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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "Strong Desire and the Red Sorcerer"

Strong Desire and the Red Sorcerer

Having in this way no arrow for the fifth day, he was in great distress at night for the want of food.

At last he threw himself upon the earth in despair, concluding that he might as well perish there as go further. But he had not lain long before he heard a hollow rumbling noise, in the ground beneath him, like that of an earthquake moving slowly along.

He sprang up, and discovered at a distance the figure of a human being, walking with a stick. He looked attentively, and saw that the figure was walking in a wide beaten path in a prairie, leading from a dusky lodge to a lake, whose waters were black and turbid.

To his surprise, this lodge, which had not been in view when he cast himself upon the ground, was now near at hand. He approached a little nearer, and concealed himself; and in a moment he discovered that the figure was no other than that of the terrible witch, the little old woman who makes war. Her path to the lake was perfectly smooth and solid, and the noise Strong Desire had heard was caused by the striking of her walking staff upon the ground. The top of this staff was decorated with a string of the toes and bills of birds of every kind, who, at every stroke of the stick, fluttered and sung their various notes in concert.

She entered her lodge and laid off her mantle, which was entirely composed of the scalps of women. Before folding it, she shook it several times, and at every shake the scalps uttered loud shouts of laughter, in which the old hag joined. The boy, who lingered at the door, was greatly alarmed, but he uttered no cry.

After laying by the cloak, she came directly to him. Looking at him steadily, she informed him that she had known him from the time he had left his father's lodge, and had watched his movements. She told him not to fear or despair, for she would be his protector and friend. She invited him into her lodge, and gave him a supper. During the repast, she questioned him as to his motives for visiting her. He related his history, stated the manner in which he had been disgraced, and the difficulties he labored under.

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