Signora and Lori, edited by Andrew Lang
Translated from Deutsche Blätter, 1867. No. 10.
A gentleman living at Güstrow, in Mecklenburg, who
was very fond of animals, possessed a fine parrot, which
had beautiful plumage, and could talk better than most
of his kind. Besides the parrot, he had a poodle, called
Signora Patti, after the great singer, whom the gentleman
had once heard when he was upon a visit to Rostock;
after his return home he bestowed the name upon his
Under the tuition of her master, the poodle began to
be an artist in her way. There was no trick performed
by dogs too difficult for her to learn. The parrot, whose
name was Lori, paid the greatest attention whilst the
Signora’s lessons were going on, and he soon had all the
vocabulary, which the Signora carried in her head, not
only in his memory, but on his tongue.
When the dog was told by her master to ‘go to the
baker,’ then Lori could croak out the words also. Signora
Patti would hasten to fetch the little basket, seat herself
before her master, and, looking up at him with her wise
eyes, scrape gently upon the floor with her paw, which
signified: ‘Please put in the money.’ Her master
dropped in a few coins, the Signora ran quickly to the
baker with the basket, and brought it back filled with
little cakes; placing it before her master, she awaited her
reward, a good share of the dainties.
Often, for a variety in the lessons, she had to go to
the baker without money; then her master simply gave
the order, ‘on tick!’ and the Signora, who knew that the
cakes would be sent, obeyed the command at once.
LORI REFUSES TO SHARE WITH THE SIGNORA
The parrot made a droll use of these practisings,
turning to account his knowledge of speech in the slyest
way. If he found himself alone with the poodle, who
was perhaps comfortably stretched on her cushion, Lori
would cry—imitating his master’s voice—as if he quite
understood the joke: ‘Go out!’ Poor Patti would get
up in obedience to the order and slink out of the door
with her ears drooping. And immediately Lori would
whistle, just in the tone used by his master, and the
Signora then returned joyfully into the room.
But it was not only for pastime that Lori exercised
his gift; the cunning bird used it for the benefit of his
greedy beak. It began to happen often to the master to
find that his private account-book, carefully kept in the
smallest details, did not agree well with that of his
neighbour the baker. The Signora, declared the baker,
had become most accomplished in the art of running up
a long bill, and always, of course, at her master’s orders.
Only he, the master, when he looked over the reckoning,
growled to himself: ‘My neighbour is a rogue; he chalks
up the amount double.’
How very much was he astonished, then, and how
quickly were his suspicions turned into laughter, when
he beheld, through a half-open door, the following absurd
It was one fine morning, and Lori sat upon the top
of his cage, calling out in his shrillest tones: ‘Signora,
Signora!’ The poodle hastened to present herself before
him, wagging her tail, and Lori continued, ‘Go to the
baker.’ The Signora fetched the little basket from its
place, and put it before her tyrant, scratching her paw on
the floor to ask for money.
‘On tick!’ was Lori’s prompt and brief remark; the
Signora seized the basket, and rushed out of the door.
Before long she returned, laid the basket, full of the little
cakes, before the parrot, and looked with a beseeching
air for the reward of her toil.
But the wicked Lori received her with a sharp ‘get
out,’ putting her to flight, and proceeded to enjoy his ill-gotten
gains in solitude.