He knew that the chicks were near at hand, and looked around carefully for them.
Pretty soon Mother Mit-chee sailed around through the woods and dropped to the ground but a little way from the boy. She seemed to have been hurt, badly hurt. One wing dragged as if it was broken, and she limped sadly.
“Ha, ha,” laughed the little boy, “you can’t fool me with that trick. You needn’t keep it up any longer, I shan’t follow you. I know that you are not hurt at all. Old John told me all about it. He told me that he saw you playing that very trick on Kee-wuks the Red Fox only the other day.”
“Well, well!” said Mother Mit-chee. “Did Old John see that? I didn’t know he was anywhere about. Yes,” she went on. “Kee-wuks thought he had me that time. I let him get close up. Then he jumped for me; but when he landed where I was, I wasn’t there! If I hadn’t made him believe he could catch me he might have found my chicks.”
“Well,” said Little Luke, “I heard Sam say that no one could find a young partridge chick, but I’m going to try it. You know since I found the Magic Flower my eyes are sharper than those of any of the other house people.”
“All right,” said Mother Mit-chee, “I’ll call them out. I’m afraid if you walk around there, you’ll step on them; they’re right around your feet.” And she began calling to the chicks. “Kreet, kreet, come out, come out, right away,” she called.
Right before little Luke a dead leaf that was curled up seemed to come to life, but it wasn’t really the leaf. It was the partridge chick that had squatted upon it that moved. Just before him, little Luke saw a tiny bunch under the dead leaves. He reached down and seized it, but very carefully. It was another one of the chicks. And the ground about him seemed alive with the little ones as they came out at their mother’s call.
“Well done,” said Mother Mit-chee, “your eyes certainly are good. But handle him carefully. Don’t squeeze too tight. There now, you’ve hurt him!” (The little one was peeping as if in pain.)
Little Luke set him very carefully on the ground. “Don’t worry,” said he, “he isn’t hurt, he’s only a little scared.”
“Well,” said Mother Mit-chee, “I must take these babies of mine down to the spring and teach them how to drink. They have never tasted water yet.”
“Kreet, kreet, come along, come along,” called Mother Mit-chee.
“Peep, peep, we’re coming, we’re coming, mother,” said the little ones. And they all started down the mountainside toward the spring.
It took a good while to get there, for the chicks were young, and their little legs so short and so weak that Mother Mit-chee had to wait for them a good many times. But it was a pretty sight. The yellow, downy, little fellows marched along boldly behind their mother. Sometimes she would go on a little way ahead. Then she would stop and call, “Kreet, kreet, come along, children,” and the little fellows would race to see who could catch up first.