Scanned by Deidre Johnson for her
19th-Century Girls' Series website;
please do not use on other sites without permission
EARLY one morning, at the end of about two weeks, Mrs. Robin was awakened by a feeble chirp. O, how fast and strong her heart beat! This, as she afterward said, was the happiest moment of her life. She awoke her husband, and told him the good news. He flew to the side of the nest, and fluttered around it. Indeed, he was in such a state of exquisite delight, that he didn't know what to do with himself.
"There, there!" exclaimed the happy mother; "I heard it again. Darling little birdling!" she said, in the fondest tone, "your parents welcome you with joyful hearts."
Mr. Robin flew away to the Observatory, and warbled such a strain as his wife had never heard before. It was full of love, and joy, and bliss, and thankfulness. When he came back to the nest, he said, "I believe, my dear, if I could not sing, my heart would burst." He then offered to go and bring her some breakfast.
"O, no!" she exclaimed; "I am too excited and too happy to eat. To think of the joy I shall have in giving my darlings their food!"
"Perhaps," said Mr. Robin, "I had better go and be finding some worms."
"Not yet," answered his wife; "let us try to restrain our impatience, that we may know exactly what to do. I think, by the movement in the next, that one has broken loose from the shell. I long to rise and look, but that would not be wise. The others will not be long behind; and then we must carefully remove the sharp pieces of shell from the nest, that they may not cut their tender flesh."
Presently two, three, distinct chirps were heard by Mr. Robin, who put down his ear to the nest.
"They are coming on bravely," he exclaimed, dancing first on one foot and then on the other. "I am the grateful father of three nestlings."
The mother's heart was too full for words. She held down her head upon her breast, and uttered sounds full of yearning tenderness such as only a mother can make.
At length the happy moment arrives, when she can safely arise from the newly-fledged brood. There are four young robins, as healthy and fine a family as one would wish to see. All is now noise and excitement. The father picks up in his beak one piece of egg-shell after another, and throws it from the next. The mother removes such as still adhere to the tender skin, all the time answering the eager, hungry birdlets, as they chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp, with a thousand words of love.
"Now," said Mr. Robin, "I will soon have breakfast ready for you, my darlings; " and he flew rapidly down to the garden. When he returned, there were four mouths wide open to receive the food. He lays the long worm on the side of the nest, parts it with his beak, feeds two of them, and then hastens away for more.
When he had returned for the eighth time, Mrs. Robin laughed, as she said, "What hearty little dears they are, to be sure! But I suppose they are very hungry this first morning of their lives."
"Now," said he, "they have eaten enough. Annie is calling at the door; let us go down together and eat some crumbs."
"I hardly feel safe to leave them so soon," she answered, gazing tenderly into the nest. "I do not feel hungry at all, and will wait until you come back."
So away he flew, and, after eating a few worms, hopped to the yard, where Fred and Annie were awaiting him.
Grandpa had heard the chirping, and had told them the young robins were hatched. "If you watch," said he, "you can see the father and mother carrying them their food. Before long they will begin to teach the little ones to hop from bough to bough, and then to fly down to the ground and help themselves to crumbs.["]
Mr. Robin walked up close to Annie's feet, and looked up in her face as if he wanted to tell her the good news, and have her sympathize in his joy.
"Do see him!" said Fred; "how he straightens up his little head, and cocks it so knowingly. He is very proud of his birdlings. I wonder what kind of a father he will make."
"O, O!" cried Annie, joyfully, "birdie took bread right out of my hand."
And it was really so. Mr. Robin had grown so familiar, that when the dear child held out her fat palm, he picked up the crumbs in it with his beak, without any fear.
The children laughed merrily at this new proof of friendship. "I mean to teach them to do so every day," said Fred.
"Robins are easily tamed by kindness," said grandpa. "I have heard of one who was taught to shoulder a little gun, and at his master's word of command, to present it and fire."
"O grandpa!" exclaimed Fred, "do you suppose a robin could really be taught that!"
"Yes, child. God has given birds a most wonderful degree of instinct and intelligence. But listen! What a loud chirping! I suppose Robin carried a crumb in his bill, and they all want it."
"O FRED! here comes the other robin for her breakfast," shouted Annie; "and the crumbs are all gone."
THE GREEDY ROBIN.
"I'll run and ask mother for some more," said the boy. Presently he appeared with a plate, and sitting on the lower step, held out his hand, calling, "Birdie, birdie; come, birdie."
Mrs. Robin hopped boldly up and took the offered food.
"Call mother," said Fred, softly; "I want her to see how tame the robins are."
Mrs. Symmes left her churning, and came to the door. She smiled very pleasantly as she saw the children, with sparkling eyes and faces flushed with pleasure, talking to the beautiful bird.
Mrs. Robin tipped her head and looked at the lady, as if she would say, "You seem very happy, ma'am, with your children. I have a nest full of little ones up in the tree; and I am very happy with them too."
She did not stop to each much, for she was anxious to see her young fledglings, and thought it quite time for them to be gathered under her wing, and take their morning nap. But she waited a minute after she had eaten, long enough to sit upon a twig and sing a merry song. And what do you thing Mr. Robin did? Why, he was so glad to hear his wife's voice once more, that he joined in at the chorus, and made the whole tree resound with the charming melody.
Annie clapped her hands in great glee; and even grandpa said, "They ought to have three cheers for such a concert as that."
"Now, my dears," said Mrs. Robin, "nestle together, and I will sing you to sleep."
The four birdlings obeyed at once; but the mother noticed that Dick, as she had named the oldest one, was careful to secure to himself the best place, directly under her breast, leaving his younger brother and sisters to get shelter where they could. She recollected, too, that when his father distributed the food, he had been impatient because he could not share a larger portion than the others. She sighed as she said to herself, "I hope Dick is not selfish. It would be so bad an example to the others."
The soft, gentle, cooing song soon quieted the young robins into a peaceful slumber. Mrs. Robin motioned to her husband that she wished he would sit upon a bough near the nest, that she might consult him about the children.
"I quite approve the names you have selected," he said -- "Dick and Jack for the boys, Molly and Katy for the girls."
"Have you noticed any peculiarity in either of them?" inquired the mother, turning her bright eye full upon her husband.
"Dick seems rather greedy," said the father; "and Jack somewhat headstrong. The little girls seem to be exceedingly lovely in their dispositions. I hope they may make as good wives as their mother."
"Thank you my dear. It shall be my aim to make them much better, so that they may be worthy their father's affection. But I confess," she added, "that I feel somewhat troubled at Dick's selfishness. Perhaps I am too ready to notice their faults. I ought to remember they are very young as yet."
"From your gentle guidance, my love," replied Mr. Robin, "I hope everything for them."
"I am very happy," said the mother, earnestly. "But yet, after all, there is a great anxiety in educating a family of children."
"GRANDPA," exclaimed Fred, "I want to hear more about those wonderful robins." The boy threw himself on the grass just before his grandfather's chair, and looked up earnestly in his face.
"Well, well," said the old gentleman, smiling; "call Annie to sit on my knee, and I will tell you a story of a family of robins."
Annie quickly answered the call, and came running to the door with her dolly in her arms. When she was seated in grandpa's lap, with her yellow hair floating over his shoulder, he began: "There was once a gentleman who liked to study the character and habits of different kinds of birds. He took possession of a nest of young robins, just about like our little family in the tree, and placed them in a cage, which he hung in the open window, where the parents could come and feed them.
"Day after day the old robins hovered around the nest, carrying them food, and manifesting the greatest tenderness and anxiety. This they did long after the little ones would have been able to fly, could they have remained in their own nest. But at last, finding that their children were not released, they tried to break the wires of the cage. When they at length became convinced that this could not be done, the parents determined to end their captivity by death, and killed them, one by one, by feeding them with poisonous worms."
"I'm glad of it!" exclaimed Fred, warmly. "I think it was real cruel to take them away from their parents. I hope the man never tried any more experiments with them."
"It is certainly cruel, my boy," said grandpa, "to deprive birds or animals of their parents' care, merely for the sake of tormenting them. But this kind gentleman had no such motive. His only aim was to learn the habits of the bird, in order to give the world the benefit of his discoveries, while he protected and took kind care of them."
Annie sighed heavily. "O, grandpa!" she said, "I wish I had been there; I would have let the poor birds out of the cage, and then they could have flown away with their parents."
"But, then," suggested Fred, "I suppose some one must confine and watch birds to learn their habits, or we should know very little about them."
"No doubt," said grandpa, "That the man was sad at witnessing the grief of the old robins, and the death of their young."
"Was it wicked?" inquired Annie, eagerly.
"No! I suppose not, my dear child," said the old gentleman.
"I hope nobody will want to try experiments on our robins," exclaimed Annie gazing affectionately up into the tree.
Back to main page