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“Very good," continued Peterkin ; "quite true, I have no doubt; but you've no right to interrupt me, sir. Hold your tongue till I have done speaking. Moreover, cat, I love you because you came to me the first time you ever saw me, and didn't seem to be afraid, and appeared to be fond of me, though you didn't know that I wasn't going to kill you. Now, that was brave, that was bold, and very jolly, old boy, and I love you for it-I do !"
Again there was a pause of a few minutes, during which the cat looked placid, and Peterkin dropped his eyes upon its toes, as if in conteroplation. Suddenly he looked up.
“Well, cat, what are you thinking about now? won't speak, eh? Now, tell me; don't you think it's a monstrous shame that these two scoundrels, Jack and Ralph, should keep us waiting for our supper so long?"
Here the cat arose, put up its back, and stretched itself, yawned slightly, and licked the point of Peterkin's nose.
"Just so, old boy, you're a clever fellow—I really do believe the brute understands me !" said Peterkin, while a broad grin overspread his face, as he drew back and surveyed the cat.
At this point Jack burst into a loud fit of laughter. The cat uttered an angry fuff and fled, while Peterkin sprang up and exclaimed:
"Bad luck to you, Jack ! you've nearly made the heart jump out of my body, you have."
“Perhaps I have," replied Jack, laughing, as we entered the bower, “but, as I don't intend to keep you or the cat any longer from your supper, I hope that you'll both forgive me."
Peterkin endeavoured to turn this affair off with a laugh, but I observed that he blushed very deeply at the time we discovered ourselves, and he did not seem to relish any allusion to the subject afterwards; so we refrained from remarking on it ever after, though it tickled us not a little at the time.
After supper we retired to rest, and to dream of wonderful adventures in our little boat, and distant voyages upon the sea.
R. M. Ballantyne.
THE INCHCAPE BELL.
No stir in the air, no swell on the sea,
With neither sign nor sound of shock
The pious abbot 2 of Aberbrothock
When the rock was hid by the tempest swell
They heard no sound—the swell is strong,
Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair,
A PET CORMORANT.*
AMONG many strange pets which we in Shetland delighted to keep, one of the most interesting and amusing was a cormorant which was brought to us from the nest when quite young, and which we kept for several years. His earliest days were spent on the well-known Flugga Skerry, in the north of Unst, and he became the captive of the most daring and successful fowler in the Shetland Islands, who brought the young "Loring,” as the cormorant is called in Unst, to my father by way of a little present. The new arrival was welcomed almost with open arms by the entire family, and was duly taken upon the strength of the establishment, which included at that time a heron, several
By kind permission of the Religious Tract Society.
gulls, a snowy owl, a Richardson's skua, two young guillemots, and a hooded crow.
With so many hungry mouths to fill, the office of chief of the commissariat1 at that period was no sinecure. The owl preferred rabbits, mice, and such small deer, to any other kind of food, and as he was an invalid, only just recovering from the gunshot wound which had made his capture possible, his little fancies required to be attended to. The gulls were not at all particular, and for the most part foraged for themselves; while the hooded crow throve excellently well upon the abundant spoil which his peculiar skill enabled him to filch from all and sundry of his neighbours. But the guillemots, the heron, the skua, and, as we at first imagined, the newly-acquired cormorant, required a fish diet, and fish, in the late summer, is not al. ways easy to get, even in the Shetland islands.
The difficulty was to secure a regular supply of freshly-caught fish, for of course none of our cliffbred friends would accept their food in, a “ game” state, and salt provisions we knew would be injurious, if not immediately fatal, to their delicate constitutions. But we soon found that Toby, as we named the cormorant, was not at all fastidious regarding his diet. He speedily proved himself to be a gentle receiver of every kind of food-fish, flesh, or fowl—and when all of these were scarce, he even condescended to partake of huge lumps of cold porridge, cheese-curd, bread, potatoes, or in fact anything which came first to hand. He preferred fish, of course, to everything else, but quan