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      An Online Edition

edited and annotated, with an introduction by Dr. Luke A. Powers

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Saturday, April 25, 1914

[The Blue Jay]



     "Speaking of insects," said the Sparrow--the Bluejay had been holding forth on the question of fate and freewill for half an hour, and there was no sign of his speech coming to an end--"speaking of insects reminds me of the City Beautiful's recent discussions of the city, food supply, especially the bakeries."

     "That's a long way for a reminder to carry you," said the Gray Pigeon, looking puzzled.

     "Is it? It ought to be longer. As it is any club woman can point out the connection. The baker has 'got his,' the butcher comes a close second and the candlestick-maker had better look out or they will be after him with tests of weights and measure.

     "It's true enough that the management of the public food supply and service is open to criticism. I know of one baker who has kept two big house flies in his front window all winter. Of course I couldn't make affidavit that they were the same pair, but I think they must be, for what flies privileged to live on ham sandwiches and frosted cakes in a palace of plate glass would willingly change places with any other pair?"

     "This baker may have a particular affection for these two pets," suggested the Gray Pigeon.

     "Then he ought to keep them in a cage in the rear of the bakery," said the Sparrow. "They will come to fancy themselves Easter rabbits before long. I should like to have a talk with him about the value of flies as a window-dressing; it is not commonly recognized in the advertising world. I know one woman who passes that bakery every time she goes down town [sic], but has never bought so much as a cooky for her baby there. Perhaps she has been reading the magazines, seeing the movies, or attending the meetings of the City Beautiful, while the baker has pursued his trade, or perhaps she prefers to make her own bread.

     "Among little boys tin boxes are sometimes in great demand as cages for pet woodticks, and I know a man who keeps one in the lid of his watch. Country girls often imprison fireflies in their translucent white handkerchiefs with very pretty effect, and Italian beauties are said to impale living moths as hair ornaments. But if the baker wishes to keep a pair of flies, either from motive of scientific interest or from pleasure in their society, he should see that the health of the public be not endangered. They could easily be kept in cages, like Japanese singing crickets, and a portion of food of the choicest allotted to them each day, without allowing them to spoil that of the baker's customers."

     "Sparrow," protested the White Pigeon in tones of the gentlest reproof, "I should like you better if you were not always looking into people's backyards and bedrooms."

     "Anybody can see their front porches and parlors," declared the little critic unabashed. "It's the dust and dirty clothes behind the door that tell you a person will do to watch. A fly or two in the front window may mean anything imaginable in the department where the actual preparation of the food is done."

     "That may be true," resumed the Jay, taking a loftier position in the magnolia near the fountain. "But I maintain that the principle set forth, as shown by the grub's fate when split out of an unripe acorn by the freewill of a stout beak--"

     The entire group of Sparrows flew up in twittering crowd, whirled like a drift of dry leaves round the iron figure on the fountain, and set off in the direction of the Confederate cemetary for the sake of quiet.

     "Jay! jay! jay! Hit 'em a lick, hit 'em a lick!" screamed the orator after them, in wrath. But he soon found that there was plenty of mischief in the courthouse oaks for him to do.





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