The Purple Bird-of-Paradise

Polynesia was waiting for us in the front porch. She looked full of some important news.

“Doctor,” said she, “the Purple Bird-of-Paradise has arrived!”

“At last!” said the Doctor. “I had begun to fear some accident had befallen her. And how is Miranda?”

From the excited way in which the Doctor fumbled his key into the lock I guessed that we were not going to get our tea right away, even now.

“Oh, she seemed all right when she arrived,” said Polynesia—“tired from her long journey of course but otherwise all right. But what do you think? That mischief-making sparrow, Cheapside, insulted her as soon as she came into the garden. When I arrived on the scene she was in tears and was all for turning round and going straight back to Brazil to-night. I had the hardest work persuading her to wait till you came. She’s in the study. I shut Cheapside in one of your book-cases and told him I’d tell you exactly what had happened the moment you got home.”

The Doctor frowned, then walked silently and quickly to the study.

Here we found the candles lit; for the daylight was nearly gone. Dab-Dab was standing on the floor mounting guard over one of the glass-fronted book-cases in which Cheapside had been imprisoned. The noisy little sparrow was still fluttering angrily behind the glass when we came in.

In the centre of the big table, perched on the ink-stand, stood the most beautiful bird I have ever seen. She had a deep violet-colored breast, scarlet wings and a long, long sweeping tail of gold. She was unimaginably beautiful but looked dreadfully tired. Already she had her head under her wing; and she swayed gently from side to side on top of the ink-stand like a bird that has flown long and far.