Hawks and Eagles - Max Brand - ebook

Hawks and Eagles ebook

Max Brand

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Hawks and Eagles is the author’s classic. The brand is a great storyteller who shows his enthusiasm for humans and animals, such characters as a professor, a small dog, and Mole. Joe Good, the protagonist, he’s twenty years old. His father was killed by the richest man in the city, because he wants a good ranch not to be. A good, lazy, prickly guy who lacks a sense of respect and respect for everyone in the city. The only thing he can do is to handle a whip with such skill that he becomes almost alive. This story is also a story of the growth of kindness to become the most respected person in his community.

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Liczba stron: 140

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Contents

I. BIRD WAR

II. BRAINS AND TEETH

III. GLEAMING FORTUNE

IV. AN OFFER

V. SEARCHING FOR HAWKS

VI. EAGLE'S TRICKS

VII. STRAIGHT TALK

VIII. THE MISER BLOWS

IX. READY FOR FLIGHT

X. BUDGE AND BETSY

XI. THE NEW HOME

XII. THE SQUEALER

XIII. LISTENING IN

XIV. INSIDE

XV. THE STUDY

XVI. THE EAGLE SWOOPS DOWN

I. BIRD WAR

AT the top of the Cronin Pass, Joe Good paused to look back into one world and forward into another. Behind him, he could see the bold, treeless hills that made the cattle range around Fort Willow, and below him, on the rainier side of the mountains, there was smoother, richer country, checkered by silver or golden fields of growing crops and dark squares of fallow plowed land, although this pattern was subdued by the mist of distance.

He paused at this high point for other reasons than to look sadly back upon a wasted past before entering a new future. For, as he steered his way forward, sighting between the ears of his burro and over the hump of the pack that burdened it, he had been amusing himself by playing tricks with his black snake. It was not an ordinary black snake, thick and heavy at the butt and tapering to a thin, cutting lash. The cutting lash was there, but, behind it, the whole body of the black snake was of one dimension, not a great deal wider than a thick pencil. It was covered with the finest rawhide, so carefully treated that it was more supple than the skin of a snake, more supple even than the rawhide that the Mexicans know how to treat so that in their lariats it becomes like liquid iron.

Either in his pocket or in his hand, this black snake was ever near to Joe Good. In part, it was of his own invention. He had discovered that bulkier whips are likely to lead to inaccuracy, and Joe Good loved accuracy as much as he loved laziness. So he had developed this black snake after his own idea and given it weight with flexibility by loading it with leaden shot, not only on the handle, but down nearly to the very tip of the lash. The shot diminished in quantity and in size, but it was there, nevertheless.

Only at the butt, the handle flared out a little to make a suitable grip for the palm and fingers. As he walked along, Joe Good had amused himself by performing little tricks with the whip. Sometimes, to be sure, he used it to encourage the burro, but this was very seldom. That burro was said to have the toughest hide of any burro on the range, but somehow it always responded to the magic touch of Joe Good.

For he knew how to take out a chunk of skin and flesh with a snap of the lash, and he knew, also, how to draw a gash in the thickest mule hide. More than this, he was aware of other arts, and once an animal realized what the master could do with that tormenting whip, it needed only a touch to make it put forth its full efforts to whatever task lay before it.

Sometimes, too, he exercised his skill by performing a feat often talked of, but very rarely seen; now and then the black snake would uncoil from his hand and throw out its thin point like a snake’s tongue, flicking away a fly without more than brushing the hair of the animal. It was a trick that pleased Joe Good. He would have liked to do it before an audience, but he was a fellow who never had an audience.

There were many other things he could make the black snake do, besides serving as a whip, however. Sometimes it poured fluidly from hand to hand, up one arm, and over his shoulders, descending sinuously into the opposite hand. Sometimes it even reared up like a living snake and for an instant seemed to be supporting its eight feet of length on its thin tail, while the handle rose and steadied for a moment above, like the head of a snake. Sometimes he threw it high, high in the air, until it diminished to a mere pencil stroke, and caught it again by the handle as it shot downward.

Now and again, as he passed under a tree, he flicked the lash upward, dexterously allowed it to twist around a branch, and then cut the branch in two with a slashing pull. Again, with exquisite care, he nipped off leaves, cutting directly through their stems as with a knife touch. But now and then, and this pleased him more than all else, to judge by the smile he wore, he took the almost liquid coil of the black snake in the palm of his hand, and then threw it like a ball at a sapling, or a tree trunk, and watched the ball dissolve and the arms of the black snake whirl suddenly around and around the trunk of the tree. Suppose that a man were struck in the breast by that weight, even if he were not knocked down by it, his arms would be suddenly lashed to his sides! That was why he smiled when he performed the trick, always unerringly. It was not so easy as it looked. The head and the tail of the whip had first to be disposed of in a certain way; otherwise, the lash simply rebounded from the trunk and fell limply against the ground.

He never had tried the trick on a white man, only on a few Mexicans and Indians, but these people, to be sure, never forgot him and his ways.

He was making the black snake coil in his hand and then spring up, snake-like, again and again, when, at the crest of the pass, he saw the new country before him and turned to give a final glance at the big hills behind him. Then it was, also, that he saw the eagle. From a high crag of Cronin Mountain, on his right, it launched suddenly forth and began to circle rapidly, cupping the air under its powerful wings, as it struggled upward. He forgot the rest of the scenery in order to watch, for he recognized the maneuvers of an eagle taking its pitch, in order to swoop down on its prey.

Presently he saw the answer. A fish hawk slid out into view above the tops of the trees, with a fish gripped in its talons, a big, silver flash of a fish held firmly by the back, with its head pointing forward, so that it would cut the air in the best fashion and cause the least wind resistance.

Joe Good, admiring, pulled up his coat sleeve a little and, with a single twirl, wrapped the lithe line of the black snake around his arm. When he pulled down the sleeve again, the handle of the whip was concealed under the cuff, just above his wrist. This he did automatically, as the result of having practiced the really difficult trick a thousand times before.

His eyes, all the while, watched the flight of the hawk that was beating its wings rapidly, to sustain the weight that it carried. Somewhere a nest filled with long-necked, ugly-headed youngsters was waiting for that same food. Well, there would be enough to go all around, unless...

But the eagle was thinking of nestlings, too. It knew the taste of fresh fish perfectly well, and preferred it to anything in the world, even the hottest and juiciest of lamb cuts. It lacked the art of procuring the tidbit from the water, but it knew how to take tribute from more cunning workers.

Now, from its high tower in the air, it turned and dipped over. Down it came in the most magnificent style, opening its wings once to give a swift beat and increase the rate of its fall, then closing them again as it became a metal bolt out of the higher heaven.

Just above the hawk those wings shot outward–young Joe Good distinctly heard the sound. With talons and beak, the king of the air threatened, but the hawk, clumsily dodging, loaded down as it was, continued on its way more rapidly than before.

The eagle had feinted and failed, but now it re-bounded on stiffened wings almost to the height of its former stand. Again it turned over and, even to the eye of the boy, there was savage business in its gesture through the air.

The hawk knew perfectly well that the game was ended. It persisted until the tyrant was just overhead, then it dropped the prize, and the monarch shot down, caught the burden in one claw, and skimmed away toward the nest.

The harsh, enraged scream of the hawk floated down to the ears of Joe Good, but the hawk itself, released from the weight that had anchored it, now shot away to take its watch again over the waters of the hidden lake or stream.

Grand was the eagle’s flight, but nothing compared to the way the long, narrow wings of the hawk knifed through the air.

Joe Good, watching it, shook his head, and soliloquized:

“It’s always the same. Even the hawks... they’ve got the eagles over ‘em. Same way with me. No matter where I go, I’ll land in trouble. Everybody’s got trouble. There’s no use running away from it. Not even if you could walk on air, because a new brand would find you out, wherever you landed and started again.” He was so impressed by this thought that he whistled.

The burro instantly understood the welcome signal and, coming to a halt, began to tear eagerly at the long grass that fringed the trail.

Joe Good sat on a rock and looked sadly forward to the new land, sadly back upon the old. As he reflected, he took from his pocket a small news clipping, and his eye glanced over the following notice:

Vincent Good was buried today in the cemetery, by Dr. Oliver Wain and the Episcopal Church. Attending the funeral was his son, Joseph Good.

Vincent Good met his death under tragic circumstances last Wednesday. During a saloon brawl he drew a gun and shot and seriously hurt Harry Alton.

He was pursued by an impromptu posse composed of the father and brother of Harry Alton. Tucker, Dean, Samuel, and Christopher Alton also joined the pursuit. They overtook the fugitive in Chalmer’s Creek Cañon, where he resisted arrest, and was fatally wounded by a volley poured in by the posse.

The Episcopal congregation paid the expenses of the funeral.

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