Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/178

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sledgehammer. Suddenly a most peculiar cry was heard. The others of the herd seemed to manifest more attention; and the two principals spread their wings, like the dragons of old, and made the final onslaught. Screaming with frightful shrillness and with their little bloodshot eyes gleaming hideously they made the crucial rush. Just as they were within a few feet of each other, Delaney managed to strike the larger bird a severe blow on the neck. The creature wavered for a moment and then fell prostrate. Another peculiar cry came from the smaller bird and both principals receded from each other. They were about to resume hostilities when a second blow brought the larger bird to the floor and the other one seeing this, evidently adjudged himself the victor, for he walked proudly away, followed by many of the admiring female birds. We immediately took steps to prevent a repetition of this remarkable fight by keeping the combatants in separate pens.

The fight, however, was most stirring and splendid, and the birds themselves seemed to be the very embodiment of knightly pride, so manifestly aggressive did they look in their ruffled plumage. Alas for vanity! Scarcely twelve hours had passed when a message was