The Gulls

from The Magic Pond and other fables

In a place where the coast is harsh and craggy and the sea smashes white against the rocks, a colony of gulls made their nests in a ruined croft. And when the days grew longer, and the ocean plentiful, the chicks hatched out of their eggs, and the parent gulls attempted to teach them all that they knew.

“What is this place?” asked a particularly inquisitive chick. “What is this place where we live?”

“It is the coastline,” its parent told it, “you must learn to jump off it and fly.”

“Nah, that’s not what I mean,” said the chick. “I mean this place where we dwell. What’s it called?”

“It is called a ruined croft,” the parent answered. “It is no more than a heap of stones. Now, first lesson – ”

“Hang on,” said the inquisitive chick – who really was remarkably inquisitive – “Is this a random geological feature? It looks to me as though it may have been constructed by man.”

“It doesn’t matter,” said the parent. “Now, after me, flap!”

“You speak wisely, young chick,” interrupted one of the older gulls. “This place was indeed constructed by man. He builds these ruined crofts for us to nest in, for he worships us, and believes that we are gods.”

“Not quite,” interrupted another of the gulls, “it was actually originally built for people to live in, but we have taken it over as revenge upon man for exploiting us in the many ways that he has.”

“We have not merely taken it over – ” added one of the more radical gulls – “but we have torn it apart and eaten the occupants.”

The inquisitive chick attempted to comprehend the discussion, as did the other gulls – few of who had ever considered the question before.

“Excuse me,” said the parent. “Are you ready?”

“It is a moot point among all gulls,” the very oldest of the gulls interceded, “as to whether we took it over or whether it was given as a gift. In either eventuality, it is conceded that the croft was already ruined, as you cannot carry hewn granite with a beak. Most importantly, it is generally agreed that the occupants will not be coming back as we have shat all over it.”

“It seems to me – ” the inquisitive chick summarised, with a wisdom beyond its weeks – “that this is, indeed, of no importance whatsoever.”

And he jumped off the cliff and plummeted to his death.

Moral: You’re gonna lose that gull.

© Adam Acidophilus 2003