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Rusty Wren

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BEFORE Rusty Wren came to live in Far­mer Green’s dooryard the family had been known to oversleep now and then. Working hard all day long as everybody did (except Johnnie Green, who played hard enough — goodness knows!), they slept very soundly at night. And two or three times every summer they were sure to rise late, just by accident.

Though such a mishap always annoyed Farmer Green, it never troubled either the hired man or Johnnie in the least. On the contrary, they seemed to enjoy those occasions. But with Rusty Wren to rouse them at dawn all that was changed. And Farmer Green remarked one day that one thing was certain; they would lose no time that summer by staying in bed too long.

That very afternoon he had to go to the village. And when he came home he brought several surprises with him.

Those surprises pleased Johnnie Lind his mother so much that when he went to bed that night Farmer Green felt even happier than was usual with him. He went to bed somewhat early because he said he had more work than ever to do the next day, on account of his having gone to the village.

But happy as he was that night, the fol­lowing morning Farmer Green was quite out of sorts. For the whole family over­slept. Not a soul awaked until the sun had been up at least an hour.

“I don’t understand Farmer Green said at the breakfast table — ”I don’t understand why I failed to hear that wren this morning. I must have been unusually sleepy.”

The hired man helped himself to some more griddle-cakes and remarked that it was a pity. But somehow he did not look sorry, in spite of what he said.

“We’ll go to bed early to-night,” Far­mer Green continued, “so we’ll be sure to wake up before sunrise.”

And, strange to say, the next morning the very same accident happened again.

“I don’t see what’s come over me,” said Farmer Green. “I don’t hear that wren singing right under my window any more. I thought that maybe the cat had caught him. But there he is this very moment, on that limb!”

Everybody said it certainly was odd, for the wren always sang as soon as it began to grow light.

Well, that night Farmer Green went to bed before dark, declaring that he must be up bright and early in the morning.

“I wish that new clock I brought home day before yesterday was an alarm clock,” he said. “Then I wouldn’t have to worry about waking up on time.... Anyhow, I ought to hear the wren again to-morrow morning.”

But Farmer Green hoped in vain. Though the cat had not caught Rusty, and he had not moved away, either, he no lon­ger sang beneath Farmer Green’s window at dawn.

For three mornings he had gone to the orchard to trill his dawn song; and though they did not know the reason, that was why the Green family rose late for three mornings running.

Once Rusty Wren had been proud to be called Farmer Green’s alarm clock. But now something had happened that made him resolve to stop waking the household.

It was all on account of one of those surprises that Farmer Green had brought home from the village. For without in­tending to do any such thing, Farmer Green had surprised Rusty Wren as well as Johnnie and his mother.

Now, a surprise may be one of two kinds  — pleasant or unpleasant. And, strangely enough, the very thing that delighted the Green family sent Rusty Wren into a spasm of jealous rage.

Of course, it was very silly of him to lose his temper. But he was too upset to stop to think of that.

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