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of Nina's kind uncle. She was lodged in a lordly cage with gilt wires, and her house was duly and carefully cleaned. Her food was the daintiest; and, as she could call for most things she liked, her dinner was principally of her own choosing. She was also often indulged in being hung in a corner of a pleasant court-yard, among the branches of an old vine which ran up against the house.
As there was always something going on,-carts coming in or setting off, the sound of the flail in the barn, the postman with his knock, the travelling fishmonger with his ass and a bell at its collar,—she was never in want of amusement. Being a bird of observation as well as of social habits, she picked up many odd sayings and strange sounds, which she was heard practising over to herself at duller times of the day. Every one in the house liked Polly ; she was cheerful and fearless, and was never guilty of biting any one, as I have known less good-tempered parrots do, and that most severely.
It was on a certain brilliant July day that Polly was taken in her gilt cage, and hung up in the “ vine corner," as Nina used to call it; while that little maiden went to pay her great aunts a visit. A merry afternoon she had in their old garden, for several other children had been invited to play with her. They swung, and told stories, and slid down the side of a hay-stack, and played at hide and seek in the large cool barn, till Nina was quite tired, and not sorry when the old butler made his appearance to bring her home. But tired as she was, she did not forget her feathered pet; and no sooner had she delivered her aunts' long messages, than she ran hastily into the court-yard, calling out, “My poor Polly, I hope they have not forgotten to give you your
dinner.” But alas ! no chirrup came from
“Walk in, Miss Nina.” She came nearer and nearer, and, oh grief, oh grief !
the door was open, and the bird gone. Nina was not a weeper on common occasions; but she set
such a shriek when she perceived the loss of her favorite, as reached the ears of the persons in the dining-room, who all got up hastily, and ran out to see what could be the matter. Poor Nina could not speak; she could only point to the empty cage
for if she had loved one plaything above another, if she had valued one treasure more than another, that was poor Polly ; and now that she had disappeared, the family shared Nina's distress. Her mother took her upon her knee and told her she hoped her pet would be found; her father put on his hat to go out and inquire if the runaway had been seen up the village ; the gardener was called from his work, and the haymakers from their supper: everything possible was done to try to recover the lost treasure of the bereaved little girl.
At length, when every one was becoming almost hopeless, and, as it was growing dark, the housekeeper, Mrs. Brockley, the most puzzle-headed of all puzzle-headed women, suddenly stood stock-still, as she was used to do when anything struck her, and cried out, "Dear me, that little beggar-boy, Gilbert Rock, was here this after
may have taken the bird; I should not much wonder if he had.”
To the house of this suspected individual one of the haymakers was sent accordingly in quest of Miss's bird. Nina would have gone with him if she had been allowed, though it was now so dark that she could see nothing when she looked out. Never resting a moment while he was away,
she thought the messenger would never come back, and her mother had no little trouble to keep her impatience within bounds. At last steps were heard in the stone hall;
sprang off her mother's knee, and ran as fast as her feet could carry her, crying out-"Oh, Simon, Simon, have you found her ???
“No, Miss,” replied the man, very slowly, “but I've brought you her feathers, and the thief that stole her away.”
Poor Nina heard no mor this termination to Simon's search she had never expected, even in her moments of most wretched fear: and by this time the family were thronging round old Simon, listening, as well as her sobs would permit, to his tale. He said he had found the floor of Abby Rock's cottage all strewn with the feathers, and the head under the dresser; and heard the old woman say to Gilbert, “ Thou dolt, not to bring her alive -- who bade thee twist her neck round, I wonder ? "
A clever son was Gilbert, and a nice mother was Abby Rock, were they not?
Leigh Hunt's Journal.
WHAT A DITCH CAN DO.
It was a hot, sultry evening, without a breath of wind; and nearly all the workmen, when work was over and supper done, loitered about smoking their pipes in the open air. John Hooper, one of the group, stood leaning on the barn door, watching his little Jack and Nelly at play with their kittens, and his wife, who sat on the step, with baby in her arms, stroking puss and teaching baby not to be frightened at her.
“Here comes Master Frank, with his brown dog," said Hooper. Frank was the farmer's son, and a general favorite. “When is my sister to have the kitten ? " asked Frank.
“This very evening, if you please, sir," she answered. “Pray walk in and choose which
like." " This is Whitefoot, sir, running after the ball," said Jack; "and those are Minnie and Jetty ; and Vevvythat means Velvet, sir—is playing by herself out there; which will
have ?" Frank stepped across the threshold, but his dog ran in before him, and was instantly attacked by the cat, furious in defence of her four children. A scene of confusion followed. In vain did Frank call “ Wolf! lie down, sir !" The cat growled, spat, and scratched; Wolf barked and flew at her; the kittens scampered off in every direction ; Jack and Nelly rushed about to protect them; and the baby screamed louder than all.
Peace was restored at last, but not till puss and her kittens had vanished from the field of battle; not a tail or a whisker was to be seen; and Wolf had slunk behind his master, looking very much ashamed. Jack and Nelly, aided by Frank, now began to search for their pets, and soon found three of the kittens, one behind the press, another on a shelf among the tea cups, a third under some straw in the barn.
Puss herself was not to be seen, but that was no matter; she was most likely up a tree or on the roof; the fourth kitten, however, was not to be found, and they looked everywhere in vain.
At last Nelly's voice was heard from the end of the garden, calling, “Here's Whitefoot in the ditch ! Come, father!"
They ran to the place and found Nelly, who had clambered down the steep side of the ditch, peeping into the black stream that lay almost stagnant at the bottom.
" Oh, I'm so sick, father,” cried. 6. It smells so bad, and Whitefoot will not come.”
Hooper stooped down, stretched out his hand towards the kitten, and when he brought it out it was quite dead. Nelly began to cry bitterly at the sight.
Why, Hooper, you are as pale as death !” exclaimed Frank.
" What's the matter ?"
“I don't know myself," he replied, wiping his forehead and staggering against a tree. 66 Such a whiff went down my throat out of the ditch ! Well," added he, after a pause, “I never heard of such a thing as a kitten being drowned in half a minute. It has hardly more than wetted its paws too, for it lay on a heap of dry bones and cabbage stalks in there.”'
“ It strikes me very forcibly,” said an old man who had joined them and stood by leaning on his stick,—“it strikes me very forcibly that the kitten was not drowned at all, but poisoned by the smell."
“Poisoned by the smell !” said Hooper, rather doubtingly; 6 what harm can a smell do? It's not pleasant, certainly, but it cannot kill a cat, that I am very sure of.” “ I don't know that,” said the old man.
66 Where I was at work near London, some years ago, there were several narrow lanes and places where they never could keep a cat alive; and so sure as ever a cat died, so sure some of the people of the house were taken with fever. At last they left off trying to keep cats, because they brought bad luck, as the folks said.”
Now the whole thing was as clear to Frank as the sun at noon; and he decided with old George on a plan of flushing the ditch by turning the branch of a running stream into it.
Accordingly, next morning, four men appeared at an appointed time, and worked with Frank for two hours, and so continued to do for' a whole week. Then they suc