The Dun Cow

Excerpt Three:

But it is entirely possible to win against the enemy, it is possible even to kill the enemy, and still to be defeated by the battle…

For Chauntecleer one thing and one thing only held any meaning now:  his own feelings.  All of the rest was mere shadow–smiling, mocking shadow…

All of the sights and the sounds around him washed into one another, so that he thought he was seeing everything through a sheet.  Someone, he thought, had put a sheet over his head…

“They think I’m dead!”  he thought.  “They didn’t even wait for me to wake up.  They covered me and left me for dead!”  All of a sudden Chauntecleer felt profoundly sorry for Chauntecleer.

“Well, they rot!” he decided with monumental dignity.  “I can do without them,” he proclaimed to his soul.  “Let them go their selfish ways.  Chauntecleer the Rooster was ever the noblest bird of them all!”  And speaking that way in his heart, Chauntecleer composed himself for an eternity of lonely suffering.

But the colors around him never ceased pulsing.  Slowly they began to move as with a purpose, drawing together, wrapping themselves around a shape.  They were taking form.  And they were blending into each other–swirling, mixing, losing distinction, until all the colors were one color:  dun.  And the shape was the shape of a Cow.

Chauntecleer’s heart leaped!  He blinked and looked very hard.

Yes!  He saw the rangy, pointed horns of the Dun Cow and her liquid eyes, and the Rooster knew them very well.

“You didn’t forget!”  Chauntecleer cried–without opening his mouth.  “You saw my suffering!  They left me, but you, my friend–you came back to me!”  The cry caused sparks to fly all around his head, and the image of the Dun Cow wavered, like a water reflection.

But this is the sadness of Chauntecleer’s hopeless condition, that wild delight can fall quickly into a wild and bitter tantrum.  Nothing lasts.

When the image of the Dun Cow stilled again, anger exploded in Chauntecleer’s brains.  Her eyes were as sympathetic as before, but now he could see that they were not looking at him.  There was company between the Dun Cow and himself.  Mundy Cani Dog was there.  And him was the Dun Cow gazing at! … Chauntecleer’s sorrow on his own behalf was immeasurable.

But the next thing that he saw silenced and confused him.

[The Book of the Dun Cow, Walter Wangerin, Jr., pg. 210-212]


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