From ‘Polly and Spark’ (1916) by Rosalie G. Mendel.
After this Spark and I became the best of chums. We don’t even like to be out of each other’s sight. Of course we have our quarrels and scarps, as children do, but they are just in fun and we both know it. Only the other day I heard Robert’s music teacher say, as she watched me standing on Spark’s head, “It is remarkable how well Polly and Spark agree. As a rule parrots and dogs don’t get along very well together.”
Then Spark spoke up, “Bow-wow! No one feels like fighting much in this house. Everybody is so cheerful and good and kind here that this doesn’t seem to be a place for quarreling, like some homes are.”
“Right you are, Sparkie. You know it,” I added with a wise toss of my yellow head.
Spark has told me all about himself; how, when he was a baby, he was stolen from his dear ones by wicked Jim Screw. How he was so cruelly treated by that bad man that he ran away from him and, after straying cold and hungry up and down the streets, he at last found shelter in a butcher shop; how the Morses found him there, bought him from the butcher and took him home with them, and how they have loved and cared for him ever since.
As Spark spoke of the Morses his deep love for them shone right out of his eyes. He told me all about the splendid dog show where he had won a blue ribbon and every word of his dog party, which must have been a jolly affair. Mm-Mm-Mm—I wish I could have a bird party like that. Perhaps I shall some day.
Goodness! It took a long time to hear all of Spark’s history, but it was so interesting that I was sorry when he had finished.
“Now, Polly,” he then said sitting on his haunches, “Tell me about yourself. Where were you born? Where did you live? From A to Z, your history give!”
Why, my dear doggy,” I began, “I have see so many different things, and been in so many different places, and lived with so many different people, that I couldn’t tell you all if I began talking now and never stopped until the Christmas after next.”
“Woof! Woof! Polly,” exclaimed Spark, lifting himself up on his hind legs and wagging his tail, “Don’t put on such airs. You act as if you were as important as George Washington, Hiawatha, Abraham Lincoln, Christopher Columbus, and Robinson Crusoe all put together. Wow!”
You see Spark knew of these heroes, having often heard Robert read about them to Ruth and Janie. Then I sang, swaying to and fro on my swing,
“Robinson Crusoe, why did you do so?
Robinson Crusoe, why did you do so?”
Spark laughed and barked so loudly at this that I remarked,
“Don’t make so much noise. Some one might come in and then maybe I’ll not have a chance to tell you any more of my story and, like most people, I do love to hear myself talk.”
“Go on, Pollykins,” begged Spark, stretching himself at full length on the rug by my cage.
“If you please,” I began, with a saucy toss of my head and strutting back and forth, I am a Mexican, double yellow head parrot. I am called Mexican because I come from Mexico.”
“Humph! Any baby would know that much,” snapped Spark. “That is just like saying black birds are called black because they are black.”
“I am called yellow head because my head is yellow,” I went on just to tease the dog a bit.
“Oh ginger!” sniffed Spark, cocking an ear, “I thought you were called yellow head because your tail feathers are green.”
“Don’t think so much,” I replied, “but listen and learn. When I was born, there was a yellow spot only on the top of my head but that spot spread as I grew older until, when I was five years of age, my whole head and the upper part of my neck were as bright a yellow as they are now. Did you know that?”
“No,” answered Spark, “that’s something I did not know. But one is never too old to learn, even from a Mexican double yellow head parrot that comes from Mexico and has a yellow head. Ha! Ha!”
“Hush! sassbox,” I commanded, “and I’ll tell you some more. Mexico, where my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were born, is a beautiful, warm country and, as in all warm places, nuts, berries, flowers, fruits and trees grew everywhere. Oh, the gorgeous birds that sang and flew among the think green branches of the trees! And monkeys! If you could have seen the funny things swinging by their tails from branch to branch!”
“Say, Spark, some folks say that parrots and monkeys are so much alike. Maybe that is so because they are both mimics, mischievous and love to play tricks, but I’m positive that I look more like a bird of paradise than I do like a foolish monkey face. Now, don’t I?”
“I wouldn’t want you to be any more conceited than you are, Polly,” Spark answered, raising his right paw. “But I will say that you are a very handsome bird. I love to look at your green feathers, with the little touches of red and blue.”
Then Spark rose, shook himself and with a wag of his tail, said,
“Of all the birds on this green earth
That I have met, ere since my birth,
There’s none that can at all compare
With you, oh, Poly Bird, so fair.”
“My father, mother, two sisters, brother and myself lived in a large tree,” I went on, smiling proudly at his words of praise. “We were as happy as could be, for we never knew that there were people who made a business of catching and selling birds—”
“I could have told you that,” interrupted Spark.
“That was long before you were born, doggy,” I replied, and then went on. “One bright summer day when we children were but three weeks old and were just learning how to fly, my father said, ‘I’m going out to get you all some dinner. I won’t be gone long.’
“As soon as he had flown away a Mexican man crept softly up to our snug nest and grabbed hold of us children. Mother shrieked loudly for father, but by that time he was too far away to hear her cries. She flapped her strong wings, she pecked the man, she hit him, she dug her claws into his face. She would have given her life to save her babies. But it was all of no use and, as the Mexican carried us away, we heard the sad wails and painful cries of our beloved mother.”
“Gr-rr, Gr-rr, Gr-rr,” growled Spark. “Wouldn’t I just like to get a chance at that fellow for about three minutes. Gr-rr, Gr-rr, Gr-rr! But isn’t it queer he didn’t take your mother too, Polly?”
“No,” I answered. “Bronchos, that is what old parrots are called, aren’t worth much. It is only the real young parrots that sell for a good price.”
“Go on, Polly,” said Spark with a deep sigh, as he again settled himself on the rug.
“Well, we were so young that this man had to feed us by hand, but he took such good care of us that I whispered to my brother who, although no older than I, was wiser, ‘Things could be much worse, couldn’t they?'”
“No, they couldn’t,” he answered quickly. “Don’t you see that he is treating us kindly because if we are in good condition he can sell us quicker? I am afraid we shall soon be parted. My heart is broken at the thought of it; but no matter where we are or what happens to us, let us always remember our father and mother and each other, and who knows but what we shall meet again.”
“Poor little parrots! Dear little parrots;” Spark murmured, sadly shaking his head.
You see my story brought back to him all the heart ache he had known when he was taken from his home. And, alas! it was just as my brother had said. Before very long we were placed in large reed baskets that were hung on the sides of burros. We were taken to the market place and there put in cages. Then travelers, sailors and bird dealers came to look us over so as to choose the ones they wanted to buy.
I was the first of my family to be sold, so I didn’t know what became of my dear brothers and sisters. I was bought by a bird dealer and shipped with many other birds here to the United States. The voyage took three long, dreadful days. Never shall I forget it. Think of being cooped up in a dark little cage, in a rolling, pitching ship, after living in the green woods, under my mother’s wing.
“Oh, it must have been terrible,” said Spark, trotting to and fro.
“When the boat landed, I, with many other birds, was taken to a bird store. Here I saw beautiful birds, dainty gold fish, pet rabbits, white mice, guinea pigs and dogs, too, Spark. But I was so homesick, that I didn’t care even to look at any of them. The store keeper was good, sensible man and, although I moped and refused to eat for many days, he was patient and kind and never scolded me. Maybe he, too, had lost his mother and so understood how I felt.”
“Poor Polly! Poor Polly!” Spark said tenderly. “Let me be a mother to you.”
At the thought of this, we both screamed. Think of Spark being my mother! Oh dearie, dearie, dearie! How funny! But I answered meekly, “All right, Ma,” and I turned a somersault on my swing as Spark walked around the room on his hind legs. Just then, hearing the dinner bell ring, I called out, as I do every day,
“Dinner is ready. Come to dinner. Last call for dinner in the dining car.”
As Mr. and Mrs. Morse and the children entered the room, Spark rushed to meet them. He jumped up and down with joy, as if he hadn’t see the folks for a year. Then they all came up to my cage, which stood in a sunny bay window. Each one had something to say to Polly Morse, and Polly More had something to say to each of them. The children always screamed with delight at my funny remarks and when Janie, standing on her tip-toes, chirped, “Hello, Polly-Molly!” I answered saucily, with a chuckle,
“Hello, yourself, and see how you like it!”
What a story Polly had! Everyone has a story! What is yours?
Pleas share with us in the comments!