The villagers hated to see the magpie who nested in the old elm tree. To them it seemed the bird had been sitting up there forever, with it’s mocking call and loud chattering every time any one passed by. It wasn’t so much that they disliked magpies, in fact most admired his contrasting black, blue and white plumage.
To them though this one was different, he had never been seen with a mate, in fact no other magpies had ever been seen or heard near the old tree where he was perpetually on guard. This caused the villagers, both old and young distress, for in accordance with the old, well known saying, “One for sorrow, two for joy, ” it was customary to greet a solitary magpie with a, “Good morning, mister magpie, how’s your wife. ”
To ignore a single magpie was sure to cause evil to the observer. It now seemed that any event that could be ascribed to bad luck was the fault of someone failing to pay the necessary respects to their resident bird. As he got older he had taken on the mantle of, and was often referred to as, “The Harbinger of Doom.”
Fearful of dire repercussions if they did anything to harm the bird, the villagers realised that all they could do was wait until they saw the bird no more, in the hope that this ill-starred resident had finally taken his leave, then hopefully his place would be taken by a pair or perhaps more of his kind.