Chapter III MORNING TATTOOS
IN the spring Reddy Woodpecker liked to drum.
He never felt that a pleasant day was rightly begun unless he played a tattoo early in the morning. So upon his arrival in Pleasant Valley he began promptly to look about for a good drumming place.
It wasn’t long before he discovered a strip of tin nailed upon the roof of Farmer Green’s barn.
“Ah!” cried Reddy the moment he spied this treasure. “Just what I need!” And settling himself down upon it he hammered out a long, rolling tattoo with his strong bill.
It mattered not to him that Farmer Green’s family was sound asleep. He didn’t care whether he disturbed anybody. He liked to hear his own drumming; and he intended to drum.
“This is the finest drumming place I’ve ever had!” Reddy Woodpecker cried aloud. “I don’t care if the neighbors are disagreeable to me. I’m glad I came here to spend the summer.”
So he made good use of that bit of tin with which Farmer Green had mended the roof of the barn. Each morning (if it wasn’t raining) he flew to the barn to beat his tattoo. And he began to speak of “My tin,” and “My roof,” and even of “My barn!”
Then, one morning, Reddy was a bit lazy. He was late about his morning drumming. And before he had left the orchard where he had decided to live he heard a sound that gave him a great start. From the direction of the barn came a rolling beat which filled him with dismay.
“Who’s that drumming?” he exclaimed. “It can’t be myself, because I’m here in the orchard.” Then all at once he became terribly angry. “It’s somebody else!” he muttered. “Somebody has stolen my drumming place, my piece of tin, my roof my barn!”
He flung himself off the old, dead apple tree where he had been looking for grubs for his breakfast and flew straight towards the rolling sound which still beat upon the air.
It was just as he had feared. A stranger sat upon the strip of tin pounding away with his bill as if it were his duty to waken everybody in Pleasant Valley. He wasn’t as handsomely dressed as Reddy Woodpecker. He wore a brown and gray and black suit, with a patch of white low down upon his back and a splash of red on the back of his head. From each side of his bill reached a black mustache. This mustache gave the strange drummer a brigandish air which made Reddy Woodpecker think twice before he spoke to him. But Reddy was so angry that he just had to say something.
“Hop away from there!” he cried.
The stranger stopped drumming and looked up with a smile. He said only one word. It was “Why?”
“Because,” said Reddy Woodpecker, “that bit of tin belongs to me.”
“Does it ?” asked the other. “I thought it belonged to Farmer Green.”
Reddy Woodpecker noticed that the stranger was bigger than he was. And that fact, as well as the fierce mustache, made him hesitate again. He wanted to call the stranger a name. But he didn’t quite dare.
Then the stranger spoke again. He spoke very agreeably, too.
“What use do you make of this tin?” he inquired.
“I drum on it,” Reddy replied.
“Oh!” said the gentleman with the mustache. “Why didn’t you say so before?” And he bowed and scraped in a most polite fashion. “I resign!” he cried. In another moment he was gone.
Reddy Woodpecker hastened to beat his morning tattoo upon the tin. And while he was drumming he noticed a Barn Swallow watching him.
“Who was that chap that just left?” he asked.
“Don’t you know him?” Mr. Barn Swallow exclaimed. “That’s Mr. Flicker.”
“Huh!” Reddy Woodpecker grunted. “I don’t think much of his drumming.”
“You ought to,” remarked Mr. Barn Swallow.
“Why?” Reddy inquired.
“Because he’s a distant cousin of yours,” Mr. Barn Swallow explained. “He belongs to the Woodpecker family.”