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 summers.

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 spring sunshine.

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 wondering.

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 will be!"

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.