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By Robert Louis Stevenson
Up into the cherry tree,
I saw the next-door garden lie.
I saw the dimpling river pass
If I could find a higher tree,
To where the roads on either hand
THE LARK AND HER YOUNG ONES
AWISE old Lark, who lived in a field of grain . which was nearly ripe, was afraid that the reapers might come and cut the grain before her little brood were ready to leave their nest. Every morning, therefore, before she flew away to gather their food for the day, she charged them to listen carefully and to remember everything they heard said. And every night the fond mother asked them what they had heard and seen during her absence. For several days nothing happened, and then one evening when she returned she found the young ones in a great fever of excitement.
"O mother," they cried out in one noisy voice, chirping and shivering in terror. "O mother, the farmer and his two big sons were here to-day. The farmer looked at the grain and said it was ripe and ready to harvest. And he told his sons to go out early to-morrow morning and ask their neighbors and friends to come and help reap the fields. O mother, take us away to-night, right now, or surely we'll all be killed."'
"Be easy, my children," said the wise old Lark; "sleep soundly to-night and don't worry to-morrow. If the farmer depends on his friends and neighbors the field will not be touched."
The next day the owner came and waited, but no friends or neighbors came to help him, and after a while he went away, saying to his sons:
"To-morrow morning, boys, I want you to go out early and summon your uncles and cousins to help us reap the field, for really it ought to be cut. We could not depend on neighbors and friends, but surely our relations will not disappoint us."
All this the young Larks reported in fear and trembling to their mother when she returned at night.
"Don't fret, little ones," she said; "friends and neighbors did not help, neither will uncles nor cousins. Sleep till to-morrow, then look and listen again."
Bright and early the next morning the Lark flew away, and very soon the owner and his sons came again. This time they sat down in the shade near the Lark's nest and waited impatiently until nearly noon without seeing a sign of uncle or cousin. At last the fanner, tired and hungry from his long waiting, rose.
"Now listen, boys," he said; "to-morrow morning we will come early with our sickles sharp and shining, and we will reap this field ourselves, for the grain is already riper than it should be. Now we'll go home and sharpen our blades."
The young Larks reported all this to their mother when at night she came back. They were no longer frightened and turned at once to their suppers.
"Hurry up, my children," said the Lark. "Now is the time to move, for when a man makes up his mind to do a thing himself, it surely will be done."
So in the shadows of the night the Lark moved her little brood to a place of safety, and the next day the old man and his sons reaped the grain field.
LITTLE BLUE PIGEON
By Eugene Field
LEEP, little pigeon, and fold your wings— Little blue pigeon with velvet eyes; Sleep to the singing of mother-bird swinging— Swinging the nest where her little one lies.
Away out yonder I see a star—
Silvery star with a tinkling song;
Calling and tinkling the night along.
In through the window a moonbeam comes—
All silently creeping, it asks: "Is he sleeping—
Up from the sea there floats the sob
Of the waves that are breaking upon the shore.
As though they were groaning in anguish, and
But sleep, little pigeon, and fold your wings—
Am I not singing?—see, I am swinging—
What a pretty, musical little lullaby this is! See the mother sitting by the crib and rocking it gently to and fro. To her it seems like the nest of a bird, and in the nest lies her birdling, a little babe with velvet eyes.
As she rocks the cradle she thinks she hears the call of the twinkling star and the gently anxious question of the moonbeams stealing into the room.
She hears, too, the sob of the sea on the shore, and knows that out in the rough world are suffering and sorrow, bereavement and loss.
None of these things, however, can come to her little pigeon with mournful eyes, for here, as she sits singing and swinging the cradle-nest, she is between her babe and all sorrow and pain.
THE DOG IN THE MANGER
A DOG was lying in a manger full of hay, when a hungry Ox came near and began to eat of the hay. The Dog sprang up snarling and barking and drove the Ox away.
"Surly thing," said the Ox, "you can't eat the hay yourself, and why do you keep away the people who can eat it?"
Did you ever see a child so selfish that he would not give his playmate the part of an apple he could not eat himself? Was the selfish one a "dog in the manger"?
This is another fable that almost everybody knows, and many, many times as you read, even after you are grown up and read only difficult things, you will find the expression "dog in the manger," and every time you will know what it means if you remember this fable.