At the Back of the North Wind
The Early Bird
When Diamond got home he found his father at home already, sitting by the fire and looking rather miserable, for his head ached and he felt sick. He had been doing night work of late, and it had not agreed with him, so he had given it up, but not in time, for he had taken some kind of fever. The next day he was forced to keep his bed, and his wife nursed him, and Diamond attended to the baby. If he had not been ill, it would have been delightful to have him at home; and the first day Diamond sang more songs than ever to the baby, and his father listened with some pleasure. But the next he could not bear even Diamond's sweet voice, and was very ill indeed; so Diamond took the baby into his own room, and had no end of quiet games with him there. If he did pull all his bedding on the floor, it did not matter, for he kept baby very quiet, and made the bed himself again, and slept in it with baby all the next night, and many nights after.
But long before his father got well, his mother's savings were all but gone. She did not say a word about it in the hearing of her husband, lest she should distress him; and one night, when she could not help crying, she came into Diamond's room that his father might not hear her. She thought Diamond was asleep, but he was not. When he heard her sobbing, he was frightened, and said---
"Is father worse, mother?"
"No, Diamond," she answered, as well as she could; "he's a good bit better."
"Then what are you crying for, mother?"
"Because my money is almost all gone," she replied.
"O mammy, you make me think of a little poem baby and I learned out of North Wind's book to-day. Don't you remember how I bothered you about some of the words?"
"Yes, child," said his mother heedlessly, thinking only of what she should do after to-morrow.
Diamond began and repeated the poem, for he had a wonderful
"There, mother!" said Diamond, as he finished; "ain't it funny?"
"I wish you were like that little bird, Diamond, and could catch worms for yourself," said his mother, as she rose to go and look after her husband.
Diamond lay awake for a few minutes, thinking what he could
do to catch worms. It was very little trouble to make up his
mind, however, and still less to go to sleep after it.