he0 ll Aoro in
The Baldwin LibraryUniversity11 ofB o
9-e iuansbotte 6ift NIoks.THESTORY OF THE ROBINS.DESIGNED TO TEACH CHILDRENTHE PROPER TREATMENT OF ANIMALS.BYMRS. TRIMMER.Wiif illusltrations ^rintdb in (olour be Ebnwunb Ebans,FROM ORIGINAL DESIGNS.LONDON:FREDERICK WARNE AND CO.,BEDFORD STREET, COVENT GARDEN.NEW YORK: SCRIBNER, WELFORD, AND CO.187o.
LONDON:PRINTD lV EUDM ND EVAn S,RAyQET COURT, FLEET STE'I'I'.412*> ta 0
PREFACE.--4--FOR more than eighty years the STORY OF THEROBINS has delighted the children of GreatBritain. It is now offered to them, for the firsttime, with illustrations printed in colours, which,it is hoped, will add an additional charm to abook so long and deservedly popular with theyoung.Jlnuary, 1870.
TIIESTORY OF THE ROBINS.CHAPTER I.HARRIET AND FREDERICK FEEDING THE BIRDS.SN a hole which time had made in a wall, covered withivy, a pair of redbreasts built their nest. No placecould have been better chosen for the purpose; it wassheltered from the rain, screened from the wind, and in
6 The Story of the Robins.an orchard belonging to a gentleman who had strictly ,charged his domestics not to destroy the labours of thoselittle songsters who chose his ground as an asylum.In this happy retreat, which no idle schoolboy dared toenter, the hen redbreast laid four eggs, and then took herseat upon them, resolving that nothing should tempt herto leave the nest for any length of time till she hadhatched her infant brood. Her tender mate evert morn-ing took her place while she picked up a hasty break-fast, and often, before he tasted any food himself, cheeredher with a song.At length the day arrived when the happy mother heardthe chirping of her little ones; with inexpressible tender-ness she spread her maternal wings to cover them, threwout the egg-shells in which they before lay confined, thenpressed them to her bosom, and presented them to hermate, who viewed them with rapture, and seated himselfby her side that he might share her pleasure."We may promise ourselves much delight in rearingour little family," said he, "but it will occasion us a greatdeal of trouble. I would willingly bear the whole myself,but it will be impossible for me, with my utmost labourand industry, to supply all our nestlings with what is suffi-cient for their daily support; it will therefore be necessaryfor you to leave the nest sometimes to seek provisions forthem." She declared her readiness to do so, and saidthat there would be no necessity for her to be long ab-sent, as she had discovered a place near the orchardwhere food was scattered on purpose for such birds aswould take the pains of seeking it; and that she hadbeen informed by a chaffinch .that there was no kind ofdanger in picking iteup. "This is a lucky discovery in-deed for us," replied her mate; "for this great increase of
Feeding the Little Ones. 7family renders it prudent to make use of every means forsupplying our necessities. I myself must take a largercircuit, for some insects that are proper for the nestlingscannot be foynd in all places; however, I will bear youScompamny wliever it is in my power."The litle' ones now began to be hungry, and openedtheir gping inouths for food; on which their kind fatherin :ntly flew forth to find it for them, and in turns sup-P-lid them all, as. well as his beloved mate. This wasa had day's work, and'when evening came on he wasglad to take repose, and turning his head under his wing,"he soon fell asleep; his mate soon followed his example.The four little ones'had before fallen into a gentle slumber,and perfect quietness for some hours reigned in the nest.The next morning they were awakened at the dawn ofday by the song of a skylark, which had a nest near theorchard; and as the young redbreasts were impatientfor food, their father cheerfully prepared himself to renewhis toil, requesting his mate to accompany him to theplace she had mentioned. "That I will do," replied she,"" but it is too early yet; I must therefore beg that youwill go by yourself and procure a breakfast for us, as Iam fearful of leaving the nestlings before the air is warmer,lest they should be chilled." To this he readily consented,and fed all his little darlings; to whom, for the sake ofdistinction, I shall give the names of Robin, Dicky,Flapsy, and Pecksy. When this kind office was per-formed he perched on a tree, and while he rested,entertained his family with his melody, till his mate,springing from the nest, called him to attend her; onwhich he instantly took wing, and followed her to acourtyard belonging to a family mansion.No sooner did the happy pair appear before the parlour
8 The Story of the Robins.window, than it was hastily thrown up by Harriet Benson,a little girl about eleven years old, the daughter of.thegentleman and lady to whom the house belonged. Har-riet with great delight called her brother to see two robinredbreasts; and she was soon joined by Frederick, a finechubby rosy-cheeked boy, about six years of age, who, assoon as he had taken a peep at the feathered strangers,ran to his mamma, and entreated her to give him some-thing to feed them with. "I must have a great piece ofbread this morning," said he,'" for there are all the spar-rows and chaffinches that come every day, and two robinredbreasts besides." " Here is a piece for you, Frederick,"replied Mrs. Benson, cutting a loaf that was on the table;"but if your daily pensioners continue to increase as theyhave done lately, we must provide some other food forthem, as it is not right to cut pieces from a loaf on pur-pose for birds; be se there are many children who wantbread, to whom give the preference. Wouldyou deprive a poor little hungry boy of his breakfast togive it to birds '" "No," said Frederick, "I would soonergive my own breakfast to a poor boy than he should gowithout; but where shall I get food enough for my bifdsI will beg the cook to save the crumbs in the bread-pan,and desire John to preserve all he makes when-he cutsthe loafdor dinner, and those which are scattered on thetable-cloth." "A very good scheme," said Mrs. Benson,"and I make no doubt it will an ser your purpose, if youcan prevail on the servants to indulge you. I cannotbear to see the least fragment of food wasted which maycontribute to the support of life in any creature."Harriet, being quite impatient to exercise her benevo-lence, requested her brother to remember that the poorbirds, for whom he had been a successful solicitor, would" ~ ~ - ~ P
Frederick and Harriet. 9soon fly away if he did not make haste to feed them; onwhich he ran to the window with his treasure in his hand.- When Harriet first appeared, the winged suppliants ap-proached with eager expectation of the daily handful whichtheir kind bNefactress made it a custom to distribute, andwere surprised at the delay of her charity. They hoppedaround the window-they chirped-they twittered, and"employed all their.little arts to gain attention; and wereoi-the point of departing, when Frederick, breaking a bitfreomlthe piece he held in his hand, attempted to scatterit among them, calling out at the same time, "Dicky!-Dicky!" On hearing the well-known sound, the little flockimmediately drew near. Frederick begged that his sisterwould let him feed all the birds himself; but finding thathe could not fling the crumbs far enough for the red-breasts, who, being strangers, kept at a distance, he re-signed the task, and Harriet, with dexterous hand,-threwsome of them to the very spot where the affectionate pairstood waiting for her notice, who with grateful heartspicked up the portion assigned them; and in the mean-while the other birds, being satisfied, flew away, and theywere left alone. Frederick exclaimed with rapture that,the two robin redbreasts were feeding and Harriet me-ditated a design of taming them by kindness. " Be sure,my dear brother," said she, "not to forget to ask thecook and John for the crumbs, and do not let the leastmorsel of anything you have to eat fall to the ground. Iwill be careful in respect of mine, and we will collectall that papa and mamma crumble; and if we cannot bythese means get enough, I will spend some of my moneyin grain for them." " Oh," said Frederick, " I would giveall the money I have in the world to buy food for mydear, dear birds." "Hold, my love," said Mrs. Benso ;
1o 7he Story of the Robins."though I commend your humanity, I must remind youagain that there are poor people as well as poor birds.""Well, mamma," replied Frederick, "I will only buy alittle grain, then." As he spoke these last words, theredbreasts having finished their meal, the mother-birdexpressed her impatience to return to the nest; andhaving obtained her mate's consent, she repaired with allpossible speed to her humble habitation, whilst he tunedhis melodious pipe, and delighted their young benefac-tors with his music; he' then spread his wings, and tookhis flight to an adjoining garden, where he had a greatchance of finding worms for his family.Frederick expressed great concern that the robins weregone; but was comforted by his sister, who remindedhim that in all probability his new favourites, havingmet with so kind a reception, would return on the mor-row. Mrs. Benson then bid them shut the window; and,taking Frederick in her lap, and desiring Harriet to sitdown by her, thus addressed them:"I am delighted, my dear children, with your humane,behaviour towards animals, and wish by all means to en-L-courage it; but let me recommend to you, not to sufferyour tender feelings towards animals to gain upon you tosuch a degree as to make you unhappy or forgetful of thosewho have a higher claim to your attention-I mean poorpeople; always keep in mindothe distresses which theyendure, and on no account waste any kind of food, norgive to inferior creatures what is designed for mankind."Harrietapromised to follow her mamma's instructions;but Frederick's attentiofwas entirely engaged by watch-ing a butterfy, which had just left the chrysalis, and wasfluttering in the window, longing to try its wings in theair and. sunshine; this Frederick was very desirous to_______________________________
The Butterfly. r1catch, but his mamma would not permit him to attemptit, because, she told him, he could not well lay hold ofits wings without doing it an injury, and it would bemuch happier at liberty. "Should you like, Frederick,"said she, "when you are going out to play, to have any-body lay hold of you violently, scratch you all over, thenoffer you something to eat which is very disagreeable,and perhaps poisonous, and shut you up in a little darkroom? And yet this is the fate to which many a harm-less insect is condemned by thoughtless children." Assoon as Frederick understood that he could not catchthe butterfly without hurting it, he gave up the point,and assured his mamma he did not want to keep it, butonly to carry it out of doors. " Well," replied she, "thatend may be answered by opening the window;" which,ather desire, was done by Harriet: the happy insect wasglad to fly away, and Frederick had soon the pleasureof seeing it upon a rose.Breakfast being ended, Mrs. Benson reminded the chil-dren that it was almost time for their lessons to begin;but desired their maid to take them into the gardenbefore they applied to business. During his walk, Frede-rick amused himself with watching the butterfly as it flewfrom flower to flower, which gave him more pleasurethan he could possibly have received from catching andconfining the little tender creature.Let us now see what became of our redbreasts afterthey left their young benefactors.The hen bird, as I informed you, repaired immediatelyto the nest; her heart fluttered with apprehension as sheentered it, and she eagerly called out, "Are you all safe,Smy little dears " "All safe, my good mother," repliedPecksy, "but a little hungry, and very cold." "Well,"
S2 The Story -of t sobins.said she, "your last pomplairit Ican soon remove; but inrespect to satisfying your hunger, that mut'ie your father'stask; however, he will. soon be here, I make no doubt."Then spreading her wings over them all, she soon gavewarmth to them, and. tliey were again comfortable.In a very short time her mate returned; for he onlystayed at Mr. Benson's to finish his song and sip someclear water, which his new friends always kept wherethey fed the birds. He brought in his mouth a worm,which was given to Robin; and was going to fetch onefor Dicky, but his mate said, "My young ones are nowhatched, and you can keep them warm as well as myself;take my place, therefore, and the next excursion shall bemine." "I consent," answered he, "because I think alittle flying now and then will do you good; but, to saveyou trouble, I. can direct you to a spot where you maybe certain of findifig worms for this morning's supply."He then described the place; and on her quitting thenest he entered it, and gathered his young ones underhis wings. "Come, my dears," said he, "let us see what""kind of a nurse I can make; but an awkward one, Ifear; even every mother-bird is not a good nurse, butyou are very fortunate in yours, for she is a most tenderone, and I hope you will be dutiful*for her kindness."They all promised him they would. " Well, then," saidhe, "I will sing you a song." He did so, and it was avery merry one, and delighted the nestlings extremely;so that, though theywere not quite comfortable underhis wings, they did it regard it, nor think the time oftheir mothers absence long. She had not succeeded inthe place she first went to, as a. boy viraspicking upworms to angle w*, of whom she was afraid, and there-fore flew further; but as soon a she had obtained what
Learning to Sing. 13she went for,.:she returned with all possible speed, andthough she had repeated invitations from several gaybirds which she met, to join their sportive parties, shekept a steady course, preferring the pleasure of feedinglittle Dicky to all the diversions of the fields and groves.As soon as the hen bird came near the nest, her matestarted up to make room for her, and take his turn ofproviding for his family. "Once more adieu !" said he,and was out of sight in an instant."My dear nestlings," said the mother, "how do youdo " "Very well, thank you," replied all at once;' "andwe have been exceedingly merry," said Robin, "for myfather has sung us a sweet song." "I think," said Dicky,"I should like to learn it." "Well," replied the mother,"he will teach it you, I dare say; here he comes, askhim." "I am ashamed," said Dicky. " Then you are asilly bird. Never be ashamed but when you commit afault; asking your father to teach you to sing is not one;and good parents delight to teach their young ones every-thing that is proper and useful. Whatever so good afather sets you an example of, you may safely desire to':imitate." Then addressing herself to her mate, who foran instant stopped at the entrance of the nest, that hemight not interrupt her instructions, "Am I not right,"said she, "in what I have just told them ?" "Perfectlyso," replied he; "I shall have pleasure in teaching themall that is in my power; but we must talk of that anothertime. Who is to feed poor Pecksy?" "Oh I, I!" an-swered the mother; and was gone in an instant."And so you want to learn to sing, Dicky ?" said thefath: "' well, then, pray listen very attentively; you maylearn the notes, though you will not be able to sing tillyour voice is stronger."
14 The Story of the Robins.Robin now remarked that the song was very pretty in-deed, and expressed his desire to learn it also. "By allmeans," said his father; "I shall sing it very often, so youmay learn it if you please." "For my part," said Flapsy,"I do not think I could have patience to learn it, it willtake so much time." "Nothing, my dear Flapsy," an-swered the father, "can be acquired without patience,and I am sorry to find yours begin to fail you already;but I hope, if you have no taste for music, that you willgive the greater application to things that may be of moreimportance to you." "Well," said Pecksy, "I would applyto music with all my heart, but I do not believe it possiblefor me to learn it" " Perhaps not," replied her father,"but I do not doubt you will apply to whatever yourmother requires of you; and she is an excellent judgeboth of your talents and of what is suitable to your stationin life. She is no songstress'herself, and yet she is veryclever, I assure you: here she comes." Then rising tomake room for her, "'Take your seat, my love," said he,"and I will perch upon the ivy." The hen again coveredher brood, whilst her mate amused her with his singing andconversation till the evening, excepting that each parentbird flew out in turn to get food for their young ones.In this manner several days passed with little varia-tion; the nestlings were very thriving, and daily gainedstrength and knowledge, through the care of their indul-gent parents, who every day visited their friends, the littleBensons. Frederick had been successful with the cookand footman, from whom he obtained enough for, hisdear birds, as he called them, without robbing the poor;and he was still able to produce a penny whenever hispapa or mamma pointed out to him a proper object ofcharity.
CHAPTER II.MRS. BENSON AND HER CHILDREN AT BREAKFAST.-THEROBINS VENTURE UPON THE TEA-TABLE.T happened one day that both the redbreasts, whoalways went together to Mrs. Benson's (because ifone had waited for the other's return, it would have missedthe chance of being fed;) it happened, I say, that they
16 The Story of the Robins.were both absent longer than usual, for their little bene-fact ts,1aving been fatigued with a very long walk theevening before, lay late in bed that morning; but assoon as Frederick was dressed, his sister, who was waitingfor him, took him by the hand and led him down stairs,where he hastily asked th'e cook for the collection ofcrumbs. As soon as he entered the breakfast-parlour, heran eagerly to the window, and attempted 'to fling it up."Whatis 'the cause of this mighty bustleI" said hismamma; "do you:not perceive that I am in the room,Frederick " " Oh, my birds my birds !" cried he. "Iunderstand," rejoined MrS Benson, "that you.have neg-lected to feed your little pensioners; how came this about,Harriet " "We were so tired last night," answered Har-riet, "that we overslept ourselves; mamma." "This ex-cuse may satisfy you and. your brother," answered thelady, "but I fear your birds would bring heavy complaintsagainst you, were they able to talk. But make haste tofeed them now; and for the future, whenever you giveany living creature cause to depend ort you for sustenance,be careful on no account to disappoint it; and if youare prevented from feeding it yourself, employ anotherperson to do it for you."It is customary," continued Mrs. Benson, "for littleboys and girls to pay their respects to their papas andmammas every morning, as soon as they see them. This,Frederick, you ought to have done to me on entering theparlour, instead of running across it, crying out, 'My birds!my birds!' it would have taken you but very little timeto have done so. However, I will excuse yow neglect now,my.dear, as you did not intend to offend me; but remem-ber, that you depend as much on your papa and me foreverything you want as these lip- birds do on you; nay,': _______ ___ ______"
The Quarrel. 17more so, for they could find food in other places, butchildren can do-nothing towards their own support; theyshould therefore be dutiful and respectful to those whosetenderness and care they constantly experience."Harriet promised her mamma that she would on alloccasions endeavour to behave as she wished her to do;but I am sorry to say Frederick was more intent on open-ing the window than imbibing the good instructions thatwere given him. This he could not do; therefore Har-riet, with her mamma's permission, went to his assistance,and the store of provisions was dispensed. As many ofthe birds had nests, they ate their meal with all possibleexpedition; among this number were the uobins, wvhodispatched the business as soon as they could, for thehen was anxious to return to her little ones,%nd the cockto procure them a breakfast; and having given his youngfriends a song before they left their bedchambers, hedid not think it necessary to stay to sing any more; theytherefore departed.When the mother-bird arrived at the ivy-wall, shestopped at the entrance of the nest with a palpitatingheart; but seeing her brood all safe and well, she hastenedto take them under her wings. As soon as she wasseated, she observed that they were not so cheerful asusual. "What is the matter?" said she; "how have youagreed during my absence ?" To these questions all wereunwilling to reply; for the truth was, that they had beenquarrelling almost the whole time.. "What! all silent ?"said she. "I fear you have not obeyed my commands,but have been contending. I desire you will tell me thetruth." Robin, knowing that he was the greatest of-fender, began to justify himself before the others couldhave time to accuse him.
iS -- The Story of the Robins.".I ani' sure, mother," said he," I only gave Dicky alittle peck because he crowded me so; and all the others"joined with him, and fell upon mre at once.""Since you have begun, Robin," answered Dicky, "Imust speak, for you gave me a very hard peck indeed,and I was afraid you had put out my 'ye. I am sure I:made all the room I could for you; but you said youought to have half the nest, and to be master when yourfather and mother were out, because you are the eldest.""I do not love to tell tales," said Flapsy, "but whatDicky says is very true, Robin; and you plucked two orthree little feathers out of me, only because I begged younot to use us ill.""And you set your foot very hard upon me," criedPecksy, "for telling you.that you had forgotten your dearmother's command.""This is a sad story indeed," said the mother. "I amvery sorry to find, Robin, that you already display sucha turbulent disposition. If you go on in this manner, weshall have no peace in the nest, nor can I leave it withany degree of satisaction. As for your being the eldest,though it makes me show you a preference on all properoccasions, it does not give you a privilege to domineerover your brother and sisters., You are all equally theobjects of our tender care, which we shall exercise im-partially among you, provided you do not forfeit it bybad behaviour. To show you that you are not master ofthe nest, I desire you to get from under my wing, and siton the outside, while I cherish those who are dutiful andgood." Robin, greatly mortified, retired from his mother;on which Dicky, with the utmost kindness, began tointercede for hini. "Pardon Robinmy dear mother, Ientreat you," said he; "I heartily forgive histreatment of..,_0"t(
Naughty Robin. 19me, and. would not have complained to you, had it notbieen necessary for my'own justification.""You are a good bird, Dicky," said his motlier; "butsuch an offence as this must be repented of before it ispardoned." At this instant her mate returned with a fineworm, and lookllt as usual for Robin, who lay sulkingby himself." "Give it," said the mother, "to Dicky;Robin must be served last this morning; nay, I do not'know whether I shall permit him to have any food allday." Dicky was very unwilling to mortify his brother;but, on his mother's commanding him not to detain hisfather, he opened his mo-th and swallowed the deliciousmouthful. "What can be the matter?" said the goodfather, when he had emptied his mouth; "surely rnneof the little ones have been naughty 1 But I cannot stopto inquire at present, for I left another fine worm, whichmay-be gone if I do not make haste back."As soon as he departed, Dicky renewed his entreatiesthat Robin might be forgiven; but as he sat swelling withanger and disdain, because he fancied that the eldestshould not be shoved to the outside of his mother's wingwhile the others were fed, she would not hear a word inhis behalf. The father soon came and fed Flapsy, andthen, thinking it best for his mate to continue her admo-nitions, he flew off again. During her father's absence,Pecksy, whose little heart was full of affectionate concernfor the punishment of her brother, thus attempted to"comfort him:"Dear Robin, do not grieve; I will give you my break-fast, if my mother will let me." " Oh," said Robin, "Ido not want any breakfast; if I may not be served first,I will have none." "Shall I ask my mother to forgiveyou 1" said Pecksy. "I do not want any of your inter-
20 The Story of the Robins.cessions," replied he; "if you had not been a parcel ofill-natured things, I should not have bien puhed aboutas I am.""Come back, Pecksy," said the m ther, who over-heard them; "I will not have you converse with sonaughty a bird. I forbid every one of you even to gonear him." The father then arrived, and Pecksy was fed."You may rest yourself, my dear," said the mother, "yourmorning's task is ended." "Why, what has Robin done?"asked he. "What I am sorry to relat-," she replied;*" quarrelled with his brother and sisters!" "You surpriseme; I could not have suspected he woald have beeneither so foolish or so unkind." "Oh, this is not all,"said the mother, "for he presumes on being the eldest,and claims half the nest. to himself when re are absent,and now is sullen because he is disgraced, and is not fedfirst as usual." "If this be the case," replied the father,"leave me to settle this business, my dear, and pray gointo the air a littfe, for you seem to be sadly vexed." "Iam disturbed," said she, "I confess; for, after all mycare and kindness, I did not expect such a sad return asthis. I am sorry to expose this perverse bird even' toyou, but he will not be corrected by me. T will do asyou desire, and go into the air a little." So saving, she re-paired to a neighbouriig tree, where she anxiously waitedthe result of her mate's admonition .SAs soon as the mother departed, the father thus ad-dressed the delinquent:-"And so, Robin, you want-to bemaster of the nest A pretty master you would make,indeed, who do not know even how to govern your owntemper! I will not stand to talk much to you now, butdepend upon it, I will not suffer you to use any of thefamily ill, particularly your good mother; and it you per-I
Robin Forgiven. 21sist in obstinacy, I will certainly turn you out of the nestbefore you can fly." These threatenings intimidated Robin,and he also began to be very hungry as well as cold; hetherefore promised to behave better for the future, andhis brother and sisters pleaded earnestly that he might beforgiven and restored to his usual place."I can say nothing in respect to the last particular," re-"plied the father; "that depends upon his mother; but asit is his first offence, and he seems to be very sorry, I willmyself pardon it, and intercede for him with his mother."On this he left the nest to seek for her. "Return, mydear," said he, "to your beloved family; Robin seemssensible of his offence, and longs to ask your forgiveness."Pleased at this intelligence, the mother raised her droopinghead, and closed her wings, which hung mournfully byher sides, expressive of the dejection of her spirits. "Ifly to give it him," said she; and hastened into the nest.In the meanwhile Robin wished for, yet dreaded, herreturn.As soon as he saw her he lifted up a supplicating eye,and in a weak tone (for hunger and sorrow had madehimi faint) he cried, "Forgive me, dear mother; I will notagain offend you." "I accept your submission, Robin,"said she, "and will once more receive you to my wing;but indeed your behaviour has made me very unhappy."She then made room for him, he nestled closely to herside, and soon found the benefit of her fostering heat;but he was still hungry, yet he had not confidence to askhis father to fetch him any food; but this kind parent,seeing that his mother had received him into favour, flewwith all speed to an adjacent field, where he soon metwith a worm, which with tender love he presented toRobin, who swallowed it with gratitude. Thus was peaceB
22 The Story of the Robins.restored to the nest, and the happy mother once morerejoiced that harmony reigned in the family.A few days after, a fresh disturbance took place. Allthe little redbreasts, excepting Pecksy, in turn committedsome fault or other, for which they were occasionallypunished; but she was of so amiable a disposition, thatit was her constant study to act with propriety, and avoidgiving offence; on which account she was justly caressedby her parents with distinguished kindness. This excitedthe envy of the others, and they joined together to treather ill, giving her the title of the Favourite; saying, thatthey made no doubt that their father and mother wouldreserve the nicest morsels for their darling.Poor Pecksy bore all their reproaches with patience,hoping that she should in time regain their good opinionby her gentleness and affection. But it happened oneday that, in the midst of their tauntings, their motherunexpectedly returned, who, hearing an uncommon noiseamong hOr young ones, stopped on the ivy to learn thecause, and as soon as she discovered it, she made herappearance at the entrance of the nest, with a coun-tenance that showed she knew what was going on."Are these the sentiments," said she, "that subsist ina family which ought to be bound together. by love andkindness? Which of you has cause to reproach eitheryour father or me with partiality ? Do we not with theexactest equality distribute the fruits of our labours amongyou ? And in what respect has poor Pecksy the preference,but in that praise which is justly her due, and which youdo not strive to deserve Has she ever yet uttered acomplaint against you ? though, from the dejection of hercountenance, which she in vain attempted to conceal, itis evident that she has suffered your reproaches for some
Pecksy's Kindness. 23days past. I positively command you to treat her other-wise, for it is a mother's duty to succour a persecutednestling; and I will certainly admit her next my heart,and banish you all from that place you have hithertopossessed in it, if you suffer envy and jealousy to occupyyour bosoms, instead of that tender love which she, as thekindest of sisters, has a right to expect from you."Robin, Dicky, and Flapsy were quite confounded bytheir mother's reproof; and Pecksy, sorry that they hadincurred the displeasure of so tender a parent, kindly'endeavoured to soften her anger. "That I have beenvexed, my dear mother," said she, "is true, but not somuch as you suppose; and I am ready to believe thatmy dear brothers and sister were not in earnest in thesevere things they said of me-perhaps they only meantto try my affection. I now entreat them to believe, thatI would willingly resign the greatest pleasure in life, couldI by that means increase their happiness; and so far fromwishing for the nicest morsel, I would content myself withthe humblest fare, rather than any of them should be dis-appointed.", This tender speech had its desired effect; it recalledthose sentiments of love, which envy and jealousy hadfor a time banished; all the nestlings acknowledged theirfaults, their mother forgave them, and a perfect reconcili-ation took place, to the great joy of Pecksy, and indeedof all parties.All the nestlings continued very good for several days,and nothing happened worth relating. The little familywere soon covered with feathers, which their mothertaught them to dress, telling them that neatness was avery essential thing, both for health, and also to renderthem agreeable to the eye of the world.
24 The Story of the Robins.Robin was a very strong, robust bird, not remarkablefor his beauty, but there was a great briskness in hismanner, which covered many defects, and he was verylikely to attract notice. His father judged, from thetone of his chirpings, that he would be a very goodsongster.Dicky had a remarkably fine plumage; his breast wasof a beautiful red, his body and wings of an elegantmottled brown, and his eyes sparkled like diamonds.Flapsy was also very pretty, but more distinguished forthe elegance of her shape than for the variety and lustreof her feathers.Pecksy had no outward charms to recommend her tonotice; but these defects were supplied by the sweetnessof her disposition. Her temper was constantly serene,she was ever attentive to the happiness of her parents,and would not have grieved them for the world; and heraffection for her brothers and sister was so great, thatshe constantly preferred their interest to her own, ofwhich we have lately given an instance.The kind parents attended to them with unremittingaffection, and made their daily visit to Frederick andHarriet Benson, who very punctually discharged the be-nevolent office of feeding them. The robin redbreasts,made familiar by repeated 'favours, approached nearerand nearer to their little friends by degrees, and atlength ventured to enter the room and feed upon thebreakfast-table. Harriet was delighted at this circum-stance, and Frederick was quite transported; he longedto oatch the birds, but his mamma told him that wouldbe the very means to drive them away. Harriet en-treated him not to frighten them on any account, andhe was prevailed. on to forbear, but could nA help ex-
A Lesson from the Birds. 25pressing a wish that he had them in a cage, that hemight feed them all day long."And do you really think, Frederick," said Mrs. Benson,"that these little delicate creatures are such gluttons asto desire to be fed all day long ? Could you tempt themto do it, they would soon die; but they know better, andas soon as their appetites are satisfied, always leave offeating. Many a little boy may learn a lesson from them.Do you not recollect one of your acquaintance, who, ifan apple-pie or anything that he calls nice is set beforehim, will eat till he makes himself sick?" Fredericklooked ashamed, being conscious that he was too muchinclined to indulge his love of delicacies. "Well," saidhis mamma, "I see you understand who I mean, Frederick,so we will say no more on that subject; only, when youmeet with that little gentleman, give my love to him, andtell -him I beg he will be as moderate as his redbreasts."/
CHAPTER III.THE NESTLINGS FRIGHTENED BY THE GARDENER.T HE cock bird, having finished his breakfast, flew out4L the window, followed by his mate; and as soonas they were out of sight, Mrs. Benson continued her dis-course:-" And would you really confine these sweet crea-tures in a cage, Frederick, merely to have the pleasure of
Canary-birds. 27feeding them 1 Should you like to be always shut up in alittle room, and think it sufficient if you were supplied withvictuals and drink ? Is there no enjoyment in runningabout, jumping, and going from place to place ? Do younot like to keep company with little boys and girls ? Andis there no pleasure in breathing the fresh air ? Thoughthese little animals are inferior to you, there is no doubtbut they are capable of enjoyments similar to these; andit must be a dreadful life for a poor bird to be shut up in acage, where he cannot so much as make use of his wings,where he is separated from his natural companions, andwhere he cannot possibly receive that refreshment whichthe air must afford to him when at liberty to fly to such aheight. But this is not all; for many a poor bird is caughtand taken away from its family, after it has been at thetrouble of building a nest, has perhaps laid its eggs, or evenhatched its young ones, which are by this means exposedto certain destruction. It is likely that these very red-breasts may have young ones, for this is the season of theyear for their hatching; and I rather think they have,from the circumstance of their always coming together.""If that be the case," said Harriet, "it would be a pityindeed to confine them. But why, mamma, if it is wrongto catch birds, did you at one time keep canary-birds ?""The case is very different in respect to canary'birds,my dear," said Mrs. Benson; "by keeping them in acage, I did them a kindness. I considered them as littleforeigners who claimed my hospitality. This kind ofbird came originally from a warm climate; they are intheir nature very susceptible of cold, and would perish inthe open air in our winters; neither does the food whichthey feed on grow plentifully in this country; and as herethey are always bred in cages, they do not know how to
28 The Story of the Robins.procure the materials for their nest abroad. And there isanother particular which would greatly distress them werethey to be turned loose, which is, the persecution theywould be exposed to from other birds. I rememberonce to have seen a poor hen canary-bird, which hadbeen turned loose because it could not sing; and surelyno creature could be more miserable. It was starvingfor want of food, famishing with thirst, shivering withcold, and looked terrified to the greatest degree; whilea parcel of sparrows and chaffinches pursued it from placeto place, twittering and chirping with every mark of insult.I could not help fancying the little creature to be like aforeigner just landed from some distant country, followedby a rude rabble of boys, who were ridiculing him becausehis dress and language were strange to them.""And what became of the poor little creature, mamma "said Harriet. "I was going to tell you, my dear," repliedMrs. Benson; "I ordered the servant to bring me a cage,with seed and water in their usual places; this I caused tobe hung on a tree, next to that in which the little suffererin vain endeavoured to hide herself among the leavesfrom her cruel pursuers. No sooner did the servant retirethan the poor little wretch flew to it. I immediately hadthe cage brought into the parlour, where I experiencedgreat pleasure in observing what happiness the poor crea-ture enjoyed in her deliverance. I kept her some years;but not choosing to confine her in a little cage, I had alarge one bought, and procured a companion for her ofher own species. I supplied them with materials forbuilding; and from them proceeded a little colony, whichgrew so numerous that you know I gave them to Mr.Bruce to put into his aviary, where you have seen themenjoying themselves. So now I hope I have fully ac-
Taking Birds' Nests. 29counted for having kept canary-birds in a cage." "Youhave, indeed, mamma," said Harriet." "I have also," said Mrs. Benson, "occasionally keptlarks. In.severe winters vast numbers of them come tothis country from a colder climate, and many perishQuantities of them are killed and sold for the spit; andthe bird-catchers usually have a great many to sell, andmany an idle boy has some to dispose of. I frequentlybuy them, as you know, Harriet; but as soon as the fineweather returns, I constantly set them at liberty. Butcome, my dears, prepare for your morning walk, and after-wards let me see you in my dressing-room.""I wonder," said Frederick, "whether our redbreastshave got a nest ? I will watch to-morrow which way theyfly, for I should like to see the little ones.""And what will you do, should you find them out?"said his mamma; "not take the nest, I hope ? "Why,"replied Frederick, "I should like to bring it home,mamma, and put it in a tree near the house; and then Iwould scatter crumbs for the old ones to feed them with.""Your design is a kind one," said Mrs. Benson, "butwould greatly distress your little favourites. Many birds,through fear, forsake their nests when they are removed;therefore I desire you to let them alone if you shouldchance to find them." Harriet then remarked that shethought it very cruel to take birds' nests. "Ah! mydear," said Mrs. Benson, "those who commit such bar-barous actions are quite insensible to the distresses theyoccasion. It is very true that we ought not to indulge sogreat a degree of pity and tenderness for animals as forthose who are more properly our fellow-creatures-I meanmen, women, and children; but, as every living creaturecan feel, we should have a constant regard to those feel-
30 The Story of the Robins.ings, and strive to give happiness rather than inflict misery.But go, my dear, and take your walk." Mrs. Benson thenleft them, to attend her usual morning employments; andthe children, attended by their maid, passed an agreeablehalf-hour in the garden.In the meantime, the hen redbreast returned to thenest, while her mate took his flight in search of food forhis family. When the mother approached the nest, shewas surprised at not hearing as usual the chirping of heryoung ones; and what was her astonishment at seeingthem all crowded together, trembling with apprehension !"What is the matter, my nestlings," said she, "that I findyou in this terror 1" "Oh, my dear mother!" cried Robin,who first ventured to raise up his head, "is it you?"Pecksy then revived, and entreated her mother to comeinto the nest, which she did without delay; and the littletremblers crept under her wings, endeavouring to concealthemselves in this happy retreat."What has terrified you in this manner?" said she."Oh! I do not know," replied Dicky; "but we have seensuch a monster as I never beheld before." "A monster,my dear! pray describe it." "I cannot," said Dicky; "itwas too frightful to be described." "Frightful, indeed !"cried Robin; " but I had a full view of it, and will givethe best description I can. We were all sitting peaceablyin the nest, and very happy together; Dicky and I weretrying to sing, when suddenly we heard a noise againstthe wall, and presently a great round red face appearedbefore the nest, with a pair of enormous staring eyes, avery large beak, and below that a wide mouth with tworows of bones, that looked as if they could grind us all topieces in an instant. About the top of this round face,and round the sides, hung something black, but not like
The Monster. 31feathers. When the two staring eyes had looked at usfor some time, the whole thing disappeared.""I cannot at all conceive from your description, Robin,what this thing could be," said the mother; "but perhapsit may come again." "Oh I hope not !" cried Flapsy;"I shall die with fear if it does." "Why so, my love ?" saidher mother; "has it done you any harm " " I cannot sayit has," replied Flapsy. "Well, then, you do very wrong,my dear, in giving way to such apprehensions. You muststrive to get the better of this fearful disposition. Whenyou go abroad in the world you will see many strange ob-jects, and if you are terrified at every appearance which youcannot account for, you will live a most unhappy life. En-deavour to be good, and then you need not fear anything.But here comes your father; perhaps he will be able toexplain the appearance which has so alarmed you to-day."As soon as the father had given the worm to Robin, hewas preparing to depart for another, but, to his surprise, allthe rest of the nestlings begged him to stay, declaring theyhad rather go without their meal, on condition he wouldbut remain at home and take care of them. "Stay athome and take care of you !" said he; "why is that morenecessary now than usual ?" The mother then related thestrange occurrence that had occasioned this request. "Non-sense!" said he; "a monster! great eyes large mouth!long beak I don't understand such stuff. Besides, as itdid them no harm, why are they to be in such terror now"it is gone ?" "Don't be angry, dear father," said Pecksy," for it was very frightful indeed." " Well," said he, " Iwill fly all round the orchard, and perhaps I may meet thismonster." "Oh it will eat you up! it will eat you up !"said Flapsy. " Never fear," said he; and away he flew.The mother then again attempted to calm them, but all
32 The Story of the Robins.in vain; their fears were now redoubled for their father'ssafety; however, to their great joy, he soon returned."Well," said he, "I have seen this monster." The littleones then clung to their mother, fearing the dreadfulcreature was just at hand. "What! afraid again !" criedhe; "a parcel of stout hearts I have in my nest, truly!Why, when you fly about in the world, you will in allprobability see hundreds of such monsters, as you callthem, unless you choose to confine yourselves to a retiredlife; nay, even in woods and groves you will be liable tomeet some of them, and those of the most mischievouskind." "I begin to comprehend," said the mother, "thatthese dear nestlings have seen the face of a man." "Evenso," replied her mate; "it is a man, no other than ourfriend the gardener, who has so alarmed them.""A man!" cried Dicky; "was that frightful thing amant" "Nothing more, I assure you," answered hisfather, " and a good man, too, I have reason to believe;for he is very careful not to frighten your mother and mewhen we are picking up worms, and has frequently throwncrumbs to us when he was eating his breakfast." " Anddoes he live in this garden ", said Flapsy. "He workshere very often," replied her father, "but is frequently ab-sent." "Oh then," cried she, " pray'take us abroad whenhe is away, for indeed I cannot bear to see him." "Youare a little simpleton," said the father, "and if you do notendeavour to get more resolution, I will leave you in thenest by yourself, when I am teaching your brothers andsister to fly and peck; and what will you do then 1 for youmust not expect we shall go from them to bring you food."Flapsy, fearful that her father would be quite angry, pro-mised to follow his directions in every respect; and the rest,animated by his discourse, began to recover their spirits.
COHAPTER IV.JOE THE GARDENER BRINGS NEWS OF THE BIRDS' NEST TOHARRIET AND FREDERICK.W HILST the terrible commotions related in the lastchapter passed in the nest, the monster, who wasno other than honest Joe the gardener, went to the houseand inquired for his young master and mistress, having,
34 The Story of the Robins.as he justly supposed, some very pleasing news to tellthem. Both the young gentleman and lady very readilyattended, thinking he had got some fruit or flowers forthem. "Well, Joe," said Miss Benson, "what have youto say to us ? Have you got a peach or a nectarine, orhave you brought me a root of sweetwilliam?""No, Miss Harriet," said Joe; "but I have somethingto tell you that will please you as much as though I had."" What's that? what's that?" said Frederick. "Why, Mas-ter Frederick," said Joe, "a pair of robins have comedmortal often to one place in the orchard lately; so, thinksI, these birds have got a nest. So I watches, and watches,and at last I see'd the old hen fly into a hole in the ivy-wall. I had a fancy to set my ladder and look in; butas master ordered me not to frighten the ,birds, I stayedtill the old one flew out again, and then I mounted, andthere I see'd the little creatures full fledged; and if youand Miss Harriet may go with me, I will show them toyou, for the nest is but a little way from the ground, andyou may easily get up the step-ladder."Frederick was in raptures, being confident that thesewere the identical robins he was so attached to; and,like a little thoughtless boy as he was, he would havegone immediately with the gardener, had not his sisterreminded him that it was proper to ask their mamma'sleave first; she therefore told Joe she would let himknow when she had done so.When the redbreasts had quieted the fears of theiryoung family, and fed them as usual, they retired to atree, desiring their little nestlings not to be terrified ifthe monster should look in upon them again, as it wasvery probable he would do. They promised to bear thesight as well as they could.
Robin's Past History. 35When the old ones were seated in the tree, "It is time,"said the father, "to take our nestlings abroad. You see,my love, how very timorous they are; and if we do notuse them a little to the world, they will never be able toshift for themselves." "Very true," replied the mother;"they are now well fledged, and therefore, if you please,we will take them out to-morrow; but prepare them forit." "One of the best preparatives," answered her mate,"will be to leave them by themselves a little; thereforewe will now take a flight together, and then go back."The mother complied, but she longed to be with herdear family.When they stopped a little to rest on a tree, " Lastyear," said the hen redbreast, "it was my misfortune tobe deprived of my nestlings by some cruel boys, beforethey were quite fledged, and it is that which makes meso timid now, that I do not feel comfortable when I amaway from them."' A calamity of the same kind befel me," replied thefather; "I never shall forget it. I had been taking a flightin the woods in order to procure some nice morsels forone of my nestlings; when I returned to the place inwhich I had imprudently built, the first circumstance thatalarmed me was a part of my nest scattered on the groundjust'at the entrance of my habitation; I then perceiveda large opening in the wall, where before there was onlyroom for myself to pass. I stopped with a beating heart,in hopes of hearing the chirpings of my beloved family,but all was silent. I then resolved to enter: but what wasmy consternation, when I found that the nest which mydear mate and I had with so much labour built, and thedear little ones who were the joy of our lives, were stolenaway; nay, I did not know but the tender mother also
36 The Stoiy of the Robins.was taken. I rushed out of the place, distracted withapprehensions' for the miseries they might endure, andlamenting my weakness, which rendered me incapable ofrescuing them. I was ready to tear off my own featherswith vexation; but recollecting that my dear mate mightin all probability have escaped, I resolved to go in searchof her."As I was flying along I saw three boys, whose appear-ance was far from disagreeable; one of them held in hishand my nest of young ones, which he eyed with crueldelight, while his companions seemed to share his joy.The dear little creatures, insensible of their fate (for theywere newly hatched), opened their mouths, expecting tobe fed by me or their mother, but all in vain; to haveattempted feeding them at this time would have beeninevitable destruction to myself; but I resolved to followthe barbarians, that I might at least see to what place mydarlings were consigned."In a short time the party arrived at a house, and hewho before held the nest now committed it to the care ofanother, but soon returned with a kind of victuals I wastotally unacquainted with, and with this my young ones,when they gaped for food, were fed; hunger induced themto swallow it, but soon after, missing the warmth of theirmother, they set up a general cry, which pierced my veryheart. Immediately after this the nest was carried away,and what became of my nestlings afterwards I never coulddiscover, though I frequently hovered about the fatal spotof their imprisonment with the hope of seeing them.""Pray," said the hen redbreast, "what became of yourmate ?" "Why, my dear," said he, "when I found therewas no chance of assisting my little ones, I pursued mycourse, and sought her in every place of our usual resort,9
The Death of the Hen. 37but to no purpose; at length I returned to the bush, whereI beheld an afflicting sight indeed-my beloved com-panion lying on the ground, just expiring I flew to herinstantly, and endeavoured to recall her to life. At thesound of my voice she lifted up her languid eyelids, andsaid, Are you then safe, my love 1 what is become of ourlittle ones?' In hopes of comforting her, I told her theySwere alive and well; but she replied, 'Your consolationscome too late; the blow is struck, I feel my death ap-proaching. The horror which seized me when I missedmy nestlings, and supposed myself robbed at once of mymate and infants, was too powerful for my weak frame tosustain. Oh why will the human race be so wantonlycruel?' The agonies of death now came on, and after afew convulsive pangs she breathed her last, and left mean unhappy widower. I passed the remainder of thesummer, and a dreary winter that succeeded it, in a veryuncomfortable manner, though the natural cheerfulness ofmy disposition did not leave me long a prey to unavailingsorrow. I resolved the following spring to seek anothermate, and had the good fortune to meet with you, whoseamiable disposition has renewed my happiness. And now,my dear," said he, "let me ask you what became of yourformer companion ?""Why," replied the hen redbreast, "soon after the lossof our nest, as he was endeavouring to discover what wasbecome of it, a cruel hawk caught him up, and devouredhim in an instant. I need not say that I felt the bitterestpangs for his loss; it is sufficient to inform you, that Iled a solitary life till I met with you, whose endearingbehaviour has made society again agreeable to me."
CHAPTER V.HARRIET AND FREDERICK VIEWING THE ROBINS' NEST.AS soon as Mrs. Benson returned to her children, Fre-derick ran up to her, saying, "Good news! goodnews, mamma! Joe has found the robins' nest !" " Hashe, indeed " said Mrs. Benpon. "Yes, mamma," saidHarriet, "and if agreeable to you, we shall be glad to go
A Peep into the Nest. 39along with Joe to see it." "But how are you to get at itl"said the lady, "for I suppose it is some height from theground." "Oh! I can climb a ladder very well," criedFrederick. "You climb a ladder! You are a clever gentle-man at climbing, I know," replied his mamma; "but doyou propose to mount too, Harriet? I think this is ratheran indelicate scheme for a lady." "Joe tells me that thenest is but a very little way from the ground, mamma,"answered Harriet; "but if I find it otherwise, you maydepend on my not going up." "On this condition I willpermit you to go," said Mrs. Benson; "but pray, Frede-rick, let me remind you not to frighten your little favour-ites." "Not for all the world !" said Frederick. So awayhe skipped, and ran to Joe before his sister. " We maygo! we may go, Joe !" cried he. "Stay for me, Joe, I beg,"said Harriet, who presently joined him. Frederick's im-patience was so great, that he could scarcely be restrainedfrom running all the way, but his sister entreated him notto make himself too hot.At length they arrived at the desired spot; Joe placedthe ladder, and his young master, with a little assistance,mounted it very nimbly; but who can describe his rap-tures when he beheld the nestlings! "Oh, the sweet crea-tures !" cried he, "there are four of them, I declare! Inever saw anything so pretty in my life I wish I mightcarry you all home!" "That you must not do, Frederick,"said his sister; "and I beg you will come away, for you willeither terrifythe little creatures or alarm the old birds, whichperhaps are now waiting somewhere near to feed them.""Well, I will come away directly," said Frederick; "andso good-bye, robins! I hope you will come soon, alongwith your father and mother, to be fed in the parlour."He then, under the conduct of his friend Joe, descended.
40 The Story of the Robins.Joe next addressed Miss Harriet: "Now, my youngmistress," said he, "will you go up ?" As the steps of theladder were broad, and the nest was not high, Miss Ben-son ventured to go up, and was equally delighted withher brother, but so fearful of terrifying the little birds andalarming the old ones, that she would only indulge herselfwith a peep at the nest. Frederick inquired how she likedthe young robins. "They are sweet creatures," said she,"and I hope they will soon join our party of birds, for theyappear to me ready to fly. But let us return to mamma,for you know we promised her to stay but a little while; be-sides, we hinder Joe from his work." " Never mind that,"said the honest fellow; "master won't be angry, I'm sar-tain; and if I thought he would, I would work an hour laterto fetch up lost time." "Thank you, Joe," replied Harriet,"but I am sure papa would not desire you to do so."At this instant Frederick perceived the two redbreasts,who were returning from their proposed excursion, andcalled to his sister to observe them. He was very desirousto watch whether they would go back to their nest, butshe would on no account consent to stay, lest her mammashould be displeased, and lest the birds should be fright-ened; Frederick, therefore, with reluctance followed her,and Joe attended them to the house.As soon as they were out of sight, the hen bird pro-posed to return to the nest; she had observed the party,and though she did not see them looking into her habita-tion, she supposed, from their being so near, that theyhad been taking a view of it, and told her suspicions toher mate. He agreed with her, and said he now expectedto hear a fine story from the nestlings. " Let us return,however," said the mother, "for perhaps they have beenterrified again." "Well," said he "I will attend you, then:
More Monsters. 41but let me caution you, my dear, not to indulge theirfearful disposition, because such indulgence will certainlyprove injurious to them." "I will do the best I can," re-plied she, and then flew to the nest, followed by her mate.She alighted upon the ivy, and peeping into the nest,inquired how they all did. " Very well, dear mother,"said Robin. "What !" cried the father, who now alighted,"all safe! Not one eaten up by the monster?" "No,father," replied Dicky, "we are not devoured; and yet, Iassure you, the monster we saw before has been hereagain., atti brought two others with him." "Two others !what; like himself " said the father: "I thought, Flapsy,you were to die with apprehension if you saw him again ?""And so I believe I should have done, had not you,my good father, taught me to conquer my fears," repliedFlapsy. "When I saw the top of him, my heart beganto flutter to such a degree that I was ready to die, andevery feather of me shook; but when I found he stayedbut a very little while, I recovered, and was in hopes hewas quite gone. My brothers and sister, I believe, felt asI did; but we comforted one another that the danger wasover for this day, and all agreed to make ourselves happy,and not fear this monster, since you assured us he wasvery harmless. However, before we were perfectly cometo ourselves, we heard very uncommon noises, sometimes"a hoarse sound, disagreeable to our ears as the croaking of"a raven, and sometimes a shriller noise, quite unlike thenote of any bird that we know of, and immediately aftersomething presented itself to our view which bore a littleresemblance to the monster, but by no means so large andfrightful. Instead of being all over red, it had on each sidetwo spots of a more beautiful hue than Dicky's breast;the rest of it was of a more delicate white, excepting two
42 The Story of the Robins.streaks of a deep red, like the cherry you brought us theother day, and between these two streaks were rows ofwhite bones, but by no means dreadful to behold, likethose of the great monster. Its eyes were blue and white;and round this agreeable face was something which I can-not describe, very pretty, and as glossy as the feathers ofa goldfinch. There was so cheerful and pleasing a lookin this creature altogether, that, notwithstanding I own Iwas rather afraid, yet I had pleasure in looking at it;but it stayed a very little time, and then disappeared.While we were puzzling ourselves with conjectures con-cerning it. another creature, larger than it, appeared beforeus, equally beautiful, and with an aspect so mild andgentle, that we were all charmed with it; but, as if fearfulof alarming us by its stay, it immediately retired, and wehave been longiing for you and my mother's return, in hopesyou would be able to tell us what it is we have seen.""I am happy, my dears," said their mother, "to find youmore composed than I expected; for as your father andI were flying together, in order to come back to you, weobserved the monster and the two pretty creatures Flapsyhas described; the former is, as your father before informedyou, our friend the gardener, and the others are our youngbenefactors, by whose bounty we are every day regaled,and who, I will venture to say, will do you no harm. Youcannot think how kindly they treat us; and though thereare a number of other birds who share their goodness, yourfather and I are favoured with their particular regard.""Oh !" said Pecksy, "are these sweet creatures yourfriends ? I long to go abroad that I may see them again.""Well," cried Flapsy, " I perceive that if we judge fromappearances we may often be mistaken. Who would havethought that such an ugly monster as that gardener could
Anticipations. 43have had a tender heart?" "Very true," replied the mother;"you must make it a rule, Flapsy, to judge of mankindby their actions, and not by their looks. I have knownsome of them, whose appearance was as engaging as thatof our young benefactors, who were, notwithstanding, bar-barous enough to take eggs-out of a nest and spoil them;nay, even to carry away nest and all before the youngones were fledged, without knowing how to feed them, orhaving any regard to the sorrows of the tender parents.""Oh! what dangers there are in the world!" criedPecksy; "I shall be afraid to leave the nest." "Why so,my love?" said the mother; "every bird does not meetwith hawks and cruel children. You have already, as you.sat on the nest, seen thousands of the feathered race, of onekind or other, making their airy excursions, full of mirthand gaiety. This orchard constantly resounds with themelody of those who chant forth their songs of joy; and Ibelieve there are no beings in the world happier than birds,for we are naturally formed for cheerfulness; and I trustthat a prudent precaution, and following the rules we shallfrom our experience be able to give you, will preserve youfrom the dangers to which the feathered race are exposed.""Instead of indulging your fears, Pecksy," said the father,"summon up all your courage, for to-morrow you shall,with your brothers and sister, begin to see the world."Dicky expressed great delight at this declaration, andRobin boasted that he had not the least remains of fear.Flapsy, though still apprehensive of monsters, yet longedto see the gaieties of life, and Pecksy wished to complywith every desire of her dear parents. The approachof evening nodw reminded them that it was time to takerepose, and turning its head under its wing, each birdsoon resigned itself to the gentle powers of sleep.
CHAPTER VI.THE YOUNG VISITORS.-THE CRUEL BOY.A FTER Harriet and Frederick had been gratified withthe sight of the robins' nest, they were returning tothe house, conducted by their friend Joe, when they weremet in the garden by their mamma, accompanied by MissLucy Jenkins and her brother Edward. The former was
Lucy and Edward. 45a fine girl about ten years old, the latter a robust rudeboy, more than eleven. "We were coming to seek you,my dears," said Mrs. Benson to her children, "for I wasfearful that the business you went upon would make youforgetful of your young visitors.""I cannot answer for Frederick," replied Harriet, "butindeed, mamma, I would not on any account have slightedmy friends. How do you do, my dear Lucy?" said she;"I am happy to see you. Will you go with me into theplay-room 1 I have got some very pretty new books.Frederick, have you nothing to show Edward 1" "Ohyes," said Frederick, "I have got a new ball, a new top, anew organ, and twenty pretty things; but I had rather goback and show him the robins."" The robins !" said Edward, "what robins ?""Why, our robins, that have built in the ivy-wall. Younever saw anything so pretty in your life as the little ones.""Oh, I can see birds enough at home," said Edward;"but why did you not take the nest 1 it would have beennice diversion to you to toss the young birds about. Ihave had a great many nests this year, and do believe Ihave a hundred eggs.""A hundred eggs! and how do you propose to hatchthem ?" said Harriet, who turned back on hearing himtalk in this manner."Hatch them, Miss Benson?" said he; "who everthinks of hatching birds' eggs?""Oh, then, you eat them," said Frederick, "or perhapslet your cook make puddings of them ?""No, indeed," replied Edward; " I blow out the inside,and then run a'thread through them, and give them toLucy to hang up among her curiosities, and very prettythey look, I assure you."C
46 The Story of the Robins."And so," said Harriet, "you had rather see a string ofempty egg-shells, than hear a sweet concert of birds sing-ing in the trees ? I admire your taste, truly!""Why, is there any harm in taking birds' eggs 1" saidLucy; "I never before heard that there was."" My dear mamma," replied Harriet, "has taught me tothink there is harm in every action which gives causelesspain to any living creature; and I own I have a very par-ticular affection for birds.""Well," said Lucy, " I have no notion of such'affections,for my part. Sometimes, indeed, I try to rear those whichEdward brings home, but they are teasing, troublesomethings, and I am not lucky. To tell the truth, I do notconcern myself much about them; if they live they live,and if they die they die. He has brought me threenests this day to plague me; I intended to have fed thebirds before I came out, but being in a hurry to cometo see you, I quite forgot it. Did you feed them, Ed-ward ?""Not I," said he, "I thought you would do it; 'tisenough for me to find the nests.""And have you actually left three nests of young birdsat home without food ?" exclaimed Harriet."I did not think of them, but will feed them when Ireturn," said Lucy."Oh !" cried Harriet, "I cannot bear the thought ofwhat the poor little creatures must suffer."" Well," said Edward, "since you feel so much for them,I think, Harriet, you will make the best nurse. What sayyou, Lucy, will you give the nests to Harriet ?" "With allmy heart," replied his sister; " and pray d, not plague mewith any more of them.""I do not know that my mamma will let me accept
The Poor Nestlings. 47them," said Harriet; "lut if she will, I shall be glad todo so."Frederick inquired what birds they were, and Edwardinformed him there was a nest of linnets, a nest of spar-rows, and another of blackbirds. Frederick was all im-patience to see them, and Harriet longed to have thelittle creatures in her possession, that she might rescuethem from their deplorable condition, and lessen the evilsof captivity which they now suffered.Her mamma had left her with her young companions,that they might indulge themselves in innocent amuse-ments without restraint; but the tender-hearted Harrietcould not engage in any play till she had made inter-cession in behalf of the poor birds; she therefore beggedLucy would accompany her to her mamma, in order toask permission to have the birds' nests. She accordinglywent and made her request known to Mrs. Benson, whoreadily consented; observing, that though she had a verygreat objection to her children having birds' nests, yet shecould not deny her daughter on the present occasion.Harriet, from an unwillingness to expose her friend, hadsaid but little on the subject; but Mrs. Benson, having greatdiscernment, concluded that she made the request froma merciful motive, and knowing that Lucy had no kindmamma to give her instruction, she thus addressed her:"I perceive, my young friend, that Harriet is apprehen-sive that the birds will not meet with the same kind treat-ment from you which she is disposed to give them. Icannot think you have any cruelty in your nature, butperhaps you have accustomed yourself to consider birdsonly as playthings, without sense or feeling; to me, whoam a great admirer of the beautiful little creatures, theyappear in a very different light; and I have been an
48 The Story of the Robins.attentive observer of them, I assure you. Though theyhave not the gift of speech, like us, all kinds of birds haveparticular notes, which answer in some measure the pur-pose of words among them, by means of which they cancall to their young ones, express their love for them, theirfears for their safety, their anger towards those who wouldhurt them, etc.; from which we may infer that it is cruelto rob birds of their young, deprive them of their liberty,or exclude them from the blessings suited to their natures,for which it is impossible for us to give them an equiva-lent. Besides, these creatures, insignificant as they appearin your estimation, were made by God as well as you.Have you not read in the New Testament, my dear, thatour Saviour said, Blessed are the merciful, for they shallobtain mercy ?' How then can you expect that God willsend his blessing upon you, if, instead of endeavouring toimitate Him in being merciful to the utmost of your power,you are wantonly cruel to innocent creatures which Hedesigned for happiness ?"This admonition from Mrs. Benson, which Lucy did notexpect, made her look very serious, and brought tears intoher eyes; on which the good lady took her by the hand,and kindly said, 'I wish not to distress you, my dear, butmerely to awaken the natural sentiments of your heart;reflect at your leisure on what I have taken the liberty ofsaying to you, and I am sure you will think me your friend.I knew your dear mamma, and can assure you she wasremarkable for the tenderness of her disposition. But letme not detain you from your amusements; go to yourown apartment, Harriet, and use your best endeavours tomake your visitors happy. You cannot this evening fetchthe birds, because when Lucy goes it will be too late foryou to take so long a walk, as you must come back after-
Cruel Edward. 49wards; and I make no doubt but that, to oblige you, shewill feed them to-night."Harriet and Lucy returned, and found Frederick divert-ing himself with the hand-organ, which had lately beenpresented to him by his godpapa; 'but Edward had laidhold of Harriet's dog, and was searching his pocket fora piece of string, that he might tie him and the cat to-gether, to see, as he said, how nicely they would fight;and so fully *as he bent on this cruel purpose, that itwas with difficulty he was prevailed on to relinquish it."Dear me !" said he, "if ever I came into such a housein my life! there is no fun here. What would you havesaid to Harry Pritchard and me the other day, when wemade the cats fly?""Made the cats fly !" said Frederick; "how was that?""Whly," replied he, " we tied bladders to each side oftheir necks, and then flung them from the top of the house.There was an end of their purring and mewing for sometime, I assure you, for they lay a long while strugglingand gasping for breath, and if they had not had ninelives, I think they must have died; but at last up theyjumped, and away they ran scampering. Then out camelittle Jemmy, crying as if he had flown down himself, be-cause we hurt the poor cats. He had a dog running afterhim, who, I suppose, meant to call us to task with hisbow-wow; but we soon stopped his tongue, for we caughtthe gentleman, and drove him before us into a narrowlane, and then ran hooting after him into the village; anumber of boys joined us, and cried out as we did, 'Amad dog a mad dog !' On this, several people pursuedhim with cudgels and broomsticks, and at last he was shotby a man, but not killed, so others came and knockedhim about the head till he expired."
50 The Story of the Robins."For shame, Edward!" said Harriet; "how can youtalk in that rhodomontade manner ? I cannot believe anyboy could bring his heart to such barbarities.""Barbarities, indeed! why, have we not a right to doas we please to dogs and cats, or do you think they feelas we do ? Fiddle-faddle of your nonsense say I. Come,you must hear the end of my story: when the dog wasdead, we carried him home to little Jemmy, who was readyto break his heart for the loss of him; so we did not liketo stand hearing his whining, therefore left him and got acock, whose legs we tied, and flung at him till he died.Then we set two others fighting; and fine sport we had,for one was pecked till his breast was laid open, and theother was blinded, so we left them to make up theirquarrel as they could.""Stop! stop!" exclaimed Harriet, "for pity's sake, stop!I can hear no more of your horrid stories; nor would Icommit even one of those barbarities which you boast offor the world Poor innocent creatures what had theydone to you to deserve such usage ""I beg, Edward," said his sister, "that you will findsome other way to entertain us, or I shall really tell Mrs.Benson of you.""What! are you growing tender-hearted all at once?"cried he."I will tell you what I think when I go home," repliedLucy. As for poor Frederick, he could not restrain histears, and Harriet's flowed also at the bare idea of thesufferings of the poor animals; but Edward was so ac-customed to be guilty of those things without reflection,that there was no making any impression of tendernessupon his mind; and he only laughed at their concern,and wanted to tell a long story about an ox that had been
Harriet and her Mamma. 51driven by a cruel drover till he went mad; but Harrietand his sister stopped their ears.At last little Frederick went crying to his mamma, andthe young ladies retired to another apartment; so Edwardamused himself with catching flies in the window, pullingthe legs off some, and the wings from others, delightedwith their contortions, which were occasioned by theagonies they endured. Mrs. Eenscn had some visitors,which prevented her talking to this cruel boy as she other-wise would have done, on hearing Frederick's account ofhim; but she determined to tell his papa, which she ac-cordingly did some time after, when he returned home.Edward was now disturbed from his barbarous sportby being called to tea; and soon after that was over, theservant came to fetch him and his sister. Harriet earnestlyentreated her friend Lucy to feed the birds properly, tillshe should be allowed to fetch them; who promised todo so, for she was greatly affected with Mrs. Benson's dis-course, and then entreated her brother to take leave, thatshe might return home; with this he readily complied, asthere were no further opportunities for cruelty.After her little visitors had departed, Harriet went intothe drawing-room, and sat herself down that she mightimprove her mind by the conversation of the company.Her mamma perceived that she had been in tears, ofwhich Frederick had before explained the cause. "I donot wonder, my love," said she, "that you should havebeen so affected with the relation of such horrid barbari-ties as that thoughtless boy has, by degrees, brought him-self to practise by way of amusement. However, do notsuffer your mind to dwell on them, as the creatures onwhich he inflicted them are no longer objects of pity. Itis wrong to grieve for the death of animals as we do for
52 The Stoiy of the Robins.the loss of our friends, because they certainly are not of somuch consequence to our happiness, and we are taught tothink their sufferings end with their lives, as they are notaccountable beings; and therefore the killing them, evenin the most barbarous manner, is not like murdering ahuman creature, who is perhaps unprepared to give anaccount of himself at the tribunal of heaven.""I have been," said a lady who was present, "for a longtime accustomed to consider animals as mere machines,actuated by the unerring hand of Providence to do thosethings which are necessary for the preservation of them-selves and their offspring; but the sight of the LearnedPig, which has lately been shown in London, has derangedthese ideas, and I know not what to think."This led to a conversation on the instinct of animals,which young readers would not understand; it wouldtherefore be useless to insert it.As soon as the company was gone, "Pray, mamma,"said Harriet, "what did the Learned Pig do ? I had agreat mind to ask Mrs. Franks, who said she saw it; butI was fearful she would think me impertinent.""I commend your modesty, my dear," replied Mrs.Benson, "but would not have it lead you into such a de-gree of restraint as to prevent you satisfying that laudablecuriosity, without which young persons must remain igno-rant of many things very proper for them to be acquaintedwith. Mrs. Franks would, I am sure, have been far fromthinking you impertinent. Those inquiries only are thoughttroublesome, by which children interrupt conversation,and endeavour to attract attention to their own insig-nificant prattle; but all people of good sense and good-nature delight in giving them useful information."In respect to the Learned Pig, I have heard things
The Learned Pig. 53which are quite astonishing in a species of animals gene-rally regarded as very stupid. The creature was shownfor a sight in a room provided for the purpose, where anumber of people assembled to view his performapces.Two alphabets of large letters on card-paper were placedon the floor; one of the company was then desired topropose a word which he wished the pig to spell; thisthe keeper repeated to the pig, which picked out everyletter successively with his snout, and collected them to-gether till the word was complete. He was then desiredto tell the hour of the day, and one of the company helda watch to him; this he seemed to examine very atten-tively with his cunning little eye, and having done so, hepicked out figures for the hour and minute of the day.He exhibited a number of other tricks of the same nature,to the great diversion of the spectators." For my own part, though I was in London at the timehe was shown, and heard continually of this wonderfulpig from persons of my acquaintance, I never went tosee him; for I am fully persuaded that great cruelty musthave been used in teaching him things so foreign to hisnature, and therefore would not give any encouragementto such a scheme.""And do you think, mamma," said Harriet, "that thepig knew the letters, and could really spell words 1""I think it possible, my dear, that the pig might betaught to know the letters at sight one from the other,and that his keeper had some private sign, by which hedirected him to each that was wanted; but that he hadan idea of spelling I can never believe, nor are animalscapable of attaining human sciences, because for thesehuman faculties are requisite; and no art of man canchange the nature of anything, though he may be able to
54 The Story of the Robins.improve that nature to a certain degree, or at least to callforth to view powers which would otherwise be hiddenfrom us. As far as this can be done consistently withour higher obligations, it may be an agreeable amusement,but will never answer any important purpose to mankind;and I would advise you, Harriet, never to give countenanceto those people who show what they call learned animals,as you may assure yourself they practise great barbaritiesupon them, of which starving them almcst to death ismost likely among the number; and you may, with themoney such a sight would cost you, procure for yourselfa rational amusement, or even relieve some wretched crea-ture from extreme distress. But, my dear, it is now timefor you to retire to rest; I will therefore bid you good-night."
CHAPTER VII.THE FIRST FLIGHT OF THE NESTLINGS."EARLY in the morning the hen redbreast awakenedher young brood. "Come, my little ones," said she,"shake off your drowsiness; remember, this is the dayfixed for your entrance into the world. I desire that eachof you will dress your feathers before you go out, for a
56 The Story of the Robins.slovenly bird is my aversion, and neatness is a great ad-vantage to the appearance of everyone."The father bird was upon the wing betimes, that hemight give each of his young ones a breakfast before theyattempted to leave the nest. When he had fed them, hedesired his mate to accompany him as usual to Mrs. Ben-son's, where he found the -parlour window open, and hisyoung friends sitting with their mamma. Crumbs hadbeen, according to custom, strewed before the window,which the other birds had nearly devoured; but the red-breasts took their usual post on the tea-table, and thefather bird sang his morning lay; after which they re-turned with all possible speed to the nest, for, having soimportant an affair to manage, they could not be long ab-sent Neither could theii young benefactors pay so muchattention to them as usual, for they were impatient tofetch the birds from Miss Jenkins's; therefore, as soonas breakfast was ended, they set out upon their expe-dition. Harriet carried a basket large enough to holdtwo nests, and Frederick a smaller one for the other:thus equipped, with a servant attending them, they setoff.Mr. Jenkins's house was about a mile from Mr. Benson's;it was delightfully, situated ; there was a beautiful lawnand canal before it, and a charming garden behind; onone side were corn-fields, and on the other a wood. Insuch a retreat as this it was natural to expect to find agreat many birds; but, to Harriet's surprise, they saw onlya few straggling ones here and there, which flew away themoment she and her brother appeared. On this Harrietobserved to Frederick, that she supposed Edward Jen-kins's practice of taking birds' nests had made them soshy. She said a great deal to him about the cruelties that
The Fate of the Nestlings. 57naughty boy had boasted of the evening before, whichFrederick promised to remember.As soon as they arrived at the house, Lucy ran out toreceive them, but her brother had gone to school."We are come, my dear Lucy," said Harriet, "to fetchthe birds you promised us.""Oh I know not what to say to you, my dear," saidLucy. "I have very bad news to tell you, and I fear youwill blame me exceedingly, though not more than I blamemyself. I heartily wish I had returned home immediatelyafter the kind lecture your mamma favoured me with yes-"terday, which showed me the cruelty of my behaviour,though I was then ashamed to own it. I walked as fastas I could all the way from your house, and determinedto give each of the little creatures a good supper, forwhich purpose I had an egg boiled and nicely chopped;I mixed up some bread and water very smooth, and puta little seed with the chopped egg amongst it, and thencarried it to the room where I left the nests. But whatwas my concern, when I found that my care was too latefor the greatest part of them! Every sparrow lay dead;they seemed to have killed each other. In the nest oflinnets, which were very young, I found one dead, twojust expiring, and the other almost exhausted, but still ableto swallow; to him, therefore, I immediately gave someof the food I had prepared, which greatly revived him,and as I thought he would suffer with cold in the nestby himself, I covered him over with wool, and had thismorning the pleasure of finding him quite recovered.""What! all the sparrows and three linnets dead !" saidFrederick, whose little eyes swam with tears at the melan-choly tale; "and pray, Miss Jenkins, have you starvedall the blackbirds too ?"
58 The Story of the Robins."Not all, my little friend," answered Lucy, "but I mustconfess that some of them have fallen victims to my neg-lect: however, there are two fine ones alive, which I shall,with the surviving linnet, cheerfully resign to the care ofmy dear Harriet, whose tenderness will, I hope, be re-warded by the pleasure of hearing them sing when theyare old enough. But I beg you will stay and rest your-selves after your walk.""Let me see the birds first," said Frederick. "Thatyou shall do," answered Lucy; and taking him by thehand, she conducted him to the room in which she keptSthem, accompanied by Harrief. Lucy then fed the birds,and gave particular instructions for making their food,and declared that she would never be a receiver of birds'nests any more; but expregsed her apprehensions that itwould be difficult to wean Edward from his propensityfor taking them.Lucy then took her young friends into the parlour toher governess (for her mamma was dead), who receivedthem very kindly, and gave each of them a piece of cakeand some fruit; after which Lucy led them again into theroom where the birds were, and very carefully put thenest with the poor solitary linnet into one' basket, andthat with the two blackbirds into the other. Frederickwas very urgent to carry the latter, which his sister con-sented to; and then bidding adieu to their friend, they setoff on their way home, attended by the maid as before.Let us now return to the redbreasts, whom we left onthe wing flying back to the ivy-wall, in order to take theiryoung ones abroad.As the father entered the nest, he cried out with acheerful voice, "Well, my nestlings, are you all ready ""Yes," they replied. The mother then advanced, and____________________------- --
Learning to Fly. 59desired that each of them would get upon the edge of thenest Robin and Pecksy sprang up in an instant, butDicky and Flapsy, being timorous, were not so expeditious.The hearts of the parents felt great delight at the viewthey now h of their young family, which appeared tobe strong, 4rous, and lively, and, in a word, endowedwith every gift of nature requisite to their success in theworld."Now," said the father, "stretch your wings, Robin,and flutter them a little, in this manner" (showing himthe way), "and be sure to' bserve my directions exactly.Very*well," said he: "do not attempt to fly yet, for hereis neither air nor space enough for that purpose. Walkgently after me to the wall; then follow me to the treethat stands close to it, and hop on from branch to branchas you will see me do: then rest yourself; and as soonas you see me fly away, spread your wings, and exert allthe strength you have to follow me."Robin acquitted himself to admiration, and alightedvery safely on the ground."Now stand still," said the father, "till the rest join us."Then going back, he called upon Dicky to do the sameas his brother had done; but Dicky was very fearful offluttering his wings, for he was a little coward, and ex-pressed many apprehensions that he-should not reach theground without falling, as they were such a great heightfrom it. His father, who was a very courageous bird,was quite angry with him."Why, you foolish little thing!" said he, "do you meanto stay in the nest by yourself and starve 1 I shall leaveoff bringing you food, I assure you. Do you think yourwings were given you to be always folded by your sides,and that the whole employment of your life is to dress
6o The Story of the Robins.your feathers and make yourself look pretty Withoutexercise you cannot long enjoy health; besides, you willsoon have your livelihood to earn, and therefore idlenesswould in you be the height of folly. Get up this instant."Dicky, intimidated by his father's displeasure, got up,and advanced as far as the branch from which he wasto descend; but here his fears returned, and instead ofmaking an effort to fly, he stood flapping his wings in amost irresolute manner, and suffered his father to lead theway twice without following him. This good parent, find-ing he would not venture to fly, took a circuit unperceivedby Dicky, and watching the opportunity when his wingswere a little spread, came suddenly behind him and pushedhim off the branch. Dicky, finding himself in actual dan-ger of falling, now gladly stretched his pinions, and, up-borne by the air, he gently descended to the ground, sonear the spot where Robin stood, that the latter easilyreached him by hopping.The mother now undertook to conduct Flapsy andPecksy, whilst the father stayed to take care of the twoalready landed. Flapsy made a thousand difficulties, butat length yielded to her mother's persuasions, and flewsafely down' Pecksy, without the least hesitation, accom-panied her, and by exactly following the directions given,found the task much easier than she expected.As soon as they had a little recovered from the fatigueand fright of their first essay at flying, they began to lookaround them with astonishment. Every object on whichthey turned their eyes excited their curiosity and wonder.They were no longer confined to a little nest built in asmall hole, but were now at full liberty in the open air.The orchard itself appeared to them a world. For sometime each remained silent, gazing around, first at one thing,
The Nestlings' World. 61then at another; at length Flapsy cried out, "What acharming place the world is I had no conception thatit was half so big !""And do you suppose then, my dear," replied the mother,"that you now behold the whole of the world ? I haveseen but a small part of it myself, and yet have flownover so large a space, that what is at present within ourview appears to me a little inconsiderable spot; and Ihave conversed with several foreign birds, who informedme that the countries they came from were so distant thatthey were many days on their journey hither, though theyflewthe nearest way, and scarcely allowed themselves anyresting tin( ""Come," said the father, "let us proceed to business;we did not leave the nest merely to look about us. Youare now, my young ones, safely landed on the ground; letme instruct you what you are to do on it. Every livingcreature that comes into the world has something allottedhim to perform, therefore he should not stand an idle spec-tator of what others are doing. We small birds have avery easy task, in comparison of many animals I havehad an opportunity of observing, being only required toseek food for ourselves, build nests, and provide for ouryoung ones till they are able to procure their own liveli-hood. We have indeed enemies to dread; hawks andother birds of prey will catch us up if we are not uponour guard; but the worst foes we have are those of thehuman race, though even among them we redbreasts havea better chance than many other birds, on account of acharitable action which two of our species are said to haveperformed towards a little boy and girl,* who were lost in"* Alluding to the ballad of the Children in the Wood.
62 The Story of the Robins.a wood, where they were starved to death. The red-breasts saw the affectionate pair, hand in hand, stretchedon the cold ground, and would have fed them had theybeen capable of receiving nourishment; but finding thepoor babes quite dead, and being unable to bury them,they resolved to cover them with leaves. This was anarduous task, but many a redbreast has since shared thereward of it; and I believe that those who do good toothers always meet with a recompense some way or other.But I declare I am doing the very thing I was reprovingyou for-chattering away when I should be minding busi-ness. Come, hop after me, and we shall soon find some-thing worth having. Fear nothing, for you are now in aplace of security; there is no hawk near, and I have neverseen any of the human race enter this orchard but themonsters who paid you visits in the nest, and othersequally inoffensive."The father then hopped away, followed by Robin andDicky, while his mate conducted the female part of thefamily. The parents instructed their young ones in whatmanner to seek for food, and they proved very successful,for there were many insects just at hand.
CHAPTER VIII.FREDERICK DISCOVERS THE YOUNG ROBINS IN THECURRANT-BUSH.W HILST all the business related in the last chapterwas going on in the redbreast family, Harriet andher brother were walking home with the poor birds in thebaskets. "Well, Frederick," said she to him, "what think
64 The Story of the Robins.you of bird-nesting now? Should you like to occasionthe deaths of a number of little harmless creatures ?""No, indeed," said Frederick; "and I think Miss Jenkinsa very naughty girl for starving them." " She was to blame,but is now sorry for her fault, my dear, therefore you mustnot speak unkindly of her; besides, you know, she has nogood mamma, as we have, to teach her what is proper;and her papa is obliged to be absent from home veryoften, and leave her to the care of a governess, who per-haps was never instructed herself to be tender to animals."With this kind of conversation they amused themselvesas they walked, every now and then peeping into their'baskets to see the little birds, which were very lively andwell. They entreated the maid to take them through theorchard, which had a gate that opened into a meadowthat lay in their way, having no doubt of obtaining ad-mittance, as it was the usual hour for their friend Joe towork there. They accordingly knocked at the gate, whichwas immediately opened to them, and Frederick requestedJoe to show him the robins' nest.Just at this time the young robins were collected to-gether near the gate, when they were suddenly alarmedwith a repetition of the same noises which had formerlyterrified them in the nest; and Robin, who was foremost,beheld, to his very great amazement, Frederick and Har-riet, the maid who attended them, with Joe the gardener,who, having opened the gate, was, at the request of his'young master and mistress, conducting them to the ivy-wall.Robin, with all his courage (and indeed he was not de-"ficient in this quality), was seized with a great tremor; forif the view he had of the faces of these persons had ap-peared so dreadful to him when he sat in the nest, whatmust it now be, to behold their full size, and see them
Robin and his Friends. 65advancing with, as he thought, gigantic strides towardshim? He expected nothing less than to be crushed todeath with the foot of one of them; and not having yetattained his full strength, and never having raised himfselfin the air, he knew not how to escape, therefore chirped soloudly as not only to surprise his brother and sisters, andbrinaM father and mother to inquire the meaning of hiscry, l1-Also to attract the attention of the young Bensons."What chirping is that?" cried Harriet. "It was the cryof a young bird," said the maid; "was it not one of thosein the baskets ?" "No," said Frederick, "the noise camethat way," pointing to some currant-bushes; "my birdsare very well." "And so is my linnet," replied Harriet.Frederick then set down his charge very carefully, andbegan looking about in the place from whence he sup-posed the sound proceeded, when, to his great joy, hesoon discovered the redbreasts and their little family. Hecalled eagerly to his sister, who was equally pleased withthe sight. They then stooped down to take a nearer viewof them, by which means he directly fronted Robin, who,as soon as the young gentleman's face was on a level withhis eyes, recollected him, and calling to his brother andsisters, told them they need not be afraid.Harriet followed her brother's example, and delightedthe little flock with the sight of her amiable countenance.She heartily lamented having nothing with which to regaleher old favourites and their family, when Frederick pro-diced from his pocket a piece of biscuit, which theycrumbled and scattered. Harriet, recollecting that hermamma would expect her at home, and that the birds inthe baskets would be hungry, persuaded her brother totake up his little load and return; they therefore left theredbreasts enjoying the fruits of their bounty.D
66 The Story of the Robins.When the happy birds had shared amongst them thekind present of their young benefactors, they hoppedabout in search of some moister food. Dicky had thegood fortune to find four little worms together, but insteadof calling his brother and sisters to partake of them, hedevoured them all himself."Are you not ashamed, you little greedy creature ?" criedhis father, who observed his selfish disposition. "Whatwould you think of your brother and sisters were they toserve you so ? In a family, every individual ought to con-sult the welfare of the whole, instead of his own privatesatisfaction; it is his own truest interest to do so. A daymay come when he who has now sufficient to supply thewants of his relations, may stand in need of assistancefrom them. But, setting aside selfish considerations, whichare the last that ever find place in a generous breast, howgreat is the pleasure of doing good, and contributing tothe happiness of others !"Dicky was quite confounded, and immediately hoppedaway, to find, if possible, something for his brother andsisters, that he might regain their good opinion.In the meanwhile Robin found a caterpillar, which heintended to take for Pecksy; but just as he was going topick it up, a linnet, which had a nest in the orchard,snatched it from him, and flew away with it.With the most furious rage Robin advanced to hisfather, and entreated that he would fly after the linnetand tear his heart out. "That would be taking violentrevenge, indeed," said his father. "No, Robin, the linnethas as great a right to the caterpillar as you or I, and inall probability he has as many little gaping mouths athome ready to receive it. But however this may be, Ihad, for my own part, rather sustain an injury than take
Dutiful Pecksy. 67revenge. You must expect to have many a scramble ofthis kind in your life; but if you give way to a resentfultemper, you will do yourself. more harm than all the ene-mies in the world can do you, for you will be in per-petual agitation, from an idea that everyone who doesnot act in direct conformity with your wishes has a designagainst you. Therefore restrain your anger, that you maybe happy; for, believe me, peace and tranquillity are themost valuable things you can possess."At this instant Pecksy came up with a fine fat spiderin her mouth, which she laid down at her mother's feet,and thus addressed her: "Accept, my dear parent, thefirst tribute of gratitude which I have ever been able tooffer you. How have I formerly longed to ease those toilswhich you and my dear father have endured for our sakes !and gladly would I now release you from further fatigueon my account; but I am still a poor creature, and mustcontinue to take shelter under your wing. I will hop, how-ever, as long as I am able, to procure food for the family."The eyes of the mother sparkled with delight, and know-ing that Pecksy's love would be disappointed by a refusal,she ate the spider which the dutiful nestling had so affec-tionately brought her, and then said, "How happy wouldfamilies be, if everyone like you, my dear Pecksy, con-sulted the welfare of the rest, instead of turning theirwhole attention to their own interest."Dicky was not present at this speech, which he mighthave considered as a reflection on his own conduct; buthe arrived as it was ended, and presented Pecksy with aworm, like those he had himself so greedily eaten. Shereceived it with thanks, and declared it was doubly wel-come from his beak. "Certainly," said the mother, "fra-ternal love stamps a value on the most trifling presents."
68 The Story of the Robins.Dicky felt himself happy in having regained the goodopinion of his mother and obliged his sister, and resolvedto be generous for the future.The mother bird now reminded her mate that it wouldbe proper to think of returning to the nest. " If the littleones fatigue themselves too much with hopping about,"said she, "their strength will be exhausted, and they willnot be able to fly back." "True, my love," replied hermate; "gather them under your wings a little, as thereis no reason to apprehend danger here, and then we willsee what they can do." She complied with his desire,and when they were sufficiently rested she got up, onwhich the whole brood instantly raised themselves ontheir feet."Now, Robin," cried the father, "let us see your dex-terity in flying upwards; come, I will show you how toraise yourself.""Oh, you need not take that trouble," said the conceitedbird; "as I flew down, I warrant I know how to fly up."Then spreading his wings, he attempted to rise, but in sounskilful a manner, that he only shuffled along upon theground."That will not do, however," cried the father; "shall Ishow you now ?" Robin persisted in it that he stood inno need of instruction, and tried again; he managed toraise himself a little way, but soon tumbled headlong. Hismother then began reproving him for his obstinacy, andadvised him to accept his father's kind offer of teachinghim."You may depend on it, Robin," said she, "that he isin every respect wiser than you, and as he has had somuch practice, he must of course be expert in the artof flying; and if you persist in making your own foolish
The Upward Flight. 69experiments, you will only commit a number of errors,and make yourself ridiculous. I should commend yourcourage, provided you would add prudence to it; butblundering on in this ignorant manner is only rashness.""Let him alone, let him alqne," said the father; "if heis above being taught, he may find his own way to thenest; I will teach his brother. Come, Dicky," said he,"let us see what you can do at flying upwards; you cuta noble figure this morning when you flew down."Dicky, with reluctance, advanced; he said he did notsee what occasion they had to go back to the nest at all;he should suppose they might easily find some snug cornerto creep into till they were strong enough to roost in trees,as other birds did."" Why," said the father, "you are as ridiculous withyour timidity as Robin with his conceit. Those who giveway to groundless fears generally expose themselves toreal dangers. If you rest on the earth all night, you willsuffer a great deal from cold and damp, and may verylikely be devoured whilst you sleep, by rats and other crea-tures that go out in the night to seek for food; whereas,if you determine to go back to the nest, you have butone effort to make, for which, I will venture to say, youhave sufficient strength, and then you will lie warm, safe,and quiet: however, do as you will."Dicky began to think that it was his interest to obeyhis father, and said he would endeavour to fly up, butwas still fearful he should not be able to do it."Never despair," replied his father, "of doing whatothers have done before you. Turn your eyes upwards,and behold what numbers of birds are at this instant soar-ing in the air. They were once all nestlings, like yourself.See there that new-fledged wren, with what courage he
70 The Story of the Robins.skims along! Let it not be said that a redbreast liesgrovelling on the earth while a wren soars above him !"Dicky was now ashamed of himself, and inspired withemulation, therefore without delay he spread his wings andhis tail; his father with pleasure placed himself in a properattitude before him, then rising from the ground, led theway; and Dicky, by carefully following his example, safelyarrived at the nest, which he found a most comfortableresting-place after the fatigue of the morning, and rejoicedthat he had a good father to teach him what was mostconducive to his welfare.The father, having seen him safe home, returned to hismate, who, during his short absence, had been endeavour-ing to convince Robin of his fault, but to no purpose; hedid not like to be taught what he still persuaded himselfhe could do by his own exertions; she therefore appliedherself to Flapsy."Come, my dear," said she, "get ready to follow mewhen your father returns, for the sun casts a great heathere, and the nest will be quite comfortable to you."Flapsy dreaded the experiment; however, as she couldnot but blame both Robin and Dicky's conduct, she re-solved to do her best, but entreated her mother to informher very particularly bow to proceed. "Well, then," saidthe tender parent, "observe me. First bend your legs,then spring from the ground as qhick as you can, stretch-ing your wings straight out on each side of your bodyas you rise; shake them with a quick motion, as you willsee me do, and the air will yield to you, and at the sametime support your weight; whichever way you want toturn, strike the air with the wing on the contrary side,and that will bring you about." She then rose from theground, and having practised two or three times repeatedly
Robin's Bad Temper. 7'what she had been teaching, Flapsy at length ventured tofollow her, but with a palpitating heart; and was soonhappily seated in the nest by the side of Dicky, who re-joiced that his favourite sister was safely arrived.The mother bird now went back to Pecksy, who waswaiting with her father till she returned; for the goodparent chose to leave the female part of his family to theparticular management of their mother.Pecksy was fully prepared for her flight, for she had at-tentively observed the instruction given to the others, andalso their errors; she therefore kept the happy mediumbetwixt self-conceit and timidity, indulging that moderatedemulation which ought to possess every young heart; and,resolving that neither her inferiors nor equals should soarabove her, she sprang from the ground, and, with a steadi-ness and agility wonderful for her first essay, followed hermother to the nest, who, instead of stopping to rest her-self there, flew to a neighbouring tree, that she might beat hand to assist Robin should he repent of his folly.But Robin disappointed her hopes, for he sat sulky; thoughconvinced he had been in the wrong, he would not hum-ble himself to his father, who therefore resolved to leavehim a little while, and return to the nest.As soon as Robin found himself deserted, instead ofbeing sorry, he gave way to anger and resentment. "Why,"cried he, "am I to be treated in this manner, who am theeldest of the family, while all the little darlings are fondledand caressed But I don't care; I can get to the nestyet, I make no doubt." He then attempted to fly, andafter a great many trials at length got up in the air; butnot knowing which way to direct his course, he sometimesturned to the right and sometimes to the left; now headvanced forwards a little, and now, fearing he was wrong,
7 2 The Story of the Robins.came back again; at length, quite spent with fatigue, hefell to the ground, and bruised himself a good deal:stunned with the fall, he lay for some minutes withoutsense or motion, but soon revived; and finding himselfalone in this dismal condition, the horrors of his situationfilled him with dreadful apprehensions and the bitterestremorse."Oh !" cried he, "that I had but followed the adviceand example of my tender parents! then had I been safein the nest, blest with their kind caresses, and enjoying thecompany of my dear brother and sisters; but now I amof all birds the most wretched Never shall I be able tofly, for every joint of me has received a shock which Idoubt it will not recover. Where shall I find shelter fromthe scorching sun, whose piercing rays already render theground I lie on intolerably hot ? What kind beak willsupply me with food to assuage the pangs of hunger whichI shall soon feel ? By what means shall I procure even adrop of water to quench that thirst which so frequentlyreturns ? Who will protect me from the various tribes ofbarbarous animals which I have been told make a preyof birds ? Oh, my dear, my tender mother if the soundof my voice can reach your ears, pity my condition, andfly to my succour !"The kind parent waited not for further solicitation, butdarting from the branch on which she had been a painfuleyewitness of Robin's fall, she instantly stood before him."I have listened," said she, "to your lamentations, andsince you seem convinced of your error, I will not add toyour sufferings by my reproaches; my heart relents towardsyou, and gladly would I afford you all the aid in my power;but, alas I can do but little for your relief. However,let me persuade you to exert all the strength you have,
A Mother's Love. 73and use every effort for your own preservation; I willendeavour to procure you some refreshment, and at thesame time contrive the means of fixing you in a placeof more security and comfort than that in which you atpresent lie." So saying, she flew to a little stream whichflowed in an adjacent meadow, and fetched from the brinkof it a worm, which she had observed an angler to dropas she perched on the tree; with this she immediatelyreturned to the penitent Robin, who received the welcomegift with gratitude.Refreshed with this delicious morsel, and comforted byhis mother's kindness, he was able to stand up, and, onshaking his wings, he found that he was not so greatlyhurt as he apprehended; his head, indeed, was bruised, sothat one eye was almost closed, and he had injured thejoint of one wing, so that he could not possibly fly: how-ever, he could manage to hop, and the parent bird observ-ing that Joe the gardener was cutting a hawthorn hedgewhich was near the spot, desired Robin to follow her; thishe did, though with great pain. "Now," said she, "lookcarefully about, and you will soon find insects of one kindor another for your sustenance during the remainder ofthe day, and before evening I will return to you again.Summon all your courage, for I make no doubt you willbe safe while our friend continues his work, as none ofthose creatures which are enemies to birds will venture tocome near him." Robin took a sorrowful farewell, andthe mother flew to the nest.
CHAPTER IX.THE VISIT TO MRS. ADDIS'S." YOU have been absent a long time, my love," saidher mate; "but I perceived that you were indulging your tenderness towards that disobedient nestling,who has rendered himself unworthy of it. However, Ido not condemn you for giving him assistance, for had
News of Robin. 75not you undertaken the task, I would myself have flownto him instead of returning home. How is he ?-likelyto live and reward your kindness ?" " Yes," said she, " hewill, I flatter myself, soon perfectly recover, for his hurtis not very considerable; and I have the pleasure to tellyou he is extremely sensible of his late folly, and I daresay will endeavour to repair his fault with future goodbehaviour." "This is pleasing news, indeed!" said he.The little nestlings, delighted to hear their dear brotherwas safe and convinced of his error, expressed great joy'and satisfaction, and entreated their father to let them de-scend again and keep him company. To this he wouldby no means consent, because, as he told them, the fatiguewould be too great, and it was proper that Robin shouldfeel a little longer the consequences of his presumption." To-morrow," said he, "you shall pay him a visit, but to-day he shall be by himself." On this they dropped theirrequest, knowing that their parent was the best judge ofwhat was proper to be done, and not doubting but thathis affection would lead him to do everything that wasconducive to the real happiness of his family; but yet theycould not tell how to be happy without Robin, and werecontinually perking up their little heads, fancying theyheard his cries. Both their father and mother frequentlytook a peep at him, and had the satisfaction of seeinghim very safe by their friend Joe the gardener, though thehonest fellow did not know of his own guardianship, andcontinued his work without perceiving the little cripple,who hopped and shuffled about, pecking here and therewhatever he could meet with.When he had been for some time by himself, hismother made him another visit, and told him she hadinterceded with his father, whose anger was abated, and
76 The Story of the Robins.he would come to him before he went to rest. Robinrejoiced to hear that there was a chance of his being re-conciled to his father, yet he dreaded the first interview;however, as it must be, he wished to have it over as soonas possible, and every wing he heard beat the air he fan-cied to be that of his offended parent. In this state ofanxious expectation he continued almost to the time ofsunset, when of a sudden he heard the well-known voice,to which he used to listen with joy, but which now causedhis whole frame to tremble; but observing a beam of be-nignity in that eye, in which he looked for anger andreproach, he cast himself in the most supplicating postureat the feet of his father, who could no longer resist thedesire he felt to receive him into favour."Your present humility, Robin," said he, "disarms myresentment; I gladly pronounce your pardon, and ampersuaded you will never again incur my displeasure. Wewill therefore say no more on a subject which gives somuch pain to us." " Yes, my dear indulgent father," criedRobin, "permit ire ke my grateful acknowledgmentsfor your kindness, and to assure you of my future obedi-ence." The delighted parent accepted his submission,and the reconciliation was completed.By this time Robin was greatly exhausted; his kindfather therefore conducted him to a pump in the garden,where he refreshed himself with a few drops of water. Henow felt himself greatly relieved; but on his father's ask-ing him what he intended to do with himself at night, hisspirits sank again, and he answered, he did not know."Well," said the father, "I haie thought of an expe-dient to secure you from cold at least. In a part of theorchard, a very little way from here, there is a place be-longing to our friend the gardener, where I have sheltered
Robin's New Shelter. 77myself from several storms, and am sure it will affordyou a comfortable lodging; so follow me before it is toolate."The old bird then led the way, and his son followedhim. When they arrived, they found the door of the tool-house open, and as the threshold was low, Robin managedto get over it. His father looked carefully about, and atlast found in a corer a parcel of shreds, kept for the pur-pose of nailing up trees. "Here, Robin," said he, " is acharming bed for you; let me see you in it, and call yourmfother to have a peep, and then I must bid you good-night." So saying, away he flew, and brought his mate,who was perfectly satisfied with the lodging provided forher late undutiful but now repentant son; but, remindedby her mate that if they stayed longer they might be shutin, they took leave, telling Robin they would visit himearly in the morning.Though this habitation was much better than Robinexpected, and he was ready enough to own better than hedeserved, yet he deeply regretted his absence from thenest, and longed to see again his brother and sisters.However, though part of the night was spent in bitter re-flections, fatigue at length prevailed over anxiety, and hefell asleep. The nestlings were greatly pleased to findthat Robin was likely to escape the dangers of the night,and even the anxious mother at length resigned herself torepose.Before the sun showed his glorious face in the east,every individual of this affectionate family was awake: thefather with impatience waited for the gardener's openingthe tool-house; the mother prepared her little ones for anew excursion." You will be able to descend with more ease, my dears,
78 The Story of the Robins.to-day than you did yesterday, shall you not ? " "Oh, yes,mother," said Dicky, " I shall not be at all afraid." " NorI," said Flapsy." Say you so 1 then let us see which of you will be downfirst," said she. "Come, I will show you the way."On this, with gradual flight, the mother bent her courseto a spot near the place where Robin lay concealed; theyall instantly followed her, and surprised their father, whohaving seen Joe, was every instant expecting he wouldopen the door. At length, to the joy of the whole party,the gardener appeared, and they soon saw him fetch hisshears and leave the tool-house open; on this the motherproposed that they should all go together and call Robin.There they found him in his snug little bed: but who candescribe the happy meeting ? who can find words to ex-press the raptures which filled each little bosom 1When the first transports subsided, "I think," said thefather, " it will be best to retire from hence. If our friendreturns, he may take us for a set of thieves, and supposethat we came to eat his seeds, and I should be sorry heshould have an ill opinion of us." "Well, I am ready,"said his mate. "And we !" cried the whole brood.They accordingly left the tool-house, and hopped aboutamong the currant-bushes. " I think," said the father,"that you who have the full use of your limbs could ma-nage to get up these low trees, but Robin must contenthimself upon the ground a little longer." This was verymortifying, but he had no one to blame excepting him-self; so he forbore to complain, and assumed as muchcheerfulness as he could. His brother and sisters beggedthey might stay with him all day, as they could do verywell without going up to the nest; to this the parentsconsented.
The Lady's Pets. 79It is now time to inquire after Harriet and her brother.These happy children reached home soon after they leftthe redbreasts, and related every circumstance of theirexpedition to their kind mamma, who, hearing the littleprisoners in the basket chirp very loudly, desired theywould immediately go and feed them, which they gladlydid, and then took a short lesson. Mrs. Benson toldHarriet that she was going to make a visit in the after-noon, and should take her with her, therefore desiredshe would keep herself quite still, that she might not befatigued after the walk she had had in the morning; forthough she meant to go in the carriage, it was her inten-tion to walk home, as the weather was so remarkably fine.The young lady took great care of the birds, and Frede-rick engaged, with the assistance of the maid, to feed themduring her absence. Harriet was then dressed to attendher mamma.Mrs. Addis, to whose house they were going, was a widowlady; she had two children, Charles, a boy of twelve yearsold, at school, and Augusta, about seven, at home. Butthese children were quite strangers to the Bensons.On entering the hall, Harriet took notice of a very dis-agreeable smell, and was surprised with the appearanceof a parrot, paroquet, and a macaw, all in most superbcages. In the next room she came to were a squirreland a monkey, which -had each a little house neatly orna-mented. On being introduced into the drawing-room,she observed in one corner a lap-dog lying on asplendid cushion; and in a beautiful little cradle, whichshe supposed to contain a large wax doll, lay in greatstate a cat with a litter of kittens.After the usual compliments were over, Mrs. Bensonsaid, "I have taken the liberty of bringing my daughter
80 The Story of Ihe Robins.with me, in hopes of inducing you to favour us, in return,with the company of Miss Addis.""You are very obliging," replied the lady, "but indeedI never take my children with me, they are so rude; itwill be time enough some years hence for Augusta to govisiting.""I am sorry to hear you say this," said Mrs. Benson."You are displeased, then, I fear, at my having broughtHarriet with me." This in reality was the case, as Mrs.Benson plainly perceived, for the lady made no answer,and looked very cross.Harriet was curious to exaniine the variety of animalswhich Mrs. Addis had collected together; but as hermamma never suffered her to run about when she accom-panied her to other people's houses, she sat down, onlyglancing her eye first to one part of the room and thento the other, as her attention was successively attracted.As Mrs. Benson requested to see Miss Addis, hermamma could not refuse sending for her; she thereforerang the bell, and ordered that Augusta might come downto her. The footman, who had never before receivedsuch a command (for Mrs. Addis only saw the child in thenursery), stared with astonishment, and thought he hadmisunderstood it. However, on his lady repeating herwords, he went up stairs to tell the nursery-maid the childwas to be taken to the drawing-room. " What new fancyis this !" said she; "who would ever have thought of herwanting the child in the drawing-room ? I have no stock-ings clean for her, nor a frock to put on but what is ragged.I wish she would spend less money on her cats and dogsand monkeys, and then her child would appear as sheought to do." " I won't go down stairs, Nanny," said thechild. "But you must," said Nanny; "besides, there's aS
A Neglected Child. 8prettyyoung lady come to see you, and if you go like agood girl, you shall have a piece of sugared bread andbutter for your supper; and you shall carry the new dollwhich your godmamma gave you, to show to your littlevisitor."These bribes had the desired effect, and Miss Addiswent into the drawing-room; but instead of entering itlike a young lady, she stopped at the door, hung downher head, and looked like a little simpleton. Harrietwas so surprised at her awkwardness that she did notknow what to do, and looked at her mamma, who said,"Harriet, my love, can't you take the little girl by thehand and lead her to me I believe she is afraid ofstrangers." On this Harriet rose to do so; but Augusta,apprehensive that she would snatch her doll away, wasgoing to run out, only she could not open the door.Mrs. Benson was quite shocked to see how sickly, dirty,and ragged this poor child was, and how vulgar also, forwant of education; but Mrs. Addis was so taken up atthat instant with the old-lap-dog, which had, as she thought,fallen into a fit, that she did not notice her entrance; andbefore she perceived it, the child went up to the cradle inorder to put her doll into it, and seized one of the kit-tens by the neck, the squeaking of which provoked the oldcat to scratch her, and this made her cry and drop thekitten upon the floor. Mrs. Addis, seeing this, flew to thelittle animal, endeavoured to. soothe it with caresses, andwas going to beat Augusta for touching it, but Mrs. Ben-son interceded for her; she was, however, sent away intothe nursery. Happily for children, there are not manysuch mammas as Mrs. Addis !The tea-things being set, the footman came in with theurn, which employing both his hands, he left the door
82 The -Story of the Robins.open; and was, to the great terror of Harriet, and evenof her mamma too, followed by the monkey they saw inthe hall, which, having broken his chain, came to make avisit to his lady. Mrs. Addis, far from being disconcerted,seemed highly pleased with his cleverness. "Oh, my sweetdear Pug !" said she, "are you come to see us? Pray showhow like a gentleman you can behave." Just as she hadsaid this he leaped upon the tea-table, and took cup aftercup and threw them on the ground till he broke half theset; then jumped on the sofa and tore the cover of it; inshort, as soon as he had finished one piece of mischiefhe began another, till'Mrs. Addis, though greatly'divertedwith his wit, was obliged to have him caught and confined;after which she began making tea, and quietness was fora short time restored. But Mrs. Benson, though capableof conversing on most subjects, could not engage Mrs.Addis in any discourse but upon the perfection of herbirds and beastS, and a variety of uninteresting particularswere related concerning their wit or misfortunes.On hearing the clock strike seven, Mrs. Addis beggedMrs. Benson to excuse her, as she made it a constant ruleto see all her dear darlings fed at that hour, and entreatedthat she and the young lady would take a turn in the gar-den in the meanwhile. This was very ill-bred, but Mrs.Benson desired she would use no ceremonies with her,and was really glad of the respite it gave her from com-pany so irksome, and Harriet was happy to be alone withher mamma; she, however, forbore making any remarkson Mrs. Addis, because she had been taught that it didnot become young persons to censure the behaviour ofthose who were older than themselves.The garden was spacious, but overrun with weeds; thegravel walks were so rough for want of rolling that it was
The Visitors annoyed. 83quite painful to tread on them, and the grass on the lawnso long that there was no walking with any comfort, forthe gardener was almost continually going on some errandor another for Mrs. Addis's darlings; so Mrs. Benson andher daughter sat down on a garden-seat, with an intentionof waiting there till Mrs. Addis should summon them.Harriet could not refrain from expressing a wish thatit was time to go home; to which Mrs. Benson replied,that she did not wonder at her desire to return; "But,"said she, "my dear, as the world was not made merelyfor us,- we must endeavour to be patient under everydisagreeable circumstance we meet with. I know whatopinion you have formed of Mrs. Addis, and should nothave brought you to be a spectator of her follies, had I nothoped that an hour or two passed in her company wouldafford you a lesson which might be useful to you throughlife. I have before told you, that our affections towards theinferior parts of the creation should be properly regulated;you have, in your friend Lucy Jenkins and her brother,seen instances of cruelty to them which I' am sure youwill never be inclined to imitate; but I was apprehensiveyou might fall into the contrary extreme, which is equallyblameable. Mrs. Addis, you see, has absolutely trans-ferred the affection which she ought to feel for her childto creatures which would really be much happier withoutit. As for Puss, who lies in the cradle in all her splendour,I will engage to say she would pass her time pleasanterin a basket of clean straw, placed in a situation whereshe could occasionally amuse herself with catching mice.The lapdog is, I am sure, a miserable object, full ofdiseases, the consequence of luxurious living. How envi-able is the lot of a spaniel that is at liberty to be thecompanion of his master's walks, when compared withF.
84 'The Story of the Robins.his Pug, I am certain, would enjoy himself much morein his native woods; and I am greatly mistaken if the:parrots, etc., have not cause to wish themselves in theirrespective countries, or at least divided into separate fami-lies, where they would be better attended; for Mrs. Addis,by having such a number of creatures, has put it out ofher power to see properly with her own eyes to all. Butcome, let us go back into the house; the time for ourgoing home draws near, and I do not wish to prolong myvisit."Saying this, Mrs. Benson arose, and with her daughterwent into the drawing-room, which opened into the gar-den; the other door, which led to the adjoining apart-ments, was not shut; this gave them an opportunity ofhearing the following discourse, which greatly distressedMrs. Benson, and perfectly terrified the gentle Harriet."Begone, wretch!" said Mrs. Addis, "begone this in-stant; you shall not stay a moment longer in this house.""I hope, madam, you will have the goodness to give mea character; indeed and indeed, I fed Poll, but I believehe got cold when you let him stand out of doors the otherday." "I will give you no character, I tell you," said Mrs.Addis, "so depart this instant. Oh, my poor dear, dearcreature I fear you will never recover. John Thomas !here, run this instant to Perkins, the birdcatcher, perhapshe can tell me what to give him." Then bursting into aflood of tears, she sat down and forgot her guests.Mrs. Benson thought it necessary to remind her thatshe was in the house, and stepped to the door to ask whatwas the matter. Mrs. Addis recollected herself sufficientlyto beg pardon for neglecting to pay attention to her, butdeclared that the dreadful misfortune that had befallenher had made her insensible to everything else.
Poll's Illness. 85"What can be the matter ?" said Mrs. Benson; "haveyou heard of the death of a dear friend 1 has your childmet with an accident?" "Oh, no," said she, "but poorPoll is taken suddenly ill-my dear Poll, which I havehad these seven years-and I fear he will never recover.""If this is all, madam," said Mrs. Benson, "I reallycannot pity you, nor excuse your behaviour to me, for itis anBtance of disrespect which I believe no other per-son bH ourself would show me, and I shall take my leave0o opuse for ever; but before I go, permit me to-4u act in a very wrong manner, and will certainly"feelt i effects of your injustice to your fellow-creatures,in thus robbing them of the love you owe them, to lavishit away on those animals, which are really sufferers byyour kindness."At this instant the footman entered to inform Mrs.Benson that her servant was come; on which, accom-panied by her daughter, she without further ceremonyleft Mrs. Addis to compose herself as she could.Y;f
CHAPTER X.ADVENTURES OF THE LITTLE ROBINS.AS they walked along, both Mrs. Benson and herdaughter continued silent, for the former was greatlyagitated, and the latter quite in consternation at whathad lately passed. But their attention was soon awakenedby the supplication of a poor woman, who entreated them
False Tenderness. 87to give her some relief, as she had a sick husband andseven children in a starving condition; of which, she said,they might be eye-witnesses if they would have the good-ness to step into a barn that was very near. Mrs. Benson,who was always ready to relieve the distressed, taking herdaughter by the hand, and desiring the servant to stop forher, followed the woman, who conducted her to the abodeof real woe, where she beheld a father surrounded by hishelpless family, whom he could no longer maintain, andwho, though his disease was nearly subdued, was himselfalmost ready to die for want of good nourishing diet." How came you all to be in this condition, good wo-man't" said Mrs. Benson to his wife; "surely you mighthave obtained relief before your husband was reduced tosuch extremity?" "Oh my good lady," said the woman,"we have not been used to begging, but to earn an honestlivelihood by our industry; and never till this sad dayhave I known what it was to ask charity. This morning,for the first time, I applied at the only great house inthis village, where I made no doubt there was abundance.I told my dismal tale to a servant, and begged she wouldmake it known to her mistress; but she assured me itwas in vain to come there, for her lady had such a familyof cats, dogs, monkeys, and all manner of creatures, thatshe had nothing to spare for poor people; at the sameinstant I saw the poulterer bring a rabbit and a fowl,which I found were for the favourite cat and dog. Thisdiscouraged me from begging; and I had determined thatI never would ask again, but the sight of my dear husbandand children in this condition drove me to do it.""Well, comfort yourself," said Mrs. Benson; "we willsee what we can do; in the meantime here is somethingfor a present supply." Mrs. Benson then departed, as she
88 The Story of the Robins.was fearful of being late. Harriet was greatly affected atthis scene, and could no longer help exclaiming againstMrs. Addis."She is deserving of great blame, indeed," said Mrs. Ben-son; "but I have the pleasure to say, such characters ashers are very uncommon-I mean in the extreme-thoughthere are numbers of people who fall into the same faultin some degree, and make themselves truly ridiculous withtheir unnatural affections. I wish you, while you are young,to guard your mind against such a blameable weakness."Harriet assured her mamma that she should never for-get either Mrs. Addis or the lesson she had received onthe subject, and then expressed her satisfaction that theyhad met the poor woman. "I rejoice sincerely," said Mrs.Benson, "at having been fortunate enough to come intime to assist this poor miserable family, and hope, mylove, you will, out of your own little purse, contributesomething towards their relief." " Most willingly," saidHarriet; "they shall be welcome to my whole store."They kept talking on this subject till they arrived athome. Little Frederick, who sat up an hour beyond histime, came out to meet them, and assured his sister thatthe birds were well, and fast asleep. " I think," said she,"it is time for you and me to follow their example; formy part, with my morning and evening walk together,I am really tired, so shall beg leave to wish you a goodnight, my dear mamma. Papa, I suppose, will not be athome this week 1" "No, my dear, nor the next," said Mrs.Benson, "for he has many affairs to settle in the west. Iam rather fatigued also, and shall soon retire to rest."At the usual hour of visiting Mrs. Benson's tea-tablethe next day, the parent robins took their morning'sflight, and found the children with their mother. They
The Blackbirds. 89had been up a long time, for Frederick had made in hisbedchamber a lodging for the birds, which had awakenedboth him and his sister at a very early hour, and theyrose with great readiness to perform the kind office theyhad imposed upon themselves.The two blackbirds were perfectly well, but the linnetlooked rather drooping, and they began to be appre-hensive they should not raise him, especially when theyfound he was not inclined to eat. As for the blackbirds,they were very hungry indeed; and their young benefac-tors, not considering that when fed by their parents youngbirds wait some time between every morsel, supplied themtoo fast, and filled their crops so full, that they looked asif they had great wens on their necks; and Harriet per-ceived one of them gasping for breath. " Stop, Frederick!"said she, as he was carrying the quill to its mouth; "thebird is so full he can hold no more." But she spoke toolate; the little creature gave his eyes a ghastly roll, and fellon one side, suffocated with abundance. "Oh, he is dead!he is dead !" cried Frederick. "He is, indeed," said HIar-riet; "but I am sure we did not mean to kill him, and it issome satisfaction to think that we did not take the nest."This consideration was not enough to comfort Frede-rick, who began to cry most bitterly; his mamma hearinghim, was apprehensive he had hurt himself, for he seldomcried unless he was in great pain; she therefore hastilyentered the room to inquire what was the matter, onwhich Harriet related the disaster that had happened.Mrs. Benson then sat down, and taking Frederick in herlap, wiped his eyes, and giving him a kiss, said, I am sorry,my love, for your disappointment; but do not afflict your-self; the poor little thing is out of his pain now, and I fancysuffered but for a short time. If you keep on crying so,
90 The Story of the Robns.you will forget to feed your flock of birds, which I fancy,by the chirping I heard from my window, are beginningto assemble. Come, let me take the object of your dis-tress out of your sight; it must be buried." Then, carry-ing the dead bird in one hand, and leading Frederick withthe other, she went down stairs.While she was speaking, Harriet had been watchingthe other blackbird, which she had soon the pleasure tosee perfectly at his ease. She then attempted to feed thelinnet, but he would not eat. "I fancy, Miss Benson," saidthe maid, "he wants air." "That may be the case, in-deed," replied Harriet; "for you know, Betty, this room,which has been shut up all night, must be much closer thanthe places birds build in." Saying this, she opened thewindow, and placed the linnet near it, waiting to see theeffect of the experiment, which answered her wishes; andshe was delighted to behold how the little creature graduallysmoothed his feathers, and his eyes resumed their nativelustre;, she once more offered him food, which he took,and quite recovered. Having done all in her power forher little orphans, she went to share with her brother thetask of feeding the daily pensioners; which being ended,she seated herself at the breakfast-table by her mamma."I wonder," said Frederick, who had dried up his tears,"that the robins are not come." "Consider," said hissister, "that they have a great deal of business to do, nowthat their young ones begin to leave their nest; they willbe here by-and-by, I make no doubt." An instant afterthey entered the room. The sight of them perfectly re-stored Frederick's cheerfulness; and after they were de-parted, he requested of his mamma that he and Harrietmight go again into the orchard, in hopes of seeing theyoung robins. " That you shall do, Frederick," said she,
Robin and Pecksy. 91S p : O on c ition that you continue a very good boy; buta' yest ay d.was ather an idle day with you, you must... ia little closer to-day; and Harriet has a great dealqf business to. do, therefore you must wait till evening,and then perhaps I may go with you."Frederick was satisfied with this promise, and took greatpains.to read and spell. He repeated by heart one of Mrs.SBarbauld's hymns and some other.little things which hebad been taught; and Harriet applied herself to a varietyof different lessons with great diligence, and performedher task of work entirely to her mamma's satisfaction.As soon as the old redbreasts left their little family inorder to go to Mrs. Benson's, Pecksy, with great kindness,began to ask Robin where he had hurt himself, and howhe did it. "Oh !" said he, "I am much better; but it isa wonder I am now alive, for you cannot think what adreadful fall I had. With turning about as I did in theair I became quite giddy, so could not make the least ex-ertion for saving myself as I was falling, and came withgreat force to the ground; you see how my eye is stillswelled, and it was much more so at first. My wing is theworst, and still gives me a good deal of pain; observehow it drags on the ground; but as it is not broke, myfather says it will soon be well, and I hope it will be so,for I long to be flying, and shall be glad to receive anyinstructions for the future. I cannot think how I couldbe so foolishly conceited as to suppose I knew how toconduct myself without my father's guidance.""Young creatures like us," said Pecksy, "certainly standin need of instruction, and we ought to think ourselveshappy in having parents who are willing to take the trou-ble of teaching us what is necessary for us to know. Idread the day when. I must quit the nest and take care of
92 The Story of the Robins.myself." Flapsy said she made no doubt they would knowhow to fly and peck and do everything before that time;and, for her part, she longed to see the world, and toknow how the higher ranks of birds behaved themselves,and what pleasures they enjoyed; and Dicky declared hefelt the same wish, though he must confess he had greatdread of birds of prey. "Oh," said Flapsy, " they will neverseize such a pretty creature as you, Dicky, I am sure."" Why, if beauty can prevail against cruelty, you will besecure, my sweet sister," replied he, "for your delicateshape must plead in your behalf."Just as he had finished his speech, a hawk appeared insight, on which the whole party was seized with a mostuncommon sensation, and threw themselves on their backs,screaming with all their might; and at the same instantthe cries of numbers of little birds echoed through the or-chard. The redbreasts soon recovered, and, rising on theirfeet, looked about to see what was become of the cause oftheir consternation; when they beheld him high in the air,bearing off some unhappy victim, a few of whose feathersfell near the young family, who, on examining them, foundthey belonged to a goldfinch; on which Pecksy observed,that it was evident these savages paid no attention to per-sonal beauty. Dicky was so terrified he knew not whatto do, and had thoughts of flying back to the nest, butafter Robin's misfortune he was fearful of offending hisfather; he therefore got up into a currant-bush, and hidhimself in the thickest part of the leaves. Flapsy followedhim; but Robin being obliged to keep on the ground,Pecksy kindly resolved to bear him company.In a few minutes their parents returned from Mrs. Ben-son's, and found the two latter pretty near where they hadleft them; but missing the others, the mother with great
-iGetting Food. 93anxiety inquired what was become of them. Robin thenrelated how they had been frightened by a hawk; andwhile he was doing so, they returned to him again."I am surprised," said the father, "that a hawk shouldhave ventured so near the spot where the gardener wasat work." Pecksy informed him that they had not seen.the-gardener since he left them. "Then I dare say he isgone to breakfast," replied the mother; and this was thecase, for they at this instant saw him return with his shearsin his hand and soon pursue his work. "Now.you willbe safe," cried the father; "I shall therefore stay and teachyou to fly in different directions, and then your motherand I will make some little excursions, and leave you topractise by yourselves; but first of all let me show youwhere to get water, for I am sure you must be very thirsty.""No," said they, "we have had several wet worms andjuicy caterpillars, which have served us both for victualsand drink; Robin is very quick at finding them." Thereis nothing like necessity to teach birds how to live," saidthe father; "I am glad Robin's misfortunes have been sobeneficial to him." "What would have become of you,Robin, if you had not exerted yourself as I directed ?"said his mother; " you would soon have.died had you con-tinued to lie on the scorching ground. Remember fromthis instance, as long as you live, that it is better to usemeans for your own relief, than to spend time in fruitlesslamentations. But come along, Dicky, Flapsy, and Pecksy,there is water near." She then conducted them to thepump from which Joe watered the garden, which was nearthe tool-house where Robin slept.Here they stayed some time, and were greatly amused,still so near the gardener, that they regarded themselvesas under his protection. The parents flew up into a tree,
94 The Story of Roband there the father entertained his beloved mate andfamily with his cheerful music.;-and sometimes they madevarious airy excursions for examtples to their little ones. Inthis manner the day passed happily away, and early in theevening Flapsy, Pecksy, and Dicky were conducted to thenest; they mounted in the air with much more ease thanthe preceding day, and the parents instructed them howto fly to the branches of some trees which stood near.In the meantime they had left Robin by himself, think-ing he would be safe while the gardener was mowing somegrass; but what was the grief of both father and mother,when they returned, and could neither see nor hear him !The gardener, too, was gone; they therefore apprehendedthat a cat or rat had taken Robin away and killed him,yet none of his feathers were to be seen. With the mostanxious search they explored every recess in which theythought it possible for him to be, and strained their littlevoices till they were hoarse with calling him, but all invain. The tool-house was locked, but had he been therehe would have answered: at length, quite in despair offinding him, with heavy hearts they returned to the nest;a general lamentation ensued, and this lately happy abodewas now the region of sorrow. The father endeavoured tocomfort his mate and surviving nestlings, and so far suc-ceeded, that they resolved to bear the loss with patience.After a mournful night, the mother left the nest earlyin the morning, unwilling to relinquish. the hope whichstill remained of finding Robin again; but having spentan hour in this manner, she returned to her mate, whowas comforting his little ones."Come," said he, "let us take a flight; if we sit lament-ing here for ever, it will be to no purpose: the evils whichbefall us must be borne, and the more quietly we submit
The .Meeting. 95to them the lighter they will be. If poor Robin is dead,he will suffer no more; afd if he is not, so much as wefly about, it is a chance but what we get tidings of him.Suppose these little ones attempt to fly with us to ourbenefactors ? If we set out early, and let them rest fre-quently by the way, I think they may accomplish it." Thiswas.very pleasing to the little ones, and accordingly it wasdetermined that they should immediately set out; theyaccomplished the journey by easy stages, and arrived inthe court-yard just after the daily pensioners were gone." Now," said the father, " stop a little, and let me adviseyou, Dicky, Flapsy, and Pecksy, to behave yourselves pro-perly; hop only where you see your mother and me hop,and do not meddle with anything but what is scatteredon purpose." "Stay, father," said Dicky, "my feathersare sadly rumpled." "And so are mine," said Flapsy."Well, smooth them, then," said he; "but don't standfinicking for an hour." Pecksy was ready in an instant,but the others were very tedious, so their father and motherwould wait for them no longer, and flew in at the window;the others directly followed them, and, to the inexpressiblesatisfaction of Frederick, alighted on the tea-table, wherethey met with a very unexpected pleasure; for who shouldthey find there, as a guest, but the poor lost Robin !The meeting was, you may be sure, a happy one for allparties, and -the transports it occasioned may be easierconceived than described. The father poured forth a loudsong of gratitude, the mother chirped, she bowed her head,clapped her wings, basked on the tea-table, joined herbeak to Robin's, then touched the hand of Frederick. Theyoung ones twittered a thousand questions to Robin, butas he was unwilling to interrupt his father's song, he desiredthem to suspend their curiosity to another opportunity.
CHAPTER XI.THE FEATHERED NEIGHBOURS.YOU may remember, my young readers, that Frederickobtained from his mamma a promise, that when thebusiness of daily instruction was finished, he and his sistershould go into the orchard in search of the robins; assoon, therefore, as the air was sufficiently cool she took
Lame Robin. 97them with her, and arrived just after the parent birds hadtaken their young ones back to the nest. Robin was thenleft by himself, and kept hopping about, and fearing no dan-ger, got into the middle of the walk. Frederick descriedhim at a distance, and eagerly called out, "There's oneof them, I declare !" and before his mamma observed him,he ran to the place, and clapped his little hand over it, ex-ulting that he had caught it. The pressure of his hand hurtRobin's wing, who sent forth piteous cries, on which Frede-rick let him go, saying, " I won't hurt you, you little thing."Harriet, who saw him catch the bird, ran as fast as pos-sible to prevent his detaining it, and perceived, as Robinhopped away, that he was lame, on which she concludedthat her brother had hurt him; but on Frederick's assuringher that his wing hung down when he first saw him, Mrs.Benson said, "It is most likely he has been lamed bysome accident, which has prevented his going with theothers to the nest; and if that is. the case, it will behumane and charitable to take care of him."Frederick was delighted to hear her say so, and askedwhether he might carry him home. "Yes," said his mamma,"provided you can take him safely." " Shall I carry him,madam ?" said Joe; "he can lie nicely in my hat." Thiswas an excelleat scheme, and all parties approved of it;so Frederick took so ne of the soft grass that was moweddown to put at the botton, and poor Robin was safelydeposited in this vehicle, which served him for a litter;and perceiving into what hands he had fallen, he inwardlyrejoiced, knowing that he had an excellent chance of beingprovided for, as well as of seeing his dear relations again.I need not say that great care was taken of him, and youwill easily suppose he had a more comfortable night thanthat he had passed in the shed.
98 The Story of the Robins.When Frederick and Harriet arose the next morning,one of their first cares was to feed the birds, and they hadthe pleasure to see their nestlings in a very thriving con-dition; both the linnet and the blackbird now hoppedout of their nests to be fed, to the great amusement ofFrederick; but this pleasure was soon damped by an un-lucky accident, for the blackbird being placed in a win-dow which was open, hopped too near the edge, and fellto the ground, where he was snapped up by.a dog, andtorn to pieces in an instant. Frederick began to lamentas before; but on his sister's reminding him that the crea-ture was past the sense of pain, he restrained himself, andturned his attention to the linnet, which he put into a cage,that he might not meet the same fate. He then went to feedthe flock, and to inquire after Robin, whom Mrs. Bensonhad taken into her own room, lest Frederick should handleand hurt him. To his great joy he found him much better,for he could begin to use his injured wing; Frederick wastherefore trusted to carry him into the breakfast parlour,where he placed him as has been already described.For some time the young redbreasts behaved very well;but at length Dicky, familiarized by the kind treatment hemet with, forgot his father's injunctions, and began to hopabout in a very rude manner; he even jumped into theplate of bread and butter, and, wishing to taste the tea,hopped on the edge of a cup, but dipping his foot in thehot liquor, was glad to make a hasty retreat, to the greatamusement of Frederick. Flapsy took the liberty of peck-ing at the sugar, but found it too hard for her tender beak.For these liberties their mother reproved them, saying shewould never bring them with her again, if they were guiltyof such rudeness as to take what was not offered them.As their longer stay would have broken in on a plan