210 THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON
we remained immovable, they at last seemed reassured, and were advancing directly to us, when our dogs, whom we could not keep quiet, suddenly sprang out upon them. Away went the timid birds, with a rapidity that can be compared to nothing else but the wind driving before it a bundle of feathers. Their feet did not appear to touch the ground, their half-extended wings had the appearance of sails, and the swiftest horse could not have overtaken them. I ordered Fritz to unhood his eagle; he did so, and the noble bird soon lit upon the head of the male ostrich, and, attacking his eyes, brought him to the ground. The dogs ran up, and when we arrived the bird was just dying under the wounds that the animals had inflicted.
We were greatly disappointed at this, but we could not have helped it, and we looked with pity at the magnificent bird extended before us. We took some of the white plumes from his tail, so that we could decorate our hats with them.
' What a pity,' said Fritz, as we examined the gigantic proportions of our victim, ' to kill such a fine bird ! We might have tamed it, and taught it to know us.'
Jack and Ernest meantime had wandered away,