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The Cockatoo's Story   By: (1839-1898)

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[Illustration: A GREEDY DOG

Page 80. ]


"I begin to be ashamed of myself I really do," said a white cockatoo, as he sat on his perch one day. Then he gave himself a good shake, and after walking up and down once or twice, he continued, "I think it vexes the boy, and I can see he means to be kind. And, oh dear, dear! I see now I brought the troubles on myself."

"Kind!" screamed a small gray parrot from a perch on the opposite side; "of course he means to be kind. You won't often meet a kinder; let me tell you that, sir. If I could only get this chain off my foot, I'd come over and give you as good a pecking as ever you got in your life, you sulky, ungrateful bird you! And then Master Herbert stands, day after day, trying to tempt you with the daintiest morsels, and there you sit and sulk, or take it with your face turned from him, when hunger forces you."

"There is no need to be so angry, old lady," replied the cockatoo. "Didn't you hear me say, I begin to be ashamed of myself? But if you only knew how I have been used, you would not wonder at my sulks."

"Oh, if you have a foundation for your conduct, then I'll be happy to retract," said Mrs. Polly, walking about her perch very fast indeed, and ruffling up her feathers as she walked. "No bird I ever had the pleasure of living beside could say I was unreasonable; so please state your case, state your case I'm all attention, at ten tion;" and she lengthened out the last word with a shrill scream peculiar to parrots.

"But it would take ever so long to tell," said the cockatoo, "and my feelings or my nerves have got the better of me at this moment, and I really couldn't; only if you heard my history you would think it very wonderful indeed;" and here Mr. Cockatoo lifted up his foot and scratched his eye.

"A history, did you say?" said the gray parrot, pausing in her walk along her perch, and looking at him over her back. "Pray, how old are you, may I ask?"

"Well, I'll be about two years old," said the cockatoo, straightening himself up, and looking over to the gray parrot, as if he expected the news would surprise her greatly.

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Mrs. Polly; "two years old, and has a history! Oh dear! my old sides will split. What a youth he is, to be sure, ha, ha, ha!"

"I don't see anything to laugh at," said the poor cockatoo, collapsing into his sulky state once more. "I tell you I have a history, and a wonderful history too. I wish you would stop that chatter."

"Boy, boy, you'll be the death of me," said Mrs. Polly, not in her own language, but in the words taught her by Master Herbert.

"Oh, if you are going to speak in the language used by these abominable people who keep us here as prisoners and slaves, I've nothing more to say," said the poor cockatoo, scratching his eye once more.

"Well, I won't then," said Mrs. Polly graciously. "I have been told it is the height of bad manners to speak in a foreign language, if it is not understood by your companion, so I shall confine myself, when addressing you, to my mother tongue. And now, since you have told me your age, would you like to know mine?"

"Yes," said the cockatoo, for he really was a little puzzled as to Mrs. Polly's behaviour.

"Well, I'm seventy years old!" replied Mrs. Polly, drawing up her neck as far as its limited length would permit. "And now you can understand why I laughed, sir; for it did look a little absurd to hear a bird of your tender years speaking of a history. Think what mine must be, and what I must have come through and seen in my long life!"

They were here interrupted by the appearance once more of Master Herbert, who brought a most tempting piece of cake in his hand... Continue reading book >>

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