The Water Babies

Illustrated Online Children's Book by Charles Kingsley

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And there he saw the last of the Gairfowl, standing up on the Allalonestones all alone. And a very grand old lady she was, full three feet high, and bolt upright, like some old Highland chieftainess. She had on a black velvet gown, and a white pinner and apron, and a very high bridge to her nose (which is a sure mark of high breeding), and a large pair of white spectacles on it, which made her look rather odd: but it was the ancient fashion of her house.
And instead of wings, she had two little feathery arms, with which she fanned herself, and complained of the dreadful heat; and she kept on crooning an old song to herself, which she learnt when she was a little baby-bird, long ago -
“Two little birds they sat on a stone, One swam away, and then there was one, With a fal-lal-la-lady.
“The other swam after, and then there was none, And so the poor stone was left all alone; With a fal-lal-la-lady.”
It was “flew” away, properly, and not “swam” away: but, as she could not fly, she had a right to alter it. However, it was a very fit song for her to sing, because she was a lady herself.
Tom came up to her very humbly, and made his bow; and the first thing she said was -
“Have you wings? Can you fly?”
“Oh dear, no, ma’am; I should not think of such thing,” said cunning little Tom.
“Then I shall have great pleasure in talking to you, my dear. It is quite refreshing nowadays to see anything without wings. They must all have wings, forsooth, now, every new upstart sort of bird, and fly. What can they want with flying, and raising themselves above their proper station in life? In the days of my ancestors no birds ever thought of having wings, and did very well without; and now they all laugh at me because I keep to the good old fashion. Why, the very marrocks and dovekies have got wings, the vulgar creatures, and poor little ones enough they are; and my own cousins too, the razor-bills, who are gentlefolk born, and ought to know better than to ape their inferiors.”