“Now the worst of all the enemies of the bee people was Moo-ween the Black Bear. One day Mr. and Mrs. Moo-ween were walking by a hollow tree where the bees had made their home. They looked up and saw many of the bee folk going in and out of a hole in the tree.
“‘What lots of honey there must be in that tree,’ said Moo-ween. ’How good it would taste. Let us climb up and take it away from the bees.’ So the two bears began to climb the tree.
“But the bees were not afraid of them. They did not fly away and leave the bears to eat their honey, as they had always done before. Instead, they flew down and began to sting the bears. The two bears could not understand it. They had never been stung before and they groaned and growled with pain. The bees settled upon their eyes, their ears, and their noses, and stung them again and again, until they had to let go of the tree, and fell to the ground. There they rolled over and over, growling and groaning and snapping their teeth. The bees kept on stinging them. The bears could not stand it. They got up and ran away as fast as they could, Since that time the bee folk have had stings and the courage to use them whenever any creature, little or big, attempts to annoy or injure them.”
XIII. THE STORY OF THE FIRST SWALLOWS
In May little Luke had watched Mr. and Mrs. Lun-i-fro the Eave Swallows while they had built their queer, pocket-shaped, mud hut beneath the eaves of the big barn. He saw them on the muddy shores of the river, rolling little pellets of mud, which they carried to the barn and built into their nest, and wondered at their odd ways.
“I wish,” he often said to himself, “that they could talk. I would ask them how they learned to do it.” At that time he had no idea he would ever be able to talk to them.
After he had found the Magic Speech Flower he often talked to Father and Mother Lun-i-fro. But their talks were always short, for the two swallows were always too busy chasing gnats and flies through the air to spend much time on anything else.
Early in September the swallows began to gather in large flocks. The young ones, who were now finishing their lessons in flying, were introduced to the rest of the tribe and the little boy often saw them training in squads. They would sit in a long row upon the peak of the barn roof. Suddenly they would start off all together and fly about for a while. Then they would come back and settle down upon the roof again.
One day as little Luke was watching them, Father Lun-i-fro happened to light upon a fence stake near him. “Father Lun-i-fro,” said the little boy, “what are you swallow folk doing these days?”
“We are holding our councils and getting ready to go to the sunny Southland for the winter,” answered the old swallow.
“Before you go,” said the boy, “I wish you would tell me how you learned to build your nests in such an odd way.”