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Mother Eagle and the Hunter

Once upon a time there was an Indian who was the most famous hunter for hundreds of miles around. This was because he had magic powers which enabled him to lure any wild animal into his clutches.

"The grass is sweeter here," he would call to a stag. And the stag would trust him and come, so that the hunter could put an arrow in its ribs.

He even dared to lure down the fierce eagles who circled over the forests looking for prey.

"There's some tender meat for you here," he would call up to an eagle. "Come down and get it!" And when the eagle flew down to seize the meat in its talons, the hunter would come out of hiding and send an arrow straight to it's heart.

It was a dangerous game. "Take care," people warned him. "Beware of the mother eagle's revenge." But the hunter just laughed.

One day he saw the mother eagle circling high up in the sky. She was the biggest and strongest of all the eagles. The hunter waved up to her. "Come down, mother eagle," he shouted. "There's meat here for you and your little ones."

The mother eagle glided slowly down. Suddenly she dived at the hunter, ready to sink her talons in his body. Terrified, he fle nd hid in a hollow tree. But the mother eagle followed him, dragged him from his hiding place and carried him off into the skies. Far through the air she flew, to her eyrie on a rock which no man could climb. Then she put the hunter down and flew off to seek other prey.

The eaglets flapped their wings in excitement and began to peck at the hunter with their curved beaks. The hunter dodged, and gave them a morsel of dried meat that he carried in his bag. Then he cut up the leather strap of the bag and tied strips round the eaglets' beaks.

When the mother eagle came back and saw what he had done, she was beside herself.

"Take those things off my children's beaks!" she screeched.

"Gladly<" answered the hunter, "but only if you first promise to take me back to the ground."

"Never!" cried the mother eagle.

For two days she tried to feed her little ones, but iin vain. She perched on the edge of the eyrie wondering what to do. Her little ones were so weak now whtat they could hardly stand.

"You'll die for this!" said the mother eagle to the hunter.

"Then your little ones will starve to death," answered the hunter. "But if you promise to take me back to the ground, I'll take off the straps."

For a long time they argued. At last the mother eagle said: "If you promise to seek the consent of the spirits before you ever again kill an eagle or deer, I'll carry you back to the ground."

The hunter agreed. He untied the eaglets' beaks, and the mother eagle bore him back to the ground.

The hunter kept his word, and so did his sons and grandsons, for they too felt bound by his promise. Now, when hunters kill deer, the eagles have the right to take what humans cannot eat, and no man may attack them.

"Come!" call the Indians to the eagles. "Come and get your share." And so it will be for ever.

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