Swan Murder Averted Here

Rocks thrown last night from the river’s edge saved Grandsire Clyde, belligerent swan ruler of the Mirror Pond, from the stigma of murdering his own son. Splashing of a stone, as it hit the water, caused angry Clyde to loosen his death grip on the neck of weakening Mox, Clyde’s cherished cygnet of three seasons ago, now his hated rival.

Mox seized the opportunity to escape, and Clyde strutted back to his spouse, Leila, and their 1935 batch of youngsters.

How it all happened is not of record. Paul Hosmer, The Bulletin’s veteran waterfront reporter, was taking his night off, and his understudy did not arrive until the battle between the two was well under way. What started it?

Evidence is available that Mox and his sister, Lockit — his wife as well as sister, for the Mirror Pond swans like the Ptolemies and Incas of old ignore with sublime indifference the taboos of consanguinity — glided serenely past Leila and her brood. It is more than hinted that Mox cast a roving glance in the direction of his ma, that he mentioned possibly that he would be back after he had taken his wife home. Whatever the affront, it was sufficient.

Mox seems to have forgotten Clyde, but Clyde had not forgotten Mox. In super-dreadnaught charge, he arrived, and in an instant battle was joined. Lockit went on her way, but Leila and the cygnets stood by, sometimes so close as to hinder the action of the combatants.

Water turned into foam as the big white birds fought. Resounding thumps, as powerful wings beat, advertised the fray. Wings were being used partly as direct weapons of offense, but more as indirect weapons, it seemed as the technique of swan fighting was unfolded. Each bird was seeking the advantage of superior height, and wings were beating to lift the birds partly out of the water in maneuver for position to apply the neck hold.

Early on Mox had the edge, but Clyde, stronger and more experienced, shook him off. The grip was too low.

Clyde reared, gained greater height, struck downward with twisting, snakelike thrust. Open mandibles enveloped, then closed on the neck of Mox and forced his son’s head underwater. Mox managed to come up for air, but the younger bird was weakening, and Clyde, in vile temper, was relentless. As he forced his son’s head under for the last time, it was plain that there would be one less Mirror Pond swan.

But tragedy was averted, rocks came, and the escape.

When it was all over, Clyde and Leila and their 1935 children were midway between the footbridge and the island. Lockit was still farther upstream, while Mox, the soundly trounced, sulked in the shadow of the footbridge.

Source: Bend Bulletin ©1935

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