It was pleasant music to their ears to hear those four new voices in their secluded home; and though they knew it would increase their labour to provide food for those gaping mouths, what cared they for their own comfort, if they could nurture their precious charge, and rear them to be an honour and a blessing?
When the doors of their chambers were quite open, out came the baby-birds, with a few downy feathers covering them!
“How very little they are!” said Eddie, with one breath; and, “How big their mouths are!” with the next. To be sure, they do look very small, and their mouths are very large for such diminutive bodies, and they open them so wide that it almost seems as if one of them could jump down another’s throat.
The robin now often comes home, and brings food to his family. It is gratifying to see how attentive he is to his dear children and their mother; and I hope I may be able, some day, to tell you that they repay his attachment, by growing up fine, obedient birds. It will not be long before their education will be commenced, and I will tell you whether they are taught at home, or are sent away to school, and what progress they make in acquiring their accomplishments.
Home life and home education.
The birdlings still live in the honeysuckles.
“How they do grow!” Eddie exclaims, when he looks at them. “I shouldn’t think they could ever have lived in those little eggs.”
They are now almost half as large as the old birds. They are well covered with feathers, and their mottled breasts are very pretty.
“They don’t have to dress as we do,” said Eddie. “Their clothes grow.” And he thinks it would be a great convenience if his clothes grew too, for then they would always be large enough for him, and his mother would not have so much sewing to do.
Sometimes these little birds lie in the bottom of the nest, quietly sleeping, while their father and mother are both away, getting them food. At other times they feel wide awake. Then they stretch their wings, stand upon their feet, and peep over the side of the nest. From the parlour-window, the children can look up directly at their secluded home, and can see them amusing themselves and practising their lessons. The honeysuckle grows almost as fast as the birds, and the tender, overhanging branches make a roof which keeps off all the rain.
The old birds are mindful of their children, but do not consider it necessary to be with them all the time. So other parents endeavour to implant good principles in the hearts of their children, and then leave them to their self-control; ever keeping a watchful eye on the influences which surround them, and using their proper authority, when it becomes necessary, to restrain from evil, and guide in the way of virtue. The child that has never learned to depend upon himself, or to control his own passions, and to do right because it is right, will hardly be able to sustain himself when the presence of his parents is withdrawn.