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

The Red Swan

He was in a wood at the time, and saw, as he thought, only a few men, but as he went on they increased in numbers. On emerging upon the plain, their heads appeared like the hanging leaves, they were so many.

In the middle of the plain he perceived a post, and something waving at its top. It was the wampum scalp; and every now and then the air was rent with the war-song, for they were dancing the war-dance in high spirit around it.

Before he could be observed, Maidwa changed himself into a humming-bird, and flew toward the scalp. As he passed some of those who were standing by, he came close to their ears, and as they heard the rapid whirr or murmur which this bird makes when it flies, they jumped aside, and asked each other what it could be. Maidwa had nearly reached the scalp, but fearing that he should be perceived while untying it, he again changed himself into the down that floats lightly on the air, and sailed slowly on to the scalp. He loosened it, and moved off heavily, as the weight was almost too great for him to bear up. The Indians around would have snatched it away had not a lucky current of air just then buoyed him up. As they saw that it was moving away they cried out, "It is taken from us! it is taken from us!"

Maidwa was borne gently along but a little way above their heads; and as they followed him, the rush and hum of the people was like the dead beating of the surges upon a lake shore after a storm. But the good wind gaining strength, soon carried him beyond their pursuit. A little further on he changed himself into a hawk, and flew swiftly off with his trophy, crying, "Ka-kak! ka-kak!" till it resounded with its shrill tone through the whole country, far and wide.

Meanwhile the magician had remembered the instructions of Maidwa, placing his head outside of the lodge as soon as he heard the ka-kak cry of the hawk.

In a moment Maidwa came past with rustling wings, and as he flew by, giving the magician a severe blow on the head with the wampum scalp, his limbs extended and quivered in an agony, the scalp adhered, and Maidwa, in his own person, walked into the lodge and sat down, feeling perfectly at home.

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