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The Song Of The Merry Lark





Once there was an old gray pussy, and she went down into the meadow,
where she saw a merry lark flying among the tall reeds; and pussy said,
"Where are you going, little lark?"

And the merry lark answered, "I am going to the king to sing him a song
this fine May morning."

And pussy said, "Come here, little lark, and I'll let you see a pretty
ring round my neck."

But the lark said, "No, no, gray pussy; no, no! You worried the little
mouse, but you shall not worry me."

Then the lark flew away till he came to a high oak-tree, and there he
saw a gray, greedy hawk sitting. And the gray, greedy hawk said,
"Where are you going, pretty lark?"

And the lark answered, "I am going to the king, to sing him a song this
fine May morning."

And the gray, greedy hawk said, "Come here, little lark, and I'll let
you see a pretty feather in my wing."

But the merry lark said, "No, no, gray, greedy hawk, no, no! You
pecked at the little linnet, but you shall not peck at me."

Then the lark flew away till he came to the side of a rock, and there
he saw a sly fox sitting. And the sly fox said, "Where are you going,
sweet lark?"

And the lark answered, "I am going to the king, to sing him a song this
fine May morning."

And the sly fox said, "Come, little lark, and I'll let you see a pretty
white spot on the tip of my tail."

But the lark said, "No, no, sly fox; no, no! You worried the little
lamb, but you shall not worry me."

Then the merry lark flew away till he came to the garden of the king;
and there he sat among the red clover blossoms and sang his sweetest
song.

And the king said to the queen, "What shall we do for this little lark
who has sung so sweet a song to us?"

And the queen said to the king, "I think we must have some May-day
games for the little lark, and invite robin redbreast to sing with him."

So the gay robin redbreast came and sang with the lark.

And the king and the queen and all the fine lords and ladies danced and
made merry while the little birds sang.

And after that the lark flew away home to his own green meadow, where
the old gray pussy-cat still lived among the tall reeds.





SAVED BY A LARK

Little Helen was four years old. She lived in the country in a white
house with green window blinds. The house stood in a large yard, and
had pretty flowers in front of it and a row of big maple-trees on each
side.

Behind the house was an orchard, where the birds liked to build their
nests and sing their sweet songs. Helen had a swing between two large
apple-trees which stood a little way from the back door. She could
swing ever so high, and could almost touch the green apples on one of
the branches.

Back of the orchard and garden stood three big red barns. These barns
were full of wonders for Helen. She was always glad to go into them
with her father, and see the piles of corn and wheat, the plows and
wagons, and the many other things that were there.

One morning in the harvest-time Helen was standing alone upon the
door-step. The sun shone bright; the robins were singing in the
apple-trees; the grasshoppers were chirping in the lane; but Helen
heard only the sound of the far-off reaper, as it came to her through
the soft morning air. She knew that her father was with the reaper.

Don't you know what a reaper is? It is that with which the farmer cuts
his grain when it is ripe. It is drawn by horses, and it cuts down the
grain stalks with many sharp knives, which move back and forth very
fast.

"I think I will go out to the field and help father," said Helen to
herself.

In another moment the little feet were turned toward the harvest field.

Across the orchard and down the lane she went, carrying her sunbonnet
in her hand and talking to the grasshoppers, which would somehow get in
her way.

But when at last she came to the field, she saw the men and the reaper
far away toward the other side.

Helen kept on across the field, for she thought that she would soon
catch up with the men. But it did not take long for the little feet to
grow very tired.

Then she sat down on a sheaf of wheat and looked around her, wishing
that her father would come.

Just in front of her the tall yellow grain was still standing. Helen
wondered why her father had not cut it down.

As she was looking, a lark flew out from among the grain singing a
rich, clear song. The little child clapped her hands for joy. Then
she jumped from her seat and ran toward the place from which the bird
had flown.

"There is a nest in there, and I am going to find it," said Helen to
herself. She parted the tall yellow wheat-stalks to right and left,
and went forward, looking all about her with her bright, sharp eyes.
She did not have to go very far, for right before her was the nest,
sure enough, and in it were three little birds.

Was there ever anything so cunning as those little heads, with their
tiny bills wide open! It was such a pretty place for a nest, too.
Helen clapped her hands again, she was so happy.

Then she sat down by the nest, but she did not touch the birdies. It
was like being in a golden forest, for the grain was high above her
head.

Soon her eyes began to feel heavy, for she was very tired after her
long walk. She sat down, with her head upon her arm, and in a short
time was fast asleep.

On came the horses, drawing the great reaper with its sharp cutting
knives. Helen's father was driving, and they were coming right toward
the spot where the little child was lying!

Oh, Helen, little does your father think that you are hidden there in
the tall grain!

What was it that made the farmer check his horses all at once? Did
something tell him that his dear baby was in danger?

Oh, no! he thought that she was safe at home with her mother. But he
was a good man with a kind heart, and he saw something that made him
stop.

The lark was flying wildly about over the grain that was in front of
the reaper. She seemed to say, "Stop! stop!" The farmer thought that
he knew what she meant, and he was too kind-hearted to harm a bird's
nest. So he said to one of the men, "Here, Tom, come and hold the
horses. There must be a nest somewhere among this grain. I will walk
in and look for it."

What a cry the men heard when he found little Helen fast asleep by the
lark's nest! How his heart almost stood still when he thought of the
danger that she had been in! He caught her up in his arms and covered
her face with kisses. "Oh, my darling!" he said, "it was the lark that
saved you!"

Yes, it was the lark, and his own kind heart, that had saved her.
Helen was carried home in her father's strong arms. She could not
understand what made the tears run down his cheeks.

It was some time before the men could go on with their work. They left
the grain standing around the lark's nest, to thank her, as they said,
for saving little Helen.

As they stood looking at the little birds in the nest, one of the men,
with big tears in his eyes, said, "God bless the birds! Come away,
boys, and let the little mother feed her babies."





Next: All About The Meadow Lark

Previous: The Lark In The Meadow



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