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Wind Song - Page 3

The town of Wausa, Nebraska was not unlike other little towns that had
sprung up to welcome the pioneers. It was a mix of old and new buildings
with wood plank sidewalks and a wide main street of dirt to accommodate
trains of oxen. In one of the newer buildings was the general store.
Guarding the door was a wooden Indian and next to it hung a bird cage.
The family stopped for a moment to look at the yellow bird inside.

When they stepped into the store it was a universe all its own. There was
the scent of wood and soap and spice. The walls were lined with racks of
crates and mason jars, and along the aisles were bushel barrels of potatoes
and apples. In the back neatly propped against the wall were bolts of
fabric. While her brother and sister explored the store and her parents
spoke with the grocer about their bread and onions, Rachel wandered back
outside to look at the bird.

So bright a yellow it was a

miniature piece of the sun in
that dusty place. It hopped
from perch to perch rarely
standing still and as it
hopped it kept its eyes on
Rachel. Suddenly a shadow
passed over the girl and
startled, she looked up to see
a Sioux Indian brave. Her
heart beat faster. Indians
sometimes came to town to
barter although it was discouraged by the shopkeepers. Such a history of
warfare existed between Indians and white settlers that no one felt safe.
But this Indian was as fascinated by the bird as Rachel. He stared intently
and then said something she couldn't understand. Seeing her puzzled face
he repeated in English, "It listens to the wind."

Before Rachel could think about what he had said, the Indian turned and
walked away. Her parents appeared a moment later, having seen him
through the window.
"Are you all right?" asked her father.

Rachel nodded. "He was just looking at the canary."

At that moment the little bird lifted its head, swelled its chest, and sang out
a joyous trill. Rachel saw her mother's face light up with delight.

Rachel traded her quilt for the canary and never regretted it because the
little bird entertained them endlessly. Sir Gallant, they called him because
he did battle with the wind. The louder the wind the more loudly he sang,
competition so fierce that sometimes everyone burst out laughing. Sir
Gallant lifted their spirits turning dust days back into sunshine days.

Rachel thought about what the Indian had said. She'd heard the wind but
unlike the canary she'd never listened to it. Now when she tried she could
hear music in the moaning. Of course the music was faint and hidden in the
background and she needed her imagination, but it was there if she truly
listened. She began humming the sounds she heard. "That's a pretty tune"
her mother commented one day, "what song is that?" Rachel didn't reply,
unsure how to explain, and her mother didn't press the question. Soon she,
too, began humming.