Skylark  Sermon

How a Skylark Preached a Sermon.

STORIES, as well as poems, about the sky-

lark abound; but the following story shows

the constant love of Englishmen for this

truly English bird. There is no such thing

as a song-bird natural to Australia; there

are birds that chatter, and birds that 

shriek, but no bird that sings. Well, there

 was a young man who went out from 

England as a gold-digger, and was fortunate

 enough to make some money, and prudent

 enough to take care of it. He opened a 

"store" (a sort of rough shop, where almost

 anything could  be had) at a place called 

"The Ovens," a noted gold-field about two

 hundred miles from Melbourne. As he 

continued to prosper, this young man, like

 a dutiful son, wrote home for his father and

 mother, asking them to come out to him,

 and, if they possibly could, to bring with 

them a lark.

The old folks agreed, and in due time, with

a lark in charge, they took ship and left

the shores of England.

His father, however, took the change so

much to heart that he died; but his mother

and the lark landed in sound health at

Melbourne, and were speedily forwarded to

Mr. Wilsted's store at "The Ovens." It

was on Tuesday when they arrived, and the

next morning the lark was hung outside

the hut, and at once began piping up. The

fleet was wonderful. Sturdy diggers big

men with great brown hands paused in the

midst of their work and listened reverently,

drunken diggers left unfinished the  

blasphemous sentence, and looked 

bewildered and ashamed. Far and near the

 news spread rapidly: "Have you heard the

 lark?" Is it true, mate, that there is a real

 English skylark up at Jack Wilsted's?"

So it went on for three days, and then

came Sunday morning. Such a sight had

not been seen since the first spade-full of

 the golden earth had been turned! From

 every quarter east, west, north, and south

from far-off hill, and from creeks twenty

miles away, came a steady stream of 

rough, brawny Englishmen, all brushed and

 washed as decent as possible. The 

movement was not arranged beforehand, 

as was plain from  the half-ashamed 

expression of every man's  face as he met

 his acquaintance in the crowd. There they

 were, however, and their errand was to 

hear the lark! Nor were they disappointed. 

There, perched in his wood-and-iron pulpit,

 was the little minister, and, as if he knew 

the importance of the task before him, he 

plumed his crest, and, lifting up his voice, 

sang them a sermon, which touched his 

audience more closely than perhaps even 

the bishop himself could have done.

It was a wonderful sight to see those

three or four hundred men, some lying on

the ground, some sitting with their arms on

their knees, and their heads on their hands,

some leaning against the trees, with their

eyes closed, so that they might the better

fancy themselves at home, and in the

midst of English cornfields once more;

but, whether sitting, standing, or lying, all

were equally quiet and attentive; and when,

after an hour's steady preaching, the lark

ceased, his audience suddenly started off,

a little low-spirited, perhaps--, but on the

whole happier than when they came. Yea,

and doubtless in many a breast the lark's

warble had stirred the memories of the 

lessons learned in the village school, or in 

the village church at home, and had 

wakened unuttered longings for those 

"means of grace" for which they had cared 

so little when they were within their reach.

So the skylark preached his sermon, and

many of his congregation wished that they

could have taken him away with them, to

preach to them in their distant diggings

day by day.

"I say, Joe," one digger was heard to say

to another, "do you think Wilsted would

sell him the bird, you know? I'll give as

much gold-dust for him as he weighs, and

think him cheap."

"Sell him! not he!" was the indignant

answer; "how would you like a fellow to

come to our village at home, and make a

bid for our parson?"

  "Home Pets."








ONE bright, sunny day in harvest-time little Patty thought she would like to go out to the field to see papa. So she started off, down the grassy lane and across the meadow. 

When she came into the wheat-field, she could see men going down one side, following the reaper and leaving a shining row of bundles behind. Patty tried to catch up, but they worked very fast, and by-and-by, growing tired, she sat down to rest where an old beech-tree cast a cool, pleasant shade.

Suddenly a bird flew out of the wheat near by, singing a rich, clear song. Patty clapped her hands in delight, and as the bird rose higher, and the notes grew fainter and sweeter in the distance, she fairly held her breath lest she should lose one of those delicious sounds.

"Perhaps there is a nest in there," thought Patty, when it was still again; and "in there" she went, looking with a pair of bright eyes eagerly about; and yes, there it was, surely, a nest, and three of the dearest, sweetest little birds, with tiny bills wide open! It was a nice place for a nest, Patty thought. The grain was like a golden forest, high above her head, and she laughed softly to herself, thinking of it. She did not know of any danger near, and the men, coming rapidly along, knew nothing of the little girl hidden by the yellow straw. On they came, the machine leading them, the horses drawing steadily and the knives cutting sharp and sure.

What was it, do you suppose, that made the farmer stop his team all at once? Did he know his little daughter was in danger?  No, indeed. He thought she was safely cared for at home. But he was a noble man, with a large, kind heart, and he would not willingly hurt the least of God's creatures; so he said to one of his men, "Here, Tom, come and hold the team. There's a lark's nest near the old tree yonder. I'll hunt it up, and you can drive around, so as not to hurt the birds."

What' a cry of surprise papa uttered when he found his darling Patty sitting there! How fast his heart beat when he thought of the danger she had been in, and how it thrilled and softened as he caught her up in his arms, covering her face with kisses, and saying, "It was the birds that saved her!"

When the first excitement was over, and Patty had been carried safely home in her father's arms, and the men were going down the field again, leaving a wide, uncut space round the lark's nest, somebody it was a great, rough-looking man said, while the tears glistened in his eyes and his voice grew husky," God bless the little