Wetting one’s beak

17 Sep

“Whew! That made me pretty dry, Nina,” chirped Pippo, as, his song ended, he tilted, panting, on the swaying branch. “Come let us wet our whistles with a nice dew cocktail.”

“Your first thought in the morning and the last at night is of something to drink. What will become of you! I expect to see you fall off your perch some day. Still, if you must drink, it is best that you should do so in good company; so I’ll drink with you this times, if you will promise to fetch me a nice fat worm for breakfast. Come, let’s take our bath first; then the cocktails.”

“No, Nina, here are two big ones already made. We’ll have these and find two more after the dip, to take the chill off, you know.”

“Pippo, you are going to the bad fast. Don’t you know that dew cocktails are quite insidious?”

“Insidious! That’s the hen of it! Anything with cocktail to it is ‘insidious’. Why, dew is the most innocent thing one can drink. It comes right out of the sky.”

“That is all right, if you would drink the dew on the flowers and grass in the garden, but you must always fly away somewhere to sip it off a mint leaf.”

“You are very unsophisticated yet, my dear. That is not a dew cocktail. That is a crème de menthe. The best cocktails are found in a rye-field. Last summer, down at the seashore,—Spezia, you know,—I was chirping with a gull who had been all over the world, and he said the finest cocktail he ever tasted was a dew-drop taken from a railroad up in the air, over in New York, and it was called a Manhattan cocktail. He said that one morning he took three or four before breakfast and flew out over the bay, but he couldn’t catch a fish. The water kept going around and around until he thought it all a big whirlpool. Then his wings dropped and he fell,—luckily on a boat, where he was picked up and locked up in a dark hole.”

“Oh! He was a ‘gull’, wasn’t he? You did not go around with him much, did you, Pippo?”

“Come, Nina, here goes. Here is a long life and a merry one.”

Down their thirsty little gullets ran the popular cocktails, and then they blinked at each other, gave a little chirp, and flew away to a shaded brook for a morning splash.

— R. George Smith, Jr., “In the Garden of a Villa”, The Black Cat: A Monthly Magazine of Original Short Stories, vol. 2:13 (October, 1896), pp. 14-24 (pp. 14-15).

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