Short Stories » The Sky Warrior
The Sky Warrior - Page 1 of 5
THE all-night rain had ceased, and day-light appeared once more over the eastern buttes. Hooyah looked about her, anxiously scanning the gray dusk of morning for a glimpse of her mate, the while she spread her long pinions over three rollicking and mischievous youngsters as any eagle woman ever brooded. Her piercing gaze was directed oftenest toward the lone pine - - his favorite sleeping-tree. Surely it was time for him to call her out on the usual morning hunt.
The Eagle's Nest butte was well known to the wild hunters of that region, since it could be seen from a great distance and by many approaches. Its overhanging sides were all but inaccessible, and from the level summit could be discerned all the landmarks of the Bad Lands in a circuit of seventy-five miles. The course of the Make- zeta, the Smoking Earth River, lay unrolled like a map beneath that eyrie. Hither the bighorn, the grizzly, and others of the animal tribes had from time to time betaken themselves, some seeking a night's refuge and others a permanent dwelling-place. For many years, however, it had been well understood that this was the chosen home of Wambelee, the eagle, whom it is not well to molest.
Doubtless there have been tragedies enacted upon this imposing summit. There is even a tradition among the wild Red men that the supremacy upon old Eagle's Nest has cost many lives, and for this reason it is held to be a mysterious and hallowed place. Certainly the tribes of Wild Land had cause to desire and even to fight for its possession.
Suddenly there came to Hooyah's ears the whirring sound that announced the near approach of her master. In the wink of an eye he was at her side.
"Quick, quick! We must be off! I have found a doe with two small fawns. I could have taken one fawn, but we shall have more meat if you are there to take the other," he signalled to her.
Hooyah simply stepped aside and stretched herself thoroughly, as if to say, "Go, and I will follow."
Wambelee arose clumsily at the start, but as he gained in speed and balance he floated away in mid-air like a mystic cloud. Hooyah followed within hailing distance, and they kept the same relative positions until they reached Fishtail Gulch. It is well known to the Red hunters that such is the custom of the bear, coyote, eagle, raven and gray wolf, except when they travel in bands. The rule is a good one, since the sought-for prey is less likely to take alarm when only one hunter is in sight, and then, in case of flight, the second pursuer, who is invisible, may have a better chance to make the capture, especially should the fleeing one double on his track. He is certain to be bewildered and disheartened by the sudden, unexpected reinforcement of the foe.
Wambelee swung up on one of the adjacent buttes to spy out possible danger, while his mate was balancing herself away up in the ether, just over the black-tail mother with her twin fawns. Suddenly he arose in a long spiral and ascended to the height of Hooyah, and there the two plotted their assault upon the innocents, at the same time viewing the secret movements of every other hunter.
It is the accepted usage of Wild Land that no one may wisely leave his tracks uncovered while he himself is on the trail of another, for many have been seized while enjoying the prize. Even the lordly eagle has been caught by the wolf, the wild-cat, or by the wild man while feasting, and in his glut- tony has become an easy prey to the least of hunters. Therefore it behooved Wambelee to be watchful and very cautious.
"Ho, Opagela, koowah yay yo-o-o!" This was the call of Matoska, a famous hunter of the Sioux, at the door of his friend's lodge in the camp on the Smoking Earth River. "Come out, friend; it is almost day and my dream has been good. The game is plentiful; but you will need to be on your guard, for the tracks of the grizzly hereabout are as many as I have ever seen the Ojibway trails."