All day this meditated outrage has kept my blood up. Think of this beautiful cardinal beating his heart out against maddening bars, or caged for life in some dark city street, lonely, sick, and silent, bidden to sing joyously of that high world of light and liberty where once he sported! Think of the exquisite refinement of cruelty in wishing to take him on the eve of May!
It is hardly a fancy that something as loyal as friendship has sprung up between this bird and me. I accept his original shyness as a mark of his finer instincts; but, like the nobler natures, when once he found it possible to give his confidence, how frankly and fearlessly has it been given. The other day, brilliant, warm, windless, I was tramping across the fields a mile from home, when I heard him on the summit of a dead sycamore, cleaving the air with stroke after stroke of his long melodious whistle, as with the swing of a silken lash. When I drew near he dropped down from bough to bough till he reached the lowest, a few feet from where I stood, and showed by every movement how glad he was to see me. We really have reached the understanding that the immemorial persecution of his race by mine is ended; and now more than ever my fondness settles about him, since I have found his happiness plotted against, and have perhaps saved his very life. It would be easy to trap him. His eye should be made to distrust every well-arranged pile of sticks under which lurks a morsel.
To=night I called upon Georgiana and sketched the arrested tragedy of the morning. She watched me curiously, and then dashed into a little treatise on the celebrated friendships of man for the lower creatures, in fact and fiction, from camels down to white mice. Her father must have been a remarkably learned man. I didn’t like this. It made me somehow feel as though I were one of Asp’s Fables, or were being translated into English as that old school-room horror of Androclus and the Lion. In the bottom of my soul I don’t believe that Georgiana cares for birds, or knows the difference between a blackbird and a crow. I am going to send her a little story, “The Passion of the Desert.” Mrs. Walters is now confident that Georgiana regrets having broken off her engagement. But then Mrs. Walters can be a great fool when she puts her whole mind to it.
In April I commence to scratch and dig in my garden.
To-day, as I was raking off my strawberry bed, Georgiana, whom I have not seen since the night when she satirized me, called from the window:
“What are you going to plant this year?”
“Oh, a little of everything,” I answered, under my hat. “What are you going to plant this year?”
“Are you going to have many strawberries?”
“It’s too soon to tell: they haven’t bloomed yet. It’s too soon to tell when they do bloom. Sometimes strawberries are like women: Whole beds full of showy blossoms; but when the time comes to be ripe and luscious, you can’t find them.”