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heard some crows whose raucous call sounded exactly like kawa-a-a kawa-a-a, haven't you? Then there are the Hindustani names for the brain-fever bird, papéha and for the Indian cuckoo, kool, those two birds who live by their wits on nothing a year. If one listens to them one realizes how suitable their names are,
replied the Girl. “ But there is an interesting thing about two names for the crow, both are imitative and yet very different. The Persian word is krook and from it we get croak and rook in English by direct descent. The Hindi word, as you have said, is kawa, just as good an imitation and yet quite different. But speaking of the fidelity of the hoopoos as well as of interpreting the sounds made by birds reminds me of the story of Ram and the Brahminy ducks. Have you heard it?"
The Girl looked her enthusiasm and interest, so without waiting for her reply the Philosopher continued, “ This is a Hindu story to match your Muhammedan one.
But won't you pour me a cup of tea first?” “Oh, I am so sorry.
I was so interested that I forgot."
“Forgiven and much obliged for the implied compliment,” replied the smiling Philosopher. When Ram was on his way to get Sita-another oriental romance you see-he asked birds, animals, insects, all creature-kind to help him. Of course you remember what the monkeys did. As he was going south in his search he came upon a lake where two ducks were basking in each other's smiles-imagine the smiles of a duck please—and
please—and murmuring the sweet nothings of first love (Quack, quack,' interpolated the Girl). They seemed very happy and wise, so Ram, moved perhaps with jealousy and longing for his Sita, begged their aid in his quest. Mr. Duck acknowledged
that he could help Ram if he wished but he couldn't for a moment think of leaving his dear Love to undertake so long and perilous a journey. Who knew what might happen to her in his absence ? She was so charming, he really could not leave her for a day."
“ And Mrs. Duck paddled softly in the water at his side, demurely cooing, 'quack, quack,'” interrupted the Girl. “Excuse my marginal notes."
Ram was very much amazed at the selfishness of the pair and indignant to think that his request should be denied, so in great anger he pronounced upon them this
They should remain where they were and enjoy each other's society all day long but when the sun set the one would fly to one bank and the other to the other and all night they would cry with longing but be unable to get to each other.
“And do they really do that? Spend their days together and their nights apart ?
"Yes, I have often heard them calling to each other across the river at dusk, the female calling 'chakwa, chakwa' and her mate answering 'chakwi,' and I have a strange hesitancy to kill a Brahminy duck because the mate will be left so lonely. It is different with geese and ducks that go about in flocks. But speaking of gregarious birds do you know what the Hindustani people call the little birds we see in such numbers at the margin of the river and at the edge of the talao, the little gray and white birds ? ”
“The wagtails ? No, they always reminded me of sweet faced nuns or deaconesses. They are so sprightly and cheery despite their sober uniforms."
"Well, they are as plucky and brave as any sister of charity, for they nest beyond the Himalayas and come down to India when the Thibetan winter cuts off
their food supply. Thousands are killed each year in crossing the passes. But the Indians call them dhobins probably because they frequent the banks of the streams and tanks, but as dhobis are proverbially neat and clean in appearance, one can find resemblance there too. But the similarity fails hopelessly in their quietness, for the dhobi seems to relieve his very soul with every blow of the garment upon the rock. I asked one once if he were in great pain, the sound that he uttered being nothing less than a wail of agony. He gazed at me as if he thought me quite mad, then with a polite negation continued to give expression commensurate with the physical effort he was making.”
Perhaps it was the spirits of the tortured garments and broken buttons that were distressing him. The poor clothes often bring tears to my eyes when they return, I can assure you. But speaking of wails and haunting cries, I am afraid we shall have to lay considerable responsibility at the feet of Indian birds. If anything could get on my
my nerves it would be the incessant tapping of the coppersmith. Sometimes I feel as if my very pulses kept time to that wretched 'tonk, tonk.
“Yes, and on a hot night it is the “brainfever, brainfever' of the papiha that nearly drives you mad, and just as you seem to be having your first restful sleep, the koel begins his cheerful summons to the dawn. I sometimes wonder if Anglo-Indians who end their days in Colney Hatch don't hear these birds forever.”
" And in the hills the cicada makes the dusk hideous with its croaking, burring screech. But do you know it is only the male cicadas that make nuisances of themselves in that way. They must have an astonishing opinion of their vocal charms. There was a 'Croaker's Club’ in an oak tree just outside of my window last summer in the hills. There were some half dozen members. I don't know the subjects of their debates and discussions, but I do know that they poured their very souls out on the evening air. I feel sorry for their wives if they keep it up at home, but it quite explains why they are silent creatures for they don't get a chance when their husbands are about.”
"I suppose it is all a matter of point of view. Probably the wives dote on their husband's sweet voices, my dear girl.”
Possibly. Do you remember that delicious bit in Der Trumpeter von Säckengen when Hidigeigei, the cat soliloquises upon man's lack of appreciation of good feline music? He could see nothing to admire in human vocal efforts.” She replied as she rose from the table.
III. The Girl had just indulged in her early morning stroll around the garden for she averred that there was nothing like a walk in the fresh air of a North India winter morning to sweep the dream cobwebs from her mind and prepare her for chhoti haziri. She came in to find the Philosopher searching for buds on the new shoots of the climbing roses that had been so mercilessly pruned a few weeks before. The Girl had nearly wept then for she was unaccustomed to the ways of the Indian mali and every click of the cruel garden shears had roused her sympathy for the helpless La Mareschal Neil, Gloire de Dijon and La Marque that covered the verandah pillars and softened the severe lines of the arches. She came up the verandah
steps radiant with life and health and the Philosopher
make so soon?
and shined away the moon'-Eh?” “No Philo, I haven't been doing anything half so daring, but I have made a discovery,” the Girl replied as she took out the pins in her topi, brushed back a straying lock and prepared to pour the tea.
“A discovery? You have been exploring this morning then.
Let me see
In the fruit garden? The lime tree? A large nest?”
“ Yes. How ever did you guess ?
“I have been watching it all summer, You were in the hills and I wondered how soon you would find it once you were back. The gardener has kept you supplied with limes or you would have seen it long ago.
“What is it? It is far too carefully made for a crow's nest. It even has a roof or rather looks like an immense football with a bad hole in one side.”
“Do you remember that pair of mahohes that we used to see in the garden every morning last spring ? Black birds the size of a raven but with tobacco brown
“Oh the crow pheasants that sang such amusing duets ?”
“Yes, I believe you said once you thought he must be suffering from liver because he felt so out of sorts in the morning that he would fly to a tree removed some distance from her and turn his back upon her most rudely. But when he began to sing, although his notes
. sounded like water pouring from a jug she would