“What is it?” she asked. Huddled up in the low branches of the tree was a great ghostly looking bird, white as the snow under their feet. Its eyes were closed and it was apparently asleep. Hinpoha stretched out her hand and touched its feathers. It woke up with a start and looked at her with great round eyes full of alarm.
“It’s an owl!” said Hinpoha in amazement, “a snowy owl! It must have flown across the lake from Canada. They do sometimes when the food is scarce and the cold too intense up there.” The owl blinked and closed his eyes again. The glare of the sun on the snow blinded him. He acted stupid and half frozen, and sat crouched close against the trunk of the tree, making no effort to fly away.
“How tame he is!” said Gladys. “He doesn’t seem to mind us in the least.” Hinpoha tried to stroke him but he jerked away and tumbled to the ground. One wing was apparently broken. Mr. Bob made a leap for the bird as he fell, but Hinpoha seized him by the collar and dragged him into the house. When she returned the owl was making desperate efforts to get up into the tree again by jumping, but without success. Hinpoha caught him easily in spite of his struggles and bore him into the house. There was an empty cage down in the cellar which had once housed a parrot, and into this the solemn-eyed creature was put.
“That wing will heal again, and then we can let him go,” said Hinpoha.
“Hadn’t it better be tied down?” suggested Gladys. “He flutters it so much.” With infinite pains Hinpoha tied the broken wing down to the bird’s side, using strips of gauze bandage for the purpose. The owl made no sound. They fixed a perch in the cage and he stepped decorously up on it and regarded them with an intense, mournful gaze. “Isn’t he spooky looking?” said Gladys, shivering and turning away. “He gives me the creeps.”
“What will we feed him?” asked Hinpoha.
“Do owls eat crumbs?” asked Gladys.
Hinpoha shook her head. “That isn’t enough. I’ve always read that they catch mice and things like that to eat.” She brightened up. “There are several mice in the trap now. I saw them when I brought up the cage.” She sped down cellar and returned with three mice in a trap.
“Ugh,” said Gladys in disgust, as Hinpoha pulled them out by the tails. She put them in the cage with the owl and he pecked at them hungrily. “What will your aunt say when she sees him?” asked Gladys.
“I don’t know,” said Hinpoha doubtfully. Aunt Phoebe was away for the afternoon and so had not been in a position to interfere thus far.
“Maybe I had better take the cage home with me,” suggested Gladys.