I wondered if a cat had robbed the grave, but my wife spotted the wren lying nearby among some leaves and twigs, obviously hurt but alive. We picked him up — he looked at us without enthusiasm but gave no resistance — and carried him into the kitchen. We put him in a small cardboard box with shredded newspaper as a nest of sorts. He lay sprawled on his side, his bill half open, one wing splayed outward. His feathers were lined with dirt. He looked awful.
We put the box on a counter and stood around awkwardly, watching. Nothing happened. The bird just lay there. We felt helpless.
"Maybe we should give him some brandy," I said. "Don't they give people brandy? Would it work with a bird?"
"We haven't any brandy," my wife said.
"We have gin. Maybe we should give him some gin."
"You always think of gin."
"Well, we ought to do something."
I poured some Beefeater into a small glass and found a toothpick. Gently, Margaret reached into the box and lifted the bird. I held his beak open with one hand and with the other dipped the toothpick into the gin and shook a couple of drops down his throat. Wham! The wren reacted violently, broke from Margaret's grasp and fell into the box.
"I think we've killed him," I said.
"Oh, God," she said.