[pseud. Harriette Newell Woods Baker]

Boston and Chicago: Woolworth, Ainsworth, & Co.

[copyrighted 1860]

Scanned by Deidre Johnson for her 19th-Century Girls' Series website; please do not use on other sites without permission



"The dear robins are building their nests,
And can scarce spare a moment to eat;
Yet they, now and then, stop on the spray,
And pour forth a carol most sweet."

DID you ever see Robin Redbreast? I suppose you have often seen him, as he flew from tree to tree, singing his happy songs.

There was once a pretty cottage with a large elm tree which shaded the front yard, and reached its wide boughs lovingly to the very top of the steep roof. One day a beautiful robin came and perched upon the topmost branch, and sat there, looking down, first at the house, then at the children playing by the door.

"O, sissy, see what a pretty bird!" cried little Fred.

Annie clapped her tiny hands. "I want to catch it and kiss it, she said.

When the Robin heard this, he flew down to the lowest branch, and turned his head, first on one side, then on the other.

The children laughed and shouted in glee. They did not understand what the bird meant by this; but I will tell you. His name was Mr. Robin. He had a new wife; and he was looking around for a pleasant place where they could build a nest for themselves and their little birdies.

When Mr. Robin first lighted on the tree, he said to himself, "This is a delightful place; such a fine view of the hills and the pleasant brook running through them; but it is too near the house. Our little robins will be in danger when they begin to fly."

Just then, he heard Fred and Annie; and he thought their voices sounded very loving and kind. So he flew down where he could become better acquainted with them.

Annie was so delighted that she danced up and down, all the time crying, "Dear birdie; pretty birdie! I want to kiss you."

Mr. Robin liked this so well, that he flew to the ground and hopped along picking up the crumbs, every now and then turning up his eye to the children. At last he began to chirp, and presently flew away.

"Too bad!" exclaimed Fred, who had just thrown a handful of fresh crumbs. "Perhaps he will come back, though."

Where do you think Mr. Robin had gone? Why, only to a tree on the next farm, where he had left his wife. "Come, said he, "come quick; I have found a beautiful home." So they flew away together as fast as they could; and before Fred and Annie had done wondering whether he would return, they heard a loud chirping, and there was Mr. Robin again, who came to introduce his wife.

Mrs. Robin was a very social little birdie, and she ran along on the ground close up to the door, eating crumbs as she went. She tipped her small head on one side, and chatted away as fast as she could. "Yes, indeed," she said, "this is truly a fine situation; as soon as we have feasted upon these nice crumbs, we will sing the good children a song, and then begin at once to make our nest."

The young birdie then flew into the tree, hopping from branch to branch, followed closely by her mate, until they reached a firm bough, quite sheltered from the wind. "Look here, my dear," said Mr. Robin; "this is just the place for us to build our nest."

Then they raised their bright heads to the sky, and warbled a sweet song of gratitude to God for giving them so pleasant a home, and such kind and generous little friends.

Fred and Annie held their breath to listen, and grandpa came to the door, and leaned upon the top of his staff. "That is a robin red-breast," said he, gazing up into the branches. "He is going to build a nest here."



FOR a few days, Mr. and Mrs. Robin were busy enough building their new house. First, they carried straws and mud for the outside; then they lined it with soft hair, which they picked up about the barn-yard. They were very happy as they did this, and talked very lovingly to each other about what they would do in the long summer days, when the little ones were hatched.

They arose very early in the morning, and flew to the top of the tree. This was their observatory; and from it they could see directly over the cottage beyond the green meadow to the beautiful wooded hill, from behind which the glorious sun came forth in his might to make all nature rejoice.

Mr. and Mrs. Robin thought this a most wonderful sight. They were never weary of it, and so never failed to be in their observatory to welcome the first bright beams of day with a burst of melody.

When they had finished their morning song, they went busily to work at their nest; for Fred and Annie had not yet arisen from bed to give them their breakfast. By the time the nest was completed, they were well acquainted with every member of the family living in the neat cottage under the tree. There were Mr. and Mrs. Symmes, the father and mother of the good children, and grandpa, a dear, kind old gentleman, who loved to sit in his arm chair by the door, and watch the little ones at their play.

Besides these, there was a great white dog, with brown and a yellow tail. He had a shaggy coat of hair, which he used to shake about as if he would be glad to be rid of it. His name was King, and he was a great friend to the children.

It was not until they had begun to make their nest that Mr. Robin saw the large dog. "I am afraid," said he to his wife, "that we shall have trouble with that great fellow. He looks very fierce."

"I am not afraid of him," replied the lady bird; I notice that he is very fond of his friends; and perhaps when he sees that we are honest, good natured neighbors, he will not injure us."

"If he knew what a darling little wife you are," said Mr. Robin, gazing tenderly at his mate, "he could not have the heart to harm you."

Mrs. Robin hopped along on the bough nearer to her husband and tipped her head a little one side as she said, "Though I am not very old, yet I have learned that we must not expect to be free from trials and anxieties. For one, I am determined to meet them bravely; if I am ever tempted to despond, I will remember what a good husband I have, and what a lovely home."

"That is right, my dear, answered Mr. Robin. "I will endeavor to imitate so good an example."

Just at this moment they heard a childish voice calling, "Birdie, birdie; come, birdie." They flew quickly to the ground, and there was Annie, holding up her apron which was full of bread-crumbs for her pets.

Mr. and Mrs. Robin had scarcely begun to eat when King came rushing past the little girl, so as almost to throw her down. Mrs. Robin's heart beat so fast, she could scarcely catch her breath. "The ugly monster," she said to herself; "in one minute more, I shall be down his great red throat." She heard her husband's note of warning; but she had not strength to raise her wings. Already she felt his cold paw on her neck, when a loud cry from Fred called the dog away.

"King! King! Come here, sir! Let alone the bird! Come here, I say!"

The dog readily obeyed; and grandpa, who had now come to the door, said, "He must be taught to let the robins come and eat their crumbs without touching them. -- Bring me my chair, Fred," said the kind old gentleman, "and I will talk to him about it."

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