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´╗┐Title: Robin's Rambles
Author: Byron, May Clarissa Gillington, -1936
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Illustration: This Book Belongs To.


ROBIN'S RAMBLES

By MAY BYRON

Illustration: Robin Feeding Young.

Illustrated by

A. FAIRFAX MUCKLEY


  HUMPHREY MILFORD
  OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
  LONDON


Illustration: Harvest Mice.

PRINTED BY THOS. FORMAN AND SONS, NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND

Illustration: Robin's Rambles.



ROBIN'S RAMBLES


Robin was a very spick and span little person: always neat and dapper,
in fact a wee bit dandified, you might say. He lived in the East Country
in a nice little garden belonging to a nice little house, beside a
stream that went slowly through fields. The house was white-washed pink,
and the roof was tiled with red like Robin's breast. He thought himself
extremely beautiful, remarkably clever, and braver than anybody that
ever lived. But his wife didn't agree with him a bit.

Mrs. Robin did not bother as to whether she was beautiful, clever, or
brave. She was much too busy for that. For several weeks she had been
getting a home ready for her little ones, and when you have to collect
your home brick by brick, or twig by twig, it takes a good deal of
thought and trouble. Mrs. Robin was now sitting on her nest (which was
in a hole in the ground against the back of the stable), upon five
red-speckled eggs; so she had a bit of a rest; but it was rather dull
and uninteresting for her. Robin, of course, ought to have stayed there
to keep her company and chat a bit, and bring her little tempting
titbits for lunch. But he was so curious and inquisitive about other
people's affairs that he took very little notice of his own. Besides, he
was a born rambler.

Illustration: Fighting for Crumbs

So every morning Mrs. Robin would say to him, "What is the latest news,
my dear?" And he would say, "Really, my love, there is very little
doing. I will just take a little stroll and see what news I can pick up
that will amuse you!" And off he would go--and away he would stay, for
every day he went a longer and longer stroll. And when he came back,
either he was too tired to tell Mrs. Robin his adventures, or else she
was going to sleep and wouldn't listen.

One day he grew suddenly very curious about the kitchen. This was partly
on account of crumbs. He knew the crumbs came out from there, because he
saw the Sparrow family and the Starling household fighting for them. "I
can't be mixed up with people like these," said Robin to himself.
"Squabbling over food--disgusting I call it! I shall take my meals in
private like a gentleman." And he was just going in through the scullery
when he saw a surprised pair of green eyes staring at him as he stood in
the doorway. This was young Missy Kitten, and she wanted to make
friends with him: she was a cheerful little soul and would have liked to
play. But just as she put out a fat soft paw to pat him, old Mother
Tabbykins jumped up from beside the kitchen fire, and came to stop Missy
Kitten playing with strangers. Robin departed more suddenly than he had
come, but Mother Tabbykins kept a bit of his tail-feather.

Illustration: Old Mother Tabbykins jumped up

Illustration: Missy Kitten wants to Play

Next day he went along the stream, till he came to the windmill. It was
standing still, and Robin was quite fidgety with curiosity. He hopped
in through the dusty door, and the mice who lived there were very glad
to see him. They were humble, dingy sort of people, and they thought him
very lively and quite grand, because of the airs he gave himself. But,
while he was telling them wonderful traveller's tales about himself and
the things he had seen, suddenly the windmill sails began to turn, and
everything started creaking and whirring. Robin went off so fast that he
got home perfectly breathless. "My dear--the end of the world is come!"
he puffed and panted. "Nothing of the sort," replied Mrs. Robin sharply.
"You wait till you hear!" he exclaimed, and he told her all about it.
But she didn't sympathise one bit.

Illustration: He got home perfectly breathless.

"I shall be out longer to-day," said Robin next morning. "I want to see
more of the world. It's a stupid, humdrum life, just pecking and
flapping round a stable." "Maybe you'll go farther and fare worse,"
replied Mrs. Robin. "Nonsense," said he, "it's all very well for you,
leading the lazy life you do, just sitting on a lot of eggs. But there,
I can't expect you to understand. Ta-ta!" and he disappeared.

Illustration: Mr. Red Vole came out.

He crept along a blackthorn hedge, which ran through a field full of
cowslips; at the foot of the hedge there was a dyke, or wide ditch with
reeds and bulrushes in it every here and there. This was quite a
delightful ramble for Robin, at first: but soon his curiosity began to
get him into trouble. He came across a little hole and wanted to
explore it--he simply loved poking and prying into other people's
holes,--and Mr. Red Vole came out very snappish and snarlish. "What do
you want here?" said Mr. Red Vole. "Didn't you see the notice outside:
'No tramps or hawkers'? Nobody is admitted except on business!"--"But I
am on business," said Robin resentfully. "Whose?" enquired Mr. Red Vole.
"Your own, or somebody else's?"--"I will give you the answer to-morrow,"
said Robin with a perky air, and he flew away rather quickly, for Mr.
Red Vole had most disagreeable-looking teeth.

"Don't you mind him," said Tom Sedge-Warbler, who was swinging on a tall
bulrush hard by. "His bark is worse than his bite. I've known him as
cross as two sticks with me, because he said I kept him awake at night.
I said, 'Well, here's a bit of willow-down. Stuff your ears with that.'
And, would you believe it, he called me names!"

"Oh, you sing at night, do you?" said Robin.

Illustration: Tom Sedge-Warbler was swinging on a tall bulrush.

"I sing whenever I feel like it," said Tom Sedge-Warbler. "I hate
doing things at stated times. I haven't got one of your neat and tidy
minds that go by the clock."

Illustration: The Family at the Mill.

"But there's nobody to hear you at night," said Robin, who thought it
was waste of a song unless there was someone near to admire it. Tom
Sedge-Warbler told him, "Bless you, yes, there is--heaps of 'em. Why,
only last night the Water-Lady--hold hard--I'm going to sing now--it's
coming on--I can't stop!" And he suddenly burst forth like a musical box
that has been wound up to go on for ever. Robin said impatiently, "Do
stop for half a second!--I want to know several things." But Tom
Sedge-Warbler only shook his cheerful head and went on, on, on, on, on,
on.... And at this moment there came a fierce and furious wind, a
perfectly enormous wind, all wild and whirling. It goes about in the
East Country and nowhere else, and it is called the "Roger." And it
caught up Master Robin and whiffed him right away, as if he had been a
little bit of straw, along with all sorts of other things,--real bits of
straw, and broken leaves, and old egg shells. Away and away it took him,
and at last it let him fall, most dreadfully alarmed, into a marshy bank
beside a broad, where he had never been in his life before. A broad is
another East Country thing. It is a large wide sheet of water. It's not
a lake and not a pond--it's a broad, that's all you can say,--with
reeds, and rushes, and sedges, and lovely water plants all along the
shore. And it goes along-along till it comes to another broad.

Well, there was Robin, far away from the pink-washed house, in this
outlandish place, as he thought it. Nobody saw him except Bill the
Weasel. But Bill the Weasel knew him for a stranger, and decided to
follow him all the way.

Illustration: Nobody saw him except Bill the Weasel.

Illustration: Old Mother Snipe flounced up.

As soon as Robin had recovered his breath, he also recovered his
curiosity. He set about rambling at once. To begin with, he tracked the
noises. The place was full of strange noises. There was an extraordinary
bleating, for one thing, which he thought was his old friend Dame
Nanny-goat who lived in a field at home. But when he had tracked the
bleating right up to where it began, in a tussock of rushes, old
Mother Snipe flounced up out of the rushes, and shrieked, "You
impertinent little Jackanapes! What are you poking after here?" And she
drove him out of the rushes with angry words. But Bill the Weasel
followed him all the way.

Illustration: Bill the Weasel welcomes the Stranger.

Then he saw a very odd and remarkable person with a crest. Not the kind
you have on note-paper, but a frilly thing on his head. The crested
person was very busy diving, and Robin went and waited on the shore till
he should come up again. "Could you kindly inform me as to the best way
home?" shouted Robin between the dives. The crested person was Gaffer
Grebe, who was collecting wet water-weeds to make his floating nest
with, for he couldn't endure dry nests that stay still in one place. "I
have no time for gossipping," mumbled Gaffer Grebe, with his mouth full
of building material. "It isn't gossipping! it's thirst for knowledge,"
said Robin. Gaffer Grebe didn't trouble himself to answer. He flapped
his wings very loudly and aimed some of the wet water-weeds at the
stranger.

Illustration: Gaffer Grebe was collecting wet water-weeds.

"Great rude ugly thing!" said Robin to himself as he made his way
towards another noise. It did seem very strange that anyone so
beautiful, so clever and brave as he, should be treated like a little
street-urchin and ordered off. He went sulkily along the edge of the
broad; and Bill the Weasel followed him all the way.

Illustration: The Battle of the Beaks.

Then he came upon a fearfully exciting scene. Robin Ruff and Richard
Ruff were fighting together furiously, just like Tweedledum and
Tweedledee. For they were so exactly alike that he couldn't tell which
was which: only the magnificent frill around Robin Ruff's neck was a
slightly different colour from the magnificent frill round the neck of
Richard Ruff. They had worn off all the grass underfoot with fighting,
but there were plenty of scraps of feather flying about. And little
Miss Reeve stood by watching them. "Most unladylike of her!" thought
Robin. "Why doesn't she try and make peace?" So he boldly edged in and
called out, "Oh, I say, you fellows! this is coming it a =leetle= too
strong. Stop! I tell you, stop!" Then they turned upon him with flaming
eyes and slashing beaks, and he had to scramble away as best he could.
It never does to interfere in a fight between friends. They would much
rather fight you than each other. Robin just escaped in time. But Bill
the Weasel was so close behind them that he nearly got skewered by the
beaks of the two Ruffs. And at this moment Hob, the Marsh Harrier,
caught sight of Robin from where he was hovering, high in the air above.

Illustration: Scraps of feather flying about.

Illustration: Hob, the Marsh Harrier, was hovering high in the air
above.

Meanwhile it was getting dark, and more extraordinary noises were to be
heard,--more than ever. The Nooper Swans and the Brent Geese, and other
mysterious families whom Robin did not know, were calling overhead
continually, and there was a constant boom-boom-boom going on among the
reed-beds. Robin was a trifle scary and nervous now; this ramble had had
so many adventures in it. But still he was eaten up by curiosity, and he
tried to explore the reed-bed where the boom-boom was. And he pushed his
way between the roots of the bulrushes, and flew a little here and
there, while the sunset gradually faded out of the sky, until he came
to a most wonderful place.

Illustration: The Brent Geese were calling overhead.

But Bill the Weasel was just behind him: and Hob the Marsh Harrier was
above him in mid-air.

This place was all fenced round with tall bulrushes, and inside you
could see a green marshy spot, with cuckoo flowers and king-cups
growing, and Somebody was booming there all alone. Then a beautiful
fairy person who was the Water-Lady slid down a bulrush and said, "You
mustn't go in there: trespassers will be prosecuted. No admittance except
on business. That's the law of the broad."

"Why not?" said Robin. "Whose place is it?"

Illustration: A beautiful fairy person slid down a bulrush.

"That," said the Water-Lady, "is the Home of the Last-of-the-Bitterns,
and he must never be spoken to by anybody but me. He wants to do all the
talking himself."

"How does he do the boom-boom?" said Robin, wild with curiosity. For he
thought he would like to learn how to boom-boom himself. It would
silence Mrs. Robin when she scolded him.

But the Water-Lady said, "Sh-s-s-h, go away!" and disappeared inside.
She was all in pale pink and gold, like the cuckoo-flowers and
king-cups.

Robin wouldn't go away. He suddenly became very obstinate, and
determined to find out what the Last-of-the-Bitterns looked like. And he
squeezed, and shoved, and slithered between the bulrushes. And he was
just inside, and just saw the Last-of-the-Bitterns standing there,
humped-up and dreadfully old, when three things happened at once.

Bill the Weasel made a grab at his neck, and missed.

Hob the Marsh Harrier dropped upon him from above--but fell by accident
into the water, owing to the Last-of-the-Bitterns suddenly shifting his
position.

And the Water-Lady seized Robin in her arms, and flung her pink and gold
scarf about him.

"Don't move!" she screamed in a high, thin shrill voice, just like wind
among the reeds. "Don't move! Don't speak! Don't wriggle!"

Illustration: The Water-Lady seized Robin in her arms.

Illustration: The Home of the Last-of-the-Bitterns.

"Do these folk know who-who-who I am?" rumbled the Last-of-the Bitterns.
"Do they suppose there is room-room-room for them in the same place as
Me?"

Then the Last-of-the-Bitterns gave Bill a peck which it took him a month
to get over. And he gave Hob another peck, so that he went away very wet
and with a headache. And then he boomed a song of victory, so loud that
the whole broad trembled.

Meanwhile the Water-Lady, with Robin still in her arms, rose up out of
the reed-beds and flew miles and miles and miles--or so it seemed. By
this time Robin was quite sure that he was neither very brave nor very
clever. And as to being very beautiful, for once he never thought about
that at all. The Water-Lady stopped in the middle of a turnip-field,
where the Bunnies were playing by moonlight. And she gave Robin a good
shaking. "Let this be a lesson to you," said she, "to keep yourself to
yourself." And she departed.

Illustration: The Bunnies were playing by moonlight.

Then the Bunnies very politely escorted Robin home, which was really
just round the corner. He thought he had been hundreds of years away,
but it was only half a day. And he expected a terrific lecture from
Mrs. Robin, and had made up his mind to promise never to ramble any
more.

Illustration: The Bunnies Politely Escorted him Home.

But Mrs. Robin was so happy that she had nothing in the world but smiles
for him. "Come in, dear," she called to him, all beaming. For the five
little Robins were hatched: and they were the finest children ever seen!
They were also (so Mrs. Robin said) the most beautiful, the dearest and
the bravest.

As for Robin, he does nothing now from morning to night but look after
them. They are always hungry, and always saying so. There isn't a
moment's time for anything but meal-times. Robin's rambles are over for
the present.

Illustration: Robins Feeding Young.



Transcribers Note

The word leetle which is shown as =leetle= was underlined in the original
book.





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