ALMOST EVERY DAY A MESSENGER PIGEON BROUGHT HIM A LETTER

When Tiny learned to write letters, he spent many happy hours
corresponding with his mother and his friends at Squirreltown. Almost
every day a messenger pigeon brought him a letter, which he read with
great pleasure. Here are a few of these letters that passed between
Beaver Creek and Squirreltown:

Beaver Creek, Joy Co.,
Animal Kingdom,
May 1, —-.

My Dear Mother:

While you were sleeping away the long, cold winter, I was studying
with all my might, trying to keep at the head of my class.

I like Beaver Creek very much. Miss Hare is a good and capable
teacher. I shall be sorry to graduate from here in June, and yet I am
anxious to get back to Squirreltown again.

The spring flowers are blooming all about Beaver Creek. I wish you
could see how beautiful they are. The daisy, which is like a white
star, opens with the morning sun. The morning glory shuts up its
sweet petals before noon. The dandelion opens early, but closes when
the heat becomes too great. The anemone, so blue and so fragile,
sleeps at the approach of a storm; while the water lily curls up and
hides itself in the mud at the bottom of the pond. The marsh marigold
is a hardy little flower. It drinks, drinks, drinks, from morning
till night, pleased with any kind of weather.

I will tell you more about the beauties of Beaver Creek, one of
these days. In the meantime, please write and tell me about dear old
Squirreltown.

Your affectionate son,
TINY.

Mrs. Jane Redsquirrel,
124 Oak Avenue,
Squirreltown,
Animal Kingdom.

* * * * *

124 Oak Avenue,
Squirreltown,
Animal Kingdom,
May 8, —-.

My Dear Son:

I was very glad to hear from you and to learn that you are well and
happy.

Dr. Flyingsquirrel, the mayor, and many of your friends inquire about
you each day. Peggy and Bushy Graysquirrel, who have grown quite
large since you saw them, are planning to give a party for you when
you return.

You will be glad to learn that Chatty Chipmunk returned home just
before winter set in. He had been wandering for a long, long time.
Once he thrust his inquisitive nose into a nest of yellow-jackets,
and it took him a long time to recover.

I feel so sorry for the Chipmunks. They are all, with the exception
of Chatty, such active, industrious creatures. I fear he will never
outlive the bad habits formed in his early youth. He does little but
sleep in his round room at the end of the long hall, and eat large
quantities of beechnuts.

Now, my son, learn all you can. Do not eat too many acorns, and be
sure to keep your fur clean and smooth.

Your devoted mother,
JANE REDSQUIRREL.

Mr. Tiny Redsquirrel,
Beaver Creek, Joy Co., Animal Kingdom.

* * * * *

Beech Hotel,
Squirreltown, Animal Kingdom,
May 14, —-.

Dear Friend:

I received your jolly letter, and I am going to show my appreciation
by sending an early reply.

Sister Peggy and I are spending a few days with our friend, Polly
Blacksquirrel. We are all well, after our long winter’s nap, and are
enjoying ourselves greatly.

The other day, Polly took Peggy and me down to the pond to hear a
famous orchestra. We sat upon a mossy seat close to the blue water,
and patiently waited until all the musicians had come out of the
water and had taken their seats on the green lily pads. The leader
of the band was very pompous, and his white vest was covered with
medals. I had to laugh at the airs he put on.

The musicians, of course, were frogs, and they all wore green coats
and white vests. They looked so odd with their bulging eyes and
swelling throats! One large bull frog played a bass viol. He was a
savage fellow, and, frequently, he would go down into the water to
eat poor little tadpoles.

Now you know that gray squirrels are more fond of music than are any
other kind of squirrel; but, so far as I am concerned, I do not like
to be too close to a frog orchestra.

Is it not queer that frogs and fishes, both of which live in the
water, are so unlike? Polly’s father said that if a frog keeps his
mouth open very long, he will die; while a fish has to keep his mouth
open most of the time to permit his breathing organs to act properly.

Peggy and Polly join me in sending you our kindest regards.

Your true friend,
BUSHY GRAYSQUIRREL.

Tiny Redsquirrel, Esq.,
Beaver Creek,
Animal Kingdom.

* * * * *

Beaver Creek, Joy Co., Animal Kingdom,
May 18, —-.

My Dear Dr. Flyingsquirrel:

Mother told me that you would appreciate a letter from me; so, on
this beautiful morning, I have decided to write to you.

Yesterday, Miss Hare and we pupils were out in the thicket and on the
great moor east of Beaver Creek. We were studying nature, by which to
test the books that we read.

My companion was Winkie Weasel. He has a long, lean body, and a
short, black tail. He is very good-natured most of the time, but,
occasionally, he gets very angry over small things. Then his nose
seems to grow pointed, and his eyes turn green. He wears a yellow
coat now. Later he will change it for a dark brown one, while in
winter he wears white. Although Winkie takes things that do not
belong to him and tries to act innocent, I like him because he is so
bright and shrewd.

Such a glorious day as it was! The birds were chattering all about
us, building nests in which to rear their broods. Miss Hare said I
was fortunate to be able to climb so well, for it gave me such good
opportunities to inspect birds and their nests.

Once we were startled by a loud thump! thump! thump! Then we heard
a chorus of piping voices, and saw a covey of partridges running
through the tall grass. They are peculiar little creatures, and they
never try to run until some one almost steps upon them. They were out
hunting for seeds, buds, and insects. Miss Hare told us that the
partridge wears bristles that serve as snowshoes in winter, so it can
walk on the soft snow without sinking.

We saw pigeons fluttering about in the blue sky, while swallows, with
graceful, slender wings, flitted by, busily building their nests.

The sweet scent of spring had brought the cuckoos to the north. I
could see one of them flying in a very straight line, his long tail
steadying his flight. I have always loved the voice of the cuckoo;
but I do not admire the bird, since Miss Hare has told me how very
unprincipled she is.

I should like to tell you about some of the other birds I saw, but I
fear you would think my letter too long. Busy people like you do not
like to waste so much time reading letters.

Wishing you health and success, I am,

Yours very respectfully,
TINY REDSQUIRREL.

Dr. Airy Flyingsquirrel,
64 Hickory Ave.,
Squirreltown, Animal Kingdom.

* * * * *

64 Hickory Ave.,
Squirreltown, Animal Kingdom,
May 25, —-.

Dear Tiny:

Your letter filled my heart with delight. We old squirrels appreciate
letters from our young friends, and we are glad to be remembered in
our declining years. The young who remember the old will be rewarded
when they themselves are no longer young.

I, too, fly about a great deal, studying the various birds and their
eggs. You wrote about the cuckoo, and I agree with you that she is a
very unprincipled creature.

She lays her eggs on the hard ground, because she and her mate are
too indolent to build a nest. She places her eggs in various nests
for other birds to hatch. Usually she prefers robins’ nests, for they
are very comfortable. You can imagine how surprised the robin or any
other bird would be, when its brood hatches, to find among the number
a large, healthy cuckoo with a wide mouth and an enormous appetite.
But the kind foster parents feed the young cuckoo just as they do
their own children.

And what does the cuckoo orphan do to repay such kindness? He eats
and sleeps and grows larger all the time; and, finally, one day when
the old birds are away, he tumbles his foster brothers and sisters
out of the nest, and stretches himself out comfortably, waiting
for his dinner. The selfish, cruel bird never thinks of anyone but
himself. When his foster parents return, they are grieved not to find
their little ones, but they do not scold the cuckoo at all. They keep
on feeding him until he is full-fledged. Then, on some bright day,
he takes wings and flies away, leaving his foster parents to grieve
after him.

Jenny Wren is a neat, modest little body. Do you know her? She wears
a plain brown gown, for she has so much to do she cannot dress very
stylishly. Her wings are hard and stiff, so she can beat the air when
she flies; but the feathers close to her tiny body are soft and warm.

She likes to build her nest beneath the gnarled roots of a tree or
against a stone in a bed of moss. It is covered with a little dome
and has a tiny door, which opens on the sunny side. I once peeped
into Jenny’s home and found it neat and cozy. An orderly housekeeper
she is, I can tell you! Her bed is made of fine feathers, hair, and
delicate grasses. The roof of her home is made of moss, twigs, and
lichens.

We are all very well, and we hope that you will call to see us soon
after your return home.

Cordially yours,
AIRY FLYINGSQUIRREL.

Mr. Tiny Redsquirrel,
Beaver Creek,
Joy Co., Animal Kingdom.

Reynard caught a cold just two weeks before Miss Hare’s school closed
for the summer. He was very ill, indeed; but Tiny, Snowball, and his
other friends did all they could to make him comfortable.

Miss Hare spent one evening with Reynard. Puss Snowball, Winkie Weasel,
and Tiny were present. They had a pleasant time, in Reynard’s humble
room, which the stars made almost bright as day.

“Shall I get you some corn?” Miss Hare finally asked.

“I don’t want no corn,” groaned Reynard, whose head ached severely.

“Very well, I will bring you some,” said Miss Hare, rising to leave the
room.

“I don’t want no corn!” repeated Reynard, so surprised that his head
almost stopped aching.

“That means that you _do_ want some corn,” laughed Miss Hare. “I
suppose you meant to say that you _don’t_ want _any_ corn, or that you
want _no_ corn. Be careful what you say, Reynard, and never use two
denying words where the meaning needs but one. The other day I heard
you say, ‘I haven’t seen _nothing_,’ which meant that you must have
seen _something_. You also said, ‘He is _not_ doing _nothing_,’ which
meant that he was doing _something_.”

“Thank you, Miss Hare,” said Reynard, with chagrin. “I know that I am
sometimes very careless in the use of English. But now my head feels so
much better that perhaps, after all, _I don’t_ need _no_ corn.”

Miss Hare laughed again, with more pleasure this time, and gave him a
few kernels of corn which she had brought with her.

“Now we must do something to amuse Reynard,” said Miss Hare,
pleasantly. “What shall we do?”

“I should like to hear Snowball sing a song,” said Reynard. “He sings
good.”

“He does not sing _good_, but he sings _well_,” corrected Miss Hare, in
a low voice to Reynard. “Will you sing, Snowball?”

“I can’t sing to-night,” said Snowball. “I, too, have a bad cold.”

“You have a _severe_ cold,” said Miss Hare. “It is as wrong to say
that you have a _bad_ cold as it is to say that you received a _good_
whipping.”

Snowball was one of those individuals who do not like to be corrected,
so for a few moments he shrugged his shoulders and pouted.

Miss Hare turned towards Tiny and said in a cheerful voice:

“Perhaps Tiny will tell us about Squirreltown.”

“Good! good!” shouted enthusiastic Winkie Weasel, leaping awkwardly
into the air to show his delight. “Tell us about the time you wandered
through the great forest and did not know where you were at.”

“Fy, fy, Winkie!” cried his teacher, shaking with laughter. “How you
abuse such useful little words as _at_, _to_, and _for_. You make them
work when they should be resting. You say that Tiny did not know where
he was _at_, nor where he was going _to_, when you should say that Tiny
did not know where he was, nor where he was going. One should not place
_at_, _to_, _for_, or some other _unnecessary_ little word at the end
of a sentence.”

Snowball was very glad to hear the teacher correct Winkie, and soon he
regained his usual good humor.

“Winkie and I are both alike in our use of bad English,” he chuckled.

“You are especially apt to use unnecessary words, Snowball,” said Miss
Hare. “Why should you say ‘Winkie and I are _both_ alike,’ when it
takes less time to say, ‘Winkie and I are alike’?”

Snowball stared stupidly for a while, but did not seem vexed.

“I thought to myself that Snowball was making an incorrect statement,”
tittered Winkie.

“Of course, you thought to yourself,” said the teacher with a twinkle
in her eye. “You certainly could not think aloud.”

“No, but he knows how to laugh aloud,” said Snowball, somewhat
scornfully.

“Now, Tiny, you may tell us something about Squirreltown,” said Miss
Hare.

Tiny did not feel so brave about talking as he did on the day he tried
to address the mayor and citizens of his native town, for he knew that
his present audience was a very critical one. However, he began:

“A wide path leads into Squirreltown. At the place where it enters the
city it is very wide indeed. An oak tree stands on both sides of this
path–”

“How strange!” interrupted Miss Hare. “Isn’t it rather unusual for a
tree to stand on both sides of a path?”

“There are two trees,” stammered Tiny.

“Oh, I see,” said Miss Hare, a flash of understanding shining in her
eyes. “You mean to say that on _each_ side of the path there is an oak
tree.”

“Yes, ma’am,” replied Tiny, with a nod. “The trees in the city do not
contain many acorns, but these two trees are filled full of them.”

“Of course, if they are _filled_ with acorns, they must be _full_ of
them,” laughed Miss Hare. “It sounds as badly to say _filled full_ as
it does to say _little small_. Just how are the trees filled with
acorns, Tiny? Are the trunks hollow?”

“The branches of the two trees,” bravely continued Tiny, “bear so many
acorns that they could yield all the squirrels in the land an acorn.”

“Then the branches can not bear very many acorns,” said Miss Hare. “One
acorn could not very well be divided among such a host of squirrels.”

“I mean that these two trees could yield _each_ squirrel in the land an
acorn,” said Tiny, with energy.

“That is right,” said Miss Hare, much pleased. “Tiny is one who thinks,
and I believe that in time he will learn to speak correctly.”

“I have lived in Squirreltown nearly all my life, and–”

“How many squirrels live there?” interrupted the teacher.

“Several hundred,” replied Tiny, proudly.

“Then it is not such a great city, after all. It would be better to say
that you lived _at_ Squirreltown. When it becomes a great city, you can
say that you lived _in_ Squirreltown.”

“I lived on Oak Avenue–”

“It is better to say that you lived _in_ Oak Avenue,” suggested Miss
Hare.

“One day a bear met my mother with crooked teeth, and–”

“Who had crooked teeth, the bear or your mother?” tittered Snowball.

“The bear, to be sure,” retorted Tiny, growing quite indignant.

“You should place your helping phrases where they will give the right
meaning,” said Miss Hare. “There are many animals ready to make sport
of us if we are not careful to say just what we mean.”

“Really, I am so puzzled that I have forgotten what I intended to say,”
said Tiny, sitting down. “I cannot say properly where I am, or where I
live, or anything else. All I know is that I am very dull.”

“You are not dull,” declared Miss Hare. “When an animal finds out that
he has much to learn, it is a good indication that he really knows
something. Only the ignorant are satisfied with their own imperfect way
of speaking. Now I will sing for you a little lullaby that an otter
formerly sang to her little one every night:”

SONG OF REST.

“_Set_ down your basket, busy little one;
Please _set_ it where it _sat_ yesterday,
And let it _sit_ there while I sing the song
You love to hear when daylight turns to gray.

“Now you _have set_ the basket in its place;
It _sits_ just where you _set_ it oft before.
_Sit_ down beside me; do not speak a word,
And I will hush my babe to sleep once more.

“Now we _are sitting_ in the fading light,
As we _have sat_ before so many times.
While mother held you closely to her breast,
And evening bells rang out their golden chimes.

“_Lay_ down your toys, my busy little one.
When you _have laid_ them down I’ll sing to you;
We’ll let them _lie_ until the rosy morn
Again peeps o’er the valley bathed in dew.

“_Lie_ down; _lie_ closely as you _lay_ last night.
See, mother _lies_ beside her little one,
Just as she _lay_ last night to guard your rest
Until the east was lighted by the sun.

“Now _lie_ until your active little frame
Is tired of _lying_ in the same old way;
When we _have lain_ till sleep has sped again
We’ll rise to greet another joyous day.”

Hardly had Miss Hare finished singing the lullaby, when Billy Beaver
began thumping with his tail to let all the students of Beaver Creek
know that it was time to retire.

“Goodnight, Reynard. I hope you will sleep well,” said the teacher
kindly. “Goodnight, Tiny and Snowball and Winkie. I hope that my
criticisms will benefit you. Remember that I meant them all in
kindness. Is there anything I can do for you, Reynard?”

“Yes, please,” said the fox, hoarsely. “Tell Billy to bring me a cold
pan of water.”

“Poor fox! Poor fox! I will tell him to bring you a pan of _cold
water_,” said Miss Hare, with a hearty laugh that set her long ears to
bobbing. “It makes little difference whether or not the _pan_ is cold.”