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Fairy Stories and Fables by  James Baldwin
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THE LARK AND THE FARMER

[165] IN a field of wheat there was a Lark's nest, and in the nest there were four young Larks almost large enough to fly. One morning when the mother Lark was going out for something to eat she said to her little ones:

"The wheat is now ripe enough to be cut, and there is no telling how soon the reapers will come. So keep wide awake to-day, and when I come home tell me all that you see or hear."


[Illustration]

The little Larks promised that they would do so, and the mother flew singing away.

She was hardly out of sight when the Farmer who owned the field came with his son to look at his wheat. "I tell you what, John," he said, "it is time that this wheat was cut. Go round to our neighbors this evening and ask them to come to-morrow and help us."

When the old Lark came home the young ones told her what they had heard; and they were so [166] badly frightened that they begged her to move them out of the field at once.

"There is no hurry," she said. "If he waits for his neighbors to come, he will have to wait a long time."

The next day while the mother Lark was away, the Farmer and his son came again.

"John, did you ask the neighbors to come?" said the Farmer.

"Yes, sir," said John, "and they all promised to be here early."

"But they have not come," said the Farmer, "and the wheat is so ripe that it must be cut at once. Since our neighbors have failed us, we must call in our kinsfolk. So mount your horse and ride round to all your uncles and cousins, and ask them to be sure and come to-morrow and help us."

The young Larks were in great fear when they heard this, and in the evening they told their mother all about it.

"Mother," they said, "we shall be killed if we stay here another day. Our wings are strong enough; let us fly away right now."

"Don't be in a hurry," said the mother. "If the Farmer waits for his kinsfolk, the wheat will not be cut to-morrow; for the uncles and cousins have their own harvest work to do."

[167] She went out again the next day, but told the young ones to notice everything that happened while she was gone.

Towards noon the Farmer and his son came into the field.

"See how late in the day it is," said the Farmer, "and not a man has come to help us."

"And the grain is so ripe that it is all falling down and going to waste," said his son.

"Yes," said the Farmer, "and since neither our friends nor our kinsfolk will help us, we must do the work ourselves. Let us go home and whet our scythes and get everything ready, so that we can begin before sunrise in the morning."

The old Lark came home quite early that day, and the little Larks told her what they had heard.

"Now, indeed, it is time for us to be off," she said. "Shake your wings and get ready to fly; for when a man makes up his mind to do a thing himself, it is pretty sure to be done."


[Illustration]


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