Gateway to the Classics: For the Children's Hour by Carolyn S. Bailey
For the Children's Hour by  Carolyn S. Bailey

The Daisy

O UT in the country, close by the road, there was a little garden with flowers and a fence about it. Quite near it, by a ditch, in some beautiful green grass, grew little Daisy. The sun shone as brightly on the Daisy as on the fine flowers in the garden, and so it grew from hour to hour. One day it stood in full bloom, a little yellow sun in the center, with white leaves like rays spreading all around it. It never minded that no one noticed it down in the grass. It was very merry, and looked up at the warm sun, and listened to the Lark that sang up in the sky.

"I can see and hear it," it thought. "The sun shines on me, and the wind kisses me. How much I have had given me!"

Within the garden grew many proud flowers. The less scent they had the more they strutted. The peonies blew themselves out to be greater than the rose, but it is not size which makes one great. The tulips had the gayest colors and they knew it very well. They never noticed the little Daisy outside, but she looked at them, and thought:

"How beautiful they look! Yes, the Lark flies across and visits them."

And just as it thought that—"keevit"—down flew the Lark, but not to the roses, and peonies, and tulips; oh, no; down in the grass to the lowly Daisy, which started so with joy that it did not know what to think.

The little bird hopped about and sang:

"Oh, what a sweet flower, with a gold heart and a silver dress!"

For the yellow point in the Daisy looked like gold, and the little leaves around it shone silvery white. Such a happy little Daisy! The Lark kissed it, and sang to it, and then flew away again.

The next morning, when the Daisy stretched her little arms up to the air and the light, she heard the Lark singing, but it was a sad song. Yes, the poor Lark had good reason to be sad: he had been caught, and he sat in a cage by an open window. He sang of free and happy roaming, the young corn in the green fields, and the journey he would like to make high up in the air; but there he sat, shut up in a cage.

The little Daisy wanted very much to help him. She quite forgot everything else. She could think only of the poor Lark that was shut up, and how she was not able to do anything for him. Just then two little boys came out to the garden. One of them had a knife in his hand. They went straight up to the little Daisy, who could not, at all, make out what they wanted.

"Here, we may cut a fine piece of turf for the Lark," said one of the boys, and he started cutting off a square patch about the Daisy, so that the flower remained standing on its piece of turf.

"Tear off the Daisy," cried one of the boys.

"No; let it stay," said the other. "It looks so nice." So it was left, and was put into the cage with the Lark.

The poor bird was beating its wings against the wires of its cage. "There is no water here," he cried.

The little Daisy could not speak, but she lifted her head as high as she could and remembered the dew she had gathered early in the morning. Then the Lark thrust his beak into the cool turf, and it refreshed him, and he drank the dew that lay at the roots of the flower. His eyes fell upon the little Daisy and he nodded to it, and began to sing a happy song again.

"They have given you to me," he said, "with the little patch of earth on which you grew. Every little blade of grass shall be a great tree for me, and every one of your white leaves a fragrant flower."

So the little Daisy lifted her face higher and higher, and was very happy; for was she not comforting the Lark?

— Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen
by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

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