Bluebirds 3


THE BLUEBIRDS & THEIR NEIGHBOURS

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Chapter 7

The Wisdom of Judge Flicker

IT DID not take Mr. Bluebird long to see that Jenny Wren had actually moved into his new Nesting Box, and she told him very plainly that she expected to stay. She bobbed in and out of the door, hopped along on the roof, and inspected the Nesting Box thoroughly. It suited her exactly.

Now, Jenny Wren was not a particular friend of the other birds. They did not like her very well. That was because she had such a sharp tongue. In fact, she had about the sharpest tongue of any bird her size. She chattered and scolded and hopped around as if she were the boss of the bird family. She said spiteful things to other birds and to Mr. Wren. She was a scolder. She also had a sharp bill; and if her bird neighbors did not watch her, she would pick holes in their eggs to spoil them.

Ordinarily the other birds did not pay much attention, to her, because they thought she really did not mean half that she said. She was so small no doubt they thought she was not worth noticing. Usually she was satisfied to build her nest almost any place. It might have been in an old pail or box or tin can, and once she built in the pocket of an old coat that was hanging in a suitable place. But when Jenny Wren saw the Nesting Box, she did not lose any time looking for another place.

During the night Mr. Bluebird tried to decide what to do. He did not like Jenny's scolding tongue and her sharp bill, and still more, he disliked to start a disgraceful neighborhood fuss. It was quite a problem for Mr. Bluebird.

The next morning Mr. Bluebird, had a talk with the Wrens. He tried to explain that the Nesting Box was his. Bud Smith had made it especially for him. Of course, they would not listen, and it was not long until they were arguing loudly.

"Just listen to that scrap," said Noisy to Mrs. Sparrow. "Suppose we go over and see what it is all about." If there is one thing the Noisys like, it is a fuss. They are like some people who enjoy meddling in other folks' business.

When they arrived at the Nesting Box, they added their scolding and chattering to the commotion, and soon other birds came. Even Robin Red was there to laugh at the funny things he saw. He is always looking for funny things to laugh at. And right when the noise was the loudest, in flew Mrs. Bluebird. It didn't take her long to see that Mr. Bluebird needed her help, and she went right to his aid.

It is hard to say how the fight would have ended if Judge Flicker had not happened by. "Tap-tap�tap-tap," he drummed on the cornice of the Grand Old House, "tap-tap-tap-tap." Every one stopped arguing to see what Judge Flicker had to say.

"What is the trouble about?" he asked.

Jenny Wren wanted to tell her side of it and Mr. Bluebird wanted to tell his. They both started talking at once. The Noisys joined in to tell what they knew, and soon there was a loud racket going again.

"Tap-tap-tap-tap,� drummed Judge Flicker, "tap-tap-tap-tap. We will have a trial and see if this cannot be settled peaceably."

And so Jenny Wren and Mr. Bluebird were each asked why they thought the Nesting Box was theirs.

"Sure-ly, sure-ly, the Nesting Box is mine because I claimed it first," said Mr. Bluebird.

"It's mine, it's mine!" shouted Jenny Wren. "He went away and left it."

"Bud Smith made it for me," said Mr. Bluebird.

"He made it for me," said Jenny Wren.

"My Nesting Post by the Apple Orchard is gone," said Mr. Bluebird.

"I don't care, it's mine, it's mine," chattered Jenny Wren.

Judge Flicker was in a very trying place-a very trying place indeed. If he said Mr. Bluebird should have the Nesting Box, Jenny Wren would be angry. And if he gave it to Jenny Wren, then Mr. Bluebird would not like it.

But Judge Flicker was a wise bird. He knew that the Nesting Box was made for Mr. Bluebird. He also knew that Jenny Wren didn't need such a large place in which to build her nest. She would only fill the extra space with sticks anyway.

Judge Flicker noticed a knot in the cornice near him. The knot looked as if it was loose. He sidled over to it. "Tap-tap-tap-tap," he drummed, and the knot fell out.

Jenny Wren was wild with delight. She forgot all about the Nesting Box because the knot hole looked better. It led back into an open space under the eaves. She was glad and Mr. Bluebird was glad and Robin Red was glad. You see, Robin Red had not said much, but he wanted Mr. Bluebird to live in the Nesting Box by his Red Cedar because they were such good friends. And Jenny Wren rather tired him with her continual hopping and chattering.

Mrs. Bluebird went inside to inspect the Nesting Box. "I believe I'll start building a nest right away," she said. But she intended to spend a few days first looking around the Old Homestead,

CHAPTER 8

Reddy Fox Goes A Hunting

MR. BLUEBIRD was happy. At last it looked as if his troubles were over. Mrs. Bluebird had arrived, and they had the new Nesting Box, and bugs were getting more plentiful every day. Every day old friends were arriving from the Sunny Southland.

"Tru-ally, tru-ally," sang Mr. Bluebird, "it's spring, it's spring"

Mrs. Bluebird was in the Apple Orchard visiting Bobby White, and Mr. Bluebird decided to see if Molly Cottontail had returned to her home in the Little Jungle Thicket at the foot of High Cliff. He thought that he could visit while he hunted for bugs and dried berries.

Molly was nowhere to be found at the Little Jungle Thicket, and Mr. Bluebird thought she must still be in the Green Meadow. He had hoped that she would be home, and that Peter would be home, and that he could see both of them. He wondered if Peter would ever come back to the Little Jungle Thicket.

While Mr. Bluebird was wondering about Peter and Molly Cottontail, he saw a reddish streak moving slowly across the Green Meadow.

"That looks like Reddy Fox," said Mr. Bluebird to himself; "I wonder what mischief he is up to"

Mr. Bluebird flew a little closer. Sure enough, it was Reddy. He seemed to be sniffing the ground as if he was following a trail. Said Mr. Bluebird, "I'll bet Reddy Fox is hunting Molly Cottontail. I believe I'll just fly over and warn her.

In a little while he was sitting in a treelet in the edge of the brambles that grew along Little River. He didn't know where to find Molly Cottontail because the bramble patch followed Little River quite a way, and he did not know what part of it she would be in. And so Mr. Bluebird waited to see which direction Reddy Fox would go after he arrived at the brushy fringe along Little River.

It did not take Reddy Fox long to decide which way he would go. You see, Reddy Fox has a very keen nose. It is so keen that even though there were a great many rabbit tracks in the bramble patch he could tell which one was the newest.

Reddy licked his lips and started through the thicket in the direction where Mr. Bluebird was sitting. The Playful Air Whiffs told him which way Molly Cottontail had gone. "My, how I do like rabbit for lunch," thought Reddy Fox. "As I live, there is Molly Cottontail now, and sound asleep."

Sure enough, there was Molly dozing behind a clump of brush. It was a very careless thing for her to do, but the Laughing Yellow Sun had warmed her fur coat and made her sleepy. She was so sleepy that she could not keep even one eye open.

Reddy Fox walked ahead very lightly and very slowly. He was not taking any chance of awakening Molly Cottontail until he was near enough to make a dash for her. And there was Molly dream�ing about Peter and the Little Jungle Thicket.

Of course, Mr. Bluebird did not know that Molly was in such danger. He did not know that she was asleep right in front of Reddy's nose. He did not even know where she was. But he thought he would fly to the place where Reddy had entered the briers and see if he could find Molly. Just as he was ready to start, he heard a loud cry where Reddy had disappeared in the brambles.

"Beware, beware! shouted a coarse voice. It was Tattler the Jay.

You should have seen Molly awake and dash through the bramble thicket. She didn't wait to see what was the matter. She knew that when Tattler the Jay shouted, "Beware, beware!" it was time to be moving.

Thumpety thumpety thump, thumpety thump�ety thump. Mr. Bluebird heard Molly racing toward him for dear life. Reddy Fox was too surprised to follow. He was also very, very angry and disappointed.

"I wish you would mind your own business," he told Tattler the Jay.

"Haw haw haw," laughed the Tattler, as he flew away after Molly.

Molly Cottontail was so surprised that she forgot all about where to find a Friendly Burrow. All she could think about was to run as fast as she could. Thumpety thumpety thump. She ran so fast that soon she was out of breath. She had to stop and rest. You see, Molly cannot run nearly as fast as her cousin Jack the Jumper. I should say not! Molly would rather dodge into a Friendly Burrow if she could find one, but not so with Jack the Jumper. He skims over the ground so fast he almost looks like a gray streak.

And so Molly sat down to rest and to see if she could remember where to find a Friendly Burrow. And she happened to stop right where Mr. Bluebird was waiting.

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