poor birdie, poor birdie—let’s bury him!”

“I’ll go in the house and get some grave clothes out of my trunk,”
said the little girl whose name was Beatrice.

“And I’ll be the parson and go borrow a book,” said the boy.

Just at this moment, Sammy-Sam and Lucy-Loo came down the street with
their school bags in hand.

Their bright eyes soon caught sight of the newcomers, and it was
amusing to see them getting acquainted.

They walked round each other and stared at each other, and finally
spoke and soon the strangers were exhibiting the dead sparrow, and
said they were going to have a funeral.

“Why, that’s Albino,” said Sammy-Sam.

I must explain that the children did not know our names for each other.
We could not tell them that the white-tailed bird was called Johnny by
us.

“And we’ve fed him all winter at the birds’ table in the yard,” said
Lucy-Loo. “Auntie will be sorry that he is dead.”

“You needn’t trouble burying him,” said Sammy-Sam to the strangers.
“He’s our bird. We’ll dig his grave.”

Young Beatrice rudely snatched the sparrow’s dead body from Sammy-Sam.
“He’s ours,” she said; “we found him. I’m going to dress him in some
of my best dolly’s clothes, and bury him with words and music.”

Sammy-Sam and Lucy-Loo looked pretty cross, but they said nothing.
They had had weeks of training from their good aunt, who had told them
over and over again that children must have good hearts and good
manners, or they will never get on in the world.

While Beatrice ran in the house Freddie pointed up to the elm where I
was now sitting beside Chummy. “We caught that wild canary up in the
tree. We had him in a cage, but he flew away.”

Our own children stared up at us, and exclaimed together in tones of
dismay, “You caught our Dicky-Dick.”

“Yes, in that cage,” and he pointed to the old thing.

Sammy-Sam’s face was furious and, throwing down his bag, he began to
pull at his smart little overcoat. He was a great fighter, and had
whipped all the boys his size in the neighborhood.

Lucy-Loo twitched his sleeve, “He never caught Dicky-Dick. He’s a
liar.”

This soothed Sammy-Sam, and he picked up his bag.

“I think we’ll go home, and not wait for the funeral,” he said, “but I
tell you, you just let our birds alone. If any boy hurts birds on this
street, I’ll fight him. Now there!” and he strutted away, like a
little peacock with Lucy-Loo trotting after him and casting backward
glances over her shoulder.

Freddie looked puzzled. He had been misunderstood. However, his face
brightened when his sister came out with some little lace and muslin
rags in her hand, a small black book and a wreath of artificial
flowers.

She seemed to be the manager, and said to her brother in a masterful
way, “I just thought I’d bring everything. Now help me dress the
bird—no, you go dig the grave—we must hurry, for it’s ’most our tea
time. Go to the back door for a shovel.”

Freddie did as he was bidden and, finding the frozen earth too hard
for his small coal shovel, he dug a good-sized grave in a big snow
bank on the lawn.

“Now take the book,” said his sister, “and read the service. I can’t,
’cause I’m a girl.”

“She’d run the city if she could,” said Chummy in my ear. “She’s a
terror, is that one.”

The boy with many corrections from his sister mumbled something, then
she said, “For hymn we’ll have, ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning.’”

Freddie looked shocked. “That’s for soldiers,” he said, “not for
funerals.”

“We’ll have ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning,’” she repeated.

“We’ll have ‘Down in the Deep Black Ground,’” he insisted.

Suddenly she lost her temper, slapped him in the face, threw the
flowers at him, and ran into the house.

“Good!” said Chummy. “There’s some stuff in the boy, after all.”

He went on with the service all by himself, sang a dreadful little
song, so mournful and horrible that all Johnny’s sparrow relatives who
had by this time assembled just quailed under it, then gently laid
Johnny in the hole in the snow bank, covered him up, put a shingle at
the head of his little grave and the artificial roses on the top, and
went in the house.

“Well,” said Chummy, “she didn’t get her own way that time.”

“Hold on,” I said, “here she comes. I notice that little girls usually
beat the boys in the long run.”

There she was, the little funny creature, sneaking out of the house by
the back door. She crept to the grave, seized the shovel that Freddie
had forgotten to return, dug up poor Johnny, tore her doll clothes off
him, threw his poor little body on the snow, and ran into the house.

“Well, I vow,” said Chummy. “I wish she could be punished.”

“Hold on,” I said, “look at our children coming. They’ve been watching
all the time.”

Sammy-Sam and Lucy-Loo were galloping out of our yard like two young
ponies. They snatched up Johnny’s body and rushed to their aunt with
it. I hurriedly said good-bye to Chummy, and flew in the window.

Mrs. Martin heard the whole story. It was perfectly sweet to see her
face, as she listened to the children. Then she got a little tin box,
wrapped Johnny in a nice piece of white cloth, and told the children
that the cover would be soldered on and the furnace man would dig a
nice little grave in the corner of the garden which she kept as a
graveyard for her pets.

“You will become friends with the children in the boarding house, my
dear ones,” she said, “and tell them what you know about birds, for
they evidently have not had much to do with them.”



CHAPTER XVI

STORIES ABOUT THE OLD BARN


To-day, after lunch, Mrs. Martin gave Billie a walk round the square,
then she brought her in the house and said, “I am going to a knitting
party where dogs would not be welcomed. I will come home at five and
give you another walk.”

Billie wagged her tail in her funny, slow way and gave Mrs. Martin one
of her sweetly affectionate glances, as if to say, “It’s all right. I
know if it were your party you’d let me go.”

Mrs. Martin pulled an armchair to the window and put a cushion on it.
“Jump up there, Billie,” she said, “and amuse yourself by looking
outside.” Then giving her a pat, and throwing me a kiss, for she knows
pets are apt to be jealous of each other, she went away.

I flew to the arm of Billie’s chair and sat dressing my feathers in
the sunshine.

Presently Billie said discontentedly, “There’s nothing to see out of
this window but yards and that old barn.”

“That old barn is full of stories,” I said, “and very interesting.”

“What makes it interesting?”

“In the first place, many birds nest there, and in the second, many
animals have been housed in it.”

“I never see anything going on in it,” she said.

I smiled. “You are not a keen observer, Billie, except along dog
lines. Look out now and you will see Susan going in with a little soft
hay in her bill for the bottom of her nest.”

“Who is Susan?” asked Billie.

“Don’t you remember that Chummy told you about Susan, mate to
Slow-Boy, both street pigeons? They are taking care of two eggs. He
sits all day, and she sits all night.”

“I know male pigeons help their mates,” said Billie. “I used to see
them doing that in New York.”

“He will come off at five and have his evening to himself. If Susan
isn’t on time, just to the dot, he calls loudly, and gives her a great
pecking. She is very patient with him usually, but the other day I saw
her turn on him and give him a great blow with her wing. Pigeons fight
that way, you know.”

“I’ve seen them,” said Billie. “They scrape and bow to each other,
then step up and give a good whack.”

“Would you like to hear a story about a fire in the barn?” I asked.

“If you please. I feel very dull this afternoon, and would like
something to amuse me. I think I ate too much tripe for my lunch. When
our Mary’s back was turned I stole a nice little lump from the dish.”

“What a pity it is you are such a greedy dog, Billie!” I said.

“Yes, it is a pity,” she replied, with hanging head, “but believe me,
Dicky, I can’t help it. I had to steal so much in my early life that I
can’t keep from it now—please go on with your story.”

“Well, Susan and Slow-Boy are of course mated for life, for pigeons
rarely change partners. They are very happy together, and only quarrel
enough to keep things from getting stupid. You know, don’t you, that
pigeons lay all the year round, if they can get food?”

“Oh, yes, Dicky, I know that. I should think they would get tired of
raising families, but the Bronx pigeons only hold up in moulting
time.”

“Now this Red-Boy I am going to tell you about,” I went on, “was one
of their July pigeons of two years ago. Chummy told me the story, for
of course I wasn’t here then. He says Red-Boy was a nice enough bird,
but he took for a mate a very flighty half-breed fantail, called
Tiptoe, from her mincing walk. You probably know, Billie, that when
thoroughbred pigeons get mixed with street pigeons they lose all their
fancy lines, and go right back to common ancestor blue rock dove
traits.”

“Yes, I know,” said Billie; “but if they keep any fancy ways, or
feathers, they are very proud of them.”

“Exactly,” I said, “so you can imagine how Tiptoe diddled about,
putting on airs, before poor Susan, who is very plain-looking and has
lost every trace of blue blood, except the half homer stripes on her
solid old back. Now, when the time came for Red-Boy and Tiptoe to
make a nest, Red-Boy wanted to build near his father and mother.

“Slow-Boy fought him and tried to get rid of him. He is a model father
when his squabs come and when they turn to squeakers, but when they
are grown up he naturally supposes that they will go out into the
world and let him be free to bring up other young ones.”

“I suppose his mother had spoiled him,” said Billie. “Hen pigeons are
often weak in the head.”

“Yes, Chummy says of all Susan’s young, Red-Boy was the favorite. She
stood by him, and finally old Slow-Boy gave in, and Red-Boy and Tiptoe
chose a ledge right above the parents’ nest. They even stole straws,
when Slow-Boy wasn’t looking, and Chummy says he heard that Susan was
foolish enough to give them some of the choicest ones she brought in.
It wasn’t a tidy nest when it was finished—not a bit like the careful
one the old birds made, with nice fine bits of straw arranged inside
for little squab feet to cling to.”

“Don’t pigeons line their nests with wool and fine cotton, like you
canaries?” asked Billie.

“My dear friend,” I replied, “do reflect an instant. Squabs are not
like canaries. They have big feet and they want something to clutch
when they raise themselves in the nest for the mother to pump milk
down their necks.”

Billie stared at me. “Pigeons and milk, Dicky-Dick! Are you telling
the truth?”

“Indeed I am,” I said earnestly. “When the squabs hatch out, a kind of
milk is formed in the mother’s crop and softens the food which she
pumps down into their little crops. They could not digest whole grain.
They are too young and feeble. As they get older, the milk becomes
thicker, and finally the parents feed them whole seeds.”

“Well, well,” said Billie, “I didn’t know that. They are something
like human babies.”

“Very like them—but to get back to Red-Boy and Tiptoe and their
nest-building. They thought they were doing a very smart thing when
they found a card of old-fashioned sulphur matches. Some of the
matches were broken off and silly Tiptoe took them to the nest and
arranged them crosswise, among the straws.

“Susan saw her and said, ‘Throw out those things; they are dangerous.’

“‘Why are they dangerous?’ asked Tiptoe.

“‘I don’t know,’ said poor old Susan; ‘but I just don’t like the smell
of them.’

“Tiptoe appealed to Red-Boy, and naturally he stood up for his mate.

“Old Susan went lumbering off to her nest with a worried face. She
could do nothing, and hoped for the best. Time went by, and two eggs
were laid and hatched out. Tiptoe was a very restless mother, and was
always flying off her nest to stretch her wings, and for that reason
it was good for her to be near her mother-in-law, for Susan often
checked her. If it had been cold weather the young ones would have
suffered from being left uncovered so much, but fortunately it was
midsummer. One frightfully hot day, when the sun was pouring on the
nest through that broken window high up in the peak of the barn—”

“Where?” asked Billie, stretching out her neck.

“Right up there, this side of the maple tree.”

“Yes, I see,” said Billie, and she lay down again on her cushion.

“This hot sun shining through the glass set fire to the matches,
and wasn’t there a quick blaze! Some robins who nested outside the
barn gave the alarm by crying out shrilly and swooping wildly about
the yard. The landlady of the house where Chummy lives heard the
noise, looked out, then rushed to the telephone. We are close to a
fire station, and in just a few minutes an engine came dashing down
the street and put the fire out. It was only a little blaze, but it
was a very sad one. Tiptoe, as I said before, was a silly mother, but
still she was a mother, and when she saw her frightened little ones
rising up in their nest and clacking their tiny beaks at the blaze she
flew right into the flame and hovered over them.”

“Of course she died,” said Billie.

“Oh, yes. She must have breathed flame and choked in an instant.

“The next day, Chummy says, he saw poor Red-Boy poking about the barn
floor looking at a little dry burnt thing. His heart was broken, and
he flew away and no one here ever saw him any more.”

“Young birds should mind what old birds say,” remarked Billie.

“But they never do,” I exclaimed. “You’ve got to let the young things
find out for themselves.”

“What about Susan and Slow-Boy?” asked Billie. “You said their nest
was near by.”

“Yes, they had one squab in it—a very big, fat squab. It was
frightened and fell from the nest down on an old table on the barn
floor.

“Chummy says it was pitiful to see old Slow-Boy looking at it, as if
to say, ‘Why did I lose my baby?’

“Our Mary took a snapshot of him for her bird album, and also one of a
robin who lost her young ones. She had a nest high up in the barn,
over the pigeons. Her name is Twitchtail, and she is very
bad-tempered, but she can’t hold a candle to her mate, Vox Clamanti.
Chummy said he made a tremendous fuss when he came home, his beak full
of worms for his beloved nestlings. He began to scream and shake his
wings when he caught sight of the crowd around the barn. Something
told him his young ones were gone. They had been washed out of their
nest by the heavy stream of water from the hose and were lying on the
ground, quite dead. He and Twitchtail blamed the landlady, the
firemen, the crowd, the pigeons, and everybody on the street. They
loved their young ones, and were bringing them up very well.”

“Tell me some more about the barn,” said Billie. “I noticed a man
leading a horse from it just now.”

“Chummy says it used to be a disgrace to the neighborhood,” I said
angrily, “and he didn’t see why the nice people about here didn’t go
and inspect the old rickety building. It was bad for human beings, for
there was an unwholesome odor about it. It was full of holes, and last
winter a poor pony kept there almost died of the cold. His owner was a
simple old creature who needed some one to tell him how to take care
of animals. He had a cow there too, but she died. He bought a poor
quality of hay and did not give the pony enough water to drink, so he
was having a terribly hard time when something beautiful happened to
him.”

I stopped a minute, for Billie was heaving a long, heavy dog sigh. “I
know something about unhappy horses and cows,” she said. “There are
plenty of them in New York. Of course, human beings should take care
of us animals, because it is right to do so, but I don’t see why
selfish people don’t see that it pays to take care of their creatures.
Why, horses are worth a lot of money.”

“I know that,” I said, “but some persons are so unthinking that the
strong arm of the law has to beat wisdom into them.”

“What was the beautiful thing that happened to the pony?”

“Well, I must tell you his life history. When he was young, he was
very, very small, and was named Tiny Tim. His first master was a rich
man who made such a pet of him that Tim was treated more like a dog
than a pony. He used to go in his master’s home and walk up and down
stairs, and when a servant came to put him out he would hide under the
cloth on a big table.”

“He must have been very small to do that.”

“Yes, he says he was about as big as a Great Dane. He never walked in
the street like the horses. He always went on the sidewalk. But when
he grew older and larger he had to live with the horses and carry the
children on his back. When he was tiny they used to play with him, and
he says he would butt them, as if he were a little goat, and knock
them over.

“Time went by, and the rich man lost his money and Tiny Tim had to be
sold. He passed from one poor owner to another, till at last he became
the property of this old man who collected junk. Chummy says all the
sparrows knew that pony and pitied him, for they saw that he had known
better days. He always went along with his head hanging down. He was
ashamed and unhappy, and he scarcely had strength to drag around the
shaky old cart that he was harnessed to. Tiny Tim of course did not
like this poor place he was kept in, but the junk man could not afford
a better one. Tim had only an armful of damp bedding, and Chummy says
it was pitiful to see him standing with his little head down, the
water from the leaky roof dripping on him, mud oozing from between the
planks under his hoofs, and his lip curling over the messy hay before
him.

“One morning early this winter Chummy says the rats who live in the
barn spread the news that Tiny Tim had been adopted. It seems that
very late the night before, when Tim was sagging back to the old
barn, for the junk man’s wife had insisted on going for a drive after
working hours, he—that is, Tim—fell right over here in the street.
Now you may have noticed that there is a military hospital near us.”

“Oh, yes,” said Billie, “Mrs. Martin walks me by there every day, and
that’s where the one-armed soldier lives who owns the sad-faced
Belgian pup that he rescued from starvation when he was fighting
abroad. Our Mary photographed me with him the other day.”

“Well, Chummy says those soldier boys are the jolliest in the city.
They have all been wounded, and a good many are one-legged and going
on crutches, waiting for their stumps to heal so they can get
artificial limbs. Some of them had had permission to go over to the
University, and they were returning to the hospital when they saw the
poor pony down between the shafts. They hobbled up, unharnessed him,
told the junk man that they were Albertans and used to horses, and
that his pony was starving. They collected twenty-five dollars among
themselves, bought the pony and the cart, put the pony in it, and the
men with two legs and one arm managed to haul Tiny Tim over to the
hospital, while the one-legged men hopped alongside on their crutches.

“When they got him over they didn’t know what to do with him. The
hospital was very quiet and still, for every one had gone to bed. They
sneaked Tiny round to the back entrance and got him off the cart, and
led him into a bathroom. Then they got blankets off the beds for
bedding, gave him some bread and milk and cereal foods they found in
the pantry, and left him till morning. Of course they all slept late,
and the first person to go in the bathroom the next morning was a
nurse. She shrieked wildly when she saw this pitiful black pony with
his big hungry eyes and the bathroom which was a sight, for the food
had brought back some of Tiny Tim’s old-time spirit, and he had
knocked things about.

“The other nurses ran and doctors and soldiers came, and they just
yelled with laughter. Anyway, the pony was adopted by the hospital—”

Billie interrupted me, “You don’t mean to say this story is about the
soldiers’ mascot in the yard over at the hospital?”

“The same,” I said. “Tiny is now as fat as a pig, and as happy as a
king. The soldiers love him, and he often goes for walks down Spadina
Avenue with them. You know everybody loves soldiers, for they have
been so brave in protecting their country, and they are allowed many
privileges. He is too small for them to ride, and of course he is old
now, but isn’t it nice that he is happy and not in that horrid old
stable?”

“That is a lovely story,” said Billie. “I wish soldiers would go to
New York and rescue some of the poor horses there. Now, tell me what
became of the junk man?”

“Oh, the story got into the papers and the Martins felt dreadfully to
think they had not discovered the condition the pony was in. They
spoke to some of their rich friends and formed a company, and they are
building model boarding stables for poor men’s horses, away downtown.
They have good lighting and ventilation, and fine roomy stalls, and
running water, and fly screens, and on top of the stables is a big
roof garden for neighborhood children to play in. It is a very crowded
district and the children will love this garden, and Chummy says they
will be sure to eat lunches up there and it will be fine for birds
too.”

“But the junk man,” said Billie. “Your talk flies all over the place,
Dicky-Dick.”

I could not help laughing at her funny, impatient expression. Then I
said, “The Martins got him a young, strong horse, and told him how to
take care of it. It is not a charity, Billie—the stables, I mean. By
taking a good many horses, the company can make money out of it.”

“Are there any horses in the old barn now?” asked Billie.

“Not for any length of time. It is to be torn down and a garage put up
there.”

“Just as well,” said Billie, “but what are you staring at,
Dicky-Dick?”

“At Squirrie,” I said. “He just came off the roof and went into the
old barn. I hope he is not after young birds. Billie, I think I’ll go
have a talk with him. I’ve been longing to get him alone for some
time.”

“Better let him alone,” said Billie warningly. “He wouldn’t mind you.”

“I’m going to try,” I said, “and if you will excuse me, I’ll leave you
for a little while.”

Billie shook her head, but I was determined, and, flying into the
sitting room, for we were in Mrs. Martin’s bedroom, I went out through
the open window and flew behind our house to the old barn.



CHAPTER XVII

I LOSE MY TAIL


Perching on the roof of the barn, I called softly, “Squirrie,
Squirrie, where are you?”

For a long time he would not speak, then I heard him mocking me, “Here
I am, baby, baby,” and he unexpectedly put his head out of a hole
right behind me.

I turned round, and he made one of his dreadful faces at me.

“Squirrie,” I said gently, for I was determined not to lose patience
with him, “come out, I want to talk to you.”

“And what have you to say that is worth listening to?” he asked
teasingly, and sticking his head a little further out of the hole.

“I want to tell you how sorry I am for you,” I went on, “and to ask
you if I can help you to try to be a better squirrel. The birds are
getting pretty angry with you, and I fear they may run you out of the
neighborhood if you don’t improve.”

At this bit of news he came right out, his eyes twinkling dangerously.

“What are they planning to do?” he asked.

“Oh, nothing definite. They’re just talking of what they’ll do if you
tease their young ones this year, as you did last year. You remember
they got very angry with you before the nesting season was over.”

He began to hum his favorite song—“I care for nobody; no, not I—”

“Squirrie,” I said pleadingly, “if you only knew how much pleasanter
it is to be good and have everybody love you.”

“Just like you—little sneaking soft-face!” he said.

I was quite shocked. “I am not a sneak,” I said, “and why do you call
me soft-face—I, a hard-billed bird?”

“You’re such a little drooling darling,” he said disdainfully, “making
up to all the birds in the neighborhood, and pretending to be such an
angel. You’re a little weasel, that’s what you are.”

“A weasel,” I exclaimed in horror, “a bad animal that sucks birds’
blood. Squirrie, you’re crazy!”

“I’m not crazy,” he said, coming quite out of the hole and sitting up
on his hind legs and shaking his forepaws threateningly at me. “I see
through you, Mr. Snake-in-the-grass.”

I was silent for a minute under this torrent of abuse and overwhelmed
at his audacity in calling me, a tiny bird, by the names of bad
animals—not that snakes are all bad, nor are weasels, but he used the
bad part of them to describe me.

“Well,” I said at last, “you are taking my call in a wrong spirit.”

“Don’t I see through you!” he said fiercely. “Don’t I hear you talking
me over with that imp Chummy! I’ll make him suffer for his bad talk
about me. I’ll have his young ones’ blood this summer.”

“Do you think Chummy sent me to you?” I asked, in a shocked voice.

“No, I don’t,” he said roughly. “I think you came on your own sly
account, you model bird trying to convert poor Squirrie and make him a
smooth-faced hypocrite like yourself.”

“What do you mean by hypocrite?” I said furiously. “I am an honest
bird. I am really sorry for you, and you know it. I would like to help
you to be a better squirrel, but how can I help you, if you won’t let
me?”

“You help me!” he said contemptuously. “Now what could you do, you
snippy wisp of feathers and bone?”

I made a great effort to keep from losing my temper. “I could be your
friend,” I said. “I could talk over your mistakes with you and advise
you as to future conduct. It is a great thing to have a friend,
Squirrie, one who really loves you.”

He became quite solemn and quiet in his manner. “Do I understand that
you are prepared to love me?” he said.

“I am,” I said firmly. “I will be your friend and stand by you, if you
will promise to try to be a better squirrel.”

“And give up Chummy?” he asked.

“Why should I give up Chummy?” I said. “He is a good, kind-hearted
bird. I think he would become your friend too, if you reformed.”

“I hate Chummy,” he said.

“But don’t you understand, Squirrie,” I said quickly, “that if you
become a good little animal, instead of hating everybody, you will
love everybody, and you will feel so much more comfortable. It’s
dreadful to be so mad inside all the time. It eats up your strength,
and your kind-heartedness.”

I thought Squirrie was impressed, for he was silent for a long time
and kept his head down. Then he began to laugh, quite quietly, but at
last so violently that he shook all over.

I stared at him, not knowing what to make of him.

“You little tame yellow brat,” he said at last, “do you think I want
to get like you? You have no fun in life.”

“What is fun?” I asked quietly.

His eyes shone like two stars. “Making things squirm,” he said.

“But squirming means suffering,” I replied.

He patted his little stomach with his paws. “What does it matter who
suffers, if my skin is whole?”

“But your mind, Squirrie,” I said impatiently. “Even squirrels have
something inside that isn’t all flesh. If I make another bird angry I
feel nasty inside.”

“Squirrel minds don’t count,” he said airily, “my mother told me so.
She said only bodies count.”

“That’s what the matter is with you,” I exclaimed. “You are
hard-hearted and care only for yourself. If you get your own way, all
the other little squirrels in the world can be cold and miserable and
unhappy.”

“And all the little birdies too,” he said, mimicking me, “especially
little Dicky-Dick birdies; and now for your impudence to me I’m going
to take such a bite out of your tail that you’ll remember till
moulting time the saucy offer you made to Mr. Squirrie to change his
whole plan of life at your suggestion.”

I tried to fly, but I seemed paralyzed. He was staring fixedly right
into my eyes, and suddenly he made a leap over my head, caught my tail
in his mouth, and tore out every feather.

I thought he was going to kill me, and I screamed wildly, “Chummy,
Chummy, help me! Help me!”

Dear old Chummy, whom I had seen down on the ground, examining the
scrapings from my cage that Mrs. Martin always threw out the window to
him, heard me and flew swiftly up. He gave his battle cry and in an
instant the air was thick with sparrows, who were all about the roofs
examining nesting sites.

However, by this time Squirrie was gone. I had one last glimpse of him
as he looked over his shoulder, before he scampered along the ridge
pole of the barn to a near-by tree and from it to our house top, then
along the roofs to his own house and into his little fortress. Across
his mouth was the bunch of my tail feathers. He would probably line
his nest with them. I could not move, and sat trembling and crouching
on the ridgepole.

“Tell me, tell me what has happened?” said Chummy. “Oh, Dicky-Dick,
your tail is gone—what a dreadful thing! You, there, stop laughing,”
and he made a dash at a giddy young sparrow of last season, called
Tommy, who was nearly killing himself giggling over my funny
appearance.

“It was Squirrie,” I said in a gasping way. “I was trying to do him
good, and he bit off my tail.”

“Why didn’t you consult me?” said Chummy gravely. “That animal has
heard enough sermons to convert a whole street full of squirrels. They
just roll off him like gravel from the roof.”

“I thought I might influence him,” I said, “if I got him alone and
talked kindly to him, but I didn’t do him a bit of good, and I have
lost my pretty tail.”

Chummy shook his head sadly. “It is too bad, Dicky-Dick. I wouldn’t
have had this happen for a pound of hemp seed.”

“I never am pretty,” I said miserably, “even with all my feathers; but
my tail was passable. I shall be a fright now, and Missie was just
going to get a mate for me. A proud little hen bird will despise me.
Oh, why didn’t I stay at home!”

“Never mind, Dicky-Dick,” said Chummy consolingly. “You meant well,
but it is always a dangerous thing to meddle with old offenders.
Punishment is the only thing that counts with them, and I’ll see that
Squirrie gets it.”

“Don’t do anything on my account,” I said quickly. “I forgive him.”

“So do I,” said Chummy grimly. “I forgive him so heartily that I am
going to make an earnest effort to reform him myself.”

“What are you going to do?” I asked anxiously.

He smiled his funny little sparrow smile. “Wait and see—I will just
tell you this much: I am going to pass him on to a higher court than
ours.”

I did not know what he meant, but I listened eagerly as he said to
some of the older sparrows who, seeing that he was looking after me,
were leaving the roof and going back to their various occupations,
“Friends, I am going up to North Hill. Just keep an eye on the
grackles, will you? They are showing a liking for the trees in this
neighborhood, and we don’t want them too near. If they bother you,
call for help from Susan and Slow-Boy and drive them away. Don’t go
too near them, just swarm at them and squawk loudly. They hate fussing
from other birds, though they do enough of it themselves, gracious
knows.”

Then he turned to me. “Shall I fly beside you, down to your window,
Dicky-Dick? You had better go in and have a rest.”

“If you please, Chummy,” I said weakly. “I don’t know when anything
has upset me like this.”

“You have lost some blood,” he said. “Those little feathers of yours
must have been deeply rooted.”

He flew beside me quite kindly, till I got to my window. On arriving
there, I begged him to come inside and have a little lunch before
setting out on his long fly up to North Hill.

He was delighted to do this, especially as we found in my cage a
good-sized piece of corn bread that Hester had just baked and Mrs.
Martin had put in for me.

In his joy at finding it Chummy confided to me that the object of his
journey was to find old King Crow and talk over Squirrie’s case with
him.

“And who is King Crow?” I asked.

“He rules over all the crows in this middle part of Toronto, and in
the North. He is very wise and has a great deal of influence. We
sparrows hate the grackles, but like the crows, who often are of great
assistance to us.”

“Chummy,” I said, “I feel badly at bringing this on Squirrie.”

“You are sincere in wishing Squirrie well, are you not?”

“Oh, yes, from the bottom of my heart I wish him to become a good
squirrel.”

“And you didn’t succeed in making an impression on him. Now, why not
hand him over to some one who has influence over him?”

“Very well,” I said sadly. “I suppose I had no business to interfere,
but I meant well.”

Chummy smiled. “I have often heard that before. You see, Dicky-Dick,
if all the kind birds and animals in this neighborhood who have tried
to help Squirrie reform could not do it, how could you, a little weak
stranger, coming in, hope to succeed?”

“That’s true,” I said. “Well, Chummy, I hope you will have a
successful fly. You have a wise little head on your small sparrow
shoulders.”

Chummy was poising himself on the window ledge by this time,
preparatory to leaving me.

“There is a man in an airplane,” he said, looking up in the sky. “I’ll
have a race with him to North Hill.”

I watched them starting out—the great whirring machine, and the tiny
silent sparrow.

Chummy was ahead when I went back to my cage to have a rest. I
wondered very much what Chummy would do, and impatiently awaited his
return.



CHAPTER XVIII

NELLA, THE MONKEY


While I sat dozing in my cage a yelp from Billie wakened me, and I
flew to the window where she stood on her chair barking at something
in the street.

Mrs. Martin stood out on the sidewalk showing something under her coat
to the lodging house landlady.

“Missie has something alive there,” said Billie; “I know it. She is
bringing it in.”

“Well,” I said a little crossly, “why make such a fuss and wake me out
of what was going to be a nice nap?”

Billie was trembling in every limb. “It’s something strange,
Dicky-Dick. I can’t tell you how I feel.”

“Probably it’s a new dog,” I said. “Some one is always giving Missie
one.”

“It’s no dog,” said Billie; “it’s no dog. Oh, I feel so queer!
Something peculiar is going to happen.”

I stared at her curiously. Billie is a very sensitive creature. Then I
listened for Missie to come in.

Presently the door opened. “Well, my pets,” said Mrs. Martin heartily,
“what do you think your Missie has brought you now?”

Billie looked terribly, but she ran to her dear mistress and fawned on
her, casting meanwhile very nervous looks at the bulge in her coat.

“A present for you, Billie,” said Mrs. Martin, “a dear companion. I
hope you will like her,” and opening her coat, she set on the floor an
apparently nice little monkey.

Billie gave a gasp and the monkey a squeal. They knew each other. Even
Mrs. Martin saw this. “Why, Billie!” she exclaimed. Then she watched
the monkey running up to Billie, putting her arms round her, jabbering
and acting like a child that has found its mother.

Billie did not like it, I saw, but she stood firm. “Where have you
known each other?” said Mrs. Martin. Then with a touching and almost
comical earnestness, she said, “Oh, why can I for once not understand
all that my pets are saying? Billie, you are telling Dicky-Dick
something, I know by the way he puts his little head on one side, but,
Dicky, whatever have you done with your tail? Mary, oh, Mary, come
here!”

Our dear Mary came hopping to the room.

“Look at our Dicky-Dick,” said her mother. “Our little pet has lost
his tail. What can this mean?”

Our Mary was puzzled. “No cat could get at him,” she said; “he is too
smart to be caught. It must have been another bird.”

“Oh, why can’t we understand?” said Mrs. Martin intensely, and she
stared hard at Billie. “Tell me, my dog, how did our Dicky lose his
tail.”

Billie, put on her mettle, ran to the window, looked out at the trees
and barked wildly.

Our Mary spoke quickly. “That is the way Billie acts when she chases
the red squirrel in the Tyrells’ lodging house. He is the only
creature in the neighborhood that she chases, so she knows as well as
we do that he is very naughty.”

“Billie,” said Mrs. Martin earnestly, “did the red squirrel pull
Dicky-Dick’s tail out?”

“Bow, wow, wow!” barked Billie, raising her forelegs from the ground
as she spoke. “Oh, bow, wow, wow!”

Mrs. Martin looked very much disturbed. “Then that seals his doom. I
have heard that he has done a great deal of damage to the woodwork in
Mrs. Tyrell’s house. We will take measures to have him disposed of, if
she is willing. Now, to come back to the monkey—by the way, where is
she?”

“Unraveling your sock, under the table,” said our Mary, with a laugh,
and, sure enough, there sat Mrs. Monkey with a heap of wool on the
floor beside her.

Mrs. Martin swooped down on her. “Would you have believed it! Three
hours’ work undone in three minutes! I should have watched her. Now,
to come back to Billie—my dog, you have not known any monkeys since
you came to me. You must have been acquainted with this one before I
got you. Perhaps you belonged to some Italians in the Bronx
neighborhood, and one of them owned a little monkey.”

I could not help interposing an excited little song here, for that was
just what Billie was telling me and what the monkey was jabbering
about. Angelina and Antonio, who owned Billie, had an uncle Tomaso who
was an organ-grinder. He used to visit them and bring his monkey, and
the little creature became acquainted with Billie.

“And now let me tell you, Billie, my share in this,” said Mrs. Martin.
“A week ago I was going along College Street where an organ-grinder
was droning out ‘Spring, Gentle Spring,’ and his monkey was collecting
cents, when an automobile skidded and struck the poor man. He was
taken to the General Hospital near by, and I took the monkey to the
Humane Society on McCaul Street. I have visited the man since and
taken him delicacies, and last night he died. He had no friends here,
and as a token of gratitude he gave me his monkey. I have brought it
to you, Billie, for a playmate, but it is only a trial trip, and if
you and monkey don’t get on, I will take her to the Riverdale Zoo.”

Billie’s eyes grew dull; she shook her head nervously, and tried not
to groan. Nella, the monkey, was squeezing her so tightly round the
waist that she was nearly frantic. “Sister, sister,” the monkey was
saying, “Nella is glad to see you. She has been so lonely.”

“Billie, Billie,” I sang, “be kind, be kind; monkeys have rights,
monkeys have rights.”

“She has no right to squeeze the life out of me and tickle me,”
squealed Billie. “I never liked her. She is queer. I like dogs and
birds.”

“Be good, be good,” I sang encouragingly.

“And you be careful,” said Billie irritably. “She would kill you in an
instant if she got her paws on you. You don’t know monkeys. They’re
not civilized like dogs.”

Fresh from my adventure with the squirrel, I felt a bit cautious.
“What shall I do, Billie?” I sang. “What shall I do, do, do?”

“Fly upstairs to the bird-room,” said Billie, who, in the midst of all
her nervousness, was taking thought for me, “and stay there till Nella
goes. She is very mischievous. You’ll see that Missie can’t keep her.”

“Could I stay here if I kept in my cage?” I asked.

“No, no!” barked Billie impatiently. “You just ought to see her climb.
She would swarm up those picture frames and leap to your cage, and
have her fingers on your throat in no time. Fly upstairs, I tell you.
Fly quickly, before Mrs. Martin goes out of the room.”

“I fly, I fly,” I sang, and when Mrs. Martin opened the door to go and
get some fruit for Mrs. Monkey I dashed upstairs and sat on the
electrolier in the upper hall till our Mary came along and opened the
bird-room door for me.

Such a chattering and gabbling arose among the canaries on my
entrance! “Why, look at Dicky-Dick! Where’s your tail, Dicky? Surely
he has had a bad fight with some bird, or was it an accident? Tell us,
Dicky; tell us, tell, tell.”

Even the parakeets and the gentle indigo birds and nonpareils called
out to me, “Speak, speak quick! Who hurt you?”

Not since I left the bird-room and took up my quarters downstairs had
I been so glad to get back to it. Many of these birds were my
relatives. They might tease me, and there might be jealousies between
us, but they were my own kind, and they would never, never treat me as
a squirrel would, or a monkey. So I told them the whole story.

They all put their heads on one side and listened, and it was amusing
to hear what they said when I had finished my tale of woe. This was
the substance of it, “Better stay home, better stay home; the world is
bad, is bad to birds, bad, bad, bad.”

“But the bird-room life seems narrow to me,” I said. “You don’t know
how narrow it is till you get out of it.”

Green-Top had been looking at me quite kindly till I said this, when
he called out, “He’s making fun of us, making fun, fun, fun.”

Norfolk, my father, began to bristle up at this, so did my cousins and
my young brothers, Pretty-Boy and Cresto and Redgold. They seemed to
take my remarks more to heart than the birds that weren’t related to
me.

My uncle Silver-Throat, however, slipped up to me and whispered, “You
talk too much. Hold your tongue,” and fortunately just at this moment
our Mary, who had been filling seed dishes, created a sensation that
turned their thoughts from me.

“Birdies,” she said, “western New York is sending us a lovely warm
breeze over old Lake Ontario. I think we can celebrate this warm day
by opening the screen into our new flying cage.”

What an excitement that made! The birds all twittered and chattered,
and flew round her, as she went to the big window and, unhooking the
wire screen, allowed us to go out to the sun-flooded roof.

Despite my tailless condition, I was the first out and got a good rap
from my father for it, for as the oldest inhabitant of the bird-room,
he should have taken precedence of every one.

My uncle, who followed me, was laughing. “You are a gentle bird,
Dicky-Dick, but you will have trouble as long as you live. All birds
of your class do.”

“What is my class?” I asked.

“Explorers, adventurers, rovers, birds who will not stay at home and
rest in the parental nest. They flutter their wings and fly, and a
hawk is always hovering in the sky.”

“I have lots of fun,” I said.

“No doubt, but take care that you do not lose your life.”

“Excuse me, dear uncle,” I said, “there is my friend, Chummy
Hole-in-the-Wall, he has important news for me.”

“Don’t you think, as you are away from your family so much, that it
would be polite to stay with them a little while, and let those
outsiders alone?”

“I will come back to them,” I said; “I must see Chummy now, I must, I
must,” and, singing vivaciously, I flew to a corner where Chummy was
perched on the wire netting, looking down at us.

“What news, what news?” I sang.

“Great news,” he chirped; “but what a fine place this is for the
birds! Almost as good as having the whole street. It is lovely to see
them out.”

“You would not like it,” I said, “nor would I; but they do.”

“Like it,” he said, with a shudder, “I should go wild if I were
confined like this; but to canaries it must seem enormous. See how
excitedly they are flying about.”

“Tell me about Great King Crow,” I said.

Chummy smiled. “I found him sitting on a big pine tree. He had been
holding court, but it was over. Down below him on the ground was a
dead young crow.”

“Had he killed it?” I asked, in a shocked voice.

“Oh, no, but he had ordered it killed.”

“What had it done?”

“Would not do sentry go.”

“What is that?”

“While crows are feeding, one of their number is always supposed to
watch from the top of a high tree and warn if danger approaches. This
young crowling was greedy and always wanted to eat. They warned him,
but he would not obey; then they killed him.”

“And what did the Great King say about Squirrie?”

“He will see the head of Squirrie’s clan to-morrow morning—the Big
Red Squirrel—and they will decide what to do.”

“Why did you not go to see the Big Red Squirrel yourself?” I asked.

“I was afraid to. I fear squirrels as a class, though there are many
single ones that I like—Chickari, for example, who never hurt a
sparrow in his life.”



CHAPTER XIX

SQUIRRIE’S PUNISHMENT


The next morning the Big Red Squirrel sent down two squirrel
policemen, and you may be sure every English sparrow on the street,
and the robins, grackles, and wild sparrows were all on tiptoe.

I heard Chummy’s call for me, “T-check, t-chack, Dicky O! T-check,
t-chack, Dicky O!” and I flew out of the bird-room with all speed, out
to our favorite elm tree. There were the two squirrel policemen, old
sober fellows, climbing on the roof of the lodging house and going
straight to Squirrie’s front door hole which a dozen young sparrows
were eager to show them.

“Oh, Chummy,” I said, standing with my tailless back against the tree
trunk, “they won’t kill him, will they?”

“I don’t know,” he said gravely. “I can’t tell what they were told to
do, but I guess that they are going to drive him up to North Hill and
let him plead his own case before the Big Red Squirrel.”

I shuddered. This was very painful to me, and I wished I had said
nothing about my adventure.

“I know what is passing in your canary mind,” said Chummy, “and,
Dicky-Dick, do not be troubled. Squirrie had to be dealt with. Your
affair only hurried things a little—see, here he comes. They have had
a tussle with him. There is blood on one ear.”

Suddenly we heard voices below us on the sidewalk. “Oh the darling
little squirrie babies, taking a walk in the sunshine!” and, looking
down, we saw Sammy-Sam and his sister Lucy-Loo standing with their
fresh young faces turned up to us.

Chummy, who was very fond of children, said softly, “Bless their
little hearts, how they misunderstand birds and beasts! Those two
serious old squirrels taking a scamp off, perhaps to bite him to
death, they think is a bit of fun.”

“What dreadful faces he is making!” I said.

Squirrie, seeing all the birds assembled to stare at him, was in such
a fury that he looked as if he would like to kill us all. Every few
minutes he halted and tried to run back to his hole.

Whenever he did this, the two old ones closed in on him, and urged him
on. They went leaping from branch to branch, till we lost sight of
them up the old elm-shaded street.

No one went near Squirrie’s hole. The old policemen squirrels had left
word that no bird was to enter it. The Big Red Squirrel had heard that
it was an excellent home for a squirrel and he was going to send down
another one of the clan, and, sure enough, late in the afternoon,
didn’t the beloved Chickari with a brand-new mate come loping down the
street.

The birds all gathered round him, to hear news of Squirrie. “Was he
dead?”

“No,” he said, he had been let out on parole. He was to keep near the
Big Red Squirrel’s own private wood on a gentleman’s estate, and if he
did one single bad thing he was to be killed.

“How did he look when he was brought up before the squirrel court?”
asked Chummy.

“Very saucy at first,” said Chickari, “and made faces, but—”

“Well, what happened?” asked Chummy.

“I don’t like to tell you,” said Chickari, looking about at the young
sparrows listening with their beaks open.

“Go on,” said Chummy sternly. “These are rebellious times. It won’t
hurt these young fellows to learn how bad birds and beasts are dealt
with.”

“The policemen laid his shoulder open with their teeth,” said Chickari
unwillingly, “but a little blood-letting is cooling, and it stopped
his mischief and made him beg humbly for pardon.”

“Well,” said Chummy, speaking for us all, “we hope he may become a
better squirrel, but we also hope that his squirrelship, the judge of
all the clan, will never send that bad creature down here again.”

“He’ll never come here while I live,” said Chickari gayly, “for I told
the Big Red Squirrel that I just loved this neighborhood and would
bring up my young ones so carefully that if they dared to suck a
bird’s egg or kill a young one I’d bite their ears off.”

Chickari’s face as he said this was so ferocious, and at the same time
so comical, that we all burst out laughing at him.

Our laughter was checked by pitiful squeals from our house, four doors
down, and we all stared that way.

Our Billie was running down the sidewalk with something dark and hairy
on her back. Like a yellow and white streak she raced in by the
boarding house, which was set back from the street, and dashed into a
little shrubbery behind it.

I flew after her as well as I could in my tailless condition. Some
persons do not know that even the loss of one feather makes a
difference in a bird’s flight.

The shrubs had scratched the monkey off and, jabbering excitedly at
Billie, she stood threatening her, till seeing Black Thomas coming,
she ran nimbly down the street to our house.

Black Thomas was mewing angrily at Billie, “And what are you doing in
my yard—haven’t you one of your own?”

“Oh, let me alone, cat,” said Billie wearily. “I’m only resting a bit.
I’m dead tired.”

Black Thomas snarled a trifle; then, seeing her friend the cook at the
back door, he went to her.

“Too much monkey, eh, Billie?” I said.

She just burst into dog talk. “I’m nearly crazy, Dicky-Dick. I don’t
know what I’ll do. Every minute that thing persecutes me. She sleeps
in my box with me and kicks me to death. She is always creeping up to
me and putting her arm round me, and it tickles me—and I’m tired of
giving her rides. I’m not a pony. I’m a dog. I hate any one to love me
so hard. I wish she’d hate me.”

“She’s cold, Billie, and she is lonely.”

“She’s got a little coat. Mrs. Martin made her one. She won’t keep it
on. She tries to put it on me.”

By this time I was sitting on a low branch just above Billie’s head.
“Be patient, dear dog friend. In amusing the monkey, you are helping
our Missie.”

“And she’s so bad,” said Billie, “she’s stolen all the cake for
to-night’s knitting party. She got into the sideboard after lunch and
Missie doesn’t know it, and I caught her yesterday in the basement
fussing with the box that the electric light man goes to. I don’t
believe any of the lights will go on to-night. The front door bell
hasn’t rung all day, and no one knows but me that it’s the monkey that
put it out of order.”

“It’s too bad,” I said, “and beside all this wickedness on her part,
she’s keeping me a prisoner in the bird-room. I managed to fly out
this morning when our Mary had the door open, but I don’t know when
I’ll get back. I just had to come out to get news of Squirrie.”

Billie, while listening to me, was staring gloomily about the
shrubbery. Suddenly she got up and nosed something lying on the
ground. “What’s this, Dicky-Dick?” she asked.

“Betsy, a rag doll belonging to Beatrice.”

“I wonder if it would be any harm to take it?” she said wistfully.

“I don’t think so. I saw Beatrice throw it there the other day, and
she said she was tired of playing with it.”

“I might take it for the monkey,” said Billie, with such a funny face
that I burst out laughing at her.

With a roll of her eyes at me, she seized it in her mouth and went
trotting home with it.

I flew along with her. I had to get back into the bird-room, for I did
not dare to stay downstairs while that bad monkey was about.

Now, as we reached the house a very strange thing happened. It seems
that Mrs. Martin had not understood my going back to the bird-room.
She thought that I might be seeking a little playmate there, being
disappointed that she had not got me one.

Wishing to keep me downstairs, she had hurriedly gone next door and
bought the little lonely canary Daisy from the lodging house lady.

There she was, our dear Missie, walking along with the cage in her
hand, and at first, forgetting about the monkey, I was overjoyed.

I flew right to her. “Daisy! Daisy!” I cried in delight, as I stared
down at the pretty little creature inside the cage who was tremblingly
looking up at me. She knew me, but she was frightened of the street
and the noises.

“Why, Dicky, you are talking!” exclaimed Mrs. Martin. “Say that again,
my pretty one.”

“Oh, Daisy! Daisy!” I sang. “Daisy! Daisy! Daisy—y—y!”

Billie dropped her doll and stared at me. Now she believed that
canaries can talk. Presently she barked warningly. Nella was running
out of the house.

“Take care, take care,” she called; “Nella will hurt your Daisy.”

I was in despair. I clung to the top of the cage as Mrs. Martin
carried it in the house and gave my fright cry, “Mary, Mary, I’m
scary, scary,” and our Mary at once came hurrying downstairs.

“Mother,” she said, “there’s something the matter with Dicky-Dick. I
wonder whether he got a shock when the squirrel pulled his tail out?”

Mrs. Martin had put Daisy’s cage on a table in the library which was
close to the front door, and they gazed first at me as I sat crying on
the top of it, and then at Billie, who was laying her doll at Nella’s
feet.

Nella took it up, looked it over, then gave it a toss in the corner.

Billie gazed despairingly at her. Nella would rather play with dogs
than dolls.

“There’s something the matter with Billie, too,” said Mrs. Martin. “I
suppose of course it’s the monkey. Billie, dear, you don’t like Nella.”

“Oh, no, no, no!” barked Billie. “I don’t like her. I hate her.”

“I thought so,” said Mrs. Martin. “Now talk to me some more about her.
She teases you, doesn’t she?”

“Oh, wow, wow, wow!” sobbed Billie; “she worries my life out of me.”

Mrs. Martin turned to me, “And you, Dicky-Dick, friend of Billie, you
don’t like Nella.”

“I’m scary, scary,” I sang, “and Daisy is scary, scary.”

“I don’t know much about monkeys,” said Mrs. Martin, “but this one
seemed very gentle and kind to me, and her owner said she was used to
birds and dogs. Come here, Nella.”

The monkey jumped on her lap and began fingering the buttons on her
dress.

“Let me hear your side of the story,” said Mrs. Martin. “Do you like
this dog and bird?”

Nella began a long story, jabbered out in such a funny way. Billie and
I understood it, but Mrs. Martin got only an inkling of it. Nella told
of her life in a forest, when she was a baby monkey, and how cruel men
snatched her away from her parents, and she would now like some monkey
society. She did not care much for dogs, but had to play with Billie
because there was no animal of her own kind to amuse her.

When she finished, Mrs. Martin and our Mary looked at each other. They
had got the drift of it.

“Down at Riverdale,” said Mrs. Martin, “is a fine monkey house, with
little healthy animals just like yourself. They have a good time
playing in big rooms which are well warmed, then they run out a small
door to a yard and romp in the snow. When they get cold, they hurry
inside, and sprawl flat on the radiators. I will send you there, and I
think you will be happier with your own kind.”

Nella’s face beamed, then she did such a pretty thing. Blinking her
queer yellowish eyes affectionately at Mrs. Martin, she threw her two
skinny arms round her arm and hugged it. She was very happy to go to
the monkey house.

“Mary, please telephone for a taxi,” said Missie, while Billie and I
exchanged a look of deep content.

Then Daisy was taken up into a vacant room in the attic, and I was
shut in a big cage with her until the monkey went away. After that,
Mrs. Martin said we should both go downstairs.



CHAPTER XX

SISTER SUSIE


As time went by, Sammy-Sam and Lucy-Loo became great friends with the
children in the boarding house. Sometimes they quarreled, but always
they made up, and we birds all noticed that the strange children were
becoming almost as good to us as our own dear children were.

One day when it was warm and pleasant Sammy-Sam sat out on the
doorstep trying to learn his spelling lesson for the next morning.

He didn’t look very pleasant about it, and he was not helped by having
his arm round a neighbor’s dog who looked exactly like Billie and who
had come to call on her.

Billie was out, and Sammy-Sam was amusing Patsy when Freddie came
running out of the boarding house.

“Listen, Sammy,” he said, “to some poetry I’ve been making about the
sparrow who lives in the hole in the wall.”

Sammy-Sam, glad of an excuse to throw down his book, said, “Go ahead.”

Freddie began to read very proudly,

  “There was a little bird that lived in a hole
   Not much bigger than an ordinary bowl,
   And when it was tired of sitting on its nest
   It would flutter, flutter out and have a little rest.
   Now I must end my pretty little song,
   You can’t be bored, for it isn’t very long.”

“Fine!” said Sammy-Sam, clapping his hands, while I glanced at Chummy,
who was sitting listening to it with a very happy sparrow face.

“Good boy,” said Chummy, in a bird whisper. Then he said briskly, “But
I have no time to listen to soft words, for I must help Jennie with
the nest-building.”

Jennie came along at this minute, such a pretty, dusky, smart little
sparrow and very businesslike. She gave Chummy a reproachful glance,
as she flew by with her beak full of tiny lengths of white soft twine
that she had found outside the flying cage on our roof. She thought we
were wasting time.

“And I will go and help with my nest in the big new cage on the
sitting-room wall,” I said. “Daisy is turning out to be a fine nest
builder. I can’t coax her away from it.”

The windows were all open to the lovely warm air, so I could make a
bee-line for my nest. Oh, what a comfort little Daisy was, and is, to
me! She is the sweetest, most companionable, gentle little canary I
ever saw, and she never makes fun of me as the bird-room canaries do.
She thinks whatever I do is just perfect, and she never grumbles if I
go to have a little fly outside and am late coming home.

“How are you getting on, dearie, dearie?” I sang, as I found her
working away at a heap of nest lining that Mrs. Martin had given us.

“Nicely, nicely,” she said, in her funny, husky little voice. She has
been allowed to hang near a cold window in winter, and it has hurt her
throat. In summer, she was nearly baked by being kept all the time in
the sun, and I tell her she must be a very tough little canary, or she
would have been dead before this.

“If you would just whistle a pretty little tune to me, Dicky-Dick,”
she said, “while I work, and not interfere; I know just how these tiny,
soft bits of cotton go. I must throw out that red stuff; I don’t like
bright colors for any nest of mine.”

“Mrs. Martin never put that in,” I said. “It must have been the
children. You might put it in the middle of the nest where no strange
bird would see it.”

“And suppose it is hot, and I sweat,” she said, “and get the young
ones all damp?”

“I don’t think you will perspire, Daisy,” I said. “You are such a cool
little bird. I will sing you ‘By a Nice Stream of Water a Canary Bird
Sat.’”

“Thank you,” she said, and I, perching on the top of the cage, was
beginning one of my best strains, with fine long notes in it, when I
heard a well-known footstep in the hall.

It was Mr. Martin coming home in the middle of the morning. What could
be the matter with him?

His wife came hurrying out of the bedroom. “Henry, are you ill?”

“No,” he said wearily, passing his hand over his forehead, “but I saw
this in the street, and bought it for you,” and he handed her a
cardboard box.

Missie opened it, and in the box sat a dear little ring-dove, of a
pale, dull, creamy color, and with a black half ring round the nape of
the neck.

“Oh, Henry,” she said, “where did you get it?”

“From a man in the street. He had two to sell and one was dying. I
took it into a drug store and had it put out of its misery and brought
this one home to you.”

“You gentle thing!” said Missie, and, lifting the little creature out
of the box, she set hemp seed and water before it.

The dove ate and drank greedily, then finding a place in the sun on
the table, flew to it and began cleaning her feathers.

“She is used to strangers,” said Mr. Martin. “She has no fear of us.”

“Henry, you were glad of an excuse to come home,” said Mrs. Martin.
“You are tired.”

“A trifle,” he said.

“Have you been losing money?” asked his wife.

“A trifle,” he said again, and this time he smiled.

“These hard times, I suppose,” she said, “and worry.”

He nodded.

“Mary!” she called. “Mary, come here, dear.”

Our Mary came out of her mother’s bedroom with a handful of letters in
her hand.

“Tell your father our little secret,” said her mother. “This is a time
he wants cheering.”

“I’m earning money,” said our Mary sweetly and with such a happy face.

Mr. Martin’s face lighted up. He was very, very fond of his only
child, but we all knew that he was sorry she could not do things that
other girls did. “You do not need to do that, child,” he said.

“Out of my birds,” she said with a gay laugh, “those birds that you so
kindly provide for, but which I know are a great expense to you in
these hard times.”

“Oh, do hurry and tell him, child,” said Mrs. Martin, who was often,
in spite of her age and size, just like a girl herself. “Henry, she is
earning forty dollars a week by her bird study articles. You know that
many people are trying to understand the hidden life of birds and
beasts, and Mary is on the track of some wonderful discoveries.”

“Aided a good deal by her mother,” said Mary. “It is really a
partnership affair, my father, but I want you to know, because I have
thought that perhaps you thought and perhaps our friends thought I
ought to give up my birds since times are bearing so heavily on us.”

“But,” said Mrs. Martin triumphantly, “instead of being a burden, the
child is earning money, and she is also doing something patriotic in
starting a new breed of canary.”

“Indeed,” said Mr. Martin, “and what is that breed?”

“The Canadian canary, father,” said our Mary; “you know there has been
a canary for nearly every nation, including the American, but no
distinctive Canadian bird, so by crossbreeding I am trying to start
one.”

“Good! Splendid!” cried Mr. Martin, deeply gratified. “I should like
to have my young daughter’s name linked with some original work.”

“‘Martin’s Canadian Canary’ is already beginning to be known,” said
Mrs. Martin. “It is not a bird to be kept in tiny cages. It is for
aviaries or large cages, and it is trained to fly freely in and out of
its home. Canaries in the past have not had enough liberty—but, my
dearest husband, have you put the new bird in your pocket?”

The dove had vanished—that is, to human eyes, and Daisy and I
laughed, not in our sleeves but in our wings, for a while, before we
enlightened them.

Dovey was tired and had stepped into one of the numerous knitting bags
with which the house was adorned, for Mrs. Martin, so active and
running all over the house, kept a bag with knitting in it in each
room.

The bag seemed like a nest to dovey, and she had gone to sleep.

The Martins looked all over the room for her, and in the bedroom, but
did not find her till I perched on the bag and began to sing.

How they laughed! “I’m going to call this dove Sister Susie,” said
Mrs. Martin, “for I see she is going to do good work for soldiers.”

“Well,” said Mr. Martin, “I must go back to town. I feel like a
different man. Somehow or other, this news about Mary has cheered me
immensely.”

“Forty dollars a week, forty a week,” said Mrs. Martin, “and we wish
no more money for the bird-room.”

“It isn’t the money altogether,” said Mr. Martin.

“Oh, I know, I know,” said Mrs. Martin, with a playful tap on his arm.
“I understand you, Henry, and that is the best thing in the world—to
be understood and sympathized with. Don’t work too hard and come home
early, and we will do some digging in our garden.”



CHAPTER XXI

MORE ABOUT SISTER SUSIE


He kissed her and our Mary and hurried away. We turned our attention
to Sister Susie, who, refreshed by her nap, was cooing and bowing very
prettily to Mrs. Martin.

Such tricks as she played later on, on our good Missie! One day, when
Mrs. Martin was presiding at a Red Cross meeting and begging ladies to
give more money for wounded soldiers, she was first amazed, then
overcome with laughter, to hear “Coo, oo-ooo—” coming from the
knitting bag that she had brought in and put on the table before her.

Sister Susie thought all knitting bags were nests, and went into them
and often laid eggs there. Mrs. Martin was trying to get a mate for
her, but had not yet succeeded, so Daisy and I had her eggs boiled,
and found them very good eating.

Sister Susie collected lots of money for the soldiers. When she cooed,
that day at the meeting, Mrs. Martin lifted her out and put her beside
the money box. She bowed and murmured so gently and coaxingly beside
it that she charmed the money right out of the ladies’ pockets. That
gave Missie the idea of taking her to the meetings, and finally she
had a little box made in the shape of a dove, and Susie would stand
beside it, and peck it, and coo, and ladies would fill it with money.

“Does Susie think it is a dove?” Billie asked me one day.

“Oh, no, she knows what it is; but doves like fun, as well as other
birds, and it amuses her to beat it. One day she played a fine trick
on Missie. She stepped in a knitting bag and went to sleep and Missie
put it on her arm and went downtown. She noticed that the girl in a
department store, who waited on her, looked queerly at her bag, and
bye and bye she asked Missie if she was not afraid her pet would fly
away.

“Mrs. Martin looked round, and there was Sister Susie with her head
sticking out of the hole in her Red Cross bag.

“She took her out and set her on the palm of her hand. ‘You won’t
leave me, will you, Susie?’ she said. ‘You want to stay with me, don’t
you?’

“You see, she always had to ask questions that Susie could say ‘Yes’
to, for the bird did not know how to say ‘No.’

“‘Coo-ooo, oo,’ said Susie, a great many times and bowing very low and
very politely.

“The girl was so delighted that she squealed with laughter, and other
girls came to see what was amusing her. Mrs. Martin went on talking
and Susie cooed so sweetly that there was soon a crowd round them.

“Missie asked her if she liked the store, and if she thought the
people who came shopping could not afford to do a little more for Red
Cross work.

“Susie was charmed to receive so much attention and the enthusiasm of
the shoppers was so great that a manager came out of an office to see
what the excitement was about. He asked if Missie would sell her bird
for him to put in a cage to please the shoppers.

“Missie wheeled round to a woman who was carrying a baby and asked
her if she would sell it.

“‘Not for a thousand dollars,’ she said. ‘My baby loves me.’

“‘And my bird loves me,’ said Mrs. Martin, ‘and I would not sell her
for a thousand dollars, though I thank you, Mr. Manager, for your
offer.’

“‘What theater do you exhibit her in?’ asked one of the women.

“That gave Missie a chance to tell them that she was not a
bird-trainer. She was just a friend to birds and allowed them to
develop along their own lines.

“The woman said that her husband had once been in the business and had
exhibited trained dogs and horses, but she had made him give it up,
when she discovered that his animals were all dull and dispirited, and
that he educated them by means of sharp nails between his fingers that
he pressed into them when he was pretending to stroke them.

“‘I caught him one day pulling out the teeth of a pony,’ she said,
‘because the pony bit him, and I tell you I gave him a tongue-lashing—and
I threw out a can of paint that he used to cover the sores on his
animals’ backs. “Let the public see the sores, me man,” I said, “and
it’s good-bye to me if you don’t give up every one of those poor
creatures. If I’d known you were in such a dirty business I’d never
have married you.” So he said he’d keep me, being as I was the
choicest and trickiest animal he had, and the best kicker, and I bet
you I soon sent that lot of animals flying to good homes in the
country, and I got him a position as policeman, going to His Worship
the Mayor me own self an’ tellin’ a straight story to him that I said
is the father of the city.’

“Susie liked this woman and made a great many direct bows to her which
pleased her very much.

“‘God bless the little angel-faced creetur,’ she said. ‘She reminds me
of me own mother in glory—well, good-bye to ye, me lady, an’ good
luck to the bird. I must hurry home an’ make a toothsome dish for me
old man’s dinner, for it’s bound to please him, I am, since he gave up
his beasts to please me.’

“When she left, the floor-walker gently urged the other women to pass
on and let Mrs. Martin finish her shopping, so she put Sister Susie in
the bag she so loved to travel in and went on with her purchases.”

“Some animals have a dreadful time when they travel,” said Billie.
“When Missie brought me from New York I heard some cattle talking on
the train. One handsome black and white mother cow was saying, ‘My
blood runs like poison in my veins, for I have been three days without
food or water. If human beings wanted to kill me, why did they not do
it away back in Chicago, where I was taken from my baby calf? I pity
the human being that eats me! Another bad, black cow said, ‘My tongue
is dry and I have lost so much blood by getting bruised and torn in
this crowded cattle car that I hope the persons who eat me will die.’”

“If human beings could listen to animals talking,” I said, “they would
get some hints.”

“Mrs. Martin understands,” said Billie. “She told me that when our
train was standing in the station in Albany the waiter in the dining
car brought her two mutton chops. Just as she was going to eat them
she looked out the car window, and there out on the platform in a
crate were two sheep. Fancy, Dicky-Dick—two sheep from a western
plain in a case half boarded up in a rushing railway station. Mrs.
Martin says they looked at her with their suffering eyes. They never
stirred—just showed their agony by their glances, and she pushed away
her plate and said to the waiter, ‘Oh, take it away.’”

“Dear Missie,” said Billie affectionately, “she hates to see anything
suffer. She saw a poor old horse fall down here in the street to-day,
and she went out and gave the owner money enough to take him to the
Rest Home for horses.”

“What is that?” I said curiously. “I have not heard about it.”

“I heard the milkman’s horse talking to the grocer’s horse about it
two days ago,” said Billie. “It has just been started, and it is a big
farm outside the city. The milkman’s horse said to the other horse,
‘You ought to go out there, Tom. Your hoofs are in bad shape, and that
moist land down by the creek on the Rest Farm would set you up again
finely. Then you could lie down in the shade of the tall trees, and
if you were not able to go out at all they would put you in one of the
nice clean barns.”

“Will they take tired dogs and birds out there?” I asked.

“They will take anything,” replied Billie. “Back of the brick farm
house is a long, low building which is a dog’s boarding house. Any one
going away in summer can put a pet animal there and know that it will
have a good time roaming over the farm with the men.”

“Cats have a dreadful time,” I said, “when their owners go away and
leave them.”

Billie began to laugh, and I said in surprise, “My friend, have you
turned heartless about cats?”

“No, no,” said Billie, “but just listen to what Sammy-Sam is saying,
as he walks up and down here under the trees.”

I looked at our handsome little lad, as he paced to and fro, a book by
a well-known animal lover in his hand. Missie, before she went out
this afternoon, had promised him a quarter if he would learn a nice
poem for her before she came home, and this is what he chose, and it
fitted in so well with what I had been saying that it had made Billie
laugh:

  “THE WAIL OF THE CAT”

  “My master’s off to seek the wood,
    My lady’s on the ocean,
  The cook and butler fled last night,
    But where, I’ve not a notion.
  The tutor and the boys have skipped,
    I don’t know where to find them:
  But tell me, do they never think
    Of the cat they’ve left behind them?

  “I haven’t any place to sleep,
    I haven’t any dinner.
  The milkman never comes my way;
    I’m growing daily thinner.
  The butcher and the baker pass,
    There’s no one to remind them:
  O tell me, do they never think
    Of the cat they’ve left behind them?

  “The dog next door has hidden bones,
    They’re buried in the ‘arey’;
  The parrot’s boarding at the zoo,
    And so is the canary.
  The neighbors scatter, free from care,
    There’s nothing here to bind them:
  I wonder if they never think
    Of the cat they’ve left behind them?”



CHAPTER XXII

A TALKING DOG


Our Mary, on account of her lameness, has a little bedroom downstairs,
just back of the dining room. Her mother does not worry about her
being down there alone, for Billie always sleeps beside her bed in a
box, and if any strange step is heard in the hall, or outside the open
window, she gives her queer half bark, half scream, and rouses the
family.

Our Mary used to have a young dog of her own to sleep beside her, a
mongrel spaniel, but to her great grief some one stole the dog a year
ago, and she has never known what became of it.

One day when I was talking to Billie about sleeping downstairs she
told me that she would far rather be upstairs with Mrs. Martin, but at
the same time she is very glad to do something to oblige our Mary,
whom everybody loves.

“If any stranger dares to come near her room at night,” said Billie,
“I’ll scream my head off. I hate night prowlers. They’re after no
good. The Italians always locked up at nine o’clock and said that any
one not in bed then was a thief.”

“But, Billie,” I said, “that is rather severe. Many nice persons are
out after nine.”

“Well, I’ll bark at them,” she said stubbornly, “and if they’re honest
it won’t hurt them, and if they’re rogues they’ll be caught.”

Poor Billie—on the night our Mary had her adventure with what she
thought was a prowler she was in a dogs’ hospital. They had been
having lobster à la Newburg at the boarding house, and the remains in
the trash can were too attractive for Billie, and she had to go away
to be dosed. How she reproached herself afterward, and vowed she would
never go near a trash can again!

It had been a very dark afternoon, and was a very black night. A
thunderstorm was brooding over the city, and our Mary, though not at
all nervous, for she is a very brave girl, had said to please her
mother that she would sleep upstairs.

“I will undress down in my own room, though,” she said, “then put on
my dressing-gown and come up.”

About ten o’clock she was just going to turn out the electric light
when she heard something moving softly on the veranda outside her
window. Turning out the light, she picked up a good-sized bell she
kept on the table at the head of her bed and approached the window.

“Are you a tramp?” she said cautiously.

There was a kind of groan in reply to this, but no one spoke.

“I want you to go away,” she said sternly, “or I shall ring this bell
and my father will come down and turn you away pretty quickly. Do you
hear?”

The thing groaned again, and she heard a beseeching murmur, “Jus’ a
crumb—jus’ a crumb.”

“A crumb!” she said indignantly. “I suppose you have been drinking too
much. Go away, you scamp.”

The thing gave a kind of flop and she saw two red eyes gleaming at
her. Dropping the bell, she fled from the room, calling wildly,
“Daddy! Daddy!”

Mr. Martin, who was just undressing, came leaping down the stairs like
a boy. “What is it—where is it?” he cried.

“Out on the veranda—right in the corner by the table. Oh, Daddy, it
has such a dreadful voice!”

Mr. Martin snatched a big walking stick from the hat-stand in the hall
and rushed into the bedroom. There was nothing there, so he jumped
through the window to the veranda. Nothing there, either, but at this
moment there was such a heavy peal of thunder that he sprang in again
and locked the window behind him.

“We are going to have a deluge,” he said. “The tramp must have taken
himself off. I see nothing of him.”

“He couldn’t have got into the house, could he?” said Mrs. Martin, who
by this time had appeared and had her arm round Mary.

“No, no—Mary stood in the hall till I came. He could not have passed
her, and he is not in the room.”

He looked about him as he spoke. The room was in perfect order except
the bed, which was tumbled and tossed.

Our Mary suddenly gave a scream. “The bed—I never touched it! He is
in it—there’s a lump there. Father, take care.”

“Go to the hall,” said Mr. Martin, “you two—leave me to deal with
him.”

Mrs. Martin drew back her arm from Mary and pushed her out into the
hall, then she went to stand by her husband. She would not leave him
alone.

I heard every detail of this adventure a few minutes later, in the
sitting room, and I was quite thrilled at this part where Mrs. Martin
stood pushing her child out into the hall with one hand and extending
the other to her husband.

He was afraid she would get hurt and, hurrying to her, was about to
urge her to go upstairs when more thunder and lightning came.

The crashing and flashing were so dreadful that they made Daisy nestle
anxiously against me in our cage. We had been awake for some time,
listening to the unusual and strange sounds below.

All at once we heard Mr. Martin cry out, “Mary—run—he’s coming!”

Every light in the house had gone out. The lightning had struck the
power house downtown, but we could hear our Mary tearing upstairs
faster than she had ever come before. The lameness was not in her
feet, which were quite well shaped and pretty, but in her hips. The
doctor said afterward that the sudden fright was bad for her nerves
but an excellent thing for her hips, for her lameness has been ever so
much better since. Well, Daisy and I heard her rushing upstairs,
darting into the sitting room and flinging herself on a sofa there.

She knew just where everything was, though the room was pitch dark.
“Oh, mother,” she cried, “oh, father—what a coward I am! Why didn’t I
stay?”

Then we heard her mother’s clear voice, “Mary, Mary, my child—are you
all right?”

“Yes, yes, Mummy dear,” she cried; “but, oh, do come up! Where is
Daddy?”

“Down in the cellar after the tramp. He flew by us to the kitchen.
Hester had forgotten and left the cellar door open. Shut and lock the
door of the room you are in. I will be right up.”

Our poor Mary did as she was bid, and as we heard afterward, Mrs.
Martin followed her husband to the cellar. As the tramp had not shown
fight, they were not afraid of him, and they said afterward they
knew he must be a slight, frail creature, perhaps only a boy, for he
dashed by so quickly and smoothly, and bent over as if he were on all
fours.

Well, by the time they got a lantern and went down into their big,
old-fashioned cellar, Mr. Tramp was nowhere to be seen. There is a
great deal of stuff in our cellar. I went down there one day on our
Mary’s shoulder. There are trunks and boxes, and plants and barrels,
and old furniture, and shelves of china, and a storeroom and coal
rooms, and a furnace room, and a lot of other things—a very paradise
of hiding places.

No lights would go on yet, so the two Martins poked about with their
lantern, passing several times a heap of bearskin rugs that the
furnace man had thrown in a corner to shake in the morning.

“Could he be there?” said Mrs. Martin, at last.

“There’s no other place,” said Mr. Martin, and he prodded the rugs
with his stick. “Come out, you—we won’t hurt you.”

They heard a touching groan, then “Jus’ a crumb—jus’ a crumb,” in a
voice that Mrs. Martin said afterward was hoarse and broken like that
of an old man who has been drinking too much all his life.

“Get up, you beggar,” said Mr. Martin, for he was pretty tired and
excited by this time. “If you don’t come out, you’ll get a walloping.”

At this and his persistent prodding there crawled from under the rugs,
not a battered old man nor a slender boy, but a good-sized mongrel
spaniel dog.

Mrs. Martin says that she and her husband literally staggered against
the wall. Dog-lovers as they were, they had never heard of such a
thing as a dog talking.

Then, when they got over their surprise there was such a shouting. By
this time, Hester and Anna were aroused and were running round the top
of the house calling out to know what was the matter.

Our Mary unlocked the sitting room door and cried out to them to come
down to her, and then Mr. and Mrs. Martin appeared leading between
them this big black spaniel.

He was terribly cowed and frightened, but when they held up the
lantern and he saw our Mary, he gave a leap at her and buried his head
in her lap.

“Why, it’s my Niger,” she screamed, “my darling Niger that was stolen
when he was a puppy! Oh, oh, Niger, Niger!”

I never saw anything more affecting. Our Mary was so unstrung that she
cried, and her parents stood looking at her with glistening eyes.

“And he’s been in good hands,” she said at last, when she got calm.
“See how glossy his hair is, mother dear, and he smells of some
exquisite perfume. My darling doggie, where have you been?”

I touched Daisy with my beak. All this would have been hard on Billie
if she had been here, for she is of a very jealous nature.

Niger was fagged out. He lay panting and rolling his bright eyes from
one to another of the little group. He had evidently run far to get
home.

“This is one of the most interesting dog cases I have ever heard of,”
said Mrs. Martin. “Just examine that collar under his black curls, and
see if there is a name on it.”

Mr. Martin held the lantern up so our Mary could see. “The collar is
very handsome,” she said, “studded with some red stones—‘Mrs.
Ringworth, Hillcrest,’ is on it.”

“Good gracious!” exclaimed Mrs. Martin. “Third Cousin Annie!”

Everybody laughed at her comical tone. “Now we’ll have some fun
getting the dog away from her,” said Mrs. Martin. “Annie never was
known to give up anything that ever belonged to her.”

“And the amazing thing about his talking would appeal to her,” said
Mr. Martin gloomily; “she does love to be singular.”

“Why, I remember having her tell me about this dog,” our Missie went
on. “Just a year ago I met her downtown and she told me she had just
bought a young dog from a man in the street and she had become so fond
of him that she was going to take him to California with her—and I
told her we had just had a puppy stolen from us. Fancy Niger being
both dogs,” and she began to laugh so heartily that her husband and
daughter and the maids joined her, and Niger, feeling that he ought to
do something, rumbled out, “Jus’ a crumb, jus’ a crumb—crumb—crumb!”

“Bless him, he’s hungry,” said Mr. Martin, and he turned to his wife.
“Couldn’t Hester make us some of her nice coffee—I declare I’m
thirsty and hungry myself, after all that prancing about our dusty
cellar.”

Mrs. Martin pretended to be vexed, and drew herself up proudly. “My
cellar is as clean as any housekeeper’s in this neighborhood.”

“Yes, yes, my dear,” laughed Mr. Martin; “I wasn’t censuring. Where
there is a furnace there is dust. But the coffee—”

Hester and Anna had already disappeared, and soon they came back with
the coffee and some lovely fresh doughnuts and bread and butter. Daisy
and I had just a tiny scrap of doughnut, but Niger ate half a dozen.

“Mother,” said Mary, “I want to go down and sleep in my little bed
with Niger in his box beside me, as he used to do. It will seem like
old times.”

“Very well, my child,” said our Missie, and she went downstairs
herself, tucked her daughter in bed, and hovered over her like a great
bird, for Niger, who at once became friends with us, told us all about
it in the morning.

“Would, oh, would Third Cousin Annie leave Niger with us?” was the
question, and “What, oh, what would Billie say to him when she came
home?”



CHAPTER XXIII

THIRD COUSIN ANNIE


Third Cousin Annie was a very grand person, and very rich, and her
limousine drew up before our door in the middle of the next morning.

She flew into the house and greeted Niger most effusively, and Mrs.
Martin and our Mary quite calmly.

Niger wagged his tail at her, then looked out the window.

“My darling dog,” she cried, “companion of my travels, how I have
missed you!”

Niger looked up at Daisy and me and at Sister Susie, who was sitting
on the top of our cage, and winked.

“Do you know, Cousin Annie,” said our Missie, “that this is the dog
that was stolen from us?”

“Not possible,” she said.

“Yes, and he ran back last night and got into Mary’s bed. First, he
was afraid of her—he thought she was scolding him for leaving her; he
is very sensitive, you know—then, when she left the room, he got in
her bed.”

“Only fancy!” exclaimed Third Cousin Annie—“I’m so sorry to take him
from you.”

“But you’re not going to take him,” said our Missie firmly.

“But he’s my dog. I gave the man ten dollars for him.”

“And we, prior to that, gave another man five dollars for him, because
Mary had taken a fancy to him.”

“I’m sorry,” said Mrs. Ringworth, getting up, “but he’s my dog, and
I’m going to have him. Come home, Blackie!”

I was sitting beside Daisy, who had laid three beautiful eggs, and I
trembled nervously, for I hate to see human beings upset. I had never
before seen Mrs. Martin angry, and I was sorry to see the red spots in
her cheeks. Our Mary said nothing, but just sat patting the dog.

“Of course he is a fool of a dog,” said Mrs. Ringworth, “and can do
nothing but roll over and act silly, but I have got used to him and
like him.”

“Has he never talked to you?” asked our Missie.

“Talked to me—what do you mean?”

“Has he never asked you for a crumb?” said Missie coldly.

Mrs. Ringworth stared at her, as if she thought she were crazy.

“A crumb—how foolish!—but I remember that you Martins are always
reading things into dogs. Of course he can’t talk.”

“Niger,” said Mrs. Martin, “can’t you say, ‘Jus’ a crumb?’”

“Tra, la, la, la, la,” I sang, “don’t you do it, Niger,” and Sister
Susie cooed, “No—no—no—ooo.”

He winked again and said, “Bow, wow, wow,” quite roughly.

Mrs. Ringworth got up and burst into a forced laugh. “You are
certainly very short-sighted, cousin, to try to add to the value of a
thing you wish to retain. Come on, Blackie.”

“Don’t you do it, doggie, doggie, doggie,” I sang, and Daisy peeped,
“Stay, stay dog, stay here.”

Niger looked out the window and yawned as if he were bored.

“Dog,” said Mrs. Ringworth angrily and stamping her foot, “come with
me; I command you!”

He got up and, sauntering over to the corner, picked up some crumbs
that had fallen from our cage.

“Ungrateful cur,” said Mrs. Ringworth, “after all I have done for
you—but you’ve got to go with me. You’re my property. I wish I had a
string.”

Mrs. Martin and Mary sat like two stuffed birds, and did not move even
their eyes.

Their cousin pulled a handsome silk scarf off her neck and tied it to
the dog’s collar. Then she started to pull him—Niger perfectly good
natured but bracing his feet.

Suddenly she turned in a passion to our Missie. “Why don’t you prevent
me? He’s your dog, you say.”

“I shall not use force, cousin,” said Mrs. Martin. “If I thought you
were going to be unkind to him, I would, but I know you would never
illtreat an animal.”

Her tone was quite amiable, though cold, and her cousin looked as if
she did not know what to do. Then she started again, pulling and
hauling Niger over the carpet. By the time she reached the hall she
was quite out of breath, and meeting Mr. Martin who was coming home
early to lunch, she was confounded to hear him burst into a roar of
laughter.

Quickly recovering himself, he said, “A thousand pardons, Mrs.
Ringworth, but the sight was so—so overcoming. Allow me to pull that
dog for you.”

“Your wife wants to keep it,” said Mrs. Ringworth defiantly.

“Naturally,” he said with great good humor. “He’s our dog.”

“But I bought him,” said Mrs. Ringworth persistently.

“And you love the creature,” said Mr. Martin, with a merry twinkle in
his eye.

“I adore him,” said the lady fervently.

“And wish him to be happy,” went on Mr. Martin.

“Y—y—yes,” she said rather unwillingly, for she began to see the
door of the trap he was leading her into.

“Then suppose we leave it to the dog,” said Mr. Martin. “We are quite
willing to abide by his own choice,” and gently taking the scarf from
her hands, he slipped it through the dog’s collar, and Niger stood
free.

“Now, allow me to escort you to your car,” said Mr. Martin, “or,
better still, go alone, for I would confuse the dog. You call him, and
we will say nothing, and see which he prefers.”

Third Cousin Annie was nearly choking with wrath, but she was
helpless. Looking beyond her, I could see Chummy’s amused face, as he
sat staring in the hall window. He was greatly interested in all that
concerned the Martin family.

“Come here, Blackie, Blackie!” said Mrs. Ringworth, backing toward the
staircase.

Niger never budged, but when she kept on he turned his back on her and
went to lay his head on our Mary’s lap.

Mrs. Ringworth was so furious that she could not speak, and she turned
and went quickly down the staircase to her car.

Mr. Martin ran after her and presently came back laughing. “She is all
right now. I told her I could get her a thoroughbred Airedale that a
friend of mine wishes to give away, and what do you think she said?”

“One never knows what Third Cousin Annie will say,” replied Missie.

Mr. Martin smiled. “She said, ‘I am glad to get a thoroughbred; I am
tired of curs.’”

I stared at Niger. He didn’t care—he was wagging his tail.

“Who is going for Billie?” said our Mary suddenly. “The veterinary has
just telephoned that she is ready to come home.”

“I will,” said Mrs. Martin. “Mary dear, sit with your father while he
has his lunch. Come on, Niger, and have a walk.”

“Oh! jus’ a crumb,” growled Niger, “jus’ a crumb, jus’ a crumb, crumb,
crumb!”

They all burst out laughing. “You slyboots,” said Mrs. Martin, “we
will stop in the kitchen and pick up a crumb as we go out.”

Niger told us afterward, that while he was in California, he had
throat trouble, and Mrs. Ringworth had kindly spent a lot of money in
having his throat doctored. But, he said, he had a lump there, until
the night he ran back to his dear Mary, when in his emotion, something
seemed to break and he was growling out a strange sound he had never
made before.

The children on the street nearly went crazy over his accomplishment,
and Sammy-Sam used to lead him up and down, making him say “Jus’ a
crumb,” till his throat was sore. He says it hurts him to say it, and
he only does it in moments of deep feeling, or to please a friend.



CHAPTER XXIV

BLACK THOMAS CATCHES A BURGLAR


There was a great commotion in this neighborhood on the first of
April, for then the robins came back.

I never heard such a clatter of talk from any bird as came from Vox
Clamanti, the head robin. Instead of contenting himself with saying,
“Cheer up cheerily, cheer up cheerily,” as the other robins did, he
just screamed a great amount of information about where he had spent
the winter and what he had been doing, and how the colored people down
South had tried to catch him, to make pie, but he was too smart for
them.

Finally he got into a quarrel about the Great War. “Of course, you
know, birds,” he said fussily, “that robins are the most important
birds in the world, and the war was all about them. The bad robins in
many nations persecuted my brothers, the English robins, and would not
let them into their countries. Then of course the Englishmen, who love
their robins, took up arms and began to fight the bad nations who were
persecuting us.”

Chummy laughed when he said this, but he was too sensible to argue
with him. Black Gorget, Chummy’s next best friend after me, was not so
wise, and he said, “I suppose you forget that English robins are not
any relation to your family.”

Vox Clamanti looked thoughtful, then he said, “Well, if not brothers,
then cousins. My cousins, the English robins—”

“They’re not even cousins,” said Bronze-Wing, the head grackle, “and
the war is not about robins, but grackles.”

Vox Clamanti said very rudely, “You are lying,” and then the grackle
gave a rough call in his squawky voice, and pulled out one of Vox
Clamanti’s tail feathers.

One would have thought the grackle had tried to murder him. Such a
screeching and yelling ensued that every bird in the neighborhood came
to see what the noise was about.

“What’s the matter with that robin?” I asked Chummy, as we sat side
by side in our usual meeting place, a branch on the old elm opposite
his tall brick house.

“He was very much spoiled by a university professor,” said Chummy.
“This old man, finding Vox Clamanti a weak and half dead young one, on
the campus one day, brought him up by hand and named him Vox Clamanti
which means something screechy. He praised the young robin too much,
and told him he was the smartest bird in the city, and it made Vox put
on airs. When the old professor died, and Vox flew outside, the robins
never could down him, and they had to make him their head bird to keep
him quiet, but he really has not as much brains as some of the other
robins. See now, that fuss is all over, and he is looking about for a
nesting site, before his mate Twitchtail comes. That tree that they
had for a home last summer has been cut down.”

I made no reply, and for some time Chummy and I sat quietly looking
down at the street below.

“We’ve had some nice times on this tree, Chummy, haven’t we?” I said.

“Indeed we have,” he replied, “and how much we have seen from here.”

“Have you heard anything more from Squirrie?” I asked.

He began to chuckle. “Yes, Chickari told me the latest news this
morning.”

“What is it?” I asked eagerly.

“For a time Squirrie was pretty bad. The only way they could make him
behave was to keep watching him. Then the Big Red Squirrel had an idea
come in his head. He has a horrid old sister too ugly to mate with
anyone. He keeps her up north. He sent for her and gave Squirrie to
her. She is very strong and bad-tempered, and she soon cuffed the two
policemen squirrels and sent them away. Squirrie hated her at first
and begged the Big Red Squirrel to kill him and put him out of his
misery, but now Chickari says she is leading him round like a little
gentle baby squirrel. He is frightened to death of her, and never
dares to rebel. She works him hard and has him even now laying up
stores for winter. She says, ‘If you don’t behave I’ll take you
further north, where the wind will cut you in two.’”

I laughed heartily. “What a joke on Squirrie;” then I said, “Hush,
Chummy—what is this little girl saying about our dear Martins?”

We both looked down to the sidewalk where a young girl was trotting
along beside her mother.

“Mummy,” she said pointing to the Martins’ house, “in there lives a
woman who raises birds from the dead.”

The mother laughed and Chummy said, “Isn’t that a joke? Your Missie is
getting famous.”

“They send for her from all over the city,” I said, “for her or for
our Mary to go and doctor sick birds. A lady up in that big apartment
house telephoned yesterday for Missie to come quickly, for her canary
was having dreadful fits. Missie went and looking at the bird said,
‘Cut his claws, Mrs. Jones. They are so long that they trip him up and
make him fall down on the floor of his cage.’”

Chummy was not listening to me. His eyes were fixed on Black Thomas
who was gazing upward, his face as soulful as if he had been doing
something to be proud of.

“He’s probably been catching an extra number of birds,” I said
gloomily.

“No, that isn’t a bird look,” said Chummy. “T-check, t-chack, Thomas,
what is the matter with you?”

Thomas strolled to our tree and stretching himself in the sunlight,
said proudly, “I caught a burglar last night.”

“Ha! ha!” shouted Vox Clamanti who had been listening, “Thomas has
reformed. He’s going to catch men instead of mice and birds.”

All the birds came flying up, Black Gorget and ever so many other
sparrows with Sister Susie who had just flown out for an airing.
Slow-Boy and Susan, Bronze-Wing, and even Chickari, the good squirrel,
and his little mate came running along the branches overhead.

Thomas rolled his eyes at them as they assembled, and when they had
calmed down, he began his tale.

“Last night,” he said, “when dinner was over, cook and the maids
cleaned up in the kitchen and dining-room and went upstairs to their
rooms. There was no one in the back of the house but me. I alone saw a
strange man come along the lane by the garden, get over the fence, and
come up to one of the dining-room windows which had been left open to
air the room. I, all by myself, watched him creep in and hide himself
behind the big sideboard in the corner. I said nothing to him, and he
said nothing to me, for he did not see me. I had been sleeping beside
the radiator, for the night was chilly. At ten o’clock cook came
downstairs to lock up. She opened the dining-room door, came in, and
put the window down and locked it. I followed her out, and ran to my
dear mistress’ room.

“She was in bed, but I mewed and fussed till she got up, and said,
‘What is the matter with Thomas?’

“I threw my whole hunting soul in my eyes, and turned my head from one
side to another, like this—” and he moved his black head about, the
way he does when he is stealing through the shrubbery looking for
young birds.

“By my wings,” said Chummy in my ear, “Thomas is becoming quite a
fancy speaker.”

Thomas was going on with his story: “I cried lustily and led her
toward the dining room, but when she started to go there I got in
front of her and acted in a frightened way.

“She understood me. She is a very clever woman, much cleverer even
than your Mrs. Martin, Dicky-Dick.”

“She is not,” I chirped angrily.

“Hush up,” said Chummy, giving me a gentle peck. “Let him finish his
tale. Don’t you see how wound up he is?”

“My mistress sent cook upstairs,” said old Thomas, going on, and
keeping an eye on Chummy and me, for he knew we were inclined to make
fun of him. “She asked two of the gentlemen to come down. They did so,
and now I quite joyfully led the procession to the dining-room, and,
on arriving there, I sprang toward the sideboard.

“The burglar ran to the window and smashed through it, but the
gentlemen caught him, even as I catch a mouse, and they telephoned for
the patrol wagon, and he is now in jail and they will probably hang
him.”

“Oh, no, Thomas,” said Chummy protestingly, “you go too fast. He will
likely get only a prison term.”

The other birds burst out laughing, but Chickari said, “Good boy,
Thomas—you are a public benefactor to catch a burglar! What is your
mistress going to do to reward you?”

“I am to have a silver collar,” said Thomas soberly, “which I know I
shall hate. Cats should never have collars. They prevent us from going
into out-of-the-way places.”

“Birds’ nests, for example,” said Bronze-Wing, in his rough voice.
“Have you heard the latest thing about cats, Thomas—I mean the latest
plan to keep them from catching birds?”

“No, I haven’t,” said Thomas shortly.



CHAPTER XXV

THE CHILDREN’S RED CROSS ENTERTAINMENT


“Well,” said Bronze-Wing, “you catch pussy and cut the nails of his
forefeet.

“It doesn’t hurt a bit, and when pussy’s claws are trimmed he can not
climb trees nor hold little birds down while he tears them limb from
limb.”

“No one shall trim my claws,” said Thomas stoutly.

“Wait and see,” said Bronze-Wing. “There may be a law to that effect.”

“Oh, look, birds,” called Black Gorget suddenly, “here come our
darlings all dressed up.”

Sammy-Sam and Lucy-Loo and Freddie and Beatrice had got to be such
dear children that all the birds and the animals in the neighborhood
loved them. Just now they were coming down the sidewalk in very
amusing costumes. They were going to have a Red Cross entertainment
on the big lawn of the boarding house. The day was so fine that the
ladies were sitting out in front and the children thought it a good
chance to make some money, for, like their elders, they were doing
everything in their power to help the work for wounded soldiers.

Sammy-Sam was dressed to represent a dog, Freddie was a pony, Lucy-Loo
was a bird, and Beatrice was a cat.

The two boys were going along on all fours. Sammy-Sam had on an old
curly black woolen coat of his aunt’s, strapped well round his little
body, so as to leave his arms and legs free to run on. Freddie wore a
ponyskin coat of his mother’s.

Beatrice had on a gray costume that she had worn at a children’s party
when she represented a cat, and Lucy-Loo was dressed in bright blue,
and had a very perky little tail.

Beatrice, who usually took command of their play, marshaled them all
in a row at the back of the lawn, then she stepped forward, adjusted
the cat head mask she wore, which was always slipping on one side, so
that the eye holes came over one ear.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” she began, in her clear young voice, “no, I
mean just ladies, you are always so kind about helping us with your
money that when we saw you sitting out here we thought we would give
our new entertainment. This is really truly brand new. We made up the
verses ourselves. I did most of them, ’cause the boys aren’t much good
at poetry. Costumes are new, too, ’cept mine. I will begin with my
‘Song of a Cat.’”

Then she made a pretty little bow, gave her long tail a throw, and
began:


  “THOMAS, THE NOBLE CAT”

  “One night, not very long ago,
  Dear Thomas wandered to and fro.
  He saw a man come in his house,
  Creeping as quiet as any mouse.

  “Said Thomas cat unto himself,
  ‘This man is after wicked pelf;
  Mayhap he’ll creep right up the stair,
  And steal the jewels of ladies fair.’

  “He hied him to his mistress dear,
  He told to her his fearful fear.
  She called some bold men from upstairs,
  And Tom was cured of all his cares.

  “They chased that burglar man as he
  Smashed through the window mightily;
  Policemen came; they seized him well,
  And now he droops within a cell!”

The ladies were delighted with her tale of Black Thomas, and when she
finished they clapped their hands and bowed and smiled, and we birds
chirped and whistled to each other, and sat with our heads on one
side, looking very knowing, for we had been among the first to hear of
this story.

To the great amusement but not to the surprise of the ladies, Beatrice
promptly took up a collection in a knitting bag that could have held a
thousand dollars.

When she retired to the back of the lawn, Sammy-Sam came tumbling
forward on hands and feet and, starting to bow politely, lost his dog
mask, which Beatrice quickly clapped on again.

“Bow, wow, ladies,” he said,

  “I am a little doggie dog.
     There’s only one person in the world for me,
     And that’s my master or mistress, whichever it happens to be.
   For her or for him I’ll lay down my life;
   Who says I am not a soldier dog? Bow, wow!”

We birds did not think his poetry as good as Beatrice’s, but the
ladies greeted him with just as much applause, and he took up a
collection in Beatrice’s bag, first pouring out its contents on the
grass, so that he could compare his receipts with hers.

“Bow, wow, too many coppers, ladies!” he barked. “Silver, please, for
me,” and he started round the half circle, the bag in his mouth,
hopping from one to another, and then retiring to the background where
he and the lamb counted the money and wagged their heads as if well
pleased with what they had got.

Beatrice stepped to the edge of the lawn. “Ladies,” she said, “the
next number on our programme is ‘The Song of a Birdie,’ written and
recited by Miss Lucy-Loo Claxton.”

Amid much hand-clapping, Lucy-Loo stepped shyly forward. She was
dressed all in blue, and she tried to give her perky little tail a
flirt, but was too nervous to do more than shake it feebly, causing
both boys to break into a roar of laughter, which Beatrice promptly
checked. Then Lucy-Loo began—

  “_Dear Friends_,
    I am a little birdie,
    And I don’t know what kind of a bird I am.
    I am just a bird.
    I have a pretty head and bright eyes to see you.
    I have a pair of wings that I like for myself.
    For I love to fly up toward the blue sky;
    Please don’t take my wings and put them in your hat.
    And in summer don’t let little boys shoot me.
                “Yours truly,
                   “A LITTLE BIRD.”

The ladies were so warm in praising her that she quite lost her little
bird head and announced that her collection would be neither coppers
nor silver, but paper money.

Her hearers were convulsed with laughter, and gave her what she asked
for, though I noticed that they had to do some borrowing from each
other, not having foreseen an appeal for money on their own veranda,
though Red Cross workers are everywhere now.

Freddie came last with his ditty about the pony. He looked very smooth
and very innocent with his good young eyes shining out of a headpiece
of black hairy skin, which made him perspire quite freely.

He rose on his little hoofs and recited very earnestly:

  “Pony, pony is my name,
   Pony is my nature.
   Do not whip me up the hill,
   Do not hurry me down the road.
   Give me food and water plenty,
   Brush me well and give me a good bed.
   Don’t jerk my tender mouth when you drive me.
   Don’t beat me when you’re angry.
   Love me a little if you can,
   For I—love—you.”



CHAPTER XXVI

THE BEGINNING OF MY FAMILY CARES


When he said, “I—love—you,” he rose still higher on his hoofs, blew
the ladies a kiss with one of his forefeet, and spoke in such a tender
kind of a voice that they just shrieked with laughter. Then he lost
his head more than Sammy-Sam had, and, gamboling on the green,
announced that he wished not money but souvenirs.

After a while he controlled himself and went soberly from one to
another and had pinned on his pony coat neckties, a bangle, a ring or
two, some purses and one lady put round one of his forefeet a handsome
string of beads which she took from her own neck.

The children bowed, kissed their hands, then trooped down the street
to tell our Mary, who had helped them dress, of the success of their
entertainment.

Chummy gazed affectionately after them.

“Good children,” he said. “We sparrows love them.”

“Let’s fly down to our house and hear what they say,” I proposed to
him.

“Hurrah!” said Chummy. “Of course I’ll go to see the most beautiful
birds on the street—the Martins’.”

Deeply pleased, I gave him an affectionate tap with my bill, and we
flew to the upper veranda railing, where Mrs. Martin was just bringing
out Billie and Niger to the sunshine.

She had been bathing them, and she handed our Mary a towel, and asked
her to finish drying their ears, for her back was most broken from
bending over the dogs’ bath tub.

“Oh, Mary! Mary!” called the children, and they all burst on the
veranda and exhibited their collections.

“Look at Billy,” I whispered to Chummy.

She was pressing close to Niger and was licking his sides dry before
she touched her own.

“And we were afraid she would be jealous of Niger,” said Chummy. “She
is a pretty good dog, after all.”

“We are all good,” I said happily, and, strange to say, just at that
moment Missie turned to Chummy.

“Sparrow bird,” she said, for she did not know my name of Chummy for
him, “sparrow bird, I am perfectly delighted at the attitude of your
family toward the wild birds that are coming back. I expect you to eat
very little food at my table in the garden this summer, but join with
the wild birds in killing many tussock moths—will you?” she added
smilingly.

Chummy understood her, and he tried so hard to tell her how grateful
he was to her for all her kindness to him and his family that he
actually croaked out a hoarse little song in which one could plainly
distinguish some of my notes.

Even the children noticed it, and he got a good round of applause, as
if he had been singing at a concert.

Mrs. Martin was looking at him so kindly, just as if she were his
mother. “Sparrow,” she said softly, “I think you try to be a good
bird, and that is all we human beings can do—just to be good and
kind,” and she looked away toward the big lake and sighed.

Our Mary was still talking to the children, while she rubbed the dogs’
ears, and Mrs. Martin turned again to Chummy.

“And, sparrow boy, don’t feel unhappy if I take all the eggs but one
out of your nest each time your little mate lays this summer. There
are too many sparrows in this neighborhood.”

“T-check, t-chack, dear lady,” said Chummy, scraping and bowing,
“whatever you do is right. We birds know you understand us, and love
us, and even if you take our young we will not complain. You never
call us rats of the air, or winged vermin, and I assure you we will be
kinder than ever after this to the little wild birds.”

“Come here, sparrow bird,” said Mrs. Martin gently, holding out her
hand to him.

“Go on, Chummy,” I said, giving him a push with my bill.

He had never lighted on her hand before, but he did so now, and stood
there looking very proud of himself.

“Sparrow,” said Mrs. Martin earnestly, “how I wish that I could tell
you just how I feel when I look at a bird. There is such a warm
feeling round my heart—I know that inside your little feathered
bodies are troubles very like our own. You have such anxieties, such
struggles, to protect yourselves from enemies. You are so patient, so
unresentful, so devoted—even to laying down your lives for your
young. You are little martyrs of the air.”

Chummy put his head on one side and said, “T-check, t-chack,” very
modestly.

“Mary,” said Mrs. Martin to her daughter, “a covenant between us and
this little bird, whose fall to the ground our Heavenly Father deigns
to notice. We will love, protect, and try to understand them
better—we will even thin their ranks if necessary, but we will never
persecute.”

Our Mary turned round. The western sun shone on her pretty young face,
and on the bright faces of the children beside her.

“Agreed,” she said sweetly. “The Martins for the sparrows.”

At that moment Anna came up to the veranda with a tray of tea and
bread and butter. On her shoulder was Sister Susie, coming out to get
a taste of the butter that she is just crazy about, for pigeons and
doves love salt things.

“Here is something to seal our sparrow bargain,” said our Mary, holding
out a scrap of bread to Chummy.

He fluttered to her, took it nicely, ate half, and saved the other
half for Jennie, who was sitting on her nest on three eggs which would
shortly be reduced to one.

“Chummy,” I said, as he came back to the railing where I sat. “This is
a pretty happy family, isn’t it?”

“Very,” he said thickly, on account of the bread in his beak.

“And a pretty happy street,” I went on. “All the birds and animals are
living nicely together.”

“Yes, yes,” he muttered.

“And Nella the monkey is frisking in the Zoo, and Squirrie is as
contented as he ever could be, and perhaps a time is coming when the
birds and animals all over the world will be as happy as we are on
this pleasant street. What do you think about it?”

Chummy laid down his bread on the railing and covered it with his
claw, lest I or Sister Susie might eat it in a moment of
absent-mindedness.

“What do I think?” he repeated slowly. “I think that birds and animals
will never be perfectly happy till all human beings are happy. We are
all mixed up together, Dicky-Dick, and I have heard that if all the
birds in the world were to die, human beings would die too.”

“How is that?” I asked.

“Because insects would devour all the plants and vegetables if there
were no birds to check them. Then human beings would starve to death.”

“Well, if that is so, Chummy,” I said, “why don’t men and women take
better care of birds, and not let them be killed so much?”

“Give me time to think that over,” said Chummy. “I will answer it some
other day. Just now I must take this bread to Jennie,” and he flew
away.

That was some days ago, and Chummy has not answered my question yet. I
can not wait for him to do so, for I must close my story. Summer days
will soon be upon us, and the first duty of a canary to the world is
to raise families and not concern himself too much with the affairs of
other creatures.

Then something wonderful happened yesterday—a little egg hatched out
in our nest. The whole world for me is swallowed up in that tiny beak.
Shall I ever get tired of looking in it? Shall I ever beat my own
little first baby bird, and say coldly, “Who are you?” as my father
Norfolk said to me?

“Yes, you will,” chirps my faithful Daisy; “but don’t worry about
that. It is the way of birds, and it makes us independent. Feed him
and love him while you can, and be good to everybody, everybody,
everybody,” and as I close my story she is chirping me a funny, jerky
little song to cheer me up, for she says Chummy is trying to make a
hard-working, worrying sparrow out of me, instead of a gay, cheerful
little canary.

“What is that I hear outside?” she said suddenly. “I don’t see why
birds sing so loudly when there are young ones in the nest.”

I listened an instant, then I exclaimed, “It’s Vox Clamanti, and he is
caroling, ‘Better times for birds, better times for birds, robins
’specially, robins ’specially!’”

“So he has got hold of it too,” said Daisy crossly; “he had better go
help poor Twitchtail look for worms—and you, Dicky-Dick, fly quickly
to the table and get some fresh egg food for your own baby. Our Mary
is just bringing some in—” and as I did not just fly on the instant,
she began to chirp in quick notes, “Feed your baby, feed your baby,
baby, baby!—that’s what you’re here for, here for, here for!”


THE END



Transcriber’s Note


Words and phrases in italics are surrounded by underscores, _like
this_. Dialect, obsolete and alternative spellings were left
unchanged.

Unprinted letters and punctuation were added.

The following spelling changes were made:

  ‘limp’ to ‘limb’ … Cross-Patch trembling in every limb,…
  ‘titbits’ to ‘tidbits’ … Hester put little tidbits on my shelf …





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