The Dodos Tour As The Crow Flies

Excerpted from the new anthology, The Journals of J. Porter Huxley: Rogue British Naturalist and Seafaring Vagabond, out this month by Reliant Press.

- Chapter VIII - July 1578: Rumors from the Mainland

WE SET OUT months ago, Captain reminded me over morning tea, and we have yet to see The Bird. The quiet ocean is sobering and we are nowhere. A restlessness hangs in the air. Indeed, it had been quite some time since rumors from the mainland enticed me out into open waters in search of The Bird. Isle after isle, nothing. They leave me with less and less hope after each unsuccessful trek. I have to remind myself, lest Captain Tilley do it for me, that fame comes not to those who do not make it home. Our supplies are depleted, but I will not allow the boat to return to known ports.

The Captain is an able man, but he is limited. He knows only what he has seen before. He provided a cautionary tale of the excursion of Daniel Rogers into the Amazon interior. The fable is well-traveled, and understandably, a case study in the follies of conventional wisdom. Unlike he, I will not go mad in search of a myth. I am reminding myself daily of this to temper the coward's call of my crew. They believe I am like the others, out for fortune and history, but they are lesser minds. I will cease when the rumors cease. I press on for knowledge, to confirm or deny The Bird!

- Chapter XX - November 1581: Tailwind

AT LAST, THE BIRD is spotted. The long days are behind us and we have finally headed east to the mainland. James has taken ill and it is feared his maladies will be the death of him. By grace, he is recovering despite the prognosis. The crew is in good spirits as we return home with the specimen aboard.

Great caution was taken in securing The Bird's safety. Curiously, it showed no fright of us and quite easily bounded aboard the ship. I should say that we are more afraid of it than it of us! A tether was tied to its leg so that it would not fly away, in case the rumors of its flightlessness were misled. They were not, and The Bird has gotten rather comfortable in our quarters. It has taken a certain fondness to Captain Tilley, much to his annoyance. The Good Captain has called him a dodo on occasion, and it somehow has stuck with the crew. The sun is bright now, and to promote its Visiter status, I have already begun planning The Dodos exhibition tour of Europe. Knowledge has won, as I hoped it would. I am, for now, at peace.

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