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

The Red Swan

It was not long before the big kettle advanced toward Maidwa, and said, in his own confident way, "Supper is ready!"

The feast was a jovial one; and although they were all hungry, and plied their ladles with right good will, yet, dip in as often as they would, the four magic kettles held out, and had plenty to the end of the revel.

To draw to a close, Maidwa and his friends lived in peace for a time; their town prospered; there was no lack of children; and every thing else was in abundance.

One day the two brothers began to look dark upon Maidwa, and to reproach him for having taken from the medicine-sack their deceased father's magic arrows; they upbraided him especially that one was lost.

After listening to them in silence, he said that he would go in search of it, and that it should be restored; and the very next day, true to his word, he left them.

After traveling a long way, and looking in every direction, almost hopeless of discovering the lost treasure, he came to an opening in the earth, and descending, it led him to the abode of departed spirits. The country appeared beautiful, the pastures were greener than his own, and the sky bluer than that which hung over the lodge, and the extent of it was utterly lost in a dim distance; and he saw animals of every kind wandering about in great numbers. The first he came to were buffalos; his surprise was great when they addressed him as human beings.

They asked him what he came for, how he had descended, and why he was so bold as to visit the abode of the dead.

He answered that he was in quest of a magic arrow, to appease the anger of his brothers.

"Very well," said the leader of the buffalos, whose form was nothing but bone. "Yes, we know it," and he and his followers moved off a little space from Maidwa, as if they were afraid of him. "You have come," resumed the buffalo-spirit, "to a place where a living man has never before been. You will return immediately to your tribe, for, under pretense of recovering one of the magic arrows which belong to you by your father's dying wish, they have sent you off that they might become possessed of your beautiful wife, the Red Swan.

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