When Jolly Robin awoke a little before dawn, after his night in the woods, he did not know at first where he was.
Now, it happened that just as he was awaking in the cedar tree, Willie Whip-poor-will was going to sleep on the ground right beneath him. So when Jolly at last looked down and spied his friend, he remembered what had happened.
“My goodness!” he said with a nervous laugh. “I fell asleep here last night! And I wonder what my wife will say when I get home.” He would have liked to try to rouse Willie Whip-poor-will and speak to him about learning the new song. But he was so uneasy on account of what his wife might say about his having stayed away from home all night that he flew away as fast as he could go.
It was exactly as he had feared. When he reached his house in the orchard his wife greeted him quite coldly. In fact, she hardly spoke to him at all. And when Jolly told her, with a good many chuckles, what a joke he had played on himself—falling asleep as he had, while making a call upon Willie Whip-poor-will—she did not even smile.
“I should think you would be ashamed of yourself,” she told him. “Willie Whip-poor-will is a good-for-nothing rascal. Everybody talks about the way he prowls through the woods all night and seldom goes to bed before morning. And his wife is no better than he is. They’re too shiftless even to build themselves a nest. Mrs. Whip-poor-will leaves her eggs on the ground. And that’s enough to know about her.
“If you like to spend your time with such trash you’d better go over to the woods and live,” Mrs. Robin said. And then she turned her back on her husband and set to work to clean her nest.
Jolly and his wife happened to have five small children at the time. They were so young that they had never left home, not having learned to fly. And they were all clamoring for their breakfast.
Thinking to please his wife, Jolly Robin went off and began gathering angleworms for the youngsters. But when he brought them home his wife told him that he had better eat them himself.
“I am quite able to feed my own children without any help from a person who doesn’t come home until after daybreak,” she said.
And she acted like that for two whole days. Naturally, Jolly Robin felt very uncomfortable during that time. And ever afterward he took good care to have nothing to do with Willie Whip-poor-will.
He did wish, however, that Willie would learn a new song. For Jolly disliked more than ever to hear that “Whip-poor-will! Whip-poor-will!” repeated over and over again. It always reminded him of the time he made his wife angry by spending the night away from home.