Gateway to the Classics: The Way of the Gate by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
The Way of the Gate by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

President Lincoln and the Bird

It was a long, long time ago when there were only hard country roads and children walked to school. There were no trolley cars or automobiles. The spring had come, and in the woods of the west there were new leaves on the trees and new nests among the branches.

In one tree where the leaves were so thick that they made a roof above her head, a mother bird was singing to her little ones. She had built her nest very carefully and well. It was made of horse hair and strong grasses, and lined with moss to make it a soft bed for the baby birds. All of the tiny eggs that the mother bird had laid in the nest had hatched. Now, her wings were spread over five downy helpless young birds.

"Grow bigger and stronger each day, my babies. When your wings are wider, I will teach you to fly," the mother bird chirped.

The nest was crowded. As the little birds moved about, they reached as far as the edge of the nest.

"Be careful! The ground is hard," twittered the mother bird.

But the baby birds wanted to try their wings. They would not keep still. Out of their nest one fell. Down, down to the ground it went and lay there, helpless. It might die because the mother bird could not carry it back into the nest.

Just then some men walked through the woods. They were talking very fast and very eagerly to one whom they called Mr. Lincoln. He listened to each with a kind smile on his honest, plain face. They came close to the bird that had fallen out of the nest. They almost stepped on it, but they passed it.

"Of what account is a fallen bird!" they thought. "We are talking about matters that have to do with our country."

"Help my little bird! Oh, help my baby!" chirped the mother bird from a low bush near by. But the men went on, and left it. Not until they had gone some distance, did they find that their friend, Mr. Lincoln, was not with them.

They looked back. Then they saw him holding the little lost bird in his big brown hand. He was tall enough to reach its nest in the tree. He laid it gently beside the others, safe and unhurt.

"I could not have gone to sleep tonight," Mr. Lincoln said when he joined the other men, "if I had not given that little bird to its mother again!"

Nothing wonderful happened to those other men who had no time to help a fallen bird. Mr. Lincoln became one of our most loved Presidents of the United States. All his life long he helped those who were not able to help themselves, just as he put the lost bird back in its nest that day so long ago.

Learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed.

Isaiah i. 17.

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