Mr. Peabody and the Robins
Franklin Peabody sat studying the scene outside the window of his library dreading the onslaught of spring. Three robins stared watching his every move. Or so he thought. One robin protected her clutch. The nest never sat unguarded if Franklin Peabody was near to touch. When he went outside, robins followed. Or so he thought.
As the light of day waned, Penelope Peabody, the bride of Mr. P., entered with exciting news. She said she too was on the nest, due herself a visit from the Stork.
This news shocked Mr. P., who since a child himself vowed never to have one of his own.
“How can this be Mrs. P?” he demanded. “Are you certain the father is me?”
Franklin Peabody’s accusation crushed the good woman.
“How could you ask such a question of me? You know there is no place in my heart or our bed for anyone but you,” said she.
“I fear bringing a child into this wicked world,” he confided in her. “Evil lurks outside these very panes; a wretchedness for which there is no cure.”
Mrs. Peabody cried and trembled over the surprising reaction of her husband.
And so, she flew upstairs to quarters above the dismal library of Mr. P. where he perched after dinner, sipped a drink or two, and hid between the pages of the latest best seller. All the while robins flocked to observe him through the library’s windows. Above him they could see Mrs. P. crying a bird bath of tears and they chirped among themselves.
“The time has come,” they said in their birdish ways.
“Robbed my mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, mother he did of eggs in her nest one spring it’s true, now that he has one of his own coming, we shall avenge as sure as an egg is blue,” crowed the mother at rest in the nest.
“That poor woman will worry herself sick and the baby, too,” said another. “But shouldn’t we leave this kind of thing to the ravens of Poe my dear brother?”
“Nonsense!” squawked the third in a passive voice. “Tradition is set, and revenge must be dealt. We will not be happy until an equal measure of loss is felt.”
Mrs. P. made ready for the special day as the robins flocked outside in a special way, and Mr. P. thought of something special to say.
Days before the arrival of the Peabody child, Franklin exited the residence did he, with a bag of bread and walked to a bench in the park to sit under an oak tree.
The birds issued their warnings to each other, but going to the park they shrieked, “he’s returning to the scene of the crime!”
“Franklin Peabody, we know what you did that day as a kid. The murder of our ancestors can never be hid’,” said a venerable robin.
“I was a boy, curious at heart. I meant no harm I promise you that. I picked up those eggs to carry them home and before I knew what, in my hand they went splat.”
This stirred the ire of the birds.
“Nature is best left alone in the woods not in the palms of some greedy young boy,” cried an old timer.
“I know that now,” exclaimed Mr. Franklin P. “but how was I to know that then?”
“Your teacher on the field trip earlier in the day said these very words, ‘Our place is not to touch but to admire the beauty and power of Nature,’ did she not?” demanded the venerable robin.
“She did, she did indeed, I must confess,” whimpered Mr. P. “I am guilty as charged, but I do not know how to make amends for this colossal mess.”
“Fair is fair in Nature, Mr. P,” cried a round robin.
Mr. P. sat thinking for a moment as though he’d brought his study with him.
“You are angry over something that happened generations ago. Isn’t your sin as damnable as mine?”
“He is trying to trick us,” charged a younger bird. “What happened long ago hurts me every day! Make him pay for what he did.”
An older bird chirped to the younger.
“Oh, be quiet. Neither of us were even born then.”
Mr. P continued.
“Let this new generation be born and our mistakes forgiven.”
The older robin moved closer to Mr. P.
“’Tis tiring to keep angry over something one did not experience firsthand.”
“I have suffered for my sin and longed to make amends,” Mr. Peabody said. “When my child comes, the child shall have the name Robin.”
The birds fell silent.
“I see how you at my windows, worrying if your nests are safe,” Mr. Peabody said. “I will set out seed and build bird houses, so you are worry-free from children, cats, and other predators.”
“That way you will give life to more than the three we lost,” a momma robin said.
“I cannot replace the three whose lives I stole, but perhaps more will have a greater chance to live as I make amends,” Mr. P. said.
The birds chirped among themselves and accepted his offer.
He then opened the bag of crumbs and shared the bread until consumed.
Upon returning home, Franklin discovered Mrs. P. had flown the coup. Gone was her bag kept readied for a trip to the hospital. When Mr. P. reported to the delivery ward as arranged, they’d not heard from her. Nor any others. Nor had her parents. Or so he thought. Mr. Peabody was so distraught, he returned to his study and since he had no child of his own, he did not name one Robin. He did not set out seed or make bird feeders. The birds kept watch on his study and didn’t know what happened to Mrs. P. either.
Or so he thought.