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Queer Little Folks Harriet Beecher Stowe

The History of Tip-Top

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Under the window of a certain pretty little cottage there grew a great old apple-tree, which in the spring had thousands and thousands of lovely pink blossoms on it, and in the autumn had about half as many bright red apples as it had blossoms in the spring.

The nursery of this cottage was a little bower of a room, papered with mossy-green paper, and curtained with white muslin; and here five little children used to come, in their white nightgowns, to be dressed and have their hair brushed and curled every morning.

First, there were Alice and Mary, bright-eyed, laughing little girls, of seven and eight years; and then came stout little Jamie, and Charlie; and finally little Puss, whose real name was Ellen, but who was called Puss, and Pussy, and Birdie, and Toddlie, and any other pet name that came to mind.

Now it used to happen, every morning, that the five little heads would be peeping out of the window, together, into the flowery boughs of the apple-tree; and the reason was this. A pair of robins had built a very pretty, smooth-lined nest in a fork of the limb that came directly under the window, and the building of this nest had been superintended, day by day, by the five pairs of bright eyes of these five children. The robins at first had been rather shy of this inspection; but as they got better acquainted, they seemed to think no more of the little curly heads in the window than of the pink blossoms about them, or the daisies and buttercups at the foot of the tree.

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All the little hands were forward to help; some threw out flossy bits of cotton,--for which, we grieve to say, Charlie had cut a hole in the crib quilt,--and some threw out bits of thread and yarn, and Allie ravelled out a considerable piece from one of her garters, which she threw out as a contribution; and they exulted in seeing the skill with which the little builders wove everything in. "Little birds, little birds," they would say, "you shall be kept warm, for we have given you cotton out of our crib quilt, and yarn out of our stockings." Nay, so far did this generosity proceed, that Charlie cut a flossy, golden curl from Toddlie's head and threw it out; and when the birds caught it up the whole flock laughed to see Toddlie's golden hair figuring in a bird's-nest.

When the little thing was finished, it was so neat, and trim, and workman-like, that the children all exulted over it, and called it "our nest," and the two robins they called "our birds." But wonderful was the joy when the little eyes, opening one morning, saw in the nest a beautiful pale-green egg; and the joy grew from day to day, for every day there came another egg, and so on till there were five little eggs; and then the oldest girl, Alice, said, "There are five eggs: that makes one for each of us, and each of us will have a little bird by-and-by;"--at which all the children laughed and jumped for glee.

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Queer Little Folks
Harriet Beecher Stowe

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