Why does the young man stay several nights at Mrs. Tilley's cottage?

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The young man is an ornithologist and has a collection of “stuffed and preserved” bird species. He has been out hunting birds and has seen a rare white heron that he wants for his collection. Since Mrs. Tilley tells him that Sylvia is great with the wild animals—she has tamed squirrels and all kinds of birds—he hopes that she might have spotted the white heron and maybe even seen its nest. Thus, the young man spends a few nights at Mrs. Tilley’s cottage because he hopes to make use of Sylvia’s expertise to snare the white heron. Also, Mrs. Tilley’s cottage is “clean and comfortable” and makes for great lodging as he goes about his bird-hunting expeditions.

The young man describes the white heron as “a queer tall white bird with soft feathers and long thin legs.” He is willing to give ten dollars to the first person who will show him the white heron’s nest. A day after they go bird hunting, Sylvia discovers the location of the white heron’s nest. However, she finds that she cannot divulge the white heron’s secret hideaway because she knows that if she does she will be destroying its life. The young man leaves Mrs. Tilley’s cottage a disappointed man.

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In the story, the young man is an amateur ornithologist who has been hunting and appears to have lost his way. At least, that is what he tells Sylvia, whose grandmother, Mrs. Tilley, promptly offers the stranger lodging for the night.

Eventually, the young man admits that he enjoys hunting birds and having them 'stuffed and preserved, dozens and dozens of them...' He tells Mrs. Tilley and Sylvia that he is particularly interested in a white heron he has seen flying close to their home. Meanwhile, Mrs. Tilley's pride in Sylvia's knowledge about surrounding bird species causes her to boast about her grand-daughter's prowess.

The young man's ears perk up when he hears that Sylvia knows all about the birds near her grandmother's home. He offers ten dollars to them if Sylvia can lead him to the white heron. Yet, Sylvia finds that she cannot bring herself to tell the stranger where the white heron lives. In the end, he leaves empty-handed. His initial intent was to track and hunt the white heron, and that is why he stays at Mrs. Tilley's home. However, he finds his goal thwarted by a little girl who loves her avian friends more than she values monetary gain.

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The young man is on a quest to find the elusive white heron, and has enjoyed hunting for various bird specimens in the forest. The stranger has been engrossed in his hunt, and has lost his way in the forest as a result.

Speak up and tell me what your name is, and whether you think I can spend the night at your house, and go out gunning early in the morning.

It is fortuitous for him that he meets Sylvia, as her grandmother, Mrs.Tilley, is welcoming to the stranger. He is surprised at the pleasing condition of their modest country home, described as-

clean and comfortable little dwelling.

The stranger is also intrigued to hear of Sylvia’s skill and knowledge with the animals. When Mrs Tilley tells him-

the wild creaturs counts her one o’ themselves.

He realizes her potential in being able to help him track the mysterious white heron, so he spends several nights at her cottage.

So Sylvy knows all about birds, does she?


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