"Good! Then we will spend the night at the Reformatory!" said Cousin Phineas, as he led the way over to the Reformatory trees.
Neither Cousin Phineas nor Robert Robin felt like singing a "Good-night" song, so little Sheldon perched on the top of a tall elm and sang one himself.
"Very good, Sheldon!" said Robert Robin.
"Very good, Sheldon!" said Cousin Phineas. "You have a very remarkable youngster there, Cousin Robert! He can sing a song and knows neither the tune nor the words! Very remarkable! Very remarkable!"
ROBERT ROBIN AND HIS FAMILY GO SOUTH
The next morning after Robert Robin and his family had stayed overnight with Cousin Phineas, a heavy frost whitened the roofs of the buildings and covered the fields with a carpet of frost diamonds. The white smoke from the many chimneys of the city floated upward in great fluffy cones until it seemed that the fluffy cones of snowy smoke were columns which bound the city to the sky.
"What strange-looking clouds you have here in Elmira!" said Mrs. Robin to Cousin Phineas.
"Yes! We have them go straight up so that we may fly between them!" said Cousin Phineas. "But how about a little breakfast?"
"I was just thinking about the same thing!" said Robert Robin, "and after our long trip, I am sure that we are hungry enough to eat almost anything!"
"There are frozen apples in Arnot's orchard, frozen grapes on Sullivan Hill, poison-ivy berries near Big Flats, and sumach bobs on the road to Millport!" said Cousin Phineas. "So you may have your choice!"
"Let us try the sumach bobs!" said Mrs. Robin. "I have not tasted one this season! They must be delicious after this hard frost!"
A railroad wound along the mountain side, and its right of way was lined with sumach bushes whose upper twigs were red with the crimson bobs, and it was here that Cousin Phineas brought Robert Robin's family.
"These are very fine sumach bobs!" said Robert Robin. "They are the finest I ever tasted!"
"Their rich flavor comes from the engine smoke! This railroad has the best smoke of any railroad in this part of the country! Nothing improves the flavor of a sumach bob like nice black smoke!"
"I found a stone in my sumach bob!" shouted little Sheldon.
"Hush! Child! It is nothing but a cinder!" said Cousin Phineas. "And cinders are good for coughs! But I would not eat too many of them. They are hard to digest!"
When all the robins had eaten as many sumach bobs as they cared for, Robert Robin said:
"Cousin Phineas, we have enjoyed our stay with you, but it is a long way to the south, so we must hurry along!"
And Cousin Phineas said: "I wish that you had time to stay a week, but I know that you must be in a hurry so I will not coax you to stay this time, but now that you have found the way, you must come and see me often. Be sure and stop when you come back in the Spring. You will find me around here somewhere. I am planning to spend the winter in Elmira and vicinity!"
"Good-by, Cousin Phineas!" said Robert Robin. "Good-by, Cousin Phineas!" said all the rest, and away they flew into the sky, and soon all that Cousin Phineas could see of them was ten tiny dots against a high gray cloud.
"Swish! Swish! Swish!" went the sound of wings against the still, thin air. Below Robert Robin and his family the valley of the river widened into fertile farm lands. The glitter of the polished steel of the railroad rails flashed to their eyes under the rays of the morning sun.
"This is going to be a fine day for our trip!" said Mrs. Robin.
"It couldn't be better!" said Robert Robin. "There is just enough breeze to help in our flying; we should reach the great bay before night!"
The youngster robins were very much interested in seeing the new country. The valley continued to widen beneath them, villages and cities appeared, and great locomotives, puffing clouds of smoke, pulled long trains, and pierced the air with screaming whistles; but what interested the youngster robins still more were the other birds. Far above, and as far as could be seen on either side, the air seemed alive with them. There were crows, and thrushes, and flickers, and birds of many other kinds. Large birds, small birds, big birds, and little birds. Black and brown and gray and blue and yellow and red, and birds of all colors in between.
Flying so high that they could not be seen from the earth, it looked to the youngster robins as if all the birds in the world were going south for the winter. Robins, robins, everywhere! Hundreds of them flying in little family groups or mingled together in great flocks. Robert Robin kept saying, "Kirk! Kirk!" so that none of the children would get lost.
"Keep close to your father, children!" said Mrs. Robin. "If you should ever get lost in this crowd, we could no more find you again than we could find Jim Crow on a dark night!"
A flock of wild geese called from overhead, and frightened little Sheldon very much. They were such big birds; flying close together, their powerful wings driving their heavy bodies swiftly through the air. Their hoarse-voiced leader honked his loud calls as he led the line, which, straight and true as a file of drilled soldiers, sweeping in perfect formation a half mile on either side, was so different from anything that little Sheldon had ever seen that the little robin screamed, "Help! Help! Help! There comes a row of fat hawks!"
"Those are wild geese and they will not hurt you, child!" said Robert Robin.
"What makes them fly so close together?" asked little Sheldon.
"They came from where the fog banks roll over the ice of the north!" said Robert Robin, "and they have learned to fly closely together so that they will not get lost from each other in the fogs."
The swift-winged geese were traveling much faster than the robins, and soon they were far ahead of Robert Robin and his family.
"Why do they fly so fast?" asked Evelina.
"They have far to go!" answered Robert Robin, "and they must hurry or they will be late in getting there!"
"There is our White Spring!" shouted Mrs. Robin. "Let us stop there a while and get some new sand for our crops!"
So Robert Robin led his family down to the White Spring.
White Spring was a tiny little spring which gushed from the shady side of a glen. There were no houses nor other buildings near, and very few people knew that there was such a place as White Spring, but Robert Robin's father had known of it and he had led Robert Robin to its tiny basin, and Robert Robin had shown the spring to Mrs. Robin.
The tired robins were glad to drink of its clear cool water which gushed out of the whitest sand.
"Fill your crops with this nice sharp sand, children!" said Mrs. Robin. "You will need good sand in your crops to digest those Virginia bugs!"
So all the robins filled their crops with the fine white sand, then Robert Robin sat down to rest.
"Do you remember the first time that I brought you to this spring?" he asked Mrs. Robin.
"Oh, yes! Indeed I do!" said Mrs. Robin. "That was when we were on our honeymoon!"
"There were many other robins around here then!" said Robert Robin. "Do you remember that Miss Lena Robin you were so jealous of?" laughed Robert Robin.
"I might have been jealous of her, but at least I was very polite to her and was not rude like you were to that handsome young Mister Percival Robin, whom you were so insanely jealous of! I remember your trying to knock him into the spring, and raving around like mad! Why! You chased him clear over that hill and you were simply too funny for anything, and all because he was very polite to me and he was rather good looking!" said Mrs. Robin.
"Good looking?" said Robert Robin. "Good looking? Why! his head looked like a woodpecker's, and his tail looked like a chickadee's, and his legs were long enough for a killdeer!"
"That Miss Lena Robin, you were so infatuated with,——"
"Infatuated with?" screamed Robert Robin. "I barely remember how she looked. But she was not so bad looking! She had pretty eyes, and a charming manner, but what she could see about that long-legged Percival is a mystery to me!"
"What he could see about her is a deeper mystery!" said Mrs. Robin, "but let us not quarrel about those people,—they are nothing to me."
"Nor to me!" said Robert Robin. "Call the children and we will be on our way!"
So Mrs. Robin called the youngster robins from the patch of bushes where they had been playing I-spy, and all of them whirred away into the higher air on their way to the warm south, and the sound of their wings as they followed close behind Robert Robin went "Swish! Swish! Swish!" like the panting of tiny engines.
THE SUNNYBROOK SERIES
By MRS. ELSIE M. ALEXANDER
Cloth Bound, 12 mo. Jackets in Full Color Illustrations in Color Colored End Papers, Illus.
A remarkably well told, instructive series of stories of animals, their characteristics and the exciting incidents in their lives. Young people will find these tales of animal life filled with a true and intimate knowledge of nature lore.
THE HAPPY FAMILY OF BEECHNUT GROVE (PETER GRAY SQUIRREL AND FAMILY)
BUSTER RABBIT, THE EXPLORER (THE BUNNY RABBIT FAMILY)
ADVENTURES OF TUDIE (THE FIELD MOUSE)
TABITHA DINGLE (THE FAMOUS CAT OF SUNNYBROOK MEADOW)
ROODY AND HIS UNDERGROUND PALACE (MR. WOODCHUCK IN HIS HAPPY HOME)
BUFF AND DUFF (CHILDREN OF MRS. WHITE-HEN)
A. L. BURT COMPANY, Publishers 114-120 EAST 23rd STREET NEW YORK
THE BLUE DOMERS
By JEAN FINLEY
Cloth Bound, 12 mo. Illustrations in Color Jackets in Full Color Colored End Papers, Illus.
Vivid, refreshing stories of children and animals are always enjoyed by young readers. These informative tales, dealing with the activities of a number of children, are told with an ease and simplicity of style. The combined charm of magic and the great out-doors adds a delightful touch to these distinctive stories.
THE BLUE DOMERS THE BLUE DOMERS' ALPHABET ZOO THE BLUE DOMERS IN THE DEEP WOODS THE BLUE DOMERS AND THE WISHING TREE THE BLUE DOMERS UNDER WINTER SKIES THE BLUE DOMERS AND THE MAGIC FLUTE
A. L. BURT COMPANY, Publishers 114-120 EAST 23rd STREET NEW YORK