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eye, a swelling and powerful neck, a rapid wing, and energy sufficient for any emergency. He feared no danger, no bird of prey dared attack him: and in case of a broil with the Jacks, he had settled them many a time; and therefore knew, right well, that the only safe plan was to take care and keep his temper, which was inclined to be turbulent, and let them have all the talk.
Well, they started in quest of a dinner, far away, and soon reached a beautiful estate lying snugly between the hills. There, plain enough, stood the mansion, with its rich gardens and plantation, and the home-wood; and beyond lay the game preserves, and the well-cultivated farm.
“A nice place, this,” said John Gull.
“ Yah!” cried his companions, “ for those that like it.” And down they dropped on the new-ploughed field, and walked about and stretched their legs; for they had flown some fifty miles,-a tolerable journey before dinner.
Very true, as you say, brother; all very good for those that like this kind of thing,” said John; but after one has picked up a dinner from these fat lands, by way of a change, one feels monstrously bored by the sameness of the place. There's nothing like the coast to my mind !"
As they talked in this way, “ Coo, coo,” was heard over head, they looked up and saw a flight of pigeons. As gentlemen they could do no other than rise to meet their new acquaintances, for these certainly were at home. whilst they felt themselves wonderfully like intruders. However, they were too much accustomed to society and the ways of the world to feel at a loss : so, “yah, yah," broke forth instantly from every tongue, which meant, in their language, “How d'ye do ?”
The acquaintance thus commenced, they made mutual enquiries as to what each had seen and heard. The Gulls had a great deal of news, for they had lately come from Ireland; and what they had seen there made them plume themselves on their good fortune, in not being like some other two-legged things that inhabit that country. Like themselves, they observed these creatures had often to travel hundreds of miles for food; but then, what a difference? in. stead of a pleasant little pleasure trip, they had to work harder then ever to procure it. Then they had many
skir mishes to tell of, which had taken place between their own tribe and the cormorants ; but things seemed settling down now times were more severe; for they had all too much to do to get a living to find much time for quarrelling.
“ You must find it dull work, I think, Tom Pigeon, living mewed
up in this place as you do; though, to be sure, use is second nature.”
“You say very truly, Jack,” he replied; "every thing comes easy when you are used to it. I, on the contrary, should have thought your perilous life very agitating. I would not have Mrs. Pigeon and the little ones exposed to all you go through, for the world. And then what sad temptations for the young,—what scenes of cruelty and bloodshed,- I quite shudder to think of it all."
At this remark, the gulls set up a loud laugh, which might be heard for miles round; the poor little pigeons were quite frightened at the rough company they had found, and flew round and round in circles, each one bringing them nearer to their home.
“And this is where you live, is it?” said Jack; "a tidy little place, and tolerably convenient, I dare say; but I wonder
you don't build for yourselves; you might find such very desirable places in that sand-bank. We build in the cliffs, and then, being close to the sea, we know all that's going on; and just take a cruise or two, according to circumstances.”
“ That seems all very suitable to you, but for us it would not do at all. Since we have learnt to live in this domestie kind of way, we depend, you see, entirely upon the folks at the farm for our daily supply of grain. Every morning they sprinkle our first meal at the foot of the house, and for the remainder of the day we go round the estate, and are certain to find plenty..'
“Dear me! what a dependant life, to be sure! Then you really have nothing to do, no anxieties, and no enemies; but only eat, drink, sleep, and teach your young ones to do the same?"
“Oh dear, no !” said Mrs. Pigeon, “I assure you we are very much harrassed by the polecats. I have to lament the loss of many of my family. They climb up the pole at night, and drag our little ones out of the holes, while we are asleep. This is a sad drawback to our happiness.”
“Then, I suppose, with this exception, you have nothing to fear, but live on till you die! and when the house is too small to hold you all, you build another ?”
At this remark there was considerable agitation among the flock, and a low plaintive coo” arose from all sides.
John scarcely liked to ask the reason, but an old batchelor kindly relieved him from his embarrassment, by telling him that the farmer thinned the flock occasionally for his own dinner.
This, thought John Gull, is a pretty climax! They sell their liberty first, only to lose their lives in the end, and this forsooth to supply their protector's table.
“ Let us be up, my friends, and back to the sea, for I'd rather be a wild bird of the ocean, than the most elegant gentlemanly pigeon that ever lived at a farm house.”
Hereupon they took their leave, and after compliments on both sides, and a few circles in the air, to ascertain their exact position, they swept along with a joyous cry, to their homes on the rocky cliffs.