Vulgar words in Michael, Brother of Jerry (Page 1)
This book at a glance
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It's a damn shame.
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This master's name was Cocky.
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"Cocky," he said bravely, without a quiver of fear or flight, when Michael had charged upon him at sight to destroy him.
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And there was no human... only a small cockatoo that twisted his head impudently and sidewise at him and repeated, "Cocky."
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At this Cocky burst into such wild and fantastic shrieks of laughter that Michael, ears pricked, head cocked to one side, identified in the fibres of the laughter the fibres of the various voices he had just previously heard.
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And Cocky, only a few ounces in weight, less than half a pound, a tiny framework of fragile bone covered with a handful of feathers and incasing a heart that was as big in pluck as any heart on the Mary Turner , became almost immediately Michael's friend and comrade, as well as ruler.
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Minute morsel of daring and courage that Cocky was, he commanded Michael's respect from the first.
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But Cocky, a bit of feathery down, a morsel-flash of light and life with the throat of a god, violated with sheer impudence and daring Michael's taboo, the defence of the meat.
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For Cocky had a way with him, and ways and ways.
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When Cocky, balanced on one leg, the other leg in the air as the foot of it held the scruff of Michael's neck, leaned to Michael's ear and wheedled, Michael could only lay down silkily the bristly hair-waves of his neck, and with silly half-idiotic eyes of bliss agree to whatever was Cocky's will or whimsey so delivered.
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Cocky became more intimately Michael's because, very early, Ah Moy washed his hands of the bird.
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And when he saw Cocky, one day, perched and voluble, on the twisted fingers of Kwaque's left hand, Ah Moy discovered such instant distaste for the bird that not even eighteen shillings, coupled with possession of Cocky and possible contact, had any value to him.
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And so did pass the brave bit of feathered life with the heart of pluck, called of men, and of himself, "Cocky," who had been birthed in the jungle roof of the island of Santo, in the New Hebrides, who had been netted by a two-legged black man-eater and sold for six sticks of tobacco and a shingle hatchet to a Scotch trader dying of malaria, and in turn had been traded from hand to hand, for four shillings to a blackbirder, for a turtle-shell comb made by an English coal-passer after an old Spanish design, for the appraised value of six shillings and sixpence in a poker game in the firemen's forecastle, for a second-hand accordion worth at least twenty shillings, and on for eighteen shillings cash to a little old withered Chinaman-so did pass Cocky, as mortal or as immortal as any brave sparkle of life on the planet, from the possession of one, Ah Moy, a sea-cock who, forty years before, had slain his young wife in Macao for cause and fled away to sea, to Kwaque, a leprous Black Papuan who was slave to one, Dag Daughtry, himself a servant of other men to whom he humbly admitted "Yes, sir," and "No, sir," and "Thank you, sir."
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One other comrade Michael found, although Cocky was no party to the friendship.
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CHAPTER XII So sailed the Ship of Fools-Michael playing with Scraps, respecting Cocky and by Cocky being bullied and wheedled, singing with Steward and worshipping him; Daughtry drinking his six quarts of beer each day, collecting his wages the first of each month, and admiring Charles Stough Greenleaf as the finest man on board; Kwaque serving and loving his master and thickening and darkening and creasing his brow with the growing leprous infiltration; Ah Moy avoiding the Black Papuan as the very plague, washing himself continuously and boiling his blankets once a week; Captain Doane doing the navigating and worrying about his flat-building in San Francisco; Grimshaw resting his ham-hands on his colossal knees and girding at the pawnbroker to contribute as much to the adventure as he was contributing from his wheat-ranches; Simon Nishikanta wiping his sweaty neck with the greasy silk handkerchief and painting endless water-colours; the mate patiently stealing the ship's latitude and longitude with his duplicate key; and the Ancient Mariner, solacing himself with Scotch highballs, smoking fragrant three-for-a-dollar Havanas that were charged to the adventure, and for ever maundering about the hell of the longboat, the cross-bearings unnamable, and the treasure a fathom under the sand.
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"And I like you, sir-and a damn sight more than them money-sharks aft.
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This was composed of Steward, Kwaque, Cocky, and Scraps, and he ran with it as ancient forbears had ran with their own kind in the hunting.
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CHAPTER XV Had the trade wind not failed on the second day after laying the course for the Marquesas; had Captain Doane, at the mid-day meal, not grumbled once again at being equipped with only one chronometer; had Simon Nishikanta not become viciously angry thereat and gone on deck with his rifle to find some sea-denizen to kill; and had the sea-denizen that appeared close alongside been a bonita, a dolphin, a porpoise, an albacore, or anything else than a great, eighty-foot cow whale accompanied by her nursing calf-had any link been missing from this chain of events, the Mary Turner would have undoubtedly reached the Marquesas, filled her water-barrels, and returned to the treasure-hunting; and the destinies of Michael, Daughtry, Kwaque, and Cocky would have been quite different and possibly less terrible.
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"By damn, it's dead," was Captain Doane's comment five minutes later.
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The cockatoo stepped upon Daughtry's inviting index finger, swiftly ascended his shirt sleeve, and, on his shoulder, claws sunk into the flimsy shirt fabric till they hurt the flesh beneath, leaned head to ear and uttered in gratitude and relief, and in self-identification: "Cocky.
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Shoving clear, they roughly stored the supplies and dunnage out of the way of the thwarts and took their places, Ah Moy pulling bow-oar, next in order Big John and Kwaque, with Daughtry (Cocky still perched on his shoulder) at stroke.
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Dag Daughtry, who had kept always footloose and never married, surveyed the boat-load of his responsibilities to which he was anchored-Kwaque, the Black Papuan monstrosity whom he had saved from the bellies of his fellows; Ah Moy, the little old sea-cook whose age was problematical only by decades; the Ancient Mariner, the dignified, the beloved, and the respected; gangly Big John, the youthful Scandinavian with the inches of a giant and the mind of a child; Killeny Boy, the wonder of dogs; Scraps, the outrageously silly and fat-rolling puppy; Cocky, the white-feathered mite of life, imperious as a steel-blade and wheedlingly seductive as a charming child; and even the forecastle cat, the lithe and tawny slayer of rats, sheltering between the legs of Ah Moy.
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And ashore went Dag Daughtry, with his small savings, to rent two cheap rooms for himself and his remaining responsibilities, namely, Charles Stough Greenleaf, Kwaque, Michael, and, not least, Cocky.
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His family of Kwaque, Michael, and Cocky required food and shelter; more costly than that was maintenance of the Ancient Mariner in the high-class hotel; and, in addition, was his six-quart thirst.
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So Kwaque remained in the two rooms, cooking and housekeeping for his master and caring for Michael and Cocky.
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There's Kwaque, an' Mr. Greenleaf, an' Cocky, not even mentioning you an' me, an' we eat an awful lot.
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Daughtry elaborated on the counting trick by bringing Cocky along.
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Thus, when a waiter did not fetch the right number of glasses, Michael would remain quite still, until Cocky, at a privy signal from Steward, standing on one leg, with the free claw would clutch Michael's neck and apparently talk into Michael's ear.
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The sea's the life for us-you an' me, Killeny, son, an' the old gent an' Kwaque, an' Cocky, too.
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"Don't you come any closer," one warned him, flourishing his club with the advertisement of braining him.
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"You bet, Cocky!
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"Cocky," he called.
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* * * * * Cocky himself was the first to discover that the door was ajar, and was looking at it with speculation (if by "speculation" may be described the mental processes of a bird, in some mysterious way absorbing into its consciousness a fresh impression of its environment and preparing to act, or not act, according to which way the fresh impression modifies its conduct).
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Cocky, staring at the open door, was in just the stage of determining whether or not he should more closely inspect that crack of exit to the wider world, which inspection, in turn, would determine whether or not he should venture out through the crack, when his eyes beheld the eyes of the second discoverer staring in.
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Cocky knew danger at the first glimpse-danger to the uttermost of violent death.
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Yet Cocky did nothing.
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They alighted on Cocky.
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No less frozen was Cocky.
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Could a bird sigh, Cocky would have sighed.
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The eyes brooded on Cocky, and the entire body was still save for the long tail, which lashed from one side to the other and back again in an abrupt, angry, but monotonous manner.
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Never removing its eyes from Cocky, the cat advanced slowly until it paused not six feet away.
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And Cocky, who could not know death with the clearness of concept of a human, nevertheless was not altogether unaware that the end of all things was terribly impending.
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As he watched the cat deliberately crouch for the spring, Cocky, gallant mote of life that he was, betrayed his one and forgivable panic.
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Cocky!" he called plaintively to the blind, insensate walls.
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The burden of his call was: "It is I, Cocky.
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I am Cocky.
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I am Cocky."
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This, and much more, was contained in his two calls of: "Cocky!
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And there was no answer from the blind walls, from the hall outside, nor from all the world, and, his moment of panic over, Cocky was his brave little self again.
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But Cocky was himself again.
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The gutter-cat prepared and sprang with sudden decision, landing where Cocky had perched the fraction of a second before.
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Cocky had darted to the side, but, even as he darted, and as the cat landed on the sill, the cat's paw flashed out sidewise and Cocky leaped straight up, beating the air with his wings so little used to flying.
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Struck in mid-air, a trifle of a flying machine, all its delicate gears tangled and disrupted, Cocky fell to the floor in a shower of white feathers, which, like snowflakes, eddied slowly down after, and after the plummet-like descent of the cat, so that some of them came to rest on her back, startling her tense nerves with their gentle impact and making her crouch closer while she shot a swift glance around and overhead for any danger that might threaten.
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The public-" "Poppycock," said Walter Merritt Emory.
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Nor was there absent from the flashing visions of his consciousness the images and memories of Kwaque and Cocky.
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Whining eagerly, he strained at the leash, risking his tender toes among the many inconsiderate, restless, leather-shod feet of the humans, as he quested and scented for Cocky and Kwaque, and, most of all, for Steward.
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Also, take it from me, he's all spunk.
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Nor least of all did Scraps appear, and Cocky, the valiant-hearted little fluff of life gallantly bearing himself through his brief adventure in the sun.
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And it would seem to Michael that on one side, clinging to him, Cocky talked farrago in his ear, and on the other side Sara clung to him and chattered an interminable and incommunicable tale.
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"Drink, damn you, drink-have some more," he would say, as he shoved their heads down and under the dirty, soapy water.
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Come on along and see-damn him!
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The bonehead audience sits there and applauds the show as an educational act!"
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And, as Miss Merle Merryweather said: the bonehead audiences, tickled to death, applauded Duckworth's Trained Cats and Rats as an educational act!