‘One Bird, In All That’

Wild Ink

It was painful to him to hear birdsong in the canopy and not know the names of the birds.

‘Clissold!’

‘Sir?’

‘I was just – just seeing that you were still there, Clissold. Follow more closely. It would not do to be separated.’

‘Yessir.’

It was as though a migratory bird, a swallow or tern, were blinded by smoke or cloud to the stars by which it steered its course. No: it was as though the stars were there to be seen, but they were not the right stars – they were the stars of a different sky, a different heaven. In any case the bird would be lost.

Leo Szellenger, with a swipe of his stick, at last broke free of the smothering foliage and stumbled out into a clearing, a triangle of low-growing weed that ended in a ragged precipice and a steep, rock-strewn fifty-yard descent to the…

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