Monday, October 20, 2003
The Little Sparrow, by Maxim Gorky

Sparrows are just like people. The grown-ups are dull as ditchwater and everything they say sounds as if it came out of a book, but the young have minds of their own.

Once upon a time there lived a baby sparrow and his name was Poodik. He lived on top of a bath-house window in a nice warm nest made of tow, bits of moss and other soft stuff. He had not yet tried to fly, but already he was flapping his little wings and poking his head out of the nest. He was very impatient to know what the outside world was like and whether it was good enough for him.

"Tweet, tweet --- what are you up to?" Mother Sparrow would ask and Poodik would shake his wings and, peeping down at the ground, would chirrup back: "It's ch-err-ibly dark down there! Ch-err-ibly dark!"

Then Father Sparrow would come home with insects for them to eat and start boasting: "I'm the chief! I'm the chief!"
And Mother Sparrow would chirp approvingly: "Yes, chief! Yes, chief!"
But Poodik just swallowed the insects and thought to himself: "They give you a leggy worm and talk as if it was fantastic!"

And he would keep poking his head out of the nest and peering around.
"Now, child! Now, child!" his mother chirped at him. "mind you don't fall out!"
"Don't be silly! Not I," Poodik chirped back.
"It'll be silly you, if there's a cat about! He'll gobble you up!" his father explained, flying off on another hunt.
And so the days went by. Yet Poodik's wings were in no hurry to grow.

One day a strong wind sprang up.
"Twee-ee-eet! Twee-ee-eet! What's this?" Poodik wanted to know.
"It's the wind," his mother told him. "And it could blow you out of the nest. Then-whoops! Down you go to the cat!"

Poodik did not like the sound of that so he said:
"Why are the trees swaying? Let them stop swaying, and the wind will go away."
His mother tried to explain how things worked, but he would not believe her. He had his own answer for everything.

A man walked past the bath-house, swinging his arms.
"The cat must have torn his wings off," Poodik tweeted. "Only the bones remain."
"That's a man. Men don't have wings!" his mother said.
"Why not?"
"That's how they are. All they can do is hop about on two legs, see?"
"But why?"
"Because if they had wings, they would chase us, just as Daddy and I chase insects."
"That's twash!" Poodik tweeted. "Twash and twaddle! Everyone ought to have wings. It can't be such fun on the ground as it is in the air! When I grow up, I'll see that everyone can fly."

So Poodik refused to trust his mother. He was too young to know that you can land in trouble if you don't trust your mother.
Boldly he perched on the very edge of the nest, chirping out a cheery song:

Wingless human beings all
Your legs are useless things!
You may be big, you may be tall
But you each insect bites and stings.
Now look at me, small as can be
I feed on insects, as you see.

He went on singing till he fell right out of the nest. Down went Mother Sparrow after him. But so did the cat --- a big ginger monster with green eyes.
Poodik was frightened out of his feathers. He spread is little wings and, trembling on his small grey legs, twittered timidly:
"Highly honoured to see you, I'm sure."
But his mother pushed him aside. And with her feathers ruffled up, she looked very brave and fierce, her open beak aimed straight at the cat's green eyes.
"Quick, Poodik!" she cried. "Up on the window! Fly!"
Fear lifed the little sparrow off the ground. He took one jump, flapped his wings once and then again, and there he was on the window ledge.

And after him came Mother. Though she had lost her tail she was overjoyed. She gave him a good peck on the back of the head, saying, "Well?"
"Well, what?" said Poodik. "You can't learn everything at once!"

Meanwhile the cat was sitting on the ground, picking Mother Sparrow's feathers off his paw, staring up at them and miaowing sadly:
"What a sweet little spar-r-riow! Just like a miaowse! Miaow!"

So it all came right in the end, that is, if we don't count the loss of Mummy's tail.

- posted by Allie @ 4:16 PM | | 0 rocks in pond


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