Why Hawk Kills Chickens
A woman had a little girl whose body was covered with ugly sores. She went to all the best country-doctors and Diviners, but nothing would remove the sore, so one day she became discouraged and decided to throw the child away. That night she carried her to a dung pile and left her there.
Hawk had built her nest above the dung pile in a tree, and in the morning she saw the child below her weeping. She carried the little girl up to her nest, and gave her a certain medicine only known to hawks; in time the child became well, her sores dropped off and her skin was clean and beautiful.
There came a day when Hawk told the child she could go back to her town and help her mother; but she told her to be sure to return before night fell. The little girl went to her mother’s home where she was welcomed; her mother wept bitterly to think that she had once abandoned her. When evening came the child stole away and went back to Hawk, whom she had learned to love, and this went on for several days. No one in the town knew where the little girl went at night.
On the seventh day her mother and the townsfolk would not let her leave the town, although she cried and tried to go back to Hawk’s tree; and when Hawk saw that the people held the child she was vexed. She swooped down upon the people of that town scratching and biting and screaming, and there was palaver and excitement everywhere.
A wise man came and with wise words he put an end to the fighting. He said:
“That child belongs to its mother, for its flesh and blood are the mother’s flesh and blood. But Hawk has done good services, and for such service she must have some good reward. O Hawk, do you agree?”
“If the reward is good, I will agree.”
“Then name the things you want, and let it be a thing we can give.”
“Then let your chickens be my slaves,” said Hawk, “and you may keep the child . . . until you throw her out again.”
All the chickens in that town became the slaves of Hawk. They brought her food and washed her, scratched her back and gave her eggs to eat; Hawk lived in luxury for some years. In those days she wore a ring about one foot, a symbol of her rank among the birds, and one day she lent it to a chicken who was courting a cockerel. When the chicken was walking about the ring fell off, and was lost among the leaves and dirt. On the following day Hawk said:
“Chicken, give me back my ring.”
Chicken could not give it. “I have lost your ring,” she said. Hawk flew into a rage, for the thing was precious to her and without it she could not command the respect of other birds.
“Lost?” she cried. “Lost? Then this is a sorry day for chickens! I shall kill every chicken I can toady, and the killing will not cease until my ring is found.
She killed that chicken first, and took it to her nest where she devoured it. All the other chickens began scratching among the leaves and dirt, searching and searching for the ring. The ring has not been found. Hawk has never ceased killing chickens, and chickens still scratch up leaves and dirt looking for that ring.
Hawk no longer has the respect of other birds, and that is why they dart about her singing mocking songs as she hovers in the air.