Jul 14, 2005

HR, 12

Harlequin had met a few crows in his day. They were very aggressive, unfriendly birds that he preferred to avoid but they didn't strike the fear of death into him. Thus, it was with his furry eyebrows skeptically raised that he considered the bird's warning.

In prior journeys he 'd gotten quite proficient in bird talk, and squawked out a few syllables:

"I'm just a four-leg nut-eater!" he shouted at the branches in the tree (bird's had names only for each other and referred to all other creatures by features and function).

A patch of dense brown leaves shook, some breaking of fall stems and gliding to the ground. A lady black crow's head took up the hole they left.

"Where did you learn bird talk, four-leg?" she cawed with a mixture of distrust and curiosity.

"Oh, around," replied Harlequin. "I used to share a tree with a family of sparrows. My name's Harlequin, what's yours?"

"I'm Mitzi, from the southside rookery. What's a four-leg like you doing out? Attila is back!"

"Attila? Is that the cat?" Harlequin asked. Mitzi had disappeared behind the foliage.

"Run while you still can," her voice came from inside the tree.

"Do you know where I can get alcohol?"

Before she could reply, he heard the the beating of wings and two more crows
appeared from the north watching him sternly from the air. They both landed on the wall that stretched around the field. One was especially large and flew like a hawk, the other was more crow-like, but carried himself with an un-crow like dignity. The dignified one eyed him suspiciously.

"Watch him," he chirped to his companion, and flew out of sight into the tree. The hawkish one fixed a feral gaze on Harlequin and did his best to shape his rigid beak into a snarl. It was fascinated by the cask at his side. Harlequin had never seen such a strange looking crow and didn't want to risk provoking it by talking. He heard Mitzi and the other one conferring.

"How are the babies?" came the voice of the male.

"Attila came by and was sniffing around the base of the tree this morning! Where were you?"

"That wretched beast! I should have moved us when we had the chance. I'll ask the rook tomorrow. They have to help us." There was a silence before he continued. "What is that four-leg with the shiny thing doing?"

"He speaks bird-talk!"

"What! Let's have a talk with him then."

The crow couple flew out of the tree and joined their strange friend in looking at Harlequin. All were fascinated by Homeless Tony's cask.

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