How the Partridge Got his Whistle

Posted by | May 8, 2014

In days long gone, when the world was new, the Terrapin had a very fine whistle, of which he was quite proud; but the Partridge had none.

The Terrapin was constantly going about, whistling and showing his whistle to the other animals, until the Partridge became jealous; so one day when they met the Partridge politely asked the Terrapin to permit him to try the whistle.

At first, the Terrapin was afraid to risk it, suspecting some trick; but the Partridge said assuringly, “I’ll give it back right away, and if you are afraid you may just stay right with me while I practice.”

Accordingly, the Terrapin let him have the whistle, and the Partridge walked around blowing on it in fine fashion.

“How does it sound with me?” asked the Partridge.

“Oh, you do very well,” said the Terrapin, walking proudly alongside.

“Now, how do you like it?” said the Partridge, running ahead and whistling a little faster.

“That’s fine,” answered the Terrapin, hurrying to keep up—“but don’t run so fast.”

“And how do you like this?” called the Partridge as he spread his wings, gave one long whistle, and flew to the top of a tree, leaving the poor helpless Terrapin to look longingly after him from the ground.

The Terrapin never recovered his lamented whistle, and from that and the loss of his scalp, which was stolen from him by the Turkey, he grew ashamed to be seen, and ever since then he shuts himself up in his box when anyone comes near him.


from Myths of the Cherokee, by James Mooney, from Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 1897-98, Part I. [1900]


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