“Well,” said Father Lun-i-fro, “since you have been so nice to us this summer, I’ll tell you.”
* * * * *
“Long, long ago,” went on the old swallow, “there was an Indian village upon the top of a high hill.
“The grown-up people of the village were very good. But alas! the children were naughty. They were so disobedient that they could never be trusted to mind anything that their parents said to them. The old people often talked to them and did their best to make them behave better, but it did no good. As soon as their backs were turned, those naughty children would begin to quarrel and fight and steal and run away.
“The old people were much troubled. The woods were full of bears and panthers and wolves, and they felt sure that some time the wicked children would be eaten up by them.
“They did everything they could think of to make it so pleasant for the children that they would stay at home. They made bows and arrows for the boys, and Indian dolls for the girls, and all sorts of playthings for all of them, but it did no good. They would run away just the same.
“At last the elders of the village held a council to see if they could not think of some plan to make their children behave better. After much talk it was thought best to call in all the children and have the village chief talk to them. This was done, but it did no good. The next day they ran away just the same. Their parents had to search far into the night before they found them. This time the old folks were very angry.
“Another council was held. They talked the matter over a long time and made up their minds to send for Gloos-cap the good and wise Magician, who was yet upon the earth. And so they did.
“When he came he found that, as usual, the children had run away from home and could not be found. They had already been gone two or three days.
“Gloos-cap frowned and looked very stern. ‘I will find them,’ said he, ‘and when I find them I will punish them as they deserve.’
“By his magic power he was able to follow their trail, which their parents had not been able to find.
“At length he saw them. They were playing about on the muddy shore of a small lake. Out of the mud they were making many different kinds of objects, especially little wigwams.
“He walked down to where they were. ‘You naughty children,’ said he, ’are you not ashamed of yourselves, to disobey your parents and make them so much sorrow and trouble?’
“‘No, we are not,’ spoke up one bold, saucy little fellow. ’We don’t care for what they say. We’ve been having a good time all by ourselves.’
“‘Very well,’ said Gloos-cap, ’since you are not willing to obey your parents, you shall never trouble them any more. You shall become birds. Since you love to play in the mud, you shall always build your nests of mud; and since you love to gad about so much, you shall wander about the earth forever.’