How Margery Wondered by Lucy Larcom
One bright morning, late in March,
little Margery put on her hood and
her Highland plaid shawl, and went trudging
across the beach. It was the first
time she had been trusted out alone, for
Margery was a little girl; nothing about
her was large, except her round gray eyes,
which had yet scarcely opened upon half a dozen springs and
There was a pale mist on the far-off sea and sky, and up around
the sun were white clouds edged with the hues of pinks and violets.
The sunshine and the mild air made Margery's very heart
feel warm, and she let the soft wind blow aside her Highland
shawl, as she looked across the waters at the sun, and wondered!
For, somehow, the sun had never looked before as it did to-day;—it
seemed like a great golden flower bursting out of its pearl-lined
calyx,—a flower without a stem! Or was there a strong
stem away behind it in the sky, that reached down below the sea,
to a root, nobody could guess where?
Margery did not stop to puzzle herself about the answer to her
question, for now the tide was coming in, and the waves, little at
first, but growing larger every moment, were crowding up, along
the sand and pebbles, laughing, winking, and whispering, as they
tumbled over each other, like thousands of children hurrying home
from somewhere, each with its own precious little secret to tell.
Where did the waves come from? Who was down there under
the blue wall of the horizon, with the hoarse, hollow voice, urging
and pushing them across the beach to her feet? And what secret
was it they were lisping to each other with their pleasant voices?
O, what was there beneath the sea, and beyond the sea, so deep, so
broad, and so dim too, away off where the white ships, that looked
smaller than sea-birds, were gliding out and in?
But while Margery stood still for a moment on a dry rock and
wondered, there came a low, rippling warble to her ear from a
cedar-tree on the cliff above her. It had been a long winter, and
Margery had forgotten that there were birds, and that birds could
sing. So she wondered again what the music was. And when
she saw the bird perched on a yellow-brown bough, she wondered
yet more. It was only a bluebird, but then it was the first bluebird
Margery had ever seen. He fluttered among the prickly
twigs, and looked as if he had grown out of them, as the cedar-berries
had, which were dusty-blue, the color of his coat. But
how did the music get into his throat? And after it was in his
throat, how could it untangle itself, and wind itself off so evenly?
And where had the bluebird flown from, across the snow-banks,
down to the shore of the blue sea? The waves sang a welcome to
him, and he sang a welcome to the waves; they seemed to know
each other well; and the ripple and the warble sounded so much
alike, the bird and the wave must both have learned their music
of the same teacher. And Margery kept on wondering as she
stepped between the song of the bluebird and the echo of the sea,
and climbed a sloping bank, just turning faintly green in the
The grass was surely beginning to grow! There were fresh,
juicy shoots running up among the withered blades of last year,
as if in hopes of bringing them back to life; and closer down she
saw the sharp points of new spears peeping from their sheaths.
And scattered here and there were small dark green leaves folded
around buds shut up so tight that only those who had watched
them many seasons could tell what flowers were to be let out of
their safe prisons by and by. So no one could blame Margery for
not knowing that they were only common things,—mouse-ear, dandelions,
and cinquefoil; nor for stooping over the tiny buds, and
What made the grass come up so green out of the black earth?
And how did the buds know when it was time to take off their
little green hoods, and see what there was in the world around
them? And how came they to be buds at all? Did they bloom
in another world before they sprung up here?—and did they
know, themselves, what kind of flowers they should blossom into?
Had flowers souls, like little girls, that would live in another world
when their forms had faded away from this?
Margery thought she should like to sit down on the bank and
wait beside the buds until they opened; perhaps they would tell
her their secret if the very first thing they saw was her eyes watching
them. One bud was beginning to unfold; it was streaked
with yellow in little stripes that she could imagine became wider
every minute. But she would not touch it, for it seemed almost as
much alive as herself. She only wondered, and wondered!
But the dash of the waves grew louder, and the bluebird had
not stopped singing yet, and the sweet sounds drew Margery's feet
down to the beach again, where she played with the shining
pebbles, and sifted the sand through her plump fingers, stopping
now and then to wonder a little about everything, until she heard
her mother's voice calling her, from the cottage on the cliff.
Then Margery trudged home across the shells and pebbles with
a pleasant smile dimpling her cheeks, for she felt very much at
home in this large, wonderful world, and was happy to be alive,
although she neither could have told, nor cared to know, the
reason why. But when her mother unpinned the little girl's Highland
shawl, and took off her hood, she said, "O mother, do let me
live on the door-step! I don't like houses to stay in. What makes
everything so pretty and so glad? Don't you like to wonder?"
Margery's mother was a good woman. But then there was all
the housework to do, and if she had thoughts, she did not often let
them wander outside the kitchen door. And just now she was
baking some gingerbread, which was in danger of getting burned in
the oven. So she pinned the shawl around the child's neck again,
and left her on the door-step, saying to herself, as she returned to
her work, "Queer child! I wonder what kind of a woman she
But Margery sat on the door-step, and wondered, as the sea
sounded louder, and the sunshine grew warmer around her. It
was all so strange, and grand, and beautiful! Her heart danced
with joy to the music that went echoing through the wide world
from the roots of the sprouting grass to the great golden blossom
of the sun.
And when the round, gray eyes closed that night, at the first
peep of the stars, the angels looked down and wondered over Margery.
For the wisdom of the wisest being God has made ends in
wonder; and there is nothing on earth so wonderful as the budding
soul of a little child.