When a partridge beats upon a hollow log he makes a noise like
an Indian at work upon a canoe, and when an Indian taps at a canoe
it sounds afar off like the drumming of a partridge, even of Mitchihess.
And this comes because that N'karnayoo, of ancient days,
the Partridge, was the canoe-builder for all the other birds. Yes,
for all at once.
on a certain day they every one assembled, and each got into his
bark, and truly it was a brave sight to see. First of all Kicheeplagon,
the Eagle, entered his great shell and paddled off, using the ends
of his wings; and then came Ko-ko-kas, the Owl, doing the
same; and Kosqu', the Crane, Wee-sow-wee-hessis, the
Bluebird, Tjidge-is-skwess, the Snipe, and Meg-sweit-tchip-sis,
the Blackbird, all came sailing proudly after. Even the tiny A-la-Mussit,
the Humming-Bird, had a dear little boat, and for him the good Partridge
had made a pretty little paddle, only that some thought it rather
large, for it was almost an inch long. And Ishmegwess, the
Fish-Hawk, who lived on the wing, cried in amazement, "Akweden
skouje!" "A canoe is coming!" when he beheld
this beautiful squadron standing out to sea.
But when Mitchihess, the great builder, was asked why he
had not built a canoe for himself, he merely looked mysterious and
drummed. And being further questioned by the birds, he shook his
head, and at last hinted that when he built a canoe unto himself
it would be indeed a marvel; yea, a wonder such as even birds' eyes
had never beheld,--an entire novelty, and something to dream of.
And this went on for many days.
in due time it was noised abroad that the wonderful canoe had at
last been really built, and would soon be shown. And at an appointed
time all the birds assembled on the banks to behold this new thing.
Now the Partridge had reasoned that if a boat having two ends could
be rowed in two ways, one which was all ends, all round, could be
rowed in every way. So he had made a canoe which was exactly like
a nest, or perfectly round. And this idea had greatly amazed the
honest feathered folk, who were astonished that so simple a thing
had not occurred to all of them.
But what was their wonder when Partridge, having entered his canoe
and proceeded to paddle, made no headway at all; for it simply turned
round and round, and ever and again the same way, let him work it
as he would. And after wearying himself and all in vain, he went
ashore, and, flying far inland, hid himself for very shame under
the low bushes, on the earth, where he yet remains. This is the
reason why he never seeks the sea or rivers, and has ever since
remained an inland bird.
Having met Mr. Louis Mitchell, the Indian member of the legislature
in Maine, one day in Eastport, I asked him to occupy the few minutes
which would pass before I should take the steamboat for Calais by
telling me a story. He complied by narrating the foregoing. It is
very remarkable that the Indian story-tellers of ancient days should
have taken it into their heads to satirize an idea which has been
of late carried out completely by the Russian Admiral Popov, in
his celebrated circular war steamer. The story and all the Indian
words in it are Passamaquoddy.