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Rusty Wren

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As time went on, and the Green family overslept each morning, Rusty began to grow very weary of the monotonous “Cuckoo! cuckoo!” which came every half hour, all day long, through the kitchen window of the farmhouse.

“I’d like to know what sort of bird that is!” he exclaimed at last. “If he’d only come out here in the yard I’d ask him his name — and tell him what I think of him, too.”

But the stranger never stirred out of the kitchen. And at length Rusty decided to make inquiries about him. Seeing Jimmy Rabbit passing through the or­chard on his way home from the cabbage-patch, Rusty called to him.

“If you happen to see old Mr. Crow, I wish you would ask him if he won’t please come right over to the orchard,” Rusty Wren said. “There’s something I want to find out. And Mr. Crow knows so much that perhaps he can help me.”

Jimmy Rabbit declared that he would be delighted to deliver the message. And he must have gone out of his way to find Mr. Crow, for the old gentleman arrived at the orchard in less than sixteen min­utes.

Rusty was waiting for him. And, hay­ing explained about the strange bird as well as he could, he asked Mr. Crow what he thought.

“I’d like to hear his song,” said old Mr. Crow.

“Come right over to my tree near the house!” Rusty urged him.

Mr. Crow hesitated.

“Where’s Farmer Green?” he in­quired.

“Oh! He’s working in the hayfield.” 

“Where’s Johnnie Green?” Mr. Crow asked.

“Oh! He’s in the hayfield, too, riding on the hayrake,” Rusty Wren explained.

“I’ll come with you, then,” Mr. Crow croaked.

So they flew to the dooryard. And they hadn’t waited there long when the strange bird sang his “Cuckoo! cuckoo!”

“There!” said Rusty. “That’s his silly song!”

And to his surprise Mr. Crow haw-hawed right out.

“What’s the joke?” Rusty Wren wanted to know.

“That’s not a bird” said old Mr. Crow — “or, at least, it’s not a real bird. He’s made of wood. And he lives inside a cuckoo clock.”

“Ah!” Rusty cried. “An alarm clock!”

But old Mr. Crow shook his head.

“No!” he replied. “It’s just an every­day clock. And, instead of striking, it lets this little wooden bird come out and sing.”

Rusty Wren said that he wouldn’t care for a clock like that and that he didn’t see why Farmer Green had brought it home, anyhow.

“Cuckoo clocks amuse the women and children,” Mr. Crow remarked wisely.

“Then you think Farmer Green was not dissatisfied with my singing? You think he would like me to wake him every morning, just as I used to?” Rusty waited eagerly for Mr. Crow’s opinion.

Old Mr. Crow pondered for a while be­fore answering. He reflected that since , it was long past corn-planting time, it really made no difference to him whether Farmer Green overslept or not. If the corn had just been put in the ground, he would have liked to have Farmer Green stay in bed all day long.

“I understand that the whole family enjoys your songs,” Mr. Crow told Rusty at last. “And for the present you may as well sing your dawn song right here in your own tree, beneath Farmer Green’s window. But if you’re living here next spring, I wish you would consult me again.”

Rusty Wren agreed to that, thanking Mr. Crow for his kindness, too. And, afterward, instead of being angry, he laughed whenever he heard that silly “Cuckoo! cuckoo!” Since he knew it was only a wooden bird, Rusty Wren was jeal­ous no longer.

The next morning he awakened Farmer Green at the break o’ day. And the hired man was so sleepy that he fell downstairs and couldn’t work for a whole week.


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