Aquila -Joyce Janes

Many years ago in a little village in Derbyshire called Baslow there lived a young orphan called Joe.   He was nine years old and life was hard for him his parents died when he was only five years old.

As Joe had no other relatives he was sent to live with his uncle at Gorsey Bank Farm.  This uncle was a cruel vicious man who treated the boy like a slave.  The man took pleasure in abusing the boy by making him do all the most difficult work.

Uncle made sure Joe worked on the farm from morning till night. When snow lay thick on icy ground it was Joe who had to fetch the water.  He never had a minute to himself and by evening the boy was worn out.

Joe was thin and pale for his age but he never complained about the work he had to do.

He remembered how different things were when his parents had been alive and sometimes he longed for the soft touch of his mother’s hand on his arm.  He dreamt of a time when they could be together again.

Occasionally his uncle left the farm and it was then and only then that Joe was free to climb high onto the moor above the village.

He would run along paths through the rocks and heather, feel the wind on his face and imagine he was free as a bird.  He wished he could fly, fly away to join his parents and leave his life of toil, his life with the uncle who despised him.

Throughout the seasons the moon would watch the boy.  He saw him grow and wanted to protect him.

The moon knew what a hard life Joe had, he saw how weak and pale the boy was becoming.  The moon knew all about this boy who roamed the moors above Baslow.  He wanted Joe to be happy but didn’t know how to help but the moon was wise and knew if he waited long enough there would be a way.

One summer night the moon looked down as Joe raced along Baslow Edge.  Out of breath the boy, exhausted, threw himself down leaning against the Eagle Stone.

Joe didn’t know this was a magical stone and wasn’t expecting anything to happen when he closed his eyes to rest for a moment.  He drifted into a deep sleep the deepest sleep he had ever known.  It was in his sleep he saw it for the first time.

In the sky above the stone, huge wings spread in a shallow v soaring the air lifting him high in the evening sky.  The Eagle swooped and swerved as the boy looked on entranced by the speed and beauty of the creature.  The bird, its graceful show over, landed on top of the rock above Joe’s head.  Joe saw himself running to a huge stone very like the Eagle Stone he saw steps in the side of the rock, as if carved just for him.  He climbed up and up until he reached the top, he almost reached the sky.   With the eagle at his side he stepped off the stone onto soft white cloud.  Feeling light as the cloud itself he drifted, floating high above Baslow Edge.

When he woke Joe was sad thinking that this had only been a dream.  He didn’t know the eagle was still watching from the very top of the Eagle Stone.

The moon smiled, at last he thought, I have help to look after the boy.

The moon and eagle watched as the tired boy ran back down the hill to his bed at the farm.

The next time Joe came up onto Baslow Edge he made straight for the Eagle stone.  This time he didn’t fall asleep he sat and looked at the beautiful countryside around him.  This is a wonderful place he thought when I am older I will live here in the shelter of this stone.  I will eat berries and drink rainwater from the hollows in the rocks surrounding it.

It was as he was making these plans that the great eagle appeared and flew down to speak to him.  Landing in front of the gaunt boy the eagle held his head high and spoke.

‘I am Aquila I come from a land far away, the moon asked for my help and here I am.’

Joe sat very still he didn’t want to frighten the bird away.

Aquila laughed gently to himself as he heard Joe’s thoughts.

The boy saw keen bright eyes, razor sharp talons and was a little afraid.

Then he recalled his dream, the eagle soaring high above the stone leading him onto a cloud.

‘The moon told me about you Joe, I have come to look after you,’ said Aquila.

The boy looked up at the moon then back to the eagle.

‘Climb onto the Eagle stone and we will fly away together to a land far away where your mother and father are waiting,’ Aquila told him.

Joe was overjoyed when he heard this.

Now he was wide awake when he saw steps in the side of the rock, as if carved just for him.  He climbed up and up until he reached the top.   With the eagle at his side he stepped off the stone onto soft white cloud.  As light as the cloud itself he floated, flying free as a bird.

Joe looked down once more and saw a pale shape at the foot of the Eagle Stone.

Full of life and energy the boy, strong now, soared with Aquila high above Baslow Edge and away.

Joyce Janes writer for children

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