Outside the Parrot-house there was a terrible noise; a screaming,
squawking, shouting, and crying, just as if the whole place were on
fire, or every Parrot were being killed.
The Macaws were sitting on their little perches out in the open
air. They were very proud of themselves, for they greatly enjoyed
being outside on a sunny, warm day; it was much better than being
in a cage, inside the house. They were all very fine birds; some
had blue heads and yellow bodies and green tails; others had red
heads and yellow tails; there were one or two who were quite white,
but they each one thought that he was a very fine fellow, and they
all shouted and screamed and squawked at the top of their voices.
And what was it all about? The greatest noise seemed to be going on
round one perch, where a big Macaw, with a blue and green head, was
talking very loud and very fast to a group of other birds close by,
and he seemed to be very angry about something. In one claw he held
a large apple, and if you had been near enough, you would have seen
that some one had evidently taken a big bite out of it. This was
what was making all the bother. Mr. Green-and-Blue-Head kept
shouting out: "Who bit my apple? Who bit my apple? I won't have it!
I won't stand it! It's too bad! It was all right this morning! I
believe it was you that did it!" (this was said to a white
Cockatoo). "Oh, you bad, wicked bird! What will become of you? Oh,
you bad thing! Go along, do! Who bit my apple?"
But the white Cockatoo began to scream at once. "'Oh, I didn't!" he
said. "How dare you say such a thing? Bite your apple, indeed! I
wouldn't do it. Don't call me names, because I won't have it. I'll
peck you, you bad bird! Who are you telling to get along? Bite your
apple, indeed! Squaw-aw-aw-aw-awk-k-k!"
Then a little, green Love Bird began to try to make peace. "It
doesn't matter very much, does it, Mr. Macaw?" she said. "It's not
a very big bite, though, of course, it must be very vexing. But I'm
sure Mr. Cockatoo didn't do it, if he says he didn't. But, please,
don't let us have any pecking. You'll find out, sometime, who did
it, I dare say."
"Oh, that's all very well for you," returned the Macaw, "but it
isn't your apple. Who bit my apple? Who bit my apple? You'd better
tell me, at once, whoever it was, and then, perhaps, I shan't be
quite so angry."
"Oh, do be quiet about your apple," put in another Macaw, with a
bright, red head. "Who cares about your apple? Why don't you enjoy
yourself out in the sun? I declare it quite makes me think of my
young days, sitting out here."
"Apple? Apple? Who said apple?" shouted another bird from the end
of the row. "Give me a bit! Give poor Polly a bit! Poor old Polly!
Pretty Poll! Give me a bit; don't be greedy! Who's got the apple?"
Then four or five others all began at once: "No, no, I want a bit!
I asked first! I want some, too! Over here! No, here you are! This
way with the apple! Hurry up! Be quick! Where's that apple?"
Just then a lady and a little girl and a little boy came along past
where the Parrots were sitting. Instantly all the birds began to
chatter and scream louder than ever.
"Look, look at them!" they called out. "Did you ever see anything
so absurd? Where are their feathers? What ridiculous beaks! I don't
believe they could crack nuts, if they tried ever so hard. They
haven't got any wings. Oh, how funny! Ha, ha, ha! Go away, do, you
The little girl and boy and the lady didn't understand what they
were saying, of course. But the lady said: "Come along quickly,
children, and let us get past these noisy birds; they quite give me
a headache with their screaming."
"Well, did you ever!" said the Parrots. "Calling us noisy birds!
I'm sure we're not noisy. They haven't got green heads and red
tails; I don't see what they think so much of themselves for! Well,
I'm glad they've gone! If they'd come near me, I'd have given them
a bite! Silly things! Squawk-k-k!"
The Macaw with the apple was still very sad. No one took any notice
of him, and no one would tell him who had bitten his precious
apple. All at once, it slipped out of his claw and fell on to the
ground. He tried to reach it, but the chain which tied him to his
perch was not long enough, and he couldn't get it. All the other
Parrots began to scream with laughter at him; they danced up and
down and flapped their wings and shouted, and made more noise than
ever. Then some Sparrows flew down and began to peck at the apple,
and this made the Macaw angrier than ever.
"H'm!" said one little Sparrow, looking up at the Macaw, with a
twinkle in his eye; "quite a good apple! I wonder that you threw it
away. Who's been biting it?"
The Macaw screamed and scolded, but it was no good. If he hadn't
talked so much, he might have eaten his apple in peace. Now, he had
lost it altogether.
And he never found out who bit his apple.