Words for the story:
- plaguy — причиняющий беспокойство
- jay bird — сойка
- bangeing — слетающихся
- demure — скромный
- snare — поймать в ловушку
Soon it would be berry-time, and Sylvia was a great help at picking. The cow was a good milker, though a plaguy thing to keep track of, the hostess gossiped frankly, adding presently that she had buried four children, so Sylvia’s mother, and a son (who might be dead) in California were all the children she had left. «Dan, my boy, was a great hand to go gunning,» she explained sadly. «I never wanted for partridges or gray squirrels while he was to home. He’s been a great wanderer, I expect, and he’s no hand to write letters. There, I don’t blame him, I’d ha’ seen the world myself if it had been so I could.
«Sylvy takes after him,» the grandmother continued affectionately, after a minute’s pause. «There ain’t a foot of ground she don’t know her way over, and the wild creaturs counts her one of themselves. Squirrels she’ll tame to come and feed right out of her hands, and all sorts of birds. Last winter she got the jay-birds to bangeing here, and I believe she’d have scanted herself of her own meals to have plenty to throw out amongst them, if I hadn’t kept watch. Anything but crows, I tell her, I’m willing to help support — though Dan he had a tamed one of them that did seem to have reason same as folks. It was round here a good spell after he went away. Dan and his father they didn’t hitch, — but he never held up his head again after Dan had dared him and gone off.»
The guest did not notice this hint of family sorrows in his eager interest in something else.
«So Sylvy knows all about birds, does she?» he exclaimed, as he looked round at the little girl who sat, very demure but increasingly sleepy, in the moonlight. «I am making a collection of birds myself. I have been at it ever since I was a boy.» (Mrs. Tilley smiled.) «There are two or three very rare ones I have been hunting for these five years. I mean to get them on my own ground if they can be found.»
«Do you cage them up?» asked Mrs. Tilley doubtfully, in response to this enthusiastic announcement.
«Oh no, they’re stuffed and preserved, dozens and dozens of them,» said the ornithologist, «and I have shot or snared every one myself. I caught a glimpse of a white heron a few miles from here on Saturday, and I have followed it in this direction. They have never been found in this district at all. The little white heron, it is,» and he turned again to look at Sylvia with the hope of discovering that the rare bird was one of her acquaintances.
But Sylvia was watching a hop-toad in the narrow footpath.