"Look out!" cried Papa Brown, "I am going to push this old stub over. Out of the way, there, children!"
Johnnie and Lottie and May were already out of the way, and they looked in great delight to see the dry pine tumble and waver, and finally fall with a heavy thud to the ground, where it broke into two or three pieces. Besides the sound of the fall, the children heard a funny shrill squeak. Papa hear it, too, and hurried up.
"What is it!" called the children. Lottie said she thought it might be a rattlesnake. "No," said May, "no rattlesnake; but maybe it is a rabbit."
"How would a rabbit look climbing a tree?" laughed Johnnie. "What is it, papa?"
"Come and see," said papa, smiling. They went up slowly, because not one of them could think what made that funny little squeak. There, spilled out of their nest in the broken stub, were seven queer-looking birds, with flat bodies and big bills, and not a feather on them.
"Oh, dear!" cried Lottie, "what made you upset it, papa?"
"I did not know there was a red-headed woodpecker's nest in it," answered papa.
While they were all feeling so very sorry, Papa Brown said, "Suppose we try to make a nest for them. There is another old stub. Would you all like to help?"
Papa did not have to wait for the answer, for they all clapped their hands for joy. "Go and bring the auger, Johnnie, and I will get the ladder," said he.
"What will I do?" said May.
"Oh, the dear little birds!" said Lottie. "I'm afraid they will take cold. Let us cover them with our aprons and keep them nice and warm until their new home is ready."
In less than ten minutes the auger and ladder were ready for use, and papa was ready to use them. He placed the ladder against the stub, and went up and bored a hole with the auger, and made it larger with his knife. "It is all soft wood inside," he said to Johnnie, coming down. "Now, Johnnie, see what you can do."
So Johnnie took his turn in climbing the ladder. Very soon he had scraped a little hollow within the stub, and was careful to make it just as large as the other had been. "There," said he, "it is finished!"
"Yes," answered papa, "but we had to use the auger, ladder and knife in making it, while the woodpecker only uses his bill."
"Do you suppose the old bird will find it?" asked Lottie.
"I think so," said papa, taking the birds in his hat and carefully placing them in the nest. "And now we will go a short distance away from here, for I see the birds coming home."
So they ran to a log near by, and watched them. At first the birds appeared frightened, but the next minute they found the nest, and then happily flew around and around as though trying to give thanks to Papa Brown and all the children.
"Oh!" said Lottie, the little one, "I will run home and tell mamma all about the nice time we have had;" and away she ran as fast as her little feet would carry her.
A Fictional Short Story by
Agnes Taylor Ketchum & Ida M. Jorgensen