Back to Part Three
He had just made a long tunnel
through the ground from his house to theirs, and he gave the field-mouse
and Thumbelisa leave to walk in it whenever they liked. He told them not to be afraid of the dead bird
which was lying in the passage
. It was a whole bird with feathers and beak
which had probably died quite recently
at the beginning of the winter and was now entomb
ed just where he had made his tunnel.
The mole took a piece of tinder-wood
in his mouth, for that shines like fire
in the dark, and walked in front of them to light them in the long dark passage; when they came to the place where the dead bird lay, the mole thrust his broad nose
up to the roof and pushed the earth so as to make a big hole through which the daylight shone. In the middle of the floor lay a dead swallow
, with its pretty wings
closely pressed to its sides, and the legs and head drawn in under the feathers; no doubt the poor bird had died of cold. Thumbelisa was so sorry
for it; she loved all the little birds, for they had twitter
ed and sung so sweetly to her during the whole summer; but the mole kicked it with his short legs and said, "Now it will pipe
no more! it must be a miserable fate
to be born a little bird! Thank heaven! no child of mine can be a bird; a bird like that has nothing but its twitter and dies of hunger
in the winter."
"Yes, as a sensible
man, you may well say that," said the field-mouse. "What has
a bird for all its twittering when the cold weather comes? it has to hunger and freeze
, but then it must cut a dash
Thumbelisa did not say anything, but when the others turned their backs to the bird, she stoop
ed down and stroked aside the feathers which lay over its head, and kiss
ed its closed eyes. "Perhaps it was this very bird which sang so sweetly to me in the summer," she thought; "what pleasure
it gave me, the dear pretty bird."
now closed up the hole which let in the daylight and conduct
ed the ladies
to their home. Thumbelisa could not sleep at all in the night, so she got up out of her bed and plaited a large handsome mat of hay and then she carried it down and spread it all over the dead bird, and laid some soft cotton wool
which she had found in the field-mouse's room close round its sides, so that it might have a warm bed
on the cold ground.
, you sweet little bird," said she, "good-bye, and thank you for your sweet song through the summer when all the trees were green and the sun shone warmly upon us." Then she laid her head close up to the bird's breast
, but was quite startled at a sound, as if something was thumping inside it. It was the bird's heart. It was not dead but lay in a swoon
, and now that it had been warmed it began to revive.
On to Part Five