WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS
BROADWAY, LUDGATE HILL
NEW YORK: 416 BROOME STREET
STORY OF THE ROBINS
1 -~~; -
MISS HARRIET AND MASTER FREDERICK FEEDING THE BIRDS.
IN a hole which time had made in a wall, covered with
ivy, a pair of Redbreasts built their nest. No place
could have been better chosen for the purpose; it was
sheltered from the rain, screened from the wind, and
2 The Story of the Robins.
in an orchard belonging to a gentleman who had
strictly charged his domestics not to destroy the
labours of those little songsters who chose his
ground as an asylum.
In this happy retreat, which no idle schoolboy dared
to enter, the hen Redbreast laid four eggs, and then,
took her seat upon them,.resolving that nothing should-
tempt her to leave the nest for any length of time till
she had hatched- her infant brood. Her tender mate
every morning took her place while she picked up a
hasty breakfast, and often, before he tasted any food
himself, cheered her with a.song.
At length the day arrived when iit happy mother
heard the chirping of her little ones;, with inexpres-
sible tenderness she spread her maternal wings to cover
them, threw out the egg-shells in which they before
lay confined, then pressed them to her bosom, and
presented them to her mate, who viewed them with
rapture, and seated himself by her side that he might
share her pleasure.
"We may promise ourselves much delight in rearing
our little family," said he, "but it will occasion us a
great deal of trouble. I would willingly bear the whole
myself, but it, would be impossible for me, with my
utmost labour and industry, to supply all our nestlings
with what is sufficient for their daily support; it will
therefore be necessary for you to leave the nest some-
tine,s to seek provisions for them." She declared her
readiness to do so; and said that there would be no
The Story of the Robins. 3
necessity for her to be long absent, as she had dis-
covered a place near the orchard where food was
scattered on purpose for such birds as would take the
pains of seeking it; and that she had been informed
by a Chaffinch that there was no kind of danger in
picking it up. "This is a lucky discovery indeed for
us," replied her mate; "for this great increase of family
renders it prudent to make use of every means for sup-
plying our necessities. I myself must take a larger
circuit, for some insects that are proper for the nest-
lings cannot be found in all places; however, I will
bear you company whenever it is in my power." The
little ones now began to be hungry, and opened their
gaping mouths for food; on which their kind father
instantly flew forth to find it for them, and in turns
supplied them all, as well as his beloved mate. This
was a hard day's work; and When evening came on,
he was glad 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
of day by the song of a Skylark, which had a nest
near the orchard; and, as the young Redbreasts were
impatient for food, their father cheerfully prepared
himself to renew his toil, requesting his mate to accom-
pany him to the place she had mentioned. "That I
will do," replied she, "but it is too early yet; I must,
Tlic Story of the Robins.
therefore, beg that you will go by yourself and procure
a breakfast for us, as I am fearful of leaving the nest-
lings 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 of distinction, I
shall give the names of Robin, Dicky, Flapsy, and
Pecksy. When this kind office was performed 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; on which he in-
stantly took wing, and followed her to a court-yard
belonging to a family mansion. i
No sooner did -the happy pair appear before the
parlour window, than it was hastily thrown up by Miss
Harriet Benson, a little girl about eleven years old, the
daughter of the gentleman and lady to whom the
Miss Harriet, with great delight, called her brother
to see two Robin Redbreasts; and she was soon joined
by Master Frederick, a fine chubby, rosy-cheeked boy
about six years of age, who, as soon as he had taken
a peep at the feathered strangers, ran to his mamma,
and entreated her to give him something to feed
them with. "I must have a great piece of bread this
morning," said he, "for there are all the Sparrows and
Chaffinches that come every day, and two Robin Red-
breasts 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 in-
The Story of the Robins.
crease as they have done lately, we must provide some
other food for them, as it is not right to cut pieces
from a loaf on purpose for birds, because there are
many children who want bread, to whom we should
give the preference. Would you deprive a poor little
hungry boy of his breakfast to give it to birds?" "No,"
said Frederick, "I would sooner give my own break-
fast to a poor boy than he should go without; but
where shall I get victuals enough for my birds? I will
beg the cook to save the crumbs in the bread-pan, and
desire John to preserve all he makes when he cuts
the loaf for dinner, and those which are scattered on
the table-cloth." "A very good scheme," said Mrs.
Benson, and I make no doubt it will answer your
purpose, if you can prevail on the servants to indulge
you. I cannot bear to see the least fragment of food
wasted which may contribute to the support of life
in any creature."
Miss Harriet, being quite impatient to exercise her
benevolence, -requested her brother to remember that
the poor birds, for whom he had been a successful
solicitor, would soon fly away if he did not make haste
to feed them; on which he ran to the window with his
treasure in his hand.
When Miss Harriet first appeared, the winged sup-
pliants approached with eager expectation of the daily
handful, which their kind benefactress made it a cus-
tom to distribute, and were surprised at the delay of
her charity. They hopped around the window-they
6 The Story of the Robins.
chirped-they twittered, and employed all their little
arts to gain attention; and were on the point of de-
parting, when Master Frederick, breaking a bit from
the piece he held in his hand, attempted to scatter it
among them, calling out at the same time, Dicky!
Dicky! On hearing the well-known sound, the little
flock immediately drew near. Master Frederick begged
that his sister would let him feed all the birds him-
self; but finding that he could not fling the crumbs far
enough for the Redbreasts, who, being strangers, kept
at a distance, he resigned the task, and Miss Harriet,
with dexterous hand, threw some of them to the very
spot where the affectionate pair stood, waiting for her
notice, who with grateful hearts picked up the portion
assigned them and in the meanwhile the other birds,
being satisfied, flew away, and they were left alone.
Master Frederick exclaimed with rapture, that the two
Robin Redbreasts were feeding! and Miss Harriet
meditated a design of taming them by kindness. Be
sure, my dear brother," said she, "not to forget to ask
the cook and John for the crumbs, and do not let the
least morsel of anything you have to eat fall to the
ground. I will be careful in respect of mine, and we
Swill collect all that papa and mamma crumble; and
if we cannot by these means get enough, I will.spend
some of my money in grain for them." "Oh," said
Frederick, "I would give all the money I have in the
world to buy victuals for my dear, dear birds." "Hold,
my love," said Mrs. Benson; "though I commend your
The Story of the Robins.
humanity, I must remind you again that there are poor
people as well as poor birds." "Well, mamma," replied
Frederick, "I will only buy a little grain, then." As he
spake these last words, the Redbreasts having finished
their meal, the mother-bird expressed her impatience
to return to the nest; and having obtained her mate's
consent, she repaired with all possible speed to her
humble habitation, whilst he tuned his melodious pipe,
and delighted their young benefactors with his music;
he then spread his wings and took his flight to an ad-
joining garden, where he had a great chance of finding
worms for his family.
Master Benson expressed great concern that the
Robins were gone; but was comforted by his sister,
who reminded him that, in all probability, his new
favourites, having met with so kind a reception, would
return on the morrow. Mrs. Benson then bid them
shut the window; and, taking Frederick in her lap,
and desiring Miss Harriet to sit down by her, thus ad-
"I am delighted, my dear children, with your humane
behaviour towards animals, and wish by all means to
encourage it; but, let me recommend to you, not to
suffer ydur tender feelings towards animals .to gain
upon you to such a degree as to make you unhappy, or
forgetful of those who have a higher claim to your at-
tention :-I mean poor people-always keep in mind
the distresses which they endure; and on no account
The Story of the Robins.
waste any kind of food, nor give to inferior creatures
what is designed for mankind."
Miss Harriet promised to follow her mamma's in-
structions ; but Frederick's attention was entirely en-
gaged by watching a butterfly, which had just left the
chrysalis, and was fluttering in the window, longing to
try its wings in the air and sunshine ; this Frederick
was very desirous to catch, but his mamma would not
permit him to attempt it; because, she told him, he could
not well lay hold of its wings without doing it an injury,
and it would be much happier at liberty. Should you
like, Frederick," said she, "when you are going out to
play, to have anybody lay hold of you violently, scratch
you all over, then offer you something to cat which is
very disagreeable, and perhaps poisonous, and shut
you up in a little dark room? And yet this is the fate
to which many a harmless insect is condemned by
thoughtless children." As soon as Frederick under-
stood that he could not catch the butterfly without
hurting it, he gave up the point, and assured his
mamma he did not want to keep it, but only to carry it
out of doors. Well," replied she, "that end may be
answered by opening the window ;" which at her de-
sire was done by Miss Harriet : the happy insect was
glad to fly away, and Frederick had soon the pleasure
of seeing it upon a rose.
Breakfast being ended, Mrs. Benson reminded the
young lady and gentleman that it was almost time for
their lessons to begin; but desired their maid to take
The Story of the Robins. 9
them into the garden before they applied to business.
During his walk Master Frederick amused himself with
watching the butterfly, as it flew from flower to flower,
which gave him more pleasure than he could possibly
have received from catching and confining the little
Let us now see what became of our Redbreasts after
they left their young benefactors.
The hen bird, as I informed you, repaired immediately
to the nest; her heart fluttered with apprehension
as she entered it, and she eagerly called out, "Are you
all safe, my little dears l" All safe, my good mother,"
replied Pecksy, "but a little hungry, and very cold."
' Well," said she, "your last complaint I can soon re-
move; but in respect to satisfying your hunger, that
must be your father's task; however, he will soon be
here, I make no doubt." Then spreading her wings
over them all, she soon gave warmth to them, and they
were again comfortable.
In a very short time her mate returned; for he only
stayed at Mr. Benson's to finish his song, and sip some
clear water, which his new friends always kept where
,they fed the birds. He brought in his mouth a worm,
which was given to Robin; and was going to fetch
one for Dicky, but his mate said, "My young ones are
now hatched, and you can keep them warm as well as
myself; take my place, therefore, and the next ex-
cursion shall be mine." "I consent," answered he,
"because I think a little flying now and then will
Io The Story of the Robzis.
do you good; but, to save you trouble, I can direct
you to a spot where you may be certain of finding
worms for this morning's supply." He then described
the place; and on her quitting the nest he entered
it, and gathered his young ones under his wings.
" Come, my dears," said he, "let us see what kind of
a nurse I can make; but an awkward one, I fear;
even every mother-bird is not a good nurse, but you ,
are very fortunate in yours, for she is a most tender
one, and I hope you will be dutiful for her kindness."
They all promised him they would. "Well, then," said
he, "I willing you a song." He did so, and it was a
very merry one, and delighted the nestlings extremely;
so that, though they were not quite comfortable under
his wings, they did not regard it, nor think the time of
their mother's absence long, She had not succeeded
in the place she first -went to, as a boy was picking up
worms to angle with, of whom she was afraid, and
therefore flew farther; but, as soon as she had obtained
what she went for, she returned with all possible speed,
and though she had repeated invitations from several
gay birds which she met, to join their sportive parties,
she kept a steady course, preferring the pleasure of
feeding little Dicky to all the diversions of the fields
and groves. As soon as the hen bird came near the
nest, her mate started up to make room for her, and
take his turn of providing for his family. "Once more
adieu !" said he, and was out of sight in an instant.
"My dear nestlings," said the mother, "how do you
The Story of the Robins.
do'?" "Very well, thank you," replied all at once;
"and we have been exceedingly merry," said Robin,
"for my father has sung us a sweet song." "I think,"
said Dicky, "I should like to learn it." "Well," re-
plied the mother, "he will teach it you, I dare say;
here he comes, ask him." "I am ashamed," said Dicky.
"Then you are a silly bird; never be ashamed but when
you commit a fault; asking your father to teach you
to sing is not one; and good parents delight to teach
their young ones everything that is proper and useful.
Whatever so good a father sets you an example of, you
may safely desire to imitate." Then addressing herself
to her mate, who for an instant stopped at the entrance
of the nest, that he might not interrupt her instruc-
tions, "Am I not right," said she, "in what I have
just told them V" Perfectly so," replied he; I shall
have pleasure in teaching them all that is in my power;
but we must talk of that another time. Who is to feed
poor Pecksy?" "Oh I, I i" answered the mother; and
was gone in an instant. "And so you want to learn
to sing, Dicky?" said the father: "well, then, praylisten
very attentively; you may learn the notes, though you
may not be able to sing till your voice is stronger."
Robin now remarked that the song was very pretty
indeed, and expressed his desire to learn it also. "By
all means," said his father; "I shall sing it very often,
so you may learn it if you please." ." For my part,"
said Flapsy, "I do not think I could have patience to
learn it, it will take so much time." "Nothing, my dear
The Stoiy of t/he Robins.
Flapsy," answered the father, "can be acquired with-
out patience, and I am sorry to find yours begins to
fail you already; but I hope, if you have no taste for
music, that you will give the greater application to
things that may be of more importance to you."
"Well," said Pecksy, "I would apply to music with all
my heart, but I do not believe it possible for me to
learn it." "Perhaps not," replied her father, "but I do
not doubt you will apply to whatever your mother re-
quires of you; and she is an excellent judge both of
your talents and of what is suitable to your station in
life. She-is no songstress herself, and yet she is very
clever, I assure you : here she comes." Then rising
to make room for her, "Take your seat, my love," said
he, "and I will perch upon the ivy." The hen again
covered her brood, whilst her mate amused her with
his singing and conversation till the evening, excepting
that each parent bird 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 gained
strength and knowledge, through the care of their in-
dulgent parents, who every day visited their friends,
Master and Miss Benson. Frederick had been success-
ful with the cook and footman, from whom he obtained
enough for his dear birds, as he called them, without
robbing the poor; and he was still able to produce a
penny whenever his papa or mamma pointed out to
him a proper object of, charity,
Tzhe Story of the Robins. 13
MRS. BENSON AND THE YOUNG GENTLEMAN AND LADY AT BREAKFAST-
THE ROBINS VENTURE UPON THE TEA-TABLE.
IT happened one day that both the Redbreasts, who
always went together to Mrs. Benson's (because if one
had waited for the other's return it would have missed
the chance of being fed;) it happened, I say, that they
were both absent longer than usual; for their little
14 The _Story of the Robins.
benefactors, having been fatigued with a very long walk
the evening before, lay late in bed that morning; but
as soon as Frederick was dressed, his sister, who was
waiting for' him, took him by the hand, and led him
down ria 3., w. h-re he hastily asked the cook for the
collection of crumbs. As soon as he entered the
breakfast parlour, he ran eagerly to the window, and
attempted to fling it up. ." What is the cause of this
l;in, Li.utLI.. l" said his mamma; "do you not per-
ceive that I .am in the room, Frederick" Oh, my
birds.! ,my birds !" cried he. "I understand,", rejoined
Mrs. Benson, "that you have neglected to feed your
little pensioners; how came this about, Harriet "
"We were so tired last night," answered Miss Benson,
"that we overslept ourselves, mamma." "This excuse
may satisfy you and your brother," added the lady, "but
I fear your birds would bring heavy complaints against
you, were they able to talk. But make haste to feed
them now; and, for the future, whenever you give any
living creature cause to depend on you for sustenance,
be careful on no account to disappoint it,; and if you
are prevented from feeding it yourself, employ another
person to do it for you.
"It is customary," continued Mrs. Benson, "for little
boys and girls to pay their respects to their papas and
mammas every morning, as soon as they see them.
This, Frederick, you ought to have done t6 me, on
entering the parlour, instead of running across it,
crying out, My birds my birds It would have taken
The Story of thze Robins.
you but very little time to have done so; however, I
will excuse your neglect now, my dear, as you did not
intend to offend me; but remember, that you depend
as much on your papa and me for everything you want
as these little birds do on you; nay, more so, for they
could find food in other places, but children can do
nothing towards their own support; they should there-
fore be dutiful and respectful to those whose tender-
ness and care they constantly experience."
Miss Harriet promised her manrma that she would,
on all occasions, endeavour to behave as she wished
her to do ; but I am sorry to say Frederick was more
intent on opening the window than imbibing the.good
instructions that were given him. This he could not
do ; therefore Harriet, by her mamma's permission,
went to his assistance, and the store of provision was
dispensed. As many of the birds had nests, they ate
their meal with all possible expedition ; among this
number were the Robins, who dispatched the business
as soon as they could, for the hen was anxious to
return to their little ones, and the cock to procure
them a breakfast; and having given his young friends
a song before they left their bedchambers, he did not
think it necessary to stay to sing any more; they
When the mother-bird arrived at the ivy-wall, she
stopped at the entrance of the nest with a palpitating
heart; but, seeing her brood all safe -and well, she
hastened to take them under her wings. As soon as
The Story of the Robins.
she was seated, she observed that they were not so
cheerful as usual. "What is the matter ?" said she;
"how have you agreed during my absence?" To these
questions all were unwilling to reply; for the truth was
that they had been quarrelling 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 the truth." Robin, knowing
that he was the greatest offender, began to justify him-
self before the others could have time to accuse him.
I am sure, mother," said he, I only gave Dick a
little peck because he crowded me so; and all the
others joined with him, and fell upon me at once."
"Since you have begun, Robin," answered Dicky,
"I must speak, for you gave me a very hard peck
indeed; and I was afraid you had put out my eye. I
am sure I made all the room I could for you; but you
said you ought to have half the nest, and to be master
when your father and mother were out, because you
are the eldest."
I do not love to tell tales," said Flapsy, "but what
Dicky says is very true, Robin ; and you plucked two
or three little feathers out of me, only because I begged
you not to use us ill."
"And you set your foot very hard upon me," cried
Pecksy, "for telling you that you had forgotten your
dear mother's commands."
"This is a sad story indeed," said the mother. "' I
am very sorry to find, Robin, that you already discover
The Story of the Robins.
such a turbulent disposition. If you go on in this
manner, we shall have no peace in the nest, nor can I
leave it with any degree of satisfaction. As for your
being the eldest, though it makes me show you a pre-
ference on all proper occasions, it does not give you a
privilege to domineer over your brother and sisters.
You are all equally the objects of our tender care,
which we shall exercise impartially among you, pro-
vided you do not forfeit it by bad behaviour. To
show you that you are not master of the nest, I desire
you to get from under my wing, and sit on the out-
side, while I cherish those that are dutiful and good."
Robin, greatly mortified, retired from his mother; on
which Dicky, with the utmost kindness, began to in-
tercede for him. "Pardon Robin, my dear mother, I
entreat you," said he; "I heartily forgive his treatment
of me, and would not have complained to you, had it
not been necessary for my own justification."
"You are a good bird, Dicky," said his mother; "but
such an offence as this must be repented of before it
is pardoned." At this instant her mate returned with
a fine worm, and looked as usual for Robin, who lay
skulking by 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
victuals all the day." Dicky was very unwilling to
mortify his brother ; but, on his mother's commanding
him not to detain his father, he opened his mouth, and
swallowed the delicious mouthful. What can be the
The Story of the Robins.
matter V" said the good father, when he had emptied his
mouth; "surely none of the little ones have been
naughty? But I cannot stop to inquire at present, for
I left another fine worm, which may be gone if I do
not make haste back."
As soon as he departed, Dicky renewed his entreaties
that Robin might be forgiven; but, as he sat swelling
with anger and disdain, because he fancied that the
eldest should not be shoved to the outside of his
mother's wing, while the others were fed, she would
not hear a word in his behalf. The father soon came,
and fed Flapsy, and then, thinking it best for his mate
to continue her admonitions, he flew off again. During
her father's absence, Pecksy, whose little heart was full
of affectionate concern for the punishment of her
brother, thus attempted to comfort him :
"Dear Robin, do not grieve; I will give you my
breakfast, if my mother will let me." "Oh," said Robin,
"I do not want any breakfast; if I may not be served
first, I will have none." "Shall I ask my mother to for-
give you ?" said Pecksy. I do not want any of your
intercessions," replied he; "if you had not been a
parcel of ill-natured things, I should not have been
pushed about as I am."'
Come back, Pecksy," said the mother, who over-
heard them ; I will not have you converse with so
naughty a bird. I forbid every one of you even to go
near him." The father then arrived, and Pecksy was
fed. "You may rest yourself, my dear," said the
The Story of the Robins. 19
mother, "your morning's task is ended." "Why, what
has Robin done ?" asked he. "What I am -sorry to
relate," she replied ; quarrelled with his brother and
sisters !" Quarrelled with his brother and sisters !
You surprise me; I could not have suspected he would
have been either 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
we are absent, and now is sullen because he is dis-
graced, and is not fed first as usual." "If this be the
case," replied the father, "leave me to settle this busi-
ness, my dear, and pray go into the air a little, for you
seem to be sadly vexed." I am disturbed," said she,
"I confess; for, after all my care and kindness, I did
not expect such a sad return as this. I am sorry to
expose this perverse bird even to you, but he will not
be corrected by me. I will do as you desire-go into
the air a little." So saying, she repaired to a neigh-
bouring tree, where she anxiously waited the event
of her mate's admonition.
As soon as the mother departed, the father thus ad-
dressed the delinquent : "And so, Robin, you want to
be master of the nest ? A pretty master you would
make, indeed, who do not know even how to govern
your own temper 1 I will not stand to talk much to
you now, but depend upon it, I will not suffer you to
use any of the family ill, particularly your good mother;
and if you persist in obstinacy, I will certainly turn
you out of the nest before you can fly." These
20 The Story of the Robins.
threatening intimidated Robin, and he also began
to be very hungry as well as cold; he therefore
promised to behave better for the future, and his
brother and sisters pleaded earnestly that he might
be forgiven and restored to his usual place.
"I can say nothing in respect to the last particular,"
replied the father ; that depends upon his mother
but as it is his first offence, and he seems to be very
.sorry, I will myself pardon it, and intercede for him
with his mother." On this he left the nest to seek for
her. Return, my dear," said he, "to your beloved
family; Robin seems sensible of his offence, and longs
to ask your forgiveness." Pleased at this intelligence,
the mother raised her drooping head, and closed her
itgo, v,!,i.:i. hung mournfully by her sides, expres-
,;..: oftl dejction of her spirits. "I fly to give it
him,"' sa1-d she,-; 'and hastened into the nest. In the
meanwhile, R,.:n .'I.l.l- '1 'for, yet dreaded, her return.
:As' sbonh-ai ie' sawi hei-' he lifted up a supplicating
eye, and in a weak tone, for il.gir ni -sorrow had
].ujl.:- 1hom fain t/ e (ii-d, F.iI ;' t1
will'if f :, u- .._ :i .-'I ."' ''"I :'. q.t stibir S l mission;
Robin,'!" aid-she,;" afdwdill once more receive you to
rny *,. iri n; btift itindeed 'your 'belhavidr lhas made'me
very uihap~iy." She then made ro'iom f6or him'-;he
nestled closely to her side, and'-.. "o I :...:! tiL.: ., :n!.r
6f: ier' fosterifig heat,; 'but't he was' liii iIw I ,, :t ":i
had rif' confidence to ask his father'lto fetch' himia any
victials; but this kind. parent, seeing that his mother
The Story of the Robins. 21
had received him into favour, flew with all speed to
an adjacent field, where he soon met with a worm,
which with tender love he presented to Robin, who
swallowed it with gratitude. Thus was peace restored
to the nest, and the happy mother once more rejoiced
that harmony reigned in the family.
A few days after, a fresh disturbance took place.
All the little Redbreasts, excepting Pecksy, in turn
committed some fault or other, for which they were
occasionally punished; but she was of so amiable a
disposition, that it was her constant study to act with
propriety, and avoid giving offence; on which ac-
count she was justly caressed by her parents with
distinguished kindness. This excited the envy of the
others, and they joined together to treat her ill, giving
her the title of the Favourite ; saying, that they made
no doubt that their father and mother would reserve
the nicest morsels for their darling.
Poor Pecksy bore all their reproaches with patience,
hoping that she should in time regain their good
opinion by her gentleness and affection. But it hap-
pened one day, that, in the midst of their tauntings,
their mother unexpectedly returned, who, hearing an
uncommon noise among her young ones, stopped on
the ivy to learn the cause; and as soon as she dis-
covered it, she made her appearance at the entrance
of the nest, with a countenance that showed she knew
what was going on.
Are these the sentiments, said she, that subsist
22 The Story of. the Robins.
in a family which ought-to be bound together.by love
.and kindness 1 Which of you has cause.to reproach
either your father or me with .partiality ?. .Do we not,
with the exactest equality, distribute, the fruits of our
labours among you ? And in.what -respect has poor
Pecksy the preference, but in that praise which is
justly her due, and which you do not strive to deserve ?
Has she ever yet uttered a complaint against you ?
though, from the dejection of her countenance, which
she in vain attempted to conceal, it is evident that she
has suffered your reproaches for some days past. I
positively command you to treat her otherwise, for it
is a mother's duty to succour a persecuted nestling;
and I will certainly admit her next my heart, and
banish you all from that place you have hitherto
possessed in it, if you suffer envy and jealousy to
occupy your bosoms, instead of that tender love which
she, as the kindest of sisters, has a right to expect
Robin, Dicky, and Flapsy were quite confounded
by their mother's reproof; and Pecksy, sorry that they
had incurred the displeasure of so tender a parent,
kindly endeavoured to soften her anger. "That I
have been vexed, my dear mother," said she, "is true,
but not so much as you suppose; -and I am ready to
believe that my dear brothers and sister were not in
earnest in the severe things they said of me--perhaps
they only meant to try my affection. I now entreat
them to believe, that I would willingly resign the
The Story of the Robins. 23
greatest pleasure in life, could I by that means in-
crease their happiness ; and so far from wishing for
the nicest morsel, I would content myself with the
humblest fare, rather than any of them should be
This tender speech had its desired effect; it re-
called those sentiments of love which envy and jealousy
had for a time banished ; all the nestlings acknow-
ledged their faults, their mother forgave them, a perfect
reconciliation took place, to the great joy of Pecksy,
and indeed of all parties.
All the nestlings continued very good for several
days, and nothing happened worth relating. The little
family were soon covered with feathers, which their
mother taught them to dress, telling them that neatness
was a very essential thing, both for health, and also to
render them agreeable in the eye of the world.
Robin was a very strong robust bird, not remarkable
for his beauty; but there was a great briskness in his
manner, which covered many defects; and he was
very likely to attract notice. His father judged, from
the tone of his chirpings, that he would be a very
Dicky had a remarkably fine plumage; his breast was
of a beautiful red, his body and wings of an elegant
mottled brown, and his eyes sparkled like diamonds.
Flapsy was' also very pretty, but more distinguished
for the elegance of her shape than for the variety and
lustre of her feathers.
The Story of the Robins.
Pecksy had no outward charms to recommend her
to notice; but these defects were supplied by the
sweetness of her disposition. Her temper was con-
stantly serene, she was ever attentive to the happiness
of her parents, and would not have grieved them for
the world-; and her affection for her brothers and
sister was so great, that she constantly preferred their
interest to her own; of which we have lately given an
The kind parents attended to them with unremitting
affection, and made their daily visit to Master and
Miss Benson, who very punctually discharged the bene-
volent office of feeding them. The Robin Redbreasts,
made familiar by repeated favours, approached nearel
and nearer to their little friends by degrees, and at
length ventured to enter the room* and feed upon the
breakfast-table. Miss Harriet was delighted at this
circumstance, and Frederick was quite transported;
he longed to catch the birds, but his mamma told
him that would be the very means to drive them away.
Miss Harriet entreated him not to frighten them on
any account; but he could not help expressing a wish
that he had them in a cage, that he might feed them
all day long.
"And do you really think, Frederick," said Mrs.
Benson, "that these little delicate creatures are such
gluttons as to desire to be fed all day long ? Could
you tempt them to do it, they would soon die; but
they know better, and as soon as their appetites are
'he Story of the Robins. 25
satisfied, always leave off eating. Many a little boy
may learn a lesson from them. Do not you recollect
one of your acquaintance, who, if an apple-pie or any-
thing that he calls nice is set before him, will eat till
he makes himself sick ?" Frederick looked ashamed,
being conscious that he was too much inclined to in-
dulge his love of delicacies. Well," said his mamma,
" I see you understand who I mean, Frederick, so we
will say no more on that subject; only, when you
meet with that little gentleman, give my love to
him, and tell him I beg he will be as moderate as
26 The Story of the Robins.
THE NESTLINGS FRIGHTENED BY A MONSTER.
THE cock bird, having finished his breakfast, flew out
at the window, followed by his mate; and as soon as
they were out of sight, Mrs. Benson continued her
discourse. And would you really confine these sweet
creatures in a cage, Frederick, merely to have the
pleasure of feeding them ? Should you like to be
always shut up in a little room, and think it sufficient
The Story of the Robins. 27
if you were supplied with victuals and drink ? Is
there no enjoyment in running about, jumping, and
going from place to place ? Do you not like to keep
company with little boys and girls ? And is there no
pleasure in breathing the fresh air ? Though these
little animals are inferior to you, there is no doubt but
they are capable of enjoyments similar to these ; and
it must be a dreadful life for a poor bird to be shut
up in a cage, where he cannot so much as make use
of his wings; where he is separated from his natural
companions; and where he cannot possibly receive
that refreshment which the air must afford to him
when at liberty to fly to such a height. But this is
not all, for many a poor bird is caught and taken
away from its family, after it has been at the trouble
of building a nest, has perhaps laid its eggs, or even
hatched its young ones, which are by this means ex-
posed to certain destruction. It is likely that these
very Redbreasts may have young ones, for this is the
season of the year for their hatching ; and I rather
think they have, from the circumstance of their always
coming together."- If that is the case," said Miss
Harriet, "it would be pity indeed to confine them.
But why, mamma, if it is wrong to catch birds, did
you at one time keep Canary-birds 1"
"The case is very different in respect to Canary-
birds, my dear," said Mrs. Benson; "by'keeping them
in a cage, I did them a kindness. I considered them
as little foreigners who claimed my hospitality. This
28 The Story of the Robins.
kind of bird came originally from a warm climate;
they are in their nature very susceptible of cold, and
would perish in the open air in our winters; neither
does the food which they feed on grow plentifully in
this country; and as here they are always bred in
cages, they do not know how to procure the materials
for their nest abroad. And there is another particular
which would greatly distress them were they to be
turned loose, which is, the persecution they would be
exposed to from other birds. I remember once to
nave seen a poor hen Canary-bird, which had been
turned loose because it could not sing ; and surely no
creature could be more miserable. It was starving for
want of victuals, famishing with thirst, shivering with
cold, and looked terrified to the greatest degree; while
a parcel of Sparrows and Chaffinches pursued it from
place to place, twittering and chirping with every mark
of insult. I could not help fancying the little creature
to be like a foreigner just landed from some distant
country, followed by a rude rabble of boys, who were
ridiculing him because his dress and language were
strange to them.
"And what became of the poor little creature,
mamma ?" said Miss Harriet.
"I was going to tell you, my dear," replied Mrs.
Benson; "I ordered the servant to bring me a cage,
with seed and water in their usual places; this I
caused to be hung on a tree, next to that in which
the little sufferer in vain endeavoured to hide herself
The Story of the Robins. 29
among the leaves from her cruel pursuers. No sooner
did the servant retire than the poor little wretch flew
to it. I immediately had the cage brought into the
parlour, where I experienced great pleasure in ob-
serving what happiness the poor creature enjoyed in
her deliverance. I kept it some years ; but not
choosing to confine her in a little cage, I had a large
one bought, and procured a companion for her of
her own species. I supplied them with materials for
building; and from them proceeded a little colony,
which grew so numerous that you know I gave them
to Mr. Bruce to put into his aviary, where you have
seen them enjoying themselves. So now I hope I
have fully accounted for having kept Canary-birds in
"You have indeed, mamma," said Harriet.
I have also," said Mrs. Benson, occasionally kept
larks. In severe winters, vast numbers of them come
to this country from a colder climate, and many perish.
Quantities of them are killed and sold for the spit;
and the bird-catchers usually have a great many to
sell, and many an idle boy has some to dispose of.
I frequently buy them, as you know, Harriet; but
as soon as the fine weather returns, I constantly set
them at liberty. But come, my dears, prepare for your
morning walk, and afterwards let me. see you in my
"'I'i'W6Ader," said Frederick, "whether our Red-
:.ra:i-t: I'r.e got a nest? I will watch to-morrow
Th7e Story of the Robins.
which way they fly 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 I would scatter crumbs for the old ones to
feed them with."
"Your design is a kind one," said Mrs. Benson,
" but would 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 should chance to find them." Miss Harriet then
remarked that she thought it very cruel to take birds'
nests. "Ah my dear," said Mrs. Benson, "those
who commit such barbarous actions are quite in-
sensible to the distress they occasion. It is very
true, that we ought not to indulge so great a degree
of pity and tenderness for animals, as for those who
are more properly our fellow-creatures-I mean men,
women, and children ; but, as every living creature
can feel, we should have a constant regard to those
feelings, and strive to give happiness rather than inflict
misery. But go, my dear, and take your walk." Mrs.
Benson then left them, to attend her usual morning
employment; and the young lady and gentleman,
attended by their maid, passed an agreeable half-hour
in the garden.
In the meantime the hen Redbreast returned to
the nest, while her mate took his flight in search of
The Story of the Robins.
food for his family. When the mother approached'
the nest, she was surprised at not hearing, as usual,
the chirping of her young ones; and what was her
astonishment at seeing them all crowded together,
trembling with apprehension! "What is the matter, my
nestlings," said she, that I find you in this terror ?"
"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 come into
the nest, which she did without delay; and the little
tremblers crept under her wings, endeavouring to con-
ceal themselves in this happy retreat.
"What has terrified you in this manner ?" said she.
"Oh I do not know," replied Dicky; "but we have
seen such a monster as I never beheld before." "A
monster, my dear pray describe it." "I cannot,"
said Dicky; "it was too frightful to be described."
"Frightful, indeed!" cried Robin; "but I had a full
view of it, and will give the best description I can :
We were all sitting peaceably in the nest, and very
happy together; Dicky and I were trying to sing,
when suddenly we heard a noise against the wall, and
presently a great round red face appeared before the
nest, with a pair of enormous staring eyes, a very
large beak, and below that a wide mouth with two
rows of bones, that looked as if they could grind us
all to pieces in an instant. About the top of this
round face, and down the sides, hung something black,
but not like feathers. When the two staring eyes
The Story of the Robins.
had looked at us for some time, the whole thing dis-
appeared." I cannot at all conceive from your
description, Robin, what this thing could be," said
the mother; but perhaps it may come again."
"Oh! I hope not!" cried Flapsy; "I shall die
with fear if it does." "Why so, my love ?" said her
mother, "has it done you any harm'?" "I cannot say
it has," replied Flapsy. "Well, then, you do very
wrong, my dear, in giving way to such apprehensions.
You must strive to get the better of this fearful dis-
position : when you go abroad in the world you will
see many strange objects; and if you are terrified at
every appearance which you cannot account for, you
will live a most unhappy life. Endeavour to be good,
and then you need not fear anything. But here comes
your father; perhaps he will be able to explain the
appearance which has so alarmed you to-day."
As soon as the father had given the worm to Robin,
he was preparing to depart for another, but, to his
surprise, all the rest of the nestlings begged him to
stay, declaring they had rather go without their meal,
on condition he would but remain at home and take
care of them. "Stay at home and take care of
you!" said he; why is that more necessary now than
usual ?" The mother then related the strange occur-
rence that had occasioned this request. "Nonsense!"
said he : "a monster great eyes large mouth long
beak I don't understand such stuff. Besides, as it
did them no harm, why are they to be in such terror
The Story of the Robins. 33
tow it is gone 2" "Don't be angry, dear father," said
Pesksy, "for it was very frightful indeed." "Well,"
said he, "I will fly all round the orchard, and perhaps
I may meet this monster." "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 in vain ; their fears were now redoubled for their
father's safety; however, to their great joy, he soon
returned. "Well," said he, "I have seen this monster.'
The little ones then clung to their mother, fearing the
dreadful creature was just at hand. "What! afraid
again 1" cried he; "a parcel of stout hearts I have
in my nest, truly! Why, when you fly about in the
world, you will in all probability see hundreds of such
monsters, as you call them, unless you choose to con-
fine yourselves to a retired life; nay, even in woods
and groves you will be liable to meet some of them,
and those of the most mischievous kind." "I begin to
comprehend," said the mother, "that these dear nest-
lings have seen the face of a man." "Even so," re-
plied her mate; "it is a man, no other than our friend
the gardener, who has so alarmed them."
"A man !" cried Dicky; "was that frightful thing a
man V" "Nothing more, I assure you," answered his
father, "and a good man, too, I have reason to believe;
for he is very careful not to frighten your mother and
me when we are picking up worms, and has frequently
thrown crumbs to us when he was eating his breakfast."
34 The Story of the Robins.
"And does he live in this garden F" said Flansy.
"He works here very often," replied her father, "but is
frequently absent." O then," cried she, "pray take
us abroad when he is away, for indeed I cannot bear
to see him." "You are a little simpleton," said the
father, "and if you do not endeavour to get more
resolution, I will leave you in the nest by yourself,
when I am teaching your brothers and sister to fly
and peck; and what will you do then ? for you must
not expect we shall go from them to bring you food."
Flapsy, fearful that her father would be quite angry,
promised to follow his directions in every respect
and the rest, animated by his discourse, began to
recover their spirits.
The Story of the Robins. 35
JOE THE GARDENER BRINGING NEWS OF THE BIRDS' NEST TO M1ISS
HARRIET AND MASTER FREDERICK,
WHILST the terrible commotions, related in the last
chapter, passed in the nest, the monster, who was no
other than honest Joe the gardener, went to the house
and inquired for his young master and mistress, having,
as he justly supposed, some very pleasing news to tell
them. Both the young gentleman and lady very
36 The Story of the Robins.
readily attended, thinking he had got some fruit or
flowers for them. "Well, Joe," said Miss Benson,
"what have you to say to us ? Have you got a peach
or a nectarine, or have you brought me a root of
No, Miss Harriet," said Joe; "but I have some-
thing that will please you as much as though I had."
"What's that 1 what's that ?" said Frederick. "Why,
Master Frederick," said Joe, "a pair of Robins have
cored mortal often to one place in the orchard lately;
so, thinks I, 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; but, as master ordered me not to frighten
the birds, I stayed till the old one flew out again, and
then I mounted, and there I see'd the little creatures
full fledged; and, if you and Miss Harriet may go
with me, I will show them to you, for the nest is but a
little way from the ground, and you may easily get up
Frederick was in raptures, being confident that these
were the identical Robins he was so attached to; and,
like a little thoughtless boy as he was, he would have
gone immediately with the gardener, had not his sister
reminded him that it was proper to ask mamma's
leave first; she therefore told Joe she would let him
know when she had done so.
When the Redbreasts had quieted the fears of their
young family, and fed them as usual, they retired to a
The Story of the Robins. 37
tree, desiring their little nestlings not to be terrified if
the monster should look in upon them again, as it was
very probable he would do. They promised to bear
the sight as well as they could.
When 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 not use them a little to the world, they will
never be able to shift 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 for it." "One of the best
preparatives," answered her mate, will be to leave
them by themselves a little ; therefore we will now take
a flight together, and then go back." The mother
complied, but she longed to be with her dear family.
When they stopped a little to rest on a tree, "Last
year," said the hen Redbreast, "it was my misfortune
to be deprived of my nestlings by some cruel boys,
before they were quite fledged, and it is that which
makes me so timid now, that I do not feel comfortable
when I am away from them."
"A calamity of the same kind befel me," replied
the father; "I never shall forget it. I had been taking
a flight in the woods in order to procure some nice
morsels for one of my nestlings : when I returned to
the place in which I had imprudently built, the first
circumstance that alarmed me was a part of my nest
scattered on the ground just at the entrance of my
38 The Story of the Robins.
habitation I then perceived a large opening in the
wall, where before there was only room for myself to
pass. I stopped with a beating heart, in hopes of
hearing the chirping of my beloved family, but all was
silent. I then resolved to enter : but what was my
consternation, when I found that the nest which my
dear mate and I had with so much labour built, and
the dear little ones, who were the joy of our lives,
were stolen away; nay, I did not know but the tender
mother also was taken. I rushed out of the place,
distracted with apprehensions for the miseries they
might endure; lamenting my weakness, which rendered
me incapable of rescuing them. I was ready to tear
off my own feathers with vexation ; but recollecting
that my dear mate might in all probability have
escaped, I resolved to go in search of her.
"As I was flying along I saw three boys, whose
appearance was far from disagreeable; one of them
held in his hand my nest of young ones, which he eyed
with cruel delight, while his companions seemed to
share his joy.
"The dear little creatures, insensible of their fate,
for they were newly hatched, opened their mouths,
expecting to be fed by me or their mother, but all in
vain; to have attempted feeding them at this time
would have been inevitable destruction to myself; but
I resolved to follow the barbarians, that I might at
least see to what place my darlings were consigned.
In a short time the party arrived at a house, and
The Story of the Robins. 39
he who before held the nest now committed it to
the care of another, but soon returned with a kind of
victuals I was totally unacquainted with; and with
this my young ones, when they gaped for food, were
fed; hunger induced them to swallow it, but soon
after, missing the warmth of their mother, they set up
a general cry, which pierced my very heart. Imme-
diately after this the nest was carried away, and what
became of my nestlings afterwards I never could dis-
cover, though I frequently hovered about the fatal spot
of their imprisonment with the hope of seeing them."
"Pray," said the hen Redbreast, "what became of
your mate?" "Why, my dear," said he, "when I
found there was no chance of assisting my little ones,
I pursued my course, and sought her in every place
of our usual resort, but to no purpose at length I
returned to the bush, where I beheld an afflicting
sight indeed-my beloved companion lying on the
ground just expiring!, I flew to her instantly, and
endeavoured to recall her to life. At the sound of
my voice she lifted up her languid eyelids, and said,
' And are you then safe, my love what is become of
our little ones ?' In hopes of comforting her, I told
her they were alive and well; but she replied, 'Your
consolations come too late; the blow is struck, I feel
my death approaching. The horror which seized me
when I missed my nestlings, and supposed myself
robbed at once of my mate and infants, was too
powerful for my weak frame to sustain. Oh! why
40 The Story of the Robins.
will the human race be so wantonly cruel?' The
agonies of death now came on, and, after a few con-
vulsive pangs, she breathed her last, and left me an
unhappy widower. I passed the remainder of the
summer, and a dreary winter that succeeded it, in a
very uncomfortable manner, though the natural cheer-
fulness of my disposition did not leave me long a prey
to unavailing sorrow. I resolved the following spring
to seek another mate, and had the good fortune to
meet with you, whose amiable disposition has renewed
my happiness. And now, my dear," said he, "let me
ask you what became of your former companion ?"
"Why," replied the hen Redbreast, soon after the
loss of our nest, as he was endeavouring to discover
what was become of it, a cruel hawk caught him up,
and devoured him in an instant. I need not say
that I felt the bitterest pangs for his loss ; it is suffi-
cient to inform you, that I led a solitary life till I
met with you, whose endearing behaviour has made
society again agreeable to me."
The Story of the Robins. 41
MISS HARRIET AND MASTER FREDERICK VIEWING THE ROBINS' IAEST.
As soon as Mrs. Benson returned to her children,
Master Frederick ran up to her, saying, "Good news !
good news! mamma, Joe has found the Robins' nest."
"Has he, indeed!" said Mrs. Benson. "Yes, mamma,"
said Miss Harriet, "and if agreeable to you, we shall
be glad to go along with Joe to see it." But how
The Story of the Robins.
are you to get at it ?" said the lady, for I suppose it
is some height from the ground." "Oh I can climb
a ladder very well," cried Frederick. "You climb a
ladder You are a clever gentleman at climbing, I
know," replied his mamma; "but do you propose to
mount too, Harriet ? I think this is rather an indeli-
cate scheme for a lady." "Joe tells me that the nest
is but a very little way from the ground, mamma,"
answered Harriet; "but if I find it otherwise, you
may depend on my not going up." On this condi-
tion I will permit you to go," said Mrs. Benson; but
pray, Mr. Frederick, let me remind you not to frighten
your little favourites." "Not for all the world," said
Frederick. So away he skipped, and ran to Joe
before his sister. "We may go we may go, Joe !"
cried he. Stay for me, Joe, I beg," said Miss Harriet,
who presently joined him.
As soon as Joe found'that the young gentry, as he
called them, had obtained permission to accompany
him, he took Frederick by the hand, and said, Come
along, my young master." Frederick's impatience was
so great, that he could scarcely be restrained from
running all the way, but his sister entreated him not
to make himself too hot.
At length they arrived at the desired spot; Joe
placed the ladder, and his young master, with a little
assistance, mounted it very nimbly; but who can
describe his raptures when he beheld the nestlings !
" Oh, the sweet creatures !" cried he, there are four of
The Story of the Robins.
them, I declare I never saw anything so pretty in-my
life! I wish I might carry you all home !" That you
must not do, Frederick," said his sister; "and I beg
you will come away, for you will terrify the little
creatures, or alarm the old birds, which perhaps are
now waiting somewhere near to feed them." "Well,
I will come away directly," said Frederick; "and so
good-bye, Robins! I hope you will come soon, along
with your father and mother, to be fed in the parlour."
He then, under the conduct of his friend Joe, de-
Joe next addressed Miss Harriet: "Now, my young
mistress," said he, "will you go up V" As the steps of
the ladder were broad, and the nest was not high,
Miss Benson ventured to go up, and was equally
delighted with her brother, but so fearful of terri-
fying the little birds, and alarming the old ones, that
she would only indulge herself 'with a peep at the
nest. Frederick inquired how she liked the young
Robins. "They are sweet creatures," said she, "and
I hope they will soon join our party of birds, for they
appear to me ready to fly. But let us go to mamma,
for you know we promised her to stay but a little
while; besides, we hinder Joe from his work." "Never
mind that," said the honest fellow, "master won't be
angry, I am sartain; and if I thought he would, I
would work an hour later to fetch up lost time."
"Thank you, Joe," replied Miss Harriet, "but I am
sure papa would not desire you to do so."
The Story of the Robilns.
At this instant Frederick perceived the two Red-
uwlasts, who were returning from their proposed ex-
cursion, and called to his sister to observe them. He
was very desirous to watch whether they would go
back to their nest, but she would on no account con-
sent to stay, lest her mamma should be displeased,
and lest the birds should be frightened; Frederick,
therefore, with reluctance followed her, and Joe at-
tended them to the house.
As soon as they were out of sight, the hen bird
proposed to return to the nest; she had observed the
party, and though she did not see them looking into
her habitation, she supposed, from their being so-near,
that they had been taking a view of it, and told her
suspicions to her mate. He agreed with her, and
said he now expected to hear a fine story from the
nestlings. Let us return, however," said the mother,
"for perhaps they have been terrified again." "Well,"
said he, "I will attend you, then: but let me caution
you, my dear, not to indulge their fearful disposition,
because such indulgence will certainly prove injurious
to them." "I will do the best I can," replied 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 ate up by the
monster 1" "No, father," replied Dicky, "we are not
devoured ; and yet, I assure you, the monster we saw
The Story of the Robins.
before has been here again, and 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," replied Flapsy.
" When I saw the top of him, my heart began to flutter
to such a degree that I was ready to die, and every
feather of me shook; but when I found he stayed but
a very little while, I recovered, and was in hopes he
was quite gone. My brothers and sister, I believe, felt
as I did; but we comforted one another that the
danger was over for this day, and all agreed to make
ourselves happy, and not fear this monster, since you
assured us he was very harmless. However, before
we were perfectly come to ourselves, we heard very
uncommon noises, sometimes a hoarse sound, dis-
agreeable to our ears as the croaking of a raven, and
sometimes a shriller noise, quite unlike the note of
any bird that we know of, and immediately after
something presented itself to our view which bore a
little resemblance to the monster, but by no means so
large and frightful.
"Instead of being all over red, it had on each side
two spots of a more beautiful hue than Dicky's breast;
the rest of it was of a more delicate white, excepting
two streaks of a deep red, like the cherry you brought
us the other day, and between these two streaks were
rows of white bones, but by no means dreadful to be-
Thze Story of the Robins.
hold, like those of the great monster; its eyes were
blue and white; and round this agreeable face was
something which I cannot describe, very pretty, and
as glossy as the feathers of a goldfinch. There was
so cheerful and pleasing a look in this creature alto-
gether, that, notwithstanding I own I was rather afraid,
yet I had pleasure in looking at it; but he stayed a
very little time, and then disappeared. While we
were puzzling ourselves with conjectures concerning
it, another creature, larger than it, appeared before us,
equally beautiful, and with an aspect so mild and
gentle, that we were all charmed with it; but, as if
fearful of alarming us by its stay, it immediately re-
tired, and we have been longing for you and my
mother's return, in hopes you would be able to tell
us what we have seen.".
"I am happy, my dears," said their mother, "to
find you more composed than I expected; for as
your father and I were flying together, in order to
come back to you, we observed the monster and the
two pretty creatures Pecksy has described; the former
is, as your father before informed you, our friend the
gardener, and the others are our young benefactors, by
whose bounty we are every day regaled, and who, I
will venture to say, will do you no harm. You cannot
think how kindly they treat us; and though there are
a number of other birds who share their goodness,
your father and I are favoured with their particular
The Story of the Robins. 47
"Oh!" said Pecksy, "are these sweet creatures your
friends ? I long to go abroad that I may see them
again." "Well," cried Flapsy, "I perceive that if we
judge from appearances we may often be mistakes';
who would have thought that such an ugly monster
as that gardener would have had a tender heart "
"Very true," replied the mother; "you must make it
a rule, Flapsy, to judge of mankind by their actions,
and not by their looks. I have known some of them,
whose appearance was as engaging as that of 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
young ones were fledged, without knowing how to
feed them, or having any regard to the sorrows of the
"Oh! what dangers there are in the world !" cried
Pecksy; "I shall be afraid to leave the nest." "Why
so, my love ?" said the mother; "every bird does not
meet with hawks and cruel children. You have already,
as you sat on the nest, seen thousands of the feathered
race, of one kind or other, making their airy excur-
sions, full of mirth and gaiety. This orchard constantly
resounds with the melody of those who chant forth
their songs of joy; and I believe there are no beings
in the world happier than birds, for we are naturally
formed for cheerfulness and I trust that a prudent
precaution, and following the rules we shall from our
experience be able to give you, will preserve you
48 The Story of the Robins.
from the dangers to which the feathered race are
"Instead of indulging your fears, Flapsy," 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, and Robin boasted that he had not the
least remains of fear. Flapsy, though still apprehen-
sive of monsters, yet longed to see the gaieties of life,
and Pecksy wished to comply with every desire of her
dear parents. The approach of evening now reminded
them that it was time to take repose, and turning its
head under its wing, each bird soon resigned itself to
the gentle powers of sleep.
The Story of the Robins.
MASTER JENKINS TYING THE CAT AND DOG TOGETHER.
AFTER Master and Miss Benson had been gratified
with the sight of the Robins' nest, they were returning
to the house, conducted by their friend Joe, when they
were met in the garden by their mamma, accompanied
by Miss Lucy Jenkins and her brother Edward. The
former was a fine girl about ten years old, the latter
50 The Story of the Robins.
a robust rude boy more than eleven. "We were
coming to seek you, my dears," said Mrs. Benson to
her children, "for I was fearful that the business
you went upon would make you forget your young
"I cannot answer for Frederick," replied Miss Ben-
son, "but indeed, mamma, I would not on any account
have slighted my friends. How do you do, my dear
Miss Jenkins ?" said she; "I am happy to see you. Will
you go with me into the play-room I have got some
very pretty new books. Frederick, have you nothing
to show Master Jenkins V" Oh yes," said Frederick,
"I have got a new ball, a new top, a new organ, and
twenty pretty things; but I had rather go back and
show him the Robins."
"The Robins !" said Master Jenkins, "what Robins "
"Why, our Robins, that have built in the ivy-wall.
You never saw anything so pretty in your life as the
Oh, I can see birds enough at home," said Master
Jenkins : "but why did you not take the nest l it
would have been nice diversion to you to. toss the
young birds about. I have had a great many nests
this year, and do believe I have a hundred eggs."
"A'hundred eggs! and how d9 you propose to
hatch them V" said Miss Harriet, who turned back on
hearing him talk in this manner.
Hatch them, Miss Benson 1" said he; "who ever
thinks of hatching birds' eggs ?"
The Story of the Robins. 5
"Oh, then, you eat them," said Frederick, "or per-
haps let your cook make puddings of them 1"
"No, indeed," replied Master Jenkins; "I blow out
the inside, and then run a thread through them, and
give them to Lucy to hang up among her curiosities;
and very pretty they look, I assure you."
"And so," said Miss Harriet, "you had rather see
a string of empty egg-shells, than hear a sweet concert
of birds singing in the trees ? I admire your taste,
"Why, is there any harm in taking birds' eggs?"
said Miss Jenkins ; "I never before heard that there
I "My dear mamma," replied Miss Benson, "has
taught me to think there is harm in every action
which gives causeless pain to any living creature; and
I own I have a very particular affection for birds."
"Well," said Miss Jenkins, "I have no notion of
such affections, for my part. Sometimes, indeed, I try
to rear those which Edward brings home, but they
are teasing, troublesome things, and I am not lucky;
to tell the truth, I do not concern myself much about
them; if they live they live, and if they die they die.
He has brought me three nests this day to plague
me; I thought to have fed the birds before I came
out, but being in a hurry to come to see you, I quite
forgot it.-Did you feed them, Edward ?" "Not I,"
said he, "I thought you would do it; 'tis enougli for
me to find the nests."
52 The Storj of t/e Robins
"And have you actually left three nests of young
birds at home without victuals ?" exclaimed Miss
"I did not think of them, but will feed them when
I return," said Miss Jenkins.
"Oh !" cried Miss Benson, "I cannot bear the
thoughts of what the poor little creatures must suffer."
"Well," said Master Jenkins, "since you feel so
much for them, I think, Miss Harriet, you will make
the best nurse. What say you, Lucy, will you give
the nests to Miss Benson?" "With all my heart,"
replied his sister; "and pray do not plague me with
any more of them."
"I do not know that my mamma will let me accept
them," said Miss Benson; "but if she will, I shall be
glad to do so."
Frederick inquired what birds they were, and Master
Jenkins informed him there was a nest of linnets, a nest
of sparrows, and another of blackbirds. Frederick was
all impatience to see them; and Miss Harriet longed
to have the little creatures in her possession, that she
might rescue them from their deplorable condition, and
lessen the evils of captivity which they now suffered.
Her mamma had left her with her young com-
panions, that they might indulge themselves in inno-
cent amusements without restraint; but the tender-
hearted Harriet could not engage in any diversion till
she had made intercession in behalf of the poor birds;
she therefore begged Miss Jenkins would accompany
The Story of the Robins.
her to her mamma, in order to ask permission to have
the birds' nests. She accordingly went, and made her
requests known to Mrs. Benson, who readily con-
sented; observing, that though she had a very great
objection to her children having birds' nests, yet she
could not deny her daughter on the present occasion.
Harriet, from an unwillingness to expose her friend,
had said but little on the subject; but Mrs. Benson,
having great discernment, concluded that she made
the request from a merciful motive, and knowing that
Miss Jenkins had no kind mamma to give her instruc-
tions, she thus addressed her :-
"I perceive, my young friend, that Harriet is ap-
prehensive that the birds will not meet with the same
kind treatment from you which she is disposed to
give them. I cannot think you have any cruelty in
your nature, but perhaps you have accustomed your-
self to consider birds only as playthings, without sense
or feeling; to me, who am a great admirer of the
beautiful little creatures, they appear in a very differ-
ent light; and I have been an attentive observer of
them, I assure you. Though they have not the gift
of speech, like us, all kinds of birds have particular
notes, which answer in some measure the purpose of
words among them, by means of which they can call
to their young ones, express their love for them, their
fears for their safety, their anger towards those that
would hurt them, &c.; from which we may infer that
it is cruel to rob birds of their young, deprive them
54 The Story of the Robins.
* of their liberty, or exclude them from the blessings
suited to their natures, for which it is impossible for
us to give them an equivalent.
"Besides, these creatures, insignificant as they ap-
pear in your estimation, were made by God as well as
you. Have you not read in the New Testament, my
dear, that our Saviour said, 'Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy How then can you
expect that God will send his blessing upon you, if,
instead of endeavouring to imitate Him in being mer-
ciful to the utmost of your power, you are wantonly
cruel to innocent creatures which He designed for
This admonition from Mrs. Benson, which Miss
Jenkins did not expect, made her look very serious,
and brought tears into her eyes; on which the good
lady took her by the hand, and kindly said, "I wish
not to distress you, my dear, but merely to awaken
the natural sentiments of your heart; reflect at your
leisure on what I have taken the liberty of saying to
you, and I am sure you will think me your friend. I
knew your dear mamma, and can assure you she was
remarkable for the tenderness of her disposition. But
let me not detain you from your amusements; go
to your own apartment, Harriet, and use your best
endeavours to make your visitors happy. You can-
not this evening fetch the birds, because when Miss
Jenkins goes it will be too late for you to take so long
a walk, as you must come back afterwards; and I
The Story of the Robins. 55
make no doubt but that to oblige you she will feed
Miss Harriet and Miss Jenkins returned, and found
Frederick diverting himself with the hand-organ, which
had lately been presented by a kind friend; buit Master
Jenkins had laid hold of Miss Harriet's dog, and was
searching in his own pocket for a piece of string, that
he might tie him and the cat together, to see, as he
said, how nicely they would fight; and so fully was he
bent on this cruel purpose, that it was with difficulty
he could be prevailed on to relinquish it.
"Dear me !" said he, "if ever I came into such a
house in my life there is no fun here. What would
you have said to Harry Pritchard and me the other
day, when we made the cats fly ."
"Made the cats fly !" said Frederick; "how was
"Why," replied he, "we tied bladders to each side
of their necks, and then flung them from the top of
the house. There was an end of their purring and
mewing for some time, I assure you, for they lay a
long while struggling and gasping for breath, and if
they had not had nine lives, I think they must have
died; but at last up they jumped, and away they ran
scampering. Then out came little Jemmy, crying as
if he had flown down himself, because we hurt the
poor cats. He had a dog running after him, who, I
suppose, meant to call us to task with his bow-wow;
but we soon stopped his tongue, for we caught the
The Story of the Robins.
gentleman, and drove him before us into a narrow
lane, and then ran hooting after him into the village;
a number of boys joined us, and cried as we did, 'A
mad dog a mad dog !' On this, several people pur-
sued him with cudgels and broomsticks, and at last
he was shot by a man, but not dead, so others came
and knocked him about the head till he expired."
"For shame, Master Jenkins !" said Miss Harriet;
"how can you talk in that rhodomontade manner ? I
cannot believe any young gentleman could bring his
heart to such barbarities."
"Barbarities, indeed why, have we not a right to
do as we please to dogs and cats, or do you think
they feel as we do ? Fiddle-faddle of your nonsense !
say I. Come, you must hear the end of my story:
when the dog was dead, we carried him home to little
Jemmy, who was ready to break his heart for the loss
of him; so we did not like to stand hearing his
whining, therefore left and got a cock, whose legs we
tied, and flung at him till he died. Then we set two
others to fighting; and fine sport we had, for one was
pecked till his breast was laid open, and the other was
blinded, so we left them to make up their quarrel as
Stop stop !" exclaimed Miss Harriet, "for pity's
sake, stop! I can hear no more of your horrid stories;
nor would I commit even one of those barbarities which
you boast of for the world Poor innocent creatures !
what had they done to you to deserve such usage ?"
The Story of ite Robins.
"I beg, Edward," said his sister, "that you will find
some other way to entertain us, or I shall really tell
Mrs. Benson of you."
"What! are you growing tender-hearted all at once "
"I will tell you what I think when I go home,"
replied Miss Jenkins. As for poor Frederick, he could
not restrain his tears, and Harriet's flowed also, at the
bare idea of the sufferings of the poor animals; but
Master Jenkins was so accustomed to be guilty of
those things without reflection, that there was no
making any impression of tenderness upon his mind;
and he only laughed at their concern, and wanted to
tell a long story about an ox that had been driven by
a cruel drover till he went mad; but Miss Benson and
his sister stopped their ears.
At last little Frederick went crying to his mamma,
and the young ladies retired to another apartment; so
Master Jenkins amused himself with catching flies in
the window, pulling the legs off some, and the wings
from others, delighted with their contortions, which
were occasioned by the agonies they endured. Mrs.
Benson had some visitors, which prevented her talking
to this cruel boy, as she otherwise would have done,
on hearing Frederick's account of him; but she de-
termined to tell his papa, which she accordingly did
some time after, when he returned home.
Master Jenkins was now disturbed from his bar-
barous sport, by being called to tea; and soon after
T/e Story of the Robins.
that was over, the servant came to fetch him and his
sister. Miss Harriet earnestly entreated her friend
Lucy to feed the birds properly, till she should be
allowed to fetch them; who promised to do so, for
she was greatly affected with Mrs. Benson's discourse,
and then entreated her brother to take leave, that
she might return home; with this he readily com-
plied, as there were no further opportunities for
After her little visitors were departed, Miss Harriet
went into the drawing-room, and having paid her
compliments, she sat herself down that she might
improve her mind by the conversation of the com-
pany. Her mamma perceived that she had been in
tears, of which Frederick had before explained the
cause. "I do not wonder, my love," said she, "that
you should have been so affected with the relation of
such horrid barbarities as that thoughtless boy has,-
by degrees, brought himself to practice by way of
amusement. However, do not suffer your mind to
dwell on them, as the creatures on which he inflicted
them are no longer objects of pity. It is wrong to
grieve for the death of animals, as we do for the loss
of our friends, because they certainly are not of so
much consequence to our happiness; and we are
taught to think their sufferings end with their lives, as
they are not capable of religion; and therefore the
killing them, even in the most barbarous manner, is
not like murdering a human creature, who is perhaps
The Story of the Robins. 59
unprepared to give an account of himself at the tri-
bunal of heaven."
"I have been," said a lady who was present, "for a
long time accustomed to consider animals as mere
machines, actuated by the unerring hand of Provi-
dence to do those things which are necessary for the
preservation of themselves and their offspring; but
the sight of the Learned Pig, which has been lately
shown in London, has deranged these ideas, and I
know not what to think."
This led to a conversation on the instinct of ani-
mals, which, as young readers would not understand,
it would be useless to insert it.
As soon as the company was gone, "Pray, .mamma,"
said Harriet, what did the Learned Pig do l I had
a great mind to ask Mrs. Franks, who said she saw it;
but I 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
degree of restraint as to prevent you satisfying that
laudable curiosity, without which young persons must
remain ignorant of many things very proper for them
to be acquainted with. Mrs. Franks would, I am sure,
have been far from thinking you impertinent. Those
inquiries only are thought troublesome, by which
children interrupt conversation, and endeavour to
attract attention to their own insignificant prattle;
but all people of good sense and good-nature de-
light in giving them useful information.
6o The Story of the Robins.
"In respect to the Learned Pig, I have heard things
which are quite astonishing in a species of animals
generally regarded as very stupid. The creature was
shown for a sight in a room provided for the purpose,
where a number of people assembled to view his per-
formances. Two alphabets of large letters on card-
paper were placed on the floor; one of the company
was then desired to propose a word which he wished
the Pig to spell; this the keeper repeated to the Pig,
which picked out every letter successively with his
snout, and collected them together till the word was
completed. He was then desired to tell the hour
of the day, and one of the company held a watch to
him: this he seemed with his little cunning eye to
examine very attentively; and having done so, he
picked 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
time he was shown, and heard continually of this
wonderful Pig from persons of my acquaintance, I
never went to see him; for I am fully persuaded that
great cruelty must have been used in teaching him
things so foreign to his nature, and therefore would
not give any encouragement to such a scheme."
"And do you think, mamma," said Harriet, "tlat
the Pig knew the letters, and could really spell words ?"
"I think it possible, my dear, that the Pig might be
taught to know the letters at sight one from the other,
The Story of the Robins.
and that his keeper had some private sign, by which
he directed him to each that was wanted; but that he
had an idea of spelling I can never believe, nor are
animals capable of attaining human sciences, because
for these human faculties are requisite; and no art
of man can change the nature of anything, though
he may be able to improve that nature to a certain
degree, or at least to call forth to view powers which
would otherwise be hidden from us. As far as this can
be done consistently with our higher obligations, it
may be an agreeable amusement, but will never answer
any important purpose to mankind; and I will ad-
vise you, Harriet, never to give countenance to those
people who show what they call learned animals, as
you may assure yourself they practice great barbarities
upon them, of which starving them almost to death is
most likely among the number; and you may, with
the money such a sight would cost you, procure ofor
yourself a rational amusement, or even relieve some
wretched creature from extreme distress. But, my
dear, it is now time for you to retire to rest. I will
therefore bid you good-night."
62 The Story of the Robins.
MASTER FREDERICK AND MISS HARRIET TAKING CHARGE OF THE
EARLY in- the morning the hen Redbreast awakened
her young brood. "Come, my little ones," said she,
" shake off your drowsiness ; remember, this is the day
fixed for your entrance into the world. I desire that
each of you will dress your feathers before you go
out, for a slovenly bird is my aversion, and neatness
is a great advantage to the appearance of every one."
The Story of the Robins. 63
The father bird was upon the wing betimes, that he
might give each of his young ones a breakfast before
they attempted to leave the nest. When he had fed
them, he desired his mate to accompany him as usual
to Mr. Benson's, where he found the parlour window
open, and his young friends sitting with their mamma.
Crumbs had been, according to custom, strewed before
the window, which the other birds had nearly devoured;
but the Redbreasts took their usual post upon the
tea-table, and the father bird sung his morning lay;
after which they returned with all possible speed to
the nest, for, having so important an affair to manage,
they could not be long absent. Neither could their
young benefactors pay so much attention to them as
usual, for they were impatient to fetch the birds from
Miss Jenkins's; therefore, as soon as breakfast was
ended, they set out upon their expedition. Harriet
carried a basket large enough to hold two nests, and
Frederick a smaller one for the other; thus equipped,
with a servant attending them, they set off.
Mr. Jenkins's house was about a mile from Mr.
Benson's; it was delightfully situated; there was a
beautiful lawn and canal before it, and a charming
garden behind; on one side were corn-fields, and on
the other a wood. In such a retreat as this it was
natural to expect to find a great many birds; but, to
Miss Harriet's surprise, they saw only a few straggling
ones here and there, which flew away the moment she
and her brother appeared. On this, Harriet observed
64 Tie Story of the Robins.
to Frederick, that she supposed Master Jenkins's prac-
tice of taking birds' nests had made them so shy.
She said a great deal to him about the cruelties that
naughty boy had boasted of the evening before, which
Frederick promised to remember.
As soon as they arrived at the house, Miss Jenkins
ran out to receive them, but her brother was gone to
school. "We are come, my dear Lucy," said Miss
Benson, "to fetch the birds you promised us."
"Oh! I know not what to say to you, my dear,"
said Miss Jenkins. "I have very bad news to tell
you, and I fear you will blame me exceedingly, though
not more than I blame myself. I heartily wish I had
returned home immediately after the kind lecture your
mamma favoured me with yesterday, which showed
me the cruelty of my behaviour, though I was then
ashamed to own it.
"I walked as fast as I could all the way from your
house, and determined to give each of the little crea-
tures a good supper, for which purpose I had an egg
boiled and nicely chopped; I mixed up some bread
and water very smooth, and put a little seed with the
chopped egg amongst it, and then carried it to the
room where I left the nests. But what was my
concern when I found that my care was too late for
the greatest part of them! Every sparrow lay dead
and bloody; they seemed to have killed each other.
In the nest of linnets, which were very young, I
found one dead, two just expiring, and the other
The Story of the Robins. 65
almost exhausted, but still able to swallow; to him,
therefore, I immediately gave some of the food I had
prepared, which greatly revived him; and, as I thought
he would suffer cold in the nest by himself, I covered
him over with wool, and had this morning the pleasure
of finding him quite recovered."
"What all the sparrows and three linnets dead !"
said Frederick, whose little eyes swam with tears at
the melancholy tale; "and pray, Miss Jenkins, have
you starved all the blackbirds too ?"
"Not all, my little friend," answered Miss Jenkins,
"but I must confess that some of them have fallen
victims to my neglect: however, there are two fine
ones alive, which I shall, with the surviving linnet,
cheerfully resign to the care of my dear Harriet,
whose tenderness will, I hope, be rewarded by the
pleasure of hearing them sing when they are old
enough. But I beg you will stay and rest yourselves
after your walk."
Let me see the birds first," said Frederick. "That
you shall do," answered Miss Jenkins; and, taking
him by the hand, she conducted him to the room in
which she kept them, accompanied by Miss Benson.
Miss Jenkins 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 expressed her apprehensions that it would
be difficult to wean Edward from his propensity for
66 The Story of the Robins.
Miss Jenkins then took her young friends into the
parlour to her governess-for her mamma was dead,
-who received them very kindly, and gave each of
them a piece of cake and some fruit; after which
Miss Jenkins led them again into the room where the
birds were, and very carefully put the nest with the
poor solitary linnet into one basket, and that with
the two blackbirds into the other. Frederick was
very urgent to carry the latter, which his sister con-
sented to; and then bidding adieu to their friend,
they set off on their way home, attended by the maid
Let us now return to the Redbreasts, whom we left
on the wing flying back to the ivy-wall, in order to
take their young ones abroad.
As the father entered the nest, he cried out with a
cheerful voice, Well, my nestlings, are you all ready?"
"Yes," they replied. The mother then advanced, and
desired that each of them would get upon the edge of
the nest. Robin and Pecksy sprang up in an instant,
but Dicky and Flapsy, being timorous, were not- so
The hearts of the parents felt great delight at the
view they now had of their young family, which
appeared to be strong, vigorous, and lively, and, in a
word, endued with every gift of nature requisite to
their success in the world.
"Now," said the father, "stretch your wings, Robin,
and flutter them a little, in this manner [showing
The Story of the Robins. 67
him the way], and be sure to observe my directions
exactly. Very well," said he : do not attempt to fly
yet, for here is neither air n6r space enough for that
purpose. Walk gently after me to the wall; then
follow me to the tree that stands close to it, and hop
on from branch to branch as you will see me do:
then rest yourself.; and as soon as you see me fly
away, spread your wings, and exert all the strength
you have to follow me."
Robin acquitted himself to admiration, and alighted
very 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 same as his brother had done; but Dicky was
very fearful of fluttering his wings, for he was a little
coward, and expressed many apprehensions that he
should not reach the ground without falling, as they
were such a great height from it. His father, who was
a very courageous bird, was quite angry with him.
"Why, you foolish little thing," said he, "do you
mean to stay in the nest by yourself and starve ? I
shall leave off bringing you food, I assure you. Do
you think your wings were given you to be always
folded by your sides, and that the whole employment
of your life is to dress your feathers and make yourself
look pretty ? Without exercise you cannot long enjoy
health ; besides, you will soon have your livelihood to
earn, and therefore idleness would in you be the height
of folly. Get up this instant."
The Story of the Robins.
Dicky, intimidated by his father's displeasure, got
up, and advanced as far as the branch from which he
was to descend; but here his fears returned, and
instead of making an effort to fly, he stood flapping
his wings in a most irresolute manner, and suffered
his father to lead the way twice without following
him. This good parent, finding he would not venture
to fly, took a circuit unperceived by Dicky, and,
watching the opportunity when his wings were a little
spread, came suddenly behind him and pushed him off
the branch. Dicky, finding himself in actual danger of
falling, now gladly stretched his pinions, and, upborne
by the air, he gently descended to the ground, so near
the spot where Robin stood that the latter easily
reached him by hopping.
The mother now undertook to conduct Flapsy and
Pecksy, whilst the father stayed to take care of the
two already landed. Flapsy made a thousand diffi-
culties, but at length yielded to her mother's persua-
sions, and flew safely down. Pecksy, without the least
hesitation, accompanied her, and, by exactly following
the directions given, found the task much easier than
As soon as they had a little recovered from the
fatigue and fright of their first essay at flying, they
began to look around them with astonishment. Every
object on which they turned their eyes excited their
curiosity and wonder. They were no longer confined
to a little nest built in a small hole, but were now at
The Story of the Robins. 69
full liberty in the open air. The orchard itself appeared
to them a world. For some time each remained silent,
gazing around, first at one thing, then at another; at
length Flapsy cried out, What a charming place the
world is! I had no conception that it was half so big!"
"And do you suppose, then, my dear," replied the
mother, "that you now behold the whole of the world
I have seen but a small part of it myself, and yet have
flown over so large a space, that what is at present
within our view appears to me a little inconsiderable
spot; and I have conversed with several foreign birds,
who informed me that the countries they came from
were so distant that they were many days on their
journey hither, though they flew the nearest way and
scarcely allowed themselves any resting time."
"Come," said the father, "let us proceed to busi-
ness ; we did not leave the nest merely to look about
us. You are now, my young ones, safely landed on
the ground; let me instruct you what you are to do on
it. Every living creature that comes into the world
has something allotted him to perform, therefore he
should not stand an idle spectator of what others are
doing. We small birds have a very easy task, in com-
parison of many animals I have had an opportunity
of observing, being only required to seek food for
ourselves, build nests, and provide for our young ones
till they are able to procure their own livelihood.
We have indeed enemies to dread; hawks and other
birds of prey will catch us up, if we are not upon our
70 The Story of the Robins.
guard ; but the worst foes we have are those of the
human race ; though even among them we Redbreasts
have a better chance than many other birds, on ac-
count of a charitable action which two of our species
are said to have performed towards a little boy and
girl,* who were lost in a wood, where they were starved
to death. The Redbreasts I mean saw the affectionate
pair, hand in hand, stretched on the cold ground, and
would have fed them, had they been capable of re-
ceiving nourishment; but finding the poor babes quite
dead, and being unable to bury them, they resolved to
cover them with leaves. This was an arduous task,
but many a Redbreast has since shared the reward of
it; and I believe that those who do good to others
always meet with a recompense some way or other.
But I declare I am doing the very thing I was re-
proving you for-chattering away when I should be
minding business. Come, hop after me, and we shall
soon find something worth having. Fear nothing, for
you are now in a place of security; there is no hawk
near, and I have never seen any of the human race
enter this orchard but the monsters who paid you
visits in the nest, and others equally inoffensive."
The father then hopped away, followed by Robin
and Dicky, while his mate conducted the female part
of the family. The parents instructed their young ones
in what manner to seek for food, and they proved very
successful, for there were many insects just at hand.
Alluding to the Ballad of the Children in the Wood.
The Story of the Robins.
MASTER FREDERICK VIEWING THE YOUNG ROBINS IN TIlE
WHILST all the business related in the last chapter
was going on in the Redbreast family, Miss Benson
was walking home with the poor birds in the baskets.
"Well, Frederick," said she-to him, "what think you
of bird-nesting now 7 Should you like to occasion the
deaths of a number of little harmless creatures 1" "No,
72 The Story of the Robins.
indeed," said Frederick ; "and I think Miss Jenkins
a very naughty girl for starving them."
"She was to blame, but is now sorry for her fault,
my dear, therefore you must not speak unkindly of
her; besides, you know she has no good mamma, as
we have, to teach her what is proper; and her papa
is obliged to be absent from home very often, and
leave her to the care of a governess, who perhaps was
never instructed herself to be tender to animals."
With this kind of conversation they amused them-
selves as they walked, every 'now and then peeping
into their baskets to see the little birds, which were
very lively and well. They entreated the maid to
take them through the orchard, which had a gate
that opened into a meadow that lay in their way,
having no doubt of obtaining admittance, as it was
the usual hour for their friend Joe to work there.
They accordingly knocked at the gate, which was
immediately opened to them, and Frederick requested
Joe to show him the Robins' nest.
Just at this time the young Robins were collected
together near the gate, when they were suddenly
alarmed with a repetition of the same noises which
had formerly terrified them in the nest; and Robin, who
was foremost, beheld, to his very great amazement,
Master and Miss Benson, 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.
The Story of the Robins. 73
Robin, with all his courage, and indeed he was not
deficient in this quality, was seized with a great tremor;
for if the view he had of the faces of these persons had
appeared so dreadful to him when he sat in the nest,
what must it now be, to behold their full size, and see
them advancing with, as he thought, gigantic strides
towards him l He expected nothing less than to be
crushed to death with the foot of one of them; and
not having yet attained his full strength, and never
having raised himself in the air, he knew not how to
escape; therefore chirped so loudly as not only to
surprise his brother and sisters, and bring his father
and mother to inquire the meaning of his cry, but
also to attract the attention of Master and Miss
"What chirping is that ?" cried the latter. "It was,"
said the maid, the cry of a young bird; was it not one
of those in the baskets V" "No," said Frederick, "the
noise came that way," pointing to some currant-bushes;
" my birds are very well." And so is my linnet,"
replied Harriet. Frederick then set down his charge
very carefully, and began looking about in the place
from whence he supposed the sound proceeded, when,
to his great joy, he soon discovered the Redbreasts
and their little family. He called eagerly to his sister,
who was equally pleased with the sight. They then
stooped down to take a nearer view of them, by which
means he directly fronted Robin, who, as soon as the
young gentleman's face was on a level with his eyes,
The Story of the Robins.
recollected him, and calling to his brother and sisters,
told them they need not-be afraid.
Miss Benson followed her brother's example, and
delighted the little flock with the sight of her benign
countenance. She heartily lamented having nothing
with which to regale her old favourites and their family,
when Frederick produced from his pocket a piece of
biscuit, which they crumbled and scattered. Miss
Benson, recollecting that her mamma would expect
her at home, and that the birds in the basket would
be hungry, persuaded her brother to take up his little
load and return; they therefore left the Redbreasts
enjoying the fruits of their bounty.
When the happy birds had shared amongst them the
kind present of their young benefactors, they hopped
about in search of some moister food. Dicky had the
good fortune to find four little worms together, but,
instead of calling his brother and sisters to partake of
them, he devoured them all himself.
"Are you not ashamed, you little greedy creature ?"
cried his father, who observed his selfish disposition.
"What would you think of your brother and sisters
were they to serve you so ? In a family, every indi-
vidual ought to consult the welfare of the whole,
instead of his own private satisfaction. It is his own
truest interest to do so. A day may come when he
who has now sufficient to supply the wants of his
relations, may stand in need of assistance from them.
But, setting aside selfish considerations, which are the
The Story of the Robins. 75
last that ever find place in a generous breast, how
great is the pleasure of doing good, and contributing
to the happiness of others !"
Dicky was quite confounded, and immediately
hopped away, to find, if possible, something for his
brother and sisters, that he might regain their good
In the meanwhile Robin found a caterpillar, which
he intended to take for Pecksy; but just as he was
going to pick 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 his
father, and entreated that he would fly after the linnet,
and tear his heart out. "That would be taking violent
revenge, indeed," said his father. "No, Robin, the
linnet has as great a right to the caterpillar as you or
I; and, in all probability, he has as many little gaping
mouths at home ready to receive it. But, however
this may be, I had, for my own part, rather sustain an
injury than take revenge. You must expect to have
many a scramble of this kind in your life; but if you
give way to a resentful temper, you will do yourself
more harm than all the enemies in the world can do
you; for you will be in perpetual agitation, from an
idea that every one who does not act in direct con-
formity to your wishes has a design against- you.
Therefore restrain your anger, that you may be happy;
for, believe me, peace and tranquillity are the most
valuable things you can possess."
76 The Story of the Robins.
At this instant Pecksy came up with a fine fat spider
in her mouth, which she laid down at her mother's feet,
and thus addressed her: "Accept, my dear parent, the
first tribute of gratitude which I have ever been able
to offer you. How have I formerly longed to ease
those toils which you and my dear father endured for
our sakes! and gladly would I now release you from
farther fatigue on my account; but I am still a poor
creature, and must continue to take shelter under your
wing.. I will hop, however, as long as I am able, to
procure food for the family." The eyes of the mother
sparkled with delight; and knowing that Pecksy's love
would be disappointed by a refusal, she ate the spider
which the dutiful nestling had so affectionately brought
her, and then said, How happy would families be, if
every one like you, my dear Pecksy, consulted the
welfare of the rest, instead of turning their whole
attention to their own interest."
Dicky was not present at this speech, which he
might have considered as a reflection on his own
conduct; but' he arrived as it was ended, and pre-
sented Pecksy with a worm, like those he had himself
so greedily eaten. She received it with thanks, and
declared it was doubly welcome from his beak.
"Certainly," said the mother, "fraternal love stamps
a value on the most trifling presents." Dicky felt him-
self happy in having regained the good opinion of his
mother, and obliged his sister, and resolved to be
generous for the future. The mother bird now re-
Tle Story of the Robins.
minded her mate that it would be proper to think of
returning to the nest. "If the little ones fatigue them-
selves too much with hopping about," said she, "their
strength will be exhausted, and they will not be able
to fly back."
"True, my love," replied her mate ; "gather them
under your wings a little, as there is no reason to
apprehend danger here, and then we will see what
they can do." She complied with his desire, and
when they were sufficiently rested, she got up, on
which the whole brood instantly raised themselves on
"Now, Robin," cried the father, "let us see your
dexterity in flying upwards; come, I will show you
how to raise yourself."
"Oh! you need not take that trouble," said the
conceited bird; "as I flew down, I warrant I know
how to fly up." Then spreading his wings, he at-
tempted to rise, but in so unskilful a manner that
he only shuffled along upon the ground.
"That will not do, however," cried the father;
"shall I show you now 1" Robin persisted in it that
he stood in no need of instruction, and tried again;
he managed to raise himself a little way, but soon
tumbled headlong. His mother then began reproving
him for his obstinacy, and advised him to accept his
father's kind offer of teaching him.
"You may depend on it, Robin," said she, "that
he is in every respect wiser than you ; and as he has
78 The Story of the Robins.
had so much practice, he must of course be expert in
the art of flying; and if you persist in making your'
own foolish' experiments, you will only commit a
number of errors, and make yourself ridiculous. I
should commend your courage, provided you would
add prudence to it; but blundering on in this ignorant
manner is only rashness.
"Let him alone, let him alone," said the father; "if
he is above being taught, he may find his own way to
the nest; I will teach his brother. Come," said he,
"Dicky, let us see what you can do at flying upwards;
you cut a noble figure this morning when you flew
Dicky, with reluctance, advanced; he said he did
not see what occasion they had to go back to the nest
at all; he should suppose they might easily find some
snug corner to creep into till they were strong enough
to roost in tree., as other birds did.
"Why, you," said the father, "are as ridiculous with
your timidity as Robin with his conceitedness. Those
who give way to groundless fears generally expose
themselves to real dangers. If you rest on the earth
all night, you will suffer a great deal from cold and
damp, and may very likely be devoured, whilst you
sleep, by rats and other creatures that go out in the
night to seek for food ; whereas, if you determine to
go back to the nest, you have but one effort to make.
for which, I will venture to say, you have sufficient
strength, and then you will lie warm, safe, and quiet:
however, do as you will.
The Story of thle Robins. 79
Dicky began to think that it was his interest to obey
his father, and said he would endeavour to fly up, but
was still fearful he should not be able to do it.
"Never despair," replied his father, "of doing what
others have done before you. Turn your eyes upwards,
and behold what numbers of birds are at this instant
soaring in the air. They were once all nestlings, like
yourself. See, there, that new-fledged wren, with what
courage he skims along! Let it not be said that a
Redbreast lies grovelling on the earth while a wren
soars above him !"
Dicky was now ashamed of himself, and inspired
with emulation, therefore without delay he spread his
wings and his tail; his father with pleasure placed
himself in a proper attitude before him, then rising
from the ground, led the way; and Dicky, by carefully
following his example, safely arrived at the nest, which
he found a most comfortable resting-place after the
fatigue of the morning, and rejoiced that he had a
good father to teach him what was most conducive to
The father having seen him safe home, returned to
his mate, who, during his short absence, had been
endeavouring to convince Robin of his fault, but to
no purpose; he did not like to be taught what- he still
persuaded himself he could do by his own exertions;
she therefore applied herself to Flapsy.
"Come, my dear," said she, "get ready to follow
me when your father returns, for the sun casts a great
8o The Story of the Robins.
heat here, and the nest will be quite comfortable to
you." Flapsy dreaded the experiment; however, as
she could not but blame both Robin's and Dicky's
conduct, she resolved to do her best, but entreated
her mother to inform her very particularly how to
proceed. Well, then," said the tender parent, ob-
serve me. First bend your legs, then spring from the
ground as quick as you can, stretching your wings as
you rise straight out on each side of your body; shake
them with a quick motion, as you will see me do, and
the air will yield to you, and at the same time support
your weight; whichever way you want to turn, strike
the air with the wing on the contrary side, and that
will bring you about." She then rose from the ground,
and having practised two or three times repeatedly
what she had been teaching, Flapsy at length ventured
to follow her, but with a palpitating heart; and was
soon happily seated in the nest by the side of Dicky,
who rejoiced that his favourite sister was safely arrived.
The mother bird now went back to Pecksy, who
was waiting with her father till she returned; for the
good parent chose to leave the female part of his
family to the particular management of their mother.
Pecksy was fully prepared for her flight, for she had
attentively observed the instruction given to the others,
and also their errors ; she therefore kept the happy
medium betwixt self-conceit and timidity, indulging
that moderated emulation which ought to possess
every young heart; and, resolving that neither her
The Story of the Robins. 81
inferiors nor equals should soar above her, she sprang
from the ground, and, with a steadiness and agility
wonderful for her first essay, followed her mother to
the nest, who, instead of stopping to rest herself there,
flew to a neighboring tree, that she might be at hand
to assist Robin, should he repent of his folly: but
Robin disappointed her hopes, for he sat sulky;
though convinced he had been in the wrong, he would
not humble himself to his father; who therefore re-
solved to leave him a little while, and return to the
As soon as Robin found himself deserted, instead
of being sorry, he gave way to anger and resentment.
"Why," cried he "am I to be treated in this manner,
who am the eldest of the family, while all the little
darlings are fondled and caressed? But I don't care;
I can get to the nest yet, I make no doubt." He
then attempted to fly, and, after, a great many trials,
at length got up in the air; but not knowing which
way to direct his course, he sometimes turned to the
right, and sometimes to the left; now he advanced
forwards a little, and now, fearing he was wrong, came
back again; at length, quite spent with fatigue, he fell
to the ground, and bruised himself a good deal:
stunned with the fall, he lay for some minutes with-
out sense or motion, but soon revived ; and finding
himself alone in this dismal condition, the horrors of
his situation filled him with dreadful apprehensions,
and the bitterest remorse.
Tih Story of the Robins.
"Oh!" cried he, "that I had but followed the
advice and example of my tender parents! then had
I been safe in the nest, blest with their kind caresses,
and enjoying the company of my dear brother and
sisters ; but now I am of all birds the most wretched !
Never shall I be able to fly, for every joint of me has
received a shock which I doubt it will not recover.
Where shall I find shelter from the scorching sun,
whose piercing rays already render the ground I lie
on intolerably hot ? What kind beak will supply me
with food to assuage the pangs of hunger which I
shall soon feel 1 By what means shall I procure even
a drop of water to quench that thirst which so fre-
quently returns ? Who will protect me from the
various tribes of barbarous animals which I have
been told make a prey of birds Oh, my dear, my
tender mother! if the sound of my voice can reach
your ears, pity my condition, and fly to my succour !"
The kind parent waited not for farther solicitation,
but darting from the branch on which she had been a
painful eye-witness of Robin's fall, she instantly stood
"I have listened," said she, "to your lamentations;
and since you seem convinced of your error, I will
not add to your sufferings by my reproaches; my
heart relents towards you, 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, and use every effort
The Story of the Robins. 83
for your own preservation ; I will endeavour to pro-
cure you some refreshment, and at the same time con-
trive means of fixing you in a place of more security
and comfort than that in which you at present lie."
So saying, she flew to a little stream which flowed in
an adjacent meadow, and fetched from the brink of it
a worm, which she had observed an angler to drop as
she perched on the tree; with this she immediately
returned to the penitent Robin, who received the
welcome gift with gratitude.
Refreshed with this delicious morsel, and comforted
by his mother's kindness, he was able to stand up,
and, on shaking his wings, he found that he was not
so greatly hurt as he apprehended; his head, indeed,
was bruised, so that one eye was almost closed, and he
had injured the joint of one wing, so that he could
not possibly fly: however, he could manage to hop,
and the parent bird observing that Joe the gardener
was cutting a hawthorn hedge, which was near the
spot, desired Robin to follow her; this he did, though
with great pain. "Now," said she, "look carefully
about, and you will soon find insects of one kind or
another for your sustenance during the remainder of
the day, and before evening I will return to you again.
Summon all your courage, for I make no doubt you
will be safe while our friend continues his work, as
none of those creatures which are enemies to birds
will venture to come near him." Robin took a sorrow-
ful farewell, and the mother flew to the nest.
84 The Slory of thze Robins.
JOE THE GARDENER OPENING THE DOOR OF THE TOOL-HOUSE.
"You have been absent a long time, my love," said
her mate; "but I perceive that you were indulging
your tenderness towards that disobedient nestling,
who has rendered himself unworthy of it. However,
I do not condemn you for giving him assistance ; for
had not you undertaken the task, I would myself have
7/e Story of th/e Robins. 85
flown to him instead of returning home. How is he ?
likely to live and reward your kindness?" "Yes,"
said she, "he will, I flatter myself, soon perfectly
recover, for his hurt is not very considerable; and I
have the pleasure to tell you he is extremely sensible
of his late folly, and I dare say will endeavour to
repair his fault with future good behaviour." "This
is pleasing news indeed," said he.
The little nestlings, delighted to hear that their dear
brother was safe and convinced of his error, expressed
great joy and satisfaction, and entreated their father
to let them descend again, and keep him company.
To this he would by no means consent, because, as he
told them, the fatigue would be too great.; and it was
proper that Robin should feel a little longer the con-
sequences 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 their request, knowing
that their parent was the best judge of what was proper
to be done, and not doubting but that his affection
would lead him to do everything that was conducive to
the real happiness of his family; but yet they could
not tell how to be happy without Robin, and were
continually perking up their little heads, fancying they
heard his cries; both their father and mother fre-
quently took a peep at him, and had the satisfaction
of seeing him very safe by their friend Joe the gar-
dener, though the honest fellow did not know of his
own guardianship, and continued his work without
86 The Story of the Robins.
perceiving the little cripple, who hopped and shuffled
about, pecking here and there whatever he could
When he had been for some time by himself, his
mother made him another visit, and told him she had
interceded with his father, whose anger was abated, and
he would come to hint before he went to rest. Robin
rejoiced to hear that there was a chance of his being
reconciled to his father, yet he dreaded the first inter-
view ; however, as it must be, he wished to have it
over as soon as possible and every wing he heard
beat the air he fancied to be that of his offended
parent. In this state of anxious expectation he con-
tinued almost to the time of sun-setting, when, of a
sudden, he heard the well-known voice to which he
used to listen with joy, but which now caused his
whole frame to tremble; but observing a beam of
benignity in that eye, in which he looked for anger
and reproach, he cast himself in the most supplicating
posture at the feet of his father, who could no longer
resist the desire he felt to receive him into favour.
"Your present humility, Robin," said he, disarms
my resentment. I gladly pronounce your pardon, and
am persuaded you will never again incur my dis-
pleasure ; we will, therefore, say no more on a subject
which gives so much pain to us."
"Yes, my dear indulgent father," cried Robin,
"permit me to make my grateful acknowledgments
for your kindness, and to assure you of my future
The Story of the Robins. 87
obedience." The delighted parent accepted his sub-
mission, and the reconciliation was completed.
By this time Robin was greatly exhausted ; his kind
father, therefore, conducted him to the pump in the
garden, where he refreshed himself with a few drops
of water. He now felt himself greatly relieved3 but
on his father's asking him what he intended to do
with himself at night, his spirits sunk again, and he
answered he did not know. "Well," said the father,
"I have thought of an expedient to secure you from
cold at least. In a part of the orchard, a very
little way hence, there is a place belonging to our
friend the gardener, where I have sheltered myself
from several storms, and am sure it will afford you
a comfortable lodging; so follow me before it is too
The old bird then led the way, and his son followed
him; when they arrived, they found the door of the
tool-house open; and as the threshold was low, Robin
managed to get over it. His father looked carefully
about, and at last found in a corner a parcel of shreds,
kept for the purpose of nailing up trees. "Here,
Robin," said he, "is a charming bed for you ; let me
see you in it, and call your mother to have a peep,
and then I must bid you good-night." So saying, away
he flew, and brought his mate, who was perfectly satis-
fied with the lodging provided for her late undutiful
but now repentant son; but, reminded by her mate
that if they stayed longer they might be shut in, they
88 The Story of the Robins.
took leave, telling Robin they would visit him early in
Though this habitation was much better than Robin
expected, and he was ready enough to own better than
he deserved, yet he deeply regretted his absence from
the nest, and longed to see again his brother and sisters;
however, though part of the night was spent in bitter
reflections, fatigue at length prevailed over anxiety,
and he fell asleep. The nestlings were greatly pleased
to find that Robin was likely to escape the dangers of
the night, and even the anxious mother at length
resigned herself to repose.
Before the sun showed his glorious face in the east,
every individual of this affectionate family was awake:
the father with impatience waited for the gardener's
opening the tool-house: the mother prepared her little
ones for a new excursion.
"You will be able to descend with more ease, my
dears, to-day than you did yesterday, shall you not ?"
"Oh yes, mother," said Dicky; "I shall not be at all
afraid!" "Nor I," said Flapsy. "Say you so ? then
let us see which of you will be down first," said she.
"Come, I will show you the way."
On this, with gradual flight, the mother bent her
course to a spot near the place where Robin lay con-
cealed; they all instantly followed her, and surprised
their father, who having seen Joe, was every instant
expecting he would open the door. At length, to the joy
of the whole party, the gardener appeared, and they soon
The Story of the Robins. 89
saw him fetch his shears and leave the tool-house
open: on this the mother proposed that they should
all go together and call Robin. There they found
him in his snug little bed; but who can describe the
happy meeting? who can find words to express the
raptures which filled every little bosom ?
When the first transports subsided, I think," said
the father, "it will be best to retire from hence; if
our friend returns, he may take us for a set of thieves,
and suppose that we came to eat his seeds, and I
should be sorry he should 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 about among the currant-bushes. "I
think," said the father, "that you who have the full
use of your limbs could manage to get up these low
trees, but Robin must content himself upon the ground
a little longer." This was very mortifying, but he had
no one to blame excepting himself; so he forebore
to complain, and assumed as much cheerfulness as he
could; his brother and sisters begged they might stay
with him all day, as they could do very well without
going up to the nest: to this the parents consented.
90 The Story of the Robins.
MISS BENSON IS TAKEN ON A VISIT BY HER MAMMIA.
IT is now time to inquire after Master and Miss Benson.
These happy children reached home soon after they
left the Redbreasts, and related every circumstance of
their expedition to their kind mamma, who, hearing
the little prisoners in the basket chirp very loudly,
desired they would immediately go and feed them,
which they gladly did, and -then took a short lesson.
The Story of the Robins. 91
Mrs. Benson told Miss Harriet that she was going to
make a visit in the afternoon, and should take her
with her, therefore desired she would keep herself
quite still, that she might not be fatigued after the walk
she had had in the morning; for though she meant to
go in the coach, it was her intention to walk home, as
the weather was so remarkably fine. The young lady
took great care of the birds, and Frederick engaged,
with the assistance of the maid, to feed them during'
her absence. Miss Benson was then dressed to attend
Mrs. Addis, to whose house they were going, was
a widow lady; she had two children, Master Charles,
a boy of twelve years old, at school, and Miss Augusta,
about seven, at home. But these children were quite
strangers to Miss Benson.
On entering the hall, the young lady took notice of
a very disagreeable smell, and was surprised with the
appearance of a parrot, paroquet, and a macaw, all in
most superb .cages. In the next room she came to
were a squirrel and a monkey, which had each a little
house neatly ornamented.
On being introduced into the drawing-room, she
observed in one corner a lap-dog, lying on a splendid
cushion; and in a beautiful little cradle, which she
supposed to contain a large wax doll, lay, in great
state, a cat with a litter of kittens.
After the usual compliments were over, I have,"
said Mrs. Benson, "taken the liberty of bringing my
91. The Story of the Robins.
daughter with me, madam, in hopes of inducing you
to favour us, in return, with the company of Miss
"You are very obliging, madam," replied the lady,
"but indeed I never take my children with me, they
are so rude; it will be time enough some years hence
for Augusta to go a visiting."
"-I am sorry to hear you say this, madam," said Mrs.
Benson. "You are displeased then, I fear, at my
having brought Harriet with me." This in reality was
the case, as Mrs. Benson plainly perceived, for the lady
made no answer, and looked very cross.
Miss Harriet was curious to examine the variety of
animals which Mrs. Addis had collected together; but
as her mamma never suffered her to run about.when
she accompanied her to other people's houses, she sat
down, only glancing her eye first to one part of the
room and then to the other, as her attention was
As Mrs. Benson requested to see Miss Addis, her
mamma could not refuse sending for her; she there-
fore rang the bell, and ordered that Augusta might
come down to her The footman, who had never
before received such a command (for Mrs. Addis only
saw the child in the nursery), stared with astonishment,
and thought he had misunderstood it. However, on
his lady repeating her words, he went up-stairs to tell
the nursery-maid the child was to be taken to the
drawing-room. "What new fancy is this ?" said she
The Story of the Robins.
"who would ever have thought of her wanting the child
in the drawing-room I have no stockings clean for
her, nor a frock to put on, but what is ragged. I wish
she would spend less money on her cats and dogs
and monkeys, and then her child would appear as she
ought to do." I won't go down stairs, Nanny," said
the child. "But you must," said Nanny; "besides,
there's a pretty young lady come to see you, and if
you go like a good girl, you shall have a piece of
sugared bread and butter for your supper; and you
shall carry the new doll which your god-mamma gave
you, to show to your little visitor."
These bribes had the desired effect, and Miss Addis
went into the drawing-room; but instead of entering
it, like a young lady, with a genteel courtesy, she
stopped at the door, hung down her head, and looked
like a little simpleton. Miss Benson was so surprised
at her awkwardness that she did not know what to
do, and looked at her mamma, who said, Harriet, my
love, can't you take the little lady by the hand and
lead her to me ? I believe she is afraid of strangers."
On this, Miss Harriet rose to do so; but Augusta,
apprehensive that she would snatch her doll away, was
going 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, for want of education; but Mrs. Addis was so taken
up at that instant with the old lap-dog, which had, as
she thought, fallen into a fit, that she did not mind
The Story of the Robins.
her entrance; and, before she perceived it, the child
went up to the cradle in order to put her doll into
it, and seized one of the kittens by the neck, the
squeaking of which provoked the old cat to scratch
her, and this made her cry and drop the kitten upon
the floor. Mrs. Addis, seeing this, flew to the little
animal, endeavoured to soothe it with caresses, and
was going to beat Augusta for touching it, but Mrs.
Benson interceded for her; she was, however, sent
away into the nursery. Happily for children, there
are not many such mammas as Mrs. Addis!
The tea-things being set, the footman came in with
the urn, which employing. both his hands, he left the
door open; and was, to the great terror of Miss
Harriet, and even of her mamma too, followed by the
monkey they saw in the hall, which, having broken his
chain, came to make a visit to his lady. Mrs. Addis,
far from being disconcerted, seemed highly pleased with
his cleverness. "O my sweet Pug!" said she, "are
you come to see us ? Pray show how like a gentle-
man you can behave." Just as she had said this he
leaped upon the tea-table, and took cup after cup and
threw them on the ground till he broke half the set;
then jumped on the sofa, and tore the cover of it;
in short, as soon as he had finished one piece of
mischief he began another, till Mrs. Addis, though
vastly diverted with his wit, was obliged to have him
caught and confined; after which she began making
tea, and quietness was for a short time restored. But
T/e Story of the Robinrs. 95
Mrs. Benson, though capable of conversing on most
subjects, could not engage Mrs. Addis in any discourse
but upon the perfection of her birds and beasts, and
a variety of uninteresting particulars were related con-
cerning their wit or misfortunes.
On hearing the clock strike seven, Mrs. Addis
begged Mrs. Benson's excuse, but said she made it a
constant rule to see all her dear darlings fed at that
hour, and entreated that she and the young lady would
take a turn in the garden 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 company so irksome, and
Miss Harriet was happy to be alone with her mamma;
she, however, forbore making any remarks on Mrs.
Addis, because she had been taught that it did not
become young persons to censure the behaviour of
those who were older than themselves.
The garden was spacious, but overrun with weeds;
the gravel walks were so rough for want of rolling,
that it was quite painful to tread on them; and the
grass on the lawn so long, that there was no walking
with any comfort; for the gardener was almost con-
tinually going on some errand or another for Mrs.
Addis's darlings; so Mrs. Benson and her daughter sat
down on a garden seat, with an intention of sitting
there till Mrs. Addis should summon them.
Miss Harriet could not refrain from expressing a
wish that it was time to go home; to which Mrs.
96 The Story of the Robins.
Benson replied, that she did not wonder at her desire
to return; "but, said she, "my dear, as the world was
not made merely for us, we must endeavour to bd
patient under every disagreeable circumstance we
meet with. I know what opinion you have formed
of Mrs. Addis, and should not have brought you to
be a spectator of her follies, had I not hoped that an
hour or two passed in her company would afford you
a lesson which might be useful to you through life.
"I have before told you, that our affections towards
the inferior parts of the creation should be properly
regulated; you have, in your friend Miss Jenkins and
her brother, seen instances of cruelty to them, which
I am sure you will never be inclined to imitate; but
I was apprehensive you might fall into the contrary
extreme, which is equally blameable. Mrs. Addis,
you see, has absolutely transferred the affection she
ought to feel for her child to creatures which would
really be much happier without it. As for Puss, who
lies in the cradle in all her splendour, I will engage
to say, she would pass her time pleasanter in a basket
of clean straw, placed in a situation where she would
occasionally amuse herself with catching mice. The
lap-dog is, I am sure, a miserable object, full of
diseases, the consequence of luxurious living. How
enviable is the lot of a spaniel that is at liberty to be
the companion of his master's walks, when compared
with his Mr. Pug, I am certain, would enjoy himself
much more in his native wood ; and I am greatly
kTe Story of the Robins.
mistaken if the parrots, &c., have not cause to wish
themselves in their respective countries, or at least
divided into separate families, where they would be
better attended; for Mrs. Addis, by having such a
number of creatures, has put it out of her power to
see properly with her own eyes to all. But come, let
us go back into the house; the time for our going
home draws near, and I wish not to prolong- my visit."
Saying this, Mrs. Benson arose, and, with her
daughter, went into the drawing-room, which opened
into the garden; the other door, which led to the
adjoining apartments, was not shut; this gave them
an opportunity of hearing the following discourse,
which greatly distressed Mrs. Benson, and perfectly
terrified the gentle Harriet.
"Begone, wretch !" says Mrs. Addis, "begone this
instant; you shall not stay a moment longer in this
house." I hope, madam, you will have the good-
ness to give me a character; indeed, and indeed, I fed
Poll, but I believe he got cold when you let him stand
out of doors the other day." "I will give you no
character, I tell you," said Mrs. Addis, "so depart
this instant; oh, my poor dear, dear creature I fear
you will never recover. John! Thomas! here, run
this instant to Perkins, the bird-catcher, perhaps he
can tell me what to give him." Then bursting into a
flood of tears, she sat down and forgot her guests.
Mrs. Benson thought it necessary to remind her
that she was in the house, and stepped to the door