138 STRANGE ADVENTURES OF LITTLE MAIA
though he told her that it was all nonsense, and that trees and gardens were mere foolishness. When she was his wife he would teach her things better worth learning.
' Meanwhile,' he said, with a grand air, ' I have burrowed a passage from this house to my own, in which you can walk ; but I warn you not to be frightened at a great dead creature that has fallen through a hole in the roof, and is lying on one side.'
' What sort of creature is it ? ' asked Maia eagerly.
' Oh, I really can't tell you,' answered the mole, indifferently ; ' it is covered with something soft, and it has two thin legs, and a long sharp thing sticking out of its head.'
' It is a bird,' cried Maia joyfully, ' and I love birds ! It must have died of cold,' she added, dropping her voice. ' Oh ! good Mr. Mole, do take me to see it!'
' Come then, as I am going home,' replied the mole. And calling to the old field-mouse to accompany them, they all set out.
' Here it is,' said the mole at last; ' dear me, how thankful I am Pate did not make me a bird. They can't say anything but " twit, twit," and die with the first breath of cold.'
' Ah, yes, poor useless creature,' answered the field-mouse. But while they were talking, Maia crept round to the other side and stroked the feathers of the little swallow, and kissed his eyes.
All that night she lay awake, thinking of the swallow lying dead in the passage. At length she could bear it no longer, and stole away to the place where the hay was kept, and wove a thick carpet. Next she went to the field-mouse's store of cotton, which she picked in the summer from some of the marsh flowers, and carrying them both down the passage, she tucked the cotton underneath the bird and spread the hay quilt over him.
' Perhaps you were one of the swallows who sang to