“Kit-chee the Great Eagle paddled off first, using the ends of his broad wings. After him went Ko-ko-ka the Owl; Kusk the Crane; Wee-so-wee the Bluebird; and Chip-sis the Blackbird. Even tiny A-la-moo the Humming Bird had a neat little boat. But his wings were so small that Mit-chee had made for him a dainty little paddle. Some of the birds thought it rather too large, for it was almost an inch long. So the fleet of canoes stood bravely out to sea, and after a pleasant voyage returned safely to land.
“Now the partridge had not taken part in the voyage, for he had built no canoe for himself. ‘It’s great sport,’ said the other birds, on their return. ‘Why didn’t you build a canoe for yourself?’ But Mit-chee only looked wise and drummed upon the log on which he was sitting, and the sound was the sound of one making a canoe.’
“But the birds kept asking him to build a canoe for himself and join them. At last he remarked that he was about to do so, and that when he had finished it, it would be a wonder, something new such as no eye had ever before beheld.
“Then he went off into the woods by himself and was seen no more for several days. When he came back, he invited all the birds to come and see his wonderful canoe,—one he had built for himself on an entirely new plan.
“Now Mit-chee had reasoned that if a boat having two ends could be rowed in two ways, one which was all ends (that is, round) could be rowed in every direction. So he had made a canoe exactly like a nest, perfectly round. When the honest feathered folk saw this, they were greatly amazed and wondered that so simple a thing had not occurred to all of them.
“But when Mit-chee got into his new canoe and began to paddle, their wonder turned into amusement, for he made no headway at all. However hard he worked, the canoe simply turned round and round.
“After wearying himself, and all in vain, he went ashore, and flew off far inland. There he hid himself for shame under the low bushes in the woods, and there he has lived ever since. But at certain seasons, when he thought no one was looking, he would get upon a dead log and drum with his wings, and the sound was like the sound which he used to make when he was building canoes.
“And so his children have always done since that day.”
Up at the edge of the woods the wood-cutters had felled a tree into the open pasture. As they trimmed the trunk, they threw the smaller branches into a big pile. Uncle Mark intended to burn them when they became dry enough, but forgot all about it. There they had lain for years, till they were dead and covered with moss. Over the heap of half-rotted brushwood a tangle of wild vines had spread, and up through them a thicket of blackberry bushes had grown.