Flight of the Eagle novel (Chap. 13-15)
Perhaps a large rainbow trout darted too swiftly behind a rock. Or, reflections from the watery surface played tricks on the rapidly descending eagle.
In any case, the missile-diving hunter was fooled
He plunged deeply into the clear river water. Mistakes were not normal for this bird of prey. Its talons were fully stretched beneath streaking wings.
Luckily for the intended target, the eagle missed its mark.
Splashing and eagle screeching covered both shores. Then momentum carried it to the bottom of the river.
Adam and Paul were quite worried as the eagle thrashed about. It was furious at missing its intended target. The angry creature plowed noisily through the water to the opposite shore.
The huge bird was drenched. And shook itself in bursts of flapping wings. The eagle knew how anxious the female eagle would be. And the babies, hungry and impatient, waiting for more lunch.
Adam’s eyes enlarged as he gobbled up the scene before him. Paul simply stared, unable to move or speak.
Imagine, an eagle plunging into the river. And right in front of them!
It lurched around the shore, burdened by the weight of wet feathers. Not really a comical moment, since it resembled a soggy blanket
More shrieks traveled up and down the river. Shaking its head, the eagle cleared water from ears and lungs. The eagle didn’t like being unable to make a quick escape into the waiting sky.
Talons dug deeply in the sandy shore. Wings flapped desperately. The eagle was anxious to dry off as quickly as possible.
Adam felt sorry for the father eagle, thinking he had let his eaglets down. “Poor eagle,” he thought. “No fishy snack today.”
Then he had an idea. Adam dug in his fishing creel and pulled out the rainbow trout he caught before Paul arrived. This was a “keeper” he had planned to show off.
It would make a nice meal on his kitchen table. “What do you think, Paul?” he asked. Should I feed the eagle? He looks unhappy.”
“Yes,” Paul agreed. “Give it to the eagle.”
Cautious steps led Adam to the shoreline.
When the eagle saw the boy approach from the other side, he furiously tried to flap away. However, Its wings still weren’t working properly.
His mish-mash of feathers was not dry enough to elevate him.
Seeing the huge bird flapping around helplessly was a sad moment. The best it could do was hop a little, then leap upwards in short bursts, before dropping.
Adam had a healthy respect for those talons. And that sharp beak. From time spent in the library he read they could be quite dangerous. He was surely glad to be on this side of the river.
Perhaps this is what inspired the boy for his act of bravery. The magnificent bald eagle was far enough away, not placing him in danger. So Adam approached the river’s edge, only thirty feet separating boy and eagle.
They stared at each other.
The boy could sense each pulse of energy radiating from the other side. Leaning its head to one side, the bald eagle somehow knew the boy meant no harm. He was just a little man, and carried something yellow on his back.
Adam was careful not to get too close to the current. It flowed swiftly between large boulders on either side.
He hoped the eagle thought of him as a friend.
The wild bird kept flapping its wings slowly, like some huge fan. Constant movement assisted the warm sun in rapidly drying out his feathers.
With a mighty swing, Adam sent his trout sailing over the river. It landed a few feet in front of the eagle. At first the bird jumped up in alarm. Then noticed the boy was not coming any closer.
There was no danger from this man-child.
Its wings kept flapping slowly, intricate feathers just about dry.
Suddenly, one mighty swipe grabbed the nice sized trout. Powerful talons held tightly as the bird lifted gracefully and headed towards the family nest.
The sun warmed the ground sufficiently to produce a thermal.
Now the boys followed the eagle’s ascent, their throats in a knot.
Adam’s chest pounded against his ribcage. “This is awesome! Wait till I tell grandpa,” he said.
“Yah, man!” Paul shouted, giving his chum a high five.
Adam was thrilled to have the opportunity to enjoy this property owned by the Fishers. “Thanks Paul,” he said, “for bringing me here.”
“It’s okay,” Paul answered, overcome by the sights he just witnessed.
The boys cleaned the area from candy wrappers, and several pop cans. This was a special place and should remain in a natural state. After one last look at the eagle’s nest, they headed back down the trail.
It was nice knowing the father eagle had a meal for his family.
Adam’s watch indicated his parents should be at the road by now. “Paul, I’m really glad you were here to see everything,” he said. He whistled a happy tune.
A bright yellow backpack jiggled on his shoulders.
The next day during breakfast, Adam’s mom brought up something really interesting. She overheard someone talking about a friend who tried to capture an eagle.
Suddenly the boy’s interest was on full alert.
“Remember the eagle you saw land in the water, Adam? his mom asked.
“How could I ever forget?” Adam answered between mouthfuls of cereal.
“This fellow was foolishly brave like you. Except, he tried to throw a blanket over it. Kind of dangerous, I’d say. Now, why would anyone want to get near one of those things?”
Adam came to the defense of his eagle friends. “They’d never hurt me mom,” he boasted. That evening while looking over his collection of eagle artifacts, he remembered his words.
They wouldn’t now, would they?
One careless moment was all it took on such a nice Saturday morning. Not long ago Adam had been on dry land as he sighted through grandpa’s ‘glasses.’
They were an excellent quality, especially with their wide-angle lenses.
It didn’t matter now as water pressed in around him.
It might have been fun if he had his bathing suit on, or to be wading in the shallow part of the river. Better still, if everyone had simply come for a picnic, to get cooled off.
At least it would be their choice.
This wasn’t funny, not at all. If only Paul could have come right away instead of later with his parents. He was such a good swimmer and with him here, Adam might not be in this pickle.
Mom and dad said the boys had been very responsible last week. So this week was a repeat. It didn’t seem like such a big deal to be left alone, until Paul got here.
But Paul didn’t show up for the last couple of hours. In the meantime Adam fished and roamed around.
He was now paying the price for getting too close to the edge. Grandpa said to be careful around the river. But Adam was careless and stood too close as he watched the nest.
When the bank gave away, grandpa’s warning was remembered. The slide down the rocky slope into the fast flowing river really hurt. His arm ended up smacking against a rock.
Adam even lost one running shoe trying to scramble up the muddy slope. Then the current gathered him up like a cork and began to float the boy downstream.
He tried to fight the flow of water but it tired him out. Thankfully the current wasn’t roaring along like a speeding racecar.
However it was full of swirls. And Adam spent too much energy trying to avoid going around in circles. Good thing dad taught him how to swim. But this current was very strong. Each time he almost made it to shore, the curving water took him in another direction.
“Helllpp! Helllpp!” he managed to say, each time, water splashed against his mouth. Keep it closed. Keep your cool. Breathe through your nose. The series of commands bounced around his thoughts.
“Ouch! That hurt.” His shoeless right foot kept banging against rocks hiding below the watery current.
He saw where he once stood. Only a short distance away, it was safe and sound. And dry. As he tossed and turned, the safe shore seemed like a memory.
Adam’s water-filled eyes could barely see the surrounding forest of green.
“Daaad! Grandpaaa! Paaaul! Where Aaare you?” roared from his mouth at each opportunity. Words repeated as an echo from the hillside. In the past it was fun to shout words and listen for their return. Not much fun now bobbing as a cork in the river.
A gusty wind carried the sounds of the boy’s struggle to the male bald eagle. He paused in high flight, before swooping to his special bleached tree. The huge eagle leaned forward on his perch.
Ears tuned in to the commotion not far away. It did not have the same melody of his eaglets or mate. The sound was human!
The predator sensed fear and terror. It was the same as when one of his babies cried out.
He shuffled to the edge of the branch then plunged into the air. A thermal captured his wide-spaced wings and the bird soared upwards.
Circling in a mighty loop the bald-headed eagle headed for the river.