Here to return to
A FRIEND, INDEED
THE next morning Rusty Wren awakened with a start. Somebody was pounding at his door — and shouting his name, as well. He jumped out of bed to see what was the matter. And, looking outside, he beheld Mr. Chippy, with sixteen of his cousins, all very much excited — if one might judge by their actions.
They were flying back and forth past Rusty’s doorway and chipping in shrill and piercing tones.
“I’ve come for my son,” Mr. Chippy informed Rusty Wren. “Send him out here at once or it will be the worse for you.”
“I’d be glad to get rid of him if I could,” Rusty answered. “But, as I explained to you last night, he has grown so big that he can no longer pass through my doorway.”
“I don’t care to argue with you?” Mr. Chippy replied. “Just let me have Chippy, Jr., or we’ll come inside your house and get him. We’ll make trouble for you, too. Perhaps you didn’t know that kidnapping a child is a very serious act. I’ve already asked Solomon Owl’s opinion about this matter; and he advises me to take my child away from you by force, if necessary.”
“There’s no sense in waiting any longer,” one of Mr. Chippy’s cousins interrupted. “Let’s go right in and seize the lad!”
At that the mob crowded round Rusty Wren’s door. And the pert gentleman who had just spoken thrust his head through the opening.
That, however, was as far as he was able to go. His shoulders were altogether too broad for the small, round passage. And though his relations attempted to push him into the house, they soon saw that they would never succeed in their undertaking.
“Let me try!” another of Mr. Chippy’s cousins cried. But he had no better luck than the first.
Then each of the fourteen remaining cousins — and then Mr. Chippy himself — had his turn at the door. But every one of them found that he was about two sizes too big to squeeze through it.
Rusty Wren, watching then from inside his house, couldn’t help laughing, although it was really no joke
Though he was usually very mild, Mr. Chippy grew terribly angry the moment he heard Rusty’s laughter. His sixteen cousins began to scold, too. Again they tried to crowd through Rusty Wren’s door. And they made such an uproar that when Johnnie Green stepped out of the farmhouse before breakfast he couldn’t help noticing them.
“What’s going on here?” he cried. And he hurried to his “wren house,” as he called Rusty’s home, and drove away the noisy visitors.
Then he shinned up the old cherry tree, to peep inside it. And as soon as he reached the tin can which was Rusty’s home Johnnie Green thought he heard an unusual cry within it.
“That doesn’t sound like a wren!” he exclaimed. “It sounds exactly like a chipping sparrow!” Then, as he looked, he saw Chippy Jr.’s, head, with its bright bay cap, peer through the mouth of the syrup can.
“There’s a chippy inside my wren house!” Johnnie Green shouted to his father, who had come to a window to see what was going on. “How can I get him out?”
“Wait a moment!” said Farmer Green. And soon he came and handed Johnnie a can-opener.
“Cut out the end of the can!” he directed. “Then you’ll be able to reach in and get the little beggar.”
Naturally, Chippy, Jr. did not like to be called a “beggar.” But he couldn’t very well prevent Farmer Green from saying whatever he pleased. So he kept still, while Johnnie Green quickly opened a great hole in Rusty’s house. Then Johnnie carefully lifted Chippy, Jr., out of his prison and gave him a toss into the air.
That frightened young gentleman wasted no time. He stopped to touch his cap to nobody, but flew away to his home in the wild grapevine, on the stone wall, as fast as he could go.
Though he had kept quiet, the whole Wren family had made a great uproar. Glad as they were to get rid of their troublesome guest, they objected to having the whole front of their house torn out.
Indeed, Mrs. Rusty began to get ready to move out at once. And everybody knows that moving is no joke — especially if one has six children.
But Johnnie Green bent the tin into place again, so that it was almost the same as new. In fact, the house was even better than ever, because it was more airy.
And Rusty and his wife were so glad to see the last of Chippy, Jr., that afterward they never objected in the least when Johnnie Green called them “my wrens.” They had discovered that he was a good friend to have.