The weather was delightful. A few light, fleecy clouds were floating in the blue sky, continually changing from one form of beauty to another. The sun shone forth in his splendour, cheering the tender grass and the up-springing seeds, and drawing them nearer and nearer to his bosom. They stretched toward him their feeble blades and diminutive leaves, as if they would gladly be clasped in his arms; but their growing roots were striking deeper and deeper into mother earth, and binding them closer and closer to her.
The gentle, cooling zephyrs were playing among the leaves, and winning sweet music from the tiny voices, which responded in glee to their salutations. Often they lifted the soft hair from the brows of the children, and frolicked amid their curls, and fanned their sun-burnt cheeks. It was a morning which all nature enjoyed. There could not have been a finer day to start upon a journey. As birds do not need a change of dress, there was no trunk to pack, and no travelling-bag to be laden with comforts. All the preparation necessary was the usual attention to the toilet, and the instruction and advice which the exigency required.
The hearts of the young adventurers fluttered with excitement. There was a mingling of curiosity to visit the great world of which they had heard such glowing descriptions, and of fears to trust themselves to the power of their wings to bear them from their pleasant, happy home, and keep them out of harm’s way. They had seen Pussy, as she walked about in her white and black robe, and though she seemed so gentle, they had been warned against her as one of their most deadly enemies. They knew she was often prowling about, with stealthy tread, to prey upon the unwary. They feared that, instead of flying to the walnut-tree, as was the plan, they should fall upon the grass, where she could pounce upon them and destroy them, notwithstanding the screams and agonizing entreaties of their parents. Puss is a full believer in the doctrine that “might makes right;” and she is as unmoved by the cries and appeals of her victims as if they had no hearts to suffer, and were made merely for her own use.
Many words of encouragement were addressed to them by their parents. They told them how they themselves had suffered from similar fears; how difficult it was for them to trust implicitly in the wisdom of their own father and mother; and how they stood, tremulous and fearful, on the top of the nest, wishing they had sufficient resolution to obey, and yet fearing to venture; but how easy and pleasant they found it to spread their wings in the air, and be borne up by it, when they fully determined to make the attempt.
Our little birdlings still hesitated, just as I have seen children hesitate and quiver with terror when for the first time they go into the water to learn to swim. They know their father tells them the truth, for he has never deceived them. He has bound a life-preserver beneath their arms, and has promised to remain near, to catch them, if they begin to sink; yet they are afraid, and draw back. They lack faith. When at last they timidly push from the shore, and find themselves buoyed up on the water, their delight is almost unbounded, and they are as unwilling to leave as they were reluctant to enter it.