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Queer Little Folks Harriet Beecher Stowe

The History of Tip-Top

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When the five little eggs were all laid, the mother-bird began to sit on them; and at any time of day or night, when a little head peeped out of the nursery window, might be seen a round, bright, patient pair of bird's eyes contentedly waiting for the young birds to come. It seemed a long time for the children to wait; but every day they put some bread and cake from their luncheon on the window-sill, so that the birds might have something to eat; but still there she was, patiently sitting!

"How long, long, long she waits!" said Jamie impatiently. "I don't believe she's ever going to hatch."

"Oh, yes she is!" said grave little Alice. "Jamie, you don't understand about these things; it takes a long, long time to hatch eggs. Old Sam says his hens sit three weeks;--only think, almost a month!"

Three weeks looked a long time to the five bright pairs of little watching eyes; but Jamie said the eggs were so much smaller than hens' eggs that it wouldn't take so long to hatch them, he knew. Jamie always thought he knew all about everything, and was so sure of it that he rather took the lead among the children. But one morning, when they pushed their five heads out of the window, the round, patient little bird-eyes were gone, and there seemed to be nothing in the nest but a bunch of something hairy.

Upon this they all cried out, "O mamma, DO come here! the bird is gone and left her nest?" And when they cried out, they saw five wide little red mouths open in the nest, and saw that the hairy bunch of stuff was indeed the first of five little birds.

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"They are dreadful-looking things," said Mary; "I didn't know that little birds began by looking so badly."

"They seem to be all mouth," said Jamie.

"We must feed them," said Charlie.--"Here, little birds, here's some gingerbread for you," he said; and he threw a bit of his gingerbread, which fortunately only hit the nest on the outside, and fell down among the buttercups, where two crickets made a meal of it, and agreed that it was as excellent gingerbread as if old Mother Cricket herself had made it.

"Take care, Charlie," said his mamma; "we do not know enough to feed young birds. We must leave that to their papa and mamma, who probably started out bright and early in the morning to get breakfast for them."

Sure enough, while they were speaking, back came Mr. and Mrs. Robin, whirring through the green shadows of the apple tree; and thereupon all the five little red mouths flew open, and the birds put something into each.

It was great amusement, after this, to watch the daily feeding of the little birds, and to observe how, when not feeding them, the mother sat brooding on the nest, warming them under her soft wings, while the father-bird sat on the topmost bough of the apple-tree and sang to them. In time they grew and grew, and, instead of a nest full of little red mouths, there was a nest full of little, fat, speckled robins, with round, bright, cunning eyes, just like their parents; and the children began to talk together about their birds.

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Queer Little Folks
Harriet Beecher Stowe

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