The Starling

When she was young, the Starling was given charge of a stranger who had become lost in the mountains where her people lived. While gathering mushrooms in the forest, she heard the piteous cries of a wounded animal. Thinking that her brothers and uncles would be pleased with her if she helped them bring home good meat — and might even one day let her go hunting with them — she followed the sound to discover what animal it might be.

By and by she came to the brink of a deep ravine, and there, down at its murky bottom, lying partway in the stream, she perceived the form of the largest man-creature she'd ever seen. The hair on his head was the shade of birch leaves in autumn, and his strange clothing, once brightly colored, was torn and filthy from much wear in the weather. He lay on his back, with one leg bent out in a way that a leg does not bend without breaking.

Studying the marks of his trail in the earth, she quickly perceived what happened: while climbing down the opposite bank, the creature lost his footing and started to slide, and so tried to leap across to a ledge on her side of the ravine. But the ledge was too narrow and he hit it too low, and, after hanging for some time by the fingers of one hand, he lost his hold and fell like a spinning leaf to the bottom.

His voice was weakening; it was late in the day; he would certainly be dead before morning. The Starling pondered what to do.

At last she descended to the ledge from which the creature had fallen, tore a square from the corner of her apron, and placed a handful of mushrooms within it. Then she measured and cut a length of her line, one end of which she fastened to a sturdy root projecting from the bank. At the other end, she tied up the mushrooms in a bundle, and lowered it over the ledge until it hung just within the creature's reach.

Believing it best not to be seen, she climbed back up to the top of the bank, and, hiding behind the trunk of a mighty oak, gave a cry as of a great bird of prey. Then she ran away.