All that day they flew, and were very happy indeed in the warm sunshine skimming through the clouds. And once they went through a rainstorm and got wet; but as the sun came out soon after and dried them quickly they were none the worse for their bath, but felt refreshed for it.
And they passed over the great Amazon river, the largest river in the world, and, much before they knew it, they were in Central America going at a tremendous rate of speed.
“We shall be in the United States very soon, at this pace,” said the Villain.
And on the Condor flew, swift as an arrow, but in the afternoon a great wind storm came from the East and she was obliged to turn her course in the direction of the wind, and late in the evening they were nearing a large city which was now visible in the distance.
“I wish I had wings,” sighed Sweetclover, “and could fly all over the world. It would be so wonderful.”
“We will rest to-night,” said the bird, “and try to find the motheranfather of Jackie and Peggs to-morrow.”
“You will be too tired,” said Sweetclover.
“Oh, no,” said the Condor. “You can have no fear. I will be all right. When I say I do something I do that. I never....”
She did not finish what she was going to say, and maybe it was a punishment for boasting. People are often punished for talking too much about what they can do ... for just at that moment something dreadful happened that changed their plans.
And what do you think happened to the Condor?
Just as they were coming to the city and the bird was looking back, talking to Kernel Cob and the others, and everything looked so happy and bright....
“Look out!” shouted Kernel Cob, but it was too late. Straight ahead was a tall tree, toward which the bird was flying, and from the branches came a puff of smoke and the sharp crack of a gun.
The next instant the Condor stopped flying, and slowly sank to the ground.
“I am done for,” she said in a feeble voice. “It is just the way of all birds. I am sorry that I cannot help you more. Good-bye.”
By this time she had reached the ground, and Kernel Cob was in a very great rage. He wanted to stay and fight the hunter who would soon come to take the bird, but Sweetclover and the Villain begged him to be prudent and run away, lest they all be captured.
So with great sorrow, they said good-bye to the Condor and hurried away.
From behind a rock, they watched the hunter take up the bird and carry it away.
And our three little friends sat down upon a stone to think.
“I don’t know what to do,” said Sweetclover. “We have lost our best friend.”
“Never mind,” said the Villain tenderly, and he put his hand kindly on her shoulder. “It will all come right in the end. It always does, you know.”