A Selfish Gull

A Selfish Gull

Dot and Bill were eating their picnic lunch on the high rocks overlooking the Atlantic Ocean down near their cottage in Maine, where they were spending their summer holidays. It was a hot July day, but the ocean breeze was so cool, and the air so salty and full of tang.

"Dot, see that big wave coming in!" Bill shouted, as a huge breaker dashed upon the rocks below them and shot a column of beautiful white spray high into the air.

"I just love to watch the tide coming in. See how it is creeping up on these rocks!" said Dot.

"Yes," rejoined Bill. "You can tell that the tide is rising because the rocks are getting wet higher up all the time."

Suddenly Dot pointed up over her head and asked, "Oh, why are those white sea gulls flying in circles around us?"

"They are flying around expecting to get our leftover lunch, of course," answered Bill.

"Is that why they are all making those shrill cries of 'Kullah, Kullah, Kullah'?" asked Dot.

"Sure," said Bill. "They are excited, they are hungry, and they are calling their friends to come. It sounds to me as if they are calling, 'Hurry, Hurry, Hurry."

Many gulls were flocking around. As they floated lazily above Dot and Bill, they craned their necks, cocked their heads, and fixed their beady eyes on the lunch being munched below.

"Well, I'm full already," said Dot. "Mother prepared too many sandwiches for me. I can't eat all of them."

"I'm full, too," said Bill. "I know what, let's take a few of these sandwich scraps and put them in a little pile on the rocks for the gulls to eat for their lunch. Then we can watch the whole flock of gulls swoop down and eat. It'll be fun seeing them poke their bills into the food." And with that, Bill and Dot gathered up the bits of leftover sandwiches and set up the gulls' lunch on the rocks just a little above the line that the ocean's rising tide had then reached.

Almost instantly, several gulls swooped down toward the food, with one big gull leading all the others. The big, old gull flew so fast that he got to the food first. As the other gulls flew near, he began to attack them with his bill and drive them away. It was perfectly dear that this big, old, selfish gull intended to have all those delicious sandwiches himself.

"Oh, look at that selfish bully," said Dot. "He won't share one crumb of those sandwiches. Just because he's bigger and bolder does not give him any right to act so selfish. For all he's so good-looking he really is hateful!"

Dot and Bill watched the other gulls. One by one, first on one side, then on the other, they would alight on the rocks near the food; then they would start walking over toward the lunch which Bill and Dot had put there for them all. But the selfish gull would savagely drive them off, spreading his wings wide and opening his bill threateningly, as if he would bite them. So they did not dare to come dose enough to get any food.

In fact, the selfish gull had no time to get at the lunch himself. The other hungry gulls kept worrying the bully by creeping nearer and nearer the food. The selfish gull kept getting angrier and angrier because it was so much work to keep driving off the gulls in order to protect the sandwich bits all for himself alone. He just had no time to stop and eat. He began to pant for breath. It was dash here at a gull coming in front of him, now dash at a gull creeping up behind him, now attack that gull to the right of him, now fly against the gull to the left of him, until he was almost beside himself trying to make his mean, old, selfish plan work—his plan not to share one bit of food with friend or foe.

In fact, the selfish gull was so frantically busy with his selfishness that he did not notice one very important thing. He had forgotten the mighty ocean and the powerful waves. The tide was rising, and the waves were coming closer and closer to the lunch. He did not notice that just about one more wave would reach the place where he was defending the food.

Just as the selfish gull made one last dash to drive away another hungry brother gull, a big wave came along, lifted the pieces of food off the rocks, and, with a great swoosh, floated and tossed the sandwich bits all over the blue waves. Instantly the whole flock of gulls swcoped down on the floating food—scores of them. In split seconds every scrap of the lunch disappeared.

Now the selfish gull returned from driving away that last brother gull. He came back to the high rocks feeling very triumphant as if to say, "Ah, now I will gorge myself on the lunch all alone." But you never saw such a bewildered bird in your life. He walked 'round and 'round, up and down the rocks, looking, searching, cawing, calling, and crying, "Kullah, Kullah, Kullah," in the saddest voice you ever heard. To this day, I warrant that selfish old gull doesn't know what happened to his lunch.

But Dot and Bill knew, and they held on to their sides laughing to see the old gull so busy just being selfish, that he never got even the tiniest bite of that lunch for himself.

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