Jolly Robin tried his best to rouse Willie Whip-poor-will out of his daytime nap. But he had to admit to himself at last that his efforts were in vain. It was plain that Willie was too sleepy to understand what was said to him. And as for his learning a new song when he was in that condition, that was entirely out of the question.
“I’ll have to wait till sunset,” Jolly Robin sighed at last. “That’s the time that Willie always wakes up and begins to sing.... I’ll come back here late this afternoon.”
So he left the woods; and he was busy every moment all the rest of the day.
Shortly before sunset Jolly Robin went back to the place in the woods where he had left Willie Whip-poor-will sleeping. But Willie was no longer there. He had left only a few minutes before Jolly’s arrival. And as Jolly sat on a low branch of a tree and looked all around, just as the sun dropped behind the mountain, a voice began singing from some point deeper in the woods. “Whip-poor-will! Whip-poor-will!” That was the way the song went.
“There’s Willie now!” Jolly Robin exclaimed. And he flew off at once to find his night-prowling friend. He knew that Willie Whip-poor-will was some distance away, because he couldn’t hear the low “chuck!” with which Willie always began his song, as a sort of warning that he was going to sing, and that nobody could stop him.
Jolly had a good deal of trouble finding the singer, because Willie Whip-poor-will didn’t stay in one place. Between his bursts of song he coursed about hunting for insects, which he caught as he flew. So it was not surprising that Jolly did not come upon him until it had grown almost dark in the woods.
“Hullo!” said Willie as soon as he saw Jolly Robin. “I haven’t seen you for a long time.”
Jolly Robin laughed merrily.
“Don’t you remember my calling on you about noon to-day?” he asked.
“You must be mistaken,” Willie Whip-poor-will replied. “I’ve been asleep since sunrise—until a little while ago. And nobody came to see me.”
“You’ve forgotten,” said Jolly. “But it’s no matter. I can talk to you now just as well. I want to speak to you about your singing.” Jolly paused then; and he yawned widely, for it was his bed-time that very moment.
“Talk fast, please!” said Willie Whip-poor-will. “I haven’t finished my breakfast yet. And I’m pretty hungry.”
It seemed queer, to Jolly Robin, that anyone should be eating his breakfast right after sunset. And he was about to say something about the matter. But just as he opened his mouth to speak he yawned again. And then, without realizing what he was doing, he tucked his head under his wing and fell asleep on the limb of the cedar tree where he was sitting.
Willie Whip-poor-will looked at him in astonishment.
“What shocking manners!” he exclaimed. “He went to sleep while we were talking. But I suppose he knows no better.”
Willie would have liked to know what Jolly Robin was going to say about his singing. But he was so hungry that he left Jolly asleep upon his perch and hurried off to look for more insects.
Since it was a moonlight night, Willie Whip-poor-will spent all the time until sunrise in hunting for food. Now and then he stopped to rest and sing his queer song, which Jolly Robin did not like.
But Jolly Robin slept so soundly that for once Willie’s singing never disturbed him at all.