The Daisy and the Lark
That's what it was called, but it should have been entitled "The Harrowing and Painful Description of the Agonising Death of a Caged Bird through the Really Idiotic Stupidity of an Idiot Kid" because the idiot boy who owned it was so idiotic that he couldn't see the lark in the cage had no water, and instead cut with a pocketknife a square of turf containing a daisy and stuck that in the cage so the lark might be refreshed, and entertain its stupid master with a pretty song.
Do you get my drift?
Lorraine Brown was a very good reader, so Old Jim would usually call on her to read this one aloud, which she did with tremendous expression and pathos as the bird, no doubt pining for the fjords,* slowly dropped off its perch, stuck its beak in the 'cool, green turf' as a last desperate gesture to sentience, and its soul, eventually, painfully and mercifully, was flit.**
Old Jim seemed particularly fond of that story. I heard it a hundred times, and indeed was called on to read it myself, which I did in a flat monotone or as near as I could risk that without getting caned.
Old Jim, you must understand, had heard me read aloud many times, with great expression and glee, "Mr Winkle on Ice", from Dickens's Pickwick Papers, and he had the strong suspicion I was not performing "The Daisy and the Lark" to the standard demanded by Dickens. He didn't seem to know why I hated it.
* Thank you, Monty Python
** Thank you, C J Dennis
The original stories (in this case, by Hans Christian Andersen) were often heavily adapted for our readers, as with this one._____
Fearsome tales in our Readers 1: Introduction [1000 words]
Fearsome tales in our Readers 2: The Daisy and the Lark [256 words]
Fearsome tales in our Readers 3: The Little Match Girl [206 words]
Fearsome tales in our Readers 4: The Crocodile and the Bull [280 words]
Fearsome tales in our Readers 5: Escape from the wolves [444 words]
Fearsome tales in our Readers 6: Mazeppa's Ride [438 words]
Fearsome tales in our Readers 7: A Tale of Two Cities [336 words]
Fearsome tales in our Readers 8: Gelert [343 words]