STRANGE ADVENTURES OF LITTLE MAIA 139
me in the summer,' said she. ' I wish I could have brought you to life again ; but now, good-bye ! ' And she laid her face, wet with tears, on the breast of the bird. Surely she felt a faint movement against her cheek ? Yes, there it was again! Suppose the bird was not dead after all, but only senseless with cold and hunger! And at this thought Maia hastened back to the house, and brought some grains of corn, and a drop of water in a leaf. This she held close to the swallow's beak, which he opened unconsciously, and when he had sipped the water she gave him the grains one by one.
' Make no noise, so that no one may guess you are not dead,' said she. ' To-night I will bring you some more food, and I will tell the mole that he must stuff up the hole again, as it makes the passage too cold for me to walk in. And now farewell.' And off she went, back to the field-mouse, who was sound asleep.
After some days of Maia's careful nursing, the swallow felt strong enough to talk, and he told Maia how he came to be in the place where she found him. Before he was big enough to fly very high he had torn his wing in a rose-bush, so that he could not keep up with his family and friends when they took their departure to warmer lands. In their swift course they never noticed that their little brother was not with them, and at last he dropped on the ground from sheer fatigue, and must have rolled down the hole into the passage.
It was very lucky for the swallow that both the mole and the field-mouse thought he was dead, and did not trouble about him, so that when the spring really came, and the sun was hot, and blue hyacinths grew in the woods and primroses in the hedges, he was as tall and strong as any of his companions.
' You have saved my life, dear little Maia,' said he; ' but now the time has come for me to leave you—