Surely, it would not be wrong for him to embrace this chance of discovering Redbud’s residence—a chance which seemed to have been afforded him by some unseen power. Why should he not keep the bird until its wing was healed, and then observe the direction of its flight? Why not thus find the abode of one in whose society so much of his happiness consisted? Was there any thing wrong in it—would any one blame him?
These were the questions which Verty asked himself, standing in the October sunshine, and holding the wounded pigeon to his breast. And the conclusion was ere long reached. He decided, to his own perfect satisfaction, that he had the full right to do as he wished; and then he re-entered the office.
Mr. Roundjacket was busy at some more law papers, and did not observe the object which he carried. Verty sat down at his desk; betook himself to copying, having rejected the sketch-ornamented sheet; and by evening had done a very fair day’s work.
Then he put on his hat, placed the wounded pigeon in his bosom, and, mounting his horse, set forward toward the hills.
“In three days,” he said, “you will be cured, pretty pigeon, and then I will let you go; and it will be hard if I don’t follow your flight, and find out where your mistress lives. Oh, me! I must see Redbud—I can’t tell why, but I know I must see her!”
And Verty smiled, and went on with a lighter heart than he had possessed for many a day.
HAWKING WITHOUT A HAWK.
Verty nursed the wounded pigeon with the tenderness of a woman and the skill of a physician; so that on the third day, as he had promised himself, the bird was completely “restored to health.” The wing had healed, the eyes grown bright again, every movement of the graceful head and burnished neck showed how impatient the air-sailer was to return to his mistress and his home.
“Ma mere” said Verty, standing at the door of the old Indian woman’s lodge, “I think this pretty pigeon is well. Now I shall carry it back, and I know I shall find Redbud.”
Verty, it will be seen, had concealed nothing from his mother; indeed, he never concealed anything from anybody. He had told her quite simply that he wanted to see Redbud again; that they wouldn’t tell him where she was; and that the pigeon would enable him to find her. The old woman had smiled, and muttered something, and that was all.
Verty now stood with one hand on Cloud’s mane, in the early morning, ready to set forth.
The pigeon was perched upon his left hand, secured to Verty’s arm by a ribbon tied around one of its feet. This ribbon had been given him by Redbud.
In the other hand he carried his rifle, for some days disused—at his feet lay Longears and Wolf, in vain pleading with down-cast eyes for permission to accompany him.
“What a lovely morning!” said Verty, “and look at Cloud, ma mere!—he seems to know it’s fall. Then there’s Wolf, who can’t understand what I told him about Mr. Rushton’s not liking so many dogs—see how sorry he is.”