THE FIERCE FALCON1
There are not nearly so many stories about birds as about dogs and cats, because birds can fly away, and it is more difficult to know what becomes of them. Perhaps, properly speaking, stories about birds have no business in a ' Beast Book,' but as long as the story is interesting, it does not do to be too particular.
A good many years ago, a gentleman named St. John was exploring the high hills near the source of the Find-horn, in Inverness-shire, when he found a young falcon which was being reared as a pet by a shepherd boy, who gave her trout to eat. There was not much beauty about the falcon when Mr. St. John first saw her, for her plumage was dark-brown, with long-shaped spots on the breast, but in spite of that he took a fancy to her, and persuaded her master to sell her to him. When, however, she had passed her second birthday, and might be considered grown up, she put on all her finest feathers, and was very much admired by everyone. Her throat became a lovely soft cream colour, and the brown on her back changed into a lovely dark grey, while on her bosom, each little feather was crossed by a bar. But lovely though she was, Mr. St. John felt her to be a great care, for she was very strong as well as very brave, and would never think twice about attacking dogs or even people, if they offended her. As for the fowls, she soon made such short work of them, that her master was obliged to chain her up in the kitchen garden, which had hitherto formed the
1 From Wild Sports of the Highlands. By C. St. John.