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THE MAGIC SPEECH FLOWER

OR LITTLE LUKE AND HIS
ANIMAL FRIENDS



BY MELVIN HIX

AUTHOR OF "ONCE UPON A TIME STORIES," "UNITED
STATES HISTORY FOR FIFTH YEAR," CO-AUTHOR
OF "THE HORACE MANN READERS," ETC.



_ILLUSTRATED_


LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
FOURTH AVENUE & 30TH STREET, NEW YORK
LONDON, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA

* * * * *

COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.

FIRST PUBLISHED, OCTOBER, 1912



THE PLIMPTON PRESS
[W.D.O]
NORWOOD. MASS. U.S.A

* * * * *


ONCE-UPON-A-TIME STORIES

By MELVIN HIX, B. Ped., Principal
of Public School 9, Long Island City,
New York City.


The aim of the author is to retell these familiar
stories of childhood in such way as to give
added interest to first and second grade pupils.

_ELEVEN STORIES. ILLUSTRATED.
105 PAGES. PRICE, 25 CENTS._


LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.,
PUBLISHERS
Fourth Avenue and 30th Street, New York
LONDON, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA

* * * * *



THE MAGIC SPEECH FLOWER

OR LITTLE LUKE AND HIS
ANIMAL FRIENDS



* * * * *




CONTENTS


CHAPTER

I. THE FINDING OF THE MAGIC FLOWER
II. LITTLE LUKE AND THE BOB LINCOLNS
III. THE STORY OF THE SUMMER LAND
IV. BOB LINCOLN'S STORY OF HIS OWN LIFE
V. LITTLE LUKE MAKES FRIENDS AMONG THE WILD FOLK
VI. LITTLE LUKE AND KIT-CHEE THE GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER
VII. WHY THE KIT-CHEE PEOPLE ALWAYS USE SNAKE-SKINS IN NEST-BUILDING
VIII. LITTLE LUKE AND NICK-UTS THE YELLOWTHROAT
IX. WHY MOTHER MO-LO THE COWBIRD LAYS HER EGGS IN OTHER BIRDS' NESTS
X. THE STORY OF O-PEE-CHEE THE FIRST ROBIN
XI. HOW THE ROBIN'S BREAST BECAME RED
XII. HOW THE BEES GOT THEIR STINGS
XIII. THE STORY OF THE FIRST SWALLOWS
XIV. LITTLE LUKE AND A-BAL-KA THE CHIPMUNK
XV. HOW A-BAL-KA GOT HIS BLACK STRIPES
XVI. HOW A-BAL-KA THE CHIPMUNK HELPED MEN
XVII. LITTLE LUKE AND MEE-KO THE RED SQUIRRELS
XVIII. THE STORY OF THE FIRST RED SQUIRRELS
XIX. HOW THE RED SQUIRREL BECAME SMALL
XX. LITTLE LUKE AND MOTHER MIT-CHEE THE RUFFLED PARTRIDGE
XXI. WHY THE FEATHERED FOLK RAISE THEIR HEADS WHEN THEY DRINK
XXII. LITTLE LUKE AND FATHER MIT-CHEE
XXIII. THE STORY OF THE FIRST PARTRIDGE
XXIV. WHY PARTRIDGES DRUM
XXV. MOTHER WA-POOSE AND OLD BOZE THE HOUND
XXVI. MOTHER WA-POOSE AND OLD KLAWS THE HOUSE CAT
XXVII. THE RABBIT DANCE
XXVIII. WHY THE WILD FOLK NO LONGER TALK THE MAN-TALK
XXIX. THE TALE OF SUN-KA THE WISE DOG
XXX. HOW THE DOG'S TONGUE BECAME LONG
XXXI. THE STORY OF THE FAITHFUL DOG

* * * * *




THE MAGIC SPEECH FLOWER




I. THE FINDING OF THE MAGIC FLOWER


It was June and it was morning. The sky was clear and the sun shone
bright and warm. The still air was filled with the sweet odor of
blossoming flowers. To little Luke, sitting on the doorstep of the
farmhouse and looking out over the fresh fields and green meadows, the
whole earth seemed brimful of happiness and joy.

From the bough of an apple tree on the lawn O-pee-chee the Robin chanted
his morning song. "Te rill, te roo, the sky is blue," sang he.

From the lilac bush Kil-loo the Song Sparrow trilled, "Sweet, sweet,
sweet, sweet, the air is sweet."

Over in the meadows Zeet the Lark fluttered down upon a low bush and
sang, "Come with me, come and see," over and over. Then he dropped down
into the grass and ran off to the nest where his mate was sitting on
five speckled eggs.

Bob-o'-Lincoln went quite out of his wits with the joy of life. He flew
high up into the air, and then came fluttering and falling, falling and
quivering down among the buttercups and daisies. He was very proud of
himself and wanted everybody to know just who he was. So he sang his own
name over and over. With his name-song he mixed up a lot of runs and
trills and thrills that did not mean anything to anybody but himself and
his little mate nestling below him in the grass. To her they meant,
"Life is love, and love is joy."

Old Ka-ka-go the Crow, sitting on the top of the tall maple, felt that
on such a morning as this he, too, must sing. So he opened his beak and
croaked, "Caw, caw, caw, caw." What he meant to say was, "Corn, corn,
corn, corn." Sam, the hired man, heard him and came out of the barn door
with his gun. Old Ka-ka-go spread his black wings and flapped off to the
woods on the side of the mountain.

Far up in the blue sky Kee-you the Red-shouldered Hawk wheeled slowly
about in great circles. When he saw Sam with his gun, he screamed,
"Kee-you, kee-you, kee-you," over and over.

That was a poor song, but a good war cry; It sent every singer plunging
to cover. O-pee-chee the Robin hid himself among the thick branches of
the apple tree. Kil-loo the Song Sparrow hopped into the thickest part
of the lilac bush. Zeet the Lark and Bob Lincoln squatted in the thick
grass. Not a bird note was to be heard.

But Ka-be-yun the West Wind was not afraid of the warrior hawk. He
breathed softly among the branches of the trees and set every little
leaf quivering and whispering. Then he ran across the meadows and the
wheat fields. As he sped along, great waves like those of the sea rolled
in wide sweeps across the meadow and through the tall wheat.

To little Luke it seemed as if the leaves and grass and wheat all
whispered, "Come away. Come and play." Just then a great bumblebee flew
by and now the call was clear. "Come away, come away! Follow, follow,
follow me!"

The boy jumped up and ran down the path into the garden. There he met
Old Klaws the House Cat, with a little brown baby rabbit in his mouth.
"You wicked old cat," said little Luke, "drop it, drop it, I say." But
Old Klaws only growled and gripped the little rabbit tighter. Little
Luke seized the old cat by the back of the neck and choked him till he
let go. The little brown rabbit looked up at him with his big round
eyes, as much as to say, "Thank you, little boy, thank you." Then he
hopped off into the thicket of berry bushes, where Old Klaws could not
catch him again.

Little Luke went on down the path, through the garden gate, and into the
meadow beyond. All at once Bob Lincoln sprang up out of the grass right
before his feet.

Little Luke thought he would find Bob Lincoln's nest. So he got down
upon his knees and began to look about in the grass very carefully. He
did not find the nest, but he did find a fine cluster of ripe, wild
strawberries. He forgot all about the nest and began to pick and eat the
sweet berries. So he ate and ate till his lips and fingers were red as
red wine and smelled strongly of ripe strawberries.

Suddenly, as he put out his hand for another cluster, up sprang a black
and brown and yellow bird. That was Mrs. Bob Lincoln. Little Luke put
aside the grass and there was the nest. It was so cunningly hidden that
he could never have found it by looking for it.

Mr. and Mrs. Bob Lincoln were greatly frightened. They fluttered and
quivered about, and talked to each other, and scolded at the boy. Little
Luke could not understand what they said, but part of it sounded like,
"Let it be! Don't touch, don't touch! Go away, please, p-l-e-a-s-e, go
away." So he got up and said, "All right, don't be afraid. I'll not take
your eggs, I'll go right away." And so he did.

When he had gone two or three rods, Mrs. Bob Lincoln fluttered down to
her nest and settled herself quietly over her eggs. But Mr. Bob flew to
a tall weed in front of little Luke. There he sat and swung and teetered
and sang his merriest song. To the little boy it seemed as if he was
trying to say, "Thank you, thank you, little boy."

There was an old apple tree standing near the meadow fence. On one of
its branches was the nest of O-pee-chee the Robin. Both Mr. and Mrs.
O-pee-chee had gone away to pick worms from the soft, fresh earth in the
garden.

As little Luke drew near to the tree, he saw Mee-ko the Red Squirrel
crouching by the side of the nest with a blue egg in his front paws.
He had not yet broken the shell when he saw little Luke. At first he
thought he would run away. But he wanted that egg; so he squatted very
quietly where he was and hoped the little boy would not see him.

But little Luke's eyes were very keen. He saw Mee-ko and guessed what
he was about. So lie picked up a small round stone and threw it at the
robber squirrel. His aim was so true that the stone flicked Mee-ko's
tail where it curled over his shoulders.

Mee-ko was so scared that he dropped the egg back into the nest and ran
along the branch and across to another. From the end of that he dropped
down to the fence and scampered along the rails up toward the woods on
the side of the mountain.

He went all the faster because Father O-pee-chee flew down into the
branches of the apple tree just as little Luke threw the stone. He saw
Mee-ko and understood exactly what had happened. He flew a little way
after the thieving squirrel. Then he came back and lit on the highest
branch of the apple tree and began to sing. "Te rill, te roo, I thank
you; te rill, te roo, I thank you," the little boy thought he said.

Little Luke went over to the fence. In a bush beside the fence there was
a big spider's web. Old Mrs. Ik-to the Black Spider had built the web as
a trap to catch flies in. But this time there was something besides a
fly in the trap. Ah-mo the Honey Bee had blundered, into the web and was
trying hard to get away.

Old Mrs. Ik-to was greatly excited. She was not sure whether she wanted
bee meat for dinner or not. She knew very well that bees are stronger
than flies and that they carry a dreadful spear with a poisoned point.

Mrs. Ik-to ran down her web a little way, then she stopped and shook it.
Ah-mo the Honey Bee was not so much entangled by the web that he could
not sting and the old spider knew that. So she ran back again to one
corner of the web.

Little Luke stood and watched poor Ah-mo for a moment. Then he took a
twig from the bush and set him free. Ah-mo rubbed himself all over with
his legs and tried his wings carefully to see if they were sound. Then
he flew up from the ground and buzzed three times round little Luke's
head.

The little boy was not afraid. He knew that bees never sting anyone who
does not hurt or frighten them, and besides, he thought the buzzing had
a friendly sound to it. It seemed to him as if Ah-mo was trying to say,
"Thank you, little boy, thank you," as well as he could.

When Ah-mo had flown away, little Luke looked around to see what old
Mrs. Ik-to was doing, but he could not find her.

Leaving the old spider to mend her web as well as she could, little Luke
got over the fence into the pasture. As he was going along he heard Mrs.
Chee-wink making a great outcry. She was flying about a little bushy fir
tree not bigger than a currant bush. "Chee-wink, to-whee; chee-wink,
to-whee!" she called. Little Luke thought she was saying, "Help! Help!
Come here, come here!" And so she was.

[Illustration]

He went up toward the fir bush. As he walked along, he picked up a stout
stick that was lying on the ground. When he came to the bush, Mrs.
Chee-wink flew off to a tall sapling near by and watched him without
saying a word.

At first he could not see anything to disturb anybody. But he knew that
Mrs. Chee-wink would never have made all that fuss for nothing. So he
took hold of the fir bush and pulled the branches apart. Then he
understood. He had almost put his hand on A-tos-sa the Big Blacksnake.

A-tos-sa had a half-grown bird by the wing and was trying to swallow
it. The young bird was strong enough to flutter a good deal and Mother
Chee-wink had flapped her wings in the snake's eyes and pecked his head,
so that he had not been able to get a good hold.

Little Luke struck at once. The stick hit the snake and he let go of the
bird and slid down to the ground. Little Luke hit him again, this time
squarely on the head. Then with a stone he made sure that A-tos-sa would
never try to eat young birds again.

After he had finished with the snake, he picked up the young bird which
had fallen to the ground. It seemed more scared than hurt, so he put it
carefully into the nest, where there were two other young birds. Then he
went on up toward the woods.

Mrs. Chee-wink flew back to the fir bush. She looked first at the dead
snake and then at her nest. Then she said, "Chee-wink, chee-wink,
to-whee, chee-wink, to-whee," two or three times very softly and settled
down quietly on her nest. Of course that meant, "Thank you, little boy,
thank you!"

Up above the fir bush in the pasture stood an old apple tree, all alone
by itself. On a dead branch was Ya-rup the Flicker. He was using the
hard shell of the dead branch for a drum. "Rat, a tat, tat," he went
faster and faster, till the beats ran into one long resounding roll.
Then he stopped and screamed, "Kee-yer, kee-yer!" Perhaps he meant,
"Well done! good boy! good boy!"

You see he had seen little Luke's battle with the blacksnake and was
drumming and screaming for joy. Little Luke stopped under the old apple
tree and listened to Ya-rup's drumming and screaming for a while. Then
he went on up to the edge of the big woods.

There he found an old trail which he followed a long way till it forked.
Right in the fork of the trail, he saw a young bird. Its feathers were
not half grown and of course it could not fly. Little Luke knew that
it must have fallen out of the nest by accident. So he ran after the
frightened little bird and picked it up very carefully. Just then
O-loo-la the Wood Thrush flew down into a bush by the side of the trail
and began to plead, "Pit'y! pit'y! don't hurt him! Let him go, little
boy; please let him go!" he seemed to say.

Little Luke looked around for the nest. Soon he saw it in a tangle of
vines that ran over a dogwood bush.

Very carefully he picked his way through the bushes toward the nest.
O-loo-la seemed to guess what he meant to do and hopped from bush to
bush without saying a word.

When the little boy went to put the young bird back into the nest, he
saw why he had fallen out. There were three young birds in it, and they
filled it so full that there was scarcely room for another. Little Luke
saw that the bird he held was smaller than the others. So he took one of
them out and put his bird down into the middle of the nest. Then he put
the bigger one back. When this one snuggled down into the nest, it was
quite full.

When little Luke went back into the trail, O-loo-la flew to a branch
over his head and began to sing very happily. The little boy thought
that he, too, was trying to say, "Thank you, little boy, thank you."

Little Luke took the left-hand trail and followed it till he came to a
beautiful spring which gushed from under a tall rock. He lay down upon
his stomach and took a long drink of the cool, sweet water.

Just beside the spring stood a big beech tree. Near the ground two large
roots spread out at a broad angle. Little Luke sat down between the
roots and leaned his head against the tree. It was a very comfortable
seat. So he sat there and dreamed with his eyes wide open. Just what he
was dreaming about he did not know. He only knew that he felt very happy
and very quiet.

Mee-ko the Red Squirrel ran out upon a branch just over his head and
peeked and peered at him with his bright, inquisitive eyes. As little
Luke sat very still, Mee-ko cocked his long tail up over his shoulders
and sat and watched him.

Little Luke felt so very comfortable and quiet that he closed his eyes
for a moment. At least it seemed only a moment to him. All at once he
heard a loud hum. He opened his eyes and there was Ah-mo the Honey Bee
just before his face. When Ah-mo saw that little Luke was watching him,
he flew down toward the spring and lit upon a beautiful flower.

Little Luke was surprised; he had not seen that flower before. It was a
very beautiful flower. He leaned over and looked at it. Its petals were
blue as the sky, except near the heart, where they were pink as a baby's
fingers; and its heart was as yellow as gold.

Little Luke reached out his hand to pick the strange flower. As soon as
Mee-ko saw what he was doing, he fairly screamed. To little Luke it
seemed as if he said, "Stop, stop, let it be. Leave it alone. Go away."

Little Luke was used to Mee-ko's scolding. He had heard it many times
before, but never before had he thought there was any sense in it. It
seemed very queer to him that he could understand the speech of a
squirrel.

In his surprise he forgot about the strange flower and sat looking up at
Mee-ko. At once Mee-ko became quiet. He ran along the branch and down
the tree behind little Luke. Then he leaped to the ground and ran across
to another tree. When he thought he was safe, he began to talk and scold
again. To the little boy it seemed as if Mee-ko was saying, "Come here,
come away, follow me, follow me!"

But little Luke did not care to chase Mee-ko. He knew he could not catch
him, and besides, he wanted the strange flower. As soon as he reached
out his hand for it again, Mee-ko began to scold more angrily than
before. "Stop, let it alone, go away," he screamed.

"That is queer," thought little Luke; "I wonder what is the matter with
him. What can he care about the strange flower?"

Just then Ah-mo the Honey Bee flew up toward little Luke and then back
again to the flower. Little Luke reached over and seized the flower.
The stem was strong and he pulled it up, root and all. He put it to his
nose. Its odor was strangely sweet. From the broken stem some clear
juice oozed out upon his hand. Ah-mo the Honey Bee flew down and sipped
it. Then he rose and began to buzz around little Luke's head. Without
thinking, the little boy put his hand to his lips and his mouth was
filled with a strange, sweet taste. At the same time a mist rose before
his eyes, a strange feeling ran through his body, and his head swam.

In a moment the strange feeling passed away and the mist cleared from
before his face. He looked up and could scarcely believe his eyes. There
in a half circle around him sat a strange company - the strangest he had
ever seen.

There was Mo-neen the Woodchuck, Unk-wunk the Hedgehog, A-pe-ka the
Polecat, Wa-poose the Rabbit, A-bal-ka the Chipmunk, Tav-wots the
Cottontail, Mic-ka the Coon, and Shin-ga the Gray Squirrel. At one end
of the line stood Mit-chee the Partridge, Ko-leen-o the Quail, and
O-he-la the Woodcock. On the branches above them were Ya-rup the
Flicker, O-pee-chee the Robin, O-loo-la the Wood Thrush, Har-por the
Brown Thrasher, Chee-wink the Ground Robin, Tur-wee the Bluebird, Zeet
the Lark, and Bob Lincoln. Little Luke was surprised to see the last
two, for he had never seen them in the woods before.

"What can have happened to me?" said little Luke aloud. All the
creatures in that strange assembly stirred slightly and looked at
Wa-poose the big Rabbit. Wa-poose hopped forward a step or two and stood
up on his hind legs. His ears were stretched straight up over his head,
his paws were crossed in front of him, and he looked very queer.

[Illustration: THE MAGIC SPEECH FLOWER]

Then to little Luke's surprise, he spoke. "Man Cub," said Wa-poose,
"a wonderful thing has happened to you. You have found the Magic Speech
Flower and tasted its blood. By its power you are able to understand the
speech of all the wild folk of field and forest. This great gift has
come to you because your heart has been full of loving kindness toward
all the creatures that the Master of Life has made.

"Only he can find the Magic Flower who, between the rising and the
setting of the sun, has done five deeds of mercy and kindness toward the
wild folk of forest and field. These five deeds you have done."

Wa-poose paused. For a moment there was silence. All the wild folk
looked steadfastly at the little boy, who in turn gazed at them with
wonder-filled eyes. Then he spoke. "Five deeds! What five deeds have
I done?" he asked, forgetting all about his morning's work.

"This morning you saved my child from the fierce jaws of Klaws the House
Cat. You drove off Mee-ko the thieving Red Squirrel when he was trying
to steal the eggs from the nest of O-pee-chee. You helped Ah-mo escape
from the trap of wicked old Ik-to. You saved Chee-wink's fledglings from
the cruel fangs of A-tos-sa, and you put the young one back into
O-loo-la's nest safely.

"Two things you must remember if you wish to keep this magic power. You
must never needlessly or in sport hurt or kill any of the wild creatures
that the Master of Life has made and you must tell no one what has
happened to you. If you give heed to these two things, we will all be
your friends. When you walk abroad, you shall see us when no one else
can, and we will talk with you and teach you all the wisdom and the ways
of the wild kindreds."

Just then the sound of footsteps was heard coming down the trail. The
gray mist rose again before little Luke's eyes and he heard someone say,
"Wake up, little boy, it is almost noon. Your Aunt Martha will have
dinner on the table before you can get back to the farmhouse."

Little Luke looked up and there was Old John the Indian, who lived in
a lonely cabin on the other side of the mountain, and sometimes came to
the farmhouse to sell game he had killed or baskets that he had woven.

Little Luke sprang up and rubbed his eyes. Not one of the wild folk was
to be seen. But he held in his hand a broken and crumpled flower. He put
the flower into his pocket and went along down the trail toward the
farmhouse with Old John.


[Illustration]




II. LITTLE LUKE AND THE BOB LINCOLNS


That night little Luke dreamed of the Magic Flower. The next morning,
as soon as he had finished his breakfast, he ran down through the garden
and into the meadow. He was eager to see his wild friends again and to
try his new gifts, "Perhaps," he thought, "it was only a dream after
all."

As soon as Bob Lincoln saw him, he came flying across the meadow to meet
him, his black and white uniform gleaming in the bright sunlight. "Good
morning, little boy, good morning," he trilled, and his voice sounded
like the tinkling of a silver bell.

"Good morning, Bob Lincoln," said the little boy, delighted that he
really could understand Bob Lincoln's language. "How is Mrs. Bob Lincoln
this morning?"

"Come and see, come and see," trilled Bob Lincoln, in his sweetest and
friendliest voice.

Little Luke walked over to the nest. When she heard him coming, Mrs. Bob
Lincoln was scared and flew up from the nest.

But as soon as she saw who it was, she fluttered down upon the top of
a tall weed and said, "Oh, it's you, is it, little boy? I heard someone
coming and I was frightened, but I am not afraid of you." And so she sat
swinging and teetering on the tall weed.

The little boy looked at the nest and admired the pretty eggs. "Oh,
they're coming on finely," said Mrs. Bob Lincoln. "In a day or two I
will show you five of the handsomest baby Bob Lincolns you will ever
see. I heard them peeping inside of the shells this morning."

The little boy looked at the father and mother birds. "Bob Lincoln,"
said he, "I wish you would tell me why you and Mrs. Bob Lincoln are so
unlike. Your coat is white and black; her dress is black and brown and
yellow. You do not look as if you belonged to the same family."

"Well," said Bob Lincoln, "that is a long story."

"Oh, please tell it," said little Luke; "I want so much to hear it."

"Well," said Bob Lincoln, "we have both had our breakfast and I have
sung my morning song. So if Mrs. Bob will excuse me [Mrs. Bob gracefully
bowed her permission] I will take the time. You go over there and sit
down under the old apple tree and I will come and find a comfortable
twig and tell you all about it."

When little Luke had seated himself cozily with his back against the
trunk of the old apple tree, Bob Lincoln began his story.




III. THE STORY OF THE SUMMER LAND


"Long, long ago when the world was new," said he, "the first Bob Lincoln
family lived in a beautiful country in the distant north. In that country
it was always summer. None of those who dwelt in that land knew what
winter was.

"Ke-honk-a the Gray Goose, who spent half the year in northern
Greenland, had mentioned it, but the people of the Summer Land did not


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