THE PHEASANT-HEN, PATOU, later the WOODPECKER,
RABBITS, and, all the
VOICES of the awakening forest.
[To the PHEASANT-HEN.] Mourn!
[In the centre of her-web which now sifts the gold dust of a sunbeam.]
Spider at morn,
Cometh to warn!
THE PHEASANT-HEN [Furiously, tearing down the cobweb with a brush of her wing.] Be still, hateful Spider!—Oh, may he perish for having disdained me!
THE WOODPECKER [Who from his window has been watching CHANTECLER’S departure, suddenly, frightened.] The poacher has seen him!
[In the trees.] The Cock is in danger!
[Leaning out to see better.] He breaks his gun in two!
PATOU [Alarmed.] To load it! Is that murderous fool in sheepskin gaiters going to fire upon a rooster?
[Spreading her wings to rise.] Not if he sees a pheasant!
[Springing before her.] What are you doing?
Following my calling! [She flies toward the danger.]
THE WOODPECKER [Seeing that in her upward swing she must touch the spring of the forgotten snare.] Look out for the snare! [Too late. The net falls.]
[Utters a cry of despair.] Ah!
She is caught!
[Struggling in the net.] He is lost!
[Wildly.] She is—He is—
[All the RABBITS have thrust out their heads to see.]
[Crying in an ardent prayer.] Daybreak protect him!
THE OWLS [Rocking themselves gleefully among the branches.] The gun-barrel shines, shines—
THE PHEASANT-HEN Dawn, touch the cartridge with your dewy wing! Trip the foot of the hunter in a tangle of grass! He is your Cock! He drove off the darkness and the shadow of the Hawk! And he is going to die. Nightingale, you, say something! Speak!
[In a supplicating sob.] He fought for a friend of mine, the Rose!
THE PHEASANT-HEN Let him live! And I will dwell in the farmyard beside the ploughshare and the hoe! And renouncing for his sake all that in my pride I made a burden and torment to him, I will own, O Sun, that when you made his shadow you marked out my place in the world!
[Daylight grows. On all sides, rustles and murmurs.]
[Singing.] The air is blue!
[Cawing as he flies past.] Daylight grows!
The forest is astir—
ALL THE BIRDS
[Waking among the trees.] Good-morning! Good-morning! Good-morning!