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The Six Hawks Or Broken Wing

Source: The Myth Of Hiawatha


There were six young falcons living in a nest, all but one of whom were
still unable to fly, when it so happened that both the parent birds
were shot by the hunters in one day. The young brood waited with
impatience for their return; but night came, and they were left without
parents and without food. Meeji-geeg-wona, or the Gray Eagle, the
eldest, and the only one whose feathers had become stout enough to
enable him to leave the nest, assumed the duty of stilling their cries
and providing them with food, in which he was very successful. But,
after a short time had passed, he, by an unlucky mischance, got one of
his wings broken in pouncing upon a swan. This was the more unlucky,
because the season had arrived when they were soon to go off to a
southern climate to pass the winter, and they were only waiting to
become a little stouter and more expert for the journey. Finding that
he did not return, they resolved to go in search of him, and found him
sorely wounded and unable to fly.

"Brothers," he said, "an accident has befallen me, but let not this
prevent your going to a warmer climate. Winter is rapidly approaching,
and you cannot remain here. It is better that I alone should die than
for you all to suffer miserably on my account." "No! no!" they replied,
with one voice, "we will not forsake you; we will share your
sufferings; we will abandon our journey, and take care of you, as you
did of us, before we were able to take care of ourselves. If the
climate kills you, it shall kill us. Do you think we can so soon forget
your brotherly care, which has surpassed a father's and even a mother's
kindness? Whether you live or die, we will live or die with you."

They sought out a hollow tree to winter in, and contrived to carry
their wounded nestmate there; and, before the rigors of winter set in,
they had stored up food enough to carry them through its severities. To
make it last the better, two of the number went off south, leaving the
other three to watch over, feed, and protect the wounded bird.
Meeji-geeg-wona in due time recovered from his wound, and he repaid
their kindness by giving them such advice and instruction in the art of
hunting as his experience had qualified him to impart. As spring
advanced, they began to venture out of their hiding-place, and were all
successful in getting food to eke out their winter's stock, except the
youngest, who was called Peepi-geewi-zains, or the Pigeon Hawk. Being
small and foolish, flying hither and yon, he always came back without
anything. At last the Gray Eagle spoke to him, and demanded the cause
of his ill luck. "It is not my smallness or weakness of body," said he,
"that prevents my bringing home flesh as well as my brothers. I kill
ducks and other birds every time I go out; but, just as I get to the
woods, a large Ko-ko-ko-ho[87] robs me of my prey." "Well! don't
despair, brother," said Meeji-geeg-wona. "I now feel my strength
perfectly recovered, and I will go out with you to-morrow," for he was
the most courageous and warlike of them all.

Next day they went forth in company, the elder seating himself near the
lake. Peepi-geewi-zains started out, and soon pounced upon a duck.

"Well done!" thought his brother, who saw his success; but, just as he
was getting to land with his prize, up came a large white owl from a
tree, where he had been watching, and laid claim to it. He was about
wresting it from him, when Meeji-geeg-wona came up, and, fixing his
talons in both sides of the owl, flew home with him.

The little pigeon hawk followed him closely, and was rejoiced and happy
to think he had brought home something at last. He then flew in the
owl's face, and wanted to tear out his eyes, and vented his passion in
abundance of reproachful terms. "Softly," said the Gray Eagle; "do not
be in such a passion, or exhibit so revengeful a disposition; for this
will be a lesson to him not to tyrannize over any one who is weaker
than himself for the future." So, after giving him good advice, and
telling him what kind of herbs would cure his wounds, they let the owl

While this act was taking place, and before the liberated owl had yet
got out of view, two visitors appeared at the hollow tree. They were
the two nestmates, who had just returned from the south after passing
the winter there, and they were thus all happily reunited, and each one
soon chose a mate and flew off to the woods. Spring had now revisited
the north. The cold winds had ceased, the ice had melted, the streams
were open, and the forest began rapidly to put on its vernal hue. "But
it is in vain," said the old man who related this story, "it is in vain
that spring returns, if we are not thankful to the Master of Life who
has preserved us through the winter. Nor does that man answer the end
for which he was made who does not show a kind and charitable feeling
to all who are in want or sickness, especially to his blood relations.
These six birds only represent one of our impoverished northern
families of children, who had been deprived of both their parents and
the aid of their elder brother nearly at the same time."

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