These I have mentioned are not the only visitors whose society our friends enjoy. The swallows gracefully skim through the air, and greet them with their merry voices. The wren often favours them with one of his sweetest melodies, and the blue-bird flies around the corner to sing a song on the walnut-tree. He has a curious little nest of his own, hidden away under the eaves. The cat-birds, of course, are always near, as they live in the lilacs. The oriole has suspended his nest, like a basket, from a limb of the great pear-tree; and when the robins know how to fly, they can return some of his visits.
The old robins, now and then, play peep with the young birds. They fly almost up to the nest, and poise themselves for an instant on the wing, just long enough to say, “Bo-peep!” and then away! almost before they can be seen. Pretty soon they return again, generally bringing some nice morsel with them. They often first alight on a small branch of the vine, below the nest, and then hop up to it.
What a chirping the birdlings keep up with their mother! They like to talk as well as Eddie Dudley and some other children, whom I have heard pleasantly called little chatter-boxes. Children have much to learn, and must ask many questions. The world is new and strange to them, and is a constant source of surprise and wonder. I do not suppose people ever learn faster than before they are six years old, or ever learn more in the same length of time. They are constantly observing, and in this way the stock of their ideas is continually increasing. I once heard a gentleman say he did not like to go through the world with his head in a bag. He wished to see what was taking place around him, and it was this seeing, and thinking upon what he saw, that, among other things, made him a distinguished man.
The young birds are now seeing and thinking, as well as birds can. Their time for action has not come. Like dear children in their happy homes, they are preparing for the responsibilities of life; and, if they honour and obey their parents, as far as birds are expected to do, and as all children should, I doubt not they will faithfully perform the duties which will hereafter devolve upon them.
From observations I have made, I conclude the robins neither send their children to school nor employ a governess for them. They have so made their arrangements that either one or the other has time to attend to their education. Sometimes the father, and at other times the mother, assumes the labour of teaching, and their dearly-loved pupils are quite as attentive to their instructions as any children I have ever seen.
It was on a bright, warm, breezy morning in early June, that our friends at Honeysuckleville decided that the home education of their children had been attended with such success as to encourage the hope that they would “come out” creditably to themselves, and their parents. Arrangements were accordingly made, and I assure you there was much talking and no little excitement and bustle upon the occasion. It was proposed to spend some weeks in travelling, that the young people might enjoy themselves, and acquire much useful information, which could be obtained no other way.