- Where did the young seagull sit?
- On a ledge
- When did the young seagull’s brothers and his sister fly away from the ledge?
- Two days ago
- A day ago
- Why was the young seagull not able to fly?
- He was afraid
- He was too small
- He had no one to teach.
- Somehow, when he had taken a little run forward to the brink of the ledge and attempted to flap his wings, he became afraid.
- The great expanse of sea stretched down beneath, and it was such a long way down — miles down.
- He felt certain that his wings would never support him; so he bent his head and ran away back to the little hole under the ledge where he slept at night.
- Even when each of his brothers and his little sister, whose wings were far shorter than his own, ran to the brink, flapped their wings, and flew away, he failed to muster up courage to take that plunge which appeared to him so desperate. His father and mother had come around calling to him shrilly, scolding him, threatening to let him starve on his ledge, unless he flew away. But for the life of him, he could not move.
- That was twenty-four hours ago. Since then, nobody had come near him.
- The day before, all day long, he had watched his parents flying about with his brothers and sister, perfecting them in the art of flight, teaching them how to skim the waves and how to dive for fish.
- He had, in fact, seen his older brother catch his first herring and devour it, standing on a rock, while his parents circled around raising a proud cackle. And all the morning, the whole family had walked about on the big plateau midway down the opposite cliff, laughing at his cowardice.
- The sun was now ascending the sky, blazing warmly on
his ledge that faced the south. He felt the heat because
he had not eaten since the previous nightfall. Then, he
had found a dried piece of mackerel’s tail at
the far end of his ledge. Now, there was not a
single scrap of food left. He had searched every
inch, rooting among the rough, dirt-caked
straw nest where he and his brothers and
sister had been hatched. He even gnawed at the dried
pieces of eggshell. It was like eating a part of himself.
He then trotted back and forth from one end of the ledge
to the other, his long gray legs stepping daintily, trying to
find some means of reaching his parents without having
to fly. But on each side of him, the ledge ended in a sheer
fall of precipice, with the sea beneath. And
between him and his parents, there was a
deep, wide crack.
- Surely he could reach them without flying if he could
only move northwards along the cliff face? But then, on
what could he walk? There was no ledge, and
he was not a fly. And above him, he could see
nothing. The precipice was sheer, and the top
of it was, perhaps, farther away than the sea
He stepped slowly out to the brink of the ledge, and,
standing on one leg with the other leg hidden under his
wing, he closed one eye, then the other, and pretended to
be falling asleep. Still, they took no notice of him. He saw
his two brothers and his sister lying on the plateau dozing,
with their heads sunk into their necks. His father was
preening the feathers on his white back. Only his mother
was looking at him.
- She was standing on a little high hump on the plateau,
her white breast thrust forward. Now and again, she tore
at a piece of fish that lay at her feet, and then scraped
each side of her beak on the rock. The sight of
the food maddened him. How he loved to tear
food that way, scraping his beak now and again to whet it! He uttered a low cackle. His mother cackled
too, and looked at him.