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By Emma -Lindsay Squier

Introduction by





Emma-Lindsay Squier



Illustrations and Decorations by



Copyright, 1922, by Cosmopolitan Book Corporation,

New York. All rights reserved, including that

of translation into foreign languages,

including the Scandinavian

First printing March, 1022

Second printing April, 1022

Printed in the United Slates of America






Skygak discovered that catching mice was

Three-Spot's chief vocation. .SKYGAK 12

He circled slowly above our heads 32

U-Chu-Ka never failed to answer our

call U-CHU-KA 34

For the dogs had lost the lighter scent


He questioningly sniffed the breeze


Cannon came charging in a whirlwind of


His constant barking set the grown-ups

against him STOP THIEF 101

If Clarence had been a man, he would have

endowed orphanages O'HENRY 124

Timothy clung to the bottle habit


Sometimes the bandit birds swooped down


Her nostrils dilated at the hated human


A wild thing of the deep woods, ruled by

pain instead of kindliness ETHEL 208

Which might better be entitled:

Some Youngsters Find
the Wrong Parents


Gene Stratton -Porter

INCE "The Wild Heart"
is throbbing with the same
blood that pulses in the
heart of every human be-
ing who goes to the fields
and fraternizes with the
home there, since the

and woods
creatures that
feet that carry a wild heart on its jour-
ney are following the same path that a
few peculiar feet have made, what they
have found and what the heart has



learned is the same thing that similar
feet have been finding and hearts have
been learning since the beginning of

The author of this book pronounces
it "very simple, having no literary style
or value." Perhaps this estimate indi-
cates modesty on her part, but it is not
the truth concerning the book. Thoreau
once wrote : "It takes two to speak the
truth one to speak and the other to
hear." Those of us who have made our
own path through the wilds know the
truth when we hear it. The first law
that can be laid down concerning any
work worthy to be put into the hands
of the public is the old law that every
writer should write concerning matters
of his own personal observation. When-
ever any writer follows this old rule,
working with sincerity of heart, with
inborn insight concerning his chosen
subject, following the promptings of a
simple human heart, and using a cer-
tain facility in the choice of words,

which is a gift of God primarily, that
author must evolve good work. Laying
down these specifications as law which
governs every masterpiece that ever has
been produced, it will be observed that
"The Wild Heart" follows them as
naturally as water flows to the sea, pos-
sibly as unconsciously.

To anyone who knows the fields and
woods the book carries the conviction
of truth. Those who do not know na-
ture will not believe many of these
statements, because they have not
learned that when one goes into the
haunts of the wild calmly, fearlessly,
absolutely in tune with Nature, one is
perfectly safe. The people who go to
fraternize with the free creatures, to
learn the secrets of Nature, to protect,
to love, to fellowship with the wild,
wear an invincible armor.

Enos Mills will tell you that he
tramps the Rocky Mountains for weeks
at a time absolutely without a weapon.
Arthur Heming will tell you that he


travels Canada from side to side, north
and south, passing all kinds of wild
creatures at all seasons and under any
conditions, and nothing touches him.

I can tell you that my face has been
within two feet of a coiled rattlesnake
ready to strike, but it did not strike.
Two minutes later a man antagonistic
to the wild passed the same location
and immediately the snake disclosed
itself and was ready to fight.

Very recently some children playing
at the edge of the desert found a scor-
pion. They coaxed it onto a piece of
bark and were carrying it around play-
ing with it. So long as they felt no fear
of the creature, it was quiescent in their
hands. The instant they carried it
among grown people who recognized
it and were afraid, the trouble began.
When the wild thing entered the at-
mosphere of fear and was surrounded
by the taint of that acid which is ex-
haled from the body of any human be-


ing experiencing fear, that instant it
was on guard and ready to strike.

Any human being carrying in his
breast a wild heart knows instinctively
how to fraternize with the wild. Any-
one carrying a heart of fear and antag-
onism will have a troubled journey
through forest or desert. The writer
of this book proves that she carries a
wild heart in her breast. Her records
are unquestionably true. They are pre-
cisely the same things that happen to
anyone having a heart in tune with Na-

So the book passes, first, because it
speaks the truth. It needs only that
these records should be read to gain an
idea of the degree of insight possessed
by the writer. The nice comprehension
of what the wild is thinking and feel-
ing, the keen perception of the "why"
of things, pass the book on the grounds
of insight. The simple unassuming
manner in which the record is kept

proves it the emanation of a human
heart without guile, effervescing love,
not only for the beauties of field and
forest, but for the living creatures that
home there.

It is modest of the writer to say that
her book has "no literary style or
value," but the book proves the reverse.
Throughout will be found the value of
truth, the exquisite style of utter sim-
plicity, the best plain common word
chosen to tell the plain common story;
and it is a very difficult thing always to
find the right words with which to tell
any story. There are only about twenty
thousand words in the English lan-
guage. When you compare this num-
ber with the number of objects existing
in the world, the number of ideas that
have sprung and will spring in the
human brain, it easily can be appreci-
ated that it is sometimes difficult to find
the right word by which to express
one's meaning clearly and simply; for
there always is one word which, better


than any other, will portray a situation
or describe an object.

Any author who is actuated by sin-
cerity will always choose the plain sim-
ple word which expresses his meaning
plainly and simply. The one thing that
sets apart the work of any writer is the
ability to express himself in plain sim-
ple language that common people can
understand and appreciate. It was on
this subject that Martin Luther once
said: "Hebrew, Latin, and Greek I
spare until we learned ones come to-
gether, and then we make it so curled
and finical that God Himself wonder-
eth at us."

That is precisely the reason why
nine-tenths of the Nature books written
in this country have been failures. They
are "so curled and finical" that only the
"learned ones" can understand what
they are all about.

To me it is an atrocity to tag a bird,
a butterfly, or a flower with several
inches of Latin or Greek per each.

Every living creature should have a
common, simple, descriptive name that
a common human being who wants to
know what it is can learn and remem-
ber. I do truly believe "that God
Himself wondereth at us" if He takes
the time to look at many of the books
to be found in our libraries concerning
the most exquisite and beautiful of His

I believe that any normal man or
woman would be intensely interested
in the organism of a moth, the delicate
parts so beautifully evolved to serve
their purpose; but what common per-
son could wade through a large volume
crammed from end to end with such
terms as patagia, ]ugum, disco cellular s,
phagocytes? It is such works on Na-
ture that have kept the Nature lovers
of many generations out of the fields
and woods. They had not the educa-
tion, the time, nor the inclination to be
sufficiently "curled and finical" to be
specific. They could take no one speci-


men and learn it, because they could not
identify it. In a book such as "The
Wild Heart" there is no word that a
ten-year-old child can not compre-
hend; while there is a wonderful
beauty and facility in the choice of
words, in the sincerity of expression,
and the sympathetic insight.

I certainly wish that a copy of this
book may go into every home in the
world, for two reasons: the first, that
men and women may learn how anyone
with a sympathetic heart devoid of fear
may fraternize with the wild ; and for
the other very excellent reason that it
may do something toward teaching par-
ents that all children are not alike and
can not possibly be run through the
same groove.

Here and there in a family there is
born a child with a wild heart. It is
nothing less than a tragedy when such
a child is cursed with the wrong par-
ents. God gives to only a few of His
children a wild heart, a musical ear,


facile fingers. The man or woman who
keeps a child born with the love of the
woods in its heart from contact with
Nature, who destroys the trust that God
placed in its heart, and instils fear bred
by man, does a dreadful thing, a thing
that must end in disaster. Nature does
not reveal her secrets to everyone.
Creatures of the wild will not be broth-
ers with any save a very few specially
endowed human beings.

To-day my heart sickens at the
thought of what would have happened
to me if, when I told my Mother I had
been talking with the fairies and what
they said and did, she had whipped me
for not speaking the truth; if, when I
came from the woods with my apron
torn and soiled, full of dirty specimens,
my heart overflowing with the wonders
of my discoveries, I had been beaten
and forbidden to go again. If we are
to have truly great art, literature, or


science in the future, many, perhaps
most, of those who are to do the work
will be born into this world in simple
common homes like the Indiana homes
in which the author of "The Wild
Heart" and I were born. What we as
a nation produce in wonder-work along
any creative line in the future is going
to depend upon the ability of parents
of this generation to recognize and to
foster unusual gifts in their children
when they first detect them. The
mother who whips a child because it
happens to have been born with a wild
heart does a thing so wickedly cruel
that there are no words in which to de-
scribe the situation adequately. If this
book will serve the one purpose of mak-
ing fathers and mothers of the coming
generation sympathetic and kindly to
the little wild hearts that they bring
into the world, it will perform a very
great work indeed.

The Story of

Part One



KYGAK was an old-man
sea-gull. He had circled
and screamed over the
waters of Puget Sound
for many a season, and it
is doubtful if there is anything in
aerial lore that he did not know. He
was an expert at fishing, and could
swoop down on an unsuspecting smelt
from a dizzy height and have the shiny


Part One

Skygak discovered that catch-
ing mice was Three-Spot's
chief vocation, and he made
her life a burden.

fish down his gullet without so much
as touching his webbed feet to the
water's surface. He could snatch up a
sidling red crab before it could seek
the shelter of a rock, and drop it
neatly and accurately on a stone, to dart
down upon the mangled remains before
the juicy meal could be purloined by
any of his kindred.

He knew when storms were coming,

and sometimes, when the skies were
clearest and the sun warmest, he would
spiral up to a great height and scream
in long, quavering cadences that grew
louder as the rain and wind ap-
proached. Then the Siwash clam-dig-
gers on the beach would gather up their
bags and shovels and bid their women
see to brushwood, for they knew the cry
of the sea-gull when the Storm-God
rides. They respected the gray gull's

We were children on the shores of
Puget Sound, Brother and I. From our
little log cabin, with its porch roof
slanting low like an old-fashioned poke-
bonnet, we would watch the sea-gulls
circle in the sky or bob lazily on the
blue waters of the bay like so many
feathered corks.

We knew Skygak among the other
gulls, for one wing was white, the other
gray. So when we saw him, we named


him by a queer, fanciful name that
seemed to fit a bird of air and water.
And because the boat landing in front
of the cabin furnished a resting place
for webbed feet on sunshiny days,
Skygak made it his headquarters, and
we came to look for him and to be fond
of him.

When we sailed in the tiny twelve-
foot boat with its home-made leg-o'-
mutton sail or paddled in the dugout
canoe made for us by a Siwash Indian
chief, we looked for Skygak in every
flock of sea-gulls that passed us, and it
was our superstition, made on the spur
of the moment, as children's fancies
are, that if he flew over us we would
have good luck, and that a wish made
on the instant would come true.

But we never dreamed that Skygak
of the air lanes would one day be an
intimate friend of ours, for we had
been told by sailor and Indian alike

and who knows more of seafaring
birds than they? that sea-gulls could
not be tamed. The Siwash chief who
had given us our dugout canoe knew
the habits of the winged scavengers
and loved them. Perhaps the primi-
tive heart of him, held in leash by the
white man's civilization, was tuned to
the wild, untamed heart of the gulls,
for they flocked around his beach
shanty unafraid, and ate the scraps
of clams he flung to them; but he
had never touched one of the gray

And so it happened, on a day of
mists and clouds, that Skygak came
into our lives as something more than
a gray-and-white winged bird whose
passage above our boat would make a
wish come true.

It was a day typical of autumn in the
Sound country. Gray rain pattered
ceaselessly into gray waters that


stretched away to meet a leaden hori-
zon, and low-hanging clouds swirled
restlessly with every gust of wind.
But the smell of wet pines was in the
air; the grass was green and glistening
with iridescent beads. It was a day
when the out-of-doors called the hardy
one to don overshoes, raincoat, and
sou'wester hat and fare forth to breathe
the wet fragrance of woods and field,
to feel the soft rain on uplifted face,
and to listen for the storm cry of the
gulls circling against the sky.

Brother and I, clad against the rain,
stood in wonder at the shore end of the
float. For there on the far end was
Skygak, a miserable, dripping figure
hunched dejectedly on the wet plank-
ing. His once sleek wings hung
limply at his sides, his feathers were
draggled and unkempt, his head was
hanging miserably as if the light but
steady drizzle were torment to him.

Above him soared and circled his
kindred of the sky, wondering, no
doubt, what was wrong, for now and
again one of them would turn in a
half-circle, spinning on the tip of
one great wing, and scream sharply,
as if in invitation to Skygak to join
the airy tribe. And the old-man sea-
gull would turn one eye up to the
birds above him and give vent to a
plaintive, longing cry. His draggled
wings would flap in the rain as if sheer
force of will must bear him upward,
then relax hopelessly as if the effort
made him more miserable.

We watched and speculated, Brother
and I, for never had we seen a gull in
such a plight. We saw that he was
denied the water, too, for he would
stalk, with the wobbly, swinging mo-
tion of a web-foot tribe, to the edge
of the float, crane his neck as if about
to launch himself upon the rain-beaten

waves, and then retreat to the middle
of the wharf once more. A gull who
could neither fly nor swim ! What had

We took the problem to the Siwash
chief a mile up the beach, mending a
fish-net in his warm and smoky shanty.
He listened impassively, yet with in-
terest. And he returned with us to
the float to diagnose the gull's ailment.

When he saw Skygak, he grunted
briefly but sympathetically. The bird
had been caught in the swell behind a
large boat a battle-ship, probably
when it was discharging oil, he told us.
It was not an uncommon thing, he said.
The gull's feathers were soaked with
the heavy oil, and until it had evapo-
rated, or until new feathers should
grow, Skygak would be helpless both
in the air and in the sea, and since he
could not provide food for himself he
would starve to death.

So spoke the Siwash chief, but his
philosophy was not ours. We told each
other that Skygak should not die, and
we called to the wet, miserable gull
that we would take care of him, but he
did not even raise his head.

What should we feed him? We had
neither clams nor fish, and we were
afraid to go too near him, lest he mis-
take our friendly intentions and take
to the water in self-defense, to be
weighted down by his oil-soaked

With the permission of our always
sympathetic mother we salvaged cook-
ies from the jar behind the kitchen
stove. We took cold griddle-cakes, too,
and scraps of meat and bread. And
with these dainties we set about the task
of winning the gray gull's confidence
and of saving him from the misfortune
which had overtaken him.

Carefully and very quietly we went


down the float, as near as we could
approach without Skygak's taking
alarm. When he showed signs of rest-
lessness, we advanced no further, but
put a chunk of meat upon the planks
and withdrew to watch and wait.

The gull, at first indifferent to
everything but his unexplainable
plight, gradually felt hunger's urge,
and his long neck craned toward our
offering of food. Slowly he waddled
toward it, a grotesque gray bundle of
draggled feathers, and with one vigor-
ous gulp the meat disappeared.

Then we tossed him a chunk of
bread softened with water, and this
time Skygak did not hesitate. The
first morsel had aroused an appetite
which for the time being supplanted
misery. He stalked forward and
swallowed the food, turning on us the
broadside of one black eye, as if ask-
ing for more.

Nor did we refuse him. We tossed
him, piece by piece, the food we had
brought with us, and returned to the
pantry for more. Always we placed
the bread or meat a little nearer the
shore and the cabin, and Skygak fol-
lowed the morsels anxiously, greedily,
satisfying a hunger which must have
been of long and painful duration.

Early dusk was upon us when we
finally succeeded in tolling the gray
gull through the front yard into the
chicken run, and into an unused
brooder house which offered a shelter
against the rainy night.

The lamps were lighted in the little
log cabin when we completed our self-
appointed task of making Skygak
comfortable, and our only regret was
that we could not give our friend a
blanket. We feared he would not un-

That was the beginning of a three-


sided friendship. The first few days
of Skygak's convalescence were spent
in huddled misery, and he moved only
when Brother or I came into the
brooder house with food and water.
Then the rain ceased, Indian summer
came smilingly upon the Sound coun-
try, and when the sun shone warmly,
Skygak decided that life was not all a
haze of gloom, and he set about vigor-
ously to restore himself to a normal
condition. Hour after hour he pulled
and massaged his feathers until some
of the heavy oil was loosened. The
sunshine helped to dry his draggled
plumage, new feathers commenced to
grow, and little by little Skygak be-
came his old cocky self.

His affection for Brother and me
was as apparent as was his dislike for
all other members of the human race.
The grown-ups he would not trust, and
passers-by annoyed and alarmed him.

But he would follow us about wher-
ever we went, stalking along behind us
with grotesque dignity, and when in-
vited, would fly up on my shoulder or
on Brother's to receive bits of food
from our fingers and to snap playfully
at us with his great, powerful bill when
we pretended to box with him.

The liberty of the ranch was his, but
his favorite spot was a corner of the
front porch where he would sit for
hours in solemn contemplation of the
bay in front. People who went by on
the trail looked in wonder at the gray
gull apparently very much at home in
a little log cabin.

Soon he learned to eat with the
chickens, and when the bran mash was
spread for them in a long, wooden
trough, Skygak would be there before
the bucket was emptied. Then, as the
hens came flocking around, the gull

would spread his magnificent wings,

open his huge beak to its widest
extent, and scream shrilly and fiercely,
laying about him with his yellow beak
like a warrior swinging a deadly
sword. The startled poultry, unused to
this changeling of the sea and sky,
would scurry away with distressed and
frightened cackles, and Skygak would
eat his fill at the trough, pausing occa-
sionally to administer punishment to
any daring cockerel who ventured too
near. Many a bunch of feathers have
I seen hanging from his bill, like a
scalplock hung from the belt of an
Indian brave, mute witness to a battle
of brief but bloody duration.

Our animals soon learned that this
wandering guest was to be respected.
Tinker, the rat terrier, learned to his
cost that Skygak was not a hen to be
chased from the front porch, if he
chose to stay there.

Between our cat, Three-Spot, and


the gull, a bitter feud developed,
which had for its beginning such a
small thing as a mouse. One had been
killed in a trap, and Brother tendered
it to Skygak as an experiment. The
delicacy was new, but wholly accept-
able, and with one ecstatic snap of his
beak Skygak swallowed it, and after-
ward, as Brother averred, fairly licked
his chops. Three-Spot sulked and
gloomed because of the slight, but her
cup of woe was not full.

For in some mysterious manner,
Skygak discovered that catching mice
was Three-Spot's chief vocation, and
he made her life a burden. One morn-
ing we heard an outraged yowl from
the cat and an answering scream from
Skygak. On the back porch we found
the two, Three-Spot crouched over a
dead mouse, eyes gleaming danger-
ously, tail switching from side to side,
and every hair erect. The bird was

advancing cautiously, but relentlessly,
wings outspread, beak wide open,
screaming and snapping at every step.
Three-Spot did not lack courage, but
her experience had not included jug-
gernaut gulls, and when the terrifying
yellow beak was hard upon her, she
fled, spitting venomously, and Skygak,
like a disreputable robber chief, swal-
lowed her hard-earned prize in one

From that time, when he was not
following Brother and me, or dozing
on the front porch, or bullying the
hens, he was trailing Three-Spot about,
a relentless gray shadow, and if the
luckless cat succeeded in keeping for
herself one mouse that she caught, it
was when Skygak was asleep in the
brooder house.

Slowly but surely the old-man sea-
gull recovered from his affliction.
Some of the oil-soaked feathers

dropped out, and new ones took their
place, and he risked short flights from
time to time, cautiously at first, as if
not sure of his powers, and then with
increasing confidence. He ventured
out into the water with perfect ease,
and we knew it would be but a short
time before he had completely re-
gained his health.

When first he flew we were afraid
we had lost him, but he returned at
night-time, hungry and eager to be
taken up on my shoulder. After that,
when he flew, it was to come back to
us as naturally as if we, and not the
sea-gulls, were his kindred.

But there came a day when a feeling
of restlessness was in the air. Brother
and I, attuned to the moods of the

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