Chapter V TOO MUCH COUSIN
REDDY WOODPECKER wished that he hadn’t been so pleasant to his cousin Mr. Flicker. It was all well enough for Mr. Flicker to drum upon Reddy’s bit of tin on the roof of the barn so long as he drummed late in the morning. But when he drummed early, as he sometimes did, it usually happened that Reddy had to wait before he could begin his own morning tattoo.
And Reddy Woodpecker didn’t like that at all. In fact it seemed to him that Mr. Flicker had quite forgotten his manners. For if he happened to reach the barn first, he never stopped drumming until he had all but drummed his head off. At least, that was the way it seemed to Reddy Woodpecker.
At such times Reddy did everything he could think of short of actually fighting to make Mr. Flicker stop. He made a sound like a tree toad, Utr-rr, Utr-r-r. He tapped on the shingles with his bill. He flew right over Mr. Flicker’s head. But it seemed as if Mr. Flicker simply couldn’t take a hint.
“I don’t like to order him to hop away,” thought Reddy. “He’s my cousin. Besides, he’s bigger than I am; and he does look terribly fierce with that black mustache.”
Though he may have looked fierce, Mr. Flicker always acted in the most pleasant manner possible. And when he finished his drumming he never failed to ask Reddy Woodpecker how he liked it.
It was a hard question for Reddy to answer, because he didn’t care in the least for Mr. Flicker’s tattoos. He thought his own were far better. Sometimes Reddy pretended not to hear his cousin’s question, but started drumming at once. Sometimes he said, “I believe that’s an improvement over yesterday’s tattoo.” And at last he exclaimed one morning, “You ought to join the Woodchuck brothers!”
Mr. Flicker was a great person to ask, “Why?” He asked it now.
“Because,” Reddy told him, “the Woodchuck brothers are famous whistlers. And they need somebody to drum for them while they whistle. I’ve often heard them chirping away by themselves over in the pasture. And as you must know, there’s no music that sounds better than drumming, with a little shrill whistling to go with it unless it’s a little whistling, with a plenty of loud drumming.”
Mr. Flicker’s favorite word “Why” sprang to his bill again. “Why,” he inquired, “do you not drum for the Woodchuck brothers yourself?”
Reddy Woodpecker shook his head.
“I want to practice more, before I join a troupe,” he said.
“There!” Mr. Flicker exclaimed. “I like to hear people talk that way. That shows that you don’t think you’re the best drummer in Pleasant Valley.”
“I don’t, eh?” said Reddy.
“No, you don’t!” said Mr. Flicker. And it was plain that he didn’t think so, either. But before Reddy could make up his mind to quarrel with his cousin Mr. Flicker asked him another question not “Why?” but “Where!” “Where” said Mr. Flicker earnestly “where can one find these Woodchuck brothers?”
“One can find them in the pasture, unless they’re in the clover patch. Just now they are probably in the pasture, for it’s a bit early in the season for clover.”
“The pasture!” repeated Mr. Flicker. “Ah! There must be ant hills in the pasture.”
“Hundreds of them!” said Reddy.
“Then I’ll go to see the Woodchuck brothers at once,” Mr. Flicker decided. So he flew off.