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

The Red Swan

Toward evening, Maidwa, as he crossed a prairie, heard, as had been predicted, groans from a distant lodge, which were only interrupted by a voice from a person whom he could not see, calling to him aloud:

"Come in! come in!"

On entering the lodge, the magician heaved a great groan from the very bottom of his chest, and Maidwa saw that the crown of his head was all bare and bloody.

"Sit down, sit down," he said, "while I prepare you something to eat. You see how poor I am. I have to attend to all my own wants, with no other servant than that poor little kettle in the corner. Kettle, we will have something to eat, if you please."

"In a moment," the kettle spoke up from the corner.

"You will oblige me by making all the dispatch you can," said the magician, in a very humble tone, still addressing the kettle.

"Have patience," replied the kettle, "and I will be with you presently."

After a considerable delay, there came forward out of the corner from which it had spoken, a great heavy-browed and pot-bodied kettle, which advanced with much stateliness and solemnity of manner till it had come directly in front of the magician, whom it addressed with the question:

"What shall we have, sir?"

"Corn, if you please," the magician answered.

"No, we will have whortleberries," rejoined the kettle, in a firm voice.

"Very well; just as you choose."

When he supposed it was time, the magician invited Maidwa to help himself.

"Hold a minute," interposed the kettle, as Maidwa was about to dip in his ladle. He paused, and after a delay, the kettle, shaking itself up and simmering very loudly, said, "Now we are ready."

Maidwa fell to and satisfied his hunger.

"Will the kettle now withdraw?" asked the magician, with am air of much deference.

"No," said the kettle, "we will stay and hear what the young man has to say for himself."

"Very well," said the magician. "You see," he added to Maidwa, "how poor I am. I have to take counsel with the kettle, or I should be all alone, without a day's food, and with no one to advise me.

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