“Very well,” replied the hunter, “but you must show me how to carry my new lodge upon my head as you did.”
“Oh, that is easy,” returned the magician, “you just pick it up and put it on your head. Come out and try it now.”
The hunter went out and picked up the lodge and put it upon his head. He found he could carry it easily, for it was as light as a wicker basket.
When he put it upon the ground, it at once grew as large as before. So the hunter and his wife and the stranger went into the lodge. Its new owner was greatly pleased with it. It contained several large rooms, in one of which was a very fine bed covered with a white bear skin. On that bed the hunter and his wife lay down to sleep, while the stranger found a bed in another room.
In the morning when the hunter and his wife awoke, they were more delighted than ever with their new lodge. It seemed large and airy, and from the beams high above their heads hung all kinds of things good to eat. There were ducks and geese, rabbits and venison, ears of corn, and bags of maple sugar.
In their joy, the man and his wife sprang out of bed and made a jump toward the dainties. At once the white bear skin melted and ran away, for it was nothing but the snow of winter. At the same time, their arms spread out into wings, and they flew up to the food, which was only the early buds of the birch tree on which they hung. For the magician had cast a spell upon the man and the woman and they had become partridges and had been sheltering themselves from the storms of winter under a snowdrift, after the manner of their kind, and now came forth to greet the pleasant spring.
And these two were the first partridges, the foreparents of all the partridges that are now in the world.
“That is a strange story,” said the little boy. “I thank you for telling it. But now I must go home. Good-bye for to-day.”
A few days later little Luke went up into the woods again. As he walked along the trail, he heard Father Mit-chee drumming. He knew where the drumming log was, so he went over to it and sat down on one end.
“Father Mit-chee,” said he, when the old partridge had finished, “I noticed a queer thing about your drumming. One day I heard Old John pounding on a canoe he was building. At a distance your drumming sounded just like his pounding. Why was that?”
“Well,” said Father Mit-chee, “I suppose it was because Grandfather Mit-chee, the first partridge, was a canoe builder. When he stopped building canoes he kept up his drumming.”
“Tell me about it, please,” said the little boy.
“All right,’ said Father Mit-chee, and he began this story.
* * * * *
“In the olden days, Mit-chee the Partridge was the canoe builder for all the birds. Once upon a time they all came together on the bank of the river, and each one got into his own bark. Truly that was a fine sight to see!