“After a while things got so bad that the Kit-chee family came together in a council. They talked over their troubles and made up their minds to go to the Master of Life and ask him to help them. And so they did.
“‘I am sorry for you,’ said he, when he had heard their story, ’and will tell you what to do. As you say, your worst enemy is Kag-ax the Weasel. Now Kag-ax is more afraid of A-tos-sa the Snake than of any other creature in the whole world. He cannot bear even the sight of a snake-skin. You must weave a snake-skin into each one of your nests. Then he will not dare to trouble you.’
“‘But how shall we get the snake-skins?’ asked Grandfather Kit-chee, the head of the family.
“‘That is easy,’ answered the Master of Life. ’A-tos-sa, as you know, sheds his skin. If you look sharp, you can find the cast-off skins almost anywhere. Do as I have said, and you will be safe. Even Mee-ko the Squirrel and others of your enemies will be afraid of the snake-skin and let your nests alone.’
“The Kit-chee family did as the Master of Life told them to do. From that time to this they always have woven a snake-skin into their nests, and their nests have seldom been robbed.”
“Thank you,” said the little boy, “that was a good story. Now I must be going home. There’s Aunt Martha calling for dinner.” And he slid down out of the old apple tree and went across the orchard to the house.
VIII. LITTLE LUKE AND NICK-UTS THE YELLOWTHROAT
Among little Luke’s bird friends was little Nick-uts the Yellowthroat. He was a dainty little fellow, with an olive green back, a bright yellow breast, and a black mask across his face that made him look like a highwayman. Though he was lively and nervous, he had a gentle disposition and a sweet voice. His home was in some low bushes in the pasture.
Whenever little Luke went up to see him, he would hop up on a branch and call out, “Which way, sir? Which way, sir?” And when the little boy started to go away, he would say, “Wait a minute. Wait a minute.”
Every time the little boy went for the cows he would stop and chat a moment with Mr. and Mrs. Nick-uts. To be sure, Mrs. Nick-uts never had much to say. She was a quiet little body, not so fidgety as Nick-uts, and besides, she had to stay close at home and see to the eggs and babies.
One morning, as little Luke was going for the cows, he saw Nick-uts bobbing around very excitedly.
“Come here. Come here,” called Nick-uts, when he saw the little boy; “I want some help.” And he hopped over by the nest.
Little Luke went over to the nest and looked in. “Look there,” said Nick-uts, “see that big, ugly egg. Take it out, please.”
“Take it out?” said little Luke. “Why should I do that? Isn’t it yours?”
“No, indeed,” said Nick-uts, “it’s old Mother Mo-lo’s. The nasty old wretch laid it in there while we were away from home. She’s always sneaking around, the lazy old thing, to lay her eggs in some other bird’s nest. She’s cowardly too. She always picks out the nest of one smaller than herself. I wish I were big enough to give her a sound thrashing.