Jasper Jay spent several days looking for the great golden bird that Jolly Robin had described. But Jasper couldn’t find the wonderful creature anywhere. And he was wondering if it wasn’t just a hoax after all, as he had claimed. He had almost decided to give up his search, when he chanced to meet Bennie Barn-Swallow one day. Jasper happened to mention that he was on the lookout for Jolly Robin’s strange bird; and Bennie Barn-Swallow said quickly:
“Do you mean the bird of gold?”
“The bird of brass, I should say!” Jasper replied, with his nose in the air. “You haven’t seen him, have you?”
“Why, yes!” said Bennie. “He stays right near my house.”
Of course, Jasper Jay knew that Bennie lived in a mud house, under the eaves of Farmer Green’s barn. So he cried at once: “Then my search is ended! I’ll come over to the barn this afternoon and fight the upstart.”
The news spread quickly—the news of the fight that was going to take place at Farmer Green’s barn. And as soon as he heard it, Jolly Robin went straight to the barn and asked the golden bird if he wouldn’t leave Pleasant Valley at once.
But the great, gorgeous creature paid no attention to Jolly Robin’s request. Indeed, he seemed not to hear his words at all—though Jolly Robin thought the stranger was just pretending.
Jolly had to sing a good many songs that day to keep up his spirits. Somehow, he felt that it was all his fault that there was going to be a fight.
“I wish I hadn’t told anyone about the golden bird,” he said. “Maybe he would have flown away before Jasper Jay heard of his being here.”
Well, Jasper invited everybody to come to the barn late in the afternoon to see him whip the golden bird and pull out his tail-feathers.
“There’s going to be some fun,” said Jasper Jay. “Nobody ought to miss it.”
So, as the afternoon waned, the feathered folk began to gather in the orchard. Jolly Robin was there, and his wife, and old Mr. Crow, Rusty Wren, Bobbie Bobolink, Miss Kitty Catbird, and a good many others as well. There was a good deal of noise, for everyone was chattering. And Jasper Jay made almost as great a din as all his friends together. He boasted in a loud voice that he was going to give the golden bird a terrible beating. And he was so pleased with himself that some of his companions whispered to one another that it might be a good thing if the golden bird gave Jasper a sound whipping.
At last Jasper Jay called out that he was ready. And then he started for Farmer Green’s barn, while the eager crew followed close behind him. They all alighted on the ridge of the barn. And like Jasper Jay, they sat there for a short time and stared at the golden bird, who shimmered like fire in the slanting rays of the setting sun.
Jolly Robin and Bennie Barn-Swallow had seen him before; so they weren’t surprised. But all the others gazed at him in amazement.
Now, to Jasper Jay the golden bird looked enormous. He was perched high up on a rod which rose above the roof. And he seemed very proud and disdainful. In fact, he paid no attention at all to the curious flock that watched him.
For a little while nobody said a word. And Jasper Jay was the first to speak.
“Fiddlesticks!” he cried. “This is nothing but a barnyard fowl. He’s a rooster—that’s what he is!”