A little bird sat on the edge of her nest;
Her yellow-beaks slept as sound as tops;
That day she had done her very best,
And had filled every one of their little crops.
She had filled her own just over-full,
And hence she was feeling a little dull.
"Oh, dear!" she sighed, as she sat with her head
Sunk in her chest, and no neck at all,
While her crop stuck out like a feather bed
Turned inside out, and rather small;
"What shall I do if things don't reform?
I don't know where there's a single worm.
"I've had twenty to-day, and the children five each,
Besides a few flies, and some very fat spiders:
No one will say I don't do as I preach—
I'm one of the best of bird-providers;
But where's the use? We want a storm—
I don't know where there's a single worm."
"There's five in my crop," said a wee, wee bird,
Which woke at the voice of his mother's pain;
"I know where there's five." And with the word
He tucked in his head, and went off again.
"The folly of childhood," sighed his mother,
"Has always been my especial bother."
The yellow-beaks they slept on and on—
They never had heard of the bogy To-morrow;
But the mother sat outside, making her moan—
She'll soon have to beg, or steal, or borrow.
For she never can tell the night before,
Where she shall find one red worm more.
The fact, as I say, was, she'd had too many;
She couldn't sleep, and she called it virtue,
Motherly foresight, affection, any
Name you may call it that will not hurt you,
So it was late ere she tucked her head in,
And she slept so late it was almost a sin.
But the little fellow who knew of five
Nor troubled his head about any more,
Woke very early, felt quite alive,
And wanted a sixth to add to his store:
He pushed his mother, the greedy elf,
Then thought he had better try for himself.
When his mother awoke and had rubbed her eyes,
Feeling less like a bird, and more like a mole,
She saw him—fancy with what surprise—
Dragging a huge worm out of a hole!
'Twas of this same hero the proverb took form:
'Tis the early bird that catches the worm.