STEWART'S A, B, C'S
IT was Sunday the first Sunday since spring had really come. Stewart stood under the tall white lilac bush and peered up through its branches at the catbird who, with drooping tail, swelled out his gray feathery throat in jolly squawks and gurgles. "You're just up from the South, aren't you, Mr. Catbird?" he said, and the bird paused long enough to cock a friendly eye in Stewart's direction. Stewart loved the fat gray fellow. He loved the little, pale blue violets in the grass, and the round golden dandelions, and the fresh smell of garlic in the air when he trod on the dewy, sparkling lawn. His heart seemed to swell with all this love.
"Stewart, we're ready for church. Mother is going now," a voice called to him from the house.
Stewart sometimes went to church with his father and mother. He particularly enjoyed it when everyone stood up and sang hymns, and even the long times when the minister talked, he didn't mind because he just sat still and swung his legs and made up stories for himself, since he couldn't understand very well what the minister was saying. After a while, when everyone knelt down and the minister talked to God, Stewart always held his mother's hand and felt very quiet and solemn.
Now mother kissed him when he ran to her, and said, "You may play up on the hill until we come home again. Good-bye."
The hill was Stewart's favorite place above all others. It was right back of his house, and from the top of it you looked down on the whole village. You could even see the road and the white church with its steeple, that was hidden from his house by trees. There were no trees on the hill. In winter it was too windy up there to play, but now how glorious! Stewart leaped up and down and sang a queer little tuneless song to himself; the words of it, "Oh, come, little children, come, I say," chanted over and over. The soft breeze ruffled his hair and ruffled the feathers on the breast of a song sparrow who trilled from the top of the fence. Downy white clouds failed swiftly over the hill, and the grass was very green. The violets up here were deep purple, instead of pale blue.
Stewart sat down on a stone, quite out of breath. He could hear the church bell ringing far below, and he saw little black figures of people moving up the road and in at the door. He couldn't quite tell which were father and mother. After a while the bell stopped ringing and all the people seemed to be inside. It was very, very silent now, except for the faint, contented chirping of a little bird somewhere in the grass.
All at once Stewart felt as though something within him would burst with happiness and yet he did not want to shout or sing just then. It was a quiet happiness. He looked down at the church again. Perhaps the minister was talking to God, and all the people in the church were on their knees. Suddenly he knew that that was what he wanted to do talk to God. He had the same solemn feeling as when he knelt beside his mother. He slipped off the stone onto the soft ground, crushing the little blades of grass under his knees, but he couldn't think what to say. "Oh, come, little children, come, I say," was a song, not a prayer. Up behind those fleecy clouds somewhere Stewart felt sure God was waiting to hear him talk to Him. Well, there was something else he had learned just lately. Surely that would be all right.
Very softly at first, the little boy commenced. "A-B-C-D, E-F-G " then louder and more confidently, the sun full in his glowing face, "H-I-J-K, LMNOP, Q-R-S-T, U- V " his voice dropped reverently, as for the Amen "W-X-Y-Z."
And God, on this first Sunday of spring, heard Stewart's prayer, and was very glad.