One bright morning a little robin flew to a tree, which grew in a gentleman's garden, and began singing a happy, joyous song there he was, his wings folded, his throat swelling with gladness. Such a song! He forgot for the time that soon the leaves would fall, the snow come and cover up the berries and seeds, leaving nothing for him to eat. He was singing away, when suddenly he was startled by a gruff voice under the tree, and looking down saw a turtle. Now the turtle had dug a hole very near the tree, and had crept into it to sleep through the long winter. The little bird's song waked him up, and he did not like this; so putting his head out, and opening his sleepy eyes just half way, he said:
"I wish you would go away with your noise. I wish you wouldn't come here disturbing me with your song. I don't see how you can sing, anyway, for the winter is so near. You had better be thinking of the time when you will have nothing to eat, and perhaps you will die, while I am in my snug hole asleep. Now, look here, I want to go to sleep, and I wish you would go away. If you live, I should be very glad to hear you sing next spring. Come and wake me up, if you are alive."
Without even saying good-morning to the little bird, the old turtle crept back into his hole, and the poor little robin flew away to another part of the garden, but somehow he couldn't sing any more that day; the next morning, when he woke up, the sun was so bright he couldn't help singing a little song. When he went to get his breakfast he found that only a few berries were left, and he knew that when these where gone he would have to scratch in the ground for his food. This didn't discourage the little bird, however, for he felt that he would be taken care of. The days passed, and soon there was not a berry left, and the little bird had to look under the leaves for seed or insects. Now a very sad thing happened for this little bird. He woke one morning to find the whole earth covered with snow. Poor little birdie had nothing to eat. Now what do you suppose he did? He just opened his little mouth and sang the merriest, happiest song you ever heard.
"I will sing to keep up my spirits. I know I shall find something to eat after a while, and if I don't, I'll sing another song."
Now it happened that this was the day before Christmas, and the gentleman to whom the garden belonged had brought home a beautiful holly wreath with red berries for the children to hand in the window. The little robin, hopping near, looking in and saw those lovely red berries. Ho, how hungry he was, and how tempting those berries looked to the hungry little bird! He tried to fly right through the window. The children saw the bird trying to get in, and then papa told them that the bird was hungry. They ran down to the kitchen and asked the cook for some crumbs, and creeping softly to the window, raised it, and scattered the crumbs on the ledge outside. The little bird hopped up to the window, and finding the crumbs began to eat; but he was not greedy, for all that he had not eaten anything for so long. Thus he was glad every day, and every day he sang a song of thankfulness. The winter passed, and spring came. Everything seemed to be waking up, the grass and the flower, and the robin remembered his promise to the turtle. So one fine morning he went to the same tree and sang loud and clear, and the old turtle came creeping out.
"So you did live, after all. I surely thought you would starve. Am glad you didn't, for I wanted you to wake me up."
Now what did the turtle forget? To be polite, I think, for he didn't even thank the little bird for waking him up.
The Robin and the Turtle
A Fictional Short Story by
Agnes Taylor Ketchum & Ida M. Jorgensen