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The Partridge Witch


Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

Two brothers, having hunted at the head of the Penobscot until their
snow-shoes and moccasins gave out, looked at each other ruefully and
cried, Would that there was a woman to help us! The younger brother
went to the lodge that evening earlier than the elder, in order to
prepare the supper, and great was his surprise on entering the wigwam to
find the floor swept, a fire built, a pot boiling, and their clothing
mended. Returning to the wood he watched the place from a covert until he
saw a graceful girl enter the lodge and take up the tasks of

When he entered she was confused, but he treated her with respect, and
allowed her to have her own way so far as possible, so that they became
warm friends, sporting together like children when the work of the day
was over. But one evening she said, Your brother is coming. I fear him.
Farewell. And she slipped into the wood. When the young man told his
elder brother what had happened there--the elder having been detained for
a few days in the pursuit of a deer--he declared that he would wish the
woman to come back, and presently, without any summons, she returned,
bringing a toboggan-load of garments and arms. The luck of the hunters
improved, and they remained happily together until spring, when it was
time to return with their furs.

They set off down the Penobscot in their canoe and rowed merrily along,
but as they neared the home village the girl became uneasy, and presently
threw out her soul--became clairvoyant--and said, Let me land here. I
find that your father would not like me, so do not speak to him about
me. But the elder brother told of her when they reached home, whereon
the father exclaimed, I had feared this. That woman is a sister of the
goblins. She wishes to destroy men.

At this the elder brother was afraid, lest she should cast a spell on
him, and rowing up the river for a distance he came upon her as she was
bathing and shot at her. The arrow seemed to strike, for there was a
flutter of feathers and the woman flew away as a partridge. But the
younger did not forget the good she had done and sought her in the wood,
where for many days they played together as of old.

I do not blame your father: it is an affair of old, this hate he bears
me, she said. He will choose a wife for you soon, but do not marry her,
else all will come to an end for you. The man could not wed the witch,
and he might not disobey his father, in spite of this adjuration; so when
the old man said to him, I have a wife for you, my son, he answered,
It is well.

They brought the bride to the village, and for four days the
wedding-dance was held, with a feast that lasted four days more. Then
said the young man, Now comes the end, and lying down on a bear-skin he
sighed a few times and his spirit ascended to the Ghosts' road--the milky
way. The father shook his head, for he knew that this was the witch's
work, and, liking the place no longer, he went away and the tribe was

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