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

The Red Swan


"Do you think you can overtake it?" she said.

"Yes," he answered.

"Naubesah—fool!" retorted the chief's pretty daughter.

She, however, went out, and pointed in the direction he should go. The young man paced slowly along till the sun arose, when he commenced traveling at his accustomed speed. He passed the day in running, and although he could not see anywhere on the horizon the Red Swan, he thought that he discerned a faint red light far over in the west.

When night came, he was pleased to find himself near another village; and when at a distance he heard the watchman crying out, "We are visited;" and soon the men of the village stood out to see the stranger.

He was again told to enter the lodge of the chief, and his reception was in every respect the same as on the previous night; except that the young woman was more beautiful, and that she entertained him very kindly. Although urged to stay with them, the mind of Maidwa was fixed on the object of his journey.

Before daybreak he asked the young woman at what time the Red Swan passed, and to point out the way. She marked against the sky with her finger the course it had taken, and told him that it had passed yesterday when the sun was between mid-day and its falling-place.

Maidwa again set out rather slowly, but when the sun had risen, he tried his speed by shooting an arrow ahead, and running after it; but it fell behind him, and he knew that he had lost nothing of his quickness of foot.

Nothing remarkable happened through the day, and he went on leisurely. Some time after dark, as he was peering around the country for a shelter, he saw a light emitted from a small low lodge. He went up to it very slyly, and, peeping through the door, he discovered an old man alone, with his head down upon his breast, warming his back before the fire.

Maidwa thought that the old man did not know that he was standing near the door; but in this he was mistaken; for, without turning his eyes to look at him, the old man said, "Walk in, my grandchild; take a seat opposite to me, and take off your things and dry them, for you must be fatigued; and I will prepare you something to eat; you shall have something very delicate.

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