THE GOLOSHES OF FORTUNE 117
The boys carried him into a very elegant room. A stout smiling lady received them. But she was*iaot at all gratified to see the common field bird, as she called the lark, coming in too. Only for that day she would consent to it; but they must put the bird in the empty cage which stood by the window.
* Perhaps that will please Polly,' she added, and laughed at a great parrot swinging himself proudly in his ring in the handsome brass cage.
' It's Polly's birthday,' she said, fatuously, ' so the little field bird shall congratulate him.'
Polly did not answer a single word ; he only swung proudly to and fro. But a pretty canary bird, who had been brought here last summer out of his warm fragrant fatherland, began to sing loudly.
* Screamer ! ' said the lady ; and she threw a white handkerchief over the cage.
' Piep ! piep ! ' sighed he ; * here 's a terrible snowstorm. And thus sighing, he was silent.
The copying clerk or, as the lady called him, the field bird, was placed in a little cage close to the canary, and not far from the parrot. The only human words which Polly could say, and which often sounded very comically, were, * Come, let's be men now ! ' Everything else that he screamed out was just as unintelligible as the song of the canary bird, except for the copying clerk, who was now also a bird, and who understood his comrades very well.
11 flew under the green palm tree and the blossoming almond tree ! ' sang the canary. * I flew with my brothers and sisters over the beautiful flowers and over the bright sea, where the plants waved in the depths. I also saw many beautiful parrots, who told the merriest stories.'
* Those were wild birds,' replied the parrot. ' They had no education. Let us be men now ! Why don't you laugh ? If the lady and all the strangers could laugh at it, so can you. It is a great fault to have no taste for what is humorous. No, let us be men now.'
' Do you remember the pretty girls who danced under the tents spread out beneath the blooming trees ? Do you remember the sweet fruits and the cooling juice in the wild plants ? '