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Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

The Oriole's Journey

F AR away in the Southland, two orioles had built their nest in an orange tree. The nest was a beautiful little gray basket hung far out on a forked bough, where the warm winds rocked it gently to and fro. It was just the place for a home, there among the sweet orange blossoms and the gay oranges. The people in the house nearby said that the orioles and the oranges must have been made to go together—because they matched so well.

Mr. and Mrs. Oriole led a very happy life, with never a care or a worry; and they chirped and sang to each other until it made one happy just to be near them. But one day Mrs. Oriole was quiet and sad. She did not sing so gayly, or seem so happy in the nest. Every little while she would fly to the top branch of the tree and look far away. At last Mr. Oriole said: "What is it, my dear? Why do you seem so sad?"

"I can't quite tell," said Mrs. Oriole, "but I think I want to fly away. Do you remember the place where we built our first nest?"

"Oh, yes, indeed," chirped Mr. Oriole. "It was in the Northland, and we built it in the apple tree close by the orchard gate."

"Yes," said Mrs. Oriole; "and do you remember how happy we all were that year? The brook under the tree sang to us, and the bees and butterflies called on us—oh, the dear old orchard! Shall we ever have such a home again?"

So they chirped and twittered until the sun went to bed, and then they tucked their heads under their wings and went to bed, too.

The next day Mr. and Mrs. Oriole were astir early, and out for a little flight. "Listen," said Mrs. Oriole, "the children in the house are singing: 'The orchard, the dear old orchard,' and I heard the mother saying that to-morrow they were to start North. It makes me want to go, too."

"Why should we not?" said Mr. Oriole. "I, too, long for our old home. Let us go, too, back to the North."

"When?" said Mrs. Oriole. "To-day?"

"Why not at once?" said Mr. Oriole. "We must get an early start. There's nothing like being on time."

"Tweet, tweet," chirped Mrs. Oriole. "You are right. Let us start at once, after we have said good-bye to our winter home."

Back to the nest they flew, and around and around the tree, calling good-bye to all their friends. Then they spread their wings and started on their long journey to the North. They flew fast, but the sun was down before they caught a glimpse of the dear old orchard. There were plenty of trees on the way, though, and they flew into one and spent the night with their heads tucked under their wings.

As soon as the sun peeped over the hills, they were up and away. It was a merry journey. Every now and then they would light on a swaying bough and sing the song of home.

"Do you know our orchard?" they sang to the broad river they passed, and the river said: "When I was only a little brook I ran through it."

"Do you know our orchard?" they called down to a spotted toad. The toad only blinked at them in the sunshine, and croaked: "I know my stone, and the meadow grass. Stay here and I'll show you how to be comfortable."

But they thanked him and hurried on. "Do you know our meadow?" they asked of a wandering breeze.

"Hush, hush; listen, listen," sang the breeze. "I stole through there two days ago, and I whispered to the buds on the apple trees that it was time to awake. It is a beautiful place, but far from here."

"Then we must fly the faster," said the orioles, and on they sped. Several days passed, and still they journeyed on, asking news of the orchard of all they met. At last, one evening, as the sun was dropping to rest in a soft cloud, Mrs. Oriole twittered: "I see the orchard, the dear old orchard."

And as the gray twilight was creeping down, two happy orioles flew back to the apple tree by the orchard gate.

— Frances Bliss Gillespy, "Kindergarten Review"