The other boys, including Yanni, are up on the roof by now and manage to grab half a dozen birds, which they put in their pockets, indifferent whether the tiny creatures are alive or dead, and without saying a word they jump down off the roof, mission accomplished, only to find Yanni’s dad right there waiting for them, and without any argument or discussion they hand all the birds to him and leave empty-handed.
Having lost all their catch, the boys decide to go to the three caves above their village where they think they might be lucky to find some birds roosting in the darkness, and so, armed with two flashlights and their slingshots and stones, they walk the kilometer road between the upper village and the lower and then up a path along the hillside until they reach the caves. The next question is who among them will go in the caves first, who will hold the flashlights, and who will shoot the birds, if they find any. After debating for a few minutes and asking the sun above for advice, Nicolas decrees that Eteocles and Manolis will handle the flashlights while the older boys, Antony, Yanni, and himself, will do the shooting. Everyone agrees to this plan, and they follow Nicolas into the first cave, which is the deepest of the three. In fact, people say this cave has no end and that one can walk in it for days without getting to its end. There are other scary stories too, like the ones about the ghosts of German soldiers who were killed in the war and now haunt this cave, and who don’t like Cretan kids coming in and disturbing their sleep. These stories keep the boys on edge as they take their slow, careful steps, one by one, deeper and deeper into the cave, with Eteocles and Manolis pointing their flashlights all over. Every time a bird is spotted perched on the edge of a rock either Antony or Nicolas shoot their slingshots and until they have more than half a dozen dead birds.
Suddenly they all freeze. There is an unfamiliar sound rising from the depths of the cave from a point they have never reached up to now, a sound that makes them stand stock-still and stare at each other, unsure whether to take to their heels or not move at all. Finally, their fear tells them it’s time to run for the mouth of the cave, and so they all at once do exactly that, only to decide, when they are safely outside in the sunlight again, that there was no need to be so scared after all. They congratulate themselves on their catch of eight birds but wonder if they have missed a chance to get a lot deeper inside this cave, and they resolve to visit again some other time.
Happy as gems now, they saunter back to the village and split their catch in four, two birds for Yanni, two for Manolis, two for Anthony and one each for Eteocles and Nicolas, since they are brothers. They grin at their good fortune not have been caught by any dead German soldier whose ghost they imagine must have made those eerie sounds that stopped them in their tracks, at least this time.