Mr. P
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69 E xcept for the Herrings, who came to feed the animals and water the plants, no one had been on the Hill for over a month. We went to New Mexico and Colorado looking for cooler weather and hoped by the time we got home in September that summer would be over. Besides, school started the day after Labor Day. Daddy unloaded the car, but I needed to check out back and make sure everybody was okay in the dog yard. I opened the back screen and almost stepped into a pile of bird doo. There were a few white feathers scattered around, and when I looked up there sat a big white pigeon on the edge of the roof looking down at me! He didn’t flutter a feather or make a move except to bat his eyes at me like I had no business being in my own backyard. I didn’t move either; I just gawked-pure white against the pure blue sky-some kind of sign from heaven! I Mr.P 70 Tails on the Hill eased back through the door, carefully closed it, tiptoed down the hall, and whispered as loud as I could for Daddy to “come see! Come see a beautiful white bird from heaven on OUR roof!” I needn’t have worried about scaring him away. He had come to stay for a while. Before we left on our trip to New Mexico, Daddy took off a closet door and stood it up on a wall outside the door till he could get it fixed. That was Mr. P’s new home, and after he made our acquaintance he hopped to the top of the door, stared down, and just dared us to do anything about moving it. We didn’t. What did pigeons eat? Well, I gathered up all kinds of crumbs and made crumbs out of all kinds of things and put the dish out for his dinner pan on a patch of shaded grass. He wasn’t going to eat on the grass. Daddy said that he was too smart to do that. We’d have to arrange for him to have his meals upstairs, he said, or he wouldn’t be eating at our house. So the next time Mr. P (I named him Mr. P, short for Mr. Pigeon) flew out for a stroll, Daddy had his ladder ready, climbed it, and nailed one of Mother’s pie pans to the top of the closet door. I couldn’t find enough crumbs for the next meal so we went to the feed store in town and bought a proper diet for Mr. P, at least that’s what Mr. Evans at the feed store said. It sure looked dry and seedy to me. We filled Mr. P’s pie pan. He landed right in it, walked around, scratched and pecked and when he got full or tired he just plopped on top of what was left of his supper and went to sleep. Since most of it was gone the next morning, we figured he approved of his new menu. When the northers started rolling in that fall, Mr. P never complained. He just sat in his pan staring into me, never moving, but he puffed his feathers out so full his eyes didn’t show. One night the wind blew so hard and made such noise that we didn’t hear the door fall down. The next morning Mr. P’s perch was on the ground and he was on the roof looking down on us with 72 Tails on the Hill doing anything; he just sat, ate, slept, and stared off into space. I wondered what he thought about all the time. Daddy took me to Olney one afternoon not long before school was out for the summer. I climbed into the pickup and we headed down the Hill through the pecan orchard, and on to the highway to town. I wasn’t in a hurry and Daddy wasn’t either, so we were poking along. A shadow flashed across the hood of the pickup and then back across. Daddy slowed down as much as he could and we turned our heads, looking in all directions to try to see what was making the shadow. There was Mr. P! He swirled and soared and swooped down so we would be sure to see him. He had never done this before. I hollered and told...


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