All of Jolly Robin’s friends and relations were greatly surprised when they saw him bidding his wife and children good-by, on the day the Robin family started from Pleasant Valley for their winter home in the South.
“What’s this?” they cried. “Aren’t you coming with us?”
And Jolly Robin laughed and said to them gaily:
“Not to-day! But you’ll find me waiting for you when you reach your journey’s end.”
His wife, however, shook her head.
“It’s one of his queer notions—his and Jasper Jay’s,” she explained.
“Tut, tut!” her husband said. And he chucked her under the chin—and winked at his friends.
There was no time to say anything more, for everyone was eager to start. So the travellers called good-by to Jolly, while he waved a farewell to them.
It was not many minutes before he was the only member of the Robin family left in Pleasant Valley. He felt very lonely, all at once. And he wanted to hurry after the others. But he knew what Jasper Jay would say, if he did. Jasper would be sure to tell people that Jolly Robin was afraid to travel a new way.... Of course, Jolly didn’t want that to be said about him. So he looked as cheerful as he could; and he whistled the merriest tune he knew. Nobody—except his wife, maybe—would have guessed that he wasn’t perfectly happy.
Jolly spent a very lonely night. When he went to the roost where the whole Robin family had been sleeping for several weeks, he found it distressingly silent, after the gay chatter that he had grown accustomed to hearing there. And try as he would, he could not keep just a hint of sadness out of his good-night song.
But in the morning he felt better. And he welcomed the dawn with a carol that was joyous enough for anybody. For this was the day when Jasper Jay was going to show him the new way to travel. Yes! he, too, would soon be hurrying southwards, where the sun was warm.
It was no wonder that he sang, “Cheerily-cheerup, cheerily-cheerup,” right merrily.
As soon as he had eaten his breakfast, Jolly went to the place where the beeches grew, to find Jasper Jay. And Jasper was there, just finishing his own breakfast. But he was too busy, he said, to bother with Jolly Robin just then.
“You meet me in the orchard this afternoon,” he said, “when the sun’s over the mountain, and I’ll start you on your journey.”
So Jolly Robin had to wait all the long day, while Jasper Jay did a hundred silly things, such as mocking Farmer Green’s cat, and teasing a sleepy young owl, and making the woods echo with his hoarse screams. Jasper was late, too, in keeping his appointment in the orchard. Jolly Robin waited for him until almost sunset before Jasper Jay appeared. But Jolly was so glad to see Jasper that he never once thought of being angry with him.
“Come along!” said the blue-coated rascal. “Follow me and you’ll soon learn the new way to the South. And if it isn’t a good one I hope I’ll never eat another beechnut.”
Jolly Robin laughed. He was sure, then, that he had nothing to worry about. For everybody knew that Jasper Jay was specially fond of beechnuts.