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

The Red Swan

He cried the louder—"I will have her, I will have her!" whereupon the old chief, being now vexed past patience, took his great war-club and tapped this clownish fellow upon the head, which so far subdued him that he sat for some time quite still; when, after a while, he came to himself, the chief upbraided him for his folly, and told him to go out and tell stories to the old women.

When at last Maidwa was about to leave, he invited a number of the families of the chief to go with him and visit their hunting-grounds, where he promised them that they would find game in abundance. They consented, and in the morning a large company assembled and joined Maidwa; and the chief, with a party of warriors, escorted them a long distance. When ready to return, the chief made a speech and besought the blessing of the Good Spirit on Maidwa and his friends.

They parted, each on its course, making music with their war-drums, which could be heard from afar as they glittered with waving feathers in the morning sun, in their march over the prairie, which was lost in the distant sky.

After several days' travel, Maidwa and his friends came in sight of his home. The others rested within the woods while he went alone in advance to see his brothers.

He entered the lodge. It was all in confusion and covered with ashes. On one side, sitting among the cinders, with his face blackened, and crying aloud, was his elder brother. On the other side sat the younger, Jeekewis, also with blackened face, his head covered with stray feathers and tufts of swan-down. This one presented so curious a figure that Maidwa could not keep from laughing. He seemed to be so lost and far-gone in grief that he could not notice his brother's arrival. The eldest, however, after a while, lifting up his head, recognized Maidwa, jumped up and shook hands, and kissed him, and expressed much joy at his return.

Maidwa, as soon as he had seen the lodge set in order, made known that he had brought each of them a wife. As soon as Jeekewis heard a wife spoken of, he roused from his torpor, sprang to his feet, and said:

"Why is it just now that you have come?

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