A NEW chimney was going to be built on Grandpa's house, and the boys were in a state of high glee. They were always excited when something was going on, and this would be splendid, Wayne said.
"Mike's coming, you know, to mix the mortar and carry it up the ladder to the mason. He'll tell us stories in the noonings!"
"Yes," said Casper; "and I say, Wayne, let's go get his hod and play we're hod carriers, with mud for mortar, you know. Come on!"
"Come on!" shouted Wayne. "It's leaning up against the barn where he left it when he brought the things over."
On the way to the barn they saw Grandpa harnessing Old Molly to the big, blue cart. That meant a beautiful, jolty ride down to the orchard, and the boys forgot all about playing hod carrier. They climbed in, and jolted away.
Both dear little voices were shrill with disappointment. Both little brown faces fell. Grandpa did not speak again at once—he was driving Old Molly carefully out at the side of the cart road. The boys saw a little crippled butterfly fluttering along in the wheel track—that was why Grandpa had turned out. Grandpa's big heart had room enough in it for every live thing. Back in the track again, further on, Grandpa said: "When we get home, boys, I will show you why we had to wait for the new chimney. You'll agree with me, I know. It is a case of necessity." And Grandpa's eyes twinkled under his shaggy brows.
"A little bird told me," he said, and that was all they found out until they got home. Then the same little bird told them, too. Grandpa took them up to the attic with a great air of mystery. The old chimney had been partly torn down, half-way to the attic floor. Grandpa tiptoed up to it, and lifted them, one at a time, to peer into it.
"Sh!" he whispered, softly. "Look sharp!"
And there, on a little nest of mud, lined with thistledown and straws, that rested lightly on the projecting bricks, sat the little bird! She blinked her bright eyes at the kind faces peering down, as if to say:
"Oh, dear no; I'm not afraid of you! Isn't this a beautiful nest? So exclusive and safe! There are four speckly, freckly eggs under me. When I've hatched them and brought up my family in the way well educated little chimney swallows should go, then you may build your chimney, but not before."
And that was why Grandpa's new chimney had to wait.
|— Annie H. Donnell, "The Outlook"|