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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "Shooting of the red eagle"

Shooting of the red eagle

A man in buckskins sat upon the top of a little hillock. The setting sun shone bright upon a strong bow in his hand. His face was turned toward the round camp ground at the foot of the hill. He had walked a long journey hither. He was waiting for the chieftain's men to spy him.

Soon four strong men ran forth from the center wigwam toward the hillock, where sat the man with the long bow.

"He is the avenger come to shoot the red eagle," cried the runners to each other as they bent forward swinging their elbows together.

They reached the side of the stranger, but he did not heed them. Proud and silent he gazed upon the cone-shaped wigwams beneath him. Spreading a handsomely decorated buffalo robe before the man, two of the warriors lifted him by each shoulder and placed him gently on it. Then the four men took, each, a corner of the blanket and carried the stranger, with long proud steps, toward the chieftain's teepee.

Ready to greet the stranger, the tall chieftain stood at the entrance way. "How, you are the avenger with the magic arrow!" said he, extending to him a smooth soft hand.

"How, great chieftain!" replied the man, holding long the chieftain's hand. Entering the teepee, the chieftain motioned the young man to the right side of the doorway, while he sat down opposite him with a center fire burning between them. Wordless, like a bashful Indian maid, the avenger ate in silence the food set before him on the ground in front of his crossed shins. When he had finished his meal he handed the empty bowl to the chieftain's wife, saying, "Mother-in-law, here is your dish!"

"Han, my son!" answered the woman, taking the bowl.

With the magic arrow in his quiver the stranger felt not in the least too presuming in addressing the woman as his mother-in-law.

Complaining of fatigue, he covered his face with his blanket and soon within the chieftain's teepee he lay fast asleep.

"The young man is not handsome after all!" whispered the woman in her husband's ear.

"Ah, but after he has killed the red eagle he will seem handsome enough!

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