Have you noticed that there are no snow-white birds in our woods during summer? Mother Carey long ago made it a rule that all snow-white landbirds should go north, when the snow was gone in the springtime. And they were quite obedient; they flew, keeping just on the south edge of the melting snow.
But it so happened that one of the sweetest singers of all—the snow-white Dawnsinger with the golden bill and the ruby legs—was flying northward with his bride
There was no other help for it; they must stay in that thicket till her wing grew strong again.
The other white birds flew on, but the Dawnsinger waited. He sang his merriest songs to cheer her. He brought her food: and he warned her when enemies were near.
A moon had come and gone. Now she was well again, and strong on the wing. He was anxious to go on to their northern home. A second warning came from Mother Carey, "White birds go north."
But the sunny woodside had become very pleasant, food was abundant, and the little white lady said, "Why should we go north when it is so much nicer right here?"
The Dawnsinger felt the same way, and the next time the warning came, "White birds go north," he would not listen at all, and they settled down to a joyful life in the woods.
They did not know anything about the Yellow-eyed Whizz. They never would have known, had they gone north at their right time. But the Yellow-eyed Whizz was coming. It came, and It always goes straight after white things in the woods, for brown things It cannot see.
Dawnsinger was high on a tree, praising the light in a glorious song, that he had just made up, when It singled him out by his whiteness, and pierced him through.
He fell fluttering and dying; and as she flew to him, with a cry of distress, the Yellow-eyed wicked Whizz struck her down by his side.
The Chewinks scratched leaves over the two white bodies, and—I think—that Mother Carey dropped a tear on the place.
That was the end of the White Dawnsinger and his bride. Yet every year, at that same place, as the snow goes, the brown leaves move and part, and up from beneath there comes a beautiful white flower.
Its bloom threads are yellow like the Dawnsinger's beak, and its stem is ruby like his legs; all the rest is snow-white like his plumes. It rises, looks about, faces the sun, and sings a little odour-song, a little aroma-lay. If you look deep down into the open soul of the Dawnsinger you will see the little golden thoughts he sings about. Then up from the same grave comes another, just the same, but a little smaller, and for a while they stand up side by side, and praise the light. But the Wither-bloom that haunts the flowers as the Yellow-eyed Whizz does the birds, soon finds them out; their song is ended, their white plumes are scattered, and they shrink back into their grave, to be side by side again.
You can find their little bodies, but deal gently with them, for they are wounded; you may make them bleed again.
And when you hear the Chewinks scratching in the underbrush, remember they are putting leaves on the grave of the White Dawnsinger.
Surely you have guessed the secret; the flower is the Bloodroot, and the Whizz is the Sharp-shinned Hawk.