Table of Contents
The Five Worlds of Larie
Gavia of Immer Lake
Eve and Petro
The Flying Clown
The Lost Dove
Little Solomon Otus
Bob, the Vagabond
 RIGHT in the very heart of Christmas-tree Land there
was a forest of firs that pointed to the sky as straight as
steeples. A hush lay over the forest, as if there were
something very wonderful there, that might be meant
for you if you were quiet and waited for it to come. Perhaps
you have felt like that when you walked down the
aisle of a church, with the sun shining through the lovely
glass in the windows. Men have often called the woods
"temples"; so there is, after all, nothing so very strange
in having a preacher live in the midst of the fir forest
that grew in Christmas-tree Land.
And the sermon itself was not very strange, for it was
about peace and good-will and love and helping the
world and being happy—all very proper things to hear
about while the bells in the city churches, way, way off,
were ringing their glad messages from the steeples.
But the minister was a queer one, and his very first
words would have made you smile. Not that you would
have laughed at him, you know. You would have
 smiled just because he had a way of making you feel
happy from the minute he began.
He sat on a small branch, and looked down from his
pulpit with a dear nod of his little head, which would
have made you want to cuddle him in the hollow of your
His robe was of gray and white and buff-colored
feathers, and he wore a black-feather cap and bib.
He began by singing his name. "Chick, D.D.," he
 called. Now, when a person has "D.D." written after
his name, we have a right to think that he is trying to
live so wisely that he can teach us how to be happier,
too. Of course Minister Chick had not earned those
letters by studying in college, like most parsons; but he
had learned the secret of a happy heart in his school
in the woods.
Yes, he began his service by singing his name; but
the real sermon he preached by the deeds he did and
the life he lived. So, while we listen to his happy song,
we can watch his busy hours, until we are acquainted
with the little black-capped minister who called himself
Chick's Christmas-trees were decorated, and no house
in the whole world had one lovelier that morning than
the hundreds that were all about him as far as he could
see. The dark-green branches of the pines and cedars
load held themselves out like arms waiting to be filled,
aiic the snow had been dropped on them in fluffy
iiiasses, by a quiet, windless storm. It had been very
yoft and lovely that way—a world all white and green
below,with a sky of wonderful blue that the firs pointed
like steeples. Then, as if that were not decoration
vii0~ęgh, another storm had come, and had put on the
klil,tcr that was brightest at the edge of the forest where
blic sun shone on it. The second storm had covered
 the soft white with dazzling ice. It had swept across
the white-barked birch trees and their purple-brown
branches, and had left them shining all over. It had
dripped icicles from the tips of all the twigs that now
shone in the sunlight brighter than candles, and tinkled
like little bells, when the breezes clicked them together,
in a tune that is called, "Woodland Music after an Ice-Storm."
That is the tune that played all about the black-capped
bird as he flitted out of the forest, singing,
 "Chick, D.D.," as he came. The clear cold air and the
exercise of flying after his night's sleep had given Chick
a good healthy appetite, and he had come out for his
He liked eggs very well, and there were, as he knew,
plenty of them on the birch trees, for many a time he
had breakfasted there. Eggs with shiny black shells,
not so big as the head of a pin; so wee, indeed, that it
took a hundred of them or more to make a meal for even
wasn'tlazy. He did n't have to have eggs
cooked and brought to his table. He loved to hunt for
them, and they were never too cold for him to relish; so
out he came to the birch trees, with a cheery "Chick,
D.D.," as if he were saying grace for the good food
tucked here and there along the branches.
When he alighted, though, it was n't the bark he
found, but a hard, thick coating of ice. The branches
rattled together as he moved among them and the icicles
that dangled down rang and clicked as they struck one
another. The ice-storm had locked in Chick's breakfast
eggs, and, try as he would with his little beak, he could
n't get through to find them.
So Chick's Christmas Day began with hardship: for,
though he sang gayly through the coldest weather, he
needed food to keep him strong and warm. He was not
 foolish enough to spend his morning searching through
the icy birch trees, for he had a wise little brain in his
head and soon found out that it was no use to stay there.
But he did n't go back to the forest and mope about it.
Oh, no. Off he flew, down the short hill slope, seeking
here and there as he went.
Where the soil was rocky under the snow, some sumachs
grew, and their branches of red berries looked like
gay Christmas decorations. The snow that had settled
heavily on them had partly melted, and the soaked
berries had stained it so that it looked like delicious
pink ice-cream. Some of the stain had dripped to the
snow below, so there were places that looked like pink
ice-cream there, too. Then the ice-storm had crusted it
over, and now it was a beautiful bit of bright color in the
midst of the white-and-green-and-blue Christmas.
Chick stopped hopefully at the sumach bushes, not
because he knew anything about ice-cream or cared a
great deal about the berries; but sometimes there were
plump little morsels hidden among them, that he liked
to pull out and eat. If there was anything there that
morning, though, it was locked in under the ice; and
Chick flew on to the willows that showed where the
brook ran in summer.
Ah, the willow cones! Surely they would not fail him!
He would put his bill in at the tip and down the very
 middle, and find a good tasty bit to start with, and then
he would feel about in other parts of the cone for small
insects, which often creep into such places for the winter.
The flight to the willows was full of courage. Surely
there would be a breakfast there for a hungry Chick!
But the ice was so heavy on the willows that it had
bent them down till the tips lay frozen into the crust
So from pantry to pantry Chick flew that morning,
and every single one of them had been locked tight with
an icy key. The day was very cold. Soon after the ice-storm,
the mercury in the thermometer over at the
Farm-House had dropped way down below the zero
mark, and the wind was in the north. But the cold did
not matter if Chick could find food. His feet were bare;
but that did not matter, either, if he could eat. Nothing
mattered to the brave little black-capped fellow, except
that he was hungry, oh, so hungry! and he had heard no
call from anywhere to tell him that any other bird had
found a breakfast, either.
No, the birds were all quiet, and the distant church-bells
had stopped their chimes, and the world was still.
Still, except for the click of the icicles on the twigs when
Chick or the wind shook them.
Then, suddenly, there was a sound so big and deep
drat it seemed to fill all the space from the white earth
 below to the blue sky above. A roaring
BOOOOOOOM,which was something like the waves rushing against a
rocky shore, and something like distant thunder, and
something like the noise of a great tree crashing to the
earth after it has been cut, and something like the sound
that comes before an earthquake.
It is not strange that Chick did not know that sound.
No one ever hears anything just like it, unless he is out
where the snow is very light and very deep and covered
with a crust.
Then, if the crust is broken suddenly in one place, it
may settle like the top of a puffed-up pie that is pricked;
and the air that has been prisoned under the crust is
pushed out with a strange and mighty sound.
So that big BOOOOOOOM meant that something had
broken the icy crust which, a moment before, had lain
over the soft snow, all whole, for a mile one way and a
mile another way, and half a mile to the Farm-House.
Yes, there was the Farmer Boy coming across the
field, to the orchard that stood on the sandy hillside
near the fir forest. He was walking on snowshoes, which
cracked the crust now and then; and twice on the way
to the orchard he heard a deep BOOOOOOOM, which he
loved just as much as he loved the silence of the field
when he stopped to listen now and then. For the win
ter sounds were so dear to the Farmer Boy who lived at
 the edge of Christmas-tree Land, that he would never
forget them even when he should become a man. He
would always remember the snowshoe tramps across
the meadow; and in after years, when his shoulders
held burdens he could not see, he would remember the
bulky load he carried that morning without minding
the weight a bit; for it was a big bag full of Christmas
gifts, and the more heavily it pressed against his shoulder,
the lighter his heart felt.
When he reached the orchard, he dropped the bag on
the snow and opened it. Part of the gifts he spilled in
a heap near the foot of a tree, and the rest he tied here
and there to the branches. Then he stood still and whistled
a clear sweet note that sounded like "Fee-bee."
Now, Chick, over by the willows had not known
what Booooooom meant, for that was not in his
language. But he understood "Fee-bee" in a minute,
although it was not nearly so loud. For those were
words he often used himself. They meant, perhaps,
many things; but always something pleasant. "Fee-bee"
was a call he recognized as surely as one boy
recognizes the signal whistle of his chum.
So, of course, Chick flew to the orchard as quickly as
lie could and found his present tied fast to a branch. The
tirnell of it, the feel of it, the taste of it, set him wild with
joy. He picked at it with his head up, and sang "Chick,
 D.D." He picked at it with his head down and called,
"Chick, D.D.D.D.D.D.D., Chick, D.D." He flew here
and there, too gay with happiness to stay long anywhere
and found presents tied to other branches, too. At each
one he sang "Chick, D.D., Chick, D.D.D. Dee Deee
Deeee." It was, "indeed" the song of a hungry bird
who had found good rich suet to nibble.
The Farmer Boy smiled when he heard it, and waited,
for he thought others would hear it, too. And they did.
Two birds with black-feather cap and bib heard it and
came; and before they had had time to go frantic with
delight and song, three others just like them came, and
then eight more, and by that time there was such a
"Chick"-ing and "D.D."-ing and such a whisking to
and fro of black caps and black bibs, that no one paid
much attention when Minister Chick, D.D., himself,
perched on a branch for a minute, and gave the sweetest
little warble that was ever heard on a winter's day.
Then he whistled "Fee-bee" very clearly, and went to
eating again, heeding the Farmer Boy no more than if
he were not there at all.
And he was n't there very long; for he was hungry,
too; and that made him think about the good whiff he
had smelled when he went through the kitchen with the
snowshoes under his arm, just before he strapped them
over his moccasins outside the door.
 Yes, that was the Farmer Boy going away with a clatter
over the snow-crust; but who were these coming
through the air, with jerky flight, and with a jerky note
something like "Twitterty-twit-twitterty-twit-twitterty-twitterty-twitterty-twit"?
They flew like goldfinches,
and they sounded like goldfinches, both in the twitterty
song of their flight and their "Tweeet" as they called
one another. But they were not goldfinches. Oh, my,
no! For they were dressed in gray, with darker gray
stripes at their sides; and when they scrambled twittering
down low enough to show their heads in the sunlight,
they could be seen to be wearing the loveliest of crimson
caps, and some of them had rosy breasts.
The redpolls had come! And they found on top of the
snow a pile of dusty sweepings from the hay-mow, with
grass-seeds in it and some cracked corn and crumbs.
And there were squash-seeds, and sunflower-seeds, and
seedy apple-cores that had been broken up in the grinder
used to crunch bones for the chickens; and there were
prune-pits that had been cracked with a hammer.
The joy-songs of the birds over the suet and seeds
seemed a signal through the countryside; and before
long others came, too.
Among them there was a black-and-white one, with a
patch of scarlet on the back of his head, who called,
"Ping," as if he were speaking through'his nose. There
 was one with slender bill and bobbed-off tail, black
cap and white breast, grunting, "Yank yank," softly, as
But there was none to come who was braver or hap-
pier than Chick, D.D., and none who sang so gayly.
After that good Christmas feast he and his flock returned
each day; and when, in due time, the ice melted from the
branches, it was n't just suet they ate. It was other
That is how it happened that when, early in the
spring, the Farmer Boy examined the apple-twigs, to see
whether he should put on a nicotine spray for the aphids
and an arsenical spray for the tent caterpillars, he
couldn't find enough aphids to spray or enough caterpillars,
either. Chick, D.D. and his flock had eaten their
Again, late in the summer, when it was time for the
yellow-necked caterpillars, the red-humped caterpillars,
the tiger caterpillars, and the rest of the hungry crew,
to strip the leaves from the orchard, the Farmer Boy
walked among the rows, to see how much poison he
would need to buy for the August spray. And again he
found that he need n't buy a single pound. Chick, D.D.
and his family were tending his orchard!
Yes, Minister Chick was a servant in the good world
he lived in. He saved leaves for the trees, he saved rosy
 apples for city girls and boys to eat, and he saved many
dollars in time and spray-money for the Farmer Boy.
And all he charged was a living wage: enough suet in
winter to tide him over the icy spells, and free house-rent
in the old hollow post the Farmer Boy had nailed to
the trunk of one of the apple trees.
That old hollow post was a wonderful home. Chick,
D.D. had crept into it for the first time Christmas afternoon,
when he had eaten until dusk overtook him before
he had time to fly back to the shelter of the fir forest.
He found that he liked that post. Its walls were thick
and they kept out the wind; and, besides, was it not
handy by the suet?
In the spring he liked it for another reason, too—the
best reason in the world. It gave great happiness to
Mrs: Chick. "Fee-bee?" he had asked her as he called
her attention to it; and "Fee-bee," she had replied on
looking it over. So he said, "Chick, D. D." in delight,
and then perched near by, while he warbled cosily a brief
song jumbled full of joy.
Chick and his mate had indeed chosen well, for it is a
poor wall that will not work both ways. If the sides of
the hollow post had been thick enough to keep out the
coldest of the winter cold, they were also thick enough
to keep out the hottest of the summer heat. If they kept
out the wet of the driving storm, they held enough of the
 old-wood moisture within so that the room did not get
too dry. Of course, it needed a little repair. But, then,
what greater fun than putting improvements into a
home? Especially when it can be done by the family,
So Mr. and Mrs. Chick fell to work right cheerily, and
dug the hole deeper with their beaks. They did n't leave
the chips on the ground before their doorway, either.
They took them off to some distance, and had no heap
near by, as a sign to say, "A bird lives here." For, sociable
as they were all winter, they wanted quiet and
seclusion within the walls of their own home.
And such a home it was! After it had been hollowed
to a suitable depth, Chick had brought in a tuft of white
hair that a rabbit had left among the brambles. Mrs.
Chick had found some last year's thistle-down and some
this year's poplar cotton, and a horse-hair from the lane.
Then Chick had picked up a gay feather that had
floated down from a scarlet bird that sang in the tree-tops,
and tore off silk from a cocoon. So, bit by bit,
they gathered their treasures, until many a woodland
and meadow creature and plant had had a share in the
softness of a nest worthy of eight dear white eggs with
reddish-brown spots upon them. It was such a soft nest,
in fact, with such dear eggs in it, that Chick brooded
there cosily himself part of the time, and was happy
 to bring food to his mate when she took her turn.
In eleven or twelve days from the time the eggs were
laid, there were ten birds in that home instead of two.
The fortnight that followed was too busy for song.
Chick and his mate looked the orchard over even more
thoroughly than the Farmer Boy did; and before those
eight hungry babies of theirs were ready to leave the
nest, it began to seem as if Chick had eaten too many
insect eggs in the spring, there were so few caterpillars
hatching out. But the fewer there were, the harder they
hunted; and the harder they hunted, the scarcer became
the caterpillars. So when Dee, Chee, Fee, Wee, Lee,
Bee, Mee, and Zee were two weeks old, and came out of
the hollow post to seek their own living, the whole family
had to take to the birches until a new crop of insect
eggs had been laid in the orchard. This was no hardship.
It only added the zest of travel and adventure to the
pleasure of the days. Besides, it is n't just orchards that
Chick, D.D. and his kind take care of. It is forests and
Hither and yon they hopped and flitted, picking the
weevils out of the dead tips of the growing pine trees,
serving the beech trees such a good turn that the beech-nut
crop was the heavier for their visit, doing a bit for
the maple-sugar trees, and so on through the woodland.
Not only did they mount midget guard over the
 mighty trees, but they acted as pilots to hungry birds
less skillful than themselves in finding the best feeding-places.
"Chick, D.D.D.D.D.," they called in thanksgiving,
as they found great plenty; and warblers and
kinglets and creepers and many a bird beside knew the
sound, and gathered there to share the bountiful feast
that Chick, D.D. had discovered.
The gorgeous autumn came, the brighter, by the way,
for the leaves that Chick had saved. The Bob-o-links,
in traveling suits, had already left for the prairies of
Brazil and Paraguay, by way of Florida and Jamaica.
The strange honk of geese floated down from V-shaped
flocks, as if they were calling, "Southward Ho! " The
red-winged blackbirds gave a wonderful farewell chorus.
Flock by flock and kind by kind, the migrating birds
Well, never ask Chick, D.D. The north with its
snows is good enough for him. Warblers may go and
nuthatches may come. 'T is all one to Chick. He is not
a bird to follow fashions others set.
This bird-of-the-happy-heart has courage to meet the
coldest day with a joyous note of welcome. The winter
is cheerier for his song. And, as you have guessed, it is
not by word alone that he renders service. The trees
of the north are the healthier for his presence. Because
 of him, the purse of man is fatter, and his larder better
stocked. He has done no harm as harm is counted in the
world he lives in. It is written in books that, in all the
years, not one crime, not even one bad habit, is known
of any bird who has called himself "Chick, D.D. "
Because the world is always better for his living in it;
and because no one can watch the black-capped sprite
without catching, for a moment at least, a message of
cheer and courage and service, does he not name himself
rightly a minister?
Yes, surely, the little parson who dwells in the heart
of Christmas-tree Land has a right to his "D.D.," even
though he did not earn it in a college of men.
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