Jolly Robin was a nestling, just eleven days old. He lived in a house in one of Farmer Gable’s apple trees with his mother and his father and his sister and two brothers.
The house was made of grass and leaves, plastered on the inside with mud, and lined with softer, finer grass, which his mother had chosen with great care.
But, Jolly never paid much attention to his home. What interested him more than anything else was food. From dawn till dark, he was always chirping for something to eat.
And since the other children were just as hungry as he was, those four growing babies kept their parents quite busy finding food for them. Jolly Robin found he liked worms very much. And though he ate greedily of insects and bugs, as well as wild berries, he liked worms the best.
Jolly and his sister and his brothers could always tell when their father or mother brought home some tasty morsels, because the moment the parent lighted on the limb where the nest was built, they could feel their home sink slightly, from the added weight on the branch.
Then the youngsters would set up a loud squalling with a great craning of necks and stretching of their open orange mouths. Sometimes, when the dainty morsel was specially big, Mr. or Mrs. Robin would say “Cuck! Cuck!” which meant “Open wide!” But they seldom found it necessary to give that order.
Somehow Jolly Robin managed to eat more than the rest of the nestlings. And so he grew faster than the others. He soon learned a few tricks, too. For instance, if Mrs. Robin happened to be sitting on the nest, to keep her family warm, when Mr. Robin returned with a lunch for the children, Jolly had a trick to play on his mother, which would move her off the nest fast.
He would whisper to the rest of the children, and they would jostle their mother, lifting her up above them, sometimes almost upsetting her, so that she had to work hard to keep from falling off the nest.
Mrs. Robin did not like that trick very much.
The young nestlings grew so fast that soon they more than filled their house. As they grew larger, their parents knew it was time to persuade them learn to fly and leave the nest.
One day Mr. Robin did not bring his children’s food to the edge of the nest and drop it into their mouths. Instead, he stood on the limb a little distance away from them and showed them a nice plump worm.
The sight of that morsel was more than Jolly Robin could resist. He scrambled boldly out of the nest and tottering up to his father on his wobbling legs, he snatched the tempting morsel out of his proud father’s bill.
Jolly was out of the nest and from that moment on he never went back to the nest.
The next day Mrs. Robin coaxed the other children from home in the same manner. Jolly Robin’s parents were so proud of their nestlings, because they knew it was time they learned to fly. And, if they stayed in the nest and did not get up the courage to venture out, they would never learn the important feat of flying.
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