Seventeenth Day of May in the year of our Lord 1863.
Having emerged from my prison, I, Magnus Horgstaal, find myself to now be the only survivor of the good ship Pembroke's wreck.
Barricaded in a forgettable corner of the hold with little more than a pot and a flask, I managed to elude the mania that swept over my ship soon after it ran a-ground. Her resting steady but impossible to repair slowly drove the men to madness. Now alone, I begin this journal in hopes of avoiding a like-wise fate brought on by solitude.
Pembroke ran a-ground amid what seemed flat open ocean during the high tide, and all the men's efforts were in vain to dislodge her. Morale stayed high while the men had supplies. Some became children again and played on the rocks when the tide fell low to expose a nefarious out-crop of stone, and engaged in sport on an adjacent sandbar. When the supplies ran thin and the shadow of Nyx fell upon them, they became like werewolf, and soon began to tear each other apart.
Because of the bird.
It looked like a parrot, with a strange crest on its head like a black pennant. (Quite fitting.) It flew in from east-by-north. Our expedition being one of natural-ism, the captain immediately changed course to find the island it must have come from. The men of high education drew pictures of it in their empty books. If you reading this is not me, you surely noticed a few of their patient images on the leaves prior to this one I write on now. What seemed to be long awaited fruit for our labour turned to rot near mid-night as the Pembroke found her final resting place.
The bird showed to be an adept mimic. During the playful ignorant self-deluding time it was like a mascot. O, Lord, we are stranded and have no where to go, but we launched to find strange animals, and we have one that learns our drinking songs and sings along, so suffer us to savor one taste of success!
The bird vanished. That's when the madness began. Where is the bird? Who took it? Did someone hurt it? Seal it away in an emptied barrel of spirits? If we find out who, we'll string him by his ankles and beat him until dead! Most of that was their anger put to voice. Anger that their success had vanished, and anger that they could not ignore The Fates' dictate any longer. Rations were dwindling. Attempting to fish meant justifying the expense of a morsel as bait. Even if it was a squirming pest plucked from food gone to spoil.
The bird came back after a few days, but it was almost unseen. Tensions were growing high and men formed small gangs through their tenuous friendships. My captain served his King and Country as best he might, but finally the last barrel was tapped. That night, rage flowed out into the first tankard for which the barrel could not yield forth a single droplet more.
That silly man Darwin whose heresy inspired this mission should have been here to see! He would probably write a book of the descent of man by recalling the horror as these sailors I once knew all by name transform into baboons. Perhaps I will do that for him, should I collect enough paper and ink. His imagined natural laws and the proven laws of God Almighty played their roles without error as first the violent men destroyed each other out of insolence, second the typical men destroyed the surviving violent men out of prudence, finally the timid men destroyed the surviving typical men out of fear that they may too become violent men in absence of greater threat, thus letting the meek inherit this tiny patch of accurs'd earth.
They did not pause for thought! If the absence of threat would seduce a typical man to violence, what would become of a timid man after it seduces him to destroy a typical man?
I saw. It started with first mate Hollingsmoth assuming leadership after the captain fell in the brawl. He wasn't an evil man. He even arranged a proper funeral service for the captain next morn. A brief respite of order, it was. Three days later, there were more bodies to bury than hands to haul them to pyre on the sandbar.
Because of the bird.
After that second wind of civility blew away, the number of mouths were now fewer, but the final rations were nigh gone. Men started talking of who could be sacrificed, to save a ration or to cannibalise forthwith. The bird heard every word and carried it from the speaker to the man spoken of.
It must have learnt our names as good as our songs.
Paranoid men hearing parrot-echoed voices started taking action. I put my most recognizable clothes on a reasonable body as decoy, gathered my personal cache, and hid amongst the emptied crates and barrels in the hold.
I think Hollingsmoth was the last one. His affluent up-bringing gave him a knowledge of fencing beyond the skill of the remaining men. What a strange instinct it is to hear a man grunt his last and somehow know he was run through with an antique dagger. To hear it, despite great wood work between you and him. So quiet this ship had become in the end.
I was driven from my blind by thirst and the humours of my own wastes. I expected wholeheartedly to be run through by Hollingsmoth as I emerged, or perhaps get beheaded straight away. My fear followed me until I found Hollingsmoth's body draped across the wheel. He held his weapon with his breast, and if it was not lodged there by his own hand but that of another, that villain must have cast himself into the ocean or is lurking still despite my exposure. A small note in his pocket read, "the dread bird that steals the voices of men has killed us all."
Not yet, but I hear the ghostly mutterings of dead men all about me. The bird is still at this ship and it speaks all of our final words.
All except mine. Should I never again speak, might I meet salvation? Bird or naught, this ship will form my tomb unless I forge from it a means to refuge.
Nineteenth Day of May in the year of our Lord 1863.
I owe a debt to my great-grand-father for ensuring that I was a student of woodworking as well as the mercantile maths I chose to study. With diligent effort I have fashioned a tiny ship of my own from the husk of the Pembroke. The tools I use are stained with blood, and I pray that those which became murder weapons will be absolved by becoming implements of my escape.
My raft seems to withstand the approximate weight of myself and the resources I intend to salvage. Most fit secure in a fine chest I took from the captain's suite. If Poseidon should turn it over and take it all from me, so be it, but let no man bear witness that I failed to try at it.
The learn'd men's property provides much I can use. Glassware has allowed me to distill water to drink, and the man they sent to study plants brought seeds which has kept the bird's interest. Most are tagged by Latin names but a few should bear food if I can find a place to plant them.
To-night the sunset is bright, red, and clear. To-morrow I will ask the bird to lead me to his home. Half of my mind expects to be led to the gates of Hell. The other half expects the bird to shout, "sure thing, my friend!" in a mocked voice of my friend smith Smith, and lead me to a lush island, pristine with fruit trees bearing bee-hives that yield honey with graceful generosity.
To-morrow is not a day too soon. The emptiness within my belly is bringing the madness upon me.
Should to-morrow bring forth final disaster and this already be the end of my diary, let it end with this:
While I may have died, in your hands lies proof that something of me survives.
Twenty-Second Day of May in the year of our Lord 1863.
Wearing my captain's hat beneath the noon-time sun, I suspected I was suffering visions from the elements, but, lo! the bird's island is now in view through spy glass, and a charitable wind brings it steadily closer. I can taste the honey already.
The bird now rests on my raft. It seems to believe its work to be done. Although I wonder if that is a trick, since I know not if its design was to carry home the last man of the Pembroke or to make game of its final victim.
The winds are favorable but the distance is great. I wonder how high the bird flew to see the Pembroke rise over the rim of the horizon.
Twenty-Fourth Day of May in the year of our Lord 1863.
The sea delivered me safely to the island's shore and even granted a bite of nourishment in the form of a queer fish, flat and pink, washed ashore near where I landed.
The bird left me before I reached shore and has not been seen or heard since. I hope that his work is indeed done.
I have given up on creating a proper domicile at this point, and am satisfied having dismantled my raft and created from it an elevated platform at the seam between beach and jungle. I do not forget the path my shipmates followed as I find myself feeling like a boy again, building a tree house.
To-morrow I must begin careful mapping of my surroundings. I have already discovered a small bush providing fruit that has sustained me since landing, but it will soon exhaust. This fruit is unfamiliar to me, and like the men who owned this journal before me, I shall attempt to draw its likeness for the sake of writing "was not poisonous" beside its likeness.
I have not encountered any fauna here. Aside from Hollingsmoth's dagger and a few tools, I am without weapons. If this island is inhabited by man, I hope that I do not learn of the fact in the night at the end of a spear. I will set about fashioning spears of my own to-morrow, in hope that there are game animals to take with them. I have not enjoyed a meal of meat in some time.
A proper source of flame would be useful if meat can become a part of my routine. I carried with me an old tinder box I collected from the Pembroke, but its flint is lost. I must find a suitable stone to replace it.
Twenty-Seventh Day of May in the year of our Lord 1863.
Subsisting on fruits and berries. I have found, with my boots sometimes, evidence of fauna on this island. Excepting those occasional heaps of excrement, nothing particularly large or courageous appears to me. Most encounters have been nothing more than unexpected rustling of bushes where the grass grows high. The only animal I've actually seen was orange and feathered. I caught but one fleeting glimpse, but it was certainly greater than a fowl farmed at home for its meat. Were it not for its colour, it might fit a description of exotic birds seen on other expeditions.
I have established a routine for my daily needs, but underestimated the value of storage containers. I should have brought more emptied liquor bottles from the ship. I can produce a small surplus of distilled water on good days, but cannot store it. My assumption that I would encounter coconuts or gourds and machine them for containment has failed me.
Twenty-Ninth Day of May in the year of our Lord 1863.
First bush of berries exhausted. I have tried planting seeds from its yield in the soil nearby and devoted excess water production to its care.
Continued exploration of the island has met with no savages, but also no game. Admitting I am a clumsy and careless hunter, I hoped to at least spear something by accident in this much time. I have considered turning to the sea for its meat, but the crabs here are very large and I would not wish to lose a finger, or perhaps a hand, to them. I have seen a few more of the pink flat fish in the shallows, but they dart away well before I can ready my spear.
Land animals remain elusive, but I did catch a glimpse of the orange fowl again. It was nearing me when I gave it start and it escaped. Perhaps I am the one being hunted?
Thirty-First Day of May in the year of our Lord 1863.
After two days, I enjoy a chance to rest in relative comfort and safety. Because of the bird. Not the talking parrot, the orange one. At least I think it's a bird.
Yester-day, I again tried to become a hunter and sought the monsters of this jungle. As though Artemis took pity upon me and delivered unto me a bounty, I stumbled upon a creature in its slumber. I felt shamed somewhat, about to kill a sleeping beast, but if I had known what vengeance it would soon exact on me, I would have discarded my spear and stabbed it through an eye and into its brain with Hollingsmoth's dagger without a second thought. My spear's thrust was impotent against the creature's back, which proved to be a shell, leathery and sectioned like a pangolin but as solid as tortoise. It chased me through the underbrush until I climbed a small tree. It then attacked the tree until it began to topple. I leaped across into the limbs of a larger, stronger tree. Out of reach, the monster continued to harass me, somehow summoning the leaves of the trees surrounding to pelt me in timed bursts. Parts of my outfit are damaged by their edges, and no part of my exposed flesh is without long, thin wounds.
When it eventually tired, it took rest at the bottom of the tree. Any attempt to descend roused it again. At some point I conceded to the stand-off and nestled against the tree: no sense in letting the monster sleep and take none for myself.
This morning, the battle continued with my attempting to sneak away and the monster assaulting me with leaves, which somehow the nearby trees never became stripped of. Near noon-time I caught a glimpse of the orange fowl that I wrote of before.
I was expecting something of a dodo like the stories told through the history of seamanship feature. This was nothing like the woodcut printings seen in the learn'd men's books. It burst from the scrub and shrieked at the monster that trapped me, startling the beast and turning its attention away from me, posturing a defense as it slowly stepped back-wards. The fowl strutted toward it, arms, truly not wings, out-stretched, and menacing the monster with its claws, which were of the calibre of a great African predator. Then, it drove the monster off with fire.
I realise now that to anyone reading this text, I must sound like a raving mad man, but were He to stand before me now, I would swear upon my soul and tell the Lord to His face that this is what I saw transpire. Like the red dragon of Wales, it summoned up from its belly a gout of flame and spat it at the beast, setting the bush upon its back (how it grows there I can't surmise) a-flame and forcing its retreat. The fowl gave chase and I took the opportunity to descend and return to the safety of my personal tree.
This makes twice that a bird of this strange isle has, inadvertently or with willful intent, saved my life.
First Day of June in the year of our Lord 1863.
Rain. Should they not be drowned, my berry garden might appreciate this spell, but my personal opinion is one of distaste. I have lost my fire and shall struggle to create one a-new with soggy kindling. If the rain does not let up presently, I must venture into the jungle and search for another supply of berries beneath down-pour.
The rain has seemed to vitalise the animals of this island. I suffered no direct encounters, thankfully, but there was far more activity today than any day previous. At low tide, even the crabs seem energetic as they quarrel for territory amongst small pools left behind by receding waters.
Something has followed me back. Near a dozen strides away to South, every few moments, a faint motion. If I move about somewhat, it gives itself away to change position and keep its sight on me. I hope it is not the bush tortoise, but if it is, I swear that Hollingsmoth's dagger will taste warm blood again!
The berries I found are quite bitter, but I will not forego nourishment at the behest of my taste buds. It is still a flavour that I will not consume for recreational sake yet. I have two more than I can stomach and will throw them long into the jungle in the monster's direction. Maybe the monster will be scared off. Maybe it will eat them and forget about me. Maybe it will learn me to be a source of food and become a nuisance. I am too wet and chilled by wind gusts to care.
Second Day of June in the year of our Lord 1863.
Rain continues to fall. I awoke to learn that my platform is not secure, as I was visited in the night by some one or thing. Nothing seems to have been thieved or ruined, and four berries, two of the variety I first discovered, and one of two different undiscovered flavours have been placed near my chest of salvage. The parrot should be an unlikely culprit, so I take solace that my visitor was benevolent and interpreted my assault as an obtuse form of trade, but I also know well that benevolence is not firmament. Pembroke was heavy with benevolent souls when she launched, and one malicious wish can un-do me in my slumber. If the weather breaks, I may attempt to re-build my platform at a greater height, but until then I will create a barricade of sorts with my spears. If they are not enough to bring me food as weapons, O may they save me from becoming food for another, should one night a beast come to call.
Third Day of June in the year of our Lord 1863.
Forgive my lack of artistic talent. It's not a pig. It looks like a pig but it's not a pig. I draw it standing on its hind legs because it does, not because of the way this paper is shaped. That is a large shell clamped to its tail. The shell has eyes. I don't understand what breathed life into this horrible abomination, but I swear it to be real. And delicious. It tastes better than pig, especially the tail once the meat is extracted from the shell. The shell contained some meat of its own as well, but that part is rather unpalatable.
I discovered this abomination while struggling through the jungle. Despite the continued down pour, I again sought berries as none were gifted to me in the night. The spear fence worked to that end. I took one spear with me as I foraged and was prepared to turn back empty-handed when stirrings in near-by bushes caught my attention. A great orange familiar fowl appeared and stumbled forth with a limp. It seemed quite hurt although it showed no wounds. It also was suffering dizziness or confusion, as it did not notice me at all and collided with the smaller trees standing in its path. I stepped aside and behind some cover just as the abomination pursuing the fowl emerged. It was not particularly fast, but it walked (upright) with a steady plodding gait and it seemed focused on capturing the fowl. I let it pass by my blind and tracked behind it.
I did not even think of what I was doing but when the fowl finally fell into a half hollowed tree stump and the abomination descended upon it, I ran up from behind and ran the pig beast through with my spear. It struggled for only a moment. My aim must have found its vital pieces.
The fowl and I stared at each other for some time. I did not want to abandon it in such a state, but I also did not want it to lash out at me as a wounded animal often does. The rain water clinging to its vicious talons reflecting the overcast sky above through the jungle canopy looked more intimidating than the abomination in whole. I only brought myself to trust it when it sang a faint call and began to move toward me. We negotiated a way that I could carry it, since it is about half as tall as myself, and drag the impaled abomination behind us.
All the way back, I felt comforted. Despite being soaked completely through all its feathers, it still felt warm to touch. Warmer than any living being I've held in my arms.
The smallness of my domicile became evident by bringing another body beneath what remains of my sail, which serves as roof, walls, and door. I struggled to make a fire with my tinderbox and the sturdiest stone I have found, but found no luck. That is, until the fowl saw a spark fly, and somehow understood my intention. As it did to the monster before, the fowl conjured flame and minutes later, I was dressing the abomination in preparation to serve a well-cooked meal.
As I write this, the fowl lies against me. Despite its expressed power of magic fire and claws that can rend flesh effortlessly----I saw this as it sectioned the abomination's meat into small pieces that its beak could manage to swallow up easily----I feel strangely comfortable with it beside me. I wonder if it is being better off with the Devil you know, or if I have been longing for trustworthy companionship stronger than I would have attested to.
I'm not certain why I have described it as trustworthy when I know so little of its kind or even if this is the same one that benefited me before. It makes a strange and distinctly bird-type sound. The only words that I can think of to describe it are "soothing" and "happy."
Nineteenth day of June in the year of our Lord 1863.
Forgive my lapsed attention to this journal. My inkwell tumbled and I am now using juice from one of the local varieties of berries as a substitute. It is a small berry, much smaller than the ones I have taken as food. The fowl finds these edible, but my experience was quite distressing, and when I draw the berries on a following page, I will label them "poisonous."
If the fowl was brought from this place to any meeting of the great minds of Europe, it would be heralded a savant of the animal kingdom. It seems to have a vast capacity for learning to communicate, not unlike the parrot that so quickly learned to not only speak the tongues of the Pembroke's men, but the very names of those men. This animal cannot speak in words, but it shows undeniable understanding of mine once I make intentions plain enough. It learns what I call my things, and from using small berries as example, it now understands the names of numbers and how to figure easy sums and differences. It has to-day communicated to me that it is a female by way of denying her possessing certain traits that I as a male possess and vice versa. Since female birds tend to carry a drab colouration compared to their males, I am curious of what plumage is worn by cocks of her species.
I believe I will name her Lydia, in honour of a woman I knew in my youth who paid me as much charitable attention as this fowl, but to whom I was too young and foolish to return in kind. That was a mistake I will not repeat, despite this Lydia being a game hen.
Twenty-Fourth Day of June in the year of our Lord 1863.
My novice attempts at gardening are beginning to pay off, not of my skills but of these berry plants' hardy natures.
The last few days have been spent to establish a more appropriate domicile. I began clearing away a small area devoid of large trees but a few saplings easily felled by day, and have been preparing additional spears that I will use to fence off my berry gardens by light of campfire (burning away the cleared brush) on the beach beneath starlight.
Every seaman learns the map of the night sky. It is vital to his survival. There is something wrong with this sky, but I can't seem to see exactly what. The stars are there, bright and sparse to the north, dim and numerous to the south, the glow of the celestial band, but there is something just wrong about it. It is like seeing a dream that you would swear were awak'dness. At this moment everything ought be just, but disagrees with memories of past moments in subtle ways.
Seventh Day of July in the year of our Lord 1863.
I observe a natural order of things on this island affecting the fauna I most frequently encounter. Lydia's fire drives off many of the jungle creatures, who seem to have dominion over its flora. They in turn bully freely the strange pigs that linger near small pools of the interior and the crabs, when they sometimes emerge from the jungle and hunt fish from the ocean. I have observed this a few times with my spy glass, although none have approached my encampment. The crabs and strange pigs especially in turn give Lydia a case of nerves. I presume this cycle of domination preserves the balance of nature on this island. However, I do not know how the parrots fit in. I have seen a few in flight, but they seem to roost much deeper within the island's interior.
Twice weekly Lydia and I have taken up the hunt. Strange pigs are found easily nearby, congregated at a fresh-water pool. I would enjoy to swim there for relaxation, but the pigs won't abide that peacefully. I don't blame them, since they surely know by that I am a predator of their kind. What baffles me is how they defend themselves. They will emit an eerie groan and immediately I develop a sharp headache. Lydia is clearly affected in the same way and even more sharply. I am certain that is what affected her the day she was accosted by one of these animals. They are also wont to attack in a crude physical manner, but are easily escaped as they are lumbering and slow to rise. I have also noticed that only a few, and always ones with shells on their tails, walk on their hind legs. Those seem to be more aggressive than the common ones, indicating a pack hierarchy of some sort.
Eighteenth Day of July in the year of our Lord 1863.
I am no carpenter. My dream of creating a glorious cabin has boiled away. I am prepared to settle for a crude wigwam, the fashion of New World savages. A skeleton of felled saplings seems to stand strong, but my building efforts are limited by a lack of line with which to lash and tie them together. Lydia has been providing short lengths of vine each day through her own utility. Sometimes the vines have bloody ends. The blood isn't hers. I have done my best to not want to ask why.
Twenty-Fifth Day of July in the year of our Lord 1863.
We have met with the king of the pigs and were lucky to flee with our hides intact. It ambushed us while we were on our hunt yester-day and attacked mercilessly. Lydia engaged it when it charged me----bearing down with its shell, which it wore on its head instead of its tail----and she stumbled it. It then collided with me by a way-side and I fell hard against an fallen tree's trunk. A moment passed before I re-gained my senses. When I rose again, I found it assaulting Lydia. Like the smaller pigs, it seemed to resist her kicks, claws, and fires. She was in poor form before I got my dagger into its side. I stabbed it three times and was about to give it a fourth when it struck me away. With a terrible bellow it nearly blinded me with a sudden migraine and came at me again. I managed to roll away as it reached down, kicked its stab wounds to irritate and distract it, and scrambled to my feet. I gathered up Lydia and ploughed through the jungle. The king of pigs followed me for some time but at a much slower rate. We fled until reaching the shore line, and when I was certain the king had broken away from chase, walked along the water until arriving at my encampment.
I do not expect to hunt their ilk again unless pressured by absolute desperation.
Twenty-Seventh Day of July in the year of our Lord 1863.
Lydia is on her feet again, although every motion seems to be pained. She let me examine her body thoroughly and I found no signs of broken bones, but beneath her feathers is a calico pattern of bruises. Often when the sunlight becomes harsh, we take a mid-day nap together, but even a gentle embrace of my arm to cushion her rest is too much pressing for her wounds to abide. This seems to have made sullen her mood more than the battering of her body has. Writing this here puts into perspective what would be thought of me at home if rumour spread that I regularly took siesta with a hen beside me. Were it any common fowl, the scandal would be unbearable, but I have developed a sense of friendship to her that would not shrink in the face of such jest.
Twenty-Ninth Day of July in the year of our Lord 1863.
My wigwam is now in live-able condition. It could do for some rugs from the Pembroke's captain's suite, but for now a layer of fine soft beach sand will do. Lydia seems to think it the most amazing sight she has ever seen, despite being a simple dome to keep Nature's elements at bay. I have completed it not a moment too soon. A new storm seems to be approaching from the horizon. My handiwork will be tested by wind and rain soon. Lord let us withstand.
Third Day of August in the year of our Lord 1863.
I have never seen such determination in the eyes of an animal without an immediate reward such as food or a receptive mate at hand. With the wigwam proven against the storm, my efforts have been focused on berry gardening, which Lydia does not seem to show much interest in, although she does provide a helping hand, claw, when I need it. Since the skies cleared, she has been at the shore line, battling every crab she can find until one large enough to fight her off appears. She then takes rest for a short time and returns to battle more. She has also made victim of the often green plant-like animals when she notices one. It is as though she is training herself for something. I can only surmise that she seeks revenge on the king of pigs. I do not think that is a good wish, but I haven't interfered with her activities. She returns to me with an air of pride which I will not blow away from her.
My library was poorly selected. I took from the Pembroke books that seemed most relevant to survival. A book of plants, useless since the only plant it details that I have seen are the poisoning "pokeberry" which I use to make the ink I am now writing with. A book of animals; none of the animals here are near to so mundane as the ones it describes, even the ones that were added to the book after other island explorers returned home with their trophies and tales. A book of star maps I left behind. O, how I wish I could trade these for that! I still do not know what is wrong with the night sky, and without it, I may never figure out its puzzle.
Driving four posts through the sand floor, I have created a means to suspend a net and form something of a taut hammock. Lydia seems to approve of its design and is enjoying it presently. I hope she will be willing to share it with me, I cannot make another without much more line.
Eleventh Day of August in the year of our Lord 1863.
Ennui envelops me and drives me to idle activities. Those men who claim a wish to get away from every man and live alone are either mad or already have prepared a life's time of hobby. Between hunting, gardening, and maintaining my wigwam, I have taken to replicating, in form or in earnest, things I should have brought from the Pembroke, had I known instead of guessed what my needs would be. Alas, my proficiency seems to be opposite of my necessity. I have become self impressed with my ability to carve decorations for my home, which serve no good purpose, but have met with no success in creating pottery, which would be quite useful. At the least I have whittled a few wooden forks and spoons, and a few tools of survey, as I now aim to produce a quality map of this island in whole. My attempts to create a map free handed were worth little more than maps of yore, those placing India on the fore-most edge of the New World, and indicating dragons as an excuse to not know what lies beyond.
Lydia seems to be putting on weight. I think she is eating some of the animals she assaults. She does not feel soft or fatty from it, however. If anything, the mass must be muscle and bone. Perhaps she will have her revenge on the king pig after all.
Twenty-Second Day of August in the year of our Lord 1863.
Since this is a personal record, I feel no shame in being boastful. My efforts at cartography are proceeding quite well for a tyro start. The edge of the coastline as far as the eye can see from my point of landing is charted and confirmed accurate. I have been placing markers at even measures indicating distance to other landmarks and travel time by foot. The markers themselves are already more interesting novelties than anything the island has so far provided, but when this island decides to be interesting, it decides to be perilous.
Lydia is becoming worry-some. She has turned cold in demeanor (although not to the touch) and somewhat reserved. She has also begun casting off some of her feathers. I do not know what to make of it, but I may soon pursue her during her daily travels into the northern jungle and see if I can recognise a clew.
Twenty-Fifth Day of August in the year of our Lord 1863.
Today, I followed Lydia into the jungle. I am not a stealthy tracker and often stopped as she became suspicious and checked her be-hind. That she never investigated my presence I believe is because she knew whatever was following her she could likely defeat in battle, as yester-day, she brought back a pig for our supper. She must have overcome their advantages.
She traveled until meeting another of her kind. Lydia approached it, they exchanged some sounds, and then she challenged it with her arms out-stretched, as she did when she aimed to drive off the bush beast that cornered me. They tussled for a few minutes and she stood the victor. The other fowl resumed their conversation, but instead of chattering in kind, she squawked at it loudly and drove it away.
I am suspicious of a few possibilities. This could be a territorial behavior, but she does not seem to have any interest in this area since she always returns to my wigwam near sun-set. It could be a courtship behavior, but a female-dominant system is almost unheard of outside of the hyena in Africa, and Lydia still maintains her statement of femininity after I questioned her again using the animal book's illustrations of birds nesting with eggs as definite example. She indicated that her species always produces one single egg each time instead of the cluster depicted.
For I was following her back, I was compelled to make excuse for arriving at the wigwam after her. Finding and gathering a hand-full of pokeberries, I have prepared fresh ink to that end.
Thirtieth Day of August in the year of our Lord 1863.
I still know not what is wrong with Lydia. She has quit visiting the jungle and taken to bullying me instead of her fellow fowl. I want to have nothing of it, but cannot think of a method to discipline her. Striking her in kind is understood as a desire to quarrel, and withdrawing from her only makes her use a more nagging technique to annoy me.
Despite all this, she seems to straighten up and become the Lydia I know whenever I need help with something requiring physical labour. Indeed she is my beast of burden at times, able to heft about lumber that I would hardly lift from the ground, and even the strongest men of the Pembroke would handle only as a team. By her aid, my wigwam now enjoys a proper border fence that I designed with complication to bemuse invasive beasts.
Forgive the streak across this page, she has taken to grabbing at my writing arm to disrupt me. I made folly and chastised her when she first did, revealing that breaking my concentration while writing is highly effective at drawing my ire. She is practicing it to great effect.
Second Day of September in the year of our Lord 1863.
My patience is gone. If Lydia presses the matter again after today's chores, I will quarrel with her. It will surely be brief and I will be the one sporting a calico pattern of bruises afterward should I survive, but I see no other way to resolve this matter.
Darwin has nothing to say about what happened this evening.
I cannot recall the details of our brawl for much of my memory there-of is lost. I think Lydia kicked my head and knocked me faint.
When I awoke, my vision was blurry, but I felt as though I were lying on a proper bed, firm but plush and quite warm. I tried to rise but something held me fast. I noticed a sound, like the sound Lydia made when I first took her in, but deeper yet featuring overtones of higher pitch. The sound was coming from beneath me. I guessed I must have collapsed upon her, and although she seemed un-distressed. I scrambled to relieve her of my weight. In doing so I fell to the wigwam's floor from the hammock's height.
My senses cleared to a noise almost like laughter. When I faced the source, however, it was not Lydia resting in my hammock.
It could not possibly have been, by any science known to man or any magic practiced by heathens. Such a change would take nothing short of a miracle or legendary alchemy. But, for want of any better alternative, I stammered in question, "Lydia?" and the source of the voice burst from the hammock, hoisted me to my feet, and pulled my body against her own. As she clutched me and rested the base of her beak upon my shoulder, the soothing happy bird sound continued, and there could be no doubting it was her.
Any description of evolution entertained by the learn'd men call for many generations to pass for any change to be seen. No, this must be some form of transmut----metamorphosis! Like that of a worm into a flying insect. And like such, her form has been almost completely altered. Most obvious is her height, now standing slightly taller than myself as I naturally elevate my chin a degree to look her in the eyes. The shape of her head is now more like a bird of prey than a fowl, and flesh has grown over her beak, tough but pliable. Disregarding her tuft of a tail and coat of bold feathers coloured a reddened orange like an autumn leaf, her body is almost the shape of a human body although her arms' and legs' claws are distinctly that of her kind, whatever sort of thing she is.
The good humour within her to which I had become so accustomed has returned in abundance, and at her present urging, I will set aside this journal for the evening to enjoy it closely.
The diary has more pages, but the light has become too dim in this room to read them. Perhaps they can be read somewhere else...