Saved by a Lark

by Lenore Elizabeth Mulets

Little Helen was four years old. She lived in the country in a white house with green window blinds. The house stood in a large yard, and had pretty flowers in front of it and a row of big maple-trees on each side.

Behind the house was an orchard, where the birds liked to build their nests and sing their sweet songs. Helen had a swing between two large apple-trees which stood a little way from the back door. She could swing ever so high, and could almost touch the green apples on one of the branches.

Back of the orchard and garden stood three big red barns. These barns were full of wonders for Helen. She was always glad to go into them with her father, and see the piles of corn and wheat, the plows and wagons, and the many other things that were there.

One morning in the harvest-time Helen was standing alone upon the door-step. The sun shone bright; the robins were singing in the apple-trees; the grasshoppers were chirping in the lane; but Helen heard only the sound of the far-off reaper, as it came to her through the soft morning air. She knew that her father was with the reaper.

Don't you know what a reaper is? It is that with which the farmer cuts his grain when it is ripe. It is drawn by horses, and it cuts down the grain stalks with many sharp knives, which move back and forth very fast.

"I think I will go out to the field and help father," said Helen to herself.

In another moment the little feet were turned toward the harvest field.

Across the orchard and down the lane she went, carrying her sunbonnet in her hand and talking to the grasshoppers, which would somehow get in her way.

But when at last she came to the field, she saw the men and the reaper far away toward the other side.

Helen kept on across the field, for she thought that she would soon catch up with the men. But it did not take long for the little feet to grow very tired.

Then she sat down on a sheaf of wheat and looked around her, wishing that her father would come.

Just in front of her the tall yellow grain was still standing. Helen wondered why her father had not cut it down.

As she was looking, a lark flew out from among the grain singing a rich, clear song. The little child clapped her hands for joy. Then she jumped from her seat and ran toward the place from which the bird had flown.

"There is a nest in there, and I am going to find it," said Helen to herself. She parted the tall yellow wheat-stalks to right and left, and went forward, looking all about her with her bright, sharp eyes. She did not have to go very far, for right before her was the nest, sure enough, and in it were three little birds.

Was there ever anything so cunning as those little heads, with their tiny bills wide open! It was such a pretty place for a nest, too. Helen clapped her hands again, she was so happy.

Then she sat down by the nest, but she did not touch the birdies. It was like being in a golden forest, for the grain was high above her head.

Soon her eyes began to feel heavy, for she was very tired after her long walk. She sat down, with her head upon her arm, and in a short time was fast asleep.

On came the horses, drawing the great reaper with its sharp cutting knives. Helen's father was driving, and they were coming right toward the spot where the little child was lying!

Oh, Helen, little does your father think that you are hidden there in the tall grain!

What was it that made the farmer check his horses all at once? Did something tell him that his dear baby was in danger?

Oh, no! he thought that she was safe at home with her mother. But he was a good man with a kind heart, and he saw something that made him stop.

The lark was flying wildly about over the grain that was in front of the reaper. She seemed to say, "Stop! stop!" The farmer thought that he knew what she meant, and he was too kind-hearted to harm a bird's nest. So he said to one of the men, "Here, Tom, come and hold the horses. There must be a nest somewhere among this grain. I will walk in and look for it."

What a cry the men heard when he found little Helen fast asleep by the lark's nest! How his heart almost stood still when he thought of the danger that she had been in! He caught her up in his arms and covered her face with kisses. "Oh, my darling!" he said, "it was the lark that saved you!"

Yes, it was the lark, and his own kind heart, that had saved her. Helen was carried home in her father's strong arms. She could not understand what made the tears run down his cheeks.

It was some time before the men could go on with their work. They left the grain standing around the lark's nest, to thank her, as they said, for saving little Helen.

As they stood looking at the little birds in the nest, one of the men, with big tears in his eyes, said, "God bless the birds! Come away, boys, and let the little mother feed her babies."