Giving Up the Pampered Life For His Foreign Princess

Sir Clifford's approach to life was regal by nature. He suddenly appeared upon the front lawn, seeking no permission, asking no questions, and offering no explanation for his presence. He stood erect and faced my home and wide expanse, which later was to become his estate - for a while.

Sir Clifford had to have been to the manor born. Not once did I see him demonstrate any of the characteristics seen in the common ring-necked pheasants. You see, Sir Clifford was a silver white pheasant, and from the first day he waited to be served.

He enjoyed the feed store's suggested grain mixture. And when his morning and evening mealtimes arrived, if I did not come from within the house, he would give repeated demanding squawks until I appeared with his sumptuous meal.

From day to day he began to realize that I was a fowl-lover and could be trusted, and so he would eat without keeping watch on my every movement. Eventually, he permitted me to sit beside him as he ate. When he finished he would look up and stare me right in the eye, often bowing his head, which I would swear to be a reserved royal "thank you." And then he would strut away.

Most of the day he would roam the yard and adjoining woodlands, but near evening he would return for his dinner before walking back into the edge of the woods, where he'd fly to a lower limb of a pine tree and hop from one to another until he found one to his liking.

Every morning, he was ready to be served by the time I began stirring. This continued for several months, and then gradually Sir Clifford became somewhat distant.

I wondered why. He had always been so proud and independent, but now was obviously less concerned about me, my servant duties, and an occasional lagniappe. This became a worry, so I spoke with an authority on pheasants, and he offered some disheartening information.

"Although domestic," he said, "the silver white pheasant will wander, and if it comes upon wild grouse or ring-necked wild pheasants, it will begin to communicate, since they speak the same language."

I noticed that more and more Sir Clifford was beginning to stay in the woods, returning for his meals infrequently, and then not at all. On several occasions I heard his squawks, and they sounded less demanding than the ones he used when he wanted to be fed. At times they were longer in duration, and on occasion I could hear a second one, albeit in a slightly different key.

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