« PreviousContinue »
The A. L. IVool-NIodelling by Alice S. Garside. E. T. Arnold
and Sons, Ld. Curtoon Designing for Juniors by T. II. Tudd. E. T. Arnold
and Sons, Ld. Little People in far off Islands edited by Alfonso Gardin. E. T.
Arnold and Sons, Ld. Little Frieniis across the Sea (France and Germany). E. T.
Arnold and Sons, Ld. Little Friends under the Burning Sun (India). E. T. Arnold and Sons, Ld. The A. L. Things to write about, a series of simple illustrations
to be used as subjects for composition as also suitable as exercises in memory drawing. Packet I, cards 1--24; Packet II, cards 28-48. E. T. Arnold and Sons, Ld.
No. 268.-APRIL 1912.
Art, 1.-CHHOTI HAZIRI CHAT. THE HE Philosopher was having his chhoti haziri
with the Girl on the west verandah when he remarked, Have you ever thought that the birds have social strata quite as marked, and class characteristics quite as distinctive as our own?”
The Girl confessed to having never given the subject consideration and the Philosopher continued, "Now there is that myna, surely a gentleman farmer. See how he struts about his fields, well-fed, wellgroomed, a trifle proud of his ability to get on in the world, and quite ready to fight for his rights. His wife is plump and buxom, and at midday the two twitter as sweetly above the chiqq of that verandah as if they were sitting on the porch of a cottage in Devon, full content because the corn was safely harvested.”
“ I hadn't thought of them in just that way mused the Girl as she buttered her toast,“ but I saw something the other day that was most amusing. I was sitting here with a book when two pairs of mynas flew to the verandah railing and arranged themselves in a row, for all the world like a quartette at a village concert. One of them seemed to be the leader, and when he bowed they all bowed ; then they began to sing. It was most absurd. The vocal gymnastics they went through
with! The trills and warbles and funny little croaks. I wanted to laugh but was afraid I would frighten them away. With intervals of bowing and scraping they sang for several minutes as if they thoroughly enjoyed displaying their talents. Then an officious crow drove them away and took his place on the rostrum. His croaks and grimaces were too much for me and I burst out laughing. Of course he flew away. But what are the crows in your social scale ? The padres ? Their conventional black always looks rather clerical. Or do you classify them Into the Black Friars and the Gray?"
"Shall we so libel the cloth? There are so many villains among them. However they are among the few birds that are said to mate for life, a most worthy trait I am sure. They are most of them as sociable as young curates and
“ To be sure and as fond of afternoon teas, as for Instance the pair which find it always convenient to call whenever we have tea on the chabutra, and in a most ingratiating way chat about the weather or what not until we throw them bits of the cake or thin buttered slices."
They are fond of conferences too,” remarked the Philosopher. “ The other evening as I was riding home on the grand trunk I saw fully a hundred of them congregated on a bit of barren ground at the side of a field.
But sitting quite apart on the little ridge of ground that marked the boundary of the field were two crows who looked as if they were being tried by the jury assembled there. Some babus were passing by and I laughingly asked if this were the crow kuchheri and those the badmashes ? Quick as thought a youth replied, ' No, sahib, it is a wedding, and those are Ram and Sita.' Not bad, was it ?"
The Girl's merry laugh was her reply, but she said as she poured another cup of tea for herself, “ Well there are two crows that I could recommend to their court of justice with the hope that they would receive a sentence of transportation or capital punishment. If they don't take action soon, I shall ask you to make a public example of them, for they have been killing the young chickens. "
“ You lack the crow's view point, my dear girl, and so I fear you would not be satisfied with the decision of the court.
Leave the villains to the tender mercies of my gun. I wonder if it was one of them that I saw playing a practical joke upon a babbler the other day. The sath bhai was hopping about among some leaves the mali had left at the side of the garden path, quite oblivious of the watchful eye of the crow on the roof. But Jim was watching his chance and suddenly whir-r-s' his wings cut the air as with a downward swoop he carried off the unsuspecting beggar by the coat-collar. Instantly cries of alarm and indignation came from a score of sath bhais as they pounced upon this disturber of their peace.
He dropped the poor bird and flew again to the roof, where he preened his feathers and told them it was a pity they couldn't see the humour of a little practical joke ; then turning his head and cocking his eye, as if he were looking at them through a monocle, remarked that he had his opinion of people who didn't know the meaning of fair play,” continued the Philosopher as he handed his cup to be refilled.
Yes, crows sometimes amusing villains despite their clerical garb, but where do the sath bhais belong in this new social order? Are they policemen ? I have often heard them give warning when Tom was leaving the house for a stroll in the garden or a nap in
the sun on the verandah steps. How they hate that cat! They set up such a chatter when he appears that I have actually seen him turn and proudly dragging his enormous tail behind him walk back into the house as if determined not to let his dignity be affected by what such chatterers might say of him. And I have known them to set up a great hue and cry when they saw a mongoose creeping along in the grass.”
The sahib paused to take a piece of toast from the rack before he replied, “That is all very true, but to
, my mind sath bhai represents a most despicable class of people, people who can never say anything good of their neighbours, who are always turning over old, dry dusty leaves to see what they can find and who chatter, chatter, chatter, whether they find anything or not. They are scandalmongers, never using their voices for song but always for eternal gossip."
“I see,” returned the Girl with a smile, “the man with the muck-rake. But what of those screaming
“ That is easy. They are the bounders of bird
. society, the handsome villains of bird tragedy, fond of display and bright colours—the gaudy necktie and flashing diamond sort, you know, dear. They make a great pretence of family respectability too, the father and mother caring most tenderly for an only child until he is quite grown, and accompanying him as if they were afraid their darling would become contaminated by the society of ordinary birds. But they are thieves and knaves and incessant breeders of strife for all that."
“You certainly do give them a bad character. Whom do you consider the really worthy members of bird-society?" asked the Girl with a smile of amusement.