It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the blue sky overhead, and the air was filled with glad sounds. The golden sunlight grew brighter, the song of the birds grew gayer, and the harmonies of grateful flowers carried joy to all who breathed their sweet perfume. The fragrance of the flowers is one way they have of talking with us, you know. The gentle breezes play a part in flower language too, for as they gently sway the flowers to and fro, the bright colors call to the birds and insects.
The honeysuckle climbing over the piazza was very fragrant and most enticing. In the stillness of the summer morning suddenly a soft whir, whir, whir was heard, and in an instant, like a flying jewel, through the air darted a tiny hummingbird. A beautiful green with a bright flash of flame at his throat was Father Humming Bird. A gleaming gem among birds was this little brother of the air, bearing the colors of all the precious stones in his iridescent plumage.
Hovering before the fragrant honeysuckle Father Humming Bird paused an instant then pointed his bill straight into the flower cup. His long slender bill found its way down the channel that led to the sweet nectar. His tongue, run out beyond his long, slender bill, reached every drop of sweetness there. All the time his tiny wings fluttered so fast one could hardly see them. After lapping the last sweet drop Father Humming Bird backed up — a marvelous performance. No wonder he was so very pleased at this feat, for he is the only bird in the world that can fly backward. Think of that!
Another flying jewel presently darted to his side. Like a beautiful green beryl was Mother Humming Bird. Not so brilliant perhaps as Father Humming Bird, for she had no flash of flame at her throat. But she has her own particular charm, and she is one of the most expert nest builders in the world. Together the happy pair, as light as air, floated among the fragrant flowers, carefully exploring every sweet cup. The smallest and most exquisite of all the feathered, these midgets of the air make one think of wee bits of rainbow. How brightly these flying aerial jewels gleamed in the golden sunlight as they contentedly sipped from the waiting flower cups.
Lured by the sweet honeysuckle, another brilliant humming bird, hanging in the air for a second or two, presently darted toward the sweet flower cups. But Father Humming Bird, not always amiable as you will see, spying the intruder first, lunged forward and such a duel as there was! Such a clashing of bills! A battle of bird midgets in mid-air was on, and alarmed at such behavior, away darted Mother Humming Bird, losing no time in reaching her precious nest in the old oak tree.
Dick, who had been busy making a little airplane, had looked up from his work, fascinated by Father Humming Bird. The whir, the fluttering of the tiny wings and the backing up of the bird had almost seemed like a tiny airplane. Then suddenly all was changed and from the peaceful sipping of sweet nectar Father Humming Bird was plunged into battle.
This battle in mid-air of the birds brought Rosalie to the scene. She was concerned about Mother Humming Bird, for she shared her secret. Quickly she ran to the old oak tree, and you can imagine her relief when she found beautiful Mother Humming Bird safely on the nest, protecting the two wee, pearl-like eggs hidden there. Only Mother and Father Humming Bird and Rosalie knew the secret. Possibly Elf-kin knew, for he seemed to know most everything about the birds and flowers.
Mother Humming Bird zealously guarded this wee cradle, dainty as a fairy basket, for it held the most precious things in the world for her. Deftly made of bits of bark and tiny lichens, cleverly glued together with saliva, lined with the softest fluff that she could find, and bound tightly in place by spider webs, this tiny nest was hidden in a knot of the old oak tree. Do you know, if you had not really known the nest was there, you could scarcely detect it? So skillfully was it covered with moss, so like the branch on which it was fastened that a passerby never would have seen it.
Rosalie whispered cheering words to Mother Humming Bird, and then turned to take the little path that led through the orchard. As she reached the rustic gate, Dick met her, for he wondered what had taken her away so quickly. The battle was over, and Father Humming Bird flew swiftly over their heads to join Mother Humming Bird.
"Come through the garden, Rosalie," said Dick: "perhaps we shall find Elf- kin there. I want to tell him about my airplane and how I got some good ideas from watching Father Humming Bird."
They wandered through the garden, but no Elf-kin was to be seen. So they went back to the house, and from the honeysuckle a cheery voice called to them. Elf-kin had been working there all the time and had seen the flying jewels, the battle, and the swift flight of Mother Humming Bird.
As Dick breathlessly told him of his morning's work and what he had
learned from Father Humming Bird, Elf-kin listened attentively and was deeply
interested. When Dick had quite finished, Elf-kin said: "There is something
else you can learn from Father Humming Bird, Dick, and you too Rosalie. This
flying jewel, you noticed, paused, stood perfectly still before each flower,
and then pointed his bill straight into the flower cups. You children are not
humming birds, to be sure, but you are each day sipping from the flowers of
experience in life's garden. Within you is a gleaming jewel, the jewel called
conscience, and this jewel bears all the colors of the stepping-stones of
experience. To keep this jewel gleaming in the sunshine of love, think often
of the humming bird. Pause, stand perfectly still, be sure you are right, then
go straight ahead with your everyday experiences, whatever they may be and
wherever they may lead you. Always give to others the best you have, and in
all you do and say help to make another's way brighter. The joy of life is
found in a cheery word, a happy smile, some little act of kindness done each
day. Then you will both soon be flying jewels — flying on love's errands in
— Florence Barr