Policeman Bluejay eBook: Page1

L. Frank Baum (2009)




  POLICEMAN BLUEJAY

  by

  LAURA BANCROFT

  Author ofThe Twinkle Tales, Etc.

  With Illustrations by Maginel Wright Enright

  [Frontispiece: "GO, BOTH OF YOU, AND JOIN THE BIRD THAT WARNED YOU"]

  ChicagoThe Reilly & Britton Co.Publishers

  Copyright, 1907byThe Reilly & Britton Co.

  The Lakeside PressR. R. Donnelley & Sons CompanyChicago

  To the Children

  I MUST admit that the great success of the "TWINKLE TALES" hasastonished me as much as it has delighted the solemn-eyed, hard workingpublishers. Therefore I have been encouraged to write a new "TWINKLEBOOK," hoping with all my heart that my little friends will find itworthy to occupy a place beside the others on their pet bookshelves.And because the children seem to especially love the story of "BanditJim Crow," and bird-life is sure to appeal alike to their hearts andtheir imaginations, I have again written about birds.

  The tale is fantastical, and intended to amuse rather than instruct;yet many of the traits of the feathered folk, herein described, are instrict accordance with natural history teachings and will serve toacquaint my readers with the habits of birds in their wildwood homes.At the same time my birds do unexpected things, because I have writtena fairy tale and not a natural history.

  The question is often asked me whether Twinkle and Chubbins were asleepor awake when they encountered these wonderful adventures; and itgrieves me to reflect that the modern child has been deprived of fairytales to such an extent that it does not know--as I did when a girl--that in a fairy story it does not matter whether one is awake or not.You must accept it as you would a fragrant breeze that cools your brow,a draught of sweet water, or the delicious flavor of a strawberry, andbe grateful for the pleasure it brings you, without stopping toquestion too closely its source.

  For my part I am glad if my stories serve to while away a pleasant hourbefore bedtime or keep one contented on a rainy day. In this way theyare sure to be useful, and if a little tenderness for the helplessanimals and birds is acquired with the amusement, the value of thetales will be doubled.

  LAURA BANCROFT.

  LIST OF CHAPTERS

  I LITTLE ONES IN TROUBLEII POLICEMAN BLUEJAYIII THE CHILD-LARKSIV AN AFTERNOON RECEPTIONV THE ORIOLE'S STORYVI A MERRY ADVENTUREVII THE BLUEJAY'S STORYVIII MRS. HOOTAWAYIX THE DESTROYERSX IN THE EAGLE'S NESTXI THE ORPHANSXII THE GUARDIANXIII THE KING BIRDXIV A REAL FAIRYLANDXV THE LAKE OF DRY WATERXVI THE BEAUTY DANCEXVII THE QUEEN BEEXVIII GOOD NEWSXIX THE REBELSXX THE BATTLEXXI THE TINGLE-BERRIESXXII THE TRANSFORMATION

  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

  "GO, BOTH OF YOU, AND JOIN THE BIRD THAT WARNED YOU"THE MAN STOLE THE EGGS FROM THE NESTTHE TRIAL OF THE SHRIKE"PEEP! PEEP! PEEP!" CRIED THE BABY GOLDFINCHESSAILING ON THE DRY WATERIN THE HONEY PALACETHE BATTLE"IT'S ALMOST DARK. LET'S GO HOME"

  [CHAPTER I] _Little Ones in Trouble_

  "SEEMS to me, Chub," said Twinkle, "that we're lost."

  "Seems to me, Twink," said Chubbins, "that it isn't _we_ that's lost.It's the path."

  "It was here a minute ago," declared Twinkle.

  "But it isn't here now," replied the boy.

  "That's true," said the girl.

  It really _was_ queer. They had followed the straight path into thegreat forest, and had only stopped for a moment to sit down and rest,with the basket between them and their backs to a big tree. Twinklewinked just twice, because she usually took a nap in the afternoon, andChubbins merely closed his eyes a second to find out if he could seethat long streak of sunshine through his pink eyelids. Yet during thissecond, which happened while Twinkle was winking, the path had run awayand left them without any guide or any notion which way they ought togo.

  Another strange thing was that when they jumped up to look around themthe nearest trees began sliding away, in a circle, leaving the littlegirl and boy in a clear space. And the trees continued moving back andback, farther and farther, until all their trunks were jammed tighttogether, and not even a mouse could have crept between them. They madea solid ring around Twinkle and Chubbins, who stood looking at thistransformation with wondering eyes.

  "It's a trap," said Chubbins; "and we're in it."

  "It looks that way," replied Twinkle, thoughtfully. "Isn't it lucky,Chub, we have the basket with us? If it wasn't for that, we mightstarve to death in our prison."

  "Oh, well," replied the little fellow, "the basket won't last long.There's plenty of starve in the bottom of it, Twinkle, any way you canfix it."

  "That's so; unless we can get out. Whatever do you suppose made thetrees behave that way, Chubbins?

  "Don't know," said the boy.

  Just then a queer creature dropped from a tree into the ring and beganmoving slowly toward them. It was flat in shape, like a big turtle;only it hadn't a turtle's hard shell. Instead, its body was coveredwith sharp prickers, like rose thorns, and it had two small red eyesthat looked cruel and wicked. The children could not see how many legsit had, but they must have been very short, because the creature movedso slowly over the ground.

  When it had drawn near to them it said, in a pleading tone that soundedsoft and rather musical:

  "Little girl, pick me up in your arms, and pet me!"

  Twinkle shrank back.

  "My! I couldn't _think_ of doing such a thing," she answered.

  Then the creature said:

  "Little boy, please pick me up in your arms, and pet me!"

  "Go 'way!" shouted Chubbins. "I wouldn't touch you for anything."

  The creature turned its red eyes first upon one and then upon theother.

  "Listen, my dears," it continued; "I was once a beautiful maiden, but acruel tuxix transformed me into this awful shape, and so must I remainuntil some child willingly takes me in its arms and pets me. Then, andnot till then, will I be restored to my proper form."

  "Don't believe it! Don't believe it!" cried a high, clear voice, andboth the boy and the girl looked quickly around to see who had spoken.But no one besides themselves was in sight, and they only noticed athick branch of one of the trees slightly swaying its leaves.

  "What is a tuxix?" asked Twinkle, who was beginning to feel sorry forthe poor creature.

  "It is a magician, a sorcerer, a wizard, and a witch all rolled intoone," was the answer; "and you can imagine what a dreadful thing thatwould be."

  "Be careful!" cried the clear voice, again. "It is the tuxix herselfwho is talking to you. Don't believe a word you hear!"

  At this the red eyes of the creature flashed fire with anger, and ittried to turn its clumsy body around to find the speaker. Twinkle andChubbins looked too, but only heard a flutter and a mocking laughcoming from the trees.

  "If I get my eye on that bird, it will never speak again," exclaimedthe creature, in a voice of fury very different from the sweet tones ithad at first used; and perhaps it was this fact that induced thechildren to believe the warning was from a friend, and they would dowell to heed it.

  "Whether you are the tuxix or not," said Twinkle, "I never will touchyou. You may be sure of that."

  "Nor I," declared Chubbins, stoutly, as he came closer to the girl andgrasped her hand in his own.

  At this the horrid thing bristled all its sharp prickers in anger, andsaid:

  "Then, if I cannot conquer you in one way, I will in another. Go, bothof you, and join the bird that warned you, and live in the air and thetrees until you repent your stubbornness and promise to become myslaves. The tuxix has spoken, and her magical powers are at work. Go!"

  In an instant Twinkle saw Chubbins shoot through the air and disappearamong the leaves of one of the tall trees. As he went he seemed to growvery small, and to change in shape.

&nbs
p; "Wait!" she cried. "I'm coming, too!"

  She was afraid of losing Chubbins, so she flew after him, feelingrather queer herself, and a moment after was safe in the tall tree,clinging with her toes to a branch and looking in amazement at the boywho sat beside her.

  Chubbins had been transformed into a pretty little bird--all, that is,except his head, which was Chubbins' own head reduced in size to fitthe bird body. It still had upon it the straw hat, which had also grownsmall in size, and the sight that met Twinkle's eyes was so funny thatshe laughed merrily, and her laugh was like the sweet warbling of askylark.

  Chubbins looked at her and saw almost what she saw; for Twinkle was abird too, except for her head, with its checked sunbonnet, which hadgrown small enough to fit the pretty, glossy-feathered body of a lark.

  Both of them had to cling fast to the branch with their toes, for theirarms and hands were now wings. The toes were long and sharp pointed, sothat they could be used in the place of fingers.

  "My!" exclaimed Twinkle; "you're a queer sight, Chubbins!"

  "So are you," answered the boy. "That mean old thing must have 'witchedus."

  "Yes, we're 'chanted," said Twinkle. "And now, what are we going to doabout it? We can't go home, for our folks would be scared nearly intofits. And we don't know the way home, either."

  "That's so," said Chubbins, fluttering his little wings to keep fromfalling, for he had nearly lost his balance.

  "What shall we do?" she continued.

  "Why, fly around and be gay and happy," said a clear and merry voicebeside them. "That's what birds are expected to do!"