STORY OF TIP TOP
PAIR of robins had begun to build their nest on a
branch of an old apple-tree up under the nursery
window. Day after say five little children might be
seen peeping out of that window watching the movements
of the birds. There were Alice and Mary, bright-eyed
little girls of seven and eight years; then came stout
little Jamie and Charlie, and finally little Puss,
whose real name was Ellen, but who was called Puss and
Pussy, Birdie or Todlie, or any other pet name that
came to mind. The birds soon became so familiar with
the curly heads at the window, that they rashly caught
up and wove into their nest little bits of cotton, and
bits of thread and yarn that were thrown to them.
Charlie cut one of the floss curls from Todlie's head
and threw it out; they all laughed to see Todlies
golden hair figuring in a bird's nest. Great was the
joy of the children when the nest was finished. They
call it "our nest," and the two robins they called "our
birds." But greater still was their joy when one
morning they saw in the nest a beautiful pale green
egg. In five day there were five little eggs, and then
Alice, the eldest girl, said:
"That makes one for each of us, and each of us will
have a bird by-and-by;" at which all the children
laughed and clapped their hands, and jumped for glee.
Now the mother bird began to sit on the eggs, and there
she sat day after day.
"Yes she is," said grave little Alice. "Old Sam says
his hens set three weeks; just think, almost a month!"
At length one morning as they looked out of the window,
the patient mother bird was gone, and there seemed to
be nothing in the nest but a bundle of something hairy.
But when the children cried out to their mamma to come
there, five little mouths opened in the nest and they
 there were five little birds there. The children wished
to feed the little things, but their mamma told them
that the old birds knew best how to take care of
them; and sure enough, while they were speaking,
back came Mr. and Mrs. Robin whirring through the
green branches, and then all the
little red mouths flew open, and the birds put
something into each. After
this it was great amusement
to watch the daily feeding of the little birds
and to observe how,
when not feeding them, the mother sat brooding over
the nest warming them
under her soft wing, while the father bird sat on
the top-most bough of the apple-tree and sang to them.
"I'm going to give mine a name,"
said Mary, when the robins were
almost full-grown. "I'll call him Brown-Eyes."
"And I shall call mine Tip Top, because
I know he'll be a tip-top
bird," Jamie said.
"I'll call mine Singer," said Alice.
"I'll call mine Toddy," said little Todlie,
who would not be behind the
"Hurrah for Todlie!" cried Charlie;
"hers is the best of all. For my
part, I'll call mine Speckle."
The birds grew rapidly,
and soon the nest was very much crowded.
Now Tip Top was the biggest and strongest,
and he was always scuffling
and crowding the others and
clamoring for the most food; and when Tip
Top was too noisy, Speckle,
who was a bird of spirit, would peck at him.
Little Brown Eyes was a meek
and tender little bird, and would sit winking
and blinking with fear
while her big brothers quarreled. As to Toddy
and Singer, they were sister birds,
very fond of chattering, and they used
to scold their badly-behaved brothers
in a way that made the nest quite
lively. Mr. and Mrs. Robin
were much grieved at the wranglings in their
"I say," said Tip Top one day to them,
"this old nest is a crowded
hole, and it's quite time some of us
were out of it; just give us lessons in
flying, won't you, and let us go."
 "My dear boy," said Mother Robin, "we shall teach you
to fly as soon as your wings are strong enough."
"You are a very little bird," said his father, "and
ought to be good and obedient, and wait patiently until
your wing feathers grow."
"Wait for my wing feathers? Humbug!" Tip Top would say,
as he sat balancing himself on the very edge of the
nest, with his little short tail and little chumps of
wings, looking up into the blue clouds above, or into
the grass and clover-heads below. "Father and mother
want to keep me back," said he; "if the don't hurry up
and teach me to fly, I'll take matters into my own
hands and be off some day before they know it. Look at
those swallows, skimming and diving through the blue
air! That's the way I want to do."
His little sister tried to reason with him, but Tip Top
only said, "What do you know about flying?"
"About as much as you do," said Speckle. And so the
quarrelling grew worse and worse every day, while Tip
Top would get out on the edge of the nest and threaten
to go away.
"My dear boy," said the mother, "do go into the nest
and be a good boy, and then you will be happy."
"Oh!" said Tip Top, "I'm too big for the nest, and I
want to see the world; it's full of beautiful things, I
know. Now there's the most lovely creature, with bright
eyes, that come under the tree every day, and want me
to come down in the grass and play with her."
"My son, take care," said the frightened mother, "that
lovely-seeming creature is our dreadful enemy, the cat,
a horrid monster with teeth and claws."
At this all the little birds shuddered and cuddled
deeper into the nest, except Tip top, who felt he was
so big he needn't be afraid of anything. The next
morning, after the mother and father were gone, Tip Top
got on the edge of the nest again, and looking over he
saw lovely Miss Pussy washing her face among the
daisies under the trees. As Tip Top looked down, he
thought her yellow eyes were beautiful, and then she
 sweetly, "Little bird, little bird, come
down, Pussy want to play with you."
"Only look at her! Her eyes are like gold!" exclaimed
"No, don't look," said Singer and speckle; "she will
get you to come down, and then she will eat you up."
"I'd like to see her try to eat me up," said Tip Top;
"just as if she would! She's a nice creature, and wants
us to have some fun; we never do have any fun in this
Then Pussy called again, "Little birds, come down,
Pussy want to play with you."
A moment after a scream was heard from the nursery
window, where the children were looking out upon the
"Oh, mamma! Do come here! Tip Top has fallen out of the
nest, and the cat has got him!"
Away ran Pussy with foolish Tip Top in her mouth. Jamie
ran after the cat. Mr. and Mrs. Robin, who had just
come home, made plaintive cries when they saw what had
happened, and Mrs. Robin's bright eyes soon discovered
her poor little son, where Pussy was patting him and
rolling him from one claw to the other under the
currant bushes. Lighting on the bush above, she called
the little folks to the spot by her cries. Jamie
plunged under the bush, and catching the cat, with one
or two blows he obliged her to let Tip top go. The poor
thing was not dead, but some of his feathers were torn
out, and one of his wings was broken; he was put back
into the nest. The cat had shaken all the nonsense out
of him, and he was dreadfully humbled young robin. In a
short time the birds learned to fly, but poor Tip Top
sat there, sad enough, with a broken wing. Finally
Jamie took him out of the nest and made him a cage, and
took such good care of him that he seemed tolerably
contented, but he was a poor lame-winged robin all his