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´╗┐Title: Daddy's Bedtime Bird Stories
Author: Bonner, Mary Graham
Language: English
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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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      which includes the original illustrations (some in color).
Transcriber's note:

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics).



[Illustration: "MR. OWL AWAKENED THE FAIRIES AND TOLD THEM TO
LISTEN TO HIS BOOK."--_Page 2_]


DADDY'S BEDTIME BIRD STORIES

by

MARY GRAHAM BONNER

With four illustrations in color by
Florence Choate and Elizabeth Curtis



[Illustration: Emblem]

New York
Frederick A. Stokes Company
Publishers

Copyright, 1917, by
Frederick A. Stokes Company

All rights reserved; including that of translation
into foreign languages



  TO
  "E. E. E."



CONTENTS


                                                                  PAGE

  OLD MR. OWL WRITES A BOOK                                          1

  THE WOODPECKERS START A BIRD BAND                                  4

  THE CARDINAL BIRD AND THE ROBIN                                    7

  THE WINTER WRENS' DEW-DROP BATHS                                  10

  THE SEAGULLS MOVE TO BLUEY COVE                                   13

  HOW THE LITTLE REDBIRD BECAME RED                                 16

  POOR OLD MR. OWL'S TOOTHACHE                                      19

  THE SOLOIST OF THE BIRD CONCERT                                   22

  THE ROBINS OPEN A SPRING SHOP                                     25

  THE RACE BETWEEN THE SECRETARY BIRDS                              28

  THE QUARREL BETWEEN NAUGHTY LITTLE SPARROWS                       31

  THE SUCCESSFUL CONCERT OF THE CHICKADEES                          34

  THE COLONY OF STARLINGS GIVE A BALL                               37

  ROBIN REDBREAST'S AND MISS ROBIN'S WEDDING                        40

  THE TAME CANARY BIRD AND HIS MISTRESS                             43

  THE PET BIRD OF THE WARD                                          46

  THE EAGLE'S PRIDE AS THE BIRD OF FREEDOM                          49

  WHAT THE BIRDS THOUGHT OF THE FOURTH OF JULY                      52

  MR. NIGHTINGALE'S NEW FRIEND MR. BLACKBIRD                        55

  MR. PLAIN SPARROW CALLS ON DUCKS                                  58

  FARMER'S SCARECROW PROTECTS A CORN-FIELD                          61

  THE BRAVE BROWN SPARROWS IN WINTER                                64

  WHAT THE RAINBOW THINKS OF THE WORLD                              67

  EAGLES AND RAVENS                                                 70

  THE EAGLES WHO WERE ALWAYS STILL                                  73

  THE BOBOLINKS HAVE A TEA PARTY                                    76

  A HAPPY DAY IN BIRDLAND                                           79

  THE ROBINS' SPRING CONCERT                                        82

  THE CROWS AT THE FAIRIES' BALL                                    85

  THE NAUGHTY LITTLE SICK SNOWBIRDS                                 88

  A SPARROW CALLS ON A HIPPOPOTAMUS                                 91

  THE ROBINS COME TO THE RESCUE                                     94

  MR. AND MRS. OWL'S STOREROOM                                      97

  POLLY WAS THE HEROINE OF THE FIRE                                100

  THE WINTER HOME FOR THE WREN FAMILY                              103

  THE VAIN GOLDFINCH LEARNS A LESSON                               106

  THE BATS HAVE A JOLLIFICATION                                    109

  THE REPENTANCE OF LITTLE JIM CROW                                112

  THE RESCUE OF THE CANARY BIRD                                    115

  SMALL FIRE DEPARTMENT RESCUES BIRDS                              118



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  "Mr. Owl awakened the fairies and told them to
    listen to his book"                                 _Frontispiece_

                                                          FACING PAGE

  "In the afternoons Elizabeth lets him out of his cage"           44

  "'We've been on this chair so long,' said the fourth eagle"      74

  "The mother humming-bird hurried back"                           96



     _These stories first appeared in the American Press Association
     Service and the Western Newspaper Union._

     _Many of the sketches in this volume are the work of Rebecca
     McCann, creator of the "Cheerful Cherub," etc._



OLD MR. OWL WRITES A BOOK


[Illustration: Old Mr. Owl Danced with the Rest.]

"Old Mr. Owl wanted to write a book and he asked the fairies how to set
about doing it," commenced daddy.

"'Well,' said the fairy queen, 'it makes a good deal of difference, old
Mr. Owl, what you want to write about.'

"'What nonsense!' he said. 'It's just that I want to know how to start
off with my book. Just think what a marvelous book it will be--as for as
long as folks can remember I've been called the Wise Bird--the bird
who's awake at night and whose eyes are so very bright!'

"'Before I started saying what a fine book it would be, if I
were you, I'd write it and give other people the chance to say so,'
said the fairy queen.

"Mr. Owl began to write with his pen, made out of one of Mr. Turkey
Gobbler's best feathers, on a large, flat stone, which he put in the
hollow of his tree. Very late in the night, he awakened the fairies who
had been sleeping, and told them to listen to his book. Then he called
all the owls from the neighborhood with a loud hoot-hoot. But before he
began to read, he said:

"'I've not enough light. I will hurt my eyes--my beautiful,
wise, big eyes.'

"You see he had made a special arrangement to have his own lights, and
when he said that he hadn't enough, from all over came countless little
fireflies. They sparkled and gave the most beautiful light all over the
woods, and Mr. Owl put his spectacles on his nose, and said:

"'Now I see to perfection--which means quite all right.' And Mr. Owl
commenced reading his book.

"It told about the parties, balls, and picnics in fairyland, and of the
wild adventures and happenings in the woods. The fairies were absolutely
delighted that a book had been written with so much about them in it.

"And the fairy queen was more than happy, for the last chapter was all
about her.

"'Well,' said Mr. Owl, 'you made me ashamed of myself for boasting about
my book before I had written it, and so the only thing I could do was to
write a wise chapter all about you.'

"And the fairy queen smiled with pleasure and also with amusement--for
Mr. Owl had certainly thought he could write a wise book--though the
next time, perhaps, he wouldn't say so before he had written it.

"The fireflies had been sparkling and flashing lights all this time, and
finally they whispered:

"'Have a dance, all of you; we'll give you the light and dance too. It
is not well to read books all the time--you must dance.'

"So they all ended off with a fine dance, and old Mr. Owl, with his book
under his wing, danced with the rest of the owls and fairies. But before
the evening was over he presented to the fairy queen a copy of his book,
which said on the cover, 'A BOOK, by Wise Mr. Owl.'"



THE WOODPECKERS START A BIRD BAND


The Woodpecker family were around on various trees drumming, drumming on
the bark. Mr. Hairy Woodpecker, Mr. Downy Woodpecker, and Mr. Red-Headed
Woodpecker were hard at work.

"Let's start a band," suggested Mr. Hairy Woodpecker.

"What's that you say?" asked Mr. Red-Headed Woodpecker, who had been so
busy at work that he had not heard what Mr. Hairy Woodpecker had been
suggesting.

"A band," repeated Mr. Hairy Woodpecker.

"What sort of a band?" asked Mr. Red-Headed Woodpecker.

"In the first place," continued Mr. Hairy Woodpecker, "our bills are not
only fine tools for the work we have to do getting the insects from the
trees, and burrowing for our nests, but they would be splendid to use
in beating the drums in a band."

"Where would we get the drums?" asked Mr. Red-Headed Woodpecker.

"The trees, of course, you silly!" said Mr. Hairy Woodpecker.

"Oh yes, yes," agreed Mr. Red-Headed Woodpecker.

And Mr. Downy Woodpecker said, "Of course, of course. The trees will be
our drums."

"We'll get the other birds," said Mr. Hairy Woodpecker, "to help us. We
need something in a band besides the drums. We will ask the goldfinches,
the mocking-birds, the bobolinks, the phoebe and chickadee families, all
of the warbler and vireo families, and the robins of course. Then I
think we'll ask the orioles, the whippoorwills, the thrush family, and
the song sparrows."

"Oh," said Mr. Downy Woodpecker, "that will make a perfect band. We'd
better get started right away." And the woodpeckers began to practise.
They made such a noise that the birds came from far and near to see what
they were doing. Mr. Sapsucker, Mr. Crested Woodpecker, and Mr. Flicker
Woodpecker had all joined in beating the drums too!

"Why are you making so much noise?" asked the birds as they flew around
to the nearby trees to talk to the woodpeckers.

"Oh," said Mr. Hairy Woodpecker, "we were just going to ask you all to
join our band. We will beat the drums."

"And just what do you want us to do?" asked Mr. Robin Redbreast, who was
always eager to help.

"You must all sing."

"But we all sing differently," chirped a song sparrow. "We know
different tunes and different songs."

"Oh," said Mr. Hairy Woodpecker, "I never thought about that. But never
mind, you can have little parts to sing alone, and other choruses where
you will all sing together. I'm sure it will be a very fine band after
we have practised." And they began pounding the drums again.

"Well," said Mr. Robin Redbreast, "if the bird band isn't to be the
finest in the land, at least we'll make a cheerful noise!"



THE CARDINAL BIRD AND THE ROBIN


"The cardinal bird," said daddy, "is a very superior bird and will not
come down to the ground. The lowest he will come is to a bush, but he
never hops along the woods or lawns, no, not he!

"One day Robin Redbreast was walking on a green lawn. He stopped several
times to pick up a worm from the ground, swallow it whole and then walk
along. In a tree nearby he spied the cardinal bird.

"'Hello,' he said cheerily. 'Won't you come and have a worm with me?
There are a number in this lawn, and the good rain we had last night has
made the ground so nice and soft. Do join me,' he ended with a bright
chirp.

"'No, thank you,' said the cardinal bird. 'I wouldn't soil my feet on
that ground. I hate the ground, absolutely hate it.' And the cardinal
bird looked very haughty and proud.

"'Come now,' said Robin Redbreast, 'you won't get your feet dirty. And
if you do,' he whispered knowingly, 'I can lead you to the nicest brook
where you can wash them off with fresh rain water. Do come!'

"'I cannot,' said the cardinal bird. 'I do not like the earth. I want to
be flying in the air, or sitting on the branches of trees. Sometimes I
will perch for a little while on a laurel bush--but come any lower? Dear
me, no, I couldn't.'

"'It's a great shame,' said Robin Redbreast. 'Of course there is no
accounting for taste.'

"'Thank you for inviting me,' added the cardinal bird politely. For he
prided himself on his good manners.

"Pretty soon some people came along. At once they noticed the beautiful
cardinal bird. He wore his best red suit which he wears all the
time--except in the winter, when he adds gray to his wings. His collar
and tie were of black and his feathers stuck up on top of his head so as
to make him look very stylish and fine.

"'Oh, what a wonderful bird!' said the people. Mr. Cardinal Bird knew
they were admiring him, of course--and so did Robin Redbreast. No one
had noticed _him_, but he didn't care, for he knew Mr. Cardinal Bird was
by far the more beautiful, and a robin hasn't a mean disposition.

"Well, when the cardinal bird heard the praise he began to sing--a
glorious high voice he had, and he sounded his clear notes over
and over again. Then suddenly he stopped, cocked his head on one
side, as though to say,

"'And what do you think of me now?'

"From down on the ground Robin Redbreast had been listening. 'Oh, that
was wonderful, wonderful!' he trilled.

"'Listen to that dear little robin,' said one of the people. 'I must get
him some bread crumbs.'

"When the bread crumbs were scattered over the ground, Robin Redbreast
invited the cardinal bird down again thinking they were for him! But the
beautiful, proud bird would not come down, and the people were saying,
'After all there is nothing quite so nice as a dear little robin.'"



THE WINTER WRENS' DEW-DROP BATHS


"The winter wren is really with us during the summer too," said daddy.
"But he is too shy to be near us. We can only hear him sing sometimes.
When winter comes, though, he goes to people for protection and picks up
the crumbs they give him.

"Yesterday he was sitting on a snow-berry bush with a tiny companion.
The snow-berry bushes are full and leafy, and in the spring and summer
are covered with very tiny pink blossoms. In the autumn and winter they
are covered with little berries which look as if they had been made out
of snow.

"'Oh, how I dread the winter!' said the tiny wren. 'Just imagine how
dreadful it would be if no one put any bread crumbs out for us, or no
dog left us some of his dinner on a back porch.'

"'Now,' said Mr. Brown Wren, 'you mustn't think of such sad thoughts.
You always do! Someone will look after us. And maybe we'll find a few
spiders now and then in the cracks, and then well have a regular feast.'

"The next day they were back again on the snow-berry bush, and the day
was much warmer. Now the wrens love to bathe above all things! Even in
the winter they will go through a little sheet of ice and get into the
cold, cold water underneath. For they must get their baths! And in the
spring, when the tiny wrens are brought forth from their mossy nests,
the first lesson they have is of bathing in some nearby brook.

"But this day it was early in the morning, the snow-berry bush was
covered with dew-drops and the wrens were delighted.

"'The sun will drive them away soon. Let's take them while we get the
chance,' whispered Mr. Brown Wren.

"'Yes, yes,' said his small companion. 'We will soon have to bathe when
it is so cold. Let us have a good warm bath first.'

"And then those two little brown wrens took the dew-drops in their
beaks, and dropped each one in turn on their feathers. Then they got
under some leaves full of dew-drops and shook them down over their
little feathered bodies.

"After they were well covered with the dew-drops they began to shake all
over just as every bird does when he takes a bath. And back they went to
take another bath when this one was over. For they seemed to enjoy their
last warm bath so much!

"Finally they had bathed enough, and the sun appeared strong as could
be, and shining very hard. They perched still on the branches of the
snow-berry bush and bathed now in the hot sun. Soon their little
feathers were quite dry and they began to sing.

"And truly I think their song was one of gladness because of their
dew-drop baths!"



THE SEAGULLS MOVE TO BLUEY COVE


[Illustration: Mr. and Mrs. Seagull Flew Off with Bluey.]

"Mr. and Mrs. Seagull didn't really know what to do," said daddy. "They
loved their home, which was in a big harbor, for they enjoyed seeing the
boats pass and hearing the different whistles. All kinds of boats
passed--ferryboats, sailboats, old fishing-boats, great big boats that
went across the ocean, and little tugboats.

"The seagulls would fly overhead, and then they'd land on top of the
water, but they never could stay there long, as the boats would come
along, and they would have to fly off. Of late Mr. and Mrs. Seagull,
although they were still as fond of their home as ever, became rather
worried, for the little seagulls didn't seem to be able to get out of
the way of the boats as quickly as the old seagulls could. Mr. and Mrs.
Seagull were afraid that one of them might get hurt by a boat.

"Of course the little seagulls were quite certain that nothing like that
would ever happen, but one day it did.

"They were playing tag on the surface of the water and so interested in
their game that they didn't notice until too late that a great huge boat
was coming along. The captain of the boat had blown the whistle to scare
the seagulls away. They hadn't heard it at all, so busy were they
playing, and it hit poor little Bluey Seagull. One of the others called
out:

"'Oh, fly up quickly, Bluey!' He was not badly hit, for the pilot of the
boat had seen the seagulls and made the boat slow down.

"Bluey was frightened almost out of his wits, but with the encouragement
of the other seagulls he managed to fly off.

"When Mr. and Mrs. Seagull saw what had happened to Bluey they were
horrified and quickly flew off with him, all the other little seagulls
following.

"They flew as far from the boats as they could, for, now that Bluey had
been hit, they didn't think life in the harbor where the boats passed
was so attractive. In fact, they decided they would never go back there
again.

"They flew so far that they reached a little cove at the basin of the
harbor, and when Mr. Seagull saw it he said:

"'This will be our new home.'

"Mrs. Seagull said:

"'We will never leave this home until all little seagulls are grown up,
for then they will always be safe and can play all they want to without
being afraid of getting hit by the big boats.'

"So it was decided, and the cove was named Bluey Cove because it had
been on Bluey's account that they had moved there. And of all the
seagulls he was the happiest and most relieved."



HOW THE LITTLE REDBIRD BECAME RED


[Illustration: A Gray Bird Was Flying Overhead.]

Jack and Evelyn had been playing circus all day. Jack had been the big
man who stands in the middle of the ring and cracks his whip, while
Evelyn had turned somersaults and made pretty bows. They told daddy all
about it when he came home that evening, so he said:

"As you're so fond of circus performing I will certainly have to tell
you about the circus the animals gave.

"Cub Bear got it all up, and every animal who went to it had to first
agree to do something. And it really was a most marvelous circus. They
all marched around in a parade, while the little bears beat the drums.
The rabbits rode on the backs of the possums, and the monkeys rode on
the backs of the elephants. The chipmunks drove chariots which were
drawn by the gray squirrels, and the clowns were the frogs. The rest of
the animals caught hands and followed in the march. They laughed and
shouted and enjoyed themselves immensely.

"Then all took their seats and one by one did some sort of an act. The
monkeys won a great deal of applause by their trapeze acting. Cub Bear
walked a rope and danced around on his hind legs. The bunnies rode
bicycles, but that ended sadly, as one of them--a son of old Peter
Rabbit, who was renowned for his bicycle riding--in trying to show off,
fell and skinned his nose. All the other animals gathered around to see
what they could do, while the bunny moaned and moaned.

"A gray bird flying over the tent heard the sound of moans and cries and
flew in to see what the trouble was, for he was a very kind-hearted
bird. He saw that the bunny was really more frightened than hurt, and
with his wings he wiped off the blood from the rabbit's face. The
blood-stain never got off the wings of the bird, so ever after he and
his family became known as the redbirds.

"The bunny fully recovered and once more felt like himself; but, of
course, after the accident, the animals didn't care to go on performing,
so they all sat around the center of the tent and had a most glorious
picnic. Refreshments of all kinds were passed around.

"They had pink lemonade, peanuts, popcorn, ice-cream cones, and water
taffy. After they'd finished eating they sang all the old-time songs and
frisked about, playing and dancing. Bunny Rabbit, who felt quite spry
again, frisked about too, and the redbird flew overhead, flapping his
wings with joy, for he was so glad everything had turned out so merrily.

"The circus proved such a success and the animals were in such high
spirits that they then and there decided to have a circus every year."



POOR OLD MR. OWL'S TOOTHACHE


[Illustration: "I'm ready now," said Dr. Raven.]

Evelyn had been eating a great deal of candy--so much that it had given
her a very bad toothache--and when daddy came home he found her curled
up on the bed looking very mournful. Jack had been trying to comfort
her, but he hadn't been able to help much. So when he heard daddy's step
he called, "Come along, daddy, and tell a story especially for Evelyn to
make her forget about her toothache."

"That is too bad," said daddy. "I'm sorry my little girl has a
toothache. I'll see if I can't tell a good story so you'll feel better
and will be able to sleep and have pleasant dreams. I think I'll tell
you about old Mr. Owl, for he had the most terrible toothache one time.
He had been eating a great many sugar-plums and lots of candy, and
before he knew it one of his teeth was aching so hard he could hardly
stand it. 'Oh, dear,' he moaned; 'my tooth, my poor tooth! Whatever will
I do?'

"It ached so badly for several days that he decided at last he'd go to
the dentist. Dr. Raven was considered the very best dentist. So off went
Mr. Owl to his office in the pine tree. When he arrived there he saw Dr.
Raven busily fixing Mrs. Crow's teeth. She was leaning back on a stump
of wood which Dr. Raven used as his dental chair. She had a rubber band
over her mouth and looked very miserable. It quite frightened Mr. Owl,
but he tried to be brave and sat down, put on his spectacles and began
to read one of Dr. Raven's magazines. In a few moments Mrs. Crow got out
of the chair, and Dr. Raven said, 'I'm ready for you now, Mr. Owl.' So
Mr. Owl took off his spectacles, got into Dr. Raven's chair and leaned
his head back. 'Open wide,' said Dr. Raven. Mr. Owl opened his mouth as
wide as he could, and Dr. Raven looked inside. First he looked over his
upper teeth, then over his lower teeth, and finally he began to poke at
one back tooth with such energy that Mr. Owl screamed, 'That's my sore
tooth, and you're hurting it terribly!'

"'Yes,' said Dr. Raven; 'the tooth is a wisdom tooth, and it is much
inflamed, so I'll take it out right away.' He reached for his pinchers,
but Mr. Owl said: 'If you take out my wisdom tooth I'll lose my wisdom,
and I'm known all over the world for my wisdom. I simply won't have it.'

"And before Dr. Raven had a chance to speak Mr. Owl had jumped out of
the chair and flown off. When he got home his tooth still hurt, but the
next morning it felt much better, and the next day it was all well. 'I
know what all the trouble was,' said Mr. Owl. 'I ate too much candy.
I'll never eat too much again, for I cannot lose any of my wisdom teeth
when I'm known as the wisest bird.'"

"Daddy," said Jack, "your story would be a very good one, only owls
don't have teeth." Daddy smiled, and as the children laughingly went to
bed, Evelyn said her toothache had gone.



THE SOLOIST OF THE BIRD CONCERT


[Illustration: He Sang His Song Several Times.]

The birds had begun their early morning concerts. "I know why," said
daddy. "It is because they have been practising for their opening
concert of the season which they gave this morning and which I am going
to tell you about this evening. They have been practising hard every
morning.

"The vireos, having such lovely voices and being devoted to music, got
it up and made all the arrangements. Yesterday, the day before the
concert, they scratched signs on the trees, which in the bird world
read:

"'Concert in the village park to-morrow morning at 6 o'clock. All those
who are taking part will, of course, be present. Those who are not
taking part will be invited to attend. Splendid music. Good seats.
Feature of concert to be the soloist. The name of the soloist will not
be made known until the concert.'

"All the birds were tremendously excited when they read that, for it was
all a surprise arranged by the vireos. They were the only ones who knew
who the soloist was to be. At the rehearsals even the soloist had not
appeared.

"At last the time for the concert came. All the birds were up very early
that morning, fussing to look their very best.

"Most of the birds sat around on the grass, but some of them had
reserved boxes in the trees.

"The program for the concert was delightful. The robins sang in chorus,
as did the chirping sparrows. The warblers sang quartets and duets.
Several of the chickadees gave little solos. The thrushes and the vireos
appeared many times on the program. They were encored again and again
and were greatly pleased.

"The soloist was to appear the very last. A vireo came out and announced
to the audience that the soloist, being slightly nervous, would not
stand before them and sing, but would sing from a very short distance.

"Then they heard from a neighboring tree the strange, lonely song of the
whippoorwill. He sang his song several times over, and the applause was
terrific. The birds were charmed, absolutely charmed.

"The whippoorwill was very modest and didn't see why they liked his solo
at all. He had really been very shy about appearing at the concert. But
he was encouraged by the vireos, who, as a rule, are nervous, too, when
they appear in public.

"At the conclusion of the concert a vote of thanks was given the vireos
for the crowning success of their concert and an additional vote of
thanks for their splendid soloist."



THE ROBINS OPEN A SPRING SHOP


[Illustration: The Robins Agreed It was a Good Scheme.]

"The robins, having left their warm winter home, had settled near a
great, big, lovely park," said daddy. "Now, one of the robins happened
to be a very practical old bird. He suggested that they shouldn't spend
all their time singing, especially now, before the summer came. Then he
thought it was all right to play and sing all day. But it would be nicer
now, he thought, to do a little work.

"The old robin's idea was that certain robins every morning should
start out and dig up worms, for then they could get more than they
wanted and could help supply the flocks and flocks of newcomers. Then
other robins could go into the woods and get the new little berries
that had just come up, and the rest of the robins would keep a shop in
the biggest tree of the park. All the birds would do their shopping
there in the most central place.

"All the robins agreed that it would be an excellent scheme and so much
better than idling away all their time.

"As soon as a new flock of birds would come to the park the other birds
would tell them about the shop of the robins, and off they would fly to
it. And such good things as the robins all had in their shop! It kept
them pretty busy hurrying around to get enough provisions to last for
all of their customers as well as themselves. But they thoroughly
enjoyed being so busy and decided that there was nothing in the world
like work. At night they would feel so much better than if they'd been
idle all day, and then they felt as if they had really been doing some
good, for it was a great, great help to all of the other birds. You can
imagine how they wouldn't be able to find things so quickly and they
wouldn't know right away where the softest earth was so as to dig for
the worms.

"Of course some of the early bird families did arrive as early as the
robins, but the robins were the thoughtful and unselfish ones who
thought of the other birds."

"Did they charge anything for the things they sold?" asked Jack.

"No," said daddy; "the old robin said that birds should never charge
each other anything, and, besides, they really felt that the work was
doing them good and that then they'd enjoy the summer all the more.

"And the other birds certainly did appreciate what the robins
were doing for them.

"The shop of the robins grew to be just like a daily party, for all the
birds would fly there every day just about the same time, and after they
had picked out the berries and the worms that struck their fancies
they'd stay around and chirp and chat with the robins and each other."



THE RACE BETWEEN THE SECRETARY BIRDS


[Illustration: Mongo Got Quite a Bit Ahead.]

"The secretary birds had planned to have some field races," began daddy,
"and the afternoon of the races had come. You know, the secretary birds
have very, very long thin legs. Their legs are so thin that you can
hardly see how it is they can support such big bodies, for the secretary
birds have really fat bodies.

"Well, on the afternoon of the races they all entered, and you never saw
such running in all your life! They simply went like the wind, but the
chief race of all was between one bird named Sandy and one named Mongo.
They were considered the fastest runners of all. They had raced often
and often before and had always come in a tie. But this time Mongo had
been practising very hard and had been very careful not to eat anything
to hurt his wind. Sandy had been practising every day, too, but he
thought it was absurd to give up things to eat. However, Mongo had
always heard that all athletes were very careful of their eating, and,
as he had never been able to beat Sandy yet, he was bound he would try
everything he could so as to win.

"The prize was to be a fine, great, big snake which had been captured
and killed a few days before the races were to take place."

"Do secretary birds eat snakes?" asked Evelyn.

"Yes," said daddy; "they practically live on them."

"I shouldn't think that would be nice food," added Evelyn.

"No, we don't think so," answered daddy, "but you know we eat bacon and
like it, so probably the secretary birds think it is as funny for us to
eat pigs as we do to hear of their eating snakes."

"No," said Evelyn thoughtfully, "I suppose not. They sound
so horrid, though."

At that moment Jack, who was growing very impatient, not caring what the
secretary birds ate, chimed in: "Daddy, please hurry and tell us who won
the race. I can hardly wait to hear. I am sure Mongo did, though."

"No," said Evelyn; "I think Sandy did because he wasn't such an
old fuss as Mongo."

"Well," continued daddy, "during the race all the secretary
birds shrieked in their cackling voices: 'Go it; go it! Win,
Mongo! Win, Sandy!'

"For a few moments Mongo got quite a bit ahead, but Sandy succeeded in
catching up with him, and they passed by the goal side by side.

"It was a splendid race, but it showed that Mongo and Sandy were really
absolutely evenly matched, so they gave a funny cackle, which meant a
laugh, and each, taking an end of the prize, said, 'We'll all have a
taste of the prize, as neither of us can win it.'

"So they all sat down to a very jolly supper party."



THE QUARREL BETWEEN NAUGHTY LITTLE SPARROWS


[Illustration: One Little Bird Found a Crumb.]

Jack and Evelyn had been feeding crumbs to the birds every day
for some time.

"I fancy they enjoy them pretty well, don't they?" said daddy.

"Yes; they love them," replied Evelyn.

"Do they ever scrap over who shall get a crumb first?" added daddy.

"No," said Jack; "they never seem to. They really are very cunning, and
they seem to be very friendly and get along beautifully."

"Well, you know," said daddy, "the other day I saw some birds having an
awful fight. One little sparrow had found a very big crumb and was
trying to keep it all to himself."

"Sparrows are supposed to be rather fond of fighting, aren't
they, daddy?" asked Jack.

"They do seem to be considered crosser and to have more cranky natures
than other birds. But perhaps it's because they're always around us, and
they never have a quarrel that we don't see it. But really we ought to
be very grateful to the sparrows, for we always have them with us."

"Yes; that's true," said Evelyn. "And they're plucky little creatures,
too, never minding bad weather, not even the very worst. But do tell us
more about the fight, daddy."

"Another little sparrow," continued daddy, "was furious when he saw the
selfishness of the first sparrow. He completely lost his temper. He
flew at the first little sparrow and hit him with his wings just as
hard as ever he could.

"Then a number of sparrows came and joined in the fight. Some took the
side of the first sparrow and some of the second sparrow.

"It really might have been quite a serious battle had not an old
sparrow stepped in and pitched his voice way up in the air. He simply
shrieked at the sparrows.

"'Stop; stop at once!' he cried.

"All the sparrows stopped at once, for they were very much afraid of the
old sparrow. He was quite their leader, and, though he was a very jolly
old soul and would enter into all their sports, still he was quite
strict.

"'Aren't you ashamed of yourselves, all of you,' he continued--'you,
little first sparrow, for being so selfish, and you, little second one,
for losing your temper, and the rest of you for joining in?'

"And all the little sparrows hung their heads in shame, and they then
and there promised the old sparrow that they would never again be greedy
and selfish nor would they fight.

"The old sparrow then looked very much relieved, for it always made him
very unhappy when the sparrows were naughty."



THE SUCCESSFUL CONCERT OF THE CHICKADEES


[Illustration: One Little Chickadee Sang a Solo.]

Evelyn was very fond of little chickadees, and she was so
pleased when daddy said that he was going to tell them a story
about them that evening.

"You know," commenced daddy, "the chickadees had a concert the other
evening for the other birds. They sent out invitations on petals of
flowers, and on the petals they made little holes with their beaks. They
made six holes, meaning that the concert would begin at 6 o'clock.
Exactly at 6 they all arrived.

"They were all invited to perch on the nearby apple tree and pear tree,
and the chickadees hopped about on the grass below.

"Then the concert began. First one little chickadee sang a very sweet
little solo, which won a great deal of applause.

"The choruses were enjoyed tremendously, too, and the refrain of
'chickadee-dee-dee' was lovely, the other birds thought.

"But, as you can imagine, the chickadee knew that it was the fashion to
have special features at concerts or at least one special feature.

"So as a surprise, just before the last number, which was a chorus
of all the chickadees, a special feature was announced by the
leader of the concert.

"'We are to have,' said the chickadee leader, 'a different number from
any other on the program.'

"At this all the birds looked at one another with astonishment.

"'We are to have,' the chickadee leader continued, 'a ballet.'

"Now, the birds knew that in 'really real' grand opera there is usually
a ballet, but to have one at their concert was wonderful.

"But before they had time to talk about it out came all the little
chickadees, dancing and hopping and wearing little wreaths of flowers
about their necks. Each carried a little flower in his beak, and every
flower was of a different color.

"For some time they danced in and out of a little circle which they
made. They received constant applause.

"It was something new and different to have a ballet dance at the
concert. The birds were very much impressed with the chickadees for
being so up to date.

"The chickadees were delighted that their concert had been such a
success, for, as a matter of fact, they had been rather nervous in
getting up a concert when the other birds had given such beautiful
ones during the spring. They knew that their voices were not at all
lovely, but the birds had wanted to hear them, and now the chickadees
were very, very happy."



THE COLONY OF STARLINGS GIVE A BALL


[Illustration: They Took Little Flying Trips.]

The birds gave concerts early every morning and sometimes, too, they
would give an extra one just after the sun went down in the afternoon.
Jack and Evelyn loved to hear the birds sing, and they told daddy that
they were really learning to know the various songs of the different
birds.

"I have meant for some time," said daddy, "to tell you a story about a
ball the starlings gave some time ago. Now the starlings are not
singers. They can only chirp and twitter, but they love music and enjoy
hearing all the other birds. They are great friends with the robins,
and when they suggested giving a ball the robins were at once ready to
help them with it."

"I don't believe we know what starlings are. We may have seen them and
not have known what they were," said Jack.

"Starlings," continued daddy, "are about the same size as robins. They
are black, or they appear to be black. In reality their feathers look
different colors in different lights. But they usually appear black, as,
of course, they don't come so very near to people. They are not nearly
so tame as the robins. They have yellow beaks. And another thing about
them is that they are very fond of their own kind. They travel always in
huge flocks, for they love to be together.

"But to continue about the ball. The starlings said that they would like
to give a party, and the robins thought it was an excellent plan.

"So invitations were sent out to all the other birds around. And they
all accepted with great pleasure.

"Ever so many were invited. There were the chickadees, the song
sparrows, the chipping sparrows, the orioles, the thrushes, and
even the catbirds were asked.

"Of course, great preparations were made for the ball. The robins said
that they would give the music, for, of course, the starlings couldn't
have a ball without music.

"And you should have seen the birds dancing. They danced until they were
completely out of breath. The robins sang lovely waltzes and they
whistled for the jigs.

"Then, when the starlings thought that their guests had had enough of
the dancing, they suggested that they should all have some supper. They
had their supper served in little moss cups for each bird, and it did
taste so good out of such a dainty, pretty cup."

"I suppose they had little worms, didn't they?" asked Evelyn.

"Yes, indeed," said daddy, "but that is what they think is delicious."



ROBIN REDBREAST'S AND MISS ROBIN'S WEDDING


[Illustration: In a Few Minutes Mr. Robin Came.]

"Little Miss Robin was preening her feathers and smoothing them down,
for it was the 14th of February and she had received a valentine.
Naturally she was very much excited, and she looked at her reflection
as she stood over the brook.

"'Yes,' she said to herself, 'I am looking well to-day. I do hope Mr.
Robin Redbreast will think so too. My, what a fine bird he is! And, oh,
how lucky I am to have received a valentine from him!'

"Now Mr. Robin Redbreast for a long time had admired Miss Robin and
thought she was the most beautiful bird he'd ever seen. And so he began
to get his valentine ready 'way back in the autumn when the trees had
turned red. He would fly from tree to tree and spend hours each day
looking for the most beautiful and perfect leaf, and he wanted it to be
a real crimson color. At last he found it and put it away in his nest,
very carefully covering it over with moss and straw to keep it well
protected and so it wouldn't fade or shrivel up at the ends. Then a few
days before Valentine's day he got a little stick which he stuck through
the red leaf, which he had pecked off into the shape of a heart, and
this was the valentine he sent to Miss Robin. Of course the stick was to
mean that his heart had been pierced by love.

"Mr. Robin Redbreast sent his valentine by a messenger, and then he
waited what seemed hours to him before he went to call on Miss Robin,
and it seemed hours to Miss Robin, too, who had smoothed her feathers
so many times.

"At last Miss Robin heard him singing the most beautiful song, with such
high notes it seemed as if they almost reached the sky. And, oh, how
proud Miss Robin was to feel that such a beautiful singer was to be her
mate!

"In a few moments Mr. Robin Redbreast came in sight and stood before her
by the brook. Miss Robin was all of a flutter with joy and nervousness.

"'I've come,' said Mr. Robin Redbreast, 'to ask you if you'll be my wife
and come to my new nest in the apple tree.'

"And then he sang another little song.

"'I would love to, I would love to!' chirped Miss Robin.

"'We'll be married to-day, then,' said Mr. Robin Redbreast, 'for I've
invited the guests.'

"Then he gave a long call. At that, from far and near, countless robins
flew down and hovered around.

"Mr. Robin Redbreast and his bride flew to the branch of a nearby tree,
and all the others perched about them singing such merry, happy songs.

"And then they all went back to Mr. Robin Redbreast's nest, where a
banquet awaited them of fat, juicy worms."



THE TAME CANARY BIRD AND HIS MISTRESS


[Illustration: He Walked on Her Hand.]

Daddy had heard that afternoon the story of a very tame canary bird.
The little girl who owned the bird, and who was a friend of Jack and
Evelyn, had told daddy about her little pet. So when daddy got home in
the evening he was ready at once to tell the story of the little bird.

"I am going to tell you about the little bird Elizabeth has. Her daddy
gave him to her several weeks ago, and he is just as tame as tame can
be," said daddy. "She has named him Bubsie, and he knows his name too,
for whenever she calls 'Bubsie!' he replies with a little 'Peep, peep!'

"Every morning, bright and early, he wakes up and begins to sing the
most beautiful songs. He sings so steadily that Elizabeth says it is a
surprise to her that he doesn't burst his little throat.

"After Elizabeth gets up she always gives him a little piece of apple
before she begins her breakfast. She puts it on her finger between two
wires of the cage, and he hops right over on his little bar and takes
it from her finger.

"The next thing is his bath, which he takes soon after breakfast. He
loves that. He spatters the water about and has just the best time in
the world. He acts as if it were the most wonderful game. After his bath
he has a treat of delicious lettuce to eat, and then he sits in the sun
and smoothes down his feathers.

"In his cage there is a swing, and he swings on it and hops from one
perch to the other. In fact, he has a fine romp. He usually does this
right after his bath, for then he feels so energetic.

[Illustration: "IN THE AFTERNOONS ELIZABETH LETS HIM OUT OF HIS
CAGE."--_Page 44_]

"In the afternoons Elizabeth lets him out of his cage. Of course she
sees first that there are no windows up or doors ajar before she opens
the door of the cage. When the cage door is open Bubsie flies out and
makes a tour of the room. How he does enjoy flying around and
perching back of the different pictures and on the window-sill. The
thing he likes more than anything else is to play with Elizabeth. He
perches on her shoulder and walks around on her hand. And he loves to
tease her too, for if there are any flowers in the room he will fly over
to them, peck at them and begin munching at them. Then he won't let
Elizabeth catch him. He thinks this a huge joke, and he always flies to
some high spot in the room and begins to sing.

"Elizabeth told me any number of tales of the tricks that he does, but
she told me to invite you two children to come and see her, and then she
promises you that Bubsie will entertain you."

"Oh, that's fine!" said Evelyn. "Do you suppose we can go to-morrow?"

"Yes, I think so," said daddy, "for, as a matter of fact, I believe I
told her to expect you both to-morrow."

"Hurrah!" shouted the children. "You always think of such nice things
for us to do."



THE PET BIRD OF THE WARD


[Illustration: The Bird Sat on His Hand.]

"Well," said daddy, "I suppose you are ready for your story, and this
evening I am going to tell you about a little boy I saw as I passed by a
ward in a hospital I was visiting to-day."

Jack and Evelyn sat up and listened eagerly, as they loved to hear about
other little boys and girls.

"This little boy," daddy continued, "was in the bed nearest the door I
passed, and I noticed him particularly because on a table near his bed
was a large cage containing a small yellow canary bird. I asked the
nurse if pets were allowed in the ward and why this little boy
especially wanted a bird. She told me that the little boy was an orphan
and had been brought into the hospital one day, having been run over by
a motorcycle. He was very much injured, and they expected he would die
any minute. He was brave and scarcely moaned, but whenever the nurse
would stop by his bed he would beg her to send for his bird, which was
at the orphans' home. The nurse gently would explain that pets were not
allowed in the hospital. One night his fever became very high, and in
his rambling talk he begged for his canary. The doctor, who was a very
kind-hearted man, told the nurse to send for the bird, as the little boy
would not live more than a few days, and if the bird would give him such
great happiness they might be able to break a rule in his case.

"So the bird was sent for, and instead of dying the little boy began to
grow better each day, and the bird's singing entertained and gave
pleasure to the other patients in the ward. The bird was very tame, and
when the little boy opened the cage door he would hop out and over the
bed-quilt and perch on the little boy's hand.

"The canary made friends with every one. He was not at all afraid of the
grave doctors who came in every little while to see how the sick people
were getting along. Especially was he friendly with the little boy's
nurse, who fed him lumps of sugar.

"I stepped inside the room and asked the little boy how long he had had
the bird. 'Oh,' he said, 'a lady who came to visit the orphans' home
gave him to me when I was ill in bed with mumps! That was six years ago,
and he has been such a friend to me ever since. His name is Mumps, too,
as I thought his chest looked as fat as my cheeks, and the name has
always clung to him. He adores flowers, and whenever a patient has any,
Mumps flies over and pulls off the petals and eats them.'"

"Oh," said Evelyn as daddy paused, "I wish I could have a canary!"

"Well, maybe I'll bring you one to-morrow," replied daddy.

"And I'll help you feed him," said Jack.



THE EAGLE'S PRIDE AS THE BIRD OF FREEDOM


[Illustration: The Eagle Was Flying Overhead.]

Of course, as you can imagine, Jack and Evelyn had been buying all
sorts and all sizes of firecrackers.

"I think the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday of the whole
year," said Jack.

"Yes," said Evelyn, "so do I, except possibly Christmas and
our birthdays."

"I suppose," said daddy, "that you two children will be up bright and
early to-morrow morning, and I have my very great suspicions that your
clothes are all ready to be put on in the morning instead of having to
waste any time in thinking what you will wear.

"I hardly think I had better tell a story to-night," said daddy, "for
you two ought to get some sleep. I am afraid by the time I finish you
may suggest that instead of it being the time for going to bed it is the
time for getting up."

"Oh, no," said both the children. "Please tell us a little story."

"Yes," said daddy, "I don't believe I can let a single night go by
without a story, not even the Fourth of July eve.

"Well, once upon a time--"

"Daddy," chimed in Jack, "I never heard you begin a story that way
before."

"You see, this is a special occasion, so I am allowed these favors.

"But, to continue, there was once a great big eagle who was flying
overhead on the Fourth of July, and when he saw all the firecrackers
going off and heard all the noise and saw the parade with the flags
flying and the band playing, he said:

"'To think that I belong to the family that is taken as the
representative of all that. I mean freedom and liberty and all those
wonderful things. My great-great-grandfathers may not have fought for
freedom as the great-great-grandfathers of the little boys and girls
who are to-day firing off firecrackers did, but they flew overhead and
said to the winds, which whispered it to the soldiers:

"'"The eagles are free--you must be free." And the soldiers whispered
back to the winds:

"'"Yes, as the eagles are free in the air above, so will we be free on
this land below."'

"So, no wonder the eagle is more than proud of being the bird of freedom
and the emblem of the United States."



WHAT THE BIRDS THOUGHT OF THE FOURTH OF JULY


[Illustration: They Fired Them Off Quickly.]

It was the day after the Fourth of July, and daddy told the children
that he must surely tell them about the little birds and what they
thought of the wonderful Independence Day.

"Didn't they like it?" asked Evelyn.

"No," said daddy. "They were not so very happy yesterday, but I will
tell you all about it, for it is quite a long story.

"You see, some of the older birds knew what the Fourth of July meant.
They thought it was splendid to belong to such a fine, free country
during all the other days of the year, but on the Fourth of July they
did not feel so patriotic. They would have liked it very much if all the
little boys and girls had sung songs, but the noise of the firecrackers
they thought was most disturbing.

"There were no places where they could go that they didn't find children
with firecrackers. Even in front of the farm-houses the children seemed
to have firecrackers enough to last them for years.

"The old birds decided that if they went way off in the woods for the
day they might get away from all the noise, so they planned to start
before dawn. They went, but at the first place they thought of stopping
and giving a nice little bird concert, they found a picnic party of
children. They waited for a moment until the children unpacked their
baskets. But the goodies were not nearly so numerous as the
firecrackers.

"So the birds moved on again, and again they found a picnic party and
were at a loss what to do.

"The old birds were grumbling and making every one around feel just as
'grumbly' as they were, when a little song sparrow, who had been keeping
very quiet during all the fuss, said:

"'Now, look here, I think it is pretty mean of us to grumble while all
the little boys and girls are having such a good time. It is right for
them to be patriotic, and we should not grumble about the noise they
make one day in the year, when we are singing fit to burst our throats
every morning just at sunrise. Besides, we should be more appreciative,
for we love this free air, and we should feel proud that we can fly
about and enjoy it. And, above everything else, think of the times in
the spring when those little girls and boys threw crumbs to us when it
was chilly, and how often in the hot days of summer we find little
drinking-tins in the trees filled with cool water.'

"And all the birds suddenly thought how perfectly right the song sparrow
was, and they gave their concert, pretending that the big cannon
crackers were huge chords of music accompanying their solos and
choruses."



MR. NIGHTINGALE'S NEW FRIEND MR. BLACKBIRD


[Illustration: "Nice old lady will hear our voices."]

"I heard a story the other day," said daddy, "a quite true story. Mr.
Nightingale had built too large a nest.

"After a while he thought of a visitor he would like to have all the
time, and off he started on his travels.

"As he went along, flying as fast as he could, he kept thinking to
himself how very lonely he had been of late.

"At last he reached the spot he had chosen for resting. It was in a
blackbird's bay. There were many low bushes and shrubs and berry trees
in this bay, and in the marshy water were quantities of pond-lilies.

"Soon a very fine bird--black as black could be, and very shiny, just as
if he'd polished his wings with shoe-blacking--perched on a bush beside
the one where Mr. Nightingale was resting.

"'Did you come to hear us sing or talk or scream?' asked the blackbird.

"Mr. Nightingale sang a little opening song and then began to talk
to the blackbird.

"'Mr. Blackbird,' he said, 'you're a handsome fellow, and you're very
smart. I've heard a secret about your family. Many have done what you
will do. You must try. That's all.' And again Mr. Nightingale sang a
song.

"'What do you mean, Mr. Nightingale? Your song is lovely, but your talk
is very, very queer.' And Mr. Blackbird shook his head sadly.

"'Well, I mean you to come to my nest. It's too big for me. It's fitted
out perfectly--all the latest improvements--fresh water to drink
supplied by my water man, Mr. Showers, and new worms each day my
children bring to my nest in plenty of time for breakfast--and our rooms
are both shady and sunny. In fact, it's a very superior home. But in
the house nearby lives a dear old lady and I want her to be given a
treat. She has gone away on a visit and when she comes back I want you
to be singing duets with me.'

"'What?' shouted the blackbird. 'I'm to sing with you?'

"'Most certainly. Many blackbirds have copied our voices so that you
wouldn't be able to tell us apart if you couldn't see us. The nice old
lady will hear our voices and think that there are two of me! When she
sees that one is you, she'll think you're a smart bird--that's what
she'll think. Besides, I want a companion and I like you.'

"'Well, I never heard so many reasons in all my life,' said the
blackbird. 'But I'll go just as soon as I get my suitcase packed. There
are several little delicacies from the bay I'd like to bring along.' And
Mr. Blackbird stopped to put some red berries and other goodies in his
straw bag. Then off they went, and Mr. Blackbird really did learn to
sing just like Mr. Nightingale."



MR. PLAIN SPARROW CALLS ON DUCKS


[Illustration: "Would you like to join us?"]

"It was such a hot day yesterday," said daddy, "that Mr. Plain Sparrow
simply could not get cool. You see he never goes away in the winter and
so he gets used to really cold weather. On a day as hot as it was
yesterday he simply doesn't know what to do with himself. He called
himself Mr. Plain Sparrow because that was exactly what he was. He was
just a plain, ordinary sparrow, and he thought it such a wise thing to
call himself that--and not put on any silly frills. He prided himself
on being sensible.

"'If there's anything in this world I hate,' he said, 'it's pretending
to be what a creature is not.' And so he called himself by the name of
Mr. Plain Sparrow, and his wife was Mrs. Plain Sparrow, and his
children were the Plain Sparrow Children.

"'I think,' he said, 'that I will take a walk or a fly to the duck pond
in the park nearby. Yes, it seems to me that's an excellent scheme. I
would like to see those ducks, for they're right smart creatures, and I
like to hear their funny quack-quack talk.'

"'What are you up to, ducks?' he called, as he flew over the pond, and
then perched on a small bush that was at one side.

"'We're well,' said the ducks. 'We're enjoying a cooling drink between
swims. Would you like to join us? It's just tea time.'

"'Tea time, eh?' said Mr. Plain Sparrow. 'And would you give a fellow a
good, fat worm in place of bread and butter and cake?'

"'Quack-quack! ha, ha!' laughed the ducks. 'We don't like bread and
butter and cake. But we can't get the worm for you just now, as we're
not very good at digging on such a hot day!'

"'Well, then, how about my digging for a couple of them, and then
joining all you nice ducks when you're ready to have your tea?'

"'Splendid idea,' quacked the ducks. And off went Mr. Plain Sparrow to a
soft place in the earth where he thought there would be some good worms.

"Pretty soon he came back with some fine ones, and he sat on his perch
and ate them, while the ducks nibbled at their food, and had drinks of
pond water, which they called tea. Mr. Plain Sparrow flew down and took
sips of water by the side of the pond, and in one very shallow place he
had some nice showerbaths while the ducks were having swims. And before
he left he told the ducks what a good time he had had, and how nice and
cool he felt.

"'Well, you're so friendly we're glad you came,' quacked the ducks once
again."



FARMER'S SCARECROW PROTECTS A CORN-FIELD


[Illustration: "It's a man."]

"To-night," said daddy, "we are going to have the story of the meeting
of the brownies, crows, and old Mr. Scarecrow. The crows had been giving
feasts in a corn-field almost every morning bright and early before any
of the big people who lived in the nearby farm-house were up. Such
feasts as they did have! And one day they asked the brownies if they
wouldn't come to their next one.

"'Caw-caw,' said the crows together.

"'Where are we going?' asked one of the brownies teasingly, for they had
been going around and around in circles and hadn't reached any place.

"'I don't quite know,' said Black Crown Crow, 'it's a question which is
very hard to decide.'

"'But we thought you had chosen a special spot,' said one of the
brownies.

"Black Crown Crow looked very sad, and his black wings seemed to droop.
'It's that guest I never asked. He's causing all the trouble. How very
rude it is of folks to come to a feast who aren't invited, and to arrive
before us, too. It's very e-x-a-s-p-e-r-a-t-i-n-g!'

"'Who is he?' shouted the brownies, for every little while Black Crown
Crow had gone ahead and then had come back. In these little trips he had
seen right in the center of the corn-field a man--a real man, he
thought, with a hat and a coat and trousers and boots--and carrying
something which he couldn't quite make out. It was either a great huge
stick--or worse still--it was a gun. He shivered whenever he thought of
that awful word gun.

"'Caw-caw,' again shrieked Black Crown Crow, 'it's a man and he has a
gun--I'm sure it's a gun. Now the rudeness of him! As if we wanted a
man and a gun at our corn feast!'

"'Oh, it was to have been a corn feast, and now the man has stopped it,'
laughed one of the brownies. 'Well, such a joke! But to show you how
nice we'll be when we're here ready for a party which can't take place,
we'll give a nice party ourselves.'

"And the brownies scampered about a little grove near the corn-field,
and there they made a bonfire over which they cooked some corn-meal
which they had carried with them in their bags. They knew all along,
ever since they'd started, where the crows wanted them to go for the
feast, and they also knew that the farmer had made that scarecrow in his
corn-field to frighten off Black Crown Crow and his followers.

"The brownies made a fine feast, but how they did chuckle among
themselves that the pole dressed up as a man had succeeded in saving
the corn for the people of the farm-house."



THE BRAVE BROWN SPARROWS IN WINTER


[Illustration: One Bird Seemed to be the Leader.]

"You know," said daddy, "I saw such a strange thing to-day in the city."

"Tell us about it," said Jack.

"What was it?" asked Evelyn, who was always interested in
whatever daddy had to say.

"Well," continued daddy, "in a tree in the park lots and lots of little
sparrows were roosting. It was, of course, a perfectly bare tree without
a leaf on it, and they were huddled together, keeping each other warm.

"I watched them for quite a time. There was one sparrow who looked the
leader. He did most of the chirping and was apparently telling all the
others what they must do and giving all sorts of directions. He chirped
almost constantly for ten minutes, and then he flew down from the tree
and hopped along the ground. He picked up crumb after crumb, and then
when he had as many as he could carry in his beak he flew up in the tree
again and left them on a branch where there was a kind of hole in which
to put them. He was evidently showing all the other birds just what to
do, for in a minute or two any number of them flew down to the ground
and began to pick up crumbs.

"It was wonderful to see how many they could find, for I myself could
hardly see any, and all the time he kept chirping to the others and
telling them what to do.

"This kept up for some time, for the birds would fly back and forth,
just picking up goodies and then putting them up in the tree. Meantime a
lot of other birds who had stayed up in the tree were fixing them on the
branch and dividing them all evenly."

"Didn't they eat any of them?" asked Evelyn.

"Yes. After quite awhile they all flew back to the tree again, and once
more they huddled together and had the most marvelous meal. You see, it
was their dinner time, and they all had it together at the same time to
make it more sociable. From all the cries of joy and the noise I fancy
they were having a pretty good time of it and enjoying themselves
immensely. In fact, I think they almost forgot how cold it was."

"I think it's wonderful," said Evelyn, "how well the birds can
look after themselves, for it must be pretty hard sometimes,
especially in the winter."

"Yes," said daddy, "it is, but these birds seemed so happy together and
to be having such a good time. After dinner was over they all chased
each other from one tree to another in the park and played tag and had a
beautiful time. So I think really birds and animals are smart and brave
to be able to look after themselves and their little ones so well."



WHAT THE RAINBOW THINKS OF THE WORLD


[Illustration: Smacked Their Little Beaks.]

"The fairies were giving a luncheon party for the birds, and they wanted
to have a great, big surprise," said daddy. "The birds which were
invited were the robins, the orioles, the bluejays, the humming-birds.

"'Now, birdies,' said the fairy queen, 'I'm going to ask the king of
the clouds to this luncheon, so we'll have plenty of delicious
rain-water to drink.'

"Of course, the fairy queen had told the king of the clouds that she
didn't want him to send his army of raindrops to the earth--for an army
would make it pour too hard and they couldn't have any fun at the
luncheon. She just wanted some of the big, big drops to come down and
fill the little stones she had at the places for the birds so that they
could have delicious water at her party--but she didn't want to make it
so wet they'd get their beautiful feathers drenched--just a nice little
shower was what she wanted.

"The king of the clouds had promised, and he had told the raindrops just
what to do and just how many could go down on the earth.

"The birds enjoyed the delicious luncheon the fairies gave them, and, of
course, they loved their fresh drinks of water.

"'Now for our surprise,' shouted the fairies, after the luncheon was
over. 'We're to have two famous guests to-day. This is to be a really
real day! And we're to have them both at the same time--and we're to
have another treat, too. Guess, birds, what are we going to have? Guess,
guess, guess!' For the fairies were so excited they kept repeating
themselves over and over again.

"But before the birds had time to do more than twitter and chirp among
themselves as to what the great surprise was going to be, who should
appear, right along with the raindrops, but Mr. Sun, and then over a
hill came the most beautiful rainbow with all the glorious colors the
fairies admire so much.

"And then you should have heard the singing of the birds. Every one of
them had a glorious voice, and the chorus was the loveliest the fairies
had ever heard. As for Mr. Sun, he beamed and shone with might and main.

"'Well, hello, raindrops,' he said. 'I'm mighty glad to see you. It's
not often we meet, but the fairy queen can make all of us friendly--even
the sun and the rain.'

"And the raindrops came on down to the earth very gently, but without
stopping, while back of it all the rainbow leaned down over the
hill and whispered:

"'Isn't this a wonderful world? There are fairies, birds, the sun, fresh
water to drink. I'm so glad I am here.'"



EAGLES AND RAVENS


[Illustration: He is Very Brave.]

"Some white-tailed eagles were boasting one day of their bravery,"
commenced daddy. "They were also saying how fine they were in every way
and that their very name meant something splendid and free and strong.

"As a matter of fact, though the white-tailed eagles won't admit it,
they are less brave than any of the eagle families.

"The ravens are not kindly at all and they love to fight. They had often
thought it would be great sport to have those 'silly white-tailed
eagles,' as they called them, admit that they were not brave and have
their leader beg for mercy from General Raven.

"And, as you can imagine, when Brother Black Raven heard the eagles
boasting he knew it was high time to begin and frighten them.

"So he called all the ravens together. Some of them were having their
naps, but as soon as Brother Black Raven called them, up they got in a
great hurry, spread their wings and drilled a little bit just like
soldiers. Only instead of marching they flew.

"As General Raven came near the nest of the white-tailed eagles, he said
in a very queer, croaking sort of voice:

"'Good-morning!' That was rather mean of him to say, for, of course, he
didn't really wish them a 'Good-morning.'

"'Do you want to fight?' asked General Raven.

"Still not a sound from the eagles. There was a slight fluster and
trembling, which the ravens could hear and which made them grin with
delight, but the eagles never said a word. They didn't even look at the
ravens! For they were so frightened they didn't dare look at them, and
they kept thinking, 'Oh, won't those awful ravens and their ugly old
general go away?' The eagles, of course, thought the ravens were very
ugly because they were so afraid of them.

"'For the last time, do you want to fight us, eh?' asked General
Raven. And still the eagles said not a word--nor made a sound. 'Well,
let me say then for all of us,' said General Raven, 'that we think
you're very cowardly, and we heard you talking before we came of your
bravery. We wouldn't fight you because you're afraid of us, but you'll
have to admit it after this,' and with a deep chuckle off went General
Raven and his followers.

"The eagles did not go on boasting, but they were very contented that
the ravens had gone away!"



THE EAGLES WHO WERE ALWAYS STILL


[Illustration: He Put the Book Before Him.]

"In the house where Kenneth lived there was a chair which had always
fascinated him. It was a very, very old chair, and Kenneth's mother and
daddy were very proud of it," said daddy to Jack and Evelyn. "Kenneth's
daddy had bought it at a sale of old and curious things. It was a Roman
chair, and on either side were two heads of eagles. These four heads in
all always made Kenneth wonder, for they looked so very life-like. He
used to imagine that even little wooden eagles must get very tired of
always being just the same.

"Really it often made Kenneth quite sad to watch them. One afternoon
Kenneth went to a party. A little school chum of his had given it. It
had been a very nice party. But, oh, he did feel so tired, for they had
played blind man's buff, bull in the ring, squat tag, and other games.

"When Kenneth came home from the party it was not quite his bedtime, but
secretly in his heart he was hoping it would come soon, for he had made
up his mind that he wasn't going to bed until his bedtime.

"He got a book from the library shelf. It was full of pictures of
sailors and pirates and ships, because if anything would keep him awake
that would. He sat down with it on the Roman chair.

"Strangely enough, though, after a moment or two, he didn't seem to see
pirates, and the sea began to look very much more like the surface of a
chair. Soon the pirates disappeared entirely, and the four eagles of the
Roman chair were looking at him steadily.

"'You're terribly tired, aren't you?' said the first eagle.

"'Yes; I'm a little tired,' Kenneth admitted.

[Illustration: "'WE'VE BEEN ON THIS CHAIR SO LONG,' SAID THE FOURTH
EAGLE."--_Page 75_]

"'Well, you're not as tired as we are,' said the second eagle.

"'No, indeed!' said the third eagle. 'You're only tired because you've
played so many games. We're tired because we're always still.'

"Kenneth listened eagerly, because he'd so often thought just what
he was hearing. 'Yes,' said Kenneth very sympathetically; 'I should
think you would be very dull. I've often thought that. Have you been
there a long time?'

"'Oh, ages and ages!' replied the fourth eagle, who up to this time
hadn't spoken. 'We were very old before your daddy got us. We've been on
this chair so long. We can't remember how long. And what makes us feel
so sad is that we are called eagles and should fly and yet are forever
glued to this chair.'

"'Kenneth, Kenneth,' cried Kenneth's mother, 'it's long past bedtime!'

"'Oh, I am not so tired as the eagles are!' said Kenneth. And Kenneth's
mother wondered if he was talking in his sleep."



THE BOBOLINKS HAVE A TEA PARTY


[Illustration: Who Should Arrive but Fairies.]

"The other day," commenced daddy, "the bobolinks had an afternoon tea.

"The tea party was given for the meadow larks. The bobolinks are great
friends of the meadow larks and they wanted to be the first this season
to entertain them. Besides, most of the bobolinks had new summer homes
and their colony was near a beautiful stream.

"You know the bobolinks always build their homes in the meadows--but
they build very near a stream and their homes are always deep down
in the long grass.

"They had all come to live in Waving Grassland for the summer--that is,
all the bobolinks who always moved about together in the summer and
winter--and many of their friends, the meadow larks, were on hand to
greet them. A number of others were going to arrive in a few
days--before the tea party.

"Now Waving Grassland was very beautiful country. The meadows were very
large and the grass was so beautiful and so long that it always waved
in the soft breezes, so that the bobolinks named their new summer
place Waving Grassland.

"And so the bobolinks made all their preparations for the tea party. The
guests arrived dressed up in their best new summer plumage. The meadow
larks came first, as they were the guests of honor.

"The red-breasted grosbeak family were all there looking too lovely for
words. And the bluejays, downy woodpeckers, the orioles, the thrush
family, the chipping sparrows, the robins, the indigo birds--and even
the shy vireos ventured forth. Of course, usually they hate parties, but
they loved the stream nearby and the beautiful country the bobolinks
were living in, and they thought at least once a year they ought to be a
little bit sociable and friendly with their neighbors.

"After they had all chatted together--to us it would have sounded more
like chirping--the bobolinks began to serve tea.

"They had spring water for their tea--the water from the cool stream
which had a deep spring within it. And this tea they served in little
moss-covered stones. That gave it the most delicious flavor, and all the
birds asked the bobolinks where they had found such good tea. You know
in birdland they don't ask each other where anything is bought, but
where it is found! And the bobolinks told their secret.

"But as they were drinking cup after cup--or stoneful after stoneful--of
tea, who should arrive but all the fairies!

"The birds greeted the fairies with their best songs--or their way of
saying 'We're so glad to see you'--and the bobolinks trilled with joy
because they had arranged this lovely surprise for their guests."



A HAPPY DAY IN BIRDLAND


"The birds," said daddy, "found a new room for breakfast. It was in a
row of bushes--and the bushes were berry bushes.

"One day as they were having the best sort of a time eating, who
should look down at them but the king of the clouds. He looked
quite dark and solemn.

"'Te-wit,' said one little bird, and another said,

"'Tr-r-r-i-l-l.'

"'How about some water to drink?' asked the king of the clouds. 'Some
nice, fresh water?'

"The birds began chirping for all they were worth. The grown-ups said,
'Listen to the noise the birds are making. It must be going to
rain--they're crying for water.'

"And sure enough, they were begging the king of the clouds to send some
of his army of raindrops down to the earth.

"'Please, please, please, Cloud King, send us rain-water,'
chirped the birds.

"'All right,' roared the cloud king. 'I will.'

"'But we don't want thunder,' said the birds. 'We want to stay out, and
we're afraid of thunder. Won't you send us a good old-fashioned shower?'

"And the cloud king called, 'Raindrops, raindrops, come and patter down
to the earth. But gently, little raindrops. And when you see the beak of
a little bird open, one small raindrop must walk inside.'

"Down came the raindrops very softly and gently to the earth.

"'Children,' called Mother Robin, 'come for your baths in these hollow
stones. They're filled with water.'

"All around the mother birds were calling the little ones to their
baths.

"'Oh,' said one little robin as he ducked his head into the water, and
then shook all over and spattered it about, 'how nice a bath does feel.'

"The cloud king looked so bright and happy, that the mother birds were
afraid it would stop raining. 'Don't stop, Cloud King,' they chirped.

"'I won't,' said the cloud king. And the birds twittered and sang and
wet their little throats with the delicious rain-water.

"After the cloud king and his army of raindrops had been working for
quite a long time, one of the birds noticed that the new breakfast room
in the berry bushes was getting very wet.

"'It will spoil our berries for breakfast, I'm afraid,' he said.

"But the berries whispered back,

"'No; we like the rain too. We needed some water to drink. And more of
us will come to-morrow. Your breakfast will be better than ever.'

"So all day long the rain kept up gently. When it was almost bedtime who
should appear but old Mr. Sun.

"'Shall I dry your little feathers?' he said to the birds.

"And every little bird in birdland was warm and dry and happy when he
tucked his head under his wing that night."



THE ROBINS' SPRING CONCERT


[Illustration: The Grand Opera Chorus.]

"The robins gave their spring concert the other morning for the
fairies," said daddy. "They give one every year just after most of their
family have arrived for the summer. It is one of the biggest events of
the spring in fairyland, and they are so excited about it for days ahead
that they can talk about nothing else. They've practised so hard and so
long lately that the day has been quite far gone many a time, when some
little robin has been trying over and over again some important trill
which he was going to sing alone.

"But the concert was given just at dawn. Mr. Sun came out for it,
looking as fine as any king with a very dazzling golden crown on his
head. Then the dew-drops came and had reserved seats on the little
blades of grass. Some of the early butterflies were invited, and the
little spring garden flowers opened their sleepy eyes and waved about,
keeping time with the music.

"First of all was the grand opening chorus. Mr. Robin Redbreast had a
little stick with which he beat time, and all the robins sang a fine
song which he had made up himself.

"Then came the solos. Miss Robin Redbreast sang a beautiful song
all by herself.

"Then two little brother robins sang a song together--they called it a
'duet,' which was very funny. They acted as they sang, and made all the
fairies and the other guests at the concert laugh hard.

"But best of all was the band. It was a new band the robins had just
started, and they were very proud of it. It was a great surprise to the
fairies, for they didn't know the robins had a band. As you can guess,
the robins had worked hard for a big surprise for the fairies. Ten
little robins played the drums, which were tiny twigs from the apple
tree. There were little spring leaves through which some of the others
whistled tunes, and the rest played on horn-shaped flowers.

"After the concert was finished and the fairies had clapped and
clapped and waved their wands with delight, and the little robins had
bowed and bowed--and fallen down, sometimes making too low bows--they
all had breakfast. Such a breakfast! The most luscious of worms were
given the little robins and a special dish was made for the fairies of
spring porridge, which Grandmother Robin had made, and which the
fairies called 'Delicious.'"



THE CROWS AT THE FAIRIES' BALL


[Illustration: They Promised to Wait on Guests.]

"The fairies had one of their fine balls just two evenings ago,"
said daddy.

"Among their guests were the brownies, elves, gnomes, many of the
birds, butterflies, humming-birds, red lizards, grasshoppers, and
crickets. The crickets had arranged to sing for the dancing and the
humming-birds said they would hum the tunes all the time that the
crickets sang. The robins sang some extra songs, and, of course, the
other birds joined in the chorus.

"Then came supper time. The table was made of daisies and moss, and such
delicacies! Well, it would have made your mouth water!

"They had the goodies that every guest would enjoy most. Not a guest
was forgotten. There were even little worms for the birds--and the
other guests didn't mind at all, as they knew the robins and orioles
and other bird guests loved little worms. They were given to the birds
in special dishes made of grass.

"But just as all the guests sat down to supper the fairy queen said:
'Come, all my fine waiters!' And as she said this she waved her wand
high in the air.

"Then from far and near the blackest of black crows flew down and
alighted all around the table. They had promised the fairy queen to be
just as good as good could be, and to wait on all the guests before
they had anything at all to eat. They were quite willing to do this,
for they had never been invited to a ball given by the fairies before
and they were highly flattered.

"They all had had their black suits polished and brushed with the
greatest care and they wore very fine aprons and hats made of green
leaves. Every time a guest said 'Thank you' when anything was passed, a
crow would say, 'Caw-caw,' which means 'You're welcome.'

"The crows always say 'Caw-caw' to almost everything, but it is just
the tone they use that makes the 'Caw-caw' mean something quite
different each time they want it to. At the end of the supper, after the
crows had had a feast, too, the fairy queen asked them if they wouldn't
sing the old, old song about blackbirds being baked in a pie.

"At first the crows looked a bit sad, but then they said: 'Why, of
course, we'll be happy to sing it. It's lots of fun to sing about such
things after we have had a feast and know quite well that the fairy
queen wouldn't bake us in a pie.'

"How the guests did laugh to hear the crows singing about blackbirds
being baked in a pie--and stopping every minute to shout out, 'Not us,
though, oh, no!'--and the fairy queen was delighted."



THE NAUGHTY LITTLE SICK SNOWBIRD


[Illustration: The Bird Began to Recover.]

Daddy had been encouraging Jack and Evelyn to feed the little birds
that came outside the window. So one evening when it was time for
their story he told them about the Christmas a little snowbird had
had the year before.

"He was a very self-willed little fellow," commenced daddy, "and he
thought no one knew so much about life as he did. During the autumn he
had become very chummy with the sparrows. His daddy and mother didn't
like that much, as they were afraid he would become as rude and noisy as
the sparrows were.

"When the cold weather came the snowbirds decided to leave, but the
little wilful snowbird was nowhere to be found. 'Where could he have
gone?' asked Mother Snowbird, and daddy said, 'Oh, probably he left this
morning with the robins and wrens, for I saw him playing with them!'
That eased Mother Snowbird's fears, and off they started.

"When the little snowbird saw that his family had flown away he came out
from his hiding-place. He really felt a little homesick and was sorry he
hadn't gone, too; but, of course, he didn't dare admit it, for the
sparrows had told him only stupid children were obedient. They admired
his naughty disobedience and thought it was a great joke to worry his
family.

"A few weeks went by, and the days became colder and colder. One night
he felt so cold and so unhappy that he flew away from the sparrows,
expecting to die any moment.

"The next morning he was found, half dead, by a little girl. She took
him in her house, warmed his frozen feet and fed him bits of crumbs and
drops of water. Slowly he began to recover.

"It was the day before Christmas, and he was perched on the window-sill
in the sun, when, to his huge joy, he saw Daddy and Mother Snowbird
outside the window. He flew against the window-glass. The little girl
came rushing into the room to see what the trouble was. She was sure
from his joyous actions that the other two snowbirds were his daddy and
mother, so she opened the window, and the little bird flew out.

"'Oh, dear, we've been so frightened!' said Mother Snowbird.

"'Yes,' said Daddy Snowbird; 'we've been on ever so many trips looking
for you, but now we'll hurry down home and fly fast, so as not to get
cold, and then we'll be there in time for Christmas day. All the little
birds will be there waiting for the Christmas party.'

"You may be quite sure the little snowbird never had a happier
Christmas, and he realized that the older birds knew what was best
for him."



A SPARROW CALLS ON A HIPPOPOTAMUS


[Illustration: Mr. Hippopotamus Was Having His Bath.]

"The hippopotamus who lived in the zoo had a very strange caller the
other day," said daddy.

"Into the animal house flew a sparrow. The keeper called out to him:

"'Where are you going, sparrow?' But the sparrow did not answer. He flew
right through the animal house until he reached Mr. Hippopotamus' cage.
Mr. Hippopotamus was having his bath, and he would not be interrupted.

"The sparrow was rather annoyed that Mr. Hippopotamus didn't want to
come right out of the water to talk to him, and he scolded from his
perch on the wire of the cage. There he sat scolding away, and the
hippopotamus kept on splashing and spluttering as he took his bath.

"Soon the hippopotamus came up from the water and sat in the corner of
his cage, and the sparrow hopped over to a wire a little nearer.

"'Mr. Sparrow, I am sorry to be late for your call,' said the
hippopotamus, 'but the truth is I wanted to look my best.' And his
great, long, funny old face grinned, and he showed his big teeth.

"'That's all right,' cheerfully chirped the sparrow. 'I have plenty of
time to-day. My family have gone a-shopping for bread crumbs which they
find every day in a certain back-yard. And I have nothing to do. I've
come to tell you the news of the world outside.'

"So the sparrow told Mr. Hippopotamus all about the wild scampers the
sparrows had been having. He told about their quarrels and how they had
made up again. And he bragged about their friends and relations, the
song sparrows, who had been very friendly this year.

"When Mr. Sparrow began to be boastful, the old hippopotamus said:

"'You think I'm finer than my cousins in that cage over there?' And Mr.
Hippopotamus pointed to some other members of his family. They were very
much smaller and their coats looked just like chocolate. 'And,' he went
on, 'when the children see those silly cousins of mine they always say,
"Why, they look just like tins of chocolate taffy left to cool." They
never can say anything quite so stupid about me.'

"'Well,' said Mr. Sparrow, 'I must be off now, as it's time the bread
crumbs and the family were coming home.' He spoke about the bread crumbs
first, you notice. 'But I'll come and see you soon again, old hippo,'
and the little sparrow flew off."



THE ROBINS COME TO THE RESCUE


[Illustration: Saving the Little Birds from Danger.]

The honeysuckles were beginning to bud. Already the humming-birds were
hovering near and had built a nest right in the heart of the vine. This
vine was in a nice old-fashioned garden, but near by there was a vacant
lot which was very swampy.

"You know the garden by the vacant lot?" began daddy.

"Yes," replied both children, "are you going to tell us a story
about that garden?"

"I am going to tell you," said daddy, "about the mother humming-bird
whose little ones were attacked by a cruel snake when they were rescued
by the brave robins.

"The snake had come over from the vacant field and had crawled up the
honeysuckle vine as the mother humming-bird had gone off for some food.
Some robins hovering near had seen the awful snake. They had cried out
in terror and had flown over to the nest.

"The mother humming-bird heard the cries and hurried back, but the
robins had frightened off the snake. The snake was not a very large one,
and really he had been frightened by all the noise the robins had made,
and when he saw so many birds flying toward him he got away very
quickly.

"The mother humming-bird got back just as the snake was leaving the
nest.

"She couldn't thank the robins enough for flying to the rescue and
saving her beloved little ones, but the robins didn't want any thanks.
They were thankful, too, that the dear little birds had been saved, for
birds are very loyal to one another and will risk any danger to save
each other."

"I am so glad," said Evelyn, "that the little humming-birds were saved,
for I love to see them having such a good time in the honeysuckle vines,
and the more there are of them the nicer it makes the summer seem."

"It was brave of the robins to come to the rescue, though, wasn't it,
daddy?"

"Indeed it was," said daddy; "but almost all animals and birds will
do anything they can to help one another, and they seem to forget
that there is such a thing as being afraid if they see any creature
in danger or distress.

"After the mother humming-bird had recovered from the awful fright, and
after the little ones had shown that they were perfectly well and
strong, with no ill effects from their fright, the mother humming-bird
invited the robins to partake of the delicious meal she had succeeded in
getting before the cries came from the robins."

[Illustration: "THE MOTHER HUMMING-BIRD HURRIED BACK."--_Page 95_]



MR. AND MRS. OWL'S STOREROOM


[Illustration: Waited on All Who Came.]

"Two owls," commenced daddy, "lived in a soft feathered nest in the big
woods. After a time they got a little tired of talking and scolding and
hunting and midnight parties, so Mrs. Owl, who was always saving odds
and ends, thought it would make them very rich and happy if they had a
store.

"'What,' said Mr. Owl, 'a store?'

"'Yes,' replied Mrs. Owl, as she smoothed her feathers and polished
her back with a bit of bark. 'It will be not only a store, but a
supper-room.'

"'Whatever do you mean?' said Mr. Owl.

"'You know,' continued Mrs. Owl, 'that in the world where people
live they have parties. There is nothing new about that. Don't we
have parties? Yes.'

"Mrs. Owl always answered all her own questions when she had something
most important to say, and when she did not want to have anyone
interrupt her or disagree with her.

"'And so, if we have parties in the woods, think what a great help it
will be to all the wood animals and the fairies and brownies and gnomes
if we have a supper-room attached to our store--where after the parties
the wood creatures can come and have supper.'

"Mr. Owl sat up very straight and said, 'To-wit, to-who,' or it sounded
very much like that. What he meant was that he thought it an excellent
scheme. And he went on to tell Mrs. Owl that she could fix up all the
dishes for the supper and decorate the tables--and he would go forth and
hunt for the good things to eat.

"The store was started right away. The animals came to buy their things
in the daytime--and as Mr. and Mrs. Owl were asleep they would simply
take them away and not pay for them at the time.

"That didn't bother Mr. and Mrs. Owl at all, though. They wanted to
have such a fine store that all their things would be taken, and they
left notes for the little animals saying:

"'Take all you like. We must sleep and think up more wonderful things to
do for you. As for pay--we don't want it. We're already to be envied for
our knowledge. We don't even have to go to school--and are always
cleverer than those who do go!'

"The animals were much amused at the conceit of Mr. and Mrs. Owl, but
they had to admit that their store was a great success. And as for
their supper-room--it was perfect!

"Every evening it was very gay, with the chatter of many of the wood
animals and the fairies, after different parties and frolics. Mrs. Owl
made the most delicious goodies, and always made the tables look very
attractive with wild flowers.

"As for Mr. Owl, he put on a big white apron and a white hat and waited
on all who came to the supper-room, and often he would make wise, wise
speeches for the benefit of all around him."



POLLY WAS THE HEROINE OF THE FIRE


[Illustration: Shrieked at the Top of Her Lungs.]

Jack and Evelyn had been to see a friend of theirs who owned a parrot.
The parrot, whose name, of course, was Polly, had completely fascinated
them. She could dance when a tune was whistled, she took sugar from her
mistress's mouth, and she could talk. She could say: "Pretty Polly,"
"Polly, want a cracker?" "Polly hungry," "Polly, want a bite?"

So when daddy came home that evening, of course Jack and Evelyn told
him all about the parrot, and later he told them a story about another
parrot.

"In a small town," said daddy, "a little girl named Alice owned a pet
parrot who was very clever. This parrot could talk a great deal and say
ever so much more than just 'Polly, want a cracker?' This Polly could
whistle, too, most beautifully, and could do a great, great many
wonderful tricks. Of course, as you can imagine, Alice was very proud of
her parrot, and Polly was devoted to Alice.

"One night when every one in the town was fast asleep a fire broke out
in a deserted barn, and, as there was a high wind, it began to spread.
The house nearest the fire was the one in which Alice lived, and Polly
Parrot was the first to smell the smoke. She shrieked at the top of her
lungs, 'Fire, fire!' and the whole household came rushing downstairs and
found the library, where Polly was, full of smoke.

"They put on coats and, grabbing Polly's cage, rushed out of the house
as quickly as they could, for the flames were beginning to break through
on all sides. Alice's daddy rushed off to ring the fire bell, while
Alice, carrying her Polly Parrot, and her mother followed along. Soon
every one in the town was up and out in the street. The firemen managed
to keep the fire from spreading, and they saved all the valuable things
in Alice's home.

"As everyone stood around watching the firemen throwing the water on the
fire Polly kept calling out: 'It's pretty hot! It's pretty hot! I tell
you it's pretty hot!' That amused everyone, so that it kept up their
spirits during the awful fire.

"At last, however, the firemen succeeded in putting the fire out, and
one of the neighbors invited Alice and her mother and daddy to stay at
her house, and, of course, Polly Parrot went along too.

"Polly was now not only considered a very clever bird, but a real
heroine, for she had awakened Alice and her family and saved their lives
and also the lives of many others, for with such a wind many houses
would have gone had not the firemen been called out just when they were.

"Instead of being vain about it, Polly Parrot acted as though her one
pride was that Alice was more devoted to her than ever."



THE WINTER HOME FOR THE WREN FAMILY


[Illustration: All the Little Boys Helped.]

"A number of little boys living in a small town were very much
interested in carpentry," said daddy. "They made boxes and chairs and
tables and all sorts of things.

"They had a nice tool shop in an unused barn belonging to the daddy of
one of the little boys.

"In the late autumn one of the little boys, who was very fond of birds
and especially so of the house wren, suggested that they should build
some little bird houses under the low roof of the barn.

"So all the little boys helped because they thought it was such a nice
plan."

"What is a house wren?" inquired Evelyn.

"A house wren," said daddy, "shows his difference from other wrens by
having black and gray lines on his brown back. His tiny tail points
upward and his breast is grayish white. He is very friendly and loves to
keep the same home.

"Now, the boys had noticed that one family of wrens had built a nest on
the side of this same barn two summers. They had flown away when the
cold weather came each time.

"The boys built a fine little house with great care and watched to see
if the wrens would go to it. And, sure enough, they did! Apparently they
thought it was a beautiful house, although they, of course, wished to
furnish it in their own way."

"How did they furnish it?" asked Jack.

"They filled it with twigs, and in the center of the house they put
masses of dried grass and twigs.

"The boys were interested watching the wrens, and the wrens seemed
perfectly happy. There were no sparrows near by. They saw that the boys
were friendly, and they found the wooden house kept out the cold air.

"Week after week passed, and still the wrens didn't show any desire to
move to a warmer place. On the very coldest day they would come out,
flit about, hop and bow, and be as energetic as possible.

"Of course the boys never touched the house after they'd built it, for
the wrens then would have left, and the wrens made their front door
so small that a sparrow couldn't possibly have gone inside and bothered
the little ones.

"You can imagine how delighted the boys were; and to keep the wrens from
feeling homesick for a warmer home, each day they'd scatter crumbs
around near the wrens' home, then watch the wrens hop down and take them
up to the nest, and the wrens seemed to be very happy when they saw the
boys. They acted as if they knew and appreciated that the boys had built
them such a fine home."



THE VAIN GOLDFINCH LEARNS A LESSON


[Illustration: He Hid His Face in Shame.]

"Mr. Goldfinch," said daddy, "was very conceited and proud of himself.
To be sure, a goldfinch's voice is very much like a canary's--but it's
not quite so lovely--and he can't do the wonderful trills a canary can
without his voice cracking. Of course, that isn't beautiful.

"So the fairy queen made plans. First of all, she asked the birds to
give her a concert, and gladly they all said they would.

"And the next day, on a row along the fence of an old country road, near
the woods, perched all the bullfinch family, the oriole family, the
bluejay family, the indigo bird family, and the goldfinch family.

"First of all they all sang in a beautiful chorus, and the fairy queen
and all the fairies were delighted.

"Before long the elves happened along by the old fence, and they said:

"'What's up? A concert? May we stay?'

"'By all means,' said the fairy queen, and then she whispered to the
elves her secret. The elves sat along the opposite fence and perched on
the fence between some of the birds, too.

"When the birds had finished singing in the chorus and were not
supposed to sing by themselves, they flew to the wings of the fairies
and perched there.

"You can imagine how lovely the fairies did look, with their bright
silver wings, and the beautiful birds with their bright colors perched
everywhere on the wings.

"'Now,' said the fairy queen, 'remember what I've asked for.'

"At that Mr. Bullfinch came out and sang in his sweet little way. He
didn't try to sing anything very big or hard, but he sang a little,
simple song, in the very best way he could.

"Soon Mr. Goldfinch came out to sing his solo. At first his song was
very fine and all the other birds cried, 'Bravo,' 'Wonderful,'
'Gorgeous,' at the end of the first verse. And they all sang these words
in their own little bird ways.

"But at the beginning of the second verse Mr. Goldfinch tried to sing a
trill that was too hard for him.

"And what do you suppose happened? Mr. Goldfinch's voice cracked, and
all the birds tittered and flew off the fence, chatting with each other.

"'Well, wasn't that a disgrace--and at the fairy queen's concert, too!'

"As for Mr. Goldfinch, he hid his head in shame and felt very wretched,
but the fairy queen waved her wand, and said to every one: 'This concert
was given so Mr. Goldfinch would learn to be natural and not try things
beyond him. We all like you as you are, without silly, vain
actions--sing us a simple song now, and we'll forgive you!'

"So Mr. Goldfinch learned he mustn't try to copy the canary."



THE BATS HAVE A JOLLIFICATION


[Illustration: How the Bats do Love the Night!]

"The bats are all so glad the summer has come," said daddy. "For a
long, long time they have been staying in the caves and hiding away in
the tops of the corners and crevices. But last night they had their
first real jollification.

"One of the bats had said it was high time to go out into the world, but
another bat had said it was still too chilly. Then a bat said:

"'Well, what have we wings for?' And after that it was decided that
they should be off.

"They waited until it began to grow dark--and then some of the ones who
hadn't been sleeping very well got up and flew about a little while.

"Then the others who had been sound asleep woke up just as it became
very, very dark. Oh, how the bats do love the night! They love it just
as much as the birds love the daytime and the sun. For, though bats have
wings, they are not at all like birds and they aren't in the least
friendly with any of them.

"So off they started on the jollification. First they whizzed through
the air practising their different ways of flying. And after they had
all the strength back into their wings, they reached the garden of an
old, deserted house, where they stopped for the rest of the night.

"There they told stories and chatted and chatted. For they had a great
deal to say after their long sleep, and they ran races, and did tricks,
and frightened people they saw coming along the road.

"They would get so near that each person would say:

"'Oh, dear me, I must cover up my head or that bat will get caught
in my hair.'

"The bats thought that was a great joke, as they had no intentions of
caging themselves up in someone's hair when they could be at the
jollification. But they did enjoy playing pranks on the grownups.

"And soon, much too soon, daylight came.

"But what do you suppose happened? Such a wonderful ending to their
jollification! Didn't those thoughtful little brownies, who had known
all about the bats' jollification--and feeling rather sorry for the bats
because they don't have such very good times--send some magic air-boats
which picked up the sleepy bats as they flew along. Then they were
carried back to their cold, hard beds in the crevices of the
rocks--which they thought were so comfortable!

"And as they crept into bed, there were never so many happy bats and
pleased bats as these were at having had air-boats bring them home
from their jollification!"



THE REPENTANCE OF LITTLE JIM CROW


[Illustration: Jim Ducked Him in the Brook.]

"Little Jim Crow had been very naughty," began daddy. "He had been
bullying Sammy Crow for some time past simply because Sammy was not so
large and not so strong as he was. Jim Crow was quite a leader, too, in
a very mean way, for he'd tried to influence a lot of other little crows
to think it was smart to tease Sammy.

"Well, one day Jim got hold of Sammy and ducked his head into a brook of
very cold water, where the ice had only recently melted.

"Poor Sammy was so frightened he almost cried his eyes out, while Jim
stood by and laughed and laughed. But Sammy was far from being strong,
and the cold water made his head throb and ache, while his bones felt
numb and his feathers lost their nice shiny look. He complained so much
for several days of his head that his family sent for old Dr. Crow.

"Dr. Crow was a fine physician. He wore great big spectacles, and, oh,
he was so kind! When he saw Sammy he became very much alarmed.

"'Why didn't you tell me of this sooner?' said he.

"'Oh, what's the matter?' asked Sammy's mother. 'Is he really very ill?
We thought he had a little cold.'

"Dr. Crow took from his black medicine-bag a little thermometer and put
it in Sammy's mouth and at the same time felt his pulse. Then he pulled
the thermometer out. He looked very grave.

"'Mrs. Crow,' said he to Sammy's mother, 'his temperature is very high,
and he must be put right to bed. Put his feet in mustard and hot water
and bathe his head every three hours with witch hazel, and I'll call
around again this evening to see him.'

"'Oh, you don't think he is going to die, doctor?'

"'I think he'll live, but he is pretty sick and needs great care.'

"After Dr. Crow left Sammy he went to Jim Crow's mother and daddy. He
was very angry at what had been done to Sammy. When Jim's mother and
daddy saw Dr. Crow coming toward their nest they were afraid Jim had
been doing something awfully naughty, for he had stayed home very little
the past few days, and they suspected something had happened.

"At that moment Jim flew in boisterously, and the doctor told him how
ill Sammy was and of what he had done.

"For some days Sammy lay at the point of death, but with Dr. Crow's
skill he finally got well.

"And Jim Crow, who had felt like a murderer, became a good crow
and realized it was very, very cruel to tease any one smaller
and weaker than himself."



THE RESCUE OF THE CANARY BIRD


[Illustration: She Watched the Little Bird.]

"I am going to tell you a really true story," said daddy, "something
which happened to-day. I was walking along a rather poor part of the
city when I saw a number of children gathered in a group in a little
side yard of a tenement house. The children were screaming to one boy:
'Oh, catch him! Don't let the awful cat get him!'"

"Oh, was it a bird?" asked Jack eagerly.

"Yes," replied daddy; "it was a bird, but not just the usual kind of
bird that is seen around city streets, for only the sparrows like the
noise of a city. Most birds like the woods and the country, where they
can have homes in the trees and can sing all day long.

"But this was a tame yellow canary who had flown out of an open window
to pick up some goodies he saw on the ground, and a cat was after him."

"Did they get him from the cat?" asked Evelyn eagerly, for she was
devoted to animals and perhaps especially to birds.

"Yes," answered daddy; "the little boy succeeded in rescuing him, but
the poor canary had been so frightened that his little heart was
beating, oh, so fast, and the children were afraid he was not going to
live.

"They all followed the little boy who had caught the canary just in
time into the tenement house. The cat had knocked several feathers
from the bird's tail.

"Another child told me the canary belonged to a little girl who lived in
the tenement. He asked me to follow, too, for he said that the little
girl had trouble with her back and had to lie flat all the time. She
loved visitors, for so much of the time she was lonely. Her mother was
poor and out all day sewing, so the little girl's only companion was the
canary, who would sing for hours and hours. He seemed to know he must
keep her cheered up.

"So along I went too. We climbed some stairs until we came to a dingy
room where on a cot by the window lay a little girl about eight years
old. She had big dark eyes, and when I saw her her cheeks were bright
red from all the excitement.

"All her friends had gathered around, each giving her a special
description of how the bird had been rescued. She was smiling with joy
and watching the bird, who was now busily engaged nibbling at a little
piece of apple which had been given him. Before long he began to sing,
oh, so joyously, for he knew he was once more back in his happy home,
where he would take good care to stay in the future.

"I told the little girl of my Jack and Evelyn, and she said she wanted
to see you both. Shall we all go to see her and her little bird some
day?"

"We'd love to!" cried Jack and Evelyn delightedly.



SMALL FIRE DEPARTMENT RESCUES BIRDS


[Illustration: "We'll have our hose ready."]

"The salamanders," said daddy, "are little creatures very much like
lizards in looks, except their skin is not scaly as a lizard's. They
have four legs and a tail, and are very nice, kind and gentle.

"Well, these salamanders agreed that they would have a fire department,
and the next thing was to arrange for the hose and ladder. Finally it
was decided that their salamander cousins should be chosen to run the
hose and ladder.

"'We shall call ourselves the fire and water fire department,' said
one of the fire salamanders. 'It will be our business to rush in and
rescue the animals who are in danger of being burned to death, and it
will be your business to help them down to the brook, where we'll have
our hose ready to sprinkle them with good, cool water.'

"But days and days went by, and still no fire broke out.

"'I know what's the trouble,' said another one of the fire salamanders.
'We have no fire bell; there may have been fires that we knew nothing
of; you never can tell.'

"'Don't be gloomy,' said still another fire salamander. 'We'll have a
fire bell. I know where a kind old cow left her bell from last year.
We'll put it by the stump just at the edge of the brook and all the
animals can be told to move it when there is a fire. Then we will all
come out and stop the fire.'

"And soon notices were put up all over the woods and around the brook
which read:

"'To the Animals: Attention! In case of fire, ring the cow bell
by the brook. The Fire and Water Fire Department of the Salamanders
will PUT IT OUT.'

"These notices were read by all the animals, and the very next day the
salamanders heard the cow bell.

"'Where's the fire?' they all shouted.

"'Over there,' said Grandfather Frog, who was watching the fire
department start off.

"They wiggled and crawled as quickly as they could to the spot where the
fire was. It was the vireo family's nest. You know the vireos are those
beautiful, shy birds that live in the woods and have such lovely voices.
The fire salamanders rushed right into the fire and pulled out of the
nest the vireo children just in time before their little feathers got
burnt. And, of course, the Mother and Daddy Vireo were able to fly out.

"When they all reached the brook at last, the Mother and Daddy
Vireo sang the most wonderful song as a reward to the brave salamander
fire department."



      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

    Illustrations have been moved from the middle of a paragraph to the
    closest paragraph break.

    "grown-ups" and "grownups" have been retained in both versions in
    this project.

    Opening quotation marks (") at the beginning of several chapters
    have been added without comment.

    "Well, I mean you to come" has been changed to "'Well, I mean you
    to come" page 56.

    "funny quack-quack talk." has been changed into "funny quack-quack
    talk.'" page 59.

    Printer's inconsistencies in spelling, punctuation, and hyphenation
    have been retained.





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