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- زمان مطالعه 21 دقیقه
- سطح سخت
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
IN WHICH Frightful Feels the Call to the Sky
Atop the mill house, Oksi turned her head almost all the way around in one direction and then the other. She saw trees, boulders, the millpond, and, high above them, a bright glimpse of blue sky. The sky captivated her. She sensed she should be there. She flapped her wings. Nothing happened. The air was still. No wind gave her lift. She closed her wings to her body and flicked her tail in frustration. She needed to be in that sky.
Frightful watched Oksi from Sam’s tree. Her eyas had taken her first flight. She was no longer a nestling but a fledgling, a flying member of bird royalty—the family Fal-conidae. But Frightful was not about to join Chup wandering free on wing. She had still another duty—to provide food until Oksi could catch her own.
Oksi’s mood changed from frustration to curiosity. She turned her head almost upside down to focus on a twisting leaf, a flying beetle, and a bird. Birds excited her. She lifted her wings to chase, thought better of it, and folded them to her sides.
Eventually she grew tired and put her beak in the feathers between her shoulders to sleep. The afternoon shadows lengthened and turned purple-blue. Up in the big tree, Frightful closed her eyes. From time to time she opened them and checked on Oksi.
Sam read on. Mole chewed on the deer bone.
Suddenly—“Sam, where are you?”
Bando was running toward the big tree, waving his arms. Oksi awakened and flapped her wings. A gust of wind rushed under them and lifted her off the roof. In seconds she was above the hemlock grove, on her way—somewhere.
Sam saw Oksi soaring to independence at the same time he heard Bando shout. “It’s a girl! It’s a girl! Her name is Samantha.”
“Samantha?” Sam said, and Oksi was forgotten. “Who named her that?”
“Zella,” said Bando as he caught his breath from running.
Sam couldn’t speak.
“Now we have a son and a daughter,” Bando said, putting his hand on Sam’s shoulder. “Those are Zella’s words.”
Sam ran his fingers through his hair, trying to take in the wonder of having a namesake.
“I’ve got to get back to the hospital,” Bando said. “I’ll pick up my surprise for Zella and Samantha.” He winked. “Think she’ll like it?” Sam still could not speak.
Bando’s blue eyes shone under his dark eyebrows and prematurely white hair. His face crinkled around a big smile. He waited for Sam to say something, realized he was overwhelmed, and hurried off to the mill house.
“Samantha,” Sam finally said as his friend of the forest and wilderness left the mill house, carrying on his head the exquisite wild-cherry rocking chair he had been working on for eight months.
“Samantha,” Sam whispered to himself. “I have a new friend.”
Frightful did not hear the excitement. Oksi had disappeared over the mountain, and she was speeding to catch up with her daughter. She finally took the lead and steered to Sam’s meadow. She alighted on the limb of an oak tree. Oksi landed on a hickory stub.
Frightful scanned the meadow. Oksi scanned it, too. A rabbit jumped. Instinctively Oksi dropped from her perch. She missed. She hit where the rabbit had been, not where it would be by the time she struck. The rabbit dove into a patch of greenbrier and Oksi flew back to her perch. While she sat waiting for something else to run, Frightful flew back to the courthouse. She returned in the late afternoon but brought no food. Oksi, who had still not caught anything, ravenously attacked her mother.
Frightful dodged, climbed swiftly, and sped back to the cupola. In the morning she caught a pigeon.
Oksi saw Frightful flying toward her with the food when she was still a long way off. She waited, then attacked. Frightful dropped the pigeon. With a twist, Oksi caught it in the air and returned to the oak tree. She ate rapaciously. Although she had never been taught this, Frightful was following ancient peregrine instincts. She was hacking her daughter—bringing her food when she could not catch her own.
Four miles away, on the side of Palmer Hill, Perry Knowlton was doing the same thing for Blue Bill and Screamer.
He carried Screamer to the hack board, a food platform on stilts. He had constructed it below his house on the far side of the pond. It was shaded by a tree. To keep predators like Jessie Coon James from climbing it, he had encased the stilts in tin sleeves. Carefully he removed Screamer’s jesses and held him high.
Screamer saw the food on the hack board and flew to it. He was hungry. Perry had not fed him for a day to get him ready for this moment.
“So far so good,” he said, and went back to the barn for Blue Bill. Perry held him high.
Blue Bill had imprinted on Perry more deeply than Screamer and was perfectly happy to sit on his hand and admire him.
“Go,” Perry said, lowering his fist with a quick downward movement that forced Blue Bill to spread his wings. He flapped and he flew, too, but only as far as a tree limb— not to the hack board. There he sat.
“Ah, come on,” Perry said. “You’ve been a mother’s boy since I got you. Now, go join your brother and grow up.”
Perry picked up the jesses, leashes, and falconry bells he had taken off the birds and walked the short distance to his bird barn. Blue Bill followed and sat on the roof.
“Ho-ho-ho.” Perry bellowed the falconer’s cry to encourage a bird to hunt.
Blue Bill turned his head upside down and observed the action until Perry opened the bird-barn door and stepped inside. Then he flapped his wings.
A bald eagle riding up the mountain on a rising thermal saw Blue Bill move and circled to strike.
Screamer, on the hack board, saw the shadow above him and instinctively crouched. He extended his neck and pulled his feathers flat. The great eagle, with its six-foot wingspread, did not see him. He was plunging toward Blue Bill.
Blue Bill saw him and shrieked the alarm cry. Perry ran out of the barn followed by Molly, Jose, Hughie, and Maria.
The eagle struck Blue Bill. Then he saw Perry and sped off. Blue Bill rolled down the roof and fell to the ground. Perry picked him up and put him under his shirt.
“Is he dead, Mr. Knowlton?” Molly asked fearfully.
“No, but plenty scared,” Perry said. “His heart’s beating as fast as a woodpecker drills. Let’s go inside until he calms down.”
The fans of the falcons of the Delhi Bridge trooped back into the clean, roomy bird barn and watched with great concern while Perry stroked the terrified falcon to calm him down.
Jose watched but was more interested in Screamer. He went to the window of the empty owl room.
“The other bird just flew!” he yelled. “He’s going toward Bovina.”
“Good,” said Perry. “He’s off.”
When Blue Bill recovered his senses, Perry put him into a carrying cage and covered it with a blanket so that he couldn’t see and beat his wings to get free.
“Aren’t you going to let him go?” asked Hughie. “Not today,” Perry said. “I’ll check him for injuries before I try again. After all, a bald eagle hit him.” “He thinks you’re his mom, doesn’t he?” Molly asked. “Sort of,” said Perry. “Two falcons raised him from about two weeks of age on, but he seems to have been more imprinted on people than his brother. Because of that, I may never be able to set him free.” “Oh, good,” said Maria. “Then we can visit him often.” Perry smiled and opened the barn door.
“Hop in my van,” he said. “I’ll drive you all back to the courthouse.”
“Maybe we’ll find the other little falcon,” Jose said. “The road goes close to Bovina.”
“Oh, no,” said Molly. “I hope he didn’t go there. There are lots of transformers around Bovina. I found four when we were writing to the utilities company.” “Time to write letters again,” said Hughie with a sigh.
Terrified by the eagle, Screamer had flown to an oak tree at the top of Perry’s mountain. His fear died quickly, and he calmly looked around.
A flock of starlings swarmed past him, fanning out and coming back together. He found them interesting—they flew, they moved—they were birds. They swooped into the bushes and vanished. A red-tailed hawk soared by. Instinctively Screamer sat still until the hawk was out of sight. Then the starlings came wheeling back.
Screamer flew into their midst. The birds burst apart, exploding in all directions. He climbed high out of their sight. The birds turned and came back, re-forming their flock. One individual flew alone. Screamer bulleted down and picked it out of the air. He was on his way to independence.
That night he slept near the top of a red spruce. In the morning he followed the starlings that were streaming toward Bovina. They came down in a meadow. Screamer landed on a telephone pole, then skimmed the meadow, scaring the starlings into the air. He chased and attacked, but could not catch one.
Remembering Perry’s food-laden hack board, he returned to it late in the morning, ate well, and departed. A few miles away, he stopped to rest. Screamer was outside Bovina again.
That same morning Oksi was sitting in Sam’s meadow, hunting by sitting up high waiting for something to move. As the hours passed and she saw nothing, she changed her technique. She came down and skimmed over the tops of the knapweed and grasses to scare up the prey. A rat saw her and ran. She dove, missed, and headed back to the oak tree.
A small house sparrow came by, and she chased it. It dropped out of sight. A rabbit darted off through the weeds.
Oksi tail-chased the rabbit. It ran right, then left, right, left, its white tail warning the other rabbits to hide. Oksi chased right, then left, right, left, and speeded up to strike. The rabbit slipped under a pile of brush and was gone. Oksi flew back to the oak tree.
When Frightful returned to Sam’s meadow the next day, Oksi chased her down the mountain. They lit on the bridge at Delhi.
Flocks of ducks and shorebirds had migrated down from the Arctic. They were swimming and eating below the two falcons on the West Branch of the Delaware. The ducks fled when they saw the peregrines. Oksi chased a group, missed them all, looped, and came back to the bridge. She stood tall and alert. The water, the birds, the sky excited her. The open space felt right to her.
Before nightfall she had snatched a mallard duck that was dying from pesticide poisoning. She carried it to a gingerbread platform near the top of Molly’s Victorian house. She ate and fell asleep.
In the early morning a “creee” awoke her. Blue Bill was circling the bridge. She recognized him, although more than a month had passed since she had last seen him. She flew to him, and together they rollicked above the bridge, tumbling on air currents that bounced and rippled like water.
Frightful saw Blue Bill and Oksi circling and diving. She flew to them, and the three falcons played on the invisible roller coasters of wind. When Frightful discovered what skilled flyers they were, she led them onto a rising thermal. They ringed upward and upward, wings spread, not flapping, just tipping now and then to keep them going up.
At two thousand feet they saw Chup far below, sitting on his dead limb above the Schoharie aerie.
Chup saw them, but he felt not one iota of paternalism. His duties were over. He was molting his flight feathers and chose to be alone.
For the next week, Frightful watched her offspring eagerly chase the migrating birds but could not share their excitement. She hunted from the cupola by day, and at night she flew back to the one mountain among hundreds, the one tree among millions, and Sam.
Screamer shuttled between Bovina and Perry’s hack board for almost a week.
The day Jose mailed his letter complaining about the utility poles, Screamer came to rest on a transformer on a pole outside Bovina. A wind gusted; he tried to balance, contacted two wires, and fell to the ground. No one was there to pick him up.
Blue Bill and Oksi stayed around the good hunting grounds of Delhi with Frightful. They soared with her out over the countryside, learning to catch rats, mice, and pigeons. They became expert vermin hunters until Blue Bill found a cliff near the Pepacton Reservoir. Here thousands of migrating waterfowl came down to rest on the water. They were easy to catch, and when they moved on, he went with them. His early visual memory of life with Perry was forgotten. He followed the birds. He was not, after all, imprinted.
But Frightful was. She was held captive by her early training with Sam.
One day she watched a flock of doves disappear over the mountains. She followed them for a short distance, then flew back to the cupola on the courthouse. At dawn the next day she returned to her mountain and the nest box on the steel pole.
Sam was opening the mill sluice to start the waterwheel for Bando, now a busy father. He saw a shadow flash over the water and looked up.
“Frightful!” he shouted.
He held up his hand but did not whistle. Frightful hesitated, circled, and then did something she had never done before. She flew down to his hand without hearing Sam’s whistle. Alighting as gently as thistledown, she curled under her toes to keep her talons from piercing his bare hand.
“Beautiful bird,” Sam said to her. “Why do you honor me with this visit?”
“Creee, creee, creee,” she called softly, leaving off the “car-reet” that said “Sam.” He studied her. Her new feathers were darker and more lustrous than last year’s. Her eyes were more brilliant and wide open. She was breathing regularly, and her breath was sweet.
“You’re one healthy and beautiful bird,” he said. “I thought you were here because you need me. But you aren’t. Why are you here?”
Frightful faced south.
“Ah, that’s it? You’re leaving. You’ve come to tell me good-bye.”
Slowly he reached out and stroked her gleaming black head.
“Creee, creee,” he piped, but Frightful did not respond.
She looked up at the trees that closed off the sky, beat her wings, circled Sam’s head, and climbed out of the forest.
“Good-bye,” he called, and stopped. “Hey, what are you doing? You’re flying the wrong way.” Frightful was flying back to Delhi.
As she passed over Molly’s house, she saw Oksi returning to her Victorian gingerbread roost for the night. The abundant pigeons in Delhi had kept Oksi from migrating.
As the light dimmed, the young falcon walked into her elaborate room with its curls and spindles and lay down. She got up, stuck her head out into the dusk, and lay down again. Something was happening to her, and she was restless.
The happening was migration. It was full upon the Northern Hemisphere. The shorter hours of sunlight and lowering temperatures were telling millions of birds to go south. The event had begun in mid-August. The loons, geese, ducks, and shorebirds had heard the message from the environment and had left the barrens of Alaska and Canada. A few days later the swallows and swifts felt the change and left the Northeast.
And now Oksi felt it. Kettles of northern peregrine falcons arrived in the valley. They picked out the weak and slow from the flocks of migrating birds and moved south when their prey moved south. The strong and healthy would survive to have strong and healthy offspring. The weak became life and energy for the falcons. Oksi watched, ate, and listened to the earth’s atmospheric messages.
Frightful watched the migrating birds. Some flew west, some south; some migrated by day and some by night. She ate well and grew fat, until at last the shortening days and cold air urged her to go.
But the hemlock tree and Sam urged her to stay.
One chilly September morning, Oksi flew above Delhi, circling old haunts—the bridge, the cupola, and Frightful’s Mountain. Near Bovina she got onto a thermal and ringed up and up. Spiraling with her was Chup. He peeled off at the top of the warm bubble and shot southward. Oksi peeled off at the top and joined the great North American bird migration. It was mid-September.
From the bridge top, Frightful saw her go. She lowered her body to fly, straightened up, and sat still. An hour later she returned to the hemlock. She bobbed her head up and down and nervously stacked and restacked her tail feathers. She flew back to the bridge. She flew to the cupola. Nothing was right.
In October she returned to Jon Wood’s home. Alighting on the corrected transformer pole, she waited for Susan to appear with food. She saw only the boy who took care of the farm when the Woods were gone.
The pigeon cote was noisy, the rat cages were correctly smelly, but all were somehow wrong. She flew over the Schoharie Reservoir where she had weathered a storm. Frightening messages from the rays of the sun told her she was going the wrong way.
She flew back to the one mountain among hundreds, the one tree among millions, and Sam.
Mole was in the tree snoozing on Sam’s bed, and Jessie Coon James was in a hollow, dozing in winter lethargy. Sam and Alice were sitting around a small fire, cracking hickory nuts and putting the meats in clay tureens for the winter.
“Zella named her Samantha,” Sam said. “Isn’t that nice?”
“I know, I know,” replied Alice. “How many times have you told me that? I saw her, and she’s too little for such a big name.”
“She’ll grow up.”
“They’ll call her Sam, and then what?”
“That’s even better,” he said.
Alice stuffed a large piece of hickory meat into her mouth.
“Creee, creee, creee, car-reet.”
Sam jumped to his feet.
“Alice,” he said. “It’s Frightful. She’s here. She’s not going to migrate. What do I do?”
“Call her down and keep her,” Alice answered. “She would like that.”
“I can’t. Since I can’t have her, I want her to be a wild peregrine falcon. She must go.”
“Does every single, solitary peregrine have to migrate?”
“No,” he answered thoughtfully. “There are some who have stayed near New York City all winter because there are so many pigeons. But they are not Frightful. She must be a one-hundred-percent pure peregrine, sailing blue skies, journeying to new worlds—and that means she migrates.“ “Oh, Sam,” Alice said, then thought a minute. “What makes birds migrate?”
“A lot of things, but mostly lack of food in the cold north. They follow the food supply.”
“Then don’t feed her if you are so anxious for her to be a pilgrim falcon.”
“I’m not going to,” he said, stepping back to try to find Frightful among the branches of the ancient hemlock, but primarily to keep Alice from seeing his great sadness. He wanted Frightful to stay with all his heart.
“I’m not going to,” he repeated.
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