The story of a dewdrop

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Material Information

Title:
The story of a dewdrop
Physical Description:
60 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language:
English
Creator:
MacDuff, John R ( John Ross ), 1818-1895
Marcus Ward & Co ( Publisher )
Publisher:
Marcus Ward & Co.
Place of Publication:
London
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Birds -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Allegories -- 1881   ( rbgenr )
Juvenile literature -- 1881   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1881
Genre:
Allegories   ( rbgenr )
Juvenile literature   ( rbgenr )
fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
Northern Ireland -- Belfast

Notes

Statement of Responsibility:
by J. R. MacDuff.
General Note:
Imprint also notes publisher's location in Belfast.
General Note:
"With four coloured illustrations.
Funding:
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 001627602
oclc - 25635270
notis - AHQ2326
System ID:
UF00026213:00001

Full Text
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The Story ofA DE tWDROP.


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STORYOF ASEWDROPJ.R.MACDUFF D-DFOUR COLOURED ILLUSTRR7TONSLONDON MARCUS *VWARD .& Co BELFAST*1 1881


*I FOREWORDS.To Charlie.DEWDROP is a small affair;and the world would not bethe least interested, nor a bitthe wiser, by knowing how I come affec-tionately to dedicate the story I havewritten about it to you. I may tell youit was one line of eleven words, readone night from a musty old volume oflast century, which suggested it.3


Everybody must have their play-hours and moments of recreation. Ithink I have gone back to other andmore serious work all the better afterwriting a page or two of what follows.I am happy thus to have had my littleholiday along with you in this idealregion of quaint conceits.Shall we hope that others may shareour pleasure ?Let us try.


Lzst ofILLUSTRATIONS.The Procession of the Queen of theMorning (p. 41), Frontispiece.* The Bird-talk and its surroundings, page 14The Nightingale and the Dewdrop, ,, i9The Ascent of the Million Army, .,, 535


The Story ofA DE W/DnROP.CHAPTER THE FIRST.HREE birds of very favour-able repute in these regionsmet together one evening-a Thrush, a Lark, and a Nightingale.And all for what purpose, think you?It was a queer one-to hold a solemnconference about a DEWDROP!6


Yes, it must be allowed it was anoriginal thought which brought theseS three feathered friends thus into council;and a pretty talk to be sure they hadabout it.They selected, as an appropriate timefor preliminaries, the close of a brightday in early summer; just when thingsin outer nature were looking their best.The snowdrop and crocus had long agohid their faces to make way for moreambitious rivals. That always pleasantseason was a great way past, when yousee the drowsy plants (after beingtucked up-it may have been for weeks-in a white snowy coverlet), first7*


roused from their sound winter sleep,yawning and stretching themselves, andrubbing their little eyes, and lookingwonderingly about them, saying-"What! is it now time to wake upand dress?" The tree foliage wasapproaching, if it had not alreadyreached, perfection; all the mosses,too, looked so green and fresh; andhow prettily the various ferns wereuncoiling themselves among the rocksand shady nooks by the stream;while on this particular occasionthe very Sun seemed to have coaxedhis setting beams into the productionof most gorgeous colouring. Belts of8


golden cloud were streaking the westernsky; such long trails of them, that itwas impossible to say whether the greatball of fire, which gave them theirglory, had actually gone down behindthe horizon, or was just about to do so.At all events, it was unmistakablysundown: though the scene was farremoved from northern latitudes, itmight be designated by the familiarScotch "gloamin'." The groves, anddells, and hedgerows, which had keptup a goodly concert the livelong day,were now silent. Their winged tenantshad, one after another, slunk to theirnests, with very tired throats. They9


had left, apparently, all, or nearly allthe music to the aforesaid brook in thedell. -A stone's-throw higher tip thevalley, this latter, fed by recent rains,rattled in gleeful style over a bed ofwhite and grey pebbles-the tinylimpid waves chasing one another asS if they were playing at hide-and-seekamid the sedges, king-cups, and rushes.But it had now reached a quieter spotwhere, however, it still kept up a gentle,soothing evensong, a lullaby peculiarto itself, as if it wanted to hush thelittle birds asleep in their varied leafycradles. The very cattle, that hadbeen seen lying lazily out of the heatIO0


under the beech-trees, had ceased theirlowings. In fact, Nature had rungher curfew bell, and the sentry starsS were coming out, one by one, to keeptheir night-watch.Let me first, however, say a wordL, about this Dewdrop, which had awak-ened so much curiosity as to gatherthree representative members of theSbird-world together.It was a great puzzle, this Dewdropwas. It was a puzzle where it camefrom; what it had come about; and astill greater puzzle, what it was madeof. It was evidently a visitor fromII


some unknown land. Very quietly,too, it had travelled to its adoptedcountry. These birds, in succession(with the curiosity birds generally have),had endeavoured by stealth to track itsdainty fairy footsteps, and learn itspast history. But it was to nopurpose. However, there it was; notperhaps making its appearance everynight, but almost every night. And,then, it invariably managed to perchitself so daintily on the tip of a rose-leaf.All three birds agreed that it hadsubstantiated its claim in this, to bedecidedly a lover of the beautiful.The leaf, moreover, which it made its12


resting-place, was not only pretty initself, of a subdued delicate green, butS it hung right over a full-blown rose,with a mass of pink leaves. TheDewdrop quite seemed as if it had saidto its own little personality regardingthis round coral ball (or cup, if youprefer to call it so)-" Well, I shallhave a good look at you at all events,from my cozy couch, the last thingat night, and the first thing in themorning."I somehow really believe the rosemust have heard this complimentaryspeech, or at all events, by someinstinctive way, have correctly surmised-73


Pii Rssm slii


what the Dewdrop was thinking about;for, in the last fading, glimmeringS light, it covered up its face so coylywith both hands, and blushed a deeperand deeper crimson.But to return to the birds. It wasjust outside a copsy retreat that thesethree winged acquaintances met. TheThrush, with his brown plumage andyellow spotted neck, being the biggest,and, if anything, the more talkative ofthe three, began the conversation.The consultation was a long andanimated one, too long indeed toreport in full, besides there being aM 4


considerable amount of superfluous talk,what in bird-language is called chat-tering; but I can give the close of it."Well," said the Thrush, summingup the discussion, "I must now be offto bed-at all events after providingsomething suitable in the way ofsupper for my wife and family, andseeing them made tolerably comfortablefor the night. And so too must you,"he added, with a quizzical look to theLark, whose left eye was beginning todroop, as he stood, with one leg up, inthe significant fashion our woodlandfriends indulge in when they indicatethat they are tired. "We shall leave'5


S to you, Bird of the night "-were his lastwords, as he addressed the Nightingale' -"we shall leave to you the firstinterview with this little sparklingS thing from fairyland, or whatever otherland it has quitted. We shall deferour visit till to-morrow."So away the two brown-winged com-panions sped, I know not exactly where.But, though both in a great hurry to gethome, they judiciously deemed, as Ihave just observed, that they mightdo a trifle of purveying business onthe way, by picking up a few seeds; orif a manageable slug or grub presenteditself, so much the better. I had not,6


Sthe curiosity to follow them; but Ibelieve they each contrived to carryhome a dainty supper; the one to theSnest in the furrow beside some tufts ofS golden gorse. It may be interesting,however, to know, by way of completingtheir domestic history, that both hadpromising young households-the oneof three, and the other of four-tosupport; and the wee downy childrenhad arrived too at a very ravenous age,with any capacity for food, whichindeed amounted, at times, on the partalike of father and mother, to a trial oftemper.


SThe Nightingale, now left all alonefor the discharge of a somewhat novelS duty, seemed at first to feel hisresponsibility: perhaps a feeling alliedto nervousness in the human being.But he was a knowing little fellow too;and resolved to proceed in the mostalluring as well as discreet way to histask. Being fully acquainted with theposition of the rose-leaf, he took wing,and settled himself on the branch of abirch close by. Without any possiblewarning, he forthwith began (it was thebest way of getting over these nervoussensations) to pipe one of his very bestand most enchanting songs. He hadi8


A-7I


somewhat,unwarrantably indulged theexpectation that he would get anS immediate response from the Dewdrop.He had however, in this, to exerciseSthe virtue of patience."Answer me, pretty Dewdrop," hesaid in his most bewitching trill.* But the Dewdrop was silent. Itappeared to pay not the slightestattention.S Another chirrup and mellifluousnote, and then, coming to a lower and"still nearer spray of the birch-tree,quite within whispering distance:" Pretty little noiseless thing," con-tinued the Nightingale, "what are19


you ? Where were you born ? Haveyou any father or mother? or are youan orphan? My two brother birdsspoke of your brightness and lustre.My eyes are tolerably good; but IS confess I can see none of these thingsabout you; you seem rather somehow* to appear sad, though I trust I amwrong."I have reason to be sad," at lastreplied the Dewdrop, in the quietest,S mildest, silveriest voice imaginable,and trembling with an emotion real orpretended. " You call me a Dewdrop,but in truth I am not, I am a teardrop;a ,teardrop which fell from the sky."20


" "A teardrop from the sky!" saidthe Nightingale, in undisguised aston-S ishment. "I cannot comprehend you.Pray tell me what you mean ?"" It is true, despite of your surprise,"said the other. "The Sky alwaysweeps at the loss of the Sun; and nowonder. I tell you again, believe itor not as you please, I am one of thetears it shed to-night. You need not,however, grieve for me. I shall be allS right" (the tiny voice rising to afalsetto) "when the Sun appears again.Indeed, I venture to say, you will"hardly know me then. That I amsure of."2r


"Ay!" said the Nightingale, witha sceptical, incredulous chirp.S " Yes! I always get bright, that Ido, when the Sun shows himself. LookSup to those stars, glittering in the sky.Do you know how they twinkle so?I am myself neither scholar norS philosopher, and have no pretensionseither way. But a confidential friendonce told me, and I quite believe him,Sthat it is because they are either sunsS themselves, or else get light from thatbeautiful Sun you saw some time agoS tingeing the sky with red and gold.I My Sun," continued the dwarf thing ofmystery, raising its tones, with a sort22


of conscious pride. (If it had beenaught else but a beaded drop, I wouldhave described it standing on tip-toeas it said this.) It had, however, fairlyexhausted itself with a very unwontedeffort in the shape of a speech, and,without saying another word, turnedon its side on the leafy bed, shutboth eyes, and went to sleep. TheNightingale was of course too polite,civil, and considerate to prolong. Sohe simply said, "Good night to you,little Teardrop, or Dewdrop, whateveryou prefer calling yourself. It is time,and more than time, for me to be onthe wing. I have one or two domestic23


anxieties which, in the first place, Imust see to; and, after that, I have anengagement among these old haw-thorns to serenade till morning.""Good night, kind bird," replied theDewdrop, turning in politeness halfround on its pillow; "thank you forthinking of me in my loneliness."And away the songster flew, first to hishome, and then, after some outstandingS duties and civilities, over to his thicketamong the May blossoms. The ex-treme beauty of the night seemed todispel all care, and to have a decidedlyinspiring effect on his nerves. I cannottell whether he had really any such24


ambitious thought, but it almostseemed, from the gush of song, anattempt was made that every star inthe heavens might at all events hear, ifthey could not appreciate his melodies.25


The Story ofA DE WIDROP.CHAPTER THE SECOND.T was now morning. Themist still slept drowsily in thevalley; in some places sodense, that the smoke of the early firesin the hamlet could scarcely pierce it.Already our friend the Thrush had com-pleted both toilet and breakfast, and hadissued forth on his round of daily workand pleasure; as active and busy as26


the thrush family always are. Whenhe first rose from bed, he was notexactly in the very best of humours;for he had, what was always a cross tohim when it occurred (though that wasrarely), a disturbed night. Shall I tellyou how his rest came thus to beS invaded? Why, the Nightingale, onhis way from the rose-leaf, had, perhapssomewhat inconsiderately, tapped athis door, to inform him that all hecould get out of the Dewdrop was(a very incomprehensible sentiment toa sleepy bird), that he was a tear weptby the Sky when it lost the Sun; andhe was boind in all sincerity to add,27


that it seemed rather a dull and un-interesting tear to boot.ff "I know better," growled the Thrush.(I have used the word "growl," becauseSI can find no better to describe thereality.) Growling, I am well aware, is avery uncommon demonstration of feel-ing in the case of a warbler. At allevents, if it was not a growl, it was thenearest approach his beak could makeS to one, as he turned on the pillowwhich had been thus rudely disturbed.After, however, dozing for a few morehours, breakfast over, and his familyseen to, off he sped with all his formercheerfulness and activity, till he found28


himself perched on a branch of thevery tallest elm-tree he could pick out,and one, too, right above where therose and the dewdrop were. Dearme! how he piped, and chirruped, andthrostled! I thought the Nightingalehad done wonders in that way; but itwas nothing to the Thrush. He doubt-less was under the impression that theDewdrop was sound asleep, and neededno ordinary efforts in the way ofrousing. I am sure if one could havedived under the yellow feathers, thelittle throat must have been purple.After these musical preliminaries,our new friend (Songster No. 2) ven-29


tured by-and-by to come nearer. But,in doing so, he could hardly believehis eyes, specially after what theNightingale had told him."A teardrop" indeed There wasnot a bit of the tear about it. Wherehad been the Nightingale's eyes? Itwas something at all events verylike a bright, unmistakable, beautifuldiamond on which the Thrush looked.How it glistened and sparkled; andthat too with all the prismatic colours IThe spectator could only (what was anS effort to any member of the Thrushi family) gaze in mute wonder."What in all the world can you be,30


you lovely, silent sleeper on the rose-leaf, with your round crystal cheeks?S Dewdrop we thought you were; tear-drop you say you are: I cannot thinkyou are either. If you are not adiamond set in rubies-stolen, foranything I know, from yesterday'sS rainbow-you look the thing un-commonly well."" I am indeed a diamond," answeredthe Dewdrop. " Look at me," said thelittle gleaming dot, with the air of anaristocrat; " do you not say I am fit fora monarch's crown? And it is amonarch's crown I am presently to beset in. Every day I meet the Queen3'


of the Morning.-Stay," it suddenly ex-claimed, " I see her even now advancingS with her rosy feet, 'sowing the earthwith pearls.' See, for yourself, how thefew stars which still linger in the sky,and which with their glittering torcheslighted her out of the Eastern Gate,are paling every minute behind her!She says, of all the jewels in her tiarathere is not one she is fonder of, orprouder of, than me. Away, away,little bird," stammered out the Dew-drop, with some nervous twitchingspresently to be accounted for; "I mustprepare to meet this Queen Aurora.But," it added in a kind of after-32


thought, "the procession will soon beover; come back shortly and see me, ifS you please." The keen diamond eyetwinkled with a humorous, comicalexpression when these last words wereuttered; as much as to say, "I shallmanage to cheat you, old fellow,wont I ?"The Thrush had some small quantumof poetry in his nature; but he had agreat deal of shrewd common sensetoo, and an immense idea of propriety.Accordingly, he at once took the hintas to departure; but with guilelesssimplicity cherished the resolution ofrenewing the intercourse, in an hour or33


S two at latest, after the royal cavalcadehad swept by.S This interlude was no peculiar hard-ship to our erratic friend, who knew heScould spend the time, merrily andS profitably among his numerous kinsfolkin the groves. To tell the truth, he wasnot sorry to get away from the courtpageantry, as all such ceremonial andpomp of circumstance was an abomi-Snation to him, and had always beenS so. It was, therefore, with pleasantanticipations of an early return that,S by a few fleet bounces, he was lostSfrom sight in the nearest thicket.Barely, however, had the specified34


period elapsed, when he was back againupon his twig on the tall elm. Hehad certainly not exhausted his strengthor conversational music-powers in thatround of morning visits, for he re-newed, then and there, his merriestnotes, quite in the old style; and afterthis prelude, by way of making surethat the course was clear, he flew withmore than wonted alacrity in thedirection of the rose-leaf.But, can you imagine? To hiswonder, sorrow, and chagrin, lo whenhe looked for it, the leaf was empty lIts small householder was gone! Nota trace of either Dewdrop or Diamond35


S left I There was no need of askingany questions; he comprehended in amoment what the roguish twinkle of theeye meant an hour before. He had,in a word, been "sold." It was morethan a mere innocent trick played onhim. His feelings and bird-dignityS had, he felt, been a little compromisedby what, had it occurred at night, wouldhave been called "a moonlight flitting."It was more like what the bigcreatures in the world around himwere in the habit of describing as anApril errand. It was only too evidentthat the Queen of the Morning, inpassing by, had picked up the dew36


diamond, and had inserted it in hercrown; and that the little thing hadmade no demur to the appropriation.Well, it must be owned that, anyhowfor once, the Thrush was crestfallen.He almost never knew any ditties butjoyous ones; but on the present occasion,with no attempt at concealment, hewent away wailing to the thicket, andoutpoured his wounded vanity in some-thing very like a dirge. He thenburied his beak in rather sulky fashionunder his wing, and went to sleep.37


The Story ofA DE WDROP.CHAPTER THE THIRD."UT what is this? It is achange of scene. Away up inthe morning sky, oh,' how blueit is! and the light fleecy clouds, how theyfloat in folds of white ether I The Sunhas climbed higher. It is now abovethe tallest of the poplars; and the longshadows cast by trunks and stems andbranches are visibly shortened. And38


see I the cattle are again lowing in thefat meadows, and by degrees beatinga safe retreat from the coming heatunder the forest trees.High in that bright dome of azure,there is a delightful frolicsome twitterheard. It is not the Nightingale; no,not so clear and mellow as that. Notthe Thrush; no, not so loud or gushingas that. It is our little friend theLark. Oh! how merry he is! more sothan either of the other two. Andwhat is he about? He seems to befloating and soaring, sauntering andcurtseying, skimming and dipping, rol-licking and frolicking-now up, now39


down-now describing gyrations, nowimitating a pendulum-now trying to beS so steady with his fluttering wings, thathe looks like a star twinkling in the day-time-in short, playing all sorts of drollantics, indulging in every imaginablepirouette and somersault, in all theworld (in his case above the world) like aschool-boy beginning his holidays ; cer-tainly appearing to put himself to a greatdeal of unnecessary trouble and exertion.But he is unmistakably, with hiswinning ways, about something, andsomething to the purpose. But whatthat is, no mortal could guess. As thething however must be guessed, or40


otherwise found out, Gentle Reader,I shall take you into confidence, and* unriddle the secret.The Queen of the Morning, as youalready know, or at all events knownow, had come with all her court, andtroupe of gay courtiers. The YoungHours had unbarred for her the Gatesof Day, and she at once sallied forth.Beautiful little pages in the shape ofpink clouds, quite like tiny angels"with wings, were holding up her train.Some of those fairycherubs seemed, too,to have censers in their hands, at leastif one could judge from the delicatewreaths of mist which rose like incense4r


from them. Others appeared to bedischarging tiny golden arrows fromsilver bows; others to paint, withinvisible pencils, in delicate and varyinghues of amber and purple, the fringesof clouds; while the Queen herself attimes laid her own finger upon thelarger of these, and braided them withsnow and crimson. And then, howloyal everything seemed to be on theearth beneath I How each flower thathad been asleep all night instantlyrose on awaking, and, in the mostduteous manner uncovering its head,prepared to take its place in the royalprocession. The more gorgeous ones42


of the garden led the way, with theirvelvet tassels, and silken brocades, andS pendants of opal and turquoise; someapparently carrying chalices filled withnectar. Then the fields and hedgerows,in their rough, rustic, plebeian fashion,with their fustian jackets and smock-frocks, said-" We shall not be behindour betters;" so their buttercups andwood-anemones, speedwell and scarletpimpernel, the meadow violet with itsmodest blue, the cowslip with its bur-nished cells, the daisy with its "goldeneye and white silver eyelashes," all didfealty to their adored Queen. Somewent down on their knees; others doffed43


their caps; others smiled bewitchingly;others could do nothing but waft sweetS perfumes. There were even bands ofvery varied music and musicians, allSassisting with their efforts in swellingthe Queen's Anthem. The brook,though it had sung all night, and hadS need of a little respite, seemed to say-"No, I shall go warbling on; she shallhave my very best treble of a ripple."And then there were minor performersin this nature-choir. The Blackbirdand Redbreast, Goldfinch and Linnet,and Chaffinch, each took part withstriking effect. Even the Swallowin his own quiet way twittered, and the44


' Tomtit chattered, and the Beetledroned, and the Bee hummed, and thebig Dragon-fly, in armour of brightestcobalt, whirred; and the Grasshopper,poor fellow! did his very uttermost,-he chirruped, he could do no more.The Butterfly, who could not raisea single note, came out in his bestplush court-dress of gold, vermilion,and blue, dainty little silent outriderthat he is, waking up any excep-tional sleepers. He carried, truth tosay, his zeal sometimes too far; aswhen I saw him unjustly reproachingthe Foxglove for having bells and notringing them, a thing they were never45


meant to do. Even the Spider hunghis silver-tissued web from spray tospray; as if he had weaved a gossamermantle, in case his Queen might like touse it in the chill of early dawn. (SeeFronfis iece.)Well, the latter-I mean the Queen-at last came to a pause, and, with mostradiant grace in her countenance, sheput her hand up to her crown, and tookout the diamond. There was a littlepet of a crimson cloud that happenedto be floating past at the moment.She laid the lustrous gem on thisroseate pillow; and then, slowly andgradually, she and all her retainers,46


in ghostly shape, vanished clean fromsight.But what, you will say, has all thisto do with our friend the Lark? HisS quick little eye had discerned what yourdull sight and mine could not. He hadS watched everything I have now de-scribed. How indeed could he missseeing that flashing speck of light lyingso daintily on its cushion of state ? Nowonder he circles and zigzags, and doesbird-homage to the brightest gem ofthe Regalia. Up, down-hither, thither-just as I have already told, doingSobeisance in every possible and con-47


ceivable way; till at last, poisinghimself immediately above, flutteringS with all his might, and settling himselfin the fixed attitude in which the larkfamily are such adepts, he mustered upcourage and said-"Pretty sparkling thing! I know whatyou are. You are a rare diamond justtaken from the crown of the Queen ofthe Morning. But, I confess, you look,too, very like the Dewdrop I spied at adistance, a few hours ago, on the tip ofa rose-leaf.""What a capital guesser you are,tiny minstrel," was the reply; " but youhad better leave me with my diamond48


name, at all events for the present. Ishall not say whether some scientificbird-winged philosophers are right orwrong when they aver that, though theQueen of the Morning borrowed me, IS am really and truly a jewel from thecrown of the Sun; that when he tookoff his royal robes last evening, to layhis head on his nightly pillow, Idropped out of his crown, and tumbleddown;to the earth. I may tell you, how-ever, confidentially (just in a whisper,you know)," added the brilliant speaker,S"that though they call me Diamond, Ilike quite as well the name with whichGod's beautiful mist baptized me, that49


of Dewdrop. But I have brief time(indeed no time) to converse furtherS with you now. You have seen, ashort while ago, how the Queen ofthe Morning vanished. Will you beastonished when I tell you that I amabout to do the very same myself? IS am going," it continued, "to my Palaceyonder " (an extra gleam, in the absenceof a finger, was its own special way ofpointing upwards). "I have said myPalace-I should rather perhaps say,my Home. We may meet," it added,"pretty soaring warbler, on the way toit. But please leave me now."What I have said of the Thrush was50


true also of the Lark. He was apeculiarly biddable and discreet bird,and when he got a hint he always tookit. Moreover, the Dewdrop had spokenso courteously (he thought condescend-ingly) to him, he would not for theworld intrude his company longer thandesired. The other evidently wishedto be all alone, to pack up and preparefor this great and distant journey.So the Lark plunged down to thestream among the alders to bathe hiswings and refresh himself. After thelustrations were duly completed, upagain he rose like an arrow into thebright, blue sky. Says he to himself,5'


" I shall certainly be on the sharp out-look for that ascent of the Dewdrop.I can at all events be a silent spectator,if my services cannot otherwise be ofuse." And, to be sure, he did notS require to watch long; for, with thatkeenness of perception that belongedto all his ancestors, he found that hehad soared right into the very midst ofa golden mist. Some people say andSbelieve (though I am not wise enoughin bird-lore to know the truth of it),that the lark family have eyes almostlike a microscope; things invisible tous are said to be quite visible, andindeed conspicuous, to them. At all52


.- -. ......-.fve7r4x C; 19


Sevents, this was true in the case of thepresent representative of that discrimin-S ating race. So that what, if we hadbeen there, would only have seemed anaggregation of glistening atoms, wereto him nothing less than a vast army invisible shape-chariots and charioteers,knights mounted on steeds with whitetrappings and gold and silver bridles;other horsemen carrying glitteringspears, polished shields, and flashingswords; others bearing standards ofcloth of gold. I am only telling youwhat the Lark saw, or thought he saw;and a most wonderful army on marchyou can very well believe it was.53


Oh, just see how he twitters andcarols, as I have more than once, pictured, and cannot do so too often-shaking first his little wings, and thenhis little throat; the old zigzaggingto and fro-here, there, everywhere-whisking in this direction, and bounc-ing in that direction, restless gymnasticthat he is, in a very whirl and vortexof excitement I"You told me, a little while ago,"said he, mustering up courage, with aneffort, to speak to this wondrous massof knight-errantry; "at all events theDiamond-drop, of which I know you arethe fragments, told me you were going54


to some Palace in the sky. Where isthat ?""It is our Home, soaring warbler,"said the million million little voices,their spearsand helmetsflashing brightlyin the radiance, their horses prancingand pawing the path of light-" Itis Home, Home, Home!" said themyriads, the very air tremulous withthe shout."Yes, but where is that?" repeatedthe Lark, determined to come to thepoint, and not to be numerically ex-tinguished, as he darted like lightninground and round the brilliant host."The Sun! the Sun!" one after55


another made answer. The Dewdropwas a tear that fell from the sky becausethe Sun was gone. But, as youhave just told us, we are all parts of it-everyone of us are; and we are on ourway again to the golden entrance to hisPalace."The army of misty globules roseand rose, higher and yet higher. Theyseemed, too, to get brighter and brighterin the ascent, the Lark rising with them,indeed till his little wings were tired.Then when he felt that he could act asconvoy no farther, down he came atone long unpausing dart to the furrowadjoining the wooded dell below, which56


was now all streaked with fleckeredlight. He thought (and we shall notquarrel with the fancy) that thesepatches of light were nothing else thanthe golden arrows he had seen shot fromthe bow of the Cherubs-the littleAngels of the Dawn-and that theywere now lying thick in the greenarcade. He just took breath, after theexhaustion and excitement, alike ofboth body and mind, which his aerialadventure had entailed; and 'thenhastened straight to the home of theNightingale and Thrush, to tell of theglorious ascent (what the old and learnedcreatures of the earth would have called57


the apotheosis) of the Dewdrop onthe rose-leaf; its severance into amillion fragments; and how these,in the shape of a great army, hadmarched right withinTHE SUN'S GOLDEN GATES!58


A FTER WORDS.An Angel's Whisper.HE Soul-the Spirit of Man-apart from the Great Sun,becomes a teardrop. All isdark to it, when that All-glorious Sourceof Light and Love is away. Earth'ssweetest songs cannot cheer it. Butwhen the morning comes, and theSun returns, the teardrop becomes aDewdrop-gleaming like a diamond in59


that peerless radiance. And at death,when it seems to be dissolved, andhas apparently vanished from sight,it is exhaled-not annihilated. Itpasses upward to the Golden Gates,to be lost in the splendour of THEEVERLASTING LIGHT I6o


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considerable amount of superfluous talk, what in bird-language is called chattering; but I can give the close of it. "Well," said the Thrush, summing up the discussion, "I must now be off to bed-at all events after providing something suitable in the way of supper for my wife and family, and seeing them made tolerably comfortable for the night. And so too must you," he added, with a quizzical look to the Lark, whose left eye was beginning to droop, as he stood, with one leg up, in the significant fashion our woodland friends indulge in when they indicate that they are tired. "We shall leave '5



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S to you, Bird of the night "-were his last words, as he addressed the Nightingale -"we shall leave to you the first interview with this little sparkling S thing from fairyland, or whatever other land it has quitted. We shall defer our visit till to-morrow." So away the two brown-winged companions sped, I know not exactly where. But, though both in a great hurry to get home, they judiciously deemed, as I have just observed, that they might do a trifle of purveying business on the way, by picking up a few seeds; or if a manageable slug or grub presented itself, so much the better. I had not ,6



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the apotheosis) of the Dewdrop on the rose-leaf; its severance into a million fragments; and how these, in the shape of a great army, had marched right within THE SUN'S GOLDEN GATES! 58



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Pii *R ssm sli i



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SThe Nightingale, now left all alone for the discharge of a somewhat novel S duty, seemed at first to feel his responsibility: perhaps a feeling allied to nervousness in the human being. But he was a knowing little fellow too; and resolved to proceed in the most alluring as well as discreet way to his task. Being fully acquainted with the position of the rose-leaf, he took wing, and settled himself on the branch of a birch close by. Without any possible warning, he forthwith began (it was the best way of getting over these nervous sensations) to pipe one of his very best and most enchanting songs. He had i8



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in ghostly shape, vanished clean from sight. But what, you will say, has all this to do with our friend the Lark? His S quick little eye had discerned what your dull sight and mine could not. He had S watched everything I have now described. How indeed could he miss seeing that flashing speck of light lying so daintily on its cushion of state ? No wonder he circles and zigzags, and does bird-homage to the brightest gem of the Regalia. Up, down-hither, thither -just as I have already told, doing Sobeisance in every possible and con47



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roused from their sound winter sleep, yawning and stretching themselves, and rubbing their little eyes, and looking wonderingly about them, saying"What! is it now time to wake up and dress?" The tree foliage was approaching, if it had not already reached, perfection; all the mosses, too, looked so green and fresh; and how prettily the various ferns were uncoiling themselves among the rocks and shady nooks by the stream; while on this particular occasion the very Sun seemed to have coaxed his setting beams into the production of most gorgeous colouring. Belts of 8



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Everybody must have their playhours and moments of recreation. I think I have gone back to other and more serious work all the better after writing a page or two of what follows. I am happy thus to have had my little holiday along with you in this ideal region of quaint conceits. Shall we hope that others may share our pleasure ? Let us try.



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the thrush family always are. When he first rose from bed, he was not exactly in the very best of humours; for he had, what was always a cross to him when it occurred (though that was rarely), a disturbed night. Shall I tell you how his rest came thus to be S invaded? Why, the Nightingale, on his way from the rose-leaf, had, perhaps somewhat inconsiderately, tapped at his door, to inform him that all he could get out of the Dewdrop was (a very incomprehensible sentiment to a sleepy bird), that he was a tear wept by the Sky when it lost the Sun; and he was boind in all sincerity to add, 27



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anxieties which, in the first place, I must see to; and, after that, I have an engagement among these old hawthorns to serenade till morning." "Good night, kind bird," replied the Dewdrop, turning in politeness half round on its pillow; "thank you for thinking of me in my loneliness." And away the songster flew, first to his home, and then, after some outstanding S duties and civilities, over to his thicket among the May blossoms. The extreme beauty of the night seemed to dispel all care, and to have a decidedly inspiring effect on his nerves. I cannot tell whether he had really any such 24



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A-7I



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from them. Others appeared to be discharging tiny golden arrows from silver bows; others to paint, with invisible pencils, in delicate and varying hues of amber and purple, the fringes of clouds; while the Queen herself at times laid her own finger upon the larger of these, and braided them with snow and crimson. And then, how loyal everything seemed to be on the earth beneath I How each flower that had been asleep all night instantly rose on awaking, and, in the most duteous manner uncovering its head, prepared to take its place in the royal procession. The more gorgeous ones 42



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had left, apparently, all, or nearly all the music to the aforesaid brook in the dell. -A stone's-throw higher tip the valley, this latter, fed by recent rains, rattled in gleeful style over a bed of white and grey pebbles-the tiny limpid waves chasing one another as S if they were playing at hide-and-seek amid the sedges, king-cups, and rushes. But it had now reached a quieter spot where, however, it still kept up a gentle, soothing evensong, a lullaby peculiar to itself, as if it wanted to hush the little birds asleep in their varied leafy cradles. The very cattle, that had been seen lying lazily out of the heat IO0



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*I FOREWORDS. To Charlie. DEWDROP is a small affair; and the world would not be the least interested, nor a bit the wiser, by knowing how I come affectionately to dedicate the story I have written about it to you. I may tell you it was one line of eleven words, read one night from a musty old volume of last century, which suggested it. 3



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tured by-and-by to come nearer. But, in doing so, he could hardly believe his eyes, specially after what the Nightingale had told him. "A teardrop" indeed There was not a bit of the tear about it. Where had been the Nightingale's eyes? It was something at all events very like a bright, unmistakable, beautiful diamond on which the Thrush looked. How it glistened and sparkled; and that too with all the prismatic colours I The spectator could only (what was an S effort to any member of the Thrush i family) gaze in mute wonder. "What in all the world can you be, 30



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Lzst of ILLUSTRATIONS. The Procession of the Queen of the Morning (p. 41), ..Frontispiece. The Bird-talk and its surroundings, page 14 The Nightingale and the Dewdrop, ,, i9 The Ascent of the Million Army, .,, 53 5



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The Story of A DE W/DnROP. CHAPTER THE FIRST. HREE birds of very favourable repute in these regions met together one eveninga Thrush, a Lark, and a Nightingale. And all for what purpose, think you? It was a queer one-to hold a solemn conference about a DEWDROP! 6



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you lovely, silent sleeper on the roseleaf, with your round crystal cheeks? S Dewdrop we thought you were; teardrop you say you are: I cannot think you are either. If you are not a diamond set in rubies-stolen, for anything I know, from yesterday's S rainbow-you look the thing uncommonly well." I am indeed a diamond," answered the Dewdrop. Look at me," said the little gleaming dot, with the air of an aristocrat; do you not say I am fit for a monarch's crown? And it is a monarch's crown I am presently to be set in. Every day I meet the Queen 3'



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see I the cattle are again lowing in the fat meadows, and by degrees beating a safe retreat from the coming heat under the forest trees. High in that bright dome of azure, there is a delightful frolicsome twitter heard. It is not the Nightingale; no, not so clear and mellow as that. Not the Thrush; no, not so loud or gushing as that. It is our little friend the Lark. Oh! how merry he is! more so than either of the other two. And what is he about? He seems to be floating and soaring, sauntering and curtseying, skimming and dipping, rollicking and frolicking-now up, now 39



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uui i El iii.j ~l qP IN 1,t -milli EEE~IflE El.I 5 El ~IIE IihhE1



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otherwise found out, Gentle Reader, I shall take you into confidence, and unriddle the secret. The Queen of the Morning, as you already know, or at all events know now, had come with all her court, and troupe of gay courtiers. The Young Hours had unbarred for her the Gates of Day, and she at once sallied forth. Beautiful little pages in the shape of pink clouds, quite like tiny angels "with wings, were holding up her train. Some of those fairycherubs seemed, too, to have censers in their hands, at least if one could judge from the delicate wreaths of mist which rose like incense 4r



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somewhat,unwarrantably indulged the expectation that he would get an S immediate response from the Dewdrop. He had however, in this, to exercise Sthe virtue of patience. "Answer me, pretty Dewdrop," he said in his most bewitching trill. But the Dewdrop was silent. It appeared to pay not the slightest attention. S Another chirrup and mellifluous note, and then, coming to a lower and "still nearer spray of the birch-tree, quite within whispering distance: Pretty little noiseless thing," continued the Nightingale, "what are 19



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" I shall certainly be on the sharp outlook for that ascent of the Dewdrop. I can at all events be a silent spectator, if my services cannot otherwise be of use." And, to be sure, he did not S require to watch long; for, with that keenness of perception that belonged to all his ancestors, he found that he had soared right into the very midst of a golden mist. Some people say and Sbelieve (though I am not wise enough in bird-lore to know the truth of it), that the lark family have eyes almost like a microscope; things invisible to us are said to be quite visible, and indeed conspicuous, to them. At all 52



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to some Palace in the sky. Where is that ?" "It is our Home, soaring warbler," said the million million little voices, their spearsand helmetsflashing brightly in the radiance, their horses prancing and pawing the path of light-" It is Home, Home, Home!" said the myriads, the very air tremulous with the shout. "Yes, but where is that?" repeated the Lark, determined to come to the point, and not to be numerically extinguished, as he darted like lightning round and round the brilliant host. "The Sun! the Sun!" one after 55



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diamond, and had inserted it in her crown; and that the little thing had made no demur to the appropriation. Well, it must be owned that, anyhow for once, the Thrush was crestfallen. He almost never knew any ditties but joyous ones; but on the present occasion, with no attempt at concealment, he went away wailing to the thicket, and outpoured his wounded vanity in something very like a dirge. He then buried his beak in rather sulky fashion under his wing, and went to sleep. 37



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meant to do. Even the Spider hung his silver-tissued web from spray to spray; as if he had weaved a gossamer mantle, in case his Queen might like to use it in the chill of early dawn. (See Fronfis iece.) Well, the latter-I mean the Queenat last came to a pause, and, with most radiant grace in her countenance, she put her hand up to her crown, and took out the diamond. There was a little pet of a crimson cloud that happened to be floating past at the moment. She laid the lustrous gem on this roseate pillow; and then, slowly and gradually, she and all her retainers, 46



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of the garden led the way, with their velvet tassels, and silken brocades, and S pendants of opal and turquoise; some apparently carrying chalices filled with nectar. Then the fields and hedgerows, in their rough, rustic, plebeian fashion, with their fustian jackets and smockfrocks, said-" We shall not be behind our betters;" so their buttercups and wood-anemones, speedwell and scarlet pimpernel, the meadow violet with its modest blue, the cowslip with its burnished cells, the daisy with its "golden eye and white silver eyelashes," all did fealty to their adored Queen. Some went down on their knees; others doffed 43



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Sthe curiosity to follow them; but I believe they each contrived to carry home a dainty supper; the one to the Snest in the furrow beside some tufts of S golden gorse. It may be interesting, however, to know, by way of completing their domestic history, that both had promising young households-the one of three, and the other of four-to support; and the wee downy children had arrived too at a very ravenous age, with any capacity for food, which indeed amounted, at times, on the part alike of father and mother, to a trial of temper.



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of conscious pride. (If it had been aught else but a beaded drop, I would have described it standing on tip-toe as it said this.) It had, however, fairly exhausted itself with a very unwonted effort in the shape of a speech, and, without saying another word, turned on its side on the leafy bed, shut both eyes, and went to sleep. The Nightingale was of course too polite, civil, and considerate to prolong. So he simply said, "Good night to you, little Teardrop, or Dewdrop, whatever you prefer calling yourself. It is time, and more than time, for me to be on the wing. I have one or two domestic 23



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S two at latest, after the royal cavalcade had swept by. S This interlude was no peculiar hardship to our erratic friend, who knew he Scould spend the time, merrily and S profitably among his numerous kinsfolk in the groves. To tell the truth, he was not sorry to get away from the court pageantry, as all such ceremonial and pomp of circumstance was an abomiSnation to him, and had always been S so. It was, therefore, with pleasant anticipations of an early return that, S by a few fleet bounces, he was lost Sfrom sight in the nearest thicket. Barely, however, had the specified 34



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thought, "the procession will soon be over; come back shortly and see me, if S you please." The keen diamond eye twinkled with a humorous, comical expression when these last words were uttered; as much as to say, "I shall manage to cheat you, old fellow, wont I ?" The Thrush had some small quantum of poetry in his nature; but he had a great deal of shrewd common sense too, and an immense idea of propriety. Accordingly, he at once took the hint as to departure; but with guileless simplicity cherished the resolution of renewing the intercourse, in an hour or 33



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what the Dewdrop was thinking about; for, in the last fading, glimmering S light, it covered up its face so coyly with both hands, and blushed a deeper and deeper crimson. But to return to the birds. It was just outside a copsy retreat that these three winged acquaintances met. The Thrush, with his brown plumage and yellow spotted neck, being the biggest, and, if anything, the more talkative of the three, began the conversation. The consultation was a long and animated one, too long indeed to report in full, besides there being a M 4



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' Tomtit chattered, and the Beetle droned, and the Bee hummed, and the big Dragon-fly, in armour of brightest cobalt, whirred; and the Grasshopper, poor fellow! did his very uttermost, -he chirruped, he could do no more. The Butterfly, who could not raise a single note, came out in his best plush court-dress of gold, vermilion, and blue, dainty little silent outrider that he is, waking up any exceptional sleepers. He carried, truth to say, his zeal sometimes too far; as when I saw him unjustly reproaching the Foxglove for having bells and not ringing them, a thing they were never 45



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period elapsed, when he was back again upon his twig on the tall elm. He had certainly not exhausted his strength or conversational music-powers in that round of morning visits, for he renewed, then and there, his merriest notes, quite in the old style; and after this prelude, by way of making sure that the course was clear, he flew with more than wonted alacrity in the direction of the rose-leaf. But, can you imagine? To his wonder, sorrow, and chagrin, lo when he looked for it, the leaf was empty l Its small householder was gone! Not a trace of either Dewdrop or Diamond 35



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The Story of A DE WIDROP. CHAPTER THE SECOND. T was now morning. The mist still slept drowsily in the valley; in some places so dense, that the smoke of the early fires in the hamlet could scarcely pierce it. Already our friend the Thrush had completed both toilet and breakfast, and had issued forth on his round of daily work and pleasure; as active and busy as 26



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STORY OF A SEWDROP J.R.MACDUFF D-D FOUR COLOURED ILLUSTRR7TONS LONDON MARCUS *VWARD .& Co BELFAST* 1 1881



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of Dewdrop. But I have brief time (indeed no time) to converse further S with you now. You have seen, a short while ago, how the Queen of the Morning vanished. Will you be astonished when I tell you that I am about to do the very same myself? I S am going," it continued, "to my Palace yonder (an extra gleam, in the absence of a finger, was its own special way of pointing upwards). "I have said my Palace-I should rather perhaps say, my Home. We may meet," it added, "pretty soaring warbler, on the way to it. But please leave me now." What I have said of the Thrush was 50



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another made answer. The Dewdrop was a tear that fell from the sky because the Sun was gone. But, as you have just told us, we are all parts of iteveryone of us are; and we are on our way again to the golden entrance to his Palace." The army of misty globules rose and rose, higher and yet higher. They seemed, too, to get brighter and brighter in the ascent, the Lark rising with them, indeed till his little wings were tired. Then when he felt that he could act as convoy no farther, down he came at one long unpausing dart to the furrow adjoining the wooded dell below, which 56



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The Story of A DE tWDROP.



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ambitious thought, but it almost seemed, from the gush of song, an attempt was made that every star in the heavens might at all events hear, if they could not appreciate his melodies. 25



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under the beech-trees, had ceased their lowings. In fact, Nature had rung her curfew bell, and the sentry stars S were coming out, one by one, to keep their night-watch. Let me first, however, say a word L, about this Dewdrop, which had awakened so much curiosity as to gather three representative members of the Sbird-world together. It was a great puzzle, this Dewdrop was. It was a puzzle where it came from; what it had come about; and a still greater puzzle, what it was made of. It was evidently a visitor from II



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name, at all events for the present. I shall not say whether some scientific bird-winged philosophers are right or wrong when they aver that, though the Queen of the Morning borrowed me, I S am really and truly a jewel from the crown of the Sun; that when he took off his royal robes last evening, to lay his head on his nightly pillow, I dropped out of his crown, and tumbled down;to the earth. I may tell you, however, confidentially (just in a whisper, you know)," added the brilliant speaker, S"that though they call me Diamond, I like quite as well the name with which God's beautiful mist baptized me, that 49



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of the Morning.-Stay," it suddenly exclaimed, I see her even now advancing S with her rosy feet, 'sowing the earth with pearls.' See, for yourself, how the few stars which still linger in the sky, and which with their glittering torches lighted her out of the Eastern Gate, are paling every minute behind her! She says, of all the jewels in her tiara there is not one she is fonder of, or prouder of, than me. Away, away, little bird," stammered out the Dewdrop, with some nervous twitchings presently to be accounted for; "I must prepare to meet this Queen Aurora. But," it added in a kind of after32



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some unknown land. Very quietly, too, it had travelled to its adopted country. These birds, in succession (with the curiosity birds generally have), had endeavoured by stealth to track its dainty fairy footsteps, and learn its past history. But it was to no purpose. However, there it was; not perhaps making its appearance every night, but almost every night. And, then, it invariably managed to perch itself so daintily on the tip of a rose-leaf. All three birds agreed that it had substantiated its claim in this, to be decidedly a lover of the beautiful. The leaf, moreover, which it made its 12



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himself perched on a branch of the very tallest elm-tree he could pick out, and one, too, right above where the rose and the dewdrop were. Dear me! how he piped, and chirruped, and throstled! I thought the Nightingale had done wonders in that way; but it was nothing to the Thrush. He doubtless was under the impression that the Dewdrop was sound asleep, and needed no ordinary efforts in the way of rousing. I am sure if one could have dived under the yellow feathers, the little throat must have been purple. After these musical preliminaries, our new friend (Songster No. 2) ven29



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he S to of aD dipp.. DEWDRO



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Oh, just see how he twitters and carols, as I have more than once pictured, and cannot do so too oftenshaking first his little wings, and then his little throat; the old zigzagging to and fro-here, there, everywherewhisking in this direction, and bouncing in that direction, restless gymnastic that he is, in a very whirl and vortex of excitement I "You told me, a little while ago," said he, mustering up courage, with an effort, to speak to this wondrous mass of knight-errantry; "at all events the Diamond-drop, of which I know you are the fragments, told me you were going 54



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S left I There was no need of asking any questions; he comprehended in a moment what the roguish twinkle of the eye meant an hour before. He had, in a word, been "sold." It was more than a mere innocent trick played on him. His feelings and bird-dignity S had, he felt, been a little compromised by what, had it occurred at night, would have been called "a moonlight flitting." It was more like what the big creatures in the world around him were in the habit of describing as an April errand. It was only too evident that the Queen of the Morning, in passing by, had picked up the dew 36



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Sevents, this was true in the case of the present representative of that discriminS ating race. So that what, if we had been there, would only have seemed an aggregation of glistening atoms, were to him nothing less than a vast army in visible shape-chariots and charioteers, knights mounted on steeds with white trappings and gold and silver bridles; other horsemen carrying glittering spears, polished shields, and flashing swords; others bearing standards of cloth of gold. I am only telling you what the Lark saw, or thought he saw; and a most wonderful army on march you can very well believe it was. 53



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The Story of A DE WDROP. CHAPTER THE THIRD. "UT what is this? It is a change of scene. Away up in the morning sky, oh,' how blue it is! and the light fleecy clouds, how they float in folds of white ether I The Sun has climbed higher. It is now above the tallest of the poplars; and the long shadows cast by trunks and stems and branches are visibly shortened. And 38





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down-now describing gyrations, now imitating a pendulum-now trying to be S so steady with his fluttering wings, that he looks like a star twinkling in the daytime-in short, playing all sorts of droll antics, indulging in every imaginable pirouette and somersault, in all the world (in his case above the world) like a school-boy beginning his holidays ; certainly appearing to put himself to a great deal of unnecessary trouble and exertion. But he is unmistakably, with his winning ways, about something, and something to the purpose. But what that is, no mortal could guess. As the thing however must be guessed, or 40



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that peerless radiance. And at death, when it seems to be dissolved, and has apparently vanished from sight, it is exhaled-not annihilated. It passes upward to the Golden Gates, to be lost in the splendour of THE EVERLASTING LIGHT I 6o



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was now all streaked with fleckered light. He thought (and we shall not quarrel with the fancy) that these patches of light were nothing else than the golden arrows he had seen shot from the bow of the Cherubs-the little Angels of the Dawn-and that they were now lying thick in the green arcade. He just took breath, after the exhaustion and excitement, alike of both body and mind, which his aerial adventure had entailed; and 'then hastened straight to the home of the Nightingale and Thrush, to tell of the glorious ascent (what the old and learned creatures of the earth would have called 57



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0



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"Ay!" said the Nightingale, with a sceptical, incredulous chirp. S Yes! I always get bright, that I do, when the Sun shows himself. Look Sup to those stars, glittering in the sky. Do you know how they twinkle so? I am myself neither scholar nor S philosopher, and have no pretensions either way. But a confidential friend once told me, and I quite believe him, Sthat it is because they are either suns S themselves, or else get light from that beautiful Sun you saw some time ago S tingeing the sky with red and gold. I My Sun," continued the dwarf thing of mystery, raising its tones, with a sort 22



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Yes, it must be allowed it was an original thought which brought these S three feathered friends thus into council; and a pretty talk to be sure they had about it. They selected, as an appropriate time for preliminaries, the close of a bright day in early summer; just when things in outer nature were looking their best. The snowdrop and crocus had long ago hid their faces to make way for more ambitious rivals. That always pleasant season was a great way past, when you see the drowsy plants (after being tucked up-it may have been for weeks -in a white snowy coverlet), first 7 .-



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resting-place, was not only pretty in itself, of a subdued delicate green, but S it hung right over a full-blown rose, with a mass of pink leaves. The Dewdrop quite seemed as if it had said to its own little personality regarding this round coral ball (or cup, if you prefer to call it so)-" Well, I shall have a good look at you at all events, from my cozy couch, the last thing at night, and the first thing in the morning." I somehow really believe the rose must have heard this complimentary speech, or at all events, by some instinctive way, have correctly surmised -73



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A FTER WORDS. An Angel's Whisper. HE Soul-the Spirit of Man -apart from the Great Sun, becomes a teardrop. All is dark to it, when that All-glorious Source of Light and Love is away. Earth's sweetest songs cannot cheer it. But when the morning comes, and the Sun returns, the teardrop becomes a Dewdrop-gleaming like a diamond in 59



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" "A teardrop from the sky!" said the Nightingale, in undisguised astonS ishment. "I cannot comprehend you. Pray tell me what you mean ?" It is true, despite of your surprise," said the other. "The Sky always weeps at the loss of the Sun; and no wonder. I tell you again, believe it or not as you please, I am one of the tears it shed to-night. You need not, however, grieve for me. I shall be all S right" (the tiny voice rising to a falsetto) "when the Sun appears again. Indeed, I venture to say, you will "hardly know me then. That I am sure of." 2r



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:" ; ..'.. ..... ........ .-' -' ..:<," -1 .i .^ :.-'' -|ife ,\~ *W -t..|/ .' .1.' 1..* ,!"" H ;



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golden cloud were streaking the western sky; such long trails of them, that it was impossible to say whether the great ball of fire, which gave them their glory, had actually gone down behind the horizon, or was just about to do so. At all events, it was unmistakably sundown: though the scene was far removed from northern latitudes, it might be designated by the familiar Scotch "gloamin'." The groves, and dells, and hedgerows, which had kept up a goodly concert the livelong day, were now silent. Their winged tenants had, one after another, slunk to their nests, with very tired throats. They 9



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.-. ......-. fve 7r 4x C; 19



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their caps; others smiled bewitchingly; others could do nothing but waft sweet S perfumes. There were even bands of very varied music and musicians, all Sassisting with their efforts in swelling the Queen's Anthem. The brook, though it had sung all night, and had S need of a little respite, seemed to say"No, I shall go warbling on; she shall have my very best treble of a ripple." And then there were minor performers in this nature-choir. The Blackbird and Redbreast, Goldfinch and Linnet, and Chaffinch, each took part with striking effect. Even the Swallow in his own quiet way twittered, and the 44



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r\ b i



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you ? Where were you born ? Have you any father or mother? or are you an orphan? My two brother birds spoke of your brightness and lustre. My eyes are tolerably good; but I S confess I can see none of these things about you; you seem rather somehow to appear sad, though I trust I am wrong. "I have reason to be sad," at last replied the Dewdrop, in the quietest, S mildest, silveriest voice imaginable, and trembling with an emotion real or pretended. You call me a Dewdrop, but in truth I am not, I am a teardrop; a ,teardrop which fell from the sky." 20



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that it seemed rather a dull and uninteresting tear to boot. ff "I know better," growled the Thrush. (I have used the word "growl," because SI can find no better to describe the reality.) Growling, I am well aware, is a very uncommon demonstration of feeling in the case of a warbler. At all events, if it was not a growl, it was the nearest approach his beak could make S to one, as he turned on the pillow which had been thus rudely disturbed. After, however, dozing for a few more hours, breakfast over, and his family seen to, off he sped with all his former cheerfulness and activity, till he found 28



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ceivable way; till at last, poising himself immediately above, fluttering S with all his might, and settling himself in the fixed attitude in which the lark family are such adepts, he mustered up courage and said"Pretty sparkling thing! I know what you are. You are a rare diamond just taken from the crown of the Queen of the Morning. But, I confess, you look, too, very like the Dewdrop I spied at a distance, a few hours ago, on the tip of a rose-leaf." "What a capital guesser you are, tiny minstrel," was the reply; but you had better leave me with my diamond 48



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true also of the Lark. He was a peculiarly biddable and discreet bird, and when he got a hint he always took it. Moreover, the Dewdrop had spoken so courteously (he thought condescendingly) to him, he would not for the world intrude his company longer than desired. The other evidently wished to be all alone, to pack up and prepare for this great and distant journey. So the Lark plunged down to the stream among the alders to bathe his wings and refresh himself. After the lustrations were duly completed, up again he rose like an arrow into the bright, blue sky. Says he to himself, 5'