"I wish to thank you, my young friends, for having saved my life, but now it is time 

for me to go."

Astounded that the eagle could speak, it was a moment before the boy answered, 

and then only at the nudging of the girl.

"Why?" he asked.  "Why must you go?  You can stay here with us!"

The eagle smiled and shook his head. "No, I'm sorry, my friends, but the people 

in your village have found out about me.  They think you spend too much time here, 

and they intend to come here tomorrow and take me away."

Both the boy and the girl got tears in their eyes, saddened by his words.

"Don't be sad," the eagle continued.  "You have performed a wonderful healing, 

and it is time for me to go.  I too have a home, and it is time to return to the 

Land of the Eagles."

Neither the boy or the girl knew what to say to this magnificent bird.  A lone tear 

rolled down the girl's cheeks.  The boy sniffled, wiping his eyes, and then he got another idea.                                                                                             
"Take us with you!  Let us go with you to the Land of the Eagles!"

The eagle laughed softly.  "No, I'm sorry.  The Land of the Eagles is a great journey.   

In fact, I have to fly through the heart of the sun itself."

"We don't mind.  No one really likes us here!  We won't be any trouble."  The seed 

was planted, and the boy began to beg more.  The girl urged him, seeing some 

hope in the request, her own eyes begging the eagle.  "No one likes us - they 

treat us terribly. They don't even care most of the time where we are!  ...Your back ..."
As the boy begged on, the eagle closed his eyes and thought for a moment.  

When he opened them, the two became silent.  The eagle fixed his eyes upon 

them and spoke again.

"I will give you the night to think about this.  If you truly wish to make this journey, 

you must meet me here before the sun comes up tomorrow morning.  But 

understand this:  it is a long journey, and we will fly through the heart of the sun.  

If you make this journey, you may never be able to return again                                                                      
The two looked at the eagle, mimicking his solemn look, and then they looked at 

each other.  Grins burst upon their faces, and the two turned and dashed out of the 

meadow, running back toward the village.

They sneaked into their homes and took what few belongings they thought they 

might need for their journey.  Then they hid in the woods, spending the night so 

as not to be caught or delayed by anyone in the village.  They hardly slept a wink 

the entire night.  Long before the sun came up, they were awake and on their 

way to the meadow.

As they walked into the meadow, the sun was coming up over the horizon.  

On an old tree stump, in the middle of the meadow, was the eagle whose life 

they had saved.  He was stretching and flexing his wings, loosening them for the 

long journey ahead.  As the children approached, he let his wings come to rest at 

his sides, and he bowed again to them.

"I see you have made your decision," he said.

Both grinned widely and bobbed their heads up and down.
The eagle smiled briefly and then got more serious.  "You must understand several 

things," he said.  "This is a very long journey, and we will fly through the heart of 

the sun.  It won't be dangerous, but when we pass through the sun, you must close 

your eyes or the sun will be so bright that it will blind you.  And also remember, that 

if  you make this journey, you may never be able to return again."

The two looked at each other, and hesitation only crossed their faces for a brief 

moment.  And again they both nodded.

"Then each of you climb upon one of my shoulders."

As they climbed onto his back, his weight shifted, adjusting to the children there.  

He bent his knees and spread his tremendous wings.  Then he leaped up, beating 

his wings with great speed and force, trying to rise with the children on his back.  

At first it didn't seem as if he would be able to lift them, but inch by inch he began 

to climb with the children hanging on tightly.  Soon he settled into a steady beat 

of his wings, strong and smooth.  He circled the meadow and then began climbing.

As they reached treetop level, the children looked down off of the back of the eagle.  

They saw a line of villagers moving through the woods toward the meadow, and 

they knew that what the eagle had told them was true. They immediately began 

laughing, knowing they had gotten away.

That laughter carried down from the back of the eagle, and the villagers looked up.  

They saw the young boy and girl on the back of the  eagle.  They started hollering 

and shouting up at them, but by that time the eagle had climbed so high their voices 

were lost in the wind.  Still the eagle climbed higher.

Before long, the eagle and children disappeared into the heavens, and the eagle 

began the long journey toward the sun.  He flew for what seemed an eternity to the 

children, and they began to wonder if they would be able to last.  Then they 

approached the sun.

The eagle looked back over his shoulder at each of them, and he said, 

"Close your eyes."  They closed their eyes, and the eagle passed through 

the heart of the sun!

As they came out the other side, their eyes opened and they looked about them in 

amazement. A golden sky surrounded them.  Below them was a beautiful, rich green land. 

And soaring, diving, and screeching around them were thousands of eagles!

Slowly they began to circle down toward the land below.  With a powerful flapping 

of its wings, the eagle landed softly in the grasses.The children slid off his back 

and watched as all of the eagles dropped out of the sky and formed a circle about 

them on the ground.

Then together they all bowed to the young girl and boy. The eagle whose life 

they had saved stepped forward.  He stood before them, not saying a word,  

and then with his wing he brushed under his beak and began to push it back. 

The children's eyes widened.  This was nothing more than an eagle's head mask!

Next he shrugged his shoulders and a suit of feathers dropped off of him onto 

the ground.  This wasn't an eagle at all!

Then all of the eagles surrounding them brushed back their eagle's head masks, 

shrugging off their own suit of feathers.  The children stared, wide-eyed and then 

realized that this wasn't the Land of the Eagles.

This was the Land of the Spirit People!

The one whose life they saved looked at them and spoke softly and with great love:  

"In time, my young friends, we will make for you your own suit of feathers. And 

we will teach you how to fly!"                                                            

The next year and a day was the happiest the two had ever lived.  They got their 

own eagle's head mask and their own suit of feathers, and they were taught how 

to fly.They would spend their days soaring and sailing through the clouds and over 

this beautiful land.

At the end of that year  and a day, the boy got another idea:  "Wouldn't it be great 

to go back to the village now.  Wouldn't it be great to show them what we can do? 

They'd  treat us differently. Tey'd love us now. We're eagle people.  We can fly!"

The little girl shook her head vehemently. She wanted nothing to do with such an 

idea, but the seed was planted.  The boy began to speak of it more and more.

"They'll treat us differently. We can fly.They won't make fun of us. They are our true family ..."

The more he talked, the more he began to persuade the girl. Finally, he convinced 

her, and so one morning they arose before all of the others.They put on their suits of 

feathers and their eagle's head masks, and they took to the sky.  Before long they 

disappeared into the heavens and began the long journey back through the sun to their village.

They paused at the sun, looking at each other, and they flew straight on. They 

passed through the sun's heart, and when they came out the other side, they 

were circling their own village.

It was morning at the village, and the people were just rising and lighting their 

cooking fires. They saw the shadows of the two large birds circling on the ground. 

They looked up and saw two magnificent eagles soaring over head, descending 

toward the village. The villagers began running around, waking everyone up. 

This was a sign!...  This was something wondrous!

The villagers gathered, watching as the two eagles descended and landed softly 

in their midst. The villagers backed up, unsure of what to do, but amazed at the 

wondrous sign that had come to them.

The boy and the girl stood together - not moving - enjoying the moment. They 

looked at each other, and then each brushed a wing under the beak and pushed back 

the eagle's head mask.

The villagers gasped!




DSES 2004