The Talking Parcel /The Battle for Castle Cockatrice (1974)

by Gerald Durrell

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Cover from The Battle for Castle Cockatrice © Harper Collins Publishers

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The  Phoenixes

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"On either bank, dotted through the valley, sat the Phoenixes, like huge, multicoloured, glittering eagles, with their wings spread out, as cormorants do when they sit on the rocks to dry. Around the base of each bird there flickered and winked the fire of its nest. As they watched, orange red, blue and yellow flames enveloped the bird that sat there, burning it immediately into ash. So it sat there, like a great model of its former self, then gradually the Phoenix started to crumble: first a few feathers from its wing, then the whole ash bird, with a sound like a great, soft sigh, crumbled and fell into the fiery nest.After a moment's pause, the flames started licking up again, and in their depths the children could see struggling a small multicoloured Phoenix baby thrashing its wings and wriggling to and fro. Eventually it fought its way free of the flames and zoomed up into the air, to fly over the valley, like a swallow, together with all the other hundreds of other Phoenixes."

THE TALKING PARCEL © Gerald Durrell 1974

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