HE Wild Turkeys are a
wandering people, and stay in one place only long
enough to rear their young. One could hardly say that
they lived in the Forest, but every year when the
acorns and beechnuts were ripe, they came for a visit.
It is always an exciting time when the Turkeys are seen
gathering on the farther side of the river and
making ready to fly over. Some of the
It was so this year. One morning a
"I've never seen Turkeys in my life," said the young
Rabbit, "and they say it is great fun to watch them.
Oh, please come with me to the
won't be sleepy when you reach the
At this, the
When they reached the
"Look at them now!" he cried. "Why do those largest ones walk up and down in front of the rest and scold them?"
"They are the
Gobblers," answered the
"Now the others are doing the same thing," said the Rabbit, as the mothers and young Turkeys began to strut back and forth.
that they are willing to cross," answered the
The Rabbit wandered around and ate all the good things he could find. Then he fell to wondering how it would feel to be a bird. He thought it would be great fun to fly. To pass so swiftly through the air must be delightful, and then to sweep grandly down and alight softly on the ground without having people know that you were coming!
He had a good mind to try it. There was nobody to watch him, and he crept up the trunk of a fallen tree which leaned over against its neighbors. It was a foolish thing to do, and he knew it, but young Rabbits are too full of mischief to always be wise.
"I will hold my hind legs very still," he thought, "and flap my forelegs for wings." With that he jumped off and came crashing down upon the dry leaves. He felt weak and dizzy, and as he picked himself up and looked around he hoped that nobody had seen him. "It may be a great deal of fun to fly," he said, "but it is no fun alighting from your flight unless you have real feather wings. It is too bumpy when you fly with your legs."
At this minute he
heard an old Gobbler call out, and saw the flock of
Turkeys coming toward him. "Wake up! Wake up!" he
cried to the
Still the Turkeys came nearer. The Rabbit
could see that the fat old ones were getting ahead of
the others, and that here and there a young or weak
Turkey had to drop into the river and swim, because his
wings were tired. They got so near that he could see
the queer little tufts of wiry feathers which the
hanging from their breast, and
could see the swaying scarlet wattles under their
beaks. He called again to the
The Ground Hog turned over, stretched, yawned, moved his jaws a few times as though he dreamed of eating fresh spring grass, and then fell asleep once more. After that the Rabbit left him alone.
The first to alight were the Gobblers, and they began at once to strut and chatter. Next came the mother Turkeys and their young, and last of all came the weak ones who swam across. It was a fine sight to see them come in. The swimmers spread their tails, folded their wings tightly, stretched their necks, and struck out swiftly and strongly with their feet.
The young Rabbit could hear a group of mothers talking together. "The Gobblers are growing quite fond of the children," said one.
"Yes," said another; "my husband told me yesterday that he was very proud of our little ones."
"Well, it is the season for them to begin to walk together," said the first speaker; "but I never in my life had such a time as I had this spring. I thought my husband would break every egg I laid."
"I had a hard time too," said the other. "None of my eggs were broken, but after my chicks were hatched I had to hurry them out of their father's sight a dozen times a day."
"It is very trying," said a third mother Turkey with a sigh; "but that is always the way with the Gobblers. I suppose the dear fellows can't help it;" and she looked lovingly over at her husband as he strutted around with his friends. You would not have believed if you had seen her fond looks, and heard her husband's tender "Gobble," that they had hardly spoken to each other all summer. To be sure, it was not now as it had been in the springtime. Then he would have beaten any other Gobbler who came near her, he loved her so; still, the Rabbit could see as he watched them that when he found some very large and fine acorns, this Gobbler would not eat them all, but called his wife to come and share with him; and he knew that they were happy together in their own Turkey way of being happy.
At this minute the
"That is right,"
When he was gone, the Turkeys said: "How very kind of him!" and "What fine manners!" And the young Rabbit thought to himself: "It is queer. He was sleepy and his fur was rumpled, and that leaf bobbed around his ear when he talked. He said 'evening' instead of 'morning,' and spoke as though Turkeys came here to eat grass. And yet they all liked him, and were pleased by what he said."
You see the young Rabbit had not yet learned that the power of fine manners is more than that of looks; and that people could not think of the Ground Hog's mistakes in speaking because they knew his kindness of heart.