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THE HITCHEN MAY-DAY SONG.
Remember us poor Mayers all!
To lead our lives in righteousness,
We have been rambling all the night,
And now returned back again,
We have brought you a branch of May.
It is but a sprout, but it's well budded out
The hedges and trees they are so green,
Our heavenly Father, He watered them
The heavenly gates are open wide,
He may return again.
The life of man is but a span,
He flourishes like a flower;
We are here to-day and gone to-morrow,
And we are dead in an hour.
The moon shines bright and the stars give light A little before it is day;
So God bless you all, both great and small,
And send you a joyful May !
(From Hans Christian Anderson's Tales for Children. )
In the country, close to the road-side, stands a beautiful house, in the front of which is a garden, which though not large is very pretty, full of all sorts of flowers, and separated from the fields by a newly-painted railing. Close to the railing, at the edge of a ditch and in the most beautiful green grass, there grew a little daisy. This daisy, you know, would not have been allowed to grow in the garden; but outside the railings, in the green field, nobody minded it growing there. The sun shone on it, and warmed it and cheered it, quite as much as he did the finest flowers in the garden, and so it grew stronger from hour to hour.
One morning it appeared quite in bloom, with its tender, bright little leaves like rays from the yellow sun which shined round them. It never thought that here outside the garden, in the midst of the green grass, no one minded or admired it, and that it was a poor little despised flower. It felt quite happy to be able to turn its pretty face to the sun, and to hear the lark sing his songs of the spring high up in the blue air.
The poor little daisy felt as happy as if it were a high feast day, though it was no more than a common Monday. The children were all at school; and while they sat on their forms, learning their lessons, the little flower sat on its slender green stalk, learning its lessons also, for the dear sun, and all the bright things around it, taught it how
good God is; and though the daisy could not speak its thoughts and feelings, the lark, in his song, said all that was in her mind. And the little daisy looked up with a kind of awe at the happy bird which could sing and fly, though it was not sad that it was bound to one spot on the green earth. "Can I not see and hear?" it thought. "The sun shines on me, and the wind kisses me. Oh, how fortunate I am."
On the other side of the railing in the beautiful garden there were many grand flowers; the less scent they had, the more proudly they thought of themselves. The peonies, puffed up with pride, tried all they could to look larger than the rose; but people don't value flowers for their size but for their sweetness. The tulips were of the most splendid colours, and they knew it well enough, for they held themselves quite upright so that everybody should be sure to notice them.
They did not pay the slightest attention to the modest little daisy; but the daisy looked at them with wonder, and thought "how rich and beautiful they are! The bird that sings so sweetly will surely come down to visit them. How glad I am that I am so near, for I shall be able to see their happy meeting." Just then the lark sang "Quir-e-vit," and came down suddenly on the grass; but its visit was not to the tulips and peonies, in the grand garden, but to the poor little flower in the green grass, which was so confused with the greatness of its joy that it did not know what to think.
The merry little bird danced round it and sang,
"Oh, what beautiful soft grass, and what a sweet little flower with its golden heart and silver dress." The middle of the daisy did indeed look as yellow as gold, and the fringe round it was of a silvery white.
The surprise and delight of the daisy at this greeting can in no way be described; and the bird kissed it with its beak, and sang to it in the most beautiful soft tones, when it again flew up into the blue air. It was, at the very least, a full quarter of an hour before the daisy felt itself calm again. It gave one modest look into the fine garden, to see what the fine flowers there thought of the lark's visit; but the tulips looked more stiff than ever, and their faces were so sharp and so red, that it was evident they were in a rage. As for the thick-headed peonies, they seemed ready to burst with anger, which made them look only more stupid than usual.
It was fortunate they could not speak, or they would have let their tongues blab noisily against the poor little daisy. The poor flower saw plainly that they were in a bad humour, and she was much grieved at it. At that very moment a girl came into the garden from the house, with a large sharp knife in her hand, and going straight to where the tulips stood, cut them off their stems, one after the other. "Oh, dear!" the daisy sighed, "how dreadful that is, and now it is all over with them." After this, the cruel girl went away with the tulips. Now, had not the daisy reason to be glad that she was in the green grass, where nobody took
any notice of her, and that she was only a modest little field flower? She felt grateful at being spared; and when the sun went down, folded her leaves as if in prayer, slept softly, and dreamt the whole night through, of the sun and the beautiful bird.
The next morning when the little flower stretched out its white leaves, like longing little arms to the air and light, it heard the lark's voice, but what it sang sounded quite sad and mournful. The poor bird had but too good reason for not being cheerful, for it had been caught, and was now in a cage hanging close by the open window.
It sang how pleasant it was to fly about freely and joyfully through the blue sky, and see all the beautiful fields and trees. It sang of the young green corn in the fields, and of the delightful flights it used to take in the past. The sorrowful bird missed its rambles through the air and its wonted liberty, and could not resign itself patiently to its fate. It sat there in its prison, behind the brass bars, and bitterly bewailed its sad fate.
The tender, kind-hearted daisy wished to do something to comfort the lark, but did not know how to set about it. She thought no more of the beautiful green grass, the warm sun, or her own white leaves. Her thoughts were ever with the unhappy bird shut up in a cage, whom she could not help.
Just then two little boys came running out of the garden, one of whom had in his hand a knife large and sharp, like that with which the girl had