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The Sky Warrior - Page 2 of 5

"Hun, hun, hay!" exclaimed the other, good-humoredly, as he pushed aside the tri- angular door-flap and appeared wrapped in his blanket. ' It is always thus. When the hunting is poor, you will not be disturbed, but when you are in a region of much game, all other hunters are there as well! It is true that they are usually agreeable except two only Mato, the grizzly, and man himself. These two are always looking for trouble!"

Opagela was likewise noted for his skill in hunting, and especially for the number of eagles that he had caught. This good-fortune had gained him many ponies, for eagles' feathers are always in demand. Few men so well understand the secrets of this bird. His friend was doubtless expert in wood-craft, but in this particular he could not claim to be the equal of Opagela.

"Come, let us hasten! We must be off before any other wild hunter can gain the advantage. We shall appear foolish to them if we are seen running about in full view," Matoska continued, as he adjusted the thongs of his moccasins.

Both men soon disappeared in the gray mists of the morning. They ran noiselessly side by side, scarcely uttering a word, up and along the bluffs of the Smoking Earth River. They could see the white vapor or breath of the bison hanging in the air at a distance, and black masses of the animals were visible here and there upon the plains. But they did not turn aside, for they were in search of other game. The Eagle's Nest butte loomed up to their right, its bare walls towering grandly above the surrounding country, and the big timber lay hidden below in the fog that still clung about the river.

'Ho!" Opagela exclaimed, presently, to his companion, in an undertone. "There is a hunter from above descending."

Both stood still in their tracks like petrified men. 'Whir-r-r!" came like the sound of a coming shower.

'Ugh, it is he!" Opagela said again, in a whisper, and made a motion with his lips.

As the great bird, the giant hunter of the air, swooped down into the gulch, a doe fled forth from it and ran swiftly over the little divide. There was bawling and the sound of struggle just over the banks of the creek, where the eagle had disappeared.

"Run, friend, run! Let us see him use his knife upon the fawn," urged Matoska, and he started over the knoll at a good gait. The other followed as if reluctantly.

The little gulch was a natural enclosure formed by a sudden turn of the creek, and fenced with a thorny thicket of wild plum and buffalo-berry bushes. Here they saw Wambelee in the open, firmly fastened upon the back of a struggling fawn. Hooyah had missed her quarry, which took refuge in the plum grove.

"Shoot! shoot!" whispered Matoska, at the same time drawing forth an arrow.

"No, no; I recognize friends. This is the old pair who have dwelt for many years upon the Eagle's Nest butte." There was a serious expression upon the hunter's face as he spoke.

At this moment the eagle turned toward them. From his neck hung a single bear's claw, fastened by a leather thong.

"Yes, it is he. Long ago he saved my life, and we are friends. I shall tell you about it," Opagela said at last, and the two friends sat down side by side at the edge of the plum-bushes.

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