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stout feet and bill, and with unfettered wings! Oh, Mr. Gubbins, Mr. Gubbins; and oh, Cobbler Dykes, and thy atrocious leathern collar!
But mark the end; mark the sorrows consequent upon the collar, and the ministry of those sorrows for its removal; mark the new temptations which it brought upon me; the new griefs through which it led me: griefs, however, which were my deliverers, when no deliverance could reach me but through them! Such is so often the tissue of worldly events, and to such chequered fate must Robins submit, as well as men! We must grow happy through our tears, and reach the temple of our wishes through the briers and the sloughs of our despair!
I had pined, I had trembled, I had grown faint; I had hungered, I had thirsted,-hour after hour. I had refused the early worm, and the whole morning's meal; but it was now the approach of noon, and I bethought me, that at this season, when all my feathered fellow creatures were at rest, and not thronging the highways of heaven, I might slip, haply unobserved, from my quarters in Mr. Paulett's garden, to those in Mr. Gubbins's, where, overcoming my natural antipathy to the scene of the brick trap, armed by experience against a repetition of the same ill, and possibly even aided by some kind device of Mary Gubbins or her mother, or even of the curious lord of the place, to shorten my absence, or to indemnify its cares; I might yet, obscurely, secretly, and without noise or ostentation, find a sufficient dinner, a retreat of safety, and an afternoon's repose! I flew, then, timidly and cautiously, passing from bough to bough, and from tree to tree, beneath the covert of the shade, across the brook, and into the sunny paddock; over the horns of the cows, by the ears of the old horse, once more into the shade, away through the orchard, adown by the parson’s glebe, up by the prospect hill, along by the wheelwright's paling; and, then, with a bold and lengthened spring, once more among the elder-trees in Mr. Gubbins's own garden! It was Elysium for me to be there, considering all that I had left behind!
The time of the day was passed when I might have hoped for worms or beetles. They, too, like the birds that hunt them, were at their noontide rest, and safe from hungry stragglers; but I had been beneath the elder-trees only a short time, when glancing my eager eye upon each side, I saw the very thing which I had hoped for, and which indulged all my wishes! The experience of delusion in this garden of Calypso was strong in my recollection. I was no prisoner for brick traps! Smart devices of sticks and cheese-parings had had their day for Robin! But still, the probabi. lity of some peace-offering from Mr. Gubbins, or of some wave-offering from his daughter, was so probable, and would, just now, be so acceptable! What, then, had I the rapture to behold? Enough and to spare, of bread and cheese, all set out for me; and where was this new and undeceitful feast laid out? Not in the dark hollow of an ugly trap of bricks, nor beneath the overhanging weight, and closing barrier, of any dreadful, slanting, ticklishly supported brick cover! No; all was fair, and in the light! Just beside the adjoining pathway, and amid the spreading leaves and flowers of the blue and glossy periwinkle, stood an upright wire cage, the only use of which, in this transaction, appeared to me to be that of raising to view, as upon a platform, the crumbs of bread and cheese which were strewn upon its top; not, indeed, upon the
very top of all, and exposed to every comer and common pilferer, but still within an attic, open-windowed, and of open wire, without disguise as well :—the snuggest chamber, as it seemed to me, that ever was devised for a hungry stranger to enjoy a meal in ; alone, abundant, not to be lessened by untimely droppings-in of any other hungry guest !
I could not be too thankful for this prepared repast; nor, except that I dedicated a few moments to looking carefully upon every side, so that none saw me, and none had any chance of cheating me, I could not be too quick in laying hold of the good before me. I sunk down, in my soft manner, from the elder-branches; but with as much rapidity as if I had seen a grub or beetle just emerging from beneath a pebble, or from out of the mould: I dived into the wire-wove attic; I seized the nearest cheese-paring ;-a wire trap-door snapped down upon me, as quick and noisy as a pistollock; I rushed against the wires before me, to escape immediately from the ill-timed cause of alarm;—but, alas! alas! alas ! I was a second time a prisoner, and a second time the prisoner of Mr. Gubbins !
My fright, my disappointment, my rage, my fury, my hopelessness, my mortification; all this were long to tell; but the issue was short, and the secret soon explained! I had sulked, and fretted, and fasted in the midst of plenty, in a corner of my new trap, (for a new and differently formed trap it was, that, after all, I had ignorantly entered,) only a quarter of an hour, before I saw Mr. Gubbins advancing, at once to relieve, and as I apprehended, more permanently to hold me; nor before he took me from his cage-trap, caressed me in his bosom, assured me that this was my final trouble at his hands; told me that he had schemed to catch me this second time only to complete his experiment; only to be assured of my return; and that he would take off my collar, and set me free in the woods and gardens, as soon as he had once shown me dressed in it to his wife and daughter, and to Farmer Mowbray and his family, in proof of the same experiment, and as a means of ensuring the belief, that he knew me to be the same Robin which he had before caught in his garden; which he had carried to Cobbler Dykes's; which Cobbler Dykes was to come to see again that afternoon; and which he had now caught and identified once more in his garden! All this he said to me, or rather to himself, and only in make-believe to me; for I hardly fancy that he thought I understood him, or that I had any other chance of finding out the meaning of his behaviour to me, than by waiting the event! I received consolation, however, and as will be supposed, from what he said; understanding his words, and trusting and believing in his explanations. He had hitherto seemed to keep his faith ; he had released me once, after catching me; and I persuaded myself therefore, and by no means, as will appear, in vain, that he would this second time do the whole that he talked of and professed.
In the short interval, nevertheless, between the closing of the trap, and the arrival of Mr. Gubbins, my misfortune had not failed to bring around me the kind attentions of some fellow Robins. My cries, at the first moment of my capture, were heard in the surrounding gardens and thickets; and even my hapless figure seen through the wiry bars of the trap upon the top of the decoy-cage, (for the horrid engine was nothing short of a decoy-cage !) had fixed the eyes of my friendly and compassionate semblances, as they flitted over head. The decoy-cage, for its proper ends and application, consisted in two chambers or compartments, the one above, and the other below, but all transparent, and seemingly but one, through the construction of its deceitful wires! The compartment underneath was a perfect and ordinary cage, in which, according to the plan of the demon who, doubtless, was the inventor, a bird inured to thraldom should be placed; wbile upon its top, but separated by a floor of wires, was the second and smaller chamber, and which had nothing in common with the cell below, except its wooden posts and transoms, and its iron gratings ! This attic cell was of low ceiling, without a perch, without a trough, without a water-lead or glass; without, as I have implied or said, a wooden board or floor, the one as absent as the other; and even without a door-a proper honest house-door-conspicuous by its side, adapted to fair dealing, whether of freedom or confinement! But no! to this detested garret there belonged no door except (oh fitting name!) a trap-door -a door first-cousin to a sky-light-and, in the instance of the wire-door of the decoy-cage, not darker or less transparent than its relation! Now the whole of the treacherous fabric is intended to be seen through
-it was not seen through, however, by me; and thus, when a free bird, travelling or disporting in the
" empty, vast, and wandering air," beholds a brother or a sister, really in the lower den or cellar, but which he thinks to be the entire mansion; he alights, converses, sees good fare, tries the wires, finds the open garret-door; and designing but to pass a social minute, and take a friendly bite and sup, he enters; the trap falls, or snaps-to, like a gun-lock or a