There came to our fields a pair of birds that had never built a nest nor seen a winter. How beautiful was everything! The fields were full of flowers, and the grass was growing tall, and the bees were humming everywhere. Then one of the birds began singing, and the other bird said, “Who told you to sing?” And he answered, “The flowers told me, and the bees told me, and the winds and leaves told me, and the blue sky told me, and you told me to sing.” Then his mate answered, “When did I tell you to sing?” And he said, “Every time you brought in tender grass for the nest, and every time your soft wings fluttered off again for hair and feathers to line the nest.” Then his mate said, “What are you singing about?” And he answered, “I am singing about everything and nothing. It is because I am so happy that I sing.”
After some time five little speckled eggs were in the nest, and his mate said, “Is there anything in all the world as pretty as my eggs?” Then they both looked down on some people that were passing by and felt sorry for them because they were not birds.
In a week or two, one day, when the father-bird came home, the mother-bird said, “Oh, what do you think has happened?” “What?” “One of my eggs has been peeping and moving!” Pretty soon another egg moved under her feathers, and then another and another, till five little birds were hatched! Now the father-bird sang louder and louder than ever. The mother-bird, too, wanted to sing, but she had no time, and so she turned her song into work. So hungry were these little birds that it kept both parents busy feeding them. Away each one flew. The moment the little birds heard their wings fluttering among the leaves, five yellow mouths flew open wide, so that nothing could be seen but five yellow mouths!
“Can anybody be happier?” said the father-bird to the mother-bird. “We will live in this tree always, for there is no sorrow here. It is a tree that always bears joy.”
Soon the little birds were big enough to fly, and great was their parents’ joy to see them leave the nest and sit crumpled up upon the branches. There was then a great time! The two old birds talking and chatting to make the young ones go alone! In a little time they had learned to use their wings, and they flew away and away, and found their own food, and built their own nests, and sang their own songs of joy.
Then the old birds sat silent and looked at each other, until the mother-bird said, “Why don’t you sing?” And he answered, “I can’t sing—I can only think and think.” “What are you thinking of?” “I am thinking how everything changes: the leaves are falling off from this tree, and soon there will be no roof over our heads; the flowers are all going; last night there was a frost; almost all the birds have flown away. Something calls me, and I feel as if I would like to fly far away.”
“Let us fly away together!”
Then they rose silently, and, lifting themselves far up in the air, they looked to the north: far away they saw the snow coming. They looked to the south: there they saw flowers and green leaves! All day they flew; and all night they flew and flew, till they found a land where there was no winter—where flowers always blossom, and birds always sing.