It was a good change for a little maid who had tried to grow for eight years in a crowded manufacturing town…it seemed as if she never had been alive at all before she came to live at the farm.
It was a surprise to find so clean and comfortable a little dwelling in this New England wilderness.
“I am making a collection of birds myself…there are two or three very rare ones I have been hunting for these five years. I mean to get them on my own ground if they can be found.”
Sylvia still watched the toad, not divining, as she might have done at some calmer time, that the creature wished to get to its hole under the doorstep…No amount of thought, that night, could decide how many wished-for treasures the ten dollars, so lightly spoken of, would buy.
All day long he did not once make her troubled or afraid except when he brought down some unsuspecting singing creature from its bough…she could not understand why he killed the very birds he seemed to like so much.
Half a mile from home…a great pine-tree stood, the last of its generation…the woodchoppers who had felled its mates were dead and gone long ago…if one climbed it at break of day, could not one see all the world?
Alas, if the great wave of human interest which flooded for the first time this dull little life should sweep away the satisfactions of an existence heart to heart with nature and the dumb life of the forest!
The old pine must have loved his new dependent. More than all the hawks, and bats, and moths, and even the sweet-voiced thrushes, was the brave, beating heart of the solitary gray-eyed child.
Yes, there was the sea with the dawning sun making a golden dazzle over it, and toward that glorious east flew two hawks with slow-moving pinions…Sylvia felt as if she too could go flying away among the clouds.
Has she been nine years growing, and now, when the great world for the first time puts out a hand to her, must she thrust it aside for a bird’s sake?
The murmur of the pine’s green branches is in her ears, she remembers how the white heron came flying through the golden air and how they watched the sea and the morning together, and Sylvia cannot speak; she cannot tell the heron’s secret and give its life away.
Were the birds better friends than their hunter might have been, – who can tell?