BOOK XVI. CONTAINING THE SPACE OF FIVE DAYS.
3. Chapter iii. What happened to Sophia...
The eggs of pullets, partridges, pheasants, &c., were, as George well
knew, the most favourite dainties of Sophia. It was therefore no
wonder that he, who was a very good-natured fellow, should take care
to supply her with this kind of delicacy, at a time when all the
servants in the house were afraid she would be starved; for she had
scarce swallowed a single morsel in the last forty hours.
Though vexation hath not the same effect on all persons as it usually
hath on a widow, whose appetite it often renders sharper than it can
be rendered by the air on Bansted Downs, or Salisbury Plain; yet the
sublimest grief, notwithstanding what some people may say to the
contrary, will eat at last. And Sophia, herself, after some little
consideration, began to dissect the fowl, which she found to be as
full of eggs as George had reported it.
But, if she was pleased with these, it contained something which would
have delighted the Royal Society much more; for if a fowl with three
legs be so invaluable a curiosity, when perhaps time hath produced a
thousand such, at what price shall we esteem a bird which so totally
contradicts all the laws of animal oeconomy, as to contain a letter in
its belly? Ovid tells us of a flower into which Hyacinthus was
metamorphosed, that bears letters on its leaves, which Virgil
recommended as a miracle to the Royal Society of his day; but no age
nor nation hath ever recorded a bird with a letter in its maw.
But though a miracle of this kind might have engaged all the
Academies des Sciences in Europe, and perhaps in a fruitless
enquiry; yet the reader, by barely recollecting the last dialogue
which passed between Messieurs Jones and Partridge, will be very
easily satisfied from whence this letter came, and how it found its
passage into the fowl.
Sophia, notwithstanding her long fast, and notwithstanding her
favourite dish was there before her, no sooner saw the letter than she
immediately snatched it up, tore it open, and read as follows:--