You see, Mother Mit-chee knew enough to sit perfectly still, and her mottled feathers blended so exactly with the tree trunks and the dead leaves about her that only the sharp eyes of the Finder of the Magic Flower ever found her out.
Little Luke saw her one day as he was walking up the trail beside Sam the hired man, and with Old Boze following at his heels. But he went right on by, as if he had not seen Mother Mit-chee at all. He did not want Sam or Old Boze to see her, for he knew they could not be trusted. They would be almost sure to try to kill Mother Mit-chee, or at the very least, they would rob her nest.
The next morning the little boy went up the trail alone, to pay Mother Mit-chee a visit. “Good morning, Mother Mit-chee,” said he, “I saw you yesterday, but Sam and Old Boze didn’t, and I wouldn’t tell them.”
“I knew you saw me,” replied Mother Mit-chee, “and I knew you wouldn’t tell. You are too kind-hearted for that, especially since you found the Magic Flower and learned the animal talk. We all trust you. You may come to see me as often as you like, but be careful not to leave any trail near my nest. I don’t want Old Boze nosing around here. And when you come along with any of the house people, just go right by and don’t look this way. I am more afraid of Old John the Indian than of anyone else. He looked right at me the other day and I was sure he saw me. I was scared, I tell you. I was all ready to fly away. But he didn’t see me. If he had, I never should have seen my eggs again.”
“All right,” said the little boy, “I’ll do just as you say.” And after some more talk, he went on up the trail to visit some of his other friends among the wild folk.
Many times during the days that followed the little boy stopped and talked with the Mother Partridge. “If you will come to-morrow,” said she, one day, “I’ll show you as fine a brood of partridge chicks as anyone could wish to see.”
“I’ll be sure to come,” answered the little boy, “for I want to see them very much.”
As he came up the next day, Mother Mit-chee stepped off her nest. “There,” said she, “there they are. Now aren’t they fine ones?”
The little boy looked. In the nest there were a dozen of the daintiest, downiest, little creatures he had ever seen. They were scarcely bigger than an acorn. “They surely are a fine brood,” said he. “Aren’t you afraid that something will catch them?”
“Of course I am afraid. I’m always afraid.” said Mother Mit-chee, “but the creature that catches them will have to be pretty sharp. I know a trick or two that will fool most of the wild folk, and the house people as well. You come up to-morrow and I’ll show you. They are pretty young now, and I don’t want to disturb them unless I have to.”
The next day the little boy found the nest empty. He looked carefully about for Mother Mit-chee and her brood. Suddenly something rose almost from under his feet, and whizzed off through the wood. There was a sound like an explosion, followed by thunder, which scared the little boy so that he jumped. But he saw that it was only Mother Mit-chee, and he had seen her do that before.