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

Strong Desire and the Red Sorcerer

Maunkahkeesh, the Spirit of the Earth, requires an offering or sacrifice from all of her sons who perform extraordinary deeds. As you walk along in a prairie there will be an earthquake; the earth will open and divide the prairie in the middle. Take this partridge and throw it into the opening, and instantly spring over it."

With many thanks to the little old witch, who had so faithfully befriended him, Strong Desire took leave of her, and having, by the course pointed out, safely passed the earthquake, he arrived near his own village. He secretly hid his precious trophy.

On entering the village, he found that his parents had returned from the place of their spring encampment by the wood-side, and that they were in heavy sorrowing for their son, whom they supposed to be lost. One and another of the young men had presented themselves to the disconsolate parents, and said, "Look up, I am your son;" but when they looked up, they beheld not the familiar face of Strong Desire.

Having been often deceived in this manner, when their own son in truth presented himself they sat with their heads down, and with their eyes nearly blinded with weeping. It was some time before they could be prevailed upon to bestow a glance upon him. It was still longer before they could recognize him as their son who had refused to draw water from the river, at night, for fear, for his countenance was no longer that of a timid stripling; it was that of a man who has seen and done great things, and who has the heart to do greater still.

When he recounted his adventures they believed him mad. The young men laughed at him—him, Strong Desire—who feared to walk to the river at night-time.

He left the lodge, and ere their laughter had ceased, returned with his trophy. He held aloft the head of the Red Sorcerer, with the great ghastly leer which lighted it up before his last sleep, at prospect of a thousand future murders, fresh upon it. It was easily recognized, and the young men who had scoffed at Strong Desire shrunk into the corners out of sight.

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