Here to return to
THE NEW BIRD
FARMER GREEN had not been home long, after his trip to the village, when Rusty Wren heard a sound that for once made him keep quite still for at least five seconds.
“Cuckoo! cuckoo!” The cry came from inside the farmhouse. And since the windows were wide open, Rusty could easily hear it from the tree near-by, where he lived.
“There’s a new bird in there!” Rusty Wren exclaimed to himself as soon as the sound reached his ears. He listened intently. But the call was not repeated.
“Farmer Green is not satisfied with my singing!” Rusty cried. And thereupon he flew into such a rage that when his wife came home, a few minutes later, she was actually frightened.
“What in the world is the matter?” she asked her husband anxiously.
“Matter?” cried Rusty Wren. “Here I’ve sung my best for Farmer Green all summer, and waked him at dawn every morning without fail! And what do you suppose he’s done ? He has brought home a strange bird from the village, because he doesn’t care for my singing.”
Mrs. Rusty Wren told her husband that he must be mistaken.
“Maybe a bird flew inside the farmhouse by accident,” she said. “What kind. of bird is it?” she inquired.
“It said ‘Cuckoo!’” Rusty explained. “But if it’s a cuckoo, it’s different from any other I’ve ever heard. You know yourself that Black Bill Cuckoo who lives in the bushes beyond the orchard says ‘Cow, cow!’”
“I wouldn’t worry, if I were you,” Mrs. Rusty advised her husband. “No doubt this strange bird has already made his escape.”
It was then after sunset. And soon Rusty Wren’s family were all fast asleep, without having heard any more bird notes from the farmhouse.
The next morning Rusty awoke just as the first streaks of gray showed in the east. He was about to begin his dawn song when through the kitchen window came that “Cuckoo! cuckoo!” again.
Rusty knew then that the strange bird was still there.
“Did you hear that?” he asked his wife. She nodded her head silently.
“He’s telling Farmer Green that it’s time to get up!” Rusty exclaimed indignantly. “And since Farmer Green has seen fit to get somebody else to wake him, I certainly shall not trouble myself on his account any more.”
So Rusty Wren flew away to the orchard to sing his dawn song. Jolly Robin, who lived there, in an old apple tree, was surprised to hear Rusty Wren singing in that neighborhood so early. And he was still more astonished at Rusty’s melody.
His voice was so much shriller than usual that Jolly Robin knew instantly that something had displeased him.
“What’s happened to upset you?” Jolly Robin inquired, after Rusty had finished singing.
“I expect to come here and give my dawn song every morning,” Rusty remarked. “And if there’s anybody living in the orchard that objects, he had better move away at once.”
Of course Jolly Robin didn’t want to do that. And he said as much, too.
“But I hope you’ll sing a little more happily,” he told Rusty, “because I don’t like to hear people complaining — and neither does my wife.”
It is easy to understand why Farmer Green and his family overslept, when one knows that Rusty Wren no longer sang his dawn song beneath Farmer Green’s window. And when Rusty saw that the whole household never stirred until long after sunrise, he was so pleased that he couldn’t help making a few remarks about the new bird in the farmhouse, which had annoyed him so by singing “Cuckoo! cuckoo!”
“This stranger is a very poor songster!” Rusty said to his wife. “All he can sing is ‘Cuckoo! cuckoo !’ in that silly way of his. He has no trills and runs and ripples at all! And he can’t even repeat his song ten times a minute, as I give mine. He has to wait at least half an hour before he cries ‘Cuckoo! cuckoo!’ again. And no one but a simpleton would ever attempt to awaken a hard-working farmer by such half-hearted singing.”
Mrs. Rusty quite agreed with her husband.
‘Farmer Green will be sorry he brought home such a worthless bird,” she said.