'There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow'
- Orison Swett Marden -
Extract from Chapter 7: Harvest Healing. Mañana and a few selected helpers have placed the eaglet in one of the provision wagons which made available. Habby meanwhile sets out to find work outside the valley. At the camp, Manana continues to heal the eaglet that is slowly but definitely growing stronger. As she continues her healing, a growing bond of trust and affection starts to develop between the bird and human.
With the birds strength returning, Mañana realised she could not keep feeding it herbal remedies to placate it. Besides the possibility of causing the animal to be dependent on them, her mother told her that it could cause unseen medical problems.
Luckily, enough, one of the Gypsies, had previously trained and worked with birds of prey and he offered his help and advice to the young girl. He turned up one morning with a thick leather gauntlet and a small hemp sack that sewn together and resembling a miniture hood. He then showed her how she should cover his head with the hood, and how this would placate the bird, help it sleep and also keep it quiet.
As the weeks went on, and the eaglet regained its strength, so its appetite also grew. Some of the younger boys, too young to work the harvest, were very happy to do something for Mañana. They took it upon thrmselves to trap rabbits and other small game to keep the bird fed.
However, it was another product of the improving eaglet's health that was making the Gypsies take notice. It had become obvious to everyone that the bond of trust and affection between the animal and Mañana was becoming ever stronger, and it had now got to the stage where the eaglet would only allow Mañana to feed or come anywhere near it.
On one occasion, young Jose had come looking for Mañana, with a fresh rabbit he had just caught. Entering the wagon he found only Aguila, regally surveying him with black steely eyes. He had already been here a few times with Mañana, and this was his first time alone with the eaglet. Thinking there would not be a problem, he approached Aguila, offering him the food.
It had only been lightening quick reflexes that had saved him from serious injury. Aguila let out a piercing screech, and simultaneously lunged at the terrified boy. Jose hurled himself backwards towards the still open door, tumbling down the steps, to land in a heap outside the wagon. Inside he could see the eaglet with his good wing spread wide, and hackles up, guarding the entrance, should anyone else decide to enter.
It was after this incident, Mañana mother (with the encouragement of the Elders), ordered her to ensure the animal was suitably restrained. It was also relayed to all the Gypsies that no one, except Mañana herself was to enter the eagle’s wagon. Complying with her mothers wishes, Mañana used a stout strip of rawhide to secure his good leg onto the table on which he normally perched.
Quicker then Mañana would have at first thought possible, the time had come to remove the splints that bound the eaglets broken bones,. As to be expected, Mañana was full of apprehension, and although she had constantly monitored his mending, until the bandages were removed and the eaglet was free to move his appendages, she could not know how successful her healing had been. She need not have worried. As it was, she need not have worried, the bones had set perfectly, and she could both sense and see that the eaglet was happy to have the full use of his appendages back again.
Six weeks after Mañana had found Aguila; it became obvious that the eaglet could not be contained in the wagon for much longer. He was growing bigger and stronger by the day and it was decided that soon he would be strong enough for release. A hastily convened meeting of the Elders decided that Mañana must now concentrate her efforts, on helping the eaglet return to the wild.
This was going to prove a lot more difficult then the Elders could have anticipated. As Mañana, explained to them, first it must learn to use its leg and wing once more, before it being released back into the wild. In addition, as it was so young, it would not have been trained to either fly or hunt properly. She went on to say, that with the eaglet confined to the wagon, there was very little chance of it getting the exercise and training it would need before they could release it into the wild. She finished off by telling them; "that she had not spent the last six weeks healing the bird, to let it lose in the wild only for it to be killed by another predator or shot by a farmer".
Another meeting of the Elders soon followed, to debate the best way forward. There were a few ideas suggested, one being that Mañana could take it to a secluded part of the valley for training. However, after serious consideration, this idea was abandoned. The Gypsies, simply could not risk the chance of it being seen with any member of the clan, and there was always the possibility that some shepherd or goat herder may notice them. It was finally decided, that since the harvest was due to finish very shortly, and Mañana would have to wait until they left the valley, before she could start the training and exercise the bird freely.