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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "The Red Swan"

The Red Swan

Three brothers were left destitute, by the death of their parents, at an early age. The eldest was not yet able to provide fully for their support, but he did all that he could in hunting; and with this aid, and the stock of provisions already laid by in the lodge, they managed to keep along. They had no neighbors to lend them a helping hand, for the father had withdrawn many years before from the body of the tribe, and had lived ever since in a solitary place. The lads had no idea that there was a human being near them. They did not even know who their parents had been; for, at the time of their death, the eldest was too young to remember it.

Forlorn as they were, they however kept a good heart, and making use of every chance, in course of time they all acquired a knowledge of hunting and the pursuit of game. The eldest became expert in the craft of the forest, and he was very successful in procuring food. He was noted for his skill in killing buffalo, elk, and moose; and he instructed his brothers, so that each should become a master over a particular animal which was assigned to him.

After they had become able to hunt and to take care of themselves, the elder proposed to leave them and to go in search of the world, promising to return as soon as he could procure them wives. In this intention he was overruled by his brothers, who said that they could not part with him.

Jeekewis, the second, was loud in disapproval of the scheme, saying: "What will you do with those you propose to get? We have lived so long by ourselves, we can still do without them." This counsel prevailed, and for a time the three brothers continued together.

One day they agreed to kill each a male of that kind of animal, which each was most expert in hunting, for the purpose of making quivers from their skins. When these quivers were prepared, they were straightway filled, with arrows; for they all had a presentiment that something was about to happen which called upon them to be ready.

Soon after they hunted on a wager to see who should come in first with game, and have the privilege of acting as entertainer to the others.

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