The Red Swan
Often has this Red Swan passed, and those who have followed it have never returned; but you must be firm in your resolution, and be prepared for all that may happen."
"So will it be," answered Maidwa; and they both laid down to sleep.
Early in the morning the old man ordered his magic kettle to prepare breakfast, so that his guest might eat before leaving. As Maidwa passed out, the old man gave him a blessing with his parting advice.
Maidwa set forth in better spirits than at any time since he had started. Night again found him in company with an old man who entertained him kindly, with a frisky little kettle which hurried up to the fire before it was spoken to, bustled about and set his supper briskly before Maidwa, and frisked away again, without waiting for orders. The old man also carefully directed him on his way in the morning.
He traveled with a light heart, as he now expected to meet the one who was to give him directions how to proceed to get the Red Swan.
Toward night-fall Maidwa reached the lodge of the third old man. Before coming to the door he heard him saying:
"Grandchild, come in;" and going in promptly he felt quite at home.
The old man prepared him something to eat, acting as the other magicians had done, and his kettle was of the same size, and looked as if it were an own brother of the two others which had feasted him, except that this kettle, in coming and going about its household duties, would make a passing remark, or sing a little tune for itself.
The old man waited until Maidwa had fully satisfied his hunger, when he addressed him:
"Young man, the errand you are bound on is beset with trials and difficulties. Numbers have passed with the same purpose as that which now prompts you, but they never returned. Be careful, and if your guardian spirits are powerful you may succeed. This Red Swan you are following is the daughter of a magician who has abundance of every thing, but only this one child, whom he values more than the sacred arrows.