« السابقةمتابعة »
cage, singing and running to and fro, until perfectly wearied. Night, to Dick, was as pleasant as day; and as the gas lights were burning many hours, he continued to avail himself of the glare, to sing so long and loud that he attracted general attention.
Dick lived many years the intimate, and evidently the happy, companion of those by whom he was surrounded, saucily demanding, and not unfrequently taking forcible possession of what he wanted; but Death, cold-hearted and unrelenting, at last called one day, and Dick's tricks and songs ceased, and his lifeless form lay stretched upon his turf, and many a tear was shed by the little children, who loved Dick and looked upon him as one of themselves.
THE Blue-capped Titmouse, or Chick-a-dee-dee, is known in Ireland as the “blue-bonnet."
On a cold day, in the month of March, one of these birds hopped into the house of a friend of mine near Belfast, and commenced picking up crumbs about the floor and tables ; after remaining for several hours, she took her leave. Next day she returned, and alighted on the top of a cage, where she seemed to court an acquaintance with a goldfinch. The cage
door was open, and the blue-bonnet went in, and began picking seeds with the goldfinch. She stayed in the room all night. The next morning, the servant unconsciously set her foot on the poor bird, and killed her.
She was afterwards thrown out, and her untimely death soon forgotten. But during the course of the day, the attention of some one was drawn to an affecting scene outside, before the parlor windows. The mate of the blue
bonnet was standing beside her, mourning her loss in plaintive * tones. He then stretched out his neck, and putting his beak below the head of his companion, raised her up and then sang as before.
Afterwards he attempted to remove the body, but was unable. At length he flew away, and after some time returned, carrying a grain of corn, which he dropped before his dead partner. Then he fluttered with his wings, and endeavoured to call the attention of the dead bird to the corn.
Finding this useless also, he again flew away, and returned with another grain, which he deposited in the same He then lifted the grain, and dropped it upon
his mate's beak, continuing to do this for several minutes. Then he resumed his plaintive notes, until poor, dead chick-a-dee-dee was removed.
OUR PEACOCK JUPITER. WHEN on a visit to a friend, we were presented with a beautiful peacock, which was christened Jupiter.
As soon as we reached home the servant released our patient prisoner from his bonds, and introduced him into the poultry-yard, throwing down a handful of corn for his supper. He was then left to make the acquaintance of the hens, ducks, guinea-fowls, and pigs, that gathered about him with every sign of astonishment and curiosity.
For some time he seemed uncertain where to pass the night; but, being a bird of high notions, he chose the most lofty situation he could. This was no lower than that of
* Plaintive, sorrowful, bewailing, lamenting.
the topmost chimney of the old hall. Now, the highest station is not always the most agreeable, and Jupiter, I fancy, proved the truth of this remark; for the next night he came a little lower. From the chimney of the house he descended to the roof of the farm; and thence still lower to that of the cow-house. The fourth night he humbly retired to a waggon-shed, where he finally fixed his roost on a long beam beneath the roof.
Jupiter had been accustomed to come to the parlor windows to be fed and petted, and he had grown so familiar that he always presented himself at meal-times to receive his share. His usual station was the lower shelf of a flowerstand, where he patiently waited till his red platter was fairly supplied with potatoes, or any other vegetable from the table.
If the servant omitted to pay proper attention to the gentle notices he was wont to give of his presence, he would ascend the steps, and inform him of his wants, by pecking at the glass; and then descend to his former place. But if the summons were not obeyed after a second or third repetition, he would utter one or two loud, angry notes, and walk away in evident displeasure.
Jupiter knew his station, and he knew the dinner-hour to a minute; one would almost have imagined he had had a watch, or could reckon the sun's progress on the dialstone. Be this how it may, if the cook did not remember the dinner-hour, Jupiter did; for at two o'clock precisely he was sure to be at his post.
One week, owing to some unavoidable circumstances, we were less punctual than usual. Jupiter waited patiently for the cloth being laid, but growing tired, he went away. Next day the same accident occurred; Jupiter became indignant, and uttered his reproaches in such squalls, that we were obliged to have him sent away. We began to wonder
how he would proceed on the morrow.
We imagined he would give up all hope, after his fruitless attempts, but we had not given this clever bird full credit for his sagacity.
Instead of wasting his precious time in watching the parlor windows, he placed himself in the court-yard, so as to command a view of what was going on in the kitchen. As soon as the cook had taken up the dinner, away went the peacock to his stand, followed by an old attendant, a white hen. From that day Jupiter waited till the servant began to carry the dishes to the table before he went to his old post.
The following autumn a sudden and unexpected frost set in, accompanied by a heavy fall of snow, and Jupiter, who had been constant in his daily applications for food, was absent one morning at the usual time of being fed. At noon he did not appear, and that afternoon he was discovered on his perch under the waggon shed, frozen to death with the cold of the preceding night. This news greatly grieved us, for we loved the handsome green bird very much.
So lived and so died our peacock Jupiter! His plumage was carefully preserved; his body buried with all due honors, under the great sycamore-tree in the garden; and his head sent as a present to a learned gentleman who lectures on skulls. It still graces his mantelpiece, in company with that of a cuckoo, a hawk, an owl, and a sea-gull.
Narratives of Nature.
THE POET'S HARES. In the year 1774, being very ill both in mind and body, and incapable of amusing myself either with company or books, I was glad of anything that would engage my attention without fatiguing it. The children of a neighbour of mine had a leveret * given them for a plaything; it was at that time about three months old.
Understanding better how to tease the poor creature than to feed it, and soon becoming weary of their charge, they readily consented that their father, who saw it pining every day, should offer it to me. I was willing enough to take the prisoner under my protection, thinking that in the attempt to tame it, I should find just that sort of employment which I needed.
It was soon known among the neighbours that I was pleased with the present, and the consequence was that in a short time I had as many leverets offered to me as would have stocked a paddock. I undertook the care of three, which it is necessary that I should here distinguish by the names I gave them, — Puss, Tiney, and Bess.
Puss grew presently familiar, would leap into my lap, raise himself upon his hind feet, and bite the hair of my head. He would suffer me to take him up and to carry him about in my arms, and more than once fell fast asleep upon my knee. He was ill three days, during which time I nursed him, and kept him apart from his fellows that they might not molest him. Thus by constant care, and trying him with variety of herbs, I restored him to perfect health.
No creature could be more grateful than my patient after his recovery; and this feeling he most significantly expressed by licking my hand: first the back of it, then the
* Leveret, a hare in the first year of its age.