A message for children of all ages.
The big Grandfather Clock in the hall has just chimed four o’clock, and I suppose the chimes had disturbed me, although we are so accustomed to them. Then a very silly little thrush, one who lives in my garden, began to sing, but it was too early for any self-respecting little bird to begin singing, and certainly old Father Rook agreed with me, for he woke up and told that little bird so in no uncertain tones, in fact, between ourselves he used very "extravagant language." But the thrush would not heed—not he—he just sang louder than ever. Very soon Mrs. Rook and the Misses Rook began to wake up too. Poor Mrs. Rook was very cross, and small blame to her!
"Don't you heed that stupid little bird, my dear," said Mr. Rook, "easily knowing he has never had a wife, and nest, and eggs before! He is young! “(This in a tone of the utmost contempt)! 'lf I were his wife," he continued, "I'd jolly soon tell him to go to sleep again. You go back to your nest, and settle down for another nap, I'll call you when it is time to get up."
So, of course, like all meek and gentle women, she went back and did as her lord and master had told her. It was a way wives among the Rook family had in those days. I understand that all that has been altered during the last few weeks. I do not quite understand Caw language yet but from what I can gather the old Rocks have passed a law very recently—compelled by the lady rooks, I am afraid, and not at all of their own free will—giving the meek and gentle rooks that were, much greater power, and sometimes I confess I feel a bit sorry for Mr. Rook, for won't he get it! Well, "every dog has had his day"—so the old saw runs,—and I suppose every old man rook has had his day too, and the wheel of life turns round! But I am digressing again. Well, I agreed with Mr. Rook then—you see it was so very early, not at all light—and I, like Mrs. Rook, prepared for another nap. Alas, at that moment up woke the Cuckoo. He was in a terrible rage! He always reckons to wake up the world in these parts, indeed, if he had his way we would get very little sleep in Devonshire during the month of May, for "in May he sings both night and day," and he is fearfully angry if he should take an extra nap and allow any other bird to wake up the world. Now on this particular morning of which I write he was in a pet. A silly little thrush indeed, only hatched last year taking it upon himself to wake up the world! What next, I wonder? Didn’t that bird Cuckoo! You should have heard him! Poor Father Rook! He did swear. I am sorry to have to state it in such plain and unvarnished language, but that bird did swear! Mrs. Rook said something too that sounded very like—well, you know!
"There is that lazy Cuckoo now," she cried—cawed, I beg pardon,—"easily knowing they have nothing to do. If they had been keeping eggs warm all night as we have, my dear, they would be glad to sleep, and let other folk do the same. All very well laying eggs in others’ nests, and then won't let honest mothers sleep in the morning."
I must say I agreed with Mrs. Rook, indeed, I felt very much sympathy with her, and I told her so across the next garden, Oh, no, not a bit clever of me, you see I must be stupid after living next door to a Rookery for many years if I could not understand their language just a little bit. Don’t you think so? Yet, now I come to think of it folks—and countries for the matter of that, do live next door to one another for years—aye, and centuries—and never understand each other. Strange, isn’t it?
But would you believe it, such is life in Devonshire—up woke the sparrows, and they began to chirp. Then the Chit-chats, and they began to "chif-chaf!" And then the Tits, and they began to "twit-twit-twit," and poor Mr. Rook, losing all his usual dignity and self-control, called—I mean cawed, loudly to his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts, to wake up too, and I cried,—"O, to see Aurora drive her pink steeds out of the East!" and I leaped out of bed. But alas, I had lingered so long listening to those birds and their wranglings I just missed that glorious sight, for she was well over the Eastern hills when I reached the N.E. side of the house. Yet I saw the pink steeds but they were just being unharnessed ready to be driven back again over the horizon to await another dawn.
How Lovely it is—the pure clear quiet Dawn! I do not wonder that the Ancients worshipped the Dawn. I stood at my window for a long time and watched the world wake up. I could hear the sea washing up against the great cliffs away below me, and then the deep under roll as they receded again to meet the next incoming wave. I listened to it with awe, for it was too new to me. Don’t you understand that in two or three hours the world generally would be awake and moving about with all the customary noises, and then I should not be able to hear the gong of the sea, no matter how intently I might listen. I marvel that I ever miss this sacred hour! Then a great steamer came in sight, majestically moving up Channel, and the sound of her propeller came to me in the still air.
How quiet and serene all Nature is at this early hour! The birds have ceased to sing now, and are busy feeding. I hope Mr. Rook is getting his wife’s breakfast! I expect he is. There is not a single caw from over the way. Then l expect he will help clear up the nest, don’t you? He’ll brush and dust a bit, and maybe do a bit of washing! Ah, Mr. Rook, these are new times for you!
Oh, the peace in the air. I leaned out of my window as far as I could and took great deep breaths. There is something magical, mystical, wonderful at that hour. You never get it later in the day.
Reader, have you ever seen the Sun rise! Have you ever watched Aurora drive her pink steeds over the horizon, up through those avenues of blue, and green, amethyst and amber? lf you have not you have missed a greater joy and beauty than ever you will get by paying so many guineas for a box at the Theatre or Opera.
Oh, the messages of the Dawn that we never hear! Oh, the splendors of the Dawn that we never see! I do not wonder that the Wise One said long ago,—"They that seek Me early shall find Me." I think the man who wrote those words got up before the Dawn. And do we not read that "He rose very early before it was yet day and went out into a mountain to pray."