IN THE DUCK-YARD 779
' Now I want to rest after my dinner,'said the Portuguese. ' You must conform to the rules of the house while you're here. I want to sleep now.'
The little Singing Bird was quite taken aback, for he had meant it kindly. When Madam afterwards awoke, he stood before her again with a little corn that he had found, and laid it at her feet; but as she had not slept well, she was naturally in a very bad humour.
1 Give that to a chicken ! ' she said,' and don't be always standing in my way.'
' Why are you angry with me ? ' replied the little Singing Bird. ' What have I done ?'
' Done ! ' repeated the Portuguese Duck : ' your mode of expression is not exactly genteel; a fact to which I must call your attention.'
' Yesterday it was sunshine here,' said the little Bird, ' but to-day it's cloudy and grey.'
' You don't know much about the weather, I fancy,' retorted the Portuguese. ' The day is not done yet. Don't stand there looking so stupid.'
1 But you are looking at me just as the wicked eyes looked when I fell into the yard yesterday.'
' Impertinent creature ! ' exclaimed the Portuguese Duck, ' would you compare me with the cat, that beast of prey ? There 's not a drop of malicious blood in me. I've taken your part, and will teach you good manners.'
And so saying, she bit off the Singing Bird's head, and he lay dead on the ground.
* Now, what 's the meaning of this ? ' she said, ' could he not bear even that ? Then certainly he was not made for this world. I've been like a mother to him, I know that, for I've a good heart.'
Then the neighbour's Cock stuck his head into the yard, and crowed with steam-engine power.
' You'll kill me with your crowing ! ' she cried. ' It's all your fault. He 's lost his head, and I am very near losing mine.5
1 There 's not much lying where he fell! ' observed the Cock.
1 Speak of him with respect,' retorted the Portuguese Duck, ' for he had song, manners, and education. He was