Now, Graycoat was fond of wandering off by himself—being a bit of a dreamer—and one beautiful day he happened in some extraordinary way to jump right into the lap of one of the Humans, who were sitting there in the woods.
It was the lap of the little girl, and in an instant she had thrown her apron over Graycoat and he was a prisoner.
In vain he cried and shrieked for his mother, and in vain she answered from the bough above, chattering and scolding and calling him beseechingly in most piteous tones. But the little girl kept tight hold and carried poor Graycoat to the house at the foot of the hill, and here, after being petted and stroked, and looked at until he was nearly dead with fright, Graycoat was put into a horrible prison with iron bars; and although he climbed and climbed and worked hard all day, he never seemed to get any further up and could see no chance of getting out. The children, wishing to be kind, but not realizing how dreadfully cruel it was to keep him in the cage at all, put his little prison out on the veranda, and it was with an aching heart and tears of agony that Siccatee saw her beloved little one shut up in that cruel cage.
She crept close and talked to Graycoat in a soft, guttural tone, and when night drew on, and all was still and silent outside the house, Siccatee would go to the prison and bite and gnaw with her little teeth, and scratch with her little paws, straining every nerve in her poor little body to set her darling free.
Graycoat’s poor little heart would beat with hope every time his mother came, and, when she hopped swiftly and softly away in the early morning, Graycoat’s little heart would sink again, and he would send forth a pitiful little cry after his mother—a cry that went to her very heart.
From the time that Graycoat was taken prisoner Siccatee scarcely ate or slept. Carefully hidden behind the nearest tree, her bright little eyes would peep out, and her soft tail wave up and down while she watched every action and incident in the new life of her little one.
As night crept on, she would once more steal forth to the cage, and try again and again at the same useless, hopeless task of breaking those cruel bars.
She had not forgotten her other children, but she knew they could now look out for themselves, had plenty to eat, and a good, comfortable home in the old tree. So she paid little attention to them, and devoted all her thoughts and energies to her unfortunate, little Graycoat.
Then came one cold, frosty night—so cold that the poor little baby squirrel shivered and shook as though with an ague. Siccatee sat as close to the bars of the prison as she could sit, and did her best to warm Graycoat with the heat from her own little body. But Graycoat missed the nice, warm nest in the tree, and although the side that was nestling against his mother was fairly warm, his other side felt cold and stiff.