Chapter 8

The Budgie



“A parrot? Do you know how much such an animal will cost?” Mr. Bumps, the pet shop owner in the small town of Aubachtal, looked at the children inquiringly.


“Well, we thought, them flying about in the jungle, there’ll be enough of them”, Rosy stammered,
“Well, we thought about twenty Marks, that’s what we’ve got left”, Elfrida added. “What about instalments?”
Mr. Bumps shook his head.


“This parrot comes from South America, the Amazon delta, to be exact.”
“Wow”, Rosy marvelled, “that’s where pyjamas come from.”
“Pyjamas?”
“Yea, and the CC-Flyers!”
“CC-Flyers? Pyjamas? I’m afraid I cannot follow you, Rosy.”
“What she means is piranhas and tsetse flies”, Jenny explained.
“She just will mix up everything, typical!”
“O yes, dear Berta, but you do know everything, don’t you?”
“Just so, dear Rosy. I know for instance that the Pyrenees are living there!”


“The Pyrenees?” Mr. Bumps scratched his head.
“Or do I mean the Pyramids?”


“You certainly mean the Pygmies”, Mr. Bumps said, enlightened. “The Pyrenees are a mountain chain...”
“... and the Pyramids pointed houses for mummies in Egypt”, Elfrida grinned. “But how much is this parrot now?”


“You’ve got to spend 200 Marks. These animals are really expensive.”


“Hum, so may we take a look around?”


“Of course you may, Elfrida, but remember: no hamsters. Last time I had quite a time with your parents.”


The children now looked around thoroughly in Mr. Bumps’ pet shop. Again and again they glimpsed at the cute little hamsters. Then however the cage with the budgies took their attention. 10 birds were in the cage, 4 blue and 6 green ones. Most of them had their heads under their wings and slept. Now and then a head came up to squint at the children. One of the budgies – green – was especially cheeky. Again and again he teased those who wanted to sleep. Merrily he hopped about in the cage and whistled. Beside the cage with the budgies another cage of the same size with one crow was placed.
“Gosh, but she looks moody”, Daisy said.


“Merry budgie seems to shirt her”, Susy assumed.


Like confirming her words, the crow croaked a threat at the budgie. But he was not impressed and croaked back. By now the crow was furious and tried to bite through the bars. The budgie began to cackle like making fun of the big black bird. The crow grew more annoyed and worked at the bars.
“She’ll never crack them”, Bernie said. “Such a silly bird.”


The green budgie seemed to be delighted over the big crow’s annoyance. Now something curious happened: the budgie hopped up and down the cage and jumped against the small cage door.


“Why, what’s the big idea of that?” Mary wondered.


“I think he wants to show the big, stupid bird how to open a door”, Jenny guessed. “Watch his run-up!”
Again and again the little bird jumped at the bars and really: the fourth time it sprang open. At once he set out for the crow-cage, sat down on the bars and looked at the black bird mockingly. Now the crow tried to bite the budgie but only bumped against the bars. After a few trials she was lying on the cage floor exhaustedly.


“Look at, the crow’s tail sticks out.” Berta craned her neck to get a better view.


“Budgie noticed.” Bernie could not suppress a laugh. “I’m sure I know what’s going to happen.”


Bernie guessed right. The little green budgie quickly jumped down from the crow’s cage and bit the crow’s tail. He pulled full power, the crow protested and yelled but to no avail. Now the big bird began to flap its wings, the cage swayed and in the end toppled over.


“O my, the cage door springs open!”


Elfrida and her friends saw with horror how the big black bird dashed out of its cage. Full of revenge she went for the little budgie. While the other budgies had hidden in a corner of their cage, frightened, the little green one remained sitting comfortably while the crow came closer and closer.


“We’ve got to do something”, Berta cried. “She’ll knock the little one out!”


However, it was too late, the crow croaked joyfully. She had almost reached her target when all of a sudden the budgie hopped aside and the crow crashed into the hamster cage which toppled over and the hamsters tumbled out. Blinking, the tired nocturnals noticed that something had happened. Seeing the big, black crow they fled, but the crow only wanted her budgie-revenge. He by now was sitting on a tiny island in the turtle-pool and whistled a tune.


“He seems to know no fear”, Elfrida respectfully said.
Jenny nodded. “I’m sure he’s got a plan again.”
He had indeed. The crow had discovered her enemy in the turtle pool and set out towards it with a croak. Once more she had almost reached him when suddenly the little budgie had vanished.
“He dived into the water”, whispered Jenny.
The information came too late for the crow. She crashed right into the turtles. In general, these slow animals are most good-natured. However, if matters go too far, they do bite and the big, black bird rather felt it. The crow croaked with shock when she suddenly was bitten and plucked from all sides. Leaving behind several feathers in the turtle pool, she fled into her cage the last of her strength and hid in the farthest corner.
“Game, set, and match to budgie!” Rosy cheered.
“Why game and set?” Berta did not understand.
“That’s said at tennis, don’t you know, dear Berta?”
“I’ve never been at Tennis, where is it?”
“Well, not in the Pyrenees. It’s a ball game, see?”


Berta blushed and turned back to the animals. By now the hamsters had discovered some salad in the pool and approached it. Threatening, the turtles craned their necks to defend their food but the hamsters were too nimble. Each of them snatched a piece of salad and ran back to the safe cage.
Only now the friends noticed that Mr. Bumps was beside them. He was rather white in the face and shook his head.


“I can’t go on. Over and over again that little green devil messes up everything.”
“So why don’t you sell him?” Daisy asked, surprised.
“I did – several times. They always bring him back to change him. He is much too smart and full of mischief. You saw what he did to the crow. Last week he screwed up a sheepdog until he hid in the cellar and did not come out for the rest of the week.”
Bernie stepped up to the man.
“We saw that the crow started it. The budgie only defended himself.”
“Indeed”, Elfrida nodded. “It was self-defence. Will not have been different with the sheepdog.”
“You only have to know how to treat an animal and it is docile.”
“Jenny is right”, Daisy now butt in. “I’m sure he would be fine with us.”
The pet shop owner felt suddenly uneasy.
“B-but he bit my finger yesterday…”
“…and you, what did you to him yesterday?”
“Animals feel it if one means them well!” Berta shouted.


The budgie seemed to notice that this was about him and chirped loudly.


“H-how about you taking the pet? A bag of birdseed will go with it, free of course.”
“What?” Berta was foaming. “You just want to give away the poor darling?”
Elfrida quickly pulled Berta aside.


“All right, Mr. Bumps, we’ll take the pet. You put the food on it and we need not pay anything. Okay?”
“O-okay.”


Mr. Bumps fetched a box and approached the cage. Curiously they all watched how the little green budgie would behave now. He remained quietly on his bar while all his colleagues in the cage fluttered and tried to hide. Mr. Bumps had no trouble to catch the bird and put it into the box. It seemed the budgie was looking forward to new adventures. Mr. Bumps still looked quite white when he handed the box to the children.
“Free articles cannot be exchanged.”


“Did I get that right?” Berta foamed. “He talks about articles. He calls a peaceful little pet an article! Do you have any idea how much you hurt such an innocent little…”


“Come now, Berta, and stop jabbering!”
Elfrida and Jenny dragged her through the door.
Whistling happily, the children set out home. It did not take long until whistling also came out of the box. They all laughed and Bernie said:
“Well, such a speaking bird you’ll meet seldom.”
“You mean whistling”, Berta objected. “Everybody can whistle. Wait if he also speaks.”
“Nagging all day. Just wait and see!”
“Well, dear Rosy, I just gave my opinion.”
“Indeed, dearest Berta, but no one asked you for one.”
The two pigs just wanted to start their next quarrel when there was a voice from the box:
“Dear – dearest – Rosy – Berta – Rosy – Berta – dearest!”
Rosy and Berta gawked at the box open-mouthed and found no words.
“That’s really a right hook!” Elfrida laughed.
“Rosy – hook!” came a voice out of the box.
Rosy glared at the box lowering: “Do you want trouble? Don’t you say again that Rosy is a hook.”
“Trouble – Rosy!”
“No, don’t trouble Rosy. Say: Rosy is a darling!”
“Let me do it”, Berta interrupted. “You do it all wrong.” She came close to the box and said: “Hello, birdie. I am Berta, so listen to me and don’t foul up: Berta is a darling!”
“Hello-Berta-is-foul. Hello-Berta-is-foul. Hello-Berta-is…”


The children laughed so loud that the budgie was scared to silence. By now they had reached the house of Elfrida’s parents. They stormed past the baffled Bobble into Elfrida’s room. She closed the door behind them.


“So that he does not escape”, she explained and cautiously opened the box.


The little green budgie hopped out immediately, flew to Elfrida’s bed and looked about him. The room looked like it usually did. All over the bed were strewn dolls and parts, the floor was littered with toys and the window sills with books.


“Foul-foul-foul!”
“You think it’s that bad, my little chap?” Elfrida asked. “Shall I clear up only because there are visitors?”
“Foul-clear, foul-clear!”
“That’s it”, Elfrida laughed. “Clearing up is foul. I think, we’ll rub along.”


Now they all sat down on the floor and discussed what was to be done next. Berta proposed that the bird should get lessons now. Daisy remembered that her brother had an old bird cage – the budgie was to get it. Bernie thought it was important that first of all the bird got a name. Jenny took over.
“All right, he’s got a cage, Daisy will fetch it. When he’s in the cage, he’ll get lessons. But first of all he has to get a name. What about Johnny?”
Berta shook all over and proposed Robert but Rosy and Susy did not like that. Mary proposed Henry, Bernie liked Greeny best, Rosy had no idea at all, Daisy thought Bobo fitting, and Elfrida threw up her hands in despair.


“No, that’s all not good”, she groaned and looked at the budgie. “What do you say, bird?”
“Foul-foul-foul.”
“You see, that is foul, you hear? The bird does not like it either.”
Suddenly the budgie flattered excitedly.
“Visit-visit!”
A moment later the door opened and Bobble came in.
“Ah, an Australian guest this time. Hello, Mr. Bird!” Bobble grinned at the bird.
“He is very clever, Daddy!”
Elfrida nodded, the bird tilted his head and looked at Bobble.
“Hear, hear”, Bobble said. “So you’re a true Einstein? Or some Doctor?”
“Doctor-Einstein-Doctor-Einstein”, the bird chirped.
Bobble retreated two steps but Elfrida jumped up and walked up to the pet.
“Dr. Einstein? Is that to be your name?”
“Dr. Einstein-good-good-good!”


Elfrida looked at her friends and then beamed at Bobble.


“Thanks, Daddy, you found a name for him.”
Bobble did not understand a word. He looked at the bird, scratched his head and made to leave. Unfortunately the door post was in the way and there was a loud bang. Groaning, Bobbly held his aching trunk.
“Foul-foul-foul!”


Bobble glared at the budgie.
“Yes, he really is clever”, he said and passed through the door, this time with some distance from the door post.
“Daddy?’”
“What is it?”
“May I keep Dr. Einstein?”
“No!”
“O Daddy, just for one week.”
“Only if you clear up your room every day and feed the animal and clean his cage.”
Elfrida gave a loud sigh.
“Promised.”
“And he has no business in the living room, first of all not in my armchair!”
“Promised, Daddy!”


When the children were alone again, Daisy proposed to fetch the cage. Elfrida agreed and started to clear up her room. They all helped her and were ready when a few minutes later Daisy returned with the cage. Berta scrubbed the cage, Elfrida fetched some sand from the sand case in the garden and the time had come: Dr. Einstein moved into his new home.


“Good-good-good-Dr. Einstein-dear!”


“I’d say so, I scrubbed every corner!”


“Dearest-Berta!”


Berta blushed as she had not been praised that way for a long time. The others laughed merrily. Now they decided to start language training at once. Alternately each of them was to chat with the budgie. When dusk fell, the friends said good night and Elfrida fetched her cassette player with all cassettes she could find.


“Okay, Dr. Einstein, now I’ll play all to you you should know. We’ll start with the witch stories. This is the first story, the witch is named Bibi and is a good witch.”


“Bibi-good. Dr. Einstein-see!”


Elfrida scrutinized the bird. He seemed to repeat all words he had once before heard. The more words he could learn, the better they could correspond.
So the first day ended. Nothing thrilling happened the next day except language lessons. Then however the time had come: Dr. Einstein was to learn why the children needed him so urgently.


Head askance, the pet listened to Daisy’s story about the Magic Forest, their unsuccessful camping, and the nasty crow, the witch’s spy. Daisy told about the Pond Fairy, Alberich the King of Dwarfs and the many adventures they had survived. When she had told her story, Dr. Einstein ruffled his feathers.
“See-it, will-help!” He hopped into the cage, ate some grain and flew through the window. “Bye!”
“Take care, brave bird!” Elfried called out, then they had to wait.


The children waited for hours. Again and again they looked to the window but no birds except some sparrows could be seen. They grew more and more impatient and Rosy began to gnaw her fingernails.


“How often must I tell you that you silly nail nibbling shirts me?”
“I can’t help it, Berta, I’m so-o-o-o nervous!”


“How about playing something?” Mary proposed but nobody wanted to.


Again and again they looked at the clock and Jenny stated that by now Dr. Einstein had been gone for six hours.


“Perhaps the crow got him”, Bernie wondered, “or he’s swimming in the witch’s soup now.”
“Nuts! He’ll come back. He’s too clever for the crow and knows everything about witches.”


Elfrida looked at Bernie angrily.


“News-Magic-Forest-news!”


“Dr. Einstein! You are back!”


Overjoyed, the children saw the budgie flying in through the window. First of all he made for his cage, drank some water and ate some grains. When he had his fill, he hopped out, sat down in the middle of the room and started talking. Spellbound, they listened how he managed the crow. He had lured the silly bird to the bus stop. When the bus came, Dr. Einstein had flown in and of course the crow had followed him. Just before the bus started and the doors were closed, Dr. Einstein had flitted out.


“Crow-without-ticket-get-trouble!”


Afterwards he had flown the witch house undisturbed. There he hid between the witch herbs on the windowsill and listened. The witch had invited some witch-girlfriends to conjure herself together with the Magic Forest onto the Witch Mountain.


“Witch-can’t-do-alone!”


“I see”, Jenny murmured. “Only together they can conjure away the whole forest.”
“We’ve got to stop that!” Elfrida glared at her friends. “Let’s make a plan to cross this witch-plan.”
The children put their heads together and discussed what to do. Bernie was certain that the effect on everything would be evil if the whole Magic Forest would disappear.


“A giant hole would remain, the remaining mountains and our town would perhaps slide into that hole.”
“Not to talk about the animals”, Jenny added. “They would not survive it.”
“With violence”, Elfrida said, “we can do nothing against the witch-gang, we’ve got to be smart.”
“Trick-witch!” Dr. Einstein croaked.
“We know that, Smarty. Rather tell how to do it.”
“Dearest-Berta, poison-the-wood!”
“You’re beside yourself!” Berta glared at the bird with a shocked face.
“Witch-poison, witch-poison!”
“You’re right cuckoo, budgie!”


“Dr. Einstein is right!” They all goggled at Bernie. “If the witches can’t digest the Magic Forest, it’s nothing worth for them. If it’s nothing worth for them, they will not want to have it. We’ve got to do something with the forest.”


“Garlic!” Elfrida jumped up, facing Bernie. “We have to plant garlic into the wood, lots of garlic!”
Bernie nodded with delight.


“That might work.”