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THE HAWK AND THE OSPREY
THERE lived once, on the shores of a natural lake, a Hawk on the
south shore, a She-Hawk on the west shore, on the north a
Lion, the king of beasts, on the east the Osprey, the king
of birds, in the middle a Tortoise on a small island.
Now the Hawk asked the She-Hawk to become his wife. She
asked him: "Have you any friends?" "No, madam," he replied.
"But," she said, "we must have some friends who can defend
us against any danger or trouble that may arise. Therefore
I beg of you to find some friends." "But," said the Hawk,
"with whom shall I make friends?" "Why, with King Osprey,
who lives on the eastern shore, with King Lion on the
north, and with the Tortoise who lives in the middle of
And he took her advice. And all these creatures formed a
bond of friendship, and promised to protect each other in
time of danger.
Now in time the Mother-Hawk had two sons. One day when
the wings of the young birds were not yet callow, some
of the country-folk went foraging through the woods all
day and found nothing.
They went down to the lake to catch fish or a tortoise,
and, in order to drive away the gnats, they made a fire
by rubbing sticks together. The smoke annoyed the young
birds, and they uttered a cry. The men said: " 'Tis
the cry of birds—we will make a fire and eat their
flesh." They made the fire blaze and built it up.
But the Mother-Bird heard the sound, and thought: "These
men will eat our young ones. I will send my mate to the
Great Osprey." This she did, and the bird promised to help.
He sat upon a tree-top near that in which the Hawks had
built their nests, and no sooner did the men begin to
climb up the tree than the Osprey dived into the lake,
and from wings and back sprinkled water upon the brands
and put the fire out. Down came the men and made another
fire, but again the Osprey put it out, and this went on
And the bird was tired out and his eyes were bloodshot.
And the Mother-Bird whispered to her mate: "My Lord, the
Osprey is worn out! Go and tell the Tortoise, that this
weary bird may have a rest."
But the Osprey in a loud voice said he would gladly give
his life to guard the tree. And the grateful Hawk said:
"I pray thee, friend Osprey, rest awhile." Then he went
for help to the Tortoise, who said he would gladly help,
but his son said: "I would not have my old father troubled,
but I will gladly go in his stead."
And the Tortoise collected mud and quenched the flame.
Then said the men: "Let us kill the Tortoise: he will be
enough for all." But when they plucked creepers to bind
him and tried to turn him over, he dragged them into the
water. And they said: "What strange things have happened
to us! Half the night the Osprey has put out our fire,
and now the Tortoise has dragged us in after him and made
us swallow water. Let us light another fire, and at
sunrise we will eat these young Hawks."
The Hen-Bird heard the noise and said: "My husband—sooner
or later these men will devour our young and depart. You go
and tell our friend the Lion." At once the Hawk went to the
Lion, who asked him why he came at such an unreasonable hour.
But when the whole matter was put before him, he said: "Go
and comfort your young ones, for I will save them." And then
he came forth with a mighty tread, and the men were terrified.
"Alas!" they cried. "The Osprey hath put out our fire. The
Tortoise dragged us into the water. But now we are done for:
the Lion will destroy us at once." They ran this way and
that, and when the noble beast stood at the foot of the
tree, no trace could be found of the frightened men.
Then the Osprey, the Hawk, the She-Hawk, and the Tortoise
came up to greet him, and they discoursed for a long time
on the value of friendship. And this company of friends lived
all their lives without breaking their bond. And they passed
away according to their deeds.