“Or he might get another squirrel to gnaw it off for him,” said James.
“Yes,” said Jonas, “and there is another difficulty. He might be jumping from one tree to another, and catch his collar in some little branch, and so get hung, without judge or jury.”
“What can we do then?” said Rollo.
“I think,” said Jonas, “that the best plan would be to dye the end of his tail black. That would not hurt him any; and yet, as he always holds his tail up, we should see it, and know him.”
The boys both thought this would be excellent, and Jonas said he had some black dye, which he had made for dyeing some wood. Jonas was a very ingenious boy, and used to make little boxes, and frames, and windmills, with his penknife, in the long winter evenings, and he had made this dye out of vinegar and old nails, to dye some of his wood with.
“I am not certain,” said Jonas, “that my dye will color hair; I never tried it, except on wood. Do you think that black would be a pretty color?”
“No,” said Rollo, “black would not be a very pretty color, but it would do. Yellow, and red, and green, are pretty colors, but black, and brown, and white, are not pretty at all.”
“I have not got any yellow, or red, or green,” said Jonas. “I don’t know but that I have got a little blue.”
“O, blue would be beautiful,” said James.
Then Jonas walked along into the barn, and Rollo and James followed him. He went up stairs, and walked along to the farthest corner, and there, up on a beam, were several small bottles all in a row. Jonas took down one, and shook it, and said that was the blue.
He brought it down to the cage; Rollo went into the house, and brought out an old bowl, and Jonas prepared to pour out the dye into it. They then concluded that they would carry the whole apparatus down into the edge of the woods, and perform the operation there; and then the squirrel, when he was liberated, would easily find his way back to his home. Jonas carried down a pair of thick, old gloves, to keep the squirrel from biting him.
As they walked along, Rollo proposed that Jonas should dip the squirrel’s ears in as well as his tail; “because,” said he, “we may sometimes see him when he is half hid in the bushes, so that only his head is in sight.”
“Besides,” said James, “it will make him look more beautiful if his ears and tail are both blue.”
Jonas did not object to this, and after a short time, they reached the edge of the woods. They found a little opening, where the ground was smooth and the grass green, which seemed exactly the place for them. So they put down the cage and the bowl of dye, and Jonas began to put on his glove.
“Now, boys,” said he, “you must be still as moonlight while I do it. If you speak to me, you will put me out; and besides, you will frighten little Bunny.”
The boys promised not to speak a single word; and Jonas, after unfastening the fender from the front of the box, moved it along until there was an opening large enough for him to get his hand in. Rollo and James stood by silently, and somewhat anxiously, waiting the result.