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The Last of the Thunderbirds

In ancient times a great many giant eagles or thunderbirds lived in the mountains; but in later years they had all disappeared except one single pair which made their home in the mountain top overlooking the Yukon near Sabotnisky. The top of this mountain was round and the eagles had hollowed out a great basin on the summit which they used for a nest. Around the edge of it was a rocky rim from which they could see far across the broad river, or could look down upon the village at the base of the mountain on the water's edge.

From their perch on this rocky wall these great birds would soar away, looking like a cloud in the sky, to seize a reindeer from a passing herd and bring it to their young. Or, again, they would circle out with a noise like thunder from their shaking wings, and drop down upon a fisherman in his kayak on the river, carrying man and boat to the top of the mountain. There the man would be eaten by the young thunderbirds, and the kayak would lie bleaching among the bones and other refuse scattered along the border of the nest. Every fall the young birds would fly away to the northland, while the old ones would remain by the mountain.

After many fishermen had been carried away by the birds, there came a time when only the most daring would venture upon the river. One summer day a brave young hunter was starting out to look at his fish traps and he said to his wife, "Don't go outside the house while I am away, for fear of the birds."

After he was gone she noticed that the water tub was empty, and took a bucket to go to the river for water. As she bent over to fill the vessel a roaring noise like thunder filled the air, and one of the birds darted down and seized her in its talons. The villagers saw the bird swoop down, and they wailed aloud in sorrow and terror as they watched her being carried through the air to the mountain top.

The hunter came home and the villagers gathered about with many lamentations. "Oh, pitiful! pitiful! your pretty wife was carried away by the thunderbirds!

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