Awake early, he had crept sleepily up the gully to relieve himself.
He was not yet old enough to stand guard, and on mornings like this he
was grateful to be sleeping inside beneath warm robes. There had been
no one visible when he started up the gully, so he hadn't walked as far
from home as usual. Still he walked too far. Savages leapt upon him
before he could shout a warning and, in the instant before he was beaten
unconscious, he realized fully it was the attack they had for so long
He vaguely perceived that morning, yet through haze he heard shouts
and screams from his village, frenzied yips of savages, pops and cracks of
rifles. A child flashed up the gully past him with a mounted savage behind
her. In a moment there was a scream, then the horseman rode back down
the gully breathing hard. Painfully turning his head, he saw where the
girl lay, her crushed head in a pool of blood, her tiny features stunned
Struggling to rise, he glimpsed, before collapsing, men trying to defend
their familieshis own father perhaps and he caught the hot leer of one
savage's eye. He knew he was done, that everyone was done, as he slipped
back into the void.
How many hours or days or weeks they dragged him, leather thong
round his neck, he could not say. He had stumbled and staggered barefoot
over rocky ground for endless miles. When he fell, they jerked him until
he was unconscious from choking, but always stopped to revive him just
in time to deny him merciful death. Yet he was dead, he had died with
his family back at the village.
They dragged him finally into their compound where villagers beat and
spat upon him. Children threw rocks at him, shouting in their incom-
prehensible tongue. He did not have to know their words to understand
what they said. He was taken before theii chief, a small, decorated man.
There was a good deal of loud talk, again incomprehensible, then he was
forced into a small wooden hut.
He needed water; he needed food; he needed rest. Lying painfully on
a grass-covered corner of the hut, sleep came to him finally in the heat
of the day. And he lived again in his dreams: Hawk flew wind away from
the savages toward the hills where his people lay; his mother and father
and sisters and brothers waved to him as he flew beyond them toward
Before the Spring, he knelt and asked what his people had done that
their homeland should be invaded by savages. But Sacred Spring did not
answer. Are we to submit? he asked, incredulous. Are we to not fight
back? The Spring gurgled, then belched forth red: blood flowed from
wounded Earth. But I am only one, he said, and not even a warrior.
Become a warrior, ordered Sacred Spring. I have no weapons, he said.
Then it came to him: he was Hawk and he had the wind.
He awoke to find a cup of water and a metal plate with a few pieces of
dried meat and hard bread on it. He wanted to bolt the food, but Hawk's
battered face made chewing difficult, so he broke both meat and bread
into tiny pieces which he softened in his mouth, then swallowed. Just as
he finished his meal, he heard voices outside the hut, and gruff laughter.
There was one small, low window in the dark hovel and suddenly a stream
of urine sprayed through it. The laughter grew louder, some words were
shouted, then the voices grew faint. Hawk peered out the window and
saw three of the savage warriors striding away, their blue uniforms dark
as death over the bright earth of the compound.
It was nearly night when several blue warriors threw open the door of
his hut and pulled him out. Prodded to their chief again, Hawk felt
strengthened from the food and able to breathe and draw life from the
air. This time there were other human beings present, though they were
of a rival clan. As the pale chief spoke, one of the human beings said to
Hawk: "Now listen to this. I will tell you what their chief says." The man
spoke poorly, but at least he could be understood. "The white chief says
you and your clan have hurt many of his warriors. He says you are dangerous vermin. He says you must be an example. He says they will pull
your neck with a rope until you are dead. He says their god will protect
you." The human being who was not of his clan could not resist a comment of his own: "You and yours are lice," he added.
Hawk turned to face the other human being. "At least we have not
become savages," he spat, and the other human being was ashamed and
angry. He knew that Hawk, a boy not yet a warrior, had bested him. He
said something to a savage in the strange tongue, and the blue warrior
struck Hawk hard across the face. The other human being was even more
ashamed when Hawk did not flinch.
Back in the wooden hovel, the boy again curled on the grass to sleep.
His face hurt badly where the savage had struck him. He could neither
open nor close his mouth. His head pulsed with pain each time his heart
beat. He could not sleep and was sitting up when a very pale young savage
visited him, accompanied by blue warriors. The savage held two pieces
of wood tied together to represent the four sacred directions. The direction
stick told Hawk that the savage was a shaman. So Hawk listened respectfully to words he could not understand while the pale shaman gestured
and babbled. When the savage finally quieted, Hawk mumbled no, only
that. The pale savage seemed to understand, and departed. He had been
a weak shaman with no real power.
Hawk found himself feeling a strange kind of pity for these hopeless
creatures who possessed no magic at all, no union with Earth or Sky, only
the ability to hurt and kill. He could not even hate such creatures for they
were beneath hate. They were sad and dangerous like a broken rattlesnake
thrashing around wildly to kill whatever neared it because it could not
save itself. They had great skill at destruction, but he could sense no life
force in them.
Hawk flew wind again that night, flew high to the zenith where Old
Man of the Ancients resided; Old Man was growing impatient with the
savages. Hawk flew to the nadir and Earth Mother wept angrily over her
torn land and dead children. It was a bad dream because the savages killed
everything and everyone. And, in the instant before he awoke, the shat-
tered, bleeding face of the little girl he had seen in the gully flooded him.
It was a very bad dream, for he knew he must kill a savage.
They came for him early next morning, a mass of blue-shirted savages
who bound his arms with leather straps, then led him around a building
into a square where it seemed all the pale villagers were gathered around
a wooden platform. As he was thrust up the steps, he saw a rope— the
rope for pulling his neck—draped over a crossbeam. Hawk was placed
beneath the rope and the savages' chief stood at the front of the platform
and spoke loudly to his people. At the same time, the wan shaman stood
directly before Hawk, muttering tensely and senselessly into his face, holding his sticks in one hand. Another savage knelt behind Hawk and began
to bind his legs. Hawk knew it was time, and he repeated to himself a
warrior's song he had been learning as part of his training:
Let us see, is this real,
Let us see, is this real,
This life I am living
You Powers who dwell everywhere,
Let us see, is this real,
This life I am living
He leaned forward and bit the shaman's pallid white nose, at the same
time kicking the man who sought to bind his legs. Then Hawk darted
across the platform and kicked the startled chief behind a knee and the
enemy leader collapsed directly in front of him. One more kick with all
his leg behind it and Hawk felt the pale chief's head crumple. He had
killed the savages' leader.
From all around him, blue savages fired their weapons, yet Hawk stood
straight and tall, making no attempt to flee or dodge. Bullets smashed into
his body, but they were too slow, for Hawk flew wind once more, high
over the frantic scene and away, over plains and deserts, over brooding
hills, over bleeding Sacred Spring. And Sacred Spring called to him as
he soared: "Ho Warrior!"