776 IN THE DUCK-YARD
may see from my bearing and from my feathery dress. My drake is a native of these parts, he 's not of my race ; but for all that I'm not proud ! If any one here in the yard can understand you, I may assert that / am that person.'
1 She 's quite full of Portulak,' said a little common Duck, who was witty ; and all the other common Ducks considered the word Portulak quite a good joke, for it sounded like Portugal; and they nudged each other and said ' Rapp ! ' It was too witty ! And all the other Ducks now began to notice the little Singing Bird.
1 The Portuguese has certainly a greater command of language,' they said. ' For our part, we don't care to fill our beaks with such long words, but our sympathy is just as great. If we don't do anything for you, we do not say anything about it; and we think that the best thing we can do.'
■ You have a lovely voice,' said one of the oldest. ' It must be a great satisfaction to be able to give so much pleasure as you are able to impart. I certainly am no great judge of your song, and consequently I keep my beak shut; and even that is better than talking nonsense to you, as others do.'
* Don't plague him so,' interposed the Portuguese Duck : 1 he requires rest and nursing. Little Singing Bird, shall I splash you again ? '
' Oh, no ! pray let me be dry ! ' he begged.
1 The water cure is the only thing that helps me,' quoth the Portuguese. ' Amusement is beneficial too. The neighbouring fowls will soon come to pay their visit. There are two Cochin-Chinas among them. They wear feathers on their legs, are well educated, and have been brought from afar, that raises them in my regard.'
And the Fowls came, and the Cock came ; to-day he was polite enough to abstain from being rude.
1 You are a true Singing Bird,' he said, ' and you do as much with your little voice as can possibly be done with it. But one requires a little more shrillness, that every hearer may hear that one is a male.'
The two Chinese stood quite enchanted with the appearance of the Singing Bird. He looked very much rumpled