‘"Yer sech a cunnin’ critter,” says the mother swift, “we couldn’t spare ye.”
’"Want to see my mother,” says the boy sobbing.
‘"Couldn’t afford t’ let ye go — yer so cute” says the swift. “Bring the poor critter a bone an’ a bit o’ snake meat.”
’The boy couldn’t eat. They fixed a bed fer him, but ’twant clean. The feel uv it made his back ache an’ the smell uv it made him sick to his stomach.
’"When the swifts hed comp’ny they ’d bring ’em overt’ look at him there ’n his dark corner. “‘S a boy,” said the mother swift pokin’ him with a long stick “Wouldn’t ye like t’ see ’im run?” Then she punched him until he got up an’ run ’round the cave fer his life. Happened one day et a very benevolent swift come int’ the cave.
’"‘S a pity t’ keep the boy here,” said he; “he looks bad.”
’"But he makes fun fer the children,” said the swift.
’"Fun that makes misery is only fit fer a fool,” said the visitor.
‘They let him go thet day. Soon as he got hum he thought o’ the squirrels an’ was tickled t’ find ’em alive. He tak ’em off to an island, in the middle of a big lake, thet very day, an’ set the cage on the shore n’ opened it He thought he would come back sometime an’ see how they was ginin’ along. The cage was made of light wire an’ hed a tin bottom fastened to a big piece o’ plank. At fust they was ‘fraid t’ leave it an’ peeked out o’ the door an’ scratched their heads’s if they thought it a resky business. After awhile one stepped out careful an’ then the other followed. They tried t’ climb a tree, but their nails was wore off an’ they kep’ fallin’ back. Then they went off ‘n the brush t’ find some nuts. There was only pines an’ poppies an’ white birch an’ a few berry bushes on the island. They went t’ the water’s edge on every side, but there was nuthin there a squirrel ud give a flirt uv his tail fer. ’Twas near dark when they come back t’ the cage hungry as tew bears. They found a few crumbs o’ bread in the cup an’ divided ’em even. Then they went t’ bed ‘n their ol’ nest.
‘It hed been rainin’ a week in the mount’ins. Thet night the lake rose a foot er more an’ ‘fore mornin’ the cage begun t’ rock a teenty bit as the water lifted the plank. They slep’ all the better fer thet an’ they dreamed they was up in a tree at the end uv a big bough. The cage begun t’ sway sideways and then it let go o’ the shore an’ spun ‘round once er twice an’ sailed out ’n the deep water. There was a light breeze blowin’ offshore an’ purty soon it was pitchin’ like a ship in the sea. But the two squirrels was very tired an’ never woke up ’til sunrise. They got a terrible scare when they see the water ’round ’em an’ felt the motion o’ the ship. Both on ’em ran into the wire wheel an’ that bore down the stern o’ the ship so the under wires touched the water. They made it spin like a buzz saw an’ got their clothes all wet. The ship went faster when they