The forest was full of shadows as a little girl hurried through it one summer evening in June.It was already 8 o'clock and Sylvie wondered if her grandmother would be angry with her for being so late.Every evening Sylvie left her grandmother's house at 5:30 to bring their cow home.The old animal spent her days out in the open country eating sweet grass.It was Sylvie's job to bring her home to be milked.When the cow heard Sylvie's voice calling her,she would hide among the bushes.This evening it had taken Sylvie longer than usual to find her cow.The child hurried the cow through the dark forest,following a narrow path that led to her grandmother's home.The cow stopped at a small stream to drink.As Sylvie waited,she put her bare feet in the cold,fresh water of the stream.She had never before been alone in the forest as late as this.The air was soft and sweet.Sylvie felt as if she were a part of the gray shadows and the silver leaves that moved in the evening breeze.She began thinking how it was only a year ago that she came to her grandmother's farm.Before that,she had lived with her mother and father in a dirty,crowded factory town.One day,Sylvie's grandmother had visited them and had chosen Sylvie from all her brothers and sisters to be the one to help her on her farm in Vermont.
The cow finished drinking,and as the 9-year-old child hurried through the forest to the home she loved,she thought again about the noisy town where her parents still lived.Suddenly the air was cut by a sharp whistle not far away.Sylvie knew it wasn't a friendly bird's whistle.It was the determined whistle of a person.She forgot the cow and hid in some bushes.But she was too late."Hello,little girl,"a young man called out cheerfully."How far is it to the main road?"Sylvie was trembling as she whispered"two miles."She came out of the bushes and looked up into the face of a tall young man carrying a gun.The stranger began walking with Sylvie as she followed her cow through the forest."I've been hunting for birds,"he explained,"but I've lost my way.Do you think I can spend the night at your house?"Sylvie didn't answer.She was glad they were almost home.She could see her grandmother standing near the door of the farm house.When they reached her,the stranger put down his gun and explained his problem to Sylvie's smiling grandmother."Of course you can stay with us,"she said."We don't have much,but you're welcome to share what we have.Now Sylvie,get a plate for the gentleman!"
After eating,they all sat outside.The young man explained he was a scientist,who collected birds."Do you put them in a cage?"Sylvie asked."No,"he answered slowly,"I shoot them and stuff them with special chemicals to preserve them.I have over 100 different kinds of birds from all over the United States in my study at home.""Sylvie knows a lot about birds,too,"her grandmother said proudly."She knows the forest so well,the wild animals come and eat bread right out of her hands.""So Sylvie knows all about birds.Maybe she can help me then,"the young man said."I saw a white heron not far from here two days ago.I've been looking for it ever since.It's a very rare bird,the little white heron.Have you seen it,too?"he asked Sylvie.But Sylvie was silent."You would know it if you saw it,"he added."It's a tall,strange bird with soft white feathers and long thin legs.It probably has its nest at the top of a tall tree."Sylvie's heart began to beat fast.She knew that strange white bird!She had seen it on the other side of the forest.The young man was staring at Sylvie."I would give$10 to the person who showed me where the white heron is."
【美国故事】威廉·威尔逊 William Wilson