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JOHNNIE GREEN’S IDEA
IT happened that just before Rusty Wren and his wife came to Pleasant Valley to look for a home, Johnnie Green had an idea.
He found the idea in the weekly paper which the letter-carrier left each Friday in the mail box at the crossroads. On the Children’s Page Johnnie read a story about a pair of house wrens. And he learned then that an old tin can nailed to a tree makes exactly the sort of house that wrens like.
Well, Johnnie Green began at once to look for a tin can. He had made up his mind that he would try to coax a couple of those busy little songsters to nest nearby, where he could have fun watching them.
Not finding an old tin can that suited him, Johnnie took a shiny maple syrup can, which his father said he might have. It seemed to him that it was just the kind he needed, for the only opening in it was a small round hole in the top, hardly bigger than a twenty-five-cent piece. (The story in the weekly paper said that the wrens’ doorway should be as small as that, so that no ruffianly English sparrows could enter the house and disturb the little people that were to dwell there.)
Johnnie Green punched a few nail holes in the sides of the syrup can, because he thought that if he lived in such a place, he would want plenty of fresh air. Then he nailed a board to the can. And next he nailed the board to a cherry tree close to the house.
After that Johnnie had nothing more to do but wait. And he had not waited two days before Rusty Wren discovered the bright tin can that was to be his summer home.
As soon as she saw it, Rusty’s wife said that there must be kind people living in the farmhouse, or they never would have driven nails through a spick-and-span can just to make strangers happy.
Since their search was ended, the tiny pair began building their nest right then and there. In a surprisingly short time they had completely filled their new house with twigs. And as soon as they had done that much, in the center of the mass of twigs they built a nest of dried grasses, singing the merriest of songs while they worked.
Of course, Johnnie Green was delighted. All the time the lively little couple were at work upon their new home it was easy to find Johnnie. But it was hard to get him to do any errands, because he didn’t want to stir from the door-yard, he was so interested in what was going on.
Farmer Green, too, seemed pleased. And though he didn’t spend much time watching Mr. and Mrs. Rusty (he said that he had to work, the same as they), he remarked to Johnnie that he was glad to see that the newcomers were already paying rent for their house.
Johnnie Green looked puzzled.
“Rent?” he exclaimed. “I don’t understand.”
“Just hear them!” his father replied. “Isn’t their singing pay enough for the use of a tin syrup can?”
“That’s so!” cried Johnnie. “I never thought of that. Why, they’ve turned that can into a regular music-box!”