THE OLD EAGLE TREE
By John Todd
In a distant field stood a large tulip tree, apparently of a
century's growth, and one of the most gigantic. It looked like
the father of the surrounding forest. A single tree of huge
dimensions, standing all alone, is a sublime object.
On the top of this tree, an old eagle, commonly called the
"Fishing Eagle," had built her nest every year, for many years,
and, undisturbed, had raised her young. A remarkable place to
choose, as she procured her food from the ocean, and this tree
stood full ten miles from the seashore. It had long been known as
the "Old Eagle Tree."
On a warm, sunny day, the workmen were hoeing corn in an
adjoining field. At a certain hour of the day, the old eagle was
known to set off for the seaside, to gather food for her young.
As she this day returned with a large fish in her claws, the
workmen surrounded the tree, and by yelling and hooting, and
throwing stones, so scared the poor bird that she dropped her
fish, and they carried it off in triumph.
The men soon dispersed, but Joseph sat down under a bush near by,
to watch, and to bestow unavailing pity. The bird soon returned
to her nest, without food. The eaglets at once set up a cry for
food, so shrill, so clear, and so clamorous that the boy was
The parent bird seemed to try to soothe them; but their appetites
were too keen, and it was all in vain. She then perched herself
on a limb near them, and looked down into the nest in a manner
that seemed to say, "I know not what to do next."
Her indecision was but momentary; again she poised herself,
uttered one or two sharp notes, as if telling them to "lie
still," balanced her body, spread her wings, and was away again
for the sea.
Joseph was determined to see the result. His eye followed her
till she grew small, smaller, a mere speck in the sky, and then
disappeared. What boy has not thus watched the flight of the bird
of his country!
She was gone nearly two hours, about double her usual time for a
voyage, when she again returned, on a slow weary wing, flying
uncommonly low, in order to have a heavier atmosphere to sustain
her, with another fish in her talons.
On nearing the field, she made a circuit round it, to see if her
enemies were again there. Finding the coast clear, she once more
reached the tree, drooping, faint, and weary, and evidently
nearly exhausted. Again the eaglets set up their cry, which was
soon hushed by the distribution of a dinner, such as, save the
cooking, a king might admire.
"Glorious bird!" cried the boy, "what a spirit! Other birds
fly more swiftly, others can sing more sweetly, others scream
more loudly; but what other bird, when persecuted and robbed,
when weary, when discouraged, when so far from the sea, would
have done this?
"Glorious bird! I will learn a lesson from thee to-day. I will
never forget hereafter, that when the spirit is determined it can
do almost anything. Others would have drooped, and hung the head,
and mourned over the cruelty of man, and sighed over the wants of
the nestlings; but thou, by at once recovering the loss, hast
"I will learn of thee, noble bird! I will remember this. I will
set my mark high. I will try to do something, and to be something
in the world; I will never yield to discouragements."
Century, the space of a hundred years.
Gigantic, very large.
Sublime, grand, noble.
Eaglets, young eagles.
Clamorous, loud, noisy.
Indecision, want of fixed purpose.
Momentary, for a single moment.
Circuit, movement round in a circle.
Exhausted, wholly tired out.
Nestlings, young birds in the nest.
What lesson may be learned from this story?
Why is the eagle called the bird of our
What is meant by the expression "finding
the coast clear"?
What is the advantage of setting one's
Can you think of any other story which
teaches the lesson that one should never yield to discouragements?
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