From “The Secret History of Birds.”

By Marc Davis

Two-Fisted Birdwatcher is pleased to publish a third guest essay by Marc Davis. Marc is a prolific writer; a novelist, journalist, and two-fisted observer of all things, including historical events and the players in them, big and small.

Here’s something to consider for The Two-Fisted Birdwatcher: It’s from an imaginary book (which doesn’t exist—yet), that I’ve titled “The Secret History of Birds.”

When Napoleon was defeated by Wellington at Waterloo in 1815, a man named Reuter was on the scene and sent a homing pigeon to Baron Rothschild in London, announcing the British victory.

Rothschild, one of the five brothers of the banking dynasty, proceeded to the London exchange and started selling the Pound Sterling, and shares in British companies.

Nameless and uncelebrated.

Nameless and uncelebrated.

Traders on the floor saw Rothschild dumping everything and assumed that Napoleon had been victorious. But the wily Rothschild knew otherwise. So as the market crashed and fell to near zero prices in the ensuing panic, Rothschild’s agents were secretly buying up the depressed equities and currencies.

When word finally arrived in London via horse and carriage that Napoleon had been beaten, share prices soared and Rothschild made another fortune when he sold everything at a huge profit.

That man named Reuter was the progenitor of the international Thomson Reuters News Service.

Reuter’s bird which brought Rothschild the news remains nameless and uncelebrated. Until now.

3 Responses to “From “The Secret History of Birds.””

  1. Two-Fisted Bird Watcher says:

    In response to flyingmachine’s comment, Marc writes: “Sorry to have created this dispute. The source was Frederic Morton’s, The Rothschilds. Morton has a reputation for accuracy.”

    Our take: Wikipedia can be great, but it’s an informal source. Maybe they didn’t know about the pigeon. Marc’s story may be true, and we like it. So do the pigeons, unsung heroes that they are.

  2. norm says:

    True or not , this reminds me, for no apparent reason, of the grammatical controversy when Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ advertising campaign appeared The billboards and sides of Buses proclaimed in big bold type “The Birds is Coming”. Being in High School at the time I thought “Ahah, Gotcha!” They goofed. Alas, I was wrong. It was grammatically correct. Now how’s that for straying from a subject?

  3. flyingmachine says:

    “PS: This is a true story”

    According to wikipedia, the story of Rothschild and the stock exchange is a legend.

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