When the girl came into our room of parrots and cockatoos, she had songbirds from the aviary perching on her shoulders and her head.
I squawked. “Awk! Hello, pretty bird. Pretty songs. Awk!“
“Aren’t you a handsome fellow!” she said, opening my cage door. “You might not sing pretty songs but you have the gift of speech!”
“The gift of speech!” I repeated. “Pretty speech. Pretty bird.”
I hopped onto the branch of her arm and she walked with me to the aviary. The songbirds flew back to their perches, but I flew up onto her shoulder and stayed there.
She wandered down the hall to her room.
“All alone. Very sad,” I said. I had learned those words from the Beast.
“I am not so alone now that you are with me, pretty bird.”
She carried me downstairs where her supper was laid out on the long dining table.
A setting for one.
Parrot of the Beast, in Beauty and the Beast, Blue Fairy Book. Illustration by Phillip Alexius de Laszlo.