Now listen little folks, while I tell you a story about the country, where the grass grows so fresh and green, the flowers bloom so beautifully and the birds sing their sweetest songs.
Close by the road-side stood a white frame house, with pretty green blinds; and over the porch in front of the door, crept a lovely trumpet vine, with its clusters of orange and red blossoms, that were just the shape of a trumpet. In front of the house lay a small garden, enclosed in palings, and full of blooming flowers. On the other side of the road ran a little brook of clear water, and on its bank, in the cool green grass, grew a timid little daisy; she was a very happy little flower, and day by day opened out her white petals, like shining rays round the little golden sun in the center; she never thought of being unseen down in the grass but turned toward the warm sun, and blue sky, and nodded lovingly to the bright and beautiful flowers in the garden over the way. But most of all the daisy admired the happy lark, who came to the brook every morning for a drink, and bath, and then would hop around the daisy in the soft grass, and finally start to visit the sun, the daisy supposed, as he would begin the sweetest song while down in the grass, and then fly upward and upward, until out of sight, but still singing. Each morning this would happen, sometimes the lark would tell her of the lovely things he saw in his flight, and sometimes he would say, "Oh what soft sweet grass, and what a lovely, little flower, with gold in its heart, and silver on its dress." How happy this made the little daisy feel, no one can describe. The bird would kiss it with its beak, sing to it, and again fly up to the blue sky above.
One morning as the daisy stretched out its white leaves joyfully to the warm air and light, it missed the happy voice of the lark; after waiting a very long time, she finally heard a faint sorrowful voice, which she recognized as belonging to the lark. His song was no longer gay, but sounded mournful and sad. Alas! he had good reason to be sad—he had been caught, and made a prisoner in a cage, that hung by the window in the little white house across the road. To be sure he could look out and talk to the beautiful garden flowers, but, do you know little folks, larks are only happy, and can only sing gladly, when out in the beautiful sunlight, and flying over trees, hills and meadows.
Oh! how sad this made the little daisy, and how much she wished to be of some service to the bird, who had loved her, and been so kind to her; but what could she do, such a simple little flower, and as she closed her white petals in sleep that night, she felt very sad indeed.
Early the next morning, two boys came into the garden, opened the gate, and walked straight across the road to where the daisy grew-one boy carried a large knife in his hand, and the daisy could not imagine what they were going to do, when one of the boys exclaimed, "Oh! here is a splendid clod of grass, with a lovely daisy growing in it, Frank, just the thing for our lark." So Frank took his knife, cut up the piece of grass, and put it in the cage with the lark. "Come Frank and Henry," sounded the father's voice from the wagon, "we are waiting for you." The boys hurriedly closed the door of the cage, and the poor lark and daisy were left alone. How happy the daisy felt to be near the lark once more.
"There is no water," said the captive lark; "they have all gone out and forgotten to give me a drop of water; they will not be home till night. I heard them talking of what a fine day they would have at the pic-nic. My throat is so hot and dry."
The daisy had one little dew-drop left, which had fallen into her cup the night before, and she kindly offered it to the lark. For a little while he felt some better, but as the day advanced his throat grew so hot and dry, he felt as though he had a fire within him.
"Alas! I must die. I must bid farewell to the warm sunshine, the green grass, and all the beautiful things that God has created." And then he thrust his beak into the cool turf, to refresh himself a little with the fresh grass, nodded to the daisy, and kissed it with his beak, as he had often done before, and said
"You also will wither here, you poor little flower! They have given you to me with the little patch of earth and green grass, in exchange for the whole world, which. was mine out there, and how happy we both were out beside the glad brook!" Then he stretched out his pretty wings, and tried so hard to sing, but could only sing "Tweet, tweet," in a weak, mournful tone. His little head bent down towards the flower; the bird's heart was broken with want and pining.
Then the daisy could not fold its leaves, as it had done the evening before, to sleep, but dropped sick and sorrowful to the earth.
Not till morning did the boys come, and when they found the bird dead, they wept many bitter tears for having deprived the dear lark of its freedom, and having forgotten to give it water, and they promised their mamma never to be cruel or unthoughtful again.
They dug a pretty grave for the bird, and adorned it with leaves and flowers, but the turf with the daisy on it was thrown out into the' dusty road. No one thought of the kind little flower which had felt more for the poor lark than any one else, and would have been so glad to help and console him, if she had been able to do so.
A Fictional Short Story by
Agnes Taylor Ketchum & Ida M. Jorgensen