Chapter II GETTING ACQUAINTED
“I DON’T believe,” said Mrs. Jolly Robin after old Mr. Crow had flown off in a rage. “I don’t believe this Mr. Woodpecker can be such a bad person as Mr. Crow thinks. He certainly wears very stylish clothes and a very handsome red cap.”
“Clothes,” said little Mr. Chippy severely, “clothes don’t tell whether their wearer has a taste for eggs. Now, I wear a red cap. To be sure, it isn’t as bright, perhaps, nor as big, as Mr. Woodpecker’s. But it’s a red cap, all the same. And everybody knows that I don’t eat eggs. Everybody knows I’m no nest robber.”
“You don’t look like one!” cried a strange voice which made everybody jump. It was the newcomer, Mr. Woodpecker, himself! Unnoticed, he had flown up. And now he perched on a limb nearby. “You don’t look any more like a nest robber than I do,” he told Mr. Chippy.
The whole company stared at him; and then stared at little Mr. Chippy. There was a vast difference between them. Mr. Chippy was a tiny, meek person, while Mr. Woodpecker was as bold as brass. Mr. Chippy was modestly dressed; and his cap, though it was reddish, was of a dull hue. But the newcomer wore a flashy suit of dark steel blue and white; and his cap was both very big and very red. Mr. Chippy was a shy body who said little; and when he did speak it was usually only to utter a faint chip, chip, chip, chip. But Mr. Woodpecker was very talkative.
When he spoke you didn’t have to strain your ears to hear what he said.
Mr. Woodpecker gave a quick glance all about and cried, “Howdy do!”
“Good morning, Mr. Woodpecker!” the birds greeted him.
“Don’t call me ‘Mister!’” he said. “My name is Reddy, Reddy Woodpecker.” Then he turned to little, shrinking Mr. Chippy and his wife. “I can see that you’re worried about your eggs,” he remarked. “I suppose your nest is hidden not far away.”
Mr. and Mrs. Chippy looked most uncomfortable. They didn’t quite dare speak to such a grand person as Reddy.
“Where’s your nest?” Reddy asked them bluntly.
“Chip, chip, chip, chip!” said Mr. Chippy. “Chip, chip, chip, chip!” said his wife.
“What sort of answer is that to a civil question?” Reddy Woodpecker blustered. “Here I’ve just made your acquaintance. And I’ve asked you to call me by my first name. And you won’t even tell me where you live!”
Mr. and Mrs. Chippy didn’t know what to say. It was lucky for them that Mr. Catbird came to their rescue.
“Don’t bully these good people!” Mr. Catbird cried, as he settled himself right in front of Reddy Woodpecker. “If you had heard what old Mr. Crow said about you, just before you arrived, you’d understand why Mr. and Mrs. Chippy don’t care to tell you where their nest is.”
Reddy glared at Mr. Catbird.
“Old Mr. Crow? Who’s he?” Reddy demanded. “I haven’t made his acquaintance. I’m sure he can’t know anything about me.”
“Ah! Perhaps not!” Mr. Catbird answered. “But he knows what sort of family yours is. He has met others like you.”
Reddy sniffed. “I never saw a Crow that wasn’t a rascally blackguard,” he snapped. “There never was a Crow that wasn’t a nest robber.”
“Chip, chip, chip, chip!” Mr. Chippy interrupted.
“What’s he saying?” Reddy Woodpecker asked Mr. Catbird.
“He says he agrees with you.”
“Then he has more sense than I thought,” Reddy observed. “And if Mr. Crow spoke ill of me I hope Mr. Chippy has enough sense not to believe him.”
“Chip, chip, chip, chip!”
“What’s he saying now?” Reddy Woodpecker demanded of Mr. Catbird.
“He says he agrees with Mr. Crow,” Mr. Catbird explained very pleasantly.
“Then he hasn’t any sense at all!” cried Reddy.
The whole company couldn’t help giggling when he said that. And Reddy Woodpecker promptly lost his temper.
“I’ve planned to spend the summer here,” he said. “It’s too late now to move on. But I can understand at last why none of my family has visited this neighborhood for many years. It’s a pleasant enough place. But the neighbors aren’t my sort at all.”
“Chip, chip, chip, chip!” piped Mr. Chippy.
“He says he agrees with you,” Mr. Catbird told Reddy Woodpecker. And then he added, “Meaow!” And he gave himself a jerk and spread his tail, all of which told Reddy Woodpecker plainly that Mr. Catbird had a very poor opinion of him.