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The Sky Warrior - Page 3 of 5

"Many winters ago," began Opagela, 'I was shot through the knee in a battle with the Utes, a little west of the Black Hills. My friends carried me with them as far as the creek which is now called the Wounded Knee, and there we were overtaken by a Crow war-party. Our party had a running fight with them and were compelled to re- treat in haste. I begged my friends to leave me on the trail, for I preferred to die fighting rather than from the effects of my wound. They did so, but before they reached me the Crow warriors withdrew.

"There I lay without food or water for four days. I was all skin and bones. My thoughts were already in the spirit land, and I seemed to see about me my relatives who had died.

"One morning my mind was clear, and once more I realized my surroundings. I had crawled into the shade of a little grove of plum-bushes. I gazed out upon the lofty buttes and the plains between where we had so often camped in happiness and plenty. It seemed hard to starve in the midst of such abundance.

"A few paces away I saw a doe with two fawns. They were fat and tempting, but I had no strength to shoot. Then I felt that I was doomed to die, and, indeed, believed that I was already half spirit and could talk with spirits. I held out my hand to the Great Mystery and said:

"Is this the end? Then, Great Father, I am resigned. Let none disturb me, for I would die in peace.

"At this moment the doe snorted and sprang directly over me. Alas! one of her little ones was caught before it could plunge into the thicket. It was seized by an immense eagle.

"The pretty little creature screamed and bawled like a baby, and my heart was with her in her death-pangs, although I was perishing for meat. I lay quite still and breathed softly. I slyly closed my eyes when the eagle seemed about to look in my direction. He appeared to be a very warlike, full-grown bird, with splendid plumage.

"He dressed his meat a few paces from me. I could smell the rich odor of the savory venison, and it made me desperate. I wanted to live now. But it was his game. I was a wounded, helpless, dying man he a strong, warlike hunter. I could only beg a piece of his meat, but it was not the time for me to do so until he had eaten his fill.

'The zest with which he partook of his meal made me chew while he tore off pieces of the meat, and swallow whenever he swallowed a savory morsel. At last I could not endure it any longer. 'Ho, kola!' I said, feebly.

' The sky warrior lifted his noble head with the mien of a great chief. At first he did not discover where the voice came from, but, nevertheless, he made a show of indignation and surprise.

"Again I said, almost in a whisper, 'Ho, kola, it is time you should cheer a dying warrior's heart.'

' He saw me. ' Hush-h-h !' he sighed, and released his great talons from the body of the fawn.

' My mind was clear now, and the sight of meat seemed to give me strength. I took my long knife in one hand and my war-club in the other, and I rose and hopped towards him. He tried to fly, but could not. This is his greatest weakness that when he kills big game he surfeits himself and is sometimes unable to fly for half a day or longer. As the eagle is not a good walker, he could not get away from me. All his dignity disappeared. Helpless as a woman, he lay before me with outstretched wings.

" I had no wish to harm him who had preserved my life. I lassoed him with my lariat and fastened him to a plum-tree while I ate of the meat. It was tender and luscious, and my strength returned to me even as I ate.

" I could not walk, so Wambelee and I camped together, for I did not care to be alone. Little by little we became friends. On the second day his wife came in search of him. When she found him a captive she scolded violently, perhaps him alone, perhaps me, or both of us.

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