Early on in his schooling Hobbes the Robin learned the expression “the early bird gets the worm”.
While he didn’t enjoy learning that he would have to get up earlier to see if this expression was true or not, still he resigned himself to it.
His parents allowed him to use an alarm and he got up while it was still dark and got himself ready to test the truthfulness of the saying. His Uncle Bob had warned him it’s a matter of statistics, that there might not be more or better worms the first time but if he did it 10 times it should be shown to be true.
Hobbes was out of the house before the sun’s first rays were visible. His head felt a little funny and his eyes burned from getting up so early. Still, when his eyes first adjusted to the dark he immediately saw his first worm and went to it.
The worm tried to go underground before Hobbes got to it but it was too late. Hobbes had his breakfast as quickly and as easily as he had ever had it.
Hobbes loved the saying that inspired him. So much so that he mentioned to Uncle Bob that he was going to try to be the early bird in another way.
“Where did you hear about this other way?” asked Uncle Bob.
“I don’t know.” said Hobbes. “It’s just something that was in the air. In the interest of completeness, I think I must test this to see if it is true, too.”
“It’s dangerous. I think what you heard was just worm propaganda.”
That spring, Hobbes headed north 3 weeks earlier. He had wanted to do it even earlier but his Uncle Bob had insisted. “You might be able to live for 3 weeks without food, but not much longer.”
The flight up to his summer stomping grounds was colder than he expected. At first he flew over patchy snow which is what it looked like when he normally arrived at his destination. This time he flew hours and hours over solid snow before he arrived at his favourite summer tree. It had a notch in it that Hobbes figured would keep him sheltered and warm.
Hobbes hadn’t imagined where the worms would be in any of his thoughts previous to arriving. In the cold winter he was now stuck in, he realized it was probably under the snow. That could wait for tomorrow to find out.
After all the flying he had just did he normally would have slept deeply. Instead he slept fitfully and his alarm woke him up before the sun.
His eyes adjusted but there were no worms to eat. He decided to work on a patch of snow that seemed lower than the rest. He shoveled the snow away with his feet. Halfway through his feet were numb with cold. He warmed up for another couple hours in the notch before returning to his work.
There looked like there were no wormholes at the site when he was finally through. But that was okay. Astute robins would use their beaks on the ground to uncover holes. Hobbes pecked at the ground. It had no give and was frozen solid. He tried for awhile longer before giving up.
The next two days were cold and hungry. The third day was warmish with rain. It was unpleasant to fly in the rain. Still Hobbes did some exploring. At the end of light on that third day, there were other spots where the ground was visible. Hobbes tried pecking at that ground and penetrated a couple millimeters before hitting the hard ground again.
The rain turned to snow the next day and in the stretch of time that it stayed cold, Hobbes vowed to torture the first worm that he found. He would do it worse than when a cat tortures a mouse.
It had been over two weeks and only that one day had it been rain that came down. Light snow came down a couple days but a sunny stretch melted the snow enough that the patches of ground reappeared. Two and a half weeks in it became warm enough that Hobbes beak could penetrate the ground to the depth of the average wormhole.
He dug and dug and dug with his beak until finally seizing something that tasted like worm. He pulled it out and was gratified that it was indeed a worm. He was so hungry that he didn’t torture the worm and gobbled it down.
When the rest of his family arrived in a few more days, Hobbes had had another couple worms.
“Well, did you manage to prove me wrong?” Uncle Bob asked.
Hobbes had seen his own reflection in water. He was still unhealthily thin. If he lied his family would see through it.
“It’s worm propaganda. Now let’s not speak of it ever again.”