Learning to treat animals kindly

April 16, 2018

lamb bird

Lucy’s lamb talks to a bird, design by Meredith Eliassen, 2018.

Lucy was a very kind little girl. She never struck the kitten, and when she rode out with her father, she never wanted to whip the horse. When she was eating her bread and milk, a hungry fly would sometimes light on the edge of the owl, and try to drink. Little Lucy never knocked him with her spoon. She would say to him:

“Drink away, poor little fly, You may drink, as well as I.”

One day, when spring weather came, and the sun was warm, and the grass was green, a butterfly flew into the window, and lighted on a beautiful rose that was standing in the sunshine. Lucy jumped up, and clapped here hands, and said, “Oh, what a pretty, pretty, pretty butterfly! Mother, may I touch it?”

Her mother told her she could not touch him, without hurting him. She took down a large dead butterfly, that was pinned over the looking-glass, and told Lucy to put her finger on it. When she took her finger off, It was all covered with fine meal from the butterfly’s wings. Her mother told her that this meal was made of very small feathers, like the down on a bird; but the feathers were so very, very small, that they could not be seen without a magnifying glass.

“Can the butterflies see them?” asked Lucy.

“I suppose they can,” replied her mother; “but I don’t know. I never was a butterfly; and so I cannot tell how much they can see with their little eyes.”

“And when this meal comes off from their pretty wings, does it hurt them?” asked Lucy.

“I suppose it hurts them, as it hurts a bird to pull out its feathers,” said her mother; “and besides than, they cannot fly as well, when the down is taken from their wings. It makes them lame.”

“Then I will never touch a butterfly,” said Lucy.

Lucy’s grandfather lived in New Jersey. He was a good old Quaker gentleman, and Lucy loved him very much. When the snow-ball bush was in blossom, he came to see her, and staid [sic] a whole week. Almost every evening, Lucy too a walk with her good grandfather, and she was a very happy little girl. One evening, they met a man who was driving some sheep and lambs. A chaise-wheel has passed over one of the little lambs, and hurt its leg so badly that it walked very lame indeed. Lucy begged to carry the little lamb home, because it was too lame to trot along after the mother.

“I will buy it for thee, my dear child,” said the old gentleman. “Thou art as gentle as the little lamb thyself. But I think the little one will grieve for its mother; so will buy the old sheep too.”

He bought the sheep, and led her home by a string. Little Lucy carried the lame lamb in her arms. Her mother spread a nice warm blanket in a basket, and Lucy laid the lamb on it, and fed it with warm milk, from her won little china bowl. In a few weeks, it was quite well. One morning, the old gentleman called Lucy to him, and kissed her, and told her he must bid her farewell before she went to school, for he should be gone to Jew Jersey before she cam back. Lucy jumped up in his lap, and hugged him, and kissed him, and said, “Oh, do come back again soon, grandfather. I love dearly to have you come.”

When she put on her cape-bonnet to go to school, she staid [sic] round the good old grandfather, and leaned on his knees, and looked up in his face. “Poor Lucy,” said her mother, “it comes very hard for her to part with grandfather.”

“I must walk to school with the little darling myself,” said the old man. And he took her hand, and she went hopping along, as happy as a kitten.

While Lucy was in school, her father brought the chaise to the door, for the grandfather to ride home. And up trotted the old sheep and the little lamb, as if they had come to say good-bye to their old friend.

“Look at the pretty creatures,” said the old gentleman. The father looked, and smiled when he saw the small bell fastened to a neat little collar round the lamb’s neck. On the bell was written “Little Lucy’s Lamb.”

“Tell my darling, said the grandfather, “that I bought the bell for her, because she is always so kind to every body and every thing.”

When Lucy came home, she was greatly delighted with her lamb’s collar and bell. The little creature became very fond of her and used to follow her all round, like a dog. When the lamb grew to be a sheep, she had many a warm pair of stockings made of her wool.

Source: Lydia Maria Child. 1844. “Little Lucy and her Lamb,” Flowers for Children II for Children from Four to Six Years Old. New York C.S. Francis & Co., 1955: 60-65.




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