“Well, little boy,” said Bob Lincoln one morning, “we must be getting ready to move. These youngsters can fly pretty well, and it is time for us to go. I am sorry, for I love our meadow home, and a long and dangerous journey is before us.”
“Tell me about it,” said little Luke.
“Well,” said Bob Lincoln, “you must know that I was hatched in this very meadow. There were five of us and I am the only one that is left.
“When we young ones had learned to fly pretty well, we started south. After a few days we reached a land where there were broad marshes covered with reeds. There we stopped for a while. But the men of that country hunted us with their fire-sticks. They called us reed birds arid liked us to eat. They shot many of our friends, but for a few days our family all escaped. But one morning we heard a sound like thunder and our mother fell to the ground and we saw her no more.
“This frightened us and we flew on to the southward for many days. Of course wherever we found a good place, we stopped to rest and eat. But we did not stop for long until we came to a land where there were great fields of rice. There we found great flocks of our kindred, who had grown fat by feeding upon the rice.
“But here again were men with their fire-sticks and they killed two of my brothers. All the time we stayed there, we lived in fear. So after some days we left the rice land and went on toward the south. We crossed the great, salt sea and at last found the winter home of our kindred.
“In the spring we came back again to this meadow. And here I found Mrs. Bob Lincoln. I courted her with my sweetest songs, and after a short time we were married and set up house-keeping.
“That autumn I led a family of my own on the long journey to our southern home. Three times have I made the journey to and from this meadow, and each time some of my family have fallen a prey to our many enemies. But the men with their fire-sticks are the worst of all. Why are they so cruel to us?”
“Alas,” said Bob Lincoln, after a pause, “I dread this journey. Not many of my friends have escaped so long. I fear I shall never return. But it cannot be helped, we must go. I think, little boy, we shall start this morning. So I will say good-bye now.”
“Good-bye, Bob Lincoln,” said little Luke, “I hope it will not be as you fear. I shall look for you again next May.”
The Bob Lincoln family started on their long southern journey and little Luke went sadly back to the house. Now that the Bob Lincolns were gone, the meadow no longer seemed so pleasant to him.
While little Luke spent a good deal of his time with the Bob Lincoln family, he did not neglect his other friends among the wild folk. Almost every day he had long talks with one or more of them. Thus it came to pass that he soon became exceeding wise with the wisdom of the wild kindreds; for his eyes were sharper and his ears keener than those of any other of the house people.