"O my darlings," said their mamma, now fluttering home, "cannot I ever teach you to live in love?"
"It's all Tip-Top's fault," screamed the other birds in a flutter.
"My fault? Of course, everything in this nest that goes wrong is laid to me," said Tip-Top; "and I'll leave it to anybody, now, if I crowd anybody. I've been sitting outside, on the very edge of the nest, and there's Speckle has got my place."
"Who wants your place?" said Speckle. "I'm sure you can come in, if you please."
"My dear boy," said the mother, "do go into the nest and be a good little bird, and then you will be happy."
"That's always the talk," said Tip-Top. "I'm too big for the nest, and I want to see the world. It's full of beautiful things, I know. Now there's the most lovely creature, with bright eyes, that comes under the tree every day, and wants me to come down in the grass and play with her."
"My son, my son, beware!" said the frightened mother; "that lovely- seeming creature is our dreadful enemy, the cat,--a horrid monster, with teeth and claws."
At this, all the little birds shuddered and cuddled deeper in the nest; only Tip-Top in his heart disbelieved it. "I'm too old a bird," said he to himself, "to believe THAT story; mother is chaffing me. But I'll show her that I can take care of myself."