A DISOBEDIENT DICKY BIRD *
THREE little birds, Fluffy, Chirpie and Dicky, lived in a beautiful nest hung high among the branches of an old oak tree. The father and mother birds were kept very busy every day gathering food for the hungry little mouths that always flew wide open whenever the parent birds came near.
Day by day they grew until they were large enough to take their first trip out of the nest. First, they hopped to the edge of the nest, then to the nearest branch, and as they grew stronger they would hop from twig to twig. At last the mother said:
"Now, birdies, it is time for you to fly down and eat sand." Fluffy and Chirpie flew down and began eating sand, but Dicky said:
"I can't fly; and I don't like sand anyway."
"Oh, but you must eat sand," said his mother. "Birds have no teeth with which to grind their food, so we must eat sand that it may grind up the food that we eat, such as bugs, worms and seeds. Come, you must eat sand if you would become strong." But Dicky only cried the louder: "I can't fly, and I don't like sand!"
Then the mother went to him and pushed him out of the nest, and he spread his wings and flew to the ground.
"Eat sand and grow strong," said Chirpie. "How do you know you don't like it if you won't taste it?" But foolish Dicky only said: " I won't eat sand!"
Now, the mother bird had promised that when they had grown strong they should go to the meadow. So one spring morning she told them they might go, though she feared Dicky was not strong enough to go so far. They flew over the fence and through the orchard, and by this time Chirpie and Fluffy were far ahead. Dicky was being left behind. He called loudly: "Wait! wait!" but they were already too far away to hear.
Soon all but Dicky reached the meadow. "Why, where is Dicky?" exclaimed the mother. "We left him sitting on the orchard wall," said Fluffy; " he was too tired to fly. He will not eat sand and the bugs make him sick. He is weak."
What a fine time they had! Mother showed them how to get the nicest bugs, worms and seeds; and they bathed in the brook to their hearts' content. When they had eaten all they could and frolicked all they wished, they looked and saw the great round sun going down in the West, and they knew that night was near. Then they flew back to the dear home tree, and what do you think was the first thing they saw when they reached home? Yes there was Dicky under the tree eating sand! He wanted to be strong and had found out that he had to do what his mother told him.