\liir. i:i~~~~~ ~~~~ liiK CIIIIIIIIY ii I1XI*Xl.iil. lili.
STORY OF THE ROBINS.
%rit tp i| ^KtiMitf s 4irnia.
1mitb Colourtb fllustrations.
FREDERICK WARNE AND CO.,
BEnnTOND SBTEI, BTBMD.
Fon more than eighty years the "STORY OF THE
IOBl$N has delighted the children of Great
Britain. It is now offered to them, for the first
time, with illustrations printed in colours, which
it is hoped, will add an additional charm to a
book so long and deservedly popular with the
Ar it. rtU.
anilrT *ND ~rnIxID NmE Tn BIANeS 1
nonmsNLIS oraD o lND DY TE BLEND 295
BBIET A IDBiCAeS . 39
BanANDE nDo DEonDrDD a I NE nonSEs' aEsE 46
THE YOUNG VISITORS.-THE CRUEL BOY 64
THE FIRST FLIGHT OF THE NESTLINGS 68
FREDEEICK DISCOVERS THE YOUNG ROBINS IN THE CURRANT
BUSH .. 79
THE VISIT TO MRS. ADDI'S .
ADVENTURES OF THE LITTLE ROBINS .
THE FEATHERED NEIGHBOURS
THE VISIT TO THE FARM .
THE PIGS AND BEES
-- - -- i -- ---------
.sa ~ ..172
CR IPTER XVI.
OLD Dor INSl TODD --0 0' OODNo000 o-. o 283
..O.. ....... .207
STORY OF THE ROBINS.
IARRIET AND 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 in an orchard belonging to a gentleman
who had strictly charged his domestics notto 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
2 The Story of the Robins.
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 the happy mother
heard the chirping of her little ones; with unex-
pressible tenderness she spread her maternalwings 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 give us
a great deal of trouble. I would willingly bear the
whole myself, but it will 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 sometimes to seek provisions for them."
She declared her readiness to do so, and said that
there would be no necessity for her to be long absent,
as she had discovered 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
Feeding the Little Ones. 3
informed by a chaffinch that there was no kind of
danger in picking it up.
SThis 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 supplying
our necessities. I myself must take a larger circuit,
for some insects that are proper for the nestlings
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 even-
ing 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
accompany him to the place she had mentioned.
"That I will do," replied she, "but it is too early yet;
4 The Story of the Roins.
I must therefore beg that you will go by yourself and
procure a breakfast for us, as I am fearful of leaving
the nestlings before the air is warmer, lest they should
be chilled." To this he readily consented, and fed all
his little darlings; to whom, for the sake of distinc-
tion, 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
instantly took wing, and followed her to a courtyard
belonging to a family mansion.
No sooner had the happy pair appeared before the
parlour window, than it was hastily thrown up by
Harriet Benson, a little girl about eleven years old,
the daughter of the gentleman and lady to whom the
house belonged. Harriet with great delight called her
brother to see two robin redbreasts; and she was soon
joined by 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 mama,
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-
breasto besides." "Here is a piece for you, Frederick,"
Feeding the Little Ones.
replied Mrs. Benson, cutting a loaf that was on the
table; "but if your daily pensioners continue to
increase 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 breakfast to a poor boy than he should go
without; but where shall I get food 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 tablecloth." "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."
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.
6 The Sto?> of the Robins.
When Harriet first appeared, the winged suppliants
approached with eager expectation of the daily
handful which their kind benefactress made it a
custom to distribute, and were surprised at the delay
of her charity. They hopped around the window-
they chirped-they twittered, and employed all their
little arts to gain attention; and were on the point
of departing, when 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. 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 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. Frederick exclaimed with rapture
that the two robin redbreasts were feeding; and
Harriet meditated a design of taming them by kind-
ness. Be sure, my dear brother," said she, "not to
forget to ask the cook and John for the crumbs, and
Frederick and Harriet. 7
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 will 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 food for my dear
dear birds." "Hold, my love," said Mrs. Benson
"though I commend your 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 spoke 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
adjoining garden, where he had a great chance of
finding worms for his family.
Frederick expressed great concern that the robins
were gone; but was comforted by his sister, who
reminded him that in all probability his new favour-
ites, having met with so kind a reception, would
return on the morrow. Mrs. Benson then bid them
8 The Story of the Robins.
shut the window; and taking Frederick in her lap,
and desiring 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 your 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 attention-I mean poor people ; always
keep in mind the distresses which they endure,
and on no account waste any kind of food, nor
give to inferior creatures what is designed for
Harriet promised to follow her mamma's instruc-
tions; but Frederick's attention was entirely engaged
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
The Butterfly. o
over, then offer you something to eat which is ver
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 desire, was done by 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
children that it was almost time for their lessons to
begin; but desired their maid to take them into the
garden before they applied to business. During his
walk, 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 im-
mediately to the nest; her heart fluttered with
io The Story of the Robins.
apprehension as she entered it, and she eagerly
called out, "Are you all safe, my little dears?"
"All safe, my good mother," replied Pecksy, "but a
little hungry, and very cold." "Well," said she,
"your last complaint I can soon remove; 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
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 excursion shall be mine." "I consent,"
answered he, because I think a little flying now
and then will 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
Learmng to Sing. 1
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 will sing you a song."
He did so, and it was a very merry one, and de-
lighted 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
few further; 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 plea-
sure 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 1" said he, and was out of sight in
"My dear nestlings," said the mother, "how do
you do ?" "Very well, thank you," replied all at
12 The Story of the Rolns.
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," replied 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 imi-
tate." Then addressing herself to her mate, who for
an instant stopped at the entrance of the nest, that
he might not interrupt her instructions, "Am I not
right," said she, "in what I have just told them "
" 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!" answered the mother, and
was gone in an instant.
"And so you want to learn to sing, Dicky ?" said
the father : well, then, pray listen very attentively;
you may learn the notes, though you will 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
Learning to Sing. 13
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 Flapsy," answered the father, "can
be acquired without patience, and I am sorry to find
yours begin to fail you already; but I hope, if you
have no taste for music, that you 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 requires 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
In this manner several days passed with little
variation; the nestlings were very thriving, and
14 The SIory of /th Robiis.
daily gained strength and knowledge, through the
care of their indulgent parents, who every day
visited their friends, the little Bensons. Frederick
had been successful 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
MRS. BENSON AND HER CHILDREN 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, Isay,
that they were both absent longer than usual, for
their little 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-stairs, where 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 mighty bustle ?" said his mamma;
16 The Story of the Robins.
'do you not perceive that I am in the room,
Frederick?" "Oh, my birds i 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 Harriet, "that we overslept our-
selves, mamma." "This excuse may satisfy you and
your brother," answered 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
to me on entering the parlour, instead of running
across it, crying out, 'My birds! my birds!' it would
have taken you but very little time to have done so.
However, I will excuse your neglect now, my dea',
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;
The Quarrel. 17
nay, more so, for they could find food in other places
but children can do nothing towards their own
support; they should therefore be dutiful and
respectful to those whose tenderness and care they
Harriet promised her mamma 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, with her mamma's per-
mission, went to his assistance, and the store of
provisions was dispensed. As many of the birds
had nests, they ate their meal with all possible expe-
dition. Among this number were the robins, who
despatched the business as soon as they could, for
the hen was anxious to return to her 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 therefore
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
is The Story of the Robins.
she was seated she observed thatthey weren't socheer-
ful 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 con-
tending. I desire you will tell methe truth." Robin,
knowing that he was the greatest offender, began to
justify himself before the others could have time to
"I am.sure, mother," said he, "I only gave
Dicky 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 tle 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."
7ne Naugl;y Robin. 19
"And you set your foot very hard upon me," cried
Pecksy, "for telling you that you had forgotten your
dear mother's command.
This is a sad story indeed," said the mother. I
am very sorry to find, Robin, that you already display
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 preference 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, provided 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 outside, while--cterish those who are
dutiful and good." Robin, greatly mortified, retired
from his mother; on which Dicky, with the utmost
kindness, began to intercede for him. "Pardon
lobin, my dear mother, I ontreat you," said lie; 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
20 The Story of the Robins.
before it is pardoned." At this instant her mate
returned with a fine worm, and looked as usual for
robin, who lay sulking 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 food all 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 matter?" 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
As soon as he departed, Dicky renewed his en.
treaties that Pabin 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 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 herfather's absence, Pecksy, whose little heart
was full of affectionate concern for the punishment
of her brother, thus attempted tocomfort him:
Robin s Pride. 21
"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 forgive you?" said Pecksy. "Idonotwant
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, Peckay," said the mother, who over-
heard them; "I will not have you converse with so
naughty a bird. I forbid every one of yon even to go
near him." The father then arrived, and Pecksy was
fed. "You may rest yourself, my dear," said the
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 !" Yosurprise 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 disgraced, and is not fed first
as usual." "If this be the case," replied the father,
' leave me to settle this business, 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
22 The Story of the Robis.
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, and go into the open air a
little." So saying, she repaired to a neighboring
tree, where she anxiously awaited the result of her
As soon as the mother departed, the father thus
addressed the delinquent:-" And soRobin, 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! 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 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
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
Robin Forgaven. 23
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 atthis intelligence
the mother raised her drooping head, and closed her
wings, which hung mournfully by her sides, expres-
sive of the dejection of her spirits. "I fly to give it
him," said she, and hastened into the nest. In the
meanwhile Robin wished for, yet dreaded, her
As soon as he saw her he lifted up a supplicating
ey', and in a weak tone (for hunger and sorrow had
made him faint) he cried, "Forgive me, dear mother;
I will not again offend you." "I accept your sub-
mission, Robin," said she, "and will once more
receive you to my wing; but indeed your behaviour
has made me very unhappy." She then made room
for him, he nestled closely to her side, and soon found
the benefit of her fostering heat; but he was still
hungry, yethe had not confidence to ask his father to
fetch him any food; but this kind parent, seeing that
his mother 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
24 The Story of the Robins.
mother once more rejoiced that harmony reigned in
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 account
she was justly caressed by her parents with dis-
tinguished 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 taunting
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
in a family which ought to be bound together by love
Pecksys Kindness. 25
and kindness ? Which of you has sause to reproach
either your father or me with partiality ? Do we not
nith 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 de-
serve ? 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 other-
wise, for it is a mother's duty to succour 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 from you."
Robin, Dicky, and Flapsy were quite confounded
by their mother's reproof; and Peeksy, 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
26 The Story of te Robins.
me-perhaps they only meant to try my affection.
I now entreat them to believe that I would willingly
resign the greatest pleasure in life, could I by that
means increase 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 disappointed."
This tender speech had its desired effect; it recalled
those sentiments of love which envy and jealousy
had for a time banished; all the nestlings acknow-
edged their faults, their mother forgave them, and 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 to the eye of the
Robin was a very strong, robust bird, not remark-
able 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 good songster.
A Lesson from tke Birds. 27
Dicky had remarkably fine plumage; his breast
was of a beautiful red, his body and wings of an
elegant mottled brown, and his eyes sparkled like
Flapsy was also very pretty, but more distinguished
for the elegance of her shape than for the variety and
lustre of her feathers.
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 constantlypreferred their
interest to her own, of which we have lately given
The kind parents attended to them with unremitting
affection, and made their daily visit to Frederick and
Harriet Benson, who very punctually discharged the
benevolent office of feeding them. The robin red-
breasts, made familiar by repeated favors, approached
nearer and nearer to their little friends by degrees
and at length ventured to enter the room and feed
upon the breakfast-table. Harriet was delighted at
this circumstance, and Frederick was quite trans-
ported; he longed to catch the birds, but his mamma
28 The Story of the Roins.
told him that would be the very means to drive them
away. Harriet entreated him not to frighten them on
any account, and he was prevailed upon to forbear,
but could not help expressing a wish that he had
them in a cage, that he might feed them all day
"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
satisfied, always leave off eating. Many a little boy
may learn a lesson from them. Do you not recollect
one of your acquaintances, who, if an apple-pie or
anything 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 indulge 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 his redbreasts."
TIIE NESTLINGS FRIGHTENED BY TIE GAEDEENIR.
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
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 freshair ? 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
30 The Story of the Robis.
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 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 exposed to
certain destruction. It is likely that these very red-
breasts 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
"If that be the case," said Harriet, "it would be a
pity indeed to confine them. But why,mamma, if it
is wrong to catch birds, did you at one time keep
"The case is very different in respect to cannry-
birds, my dear," said hMrs. Benson; by keeping them
in a cage I did them a kindness. I considered them
as little foreigners who claimed my hospitality. Tids
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
have 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 food, 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 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 endeavored
to hide herself among the leaves from her cruel
pursuers. No sooner did the servant retire than tile
32 The Story of the Robins.
poor little wretch flew to it. I immediately had the
cage brought into the parlour, where I experienced
great pleasure in observing what happiness the poor
creature enjoyed in her deliverance. I kept her 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 in
his aviary, where you have seen them enjoying
themselves. So now I hope I have fully accounted
for having kept canary-birds in a cage."
You have indeed, mamma," said Harriet.
"I have also," said Mrs. Benson, "occasionally
kept larks. In severe winters vastnumbers 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 birdwatchers 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 dressing-room."
"I wonder," said Frederick, "whether our red-
Taking Birds' Nests. 33
breasts have got a nest? I will watch to-morrow
which way they fly, for I should like to see the little
"And what will you do, should you find them
out?" saidhismamma; "nottakethe est,Ihope?"
"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 you 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." 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
insensible to the distresses 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
34 The Story of the Robins.
usual morning employment; and the children.
attcndedby their maid, passed an agreeablehalf-hour
in the garden.
In the meantime the hen redbreast returned to
the nest, while her mate took his flight in search of
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 conceal themselves in this happy
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 i" cried ohbin; "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
The Monster. 35
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 round the sides, hung something
black, but not like feathers. When the two staring
eyes had looked at us for some time, the whole thing
I cannot at all conceive from your description,
Robin, what this thing could be," said the mother;
"but perhaps it may come again." "Ohl 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 disposition.
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 hfe. Endeavour to be good,
and then you need not fear anything. But here
comes your father; perhaps he willbe able to explain
36 The Story of the Robins.
the appearance which has so alarmed you to-
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
occurrence which had occasioned this request. "Non-
sense!" said he; "a monster I 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 now it is gone ?" Don't be angry, dear
father," said Pecksy, "for it was very frightful
indeed." "Well," said he, "I will fly all around 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
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
& h M monster. 37
their mother, fearing the dreadful creature was
just at hand.
"What, afraid again?" 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 confine 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." begin to comprehend," said
the mother, "that these dear nestlings have seen the
face of a man." "Even so," replied 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?" "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." "And does he live in
thisgarden?" said Flapsy. "He works here very
often," replied her father, but is frequently absent."
" Oh, 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
38 The Story of the Robdns.
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 direction in every
respect; and the rest, animated by his discourse,
began to recover their spirits.
JOE TILE GAIIDENER BRINGS NEWS OF THE BIRDS'
NEST TO HARRIET AND REDEIIICK.
WHIIBT 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 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 sweet-william ? "
"No, Miss Harriet," said Joe; "but I have some-
thing to tell you that will please you as much
as though I had." "What's that? what's that?"
40 The Story of Ihe Robins.
said Frederick. Why, Master Frederick," said Joe,
"a pair of robins have corned 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 flyinto 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 the step-
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 their mamma's leave first; she therefore
told Joe she would let him know when she had
When the redbreasts had quieted the fears of
their young family, and fed them as usual, they
retired to a tree, desiring their little nestlings not
to be terrified if the monster should look in upon
them aaain, as it was very probable he would do.
Robin's Past History. 41
They promised to bear the sight as well as they
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
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 comfort-
able when I am away from them."
"A calamity of the same kind befell 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 re-
turned to the place in which I had imprudently built.
42 The Story of the Robins.
The first circumstance that alarmed me was a part of
my nest scattered on the ground just at the entrance
of my 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 chirpings 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, and 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
The Death of the Hen. 43
mother, but all in vain; to have attempted feeding
them at this time would have been inevitable des-
truction 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
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.
Immediately after this the nest was carried away,
and what became of my nestlings afterwards I never
could discover, though I frequently hovered about the
fatal spot of their imprisonment with the hope of
"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
44 The Story of the Robins.
endeavoured to recall her to life. At the sound of
my voice she lifted up her languid eyelids, and said,
'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
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 com-
"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,
The Deatl of the Hen. 45
and devoured him in an instant. I need not say
that I felt the bitterest pangs for his loss; it is
sufficient to inform you that I led a solitary life
till I met with you, whose endearing behaviour has
made society again agreeable to me."
HARRIT AND FREDERICK VIEWING THE OBINS' NEST.
As soon as Mrs. Benson returned to her children,
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 Harriet, "and if agreeable to you, we
shall be glad to go along with Joe to see it." "But
how 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 indelicate 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
A Peep into the Nest. 47
it otherwise, you may depend on my not going up."
"On this condition I will permit you to go," said
Mrs. Benson; "but pray, 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, Joel" cried he. "Stay for me,
Joe, I beg," said Hariet, who presently joined him.
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
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 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 either 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
48 The Story of the Robins.
and mother, to be fed in the parlour." He then,
under the conduct of his friend Joe, descended.
Joe next addressed Miss Harriet: "Now, my young
mistress," said he, "will you go up ?" 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 terrifying
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.
I 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 return 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'm sartain; and if I thought he
would, I would work an hour later to fetch up lost
time." "Thank you, Joe," replied Harriet, "but I
am sure papa would not desire you to do so."
At this instant Frederick perceived the two red-
breasts, who were returning from their proposed
excursion, 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
consent to stay, lest her mamma should be displeased,
More Mosters. 49
and lest the birds should be frightened; Frederick,
therefore, with reluctance followed her, and Joe
attended 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 be, "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 eaten up by
the monster?" "No, father," replied Dicky, "we
are not devoured; and yet, I assure you, the monster
we saw before has been here again, and brought two
others with him." "Two others! what, like him-
50 The Story of the Robins.
self ?" 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 sisters, 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, some-
times a hoarse sound, disagreeable 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'a
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
More Monsters. 51
two streaks were rows of white bones, but by no
means dreadful to behold, 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 altogether, that, notwithstanding
I own I was rather afraid, yet I had pleasure in
looking at it; but it stayed a very little time, and
then disappeared. While we were puzzling ourselves
with conjectures 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 retired, and we have
been longing for you and my mother's return, in
hopes you would be able to tell us what it is we
"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 Flapsy 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
52 The Story of the Robins.
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 regard."
"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
mistaken. Who would have thought that such an
ugly monster as that gardener could 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, barbarous 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 tender parents."
"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 excursions, full of mirth and gaiety. This
orchard constantly resounds with the melody of
those who chant from their songs of joy; and I
believe there are no beings in the world happier
than birds, for we are naturally formed for cheerful-
ness; and I trust that a prudent precaution, and
following the rules we shall from our experience be
able to give you, will preserve you from the dangers
to which the feathered race are exposed."
"Instead of indulging your fears, Pecksy," said
the father, "summon up all your courage, for to-
morrow you shall, with your brothers and sisters,
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 apprehensive of mon-
sters, 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 YOUNG VISITORS.-THE ORUEL BOY.
AFTEa Harriet and Frederick 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 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 forgetful
of your young visitors."
"I cannot answer for Frederick," replied Harriet,
"but indeed, mamma, I would not on any account
have slighted my friends.-How do you do, my dear
Lucy?" said she; "I am happy to see you. Will
Lecy and Ediward. 55
you go with me into the play-room? I have got
some very pretty new books.-Frederick, have you
nothing to show Edward ? Oh yes," said Frede-
rick, "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 Edward, "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
Edward; "but why did you not take the nest? 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 do you propose to
hatch them?" said Harriet, who turned back on
hearing him talk in this manner.
"Hatch them, Miss Benson?" said he; "who
ever thinks of hatching birds' eggs ?"
"Oh, then, you eat them," said Frederick, "or
perhaps let your cook make puddings of them?"
"No, indeed," replied Edward; "I blow out the
inside, and then run a thread through them, and
give them to Lucy to hang up among her curiosities;
and very pretty they look, I assure you."
56 The Story of the Robins.
"And so," said 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 Lucy; I never before heard that there was."
"My dear mamma," replied Harriet, "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 Lucy, "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 intended to have fed the birds be-
fore 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 enough for me to find the nests."
"And have you actually left three nests of young
birds at home without food exclaimed Harriet.
"I did not think of them, but will feed them
when I return," said Lucy,
The Poor Nestlings. 57
"Oh!" cried Harriet, "I cannot bear the thought
of what the poor little creatures must suffer."
" Well," said Edward, "since you feel so much for
them, I think, Harriet, you will make the best nurse.
What say you, Lucy, will you give the nests to
"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 Harriet; but if she will, I shall
be glad to do so."
Frederick inquired what birds they were, and
Edward informed him there was a nest of linnets, a
nest of sparrows, and another of blackbirds. Frede-
rick was all impatience to see them, and 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; 15ut the tender-
hearted Harriet could not engage in any play till she
had made intercession in behalf of the poor birds; she
therefore begged Lucy would accompany her to her
mamma, in order to ask permission to have the birds'
58 The Story of the Robins.
nests. She accordingly went and made her request
known to Mrs. Benson, who readily consented;
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
Lucy had no kind mamma to give her instruction,
she thus addressed her:-
"I perceive, my young friend, that Harriet is
apprehensive 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
yourself 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
different 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
The Poor Nestlings. 59
towards those who would hurt them, &c.; from
which we may infer that it is cruel to rob birds of
their young, deprive them of their liberty, or exclude
them from the blessings suited to their natures, for
which it is impossible for us to give them an equiva-
lent. Besides, these creatures, insignificant as they
appear in your estimation, were made by God as
well as you. Have you not read in the New Testa-
ment, 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 merciful to the utmost of your power, you
are wantonly cruel to innocent creatures which He
designed for happiness ?"
This admonition from Mrs. Benson, which Lucy
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;
60 The Story of tli RAoins.
go to your own apartment, Harriet, and use your
best endeavours to make your visitors happy. You
cannot this evening fetch the birds, because when
Lucy goes it will be too late for you to take so long
a walk, as you must come back afterwards; and I
make no doubt but that, to oblige you, she will feed
Harriet and Lucy returned, and found Frederick
diverting himself with the hand-organ, which had
lately been presented to him by his godpapa; but
Edward had laid hold of Harriet's dog, and was
searching his 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 was 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
Cruel Edward. 61
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 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
out as we did, 'A mad dog! amad dogl' On this,
several people pursued him with cudgels and broom-
sticks, and at last he was shot by a man, but not
killed, so others came and knocked him about the
head till he expired."
"For shame, Edward!" said Harriet; "how can
you talk in that rhodomontade manner? I cannot
believe any boy could bring his heart to such
"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 I
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
62 The Story of the Robins.
the loss of him; so we did not like to stand hearing
his whining, therefore left him and got a cock, whose
legs we tied, and flung at him till he died. Then we
set two others fighting; and fine sport we had, for
one was pecked till his breast was laid open, and tie
other was blinded, so we left them to make up their
quarrel as they could."
" Stop! stop !" exclaimed 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 ?"
"I beg, Edward," said his sister, "that you will
find some other way to entertain us, or I shall really
tell lirs. Benson of you."
" What are you growing tender-hearted all at
once ?" cried he.
I will tell you what I think when I go home,"
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 Edward 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
Edward's Sport disturea. 63
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 Harriet and his sister stopped
At last little Frederick went crying to his mamma,
and the young ladies retired to another apartment;
so Edward amused himself with catching flies in the
window, pulling the legs off some, and the wings
off 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 determined to tell his papa, which she
accordingly did some time after, when he returned
Edward was now disturbed from his barbarous
sport by being called to tea; and soon after that was
over, the servant came to fetch him and his sister.
Harriet earnestly entreated her friend Lucy to feed
the birds properly till she should be allowed to fetch
them; Lucy 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 complied, as there
were no further opportunities for cruelty.
64 The Story of the Robins.
After her little visitors had departed, Harriet went
into the drawing-room, andsat herself down, that she
might improve her mind by the conversation of the
company. 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 practise 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 accountable beings; and
therefore the killing them, even in the most barbarous
manner, is not like murdering a human creature,
who is perhaps unprepared to give an account of
himself at the tribunal 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 Learnd Pig. 65
the sight of the Learned Pig, which has lately been
shown in London, has deranged these ideas, and I
know not what to think."
This led to a conversation on the' instinct of
animals, which young readers would not understand;
it would therefore be useless to insert it.
As soon as the company was gone, "Pray, mamma,"
said Harriet, "what did the Learned Pig do? I had
a great mind to ask Mrs. Franks, who said she saw
it; but I was fearful she would think me imper-
"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 imper-
tinent. Those inquiries only are thought trouble-
some by which children interrupt conversation, and
endeavour to attract attention to their own insig-
nificant prattle; but all people of good sense and
good nature delight in giving them useful informa-
"In respect to the Learned Pig I have heard
things which are quite astonishing in a species of
66 T/e Story of /se Robins.
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 performances. 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 complete. He was then
desired to tell the hour of the day, and one of the
company held a watch to him; this he seemed to
examine very attentively with his cunning little eye,
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 encouragement to such a scheme"
"And do you think, mamma," said Iarriet, "that
the pig knew the Ictleis, and could spell words ?"
The Learned Pi. 67
"I think it possible, my dear, that the pig might
be taught to know the letters at sight one from the
other, 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 would advise
you, Harriet, never to give countenance to those
people who show what they call learned animals,
as you may assure yourself they practise 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 for 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."
'. ,'--- '- ,, ".-'-- ', 'd
THE FIRST FLIGHT OF THE NESTLINGS.
EARLY in the morning the hen redbreast awakened
her young brood. Come, mry httle 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 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 Mrs. Benson's, where he found the
parlour window open, and his young friends sitting
with their mamma Crumbs had been, according
The Fate of ike Nestlangs. 69
to custom, strewed before the window, which the
other birds had nearly devoured; but the red-
breasts took their usual post on the tea-table, and
the father bird sang 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
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
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 to Frederick that she supposed Edward
Jenkins's practice of taking birds' nests had made
70 The Story of the Robins.
them so shy. She said a great deal to him about
the cruelties which that naughty boy had boasted
of the evening before, which Frederick promised to
As soon as they arrived at the house, Lucy ran
out to receive them, but her brother had gone to
"We are come, my dear Lucy," said Ilarriet,
'to fetch the birds you promised us."
"Oh, I know not what to say to you, my dear,"
said Lucy. "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 hind
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 creatures
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
The Fate of the Nestlings. 71
lay dead; 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
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 with cold in the nest by
himself, I covered him over with wool, and had
this morning the pleasure of finding him quite
"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 Lucy, "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 tle
pleasure of hearing them sing when they are old
enough. But I beg you will stay and rest your
selves after your walk."
"Let me see the birds first," said Frederick.
"That you shall do," answered Lucy; and taking
him by the hand, she conducted him to the room
72 Th Story of the Rodbis.
in which she kept them, accompanied by Harriet.
Lucy then fed the birds, and gave particular in-
structions 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
Lucy 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
Lucy 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 consented
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
Learning to Fly. 73
upon the edge of the nest. Robin and Pecksy
sprang up in an instant, but Dicky and Flapsy,
being timorous, were not so expeditious.
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, endowed 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 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 nor
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
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
74 The Story of the Robins.
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
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 re-
turned, 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 with-
out 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
Learmng to Fly. 75
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
difficulties, but at length yielded to her mothers
persuasions, and flew safely down. Pecksy, without
the least hesitation, accompanied her, and by
exactly following the directions given, found the
task much easier than she expected.
As soon as they had a little recovered from the
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 full liberty in the open air. The
orchard itself appeared to them to be a world. For
some time each remained silent, gazing round, first
at one thing, then at another; atlength Flapsy cried
out, "What a charming place the world is I had
no conception that it was half so big I"
76 The Story of the Robins.
"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
business; 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 per-
form, therefore he should not stand an idle spectator
of what others are doing. We small birds have a
very easy task, in comparison 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 guard; but
The Nestlings' World. 77
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 account 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 saw the affectionate pair,
hand in hand, stretched on the cold ground, and
would have fed them had they been capable of
receiving nourishment; but finding the poor babies
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 reproving 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
SAlluding to the bald of the Children n the Wood.
78 The Story of the Robins.
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.
FREDERICK DISCOVtlYS THE YOUNC;G OB1NS IN THE
WHIILST all the business related in the last chapter
was going on in the redbreast family, Harriet and
her brother were walking home with the poor birds
in the baskets. Well, Frederick," said she to him,
what think you of bird-nesting now ? Should you
like to occasion the deaths of a number of little
"No, indeed," said Frederick; "and I think Miss
Jenlins 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
So The Story of the Robins.
was never instructed herself to be tender to
With this kind of conversation they amused
themselves 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, whicl
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 amaze-
ment, Frederick and Harriet, the maid who attended
them, with Joe the gardener, who, having opened
the gate, was, at the request of his young master
and mistress, conducting them to the ivy wall.
Robin, with all his courage (and, indeed, he was
not 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
Robin and his Friends. 81
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? 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 the young Bensons.
What chirping is that ?" cried Harriet.
"It was the cry of a young bird," said the maid;
Swas it not one of those in the baskets ?"
"No," said Frederick, the noise came that way,"
pointing to some currant bushes; my birds are very
"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 confronted Robin, who, as soon as ;he
82 The Story of the Robins.
young gentleman's face was on a level with his eyes,
recollected him, and calling to his brother and
sisters, told them they need not be afraid.
Harriet followed her brother's example, and de-
lighted the little flock with the sight of her amiable
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.
Harriet, recollecting that her mamma would expect
her at home, and that the birds in the baskets would
be hungry, persuaded her brother to take up his
little load and return. They therefore left the red-
breasts 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 toge-
ther, but instead of calling his brother and sisters to
partake of them, he devoured them all himself.
"Are you not ashamed, you little greedy crea-
ture?" 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 individual ought to consult the welfare
of the whole, instead of his own private satisfaction;
Robin and his Friends. 83
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 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 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, obin, the linnet has as great a
right to the caterpillar as you or I, and in all proba-
bility he has as many httle gaping mouths at home
ready to receive it. But however this maybe, I had
for my own part rather sustain an injury than take
revenge. You must expect to have many a scramble
84 The Story of the Robins.
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 conformity with
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."
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 grati-
tude which I have ever been able to offer you. How
have I formerly longed to ease those toils which you
and my dear father have endured for our sakes and
gladly would I now release you from further 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
Dutiful Pecksy. 85
"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
presented Pecksy with a worm, like those he had
himself so greedily eaten. She received it with
thanks, and declared it was doubly welcome from
"Certainly," said the mother, "fratenal love
stamps a value on the most trifling presents."
Dicky felt himself 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 reminded her mate that it
would be proper to think of returning to the nest.
"If the little ones fatigue themselves too much
with hopping about," said she, "their strength will
be exhausted, and they will not be able to fly
"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."
86 The Story of tie Roins.
She complied with his desire, and when they
were sufficiently rested she got up, on which the
whole brood instantly raised themselves on their
"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 attempted 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 "
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
"You may depend on it, Robin," said she, "that
he is in every respect wiser than you, and as he has
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
The Upward Fight. 87
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 igno-
rant 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, Dicky,"
said he, "let us see what you can do at flying
upwards; you cut a noble figure this morning when
you flew down."
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 trees, as other birds
"Why." said the father, "you are as ridiculous
with your timidity as Robin with his conceit.
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
88 The Stoy of the Robins.
have sufficient strength, and then you wil lie
warm, safe, and quiet: however, do as you will."
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 his welfare.
The father, having seen him safe home, returned
to his mate, who, during his short absence, had