'Really You Americans'

To the December Atlantic Walter Brooks contributed an amusing short story about English and American sparrows entitled ’Really You Americans.’ Now from Canada comes this pertinent corollary. At a time when propaganda has filled the air with suspicion, the Atlantic believes that such giveand-take can only lead to a firmer understanding. — THE EDITOR

HUBERT felt quite satisfied with himself after Soames left. ‘I told that limey where he got off at,’ he said to another sparrow who was evidently looking for a place to spend the night. ‘Indeed you did,’ replied the stranger; ‘you kept your temper and you made him lose his, and he couldn’t think of anything to say.’ The stranger was an elderly bird, and had only one wing.

‘Visitor in the city?’ asked Hubert. ‘Yes, on my way through to Florida,’ said the other. ‘ My name is Hubert, and this is my wife,’ said Hubert, introducing Enid; ‘where are you from?’ ‘Name is Johnny, and I live on the north shore of Lake Ontario,’ said the stranger; ‘how do you do, Mrs. Hubert.’ ‘A Canadian sparrow!’ exclaimed Enid; ‘how nice to meet you. We had a lovely trip in Canada last summer; we saw several of those wonderful mounted police birds, and those five dear little sparrows that were all hatched at once.’

Johnny’s face gleamed with pleasure at Enid’s friendliness. ‘What else did you see in Canada?’ he asked. ‘Why, I didn’t know there was anything else in Canada,’ said Enid; ‘is there?’

‘Well, we had a grand time,’ said Hubert, who felt that Enid had not said just the right thing. ‘We liked the people so much. Of course Canadian sparrows are exactly like American, aren’t they?’ ‘It had to come sooner or later, didn’t it?’ said Johnny. ‘What do you mean? asked Enid. ‘Well, Mrs. Hubert,’ Johnny replied, ‘I know about two hundred sparrows from the United States, top-notch chaps every one of ‘em, but every one of ‘em has told me sometime or other that Canadian sparrows are just the same as American.’ ‘But don’t you like to be told you’re the same as Americans?’ asked Enid in astonishment. ‘I like it just the way you liked Soames’s saying that you and Hubert are just the same as English sparrows,’ answered Johnny.

‘How did you lose your wing?’ asked Hubert, feeling that it was wise to change the subject. ‘I lost it in the last mix-up with the starlings,’ said the Canadian sparrow. ‘My father was in that, too,’ Hubert said; ‘there were a lot of American sparrows in it; in fact, they won it.’ ‘So a lot of them have told me,’ said Johnny.

‘But of course,’ Hubert went on, ‘there won’t be any more of us in any more of those rows. You see, we’re idealists, and we went into that fight for idealism, and we got disillusioned, because there aren’t any other idealists in the world.’ ‘Sure, I know you’re idealists,’ Johnny said; ‘didn’t I just hear one of the bobolinks ask Soames what there was in it for you when Soames asked him to help in this scrap ? ‘Oh, of course if you want to be sarcastic —’ began Hubert. ’Let it go,’ said Johnny.

‘Well, anyhow,’ Hubert said, ‘this time not one sparrow will go to any starling war from America. We’re going to mind our own business.’ ‘Fine,’ said Johnny, ‘when do you begin?’ ‘What do you mean?’ asked Hubert huffily. ‘Ask Colonel Lindbergh,’ replied Johnny. ‘But you’re wrong on this America stuff, Hubert; a lot of sparrows have gone from America already; in fact,’ — and Johnny’s face grew a little grim, — ‘my kid went last week.’ ‘Oh, you mean from Canada; I said from America,’ said Hubert. ‘Well, Canada was in America when I left it two days ago,’ said Johnny mildly. ‘Geographically you may be right,’ replied Hubert, ‘but actually there are no Americans except us, and no America outside of the good old U. S.; or at least we don’t recognize any. But at all events, Johnny, there’s one thing you may be sure of; we will protect you if any starlings actually attack this continent.’ ‘So we’ve heard a good many times,’ said Johnny, ‘and (to use an expression of your own) frankly, Hubert, it’s beginning to bore us. At present, so far as North Americans are concerned, we’re doing the protecting, and you’re doing the promising.’

‘Stop,’ broke in Enid. ‘Hubert, I’ve listened to you talking to Soames; and Johnny, I’ve listened to you talking to Hubert, and neither of you has proved anything except that a man can always win a sparrow argument when he writes both sides of it himself.’

‘Shucks, Mrs. Hubert,’ said Johnny, ‘Hubert and I don’t mean a thing; we’re just chaffing each other.’ ‘Why, we’re just beginning to enjoy ourselves,’ said Hubert.

‘You can enjoy yourselves after dinner,’ said Enid firmly; ‘now come along, both of you.’

Two hours later Johnny rose to take his leave. ‘Well, Enid,’ he said, ‘it’s all settled, then. You and Hubert will come up and spend a couple of weeks with us next June, and you and my wife can go and see whether the five little sparrows are growing, and Hubert and I will go fishing.’ ‘Yes,’ said Enid, ‘that will be lovely. And oh, Johnny, your boy — I hope — I mean, the starlings —’

Johnny turned away. Like Soames, he couldn’t think of anything to say. But for another reason. Because these days a Canadian sparrow is pretty thankful that he lives beside decent kindly American sparrows, and not starlings.