Wiley Tom, a black cat with two white front paws and a lightning bolt of white between his eyes, was rummaging around looking for mice when he heard the sound. It was strange, almost like a woodpecker that had gotten too old to jackhammer the tree any more was just pecking every few seconds.
PECK! Long pause. PECK! Long pause. FLAP-PECK!
Wiley decided to investigate further and began following the noise. As he rounded the corner of the house he saw movement near the front door.
It was a young robin, apparently injured. She would flap her left wing and peck at the door, then hop in a circle and try again.
'Hmmmmmmmm......that looks like just the right sized snack for the middle of the afternoon!', thought Tom. But as he began to belly crawl towards the unsuspecting bird, the front door suddenly opened and a little girl came bounding out.
"Lily! Lily? Wuzzat you knockin', Lily?" Hearing a noise, she looked down and discovered the robin sitting there. The little bird flapped one wing as if to fly away but was apparently injured. "OH! Poor thing! Here, lemme help!", the little girl cried.
She knelt down and gently scooped the robin into her cupped hand then turned and went into the house. "Man, that was a piece of bad luck for me", whined Tom. Figuring it would only be a matter of time, and having nothing better to do, Tom sat down and waited.
Inside, the little girl ran into the kitchen. "Mama! Mama! Lookit HERE, LOOKIT! A birdie!" The grown woman turned away from the newspaper and looked at the smaller version of herself. "Edie! What on earth are you doing with that BIRD in the house?" "She's HURT, mama. HURT! We have to make her better. Mama! WE HAVE TO."
The woman sighed. "Let's see what we can do." She rummaged around and took out a plate and some things from the cupboard, arranging things while the little girl cooed to the bird. "It's OK, birdie. We'll help you, birdie. It's OK, mama will take care of you now." The woman set out a plate that had sunflower seeds, some crushed peanuts, several bits of chopped apples and some small blackberries.
The robin hopped off the little girl's hand and greedily consumed the treats. When she had her fill, the robin turned and hopped quickly away. "Wait! Lemme HELP YOU, birdie!" the little girl cried. But the robin jumped onto the back of the chair and quickly excreted all over it.
The woman, her back turned now, hadn't seen it but the little girl did. "NO, BIRDIE! You CAN'T DO THAT!" Quickly she tried to catch the robin, who suddenly took flight and began a mad dash around the kitchen, crapping every so often.
The woman, suddenly aware of a flying guest, turned and looked aghast at the little girl. "Mama, mama! I can't catch her! WaddoIdo, WaddoIdo?????"
Thinking quickly, the woman raced over to the front door and opened it. The robin, seeing an escape route, took it quickly and with three strong flaps was out of the house and soaring for the nearest tree.
"Edie, I thought you said that bird was hurt!" Edie looked up. 'But mama, she WAS! I SWEAR, PINKIE SWEAR, she couldn't FLY!"
"Well, she can now. Don't do that again, Edie. You come get me if you think something's hurt outside, ok?" Edie dropped her chin. "Yes'm. I promise, mama. I'm sorry." The woman went about the task of trying to clean up all the droppings the thankless bird had left.
Outside, the robin sat on a tree limb, full and sated.
"Pssst. Hey youse. In the tree." The robin looked down to see Wiley Tom sitting there. "What was that all about?"
The robin smiled. "Oh, I was hungry."
Tom shook his head. "Hungry? There is a whole yard full of worms back there, youse knows?"
The robin laughed in that cheepy way robins laugh. "Oh, I know. But that's a lot of work, and then I'd have to watch for YOU."
"Lemme get this straight - youse pretended to be hurt so's those people would takes youse inside and feed youse?"
"Uh-huh. I do that when I'm hungry and when I'm wet and when I'm cold...."
"Huh! Does they always takes youse inside, these people?"
Robin smiled. "Oh no, after the first time they don't trust me anymore."
Tom scratched behind his ear.
"Well, waddaya do THEN?", he asked.
She stretched her wings, preparing to fly off. "Oh, that's easy. I just go to another house and do it again. I mean, I have NEEDS, you know. As long as people think I need help, I'll never have to work hard."
She flew off, leaving Tom sitting there trying to figure out if he could work a sweet deal like that for himself.
The picture belongs to atlanticwildlife on Flickr.
The fable is mine.