The time had come when Jolly Robin was ready to begin his long journey to the South, for it was growing quite cold. On some days there was no sun at all. And even when the weather was fair the sun rose late and went to bed early. It was exactly the sort of weather Jolly Robin did not like.
“No doubt you’ll be leaving us soon,” Jasper Jay remarked to Jolly one day, when the two chanced to meet in Farmer Green’s woods, where the beeches grew.
“I expect to start to-morrow,” Jolly Robin answered with a short laugh. The mere thought of his warm, light-flooded winter home in the Southland made him feel glad.
“Well, well!” Jasper Jay exclaimed. “I’m glad I happened to see you, for I know of a new way to travel.”
And Jolly Robin wanted to know all about it.
“If it’s a better way than the old, I’ll be pleased to try it,” he said.
“Oh! it’s much better,” Jasper told him. “If I hadn’t made up my mind to spend the winter in Pleasant Valley, I’d go the new way myself. But the beechnut crop is good this fall. So I shall stay right here to enjoy it.”
“Tell me how we’re to go, if you please!” Jolly Robin urged him.
“We?” said Jasper. “You don’t mean to say you are going with a crowd, do you?”
“Why, yes!” Jolly Robin replied. “All the Robins are leaving to-morrow. And I had intended to go with them.”
Jasper Jay shook his head.
“Take my advice and don’t do any such thing,” he said. “You’ll find it quieter travelling alone. And though you may not know it, it’s the fashionable thing to do.”
Jolly Robin laughed when Jasper said that.
“But I’m not a fashionable person!” he exclaimed.
“Then you should become one,” Jasper told him. “Besides, the new way is easier, as well as more stylish. But if you’re afraid to try something new, of course I wouldn’t think of urging you.”
“I’m not afraid!” Jolly Robin cried. “And if you’ll only tell me what I’m to do, I promise you I’ll do it!”
“Good!” said Jasper Jay. “Meet me here day after to-morrow and I’ll start you on your journey. I can’t explain anything now, because I must hurry over to the woods at once, where my cousin, Mr. Crow, is waiting for me.” Then he flew away, screaming a loud good-by as he went.
So Jolly Robin hastened back to the orchard, to find his wife and tell her what he had decided to do.
He had no difficulty at all in finding her. But he had no end of trouble trying to persuade her to travel with him the new way, instead of going along with the crowd in the good, old-fashioned style. In fact, she raised so many objections, saying how lonely it would be and how dangerous it was to travel in a small party and that she didn’t want to be fashionable—she raised so many objections that at last Jolly Robin said very well! she might do as she pleased. But as for him, he was going to meet Jasper Jay just as he had promised. And since the new way was easier, he expected to reach their winter home long before she arrived, even if he did start a day later.
But he was disappointed, all the same. And he kept up such a constant laughing and joking all the rest of that day that his wife knew he must be feeling quite out of sorts.
For that was a way Jolly Robin had. The worse he felt, the happier he always acted. And it was not a bad way, either.