“But, Master, I’m a fox,” Shiro protested.  “And you’re a human.  Why do they keep calling us birds?”  His ears flicked as if something was touching them.  His master had noticed in the months that they traveled that the boy did that when he was confused.

 “Because we spend our lives singing and they don’t appreciate it.  They see birds as useless creatures because they don’t think they’re industrious and they’re comparing us to them,” the man explained.  He tipped his hat at a woman they passed and she turned away, looking affronted.

 “But birds don’t just sit around singing,” Shiro pointed out.  “They build nests.  They gather food.  They tend their young.  They don’t store up food, because… where would they put it.”  He thought for a minute and added, “Shrikes impale bugs on barbed wire to eat later though.”

 “Looking at it that way, birds are very industrious, aren’t they?” the master bard said.  Shiro nodded and flicked his tail.  “We’re industrious too… just in a different way than the villagers.”

 “We bring news from all around and brighten up people’s days, right master?” Shiro asked.

 “Right indeed.  So let us begin brightening, shall we?” the bard said.  He loosed his guitar and began strumming a familiar tune.  Shiro began to sing alone in his high clear voice.  In this way they left the town behind them.

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