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The story of a Partridge and his wonderful Wigwam

An Algonquin Legend

Once a man was traveling through the woods, and he heard afar off a sound as of footsteps beating the ground. So he sought to find the people that made it, and went on for a full week ere he came to them. And it was a man and his wife dancing about a tree, in the top of which was a Raccoon. They had, by their constant treading, worn a trench in the ground; indeed, they were in it up to their waists. Then, being asked why they did this strange thing, they answered that, being hungry, they were trying to dance down the tree to catch the Raccoon.

Then the man who had come said, "Truly there is a newer and better way of felling trees, which has lately come into the land." As they wished to know what this might be, he showed them how to cut it down, and did so; making it a condition that if they got the game they might have the meat and he should get the skill. So when the tree fell they caught the animal, and the woman, having tanned the skin, gave it to the man, and he went his way.

And being afar, in a path in the forest, he met another man, and was greatly amazed at him because he was bearing on his head a house, or a large birch wigwam of many rooms. He was frightened at first at such a sight, but the man, putting down his house, shook hands with him, and seemed to be a right honest good fellow. Then while they smoked and talked, the Man of the House, seeing the skin of Hespuns, or that of the Raccoon, in the other's belt, said, "Well, that is a fine pelt! Where did you get it, brother?" And he, answering, told all the story of the Dancing Man and Wife; whereupon he of the House became mightily anxious to buy it, offering one thing after another for it, and at last the House, which was accepted. And, examining it, the buyer was amazed to find how many rooms it contained, and how full it was of good furniture. "Truly," said he, "I can never carry this as you do!" "Yes, you can," replied the Pil-wee-mon-soo-in (one who belongs somewhere else,--a stranger). "Do but try it!" So he essayed and lifted it easily, for he found it as light as any bassinode or basket.

So they parted and he went on carrying his cabin till night-fall, when coming to a hard-wood ridge, near a good spring of water, he resolved to settle there. And, searching, he found a room in which there was a very fine bed, covered with a white bear-skin. And as it was very soft, and he was very weary, he slept well.

In the morning, when he awoke, what was his astonishment and delight to see above him, hanging to the beams, all kinds of nice provisions,--venison, hams, ducks, baskets of berries and of maple-sugar, with many ears of Indian corn. And as he, in his joy, stretched out his arms and made a jump towards all these dainties, behold the white bear-skin melted and ran away, for it was the snow of winter; and his arms spread forth into wings, and he flew up to the food, which was the early buds of the birch, on which they hung. And he was a Partridge, who after the manner of his kind had been wintering under a snowdrift, and now came forth to greet the pleasant spring.

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