Once more he reached into the sack. When he withdrew his hand, I saw perched upon his finger a small gray bird with eyes of piercing blue. It was not a pretty bird. But for its eyes it seemed to me quite drab. I did not understand the still depths in its eyes.
“Do you know this bird?” he asked.
“No,” said I.
“This bird,” he said, “will serve quite well to bring you out to me. For he is the Persuader.”
At that he gave a sudden jerk with his arm. The bird fluttered upwards and burst into flames above his head. I was dazed by a loud crack and a bright flash as of lightning. The glass of the window shattered and I was thrown back violently into the room.
When next I looked up I saw the bird dazzlingly transformed. To look upon it was as to look upon the sun. It was huge and bright, like the legendary Firebird. Its wings were two outstretched flames, its beak large and sharp as a sword. I saw it hovering, poised in mid-air just outside my window.
Beyond it, at a safe distance, the moon and star timidly peeped out from behind the bank of clouds. I could not speak; I could not utter a sound. In an instant the flaming bird was upon me. Already with its terrible beak it had pierced my heart. I was stricken with a deadly pain. Smoke and red fire filled my eyes and then gave way to darkness. I knew no more.
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