| Jolly Solly |

Gruff Man and Robin

Day after day, not one bird came to sing in the Faigelbaums’ garden

The garden of Mr. Faigelbaum the bird expert always attracted lots of different birds. Every morning the air was filled with the sweet sound of birdsong.

At first, Mr. Krankowitz grumbled about the noise. All that changed one fine morning. He was in his garden, scowling, when he spotted a little robin perched on a branch. It looked straight at him.

“Humph!” spluttered the old man. “Haven’t you got anything better to do than sit and stare?”

The robin put its head to one side, and cheeped softly in response.

“Trying to charm me, are you?” growled the old man.

“Cheep, cheep,” went the robin. It looked at him, as if to say, I want to be your friend, if you’ll only let me.

Mr. Krankowitz turned grumpily back to his roses. But the next day, he looked for the little robin — and there it was again! As the days passed, he found himself becoming attached to the friendly creature. Also, his rosebushes were looking remarkably well for the time of year. He thought it might be linked to the robin’s company. His garden was sure to be especially magnificent this year.

One morning, though, Mr. Krankowitz went into his garden to check on his rosebushes. It struck him that it was strangely silent. The old man looked around. There wasn’t a single bird to be seen — not even the robin!

The old man wasted no time in going to bang on Mr. Faigelbaum’s door.

“Good morning,” the bird expert greeted him politely. “How are you, sir?”

“Me? Terrible. I want to know where all the birds have gone!”

Mr. Faigelbaum looked surprised.

“Gosh, it is quiet, isn’t it? I have no idea where they are, to be honest. Maybe they found some food they like somewhere. I’m sure they’ll be back in a day or two.”

But they weren’t. Day after day, not one bird came to sing in the Faigelbaums’ garden. Mr. Krankowitz was convinced his rosebushes were suffering. Not that you could tell by looking at them, but still, he knew.

“Something’s gotta be done,” he muttered to himself. “Ha! I’ll call Jolly Solly!” His face fell. “I doubt even he can do anything. But still, it’s worth a try.”

Soon Jolly Solly was listening intently to Mr. Krankowitz’s tale of the disappearing birds. How strange! What was going on? He was determined to find out!

The clown came and checked the Faigelbaum garden carefully, but found no clues. He glanced around one more time, to check he hadn’t missed anything. It was then that he spotted something, out of the corner of his eye.

“Aha!” he cried.

Mr. Krankowitz saw an orange cat leap out, seemingly from nowhere, and run off.

“It’s the cat from around the corner,” explained Jolly Solly. “Looks like he’s taken to hiding in the bushes to stalk the birds. He must have frightened them off.”

The old man, who detested cats, shook his fist at the disappearing creature.

“Bah! It should be locked up,” he growled. “I’ve a good mind to do it myself.”

“Er, better not,” the clown said hastily. “I think I have a better idea.”

Jolly Solly hurried outside to get something from the trunk of his car.

Tap-tap-tap! On a pair of stilts, the clown came back into the garden. He took out a spray can.

“What’s that?” asked Mr. Krankowitz suspiciously.

“Oh, just a natural, harmless scent cats dislike,” Jolly Solly reassured him. “If I spray it around here, it’ll keep them away for a long time. Don’t worry, I won’t go near your roses.”

The stilts were tall, so he could spray all of Mr. Faigelbaum’s garden, including the trees. Fishel and Faivish noticed the goings-on from the window of their bedroom. They’d been banished after an unexpected encounter between a football and one of Mrs Friedman’s flowerpots. They knocked loudly on the window, and asked what was going on.

“It’s just a spray to deter cats,” explained the clown. “To stop them frightening the birds.”

He turned to Mr. Krankowitz.

“All done. The birds should be back within a day or two,” he said.

“Er…the robin, too?” asked the old man gruffly.

Before Jolly Solly could answer, a sound could be heard in the distance. It was soft but still audible.

Cheep, cheep!

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 884)

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