This is a story from a long time ago, when the eagles wore long plumes on their heads and the magpies had short fluffy tails. One day in the middle of summer the Old Man, Na’pe, was sitting in the middle of the shade of a cutbank trying to keep himself cool. It was hot and he wasn’t succeeding very well. “Oh, I wish I were up there in the north where it is always cold,” said Na’pe.
-‘If you wait till winter it will be cold,” said Coyote, who was lying on the ground beside him trying to think up some amusing sort of trouble-making. “And when it was cold you complained something awful about that.”
“I did not! I did not! I did not!” yelled Na’pe jumping up and down with rage.
Na’pe’s yells attracted the attention of a pair of eagles who were sailing around in the sky. “Why, that’s our old brother Na’pe,” said the eagles. “What is he screaming about!”
So they came down to see.
“Aie, Little Brothers,” said Na’pe. “Take me up north, where the Big Ice is.”
“Well, Old Man,” said the eagles, “we can do that, but you’ll be sorry, because if you don’t wish to come back when we do, we will leave you there.”
“Oh, yes, yes, yes!” said Na’pe impatiently.
“You will be sorry, you know,” said Coyote, going off laughing.
The eagles came down and Na’pe grasped their legs, one leg in each hand, and away they flew to the north.
They came to where the cold began. “This is far enough, little Brothers,” said Na’pe, “I am cool enough now.”
“Oh, no, no,” said the eagles. “You wanted to go up where the Big Ice is. So we’ll take you right there.” They flew on a bit farther.
“This is far enough now. Little Brothers,” said Na’pe.
“Oh, no, no,” said the eagles. “You wanted to go where the Big Ice is. We are taking you there.” And they flew on a bit farther.
They came to the Big Ice with Na’pe yelling and screaming “Let me down! Let me down!”
“Now, Old Man,” said the eagles, “you don’t want to get down here. You can’t stay here. You’ll freeze.”
“I am Old Man!” said Na’pe. “I am too clever to freeze!”
“We are glad to hear it,” said the eagles, “but we do not wish to leave you here all the same.”
“Oh, you don’t want to leave me here!” said Na’pe. “Very well then, I shall stay here!” As they were passing an iceberg with icicles hanging down from the top of it, Na’pe reached out and seized an icicle in each hand and hung on to them. The eagles flew on without him.
The icicles began to melt in Na’pe’s hands. “Come back, come back. Little Brothers,” he called. “I will go home with you.”
“Oh, no,” said the eagles. “We told you if you let go of us we would not wait for you. So now we go home without you.” Oh, how Na’pe yelled. But the more he yelled, the farther away the eagles flew, and Na’pe was left hanging on to the icicles which grew smaller and smaller. The eagles went back to the south country.
Coyote saw the eagles flying south. “What have you done with my old brother Na’pe?” he called to them.
“Oh, we left him here or there, here or there!” said the eagles, laughing.
“You must go back and get him!” said Coyote. “Oh, no,” said the eagles. “We told him, and he did not listen. Now he can be sorry!”
“I’ve got a good mind, too, to leave him there,” declared Coyote, “but I would miss my old brother Na’pe… I think.” So he asked the geese to get Na’pe off the iceberg, but the geese had had a quarrel with Na’pe and they refused.
He asked the ducks to go, but the ducks said, “We are travelling another way. Brother Coyote,” and they refused.
So he called the magpies.