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Rusty Wren

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As soon as she heard that Jasper Jay in­tended to visit her cherry tree, to enjoy the ripe fruit, Rusty Wren’s wife began to worry. And she made herself so un­happy that Rusty couldn’t help wishing that Jolly Robin had kept his news to him­self.

“Don’t be alarmed!” he said to her, after Jolly had gone. “Jasper Jay can’t harm the children, for they’ll be safe in the nest. And luckily our doorway is too small for him.”

But Mrs. Rusty wouldn’t be calmed. “He’s a great, cruel bully,” she replied. “And if he spends much time here I’m afraid the children will starve, for neither you nor I will be able to go out and find food for them, because Jasper would be sure to pounce on us; and what chance would we have against him?”

“We’ll go together,” said Rusty Wren, looking very brave.

But Mrs. Wren said she wouldn’t think of leaving her six small children all alone in the house.

“Everything will be all right,” Rusty assured her. “You know Jasper isn’t coming unless he can find the time. Jolly Robin said so. And maybe he won’t be able to get here at all.”

They had gone inside their house to talk over the matter in private. And Rusty had hardly finished speaking when a loud bang, followed by a clatter, sounded on the tin roof above their heads.

It was no wonder that they both jumped.

“Goodness!” exclaimed Rusty’s wife. “What’s that?”

But Rusty couldn’t tell her. During all the weeks they had lived there he had heard nothing like that.

While they listened the noise was re­peated. And Mrs. Rusty declared that the sky must be falling, for she had never heard such a dreadful sound in all her life.

“I’ll go right out and see what it is,” Rusty Wren said.

But his wife caught hold of his coat­tails and begged him to stay with her.

“No! no!” she cried. “You must not stir out of the house. I’d be terribly worried if you left me alone here with these six small children. And you might get hurt, besides.”

Meanwhile the racket on the roof con­tinued, with only a short pause between each outburst. The six Wren children began to cry — for they were hungry as well as frightened. And all the time Mrs. Rusty clung to her husband’s coat-tails and besought him not to leave her.

To tell the truth, he had no such in­tention. Though he was very brave for his size, he was thoroughly alarmed. And for the time being he was quite content to stay inside his snug house and hope that the trouble would soon come to an end.

On the whole, the Wren family spent a very unpleasant quarter of an hour. The bang, clatter, bang on their roof still con­tinued until the din became almost un­bearable. And Rusty Wren grew so des­perate that he had almost made up his mind to break away from his wife, even if he had to leave his coat-tails behind him, and dash out of doors to see what was the matter.

Then all at once a different sound fell upon their ears. And as soon as they heard it they knew at once that the sky was not falling, anyhow.

“Jay! jay!” Jasper Jay’s harsh voice was unmistakable. He had been playing one of his sly tricks on the Wren family; and they had never guessed that it was he!


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