Policeman Bluejay eBook: Page2

L. Frank Baum (2009)


  [CHAPTER II] _The Forest Guardian_

  Twinkle and Chubbins twisted their heads around on their littlefeathered necks and saw perched beside them a big bird of a mostbeautiful blue color. At first they were a bit frightened, for thenewcomer seemed of giant size beside their little lark bodies, and hewas, moreover, quite fierce in appearance, having a crest of feathersthat came to a point above his head, and a strong beak and sharptalons. But Twinkle looked full into the shrewd, bright eye, and foundit good humored and twinkling; so she plucked up courage and asked:

  "Were you speaking to us?"

  "Very likely," replied the blue bird, in a cheerful tone. "There's noone else around to speak to."

  "And was it you who warned us against that dreadful creature below inthe forest?" she continued.

  "It was."

  "Then," said Twinkle, "we are very much obliged to you."

  "Don't mention it," said the other. "I'm the forest policeman--Policeman Bluejay, you know--and it's my duty to look after everyonewho is in trouble."

  "We're in trouble, all right," said Chubbins, sorrowfully.

  "Well, it might have been worse," remarked Policeman Bluejay, making achuckling sound in his throat that Twinkle thought was meant for alaugh. "If you had ever touched the old tuxix she would havetransformed you into toads or lizards. That is an old trick of hers, toget children into her power and then change them into things asloathsome as herself."

  "I wouldn't have touched her, anyhow," said Twinkle.

  "Nor I!" cried Chubbins, in his shrill, bird-like voice. "She wasn'tnice."

  "Still, it was good of you to warn us," Twinkle added, sweetly.

  The Bluejay looked upon the fluttering little things with kindapproval. Then he laughed outright.

  "What has happened to your heads?" he asked.

  "Nothing, 'cept they're smaller," replied Chubbins.

  "But birds shouldn't have human heads," retorted the bluejay. "Isuppose the old tuxix did that so the birds would not admit you intotheir society, for you are neither all bird nor all human. But nevermind; I'll explain your case, and you may be sure all the birds of theforest will be kind to you."

  "Must we stay like this always?" asked Twinkle, anxiously.

  "I really can't say," answered the policeman. "There is said to be away to break every enchantment, if one knows what it is. The trouble inthese cases is to discover what the charm may be that will restore youto your natural shapes. But just now you must make up your minds tolive in our forest for a time, and to be as happy as you can under thecircumstances."

  "Well, we'll try," said Chubbins, with a sigh.

  "That's right," exclaimed Policeman Bluejay, nodding his crest inapproval. "The first thing you must have is a house; so, if you willfly with me, I will try to find you one."

  "I--I'm afraid!" said Twinkle, nervously.

  "The larks," declared the bluejay, "are almost the strongest and bestflyers we have. You two children have now become skylarks, and may soarso high in the air that you can scarcely see the earth below you. Forthat reason you need have no fear whatever. Be bold and brave, and allwill be well."

  He spoke in such a kindly and confident voice that both Twinkle andChubbins gained courage; and when the policeman added: "Come on!" andflew straight as an arrow into the air above the tree-tops, the twolittle skylarks with their girl and boy heads followed swiftly afterhim, and had no trouble in going just as fast as their conductor.

  It was quite a pleasant and interesting experience, to dart through theair and be in no danger of falling. When they rested on theiroutstretched wings they floated as lightly as bubbles, and soon ajoyous thrill took possession of them and they began to understand whyit is that the free, wild birds are always so happy in their nativestate.

  The forest was everywhere under them, for it was of vast extent.Presently the bluejay swooped downward and alighted near the top of atall maple tree that had many thick branches.

  In a second Twinkle and Chubbins were beside him, their little heartsbeating fast in their glossy bosoms from the excitement of their rapidflight. Just in front of them, firmly fastened to a crotch of a limb,was a neatly built nest of a gray color, lined inside with some softsubstance that was as smooth as satin.

  "Here," said their thoughtful friend, "is the nest that Niddie Thrushand Daisy Thrush built for themselves a year ago. They have now gone tolive in a wood across the big river, so you are welcome to their oldhome. It is almost as good as new, and there is no rent to pay."

  "It's awfully small!" said Chubbins.

  "Chut-chut!" twittered Policeman Bluejay. "Remember you are notchildren now, but skylarks, and that this is a thrush's nest. Try it,and you are sure to find it will fit you exactly."

  So Twinkle and Chubbins flew into the "house" and nestled their bodiesagainst its soft lining and found that their friend was right. Whenthey were cuddled together, with their slender legs tucked into thefeathers of their breasts, they just filled the nest to the brim, andno more room was necessary.

  "Now, I'll mark the nest for you, so that everyone will know you claimit," said the policeman; and with his bill he pecked a row of smalldots in the bark of the limb, just beside the nest. "I hope you will bevery happy here, and this afternoon I will bring some friends to meetyou. So now good-bye until I see you again."

  "Wait!" cried Chubbins. "What are we going to eat?"

  "Eat!" answered the bluejay, as if surprised. "Why, you may feast uponall the good things the forest offers--grubs, beetles, worms, andbutterfly-eggs."

  "Ugh!" gasped Chubbins. "It makes me sick to just think of it."

  "What!"

  "You see," said Twinkle, "we are not _all_ birds, Mr. Bluejay, as youare; and that makes a big difference. We have no bills to pick up thethings that birds like to eat, and we do not care for the same sort offood, either."

  "What _do_ you care for?" asked the policeman, in a puzzled voice.

  "Why, cake and sandwitches, and pickles, and cheese, such as we had inour basket. We couldn't _eat_ any live things, you see, because we arenot used to it."

  The bluejay became thoughtful.

  "I understand your objection," he said, "and perhaps you are right, nothaving good bird sense because the brains in your heads are still humanbrains. Let me see: what can I do to help you?"

  The children did not speak, but watched him anxiously.

  "Where did you leave your basket?" he finally asked.

  "In the place where the old witch 'chanted us."

  "Then," said the officer of the forest, "I must try to get it for you."

  "It is too big and heavy for a bird to carry," suggested Twinkle.

  "Sure enough. Of course. That's a fact." He turned his crested headupward, trying to think of a way, and saw a black speck moving acrossthe sky.

  "Wait a minute! I'll be back," he called, and darted upward like aflash.

  The children watched him mount into the sky toward the black speck, andheard his voice crying out in sharp, quick notes. And before longPoliceman Bluejay attracted the other bird's attention, causing it topause in its flight and sink slowly downward until the two drew closetogether.

  Then it was seen that the other bird was a great eagle, strong andsharp-eyed, and with broad wings that spread at least six feet from tipto tip.

  "Good day, friend eagle," said the bluejay; "I hope you are in nohurry, for I want to ask you to do me a great favor."

  "What is it?" asked the eagle, in a big, deep voice.

  "Please go to a part of the forest with me and carry a basket to somefriends of mine. I'll show you the way. It is too heavy for me to lift,but with your great strength you can do it easily."

  "It will give me pleasure to so favor you," replied the eagle,politely; so Policeman Bluejay led the way and the eagle followed withsuch mighty strokes of its wings that the air was sent whirling inlittle eddies behind him, as the water is churned by a steamer'spaddles.

  It was not very long before they reached the clearing in the
forest.The horrid tuxix had wriggled her evil body away, to soothe herdisappointment by some other wicked act; but the basket stood as thechildren had left it.

  The eagle seized the handle in his stout beak and found it was notrouble at all for him to fly into the air and carry the basket withhim.

  "This way, please--this way!" chirped the bluejay; and the eagle borethe precious burden safely to the maple tree, and hung it upon a limbjust above the nest.

  As he approached he made such a fierce fluttering that Twinkle andChubbins were dreadfully scared and flew out of their nest, hoppingfrom limb to limb until they were well out of the monstrous bird's way.But when they saw the basket, and realized the eagle's kindly act, theyflew toward him and thanked him very earnestly for his assistance.

  "Goodness me!" exclaimed the eagle, turning his head first on one sideand then on the other, that both his bright eyes might observe thechild-larks; "what curious creatures have you here, my good policeman?"

  "Why, it is another trick of old Hautau, the tuxix. She found twochildren in the forest and enchanted them. She wanted to make themtoads, but they wouldn't touch her, so she couldn't. Then she gotherself into a fine rage and made the little dears half birds and halfchildren, as you see them. I was in a tree near by, and saw the wholething. Because I was sorry for the innocent victims I befriended them,and as this basket belongs to them I have asked you to fetch it totheir nest."

  "I am glad to be of service," replied the eagle. "If ever you need me,and I am anywhere around," he continued, addressing the larks, "justcall me, and I will come at once."

  "Thank you," said Twinkle, gratefully.

  "We're much obliged," added Chubbins.

  Then the eagle flew away, and when he was gone Policeman Bluejay alsobade them good-bye.

  "I'll be back this afternoon, without fail," he said. "Just now I mustgo and look over the forest, and make sure none of the birds have beenin mischief during my absence. Do not go very far from your nest, for atime, or you may get lost. The forest is a big place; but when you aremore used to it and to your new condition you can be more bold inventuring abroad."

  "We won't leave this tree," promised Twinkle, in an earnest voice.

  And Chubbins chimed in with, "That's right; we won't leave this treeuntil you come back."

  "Good-bye," said the policeman.

  "Good-bye," responded Twinkle and Chubbins.

  So the bluejay darted away and was soon lost to sight, and Twinkle andChubbins were left alone to seriously consider the great misfortunethat had overtaken them.