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The Scottish Fairy Book
The Wedding of Robin Redbreast and Jenny Wren


There was once an old grey Pussy Baudrons, and she went out for a stroll one Christmas morning to see what she could see. And as she was walking down the burn-side she saw a little Robin Redbreast hopping up and down on the branches of a briar bush.

“What a tasty breakfast he would make" thought she to herself. “I must try to catch him".

So, “Good morning, Robin Redbreast" quoth she, sitting down on her tail at the foot of the briar bush and looking up at him. “And where mayest thou be going so early on this cold winter’s day?”

“I’m on my road to the King’s Palace,” answered Robin cheerily, “to sing him a song this merry Yule morning.”

“That’s a pious errand to be travelling on, and I wish you good success" replied Pussy slyly; “but just hop down a minute before thou goest, and I will show thee what a bonnie white ring I have round my neck. ’Tis few cats that are marked like me.”

Then Robin cocked his head on one side and looked down on Pussy Baudrons with a twinkle in his eye. “Ha, ha! grey Pussy Baudrons,” he said. “Ha, ha! for I saw thee worry the little grey mouse, and I have no wish that thou shouldst worry me.”

And with that he spread his wings and flew away. And he flew, and he flew, till he lighted on an old sod dyke; and there he saw a greedy old gled sitting, with all his feathers ruffled up as if he felt cold.

“Good morning, Robin Redbreast,” cried the greedy old gled, who had had no food since yesterday, and was therefore very hungry. “And where mayest thou be going to, this cold winter’s day?”

“I’m on my road to the King's Palace,” answered Robin, “to sing to him a song this merry Yule morning.” And he hopped away a yard or two from the gled, for there was a look in his eye that he did not quite like.

“Thou art a friendly little fellow,” remarked the gled sweetly, “and I wish thee good luck on thine errand; but ere thou go on, come nearer me, I prith’ee, and I will show thee what a curious feather I have in my wing. ’Tis said that no other gled in the country-side hath one like it.”

“Like enough,” rejoined Robin, hopping still further away; “but I will take thy word for it, without seeing it. For I saw thee pluck the feathers from the wee lintie, and I have no wish that thou shouldst pluck the feathers from me. S<o I will bid thee good day, and go on my journey."

The next place on which he rested was a piece of rock that overhung a dark, deep glen, and here he saw a sly old fox looking out of his hole not two yards below him.

“Good morning, Robin Redbreast,” said the sly old fox, who had tried to steal a fat duck from a farmyard the night before, and had barely escaped with his life. “And where mayest thou be going so early on this cold winter's day?"

“I'm on my road to the King's Palace, to sing him a song this merry Yule morning" answered Robin, giving the same answer that he had given to the grey Pussy Baudrons and the greedy gled.

“Thou wilt get a right good welcome, for His Majesty is fond of music," said the wily fox. “But ere thou go, just come down and have a look at a black spot which I have on the end of my tail. 'Tis said that there is not a fox 'twixt here and the Border that hath a spot on his tail like mine".

“Very like, very like," replied Robin; “but I chanced to see thee worrying the wee lambie up on the braeside yonder, and I have no wish that thou shouldst try thy teeth on me. So I will e'en go on my way to the King’s Palace, and thou canst show the spot on thy tail to the next passer-by."

So the little Robin Redbreast flew away once more, and never rested till he came to a bonnie valley with a little burn running through it, and there he saw a rosy-cheeked boy sitting on a log eating a piece of bread and butter. And he perched on a branch and watched him.

“Good morning, Robin Redbreast; and where mayest thou be going so early on this cold winter's day?" asked the boy eagerly; for he was making a collection of stuffed birds, and he had still to get a Robin Redbreast.

“I'm on my way to the King's Palace to sing him a song this merry Yule morning," answered Robin, hopping down to the ground, and keeping one eye fixed on the bread and butter.

“Come a bit nearer, Robin" said the boy, “and I will give thee some crumbs."

“Na, na, my wee man,” chirped the cautious little bird; “for I saw thee catch the goldfinch, and I have no wish to give thee the chance to catch me."

At last he came to the King's Palace and lighted on the window-sill, and there he sat and sang the very sweetest song that he could sing; for he felt so happy because it was the Blessed Yuletide, that he wanted everyone else to be happy too. And the King and the Queen were so delighted with his song, as he peeped in at them at their open window, that they asked each other what they could give him as a reward for his kind thought in coming so far to greet them.

“We can give him a wife," replied the Queen, “who will go home with him and help him to build his nest."

"And who wilt thou give him for a bride?" asked the King. "Methinks 'twould need to be a very tiny lady to match his size.”

"Why, Jenny Wren, of course,” answered the Queen. “She hath looked somewhat dowie of late, this will be the very thing to brighten her up."

Then the King clapped his hands, and praised his wife for her happy thought, and wondered that the idea had not struck him before.

So Robin Redbreast and Jenny Wren were married, amid great rejoicings, at the King's Palace; and the King and Queen and all the fine Nobles and Court Ladies danced at their wedding. Then they flew away home to Robin's own country-side, and built their nest in the roots of the briar bush, where he had spoken to Pussie Baudrons. And you will be glad to hear that Jenny Wren proved the best little housewife in the world.


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