At the end of Autumn the ground started to harden, the worms grew harder to pull, and the Difficult Time approached when so many seagulls died each year of cold and hunger. The gulls had been following a plough and eating a hearty breakfast of fresh worms when the Angel of the Lord appeared to them. At least, he said he was the Angel of the Lord.
“Behold, I bestow a quest on all gathered here present. Who will take it from me?”
The gulls were not sure how to react. One seagull who was pulling at a particularly juicy worm was widely regarded as their leader: she turned to look at the Angel of the Lord, who appeared, as you would expect, to be a wingless bird.
The Angel of the Lord raised one leg. In his bird-foot was clutched something white. Not the nice fresh bread the gull hoped for, but a small thick piece of paper or card. It had marks on it.
“I shall leave you. Should you all achieve this quest, then a great many lives shall be saved.”
Several of the gulls looked at the piece of paper. The Angel of the Lord had long gone when they stopped fighting and the paper was back in the beak of the leader, somewhat torn and muddied. The gulls could not read but they sensed the writing was important. The leader took the card in her beak and flapped her wings and flew up, flew over the Red Tractor, over the Stagnant Brook, past the Tree of Starlings and the Rabbit Field, and down to the Big Red House where the Wise Old Dog lived. Surely, she thought, the dog would help her.
“Dog! Dog!” she cawed, “The gulls need your help!”
“Help? Did you say help? Can I chase it? Can I lick it?” said the dog.
“No, no licking! And don't eat it!”
“What is it?” The dog sniffed at the card, then gave a great scary tail-wag: “It smells Holy!”
“It has writing on it, human writing.”
“Then take it to the humans! The humans are my friends. They feed me!”
The leader of the gulls replied sadly, “The humans don't like the gulls.”
“Upstairs, past the no-no-bad-dog steps, there's an open window, and there's a boy who lives there, he takes me for walkies! Oh god walkies! walkies!” The dog suddenly shot out of the kennel and was gone.
The gull was determined to resolve the mystery of the Angel's card, so she flapped her wings and cried out, “Rudder! Flaps! Ignition” and flew up, up, up, high, round the Big Red House. Where was this window? What was a window? But there! there! high up! a frame sticking out and inside the house, looking out, was a human, a small one, not full-grown.
The gull tried to land but there was an invisible force-field stopping her. No wait, she could go round the force-field. The boy was laughing at her.
“That's a window. Don't fly through the glass, silly gull.”
“Squawk!” The boy could not understand her. “Squawk!”
“What's this in your beak?”
The gull dropped the card onto the window-sill.
“Is this for me?”
The gull quickly took the card back again!
“Oh. You want me to read it to you? OK.”
The gull put the card down again.
“It says, Croatian Restaurant Bodegón and gives an address in Ushuaia, that's in Argentina, we did it at school! It's south!” He pointed due East. When the gull stood with its head cocked the boy read the address out carefully. The gull took the card back and flew off.
So the seagulls flapped and flapped their wings and circled and flew and circled and flew high, high in the clouds, flew far and for many days until they came to the sea.
They saw a sign, a big sign, and people were standing round it. The gulls landed. After entering into the sacrament of receiving breadcrumbs, they listened while the humans read the sign out loud to each other.
“It says North Pole left, London straight on, Argentina right,” the humans laughed.
But it was all the gulls needed and soon they were on their way.
When the gulls arrived it was a great disappointment to them that the restaurant was closed for repairs. They discussed the situation and decided to wait.
Humans appeared, entered the building, took things out and carried things out. They changed the sign so it said, Mike's Burger Joint.
The gulls waited and waited until one day, late in the afternoon, when the sun was red and the days were getting colder, the sign lit up, the door opened, and there were people inside! The gulls flocked into the restaurant and the leader found the owner—obviously the human with the wings on the raised platform—and showed the card, now greatly weather-stained.
“Ladies and gentlemen, tourists and gulls, I'm to tell you that this is a Croatian restaurant. Now, gulls, you have visited. Take this card back home.”
She wrote on the back of it and the gulls flow back North...
and stopped at a lake to enjoy some fish...
…until the gulls finally got home to the field with the plough and the tasty worms. The leader hopped onto the window, and there was the boy, just as if he had been waiting for them all this time. She showed the boy the card.
“It says, The tourists loved you, come back next year.”
The gull went back to the flock, for a while perplexed, until the other gulls pecked a tune and sang, “None of us died in the cold cold winter this year! Many lives were saved!”
And every year after that at the start of Winter the gulls would fly south to the warmth of Argentina where Mike's Croatian Diner awaited them. That's why most gulls to this day are Mike-Croatory, or, as we say today, Migratory.