A COCKATOO COMES TO TEA
by Konrad Lorenzfrom King Soloman’s RingThe cockatoo paid court to my mother in a very charming way, dancing round her in the most grotesque fashion, folding and unfolding his beautiful crest and following her wherever she went. If she were not there, he sought her just as assiduously as he had been used, in his early days, to search for me. Now my mother had no less than four sisters. One day these aunts, in company with some equally aged ladies of their acquaintance, were partaking of tea in the veranda of our house. They sat round a huge round table, a plate of luscious home-grown strawberries in front of each, and in the middle of the table a large, very shallow bowl of finest icing sugar. The cockatoo, who was flying accidentally or wittingly past, espied, from without, my mother who was presiding at this festive board. The next moment, with a perilous dive, he steered himself through the doorway, which, though wide, was nevertheless narrower than the span of his wings. He intended to land before my mother on the table where he was accustomed to sit and keep her company while she knitted; but this time he found the runway encumbered with numerous obstacles to flying technique and, into the bargain, he was in the midst of unknown faces. He considered the situation, pulled himself up abruptly in mid-air, hovering over the table like a helicopter, then, turning on his own axis, he opened the throttle again and the next second had disappeared. So also had the icing sugar from the shallow bowl, out of which the propeller wind had wafted every grain. And around the table sat seven powdered ladies, seven rococo ladies whose faces, like lepers’, were white as snow and who held their eyes tight shut. Beautiful!