The Curious Book of Birds Archive

THE PHŒNIX N the top of a palm tree, in an oasis of the Arabian desert, sat the Phœnix, glowering moodily upon the world below. He was alone, quite alone, in his old age, as he had been alone in his youth, and in his middle years; for the Phœnix has neither mate nor children, and there is never but one of his kind upon the earth. Once he had been proud of his solitariness and of his unusual beauty, which caused such wonder when he went abroad. But now he was old and weak and weary, and he was lonely, oh! so lonely! He had lived too long, he thought. For years and years and years, afar and apart, he had watched the coming [&hellip

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THE GOOD HUNTER NCE upon a time there was an Indian who was a famous hunter. But he did not hunt for fun; he took no pleasure in killing the little wild creatures, birds and beasts and fishes, and did so only when it was necessary for him to have food or skins for his clothing. He was a very kind and generous man, and loved all the wood-creatures dearly, often feeding them from his own larder, and protecting them from their enemies. So the animals and birds loved him as their best friend, and he was known as the Good Hunter. The Good Hunter was very brave, and often went to war with the fierce savages who were the enemies of his tribe. One [&hellip

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THE TUFTED CAP NE dark night Master Owl left his hollow tree and went prowling about the world as usual upon his hopeless hunt for the Princess’s betel-nut. As soon as he was out of hearing a long, lean, hungry Rat crept to the house and stole the dainties which the lonely old bachelor had stored away for the morrow’s dinner. The thief dragged them away to his own hole and had a splendid feast with his wife and little ones. But the Owl returned sooner than the Rat had expected, and by the crumbs which he had dropped upon the way tracked him to the hole. “Come out, thief!” cried the Owl, “or I will surely kill you. Come out and return to me [&hellip

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THE OWL AND THE MOON HEN the moon is round and full, if you look very carefully at the golden disk you can see in shadowy outline the profile of a beautiful lady. She is leaning forward as if looking down upon our earth, and there is a little smile upon her sweet lips. This fair dame is Putri Balan, the Princess of the Moon, and she smiles because she remembers how once upon a time she cheated old Mr. Owl, her tiresome lover. Putri Balan, so they tell you in Malay, was always very, very beautiful, as we see her now. Like all the Malay women, Putri Balan loved to chew the spicy betel-nut which turns one’s lips a bright scarlet. It is better, [&hellip

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THE THRUSH AND THE CUCKOO N the wonderful days of old it is said that Christ and Saint Peter went together upon a journey. It was a beautiful day in March, and the earth was just beginning to put on her summer gorgeousness. As the two travelers were passing near a great forest they spied a Thrush sitting on a tree singing and singing as hard as he could. And he cocked his head as if he was very proud of something. Saint Peter stopped at the foot of the tree and said, “I wish you a good day, Thrush!” “I have no time to thank you,” chirped the Thrush pertly. “Why not, pretty Thrush?” asked Saint Peter in surprise. “You have all the time [&hellip

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THE GROUND-PIGEON NCE upon a time there was a little Malay maiden who lived in the forest with her father and mother and baby sister. They dwelt very happily together, until one day Coora’s father decided to clear the ground on the edge of the forest and have a rice plantation, as many of his neighbors were doing. So one morning early after breakfast he started out with his axe on his shoulder to cut down the trees and make a clearing. “O Father, let me go with you!” begged Coora. “I do so want to see the plantation grow from the very beginning.” But her father said No, she must stay at home until the trees were felled. “And after that may I go [&hellip

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THE FOWLS ON PILGRIMAGE NCE upon a time old Lady Fox was very hungry, but she had nothing to eat, and there was no sign of a dinner to be had anywhere. “What shall I do, what shall I do?” whined the Fox. “I am so faint and hungry, but all the birds and all the fowls are afraid of me and will not venture near enough for me to consult them about a dinner. I have so bad a name that no one will trust me. What can I do to win back the respect of the community and earn a square meal? Ah, I have it! I will turn pious and go upon a pilgrimage. That ought to make me popular once more.” [&hellip

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THE DOVE WHO SPOKE TRUTH HE Dove and the wrinkled little Bat once went on a journey together. When it came towards night a storm arose, and the two companions sought everywhere for a shelter. But all the birds were sound asleep in their nests and the animals in their holes and dens. They could find no welcome anywhere until they came to the hollow tree where old Master Owl lived, wide awake in the dark. “Let us knock here,” said the shrewd Bat, “I know the old fellow is not asleep. This is his prowling hour, and but that it is a stormy night he would be abroad hunting.—What ho, Master Owl!” he squeaked, “will you let in two storm-tossed travelers for a night’s [&hellip

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THE BLACKBIRD AND THE FOX NE day Madame Fox, who was strolling along under the hedge, heard a Blackbird trilling on a branch. Quick as thought she jumped and seized the little fellow, and was about to gobble him down then and there. But the Blackbird began to chirp piteously:— “Oh, oh, Madame Fox! What are you thinking of? Just see, I am such a tiny mouthful! And when I am gone—I am gone. Only let me free and I will tell you something. Look! Here come some peasant women with eggs and cheese which they are carrying to the market at Verrières. That would be a meal worth having! Only let me go, and I will help you, Master Fox.” The Fox saw that [&hellip

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HOW THE BLACKBIRD SPOILED HIS COAT NCE upon a time, our friend Blackbird, who comes first of the feathered brothers in the spring, was not black at all. No, indeed; he was white—white as feather-snow new fallen in the meadow. There are very few birds who have been thought worthy to dress all in beautiful white, for that is the greatest honor which a bird can have. So, like the Swan and the Dove, Master Whitebird—for that is what they called him then—was very proud of his spotless coat. He was very proud and happy, and he sang all day long, the jolliest songs. But you see he did not really deserve this honor, because he was at heart a greedy bird; and therefore a [&hellip

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