A TOUGH CONSTITUTION
by W. H. HUDSON
from Birds and Man c. 1915Speaking the Language ...
I THOUGHT it would be worthwhile trying a little Spanish on old Polly of the Lamb, and thought it best to begin by making friends. It was of little use to offer her something to eat. Poll was a person who rather despised sweeties and kickshaws. It had been the custom of the house for half a century to allow Polly to eat what she liked, and as she— it was really a he—was of a social disposition she preferred taking her meals with the family and eating the same food. At breakfast she would come to the table and partake of bacon and fried eggs, also toast and butter and jam and marmalade, at dinner, it was a cut off the joint with (usually) two vegetables, then pudding or tart with pippins and cheese to follow. Between meals, she amused herself with bird seed but preferred a meaty mutton-bone, which she would hold in one hand or foot and feed on with great satisfaction. It was not strange that when I held out food for her she took it as an insult, and when I changed my tactics and offered to scratch her head she lost her temper altogether and when I persisted in my advances she grew dangerous and succeeded in getting in several nips with her huge beak, which drew b1ood from my fingers. It was only then, after all my best blandishments had been exhausted, and when our relations were at their worst, that I began talking to her in Spanish, in a sort of caressing falsetto like a “native” girl, calling her “Lorito” instead of Polly, coupled with all the endearing epithets commonly used by women of the green continent in addressing their green pets. Polly instantly became attentive. She listened and listened, coming nearer to listen better, the one eye she fixed on me shining like a fiery gem. But she spoke no word, Spanish or English. . . . At all events, her hostility vanished, and we became friends at once.