Longlegs the Blue Heron Receives Callers
Longlegs the Blue Heron felt decidedly out of sorts. It was a beautiful morning, too beautiful for any one to be feeling that way. Indeed, it was the same beautiful morning in which Grandfather Frog had caught so many foolish green flies.
Jolly, round, bright Mr. Sun was smiling his broadest. The Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind were dancing happily here and there over the Green Meadows, looking for some good turn to do for others. The little feathered people to whom Old Mother Nature has given the great blessing of music in their throats were pouring out their sweetest songs. So it seemed as if there was no good reason why Longlegs should feel out of sorts. The fact is the trouble with Longlegs was an empty stomach. Yes, Sir, that is what ailed Longlegs the Blue Heron that sunshiny morning. You know it is hard work to be hungry and happy at the same time.
So Longlegs stood on the edge of a shallow little pool in the Laughing Brook, grumbling to himself. Just a little while before, he had seen Little Joe Otter carrying home a big fish, and this had made him hungrier and more out of sorts than ever. In the first place it made him envious, and envy, you know, always stirs up bad feelings. He knew perfectly well that Little Joe had got that fish by boldly chasing it until he caught it, for Little Joe can swim even faster than a fish. But Longlegs chose to try to make himself think that it was all luck. Moreover, he wanted to blame some one for his own lack of success, as most people who fail do. So when Little Joe had called out: "Hi, Longlegs, what luck this fine morning?" Longlegs just pretended not to hear. But when Little Joe was out of sight and hearing, he began to grumble to himself.
"No wonder I have no luck with that fellow racing up and down the Laughing Brook," said he. "He isn't content to catch what he wants himself, but frightens the rest of the fish so that an honest fisherman like me has no chance at all. I don't see what Old Mother Nature was thinking of when she gave him a liking for fish. He and Billy Mink are just two worthless little scamps, born to make trouble for other people."
He was still grumbling when these two same little scamps poked their heads out of the grass on the other side of the little pool. "You look happy, Longlegs. Must be that you have had a good breakfast," said Little Joe, nudging Billy Mink.
Longlegs snapped his great bill angrily. "What are you doing here, spoiling my fishing?" he demanded. "Haven't you got the Big River and all the rest of the Laughing Brook to fool around in? This is my pool, and I'll thank you to keep away!"
Billy Mink chuckled so that Longlegs heard him, and that didn't improve his temper a bit. But before he could say anything more, Little Joe Otter spoke.
"Oh," said he, "we beg your pardon. We just happen to know that Grandfather Frog is sound asleep, and we thought that if you hadn't had good luck this morning, you might like to know about it. As long as you think so ill of us, we'll just run over and tell Blackcap the Night Heron."
Little Joe turned as if to start off in search of Blackcap at once. "Hold on a minute!" called Longlegs, and tried to make his voice sound pleasant, a difficult thing to do, because, you know, his voice is very harsh and disagreeable. "The truth is, I haven't had a mouthful of breakfast and to be hungry is apt to make me cross. Where did you say Grandfather Frog is?"
"I didn't say," replied Little Joe, "but if you really want to know, he is sitting on his big green lily-pad in the Smiling Pool fast asleep right in plain sight."
"Thank you," said Longlegs. "I believe I have an errand up that way, now I think of it. I believe I'll just go over and have a look at him. I have never seen him asleep."