Short Stories » The Dance of the Little People
The Dance of the Little People - Page 6 of 6
The big, brown mice did not attend this monthly carnival. They were too wise to expose themselves upon the open shore to the watchful eyes of their enemies. But upon the moonlit beach the small people, the Moon-Nibblers, had wholly given themselves up to enjoyment, and seemed to be forgetful of their danger. Here on Wetaota was the greatest gathering that Teola had ever seen in all his life.
Occasionally he thought he noticed the white mouse whom he supposed to be their chief, for no reason except that he was different from the others, and that was the superstition.
As he watched, circles were formed upon the sand, in which the mice ran round and round. At times they would all stand still, facing inward, while two or three leaped in and out of the ring with wonderful rapidity. There were many changes in the dance, and now and then one or two would remain motionless in the centre, apparently in performance of some ceremony which was not clear to Teola.
All at once the entire gathering became, in appearance, a heap of little round stones. There was neither sound nor motion.
"Ho, ho, ho!" Teola shouted, as he half raised himself from his hiding - place and flourished part of his robe in the clear moon-light. A big bird went up softly among the shadowy trees. All of the boys had been so fascinated by the dance that they had forgotten to watch for the coming of flinhan, the owl, and now this sudden transformation of the Little People ! Each one of them had rolled himself into the shape of a pebble, and sat motionless close to the sand to elude the big-eyed one.
They remained so until the owl had left his former perch and flown away to more auspicious hunting-grounds. Then the play and dance became more general and livelier than ever. The Moon - Nibblers were entirely given over to the spirit and gayety of the occasion. They ran in new circles, sometimes each biting the tail of his nextneighbor. Again, after a great deal of squeaking, they all sprang high in the air, towards the calm, silvery orb of the moon. Apparently they also beheld it in front of them, reflected in the placid waters of Wetaota, for they advanced in columns to the water's edge, and there wheeled into circles and whirled in yet wilder dance.
At the height of the strange festival, another alarm came from the shaggy-haired boy. This time all the boys spied Red Fox coming as fast as his legs could carry him along the beach. He, too, had heard the fain,* laughter and singing of the Moon-Nibblers, and never in hi- :le wild career 15 he better pleased than when he can catch a few of them for breakfast or supper.
No people know the secret of the dance except a few old Indians and Red Fox. He is so clever that he is always on the watch for it just before the full moon. At the first sound that came to his sharp ears he knew well what was going on, and the excitement was now so great that he was assured of a good supper.
“Hay - ahay! Hay - ahay!” shouted the shaggy-haired boy, and he sent a swift arrow on a dangerous mission for Red Fox. In a moment there carne another war-whoop, and then another, and it was wisdom for the hungry one to take to the thick woods.
"Woo. woo! Eyaya lo! Woo, woo!" the boys shouted after him, but he was already lost in the shadows.
The boys came together. Not a single mouse was to be seen anywhere, nor would any one suspect that they had been there in such numbers a few moments earlier, except for the finest of tracery, like delicate handwriting, upon the moonlit sand.
"We have learned something to-night," said Teola. "It is good. As for me. I shall never again go out to hunt the Little People."