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Rusty Wren

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THE news of Rusty Wren’s sign, “Boy Wanted,” spread like wildfire through the whole of Pleasant Valley. Rusty had put the sign out at daybreak. And be­fore sunset as many as fifty of the field and forest people had come shyly to Far­mer Green’s dooryard.

Some of them came to apply for the po­sition, and some of them merely wanted to see the sign — for it was a most unusual sight in that neighborhood.

There were others, too, such as Fatty Coon and Tommy Fox, who said that while they didn’t care to visit Farmer Green’s place in the daytime, they ex­pected to call there during the night and take a look at Rusty Wren’s home and the odd sign upon it.

Yes! So quiet a person as Rusty Wren, who never wandered far from home, had become famous in a day.

Yet it proved to be a very bad day for Rusty’s family, because he had almost no time at all in which to try to bring home any food. No sooner had he talked with one caller than another knocked at his door. And so the steady stream of strang­ers kept him busy as a little red wagon, as Farmer Green would remark.

It was a discouraging business, to say the least. Though Rusty had advertised for a “boy,” persons of all ages appeared and wanted to work for him. Some of them were old enough to be his grand­father. And, what was worse, they were all so big that they couldn’t squeeze through Rusty’s little round door. (The hole in the syrup can, you will remember, was only slightly larger than a quarter of a dollar.)

Of course, there was no use of his hiring a helper that could do only half the work. What Rusty wanted was somebody that could not only catch an insect, but bring it right inside the house and drop it into the mouth of one of his children.

At last when Rusty had almost given up all hope of finding anyone of the re­quired size, a young English sparrow flew up and said boldly that he was the very person for the position. He claimed that he could get in and out of Rusty’s door without any trouble. And he was just about to prove his claim, too, when Rusty Wren stopped him.

“Wait a moment!” he told the sparrow. “My wife is calling me. And I must see what she wants.”

So he disappeared inside his house, to return shortly with a doleful look upon his face.

“I’m afraid you won’t do,” he said to the young English sparrow.

“Ha!” cried the stranger imperti­nently. “It’s easy to see that your wife rules the house. And, since that’s the case, I’m very glad I’m not going to work for you.” He flew away then, with a jeering laugh which made Rusty Wren feel quite uncomfortable.

Now Mrs. Rusty had overheard the talk outside her door. And she had no inten­tion of letting any rude, noisy English sparrow — even if he was a young one — come inside her house.

That was why she called to her husband. And she made the matter so plain that Rusty knew there was no use of trying to change her mind for her.

Things were growing worse and worse. The children were all cheeping for food, until Rusty Wren could hardly endure the noise.

And he, too, felt painfully hungry.

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