After he learned to fly, Jolly Robin’s father took him into the woods to spend each night in a roost where there were many other young robins, whose fathers had likewise brought them there.
Jolly learned a great deal from being with so many new friends. It was not long before he could find plenty of food for himself, without help from anyone.
He discovered, too, that there was safety in numbers. For example, if Jasper Jay made too great a nuisance of himself by bullying a young robin, a mob of robins could easily put Jasper to flight.
“Always help other people!” That was a motto that all the youngsters had to learn. And another was this: “Follow your father’s lead!”
Later in the season, in October, when the robin cousins and uncles and aunts and sisters and brothers and all the rest of the relations made their long journey to their winter homes in the South, Jolly found that there was a good reason for such rules. If he hadn’t followed his father then he might have lost his way, because—since it was the first time he had ever been out of Pleasant Valley—he knew nothing whatever about travelling.
He looked forward with much interest to the journey, for as the days grew shorter he heard a great deal of talk about the trip among his elders. And while he was waiting for the day when they should leave he became acquainted with many new and delicious morsels to eat. He roamed about picking wild grapes, mulberries and elderberries. And he did not scorn a large, green katydid when he chanced to find one.
There was always some new dainty to be sampled; though as the weather grew colder Jolly began to understand that in winter Pleasant Valley would not be so fine a place to live.
However, he managed to find food enough so that he continued to grow rapidly. The night after he found a mountain ash on a hillside, full of bright red berries, his father said that he seemed much taller than he had been that morning.
“You must have eaten a great many of those berries,” said Mr. Robin.
“Well, I notice one thing,” Jolly observed. “My waistcoat is fast losing its black spots. And it’s redder than it was. The red berries certainly colored it in some way.”
Mr. Robin replied that he had never heard of such a thing happening. He looked curiously at his son’s waistcoat.
“It does seem to look different,” he said. “It’s brighter than it was.”
Really, that was only because Jolly was fast growing up. But neither he nor his father stopped to think of that. And since Jolly had learned that motto, “Follow your father’s lead,” he thought his waistcoat ought to be just as red as old Mr. Robin’s was.
So Jolly visited the mountain ash each day and fairly stuffed himself with the bright red fruit.
It did him no harm, anyhow. And he enjoyed eating it.
And the next spring, when Jolly Robin returned to Pleasant Valley, after spending the winter in the South, there was not a redder waistcoat than his in all the neighborhood.