The Pearl, Part III
For the next part of our story, it will be important to know
something more about Sally. Unlike William and Freddy, she had
traveled far and wide and seen many things in her wanderings. She
seen a great deal of what we'll call 'life'. By that I mean the
and the lives of real people, the 'human beings' who lived on Nantucket
Island and also the people who lived inland, far from the sea.
Sally would have her chance to share what she
knew with her friends. We need to know, too, that Sally had a
very big, warm, open and
loving heart, considering that she was only a bird and not a big one at
that. Because she had traveled and seen so much, she understood
that 'life' for some of the people on land was a hard struggle.
always find food by catching a fish or eating kitchen scraps.
birds, who fold their wings and sleep almost anywhere, the 'human
had no 'coat' of feathers to keep them warm and dry. They needed
in shelters, which they called 'houses' and houses weren't always easy
to find. Of course, not all the human beings had these problems
same way. Sally understood that some of them lived a life almost
carefree as a bird's, while some of them had to work very hard to find
the things that she and William and Freddy took pretty much for granted.
And now, because Sally understood all this, we'll see that it makes a big difference in what happens next.
First of all, Sally had more to tell her friends about pearls. It
happens that she knew quite a bit more about them beyond the fact that
they come from inside an oyster. That evening, as William rocked at
anchor and Freddy swam around them in slow circles, Sally perched on
William's mast and told this story:
"One night", she said, "I had flown inland to a big city called
'Providence.' I was looking for food." Sally mentioned that the name of
the city had a special meaning that she didn't fully understand, but
another bird, a sparrow, had told her that it meant something like "If
you look for it and trust 'Providence,' you will find it." Sally
thought that was a strange enough meaning for the name of a city, but
she was hungry and decided to give it a try.
Another seagull had suggested Sally look into a way of finding food
that he called 'dumpster diving'. This was not like diving into the
ocean for a fish. Instead, it meant diving into one of the giant metal
containers parked outside buildings called 'restaurants,' where the
human beings often ate their meals. That's where the kitchen scraps were
thrown after the humans had eaten. Sally understood that well enough
now from following the cruise ships. She had been circling and gliding
high above Providence that night, looking for a likely dumpster when
she noticed something else. On a busy avenue below, Sally saw a man and
a woman standing amid the passing crowd, looking into a brightly
lighted shop window. What caught Sally's eye was that the woman seemed
to have many bright, shiny, twinkling 'stars' attached to the top part
of her body.
Many birds, and seagulls in particular, are attracted by
small, shiny objects and will sometimes dive down from high in the sky
to pick one up from the sand. Besides that, Sally was, after
all, a 'woman' too--and just like any female--bird or human--she
but notice that this other female with the shiny stars attached had her
whole body covered with rich and beautiful plumage. 'Plumage'
feathers to Sally, and she knew from experience that some birds are
much prettier than others. She considered her own plumage quite
but when she noticed another bird with especially nice feathers, she
couldn't help being curious. Now, Sally glided down and perched
streetlight to have a closer look.
Just at that moment, the man and the woman turned from the shop window
and went inside. Sally swooped down to the street to see what would
happen next. Inside, she saw the man and the woman were now talking
with another man who was standing behind a very large glass box on the
floor. Sally was amazed to see that the box was filled with hundreds of
twinkling stars just like those on the woman's body. Now the man was
taking the stars, one by one, out of the glass box and showing them to
the woman. Then, wonder of wonders, among the stars he showed her was a
'pearl' very much like the one that William had. This pearl was not so
large as William's and it was attached to a shiny metal circle that the
woman used to attach it to her finger. The woman put the metal circle
on her hand and admired the pearl for a long time.
happened that was a mystery to Sally for quite some time. The man
reached into his pocket and took out a flat, black, folded thing. He
unfolded it and took out a bundle of green papers. Then he began
putting pieces of paper down on the glass box in front of the other
man, one by one, until he had made a large stack. The man took the papers
and put them into his own pocket. Then he put the pearl into a tiny, silver
box and handed it to the woman.
All of them seemed
very pleased now. The man and woman were smiling
when they came out of the shop and walked away in the evening crowd.
Sally flew away too, circling and gliding back to the seashore, but her
mind was racing with questions about what she had seen. She had an idea
about where to go for the answers.
It was late now. Sally told William and Freddy she would continue her
story tomorrow. William turned on his red flashing light. Freddy dived
down to the oyster bed to rest and Sally tucked her head under her wing
and fell asleep, while William rocked her ever so gently on his mast.
The next day dawned bright and clear. Sally was up early.
still asleep as Sally fluffed up her feathers and got ready to leave.
She gave William's bell a few little pecks with her beak.
"I'm going to
find some breakfast," she said. "I'll be back." "Okay, Sally dear,"
said William. He gave a couple of sleepy dings. "Have a
wonderful day. See you later." Sally flew off in lazy circles toward a cruise ship she saw passing in the distance.
Later that afternoon, when Sally returned, she found William and Freddy
playing their favorite game, 'Tugboat'. Freddy was swimming
around William churning up the water with his tail. Then he put
nose against William's big tank and pretended to push with all his
might. William, of course, didn't move. He couldn't
because of his
chain. "I think you've run aground, Captain," Freddy bubbled.
stuck on a sandbar. I'll have to go for help." William and
Freddy laughed and laughed. Then Freddy swam around
again till they were ready to start over from the beginning.
laughed too. She was pleased to see her two friends having fun.
As the sun began to sink in the west, William and Freddy were tired of
playing. They settled down and asked Sally if she were ready to
continue her story. "Oh, yes," she said. "I've been thinking about it
Here's what she told them: "When I left the man and the woman on the
street in Providence, I flew down to the harbor to sleep on a big, black
pole sticking out of the water. It's called a 'piling'. It used to hold
up a pier where ships were tied. Now it's just a convenient spot for
sea gulls to rest on. I couldn't sleep very well, though, because all I could think of was
the mystery of the pearl and the stack of green papers. I knew what I
was going to do, though. Next day I would go to see my friend Oliver,
the owl. He would know the answers to my questions."
"Oliver lives in a barn a few miles from the beach. That's where he
sleeps, all day long, every day. I had to be careful because Oliver is
usually very grumpy about being awakened in the daytime, but going to
see him at night is out of the question. Oliver goes 'hunting' at night,
looking for field mice to eat. At those times, he is in a fierce, bad
mood. If he saw me then, he could easily forget that I am his friend
and he might try to eat me."
Sally did find Oliver that day and
here's what he told her. Oliver said, "The human beings are very
strange. Just like birds, they like small things that are bright and
shiny. Some of them have very large collections of shiny things, but
unlike us, who only pick up these things out of curiosity when we
happen to see them lying on the ground, the human beings place great
value on them. It's hard to explain 'value' to a bird because the only thing we
really 'value' is food and we can always find that if we just fly around
for a while. For us, everything else is 'free', which means we never have
to think of it at all. But life is not so easy for the humans. Many of
the things they need, including food, are hard to find. Here's the
tricky part. When a human being can't get something he wants for
himself, he will get it from another human being in exchange for a
stack of green paper."
Sally laughed out loud at this queer idea. She ruffled her feathers and
shook them. She flew off her perch in the barn and made a circle in the air. She was still laughing when
she sat back down next to her friend on a big beam high above the barn
floor. Oliver, however, was not laughing. He opened his huge eyes very wide
and turned his head all the way around until he was looking behind
himself. Sally saw that Oliver was in a serious mood. She didn't want
to upset him. She stopped laughing.
Oliver adjusted his spectacles, which were really only the feathers
around his eyes. Then he said, "If I may go on now... " Sally closed her beak very tightly to keep from
laughing any more. She would have liked to laugh because now Ollie
looked just like a 'college professor'. She might not have been able to
help herself if she had ever seen a college professor, but she hadn't.
So she sat still and waited for Oliver to speak.
"There are many very odd things about the human beings that would be
too hard to explain here. To understand them, it might only be
necessary to know that they can't fly. This is a great handicap. Since
they can't move about easily, they often have to work very hard to gather the
stacks of green paper they must exchange for what they want. And much
of what they 'want' are the shiny things you saw last night inside the
shop. Once upon a time, the humans used to exchange the shiny things
for what they needed, and so they had to carry a large sack of shiny
things around with them all the time. This was very inconvenient. Eventually they
exchanged the heavy sacks for green paper, which was much easier to
Sally was amazed. She was so surprised by what Oliver had told her that
she sat quite still for a long time, while she pondered this
information. Then she gave Oliver a little peck on his cheek, thanked
him for his help, and flew back out to sea to visit with William and
Freddy. Night had fallen by the time she finished her tale that day.
William and Freddy were as amazed as she was. They thought and thought
until they were too sleepy to think any more. Then they all fell fast
asleep and dreamed dreams of shiny things and stacks and stacks of