Major Monkey Confesses
Major Monkey seemed surprised when Jasper Jay told him that there wasn't a bird family in the whole valley that felt it could spare a single egg.
"Of course," said Jasper, "nobody cares how many Cowbirds' eggs you eat. The Cowbirds are pests. They are too lazy to build nests of their own. And no respectable bird family likes to have a loutish young Cowbird to bring up with their own children. But you have gone too far. You have been stealing eggs right and left. And the time has come for us to put a stop to your thieving."
A number of Jasper Jay's bird neighbors had gathered around him and Major Monkey while they talked. And they all spoke up and said in good, loud tones that Major Monkey was a villain--and worse.
Anyone might think that for once the Major would have acted the least bit ashamed. But he did not. He had not even the grace to say that he was sorry for making a few "mistakes."
Instead, he stuck his red cap on one side of his head and began dancing something that might have been a jig if it had been faster.
His actions made all the birds very angry. And some of them exclaimed that there was no reason to make merry, so far as they could see.
Major Monkey promptly stopped dancing and looked grieved.
"Perhaps you would dance, too, if you had just had a good meal of eggs," he remarked.
A shriek went up from his listeners. And old Mr. Crow exclaimed loudly: "Put him out! Put Major Monkey out!"
But nobody made a move. And Major Monkey turned to Mr. Crow and said:
"What's wrong? Have I said something I shouldn't?"
"Said!" the old gentleman echoed. "You've not only said a terrible thing; you've done a still worse one! For you've just been stealing eggs again--and you can't deny it."
A great clamor arose all at once.
"Hear! Hear!" Mr. Crow's friends cried.
And Major Monkey had hard work to make himself heard.
"Whose eggs do you think I've been eating?" he asked Mr. Crow.
Not knowing the exact answer to the question, Mr. Crow pretended not to hear it at all. But he looked so slyly at the Major that the Major himself was not deceived. He winked at Mr. Crow and shied a pebble at him.
"I'll tell you, old boy!" the Major cried. "I've been eating hens' eggs."
"Hens' eggs!" everybody repeated after him. "Hens' eggs! Where do you get 'em?"
"At Farmer Green's henhouse, of course," the Major answered. "I've been going there regularly for some time. I find that the eggs are bigger than any I can find in the woods."
"It's no wonder he's getting fat," Jasper Jay murmured as he gazed at Major Monkey.
"You'll have to stop eating so much," Mr. Crow told the Major solemnly. "Aunt Polly Woodchuck says that the reason you throw so many stones is because you overeat and feel in too high spirits."
Major Monkey looked disgusted when he heard that speech.
"Aunt Polly Fiddlesticks!" he jeered. "She doesn't know what she's talking about. Why, the more eggs I eat, the more time I must spend at the henhouse. And while I'm there I can't throw stones here, can I?"
Everybody had to agree with the Major. At least, everybody but Mr. Crow remarked that what he said seemed true.
"Now, friends," said Major Monkey at last, "if there have been any eggs missing from your nests lately you can't blame me."
"Then whom can we blame?" somebody cried.
"I'd hate to say," was Major Monkey's answer. But since he looked straight at Mr. Crow as he spoke, most of the company could not help thinking that the old gentleman was the thief, after all. And when he flew into a rage they felt quite sure he was guilty.
"We always knew Mr. Crow was an old rascal!" they exclaimed.
And so Mr. Crow took himself off. But he soon recovered his good spirits. He was used to being called names. And to tell the truth, he had taken a few eggs now and then--when he thought no one was watching.