Chapter IX MRS. ROBIN WORRIES
THOUGH the Flickers welcomed Reddy Woodpecker when he came to live in Pleasant Valley there was hardly another bird family that wasn’t sorry to see him settle there. Among all the feathered folk on Farmer Green’s place the Robin family was perhaps the sorriest. They had a nest of eggs in the orchard, in a crotch of an old apple tree. And it was on just such trees that Reddy Woodpecker spent a great deal of his time, hunting for grubs. Jolly Robin himself might not have paid much heed to Reddy. But Mrs. Robin was a great worrier. Often she worried over nothing at all. And now that she had had a few talks with timid little Mrs. Chippy about the newcomer, Reddy Woodpecker, Mrs. Robin firmly believed that he had come to the farm expressly to rob her of her four greenish-blue eggs. After each talk with Mrs. Chippy Mrs. Robin came home all aflutter.
“We’ll have to watch sharp!” she said to Jolly Robin again and again. “This Woodpecker person is a rascal. It’s a pity we built here in the orchard. We’d have been safer on top of one of the posts under Farmer Green’s porch.”
“I mentioned that very place,” Jolly reminded her. “But you were afraid of Miss Kitty Cat.”
Not a day passed without some such words between them. Jolly did what he could to calm his wife’s fears. He stayed near home all the time, when often he would have liked to fly across the meadow to chat with friends who lived on the edge of the woods.
Reddy Woodpecker never started to rap on a tree but Mrs. Robin set up a loud twitter, begging Jolly to hurry back to the nest.
He was wonderfully patient with her. Yet he couldn’t help hoping, secretly, for the day when his family should be grown up and able to look out for themselves.
But if Mrs. Robin was anxious about her eggs her worry was nothing compared with what it became when the nestlings broke through their shells.
“This is the finest family in the whole valley,” she confided to her husband. “I know that terrible Woodpecker person will steal these children if he can.”
If the youngsters didn’t peep for food their mother feared they were ill. If they did peep she feared Reddy Woodpecker would hear them. “He’s such a dangerous person!” she would exclaim. “I wonder if he ever eats anything except eggs and nestlings.”
“Yes, indeed!” Jolly assured her again and again. “He eats grubs, which he finds on the trees. And he eats insects, which he catches in the air.”
“Thank goodness!” Mrs. Robin murmured. But her relief was short-lived. For she happened to meet little Mrs. Chippy one day and learned another bit of distressing news about Reddy Woodpecker. “He’s a fruit eater!” Mrs. Robin told Jolly. “And you know we’ve been depending on the raspberries for our children.”
A few days later she came home in a dreadful state of mind. “I went to take a look at the raspberry patch,” she explained to her good husband. “I knew the berries would soon be ripe. In fact I’ve had my eye on one that was almost ready to be picked. And what do you think? Right before my own eyes that ruffian Reddy Woodpecker picked it and ate it himself!”
“Don’t worry about that!” said Jolly Robin.
But Mrs. Robin insisted on worrying; nothing he said could stop her.
“Reddy Woodpecker is taking the food out of our children’s mouths!” she wailed. “You’ll have to drive him away from the raspberry patch! You’ll have to fight him!”
Now, Jolly Robin hardly thought that he was a match for Reddy Woodpecker. So when his wife gave him those orders he began to worry, himself.