Gateway to the Classics: The Red Indian Fairy Book by Frances Jenkins Olcott
The Red Indian Fairy Book by  Frances Jenkins Olcott

The Woodpecker Girls


Now, Master Rabbit, after he had been so foolish, was not discouraged at all. And one day, when he was wandering about the wilderness, he came to a wigwam filled with pretty girls. They wore red feathers on their heads, and had long bills; and no wonder, for they were Woodpecker Girls!

As Master Rabbit was hungry and tired, he hoped that he would be asked to dinner, so he walked into the wigwam and spoke nicely to the girls. They asked him to sit down and eat with them. And so he sat down and waited.

By and by one of the girls took a little wooden dish, and ran lightly up the trunk of a tree. She stopped here and there, and tapped with her bill and pulled from the bark a lot of little insects, white like grains of rice. She filled her dish with them, and then ran down the tree, and cooked the insects for dinner.

When they had all dined, Master Rabbit said to himself, "Hi! Ho! how easily some people get their living! What is to hinder me from doing the same?" So he asked the Woodpecker Girls to dine with him in two days, and went home.

The day came, and the girls arrived, and, entering the wigwam, sat down. Then Master Rabbit said, "Wait while I go and get the dinner."

So he took a dish, and tied an Eel spear to his nose. He climbed up a tree as best he could, and tapped with the spear; but could not find a single insect. Instead, he tore his fur and cut his nose so that the blood ran out, and stained his head. And the only part of him that looked like a Woodpecker, was his red head!

Then all the pretty girls watched him, and laughed, and said, "What strange thing is he trying to do?"

"Ah," said his grandmother, "I suppose he has seen some one do that, and is trying to do the same thing."

"Is that all!" cried the prettiest Woodpecker Girl, and she called out to Master Rabbit, "Hi! Ho! Come down from there, and give me your dish!"

So Master Rabbit, ashamed and bleeding, came falling out of the tree, and crept into the wigwam, where his grandmother healed his head with herbs.

As for the prettiest Woodpecker Girl, she ran up the tree, and soon came back with her dish full of insects. Then all the girls, laughing hard at Master Rabbit, went off without waiting for dinner.

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