Game Bird

Joy, love, excitement throbs in his young heart, fills his dumb breast. What a glorious life – to run, to fly, to scream among his fellows. Undaunted by any northern blast, by cold, pitiless, threatening skies or ice and snow particles clinging to his narrow feet, – see him run on – eyes alert for a kernel by the wayside, or a hitherto undiscovered seed in the field.

That he is beautiful, very beautiful he knows. His lovely head bears the colors of the rainbow; his tail is broad and long and high; his breast is full and strong. His wings are eager, longing to lift him up, up toward the heavens, and take him on, on, riding immensity.

How often at night, strangely perhaps, and unlike many of his kind, he loves to sit on the topmost branches of the barren trees. Each evening he gazes far out across the still, white, sleeping earth, and each morning he opens his small glittering eyes to catch the dancing gleam of the sun’s rays playing in, through, and about the clear frost coat enveloping each little black twig. In a twinkling he will lift himself, spread his noble wings and alight gently on some late newly-fallen snow, craving a breakfast of nature’s oft replenished plate.

He is only a bird, but a creature, vibrant, pulsating, filled with the joy of living. He has drunk repeatedly of the warm rich blood of June; he has feasted on the bounties of September, now he revels in November’s frosty beauty.

He runs on – gracing the roadside, the pastures; and how he laughs, though not audibly; how he plays, though to a passing motorist he appears to be merely a poor, lonely thing, deserted, cold.

But now, there comes to him the faint purr of a distant motor. Soon it can be seen creeping with snail-like pace along the near highway. It passes, stops, retreats and stops again. Our feathered friend lifts his gentle head questioningly.

There is a faint click, a movement, a great telling blow. An overwhelming impact has struck him full force; he lies stunned, his senses dull, benumbed. A sharp, hot, excruciating pain rends his body. He starts up, fails back, flounders helplessly in the snow.

Yet for one fleet moment see him bravely lift his uncowardly majestic head. See him stare with piteous, hot, bloodshot, fear-filled eyes toward that dark figure stalking nearer, nearer. . . .

Oh yes – he recognizes him! It is that one, – the hateful two-legged foe, carrying the mean stick of rumbling thunder.