That ended the fun. As they saw the Red Fox every rabbit sprang to his feet, and with a hop, skip, and jump went over the fence and out of the clover field. And little Luke saw them no more that night.
XXVIII. WHY THE WILD FOLK NO LONGER TALK THE MAN-TALK
Now in his talks with his wild friends little Luke noticed that they used many Indian words such as he had learned from Old John the Indian.
“Why is it,” said he, one day to Wa-poose, “that you wild folk use so many of the Red Men’s words?”
“Well,” said the old rabbit, “that is a long story. But if you will sit down here beside me, I will tell you about it.”
* * * * *
“In the first days,” said Wa-poose, “when the world was new, the men and the wild folk were much alike. They all spoke one language.
“In those days it was always summer. All the year round the grass was green and the flowers bloomed. Twelve times a year the vines and bushes and trees bore fresh blossoms, and twelve times a year they were loaded with ripe berries, fruits, and nuts.
“In those times there was no hunting and no killing. All the wild kindreds lived in peace with each other and with the Red Men, who then dwelt in this land. You see there was plenty to eat and the weather was so warm and pleasant that the Red Men did not need the skins of their wild brothers to keep them from the cold.
“But after a while a change came. Pe-boan the dreadful Winter King came down from the North and made war upon Ni-pon the Queen of Summer. After many battles peace was made and the year was divided; half the year was ruled by the Queen of Summer, and half by the Winter King.
“Now it came to pass that after the war was over the vines and bushes and trees put forth their buds and blossomed and bore fruit but once a year. The Red Men and the wild kindreds suffered dreadfully from hunger, and their hearts became hard and cruel. Then the hunting and the killing began. The Red Men hunted many of the wild kindreds for their flesh and their fur, and the wild kindreds began to kill and devour each other. And so it has been since that day.
“In those times the Wa-poose folk were much larger than they are now, even as large as Mo-ween the Bear. But they refused to take part in the killing and flesh eating, and so they suffered more from hunger than some of the wild kindreds. Year by year, on account of the scarcity of food, the Wa-poose folk became smaller until they were as you see them now.
“In the beginning, as I have said, the Red Men and the wild kindreds spoke one language. Even to this day, the Red hunters have kept many of the watchwords of the wild folk, and by means of them are able to deceive and kill them.
“Now by reason of the great slaughter that was made by the Red Men, the wild kindreds gathered themselves together in a great council to discuss their condition. After much talk they decided to ask help of the Master of Life.