THE sun came out and shone down on the leafless trees that cast hardly any shadows on the pathway through the woods.
“Surely the spring is coming,” the birds said; “it must be time to wake the flowers.”
The thrush, and the lark, and the linnet sang sweetly. A robin flew up from the snow, and perched upon a branch; a little ragged boy at the end of the wood stopped and listened.
“Surely the spring is coming,” he too said; “and mother will get well.”
The flowers that all through the winter had been sleeping in the ground heard the birds, but they were drowsy, and longed to sleep on. At last the snowdrops came up and looked shiveringly about; and a primrose leaf peeped through the ground, and died of cold. Then some violets opened their blue eyes, and, hidden beneath the tangle of the wood, listened to the twittering of the birds. The little ragged boy came by ; he saw the tender flowers, and, stooping down, gathered them one by one, and put them into a wicker basket that hung upon his arm.
“Dear flowers,” he said, with a sigh, as if loth to pick them, “you will buy poor mother some breakfast,” and, tying them up into little bunches, he carried them to the town. All the morning he stood by the road-side, offering his flowers to the passers-by, but no one took any notice of him; and his face grew sad and troubled. “Poor mother!” he said, longingly; and the flowers heard him, and sighed.
“Those violets are very sweet,” a lady said as she passed; the boy ran after her.
“Only a penny,” he said, “just one penny, for mother is at home.” Then the lady bought them, and carried them to the beautiful house in which she lived, and gave them some water, touching them so softly that the poor violets forgot to long for the woods, and looked gratefully up into hei face.
“Mother,” said the boy, “see, I have brought some bread for your breakfast. The violets sent it to you,” and he put the little loaf down before her.
The birds knew nothing of all this, and went on singing till the ground was covered with flowers, till the leaves had hidden the brown branches of the trees, and the pathway through the woods was all shade, save for the sunshine that flecked it with light.