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by Florence Barr
In the garden so many interesting thing were happening that each day brought a happy surprise.
The pretty daffodils, like golden bells in the sunshine, seemed to tinkle softly as Rosalie and Dick passed by. The gay butterflies, little children of the air, flitted from flower to flower; while the bees buzzed merrily as they courted the bright flowers.
Oh, it was good to be alive, the children agreed, as they passed through the rustic gate that led to the orchard. What a beautiful sight greeted them! The apple tree was a mass of fragrant blossoms — beautiful blossoms with soft white silky petals tipped with pink, and hearts sprinkled with gold dust.
"Dick," whispered Rosalie, "I'm sure that if trees could talk that lowly apple tree would say, 'I am beautiful because I am happy'."
"Well, I suppose it does talk tree language," replied Dick, "but we don't understand it."
"Oh, Dick, look," cried Rosalie, "the robins are back in the apple tree. There's Mrs. Robin, so Mr. Robin must be near by."
Just then, right at their very feet, twittered Mr. Robin, as if to attract their attention. When they said, "Pretty robin, pretty robin, we're glad you are back," he sang for them and it seemed as though his little throat was almost bursting with happiness.
As if in praise of the robin's sweet song the apple tree rustled its fragrant blossoms. Her sturdy, low branches made the nicest nesting places and her leafy boughs sheltered many feathered families.
The children looked up and there saddled onto the lowest branch of the apple tree was the robin's nest. Like a bowl it was — the outside covered with mud, sticks and leaves all stuck together. But the inside was lined with soft grass and moss so that Mrs. Robin would be comfortable.
Mr. Robin now hopped about searching for a nice fat worm for Mrs. Robin's breakfast.
The golden sunshine flooded the friendly apple tree and the tree was happy. The blushing buds opened their hearts of gold to the sunshine.
"There goes Mrs. Robin," whispered Dick. "You wait here, Rosalie, while I see if there are any eggs in the nest." Then, a moment later, "Yes, there are — four of the dearest little greenish blue eggs!"
Mrs. Robin came flying back to the nest scolding and making a great fuss. Quickly she counted her precious eggs and then called sharply to Mr. Robin. How could she know that Dick would not harm her eggs? She had been through so many tragic experiences that she could take no chances.
"Cheer up, cheer up," said Mr. Robin. "It's all right, no harm done. I've been watching that little boy and he is a friend of all outdoor children. He only wanted to see our precious eggs."
The scolding and shrill cries of Mrs. Robin brought Elf-kin down out of the branches higher up where he had been working on the dainty clusters of buds.
Dick was sorry that Mrs. Robin was so distressed and was more than glad to see Elf-kin. He was their friend and would make things right with the robins.
"Well, well, you children have created a disturbance in the robin family. What's it all about?"
"Oh, Elf-kin, I meant no harm" said Dick, "I just wanted to see if there were any eggs in the nest."
"So I thought," said Elf-kin. "I must introduce you to the robin family and then you will be good friends."
Elf-kin spoke to the robins and they understood everything he said. All outdoor children and nature spirits understand one another. It is very sweet the tie of love that binds them together.
When Mrs. Robin was quite sure that Dick had looked in the nest only because of love for her and in the hope that soon baby robins might be hopping about on the velvety lawn, she chirped her prettiest.
Rosalie told the robins how eagerly Dick and she had watched for them, hoping they would nest again in the friendly apple tree. Rosalie had such a motherly nature and always welcomed her feathered friends!
Mr. Robin then got quite chatty with Elf-kin and confided in him that the reason Mrs. Robin was so excited was that a mischievous boy had once stolen her precious eggs and she never knew just what a thoughtless boy would do. This made her ever watchful.
Then Rosalie, Dick, Elf-kin, and Mr. Robin had a nice visit together. Mr. Robin said that he and his wife really loved boys and girls, and always sang their prettiest for the children who loved them.
"We like to think that when children sing, some of our joy lives in their songs," chirped Mr. Robin.
"Sometimes when we know that the children like to have us about we get venturesome and build our nests very near to their homes. We like to hop about on the nice green lawns and even on the doorsteps."
Mr. Robin then chirped a different chirp, and Elf-kin listened attentively.
"Yes," replied Elf-kin, "I am sure the children would like to hear the legend of the robin of long ago."
"Long, long ago," said Mr. Robin, "when the baby Jesus was here up on earth he fed the robins that hopped about his mother's doorstep. There was one robin that never forgot his loving kindness. The years rolled by and when the dear Lord was on the cross this robin tried to help him and a drop of blood splashed the robin's breast. That is why all robins now have red breasts. The dear Lord blessed the robin and called him 'Bird of God.' So to this day we robins try always to do our duty. We help the beautiful trees by keeping away the bugs and beetles and worms that might harm them. We never long for greatness, but are content to do our small part in helping Mother Nature."
Mrs. Robin was getting hungry so she chirped sweetly to Mr. Robin and he excused himself. He told Elf-kin he would be a friendly robin and call each morning to the children, "Wake up, wake up."
Rosalie and Dick happy now that the robins were friendly, called good-bye to them and then went back to the old-fashioned garden with its many waiting flower children.
Mr. Robin flew swiftly to Mrs. Robin. Their hearts bubbling over with joy, they sang a song of praise to God — for He is their God as well as our God, you know.
The apple tree rustled her exquisite blossoms and some of the delicate petals floated away on the soft breeze.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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