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HOME > Classical Novels > The Bad Little Owls > CHAPTER II CHAIK JAY CARRIES BAD NEWS
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 When Louie’s lantern went out, all the Woodsfolk to their holes as fast as ever they could go. All but Watch, Tommy Peele’s dog, who curled up just outside Louie’s blanket tent and went to sleep with one ear open, and Chaik the Jay.  
Poor Chaik was in a bad way. It was easy enough to fly over to the feast while the lantern was lit, but now, in the black dark, he couldn’t get home. He tried to fly. Bump! He hit a tree. “Ough! I can’t risk that again,” he thought to himself. “Wonder where I am? What’s more, I wonder where those Bad Little are?” He began tiptoeing around the trunk. First thing he knew his foot found a woodpecker hole. In he popped, without stopping to think. “Ah,” he , “this is luck! Mussy nest, though, I must tease Taps Woodpecker about his housekeeping. Whatever is this I’m stepping on?” He scratched round, feeling carefully with his claws. Then his feathers fluffed out with fright. “Great !” he . “It isn’t Tap’s nest at all any more. This is a mouse’s bones I’m on. I’m in the hole in the dead hickory where they killed Tap’s wife last year and stole the nest for themselves.” True enough. He had a right to be scared; he was in the little owls’ own hole.
There was a soft flutter just outside. He held his sharp ready for a fight, but he didn’t stir. He didn’t even breathe for quite a while. Nothing happened. “It’s the queerest thing,” he thought. “I should think this place should smell owlier than it does. Yes, and those bones are certainly old. I wonder——”
Right then a whispering interrupted him. It certainly was those owls. “What did you get?” said one. “I’ve got a mouse, a pretty good one, too.”
“More fool you,” said the other. “We could have cleaned up all those who were lying around and then had a mouse apiece if you hadn’t grabbed that one right off. He , and now that dog is on the for us.” Chaik guessed the mice had come out to pick up what the Woodsfolk left near Louie’s blanket tent, where Watch the Dog was asleep with one ear open, and the owls found them. “Give us a leg,” the went on.
“Go get one for yourself,” said the other rudely.
“I can’t,” the scary one. Chaik guessed it was the he-owl. “I’m scared of that dog. He moved when your mouse squeaked. I’d have had one, too, if you hadn’t been so greedy.”
“Oh, here, then. I’ll get another easy enough. That dog can’t catch me,” snapped his wife, clicking her beak. “But this thing has got to stop. We can’t be bothered with dogs and boys and everything right here on our hunting ground.”
“How can we help it?”
“I’m going to hunt up the Weasel. That’s what the mice ought to have done. He wouldn’t kill any more mice than Stripes and Tad Coon do between them, and if he settled here I can just tell you everybody else would have to move away—or get eaten. He’s the one to bring.”
“So would we,” protested the scary owl. “You can’t nest with him anywhere about. He can climb like Squirrel.”
“Well, what nesting did we do this year?” she back. “After those nasty jays pulled out all our feathers when they caught us in the Brushpile we couldn’t hunt enough to lay eggs, let alone raise a family!”
Suddenly the he-owl, who was much the scarier of the two, put up his beak and uncomfortably. “I smell feathers,” said he. “You haven’t been any birds, have you? I’m sure it’s feathers I’ve been noticing for the longest while.”
“Just suppose you stop plaguing me about that young seagull,” snapped his wife. “I like eating them, even if you don’t. It was a good half a hatching ago that I caught her, and you’re still yapping about it. The old ones never found who’d taken her.”
“Luckily they didn’t,” he said sulkily. “They’d have shouted it all over the . It’s no use having the birds picking on us, I tell you. We have troubles enough without that. Now that I’ve got a full set of feathers growing in I mean to keep them. This flying about without my tail is no fun.” He was so full of his troubles he forgot all about what he smelled. “Now you say you’re going to bring Killer the Weasel into these Woods and Fields. That’ll make the most trouble of all. He won’t do any more good than Silvertip the Fox nor Slyfoot the , and they were a whole lot safer for us. They didn’t climb. Why, his very mate can’t trust him.” He said this in a very shocked voice because he was just a little bit afraid of his own wife.
“Teeth and toenails!” she squawked. “Don’t you ever think? I don’t expect to do any of the trusting; I’ll leave it all to that skunk who’s even afraid of Bob White , and that sly, slippery-clawed Tad Coon, and that honey-whiskered Rabbit. They want to make friends, do they? I’ll show them a new friend all right enough. Killer can eat every last tail-tip of them if he’ll listen to me, and just so long as he keeps away from the barns, the men won’t bother to come after him.”
Chaik Jay heard every last word. Then he heard one of the owls flit away, but the sound was so faint he couldn’t tell whether the other had gone, too. He began to move, very carefully. But just the least scratch of his wings caught the ear of that scary little he-owl, who was still sitting on the limb outside. Pit-pit-pit, he clawed over toward the hole. Chaik could hear him . Now he’d look into it and see.
“Wauk! Waourr!” his wife from over by the pond. He stopped to listen. She was fluttering about like a crazy bird just outside of Louie Thomson’s tent. “Wah! Ur-r-rh, yah!” yapped Watch who had been sleeping with one ear open. “Wuk-uk-uk!” answered the bad little bird who had just been going to and see poor Chaik inside, ready for a battle in the dark, a battle which could only have one ending, a bunch of mussed blue feathers at the foot of the tree.
But the little owl never looked. He flapped his wings noisily because he was too excited to fly in proper owl fashion.
Off he flew to help his mate.
And that smart Chaik Jay did the cleverest thing—he flew right after the owl. He knew that owl hole wasn’t any place to hide in, and he knew he couldn’t find his way home. And the only way he could find Watch was to follow the owl.
It wasn’t any good for Chaik to fly quietly; his wings were so mussed he couldn’t, anyway. And he couldn’t in and out of the because he couldn’t see them as plainly as the little owl. All he could do was to follow the sound and be ready to dodge if the bad little bird took it into his head to at him.
But the owl wasn’t thinking about anything in the world but his mate. He really did love her, even if they quarreled. And he really meant to fight for her as bravely as ever he knew how. But he didn’t have to. For she came to meet him, squawking between each , so crazy scared that she flew right past him and all but collided with Chaik, who was following close on his stubby tail.
Chaik dipped, to get out of her way, and struck his wing against a branch. He went whirling tail over , not a bit like a bird, but quite like a cluster of leaves the bite off for an airplane to carry them back to earth when they want to dig down and make their homes for the winter time. He struck a bush and then went bouncing and sliding to the ground. For a minute he lay there, almost dazed, his poor little head in a whirl. How his poor wing did ache! He listened.
“It’s funny I don’t hear Watch,” thought Chaik. “I certainly heard him a minute ago.” He gave a little raspy whisper.
“Oh!” came a startled voice right above him. “I thought you were a mouse. Is that you, Chaik?” Watch must have been holding his breath as well as his paw, ready to pounce on him.
“Yes,” Chaik answered back. “What was all the racket over? What’s happening?”
“Those pesky whisktails,” Watch answered. He meant the mice. “Stripes Skunk or Tad Coon ought to have stayed to help me. They’ve been and scuffling over those corncobs left after Louie’s party, and the beetles Stripes’s kittens left lying round, until I couldn’t get a of sleep. Finally I snapped a paw to quiet them and hit feathers instead of fur. I guess I most squashed all the squawk right out of that little owl before I knew who she was and let her go again.”
“And I wish you’d killed her!” Chaik. “Put down your head. Their ears are so frightfully keen and they mustn’t hear a word. Listen! They’re going to bring Killer the Weasel to these Woods and Fields!”
“Great beef-bones! They can’t! They mustn’t! Oh, that’s too awful!”
“But they will,” Chaik insisted. “You’ll see. He’s going to fool us all into making friends and—well, you know what then! Not even my nest will be safe from him. Not even their own, but they’ll take that risk to get even with us because we jays pulled out their feathers so they couldn’t hunt enough this year to do any nesting. Now do you see?”

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