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A short story by Harriet Myrtle

The Adventure Of A Kite

Title:     The Adventure Of A Kite
Author: Harriet Myrtle [More Titles by Myrtle]

One evening, when Mary, her mamma, and Willie had all taken their seats near the window, and the story was about to begin, Mary reminded her mamma of a merry adventure that she had mentioned as having happened when she and her brother and Master White went out to fly their "new Kite."

"Do, mamma, tell us about that," said Mary.

Her mamma said she would, and after thinking for a few minutes, to recollect all about it, she began.

One fine, breezy morning in October, Master White came suddenly to our house, with his eyes looking so bright, and his cheeks so red from running in the fresh air, and quite out of breath besides.

"What is the matter, James?" we all cried out. "What a red face you've got!"

"Have I?" said he; "my nose is so cold! I ran here as fast as I could, there is such a beautiful breeze for a Kite. Come, both of you, and let us fly the Kite high up in the blue sky; come as many of you as can, and this day you shall see what a Kite can do!"

Up we all jumped, the Kite was brought down, and away we all started into the meadows, running nearly all the way, and James White never ceasing to talk of the wonderful things he intended the Kite should this day perform.

We arrived in a large, grassy meadow, sloping down to a low hedge. Beyond the hedge was a very large field, and beyond that field another large field, which had some high trees at the farthest end. In the tops of these trees was a rookery; we knew these trees very well, because we often used to walk that way, partly because it was a nice walk, and partly because an old woman, whom we were all very fond of, kept an apple and gingerbread-nut stall under the largest tree. However, as I said before, these trees were a long way off--two whole fields off--more, two whole fields and all the meadow. At the top of the meadow, near where we stood, there was also a high tree, and at the foot of this we laid down the Kite.

"O, James," said my brother, "do you think we shall be able to make the Kite fly as high as the tree we are under?"

"As high!" said James White, "six times as high, at the very least."

He now carefully unfolded the tail from the body of the Kite, being very particular to undo all the tangles near the tassel, which made quite a bunch; but he brought it out perfectly. One end of the ball of twine was now attached to the body of the Kite. He then raised it up with the right hand, holding out the tail in three great festoons with the left, and in this way walked to and fro very uprightly and with a stately air, and turning his head in various quarters, to observe the direction of the wind. Suddenly he dropped the tail upon the ground, and lifting up the Kite with his right hand in the air, as high as he possibly could, off he ran down the meadow slope as fast as his legs could carry him, shouting all the way, "Up, up, up! rise, rise, rise! fly, Kite, in the air!" He finished by throwing the Kite up, continuing to run with the string in his hand, allowing it to slip through his fingers as the Kite rose. The breeze caught the Kite, and up it went in fine style. It continued to rise rapidly, and we ran to and fro underneath, shouting all the time, "O, well done, James White, and well done, Kite!"

By the excellent management of James, the Kite rose and rose, till we all said, "O, how high! how wonderful!" And then James White said he was satisfied.

Now you are all to recollect that this Kite was very large. In the story I told you in summer, where the making of this Kite was described, you remember that it was said to be as tall as James White himself, and of course very much broader. The consequence was, that this Kite was extremely strong. So we all sat down on the grass to hold the string, which James White said was necessary, as the Kite struggled and pulled so hard. It was now up quite as high as the string would allow it to go. But the wind seemed to be increasing, and James White said he began to be rather afraid that he must draw the Kite downwards, for fear it should have a quarrel with the wind up in the clouds, and then some accident might happen. We accordingly began to draw down the Kite slowly, winding the string upon the stick as it gradually descended. But notwithstanding all this care, an accident did happen after all.

Before the Kite was half-way down, a strong wind suddenly caught it sideways, and the Kite made a long sweep downwards, like a swallow, rising up again at some distance, swinging its tail about in a most alarming manner. "Bless my heart!" said James White.

Up we all jumped from the grass. "Help me to hold her!" cried James White; "how she struggles!" Again came the wind, again the Kite made a sweep down and rose up again, as if indignant--then shook her tail and wings as if threatening to do some mischief--then made a quick motion to the right and a dance to the left--then made a very graceful courtesy deep down, as though she was very politely saluting the wind, but suddenly rose up with a sharp jerk, as though she had spitefully altered her mind--and the next moment made a dart first to the right and then to the left, and continued to do this till James White said he was sure something must happen.

We all held the string as fast as we could, and tried to pull down the Kite; but it was impossible, for instead of bringing her down, we were all three dragged along down the meadow slope, crying out, "Somebody come and help us! somebody come and help us!" But nobody else was near. In this manner the Kite was pulling us along, the string cutting our hands, and running through our fingers like fire, till at last I was obliged to let go, and being unable to get out of the way, was knocked down, and being also unable to roll myself out of the way, my brother fell over me. James White was thus left alone with the Kite, and was dragged struggling and hallooing down the meadow slope.

He was determined, however, not to let go; nothing could make him loose the string; he was determined not to be conquered; but before he had got to the bottom of the slope, the string of the Kite broke about half-way down, and up sprang the Kite again towards the sky, taking its course over the meadow towards the great field beyond. We all three followed of course, as fast as we could, staring up, and panting, and not knowing what to do. The Kite continued to fly in rather an irregular manner over the first great field. It then made a pitch downwards, and several tosses upwards, and flew straight over the second great field, in the direction of the high trees. "O, those trees!" cried James White, "it is flying towards the trees!"

He was right, the Kite did fly directly towards the trees, as James White said it would. Just as it arrived nearly over those trees, it made a great pitch downwards, right into the top of the largest tree, and completely knocked over one of the rooks' nests that was built there. We came running up as soon as we could, and then we saw that it was the very tree, at the foot of which was the stall of our dear old woman, who sold apples and gingerbread-nuts.

"Make haste!" cried she;--"the Kite is safe among the boughs; I can see its long tail hanging down. But do look here! the Kite has made us a present of five young rooks; two are fluttering among the golden pippins, and three are hopping and gaping among the gingerbread-nuts."

James White scarcely looked at the rooks; he said he had more important business to attend to. He took off his jacket, and immediately began to climb up the tree. In less than twenty minutes he succeeded in bringing down the Kite, with only two small rents in its left shoulder, and the loss of one wing, all of which he said he could easily repair.

We took the five young rooks home with us, and had great amusement in rearing and feeding them, and as soon as they were old enough, we took them out into their native fields, and let them fly directly under the tree where they were born.

[The end]
Harriet Myrtle's short story: Adventure Of A Kite