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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "Gray Eagle and his Five Brothers"

Gray Eagle and his Five Brothers

There were six falcons living in a nest, five of whom were still too young to fly, when it so happened that both the parent birds were shot in one day. The young brood waited anxiously for their return; but night came, and they were left without parents and without food.

Gray Eagle, the eldest, and the only one whose feathers had become stout enough to enable him to leave the nest, took his place at the head of the family, and assumed the duty of stifling their cries and providing the little household with food, in which he was very successful. But, after a short time had passed, by an unlucky mischance, while out on a foraging excursion, he got one of his wings broken. This was the more to be regretted, as the season had arrived when they were soon to go to a southern country to pass the winter, and the children were only waiting to become a little stronger and more expert on the wing to set out on the journey.

Finding that their elder brother did not return, they resolved to go in search of him. After beating up and down the country for the better part of a whole day, they at last found him, sorely wounded and unable to fly, lodged in the upper branches of a sycamore-tree.

"Brothers," said Gray Eagle, as soon as they were gathered around, and questioned him as to the extent of his injuries, "an accident has befallen me, but let not this prevent your going to a warmer climate. Winter is rapidly approaching, and you can not remain here. It is better that I alone should die, than for you all to suffer 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 chill climate kills you, it shall kill us. Do you think we can so soon forget your brotherly care, which has equaled 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 nest-mate thither; and before the rigor of the season had set in, they had, by diligence and economy, stored up food enough to carry them through the winter months.

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