| Parables from Nature|
|by Margaret S. Gatty|
|Parables for children inspired by nature. This collection includes all 29 stories from the first, second, third, and fourth series, originally published in separate volumes. Ages 6-12 |
"Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things."
—MATTHEW vi. 32.
 "I WISH your cheerfulness were a little better timed,
my friend," remarked a Tortoise, who for many years had
inhabited the garden of a suburban villa, to a Robin
Redbreast, who was trilling a merry note from a
thorn-tree in the shrubbery. "What in the world are you
singing about at this time of year, when I, and
everybody else of any sense, are trying to go to sleep,
and forget ourselves?"
"I beg your pardon, I am sure," replied the Robin; "I
did not know it would have disturbed you."
"You must be gifted with very small powers of
observation then, my friend," rejoined the Tortoise.
"Here have I been grubbing my head under the leaves and
sticks half the morning, to make myself a comfortable
hole to take a nap in; and always, just as I am
dropping off, you set up one of your senseless pipes."
"You are not over-troubled with politeness, good sir, I
think," observed the Robin; "to call my performance by
such an offensive name, and to find fault with me for
want of observation, is the most unreasonable thing in
the world. This is the first
 season I have lived in the
garden, and all through the spring and summer you have
never objected to my singing at all. How was I to know
you would dislike it now?"
"Your own sense might have told you as much, without my
giving myself the trouble of explanation," persisted
the Tortoise. "Of course, it's natural enough, and not
disagreeable, to hear you little birds singing round
the place, when there is something to sing about. It
rather raises one's spirits than otherwise. For
instance, when the weather becomes mild in the early
year, and the plants begin to grow and get juicy, and
it is about time for me to get up from my winter's
sleep, I have no objection to be awakened by your
voices. But now, in this miserable season, when the
fruits and flowers are gone, and when even the leaves
that are left are tough and dry, and there is not a
dandelion that I care to eat; and when it gets colder
and colder, and damper and damper every day, this
affectation of merriment on your part is both
ridiculous and hypocritical. It is impossible that you
can feel happy yourself, and you have no business to
pretend to it."
When the ground was so hard that the worms could not come out.
"But, begging your pardon once more, good sir, I do
feel happy, whatever you may think to the contrary,"
answered the Robin.
"What, do you mean to say that you like cold, and damp,
and bare trees, with scarcely a berry upon them?"
"I like warm sunny days the best, perhaps," replied the
Robin, "if I am obliged to think about it and make
comparisons. But why should I do so? I am quite
comfortable as it is. If there is not so much variety
of food as there has been, there
 is, at any rate,
enough for every day, and everybody knows that enough
is as good as a feast. For my part, I don't see how I
can help being contented."
"Contented! what a dull idea, to be just contented! I
am contented myself, after a fashion; but you are
trying to seem happy, and that is a very different sort
"Well, but happy; I am happy, too," insisted the Robin.
"That must be then because you know nothing of what is
coming," suggested the Tortoise. "As yet, while the
open weather lasts, you can pick up your favourite
worms, and satisfy your appetite. But, when the ground
has become so hard that the worms cannot come through,
or your beak get at them, what will you do?"
"Are you sure that will ever happen?" enquired the
"Oh! certainly, in the course of the winter, at some
time or another; and, indeed, it may happen any day
now, which makes me anxious to be asleep and out of the
"Oh, well, if it happens now, I shall not mind a bit,"
cried the Robin; "there are plenty of berries left!"
"But supposing it should happen when all the berries
are gone?" said the Tortoise, actually teased at not
being able to frighten the Robin out of his singing
"Nay, but if it comes to supposing," exclaimed the
Robin, "I shall suppose it won't, and so I shall be
"But I say it may happen," shouted the Tortoise.
"And I ask will it?" rejoined the Robin, in quite as
determined a manner.
 "Which you know I cannot answer," retorted the Tortoise
again. "Nobody knows exactly either about the weather
or the berries beforehand."
"Then let nobody trouble themselves beforehand,"
persisted the Robin. "If there was anything to be done
to prevent or provide, it would be different. But as it
is, we have nothing to do but to be happy in the
comfort each day brings." Here the Robin trilled out a
few of his favourite notes, but the Tortoise soon
"Allow other people to be happy, then, as well as
yourself, and cease squalling out of that tree. I could
have forgiven you, had the branches been full of haws;
but, as they are all withered or eaten, you have no
particular excuse for singing in that particular bush,
rather than elsewhere, so let me request you at once to
"Of course I will do so," answered the Robin, politely.
"It is the same thing to me exactly, so I wish you a
good morning, and, if you desire it, a refreshing
So saying, the Robin flew from the thorn-tree to
another part of the grounds, where he could amuse
himself without interruption; and the Tortoise began to
hustle under the leaves and rubbish again, with a view
to taking his nap.
But, by-and-by, as the morning wore away, the frosty
feeling and autumnal mists cleared off; and when the
sun came out, which it did for three or four hours in
the early afternoon, the day became really fine.
The old Tortoise did not fail to discover the fact; and
not having yet scratched himself a hole completely to
his mind, he came out of the shrubbery and took a turn
in the sunshine.
"This is quite a surprise, indeed," said he to
"It is very pleasant, but I am afraid it will not last.
The more's the pity; but, however, I shall not go to
bed just yet."
With these words, he waddled slowly along to the
kitchen garden, where he was in the habit of
occasionally basking under the brick wall; and now,
tilting himself up sideways against it, he passed an
hour, much to his satisfaction, in exposing his horny
coat to the rays of the sun; a feat which he never
dared to perform during the heats of summer.
Meanwhile, the poor little Robin continued his songs in
a retired corner of the grounds, where no one objected
to his cheerful notes. A tiny grove it was, with a
grassy circle in the middle of it, where a pretty
fountain played night and day.
During the pauses of his music, and especially after
the sun came out, he wondered much to himself about all
the strange uncomfortable things the Tortoise had said.
Oh, to think of his having wanted to go to sleep and be
out of the way; and now here was the sunshine making
all the grove as warm as spring itself. If he had not
been afraid the Tortoise might consider him intrusive,
he would have gone back and told him how warm and
pleasant it was, but absolutely he durst not.
Still, he could not, on reflection, shut his eyes to
the fact, that there were no other songsters in the
grove just now beside himself, and he wondered what was
the reason. Time was, when the nightingale was to be
heard every night in this very spot; but, now he came
to think of it, that beautiful pipe of his had ceased
for months, and where the bird himself was, nobody
seemed to know.
The Robin became thoughtful, and perhaps a little
 There was the Blackbird, too;—what was he about that he
also was silent? Was it possible that all the world was
really as the Tortoise said, thinking it wise to go to
sleep and be out of the way?
The Robin got almost alarmed. So much so, that he flew
about, until he met with a Blackbird, whom he might
question on the subject, and of him he made the
enquiry, why he had left off singing?
The Blackbird glanced at him with astonishment.
"Who does sing in the dismal autumn and winter?" said
he. "Really, I know of scarcely any who are bold and
thoughtless enough to do so except yourself. The Larks
may, to be sure, but they lead such strange lives in
the sky, or in seclusion, that they are no rule for any
one else. Your own persevering chirruping is (in my
humble judgment) so out of character with a season, in
which every wise creature must be apprehensive for the
future, that I can only excuse it on the ground of an
ignorance and levity, which you have had no opportunity
"It would be kinder to attribute it to a cheerful
contentment with whatever comes to pass," cried the
Robin, ruffling his feathers as he spoke. "I rejoice in
each day's blessing as it comes, and never wish for
more than does come. You, who are wishing the present
to be better than it is, and fearing that the future
may be worse, are meanwhile losing all enjoyment of the
hour that now is. You think this wise. To me it seems
as foolish as it is ungrateful!"
With these words the Robin flew away as fast as he
could, for, to say the truth, he felt conscious of
having been a little impertinent in his last remark. He
was rather a young bird to be setting other
right; but a Robin is always a bold fellow, and has
moreover rather a hot temper of his own, though he is a
kind creature at the bottom. He had been insulted, too,
there was no doubt; but when people feel themselves in
the right, what need is there of ruffling feathers and
And the Robin did honestly feel himself in the right;
but, oh! how hard it is to resist the influence of evil
suggestions, even when one knows them to be such, and
turns aside from them. They are so apt to steal back
into the heart unawares, and undermine the principle
that seemed so steady before.
To a certain extent, this
was the case with our poor little friend; and those who
are disposed to judge harshly of his weakness, must
remember that he was very young and could not be
expected to go on right always without a mistake.
Certain it is, that he drooped awhile in spirits, as
the winter advanced. He sang every day, it is true, and
would still have maintained his own opinions against
any one who should have opposed them; but he was
decidedly disturbed in mind, and thought sadly too
much, for his own peace and comfort, of what both the
Tortoise and Blackbird had said.
The colder the days became, the more he became
depressed; not that there was any cold then that he
really cared about, but he was fidgeting about the much
greater cold which he had been told was coming; and, as
he hopped about on the grass round the fountain,
picking up worms and food, he was ready to drop a tear
out of his bright black eye at the thought of the days
when the ground was to be so hard that the worms could
not come out, or his beak reach them.
Had this state of things gone on long, the Robin
have begun to wish to go to sleep, like the Tortoise;
and no more singing would have been heard in the
plantation of the suburban villa that year.
But Robins are brave-hearted little fellows, as well as
bold and saucy; and one bright day our friend bethought
himself that he would go and talk the matter over with
an old Woodlark, whom he had heard frequented a thicket
at a considerable distance off.
On his way thither, he heard several larks singing high
up in the sky over the fields; and by the time he
reached the thicket he was in excellent spirits
himself, and seemed to have left all his megrims
It was fortunate such was the case, for when, as he
approached the thicket, he heard the Woodlark's note,
it was so plaintive and low, that it would have made
anybody cry to listen to it. And when the Robin
congratulated him on his singing, the Woodlark did not
seem to care much for the compliment, but confided to
his new acquaintance, that although he thought it right
to sing and be thankful, as long as there was a bit of
comfort left, he was not so happy as he seemed to be,
since in reality he was always expecting to die some
day of having nothing at all to eat.
"For," said he, "when the snow is on the ground, it is
a perfect chance if one finds a morsel of food all day
"But I thought you had lived here several seasons,"
suggested the Robin, who in his braced condition of
mind was getting quite reasonable again.
"So I have," murmured the Woodlark, heaving his breast
with a touching sigh.
 "Yet you did not die of having nothing to eat, last
winter?" observed the Robin.
"It appears not," ejaculated the Woodlark, as gravely
as possible, and with another sigh; whereat the Robin's
eye actually twinkled with mirth, for he had a good
deal of fun in his composition, and could not but smile
to himself at the Woodlark's solemn way of admitting
that he was alive.
"Nor the winter before?" asked he.
"No," murmured the Woodlark again.
"Nor the winter before that?" persisted the saucy
"Well, no; of course not," answered the Woodlark,
somewhat impatiently, "because I am here, as you see."
"Then how did you manage when the snow came, and there
was no food?" enquired the Robin.
"I never told you there was actually no food in those
other winters," answered the Woodlark somewhat
peevishly, for he did not want to be disturbed in his
views. "Little bits of things did accidentally turn up
always. But there is no proof that it will ever happen
again. It was merely chance!"
"Ah, my venerable friend," cried the Robin; "have you
no confidence in the kind chance that has befriended
you so often before?"
"I can never be sure it will do so again," murmured the
"But when that kind chance brings you one comfortable
day after another, why should you sadden them all by
these fears for by and by?"
"It is a weakness, I believe," responded the Woodlark.
"I will see what I can do towards enjoying myself more.
You are very wise, little Robin; and it is a wisdom
that will keep you happy all the year round."
 Here the Woodlark rose into the air, and performed
several circling flights, singing vigorously all the
time. The old melancholy pervaded the tone, but that
might be mere habit. The song was, at any rate, more
earnest and strong.
"That is better already," cried the Robin gaily; "and
for my part, if I am ever disposed to be dull myself, I
shall think of what you told me just now of all the
past winters; namely, that little bits of things did
always accidentally turn up. What a comforting fact!"
"To think of my ever having been able to comfort
anybody!" ejaculated the Woodlark. "I must try to take
"Aye, indeed," cried the Robin earnestly; "it is
faithless work to give advice which you will not follow
So saying, the Robin trilled out a pleasant farewell,
and returned to the shrubbery grounds, where, in an
ivy-covered wall, he had found for himself a snug little
It was during the ensuing week, and while the Robin was
in his blithest mood, and singing away undisturbed by
megrims of any kind, but rejoicing in the comforts of
each day as it came, that the Tortoise once more
When Robin first heard his voice he was startled, and
feared another scolding, but he was quite mistaken. The
old Tortoise was sitting by the side of an opening in
the ground, which he had scratched out very cleverly
with his claws. It was in a corner among some stones
which had lain there for years; and there was one large
one in particular overhung the entrance of the hole.
The wind had drifted a vast quantity of leaves in that
direction, and some
 of them had been blown into the
hole, so that it looked like a warm underground bed.
"Hop down to me, little bird!" was the Tortoise's
address, in a quite friendly voice; an order with which
the Robin at once complied. "Ah, you need not be
afraid," continued he, as the Robin alighted by his
side. "I am quite happy now. See what a comfortable
place I have made myself here in the earth. There,
there, put your head in and peep. Did you ever see
anything so snug in your life?"
The Robin peered in with his sharp little eye, and
really admired the Tortoise's ingenious labour very
"Hop in," cried the Tortoise gaily; "there's room
enough and to spare, is there not?"
Robin hopped in, and looked round. He was surprised at
the size and convenience of the place, and admitted
that a more roomy and comfortable winter's bed could
not be wished for.
"Who wouldn't go to sleep?" cried the Tortoise; "what
say you, my little friend? But you need not say; I see
it in your eye. You are not for sleep yourself. Well,
well, we have all our different ways of life, and yours
is a pleasant folly, after all, when it doesn't disturb
other people. And you won't disturb me any more this
year, for I have made my arrangements at last, and
shall soon be so sound asleep, that I shall hear no
more of your singing for the present. It's a nice bed,
isn't it? Not so nice, perhaps, as the warm sands of my
native land; but the ground, even here, is much warmer
inside it than people think, who know nothing of it but
the cold damp surface. Ah, if it wasn't, how would the
snowdrop and crocus live through the
 winter? Well, I
called you here to say good-bye, and show you where I
am, and to ask you to remember me in the spring;
if—that is, of course,—you survive the terrible weather
that is coming. You don't mind my having been somewhat
cross the other day, do you? I am apt to get testy now
and then, and you disturbed me in my nap, which nobody
can bear. But you will forgive and forget, won't you,
The kind-hearted Robin protested his affectionate
feeling in a thousand pretty ways.
"Then you won't forget me in the Spring," added the
Tortoise; "but come here and sit on the laurel bush,
and sing me awake. Not till the days are mild, and the
plants get juicy, of course, but as soon as you please
then. And now, good-bye. There's a strange feeling in
the air to-day, and before many hours are over there
will be snow and frost. Yours is a pleasant folly. I
wish it may not cost you dear. Good-bye."
Hereupon the old Tortoise huddled away into the
interior of his hole, where he actually disappeared
from sight; and as soon afterwards the drifting leaves
completely choked up the entrance of the place, no one
could have suspected what was there, but those who knew
the secret beforehand.
He had been right in his
prognostication of the weather. A thick, gloomy, raw
evening was succeeded by a bitterly cold night, and
towards the morning the over-weighted clouds began to
discharge themselves of some of their snow; and as the
day wore on, the flakes got heavier and heavier; and as no
sunshine came out to melt them, and a biting frost set
in, the country was soon covered with a winding-sheet
of white. And now, indeed, began a severe
 trial of the
Robin's patience and hope. It is easy to boast while
the sun still shines, if ever so little; but it is not
till the storm comes, that the mettle of principle is
"There are berries left yet," said he, with cheerful
composure, as he went out to seek for food, and found a
holly-tree by the little gate of the plantation, red
with its beautiful fruit. And, after he had eaten, he
poured out a song of joy and thankfulness into the cold
wintry sky, and finally retreated under his ivy bush at
night, happy and contented as before.
But that terrible storm lasted for weeks without
intermission; or, if it did intermit, it was but to a
partial thaw, which the night of frost soon bound up
again, as firmly, or more firmly, than ever.
Many other birds besides himself came to the holly-tree
for berries, and it was wonderful how they disappeared,
first from one branch, and then from another: but still
the Robin sang on. He poured out his little song of
thanks after every meal. That was his rule.
would jeer at him sometimes, but he could not be much
moved by jeers. He had brought his bravery, and his
patience, and his hope into the field against whatever
troubles might arise, and a few foolish jests would not
trouble a spirit so strung up to cheerful endurance.
"I will sing the old Tortoise awake yet," said he, many
and many a time, when, after chanting his little
thanksgiving in the holly-tree, he would hover about
the spot where his friend lay asleep in the ground, and
think of the spring that would one day come, bringing
its mild days and its juicy plants, and its thousand
I do not say, but what it was a great trial to our
 friend, when, after dreaming all these things in his
day-dreams, he was roused up at last by feeling himself
unusually cold and stiff; and was forced to hurry to
his ivy home to recover himself at all.
The alternations, too, of winter, are very trying. The
long storm of many weeks ceased at last, and a
fortnight of open weather ensued, which, although wet
and cold, gave much more liberty to the birds, and
allowed of greater plenty of food. The Robin could now
hop once more on the grass round the fountain, and get
at a few worms, and pick up a few seeds. And he was so
delighted with the change, that he half hoped the
winter was over; and he sat in the laurel tree by the
Tortoise's cave, and poured out long ditties of
anticipative delight. But the bitterest storm of all
was yet in store,—the storm of disappointed hope.
Oh, heavy clouds, why did you hang so darkly over the
earth just before the Christmas season? Oh, why did the
fields become so white again, and the trees so laden
with snow wreaths, and the waters so frozen and
immovable, just when all human beings wanted to rejoice
and be glad?
Did you come—perhaps you did!—to rouse to
tender pity and compassionate love, the hearts of all
who wished to welcome their Saviour with hosannas of
joy? but who cannot forget, if they read the gospel of
love, that whosoever does a kindness to one of the
least of His disciples, does it unto Him. Surely, thus
may the bitter cold, and the trying weather of a
biting, snowy Christmas, be read. Surely, it calls
aloud to every one, that now is the moment for clothing
the naked, for feeding the hungry, and for comforting
Heavily, heavily, heavily, it came down. There
 were two
days in which the Robin never left his ivy-covered
hole, but hunger took him at last to the holly-tree by
the little gate. Its prickly leaves were loaded with
snow, and on one side the stem could not be seen at
Was it his fancy, or was the tree really much less
than before? He hopped from one white branch to
another, and fancied that large pieces were gone. He
peered under and over, picked at the leaves, and shook
down little morsels of snow; but nowhere, nowhere,
nowhere, could a single berry be found!
The Robin flew about in distress, and in so doing
caught sight of a heap of holly, laurel, and bay
branches that were laid aside together to be carried up
to the house to decorate its walls. He picked two or
three of the berries from them as they lay there,—ripe,
red berries, such as he had gathered but lately from
the tree; and then came the gardener by, who carried
the whole away. He flew after the man as he walked, and
never left him until he disappeared with his load into
the house. Its unfriendly doors closed against the
little wanderer, and no one within knew of the wistful
eyes which had watched the coveted food out of sight.
"I have eaten; let me be thankful," was the Robin's
resolute remark, as he flew away from the house and
returned to the holly-tree, which had so lately been
his storehouse of hope, and from its now stripped and
barren branches, poured out, as before, his lay of glad
thanksgiving for what he had had.
Not a breath of wind was blowing, not a leaf stirred;
not a movement of any kind took place, save when some
overloaded branch dropped part of its weight of snow on
the ground below; as the sweet carol
 of the still
hungry little bird rose through the air on that dark,
still winter's afternoon.
What did it tell of? Oh, surely, that clear bell-like
melody, that musical tone, that exquisite harmonious
trill, told of something—of something, I mean, besides
the tale of a poor little desolate bird, whose food had
been snatched away before his eyes, and who might be
thought to have eaten his last meal.
Surely, those solitary notes of joy, poured into the
midst of a gloom so profound, were as an angel's
message, coming with a promise of peace and hope, at a
moment when both seemed dead and departed.
Homeward from his day's work of business, there passed
by, at that moment, the owner and inhabitant of the
little suburban villa. It had been a melancholy day to
him, for it was saddened by painful recollections. It
was the anniversary of the day on which his wife had
been laid in her churchyard grave, and since that event
two sons had sailed for the far-off land of promise,
which puts a hemisphere between the loved and loving on
earth. So that far-distant land held them, whilst
one—not so distant, perhaps, but more unattainable for
the present—held the other.
No wonder, therefore, that
on that owner's face, as he approached his home, there
hung a cloud of suffering and care, which not even the
thought of the Christmas-day at hand, and the children
yet spared to his hearth, could prevent or dispel.
Verily the autumn of man's life comes down upon him as
the autumn season descends upon the earth. Clouds and
tears mixed with whatever brightness may remain.
All at once, however, the abstracted look of sorrow is
startled. What is it that he hears? He is passing
 outside the little plantation which skirts the grounds.
He is close to the little gate near which the
holly-tree grows. He pauses,—he stops—he lifts up those
troubled eyes. Surely, a wholesome tear is stealing
over the cheek. Beautiful, tender, affecting, as the
voice of the cuckoo in spring, there swept over the
listener's heart, the autumnal song of the Robin.
on, sing on, from the top of your desolate tree, oh,
little bird of cheerfulness and hope! Pour out again
that heaven-taught music of contentment with the hour
that now is. Shalt thou be confident of protection, and
man destitute of hope! Shalt thou, in the depth of thy
winter's trial, have joy and peace, and man never look
beyond the cloud?
Poor little innocent bird, he sang his pretty song to
an end, and then he flew away. Quarrel not with him, if
in painful recollection of the holly-berries that had
been carried into the house, he hovered round its
windows and doors, with anxious and curious stealth.
Whether across the middle of one window he observed a
tempting red cluster hanging down inside, no one can
say. But the tantalising pain of such a sight, if he
felt it, was soon over, for just then the window was
opened, and along its outside ledge something was
strewn by a careful hand. The window was closed again
immediately, and, whoever it was within, retreated
backwards into the room.
From a standard rose-bush, whither he had flown, when
the window was opened, our little friend watched the
Presently a fragrant odour seemed to steal towards
him,—something unknown yet pleasant, something tempting
and very nice. Was there any risk to be feared? All
seemed quiet and still. Should he venture? Ah, that
odour again! it was irresistible.
 In another minute he was on the ledge, and boldly, as
if a dozen invitations had bidden him welcome to the
feast, he was devouring crumb after crumb of the
A burst of delighted laughter from within broke upon
his elysium of joy for a moment, and sent him back with
sudden flight to the rose-bush. But no disaster ensued,
and he was tempted again and again.
The children within might well laugh at the saucy bird,
whom their father had, by his gift of bread-crumbs,
tempted to the place. They laughed at the bold hop,—the
eager pecking,—the brilliant bead-like eye of their new
guest,—and at the bright red of his breast; but it was
a laugh that told of nothing but kind delight.
"Little bits of things do accidentally turn up always,
indeed!" said the Robin to himself, as he crept into
his ivy hole that evening to sleep; and he dreamt half
the night of the wonderful place and the princely fare.
And next morning, long before anybody was awake and up,
he was off to the magical window-ledge again, but
neither children nor bread-crumbs were there. (How was
he to know about breakfast hours, and the customs of
social life?) So it almost seemed to him as if his
evening meal had been a dream, too good a thing to be
true, or if it had ever been true, too good to return.
Yet a sweeter song was never heard on a summer eve,
than that with which the Robin greeted that early day,
the Christmas morning of the year.
Perched in the laurel bush near the Tortoise's retreat,
he told his sleeping friend a long, marvellous tale of
his yesterday's adventures, and promised him more news
against the time when he should return to wake him up
in the spring.
 Nor did he promise in vain; for whether the Tortoise
would be patient enough to listen or not, there was no
doubt the Robin had plenty to tell. He had to tell of
the daily meal that was spread for him, by those
suddenly raised up friends—that daily meal that had
never failed; of the curious tiny house that was
erected for him at the end of the ledge, which,
carpeted as it was with cotton-wool and hay, formed
almost too warm a roosting-place for his hardy little
But even to the Tortoise he could never tell all he had
felt during that wonderful winter; for he could never
explain to any one the mysterious friendship which grew
up between himself and his protectors. He could never
describe properly the friendly faces that sat round the
breakfast-table on which at last he was allowed to hop
about at will.
He told, however, how he used to sing on the rose-tree
outside, every morning of every day, to welcome the
waking of his friends, and how, in the late afternoons,
the father would sometimes open the window, and sit
there alone by himself, listening to his song.
"Come, come, my little friend," remarked the Tortoise,
when he did awake at last, and had come out of his
cavern-bed, and heard the account; "I have been asleep
for a long time, and I dare say have been dreaming all
manner of fine things myself, if I could but think of
them. Now, I suspect you have had a nap, as well.
However, I am very glad to see you alive, and not so
half-starved looking as I expected. But as to your
having sung every day, and had plenty to eat every day,
and been so happy all the time,—take my advice, don't
try to cram older heads than your own with travellers'
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