Imatges de pÓgina
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tity was his motto; quality he concerned himself little about. He had not been with us long when he began to recognize and intercept the convoys of provisions which the children of our fisher neighbours brought to our house for the benefit of our motley crew of pets. Toby was looked upon as an “uncanny” bird, and, moreover, his powerful bill was capable of inflicting grievous damage upon the bare legs of the little urchins whom he attacked. So, as a rule Toby had first choice of the fish that came to our establishment, for the children used to throw down their fish baskets and take to their heels upon his approach. His first essay in a flesh diet was made in bolting a live mouse which a proud young tabby cat had brought home to her first kitten. This experiment was so thoroughly satisfactory that he immediately afterwards attempted to swallow the kitten itself, and was only prevented from accomplishing the dreadful deed by the timely interposition of a common friend. Toby's capacity for food of every kind was indeed almost beyond belief. In the winter following his advent among us fish was very scarce, and Toby had to content himself with what other victuals might be available. On one occasion my brotherin-law, Dr. Saxby, had shot a number of starlings in order to furnish a substantial repast for the snowy owl, and for a cast 3 of young merlins which had been added to our family. When passing through the yard where Toby was anxiously looking out for a meal, I tossed one of the starlings to hungry bird, hardly expecting him to touch it. But Toby cleverly caught it, and bolted it, feathers and all, without a moment's hesitation. Another starling followed, and another, and another; but when five in all had been thus disposed of we called a halt, remembering that there were other members of our family still to be fed. Moreover, the five plump birds, with their heads, legs, bills, and feathers, appeared to have taken the fine edge off even Toby's excellent appetite, for when he hobbled away to his favourite retreat in a coal-shed near, the legs of the fifth and last starling were to be seen projecting from his bill. After that Toby always came in for a share of the contents of our game bag, and whenever he saw either of us with a gun, he came at once, expecting to be fed. In Dr. Saxby's ornithological diary I find the following: "To-day I gave the cormorant, for a single meal, two buntings, a twite, a sparrow, two snow buntings, and a ringed plover, and even then he followed me for more.”

When Toby had been with us about a year, he one day took it into his head to try whether his growing wings would carry him to the not distant sea. Taught by instinct, or by experiment, that he could not rise from the level ground, he managed to climb to the top of a high stone wall, thereby securing a good start. I well remember the consternation which his departure occasioned, for we all concluded that Toby had left us for good and all, and that, having once reached the sea, he would never think of coming back. But such an act of desertion formed no part of Toby's plan, On the contrary, and as if to reassure our minds, he made his first visit to salt water a very short one, and speedily returned to his accustomed place. He had stayed long enough, however, to provide himself with an ample meal, and having learned how to earn his own living, he thereafter gave us little or no trouble about his food. He went off regularly every morning, sometimes staying only for an hour or two, and at other times remaining on the water all day, the period of his absence being apparently regulated by the abundance or scarcity of fish in the harbour. But he always came home in the evening, and hardly ever failed to report himself in the kitchen, where he liked to get as near the peat fire as he conveniently could. We took measures to guard against his falling a victim to any sportsman's gun during his daily fishing expeditions, and every owner of a fowling-piece, far and near in our island, was asked to be careful not to shoot at a loring anywhere near the harbour of Baltasound. It was quite unnecessary to do more—if indeed anything more could have been done—and “the doctor's loring” became a sacred bird to all our goodnatured neighbours.

neighbours. Strangers coming to the place were also warned of the existence of our tame cormorant, and they, too, abstained from shooting any bird of the kind on sea or on land. Thus for Toby's sake the whole of his tribe enjoyed perfect immunity from the fowler's gun within a wide radius around our house, and in this way he may be held to have done good suit and service to his kind in his da;- and generation,

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I grieve to say that poor Toby came to a tragic end--not at the hands of a fowler, nor upon the sea, but at the very fireside which he had loved so well. An aged sheep-dog, whose fifteen years of faithful service had earned for him a pensioner's place in our household, had long regarded Toby's appearance in the kitchen with suspicion and dislike. He had been a sporting collie in his best days, and he had about the same amount of respect and regard for a cormorant that a retriever may be supposed to have for a partridge. Some slight difference of opinion between bird and dog as to the possession of a snug corner by the ingle 5 nook resulted one fatal day in a dire catastrophe. In a moment of rage at having his little comforts interfered with by a bird, whose whole race he had been taught to regard as lawful prey, the old dog attacked poor Toby, and killed him on the spot before any one could interfere. Most deeply did we all lament the loss of our amiable pet; he had been with us three years, and had just acquired the full plumage of an adult bird.

From The Leisure Hour.

VIII.

THE LABOURS OF ROBINSON CRUSOE.

I WAS now, in the months of November and December, expecting my crop of barley and rice. The ground I had manured and dug up for them was not great; for, as I observed, my seed of each was not above the quantity of half a peck, for I had lost one whole crop by sowing in the dry season; but now my crop promised very well, when on a sudden I found I was in danger of losing it all again by enemies of several sorts, which it was scarcely possible to keep from it; as, first the goats, and wild creatures which I called hares, who, tasting the sweetness of the blade, lay in it night and day, as soon as it came up, and eat it so close that it could get no time to shoot up into stalk.

This I saw no remedy for but by making an enclosure about it with a hedge; which I did with a great deal of toil, and the more, because it required speed. However, as my arable 1 land was but small, suited to my crop, I got it totally well fenced in about three weeks' time, and, shooting some of the creatures in the daytime, I set my dog to guard it in the night, tying him up to a stake at the gate, where he would stand and bark all night long; so in a little time the enemies forsook the place, and the corn grew very strong and well, and began to ripen apace.

But as the beasts ruined me before while my

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