A little yellow bird fluttered from his nest one morning as happy as happy could be.
He was happy because the day was fair, because the skies were blue, because the flowers bloomed.
He was happy because of the song of the brook, where he stopped for his morning bath, and for the rich, ripe berries which nestled among the ferns.
"All the world is beautiful," sang the little bird. "This day I shall try to make everybody happy.
"I shall fly and fly and fly from one end of the world to the other, and I shall sing the song that the brook sings. I shall bear the message the flowers send. I shall tell of love, love, love, which reigneth everywhere; surely this will make everyone happy."
So he started on his way—this little yellow bird, carolling the beautiful song he had heard. An old man rested on his plough to listen as the little bird sang from the topmost rail of the fence. A sick woman listened as he sang from the tree near her door, and a baby reached out his dimpled arms and cooed to the little yellow bird as he joyfully sang by the open window.
They were all happier because of the beautiful song, and somehow it sunk deep into their hearts—so deep that they, too, caught the burden of its message and longed to make somebody happy themselves that beautiful golden day.
But the little yellow bird did not tarry; on and on he flew, singing on his way, throughout the long, long day, until just before sunset, when he reached a little white farm-house far off among the hills.
"Here I shall sing my sweetest song," said the little yellow bird. "Perhaps I can make just one more happy before the day is done."
So, flying to the top of the old stone wall near the orchard, fragrant with blossoms, he threw back his pretty yellow head and sang once more his beautiful song of love, about the sky and the brook and the flowers.
But alas! the pretty song was not half finished when a merry boy,his cheeks flushed with play, looked up and saw him.
Quick as a flash he picked up a stone and threw it straight at the little yellow bird, and the bird fell quivering to the ground—his soft yellow feathers all stained with blood; his beautiful song hushed for ever.
Poor little yellow bird!
The little boy stooped down and held him gently in his warm, brown hand. Somehow the light seemed gone from the day, and he did not feel so happy as he did before he had thrown the stone.
Why had he not stopped to think? It was such a tiny little bird, and his song was such a sweet one. Now he would never sing again.
As silent as the stones on the old rock wall the little boy stood, gazing at the dead bird in his hand.
Gently he patted the soft yellow head and wished that the little bird might open his eyes—wished he might fly once more to the orchard wall and sing so brightly again his songs of love,—but the little bird was dead.
At last the boy stooped, and, digging a tiny grave by the old stone wall, he lined it lovingly with the fresh pink petals of the sweet wild rose, and slipped away,—leaving the little bird asleep in the flower-lined grave.
One by one the twinkling stars came out and shone on the little grave.
The moon looked sorrowfully down and the flowers bowed their heads. There would be one bird the less on the morrow to sing love's beautiful song.
Somebody else came silently and stood by the grave of the little yellow bird. It was the fairy queen, and her eyes were wet with tears.
"AH through the bright day I have watched thee, little yellow bird,' she said. "Thou didst try to make everybody happy with thy pretty song, and thy day has not been in vain,—an old man trusts, a sick woman hopes, and a dimpled baby dreams of thee.
"And though thou didst lose thy life at the close of day thou didst not live in vain. Thou shalt rise again with to-morrow's sun, and thy wish, to make everyone happy, shall still be granted thee.
"From thy grave, pretty bird, the yellow dandelions shall spring, and as thou didst fly, so thou shalt fly again. And everywhere that one of thy white-winged seeds shall rest a blossom new and beautiful shall spring,—yellow like thee, pretty bird.
"Thy blossoms shall gladden the hearts of all,—childhood and old age shall cherish thee. In winter's frost and summer's heat thou shalt ever be found, and thy yellow blossoms, bright like the sun, shall gladden the hearts of everyone."
And so came the dainty yellow dandelion.
Swiftly she flies on her white-winged seeds; lightly she touches the ground; brightly she grows on her tall green stem;—to remind you of the little yellow bird.