“Yes, no doubt he knows too much about you. We all do,” said a voice. Little Luke looked up and there was old Ko-ko-ka the Big Owl, sitting in a hole in a tree. “As for spying and tattling,” Ko-ko-ka went on, “you are the worst of all the wild folk. It runs in your blood. The Mee-ko family have always been meddlers. It was the first of your tribe, as all the wood folk know, who, with his tattling; tongue, set Mal-sum the Wicked Wolf trying to kill Gloos-cap the Good. Your foreparents were thieves and murderers too; and you take after them.
“The Master of Life has formed some of us so that we must kill to live and for us to kill is lawful. It is not so with you. You were made to live on seeds and nuts, yet Kag-ax the Weasel, whom we all hate, is scarcely more bloodthirsty than you are. And you are a coward to boot. You haven’t the courage to fight and you kill for pleasure and by stealth.”
Mee-ko started to talk back at Ko-ko-ka, but the big owl snapped his beak angrily and rustled his wings. Mee-ko saw and heard and he didn’t wait to finish his remarks. He scurried along the branch, took a flying leap to the next tree, and disappeared.
“Let him go. His room is better than his company,” remarked Ko-ko-ka.
“That’s so,” said little Luke, “I never did like him much anyway. But tell me, what did he mean about his forefathers?”
“Well,” answered Ko-ko-ka, “I’ve had a good nap and haven’t anything to do till sundown. So, if you like, I’ll tell you about it.”
XVIII. THE STORY OF THE FIRST RED SQUIRRELS
“Long, long ago,” began the old owl, “when the world was new, there dwelt upon the earth a wise and good man whose name was Gloos-cap. He was a servant of the Master of Life, who had sent him to teach the men and all the other creatures everything that was good for them to know. So he went about from place to place, teaching the kindreds.
“He taught the Red Men how to build their wigwams and to plant corn and care for it. He taught the beavers how to build their lodges and the birds how to build their nests and care for their little ones. To all the kindreds he taught the things which each most needed to know.
“At first all the creatures were good and heeded the teachings of Gloos-cap. But after a time their hearts became evil. Gloos-cap often spoke to them and did his best to turn them from their wicked ways, but in vain. They grew more and more envious, spiteful, and quarrelsome. At last they became so wicked that they began to fight and kill each other. Worse than all else, the victors took to devouring the bodies of the slain.
“The good Gloos-cap was grieved and disgusted. He made up his mind to invite them to a feast and try once more to turn them from their evil ways. When they came, he set before each one of them food in abundance. Although each had enough and more than enough for himself, some of them were not satisfied. They began to quarrel and fight, each striving to take from the other his portion.