The Bald-headed Eagles





One day Wesakchak was seated at the door of his lodge, when he noticed

two eagles circling high in the air above him.



"Come down, my brothers," he called. "I wish to speak to you."



The eagles slowly descended, and Wesakchak said, "I wish you to take me

on your backs for a ride. This is a very warm day and I know it must

be cool high up in the air where you fly."



"But we are going home to our nests," replied the eagles. "It is on a

very high cliff many miles from here, and you will not care to go

there."



"Yes, I shall," replied Wesakchak. "I should like to see your nest and

your young eaglets. Take me on your backs with you."



The eagles did not seem very eager to take him, but Wesakchak, without

waiting for any more words, jumped on their backs, and they began to

mount in the air. Up and up they went, until at last they were as high

as the clouds. Wesakchak now began to feel rather cold and asked them

to fly lower, but they gave him no answer. On and on they went, and

Wesakchak clung tightly to their backs, for he felt very dizzy, being

up so high in the air. At last he began to wonder where their nest

could be, for he could see no sign of rocks or cliffs of any kind.

After what seemed to be hours to him, the eagles began to descend, and

in a few minutes they alighted on the top of a very high crag.

Wesakchak slipped from their backs and looked around, him. Near him

was the nest of the eagles, and in it were the young, crying loudly for

food.



Below, Wesakchak could see the ground, which seemed miles away; above

him the clouds, which looked low and stormy. The eagles fed their

young, and after Wesakchak had waited awhile he said, "Now, my

brothers, please take me to my home."



"You are tired of our cliff?" asked the eagles. "Well, you must go

home yourself, for we are not going away for some hours."



"Oh, I cannot stay here that long," said Wesakchak. "Besides, I am

tired and very hungry, and there is nothing here but bare rock. You

must take me home."



The eagles did not dare to disobey Wesakchak, so they let him mount on

their backs. Then they began to fly slowly away. After a while it

seemed to him that they were going in the wrong direction. He could

see snow-capped mountains, and, as his lodge was built on the prairies,

he said:



"My brothers, you are not taking me to my lodge. You are going in the

wrong direction. Turn and fly the other way." But the eagles, instead

of answering, only flew more rapidly towards the mountains. Again

Wesakchak called to them and again they did not reply. He now saw that

they did not intend to take him home, and he began to wonder what he

could do.



In a few moments the eagles slowly circled around the top of a mountain

from whose summit a large piece of ice was just ready to slip. When

the eagles were directly above the ice, they suddenly turned with a

jerk and hurled Wesakchak from their backs. Down, down he fell,

alighting on the ice, which at once slipped from its place and began to

descend the mountain side with terrible rapidity. Wesakchak clung

desperately to the icy block, and felt himself going with it and the

loose pieces of rock and the small trees which it uprooted on its way.

As they came down, the speed became greater, until at last they were

bounding over huge stones and across chasms, and with one terrible leap

Wesakchak flew through the air and alighted on the ground at the foot

of the mountain. Behind them their pathway down the mountain side was

marked by a deep ravine cut in the rocky sides of the hill. And around

Wesakchak lay ice and stones and uprooted trees.



He lay perfectly still, for he was rendered insensible with the

terrible force with which he had fallen. After several hours he opened

his eyes, but was too weak to move. He could hear the voices of two

wolves near him. One was saying, "He is dead. Let us go and eat him,

for I am very hungry." Then the other wolf answered, "No, he is not

dead, and I think he is Wesakchak, for look, see his suit made of the

feathers of birds. It is only Wesakchak who has a suit like that."



Wesakchak heard all this, but he could not move or speak.



As he lay there with his eyes open, he noticed two eagles circling high

in the air above him. This aroused him, and he called to the wolves in

a faint voice, "My brothers, come near to me." The wolves seemed

surprised, but they came slowly to his side.



"You were arguing a moment ago as to whether I was dead," said

Wesakchak to them. "Now you can see I am not dead, but I wish you to

pretend to be eating me, for I want those eagles to come down, and if

they think I am dead, they will come so that they can make a meal off

me, too."



The wolves did as he asked them and pretended to be eating him. When

the eagles saw this, they hovered lower for a moment or two, then

darted down. Wesakchak was lying with his two arms stretched out at

full length, and now the eagles began to peck at the palms of his

hands. At once he grabbed them by the feathers on their heads.



"Now I have you," he said. "You shall be punished for playing such a

trick as this on me."



The eagles pulled desperately to try and get away, and Wesakchak clung

just as desperately to their heads. At last, with one mighty jerk,

they pulled their heads free, but Wesakchak still held the feathers in

his hands and their heads were bald.



"This shall be your punishment, then," said Wesakchak, very sternly.

"From this day you and all your race shall have no feathers on your

heads, so that every one may know how unkind you have been to

Wesakchak."



And so it has been. From that day the two eagles and all their

children have been bald-headed.





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