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the blue sky over the top of the great branching elm shading the white back portico of a large house up in the high part of the town several squares off.
In this miserable cupboard, hardly fit to be called a room, unfurnished except with a bed and a broken chair, lived a person, — a little girl, — if one could be said to live, who lies in bed all the time.
The bedridden body was that of a child of ten or twelve. The few people who knew her called her Molly: She had never known her father. Her mother she remembered dimly, or thought she did. It was a dim memory of a young woman who was good to her and who seemed very beautiful, and it was all connected with green trees and grass and blue skies and birds flying about.
Her little bed was fortunately right by the window, and she could look out over the houses. The pigeons which circled about or walked upon the roofs, pluming themselves and coquetting, and the little brown sparrows which flew around and quarreled and complained, were her chief companions, and she used to make up stories about them. She learned their habits and observed their life. She knew which of them were quiet and which were blustering; which were shy and which greedy, — most of them were this, — and she used to feed them crumbs on the window
One bird, however, interested her more than all the others. It was a bird in a cage which used to hang outside of the back window of a house not far from hers, but on another street. This bird Molly watched more closely than all the rest, and had more feeling for it. Shut up within the wire bars, whilst all the other birds were flying, so free and joyous, it reminded her of herself.
It was a mocking bird, and sometimes it used to sing so that she could hear its notes, clear and ringing.
Molly would have loved to pet it, and then turn it loose and watch it fly away singing.
The bird had not always been in a cage; it had been born in a lilac bush in a great garden, with other lilac bushes and tall hollyhocks of every hue, and rosebushes all around it; and it had been brought up there, and had found its mate in an orchard near by, where there were apple trees white with bloom. It had often sung all night long in the moonlight to its mate; and one day when it was getting a break"fast for the young in its nest in the lilacs, it had been caught in a trap with slats to it; and a man had come and carried it somewhere in a basket, and had put it into a thing with bars all around it like a jail, and a woman had bought it and kept it shut up ever since in a cage.
It had come near starving to death for a while, for at first it could not eat the seeds and stuff which covered the bottom of its cage, they were so stale; but at last it had to eat, it was so hungry.
The woman used to hang it outside of her window, and after she went away it used to sing, hoping its mate might hear and come near enough to sing to it, and tell it of its love and loneliness, and of the garden, the lilacs, the orchard, and the dew. Then again, when
she did not come, it would grow melancholy and would sometimes try desperately to break out of its prison.
How Molly watched it, and listened to it, and how she pitied it and hoped it knew she was there too!
THE STORY OF A MOCKING BIRD. PART II
NOTE. — Mildred was a rich little girl who lived in the big house on the hill. One day she went to visit Molly, and this story tells what happened.
Mildred and her mammy soon found the rickety house where Molly lived, and as Mildred climbed the stairs to Molly's room, though she walked as softly as she could, her heart was beating so she was afraid Molly might hear it, Curious faces peeped at her as she went up, for the visit to Molly of the day before was known, but Mildred did not mind them. She thought only of Molly and her joy.
She reached the door, and opened it softly and peeped in. Molly was leaning back on her pillow, very white and languid, but she was look
ing for her, and she smiled eagerly as she caught her eye. Mildred walked in and held up the cage. Molly gave a little scream of delight and reached out her hands.
“Oh, Mildred, is it --- ?” She turned and looked out of the window at the place where it used to hang. Yes, it was the same.
Mildred had a warm sensation about the heart, which was perfect joy.
“Where shall I put it?" she asked. He looks droopy, but Mrs. Johnson says he used to sing all the time. He is not hungry, because he has food in the cage. I don't know what is the matter with him.”
“I do,” said Molly, softly.
She showed where she wanted the cage, and Mildred climbed up and put it in the open window. Then she propped Molly up. She had never seen Molly's eyes so bright, and her cheeks had two spots of rich color in them. She looked really pretty. She put her arm around the cage caressingly. The frightened bird fluttered and uttered a little cry of fear.