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Strong Desire, And The Red Sorcerer
by [?]

There was a man called Odshedoph, or the Child of Strong Desires, who had a wife and one son. He had withdrawn his family from the village, where they had spent the winter, to the neighborhood of a distant forest, where game abounded. This wood was a day’s travel from his winter home, and under its ample shadow the wife fixed the lodge, while the husband went out to hunt. Early in the evening he returned with a deer, and, being weary and athirst, he asked his son, whom he called Strong Desire, to go to the river for some water. The son replied that it was dark, and he was afraid. His father still urged him, saying that his mother, as well as himself, was tired, and the distance to the water very short. But no persuasion could overcome the young man’s reluctance. He refused to go.

“Ah, my son,” said the father, at last, “if you are afraid to go to the river, you will never kill the Red Head.”

The stripling was deeply vexed by this observation; it seemed to touch him to the very quick. He mused in silence. He refused to eat, and made no reply when spoken to. He sat by the lodge door all the night through, looking up at the stars, and sighing like one sorely distressed.

The next day he asked his mother to dress the skin of the deer, and to make it into moccasins for him, while he busied himself in preparing a bow and arrows.

As soon as these were in readiness, he left the lodge one morning, at sunrise, without saying a word to his father or mother. As he passed along, he fired one of his arrows into the air, which fell westward. He took that course, and coming to the spot where the arrow had fallen, he was rejoiced to find it piercing the heart of a deer. He refreshed himself with a meal of the venison, and the next morning he fired another arrow. Following its course, after traveling all day he found that he had transfixed another deer. In this manner he fired four arrows, and every evening he discovered that he had killed a deer.

By a strange oversight, he left the arrows sticking in the carcasses, and passed on without withdrawing them. Having in this way no arrow for the fifth day, he was in great distress at night for the want of food.

At last he threw himself upon the earth in despair, concluding that he might as well perish there as go further. But he had not lain long before he heard a hollow rumbling noise, in the ground beneath him, like that of an earthquake moving slowly along.

He sprang up, and discovered at a distance the figure of a human being, walking with a stick. He looked attentively, and saw that the figure was walking in a wide beaten path in a prairie, leading from a dusky lodge to a lake, whose waters were black and turbid.

To his surprise, this lodge, which had not been in view when he cast himself upon the ground, was now near at hand. He approached a little nearer, and concealed himself; and in a moment he discovered that the figure was no other than that of the terrible witch, the little old woman who makes war. Her path to the lake was perfectly smooth and solid, and the noise Strong Desire had heard was caused by the striking of her walking staff upon the ground. The top of this staff was decorated with a string of the toes and bills of birds of every kind, who, at every stroke of the stick, fluttered and sung their various notes in concert.

She entered her lodge and laid off her mantle, which was entirely composed of the scalps of women. Before folding it, she shook it several times, and at every shake the scalps uttered loud shouts of laughter, in which the old hag joined. The boy, who lingered at the door, was greatly alarmed, but he uttered no cry.