« ElőzőTovább »
At length in the straw Tray made his last bed ;
For vain against death is the stoutest endeavor. To lick Corin’s hand he reared up his weak head,
Then fell back, closed his eyes, and ah, closed them forever.
Not long after Tray did the shepherd remain,
Who oft o'er his grave with true sorrow would bend; And when dying, thus feebly was heard the poor swain :
“O bury me, neighbors, beside my old friend."
XX. – THE SWALLOWS.
Two barn swallows came into our wood shed in the spring time. Their busy, earnest twitterings led me at once to suspect that they were looking out a building spot; but, as a carpenter's bench was under the window, and frequent hammering, sawing, and planing were going on, I had little hope they would choose a location under our roof.
To my surprise, however, they soon began to build in the crotch of a beam, over the open door-way. I was delighted, and spent much time in watching them. It was, in fact, a beautiful little drama of domestic love; the mother bird was so busy and so important, and her mate was so attentive. He scarcely ever left the side of the nest. There he was, all day long, twittering in tones that were most obviously the outpourings of love.
Sometimes he would bring in a straw, or a hair, to be inwoven in the precious little fabric. One day, my attention was arrested by a very unusual twittering, and I saw him circling round with a large downy feather in his bill. He bent over the unfinished nest, and offered it to his mate with the most graceful and loving air imaginable ; and when she put up her mouth to take it, he poured forth such a gush of gladsome sound! It seemed as if pride and affection had swelled his heart, till it was almost too big for his little bosom.
During the process of incubation, he volunteered to perform his share of household duty. Three or four times a day, he would, with coaxing twitterings, persuade his patient mate to fly abroad for food; and the moment she left the eggs, he would take the maternal station, and give a loud alarm whenever cat or dog came about the premises. When the young ones came forth, he shared in the mother's toils, and brought at least half the food for his greedy little family.
But when they became old enough to fly, the gravest philosopher would have laughed to watch their manquvres ! Such chirping and twittering ! such diving down from the nest, and flying up again! such wheeling round in circles, talking to the young ones all the while ! such clinging to the sides of the shed with their sharp claws, to show the timid little fledglings that there was no need of falling!
For three days, all this was carried on with increasing activity. It was obviously an infant flying school. But all their talking and twittering were of no avail. The little downy things looked down, and then looked up, and, alarmed at the wide space, sank down into the nest again.
At length the parents grew impatient, and summoned their neighbors. As I was picking up chips one day, I found my head encircled with a swarm of swallows. They flew up to the nest, and chattered away to the young ones; they clung to the walls, looking back to tell how the thing was done; they dived, and wheeled, and balanced, and floated, in a manner perfectly beautiful to behold.
The pupils were evidently much excited. They jumped up on the edge of the nest, and twittered, and shook their feathers, and waved their wings; and then hopped back again, saying, “ It is pretty sport, but we cannot do it.”
Three times the neighbors came in, and repeated their graceful lessons. The third time, two of the young birds gave a sudden plunge downward, and then fluttered, and hopped, till they alighted on a small upright log. And O, such praises as were warbled by the whole troop! the air was filled with their joy! Some were flying round, swift as a ray of light; others were perched on the hoe handle and the teeth of the rake; multitudes clung to the wall after the fashion of their pretty kind; and two were swinging, in the most graceful style, on a pendent hoop. Never, while memory lasts, shall I forget that swallow party.
The whole family continued to be our playmates until the falling leaves gave token of approaching winter. For some time, the little ones came home regularly to their nest at night. I was ever on the watch to welcome them, and count, that none were missing. Their familiarity was wonderful. If I hung my gown on a nail, I found a little swallow perched on the sleeve. If I took a nap in the afternoon, my waking eyes were greeted by a swallow on the bed post: in the summer twilight, they flew about the sitting room in search of flies, and sometimes lighted on chairs and tables. I almost thought they knew how much I loved them. But at last they flew away to more genial skies, with a whole troop of relations and neighbors. It was painful to me to think that I should never know them from other swallows, and that they would have no recollection of me.
XXI.- TO A CITY PIGEON.
Stoop to my window, thou beautiful dove !
And my joy is high
Why dost thou sit on the heated eaves,
Why dost thou haunt the sultry street,
How canst thou bear
Thou alone, of the feathered race,
And the “gentle dove ”
Come then ever, when daylight leaves
page I read, to my humble eaves,
I hear and see
XXII. - THE MONKEY AND CROW.
In the jungles about the neighborhood of Tillicherry, in India, there is a large species of monkey, frequently tamed by the natives ; and at a village a short distance from this celebrated seaport we had an evidence of the remarkable sagacity of this animal. A few yards from the house of the person to whom it belonged, a thick pole, at least thirty feet high, had been fixed into the earth, round which was an iron ring; and to this was attached a strong chain of considerable length, fastened to a collar round the monkey's neck. The ring being loose, it easily slid up and down the , pole, when he ascended or descended.
The monkey was in the habit of taking his station on the top of the bamboo, where he seemed to be watching with delight the varied prospect around him. The crows, which in India are very abundant and singularly audacious, taking advantage of his elevated position, had been in the daily habit of robbing him of his food, which was placed every morning and evening at the foot of the pole.
To this he had vainly expressed his dislike by chattering and other expressions of his displeasure equally vain : nothing that he could do was of any avail to scare away these unwelcome intruders
repasts. He tried various modes to banish them, but they continued to steal more or less of his allowance every day. Finding that he was perfectly unheeded, he formed a plan of retribution as effectual as it was ingenious.
One morning, when his tormentors had been particularly troublesome, he appeared as if seriously ill; he closed his eyes, drooped his head, and acted as if he were in much pain. No sooner were his ordinary rations placed at the foot of the bamboo, than the crows, watching their opportunity, descended in great numbers, and according to their usual practice, began to demolish his provisions.
The monkey now began to slide down the pole by slow degrees, as if the effort were painful to him, and as if so overcome by illness that his remaining strength was scarcely equal to the exertion. When he reached the ground, he rolled about for some time, seeming to be in great pain, until he found himself close by the vessel employed to contain his food, which the crows had by this time well nigh devoured.
There was still, however, some remaining, which a solitary bird, emboldened by the apparent sickness of the monkey, advanced to seize. The wily creature was at this time lying in a state of apparent insensibility at the foot of the pole, and close by the pan. The moment the crow stretched out its head, and before it could secure a mouthful of the forbidden food, the watchful avenger seized the thief by the neck with the rapidity of thought, and secured it from doing further mischief.
He now began to grin and chatter with every expression of