Asio, are you coming?
ANOTHER [Fluttering up to him.] Yes, my dear! [They all stagger and trip over their wings.]
What makes them stumble?
THE NIGHT-BIRDS [Winking and blinking with marked evidences of pain.] Oh, how it hurts! Ow! Ow!
Lightning opthalmia, I declare! [One by one the OWLS fly off.]
THE GRAND-DUKE [The last to go, spins on himself with a cry of pain and rage.] How does he contrive, that pernicious Cock, to have a voice that fairly puts out your eyes! [He heavily flaps off.]
VOICES OF THE NIGHT-BIRDS
[In the distance.] Strix!
THE BLACKBIRD [Looking after them among the branches, and later in the blue space over the valley.] They are calling one another!
VOICE IN THE DISTANCE
THE BLACKBIRD [Bending over the valley, where the dark wings are dwindling and fading.] They wheel—waver—dip—
[Dying in the distance.] Owl of the Wall! Of the Belfry! Of the Yew!
THE BLACKBIRD Gone! [He looks about, gives a hop, and with an immediate return to levity.] But it’s supper-time.—Now for a bite of cold grasshopper! [The PHEASANT-HEN suddenly flies over the brushwood tangle, dropping beside him.] You!
THE BLACKBIRD, THE PHEASANT-HEN, later CHANTECLER
THE PHEASANT-HEN [Panting, tragically earnest.] I ran all the way.—You were there.—Oh, I am half dead with terror!—Well you must have overheard their dreadful secret! You, his friend!
THE BLACKBIRD [Cheerfully rummaging among the moss.] Or the thigh of a katydid will do.
THE PHEASANT-HEN I was watching from a distance. I crouched in a ditch—[In an anguished voice.] Well?
[In genuine surprise.] Well, what?
[Calmly.] It all went off very nicely.
What do you mean?
The shadow was a correct and appropriate blue, and the Owls said
perfectly characteristic things.
[In wild alarm.] Heavens, they plotted his death?
His decease, which is not nearly so bad.
THE BLACKBIRD Don’t smite your brow! In spite of the Screech-Owl’s grave and self-important tone, I shouldn’t wonder if it all amounted to very little.
Are good enough in their various parts, but it’s the old excessive style
I beg your pardon?