wildforce71: (triskell)
[personal profile] wildforce71
I almost didn't include this story. It's always upset me, a little bit. But I promised myself when I started this that I'd do all the stories, barring the ones everyone knows already. So, here it is.




The young seagull stood on his ledge, afraid to fly. He took a little run forward to the brink of the ledge and flapped his wings. But the great expanse of the sea stretched out far below, and he was sure that his stubby brown wings would never support him. So he turned away and ran back to the nest where he was born.

Even when his brother and sister had run to the brink, flapped their wings and flown away, he had not been brave enough to copy them. Now his mother and father called to him, urging him to fly, threatening to let him starve on his ledge unless he flew. But he simply could not move.

For a whole day nobody came near him. He watched his parents flying about with his brother and sister, teaching them how to rise and swoop, how to skim the waves, how to dive for fish. He saw his brother catch his first herring and eat it, while his parents cackled proudly. But still they brought him no food.

The sun was setting now. In the morning, he had found a piece of dried fish, but now there was not a scrap of food left. He searched among the dirty grass and seaweed of the family nest. He even gnawed at the dried pieces of spotted eggshell - the shell he had hatched from.

His brother and sister dozed on the cliff opposite. His father was preening the feathers on his white back. His mother was standing on a little jutting rock, her white breast thrust forward. She tore at a piece of fish that lay at her feet, then scraped each side of her beak on the black rock.

The sight of the food maddened him. How he loved to tear food like that, scraping his beak now and then to sharpen it!

Ga, ga, ga,” he cried, begging her to bring him over some food. He kept calling pitifully, and then gave a joyous shriek. His mother had picked up a piece of fish and was flying across to him! He leaned out eagerly, tapping the rock with his feet, trying to get nearer to her.

Then, directly opposite him, she halted, her feet hanging limp, her wings spread wide but barely moving. She hung in the air, the fish in her beak almost within reach of his. Why didn’t she come nearer? Why didn’t she give him the fish? He lurched at the food.

With a loud scream, he fell off the ledge and downwards into space!

His mother swooped upwards. As he fell beneath her, the little gull heard the swish of her wings. A terror seized him and his heart stood still. He could hear nothing.

But it lasted only a moment. Suddenly he felt his wings spread. He could feel his wingtips cutting the air. He was not falling now. He was floating gradually downwards. He was no longer afraid - just a little dizzy.

Then he flapped his wings sonce and soared upwards. Screaming with joy, he flapped again - and soared higher. He raised his breast and banked against the wind.

Ga, ga, ga! Gawl-ool-ah!” His mother swooped past him. He answered her with a cry. Then he completely forgot that he had not always been able to fly, and began to dive and soar himself.

He was near the water now, flying close to its glassy surface. He saw the little white ridges moving over the blue-green sea - and watched his family land on it. They were beckoning to him, calling him. He dropped his legs, to stand on the water.

His legs sank into it!

Screaming with fright, he tried to lift off again, flapping his wings. But his feet sank into the water, then his belly touched it. And he sank no further. He was floating! And around him his family was screaming, praising him, offering him scraps of fish.

The little gull had made his first flight!


Liam O'Flaherty. This story showed up in one of my school readers...
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