Now the tale of the Finding of the Magic Flower was told abroad among all the tribes of the wild folk round about. For this reason, as time went on, many of them came to see the wonderful Man Cub (as they often called little Luke) who could speak and understand the language of the wild kindreds.
In that way little Luke came to know many of the wild folk that he had never seen before. Some of them were furry folk, who lived in the woods and fields and along the brooks, and some were beautiful feathered folk, who came down from the tops of the tall pines and spruces and hemlocks.
These were mostly bird folk who had once lived in the Summer Land and had learned to travel southward before the return of Pe-boan the cruel Winter King. They loved the upper spaces of the great forests, and there they lived as some of the water folk live in the lower depths of the great sea.
These bird folk hated the open fields and even the lower air, in the thick forests, seemed heavy and unpleasant to them. So they seldom came down from their airy homes in the upper branches of the great trees. For this reason little Luke did not see much of them, but when he did see one of them, it was as if he had seen an angel.
VI. LITTLE LUKE AND KIT-CHEE THE GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER
Down in the far corner of the orchard stood an old apple tree. Some of its limbs were dead and the rest of it was so covered with orchard moss that it seemed gray with age. As little Luke was passing one day, he noticed a round hole in one of its branches. “Now,” thought he to himself, “I’ll climb up and take a peep into that hole.” And so he did.
As he looked into the dark cavity, there was a sudden explosion, which sounded like the noise made by an angry cat. The little boy jumped back so quickly that he almost fell to the ground. Just then he heard someone in the branches of the tree above him. “Whee-ree, whee-ree,” sounded a mocking; voice, that made little Luke think that somebody was making fun of him. He looked up and saw Kit-chee the Great Crested Flycatcher.
“Ah-ha!” said Kit-chee; “so she scared you, did she?”
The little boy moved his hand toward the hole.
“Better not; better not,” said Kit-chee; “that’s Mother Kit-chee in there. She doesn’t like to be disturbed, and she has a temper of her own, and a sharp bill to go with it.”
“Excuse me, Father Kit-chee,” said the little boy; “I didn’t know. I only wanted to see what was in that hole.”
“All right,” said Kit-chee. “We don’t mind you. Perhaps, if you ask her politely, she’ll come out and let you take a peep.”
“Pray, Mother Kit-chee,” said the little boy, “aren’t you hungry? There are some nice flies and bugs out here, and besides, if you will be kind enough to allow me, I should like a peep at your nest and eggs.”