R.B.R.'s: my little neighbors, a story for the "younger members".


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R.B.R.'s: my little neighbors, a story for the "younger members".
Series Title:
R.B.R.'s: my little neighbors, a story for the "younger members".
Physical Description:
Child, Lydia Maria Francis
Walker, Wise, & Co.
Place of Publication:
University Press
Welch, Bigelow, & Co., electrotypers and printers
Publication Date:

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
ltqf - AAA4702
ltuf - ALG1318
oclc - 36009715
alephbibnum - 002221100
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Full Text


T EI 11 n i .'S I 11o E.



11 tt

THE R. B. R'S:




". WAIt .1O*Mamsmsm. .y 1Bby


3w.U.tw .4 Psd& by Wdoob V45u.S, A 0.


To "Aunt Fanny's" little Alice, -in
the hope that, while the mother's canny"
hand is busied in another ministry of love,
she may, with inherited skill, contrive to
make, from these simple materials, a sub-
stitute for the inimitable "Nightcap."




m. TaE B. R.'S BUIL A HOUSE 28

IV. T Hnous-WAeO 40



vw. WILD BEASTS .. 65





THE R. B. R.'S:


As I am sitting at the win-
dow of my quiet pleasant room
this morning, hearing and see-
ing a hundred pretty things,
the idea comes into my head
that I should like, of all things


in the world, to write you a
letter, all for yourself and for
nobody beside! And, after this
letter, I want very much indeed
to tell you about some dear lit-
tle neighbors of mine, if I can
be sure you won't tell of me,
and so make trouble between
our families. Of course, if I
decide that it is safe to talk
to'you about them, I shall not
say anything bad, for two rea-
sons: one is, that I like to
make children just as happy as
they can possibly be, and never


in the least sad or sorry; and
the other and the best one is,
that there is n't anything bad
to tell! But the reason I am
so particular about your tell-
ing of me is, that if these small
friends of mine, who live all
about me, should find out that
I am writing down in a book
little things which they say
and do, even though they were
all good and lovely things, I
am afraid they would pack up
their trunks as quickly as pos-
sible, and run away so far that

10 THE R B. R'S:
they could be sure that they
were fairly out of the sight of
such a troublesome gossip!
Another thing once hap-
pened, after I had put into a
book for children some little
speeches of a comical little
creature whom I know, and
she had read them with her
own eyes; she did something
which was wrong one day, and
her dear mother said in a very
sad tone, "0, my little girl is
naughty!" "0 no, mamma!
I guess not!" said this queer

little thing; "Miss So and So
put me in a Sunday-school
book, and so I guess I aint
naughty a bit!"
But, my darling, this talk
about being put into a book,
makes me think of something
which I want to tell you.
There is an Eye looking at us
all the time, which we can-
not run away from, and there
is a big book which we cannot
possibly keep out of! A book
where everybody's story,-pa-
pa's, mamma's, big brother's and

12 THE RRB.rs:

sister's, yours and mine, will be
written down, word for word,
just as fast as it happens. This
is just as true as anything can
be. I am not making it up at
all. Don't you know this hymn
by heart? (Be sure and mind
the third verse.)
"Lord, a little band, and lowly,
We have come to sing to Thee;
Thou art great and high and holy,-
0 how solemn we should be I

"Fill our hearts with thoughts of Jesus,
And of heaven, where he is gone,
And let nothing ever please us
He would grieve to look upon.

F Jbr m ow th .Lord of floq
Always sees what clldrem do,
And is writing now the ory
Of our thouts and adio too.

Let our sins be all forgiven;
Make us fear whatever is wrong;
Lead us on our way to Heaven,
There to sing a nobler song I"
And if this is true, that the
"Is writing now the story
Of our thoughts and actions too,"
then each one of us all ought
to try just as hard as he or she
can, to make as beautiful a
story as can be for this great

14 THE R B. R'S:

book, which we are all to have
read to us some day. And in
order to do this, all we have to
do is to be good and pleasant
all the time. For if we are
always doing kind things for
everybody whom we know,
and if we never speak any
words but those which are
sweet and loving, then He, who
is writing this book, will take
care to put it all down, and
will make such a lovely story
out of it, that when we hear
it read we shall be very likely


to say, "Dear me! Can that
be I? When did I ever do
so much good ? I am sure all
I did was to try every single
day to please my Father in
Heaven, and love everybody
and everything; and now here
comes out this blessed life-
story, which he says is mine!"
We know that some people
will say things like these, when
that great book is opened and
read to them, for Jesus tells us
so in that other great Book
which we have in all our

16 THERE B. 'S:

houses. Ask your mother to
find it for you. 0, I should
like to be able to say some-
thing like that, when I hear
my own story read; and not
have to listen to it, feeling
more and more ashamed as
every page is turned, until I
cannot lift up my head nor
look into that loving watchful
Eye which has been upon me
all my life. Let us all try and
make a pleasant little chapter
for this book every day we
live! If I should forget it,

you won't, will you ? But dear
me! I have written you a great
deal longer and more sober let.
ter than I meant to, so I 11
stop here, and begin a new
chapter with a story.


When- I was a little girl,
there were three or four of us
children who lived near each
other, who were almost always
together. Well, one day some-
2* D

18 THE R R R'S:

thing rather funny happened,
which I should like to tell you.
It was on Saturday afternoon
when we had n't to go to school,
and had nothing at all to do,
but just squeeze all the fun out
of at least six whole hours.
The first cry was, as it always
is, is n't it? *hen little folks
are together, "What SHALL
we play ?" At last one little
girl said, "Let's play KEEP
HoUsE'!" at which all the
girls cried, "O yes! Let's!"
But all the boys said, "O

bother I that's no fun I Let's
play 'Tom Titler's Land,' or
else Hop Scotch' I" But the
girls carried the day, and
" Keep House" it was. John-
nie was to play "father," and
Gussie mother," and the rest
of us were to be their children.
We played on for a long time,
for the boys concluded they
liked the game pretty well af-
ter all; but all at once, just as
the rest of us thought we were
having such a splendid time,
"mother" Gussie, who was

20 THE R B. R'S:

older than the rest, and who
felt a great deal more older
than she really was, walked
off and seated herself in the
largest chair in the room (of
course), and there, looking very
stately and dignified, as she
fanned herself with our play-
papa's hat, she declared, in a
very decided tone, I sha n't
play any more!" It would be
of no use to try and tell you
how astonished we all were as
we gathered around her, open-
ing our eyes very wide to take

in the whole of a girl who
didn't want to play such a
nice play as that forever, if the
days would only last all the
time! At last we found our
tongues, and all cried out at
once, "Why, Gussie I why not?
Why won't you play? Are
you 'mad'with us ?" (O my
dear little friend, is n't it quite
too bad, that we have to ask
that sad question, "Are you
' mad' with me f" so often when
we play together? That will
not look very well in the great

22 THE R B. R'S:

book, will it?) no! she
was n't "mad," she said. Well,
then, perhaps she would rather
have somebody else play
"mother," and be instead the
good little girl of the family,
who always did at once just
what she was told, swept the
rooms, ran of errands, petted
the baby and everything be-
side; or else the naughty one,
who was forever running away
from home, and getting into
trouble, and having to be
looked up by "father," "moth-


er," and all the children, and
when found was whipped and
shaken, as I hope no little chil-
dren were ever whipped and
shaken except in play, for I
am sure half as much would
kill them if it were in sober
earnest. But Gussie said,
" No," she had just as lief be
"mother" as anybody, but she
did n't want to play that play
any longer "Well, then," we.
said, "Gussie, it is ugly in you
not to tell us, why not ?" So
after fanning herself harder

24 THE R B. R'S:

and harder, and growing red-
der and redder in spite of it,
she said, "Well, if you must
know, it is because I think it
will sound so silly at the Day
of Judgment I"
You see, Gussie was thinking
of that book of -which I told
you in my letter, and this day,
which she spoke of, is the time
when the book is to be opened
and read to us all. Now I think
"mother" Gussie was mistaken
in feeling as she did about this
particular thing, because, al-

though our play that day was
not so very wise, yet we were
all happy and good-natured to-
gether; and I am sure that
the story of the times when
we have been "mad," and fret-
ful, and unthankful, will sound
much more "silly" on that
day, than all the baby-plays
which have been played in this
world since Cain and Abel ran
about their father's beautiful
To think that even one of
those first children should have

26 THE R B. R'S:

been "mad" with the other!
I am afraid that Cain's story
will sound very very "silly,"
and,"worse than that, when he
hears it read on that great
day! But here I am, a great
many hundred years and miles
away from my dear little neigh-
bors, about whom I want to
tell you! If I do n't begin
pretty soon, I shall have writ-
ten a whole little book through
for you without getting in a
single neighbor I and that
would be too funny when you

think what my title is! So
if you will promise to keep it
from everybody, except those
who, you are very sure, know
how to keep, and exactly when
it is safe and best to tell, a
secret, I will whisper in your
ear some pleasant little things
about my very nearest neigh-
Come very near to me, and
listen with all your might!

28 THE R R R'S:


As to my very next neigh-
bors, I live so near them that
I could hardly help seeing
everything which goes on in
their house, even were I ever
so much determined never to
peep into their big bay-window,
which is almost always open;
for you must know that the
very same great maple shades
both houses

I can tell you, I felt pretty
anxious when I heard that
Winter had sold out to Spring,
and saw that the latter gentle-
man had taken possession of
his new property, and had
hung on all sides of our grand
old tree (which is so near my
window, that whenever I raise
the sash, it puts its very best
branch forward over the sill,
and makes a friendly bow to
me), bright green signs, where
I read, as plainly as could be,


LET IERE I" For, of course,
I wanted to be sure that the
neighbors who should come to
live so very near me, were
quite agreeable. They must
have pretty ways and sweet
voices, or else I should wish
they had happened to live in
Bagdad instead.
On this account, I was very
much delighted to see Mr. and
Mrs. R. B. Robin examining
the different lots, one fine
morning. They were a quiet
nice little couple, just married,


and very fond of each other,
so it struck me at once, that
they would be just the dain-
tiest best neighbors in the
world. They liked the situa-
tion very much, but it was a
great while before they could
decide which was just the best
lot among so many. Mr. Rob-
in was so anxious that his
pretty little wife should be
perfectly pleased, and she was
so very shy about expressing
her own opinions on any sub-
ject, that it really did seem

82 THE R BR'S:

as if they would never make
up their minds. One spot was
too high, and another too low,
another was too much shaded,
and so would be dark and
damp, while a fourth had noth-
ing to prevent the hot sun and
cruel storms from beating in.
But at last, little Mrs. Robin,
blushing very much at having
a mind of her own, said, "If
you please, Mr. Robin, would n't
this be a nice spot ? It is quite
roomy and convenient, and
then, you see, it will be very

easy to draw up building-
materials to it; but you know
best At which little speech,
her gallant husband was so
charmed, that I thought he
would never have done talking
about it. ( understood him
to declare, that there had never
such a nice little wife married
into their family before, and
that there probably could never
be such another! That she
knew so very much for such a
young body, and was quite the
smartest, prettiest, and best


Mrs. obin in the world! But
at last they stopped making
pretty speeches to each other,
and- went about their fork
with all their might.
I suppose you are so bright,
that you have guessed long be-
fore you come to this line, from
their name, and from some
other things I lave said about
my neighbors, that they did
not belong to the same race
with you and me; and so you
will not be at all surprised
when I tell you*that their


houses are very unlike any
which we ever visit. Our
friends live in square houses,
and in tall houses; in gieat
palaces and in cozy little Swiss
cottages; and in houses of
every shape and size which it
is possible to imagine. But
the Robin family always build
in exactly the same way, and
any one of them who should
try a new fashion, would be
disinherited by his parents,
and disowned by his friends
at once; and he would deserve


it too, for he and all his family
learned exactly how a house
could best be shaped for them,
in that school of design, where
the great God who built our
world, teaches those who could
not know in any other way,
how they can make for them-
selves and their little ones
comfortable dwelling-places.
So you see it would be both
very silly and wicked to try
and improve upon the pattern
which such a Teacher gave
them. You will be sure, then,

that these houses, which the
Robin family build, are very
wonderful and beautiful, even
after I have told you they are
made of nothing but mud, and
sticks, and straws. But after
they have finished their house,
they have a very comical way
of getting furniture for it.
The first thing they do, is to
go around calling upon' their
acquaintances, and beg from
each one a lock of his or her
hair! Funny, isn't it? They
ask Mr. Horse, and he whisks

88 TME R R'S:

from his mane or tail a long,
strong lock, with which all
the Robin family know how
to make very handsome wall-
paper for their houses. And
then Madam Sheep, who is a
good-natured creature as every-
body knows, steps into Barber
Bramble's shop, and orders him
to cut off some of her soft,
white curls, and Miss Cow does
the same with her silky red
hair, and so do all their ac-
quaintances, until Mr. and Mrs.
Robin have all the materials

for furnishing their house in
the most comfortable and fash-
ionable style. How good our
Heavenly Father is, to take
such tender care of the little
creatures he has made, teach-
ing them how to help them-
selves in this great world, and
making them just as comforta-
ble and happy as if they had
it all to themselves!

40 THE R B. RKS:


AFTER my little neighbors,
the Red Breast Robins, had
built their house just as God
had taught them, and had fur-
nished it in the way I described
to you, it was as cozy a little
home as ever bird or child had,
I can tell you, and so all their
friends thought. For after it
was finished and furnished ele-
gantly, cushioned throughout

with lamb's wool and horse-
hair, they had a house-warm-
ing! and such a time as they
made of it! I should think all
the birds of the entire neigh-
borhood must have gathered
together to praise the new
house of this dear little pair.
There were solemn old great.
great-grandfathers, and great-
grandfathers, and grandfathers,
and fathers, and all of these
brought their wives and all
their little folks with them;
so you will know there must


have been quite a large party.
How they walked about the
new house, tipping their funny
little heads, first on this side,
then on that, with such a wide-
awake, knowing air, as they
examined it from cellar to at-
tic And when they were
quite satisfied that it was built
exactly after the rule of their
family, they poured out such
a pretty song of congratula-
tion to Mr. and Mrs. R. B.
Robin, who stood trembling
and twittering with delight,

but trying with all their might,
to look as if this were not by
any means the first house they
had built, and indeed, as if
they had been at housekeeping
all their lives!
I wish your ear had been
near mine then I But most of
all, I wish you could have
heard what came next. I sup-
posed they had sung their very
sweetest song before; but no!
they kept that for Him, to
whom we should give and love
to give our sweetest and best

44 THE R B. R'S:

things. They were very still
for a moment, and then sud-
denly they burst out into the
most beautiful notes, singing
in concert, and nobody can
make me believe that these lit-
tle creatures were not singing a
doxology of praise to the great
God, who has said that even
the smallest bird cannot fall
to the ground in this big world
but He will see it !
Perhaps you will think that
after all, my little friend's
house could n't have been very

comfortable, since I told you
that its window was always
wide open, so that I could
stare into the house whenever
I pleased. Indeed, the house
had no roof at all, and had
neither window nor door, or
else was all window and door,
just as one pleased to speak of
it. But their Heavenly Father
had taken care to provide
them with the most beautiful
curtains in the world, both
heavy and soft, and made of
rich glossy feathers, which shut

46 THE R R RS:
them in snug and still, when-
ever the family please to have
them drawn!
You may be sure that all
the race of Robins think plate-
glass windows, and oak-pan-
elled doors, in very bad taste.
If you don't believe this, just
bring one of them into your
house, and then see what he
will say!



ONE morning, I heard my
little neighbors singing and
chattering louder, and if pos-
sible, more joyfully than ever
before, and so I concluded some-
thing must have happened; and
sure enough, it had! For, on
looking out from my window
into theirs, I saw that the cur-
tains were all drawn aside, to
let in the pure, sweet air and

48 TER RB. R'S:

sunlight upon five beautiful
eggs! I flatter myself that
I know the Robin language
pretty well, so I shall translate
their conversation to you here-
after, so it will read as if they
spoke English.
"I assure you, Mrs. Robin,"
said her little husband (who
was so proud and stiff and
straight, that I was afraid he
would tumble over backwards
from the twig above the nest,
upon which he had balanced
himself, for a good view), "I

assure you these are altogether
the bluest, roundest, and best
eggs ever laid! And I don't
speak without knowing either;
for, if I am young, I have
travelled a good deal, and know
a thing or two!" and madam
was willing enough to believe
him, and after admiring them
herself to her heart's content,
she walked into the house again,
and drew the curtains carefully
around her new treasure, and
then her husband trotted off,
with such an air, and came

50 THE RB. R'S:

home bringing what I supple
they thought was a nice juicy
beefsteak, but it looked to me
very like an earth-worm! Mr.
Robin carved it very hand-
somely, and offered the nicest
bits to his patient loving wife,
who felt as if she never could
leave home again herself, now
she had so many cares,--and
while she was eating, he sang
and talked to her in the most
cheery and encouraging way.
Things went on in this way
for several days, when some-


thing else happened. But first,
I must tell you that my neigh-
bor's home was a house within
a house, -five houses within a
house, indeed, for the eggs
were only smaller houses, in
which were hid away dear lit-
tle birds, waiting patiently
there until it was time for
them to come out into the
warm sunshine. Well, one
morning, Madam Robin heard
a little wee voice say, I want
to get out! I want to get out!"
Oh, I can't begin to tell you

52 THEER B. 'S:

how she felt! Her husband
had gone out for a walk, and
she had nobody to give her
any advice, but she remem-
bered what she had been taught
in that school which I told
you she used to attend, and
so she knew what to do, and
helped the little creature with
the wee voice over the broken
walls of his little old house,
which tumbled in pieces, be-
cause it was no longer of any
use. And he had not been out
very long, before another little

wee voice cried, "I want to
get out too!" and then an-
other, and another, and an-
other! And you had better
believe that Madam Red Breast
Robin was pretty well tired,
by the time she had helped
these five little ones move
from their old quarters into
the new. But she wasn't so
tired after all, that she could n't
talk very fast when she saw
her husband (who had been
all over town to find some-
thing to tempt his wife's appe-
tite, and so was gone longer


than he expected to be when
he left home) coming a great
way off,-so far that he could
not hear a word she said! But
he saw she was very much
excited about something, and
guessed what was the matter,
so he ran very fast. And such
eyes as he made when he saw
those five little downy crea-
tures! And after they had
talked, and laughed, and cried
a little-I guess-for joy,
over them, they cut the food
which the good thther had
brought home with him, in-

to very small pieces, and fed
with it the baby-robins, who
opened their mouths almost
wide enough to take in their
mother, who stood looking on,
and wondering if these were
not the most graceful, beauti-
ful, and remarkable birds of
the season! and although this
mother was so tired, yet after
the babies were fed, and well
tucked into their beautiful
cradle, she hummed a sweet
low treble to her husband's
happy song of thanksgiving
for their new joy.

66 THE R B. 'S:


How I wish you could have
seen Mr. R. B. Robin set forth
for market now he had so many
in the family! Although he was
so very happy, yet he began to
look quite anxious, and almost
wrinkled, since he had such
grave responsibilities resting
upon him. So many charges
as the careful mother gave
him when he left the house,

were enough to sober a wilder
father than he was. He was
obliged to stop on all the
fences, between his home and
the market, and count over on
his toes, the different things
which Mrs. Robin had told him
to bring home, lest he should
forget any! Like the old
lady on her travels, who had
to keep saying over to herself,
"Great trunk! little trunk!
bandbox! bundle!" What if
the supply of food should fail,
and his little ones should pine


away and die for the want of
enough to eat? or what if he
should bring home something
which would not agree with
baby-robins? "Because you
see, my dear!" (this is what
Mrs. Robin said,) "you never
had any little ones to provide
for before and you might make
a mistake! I think you had
better drop in at Grandma's
as you go down town, and ask
her where is the best place to
do marketing for a small and
rather delicate family!" Was

not this enough to turn ev-
ery feather of his head gray?
Then he would set out in such
a solemn way, that it was real-
ly painful to see him, and I
tried to help him as well as I
knew how, but I had never
been in the Robti's School,
and so didn't succeed at all.
You must know that at the
Time I am telling you about,
there were a great many troub-
lesome worms on all our trees.
But the worst of the matter
was, they wouldn't stay there,

60 THE R R 'S:

but had a cool way of walking
into open doors and windows,
without knocking, or even
saying, "By your leave, Sir!"
and the first we would know,
they would be making their
hundred (more or less) legs
fly over oUr faces and necks,
which was not at all agree-
able. So the idea came into
my head, that it would be par-
ticularly nice for usq as well as
convenient for my neighbors,
if they could do their mar-
keting right at their own door.

Accordingly one day, when Mr.
Robin stopped upon our gate-
post, on his way for provisions,
I went softly up to him, quite
near, (for he was very well
acquainted with me, and as
he didn't mean any harm to
anybody, he didn't expect any
to be done to him,) and laid
down before- him, what I
thought would be to\him a
very tempting. dish, enough
for all the family a good din-
ner, and-perhaps there might
be some left to warm over for

62 TRE RB. RS:

their supper! It was nothing
more nor less than two or
three of those great plump
caterpillars! Wasn't "this a
dainty dish to set before a
king ?" But, do you believe it?
the ungrateful thing wouldn't
touch it! 'He gave me ever
so many of his funny little
dipping bows and courtesies, all
mixed up together, and made
a jolly little talk about it,
which I thought was as much
as to say, "No Ma'am! do you
think I don't know anything

because I am such a young
housekeeper? I don't doubt
you mean very well, and I
should be very happy to oblige
such a neighborly young lady
as you seem to be, but really,
my first duty is to my family!
Good morning, Miss Chatty
Telltale." I am sorry I said
he was "ungrateful." I want
to take back that naughty
word. R. B. Robin was not
that at all. I presume the
caterpillars wore their hair
quite too long to make them

64 THE R B. R':
pleasant or healthful food for
baby-birds. And it was God
himself who had taught my
small friend better than to
carry home to his little ones
what would poison them.



BUT the happy little race
to which my dear neighbors
belonged, have some enemies
which they have great reason
to fear, and if I could not help
them at all about filling their
pantry, I could do them good
in another way. My little
friend Gertie H. had some
neighbors like these of mine
once, and she entertained me
6* E

66 THE R B. R'S:

very much, when we were
taking a little walk together
in the beautiful city where she
lives, by talking to me about
them, I think I must repeat
to you a very queer thing
which she said really hap-
pened to them. I wish I
could remember the beautiful
words with which she told
this story to me, but I can-
not, for it was almost a year
ago,-but I will do the best
I can. Gertie was walking
one day under the tree in


N ii

^" -'

which her friends had chosen
to build their house, when she
heard a peculiar rustling in
the branches, and the next
thing she knew, there fell at
her feet on the ground one of
their little ones! She looked
up, but could see nothing, so
she supposed .that the father
and mother Robins must have
gone away (as they really had)
and left the juveniles to take
care of themselves, and that
they had taken it into their
heads to play "blind man's

68 THE RB. R'S:

buff," or some other game, not
at all suited to their small
rooms, and had grown careless
and excited, so that they had
finally tipped one of their broth-
ers out of the window! But
while she was thinking this,
and trying to catch the poor
little fellow, to put him back
in the tree, another came tumb-
ling down after him! This was
no joke at all; so she deter-
mined to look into the matter
At last she discovered among

the branches, a scapegrace of
a squirrel, with very bright
eyes and such a splendid tail!
and she saw that it was he who
was making the trouble, for
not having any special business
on his hands (it was too early in
the season for the nut-harvest)
he had gone into mischief (as
creatures of all sorts and sizes
are apt to do when not well
employed). There this naugh-
ty Adjidaumo (as Mr. Longfel-
low calls him, in his beautiful
poem, Hiawatha) was amusing


himself by pushing out of the
nest these little defenceless
creatures, whose parents were
not at home to take care of
them! And after he had turned
the poor little innocents out of
house and home, and had en-
tirely emptied the nest, he very
coolly walked into it, and seat-
ing himself bolt upright, hung
his great tail over the side of
it,. and chattered and laughed
away in the most self-satisfied
manner! That was a brave
thing for such a big fellow to


do, wasn't it? And just think
how frightened and grieved
that father and mother must
have been to see, instead of
the happy little family they
had left, that one wild beast
(he would seem like a wild
beast to little birds, you know)
filling up all their beautiful
house, which they had built
with such labor!
I have forgotten what Gertie
told me she did, but I presume
she ran and called the gardener,
and he came with a long pole,

72 TER LR 'RS:

and just pushed Mr. Adjidaumo
himself out of his stolen nest,
and sent him home to think
how wicked he had been; and
then he must have climbed up
and put back the little birds
one by one into their cozy lit-
tle house. I hope so, at any
rate. But it was another kind
of wild beast which attacked
my neighbors, as I shall tell
you pretty soon; and lest this
chapter should be too long, I
will finish it off with another
little story of something which

I did not see with my own
eyes, and tell you how I helped
defend my friends in chapter
Here is what my little father
saw, not that he really is little,
for he weighs almost two hun-
dred pounds, but I like to call
him so, because he is big, and
because I love him so I Well,
he was sitting writing at his
study-table, when, looking out
of his window in search of a
new idea, he found one, which
was quite funny, although it

74 THE kBR WS:

wasn't exactly what he was
searching for. There, on the
beautiful green before our
house, was a small Robin (I
don't know if he belonged to
my neighbor's family, but he
must have been a relation of
theirs) who was going through
with some queer performances.
He acted much more like a
crazy or tipsy little Robin, than
like anything else. Sometimes
he seemed to be waltzing, and
sometimes to be turning sum-
mersets. His little head flew

about as if it had been set up-
on a pivot, and his feet as if
the grass had been hot coals.
His little beak was in constant
motion, and every.little while
would snap furiously, He act-
ed so very queerly, that finally
my father went out to look in-
to the matter; and, don't you
believe! the brave little fellow
was having a hand-to-hand bat-
tle with a snake, which was at
least three times as long as he!
Snakes have a naughty way
of robbing birds' nests of their


eggs, and so I suppose our
small friend thought he would
get such a dangerous enemy
out of the way. It was a very
fierce and long battle, but at
last the enemy was killed, and
the bird flew away to his nest
to tell the story. The next day
I saw him myself, come and
pick up the snake's body and
fly away with it, to feed it to
the family I suppose. A good
. deal of its length had been
picked away, but it was then
so tall, that he had to twist,


and turn, and double it a long
time before he could carry it
comfortably. I think the Rob-
in race must know what "Try,
try again!" means, for this one
did n't give up until the deed
was done.

78 THE RB.R'S:

ONE day I heard a sad cry
of fright from Madam Robin,
just as if she had said, "0 dear!
what shall I do ? oh dear oh
dear! oh dear!" Of course I
ran to the window, to see what
was troubling my pleasant lit-
tle neighbor, who never fretted
or complained without reason;
and what should I discover
but our big black and white



cat, who had climbed among
the branches of a little locust-
tree, which stood very near my
big Maple, and had rolled her-
self into a wicked-looking ball,
all ready to throw herself, with
one cruel leap, right into that
beautiful home! How long do
you think it took me to run
down the stairs and out into
the yard? Not any more sec-
onds than it did steps, I reckon.
On my way, I caught from its
stand, a large umbrella, the
most fearful-looking weapon I


could think of, and armed'with
this, which was both sword and
shield at once, I rushed out at
the bad cat, who, I am quite
sure, knew she was doing
wrong herself, for she ran be-
fore ever she saw what I had
in my hands. She ran so fast
that I could n't catch her, but
after her flew Madam Robin,
who could run faster still,
swooping down upon her head
.in a very brave way, and box-
ing Tabby's ears with her beak,
hard enough to make up for

all the whippings she had lost
by being a petted spoiled cat.
Yet, although we drove Tab-
by away at that time, and
again and again, yet back she
would come again, when her
ears had stopped smarting, and
try to do the same mischief.
Really, I have spent a great
deal of time and streAgth this
summer, in making furious de-
scents on old Tabby, who might
make herself useful and agree-
able easier than not, one would
think, by eating up the cater-


pillars who are doing their
best or worst rather to
spoil our beautiful village, in-
stead of longing after the dear
little Robins who do nobody
any harm, but a deal of good
in the world!
You must know that the
danger from the Cat (who
seemed tdmy small neighbors
as large and as dangerous as
a wild elephant would to us)
was all the time growing great-
er, because the young R. B. R.'S
were getting so large, that their

father and mother began to
think the one little house was
too small for them, and that
they must soon send their chil-
dren out into the world to seek
their own fortunes, and build
houses for themselves! Be-
sides this, when the young
Robins first set foot outside
the nest, they are very slow
and awkward in moving (just
as your baby-sister was when
she first began to walk), and
cannot keep out of the Cat's
way, as well as they can after-

84 THE RR R'S:

ward when they have learned
to fly.
The other day I took quite
a journey to see little Alice,
whom it tells about in "Night-
caps." Does anybody ask me,
" Who is little Alice?" Why!
I am perfectly astonished!
Have n't you read Night-
caps ?" Then I advise you to
go right to your father, and
say, "Why, papal how has it
happened that you have nev-
er bought me 'Nightcaps' to
read?" And if he asks you

what "Nightcap" is, you may
tell him from me, that it is
just the cleverest, funniest, and
dearest little book in the world !
And that even if he is the most
grown-up man in the United
States of America, he can't help
enjoying it himself as much as
his little folks will!
But I was telling you about
going to see Alice "Nightcaps "
(that is n't her name to be sure,
I call her so for fun); and while
I was with her, somebody
brought in a poor little bird, -

86 THE RB. R'S:

not a Robin, but a Wren I
think, who had tried to go out
into the world quite too early,
and had so come to trouble.
He had fallen away down from
a high tree to the ground, and
was the forlornest, most fright-
ened little specimen I ever
saw. There were ever so many
children staying in the house,
and they were all very. pitiful
and loving, like dear Alice,
and meant to make the little
stranger feel perfectly at home,
and very happy; but perhaps

you have heard of being "killed
by kindness," and that was what
fell to the lot of this bird. He
was not used to having so much
attention paid him, and so when
they put him into a cage, and
all those bright merry faces
gathered close about him, he
was very much embarrassed,
and didn't know what to do
with his feet and hands, -
wings, I mean,- and all he
could say for himself was just
"Chip! chip! chip!" in the
very saddest tone. And then


the children wanted him to
eat and drink all the time,
when he was too homesick to
have any appetite; least of all
for the strange sweet things
they offered him. And finally,
we found that the poor little
creature had a broken leg, be-
side his other troubles! The
children gave him beautiful
rose-colored cotton for a foot-
muff and a blanket, but these
.did n't comfort him a bit. He
just moaned all the time.
When my friend, a beautiful

little lady, could not bear to
hear that mournful cry longer,
she wanted him to be put at
once out of misery, and so
asked her husband to cut off
the little bird's head with her
scissors! But this was a sur-
gical operation which he had
n't the heart to perform. So
the cage was carried out upon
the piazza. Then such queer
bulletins as the children brought
in from the poor little sufferer!
First, that he was "safely back
in the nest again, as well as

90 THERE B. R'S:

ever he was!" The last part
of this we didn't believe, for
we knew he couldn't get well
from such an accident; but
we were glad to hear the first,
because we thought it would
be a comfort to him to die
at home. But pretty soon in
came one of the boys to say,
"He's dead on the piazza!
He only took two breaths, and
then he died And we said,
' Good! I am glad to that,
because we did n't like him to
die a lingering death; but hard-

ly had we said this, when in
came another, "He is n't dead
at all! He is just as alive as
ever he was!" and then we
groaned, we, were so sorry;
and still another, reported that
his head was cut off; and an-
other something else, until I
am sure I have n't the least
idea how or when he died.
These children were all truth-
tellers, but how they contrived
to see so many different, tragi-
cal ends and remarkable re-
coveries in one poor little bird,


is more than I can tell. Chil.
dren have all sorts of spectacles
within their reach, you know!
But all this is n't telling you
about my birds, s it?
As far as I know, our old
Cat never had one taste of this
dear family of Red Breast
Robins. I asked her this very
morning, to tell me on her
honor, as a respectable upright
Cat, (which she is n't at all,
between you and me, -for I
just this moment, as I was
writing, heard a cry, and ran

out to find the dead body of a
precious little Robin, who had
been dancing about, singing
sweetly to me; and away un-
der the piazza skulked murder-
ous Tabby!) if she knew what
had become of them; but she
only whisked her tail, and
purred in a very uncertain
way, which might mean either
"Yes," or No," as one chose to
take it; and I chose it to be
"No!" For, although these
precious little friends of mine,
whose history I have been giv.

94 THE R B. R'S:

ing you, have all disappeared
without even leaving a P. P. C.
card at my door, and have nev-
er written me one word, yet I
like to think of them, as sing-
ing sweet songs, and building
beautifid nests in Somebody's
Maple Tree (even if it can
neither be mine nor near
mine), rather than down cruel
Tabby's throat.
That puts an idea into my
head! My next, and last chap-
ter, shall be a sermon! There
are two lines which boys and

girls say very often, which
mean, -I am sure I do n't
know what, and came from
I do n't know where. I sup-
pose I have used them a hun-
dred times when they did n't
mean anything; but now they
are just to my purpose; here
they are:-
SSilence, in the court-house I
The cat's going to preach I