Page images



teeth was not an agreeable experience for a sparrow's toe, and while one sparrow was a little hurt, all of them were very much frightened ; and for some time after that occurrence Rover ate his dinner in peace.

But the day came when, instead of being allowed to run about as usual, poor Rover was tied up in his kennel ; and I will tell you why this was. It was not in consequence of any fault of his, or as a punishment; but because Master Harry was ill, and nothing would keep Rover from going to the door of his bedroom and giving a little friendly bark, which meant, as plainly as bark could mean, "Do let me in ;” and then Master Harry would insist on Rover being let in, and if he were admitted he excited himself in trying to play with him; and if he were not, it made him so sorry that he could not help crying (he was ill, and that makes people less able to be sensible, and to restrain their tears, than when they are well and strong, you know); so Harry's papa said it was better Rover should be tied up out of the way till Harry was

well again.

CROSS dog Rover was certainly not, though he could be provoked and get angry on fitting occasions. Little Harry and Julia were extremely fond of him, and showed their fondness by taking all sorts of liberties with him, which, had he been of an irritable nature, would certainly have resulted in a growl on his part ; but he displayed the utmost patience

in their hands, and I think, even complacency and pleasure. He was a handsome fellow, with hair that curled all over him in delightful little curls, long ears, and a beautiful snub nose.

Rover was sometimes tied up, and sometimes allowed to run about loose. He had a snug kennel, and a trough, in which he was given his dinner every day.

His trough stood in the yard near his kennel, and any birds that saw him eating his dinner used to feel a lively desire to help him. This was a natural feeling on their part, but it was one Rover could not be expected to share. The cocks and hens, and even the younger and therefore less reasonable chickens he soon reduced to order, and kept in good discipline, teaching them very plainly the difference between meum and tuum, or mine and thine. But there were a number of sparrows, who never seemed to see this question of dinner in the same light that he did. They generally lived a little distance away, and often would come near, and look down on the trough when it was filled with the excellent food, and on the dog who was eating it; and they never could understand why they had not as good a right to eat it as he had.

Then they would fly out and about, and sometimes in a body, sometimes only one or two of them, would make a rush at the trough, and try to get their share of its contents; but Rover knew a trick worth two of that, and he would give such a growl when they did so, and the growl was followed up by such a sharp sudden snap in the air among them, that he never failed to scatter them all in a minute, and then to be able to thoroughly enjoy his dinner. Once he actually caught in his mouth one of the toes of a sparrow that had been more daring or less active than the others, and though he only gave the toe a small squeeze and let it off with that, yet even a small squeeze from Rover's

The first day this happened, Jem (that was James the yardman's little boy), was given Rover's dinner as usual to put in his trough, and as usual he did it-but he did not know that Rover was chained up in his kennel, which was not as usual — and so he never thought of getting the trough moved within his reach, but put the dinner down into the trough, which was just out of poor Rover's reach, and then ran away.

Rover tried hard to eat up his dinner at first, but when he found he could not he went fast asleep, which was, all things considered, about as sensible a thing as he could do.

He slept, and he was awakened from his sleep ; and the way in which he was awakened was by a noise of flapping wings and chattering beaks. He opened his eyes, and he could hardly believe his senses when he did so, for what did he see but his old enemies, the sparrows—if any creatures could be called his enemies, whom till now he had been able to get rid of in a moment by a growl and a snap, and whom he had in consequence of this always regarded as beneath his notice-in triumphant possession of his dinner--his dinner.

Three of them were eating steadily and happily even as he looked. One appeared to be keeping watch over the dinner, and three more, who probably had satisfied their hunger, while he was yet asleep, were perched on the side of the trough with


[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

their beaks to its contents, laughing at, jeering and happened. I mean that in the first moment of taunting him. One sparrow, growing reckless waking he did not recollect it, and he was quite with his impudence, foolishly hopped off the startled at the miserable little object he beheld, as trough to flap his wings, and laugh and jeer, he happened to look round, standing behind him in a trifle nearer to the defeated prisoner, mak- the kennel. Master Sparrow had recovered from his ing a little rush forward as he did so, and the vertigo and his terror sufficiently to stand up, but next instant he found himself in Rover's mouth, and his feathers were in a pitiable condition, quite torn the next, still in his mouth, while the dog had re- about, one wing was hurt and hung at his side in a turned to his kennel. For the moment Rover saw crooked manner, while he was so much frightened, that the silly creature had placed himself within and so ashamed of himself, that he hung his head his reach he made one bound at him, caught him, in a crooked manner also, and hardly dared look and with another bound was back again at home, out of his half-shut eyes at his captor. bearing his captive with him.

When Rover saw him, and remembered who he And the sparrow knew that the dog was un- was, and all about him, he could not help laughing. commonly hungry, for had not he and his relatives This was a bit of fortune for the sparrow. Dogs do eaten up his dinner? Off fled the rest of the not laugh as often as you and I do, and a fit of laughbirds in abject terror, leaving the unfortunate ter always put Rover into the best of good humours. captive in the grip of the enemy.

“I say,” cried he to the sparrow, "it's about Rover gave the sparrow a good shake with his supper-time, is not it?” At which terrible words teeth, which produced vertigo on the brain, and the sparrow fell down as if fainting. very nearly put an end to him at once ; and I sup- But Rover had not meant mischief. He would pose the next thing that happened would have been have scorned to do such a shabby thing as to eat that the hungry dog would have very contentedly up this wretched, abject little creature, more parmade his dinner off the bird, only just then James ticularly as he was not hungry. He was only the yardman appeared on the scene, and dis- laughing at the sparrow. covered that stupid little Jem had put the trough When his supper was brought to him he ate it out of the dog's reach. He had come to pay a cheerfully, and then he and the sparrow spent the special visit to the children's favourite, and had night together in the kennel. brought him the bones of a chicken, which Miss Towards morning, when twilight began, and Julia had had for dinner; and she had left some Master Sparrow heard the birds singing, he tried to dainty morsels on purpose for Rover, to whom make his escape ; but he could not fly because of his she had sent it by James, with her love.

wing being hurt, and he could not leave the kennel "Here Rover, Rover, poor fellow, good dog," without waking his gaoler's prostrate form. Very cried James, approaching him with both trough and softly and timidly, he hopped on to him, and in chicken, and by no means perceiving that Rover doing so awoke him ; and as Rover awoke, seeing had a sparrow in his mouth.

what was happening, he made a great snap at the Rover, sly fellow, put the sparrow, more dead bird, who fell back headlong, very much frightened, than alive, at the back of the kennel, from which at which Rover had a good chuckle to himself. he advanced towards James, looking as mild and “Keep your distance, young 'un," he said ; and innocent as possible, and wagging his tail.

after that the “young 'un” kept his distance by rollSo he was petted, and petted, and fed, and he ing himself up into a ball as much as ever he could, got his dinner, for James brought him more than and trying to pretend that he was not there at all. was left in the trough, and gave him water besides, When James brought Rover his breakfast, and and made as much of him as a man could make of the dog had made a good meal, there was still some a dog, for Rover was a general favourite, both for of the food left in the trough, and while he enjoyed his own sake and for that of his little master and his after-breakfast nap, the poor hungry sparrow mistress. And then James went away, and Rover ventured forth very slowly and stealthily, and returned to his kennel and his prisoner.

then in an abject, humble, startled way began to The sparrow lay in a little ruffled heap just where pick a little out of the trough for himself. Rover Rover had flung him, among the straw at the back had been awoke by his movements, though he of the kennel, when he ran out, hearing James's pretended to be asleep, and watched him out of one welcome voice. And there Rover, as he was not corner of his eye. As long as he was eating he did at all hungry, having just had a remarkably good not disturb him, for he thought to himself, “ Even a dinner, left him, curling himself up in front of him, sparrow must eat;" but the minute he had had what and going quietly off into a fine sleep.

the dog considered enough, Rover with a sudden When he awoke he had forgotten what had unexpected growl and snap, which again very greatly frightened him, drove him back to the frequent visits, and always received a kindly welkennel.

come. Nay, Rover would allow him to perch on And this state of affairs continued for three days ! his trough, and eat out of it with him, though if any

On the evening of the third day, Master Harry of the other sparrows attempted to take the same sat up to his tea in the nursery in his little dressing. liberty he drove them off, as ever, with a growl and gown, rather pale after his illness; but in excellent a snap. Often and often, when Rover was curled spirits. Of course Rover was sent for, and there up fast asleep, the sparrow would be seen sitting on was no need to tell him what to do, or where to go; it him as comfortably as possible, and there was an seemed almost as if with one bound he was at the understanding between them that both were quite door of the nursery, and with another in Harry's arms. content with the positions. You can fancy how much And as soon as he was gone the sparrow flew away. amused Harry and Julia were, when they found out

But the most curious part of the story is that from the friendship between Rover and the sparrow, that day forth the dog and the bird became the though they neither of them knew in what enmity best of good friends. The sparrow paid Rover and trouble that friendship had first begun.



By the Author of " A Hedgehog Family," "Toulouru's First Trip to the Sea," &c. &c. We oil ONG,

ONG, long ago, To be sure, there had been rather a serious diss

when the world agreement once between the animals and birds, was not so old as and something very like a battle had been fought;

it is now, there but just after this such a failure of the owls' insect resided and food had taken place from some unknown cause, flourished in that many

of the birds had died, and the remainder, the Pampas in thankful for not sharing the fate of their com. South Amer- panions, had gladly returned to their allegiance. ica a great When our tale begins, however, matters were not many little on quite so friendly a footing as formerly, for susanimals called picions and dark rumours were circulating rapidly viscachas, amongst these former friends, and I grieve to say that which were this state of things was almost entirely caused nice, good-na- by a member of the once happy community-a tured - looking viscacha, whose name was Nehelaterek. creatures, par

Rather an aristocratic name, you will say, and ticularly clean the animal was tolerably well connected; he was

and inoffen. not bad-looking either, which unfortunately in"NEHELA BEGAN TO . . . WHISPER INTO sive in every duced many misguided little creatures to listen to

way, and liv

him who would have turned a deaf ear to an ugly ing entirely on roots, grass, bark, and what they or vulgar viscacha. liked best, wheat or Indian corn.

Nehela was indolent and ambitious; he did not In close and happy companionship with these like the trouble of keeping his own home clean; he viscachas were their dependents, the burrowing could get no one to do this work for him, as each owls, who all relied on their patrons for their householder looked after his particular domicile; lodgings, as the viscachas, after digging their and in order to render others as lazy and slovenly burrows, and making nice passages, kindly allowed as himself, so that their neat little abodes should their feathered followers to occupy part of the joint not shame his by the contrast, and also as he homes, only exacting, as some small return for this thought he might make a great name for himself generosity, that the owls should assist them when as a benefactor of all oppressed owls, this mean necessary against their enemies, and sometimes and unprincipled viscacha turned against his own keep watch outside their abodes; for as these friends, and began the work, which, once set going, viscachas have not good sight, they prefer going is not soon stopped, of mischief-making. The owls abroad at nightfall, or by moonlight. The owls were ignorant and easily led, and very fond of cheerfully agreed to these easy terms, and for a long running after any new plan; so when Nehela time peace and content had reigned in their homes. began to go about among them and whisper into



« PreviousContinue »