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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
An Annoying Habit

Gavin, the grouse, annoyed everybody. He boasted and bragged constantly about how beautiful his feathers were, how they shined, how they were perfectly shaped and how they had just the right amount of speckles on them. Nobody in the meadow could stand being around him. If any of the other animals did something wonderful, Gavin had done it better. He was simply annoying.

One sunny summer morning Gavin was strutting about, stopping to preen his feathers and boasting to every animal that was about, whether it was a ladybug, a salmon swimming in the stream, or another bird. He heard a strange noise off in the distance. Heíd never heard it before. He could tell it was a bird of some sorts, but didnít know what type. He listened carefully. The strange bird made another noise. It wasnít an eagle, it wasnít a crow, and it certainly wasnít a robin! What was it? Gavin headed toward the noisy bird. He was curious and wanted to know what on earth was making all that racket.

As he passed behind a rather large patch of yellow gorse, he saw the bird. Gavin gasped. It was a beautiful bird. Its feathers were blue-ish green and its tail feathers were nearly five feet long. It had a crest, or crown of thin feathers on its head, that danced around when he moved and some of its feathers seemed to have beautiful golden eyes in them. Gavin was frightened. Heíd never seen a bird like that before, nor one so beautiful and magnificent. "You can come out from behind the gorse," the peacock called to Gavin. "Iím Preston," the bird cawed loudly.

Gavin came closer. "Youíre beautiful," he said to the peacock.

"I know," boasted the peacock. "Iím the most beautiful bird in the glen. Iíve got the prettiest color of feathers and isnít my tail just splendid."

Gavin looked at the peacock. It certainly was beautiful, but he didnít like the way Preston was talking. "Yes, your tail is rather lovely," he replied.

"Lovely? Yes, Iím lovely. See how the sunlight makes my feathers so shiny? They sparkle like emeralds. Iím quite, quite beautiful," Preston bragged.

Gavin listened for a while to the peacock, then said, "Iím sorry, Preston. It was jolly good meeting you, but I must be off. Cheerio." He quickly ran into the meadow, heading as far away from the peacock as he could. As he was running he spotted Laura, the ladybug sitting on top of a thistle. "Laura, you must stay away from that peacock. Heís simply horrid. All he does is talk about himself. His feathers are beautiful, they sparkle, his crown is beautiful, and his beak is beautiful. Itís utterly sickening the way he boasts."

Laura looked up at Gavin. "It is sickening, isnít it, Gavin. Now you know what we have to listen to when you do the same thing."

"Me? I donít boast and brag! Of all the nerve," Gavin said, feeling rather annoyed.

"Believe it or not, itís up to you. But itís true," Laura said and then flew off.

Gavin stood there for a moment. "Imagine that. Me boasting? Never," he said. Just then he heard Preston cawing. "Oh dear, time to run." He ran through the meadow as fast as he could.

He spotted Bridget Bee flying around a hawthorn bush. She was taking pollen from some of the pink flowers growing on it. "Bridget. Bridget. You must stay away from Preston, the peacock."

Bridget landed on a leaf and asked, "Whyís that, Gavin? What did he do?"

"Itís simply annoying. All that peacock does is boast about how wonderful he is and how magnificent his tail feathers are. Youíd think he was the only beautiful bird in the glen."

Bridget made a few buzzing sounds. "Itís not fun listening to someone like that, is it, Gavin?"

"Not at all!" he replied.

"Now you understand what we have to listen to all the time when you come around. You are a boaster and bragger, just like the peacock!" With that, she flew away.

Gavin stood there, shocked. "Me? A boaster? Me? Like Preston? Never!" That was two times he was told he was like that. They were mistaken. He never sounded that annoying, did he?

Prestonís ear-piercing caw reached Gavin. "Oh dear. I must hurry off, far away."

Gavin ran and ran and ran until he was in the other side of the meadow. "Iím safe now. Of all the nerve, boasting and bragging like that! Iíve never heard such nonsense."

Max, a furry brown mouse, was sitting on a hollow log. He saw and heard Gavinís words. "Say, Gavin, are you talking about yourself?" he asked the annoyed grouse.

"Whatever do you mean? Iím talking about that annoying peacock, Preston. I canít bear to be around him. He does nothing but talk about how wonderful he is, how pretty his feathers are. Itís simply annoying. I must say," Gavin explained.

"Ah," Max replied. "I donít know if anyoneís mentioned this to you, but you are as annoying as the peacock. You do the same thing. None of us want to be around you. We run when we see you coming."

"What? Me?" Gavin said, confused.

"Yes. You! Weíre as tired of hearing you as you are of hearing the peacock," Max explained. "Nobody has prettier feathers than you do. Nobodyís feathers are as perfect as yours. Nobodyís feathers shine like yours. Itís tiring, Gavin."

Gavin sat down on the log next to Max. "I didnít realize I sounded that way. Iím so sorry. Well, from now on, there will be no more of that. No more boasting or bragging from Gavin, the grouse!"

Just then a loud caw echoed through the meadow. "Oh no. Heís coming!" Gavin said. "Weíve got to hide!" He and Max crawled inside the hollow log and hid. Preston the peacock ran by, cawing and mumbling to himself about how beautiful he was. Gavin and Max started giggling. It sounded so funny, so silly. They didnít come out until they knew Preston was gone.

From then on, Gavin never boasted again. In fact, he told the other animals how pretty their feathers, or fur, or scales were. It didnít take long for every animal in the meadow to become friends with Gavin. Whenever they heard Preston nearing their meadow, they all went into hiding. Never being able to find anyone to brag or boast to, Preston soon stopped coming there. It became a peaceful meadow once more.

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