362 THE NEIGHBOURING FAMILIES
' They are sparrows, good creatures. We have always had the reputation of being kind, so we will allow them to pick up the corn with us. They don't interrupt conversation, and they scrape so nicely with the leg.'
Yes, they scraped three times each with the left leg, and said, ' Piep.' By that they recognized each other as the Sparrows from the nest by the burned house.
1 Here 's very good eating,' said the Sparrows.
The Pigeons strutted round one another, bulged out their chests mightily, and had their own opinions.
' Do you see that pouter-pigeon %' said one, speaking to the others. ' Do you see that one, swallowing the peas ? She takes too many, and the best, moreover. Curoo! curoo! Do you see how bald she is getting on her crest, the ugly spiteful thing ! Curoo ! curoo ! '
And all their eyes sparkled with spite.
* Stand in groups, stand in groups ! Little grey ones, little grey ones ! Curoo ! curoo ! '
So their beaks went on and on, and so they will go on when a thousand years are gone.
The Sparrows feasted bravely. They listened attentively, and even stood in the ranks of the Pigeons, but it did not suit them well. They were satisfied, and so they quitted the Pigeons, exchanged opinions concerning them, slipped under the garden railings, and when they found the door of the garden open, one of them, who was over-fed, and consequently valorous, hopped on the threshold.
* Piep ! ' said he, ' I may venture that.'
' Piep !' said the other, 'so can I, and something more too.'
And he hopped right into the room. No one was present ; the third Sparrow saw that, and hopped still farther into the room, and said,
' Right in or not at all! By the way, this is a funny man's-nest; and what have they put up there ? What's that ? '
Just in front of the Sparrows the roses were blooming ; they were mirrored in the water, and the charred beams leaned against the toppling chimney.
■ Why, what is this ? How came this in the room in the nobleman's house ? '
And then these Sparrows wanted to fly over the chimney