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this, but the poor youngster had been taken from the nest to a house. A Christmas tree was brought into the bird-room to please the residents there, when, to our amazement, the jay went into a wild fright, flew madly around near the ceiling, squawking, and making the other birds think something terrible had happened. He flew till he was breathless, and was evidently very much distressed. For three or four days he was equally alarmed, the moment he caught sight of it in the morning and whenever I moved it an inch, though the other birds liked it, and were on it half the time. When he did get used to it, he did not go on it, but to the standard below, where he could pick the needle-like leaves, and carry
them off to hide about the room. He was a very beautiful bird when in perfect plumage. There were six distinct shades of blue, besides rich velvety black, snowy white, delicate dove-color, and blue-gray. He is too well known to need description, but a jay is not often so closely seen, when alive and in perfection of plumage. This bird had a charming way of folding his wings that hid all the plain blue-gray. When held thus, and laid together over the back, there were displayed first the beautiful tail, with broad white edges to the feathers; above it the wings, looking like a square-cut mantle, of the same colors; above this a deep pointed shoulder cape, of rich violet blue, the feathers fluffed up loosely; and at the top of all his exquisite crest.
A YOUNG DESPERADO
BY THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH
When Johnny is all snugly curled up in bed, with his rosy cheek resting on one of his scratched and grimy little hands, forming altogether a perfect picture of and innocence, it seems hard to realize what a busy, restive, pugnacious, badly ingenious little wretch he is! There is something so comical in those funny little shoes and stockings sprawling on the floor, they look as if they could jump up and run off, if they wanted to, there is something so laughable about those little trousers, which appear to be making vain attempts to climb up into the easy-chair, the said trousers still retaining the shape of Johnny's little legs, and refusing to go to sleep, — there is something, I say, about these things, and about Johnny himself, which makes it difficult for me to remember that, when Johnny is awake, he not unfrequently displays traits of character not to be compared with anything but the cunning of an Indian warrior, combined with the combative qualities of a trained prize-fighter.
I'm sure I don't know how he came by such unpleasant propensities. I am myself the meekest of men. Of course, I don't mean to imply that Johnny inherited his warlike disposition from his mother. She is the gentlest of women. But when you come to Johnny — he's the terror of the whole neighborhood.
He was meek enough at first - that is to say, for the first six or seven days of his existence. But I verily believe that he was n’t more than eleven days old when he showed a degree of temper that shocked me — shocked me in one so young. On that occasion he turned very red in the face, — he was quite red before, — doubled up his ridiculous hands in the most threatening manner, and finally, in the impotency of rage, punched himself in the eye. When I think of the life he led his mother and Susan during the first eighteen months I shrink from the responsibility of allowing him to call me father.
Johnny's aggressive disposition was not more early developed than his duplicity. By the time he was two years of age, I had got the following maxim by heart: “Whenever J.is particularly quiet, look out for squalls.” He was sure to be in some mischief. And I must say there was a novelty, an unexpectedness, an ingenuity, in his badness that constantly astonished me. The crimes he committed could be arranged alphabetically. He never repeated himself. His evil resources were inexhaustible. He never did the thing I expected he would. He never failed to do the thing I was unprepared for. I am not thinking so much of the time when he painted my writing-desk with raspberry jam, as of the occasion when he perpetrated an act of original cruelty on Mopsey, a favorite kitten in the household. We were sitting in the library. Johnny was playing in the front hall. In view of the supernatural stillness that reigned, I remarked, suspiciously, “Johnny is very quiet, my dear.” At that moment a series of pathetic mews was heard in the entry, followed by a violent scratching on the oilcloth. Then Mopsey bounded into the room with three empty
spools strung on her tail. The spools were removed with great difficulty, especially the last one, which fitted remarkably tight. After that, Mopsey never saw a work-basket without arching her tortoise-shell back, and distending her tail to three times its natural thickness. Another child would have squeezed the kitten, or stuck a pin in it, or twisted her tail; but it was reserved for the superior genius of Johnny to string rather small spools on it. He never did the obvious thing.
It was this fertility and happiness, if I may say so, of invention, that prevented me from being entirely dejected over my son's behavior at this period. Sometimes the temptation to seize him and shake him was too strong for poor human nature. But I always regretted it afterwards. When I saw him asleep in his tiny bed, with one tear dried on his plump velvety cheek and two little mice-teeth visible through the parted lips, I could n't help thinking what a little bit of a fellow he was, and it did n't seem to me that he was the sort of person to be pitched into by a great strong man like me.
“When Johnny grows older,” I used to say to his mother, “I'll reason with him."
Now I don't know when Johnny will grow old enough to be reasoned with. When I reflect how hard it is to reason with wise grown-up people, if they happen to be unwilling to accept your view of matters, I am inclined to be very patient with Johnny, whose experience is rather limited, after all, though he is six years and a half old, and naturally wants to know why and wherefore. Somebody says something about the duty of “blind obedience.” I can't expect Johnny to be more philosophic than the philosophers.