"Well," returned the Hippopotamus, "and so has my mouth, so there!
If it had been any smaller, I shouldn't have been able to get it round, for it was rather a large boat."
"Whatever are you talking about?" demanded the Rhinoceros. "Look here! Let's stop quarreling for a bit, and you shall tell me your story and I'll tell you mine. Fire away!"
"Ah, that's just what the men did," said the Hippopotamus. "We were all swimming in the river, when they came down in their boat. It was what they call a canoe (so the Flamingoes told me), and most of the men in it were black; but there was one white man who had a curious stick in his hand, which he every now and then would point at some bird or animal, and then he made tire come out of the stick, and the bird or animal generally got hurt.
"I lay in the water watching them, when, all at once, the white man pointed his stick at my brother, and before you could say 'crocodile,' my brother was floating away down the stream with a bullet in his head. The men in the boat paddled away after him, but that was more than I could stand, so I went after them. I saw the white man point his stick at me, but I dived in time and came up just beside them; then it was that my mouth came in so handy. I just opened it quite wide and then I closed it again, and, well, somehow the boat was upset and the men were all kicking about in the water, splashing and shouting and making no end of a fuss. But I let them go that time, I only wanted to give them a lesson. Now, it's your turn. How did your horn come in useful?"
"Oh, my adventure was on land, of course," said the Rhinoceros, who had been much interested in the Hippo's story. "I was snoozing, one afternoon, at home, when I heard a curious noise, and I saw some of those black men you talked about, followed by a white one on a horse. Well, before I had time to do or say anything, the white man pointed his gun at me (that's what they call the stick that the fire comes out of), and the next moment I felt a bullet knock against my side. Of course, it didn't hurt me--that's the advantage of having a skin like mine; but it made me very angry. So I just got up and ran at the gentleman of the horse; he was very much surprised, and so was the horse, especially when I gave him a prod with this horn of mine. He turned right round and galloped away as fast as he could go, with the black men after him. Of course, I didn't take the trouble to run after them. But, you see, my horn does come in useful sometimes."
"Ugh!" grunted the Hippopotamus. "I suppose it does. But it isn't pretty, all the same."
"Well, anyway it's better than your mouth," replied the Rhinoceros, getting angry again.
"But I can swim!" said the Hippopotamus.
"But you haven't got such a tough skin as I have," replied the Rhinoceros. And they went on quarreling until the keeper came with their dinner.
I am a Giraffe and my name is Daisy. I come from a hot country a long way off, called Africa; I am quite grown up now and shall not get any bigger. Don't you think I am big enough as I am? I do.
There is no other animal which is as tall as I am; I am taller than the Elephant or the Camel, but of course I am not as strong as the Elephant is.
You need not be at all afraid of me, because I will not hurt you.
No, thank you, I do not want to eat you up at all; I should not like to eat little boys and girls; indeed, I don't think I could if I tried, and I am sure I do not want to try. I eat leaves and grass and hay and things like that; I can reach the leaves of the trees because I have such a long neck.
One day a lady came to see me here and she had some very nice-looking green things on the top of her head, and I thought that I would like to eat them as they looked so nice; so I just bent my head over the top of the bars of my cage and took a bite at them. But they were not at all nice, really, and the lady made such a fuss! She thought I was going to eat her up, I believe. I heard afterwards that the things I had eaten were the flowers on her hat, and they were not real flowers at all. I don't think people ought to have such things in their hats if they don't want us to eat them. Of course, I thought the lady had brought them on purpose for me, so I didn't see why I shouldn't eat them. But I don't think that lady will come quite close to my cage again.
I lived here alone for quite a long time, because they would not get a playmate for me. You see, there are not nearly so many of my family now as there used to be, and then we don't like traveling over the sea at all. But now I have a playmate and he is a very nice little chap; of course he is not as fine and big as I am, but he will grow up in time and I shall be very glad to have some company. I can really run quite fast when I have room, but here there isn't room enough; and I don't very much mind, because I'm quite content to walk about gently, thank you. And then I have to take great care of my health, you know, because I'm rather delicate and not like the Ostrich, who seems to be able to eat almost anything. Why, he tells me that he is very fond of rusty nails, and as for pennies he considers them most delicious. It's a very funny sort of taste, I think. No, it's no good for you to offer me nuts, thank you, because I couldn't crack them.
My horns, were you asking about? We all have horns, both gentlemen and lady Giraffes, but they are always quite small, like mine.
They're not much use to us, you know, for when we want to fight any one we use our feet--we can give very strong kicks with our fore-feet, if we like. But, on the whole, we don't like fighting; we find that it's much safer to run away--you see, we can run so fast that there are not many creatures who can catch us.
I am, as I have said, very particular about my food, and I don't like thorns or thistles, so when I come across a plant with prickly thorns on it, I carefully pick off the leaves with my tongue and leave the thorns behind. I don't believe you could do that with your tongue, but mine is a very useful tongue, and I shouldn't like to change it with anybody. I sometimes find it rather awkward to get anything on the ground, which is just between my front feet; I have to put my legs very wide apart, and then bend down my neck, like this. I suppose it does look rather funny, so I don't mind if you do laugh at me. But then, you know, you look just as funny to me, with your very small legs and no neck at all to speak of, and no horns and no tail; I sometimes wonder how you can get on at all.
I come of a very old family, you know; I believe that you men have known about me for a very long time.
If you will excuse me now, I think I will go in, as I am rather afraid of catching cold; it wouldn't do for me to get a sore throat or a stiff neck, would it? Good-by I I'm so pleased to have met you.
Outside the Parrot-house there was a terrible noise; a screaming, squawking, shouting, and crying, just as if the whole place were on fire, or every Parrot were being killed.
The Macaws were sitting on their little perches out in the open air. They were very proud of themselves, for they greatly enjoyed being outside on a sunny, warm day; it was much better than being in a cage, inside the house. They were all very fine birds; some had blue heads and yellow bodies and green tails; others had red heads and yellow tails; there were one or two who were quite white, but they each one thought that he was a very fine fellow, and they all shouted and screamed and squawked at the top of their voices.
And what was it all about? The greatest noise seemed to be going on round one perch, where a big Macaw, with a blue and green head, was talking very loud and very fast to a group of other birds close by, and he seemed to be very angry about something. In one claw he held a large apple, and if you had been near enough, you would have seen that some one had evidently taken a big bite out of it. This was what was making all the bother. Mr. Green-and-Blue-Head kept shouting out: "Who bit my apple? Who bit my apple? I won't have it!
I won't stand it! It's too bad! It was all right this morning! I believe it was you that did it!" (this was said to a white Cockatoo). "Oh, you bad, wicked bird! What will become of you? Oh, you bad thing! Go along, do! Who bit my apple?"
But the white Cockatoo began to scream at once. "'Oh, I didn't!" he said. "How dare you say such a thing? Bite your apple, indeed! I wouldn't do it. Don't call me names, because I won't have it. I'll peck you, you bad bird! Who are you telling to get along? Bite your apple, indeed! Squaw-aw-aw-aw-awk-k-k!"
Then a little, green Love Bird began to try to make peace. "It doesn't matter very much, does it, Mr. Macaw?" she said. "It's not a very big bite, though, of course, it must be very vexing. But I'm sure Mr. Cockatoo didn't do it, if he says he didn't. But, please, don't let us have any pecking. You'll find out, sometime, who did it, I dare say."
"Oh, that's all very well for you," returned the Macaw, "but it isn't your apple. Who bit my apple? Who bit my apple? You'd better tell me, at once, whoever it was, and then, perhaps, I shan't be quite so angry."
"Oh, do be quiet about your apple," put in another Macaw, with a bright, red head. "Who cares about your apple? Why don't you enjoy yourself out in the sun? I declare it quite makes me think of my young days, sitting out here."
"Apple? Apple? Who said apple?" shouted another bird from the end of the row. "Give me a bit! Give poor Polly a bit! Poor old Polly!
Pretty Poll! Give me a bit; don't be greedy! Who's got the apple?"
Then four or five others all began at once: "No, no, I want a bit!
I asked first! I want some, too! Over here! No, here you are! This way with the apple! Hurry up! Be quick! Where's that apple?"
Just then a lady and a little girl and a little boy came along past where the Parrots were sitting. Instantly all the birds began to chatter and scream louder than ever.
"Look, look at them!" they called out. "Did you ever see anything so absurd? Where are their feathers? What ridiculous beaks! I don't believe they could crack nuts, if they tried ever so hard. They haven't got any wings. Oh, how funny! Ha, ha, ha! Go away, do, you ugly creatures!"
The little girl and boy and the lady didn't understand what they were saying, of course. But the lady said: "Come along quickly, children, and let us get past these noisy birds; they quite give me a headache with their screaming."
"Well, did you ever!" said the Parrots. "Calling us noisy birds!
I'm sure we're not noisy. They haven't got green heads and red tails; I don't see what they think so much of themselves for! Well, I'm glad they've gone! If they'd come near me, I'd have given them a bite! Silly things! Squawk-k-k!"
The Macaw with the apple was still very sad. No one took any notice of him, and no one would tell him who had bitten his precious apple. All at once, it slipped out of his claw and fell on to the ground. He tried to reach it, but the chain which tied him to his perch was not long enough, and he couldn't get it. All the other Parrots began to scream with laughter at him; they danced up and down and flapped their wings and shouted, and made more noise than ever. Then some Sparrows flew down and began to peck at the apple, and this made the Macaw angrier than ever.
"H'm!" said one little Sparrow, looking up at the Macaw, with a twinkle in his eye; "quite a good apple! I wonder that you threw it away. Who's been biting it?"
The Macaw screamed and scolded, but it was no good. If he hadn't talked so much, he might have eaten his apple in peace. Now, he had lost it altogether.
And he never found out who bit his apple.
RAB AND HIS FRIENDS
By John Brown, M.D.
Four and thirty years ago, Bob Ainslie and I were coming up Infirmary street from the high school, our heads together, and our arms intertwisted, as only lovers and boys know how or why.
When we got to the top of the street, and turned north, we espied a crowd at the Tron-church. "A dog fight!" shouted Bob, and was off; and so was I, both of us all but praying that it might not be over before we got up! And is not this boy nature! and human nature, too? and don't we all wish a house on fire not to be out before we see it? Dogs like fighting; old Isaac says they "delight" in it, and for the best of all reasons; and boys are not cruel because they like to see the fight. They see three of the great cardinal virtues of dog or man--courage, endurance, and skill--in intense action. This is very different from a love of making dogs fight, and enjoying, and aggravating, and making gain by their pluck. A boy--be he ever so fond himself of fighting, if he be a good boy, hates and despises all this, but he would have run off with Bob and me fast enough; it is a natural, and a not wicked, interest that all boys and men have in witnessing intense energy in action.
Does any curious and finely-ignorant woman wish to know how Bob's eye at a glance announced a dog-fight to his brain? He did not, he could not see the dogs fighting; it was a flash of an inference, a rapid induction. The crowd round a couple of dogs fighting, is a crowd masculine mainly, with an occasional active, compassionate woman, fluttering wildly round the outside, and using her tongue and her hands freely upon the men, as so many "brutes"; it is a crowd annular, compact and mobile; a crowd centripetal, having its eyes and its heads all bent downward and inward, to one common focus.