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lay. In short, not a note was wanting to complete the harmony. '
The little Redbreasts were so exceedingly charmed, that for a while they continued listening with silent rapture; at length Dicky exclaimed, How happy should I be to join the cheerful band, and live for ever in this charming place!
It is, replied his mother, a very pleasant situation to be sure; but could you be sensible of the superior advantages which, as the Redbreast, you may enjoy by taking up your abode in the orchard, you would never wish to change it; for my own part, I find myself so happy in that calm retreat, that nothing but necessity shall ever drive me from it.
Pecksy declared, that though she was much delighted with the novelty of the scene, and charmed with the music, she now felt an ardent desire to return home; but Flapsy wished to see a little more first. Well, said the father, your desires shall be gratified ; let us take a circuit in this grove, for I wish you to see every thing worth observation in every place you go to, and not to fly about the world, as many giddy birds do, without the least improvement from their travels. On this he spread his wings as the signal of departure, which his family obeyed.
Observing a parcel of boys creeping silently along, Stop, said he, let us perch on this tree, and see what these little monsters are about. Scarcely were they seated, when one of the boys mounted an adjacent tree, and took a nest of half-fledged Linnets, which he brought in triumph to his companions.
At this instant a family of Thrushes unfortunately chirped, which directed another boy to the place of
their habitation ; on which he climbed, and eagerly seized the unfortunate little creatures. Having met with so much success, the boys left the grove to exult, at their own homes, over their wretched captives, for ever separated from their tender parents; who soon came back laden with the gain of their labour, which they had kindly destined for the sustenance of their infant broods.
The little Redbreasts were now spectators of those parental agonies which had been formerly described to them; and Pecksy cried out, Who would desire to live in this grove, after having experienced the comforts of the orchard ? Dicky and Flapsy were desirous to depart, being alarmed for their own safety. No, said the father, let us stay a little longer-now we will go on.
They accordingly took another flight, and saw a man scattering seed upon the ground. See there, said Dicky, what fine food that man throws down; I dare say he is some good creature who is a friend to the feathered race; shall we alight and partake of his bounty?
Do not form too hasty an opinion, Dicky, said the father; watch here with me a little while, and then do as you will. All the little ones stretched their necks, and kept a curious eye fixed on the man. In a few minutes a number of Sparrows, Chaffinches, and Linnets, descended, and began to regale themselves ; but, in the midst of their feast, a net was suddenly cast over them, and they were all taken captive. The man, who was a bird-catcher by profession, called to his assistant, who brought a cage divided into a number of small
partitions, in which the Linnets and Chaffinches were separately deposited. In this dismal prison, where they had scarcely room to flutter, were those little creatures confined, who lately poured forth their songs of joy, fearless of danger. As for the Sparrows, their necks were wrung, and they were put in a bag together. The little Redbreasts trembled for themselves, and were in great haste to take wing. Stay, said the father, Dicky has not yet made acquaintance with this friend of the feathered race. No, said Dicky, nor do I desire it; defend me and all who are dear to me from such friends as these! Well, said the father, learn from this instance never to form an hasty judgment, nor to put yourself into the power of strangers, who offer you favours you have no right to expect from their hands.
Indeed, my love, said the Mother bird, I am very anxious to get home; I have not lately been used to be long absent from it, and every excursion I make endears it to me. O, the day is not half spent, replied her mate; and I hope that, for the gratification of the little ones, you will consent to complete the "ramble. Come, let us visit another part of the grove; I am àcquainted with its inmost recesses. His mate acquiesced, and they proceeded on their journey.
At length the father hastily called out, Turn this way! turn this way! The whole party obeyed the word of command, and found the good effects of their obedience; for, in an instant, they saw a flash of fire; a thick smoke followed it, and immediately they heard a dreadful sound, and saw a young Redstart fall bleeding to the ground, on which he struggled just-long enough to cry, Oh! my dear father, why did I not listen to your kind admonitions, which I now find, too late, were the dictates of tenderness ! and then expired.
The little Redbreasts were struck with consternation at this dreadful accident; and Pecksy, who recovered the soonest, begged her father would inform her by what means the Redstart was killed. He was shot to death, said he; and had you not followed my directions, it might have been the fate of every one of you: therefore let it be a lesson to you to follow every injunction of your parents with the same readiness for the future.
You may depend on it, our experience teaches us to foresee many dangers which such young creatures as you have no notion of; and when we desire you to do, or to forbear any thing, it is for the sake of your safety or advantage : therefore, Dicky, never more stand, as you sometimes have done, asking why we tell you to do so and so ? for had that been the case now, you, who were in a direct line with the gunner, would have been inevitably shot.
They all said they would pay implicit obedience. Do so, said he; but in order to this, you must also remember to practise, in our absence, what we enjoin you when present. For instance, some kinds of food are very prejudicial to your health, which we would not, on any account, let you taste when we are by ; these you must not indulge in when away from us, whatever any other bird may say in recommendation of them. Neither must you engage in any dangerous enterprise, which others, who have natural strength or acquired agility, go through with safety; nor should you go to any places which we have pointed out as dangerous, nor join any companions which we have forbidden you to make acquaintance with.
This poor Redstart might have avoided his fate; for I heard his father, when I was last in the grove, advise him not to Ay about by himself till he had shown bim the dangers of the world.
Pecksy answered that she knew the value of parental instruction so well that she should certainly treasure up in her heart every maxim of it; and the others promised to do the same; but, said Flapsy, I cannot understand the nature of the accident which occasioned the death of the Redstart.
Neither can I explain it to you, my dear, replied the father; I only know that it is a very common practice with some men to carry instruments, from which they discharge what proves fatal to many a bird; but I have, by attentive observation, learned how to evade the mischief. But come, let us descend and refresh ourselves a little, as we may do it with safety; and then we will see if we cannot find a place where you can have amusement, without being exposed to such dangers as attend the inhabitants of woods and groves.
Are you sufficiently rested to take a pretty long flight? O yes, cried Dicky, who was quite eager to leave the spot, in which, a short time before, he had longed to pass his life: the rest joined in the same wish, and every wing was instantly expanded.
The father led the way, and in a very short time he and his family arrived at the estate of a gentleman, who, having a plentiful fortune, endeavoured to collect all that was curious in art and nature, for the amusement of his own mind and the gratification of others. He had a house like a palace, furnished with every expen