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Rusty Wren

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WHEN Johnnie Green fastened the tin can to the tree in the dooryard he couldn’t have picked out a better spot for it. Of course, he hoped that a pair of wrens would build their nest inside the syrup can. But what he never dreamed was that the cherry tree was exactly the sort of tree that wrens liked.

It was not that Rusty and his wife cared for cherries. But as soon as Mrs. Wren had said how much she liked her new house, she remarked that the old cherry tree was a fine place to hunt for bugs and insects.

“Yes!” Rusty agreed. “And there’s an ant hill near the foot of the tree. It will be very convenient on stormy days, for we shall not have to go far for our breakfast.”

Not being fond of cherries, they did not look forward to the time when the bright red fruit should hang gaily upon the branches above their home. But there were others — besides Johnnie Green — who eagerly awaited that time and no­ticed that the old tree was loaded with blossoms, which meant that later there would be plenty of cherries.

Jolly Robin was one of those who had a taste for cherries, no matter whether they grew wild in the woods or within easy reach in Farmer Green’s yard. And as soon as cherry time arrived Jolly was on hand every day to enjoy the treat.

He was so cheerful and good-natured that Rusty Wren and his wife did not ob­ject to Jolly’s visits — so long as he did not venture too near their house. They always scolded loudly when an outsider came too close to their home, for they had a big family of children, and they couldn’t help feeling that the youngsters were safer with no prying busybodies to med­dle with them.

Of course, Jolly Robin never once thought of harming any of Rusty’s fam­ily. And as soon as he saw that Rusty — and especially his wife — wanted him to keep away from their side of the tree, he took care to respect their wishes.

Then all was peaceful. And the three had many pleasant chats together.

At last, however, Jolly Robin made a re­mark one day that threw both Rusty and his wife into a flutter of alarm. Jolly Robin had not meant to frighten them.

But the news was out before he realized that it was far from welcome to his two little listeners.

“Jasper Jay has heard about these cher­ries,” he announced. “And he says he’s coming over here as soon as he can find time, for he is specially fond of all kinds of cherries, no matter whether they’re red cherries or black cherries or choke cherries.”

Rusty Wren glanced quickly at his wife.

He could easily see that Jolly Robin’s speech had upset her. And, to tell the truth, he did not himself relish the pros­pect of a visit from anybody as boisterous and quarrelsome as that famous bully, Jasper Jay.

“Can’t you prevent his coming?” Rusty asked Jolly Robin.

But Jolly Robin shook his head.

“When Jasper Jay makes up his mind, I know of no way to make him change it,” he said.

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