FRONTISPIECE. Vol. 3.
Designed & Etched by W. H. Brooks A. R. H. A.
In a moment multitudes of bright beings start up—"He is ours"!!! page 110.
London, Published by Colburn & Bentley—April 1830.
A SECOND AND REVISED EDITION
F. SHOBERL, JUN., LONG ACRE.
The Lake Of The White Canoe.|
A Legend Of The Bomelmeeks.
The King Of The Elks.
The Daughters Of The Sun.
The Maiden And The Bird.
The Island Of Eagles.
Legend Of Aton-larre.
The Fire Spirit.
The Origin Of Women.
The Hill of Fecundity. A Tradition of the Minnatarees.
Tales Of A White Man's Ghost.
II. The Warning Of Tekarrah.
III. The Legend Of Pomperaug.
IV. The Son Of Annawan.
V. The Cascade Of Melsingah.
Legend Of Coatuit Brook.
The Spirits Of Vapour.
The Devil Of Cape Higgin.
With these wild stanzas, preliminary to a tradition current among the tribes of that region, Walk in the Water, a Roanoke chief of great celebrity, commenced his tale. Undoubtedly most of the Indians present were as well acquainted with the story as the narrator, but that circumstance seemed to abate nothing of the interest with which it was listened to; it certainly did not diminish the attention of the audience. In this respect, these wild foresters deserve to become a pattern for careful imitation. They never interrupt a speaker. However incongruous or ill put together his tale, or insulting the matter or manner of his speech, or revolting his opinions to their preconceived notions and prejudices, he is heard patiently until he has said all that he has to say. And, after he has seated himself, sufficient time is given him to recollect whether he has left unsaid any thing in his opinion of importance to the correct interpretation of his views.
It will be seen from the specimens interspersed through these volumes, that the poetry of the Indians is in general of the warlike, or of the tender and pathetic kind. Their only poetry is found in their songs. They are sung in a kind of measure, always harmonious to an Indian ear, and frequently to ours. The music is well adapted to the words. It would be idle to attempt to give an idea of it by means of our musical notes, as has been done by other writers; I should probably meet with the fate of those who have tried in the same manner to describe the melodies of the ancient Greeks. They sing it in short lines or sentences, not always the whole at once, but most generally in detached parts, as time permits, and as the occasion or their feelings prompt them. Their accent is very pathetic and melancholy; a by-stander unacquainted with their language would suppose that they were details of some great affliction: both sexes sing in chorus, first the men and then the women. At times the women join in the general song, or repeat the strain which the men have just finished. It seems like two parties singing in questions and answers, and is, upon the whole, very agreeable and enlivening. After thus singing for about a quarter of an hour, they conclude each song with a loud yell, not unlike the cat-bird, which closes its pretty song with mewing like a cat. The voices of the women are clear and full, and their intonations generally correct.
The Dismal Swamp, which gave rise to this genuine Indian tradition, is one of the gloomiest spots on the face of the earth. It is situated in the state of Virginia, and covers a very large space. On the south side of this wild and gloomy region the marshy border is thickly overgrown with immense reeds, and, as far as the eye can take in, waves slowly and heavily one dark green sea. Then, on all the other skirts of the forest itself, the lofty trees are covered to their summits by the yellow jessamine, and other quick-growing creepers, breathing odour, and alive with the chirping of insects and the melody of birds. In the open and less marshy skirts of the vast forest, gigantic tulip-trees shoot up their massy and regular-built trunks, straight and pillar-like, until they put forth their broad arms covered with the magnificent foliage of their glossy deep green leaves, interspersed with superb white and yellow tulip-shaped flowers. Under their shade are sheltered, like shrubs, trees which elsewhere would be the pride of the forest, or the park—the stately gum-tree, and the magnolia, with its broad shining leaves and beautiful white flowers; whilst at their feet you force your way through tangles of the honeysuckle, or thickets of the moisture-loving bay, rich with its large rose-coloured clusters. But, the moment you penetrate beyond the sun's cheering influence into the deeper recesses of the swamp itself, how solemn is the change! There, the cypress and the juniper, rising without a branch to interrupt the regularity of their tall trunks for a hundred feet, stand thick and close together, like so many tall columns reared to support the roof of a vast temple. All is silent as the grave. Not an insect buzzes or chirps about you; no cry or song of bird or beast is heard. You seem to have penetrated beyond the bounds not only of human society and existence but of animal life, and to be passing through the still and dark valley of the shadow of death.
As the traveller pushes his doubtful way along, he will come upon some broad, lake-like sheet of water, still, silent, and sluggish, calmly reflecting the quiet solemnity of the forest. I say still and silent, but these little lakes are visited at certain seasons of the year by myriads of wild fowl, the clapping of whose wings, as they rise from the water, may be heard to a great distance. The water of all those lakes is of the same colour as the roots and bark of the juniper and cedar-trees, from which it receives its hue. And, when the sun flashes on the amber-coloured lake, and the cypress forest throws its gloomy shade over its face, the traveller becomes thrilled with awe and astonishment. He fancies that he has never seen any spot so fitted to be the residence of spirits of a malignant influence, and expects to see evil eyes cast upon him from every copse. The bird and bat, as they flit through the shades of night, magnified by the misty exhalations, seem the envious demons of the spot; and, foolish man! he more regards the dangers which are unreal than those which are real—is more afraid of the spirits which cannot harm, than of the ravenous beasts and poisonous serpents with which he is environed, and whose fangs are death in its most hideous shape.
Having introduced this not altogether gratuitous description of a spot celebrated in America for its picturesque situation and horrors, I resume the rhythmical tale of the chief of the Roanokes.
(1) Trusty memory.—p. 9.
The memory of the Indians is as astonishing as their native sagacity and penetration. They are entirely destitute of those helps which we have invented to ease our memory, or supply the want of it; yet they are never at a loss to recall to their minds any particular circumstance with which they would impress their hearers. On some occasions, they do indeed make use of little sticks to remind them of the different subjects they have to discuss; and with ease they form a kind of local memory, and that so sure and infallible, that they will speak for a great length of time—sometimes for three or four hours together—and display twenty different presents, each of which requires an entire discourse, without forgetting any thing, and even without hesitation.
(2) Kind Friendship.—p. 14.
Every Indian has a friend nearly of the same age as himself, to whom he attaches himself by the most indissoluble bonds. Two persons, thus united by one common interest, are capable of undertaking and hazarding every thing in order to aid and mutually succour each other; death itself, according to their belief, can only separate them for a time: they are well assured of meeting again in the other world never to part, where they are persuaded they shall have occasion for the same services from one another. Charlevoix tells of an Indian who was a christian, but who did not live according to the maxims of the gospel, and who, being threatened with hell by a Jesuit, asked this missionary whether he thought his friend who was lately departed had gone into that place of torment; the father answered him that he had good grounds to think that the Lord had had mercy upon him, and taken him to heaven. "Then, I won't go to hell, neither?" replied the Indian, and this motive brought him to do every thing that was desired of him; that is to say he would have been full as willing to go to hell as heaven, had he thought to find his companion there.
It is said that these friends, when they happen to be at a distance from each other, reciprocally invoke one another in all dangers. The assistance they promise each other may be surely depended upon.
(3) A Maqua saved from slaughter.—p. 15.
The following is the practice and ceremony of adoption: A herald is sent round the village or camp, to give notice that such as have lost any relations in the late expedition are desired to attend the distribution which is about to take place. Those women, who have lost their sons or husbands, are generally satisfied in the first place; afterwards, such as have been deprived of friends of a more remote degree of consanguinity, or who choose to adopt some of the youth. The division being made, which is done as in other cases without the least dispute, those who have received any share lead them to their tents or huts, and, having unbound them, wash and dress their wounds if they happen to have received any; they then clothe them, and give them the most comfortable and refreshing food their store will afford.
Whilst their new domestics are feeding, they endeavour to administer consolation to them; they tell them they are redeemed from death, they must now be cheerful and happy; and, if they serve them well without murmuring or repining, nothing shall be wanting to make them such atonement for the loss of their country and friends as circumstances will allow of.
If any men are spared, they are commonly given to the widows that have lost their husbands by the hands of the enemy, should there be any such, to whom, if they happen to prove agreeable, they are soon married. The women are usually distributed to the men, from whom they do not fail of meeting with a favourable reception. The boys and girls are taken into the families of such as have need of them. The lot of their conquerors becomes in all things theirs.
Twenty-four men, and twenty-four women, from the twenty-four tribes of the wilderness, were met upon the top of the hill Gerundewagh. There were none upon the earth but those twenty-four tribes, and none upon the hill but these twice twenty-four people. They were all friends, and as brothers. There was no strife in the land; no blood deluged the beautiful vales of the wilderness; no cry of war shook the hills. Bows and arrows, and spears, were used for the destruction of bears, and wolves, and panthers; and the ochre, which now stains the brow of the Indian with the red hue of war, was used for the ornamenting of pipes. There was but one language upon the earth—all the tribes understood each other. If a Bomelmeek said to an Algonquin, "Give me meat or drink," he brought him meat or drink—if he said, "Smoke in my pipe," he smoked in the proffered pledge of peace, or he refused. If an Iroquois youth said to a girl of the Red Hurons, "Give me thy heart, and become the star of my cabin," she gave him her heart, and became the star of his cabin, or she bade him think of her no more. It was not then as it is now, that men fell out, and came to blows, because they mistook the words that were spoken. "Yes" was "yes," and "no" was "no," with all the tribes of the land, and interpreters were a thing unknown. So these twice twenty-four people from the twenty-four tribes of the earth sat down upon the top of the hill Gerundewagh, and smoked their pipes.
Whilst they were puffing out clouds of smoke, and enjoying greatly the pleasure which an Indian so covets, one of them, whose sight was keener than the rest, casting his eye far over the western wilderness, cried out, that he saw two somethings whose heads peered far above the woods. Very soon the rest of the people assembled at the hill Gerundewagh were able to see the same somethings, which resembled much the trunks of trees which have been divested of their branches, and look out in the blush of the morning through the vapours of a damp valley. What they were no human tongue could tell, but it was seen that they were approaching the hill Gerundewagh. As the heads came nearer, people were seen flying before them, and the heads following in quick pursuit. At length the twice twenty-four on the hill were able to see that the heads belonged to two enormous snakes, which were moving in devious paths about the land, devouring the inhabitants as fast as they were able to discover and swallow them. Seeing this, and the danger to which they were exposed of becoming also food for the monsters, they set about fortifying the high hill Gerundewagh, that their lives might be safe from the appalling danger, and within their fortification they collected all sorts of defensive materials. Having made themselves tolerably secure, they had leisure to view the war of extermination, which the snakes waged with the sons of the land who were not thus protected.
In the mean time, the snakes, having discovered by their acute power of smelling distant objects that the hill Gerundewagh contained human bodies, with whose flesh they were now become much in love, they immediately bent their course to it. In coming thither, they were compelled to cross, or rather to come down the river Mohawk, which, upon their thus getting lengthways of it, diverted from its natural course, overflowed its banks, sweeping away every impediment, and forming those beautiful meadows which have remained ever since covered with a robe of green. Having at length reached the hill, around whose base they threw themselves in many coils, they commenced the work of death by poisoning the air with their pernicious breath. Soon the atmosphere, which before had been pure, was changed in its nature; appearances resembling the motions of the waves of the great lake Superior when slightly agitated in the hot mornings of summer were seen in the horizon, and have never left it. Before, the rains descended in soft showers in the pauses of gentle winds, now they fell in torrents, accompanied with howling tempests and cold hurricanes. Lightnings, which before only played across the horizon, as the red light of autumn evenings streaks the northern sky, now rent asunder the flinty rock, and rived the knotty oak. Men, who had before died only of old age, now poisoned by the breath of the monsters, fell sick in the morning of life, with the brightness of youthful hope in their eye, and the down of unripe years on their cheek. The hair now often grew grey ere the knee became feeble; the teeth rotted out while there was enough to put between them; the eye often failed to see the beautiful objects, and the ear to drink in the soft sounds, which the Great Master of all created for the food of each. The heart now grew sometimes to be trembling and irresolute, and the soul to have its visions of infelicity. But I speak of after-time; first let me talk of that which is first.
The twice twenty-four, who were of a very bold and courageous nature, and feared nothing more than to be thought cowards, attacked the serpents with their bows and arrows. It was fruitless, however, to wage war with creatures covered with an impenetrable coat of scales. The serpents were not even startled by the arrows, so that no resource but death remained to the twice twenty-four. Their food being soon gone, they were compelled to venture out in quest of the means of sustaining life. As fast as they came out at the gate of the fortification, the one or other of the monsters snapped them up at a mouthful, until there remained of all those who occupied it at first but ten women and eleven men. What was to be done? I could not have told had I been there, but the eleventh man had the art and cunning to deliver the land from the assaults of the venomous serpents. He said to his brothers, "One of the serpents is a woman. I know it by her eyes, which are very bright, and beguiling, and roving, and treacherous. I know it by her sputtering, if all does not go right, and her frequent viewing herself in the waters of Lake Canandaigua, and the noisy chatter she is continually making about nothing. These are signs which cannot be misunderstood; she is a woman, I know. Now, if I can but catch the old man, asleep, I will make love to her, and it shall go hard but I will get her to assist in his destruction." So the Eleventh Man—who was a curious creature for making love to women, and knew all the arts necessary to be used, and all the nonsense proper to be uttered, knew when to look, and when to shut his eyes, when to be passionate, and when to be cold, and all that sort of thing—set about winning the love of the frail wife of the Great Snake. Whenever the old man took a nap, which was very often, then of a certainty would you see the Bomelmeek on the top of the fortification, winking and blinking, ogling and sighing, and doing other fooleries, at the Squaw-Snake. And soon could it be seen that she had noticed his declarations of love, and was not disposed to be very cruel or "ridiculous." Oh, it was a curious sight to see the courtship, though not more curious than I have seen other courtships. When he winked, she winked; when he ogled her, she ogled him; when he sighed, she—taking care to turn her head the other way, for her breath was not the myrtle's or the orange blossom's—sighed also, and very loud. So foolery was exchanged for foolery, and the thing throve well. Still the Eleventh Man dared not, for some time, venture out of the fortification, for he had remarked her taste for human flesh, and her dexterity in snapping off heads, and did not know but her love for him might extend to a wish to try the flavour of his meat, and that she might, in a moment of soft dalliance, practise on him her skill in unjointing necks. Women have been known to inflict a greater evil than either on the man they have pretended to love. At least, so the Eleventh Man said, and, as I have before told my brother, he was a knowing man in these matters. It soon became plain that something must be done. There was no food remaining in the fort, and the speedy death of all must ensue, unless it were procured. The Eleventh Man, who was as courageous in war as he was in peace, with the high-mindedness which belongs to an Indian(1), said he would go and submit himself to the good will of the pretty creature. So, taking his spear, and his bow and arrow, for he knew that women like to be wooed by warriors, and delight in the handsome bearing and gay dress of lovers, and often die and perish of a fever for feathers and gewgaws, he chose the moment when the old man was wrapped in a deep sleep, and ventured out. A woman can hear the lightest step of a lover when she is fast asleep, and when the thunder of the western hills would not awake her. And so it was with the Squaw-Snake, who, though very drowsy with watching the stars, and squinting at the moonas folks always do when they are in love—had no sooner heard the step of her beloved on the green sod than she advanced to meet him. Now comes the perilous moment! Bomelmeek, beware! She is raising her tail, at whose end is a horrible sting to clasp thee as with a pair of arms. And look, see her jaws, white with foam, and larger than the largest tree of the forest, are extended to kiss thy cheek, or scarcely worse to snap off thy head. Brave man! With what undaunted firmness he suffers himself to be taken to her arms—no, not to her arms, but her tail—and how patiently he suffers his cheeks that have felt the breath of sweet lips to be slabbered by a nasty snake! Oh! if he fall a victim to his love for his nation, he will deserve to live as long in the remembrance of the Bomelmeeks, as their great founder, the Earwig.
Fond and long continued were the caresses of the Eleventh Man and the Squaw-Snake, and luckily they were not interrupted by the old man, who, unlike many husbands I have known, contrived to sleep just as long as they wished he should. Before he awaked, it had been agreed between them that the death of the old man should be accomplished. So she bade him dip in the poison of her sting the points of two arrows, both intended to be put to a good use. He did so, and then retired within the fortification. Drawing his bow to his ear, and pointing an arrow at the head of the aged husband, he let fly with unerring skill. This done, he levelled the other arrow with the same precision at the head of the faithless wife. Wounded to death by the poisoned darts, the horrid monsters rolled down the hill in great agony, sweeping away, in their descent, all the trees upon the side to its very bottom, and amidst their contortions disgorging the heads of the Indians they had swallowed. Those heads rolled into Lake Canandaigua, where they were converted into stones, and are to be found there to this day. The Indian, as seated in his canoe he glides over the lake, frequently sees them lying on its pebbly bottom, and the larger bark of the white man is often dashed to pieces against them. So the eleven men and the ten women were freed from the serpents.
But now it was that the strangest circumstance was revealed to the survivors. The poison which the serpents had poured on the earth with their pernicious breath had so operated that a confusion of tongues had taken place, and different nations no longer understood each other. The Iroquois could no longer speak in the dialect of the Natchez; the Bomelmeeks of the land of Frost no longer sung their war-songs in the tongue of the Walkullas of the land of Flowers. The Senecas attempted in vain to make known their wishes to the Red Hurons of the Lakes, who were alike puzzled to converse with the Narragansetts of the Land of Fish. A youth of one nation, if he wished to take a woman of another nation to wife, had now to talk with his eyes, whereas before he made use of his tongue to tell his lies with.
So the land was re-peopled from the survivors of the hill Gerundewagh, and the confusion of tongues went on increasing, and has done so to this day. The Bomelmeeks have faded from the land; the descendants of the Eleventh Man, of whom there were very many, alone remaining, one of whom now tells this story, which is certainly true.
(1) High-mindedness of the Indian.—p. 39.
The Indians very frequently evince a pride and greatness of mind which would not have disgraced the heroes of ancient Greece and Rome. "The greatest part of them," says Charlevoix, "have truly a nobleness and an equality of soul which we cannot arrive at with all the helps we can obtain from philosophy and religion." Always master of themselves, in the most sudden misfortunes, we cannot perceive the least alteration in their countenances. A prisoner who knows not in what his captivity will end, or which is perhaps still more surprising, who is still uncertain of his fate, does not lose on this account a quarter of an hour's sleep. Even the first emotions do not find them at fault. The following well attested stories shew their high-mindedness, and one of them their singular chivalry of character.
A Huron Captain was one day insulted and struck by a young man. Those who were present would have punished this audaciousness on the spot. "Let him alone," said the Captain, "Did you feel the earth tremble? He is sufficiently informed of his folly."—Charlevoix, ii. 64.
This passion of the Indians, which I have called pride, but which might perhaps be better denominated high-mindedness, is generally combined with a great sense of honour, and not seldom produces actions of the most heroic kind. An Indian of the Lenape nation, who was considered a very dangerous person, and was much dreaded on that account, had publicly declared that as soon as another Indian, who was then gone to Sandusky, should return from thence, he would certainly kill him. This dangerous Indian called in one day at my house on the Muskingum, to ask me for some tobacco. While this unwelcome guest was smoking his pipe by my fire, behold! the other Indian whom he had threatened to kill, and who at that moment had just arrived, also entered the house. I was much frightened, as I feared the bad Indian would take that opportunity to carry his threat into execution, and that my house would be made the scene of a horrid murder. I walked to the door, in order not to witness a crime that I could not prevent, when, to my great astonishment, I heard the Indian whom I thought in danger address the other in these words: "Uncle, you have threatened to kill me—you have declared that you would do it, the first time we should meet. Now I am here, and we are together. And I take it for granted that you are in earnest, and that you are really determined to take my life as you have declared. Am I now to consider you as my avowed enemy, and, in order to secure my own life against your murderous designs, to be the first to strike you, and imbrue my hands in your blood? I will not, I cannot do it. Your heart is bad, it is true, but still you appear to be a generous foe, for you gave me notice of what you intended to do; you have put me on my guard, and did not attempt to assassinate me by surprise; I therefore will spare you until you lift up your arm to strike, and then, uncle, it will be seen which of us shall fall." The murderer was thunderstruck, and, without replying a word, slunk off, and left the house.—Heckew. 161, 2.
Mr. Heckewelder relates another instance of Indian heroism and magnanimity, not below the preceding. In the year 1782, a young white prisoner had been sent by the war-chief of the Wyandots of Lower Sandusky as a present to another chief, who was called the Half-King of Upper Sandusky, for the purpose of being adopted into his family in the place of one of his sons, who had been killed the preceding year, while at war with the people on the Ohio. The wife of the Half-King refused to receive the prisoner in lieu of her son, and this amounted to a sentence of death. The young man was therefore taken away for the purpose of being tortured and burnt on the pile. While the dreadful preparations were making near the village, the unhappy victim being already tied to the stake, and the Indians arriving from all quarters to join in the cruel act, or to witness it, two English traders, Messrs. Arundel and Robbins, shocked at the idea of the cruelties which were about to be perpetrated, and moved by feelings of pity and humanity, resolved to unite their exertions to endeavour to save the prisoner's life, by offering a ransom to the war-chief, which he, however, refused, because he said it was an established rule among them, that when a prisoner, who had been given as a present, was refused adoption, he was irrevocably doomed to the stake, and it was not in the power of any one to save his life. The two generous Englishmen, however, were not discouraged, and determined to try a last effort. They well knew what effects the high-minded pride of an Indian is capable of producing, and, to this strong and noble passion they directed their attacks. "But," said they in reply to the answer which the chief had made them, "among all those chiefs whom you have mentioned, there is none who equals you in greatness; you are considered not only as the greatest and bravest, but as the best man in the nation." "Do you really believe as you say?" said the Indian, looking them full in the face. "Indeed we do." Then, without saying another word, he blackened himself, and, taking his knife and tomahawk in his hand, made his way through the crowd to the unhappy victim, crying out with a loud voice, "What have you to do with my prisoner?" and at once cutting the cords with which he was tied, took him to his house.—Heckew. 162, 3.
Nutall, in his Travels through the Arkansa territory, says, among the most extraordinary actions which they (the Arkansas) performed against the Chickasaws is the story which has been related to me by Major Lewismore Vaugin, one of the most respectable residents in this territory. The Chickasaws, instead of standing their ground against the Quapaws (a band of Arkansaws) were retreating before the Quapaws, whom they had descried at a distance, in consequence of the want of ammunition. The latter, understanding the occasion, were determined to obviate the excuse, whether real or pretended, and desired the Chickasaws to land on an adjoining sand-beach of the Mississippi, giving them the unexpected promise of supplying them with powder for the contest. The chief of the Quapaws then ordered all his men to empty their powder-horns into a blanket, after which he divided the whole with a spoon, and gave the half to the Chickasaws. They then proceeded to the combat, which terminated in the killing of ten Chickasaws, and the loss of five prisoners, with the death of a single Quapaw.—Page 85.
When the Great Beaver, the spirit who next to Michabou had the greatest share in the creation and government of men and things, made the animals, he endowed certain of them with wisdom, and all with the powers of speech. The black bear could then converse with the cayman, and the whispers of the porpoise in the ears of the walruss and the flounder expressed the thoughts which were passing in his mind. The wants which the heron and the goosander now express by nods and winks, were then conveyed by plain, straightforward words; and the grunts and squeaks of the hog, and the bleating of the kid, and the neighing of the horse, and the howl of the dog, and the crowing of the cock, and the cackling of the hen, and the other means by which beasts, and birds, and other creatures, at this day make known their wants and wishes, were then unknown. If the ox was hungry, or the dog wished to visit a cousin, he said so, and if the hog wanted his belly scratched, he spoke out like a man. If the cock felt proud, instead of jumping upon a pole, and flapping his wings, and uttering a senseless cock-a-doodle-doo, as the vain thing does now, he asked the pullet "if she did not think he was a handsome fellow," and she replied ay or no, as she thought. The panther told his mother, in plain intelligible words, if he wanted a wife; and when the hen had excluded her egg, instead of cackling, she said, "There!" There was then no difficulty in understanding the beasts, for they told their wants and wishes in good plain Indian, which was far better than it is now, when you are obliged to guess at half they say. And not only could they convey their meaning better, but their meaning was worth more when you knew it. In truth the beasts at that time were much wiser and more cunning than men, and where the Indian caught one beaver in his trap, the beaver caught ten Indians in his. In war and peace their schemes and stratagems were better devised, and more successfully executed, and their talks were as full of sweet and wise words as the sky is of wild pigeons in the season of their flight from the rigours of approaching winter. What a pity that the folly of the Great Chief of the Elks should have lost the beasts the most important faculties conferred upon them by the Great Hare, and led to the withdrawing of the all-glorious gift of speech.
There was among the Ottawas, that lived on the banks of the Lake of the Great Beaver(1), a young man whose origin none knew with certainty, but who was supposed by all to be a son of the god. Sixteen snows before the time of which I am speaking, there was found in the great village of our people, upon the morning of a warm day in the Frog-Moon, a little boy who might have seen the flowers bloom twice—older he could not have been. None knew whence he came, nor could he tell them, or give any information whereby it could be ascertained who were his parents, or what the place of his birth, or why he was abandoned. He did not belong to the tribe—of that they were certain; nor did the features of his face resemble those of any of the surrounding nations, nor were his words, or the tones of his voice, such as ever had been listened to by Ottawa ears. Indeed there were evidences that he owed his being to the love of the god of the lake for one wearing the human form. He was shaped like a man—that is, he stood upright, and his feet and hands, and legs and arms, were fashioned like those of an Ottawa, save that the former were flat, and webbed and clawed like the paws of a white beaver(2). The head, which was placed upon a pair of shoulders similar to those of a man, resembled more nearly those heads which the hunter sees looking out of the cabins of the cunning little people than the heads of men. It was shaped very nearly like the head of a mountain-rat; the nose was long, the eyes little and red, the ears short and round, hairy on the outside, and smooth within. Then to the form the boy added the habits of the beaver. Every day he would repair to the lake, and sport for half a sun in its clear, cool bosom. The food he preferred further indicated from whom he sprung. He would undertake a journey of half a sun to find a crawfish; he would climb with great labour, and at the risk of his neck, the tallest poplar of the forest for its juicy buds, and the slender tree for its frightened and bashful leaves, that wither and die if one do but so much as touch them. He had much cunning and subtlety, as well he might have, if the blood of the god whom Indians adore ran in his veins.
This boy, if boy it was, or young beaver, if my brothers think it was a beaver—let them settle the matter for themselves—grew up with the form of a man, tall as a man, and with the speech of a man, but endowed with many of the attributes of a beaver—indeed he bore in his faculties a greater resemblance to that animal than to man, and his actions were more nearly patterned after the four-legged animal than the two-legged. His temper was very mild and good, and his industry equalled that of the cunning little people from whom he derived his origin. He was always doing something; night, noon, morning, wet or dry, he was at work for himself or others. While the lazy Ottawas were sleeping on the sunny side of their cabins, he was fetching home wood for the fire, or mending the nets, or weeding the corn. And then he was so peaceable that, for the eighteen snows that he lived in the great village of the Ottawas, none had ever beheld him angry, or seen disquietude in his eye, or heard repining from his lips. He coveted not distinction in war, he never spoke of the field of strife, nor sang a war-song, nor fasted to procure bloody dreams, nor shaved his crown to the gallant scalp-lock, nor painted his cheeks and brow with the ochre of wrath, nor taught himself to dance the war-dance—his actions and pursuits were those of a woman, and his thoughts and wishes all for peace. Among a people so valiant, and so fond of eating their foes, as the Ottawas, a disposition so feeble and woman-like as that possessed by the Child of the Hare would have drawn down great anger and contempt upon its possessor. But, believing that the youth had their favourite god for his father, they never reproached him for his cowardice and preference of peace to war, but contented themselves with saying that "he was a very, very good boy, but he would never become a chief of a people more warlike than the wren or the prairie dog." The laugh that would follow these speeches had nothing of ill-nature in it, for all loved the boy, cowardly and ugly as he was, and each would have shielded him from harm at the risk of his own life. And thus lived the Child of the Hare till the snows of the seventeenth winter had melted and gone to the embrace of the Great Lake.
It was then that the boy, who had become a man in stature, was seen to absent himself from the village, and to shun the toils which had once been pleasures to him. No one knew whither he went, or for what purpose. Usually, at the going down of the sun, he would repair to the forest, and be absent for the greater portion of the period of darkness. Sometimes his journeys were undertaken by daylight. The aged men asked him whither he went—he made no answer; the young maidens, always famous for coming at the bottom of secrets, and tracking mysteries as one tracks a badger, sought to win the secret, but with no greater success. At last, a cunning old woman found out—what will not a cunning old woman find out—the secret.
Upon a large plain, which stretched from very near the great village of the Ottawas, a full day's journey towards the land of the rising sun, there dwelt a people, with whom the Ottawas had always been at peace. They were a set of very awkwardly-shaped beings, of a stature not exceeding the stubborn little beast's which our white brother rode hither, with four legs, and a beard upon the neck as long as that worn by the people one sees at the City of the Rock. Their heads were very long, their muzzles very thick, their nostrils very wide, and each wore upon his head, even before he was married, a pair of long and wide-spreading horns. They were covered with long hair, the colour of which was a mixture of light gray, and dark red. Though they were apparently a very heavy, clumsy, unwieldy people, the Ottawas, when they joined them on hunting expeditions, or assisted them in their wars against their enemies, found it no small labour to keep at their side, so long and steady was their trot. It was only when there had been a deep snow, which, melting somewhat, and being afterwards frozen, would not bear their weight, that our people proved a match for them in speed of travelling. For the foot of the strange people, being forked, broke through the crust which the frost had formed on the surface of the snow, and they went plunging and plunging with little progress till their strength was exhausted.
The Elks—for this was the name of these odd neighbours of the Ottawas—were upon the whole a very good-tempered, friendly people. But, when they were once angered, it was a great deal best to keep out of their way till they had cooled—a course one should pursue at all times with passionate folks. Whenever an Elk was enraged with an Ottawa, the latter hid himself till he had become pleased again. So upon the whole the two nations rubbed their noses together with more sincerity than any two nations of the wilds. It was not for the interest of either people to throw down the hatchet; they were of great and frequent service to each other. Whenever an Ottawa woman was hard to do with the pains of travail, she sent for a wise Old Elk, who speedily delivered her; and, when the Carcajous picked quarrels, as they were always doing with their pacific neighbours, the Ottawas became either mediators, or the allies of the Elks. There could be no doubt that but for our Braves, the Carcajous and the Foxes, who always make war in company(3), would have destroyed the Elks from the face of the Great Island. But the Ottawas joined the weaker party, which made them more than a match(4) for any thing breathing, as doubtless our brother knows. And it is because our people rescued the good Elks from the fangs of their cruel and merciless ancestors that the Carcajous have been, and to this day are, such bitter enemies to our people, and open their jugulars, and take their scalps whenever they can.
I am not able to tell my brother in what moon it was that a woman of our nation, determined to learn why the Child of the Hare absented himself so frequently from the village, followed him at early nightfall into the thick and gloomy forest which adjoined the lands of the Ottawas. It was a dark, and wild, and thickly wooded, dell, into which this fearless woman precipitated herself at early nightfall, but she had a powerful motive to encounter danger—there was a secret to be caught, a mystery to be unravelled, and she went with alacrity and pleasure. It is much that a woman will do to come at the bottom of a mystery, which has for some time baffled her and put her nose at fault; and many dangers and inconveniences, and much toil and trouble, must that journey promise, whose danger and inconvenience, and toil and trouble, shall deter her from attempting it when its object is the learning what, in spite of her, has long remained hidden. So the curious woman followed the Child of the Hare into the deep dell at early nightfall.
They travelled onward, he ahead, and she behind, keeping him constantly in view for a long time, until they came, all at once, just as the sun was rising, to a deep valley surrounded by high hills, through which there was but one path—a beaten and travelled path—that in which they came. But what most surprised this adventurous woman was, that though this valley lay but a little boy's journey of half a sun from the Ottawa village, and though she had, as she supposed, visited every part of the contiguous wilderness, she had never beheld it till now, nor heard it spoken of by her people. But that circumstance did not prevent her from admiring the beautiful spot—it was indeed the most lovely ever beheld by mortal eyes, and well did it deserve the many fond epithets she heaped upon it. Stretched out as far as the eye could reach, this valley lay green and glossy as a grove of oaks in the Buck-Moon, when their leaves are fully expanded to meet the warm and cheering rays of the great star of day. In the centre of this valley was a small lake fringed with willows, alders, pemines, and grape-vines. It was not altogether bare of trees, though they were few and scattered as a party of shamefaced warriors straggling home from a beaten field. Here perhaps stood a lofty pine with several little ones around it, resembling a happy father with his children at his knee partaking of the fruits of his hunt—yonder, a cedar, lone and solitary as a man whose friends have all been killed by an unskilful autmoin(5) in the Fever-Moon. Well did the woman deem that the cold breath of the boisterous and stormy Matcomek had never reached the spot—it seemed as if it had never been visited by anything more rough than the south wind in the time of spring.
As this woman, who had followed the child of the Hare into the woods at early nightfall, stood chewing a piece of the hot root which takes away the crying sin of barrenness, and renders women fruitful and beloved, there came to her ears a sound as of many angry voices mingling their accents together. Filled with a womanly curiosity to know what it was, and anxious to behold the combat which it promised, she stepped quickly over the small hillock which intercepted her view of a part of the valley. What a scene burst upon her eyes! Upon a grassy knoll, shaded from the beams of the rising sun by the range of hills I have spoken of, were assembled a greater number of Elks than even my brother could count by the aid of his great medicine. In the centre of the assembled nation, stood an Elk of wondrous stature, the great chief, or as my brother would call it, the King of the Valley. He was so large, that the biggest of his people seemed but musquitoes by the side of a buffalo. His legs were so long, that the deepest snow-drift was no impediment to his running his blithest race; and his skin, which was covered with red and grey hair, was proof against the utmost fury of the Ottawa bender of the bow. From each of his shoulders proceeded an arm, which well supplied the place, and performed the uses, of the same limb among our people. His eyes were of the size of the largest bison-hide, and the antlers, which towered above his head, resembled an oak which decay has stricken to the disrobing of its leaves, and the dismantling of its smaller, but not its larger limbs. Not the mighty animal which strode down from the mountains of thunder to slaughter the buffaloes of the prairies, was at all to be compared with him for size. At least, so said the woman, who followed the Child of the Hare into the deep dell at early nightfall.
"What brought you here?" demanded one of the Elks, a very elderly one, who was named the Broadhorns, of the woman, as she approached the outside of the circle. "Do you not know that it is death for any one to come into the camp of the Great Chief of the Elks, unless he is sent for? What brought you here?"
"I followed the Child of the Beaver."
"Oho, and so you have come to the marriage, but you are too late."
"What marriage?" demanded the woman, straining her eyes still wider than my pale-faced brother does at this moment. "Who? How? What! Who's to be married?"
"Oh, you know nothing of the matter I see," answered the Elk Broadhorns. "Why, the youth, whom the Ottawas call the Child of the Hare, but whom the Elks call the Pig-faced Boy of the Ottawas, has married the daughter of a wise old man, who is akin to the Great Elk."
"Oho, and is that the cause of the hubbub?" demanded the woman.
"Not altogether," answered the Broadhorns; "you see gathered together but the usual number that attend the steps of our great chief, running of his errands, and doing him homage. But, come along, you must go and spread the blanket of friendship before the great man, whom all the Elks, no matter where found, as well as the inhabitants of the valley, worship and obey."
With that, the old Elk, who appeared to be an Elk of authority, spoke to the crowd, commanding them to make way for the woman who had come from the camp of their friends, the Ottawas, to visit the Great Chief. Immediately an opening was made in the crowd, through which the woman and her conductor reached the presence of the mighty king of the valley. Behold her, then, before the being of whom she had heard her people talk morning, noon, and night, but whom no Ottawa had ever beheld till now. She was beginning to deprecate his anger at her intrusion on his dominions, when, in a tone intended to be very kind, but which, nevertheless, was louder than the loudest tones of the manza ouackanche, he spoke, and bade her say, "why she had come uninvited to the marriage-feast of the Pig-faced boy of the Ottawas."
The woman, gathering boldness from the mild and gentle behaviour of the questioner, answered, that, for a long time, the young man, whom the Ottawas called the Child of the Hare, but whom the Elks, it appeared, knew by another name, had wandered at the beginning of night, often continuing absent for days together, without their being able to discover what became of him; and that curiosity had induced her to follow his footsteps, with the idea of finding out the cause of his absence. This was all, and here she was.
The reason she gave seemed to content the Great Chief, who merely laughed a little, and said something about "curiosity"—"a woman napping"—"a weazel asleep." Then, calling to him the old man, who had assisted her through the crowd, he bade him bring the Pig-face and the Little Maiden before him. The old man, making a very low bow after the fashion of the white people, which is also the fashion of the bear, and the "child of the Evil Spirit," who are both very mannerly—especially the last, unless you provoke him, when he is a very naughty fellow—departed immediately on the mission, leaving the adventurous Ottawa woman surrounded by the whole nation of the Elks. Does not my brother suspect that she began to regret that she followed the Pig-face into the glen at early nightfall?
While he was absent, which was not long, the Great Chief amused himself with talking to the woman. He asked her a great many questions about her people, and praised them much for their singular courage and valour, and their great sagacity, and their coolness and resolution in bearing the torments inflicted by their enemies. He talked of the wisdom of his own nation, and told her all about the fits they were so subject to, and how they cured themselves by rubbing their ears with their hind feet, till the blood came, and how their hoofs were a medicine to drive away all kinds of falling sickness, except that occasioned by drinking the strong water that is made of women's tongues and warriors' hearts. He was going on to relate long stories of the wars of the Elks with their inveterate enemies, the Carcajous, when there arose, upon the outside of the camp, a great noise, which prevented his proceeding. The sound was like that of a dozen old women, engaged in scolding their husbands for their lack of good fortune in the hunt. Soon a space was cleared, and that which made the noise appeared in the midst, in the shape of a mighty hare, whose tongue went faster than the wings of a wild duck escaping from a fowler. Awe, and fear, and trembling, seized on the Ottawa woman, for she knew that she stood in the presence of the god of her people, the Great Michabou. Nor was that awe and fear diminished, when the angry god spoke in a voice of thunder to the Great Elk, demanding why he had enticed the son whom he loved into a marriage with the daughter of a paltry Elk.
The Great Chief, notwithstanding his seeming courage, trembled like a leaf, while he answered, that it was not a match of his making.
"Now you lie," answered the god. "You know that you have dared to do it, because it was told you by a wise Ottawa priest—no thanks to him—that from the marriage of the Pig-face with a maiden Elk a being should spring, who should destroy his father's father, and make the Great Chief of the Elks a spirit to rule in his place."
The Great Elk, caught with a lie in his mouth, continued silent, as a warrior who is stealing on his sleeping foe, while the Great Hare continued:
"I cannot prevent the marriage, for that is accomplished, and what is done cannot be undone, even by a god. But I can prevent the consequences which you hoped would ensue. I can take away from the beasts, particularly the Elks, the wisdom to devise stratagems to effect their purpose of usurping my power; and I can take away their speech, which will further spoil their sport."
Turning to the Ottawa woman, he bade her draw a thread from her robe of woven mulberry-bark, which she did, and gave it to him. Then, going up to the Great Elk, he bade him, in a very angry voice, hold out his tongue. The trembling monster obeyed, displaying a tongue which would have furnished the whole tribe of Ottawas with food for a season. The god then made, with the sharp point of a thorn, a hole in the under part of his tongue, half way between the root and the end, and another in the skin upon the inner side of his jaw, and passing through these holes the thread obtained from the Ottawa woman, he tied down the tongue effectually. When he had done this, patting the Ottawa woman on the shoulder, he bade her run, like a good woman, as she was, to the nearest grove, and fetch him some black mushrooms, some pemine berries, a handful of leaves from the squaw maple, and a small quantity of the flowers of the dog-wood. She did as she was directed, and brought them and laid them at his feet. These he caused to be pounded, beaten together, moistened with the spittle of the Great Elk, and fashioned into many little balls about the bigness of the eye-balls of a humming-bird. When the mass had been all made into balls, he commanded all to be silent. When the camp had become so hushed, that the chirp of a grasshopper or the hum of a bee might have been heard from limit to limit, he cried with a loud voice:—
"Ruling spirits of the beasts, and birds, and fishes, come hither! Presiding Manitous of all, save man, that inhabit the earth, the air, the water, hear and obey the voice of Michabou."
He had scarcely done speaking, when the air was darkened with wings of Manitous hastening to the spot, and, but that the footsteps of spirits are lighter than the shade which falls upon the earth at sun-set, the valley had shaken with the weight of the hoofs and feet which pressed it. There were the spirits of all the fish in the waters, and fowls and birds in the air, and beasts and four-legged or more-legged creatures on or in the earth, and some very strange-looking creatures there were(6). To each of these spirits, as he presented himself, the Great Hare gave one of the little round balls, commanding him to swallow it. All obeyed readily, except the Manitou of the Mocking-Birds and the Manitou of the strange bird with a hooked nose, which Ononthio's people have taught to cry, "Damn the Indians." The last bit off only a small piece of this ball, and the first, after chewing his, spat it all out with great disdain. That is the reason that these two still retain a portion of their speech—all the other creatures swallowed their balls, and thenceforth never spoke with the tongues of men.
The Great Hare, having deprived the beasts of the faculty of speech, and taken from them a principal portion of the wit and wisdom which they were about to make such bad use of, turned to the Ottawa woman, and kindly offered her all the little balls that were left. She took them, and carefully wrapped them up in a corner of her robe. Before she died, which was not till her years were more than the years of a tortoise, she called her eldest daughter to the side of her couch and gave her the balls, telling her to bestow them upon her eldest daughter, with such directions as would ensure their remaining among the Ottawas as long as grass shall grow and water run. They have been handed down from daughter to daughter, and son to son, till the present time. And that my brother may not think that I have a forked tongue, but speak the words of truth, I will show him the little balls. There they are, wrapped up in a piece of the robe which was worn at the time by the Ottawa woman, to whom they were given by the Great Hare.
So saying, the Ottawa story-teller unrolled a piece of dressed deer skin, and took from thence a number of small balls, about the size of pills sold by apothecaries, which he gave to M. Verdier.
(1) Lake of the Great Beaver.—p. 49.
Among the Ottawas, the Great Beaver is, next to Michabou, the chief deity. He it was who formed lake Nipissing; and all the rapids or currents, which are found in the river Ottawa, are the remains of the causeway which he built in order to complete his design. They also add, that he died in the same place, and that he is buried under a mountain which you perceive on the northern shore of lake Nipissing. It has been observed that this mountain, viewed from one side, naturally enough represents the figure of a beaver, which circumstance has, no doubt, occasioned all these tales. The Indians, however, stoutly maintain that it was the Great Beaver who gave this form to the mountain after he had made choice of it for his burial-place, and they never pass by it without rendering him their homage by offering him the smoke of their tobacco.
(2) White Beaver.—p. 49.
It has been asserted by travellers, that there is a species of the beaver perfectly white. I doubt the story much. If there were white beavers they would be found in the polar regions, yet it is a fact that there they are quite black. Their colour, in temperate countries, is brown, and it becomes lighter and lighter in proportion as they approach toward the south, yet no where becomes white.
(3) Carcajous and Foxes make war in company.—p. 55.
The carcajou, or wild cat, is the natural enemy of the elk, which, by the by, has become almost as rare an animal on the western continent as the mastodon or mammoth. As soon as he comes up with the elk, he leaps upon him, and fastens upon his neck, about which he twists his long tail, and then cuts his jugular. The elk has no means of shunning this disaster, but by flying to the water the moment he is seized by this dangerous enemy. The carcajou, who cannot endure the water, quits his hold immediately; but, if the water happen to be at too great a distance, he will destroy the elk before he reaches it. As this hunter does not possess the faculty of smelling with the greatest acuteness, he carries with him three foxes, which he sends on the discovery. The moment they have got scent of an elk, two of them place themselves by his side, and the third takes post behind him. They manage the matter with so much adroitness, that they compel him to go to the place where they have left the carcajou, with whom they afterwards settle about dividing the prey. At least so say the Indians.
(4) Made them more than a match.—p. 55.
The North American Indians are the vainest people living. "As ignorant as a white man," "as foolish as a white man," are common expressions with them. As they only value physical greatness, their low opinion of us proceeds from their observing how very deficient we are in the qualities which confer that species of superiority. They value, beyond every other acquirement, that of apparent insensibility to pain—we start, perhaps cry out, at the twinge of a tooth; in war we become the dupes of the commonest stratagem, while they can never be surprised. They see that they excel us in hunting—in endurance of pain—in the power of encountering the fatigues and perils of savage life—indeed, in every kind of knowledge which is deemed by them of value—by their standard they are our superiors. "You are almost as clever as an Indian," "You are as stupid as a white man," are common expressions with them. They consider themselves as created for the noblest of purposes. The Great Spirit made them, that they should live, hunt, and prepare medicines and charms, in which they fancy they excel. White men, on the other hand, were doomed to the drudgeries of manufacturing cloths, guns, &c., for the use of the Indians.
The Five Nations called themselves Ougwe-hohougwe, that is, men surpassing all others. This opinion, which they took care to instil into their children, gave them that courage which made them so terrible to their neighbours, and, indeed, to distant nations, for their hostile incursions extended as far as Florida.
(5) Unskilful Autmoin.—p. 57.
The Indian physicians possessed great skill as far as simples were concerned. But it was their practice to profess to cure diseases, rather by jugglery and witchcraft, than by those means which were simple and near at hand. Could they be brought to look upon a disease as purely natural, which they cannot, and treat it accordingly, their materia medica would possess wonderful efficacy in their hands. The great use which they make of their simples is for the cure of wounds, fractures, dislocations, luxations, and ruptures. It is certain that they are in possession of secrets and remedies which are admirable. A broken bone is immediately set, and is perfectly solid in eight days' time. It is related by a traveller, that a French soldier, who was in garrison in a fort in Acadia, was seized with the epilepsy, and the fits were become almost daily, and extremely violent; an Indian woman that happened to be present at one of his fits, made him two boluses of a pulverised root, the name of which she did not disclose, and desired that one might be given him at his next fit, predicting certain consequences and his complete cure by the second bolus, which actually took place, and he ever after enjoyed a perfect state of health.
In Acadia, the quacks or physicians were called by the name in the text, Autmoin; it was commonly the chief of the village who was invested with this dignity. The ceremonies and practices observed by the Acadian jugglers being common to the "profession" throughout the Indian nations, I shall insert an account of them from Charlevoix.
When they visited a patient, they first inspected him for a considerable time, after which they breathed upon him. If this produced nothing, "of certainty," said they, "the devil is in him; he must, however, very soon go out of him; but let every one be upon his guard, as this wicked spirit will, if he can, out of spite, attack some here present." They then fell into a kind of rage, were shaken with agony, shouted aloud, and threatened the pretended demon; they spoke to him, as if they had seen him with their eyes, made several passes at him, as if they would stab him, the whole being only intended to conceal their imposture.
On entering the cabin, they take care to fix into the ground a bit of wood, to which a cord is made fast. They afterwards present the end of the cord to the spectators, inviting them at the same time to draw out the bit of wood, and as scarce any one ever succeeds in it, they are sure to tell him it is the devil who holds it; afterwards making as if they would stab this pretended devil, they loosen, by little and little, the piece of wood, by raking up the earth round it, after which they easily draw it up, the crowd shouting the while. To the under part of this piece of wood was fastened a little bone, or some such thing, which was not at first perceived, and the quacks, shewing it to the company, "Behold," cried they, "the cause of the disease; it was necessary to kill the devil to get at it."
This farce lasted three or four hours, after which the physician stood in need of rest and refreshment. He went away, assuring them that the sick person would infallibly be cured, provided the disease had not already got the better, that is to say, provided the devil, before his retreat, had not given him his death-wound. The business was to know, whether he had or not. This the autmoin pretended to discover by his dreams, but he took care never to speak clearly, till he saw what turn the disease took. On perceiving it incurable, he went away; every one likewise, after his example, abandoned the patient. If, after three days were expired, he were still alive, "The devil," said he, "will neither allow him to be cured, nor suffer him to die; you must, out of charity, put an end to his days." Immediately the greatest friend of the patient brought cold water, and poured it on his face till he expired.
In a note, vol. i., pages 141, 142, there is an account of the ceremonies practised by the Delaware jugglers.
(6) Spirits of beasts.—p. 66.
Every species has its presiding genius, and to these the Indians frequently address their prayers. Some of them are held in great estimation, some are little valued. The genius of the beavers is much respected. They were formerly of opinion that beavers were endued with reason, and had a government, laws, and language, of their own; that they had officers who assigned to each his task, and placed sentries to give the alarm at the approach of an enemy, and to punish the lazy. A volume would scarcely afford sufficient space to relate their traditions about this animal.
The bear is also a venerated animal—it is not, however, deemed so auspicious to dream of the bear as of the beaver. Before setting out upon an expedition in search of him, a fast is necessary in order to induce his guardian genius to discover where the greatest number can be found. They also, at these fasts, invoke the spirits of the bears they have killed in their former huntings. The skins of bears are commonly worn by the jugglers while performing their feats of pretended witchcraft, and their teeth, &c., are held to be powerful amulets or charms.
They endeavour, on all occasions, to propitiate the spirits of the beasts, being persuaded that every species of animals has a genius that watches for their preservation. A Frenchman having one day thrown away a mouse he had just taken, a little girl took it up to eat it; the father of the child, who perceived it, snatched it from her, and fell to caressing the dead animal. The Frenchman asked him the reason of it. "It is," answered he, "in order to appease the guardian spirit of the mice, that they may not torment my child after she has eaten it." After which he restored the animal to the girl, who ate it.
An Indian came to Mackenzie, requesting him to furnish him with a remedy that might be applied to the joints of his legs and thighs, of which he had, in a great measure, lost the use for five winters. This affliction he attributed to his cruelty about that time, when having found a wolf with two whelps, in an old beaver lodge, he set fire to it and consumed them.—Mackenzie's Journal of a Voyage, &c. 4to. London, 1801.
In the southern part of the lands which were once occupied by the Creeks, the Walkullas, and other tribes of Indians, lies the marsh Ouaquaphenogan. On one side of it is the river Flint; on the other, the Oakmulgee. This marsh is of very great extent, so great that it takes several moons to travel around it. In the wet season, and when the great rains of the southern sky are falling upon the earth, the whole surface of this marsh appears a vast lake. It is interspersed here and there with large islands and knolls of rich land, one of which, the largest island, situated in the centre of the lake, the present generation of Creeks represent to be a most blissful spot of earth. They term this little island, also, Ouaquaphenogan, and relate the following tradition of its discovery, which I will repeat to my brother.
Once upon a time, many ages ago, there were four young hunters in the nation of the Creeks, and these four young hunters upon the morning of a beautiful day in summer took their hunting spears, and their bows and arrows, and repaired to the forest. The hunting-ground to which they directed their steps lay upon the skirt of this marsh. It was the dry season of the year, and the surface of the lake was again a bog or morass. The four hunters, finding a narrow and crooked path, leading over the waste from the high grounds above the morass, determined, with a view to ascertain if no kind of game dwelt upon it, to thread this path for a short distance, but by no means to venture so far as to lose sight of the beacons which should guide their feet back to their village. They knew that very many hunters had been lost on this marsh, that there were many who had lived to tell the story of their bewilderment, and many who, never having returned from the chace, could only be supposed to have been tempted to the fatal morass, and perished in its mazes. Thus, armed with the knowledge of what had happened to many, and was supposed to have happened to more, the hunters ventured into the narrow and crooked path, which led to the island Ouaquaphenogan, in the lake of the same name.
The four hunters had not walked far, when one of them said to another, "Where are the hills which glitter in the morning sun, behind the cabins of our fathers?" The other answered, "I see them not, nor do I know which way they should be sought for. Deep fogs obscure the earth, and hide the sun from our eyes; the signs are wanting which should direct our feet in the path of our return; for the moss grows equally on every side of the tree; the waters lie dead, and sleeping, and stagnant, so that no one may gather from their flow a knowledge of his path; it is not the hour of the day for the Hunter's Star to shine upon the eyes of our judgment; no wind stirs to inform us whether it comes from the flowery land of the South, or the cold hills of the North—how then can I assist my bewildered brothers, who am myself bewildered? I see not whence we came, I know not where we are; I only know this—that we have ventured into a narrow and crooked path in the Lake Ouaquaphenogan, and are lost, as many of our nation have been before, in the intricate mazes into which it is death to venture." So concluded the young hunter.
The four bewildered hunters still continued their endeavours to retrace their path, but without success. Still more dark and dismal grew those mazes—more wet and miry the morass. Night came, but it brought no stars to enable them to find their road back to their dwellings, nor south nor north winds were abroad to direct their steps—the waters were still stagnant, and still did moss grow upon every side of the tree. No bird flew by, to direct by the course of his flight to his roosting-place, or to the nest of his beloved, on the dry hills beyond the waste—no plaint of animals, which love not the water or damp grounds, was heard in the distance. They knew no better than a child of the last moon the path which should lead them back to safety.
While they were wandering about in the mazes of the swamp, one said to another, "I hear the sound of voices." Listening, they were soon able to distinguish the sounds of music and merriment proceeding from a glade at a short distance, in the direction of the little path upon which they were entering. Pursuing that path, they soon came to a little knoll of high and rich land. Nothing could be more beautiful than the appearance of this little spot. Here and there were clumps of trees, covered with fruit in every stage of its growth, and blossoms scenting the air with their fragrance. The earth was covered with a robe of flowers; birds were singing on the boughs, and hopping about on the twigs, filling the air with sweet melody, and little rills were rattling away over the gentle slopes. Upon one side of the knoll lay a clear lake, in which swans, white as the lily, were disporting themselves, and the red-headed, and the green-winged duck, and many other beautiful feathered creatures. But the most beautiful objects remain to be painted. These were four tall and slender maidens, beautiful as the flower-clad trees and blossom-crowned hills of their own island, and sweet as the breath of a lemon-tree. Their eyes shone as bright as the beams of the morning sun; bright locks of surpassing beauty clustered around their lovely brows; and their garments were woven of many colours as brilliant as the rainbow. Their bosoms swelled like the heavings of the billows on a little lake, when it is but slightly stirred by the breezes of spring. Their step—what can be compared to it? A bird skimming the fields; a wind slightly stirring the bushes; an antelope bounding over a mountain crag; a deer a little alarmed at the whoop of the hunter. Beautiful creatures! The Great Spirit never formed any thing, not even the trees, nor the flowers of spring, nor the field of ripe grain, nor the sun of whom those four maidens were sisters, so beautiful as they were.
They came—these four beautiful maidens—to the four bewildered travellers, whom they addressed thus, and their voice was sweeter than the music of the song-sparrow—"Who are ye?" The hunters replied that they were men of the Creek-nation who had ventured into the marsh Ouaquaphenogan, and were bewildered in its inextricable mazes. Two days, they said, they had been without food; they were faint and weary, and demanded refreshments, such as they would have given, had a hungry traveller come to their door, and said, "Food I have none, give me or I faint." The beautiful maidens replied, that the men of their nation, having long ages ago been driven with much bloodshed into the inaccessible fastnesses of the island Ouaquaphenogan, in the lake of the same name, by the ancestors of the present generation of Creeks, had retained so deeply in their bosoms the memory of their wrongs, that they were sure to inflict upon them most excruciating tortures, and to make them die a death of fire. Such, they said, would be the fate of the four bewildered hunters, should their fathers or brothers discover them now. They earnestly besought them to fly; but first, with that tender and compassionate nature which belongs to women when they see the other sex in distress, they brought from a little cabin which stood near, covered with beautiful vines in blossom, abundance of provisions, besides oranges, dates, and other fruit, sweet, ripe, and tempting, as their own beautiful selves. These they spread out on the flowery earth, and invited the four hunters to partake. Placed each by the maiden of his choice, they fed upon the repast prepared by the fair hands of the daughters of the sun, the while drinking in the passion of love from their large and lustrous eyes. Nor was the soft language of looks alone the medium of thought; words of the tongue were interchanged as sweet as those of the eyes. Wrought up at length to a phrenzy of passion, and emboldened by the melting glances of the dove-eyed girls, the youthful hunters besought them to bless them with their love—to become the wives of their heart. Faint was the shake of the head, and scarcely heard the breathing of the "No," and cast meekly down upon the blue flowers at their feet the soft and tender eyes, which could not have looked up and kept their secret. At length, one of the maidens, the eldest sister—for they were sisters—began thus:
"Young and amiable strangers, it is proper that we tell you who we are, that you may think whether you will dare the danger, that will attend the union of one of our race with one of yours. We are born of mothers, and are the children of fathers, who are governed by the influences of the sun, even as tides obey the commands of their mistress the moon, and stars perform their round of service in the sky, at the command of the Master of all. Our disposition—the disposition of our race—is as variable as that of the winds upon which our great father acts. Ye behold him fiery at times—even so are we—a change comes over him, his beams grow mild and soft, dispensing genial warmth and gladness; ours, like his, also soften, and, though they cannot possess his power, yet they are fashioned on his pattern, and we in our kind moments bestow all the happiness we can upon those we love. At those moments, were it possible to fill all the earth with love, to make bush, tree, flower, man, beast, bird, utter the language of the soft passion, and hill, dale, mountain, and valley, echo it, we would do it. Again do we change; and he that hath noted the quick obscuring of the sun in the Month of Buds, may estimate the variableness of our temper. Then tears fall from our eyes in torrents, as showers fall from a cloud, and as hastily as a mist is dissipated by a bright morning beam do smiles re-illumine our countenances, and our faces and hearts become filled with gladness. Tempest and fair weather, darkness and sunshine, are in us strangely blended. There is in our nature a strange jarring of the elements of being. Can ye take to your bosoms wives, who will afflict you with mutabilities as great, sudden, various, as those of the elements which surround you? Ye are pleased to think us beautiful, and it may be that we are; but remember that ye see us in one of our pleased, pleasant, and happy, moments. Wait till an accident or misfortune happens, till want or calamity come, or contradiction ensue, or some of the crosses which belong to human life, as clouds and tempests to the constitution of nature, assail us. But, if you think your love could survive the hurricanes which will visit your dwellings when we are stormy; if you can bear to see the lightnings of our eyes flashing wrath upon you, and our voices speaking thunder in your ears—I speak for myself and sisters—take us, and we will assure you of many moments of bright sunshine, many days of peace and happiness—uninterrupted sun, and cloudless skies." The beautiful daughter of the sun, who spoke for herself and her sisters, concluded thus, and the eldest of the four hunters rose, and replied in these words:
"Beautiful maiden, that speakest for thyself and sisters, do not think that what thou hast said will affright us. I speak for myself and brothers—we will take you with all your faults, with the chance of the hurricanes and stormy weather, linked with the hope of the moments of bright sunshine and days of peace and happiness. Believe me, dove-eyed maidens, that the women of the lake Ouaquaphenogan, in the island of the same name, are not alone in their disposition to be stormy at times. It need not be told the men of the Creek nation, that a woman's face, of whatever country, may justly be likened to an April day, alternately shining and showering, and that her soul is like a morning in the Variable Moon, which one moment may be dressed in a thick mantle of clouds, and the next in a glittering robe of solar glory. It need not be told the son of my mother, that a woman's voice is sometimes the voice of a gentle rill, and at others, that of a cloud charged with the poison of the heated and rarefied air. Are not the Creeks men, and shall they be frightened by what is a mere momentary delirium? No. Having looked upon a wintry storm and a summer tempest, and seen the bright stars succeeding one, and the warm and cheering sun the other, we can listen with calmness—even with pleasure—to the tempest of a woman's anger, and survey, without trembling, or hiding, or running away, the lightnings of her wrath, because we know that after a storm comes a calm. We know that the sun shines most gloriously when his beams are first unveiled by the passing away of the clouds which have obscured him; we know that a woman's face is most beautiful, when she has wiped the tears of anger from her cheek, and dressed it in smiles to win back the love which her folly has endangered. We will take you, beautiful creatures, subject to the becoming passions of which you speak, filled with all the beautiful frenzies of woman's temper. We know that all women, whether they dwell among the Creeks, or in the island Ouaquaphenogan, in the lake of the same name, are alike in their dispositions. It hath long been taught, beautiful creatures, in our nation, and among all nations of which we have heard our fathers speak, that men should take them wives, but it is only now that we have recalled the maxim to our minds, it is only now that we acknowledge the wisdom of our teachers. Now, if men chose those only whose tempers never varied, one, two, may be three, among all the sons of men would take wives; if one sought for a maiden with a never clouded brow and soul, it might become the labour of a whole nation to furnish mocassins for the feet of one travelling in quest of the bride. Therefore we take you with all your faults, believing that you have them but in common with all your sex, and with no greater portion than belongs to others. And we bind on your fair brows the flowers which betoken affection and constancy, and we place in your soft and beautiful hands the emblems of the charge we confide to them when we make you the wives of our bosoms."
So these four beautiful daughters of the sun became the affianced brides of the four bewildered Creek hunters.
"But," said the beautiful maidens to their lovers, "we have told you of the ferocity of our fathers and brothers, and of the hatred of our nation towards the descendants of the men who overthrew and massacred our ancestors. We cannot expose you to the danger of their wrath; you must fly, but whithersoever that be, we will fly with you." So the four beautiful daughters of the sun left for ever the island Ouaquaphenogan, and the lake of the same name, and became the wives and mothers of hunters and warriors. They were at times very stormy in their tempers, but upon the whole not worse than other women. Their faces were at times those of April days, alternately shining and showery, but there were women in our nation, who were not at all akin to the sun, nor ever saw Ouaquaphenogan, that were as like them as if they had been sisters. Their eyes did, indeed, sometimes send out volleys of lightnings, and their tongues give forth heavy thunders, but neither were louder nor sharper than those of the women, who had for ages given the beam of the one and the music of the other to the men of the Creeks. And, if they did at times term their husbands "brutes," it was no more than other husbands had been called before. And if they did, in the moment of a hurricane, drive their husbands from their fire-sides, they were by no means the first who had done so. Upon the whole, the four hunters had no particular reason to regret their bewilderment in the marsh Ouaquaphenogan.
It cannot be new to my pale-faced brother, for he has been told it often enough, that, besides the Great Master of Life, the red men of the forest worship a great multitude of spirits with whom they believe every part of the world to be peopled. According to our belief, a Manitou dwells upon every hill, and in every valley; in every open glade and dark morass; in the chambers of every cavern, and the heart of every rock; in every fountain, and watery depth, and running stream. These spirits dislike white men very much, because they are always intruding upon their quiet, robbing both hill and valley of their stately trees, breaking up the bosom of the earth, penetrating into every dark morass and cavern, and polluting, by some means or other, every fountain, and watery depth, and running stream. Indians do not wish to provoke them, and so try to propitiate them by innocent and unbloody offerings. We spread on the mountain tops, or hang on the cliffs, or lay on the shelves of the caves, or drop into the waters, wreaths of flowers, belts of wampum, clusters of the wild grape, shining ears of maize, and other gifts which attach them to us. When an Indian child is born, whether it is a man-child or woman-child, a spirit is immediately chosen to protect it, and its future life is expected to be prosperous or not as the guardian spirit is powerful and well-disposed to his charge, or weak, and undertakes his task of protection with reluctance.
The Little White Bear of the Iroquois was reposing by night in his cabin, on the banks of his own pleasant river, in the month of ripe berries, when he beheld, by the light of the moon, a forest-chief in all his pride enter the lodge. The step of the stranger was noiseless as the fall of snow, and of word or sound uttered he none. The chief of the Tuscaroras arose, and took down his sinewy bow, and drew from his quiver a sharp and barbed arrow—the figure faded away like a morning mist before the beams of the sun, and was gone from his eyes. Tetontuaga woke his comrades, who lay scattered about in careless slumber—nothing had they seen, heard, or dreamed of. He lay down again, and, drawing his buffalo cloak closely around him, tried to close his eyes and ears, in oblivion of things, and to rein his fancy to look upon other shapes than those of air.
No sooner had he composed his limbs, and invoked the beneficent spirit who presides over sleep to grant him a slumber unvisited by hideous or frowning forms, than the shadowy warrior again arose and stood at his side. The Iroquois had now full opportunity to scan his form and features. Of gigantic frame he seemed, and his dress was of a texture and fashion such as the chief had never seen before—of an age and a nation none might guess. He was a half taller than the tallest man of the Five Nations, who are reputed the tallest of all the red men of the land, and his limbs, arms, legs, hands, feet, were of twice the ordinary size of an Iroquois warrior. His coal-black eyes were larger than the buffalo's, but they were lustreless as those of the dead; his teeth, large and of the colour of bones bleached by the sun and rain, chattered like the teeth of a man overpowered by the cold of the Bear-Moon. He wore over his shoulders a long robe of curiously dyed, or painted cloth, fastened at the throat by a piece of shining metal, and a fur cap made of the skin of an animal never seen by the Iroquois, above which rose a high plume of feathers of a bird unknown in Indian lands. The mocassins were of one piece, reaching with no visible seam to the knees, and he wore upon his sinewy thighs garments shaped like those worn by the white stranger. His language, when he spoke, was a strange and uncouth language, yet it was understood by the Iroquois warrior, who felt, as he heard the strange sound, its meaning seize his brain as a strong man seizes and binds him who is weak and powerless. Wondrous were the things which the fierce phantom related to the startled warrior of the Iroquois. He spoke of the wars of the Allegewi, and of the torrents of blood that ran into the Michigan, and the Erie, and the Huron, and the River of the Mountains, and the Næmesi Sipu, discolouring their once clear, and cresting with red foam, their once calm and peaceful waters. He told how the men of the Allegewi were beaten and driven no one but the Great Being, and the Manitous, and the spirits in the Blessed Shades, knew whither, by the ancestors of the Iroquois, who came from the far north, across an arm of the Frozen Sea, encountered the Allegewi, the primitive inhabitants of the soil, who were entrenched behind the stupendous mounds which still remain, and drove them into perpetual banishment. He described the pigmy people, and the giant tribes whose graves and mounds might yet be seen, exciting the wonder of the curious, and bringing men even from the City of the Rock to view them, to open them, and to put down their thoughts about them upon the fair white skin. A wild and unnatural song of triumph, in a tone as hoarse as the croakings of the raven or the bittern, burst from his lips, of the valiant exploits of his tribe, his own among the number, in times long since—when the oak tree now dying with age was a little child, and the huge rocks were within the strength of a full grown warrior to poise. He spoke of nations whose names till then had never reached the ears of the wondering Iroquois, and told of their loves, and their hatreds, and their forest warfare.
Then he changed the theme, and spoke of the land of souls, the bright region to which the spirits of the good retire when the body is to be changed to dust. He painted the pleasures which are the portion of its inhabitants, and told in the ears of the warrior what description of men were permitted to be received into it; what were the deeds which pleased and conciliated the Great Being, and what the crimes which shut the gates of the Bridge of Souls against the wanderer thither. He painted minutely the happy land appointed for the residence of the souls of the Iroquois—where the brave man's shade still pursues the forest herd, or clasps to his bosom the forms of the sunny-eyed maidens of his own clime; and the green and happy isles where the Huron lovers reside, and the frozen and verdureless heath appointed to the cowards of all the earth. When he had exhausted these subjects, he related to the warrior many traditions of the old time, tales of forest love, and of the valour of the men of ancient days. He continued to visit the lodge of the chief every night for the space of a moon, entertaining him, with the same fixed and lustreless eye, and in the same hoarse tone, with these old tales. The Little White Bear of the Iroquois locked up those things in the great store-house of his memory, and each day, when the sun returned to the earth, and with it the ghost of the ancient man had departed, he related to his wondering tribe the traditions poured into his ear by the phantom warrior. And this was the first.
The moon was shining brightly on tree and flower, on glade and river, on land and water; stars were twinkling, and the winds slept in the caverns of the earth, when a youth and a maiden—he, tall and straight as a forest tree; fierce as a panther to his enemies, but gentle as a kid to those he loved; she, little in stature as a sprout of a single season, but the mildest and most beautiful of all mortal things—came out of the forest. The horse upon whose back they had escaped from their enemies lay exhausted at the verge of the wood, and now they stood alone by the river of silver.
"Here rest thee, my beloved," said the youth, "we are safe. Our good steed has sped like an arrow through the thicket; our pursuers, my rival, thy father, thy brother, and all thy tribe, lie foiled and fainting far behind us. There is no longer footfall or shout in the wind; the voices of angry men, calling the Algonquin by names he never owned and whose ignominy he may not avenge, have long since expired on our ears like the voice of a dying cloud in the Moon of Thunder. Rest thee, my beloved!—as a young bird that is weary of flying reposes on the bough of a tree till its faintness has passed away, so must thou lie down on the green and verdant bank till thy strength returns. I go to yonder river, to seek a bark to bear us away to the lands of my nation, and to my pleasant cabin by the stream where I first drew breath." And he rose to go.
"Oh leave me not!" cried the maiden, her soft cheek bedewed with tears, and deep sighs proceeding from her oppressed heart. "When thou art away, I tremble with terror. When I see not the light of thine eyes, I am filled with dismay. My mother comes, in her anger, to chide me, and she does not spare; my stern brother storms like the winter's tempest; my sire rages and threatens; and then, like the panther that springs across the path of the lone hunter, comes thy hated rival, to oppress me with the tale of his love and the boast of his success."
"Nay, thou art dreaming, my beloved," said the young warrior. "If fancy must sway thee, let thy visions be tinted with the cheerful ray of hope. There is no peril near thee, and soon will I bear my beautiful bride to the lands of my nation, and to my pleasant cabin beside the beautiful river where I first drew my breath."
So saying, he sprung lightly to the shore, and was lost to her sight. At the moment of his disappearance, a cloud passed over the face of the bright moon, obscuring her blessed light. The maiden, deeming it an inauspicious omen, sat down upon the green bank, and, leaning her head upon her hand, suffered the tears to stream through her slender fingers. But vain was the presage—idle were her fears. The cloud has passed away from the face of the pale orb, and lo! there is her lover. He comes with a joyous step and a laughing eye, as though he had been successful in his search for the further means of flight. Cheer up, Mekaia; it is indeed thy Moscharr.
"Now haste, my beloved one," said the Mountain Plant. "I have found the object of my search. Here is a canoe, and soon shall it convey my Star-flower over the rapid tide. Soon will my little bark shoot over the noisy current, and I and my beloved be altogether beyond the power of our pursuers."
So saying, he drew the unreluctant maiden swiftly forward. They gained the shore, placed themselves in the canoe, and committed it to the current. With her hand clasped in his, her head resting softly upon his shoulder, while his arm fondly encircled her slender waist, they glided down the rapid River of the Mountains. No sail was raised to catch the breeze; no oar was used to impel them through the water; yet, ere the maiden had time to breathe, the light canoe was gliding, rapid as thought, down the mid-waves of the current. Then the maiden spoke.
"Now say, O Moscharr, whither is it you are guiding the bark? Mark you not, love, how we are gliding down the stream towards the dreadful Oniagarah?"
"Be calm, my Mekaia," answered the lover, "I am but guiding you to yonder strand, upon which the current sets full and strong. Be calm, my Mekaia, we are safe."
The maiden held her tongue, for was she not with him she loved? Away then, away they went, and still onward, while faster, and fleeter, and more boisterous, the foaming waters flowed around them, and less distant every moment seemed the dreadful cataract. Its roar was like that of an approaching cloud from which thunders are issuing. Again the timid maiden addressed her lover:
"Now tell me, O Moscharr, whither is it you are guiding the bark? See, the shore is more distant, and hark! what awful noise is that which strikes mine ear from out of the black curtain ahead of us? It cannot be the thunders, for there is no cloud; it cannot be the voice of the Great Spirit, for he is the friend of the Ottawa girl."
"Be calm, my Mekaia," answered the lover, "there is no danger; it is thy lover that guides the bark, and he will be careful of the flower of the forest maidens. I see the shore—I see the rock—and whenever I will I can guide to either."
Away then, away goes their light bark, and still they speed onward with the swiftness of an arrow from a well drawn bow. The tall dark forests that rose above their starting-place are fast receding from view, and hark! pealing like the thunders of heaven, the roar of the mighty cataract, to come within whose influence is instant destruction.
"Now tell me, O Moscharr, what dreadful sound is that which breaks in so loud and angry a tone upon my ear from out of the black curtain?" demanded the maiden.
"It is the surge breaking on the sandy shore, or the night winds rushing through the forest," answered he.
"And tell me what are those lifting their white heads before us, as the snow, which has fallen in a calm, is swept about by the whirlwind which follows it?"
"Billows breaking on the shoals that surround yon little island."
Away then, away goes their little bark, dashing among the wild waves, like a leaf caught up into air by the summer whirlwind, till all at once burst upon the horror-stricken maiden, in their most tremendous and appalling aspect, the waters of the far-famed, the wondrous Oniagarah. See the white sheet of foam which rises in spray, mocking the soaring of the bird of morning. "It is only the Great Spirit that can save us now!" exclaimed the frantic maiden. "Lo, my Moscharr, we hasten to the land of souls!"
"Not the Great Spirit himself, did he will it, could save us," answered the lover in a tone which seemed to be that of impiety. "Were he here himself, with all the Manitous of the earth, and the air, and the flood, and the fire, gathered together from mountain, and valley, and wood, and prairie, he could not save us. Together, Mekaia, we shall sleep in the stormy cataract."
The maiden heard the dreadful words in silence. But even then she showed the depth of her affection. The love of a woman endures through all changes; she shrinks not at death, so the beloved one be at her side. When the beauteous flower of the forest saw her fate approaching, and so near, she sank into the arms of her Moscharr, as though it were pleasanter to die there than elsewhere; and a soft smile, for she smiled even in that dread moment, told that she was most happy to die, if she could die on the breast of him she loved.
But hark, what voice is that calling upon thee, wretched maiden! Did not he who won thy youthful heart, while yet it was little and fluttering, so pronounce the loved word "Mekaia?" Was not that the tone and accent which oft rang through the hollow beech woods, when together ye went to gather the ripened mast, and chanced to separate till the cry recalled? And look—see, one stands upon the beetling rock above thee, amidst the crash and thunder of the eddy into which thou art cast, his arms stretched towards thee, beautiful flower of the wilderness, and his look one of unutterable agony and despair. It is Moscharr, beautiful Mekaia, it is he who sat by thy side in the playful hours of infancy, and won thy little heart ere it knew wherefore it was beating. With the speed of the blast he has followed thy course down the shore of the cataract, and now he stands upon the edge of the terrible gulf, horror depicted in his countenance, his eyes cast upward in supplication to the Great Spirit, that thou mayst yet be preserved, and agony and doubt written on his face, lest the prayer he breathes may not be heard. And if that be thy lover who calls franticly upon thee from the beetling rock, who is he that sits at thy side, wearing the form and semblance of that lover, and speaking with the soft and kind tones which were ever his when addressing the flower of the forest maids? Alas! rose of the wilderness, it is the ruling spirit of the angry flood, the dreadful Manitou of the Cataract!
One tearful look the maiden bestows upon her agonised lover, ere the canoe glides over the precipice, and, swift as rocks hurled by spring rains down the side of the mountains, disappears in the horrid chasm below. One tearful look, one heart-rending shriek, which rises even above the roar of the cataract, as the canoe plunges through the foam, and she is gone from his eyes, like a feather caught up on the wings of a great wind.
What beautiful little bird is that which descends from yon silver-edged cloud, which is floating so high in the heavens that only the vulture may venture a flight thither, or the gray eagle sweep to it in his pride? Beautiful creature! beautiful bird(1)! not so large as the swallow, its neck a bright green, its wings scarlet, mottled with white, and having a train thrice as long as its body, in which are blended all the colours that adorn the rainbow. It came to the spot where the lover, unmanned by the dreadful catastrophe, stood mourning like a mother bereaved of her children, and, thrice circling his head, invited his attention by all the means which could be used by mortals, except that of speech. The lover sees at length the beautiful creature, and knows whose messenger it is. But why comes the herald of hope to him in his hour of despair? Can the Great Spirit, all-powerful as he is, succour him? Can joy be yet in store for him? It must be so, else why has he sent down his own messenger from the sky? That Being is too kind and too good to hold out false hopes; it is not in his nature to intimate an intention of succouring unless he actually entertains such intention. Be comforted, Mountain Plant, thou hast a friend!
And now commenced their toilsome journey down the side of the cataract. The spirit-bird led, and the bereaved lover followed. Poised on joyful wing, the little messenger fluttered before him, singing sweet songs of promise, until they had descended into the frightful abyss, and its secrets stood revealed before them. Terrific sight! tremendous sound! Their eyes were appalled by the view of billows which mount to the very skies—of huge volumes of water, dashing down the dreadful precipice into a vast basin, which seemed large enough to be the tomb of the giant Chappewee; and their ears were saluted with sounds, whose loudness and violence were a thousand times beyond those of the tempest, or the thunder, or the earthquake. Onward they groped their desperate way beyond the fiercest fall, until all at once they came to a dreadful cavern shrouded in the deepest night and gloom. Notwithstanding the whirl of waters, and the impetuous rush of the blast, and, though the earth rocked around them like a canoe on the stormy waves of the Spirits' Bay of Lake Huron(2), yet the brave and patient Moscharr, unwearied and fearless, followed through pass and pitfall, by stream and steep, the flight of his little conductor. Keeping the lamp carried by the spirit-bird in view, he regarded not the huge rocks toppling above his head, and each moment threatening him with instant destruction, but fought on his perilous course, till they had threaded the labyrinth, and found themselves in a cavern, as unlike the first, as the tranquil summer sky is unlike the blustering of the sky in the Moon of Storms.
The cavern, into which they now found entrance, was lit up by a blaze of effulgence, which seemed as great as would be that of a hundred suns shining at one time. So astonishing was the brightness, so surpassing the beauty of those things which served for the lamps of this vast hall, that the Iroquois warrior for a moment forgot the cause which brought him thither, and stopped to admire the glories which were scattered around him. It was, indeed, filled with all that might dazzle and ravish the sight. Above them glittered a firmament studded, it seemed, with stars, yet flashing a light far more brilliant than the stars of night ever gave. And the sides of the cavern glittered with the gorgeous hues reflected from the shining stones of many colours wherewith it was set.
But why halts the spirit-bird guide, and why does he veil his lamp? Why looks he with anxious eyes to yonder bright chambers in the cavern? What beings are those which appear in that chamber, and whose are those accents that fall on the eager ears of the lovers? I behold a couch formed of spar that glitters like icicles in the beams of the sun. It is covered with the softest grass that grows at the bottom of the torrent, and upon it is laid, panting with weariness and fright, a beautiful woman—it is the flower of the forest maidens, the lost Mekaia! At her side, no longer counterfeiting the Iroquois warrior, but showing himself in all his native ugliness, his body crooked and disproportioned, his hair coarse as the weeds that grow on the rocks of the great salt sea, his eyes green as a meadow in spring, his mouth of enormous size, and his ears like those of a buffalo, stands her persecutor and ravisher, the Fiend of the Cataract. And thus he wooed the fair helpless being that lay upon the couch of dazzling stone:
"Mekaia, beauteous Mekaia, the mighty Manitou of Oniagarah asks thy love. If thou wilt give it me, I will give thee in return all the treasures of earth and flood, the diamonds which lie in the depths of the cataract, and the bright ore, which, in other lands, buys both the bodies and souls of men. The thing that thou wishest shall be within the reach of thy hand as soon as wished; and, to please thee, my form shall again take the shape and appearance of him thou lovest. I go now, fair maiden, but soon will I return to thee and love. But, if thou again refusest me, the Manitou shall come to woo thee like himself, and, in his own proper form, of more hideous seeming than that which he now wears, and invested with thrice his present terrors, enforce his claim. His wishes gratified, he will spurn thee from him, and cast forth thy corse to the torrent."
With this heavy threat the Manitou vanished. And now seize, seize, ye lovers, the happy minute! 'Tis a moment of fate. Fly, fly! and look, the aërial messenger of Him who governs all things beckons them on. They obey the mute appeal, and with the fleetness of the mountain goat rush from the cavern. Their way is dark and dreadful, but fear lends them wings. They know from the lips of their beautiful guide, the Spirit-bird, which at length has opened its mouth to impart to them words of kind encouragement, that with the dawning of day the fiend of the flood is but mortal—that with the crowing of the cock his power is at an end; and they are urging their limbs to their utmost speed, for see, the gleam of red tells that day is nigh. The little messenger from the Great Spirit still points the pathway, and under his care and guidance they speedily gain the mid-height. Alas for the lovers! Heaven preserve them in this their hour of extreme peril, for see, the horrible fiend is on their track, straining every nerve in pursuit; and so rapidly does he gain upon them, that, unless aid be sent from some superior power, they will be soon in his grasp.
But the brave Moscharr still clung to hopes of escape, and still exerted himself with almost superhuman power to accomplish it. With one arm encircling the lifeless form of the maiden, he employed the other to draw himself, by means of the protruding shrubs, over the steep precipices. A sudden thought enabled him to baffle for a while the grim pursuer. His foot, applied to a loose rock, launched it in a tone of thunder upon the fiend, who was borne backward half the distance of an arrow's flight by the ponderous mass. During the time he was struggling to disengage himself from the weight that pinned him to the earth, the lover had nearly won the farthest bound of the Manitou's kingdom. And see, the purple and grey breaks out from the east. It is day, and the power of the Manitou, as far as regards his spiritual nature, is ended. Summon, O Moscharr, all your strength and fleetness, and by one desperate effort escape his personal strength, as the fortunate coming of the daylight's beam has placed you beyond the reach of his supernatural power! Hurry on! hurry on! The kingdom of the Manitou extends but to the lowest bubble of foam—it ends with the last billow of the rapids—the goal is before you; it is scarce half a bowshot from you—haste, and it is won. Hurry on! hurry on! the moment you have reached the boundary of the fiend-kingdom, multitudes of good spirits—friends to you, but deadly and implacable foes to your enemy—will start up to assist you.
With the maiden on his arm, all wounded and bleeding, his own body lacerated and torn, yet unyielding as ever, does the brave Moscharr pursue his flight. But he feels as if the moment of death was near at hand. Exhausted by his almost superhuman efforts to escape, he finds a weakness and trembling stealing over his limbs, and he faints, and falls with his lovely burthen to the earth, at the very moment of victory and safety. The Manitou has reached him, and, with a fiend-like laugh on his horrid face, bends exultingly forward to seize his helpless victims. One hand he lays upon the tender arm of the forest-flower, the other is in the hair of the lover. But, as he bends forward, a sudden jerk of the Iroquois, occasioned by returning life, draws him unwittingly over the line which marks the boundaries of his kingdom and sway. In a moment—in a breath—ere the eye could have winked, or the spirit thought—multitudes of bright beings start up from each nook, and dell, and dingle—from field and flood. The deep space, the rocks above them, below them, at their side, the air above and around them, as far as the eye can reach, is filled with beneficent spirits. "He is ours!" they shout; "he is ours! He has passed from the region over which he had sway; he has left the dominions and powers over which he held rule. He is ours! he is ours! Not in vain did we leave our verdant bowers in the distant Lake of the Thousand Islands, to hasten to the succour of the maiden flower of the forest and her brave and faithful lover. It was the Great Spirit that inspired us to come hither, that we might save from death, and what were far worse, the beautiful betrothed of the valiant Moscharr. He is ours! he is ours! the Manitou is ours! Now launch your light barks, brothers—launch your light barks! The skiffs that brought us hither must be moored in the calm bays of our dear island before the broad sun looks over the tops of the eastern hills. But first we must punish our ruthless foe. Let us inflict on him the fate he threatened to inflict on the beauteous maiden—let us bind him and throw him down these rugged rocks into the wave that rolls furiously below! He is ours! he is ours!"
At once—at the conclusion of their song of triumph—a thousand bright forms sprung upon the prostrate and powerless Manitou, and bound and dragged him to the steep. And while again arose their wild but melodious cry, "He is ours! he is ours!" they launched him into the thundering torrent below, which swept his mangled and lifeless body into utter oblivion.
When the destruction of the fiend was accomplished, the beautiful spirit-bird, which, while the deed of his death was doing, sat eyeing them intently from a broken crag above their heads, rose from its perch, and, after dropping upon the pair, from his radiant wings, showers of light as the tokens of the love of its Master for them, soared back to the skies whence it came. The happy Moscharr and his loved Mekaia then accompanied the friendly spirits, who had assisted in the overthrow of the bad Manitou, to their home in the beautiful Lake of the Thousand Islands. The pair were welcomed with songs and rejoicings to the spirit shores, and loud were the revels, and boisterous the mirth, of its little inhabitants. Triumphs were made for them, mingled with rejoicings, at the downfall of their long-feared and much hated foe. And when they had displayed their love for the pair, by all the means within their power—dancing, feasting, and kind speech—they dismissed them to their homes, with many blessings upon their heads, and invocations of the Good Spirit to protect and prosper them. The brave Moscharr and his beautiful bride soon reached the home of his people, and lived to see their children's children listen with mute astonishment to the tale of the escape of their father's parents from the Manitou of the Cataract.
(1) Beautiful bird.—p. 104.
The Spirit-Bird or the Wakon Bird is the Indian bird of paradise. It is held in the utmost veneration by the Indians as the peculiar bird of the Great Spirit. The name they have given it is expressive of its superior excellence, and the veneration they have for it; the Wakon Bird being, in their language, the bird of the Great Spirit. It is nearly the size of a swallow, of a brown colour, shaded about the neck with a bright green; the wings are of a darker brown than the body; its tail is composed of four or five feathers, which are three times as long as its body, and which are beautifully shaded with green and purple. It carries this fine length of plumage in the same manner as a peacock does, but it is not known whether it ever raises it into the erect position which that bird sometimes does. The Naudowessies consider it of superior rank to any other of the feathered creation.
(2) Louder than the thunder of the Spirits Bay of Lake Huron.—p. 105.
Nearly half-way between Saganaum Bay and the north-west corner of Lake Huron, lies a Bay, which is called Thunder Bay. The Indians, who have frequented these parts from time immemorial, and every European traveller that has passed through it, have unanimously agreed to call it by this name, on account of the continual thunder they have always observed here. Whilst Carver was making over it a passage which lasted near twenty-four hours—it thundered and lightened during the greatest part of the time to an excessive degree. It is difficult to account for the phenomenon—perhaps the organic structure of the neighbouring cliffs invites the concentration of the electric fluid at this spot.
At a short distance below the Falls of St. Anthony, there is a small rocky island, covered with huge trees, oak, pine, and cypress, its water-fretted shores and steep cliffs formed of ragged rocks, against which the waves of the cataract dash and foam in vain endeavours to overwhelm it. This little island, so annoyed by the mighty and wrathful fiends who sit in that surge, is famous throughout the Indian nations for being the abode of the spirits of the warriors of the Andirondacks—a tribe which no longer exist—who, once upon a time, many ages ago, warring against the spirits of the cataract, were completely overthrown, and by the power of their enemies transformed into eagles. As a punishment, they were bidden to dwell for ever on that misty, foggy, and noisy island; doomed to a nicer perception of hearing than belongs to mortals, that their fate might be the more awful. If my brother wishes to hear the tradition, let him open wide the doors of his understanding, and be silent.
The tribe of the Andirondacks were the mightiest tribe of the land—neither in numbers nor in valour had they their equal—their rule stretched from the broad Lake Huron to the river of the Osages, from the Alleghany to the Mississippi. All the tribes which dwelt in their neighbourhood were compelled to bow down their heads and pay them tribute. The Hurons sent them beaver-skins; the Eries wove them wampum(1); even the Iroquois, that haughty and warlike nation, who lorded it over their eastern neighbours with the ferocity of wolves, bowed to those mighty warriors, the Andirondacks, whose number was greater than that of the flights of pigeons in the month before the snows, and who wielded spears, and bent bows, and shouted their war-cry with more power than any other tribe or people in the land. Some of the more distant tribes, to secure themselves against invasion, sent ambassadors with the pipe of peace wrapped in soft furs as a present; others offered their most beautiful women for wives to the "lords of the land"—all, by various means, and in various ways, testified their inability to cope with them in war, and their anxiety to become friends and neighbours. If the proud Andirondacks granted the boon of peace, it was always with some hard condition annexed to it; not always did a favour granted by them prove a favour in the end.
So long and uninterrupted a course of prosperity begot pride and arrogance in the bosom of the Andirondacks, and they forgot the Being who had bestowed so many blessings upon them, making their wives fertile as a vine in a rich soil, giving them victory over all their enemies, and health, and bounteous harvests, and successful hunts. They paid no more worship to that Great Being; no more offered him the juicy fruits of their hunt; no more ascended the high hills at the rising or setting of the sun, with their heads anointed with clay, to pour out their souls in the song of gratitude for past, or in a prayer of supplication for future, favours; they no more scarified their bodies in deprecation of his anger, but, believing themselves—vain fools!—able to do without his aid, they shook off their duty and allegiance to him, and bade him, if not in words at least in their deeds, defiance. Pride now possessed their souls, and hardness their hearts.
It need not be told my brother that the Great Spirit is slow to anger. Knowing his power to crush with a wink of his eye every living creature; to rend asunder the mightiest hills, yea, shake to its centre the very earth with a puff of his breath; he is loth to put forth his powers or to call into action the whirlwinds of his wrath. He suffers men to revile him long before he attempts to punish them; he permits them to raise the finger of defiance many times before he strikes it down, and the tongue to utter many a scornful word before he dooms it to the silence of death. It is so with the creatures of this world, as my brother must know. The strongest man—he who feels most confident of his power to repel aggression, and to command respect and obedience, is slowest to provocation, and, when excited to anger, the easiest to be soothed and calmed. The prairie-dog oftener shows his teeth than the wolf; the imbecile adder than the death-dealing rattlesnake. And my pale-faced brother has told us the wondrous tale, that, in his own land beyond the Great Waters, the mighty animal which is called the King of Beasts is, save only when he lacks food, as mild as the dove or the song-sparrow. And thus it was with the Great Spirit, as regarded the scoffing and wickedness of the Andirondacks. Long he resisted the importunities of the subordinate Manitous, that the haughty tribe might be punished for their insolence; long he waited with the hope that their eyes might be opened, and repentance seize their hearts, and amendment ensue. He waited in vain, each day they grew worse, until at length they brought down upon their heads the vengeance which could be no longer delayed.
There was among the Andirondacks a youth who, from the moment of his birth, was the favourite of the being who rules the world. While yet an unfledged bird, his words were the words of grey-headed wisdom; while yet a boy his arm was the arm of a strong man, his eye the eye of a cool man, and his heart like the heart of a brave man. He was as cool as a warrior who has lived to be aged in scenes of war. While he sat in his cradle of woven willow, his father chanced to speak in his hearing of an expedition which the Braves were about to undertake against the distant Coppermines, who had their lodges on the skirts of the sea of eternal ice. The wise child bade the father call the chiefs and counsellors of the nation around him, and to them he said, "You will not succeed in this war. The Coppermines dwell in the regions of great cold; before they can be met, icy hills and frozen lakes, and stormy winds and bleak tempests, must be encountered. If you meet them, success would be doubtful, for they are on their own hills, with nerves fitted to endure the searching cold, and possessed of that which the Andirondacks want—a thorough knowledge of every path that crosses their snow-clad vales and ice-bound waters. Stay at home, Braves, help your women to plant corn, and cut up the buffalo-meat, rather than go upon an expedition from which you will never return. Do I not see the torturing fires lighted, and Braves wearing the Andirondack mocassins bound to the stake of death? Do not mine ears hear a death-song in the Andirondack tongue? And are not these fearless sounds which come to mine ears the cries of the vulture and the wolf, fighting for the remains of a human carcase, which hath the Andirondack tuft of hair? Stay at home, Andirondacks, help your women to plant corn, and cut up the buffalo-meat, rather than go upon an expedition from which you will never return."
But the young and ardent warriors said this was the speech of a boy, and they would not listen to them. They said that, were the words of Piskaret the words of a man, they might hearken to them, but was he, who sat in his willow cradle, a fit counsellor to gray-headed sages, or even to young Braves, who had eaten the bitter root, and put on new war-shoes, and fasted for six suns, and been made men. In vain did the boy assure them that his medicine, the Great White Owl, had revealed to him many strange things, and among others this—that if the Andirondacks engaged in a war against the Coppermines, the wrath of the Great Spirit, whose worship they had forsaken, would be upon them, and of those who went not one should ever return. They laughed at his words, treating them as they would the song of a bird that has flown over. They bound on their mocassins, and, taking their spears, and bows and arrows, bade adieu to the land of their fathers' bones. Did these valiant youths return, and did the words of the prophet-boy fall to the ground? Let the wolf, and the vulture, and the mountain-cat, answer the question. They will tell my brother that their voracious tribes held a feast in the far country of the Coppermines, and that the remains of that feast were a huge heap of human bones. Were they the bones of Andirondacks? They were, and thus were the prophetic words of the wise boy rendered true, and his reputation was established throughout the land.
And when years came over him, and the fire of early manhood beamed in his eye, the same signs of his being favoured of Heaven were displayed. He needed no practice to enable him to conquer in all the sports and exercises which are indulged in by the boys of his nation. He went beyond them in all which bespoke possession of the skill and courage necessary to make a patient and expert hunter, or a brave and successful warrior. In the game of archery, his arrow was ever nearest the clout, and in hurling the spear, his oftenest clove asunder the reed which was fixed as the mark. Ere he had seen fifteen harvestings of the maize, he could throw the stoutest man of the tribe in the wrestle, and his feet in the race were swifter than the deer in its flight from the steps of the red hunter. When grey-headed men assembled in the council to deliberate upon the affairs of the tribe, their invasions, or their projected removals to other hunting-grounds, they asked "Where is the wise boy?" If he were not present, he was sent for, and no determination was made till he came, and had delivered his thoughts. And thus grew up the young Piskaret, till he had reached his twentieth spring.
There was in the neighbouring nation of Ottawas a maiden who was as much celebrated for her beauty, and her charms, and her wit, as the Andirondack youth was for strength, and wisdom, and prudence. Her Indian name was Menana, which means the Daughter of the Flood. She had reached the sixteenth summer of her residence among the Ottawas, the gentlest and lightest hearted, the mildest and sweetest maiden, that ever gazed on the pale full moon, or the glittering stars, or listened to the song of the sparrow, or the waterfall. She knew how to do every thing that was beautiful, or useful. If you saw a piece of gorgeously dyed wampum, or a robe curiously plaited of the bark of the mulberry, or the feathers of the canieu or war-eagle, you needed not ask who did it—you might be sure it was Menana. Her voice was the sweetest thing ever heard, her face the most beautiful ever seen—the first had in it the melody of birds, with the expression they can never have till they are gifted with the reason given to man—the last—but what is so beautiful as the face of a beautiful woman! And then her laugh was as joyous as a dance of warriors after a great victory, and her foot was the speediest foot that ever brushed the dew from the grass. Every body loved her, and she loved every body. So kind, and so good, and so sweet-tempered, and so beautiful a maiden, was never known among the Ottawas, famed as they are throughout the land for kind, and good, and sweet-tempered, and beautiful maidens.
She was not the daughter of an Ottawa woman, or any other woman, nor was her father an Ottawa man, or any other man. She was the daughter of the mighty cataract. The moon in which she came to the land of the Ottawas was the moon in which the forest trees put forth their earliest buds, and the blooming takes place of the little blue flower, which our forest maidens love to twine with their hair, and our forest boys to gather as the harbinger of returning warmth, and joy, and gladness. She came not at first to the village of the Ottawas in the perfect shape of a human being. It was many years before that, one morning, as the head warrior of the nation went out, as was his wont, to look abroad on the early sky, he found sitting at his door a little creature of a form such as he had never beheld, nor ever dreamed of. Woman she seemed from her waist upward, but fish or rather two fishes below. Her face was that of a most beautiful maiden in the charming hours when she begins to dream of tall youths; her eyes were blue as the deepest tinge of the water, and mild as a summer morning, her teeth white as the teeth of a salmon, and her locks fell sweeping the very earth. Her hands and arms were perfectly shaped, but they were covered with scales, and here and there tinted with red, which glittered like the evening sun on the folds of a cloud. Her height was about that of a small child who is just beginning to use its feet. The strange little creature did not stir as the warrior approached it, but suffered him to survey it unmoved, and, when he kindly wiped the dew from its waving locks, bent its eyes upon him with the deepest gratitude depicted in its countenance. As an Indian believes that every thing, even trees, and rivers, and mountains, have souls, or spirits, and are all worthy to be adopted as his protecting okkis, the warrior addressed the strange creature, and besought it to become his intercessor with the Great Spirit, his okki in peace and war. What was his surprise when it made reply to him, in a tone very nearly like the tone of a human being, and in a dialect of the Ottawas, as follows!
"I cannot be thy guardian spirit, for I am about to throw off my spiritual nature, and to become as thou art, a mortal, or rather I am to assume my former nature and state. Though I wear a form which is neither fish nor flesh, yet have I not always been thus. Once, many years ago, I was a human being. Gazing one evening on the blue sky, filled with shining lights, a passion came over my soul to behold them nearer. I besought the Master of Life to suffer me to ascend to the land of those bright things, and to visit the beautiful rainbows which had been equally the objects of my fond contemplation. My prayer was heard; I fell asleep, and, when I awoke, found myself where I wished to be. I was among the stars, sailing with them as an eagle or a cloud is wafted along on the winds which sweep the lower world. I beheld them glorious as you behold them from the earth, bright, round, and twinkling balls of every size, all endued with life, and all busily engaged in dancing their intricate dances, to music which came from unseen hands. My words cannot describe the splendour of the scene. Yet shall I tell the Ottawa warrior that the scene and the dances soon ceased to give pleasure. Who would wish to gaze for ever on the sun, bright and dazzling though he be? What one of all the fair things of the earth may be looked on for ever with delight? Its lakes, its rivers, its mountains, its bold youths, and lovely maidens, and many other things, are very fair, but each would tire were the eye to be chained to that alone. I was soon tired of the splendour of the starry world, and wished myself again upon the earth. I asked the Master of all for permission to return. He said, 'Thou hast been disembodied, thy flesh is decayed—thou art but a spirit, it may not be.' 'May I not', said I, 're-animate some form from which the breath has just departed? may I not enter the corse of some child, and live out the remainder of the days of a favoured mortal?'
"The Great Spirit answered, 'It cannot be. But if thou art content to return to the earth and assume a form which shall be neither mortal nor immortal, neither man nor beast, be it so. Remember thou shalt not be endowed with the shape of a human being till thou shalt hear in the cataract, where I doom thee to dwell, the voice of one crying, 'Now is the time.' Then shalt thou leave the flood, repair to the land of my beloved people, the Ottawas, and there gradually return to the shape which once was thine. But, an immortal soul shalt thou not possess till thy bosom shall be lit up by the flame of love.'
"Thus spake the Great Being, and in a breath I found myself descending from the land of the stars upon the glorious rainbow. Speedy and uninterrupted was my descent, till I came to the mighty cataract; its capacious and stormy bosom received me, and there have I dwelt with the Spirits of the Flood, the adopted daughter of their chief, till now. Lo, Ottawa! I am at thy door, a strange creature, but demanding hospitality and protection from thee. Wilt thou give it me till I am permitted to take that form which shall give me the powers of a human being, and feel my bosom lit up by that flame which may give me one bound to feed and protect me?"
The Ottawa answered, that "his cabin had a quiet corner, and there should the strange maiden—if, indeed, she were a woman—rest; his house was always the abode of plenty, and of that should the stranger partake." So the creature, who was neither fish nor flesh, continued to reside in the cabin of the Ottawa warrior.
But each day was she observed to be assuming more and more the appearance of a mortal maiden. The scales fell from her arms and hands, which lost their red tints, and became soft and fair as the flesh of a new-born child. The two fishes gradually became two well proportioned legs. But though she had now become identified in form with the human race, she retained many of the propensities of that with which she had formerly dwelt. She loved to sport in the cataract, and lave herself in the lakes and rivers. Often would she fly from the company of the Ottawas to that of her old friends, the Spirits of the Flood. How her eyes would glow with childish delight, when the rain dashed from the clouds in torrents, and how mirthful she would be when the spring thaws swelled the noise and the volume of the cataract! And she better loved to feed on the ooze and the seeds of the grass, which were found in the torrent, and on those species of fish which are made the prey of the larger, than on the food prepared on the hearth of the Ottawa. Gradually, however, and at length fully, did her tastes conform to the tastes of those with whom she dwelt.
Yet she had no soul—the spirit of a fish was in her, but not the spirit of a mortal. She could not weep with the afflicted, nor laugh with the joyful. She knew indeed her Creator, for all things, whether animate or inanimate, know Him; but the worship paid by her was not the worship of one who has reason for what he does, but of one who follows the prompting of instinct. She still retained her passion for the evening, and the bright balls which light it, but better loved to see their reflection in the water, than to behold them dancing about in the blue sky.
At length, there arose a black cloud in the atmosphere—the Andirondacks and the Ottawas were no longer friends. A little thing breeds a quarrel among the sons of the wilderness. A word lightly spoken, a deer stricken an arrow's flight over a certain limit, an insult of old date, but unavenged, a woman borne away from an approved lover, are each deemed of sufficient importance to enlist all the energies of a nation in the purpose of revenge. A deputation of Andirondacks came to the chief village of the Ottawas, demanding satisfaction for a trespass on their hunting-ground, and for doing the foolish thing, so much reprobated by the red men of the forest as to occasion frequent wars—the slaying of beasts of venery out of season. Among the chiefs was the youth Piskaret, who, although he had but just reached his twentieth summer, was, as I have before said, counted the strongest, the wisest, and, by anticipation, the bravest, man of the nation. And with him came his aged father, the great chief of the Andirondacks.
The feast was made and eaten, the dance was concluded, and the chiefs, and counsellors, and warriors, were smoking in the great pipe of peace, when the beautiful maiden, who bore the name of Menana, entered the council cabin. She had now lost all traces of her origin from the waters, and to all appearance was a mortal woman. She entered without that timid step which mortal maidens have when they find themselves suddenly cast into a crowd of the other sex, with none of their own to give them countenance. But Menana was not versed in the ways of mortals, and had none of the feelings which send the blush to the cheek and trembling to the heart of the maidens of the world. After surveying the stern array of warriors for a moment, with a curious and enquiring look, she walked up to the youthful Piskaret, and said to him in a sweet and soft tone, "Thou art very beautiful. Tell me if I may not win thy love?"
The Brave, who was smitten with the charms of the fair creature, pressing to her side, whispered that he loved her better than all the world, and wished her to become the wife of his bosom. Then he painted, to her willing ear, the charms of his native land, and spoke of the tall old oaks which threw their giant shade over the banks of the gentle and placid river, and the many thick glades filled with lusty deer, and lakes stocked with delicious wild fowl, which were to be found within the hunting-grounds of his nation. He told her of the plenty that reigned in the cabins of the Andirondacks, and how much better their women fared than those of the surrounding tribes. The Daughter of the Flood smiled sweetly on the youth, and tears, the first she had ever shed—and sighs, the first she had ever breathed—proofs of her having acquired a human soul—stole to her heart and her eyes.
And now she had received a soul, and become possessed of those faculties which confer pleasure and pain, and create for their possessor happiness and misery, and joy and sorrow. She was now alive to the hopes and fears which exalt or depress existence—had tears for those that wept, and a laugh for those that laughed. She, who entered that assembly of warriors, fearless as an eagle seated on the top of a lofty pine, now at once, in the twinkling of an eye, became filled with trembling, and alarm, and apprehension, and strove to hide her blushes by half hiding her face in the bosom of him she loved.
But pride, which has often interrupted the course of love, as well as led to the downfall of nations, crept into the councils of the Andirondacks, and they refused to permit the young warrior to take to wife the maiden who was not of mortal parentage. They said that she was of the blood of the spirits of the cataract, of a race who had delighted to shed a cold and pestilential vapour over the villages of their nation, and had destroyed several Andirondacks, whose blood remained unrevenged. In vain did the youth plead his love; in vain did he show, that if the spirits of the flood warred on their neighbours, who were unable to inflict a wound on their adversaries, it furnished no reason why the beautiful maiden, so lovely and so inoffensive, should be banned. She had not injured, then why should she be spurned? But his argument availed not to influence the warriors, or to bend their stern hearts to pity. They drove the fair Menana from the arms of him she loved best, and, exerting the authority, so potent among the red men of the wilderness, of a father, and of chiefs, and of elders, they carried away the lover from the village of the Ottawas, thus dividing those whom the Great Being had so clearly created for each other.
But my brother asks what became of the beautiful maiden. Let him listen, and I will tell him. She pined away with grief at being separated from the man she loved. She sang not the sweet song which young maidens sing, who know neither love nor care—but her song was lonely and sad, as that of the bird of night. She wandered by herself in the dark and gloomy woods, as the bird flits when deprived of its mate, or the deer which carries its death-wound from the shaft of the hunter. Each day her eye lost a portion of its light, and her step of its buoyancy. She laughed no more, nor joined the dance of maidens, nor went with them to gather wild flowers; but her amusements, if amusements they could be called, were to weep and sigh, to wander alone with listless step, and to sit by the edge of the cataract, telling her sad story to the spirits of the flood. The Great Spirit, seeing her grief, and knowing that a heart that is broken hath no more business among the things of this world, bade her rejoin her friends in the surge of the cataract. She heard the well-known and well-remembered voice, and prepared to obey. Calling around her the friends whom her sweetness and good-humour had won her, she bade them a tearful adieu, and received the like tribute of kindness. The young Braves, who had before attempted to win her love, crowded around her to catch her last farewell, anxious yet fearing to attempt to change a resolution which had been dictated by the Great Spirit. They had tough spears in their hands, and well filled quivers at their shoulders, and their cheeks and brows were stained with the hue of wrath, for they were prepared to avenge on the haughty Andirondacks the slight and injury done the beauteous Menana. The maidens came to witness her departure, with tears bedewing their cheeks. All accompanied her to the brink of the cataract, and beheld her throw herself into its fearful bosom.
No sooner had she reached the waters of that boiling torrent, than uprose from its bosom the grisly heads of the fell spirits, who were its inhabitants. Rage filled their countenances, and horrid imprecations burst from their lips, as they vowed to be avenged on that arrogant and wicked people, the Andirondacks, who had inflicted misery upon an adopted and cherished daughter of the flood. The last the Ottawas saw of them, they were soothing and comforting the beautiful Menana, whom, after sustaining for a few moments upon the surface of the water, they bore to their crystal dwelling beneath the foaming torrent. They first, however, employed an Ottawa messenger to bear their defiance to their enemies, and to assure them of their eternal hatred.
It was not long after that a large war-party of the Andirondacks, composed of the flower of that nation, and headed by Piskaret, ascended the Mississippi, to make an incursion into the territories of a nation who dwelt upon its borders above the Falls. It is the custom of the tribes, when travelling upon the river, to approach to the verge of the cataract, and then transport their canoes around it. The Andirondacks were within a bow-shot of the cataract, when all at once the surface of the water became covered with grisly heads, which grinned hatred and defiance upon the Andirondacks, who, though filled with courage to dare encounter with men of their own form and nature, shook with a new sense of fear, as they beheld the hideous countenances and uplifted arms of the spirits of the flood. In the centre of the array of water spirits, they beheld the face of the beautiful Menana, still shining in all its former beauty, her eyes lit up by the fires of an unquenched and unquenchable love. Raising their dreadful shout of vengeance, the spirits now gathered about the canoes of the paralysed Andirondacks, and commenced their work of destruction. But one was protected by a being of their own order—the brave and youthful Piskaret found himself, ere an arrow had been impelled, or a thrust given by a spear, caught and shielded by the arms of his faithful Menana. While the water-spirits were employed in dealing death among their enemies, whose resistance availed not, the beautiful maiden drew her lover from his seat in his canoe, and disappeared with him beneath the waters. The moment the lovers had sunk into the flood, the spirits, with a dreadful shout, sunk also, leaving but few of the Andirondacks survivors of their attack. Nearly the whole had perished from the assaults of beings against whom human weapons were useless—who laughed at the puny resistance of mortals, and feared their battle less than the carcajou fears the mouse, or the canieu the humming-bird.
The Great Being, at the prayer of the water-spirits, bade the souls of the slaughtered Andirondacks assume the shape of eagles, commanding them to dwell for ever on the little island which stands just below the cataract, and within the full hearing of its incessant and tremendous roar. That they might receive the full reward of their arrogance, and pride, and cruelty, he so refined their sense of hearing, that the shaking of the wings of the bat was to them as loud as the thunder of the hills to a man having but the usual ear. What then must be the noise of the mighty cataract, which, leaping over a precipice of rocks, upon a stony bed, flies back again in foam and spray, higher than an arrow impelled by the toughest bow, bent by the strongest arm!
If my brother believes my story the song of a bird, let him visit the cataract, and use his own eyes and ears. If he do not behold that little island covered with eagles, whose wings never cleave any other air than its own; if he do not hear the angry voice of the spirits in the boiling waters, ay, and if he do not see them after night-fall; then let him call me a liar.
I have no more to say.
(1) Wampum.—p. 118.
Wampum is an Indian word signifying a muscle. A number of these muscles strung together is called a string of wampum, which when a fathom long is termed a belt of wampum, but the word string is commonly used whether it be long or short. Before the English came to North America, the Indians used to make their strings of wampum chiefly of small pieces of wood of equal size, stained either black or white. Few were made of muscles, which were esteemed valuable and difficult to make. But the Europeans soon contrived to make strings of wampum, both neat and elegant, and in great abundance. The Indians immediately gave up the use of the old wooden substitutes for wampum, and procured those made of muscles, which, though fallen in price, were always accounted valuable.
These muscles are chiefly found on the coast of Virginia and Maryland, and are valued according to their colour—which is brown, violet, and white. The former are sometimes of so dark a shade that they pass for black, and are double the price of the white. Having first sawed them into square pieces, about a quarter of an inch in length, and an eighth in thickness, they grind them round or oval upon a common grind-stone. Then, a hole being bored lengthways through each, large enough to admit a wire, whipcord or large thong, they are strung like beads, and the string of wampum is completed. Four or six strings joined in one breadth, and fastened to each other with a fine thread, make a belt of wampum, being about three or four inches wide, and three feet long, containing, perhaps, four, eight, and twelve fathoms of wampum, in proportion to its required length and breadth. This is determined by the importance of the subject which these belts are intended to explain or confirm, or by the dignity of the persons to whom they are to be delivered. Every thing of moment, transacted at solemn councils, either between the Indians themselves or with the Europeans, is ratified and made valid by strings and belts of wampum. Formerly they used to give sanction to their treaties by delivering a wing of some large bird, and this custom still prevails among the more western nations, in transacting business with the Delawares. Upon the delivery of a string, a long speech may be made, and much said upon the subject under consideration: but when a belt is given few words are spoken, but they must be words of great importance, frequently requiring an explanation. Whenever the speaker has pronounced some important sentence, he delivers a string of wampum, adding, "I give this string of wampum as a confirmation of what I have spoken." But the chief subject of his discourse he confirms with a belt. The answers given to a speech thus delivered must also be confirmed by strings and belts of wampum, of the same size and number as those received. Neither the colour nor the quality of the wampum is matter of indifference, but both have an immediate reference to those things which they are meant to confirm. The brown or deep violet, called black by the Indians, always means something of a severe or doubtful import, but white is the colour of peace. Thus, if a string or belt of wampum is intended to confirm a warning against evil, or an earnest reproof, it is delivered in black. When a nation is called upon to go to war, or war is declared against it, the belt is black, or marked with red, called by them the colour of blood, having in the middle the figure of a hatchet in white wampum.
The Indian women are very dexterous in weaving the strings of wampum into belts, and marking them with different figures, perfectly agreeing with the different subjects contained in the speech. These figures are marked with white wampum on the black, and with black upon the white belts. For example, upon a belt of peace, they very dexterously represent in black wampum two hands joined. The belt of peace is a fathom long, and of the breadth of a hand. To distinguish one belt from the other, each has its peculiar mark. No belt, except the war-belt, must show any red colour. If they are obliged to use black wampum instead of white, they daub it over with white clay, and, though the black may shine through, yet in value and import it is considered as equal to white. These strings and belts of wampum are also documents by which the Indians remember the chief articles of the treaties made between themselves, or with the white people. They refer to them as to public records, carefully preserving them in a chest made for that purpose. At certain seasons they meet to study their meaning, and to renew the ideas of which they were an emblem and a confirmation. On such occasions they sit down around the chest, take out one string or belt after the other, handing it about to every person present; and, that they may all comprehend its meaning, they repeat the words pronounced on its delivery in their whole connexion. By these means they are enabled to remember the promises reciprocally made by the different parties. And, as it is their custom to admit even young boys, who are related to the chiefs, to these assemblies, they become early acquainted with all the affairs of state; and thus the contents of their documents are transmitted to posterity, and cannot be easily forgotten.
When the Nansemonds occupied for their hunting-grounds the vast forests which lie between the Mountains and the Great Arm of the Sea, they were the lords and masters of the wilds, and ruled them according to their pleasure. Throughout the land there was none equal to them for swiftness and dexterity in the chase, and they were foremost amongst the nations for their prowess in war. When their shout was heard among the distant hills of the Lenapes, the craven cry of that timid people was, "A Nansemond! a Nansemond!"—when they launched their canoes upon the distant Mississippi, the men of that region fled, like a startled deer or elk from the growl of the carcajou.
Their numbers have now become thinned; many populous villages have disappeared—brother, the Nansemonds are not what they were, at least in numbers. But they have not lost their courage and valour, nor degenerated from the ancient renown of their fathers, nor has the thinning of their nation in the least tarnished the reputation of the few who yet live, or caused their enemies to deem them less than men. None can say that they ever turned their backs upon a foe, or shunned encountering one who wished for combat. Even the Iroquois, whose arms have always wielded a tomahawk against them, and who, in their turn, have encountered their deadly vengeance, confess them very brave, and, whenever they make them captives, honour them with the prolonged torture, which it is the right of the brave and valiant only to suffer.
There was once upon a time, in this tribe, formerly so potent and renowned, but now so few and feeble, a maiden, whose name was Aton-Larre, one of whose souls—that which speaks of things understood by all, and discourses in a language intelligible to all—had left its house of flesh to go to the Cheke Checkecame, or land of departed spirits. The other soul yet abode in the body, but it was the soul which takes care that the mouth has meat and drink, administering to the wants of the flesh which enshrouds it by supplying it with food and clothing, and protecting it from fire and frost. Yet, though the sensible soul had wandered out, it had not taken away her memory, nor her faculty of seeing things unseen by other mortals, or of relating entertaining stories.
She was very beautiful, but her beauty was of a strange character. Her form was very tall and commanding, and she was straight as a reed. Her dark eyes had, from the disordered state of her mind, received a very wild expression, but none that knew her feared her, for she was innocent and harmless as a child. Her long black hair, which swept the earth at her feet, was interlaced with gay beads and shells, and gayer wild flowers, and around her wrists and ancles were fastened strings of the teeth of the alligator. It was her greatest pleasure to enter her canoe, and commit it to the current of the river. Then, while drifting about, she would sing wild and melancholy songs, striking the water at irregular intervals with a long paddle which she held in the middle, and which formed a kind of concert with the song, as though two persons were singing.
It was strange, but her people declared that the sensible soul left her while she was worshipping the Great Spirit in the Quiccosan. There, while performing the sacred dance around the carved posts, her soul was called away to the happy regions, and her mind became like a cloud in the time of a strong blast, or a dry leaf carried into the sky by a whirlwind. Others asserted that she had dared to spit upon a pawcorance, and for that had been punished by the Great Being with the loss of her senses. It matters little which was true, since one of them must have been; for it is only the Great Spirit who can take away the gift of reason which he bestows, and he only takes it away from those with whom he is angry. And thus lived the crazed Aton-Larre—strange that her bosom should have felt the pangs of love, and that for a being so ugly and misshapen as the little Ohguesse.
This Ohguesse was a youth, whose feet wanted the fleetness, and whose arm lacked the strength, of a man's, but he was nevertheless the favourite of the Great Spirit. He was less in stature than a man, and crooked withal, his height being little more than that of the tall bird which loves to strut along the sandy shore, picking up the fish as they flutter joyously along in the beams of the warm and cheering sun. But if he was diminutive in body he was great in his soul—what others lacked in wisdom he supplied. His name was Ohguesse, which signifies a Partridge. His brothers gave him this name because of his preferring peace to war—of his liking better to hunt the less dangerous animals, the makon than the mackwah, and to spear the fish that gave little trouble, and to snare peaceful birds—all sports unworthy of a man. But this tame and pacific spirit was forgiven in Ohguesse, because he was little and misshapen, and, withal, the favourite of the Great Spirit. None could call down rain from the clouds, or conjure them into a clear sky, or foretell the coming of storms, like him. If he bade the women plant the maize, they might be sure that a shower was at hand; if he bade the warriors depart on a distant expedition, they knew it would be successful. His blessing spoken over the seine was as good as its marriage; his prayer to the Great Spirit in the cave, or on the hill-top, procured health and plentiful harvests for his people. And such was Ohguesse.
Singular were the means by which Aton-Larre testified the affection she bore the little man. She would wander for hours in search of sweet berries, because he loved them; and, when in the house of her father, they were cooking the juicy buffalo's hump, she always begged the most savoury parts to carry to him she loved. When the winter brought its snows and storms, she went morning and evening to the cabin in which he dwelt, to see that there was fire to keep him warm, and, if illness assailed him, and pain stretched him out on a bed of sickness, for his strength was little and his body feeble, who but the crazed Aton-Larre gave him the drink which took the cramp from his limbs, and restored him to health?
Nor was the little Ohguesse unmindful of her kindness—he met her love with equal return. If she procured for him ripe berries, he testified his gratitude in a way which repaid her fondness—and the meat she gave him, though it was ever so old and tough, was to him the juiciest that ever touched the lips of man. He would sit on the bank of the river for half a sun, watching her canoe, as she swept it over the current, and listening to her charming songs in which his own name was mentioned with so much love. And, when fatigued by her labour she guided her bark to the shore, Ohguesse was sure to meet her with outstretched arms, and assist her in the labour of carrying the canoe to its shed of pine branches. In the long evenings of the moons of snow and frost she would sit and relate to him—for her memory had not left her—tales of the goodness of the Great Spirit and the wickedness of the Evil Spirit; of the wars of the tribe, and of the journeys she had made to the land of souls, and of the dreams she dreamed, and of strange fishes she had seen in the depths of the sea, and strange fowls in the upper regions of the air, and strange beasts in the wild forests. Many indeed were the wonderful things she had beheld, if you believed what she said—and who could do otherwise, since her soul had travelled to the Happy Hunting-Grounds, and her eyes beheld with a double nature—the nature of a spirit and the nature of a mortal? It was in one of these long and stormy winter nights that she related to the tribe the story of the Maqua that married a Rattlesnake.
There was once upon a time, she began, in the tribe of the Maquas, the foes of my nation, a young warrior whose name was Cayenguirago. He was the bravest and most fearless of men—his deeds were the theme of every tongue, from the stormy shores of the wild Abenakis to the mountain clime of the fierce Naudowessies. While he was yet a boy his deeds were the deeds of a man—ere the suns of fifteen summers had beamed on his head, he had followed in the war-path of the full-grown Braves to the haunts of the Mohicans on the borders of the Great Salt Lake. And, before the snows of the succeeding winter had melted, he had become a Brave and a werowance. But with his great strength and daring valour was mixed a bad and cruel disposition—his heart was very wicked and impious. When the priests spoke to him of the Great Spirit, he told them he should never believe there was such a spirit till he saw him—he omitted no opportunity of making scoff of that good being, and laughing at his thunders. His mocks of those wise and good men, the priests and prophets, whom the Great Spirit loves and honours, by making them acquainted with his wishes and will, were continually poured out. He paid no respect to aged people; he took the bison's meat from his father's famished mouth, and knocked the gourd of water from the lips of his thirsty mother. If he saw a man weaker than himself he took from him whatever he coveted, and made no restitution of the things he found. If he cast his eyes upon a maiden, and she listened to his false tongue, erelong her tears were sure to flow faster than those of a roebuck that is hard pressed by a hunter. The brothers and sisters that were in the cabin of his father, if they crossed him, were beaten like a dog caught in a theft; if he gave a pledge to follow a chief(1) he was sure to forget it; if he made a vow to aid a friend in danger, he was sure to desert him, not from fear, but because it was a pleasure to him to do wrong and inflict injury. And thus lived Cayenguirago, the Great Arrow of the Maquas.
Once upon a time, as this brave but bad chief was hunting alone in the wilderness, in a spot which the Great Spirit had forgotten to level(2), he came to a great cave in the side of a hill. It was in the time of winter, and the hour of a fearful fall of rain and hail. To escape the wrath of the spirits of the air, he entered this deep cave in the side of the hill, carrying with him much wood, and the spoils he had won in the chase. As he entered it he heard many strange and fearful noises, but Cayenguirago was a warrior, though a wicked one, and, little troubled at any time by frightful sounds, he pursued his way into the interior of the cave. It was dark as a cloudy night in the time that follows the death of the moon, but he remarked that the cave was lit up and the darkness partially dispelled by what appeared to be little stars, exceedingly bright substances which resembled the eyes of a wolf, though smaller and far brighter, and which were continually shifting about the cave with a slow and uncertain motion. Then, for sound there was an incessant rattling, and hissing, and slapping, which almost stunned him with noise. As he moved on he found himself impeded by something into which his feet were continually settling, and which he judged to be loose sand. When he had gone far enough from the entrance to be free from the current of air which entered the cavern by it, he laid down the deer's flesh which he had brought upon his back, took out his flint and tinder-box, and struck fire. Having properly disposed of the wood he had brought, and kindled a flame, he raised himself to an upright posture to survey the cavern. Who shall describe the terror which filled the soul of Cayenguirago, stout and fearless as he was, when he found himself in the middle of an immense body of rattlesnakes, and perceived that it was among these deadly animals, of which there was a thick layer upon the floor of the cave, that he had been for some time wallowing? Their eyes it was that lit up the cavern, and theirs were the hissing, and rattling, and slapping, which saluted his ears. Under his feet and upon every side of him, as far as the eye could reach, were heads upreared with little fiery tongues projecting from green jaws, and moving with a motion more rapid than a flash of summer lightning. The heads about the cavern were thicker than the thievish ravens in a field of milky corn. The moment that the light of the fire he had kindled enabled them to see the intruder, all of them rushed towards him, though none attempted to inflict injury. The nearest approached within a step; those behind climbed over the backs of the more advanced, until they lay piled up on every side, as high as the shoulders of a tall man. Surrounded, as Cayenguirago was, by the most venomous and dreadful of all the animals formed by the Great Spirit, he did not forget to keep his fire burning, nor to draw out his pouch filled with good tobacco. Having recovered his coolness and composure, and become a man again, he filled his pipe with the beloved weed, and, lighting it, began to roll out clouds of smoke. Each time he puffed, he observed that the snakes retreated further from him, until at length they were seen gliding into the darkness which enshrouded the further part of the cavern.
While he lay thus warming himself at the fire, and emitting clouds of fragrant smoke, some one near him exclaimed, in a very sharp and shrill voice, "Booh!" Looking up, Cayenguirago beheld standing behind him a very ugly creature, but whether man or beast, he found it at first difficult to determine. His skin was black as soot, and his hair white as snow. His eyes, which were very large, were of the colour of the green far-eyes with which the pale faces survey distant objects, and stood out so far from the head that, had one of them been placed in the middle of the forehead, a tear dropping from it would have hit the tip of the nose. His teeth, which were very large, were white as snow; his ears, which were yellow, were smaller than the leaf of the black walnut, and shaped exactly like it. His legs were not shaped like those of a human being, but were two straight bones without flesh or joint, and both black and glossy as charred birch. But what rendered him yet more horrible to look at was that snakes, poisonous rattlesnakes, were wreathing themselves around his legs, and body, and arms—leaping from him, and upon him, tying themselves in knots around his neck, and doing other feats of horrid agility. After surveying this uncouth being and his fearful companions for a few moments in deep silence, Cayenguirago addressed him thus:—
"Who art thou?"
"The Maqua is a man," replied the warrior fiercely; "his knee was never bowed—he acknowledges no master."
"Thou hast served me long and well, Cayenguirago—I am Abamocho, the Spirit of Evil, and this is my dwelling-place."
"Thou hast chosen a dark abode, and strange companions," replied the warrior.
"They are not my companions, but my warriors, my braves, my tormentors," answered the Spirit of Evil. "It is with these that I torment bad people, as the Maquas use old women to torment the prisoners they take in battle. But fear not, Cayenguirago, thou hast been a faithful servant to me—I will not suffer my people to harm thee. Dost thou know that I design to bestow my daughter upon thee for a wife?"
"I did not know it?" answered the Maqua.
"She shall be thine," said the Evil Spirit. "But I warn thee that there have been very many pleasanter companions than she will make thee, for she is excessively irritable and passionate. Withal she is so fond of admiration, that I have no doubt she would give chace to the ugliest toad that ever devoured a worm, so she could captivate him. She is a true woman."
"What will the father give the Maqua that marries her?"
"Wampum, much wampum—"
"I will take her."
"Many beaver-skins, and much bear's meat—"
"Cayenguirago will make her his wife."
"Revenge against the Hurons who slew so many of his warriors in the last Beaver-Moon. He shall drink their blood in plentiful draughts, he shall eat their children roasted in the fire, and feed his men upon broth made of the flesh of their Braves."
"She is mine!"
"Dost thou know that she is a rattlesnake?"
"I care not, so she bring me as her portion the rich presents and the sweet revenge thou hast spoken of. Shall the Maqua behold the maiden?"
"He shall, but the father bids him remember one thing. When the marriage has taken place, let not the husband forget to cut off his wife's tail. Upon his remembering this injunction his life depends. If he forget it the bride will be a widow ere she is a wife."
With this the Spirit departed into the inner part of the cavern. He soon returned, bringing with him a huge unwieldy rattlesnake. "This," said he, as he came up to the Maqua, "is the maiden I spoke of, and the wife I have long destined for thee. She is rather fatter than need be—she will eat the less, however. Take her, thou hast been a good servant, and I owe thee a reward. Cayenguirago!"
The warrior answered, "I hear."
"I warn thee once more that my daughter is very irritable and passionate, and withal so fond of admiration, that nothing in the shape of a leer comes amiss to her. She likes a good squeeze above all things. Evil, and the Father of Evil though I be, I am not so very wicked as to wish thee to marry a woman of that description without thy knowing what kind of treasure thou wilt possess."
"But thou hast promised me revenge against the Hurons, who slew so many of my warriors in the last Beaver-Moon: remember that." And the chief commenced his song, which ran thus:—
The Maqua, having finished his song of blood, turned around to his bride, and spoke to her kindly, telling her how happy they should live, and many other things usually said in such cases, and proving true as often as larks fall from the skies. The Evil Spirit now spoke to Cayenguirago, bidding him follow him to an inner room in the cavern, and finish the marriage at once. He obeyed, leading his pursy bride by a string which he tied around her neck. The whole body of rattlesnakes followed the couple—hissing, and slapping, and rattling their tails, and running out their forked tongues; but, whether for joy or sorrow, Cayenguirago either cared nothing, or did not think it worth his while to enquire. At last they came to a small room, which was lighted up by a great blue fire burning in the centre. This, the Evil Spirit said, was his daughter's chamber, and there they would pass the night, upon which the maiden pretended to be much ashamed. The couple now went through the Indian form of marriage, and the Maqua became the husband of the rattlesnake—daughter of the Evil Spirit, Abamocho.
They spent the evening very pleasantly together, and so well was Cayenguirago entertained with the pleasant stories she told him, and her wit, and good humour, and the kisses she gave him, that he entirely forgot the advice of her father. So, after they had spent some time in talk and fondling, the bride crept to her bed of leaves, and the husband followed.
By and by the Maqua said to his wife, "Thy flesh is very cold—lie a little further off."
"My flesh is warm," answered the other; "but thou hast drawn to thy side all the covering, and the spirit of cold is breathing harshly upon me from the distant cavern."
Upon that they fell to disputing fiercely about love, and hatred, and cold, and many other things, which need not be mentioned here. Louder and louder rose their voices, and more violent grew the dispute, until the wife, losing the very little patience she possessed, applied the deadly sting, which dooms to instant death, to bring her husband to her side of the argument. A horrid shout told the creeping of the subtle poison through his veins. Few were the moments that elapsed before he lay a stiffened, and swollen, and blackened, corpse.
And thus perished the wicked Maqua, that married a rattlesnake and forgot to cut off her tail.
The rattlesnake figures very frequently in the Indian traditions. They suppose it to be endued with more sagacity than any other animal, except the owl, and to be peculiarly their intercessor with the Evil Spirit. Their Okki, or "Medicine-spirit," is more frequently the rattlesnake than any other animal—his teeth and rattles are invariably ingredients of their medicine-bags. They have a tradition that there was once a great talk, or council, held between the Mohawks and the Rattlesnakes, and a "firm peace established between the two nations," which lasted till the coming of the Whites.
(1) Pledge to follow a chief.—p. 153.
All those who enlist themselves on a war expedition give the chief a bit of bark with their mark upon it, and he who after that draws back is scarcely safe while he lives; at least he would be dishonoured for ever.
Once enlisted, to turn back is, in their opinion, a disgrace of so deep die that they encounter death rather than submit to it. They carry this chivalrous principle to an extent which finds no parallel in modern, and scarcely in ancient, history. Lewis and Clarke, in their Expedition up the Missouri, (vol. 1. p. 60, Philadelphia, 1814), speak of an association among the Yanktons, "of the most brave and active young men, who are bound to each other by attachment, secured by a vow never to retreat before any danger, or give way to their enemies. When the Yanktons were crossing the Missouri on the ice, a hole lay immediately in their course, which might easily have been avoided by going round. This, the foremost of the band disdained to do, but went straight forward, and was lost. The others would have followed his example, but were forcibly prevented by the rest of the tribe. There were twenty-two of these warriors at one time, but in a battle with the Kite Indians of the Black Mountains eighteen of them were killed; the remaining four were dragged from the field of battle by their companions."
(2) Spot which the Great Spirit had forgotten to level.—p. 153.
The Indians believe that the earth was at first very loosely thrown together, and not intended as a place of permanent occupation for any one. Their opinions respecting the roughness of the surface are various and amusing. I asked a Cherokee what occasioned the surface of the earth to be so very uneven. After a momentary hesitation he replied, "It was done in a wrestling and boxing-match between the Great Spirit and the Evil Spirit. While they were scuffling, the latter, finding himself moved about easily, occasionally worked his feet into the earth to enable him to stand longer. The valleys were the holes his feet occupied, and the hills and mountains the sand thrown out."
My brothers know, said a Nansemond warrior, that our tribe have a custom of burning over, every season, the great glade, or prairie, which lies beyond the hill, which the Great Spirit struck with his lightnings in the Hot-Moon. Yearly they see the flames devouring the dry and ripe grass, but they do not know what led to this custom; probably they have never heard that it is done in consequence of a solemn promise made by their fathers to the Spirit of Fire. Let them listen, and I will tell them the story.
Once upon a time, as the Nansemonds were warring against the Eries, who have their residence upon the shores of the lake of that name, they were caught in a narrow valley, or ravine, which lay between two high hills. One of the outlets to this valley opened into the lake; the other, that by which they had entered, had been occupied soon after their entrance into it, and, for a while, without their knowledge, by a strong party of their enemies. It may well be asked, why a band of warriors, cunning, sagacious, and experienced, as the Nansemonds were, should thus be caught like a foolish beaver in a trap. I will tell the warriors—they were decoyed into this dangerous valley by the roguish and wanton tricks of the Spirit of Fire.
This hasty and hot-tempered spirit, who is very good and kind when his master keeps him in due subjection, but who, when he escapes from his control, never fails to do a great deal of mischief, to burn up the maize, and frighten away the beasts which the Great Spirit has given to the Indians—or to destroy their food—sent Chepiasquit to lead the Nansemonds—foolish men! they supposed it was to a camping-ground, where cool shade and sweet water should be found—and decoy them into a spot where they should fall an easy prey to their enemies. No thought had they of entering this dangerous valley. It was soon after the coming of the darkness that they saw this treacherous ball in the open space before them, and, believing it to be a lamp held out by a friendly spirit to conduct them, as I said before, to a place of rest and safety, they followed it without hesitation, and were thus placed completely in the power of their enemies. But they were good warriors—men tried and approved in many deadly conflicts, and such never feel the touch of fear, or show concern, even when they see the fire lighted and the tortures prepared for them. So, when they found themselves in the toils of their enemies, like a herd of buffaloes surrounded by a band of mounted hunters, they coolly sat down to think of the means and reckon the chances of escape.
While they sat talking, suddenly there appeared under the shade of a tree near them a man of singular shape and proportions. He was squat, and so very fat, that he looked like a skinned pig which has been reared in a plentiful season of nuts and mast. His face was far wider than it was long, and the flesh and fat fell in great folds, upon his body, legs, and arms, which were entirely naked, and of the colour of a bright fire; his hair stood out every way, like flames kindled in a brisk wind; and, when he opened his mouth, the breath which issued from it was felt scorching and searing at the distance of half a bowshot. His eyes, which were two coals of fire, emitted sparks like a piece of birch wood which has been steeped in bitter water. The Nansemonds were stricken with great terror at the sight of this hideous Spirit, and it was a long time before they ventured to address him. When they had called up a sufficient stock of courage, they went towards him, and the leader of the band spoke to him thus:
"Who art thou?"
"The Spirit of Fire," he answered.
"Where is thy dwelling place?"
"I have my dwelling place in many and various places—in the caverns of the earth, and where-ever mortals dwell, there am I found."
"Why hast thou, Spirit, beguiled us into the toils of our enemies, the Eries? Behold us entrapped, as a wolf is entrapped by a cunning hunter."
"Then shall I taste revenge!" answered the Spirit, and broke into a hissing laugh. "Does not the chief of the Nansemonds remember that, when I had with my breath kindled a fire in the time of a high wind, and was enjoying the glorious prospect of giving the dry prairie to the devouring flame, the men of his nation assembled, and first repelled, and finally extinguished, that flame. From that moment I have sought revenge—I have found it—the bravest of the Nansemonds are enclosed like a partridge in a net, soon like that partridge to be food for the spoiler."
"Though we then sinned against thee," answered the chief, "yet have we not at all other times been thy true worshippers? When thy fiery meteors have been seen traversing the valleys, and shooting like stars over the prairies, we have bowed down our heads or retreated to our cabins till they had passed, and in both cases failed not to deprecate the anger of Him whom we deemed their master. And yet, Spirit, thou hast delivered us into the toils of our fierce enemies, the Eries!"
With the singular laugh, which was between a hiss and a roar, the Spirit replied by asking: "How know ye that I have delivered you into the toils of your fierce enemies, the Eries?"
"What is the width of the valley into which thy treacherous eye hath decoyed us?" demanded the haughty Chief.
"Scarcely two bowshots," replied the Spirit.
"At its entrance, planted on both sides of the narrow pass, are Eries, well provided with bows and arrows and spears, waiting as a cunning cayman waits in the sedge for the unsuspecting water-duck."
"There are indeed Eries waiting on both sides of the narrow pass, as a cayman waits for a water-duck."
"Then have you led the Nansemonds into a danger from which there are no means of escape?"
"Is there not another end to the valley?"
"There is, and what will it avail? As much as a bow and arrow in the hands of him whose eyes have departed, or a spear in the grasp of a palsied man. Upon each side of the valley, jut far into the lake hills whose precipitous sides no one but a spirit can climb; and where are the canoes which shall transport us to a place of safety?"
"What will the Nansemonds give if the Spirit of Fire will release them from the dangers which encompass them?"
"They will yearly kindle a fire in the time of a high wind, that their deliverer may have the glorious prospect of seeing the dry prairie swept by the devouring flame."
"It is well! upon that condition I will save you."
So saying he arose, and, taking up from the pool in the middle of the valley a handful of slime, he rounded it into a ball, the while breathing upon it until it became of the colour of his face; when he had done this, he placed it upon the great toe of his right foot, and, giving it a kick into the air, and calling it by the name of "Chepiasquit," commanded it "to lead the good people, the Nansemonds, to a place of safety." So saying, he turned to the warriors and bade them follow their guide, who would soon conduct them out of difficulty; and he bade them not forget their promise to fire a prairie in the time of a high wind in honour of him who ruled over that element. Having spoken these words, he began to fade from their view, as a fire goes out which is left unsupplied with fuel. First, the sparks from his eyes disappeared—then his breath ceased to be hot and scorching, and his eyes red and glowing—and soon there was remaining but the indistinct resemblance of a being with the shape of a man. A little while, and even that faint glimmering had ceased to be.
The Nansemonds arose and followed with confidence the fiery ball down the valley. After travelling in an open path for some time, they came all at once to the shore of the lake; they saw its little waves dashing upon the smooth sand, and the stars reflected in the bosom of the clear waters. The fiery ball now changed its course along the shore. Following it, they came at the distance of three bowshots to a little bay, where they found a number of canoes well provided with paddles, and in each a calebash of good nesh-caminnick, and a piece of roasted deer's flesh. They entered these canoes, and committed themselves to the lake. Again the Spirit-ball coaxed them on. Darkness now hid the moon and stars, but it only rendered their guiding light more visible. After following it till the dawn of day, they landed again, and to their great joy found themselves at the foot of the well known path, which led from the lake to their own country. The Spirit-ball had disappeared, but it had first placed them beyond the reach of danger. A few suns, and our fathers once more stood upon the banks of their own pleasant river, the Nansemond, and listened to the joyous prattle of their children, and looked into the bright eyes of their fond wives.
Nor did they forget their promise to the Spirit. Yearly, in the time of a high wind, they kindled a fire in the dry prairie, that their deliverer might enjoy the glorious prospect of seeing it swept by the devouring flame. The warriors know that the custom is still preserved; they know that every year, in the Corn-Moon, when the grass on the prairie is ripe and dry, the chief, or the priest, goes to the spot, and, placing a lighted coal in the grass, makes a bow to it, pronouncing these words: "Thank you, Spirit!" when the grass immediately blazes up, and the prairie becomes enveloped in flames.
There was a time, when, throughout the Island, neither on land nor in the water, in field or forest, was there a woman to be found. Vain things were plenty—there was the turkey, and the swan, and the blue jay, and the wood-duck, and the wakon bird; and noisy, chattering, singing creatures, such as the daw, and the thrush, and the rook, and the prairie-dog, abounded—indeed there were more of each than was pleasing to the ear—but of women, vain, noisy, laughing, chattering women, there were none. It was, indeed, quite a still world to what it is now. Whether it is better and happier, will depend much upon the opinion men entertain of those, who have changed its character from calm and peaceable to boisterous and noisy. Some will think it is much improved by the circumstance which deprived the Kickapoos of their tails—while others will greatly deplore its occurrence.
At the time of which I am telling my brother, the Kickapoos, and indeed all red men, wherever found—and at that time there were none but red men in the world—were furnished with long tails like horses and buffaloes. It was very handy to have these appendages in a country where flies were numerous and troublesome, as they were in the land of the Kickapoos—tails being much more sudden in their movements than hands, and more conveniently situated, as every body must see, for whisking off the flies which light upon the back. Then they were very beautiful things, these long tails, especially when handsomely painted and ornamented, as their owners used to ornament them, with beads, and shells, and wampum—and being intended as a natural decoration to the creature, the depriving him of it may well have produced, as it did, a great deal of sport and merriment among the other animals, who were not compelled to submit to the deprivation. The fox, who is rather impudent, for a long time after they were chopped off, sent to the Kickapoos every day to enquire "how their tails were;" and the bear shook his fat sides with laughter at the joke, which he thought a very good one, of sending one of his cubs with a request for a "dozen spare tails."
I have said, that throughout the land there were no women. There were men—a plenty, the land was thronged with them—not born, but created of clay—and left to bake in the sun till they received life—and these men were very contented and happy. Wars were very few then, for no one need be told that half the wars which have arisen have grown out of quarrels on account of love of women, and the other half on account of their maintenance. There was universal peace and harmony throughout the land. The Kickapoos ate their deer's flesh with the Potowatomies, hunted the otter with the Osages, and the beaver with the Hurons; and the fierce Iroquois, instead of waking the wild shout of war, went to the land of the Sauks and Ioways to buy wampum, wherewith to decorate their tails. Happy would it have been for the red men if they were still furnished with these appendages, and wanted those which have been supplied in their place—women!
But the consequence which usually attends prosperity happened to the Indians. They became very proud and vain, and forgot their creator and preserver. They no more offered the fattest and choicest of their game upon the memahoppa, or altar-stone, nor evinced any gratitude, nor sung, nor danced in his praise, when he sent his rains to cleanse the earth and his lightnings to cool and purify the air. When their corn grew ripe and tall, they imputed it to their own good conduct and management; when their hunt was successful, to their own skill and perseverance. Reckoning not, as in times past, of the superintendence of the Great Spirit over all things, they banished him altogether from their proud and haughty hearts, teaching them to forget that there was aught greater or more powerful than himself.
Though slow to anger, and waiting long before he remembers the provocations he has received, the Great Spirit, in the end, and when no atonement is made, always inflicts an adequate punishment for every offence. Seeing how wicked the Indians had become, he said to his Manitous: "It is time that the Kickapoos and other red men were punished. They laugh at my thunders, they make mock of my lightnings and hurricanes, they use my bounties without thanking me for them. When their corn grows ripe and tall, instead of imputing its luxuriance to my warm suns and reviving showers, they say, 'We have managed it well;' when their hunt is successful, they place it to account of their own skill and perseverance. Reckoning not, as in times past, of my superintendence over all things, they have banished me altogether from their haughty hearts, and taught themselves to forget that there is aught greater and more powerful than the Indian."
So saying, he bade his chief Manitou repair to the dwelling-places of the red men, and, to punish them for their wickedness, deprive them of that which they most valued, and bestow upon them a scourge and affliction adequate to their offences. The Spirit obeyed his master, and descended to the earth, lighting down upon the lands occupied by the Kickapoos. It was not long before he discovered what it was which that people and the other Indians most valued. He saw, from the pains they took in decorating their tails with gay paints, and beads, and shells, and wampum, that they prized them above every other possession. Calling together all the red men, he acquainted them with the will of his master, and demanded the instant sacrifice of the article upon which they set so much value. It is impossible to describe the sorrow and compunction which filled their bosoms, when they found that the forfeit for their wickedness was to be that beautiful and beloved appendage. But their prayers and entreaties, to be spared the humiliation and sacrifice, were in vain. The Spirit was inexorable, and they were compelled to place their tails on the block and to behold them amputated.
The punishment being in part performed, the Spirit next bethought himself of a gift which should prove to them "a scourge and affliction adequate to their offences." It was to convert the tails thus lopped off into vain, noisy, chattering, laughing creatures, whose faces should he like the sky in the Moon of Plants, and whose hearts should be treacherous, fickle, and inconstant; yet, strange to relate, who should be loved above all other things on the earth or in the skies. For them should life often be hazarded—reputation, fame, and virtue, often forfeited—pain and ignominy incurred. They were to be as a burden placed on the shoulders of an already overloaded man; and yet, a burden he would rather strive to carry than abandon. He further appointed that they should retain the frisky nature of the material from which they were made, and they have retained it to this day.
The Great Spirit, deeming that the trouble wherewith he had provided the red man would not sufficiently vex and punish him, determined to add another infliction, whose sting, though not so potent and irksome, should be without any alleviation whatever. He sent great swarms of musquitoes. Deprived of tails, by which flies could be brushed away at the pleasure of the wearers, the Indians dragged out for a long time a miserable existence. The musquitoes stung them, and their tails teased them. The little insects worried them continually, and their frisky companions, the women, were any thing but a cup of composing drink. At length the Great Spirit, seeing how the poor Indians were afflicted, mercifully withdrew the greater part of the musquitoes, leaving a few as a memorial of the pest which had formerly annoyed them. The Kickapoos petitioned that the women should also be taken away from them, and their old appendages returned—but the Great Spirit answered, that women were a necessary evil, and must remain.
At the distance of a sun's journey from the creek, called in the tongue of the white people the Knife Creek—which divides the larger and smaller towns of the Minnatarees from each other by a valley not much above four bowshots across—there are two little hills, situate at a small distance from each other. These hills are famous, throughout all the nations of the west, for the faculty they once possessed of imparting relief to such women as resorted to them for the purpose of crying and lamenting for the circumstance of their having no children. It was there, that, if they were careful to say proper prayers, and to use the proper lamentations, the reproach of barrenness was removed; and those, whose arms had never enfolded a babe of their own, whose ears had never listened to the innocent prattle of children born of their own bodies, might enjoy that greatest of human happinesses; might feel the exquisite pleasure which arises, when the little creatures press to their knees, or draw the food of life from their bosoms.
Once upon a time, many years ago, there was among the Minnatarees a woman, whose name was Namata-washta, or the Pretty Tree. It had been her misfortune to be married, when little more than a child, to a very proud and bad man; who soon came to use her with great cruelty and injustice. She was a very strict and devout worshipper of the Great Spirit, and never failed, whether in the field or in the cabin, by night or by day, to offer up prayers and a portion of every acquisition to the Being who bestowed it upon her. The Great Spirit saw her goodness, and loved her. He made her corn to grow much larger than that of any other woman in the village; and the produce of her garden was always much earlier and better. But she was a barren woman, and thence resulted her misery. For seven weary seasons had she lived in the lodge of her husband; and while his seven other wives had each children at her knee, crying, "My mother!" there was none to address her by that tender name, and to lisp in childish tones its delight, when she returned from the labours of the field of maize—and to bestow its innocent caresses upon her after the separations which unavoidably take place in forest life. Thence arose the extreme harshness of her husband, and the continued sneers and gibes of the wives who had been blest with offspring. The good Namata-washta bore their ill usage for a long time without repining; but, at length, the oft-repeated cruelties of her husband and the incessant insults of her companions became so painful, that she was wont to fly from them to the solitude of the forest.
One evening, she wandered out from the cabin of her husband until she came to the nearest of the two small hills, of which I have been telling my brother. Upon this hill she seated herself, and was occupied in bewailing her fatal misfortune of barrenness, and in praying the Great Spirit to avert it, when some one whispered at her shoulder, "Namata-washta!"
Looking up, she beheld a tall woman clothed in a long and flowing robe of white goat-skin; her mocassins were of a blood-red colour; her eyes were black as the shell of the butter-nut; her hair, which was also black, was dressed with gay flowers. After surveying the weeping Namata-washta for some time in silence, and with an appearance of much compassion, she said to her in a gentle voice, "Woman, why art thou weeping?"
"I am weeping," replied the poor Indian woman, "because I have borne my husband no children!"
"And therefore thou weepest, deluded and infatuated woman! Rather shouldst thou rejoice that thou hast not contributed to swell the amount of human suffering. Happier far is she who has added nothing, in respect of children, to the sum of human misery, than she who has become a mother, to see her offspring perish in the strife of warriors, or of hunger, or wretchedness, or wasting disease. That thou hast given birth to no heirs of misery should afford thee joy, rather than sorrow, Namata-washta!"
"But therefore I am held of little account, and of no value in the house of my husband. My place is usurped by those who have children; the other wives of my husband demand and exercise the right to impose hard and disgraceful burdens upon me, because I am barren. My husband beats me with blows, his wives assail me with taunts and reproaches—even the children of the village, as I pass them at their sports, cry out, 'A barren woman!' And thus do they incessantly worry me, till I am compelled to fly to the wilderness for rest and peace!"
"Wouldst thou become the mother of children, Namata-washta?"
"Thou shalt have thy wish. Listen to my words. The hill upon which thou art sitting was once a beautiful woman, as its neighbour, the other and larger hill, was a man and a warrior. The woman, who is the hill upon which we now stand, was the first woman that ever lived, and the first that ever became a mother. I will tell thee, Namata-washta, who she was. When the Great Spirit determined to people the Island with human beings, he bade them spring out of the earth, as maize and vegetables do at this day; and bade each take the quality and nature of the soil in which he germinated. The red man forced his head out of a rich and hardy prairie surrounded by lofty trees; the white man took root in a stony and crabbed hill: and both have retained their first natures.
"The woman who became this hill sprung up in a deep and very fat soil, and thence became very fruitful—the most fruitful woman ever known. She came out of the earth on the first day of the Moon of Buffaloes, and, ere it hung in the skies like a bended bow, she had a child at her breast. Every moon, she bestowed upon her husband a son or a daughter, and these sons and daughters were all equally fertile with their mother. The Great Spirit, seeing that if mankind continued thus prolific, the Island would soon be overstocked with inhabitants, determined to take away from the pair the breath he had given them, and with it the power of unlimited procreation and fecundity imparted to their descendants. He changed them into these two hills. But, that the faculty they possessed in so remarkable a degree might not be lost to the world, but might continue to be dispensed to those who wanted it, and should seek it in a proper manner, he said to the hill, which was the fruitful woman: 'Whenever a barren woman approaches thee, lamenting in sincerity her hard fate, and duly supplicating mercy, thou shalt listen to her with pity and compassion. I endow thee with power to grant her prayers. Thou shalt bid her return to her village and repair to the couch of her husband. When twelve suns shall have passed, she shall return to thee soon after the dawning of day. Upon a near approach to thee, she shall see a child, perhaps two children, very light of foot, and whose height shall scarce exceed that of a squirrel. She must approach them, but they will run from her, nor will her utmost speed enable her to overtake them. They will fly to thy protection, nor must thou deny it—they must be received into thy bosom. The chill of their cold hiding place will destroy them, and their souls will enter into the womb of the suppliant woman, and she will become a fruitful and honoured mother.'
"These were the words of the Great Spirit; and often has the power he imparted to that hill been felt to the taking away the reproach from the barren women. Namata-washta, go thou, and do likewise. Follow the directions I have given thee, and, if the having children will render thee happy, thou shalt be happy—if to be the mother of a more numerous offspring than any wife in thy nation may make thee an honoured woman, thou shalt be honoured."
With these words, the Spirit departed from before the eyes of Namata-washta, who never beheld her again. She returned to the cabin of her husband, obeyed the words of the stranger, and saw the results take place which had been foretold. She became the mother of a more numerous progeny than any woman of her nation, took the lead in the lodge of her husband, and was more beloved by him than any other of his wives. She became as much honoured by the people as she had been before despised by them, and died with the reputation of having been the greatest benefactress of the nation that had lived since the days of the two wise boys who discovered the upper world.
The faculty which this hill possessed of imparting fruitfulness was retained till the wickedness of the Minnatarees became so crying, that the Great Spirit, deeming that there would be full enough of these bad people, if left to their natural means of increase, withdrew it, and has never restored it.
If the feet of my brother from the distant land have ever carried him to the spot where the Oswegatchie joins with the river called by the people of his nation the St. Lawrence, he must have seen a broken wall of stone, which that same people built very soon after they had taken possession of the High Rock, and made it the great village of the pale faces. At that time the red men of the wilderness were not very well disposed towards the strangers who had come among them, viewing them as they do wolves, and panthers, and catamounts, which are very much in the way of Indians, and therefore they put them out of it as soon as possible. At length, the great chief or governor at the City of the High Rock, finding that the men whom he left within the big walls he had built on the Oswegatchie were every moment in danger of being massacred by their fierce and warlike neighbours, the Iroquois, recalled his soldiers to his wing from their perilous flight, and bade them soar no more in that dangerous direction. So the high walls he had thrown up to serve as a barrier against the forest warrior fell to the earth, and were never rebuilt. The grass grew up over them, the winds whistled among them, and many spirits, white and red, came and took up their residence in the corners and recesses of the deserted habitation.
Among the white spirits that sojourned in the ruined fort there was one who was very kind to the Indians, and often held long talks with them, though they never saw him. Often, when the sun had retired to his place of rest beyond the western mountains—for he would only hold conversation when darkness covered the earth—the Indians would repair to the outside of the ruins, and, calling upon the "Good Little Fellow," he would come and entertain them, until the purple and grey tints of morning shone in the eastern sky, with tales of his own pale race, and of that other, the red, as connected with them. The eager listeners would be told of cabins in which the Great Spirit was worshipped, that were twice the flight of an arrow broad, and three times its flight in length, and so high as to be beyond the daring of the bird of morning. And he taught them to wonder much, and laugh a little, by telling them that when men went to worship the Being in whose honour and for whose worship the cabin was built, they dressed themselves in their most gorgeous apparel, and put on long robes, painted to look like the gay birds of the forest, and emulating in the brightness of their dyes the bow in the clouds after a shower of rain. When the Indians laughed at this, he told them that the Great Spirit, the white people thought, never listened to those who were not well dressed, and "looked smart." He said the white people were not like the Indians; they only worshipped the Master of Life on the seventh day of the week and a few other days, whereas the Indians worshipped him every day—which was much the best way, he thought. And he told the Indians many other things, respecting the white people living over the Great Salt Lake, some of which made them think they were very wise, and valiant, and prudent, but the most of what he said went to prove them great fools. And when he told them that the men weeded the corn, while the women sat doing nothing, or "galloping from cabin to cabin," the Indians, who had become so well acquainted with him that they could speak with freedom, bade him return and tell his people how much better the Indians managed these things.
Once upon a time, as he sat repeating his tales to the wondering Indian visiters, he said to them: Did you ever hear about Garanga, the beautiful bird that was taken from her perch in the cabin of the White Crane, the great warrior of the Iroquois, by a man of my nation?
The Indians all answered, No; and so they would have answered had they heard it twenty times, for he varied his stories every time he repeated them, as the pale faces always do; so they were sure to have a new story though it had an old name. Then I will tell it you, said he, and he began as follows.
There came to this fort, while it was yet standing in all its pride, a young chief of my nation to be its governor. He was a mere youth to be entrusted with so high and responsible an office, but, though young in years, he was old in understanding. He was also very beautiful to look upon, and his stature was of the tallest of the sons of the earth. The Indian maidens that visited the fort with their fathers and brothers bestowed much praise upon his fine and manly form, and their friends of the other sex did the same upon his courageous spirit, and his superiority in those exercises in which one must excel if he would command the esteem, and excite the awe, of the red men of the forest. The men likened him for swiftness to the deer, and for agility to the mountain-cat, and for strength to the bear, and for courage to all that is courageous; the women compared his skin to the water-lily, and his eyes to the blue sky when it is bluest, and his hair to the silken tassels of ripened corn, and his step to the stag's, and his voice to the song-sparrow's. Whatever is beautiful among the works of nature was brought in by comparison, to express their admiration of the graceful and gallant stranger.
Among the bright-eyed maidens who visited the fort, as they said, to buy beads and gay toys, but in reality to gaze upon the noble chief, was the beautiful Garanga, the daughter of one of the principal warriors of the Iroquois. The first time she saw him her little bosom was filled with the flames of love, but she never spoke of it to any one. While the other maidens sat repeating the soft words he had whispered in their ears, for he had the forked tongue which the white man always possesses, the mild and lovely daughter of the White Crane said nothing, but sighed. Her heart had been taken captive at first sight, by the handsome stranger—her little bosom was filled with love for the noble warrior. Nor were the charms of the maiden unmarked by him she loved. He had singled her out among all the dusky maidens, in some degree for her beauty, but more for her softness and her modesty, and had asked himself what one among the women of his own clime was superior to her in all that would give delight to him who should make her his own. His heart answered, None. So, learning from the tell-tale eyes of the beautiful maiden, that she was entirely willing to become the bird of his bower, his companion, his wife, he asked her of her father. The chief, proud to be connected with so distinguished a warrior, gave her to him, without hesitation, and she became his wife.
They were married in the Harvest-Moon, and a great feast was given, which made glad the hearts of both white and red. There was a great firing of cannon, and the fire-eater was given to the Indians, who became very drunk, and made the woods ring again with their boisterous mirth. Before the month in which the Indians harvest their maize had come round again, there was a young bird of the sex of its father, in the house of the governor. Ere the child had lived a moon, the father said to the mother, thoughtfully but kindly,
"Dost thou love thy husband?"
"The Great Spirit only knows how much, and how deeply," answered the fond wife.
"Hast thou joy in the bright eyes, and smiling cheeks, and lovely laugh, of our little son?"
"I have exceeding joy in our son," answered the mother, pressing her infant with a warm embrace to her bosom. "When I look upon his young face, and his little laugh rings in mine ear, and when I mark the bright light of his eyes shining like stars upon me, my heart leaps like a deer stricken to death by the shaft of the hunter. And often while thou art slumbering by my side, do I lie sleepless, my eyes filled with tears, to think that he may die. And yet I have exceeding joy in our child."
"Does it not grieve thee to think that thou, and he, and I, may not meet together in the land of souls?"
"May not meet together in the land of souls? Why? Thou hast sent an arrow to my heart, my husband. Why are the gates of death to separate those who loved each other in life?"
"Our gods are not the same, and the abodes of the souls of the white man and the red man are far apart."
"Why wilt thou not come to the land which holds the spirits of the departed of my race? Thou art a lover of the chace, and often preferrest the pastime of hunting the deer, and the bear, and the panther, through the wild forest, to reposing in the arms of thy Garanga. In the land—my land of souls—thou wilt enjoy thy favourite pursuit. There thou canst course the stag through flowery meads, and over grassy hills, and know nothing of the bitter obstacles which impede the path of an earth-borne hunter. There will be a pleasant cabin built for us beside the placid river of that land—and upon the green banks, beneath the wide-spreading shade of the evergreen larch and cypress, shall our rest be appointed. Come to my heaven, my beloved husband!"
"Garanga! my beautiful Garanga! mother of my son! it may not be!" replied the husband. "The Christian's heaven is unlike the heaven of the infidel, nor does he picture to himself such delights as thou and thy nation fancy are to be the portion of the brave warrior and skilful hunter—of all who do their duty faithfully, and according to the best of their power."
"Then I will go with thee to thy heaven, for I will not be separated from thee!" replied the fond wife. "Teach me how I shall worship thy Master, for alas, I know not his ways."
So the beautiful Garanga forsook the religion of her own nation; and hung round her neck the silver cross and rosary, which marked the belief of her beloved husband. In vain did her father and his people solicit her to quit her husband, and return to them, and to the belief in which she had been bred. Her favourite brother, Mecumeh, came, and besought her, by all the motives of national pride and family vanity, to return to her people in this world, that she might not be severed from them in the land of souls. But the young Garanga, whom her husband called Marguerite, after a woman of his own nation, was bound by a threefold cord—her love to her husband, to her son, and to her religion. Finding that he could not succeed by persuasion, the cunning Mecumeh had recourse to stratagem. The husband was in the habit of going down the river often, on fishing excursions, and, when he returned, he would fire his signal gun—and his wife would hasten, with her little son, to meet him on the shore, and to place the fond kiss of welcome on his cheek.
On one occasion he had been gone longer than usual, by the space of near a moon. Garanga was filled with apprehensions, natural enough to one fondly loving, and at a time when imminent dangers and hair-breadth escapes were of every-day occurrence—when it was known that the people of her nation, displeased with her husband for drawing her away from the faith of her fathers, were studying deep plans of revenge. She had sat in the lofty tower which overlooked the greater part of the surrounding country, and watched for the returning canoe till the last beam of day had faded away from the waters, and that its great star had ever been, could only be gathered from a bright beam that lingered about the folds of the western clouds. The deepening shadows of twilight played tricks with her imagination, and she frequently saw things, which, to her, appeared the object her heart sought, but which were mere creations of a fancy moving at the suggestions of hope. Once she was startled by a water-fowl, which, as it skimmed along the surface of the water, imaged to her fancy the light canoe impelled by her husband's vigorous arm. Again she heard the leap of the heavy Muskalongi, and the splashing waters sounded to her like the first dash of the oar. That passed away, and disappointment and tears followed. The little boy was beside her; he bore the same name as his father, and inherited the warlike disposition and love of daring which distinguished him among his companions. Born and bred among men of war, he understood the use of the bow and the musket; courage and hardihood seemed to be his instinct, and danger his element, and battles, wounds, and the deeds of the valiant, were household words with him. He laughed at his mother's fears, but, in spite of the boy's ridicule, they strengthened till apprehension seemed reality, and she shed tears of sorrow for the fancied death of her beloved husband.
Suddenly the sound of the signal gun broke on the stillness of night. Both mother and son sprang on their feet with a cry of joy, and were pressing, hand in hand, towards the outer gate, when a sentinel or soldier, appointed to keep it, stopped them to remind them that it was her husband's order, that no one should venture without the walls after sunset. She, however, insisted on passing, and telling the soldier that she would answer to her husband for his breach of orders, she passed the outer barrier. Young Louis held up his bow and arrow before the sentinel, saying gaily, "I am my mother's body guard, you know." The sentinel saw the tears of the affectionate wife, gave way, and permitted her to pass.
The distance from the fort to the place where the commander of the white men usually moored his canoe was trifling and quickly passed. Garanga and her little son flew along the narrow path, and soon reached the shore. But, alas! instead of the face she loved, and the form she fondly expected to press to her throbbing bosom, she beheld the fierce Mecumeh. At a little distance from him were his companions. Entreaties and remonstrance were alike in vain. On the part of Garanga resistance was not attempted, but it was made with all the spirit of a warrior by young Louis, who snatched a knife from the girdle of one of the Indians, and attempted to plunge it into the bosom of Mecumeh, as he was roughly attempting to bind his wampum-belt over Garanga's mouth to deaden her screams. The uncle wrested the knife from him, and smiled proudly on him, as if he recognized in the brave boy a scion from his own noble and warlike stock. "You will be the eagle of your tribe," said he, "which none will deem strange since she that gave you birth was a daughter of the most valiant chief that roams the wilds. The child of the panther will have the spirit of the panther, nor need the young bear be taught to climb trees, nor the eaglet to fly."
The Indians had two canoes: Garanga was conveyed to one, Louis to the other; and both canoes were rowed into the Oswegatchie, and up the stream as fast as it was possible to impel them against the current of the river.
Not a word nor a cry escaped the boy: he seemed intent on some purpose; and, when the canoe approached near the shore, he drew from his head his fox-skin cap, and threw it so skilfully that it lodged where he meant it should—on the branch of a tree which projected over the water. There was a long white feather in the cap. The Indians had observed the boy's movements; they held up their oars for a moment, and seemed to consult whether they should return and remove the cap, but, after a moment, they again dashed their oars in the water, and proceeded forward. They continued rowing for a few miles, and then landed, hid their canoes behind some trees on the river bank, and plunged into the woods with their prisoners. It was the intention of the Indians to return to their canoes in the morning; and they had not proceeded far from the shore, when they kindled a fire, and prepared some food, and offered a share of it to Garanga and Louis. The poor Garanga had no mind to eat, but Louis ate as heartily as if he had been within the walls of the fort. When the Indians had fed, they stretched themselves before the fire, but not till they had taken the precaution to bind Garanga to a tree, and to compel Louis to lie down in the arms of the brother of his mother. Neither of the prisoners closed their eyes that night. Louis kept his fixed on his mother. She sat upright beside an oak tree; the cord was fastened around her waist, and bound around the tree, which had been blasted by lightning. The bright moon poured its beams through the naked branches upon her face, convulsed with the agony of despair and fear. With one hand she held to her lips the now loved symbol of the faith of her husband—the crucifix; the other grasped another symbol—the rosary. The sight of his beloved mother in such a situation stirred up daring thoughts in the bosom of the heroic boy, but he lay powerless in the naked and brawny arms of the brother of his mother. He tried to disengage himself, but, at the slightest movement, Mecumeh, though still sleeping, seemed conscious, and strained him closer to him. At last the strong sleep that, in the depth of the night, steeps the senses in utter forgetfulness, overpowered him—his arms relaxed their hold, and dropped lifeless beside him, and left Louis free.
The boy rose cautiously—looked for a moment on the Indians, and assured himself that they all slept profoundly. He then possessed himself of Mecumeh's knife, which lay at his feet, and severed the cord which bound his mother to the tree. Neither of them spoke a word—but with the least possible sound they resumed the way by which they had come from the shore—Louis with the confidence, and Garanga with the faint hope, of reaching it before they were overtaken.
It may easily be imagined by those who hear it how often the poor mother, timid as a fawn, was startled by the evening breeze stirring the leaves, or the flight of a bird from among the boughs of the trees, but the boy bounded forward with all the courage of his race(1), as if there were neither fear nor danger in the world.
Designed & Etched by W. H. Brooks, A. R. H. A.
The Boy rose cautiously from the Warrior's grasp. page 204.
London, Published by Colburn & Bentley, April 1830.
They had nearly attained the margin of the river where Louis meant to launch one of the canoes, and drop down the current, when the Indian yell, resounding through the woods, struck on their ears. They were missed, pursued, and escape was impossible. Garanga, her bosom filled with overmastering fear, sunk to the ground. Nothing could check the career of Louis. "On!—on, mother!" he cried, "to the shore!" She rose, and instinctively followed her boy. The sound of pursuit came nearer and nearer. They reached the shore, and there beheld three canoes coming swiftly up the river. Animated with hope, Louis screamed the watchword of the garrison, and was answered by his father's voice.
The possibility of escape, and the certain approach of her husband, infused new life into Garanga. "Your father cannot see us," she said, "as we stand here in the shade of the trees; hide yourself in that thicket, I will plunge into the water." Louis crouched under the bushes, and was completely hidden by an overhanging grape-vine, while his mother advanced a few steps into the water where she could be distinctly seen. A shout from the canoes apprised her that she was recognised, and, at the same moment, the Indians, who had now reached the shore, rent the air with their cries of rage and defiance. They stood for a moment as if deliberating what next to do; Mecumeh maintained an undaunted and resolved air, but, with his followers, who did not possess the courage of their race, the aspect of armed men, and a force of thrice their number, had the effect to paralyze their souls. They fled. He looked after them, cried "Shame!" and then with a desperate yell leaped into the water, and stood beside Garanga. The canoes were now within a few yards—he put his knife to her bosom—"The daughter of the White Crane," he said, "should have died by the judgment of our warriors, but now by her brother's hand she must perish:" and he drew back his arm to give vigour to the fatal stroke, when an arrow from the bow of the brave boy pierced his breast, and he fell insensible at his sister's side. A moment after Garanga was in the arms of her husband, and Louis, with his bow unstrung, bounded from the shore, and was received in his father's canoe; and the wild shores rung with the acclamations of the soldiers, while his father's tears were poured like rain upon his cheek.
Nor did the fierce Mecumeh die. He was conveyed to the fort, his wound was healed, and he lived to be reckoned among the aged men of his nation. The affectionate Garanga prevailed upon him to embrace the religion which had become her own, so that they who lived happily together in this life were not separated by the hand of death, but repaired to the heaven of white men together.
(1) Courage of his race.—p. 205.
The North American Indian knows nothing of fear, he is perfectly insensible to danger. I am not now referring to the wonderful fortitude he displays while his enemies are exercising their cunning and dexterity in devising, and carrying into effect, torments which baffle description, but to the quality which is denominated courage among civilised nations. Tecumseh was one of the bravest men that ever lived, so was the celebrated Mackintosh. They must, however, be allowed to display their valour in their own peculiar manner. I shall further illustrate their remarkable and peculiar use of this quality by referring to some well attested instances of almost superhuman daring. The first is of a young Andirondack or Algonquin chief named Piskaret. The story will further illustrate the mode of warfare used in these bloody expeditions.
"Piskaret set out for the country of the Five Nations, about the time the snow began to melt, with the precaution of putting the hinder part of his snow-shoes forward, that if any should happen upon his footsteps, they might think he was gone the contrary way; and, for further security, went along the ridges and high grounds, where the snow was melted, that his track might be often lost; when he came near one of the villages of the Five Nations, he hid himself till night, and then entered a cabin, while every body was fast asleep, murdered the whole family, and carried their scalps into his lurking-place. The next day, the people of the village searched for the murderer in vain. The following night he murdered all he found in another cabin. The inhabitants next day searched likewise in vain for the murderer; but the third night a watch was kept in every house. Piskaret, in the night, bundled up the scalps he had taken the two former nights, to carry, as the proof of his victory, and then stole privately from house to house, till at last he found an Indian nodding, who was upon the watch in one of the houses; he knocked this man on the head: but, as this alarmed the rest, he was forced immediately to fly. He was, however, under no great concern from the pursuit, being more swift of foot than any Indian then living. He let his pursuers come near him from time to time, and then would dart from them. This he did with design to tire them out with the hopes of overtaking him. As it began to grow dark, he hid himself, and his pursuers stopped to rest. They, not being apprehensive of any danger from a single man, soon fell asleep, and the bold Piskaret observing this, knocked them all on the head, and carried away their scalps with the rest."—Colden's History of the Five Nations, Lond. 1747, p. 26.
Another instance which I shall relate of courage and intrepidity will at the same time show the abolition of a bloody rite said to have been peculiar to the Pawnee Loups, of making propitiatory sacrifices to Venus, or the Great Star.
"An Ietan woman, who was brought captive into the village, was doomed to the Great Star, by the warrior, whose property she had become by the fate of war. She underwent the usual preparations, and, on the appointed day, was led to the cross, amidst a great concourse of people, as eager, perhaps, as their civilized fellow-men, to witness the horrors of an execution. The victim was bound to the cross with thongs of skin, and the usual ceremonies being performed, her dread of a more terrible death was about to be terminated by the tomahawk and the arrow. At this critical juncture, Petalesharoo (son of the Knife Chief), stepped forward into the area, and, in an hurried but firm manner, declared that it was his father's wish to abolish this sacrifice; that, for himself, he had presented himself before them, for the purpose of laying down his life upon the spot, or of releasing the victim. He then cut the cords which bound her to the cross, carried her swiftly through the crowd to a horse, which he presented to her, and having mounted another himself, he conveyed her beyond the reach of immediate pursuit; when, after having supplied her with food, and admonishing her to make the best of her way to her own nation, which was at the distance of at least four hundred miles, he was constrained to return to his village. The emancipated Ietan had, however, the good fortune, on her journey of the subsequent day, to meet with a war-party of her own people, by whom she was conveyed to her family in safety.
"Another display of the firmness and determination of the young warrior was required to abolish this sacrifice, it is to be hoped for ever. The succeeding spring, a warrior, who had captured a fine Spanish boy, vowed to sacrifice him to the Great Star, and accordingly placed him under the care of the magi for that purpose.
"The Knife Chief, learning the determination of the warrior, consulted with his son, respecting the best means of preventing a repetition of the horrible ceremony. 'I will rescue the boy,' said Petalesharoo, 'as a warrior should, by force;' but the Knife Chief, unwilling that his son should again expose himself to a danger so imminent as that which he had once encountered in this cause, hoped to compel the warrior to exchange his victim for a large quantity of merchandize, which he would endeavour to obtain with that view. For this purpose, he repaired to Mr. Pappan, who happened to be in the village for the purposes of trade, and communicated to him his intentions. Mr. Pappan generously contributed a considerable quantity of merchandize, and much was added by himself, by Petalesharoo, and other Indians.
"All this treasure was laid in a heap together, in the lodge of the Knife Chief, who thereupon summoned the warrior before him. The chief armed himself with his war-club, and explained the object of his call, commanding the warrior to accept the merchandize, and yield up the boy, or prepare for instant death. The warrior refused, and the chief waved his club in the air towards the warrior. 'Strike!' said Petalesharoo, who stood near to support his father; 'I will meet the vengeance of his friends.' But the more prudent and politic chief added a few more articles to the mass of merchandize, in order to give the warrior another opportunity of acquiescing without forfeiting his word.
"This expedient succeeded; the goods were reluctantly accepted, and the boy was liberated."—James's Account of an Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, ii, 81.
It was at early nightfall, on a warm and beautiful day, in the month which the white man calls June, but which the red man calls the Hot Moon, that a little fleet, consisting of three small bateaux, fitted out at Montreal, and conveying a body of pale-faced warriors, under the command of one whose hair was white and whose face was seamed with scars, entered the mouth of the Oswego. This petty armament was joined at the beginning of the following season of sleep by a great number of canoes that contained the traders, artizans, and labourers, with their families, together with such tools and utensils as had been deemed necessary for the commencement of a new settlement, which it was the design of the chief of the strangers to establish on the south side of Lake Ontario. They brought with them, besides a great quantity of provisions, the usual articles wherewith to traffic with the possessors of the soil. The Oswego—as my red brothers know—is principally formed by the confluence of the outlets of those numerous lesser lakes that diversify and adorn the vast space of country that lies between the Great Ocean and the Lake of Storms. Its course is northward, and, after whirling and foaming along the narrow and obstructed channel that nature seems to have grudgingly lent for its passage, it finds repose in the small harbour bearing its name, which mingles its contributions with the placid but mighty waters of the west.
On the eastern part of this harbour, and on a site sufficiently elevated to command its entrance, this party of daring adventurers began to construct a defence against the attacks of your race. Before the frosts of winter had robbed the surrounding forest of its foliage, or compelled the wild-duck to seek a retreat in the secluded waters of the warm south, or the deer had gathered to their couch of leaves in the thicket, a rude but effectual barrier to hostile attack was raised and completed. The intervening summer had been passed by the artisans and labourers, not only in the building of the fortress, but in the erection of such cabins and lodging-places for warriors within its enclosure, as were deemed requisite for the protection of its inmates from the piercing winds, and cold rains, and chilling frosts, of winter. In the mean time the traders had been diligently and successfully employed in exchanging their beads and trinkets, their knives, blankets, and strong waters, with the men of the adjacent woods, for fish and venison to supply the immediate wants of the warriors, and furs and skins to send to the land of their birth. The Indians, with whom this intercourse and barter was carried on, were of the tribe of the Onandagas. They inhabited a valley as fair as the sun ever shone upon. From a point in the interior—distant more than a sun's journey to the south, this capacious valley opens and widens as it advances northwardly—presenting, in its general outline, an immense space, with three sides, the base of which, for the distance of half a sun's travel, is washed by the waters of the beautiful Ontario. As it recedes from the lake, its surface rises gradually to the point or tip, whence, did the strength of vision and the shape of the earth permit, the eye might command a complete survey of the valley, and of the inland ocean that spreads before it. On either side, it is bounded by steep and high hills that verge towards each other as they stretch to the south, and whose elevation increases, until they are lost among a range of lofty mountains, at the termination of the valley.
At this precise point, there gushes forth, from beneath a huge and precipitous rock, a large spring of pure and clear water, cool and refreshing as the dark forest through which it glides, and which, after a sinuous course along the centre of the dell, receiving as it flows the contributions of numerous lesser springs and streams, communicates its waters to the foaming current of the Oswego. Whether this singular but beautiful region now presents the form in which it was first fashioned by the Master of Life, or has since received the shape and appearance it bears from the disruption of some mighty mass of waters, from frightful earthquakes, or some other great convulsion of nature—neither I nor my red brothers can say. Yet does it appear plain that no convulsive heavings of an earthquake could have left its outline or its surface so smooth or regular. No bursting of waters from the top of a mountain (a mountain too, having no capacious bosom for its reception) could have borne away such an immense body of earth as must have been scooped out from between the high and wide-spreading hills.
But, if this region was singular in its formation, it was not less so in the character and manners of the tribe by which it was peopled. They claimed direct descent from the Great Spirit—the Creator of the world. Regarding themselves as his offspring, they deemed themselves the especial objects of his fatherly care. Deeply possessed with a sense of this superhuman relation, it will not be matter of surprise to my brothers that they should refer to it all the more important events of their lives, and that it should impart its influence even to the minuter circumstances of their daily intercourse both with strangers and with each other. From their belief of their relationship to the Good Spirit, they were a good people. Hence they were, according to their crude notions of religion, strictly a religious people; and, although they worshipped the supposed founder of their race, rather with the qualified adoration that one pays to a good father watching over, and guiding from his dwelling among the stars, the destinies of his earthly children; and, although they were insensible to the deep and humble devotion, and piety, which belong to the worshippers of the same Being in the land of the pale-faces; yet was their superstition free from much of the grossness in which the idolatry of the people of the wilderness is usually buried. Their idols and images were indeed numerous and of rude workmanship, but, like the images before whom kneel no small portion of the people of the land which was mine, they were professed to be worshipped only as the visible representations of invisible spirits. Human sacrifices were not known among them—for they rightly held that the Great Spirit was a kind and affectionate Father, and could not delight in the shedding of the blood of his children, or seeing them sacrificed on his peaceful altars. They had numerous fasts and feasts, but they were accompanied by no cruel rites. Those who presided over the religious ceremonies and observances of this simple people, united, as is usual among most, if not all unenlightened nations, the character and office of priest and prophet—of expounders of visions and dreams—and had the ordering of fasts in the acceptable manner, and at the proper time. They were few in number, and universally revered, beloved, and feared. Their influence and authority were felt in every cabin in the nation. No restraint being imposed upon them, as it is upon the priests in the City of the Rock, they had no inclination to impose any unnatural restraint upon others. Assailed by no external temptations to indulgence themselves, their prohibitions were limited to the very few gratifications that are inconsistent with the habits of Indian life. Avarice was a passion of which neither they nor their tribe had, as yet, felt the influence. All things were in common; and individual appropriation of property was unknown. The "strong waters" of the white man, the fire which hath eaten into the bowels of the race of the red man, had not yet diffused their poison, and drunkenness was a vice of which these people did not understand the meaning. A moral influence over the minds of their tribe was the only distinction to which the priests of Onondaga had aspired. This influence they sought to attain, not by inflicting penance upon the people, but by pretending to immediate intercourse and communication with the Great Spirit. Reverencing that Spirit, these good sons of the forest could not forbear to respect the channels through which his wise and benevolent communications were made.
Not only did these priests of the Manitou direct the devotions of the people, and convey to them the responses of the same mighty Being in times of peril, but won their love and confidence by professing to heal their maladies. Identified with them in their ordinary pursuits, they were, on common occasions, distinguished from them in exterior decoration only by a bone which they wore on the left arm, like a bracelet, just above the wrist, and by the method of arranging their hair. On their bracelets were carved, in rude outline, the representations of certain beasts; and on that of the eldest of the prophets were other cabalistic inscriptions, of which none but the wearers themselves could penetrate the meaning. Their hair, instead of hanging loosely over their foreheads and shoulders, as was usual with their tribe, in common with the other red men of the forest, was collected into a roll at the top of the head, and tied round with a string of red wampum, its extremities being suffered to fall on either side, as nature or accident might dispose it. When they would intercede with the Great Spirit, or know his will by divination, they assumed other dresses; the skins of bears or buffaloes, or mantles curiously woven of feathers. They usually dwelt together on a sort of consecrated ground, set apart for their special accommodation, and which was as unlike the rest of the valley, as the valley itself was unlike the ordinary conformation of the earth. The allotted ground, or space set apart for their use, was called The Prophets' Plain, and was situated on a projecting declivity of the western side of this beautiful glen, whose banks, although they presented, as they opened and widened to the north, a regular outline, were, nevertheless, varied in their actual surface by occasional deviations and sinuosities, arising as well from the unexplainable curvatures of its original structure, as from the narrow, deep ravines, that had been worn by the autumn floods and perennial streamlets from the adjacent hills. In like manner the surface of the bed of the valley was subject to frequent inequalities, produced, perhaps, by the nature of the soil on which it rested. It was formed of a soft stone and a hard stone. Where the latter prevailed, the surface was usually more elevated and undulating than where the former was found; and of that description was the spot appropriated to the prophets of Onondaga. It was situated about half a day's journey up the valley from the lake, and was sufficiently elevated above the circumjacent level to command a view of the broad bosom of the Ontario over the tops of the forest. Along its outer extremity glided the beautiful stream of the glen. Upon one side of the plain, where it was united to the hills, were the cabins of the prophets.
The whole range of the valley, including its bed, and steep lofty sides, was overspread with a dark and umbrageous forest. With this circumstance, the few scattered patches appropriated to the cultivation of maize, and "the openings," as they are denominated in the western world, present a problem of no very easy solution. They are unique in the vegetable kingdom, being midway between the nakedness of a prairie and the thick gloom of a wilderness. The few scattered trees that grow upon them are uniformly oak. They are separated from each other at unequal distances, but are rarely less than sixty yards apart. They do not shoot up to a lofty height, and destitute of branches like the tenants of the thick woods, but bow their heads, and spread their arms, as if conscious of their dependence upon the precarious charity of a long-cultivated country. Beneath them grows a coarse thin grass; but they are never encumbered with the shrubs and underwood that usually form very serious obstacles in the way of the forest traveller. The Prophets' Plain was the only exception. Along the junction of the plain with the western hill, its margin was thickly set with stunted pines, hemlocks, cedars, and, beneath, tangled briars. No one ventured to penetrate these sacred recesses, for there were extended, near the inner border, the few scattered wigwams of the prophets. Such was the character and description of the plain where the religious ceremonies of the Onondagas were performed, and where their council fires were lighted.
In the interval of eighteen seasons, that had rolled away since the erection of the fortress at Oswego, the character of the red men of the valley had undergone a great and disastrous change.
From the most peaceable, inoffensive, and happy, of all the sons of the forest, they had become the most dissolute, quarrelsome, and drunken. They were constantly seen about the villages of the whites begging, bartering every thing they possessed, and performing every drudgery, however servile or degrading, for the strong waters of the pale-face. The free and lofty spirit that once animated the nation was gone; a spirit which, though it had not been often aroused to action, was yet susceptible of the highest efforts of Indian heroism. Their encounters with the neighbouring tribes had not been frequent, yet, when they did take place, the Onondagas had displayed a spirit of intrepid daring, of craft, of patience, and of hardihood in suffering, that had seldom been surpassed among the nations of the forest. But now the spirit of the tribe was broken, and they were no longer numbered among the fierce resenters of wrong. The Oneidas trespassed upon their hunting-grounds and slaughtered their people, yet their warriors were too debased and abject to avenge the insult, or wipe away the memory of their wrongs with blood. They were, evidently, hastening to ruin. Their numbers were rapidly diminishing, as well from the usual effects of intoxication as from the exposures and accidents to which they were subjected from its influence; and, more than all, from the constant quarrels and murders which daily took place among them. In a few more years, if the course they then pursued had been continued, the whole tribe must have become utterly extinct; their name existing but in the recollection of the story-teller, and the green turf alone marking the lands they once inhabited. It fortunately happened, however, at the period alluded to, that the prophets, together with a few of the elder chiefs, who had stood aloof from the contaminating influence of the white men, were enabled to arouse the almost extinguished energy of the people, so far as to assemble them round a council-fire, that was lighted at early dawn one frosty morning, in the Moon of Falling Leaves, on the Prophets' Plain. The whole tribe was called together. A solemn gravity, even beyond the ordinary measure of Indian deliberation, sat upon the countenance of each chief and prophet, indicating that matters of high importance were impending. These sat in a circle around the great fire, their eyes cast upon the earth, and all silent as a grove of oaks in a calm morning. Without the circle of chiefs and prophets stood promiscuously grouped the remainder of the tribe—men, women, and children—all discovering more than common anxiety to learn the reason of the extraordinary call.
But let me not anticipate the circumstances that attended, nor the events that followed, the Warning of Tekarrah, as recited by Wonnehush, chief of the Onondagas.
From a remote corner of the camp, this aged man intimated an intention to speak. A deep silence pervaded the whole crowd, and every eye was fixed upon him. After a short pause, he slowly rose, and cast an anxious eye around the room in which the fire was lighted. But his eye, although it retained proof of its former power and lustre, had now become dim with age. His furrowed brow, his whitened locks, and bended form, once as straight as the arrow that sped from his youthful bow, evinced the ravages which time had made on his noble form. Yet his voice was still strong and clear. At length, adjusting the folds of his blanket, he stretched forth his withered arm, and, with the dignity of one from the Land of Souls, and with all the eloquence of his race, thus addressed the wandering inmates of the camp:—
Brothers, shall Wonnehush tell you a lie? No! Let the white man, whose heart is the heart of a fawn, and whose ways are the ways of the serpent, let him speak with a forked tongue. It is for him that lives in great towns, and buys his bread by selling strong waters, to poison the red men—it is for him to deal in lies. The red man hunts the buffalo, and traps the beaver in the woods that were given him by the Great Spirit. He crosses the big mountain, and enters the deep valleys beyond it, and no man dares to stop his path. He has a great heart, and scorns to tell a lie. Hear, then, the words of Wonnehush!
Brothers, I am an oak of the forest. The snows of a hundred winters have fallen on my branches. Once the tree was covered with green leaves, but they have dropped at my side, and the sap, which once made the tree strong and flourishing, has left the trunk, and the moisture has decayed from my roots.
Brothers, I am an aged, a very aged man. I can no longer bend the bow of my youth, and my tomahawk falls short of its death-mark. But my ears have been open, and my tongue can repeat to you the traditions of the valley. Listen to the chief of Onondaga, and believe the words he will tell you, for he never spoke other than the truth. He never in youth had a forked tongue, or a faint heart, and why should he bear them now?
Brothers, the flowers of the prairie have blossomed and faded, and the leaves of the forest budded and withered, more than fifty times since the canoes of the white men entered the mouth of the Rapid River. My tribe was then spread from the lake to the mountain, and the smoke of their cabins curled over the tops of the hemlocks, from Skeneateles to Oneida. The Great Spirit was their kind father. He looked into their wigwams, and saw they were happy. They hunted the fat bear, the stately moose, and the delicious deer, through wide forests, and speared the juicy fish of many waters. Their hearts were very stout, and their arms were very long. In war, who were so brave as the Onondagas?—The scalps of their enemies were strung as thick upon their belt-girdles as the stars in the path of the Master of Life. Their wives were good and affectionate, their sons strong and brave, and their daughters sweet-tempered and beautiful. They were happy, for they were virtuous, and favoured by the Great Spirit, for they did all they could to deserve his love.
Brothers, the white man came over the Great Lake, and settled down upon all the best spots of the land, as the wild-duck lights upon the lake which contains his favourite food. Soon his brothers joined him, and, to protect their coward hearts from the red men, they built a fort at Oswego. To that vile spot they enticed our young men, and our women, to bring them the spoils of the water and the land—the fish, venison, and skins—and gave them wampum and the fire-eater in exchange. When they had swallowed the strong waters of the pale-faces, they became as beasts, and fell about the earth like trees shivered by lightnings, or prostrated by the tempest. When they arose from the earth, it was to quarrel with each other. The ground was wet, and the waters red, with the blood of Onandagas slain by the hands of their brothers. They sought the deer, and the bear, and the moose, and the wolf, no more, or, if they sought, their hands were so enfeebled by the strong waters that the quest was fruitless, and the maize which was planted was suffered to be choked with weeds. Instead of the noble pastimes of war and the chace, they loitered around the cabins of the white men; and, instead of the tongue which had been given them by their father, the Great Spirit, and with which they had spoken for many, many ages, they learned the tongue of the stranger. The words and wise sayings of the prophets had no longer a charm for them, and the traditions which once flowed from their lips to patient, and pleased, and attentive, hearers, were neglected for the lying tales of the stranger. The knees of the once swift runner shook like a reed in the wind. The heart of the once fearless warrior had become softer than woman's. The blood of his enemies no more reddened his tomahawk; his shout of onset was heard no more among the hills of the Iroquois. He became a prey to the cunning hatred of the strangers, whose anger was kindled against him because he was the son of the Great Spirit. And they mixed the poisonous juices of herbs with the strong waters they gave him, that his death might be sure. Is it strange that our people have disappeared from the plain, as the dew in the morning or the snows of the Planting-Moon before the beams of the noontide sun?
Brothers, more than thirty years have passed since a council-fire was kindled on the Prophets' Plain, in the Moon of Early Frost. It was a great fire, for there were assembled all the people of the valley. In the middle of the assembly stood the priests, next the chiefs and warriors of Wonnehush, and without them the aged men and women, and the children, and the wives of the warriors. Then the priests began the dance and the howl, wherewith they commence their invocations to the Great Spirit. Suddenly there appeared in the midst of the people a stranger who was a head taller than the tallest man of the nation. His form was noble and majestic beyond any thing ever seen by our people. His eye had the brightness of the sunbeam, and his manner was graceful as the waving of a field of corn. Upon the border of his mantle were strange figures; and his belt of wampum glittered like the girdle of the heavens. He was one upon whom no Onondaga eye had ever before looked—a stranger in the valley—perhaps a warrior sent hither by one of the fierce tribes of the land to insult, by some reproach, for their effeminacy and weakness, the terror and sin-stricken Onondagas.
At length he rose to speak, and every sound was hushed, not only in the Indian camp, but in surrounding nature. Not a bird chirped; not a leaf was heard to rustle among the trees of the plain; the beasts of the forests were still; the busy bee desisted from its hum; even the winds were hushed and silent while the stranger delivered his solemn warning.
"I am," said he, "Tekarrah, the messenger of the Great Spirit. Onondagas, listen to my words! I am come from your father, that same Spirit, to speak the words of truth in your ears, and to tell you that he is exceedingly angry with you. You have exchanged your broad and rich lands for useless toys; you have taken the maize and the meat from the mouths of your starving children, to purchase from the strangers the strong waters which have made your warriors as timid as the deer you once hunted through the forests. You have thrown away the tongue which was given you by your Great Father, and have taken that of your destroyers. You have forgotten the deeds of your fathers, which made them feared and honoured from the Falls of the Mohawk to Lake Huron. The Great Spirit has spoken to you in his thunders, and by the mouth of his priests, but you have heard neither; and, though his blessings were showered thick upon you, you have been like adders, and stung the hand which dispensed them.
"Onondagas! hear the warning words of the Great Spirit. If you will return to your cabins, and forget the things that were taught you, and unlearn the tongue of the white man, to use again the language of your fathers—if, instead of the rifle, you will shoot with the bow, and cause the arrow to whistle instead of the bullet—if you will cease to give the spoils of the chace and the produce of your fields for beads and strong waters—if you will chase the Oneidas from your hunting-grounds, and again occupy them yourselves—then will the Great Spirit forgive you, and once more take you to his bosom. But, if you will not hearken to his voice, nor to the voice of his prophets, listen to the words of vengeance.
"Before twelve moons shall have faded from the skies, your tribe shall have passed away. Not an Onondaga shall be left to tell the proud story of the glory of his nation. The cabin of the pale-face shall be built on the burial spot of your fathers, and his herds and flocks shall feed on the consecrated ground of the priests. The white man shall say to his children—'Here once lived a people called the Onondagas. They once were the bravest of all the tribes of the land, but they became the most feeble and cowardly. It was the cunning of whites which wrought their ruin. We gave them strong waters—they tasted the poison—they loved it—and lo! we dwell upon their ashes.'"
Brothers, a sudden blast of wind shook the branches of the trees, a black cloud overspread the plain, and, although every eye seemed fixed upon the place where Tekarrah had stood, yet he was gone. He had come and vanished like one of those fiery balls that we see on a summer's evening, travelling in the misty valleys.
Brothers, we returned to our cabins, and pondered upon his words. They sunk deep into our hearts, and our tribe profited by the warning. We forsook all trade with the white men, and forgot their tongue. We threw away the rifle which was heard no more in our woods, and made the bow and arrow, and the tomahawk, and the war-club, again our weapons. Again we were clothed with the skins of the animals we slew in the chace, and the meat we killed in the woods was applied as it should be, to feed our young ones. The snows of more than thirty winters have whitened our valley, since we have abstained from the strong waters of the pale-faces. Our nation have since grown like the oak, firm and strong-rooted, and the Oneidas dare no longer kindle their fires on our border. Our warriors have hearts as stout as our fathers in the olden time; our runners outstrip the wild cat for agility, and the roebuck for speed. Our people linger no more round the settlement at Oswego, but are happy and contented in the deep shades of the forest, with the coarse but healthy enjoyments of Indian life. The Great Spirit again smiles upon his children, and they smoke in the calumet of peace. Our tribe is strong and war-like, in the full vigour of health, while the red men of other nations are perishing around us.
Brothers, hear me, for I am old, and your fathers were wont to hear the council of the elders. Remember the tale of Wonnehush; he tells you no lie. Carry his words to your tribes, and let the warning of Tekarrah be heard in every wigwam beyond the mountains.
Much has been said and written of the eloquence of the Indians, but it all conveys a very imperfect and inadequate idea of the beauty and excellence of their orations. They are untranslatable by whites, for we are without the nice perception of natural beauty and sublimity which the Indian possesses, and therefore cannot convey with accuracy and fulness his ideas of the external objects from which his figures and metaphors are drawn. If a bird flits before him, he discerns hues, and remarks circumstances in its notes and motions, which are imperceptible to the white man. The same acuteness which enabled an Indian scout to apprise his commander, and to apprise him correctly, that an "Indian, tall and very cowardly, with a new blanket, a short gun, and an old dog," had passed where the utmost industry of his employer could find no trace or footstep, is carried into every pursuit, and forms a part of every faculty and quality of the Indian. But to return to his elocution.
That was a beautiful figure of Tecumseh's to an American, who speaking of the President of the United States had used the expression "Your Great Father." "My great father!" exclaimed the indignant chief; "the Sun is my father, and the earth is my mother, and I repose on her bosom."
When the Seminoles were defeated by General Jackson, their chief came into the presence of the victor with all the pride and firmness that belong to an Indian warrior. The conqueror demanded why he had surrendered so soon. "I have not surrendered soon," answered the chief; "I planted and harvested my corn on the right bank of the river of my people, while I fought the pale-faces on the left." This history of a warfare protracted to four months—for the period between the planting and harvesting of maize is of that or greater duration—was beautiful, though brief, but it was literally true. A gentleman present assured me that the dignity of his manner, as well as the matter of his speech, sent a thrill of awe to the bosom of every one of the assembly.
One of the most beautiful Indian speeches on record is that of Logan, the Mingo chief. It is one of the most affecting narratives of individual sorrow that I ever read. It has been frequently quoted—nevertheless there may be some to whom it may be new, and I shall transcribe it for their use. It is the language of truth and nature clothed in its most beautiful form.
"In the year 1774, a robbery having been committed by some Indians upon the white settlers on the Ohio, the latter undertook, in a summary way, to punish the outrage. They surprised, at different times, several of the Indian hunting parties, with their women and children, and murdered many of them. Among these was the family of Logan, a celebrated chief, who had always distinguished himself as the friend of the whites. This ungrateful return provoked his vengeance, and in the war which ensued he highly signalized himself. In the autumn of that year, the Indians were defeated in a decisive battle, and sued for peace. Logan, however, disdained to be seen among the suppliants. But, in order that no distrust might arise in the treaty on account of the absence of so celebrated a warrior, he sent, by the hands of General Gibson, the following speech, to be delivered to Lord Dunmore, the governor of Virginia:—
"I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan's cabin hungry, and he gave him not meat: if ever he came cold and naked, and he clothed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed as they passed, and said, 'Logan is the friend of white men.' I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man. Colonel Crespal, the last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not even sparing my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called on me for revenge; I have sought it; I have killed many; I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country, I rejoice at the beams of peace; but do not harbour a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan?—Not one."
Three suns, and no more, would it take the feet of a fleet Mohawk to journey to the spot which contains the dust of Pomperaug, the last man of his tribe. The spot where that chief drew his breath was a small and level valley, surrounded by lofty and thickly wooded hills, with a cool, clear, bright, little stream, rippling through its green and flowery meadows. When he first saw the light of the great star, this spot was not divested of its trees; my countrymen, from the distant regions over the great waters, came with their sharp axes and lithe arms, and swept away the loved retreats of the red inhabitants of the land. The beautiful trees which hung over the quiet little river of Pomperaug and his people, like a mother bending over her sleeping infant, fell before them like a field of corn bowed to the earth by a tempest of wind. And very soon was the tribe itself swept away by the same resistless torrent which divested their land of its sylvan adornments. The Great Sachem of the East, who dwelt on the lofty Haup, having engaged in a war with my brethren, the Pomperaugs took part with the king of the Pequods, and a large part of them shared in his destruction. The chief fell, pierced by the arrow of the Great King. His son, still a boy, with a remnant of his father's people, when the war was finished by the death of the warlike and cunning Sachem of Haup, returned to their native valley: and, submitting themselves to their conquerors, sat down by the beloved river, and, apparently were content to toil for the white man in the fields which had once been their own. Yet it was with a deep remembrance of their wrongs, and a determination, at a convenient opportunity, to take a deep and bloody revenge. The period had now arrived when the young chief had reached the age of manhood. He took, as was the custom of his fathers, the name of his tribe, and was accordingly called Pomperaug. A nobler youth was never seen, either red or white. He was tall, and finely formed, with an eye that gleamed like the flashes of the diamond, and a brow, upon which were stamped the greatness of his mind, the lofty and honourable feelings which filled his soul. He was such a one as the Indian contemplates with delight, and gazes upon with idolatry. His foot was swift as that of the deer; his arrow was sure as the pursuit of the eagle; his sagacity penetrating as the light of the sun. The maidens of his own tribe looked upon him with eyes of love; and there were not a few among the maidens of my own colour who confessed that he was "beautiful, and noble in form, and worthy to be loved by red and white."
Such was Pomperaug. But his nation was passing away, and but fifty of his own tribe now dwelt in the valley in which his fathers, numberless as the leaves upon the oaks under which they dwelt, had hunted for many ages. The day of their dominion was past. There was a spell over the dark warrior. The Great Spirit had sealed his doom. He had sent strange men to his shores—and a change had come over the face of the land. The thickly settled town—the lofty spire of the house where men assembled to worship the Great Being—the fields, green, and glowing with the deep verdure of spring—the slopes of the hills, made smooth with cultivation—had taken the place of the lofty forest, from which arose the cry of the red warrior, as he rushed on his foes, or the plash of his oar, as he swept his light canoe on his expeditions of war or love. The stranger had built his house upon the margin of his favourite streams, whence a portion of his daily food was procured; and he, whose soil it was, had fled from the profanation of his father's bones. One by one, like leaves in the Harvest-Moon, had they dropped from the vision of those around them. To-day, you saw a son of the forest with an eye like the eagle's, and a foot like the antelope's; to-morrow, he was gone, and gone without a token. The waters that lave the thirsty sands of the seashore sink not more silently in their ebb than the Indians have disappeared from the vicinity of the abodes of white men. And in this same silent way floated down the stream of oblivion the Indians of the valley of Pomperaug. Perceiving that their doom was sealed, they patiently submitted to a fate which they could not avert.
It was, therefore, without resistance that they received into the heart of their little territory a company of the people of my nation. They were in number about thirty. Their governor, who was also their priest, was a man of great age, though possessed of all the mental and bodily vigour of youth. His years were more than three score and ten, and his hair as white as snow, yet his feet were sprightly as those of a young deer. His tall and broad form was still erect; his eye had lost none of its fire, nor his temper any of its energy; he was old in years, but young in the vigour of his soul.
This aged priest had brought to the valley of Pomperaug the remnant of a family of many souls. It was a maiden—the daughter of his only son who, with his wife, had slept many years in the house of death. Her name was Mary, and well might she be the object of all the earthly affections which still beat in the bosom of one whom death had made acquainted with sorrow, and who but for her had been alone.
Mary had now seen the harvest gathered in seventeen times. She was the most beautiful of all the maidens of the land. She was tall and slender, with a dark expressive eye, whose slow movements seemed full of soul and sincerity. Her hair was of a glossy black, parted upon a forehead of dazzling whiteness, and shading a cheek which vied in its blush with the pale rose of the wilds. And snow was not whiter than her stately neck, and rounded arm, and little hand.
They had been settled in the valley of Pomperaug but a few moons, when an application from the aged priest to purchase a portion of the young chief's lands brought him to the cabin of the former. It was a bright morning in autumn, and, while he was talking with the priest at the door, the lovely maiden, who had been gathering flowers, the late flowers of the season, in the adjacent woods, passed by them, and entered the hut. The eye of the young chief followed her with the gaze of entrancement. His face shone as if he had seen a vision of more than earthly beauty, some bright spirit of the air. But this emotion was visible only for a moment. With the habitual self-command of those who are trained in the wilds, he turned again to the aged priest, and calmly pursued the subject which occasioned their meeting.
Pomperaug went away, but he carried the image of the beautiful maiden with him. He retired to his wigwam, but it did not please him—a vacant and dissatisfied feeling filled his bosom. He went to the top of the high rock, at the foot of which his hut was situated, and, seating himself upon the broad flat stone, cast his eyes over the river, upon which the beams of the morning were just beginning to cast their quivering light. The scene, once so pleasing, afforded him no joy. He turned away, and sent his long gaze over the checkered leaves of the forest, which spread like a sea over the beautiful valley. He was still dissatisfied. With a bound he sprang from the rock into the valley, and, alighting on his feet, snatched his bow, and took the path which led into the forest. In a few moments he returned listless and vacant, and, seating himself upon the rock, brooded for many hours in silence.
The sun of the next morning had been but a few minutes abroad on the earth, when Pomperaug repaired to the house of the aged priest to finish the business of the preceding day. He had before signified his intention to part with his land on the terms offered him, but he now declined.
"Why will not the son of the chief, who fell in the Moon of Green Corn, give to the pale-face for the things he wants the lands he does not plough, the woods that are bare of game, the waters whose fish glide unharmed by his spear?" demanded the priest.
"Listen, father—hear a red man speak," answered the young chief. "Mark yonder eagle—how joyous his flight among the clouds. The sky is his home, he loves it, and grief seizes his heart when he leaves it. Will he barter it for the sea? No. Look into the river, and ask the fish that sports so happy in its clear bosom, if he will sell his birth-place, and he will, if he speak at all, answer No. Shall the red man sell for a few strings of beads, and a piece of red cloth, the spot that contains his father's bones? No. Yet, father, I will part with my forests, if thou wilt give me the beautiful singing-bird that is in thy nest."
"Savage," said the priest indignantly and haughtily, "shall the lamb lie down in the den of the wolf? shall the fawn knock at the lair of the panther, and enter and take up her abode? Never! Name not the thing again—I would sooner see her die! Name it not." As he spoke he struck his cane forcibly on the ground, and his broad figure seemed to expand and grow taller, while his eye gleamed, and the muscles of his brow contracted, with a lowering and stern expression. The air and manner of the Indian were changed. His countenance while pleading his suit had worn an air of supplication unusual with his race, but his eye flashed fire at the reproof and the refusal of the priest to sanction his love, and his manner assumed a proud dignity which it had not before. As the dull colours of the snake, when he becomes enraged, are succeeded by the glowing hues of the rainbow, so was the meek look which Pomperaug had at first worn followed by one better befitting the untamed and stern lord of the forest.
The priest and the chief parted, and Pomperaug refused to sell his lands. He was now changed to all around him. With the white people he held no further communication, and said little to his own people, unless to cultivate in them a hatred of their neighbours. His whole soul was filled with love for the beautiful pale-face. His old and cherished pursuits and pastimes no longer gave him pleasure; the bow lay unstrung in a corner of his cabin, and his canoe was no longer seen, impelled by his strong arm, gliding over the river.
As might have been expected from the bitter disappointment of Pomperaug in not being able to obtain the maiden, and that of the priest at failing to obtain the coveted lands, difficulties soon grew up between the Indians and their neighbours, and violent feelings were shortly excited on both sides. This soon broke out into open quarrels, and one of the white men was shot by the arrow of an Indian hunter, as he was returning through the woods to his home. The whites determined to seek instant revenge, and accordingly, gathering their men together, they followed the Indians into the broken and rocky regions which lie east of the valley of Pomperaug, whither, expecting pursuit, they had retreated.
It was about an hour before sunset, when the Yengeese, consisting of twenty men well armed after the fashion of the whites, and led by the aged priest, who, old as he was, still retained the spirit of a youthful warrior, were marching through a deep ravine, about two miles east of their village. The rocks on either side were lofty, and so narrow was the dell, that the shadows of night had already gathered over it. The pursuers had sought their enemies the whole day in vain, and, having lost all traces of them, they were now returning to their homes. Untaught by dear bought experience, they marched along heedless of the dangers which surrounded them—disregardful of the advantages offered to their cunning foes by the rocks and thickly wooded eminences around them. Suddenly the shrill war-whoop burst from the rocks at their feet, and many armed Indians sprang up before them. An arrow pierced the breast of the aged priest, and he fell dead in front of his band. Two Indians met their death at the hands of their foes, the remainder sought the forest. Several of the Yengeese were wounded, but none mortally, save the priest.
With mournful silence they bore back the body of their father to the dwelling his aged feet had left but a few hours before. He was buried in a lonely and sequestered nook of the valley, and the orphan maiden turned away with a desolate and breaking heart, to be for the first time alone in the humble cabin in the wilderness.
A season had passed away, and another harvest had come. The tribe of Pomperaug had disappeared, and the rock on which the priest met his death had been consecrated by many prayers of those who loved him. His blood was still visible upon the spot, and thither his people often repaired to kneel, and offer up petitions for the repose of his spirit. They believed that their hearts were softened, and their spirits visited with the richest gifts of heavenly grace, when they came to the spot where he had met his death.
It was a mild and beautiful evening in summer, when the maiden for the last time went to spend an hour at this holy spot. Long had she knelt, and most fervently had she prayed to her kind creator. The sun went down, and, as the veil of evening fell, the full moon climbed over the ridge of rocks which rose on the east side of the valley, pouring its white light into the lone and quiet recesses and solitudes around her, and the good and beauteous maiden was still kneeling, still communing with that Being whom every nation and tongue, civilized and savage, red and white, delight to honour and worship—at least with their lips, though their hearts may be far from him.
At length, a slight noise, like the crushing of a leaf, woke her from her trance, and, springing quickly on her feet, and filled with sudden and unusual fears, she set out on her return to the village. Alarmed at her distance from home at such an hour, and by the sounds from time to time repeated, she proceeded along with great rapidity. She was obliged to climb up the rocks with great care, as the darkness rendered it a critical and dangerous task. At length she reached the top. Standing upon the verge of the cliff, she then turned a moment to look back upon the valley. The moon was shining full upon the vale, and she gazed with a mixture of awe and delight upon the sea of green leaves, which slept in death-like repose beneath her. She then turned to pursue her path homeward, but what was her amazement to see before her, in the full moonlight, the tall form of Pomperaug! She shrieked, and swift as his own arrow, sprang over the dizzy cliff. The young chief listened—there was a moment of silence—then a heavy sound like the falling of a body upon the hard earth—and the dell was still as the tomb.
The fate of the beautiful maiden was known only to Pomperaug. He buried her with a lover's care, amid the rocks of the glen. Then, bidding adieu to his native valley, with a bursting heart, he joined his people, who had retired to the banks of the distant Housatonac.
Many years passed away, and the swift and stealthy hunter had been succeeded by the patient and industrious white cultivator. Few traces of the Indian were remaining. The weak and irresolute—they who could see unmoved the dwelling-places of their fathers usurped by strangers, had found unhonoured graves in their own woods—the brave and resolute had gone yet farther into the forest. The rotten bow and quiver, and the rusted arrow, were frequently turned up by the plough, and little fields of scarce the breadth of an arrow's flight disclosed where the red man had once tasted his narrow enjoyments of home and shelter, and these were all that marked where he had been. The bitter persecutors of the rightful possessors of these wide-spread lands were in possession of every fertile spot, while the Indian roved in strange lands, a wanderer, and an outcast.
It was in the pleasant month when the birds build their nests on the boughs of trees, that a white man, seated on the margin of the river which swept along by the grave of the deceased maiden, saw a train of men slowly approaching, bearing a human corpse. He crept into a sequestered spot, and watched their progress. Approaching the little hillock where the dust of the maiden reposed, they deposited their load on the earth, and commenced digging a fresh grave by its side. When it was finished, they placed the corpse in it, together with the implements commonly buried with an Indian warrior, his bow, quiver of arrows, spear, pipe, &c. The white man, fearing discovery, retreated, and left them to finish their solemn labours unobserved. In the morning, the funeral train had departed, but the fresh earth and the low heap of stones revealed the secret. They remain there to this day, and the two little mounds are shown by the villagers, as the graves of the beautiful Mary and the faithful Pomperaug.
The son of the white man sat in his house on the border of the Indian nations, when there came a red man to his door, leading a beautiful woman with a little child in her arms, and spoke thus:—
"Dost thou see the sun?"
"I see the sun," answered the white man, haughtily.
"Three times," said the Indian, "has that sun risen, and thrice has he sunk from my eyes behind the dark hills of the west, since I or mine have tasted food. For myself, I care little—I am a man of the woods, a patient warrior; I can fast seven suns; I am not even now faint—but a tender woman has not the soul of a strong warrior, and when she sees not meat every day, she leans her head upon her hand, and when her child droops for food she weeps. Give me food."
"Begone!" said the white man, "I earn my bread and meat by the sweat of my brow—"
"On the lands of the Indian," interrupted the stern warrior.
"On my own lands—lands reclaimed from wildness—lands suffered to lie waste for ages, and only made to be of use to human beings when my race came hither with hard hands and patient souls, and felled the trees, and rooted out the obstacles which kept out the beams of the cherishing and invigorating sun. Begone to thy den in the wilderness!"
"Give me but food for the Sparrow and her little one, and the Hawk will go without. He has yet strength enough left to enable him to carry his feet to the wilds stocked with deer, and the Great Being will himself direct the arrow which is to procure the means to sustain life. But my wife and child, whose lives I value beyond my own, will faint and die, ere that distant spot be gained."
"You shall have no food here; I will not feed lazy Indians," answered the white man.
The Indian said nothing, but the pale and fainting mother looked on her sick infant and burst into tears.
There was sitting on the greensward at the Englishman's door a beautiful little girl not yet grown to perfect womanhood, but on its verge—a fawn far in its second season—a tree wanting but a few more suns to be clothed with the blossoms of maturity. She was the only child of the white man—the only pledge of love left him by a beloved wife who slept in the earth. She was most tenderly beloved by her father, and seldom asked any thing in vain. At her side sat a boy, perhaps two or three seasons older, playing with her the games of childhood.
"Father," said she, rising and approaching him in a supplicating manner, "suppose your daughter was cast friendless and hungry among the sons of the forest, and they denied her food. Would not the wrath of the Great Spirit be upon them for their inhumanity?"
The father looked thoughtful, but made no reply.
"Father, do you love your child?—If you do, permit her to feed the good Indian father who would starve himself so those he loves could be fed. Permit me to wipe the tears from the dark cheek of the mother, and to take a crumb of bread from your plenteous store to put in the mouth of the famished child."
The father could deny nothing to his beloved daughter, and, besides, the little boy pleaded for the famished Pequods also, and he yielded. With a light and bounding step the two children pursued the fainting Indians and brought them back. Food was set before them till their hunger was appeased; the little girl laid the little Indian babe on her own knee and fed it with her own hand, nor were they permitted to depart till refreshed by a rest of two days. They then returned to their own homes in the wilderness, and their little benefactors attended them to the skirts of the forest, two miles from the cruel father's dwelling.
Several seasons had passed away; the little girl, who had so kindly interposed to feed the miserable Indians, had grown to womanhood, and had become the wife of that boy and a mother. Her husband was a cultivator of the soil, and with the disposition to seek new lands, and try untried regions, which every where belongs to white men, he had built himself a cabin very far from the spot where he and his wife drew their breath. On the banks of a distant river, on a pleasantly situated little hill, which enjoyed the bright morning sun, he erected his cabin and sowed his wheat. He went not, however, to the wilderness alone: many other white men went with him, and, for protection against the red men of the forest, whose wrongs had stirred them to bitter hatred and revenge, they built a fort, to which they might retreat in case of danger. The cabin of the benefactors of the starving Indian family was at a distance of a mile from the fort—the husband being the first who had ventured to reside at such a distance from a garrison or fortified house.
"I shall return before dark," said he one day to his affectionate wife, as he was preparing to go down to the fort on some business. "There is no danger, my beloved," continued he, as he took up his little son, and, kissing him, laid him in his fond mother's arms.
"But my dreams, my husband—my frightful dreams of tall savages and shrill war-whoops!" said she.
"Oh! that should not frighten you," he replied. "Remember, you had been listening all the evening to dark and terrific stories of what had been done by the native warrior when he raised his arm in defence of his birth-place. Dreams are caused by that which most engrosses our thoughts—particularly just as we are going to sleep. There have not been any traces of the Indians discovered this season, and I should be sorry to raise an alarm among our friends merely upon account of a dream."
"But you know, my husband," said she, "that they are a secret, as well as a terrible enemy—they are, you know, eagles for daring, panthers for fierceness, adders for secrecy, and foxes for cunning." And she raised her mild eyes to her husband's face with that pleading expression when tears seem ready to start, and are yet checked by the fear of giving pain to the one beloved. A fond husband finds it impossible to withstand the tears of his wife, and he said, quickly, "I will not go to the garrison to-day."
"But you promised your father, and he will expect you," answered she. "You must go. I know my fears are the fears of a child, but they shall not make me wicked. I am too apt to think my security depends on your presence. I forgot that the One mighty to save can defend me, and that trust in Him is a shield to the believer. You must go."
"But I will not go without you," said her husband, who now began to feel the fears she was endeavouring to shake off. "Come, prepare the child, and we will go down together. If there has been any alarm, we will not return to-night, but pass it under the protection of the fort."
The wife paused a few moments, as if considering what she should do. I need not tell you, for you know that nothing is so difficult to explain—nothing so contradictory as the feelings and wishes of the human heart. A few moments since she would have thought that if she could accompany her husband she should be perfectly safe—that his presence would obviate every danger ere it arose. But now other considerations presented themselves to her mind. If he went not to the council, he might incur reproof for listening to a woman's fears and dreams; and dread of ridicule prevented her from accompanying him.
"I will have more fortitude," said she, smiling. "I will not make a fool of you, though I appear like one myself—you shall not have reason to be ashamed of your wife—I will not go." And she sat down resolutely, determined to conquer her fears. It was in vain that her husband urged her to accompany him. The more she saw his affectionate anxiety on her account, the more she laboured to suppress her fears, till finally she persuaded him, and herself too, that she felt no uneasiness at all from the prospect of passing a lengthened period alone, and he departed.
But she had affected resolution which she was far from feeling. She felt a presentiment that danger was nigh, and it weighed heavily on her heart. But she saw him depart without tears, and, after watching him from the door till he entered the forest, betook herself to the usual duties of a woman in the house of her husband. Yet she could not forbear going frequently to the door, and sometimes she would wander forth, and gaze all around their little field, and then watch the progress of the sun, with an expression of countenance, that, to an observer, would instantly have revealed the agitation and anxiety which her heart was suffering. But she saw nothing to inspire fears—indeed there was much to tranquillize them. Every thing abroad was in perfect quiet. There was scarcely a breath of air perceptible; and the waters of the beautiful Merrimack flowed without a ripple. The calm sky of the last month of summer looked of a deeper and more heavenly blue, seen as it was by her from a spot circumscribed by tall trees, now clothed with such a fulness of foliage as made the forest appear dark and almost impenetrable. Close around the house were planted corn and vegetables; and a field of wheat, in front of the dwelling, stretched in unbroken green to the river's brink. There was not a sound to be heard—save the chirping of a robin that had built her nest on a lofty chesnut which stood close to the south-east corner of the house—the only tree suffered to grow within the enclosure. The young birds were fully fledged, and, under the guidance of the parents, were about quitting their nest. The lovely wife watched their movements; the old birds now encouraging, now seeming to chide, their timid offspring, till finally they reached the woods, and all disappeared. Slight as the circumstance was, it touched her with a feeling of loneliness. "Even the birds have left me," said she to herself, and, pressing her boy closer to her bosom, she burst into tears. She might well be excused these tears and feelings, for, though a wife and mother, she had seen the leaves fall but seventeen times.
She watched the sun till it sunk behind the western hills, and then she watched its beams on the clouds till the last faint tints had departed: and, fixing her eyes stedfastly on that part of the forest, from which she expected to see her husband emerge, she sat at the door, with her child in her arms, watching, in vain, for his appearance. As the evening waxed later, and her fears increased, she sometimes imagined she saw strange figures and ferocious faces, with eyes beaming wrath and vengeance, such as she had beheld in her dream, moving about the dusky apartment. Ashamed of these fears, and knowing that her husband, when he came home, would chide her for thus exposing herself and her child to the evening dews, she breathed a short prayer to Him who stilled the tempest, and entered the house. Her first care, after placing her infant in his cradle, was, to light a candle, and then, more reassured, she took the sacred book from which white men gather their belief of the land of souls and of future happiness. That book is the "charm," and the protecting "medicine" of the white men. They believe that it guards them from evil, and guides them to good; its pages are a direction in every difficulty—its promises a resource in every trial. She read and prayed alternately, mingling the idea of her husband, his safety and return, with every thought and wish, but still he came not. She had no means of ascertaining the lapse of time, except by the stars, as there was no moon; but she conjectured that it must be past the hour of midnight. Again and again she went forth, and examined with a searching glance every thing around, but nothing could she see, except the dark forest in the distance, and, close around her dwelling, the black stumps that stood like sentinels on guard—while nothing was heard, save the soft murmur of the water, and, at times, a low rustling, as the breeze stirred the leaves of the chesnut-tree, or swept over the field of ripe wheat.
At length, as she stood at the corner of the cabin, beneath the shade of the chesnut, of which I have before spoken, looking earnestly towards the distant woods, she saw, or thought she saw, something emerge from their shadow. Whatever it was, it vanished instantly. She kept her eyes fixed on the spot. A bright starlight enabled her to discern objects distinctly, even at a distance, especially when her faculties were roused and stimulated, both by hope and fear. After some time, she again and plainly saw a human figure. It rose from the ground, looked and pointed towards her house, and then again disappeared. She recollected her light. It could be seen from the window, and probably had attracted the notice of the Indians, who, she could no longer doubt, were approaching. They had, as she fancied, waylaid and killed her husband—and were now coming to destroy herself and her child. What should she do? She never thought of attempting to escape without her babe; but in what direction should she fly, when, perhaps, the Indians surrounded the cabin? There was one moment of terrible agony, when the mangled form of her husband seemed before her, and she heard, in idea, the shrieks of her babe beneath the tortures of your race, till her breath failed, and reason seemed deserting her. But she made a strong effort to recall her wandering senses, and then, with her eyes and clasped hands raised to that place where the white man believes his God to reside, she took her resolution. With a noiseless step she entered her dwelling, extinguished the light, took her infant in her arms, and again stole softly forth, creeping along in the shadow of the house, till she reached the spot whence she had first seen the object which alarmed her. Here she stood perfectly still. Her infant lay on her bosom in profound sleep—as quiet and seemingly as breathless as though his spirit had already departed. She did not wait long before the same dark figure again rose, looked around, and then sank down as before. The moment it disappeared, she passed swiftly and softly, as a shadow, over the space that separated the cabin from the chesnut-tree. This tree was an uncommonly large one, and there was a separation of the trunk into two branches, about half the height of a tall man from the ground, where the shuddering wife thought it possible that she might conceal herself. She gained it, and placed herself in a position which allowed her to watch the door of her dwelling. All was silent for a long time—more than that space, which among my people, is called an hour, and she began to doubt the reality of what she had seen, imagining she had been deceived, and taken a stump for a human figure; and she was about to descend from the tree, where her situation had become uncomfortable, when suddenly a forest warrior stept by her, between the house and the tree. As another, and another, followed, it was with difficulty she suppressed her screams. But she did suppress them, and the only sign she gave of fear, was to press her infant closer to her bosom. They reached the door, and a sound of surprise at finding it open was muttered by the first who approached it, and replied to by the second. After a short consultation they entered, and she soon saw a light gleam, and supposed they had kindled it to search for her. Her pulse beat wildly; yet, still she hoped to escape. It was not probable that they would search a tree so near the cabin; they would rather suppose she had fled to a distance. Presently a crackling noise was heard in the cabin, and a bright light, as of flame, flashed from the door and window. Presently the Indians rushed out, and, raising their wild yell, danced around the cabin with their usual demonstrations of joy, when they have accomplished a purpose of revenge. The cabin was in flames.
Still the only sign she gave of fear was, as she unloosed the handkerchief from her neck and threw it over her child's face to screen his eyes from the glare of light that might awaken him, to press him closer and closer to her heart.
The house was unfinished; there was nothing to delay, for a moment, the progress of the fire which had been kindled in the centre of the apartment, and fed by all the combustibles that could be found in the dwelling. The flame very soon caught the rafters and boards, and it seemed that she had scarcely time to breathe a dozen times, before the blaze burst through the roof. The atmosphere, rarified by the heat around the burning building, suddenly expanded, and the cold and more dense air rushing in, it seemed as if a sudden wind was blowing violently. The current drove the thick smoke, and showered the burning cinders, directly on the chesnut-tree. She felt the scorching heat, while the suffocating vapour almost deprived her of the power of respiration. She grew dizzy; yet still the only movement she made was, to turn her child a little in her arms, that he might be more effectually shielded from the smoke. At that moment, one of the warriors approached, in the wild movements of his dance, close to the tree. An eddy of wind swept away the smoke; the light fell full on the pale face of the horror-stricken woman; her eyes, as if by the power of fascination, were rivetted on the tall and dusky form of the son of the forest; his fiery glance was raised toward her, and their gaze met. She gave a start; and the note of his wild war-song was shriller as he intently regarded his victim. Suddenly he turned away. Murmuring a short prayer to her God, the trembling woman resigned herself to death, as she heard them all send forth a prolonged whoop.
"My boy! My husband! We shall meet, we shall all meet in Heaven!" she cried.
But why did not the Indians approach? She listened, looked around, and soon saw them flying with the speed of frighted deer across the space of cleared land, illuminated by the bright glare, to the covert of the wood. She did not pause to consider what had caused their flight; but, obeying that instinct which bids us shun the present danger, perhaps to encounter a greater more remote, she sprang from the tree, and rushed towards the river. She recollected a spot where the bank projected, beneath which, during the summer months, the bed of the river was nearly dry; there she should, at least, be secure from the fire.
And there she sheltered herself. Her feet were immersed in water, and she stood in a stooping posture to screen herself from observation, should the Indians return to seek her. In the mean time, her little boy slumbered peacefully, and regardless of surrounding perils. None of her fears or dangers disturbed his repose; and, when the morning light allowed her to gaze on his sweet face, lit up by the smiles of infantile joy, as he beheld the maternal eyes beaming love upon him, tears of bliss and thankfulness flowed fast down her cheeks that she had been enabled thus to shield that dear innocent from death.
Soon after the sun had risen she heard sounds as of people approaching, and soon recognised the voices of her friends from the garrison. She was conveyed, with her child, to the fort, which her husband had left, she learned, about sunset the preceding evening. Nothing was known, or could be discovered, of his fate; no track nor trace remained to show whether he was to be reckoned among the dead or the living.
The husband of her, whose escape from the wrath of red men I have related to the Iroquois, was returning from the fort to his own habitation, soon after the damps of evening were abroad on the earth. He was joyous and merry at the thought of embracing his beloved wife and child, and whistled and sang, as he went, like a lark in the morning. Just as he was entering the edge of a deep valley, which lay between his cabin and the protected dwellings of his friends, four Pequods rushed from the thick woods upon him. One of them seized his rifle before he had time to use it; while another struck him a blow on the head with his tomahawk, which deprived him of recollection, until near the return of the light.
When he did recover, he found himself lying at the foot of a tree, his hands bound, and an Indian guarding him. All efforts to escape he found would be vain, and he silently submitted to his fate. About mid-day the other three of his captors joined the one who guarded him, and, after conversing hastily a few moments, they began a hurried march. The prisoner perceived one of them examining him often and attentively, viewing him in various situations, apparently endeavouring to make out a recognition of one formerly known. At length, on the fourth day, as he was alone with the prisoner, he seated himself upon the smooth sward, and, bidding the other do the same, he addressed him in the following language:—
"I listen," said the prisoner.
"Where hadst thou thy dwelling-place when thine arm was first able to bend a healthy sprout of a single season, and thy heart first began to count upon its strength to look upon the glaring eye-ball of a mad wolf?"
"Far from here," answered the prisoner, his eyes filling with tears, and sighs bursting from his heart, at the image of youthful love and bliss recalled to his mind by the allusion to his birth-place. "Upon the bank of a distant river, more than three suns travel from the spot where I became the captive of the red man."
"White men have forked tongues," answered the Pequod; "but thou shalt mark it out on the smooth surface of the white birch, that my memory may tell me if thou hast spoken true."
The prisoner, with a piece of coal taken from their fire, marked out the dwelling in which he resided at the period alluded to by the Indian. He seemed satisfied.
"It is well," said he. "Now show me the cabin to which thou wert going, when the red man paid a small part of his debt of vengeance on thy race, by taking thee captive."
The prisoner made a second drawing, representing his little field and his cabin, including the chesnut-tree.
"Was there another bird in the nest of thy father when thy soul first began to feel the proud confidence and conciousness of approaching manhood?" demanded the Pequod, eyeing him intently.
"There was," answered the captive—"a little maiden."
"And where is that bird now?"
"She is the wife of my bosom. Is, did I say—Alas! she may not be living—she has undoubtedly perished by the hands of the accursed beings who fired my dwelling, and chained the feet that would have carried me, with the speed of a deer, to her side—and bound the hands that would have unsheathed the sword of vengeance for her rescue."
The Indian made no answer to this burst of passion, but looked for a moment kindly and compassionately on the poor captive, and then relapsed into silence.
Early the next morning, the prisoner was awakened by the same man, who motioned him to rise and follow him. The rest of the party were not in sight. He obeyed, and they set out on their return, retracing their steps with the ease and accuracy, which, in every clime, belong to the forest hunter. Travelling rapidly, in silence, for two days, they found themselves on the morning of the third on the banks of his own river, the dark rolling Merrimack. Before the sun had reached the highest part of the heavens, they came to a little hill, well and fondly remembered by the affectionate husband, though now conveying agonizing hopes and fears. It overlooked the little valley where once his cabin stood, and where the ripe wheat still bowed itself, in graceful undulations, before the light breeze of summer; and the mighty chesnut-tree, blackened by the smoke of his burning dwelling, still looked with lordly pride on all its less stately neighbours. "My wife!" he said, in an almost inaudible voice.
"Thy bird will meet thee on another bough," exclaimed the warrior. "A crust of bread, and a drink of cold water, offered to a famished Indian—a tear of pity, and a sigh of compassion, saved her and thee." And his own dusky countenance exhibited a touch of feeling but seldom suffered to cross the face of him who deems it dishonour to betray an emotion of pity, or compassion, or gratitude, or love(1).
"I do not understand you," said the white man, prisoner no longer.
"Listen," said the warrior—"The son of Annawan was caught, with the dove of his nest and her squab, far from his own dwelling, and among the men of thy colour. Thy race had killed or driven away the beasts of the chace; and there was nothing upon which the red archer could show the sleight of his hand and the truth of his eye. White men would give him no food, but drove him from their cabins, saying, 'You are an Indian.' At the door of thy father—"
"He was not my father," interrupted the other; "he was the brother of my mother."
"At the door of the brother of thy mother hard words were showered on the poor red man, and he was bidden to seek elsewhere the food for which his soul panted—not that he might eat it himself, but bestow it upon his famished wife and sick babe. Listen!
"There was a little maiden sitting at the door of the cabin—she was not grown to womanhood, nor dreamed yet of tender lovers—she was a fawn in its second season, a tree wanting but a few more suns to be clothed with the blossoms of maturity. By her side sat a boy, who might be two or three harvests older. The little maiden rose from the smooth sward where she sat, and throwing her white arms around the neck of her father, begged hard for the strangers. The boy came, and joined her in her prayers. The hardhearted man granted to the entreaties of his children what compassion would not bestow. The Indian was fed—his wife was fed—his babe was fed. Dost thou hear?"
"I hear," said the delighted hunter, grasping the hand of the noble warrior, while tears streamed down his sun-burnt cheek.
"That boy was the prisoner, whom the Pequods, four suns since, carried away from yonder vale—and the famished hunter was he who unbound thy limbs, and who saved that compassionate maiden, by the song he poured into the ears of his brothers, of an angry spirit, seen by the light of the blazing cabin among the boughs of the chesnut-tree.
"Learn, pale face, that an Indian can be grateful. A crust of bread, and a draught of water, bestowed upon the red man, or those he loves, weigh down the memory of a thousand wrongs—a kind look dispels the frown from his brow—a kind word checks the purpose of vengeance, which, unchecked, is like a fire carried by a high wind to a field of dry grass. Thou and thine did me a deed of kindness—preserved the life of her whose bright eyes are the light of my cabin—and of the boy who will, one day, bend the bow of a hunter, and be taught to utter the cry of vengeance on the hills—fear not, thou art safe in the land whence his fathers were banished. Thou and thine did this for the Son of Annawan, the Fleet Foot of his tribe, and he will never forget it—till the stars forget to shine, and the moon to become the lamp of the dark hours. Say, in the ears of the Fair Hair that I gave her cabin to the devouring flames, before I knew it was hers. But the season will soon come when the beaver will be sleek and glossy; and an otter worth more than an arrow—the spoils of the Fleet Foot's winter hunt shall rebuild the cabin of the flower of the the pale faces."
So saying, the Son of Annawan, the great chief, who once was the lord of those boundless regions, disappeared in the forest, and was seen no more among white men.
Pity, or compassion, or gratitude, or love.—p. 270.
The Indians are extremely cool and circumspect in every word and action; there is nothing that hurries them into any intemperate warmth, but that inveteracy to their enemies, which is rooted in every Indian heart, and can never be eradicated. In all other instances they are cool, and remarkably cautious, taking care not to betray on any account their emotions. If an Indian has discovered that a friend is in danger of being intercepted and cut off by one to whom he has rendered himself obnoxious, he does not inform him in plain and explicit terms of the danger he runs by pursuing the track near which the enemy lies in wait for him, but he drily asks him which way he is going that day, and, having received his answer, with the same indifference tells him that he has been informed that a dog lies near the spot, which might probably do him a mischief. This hint proves sufficient.
This apathy often shows itself on occasions that would call forth the fervour of a susceptible heart. If an Indian has been absent from his family and friends many months, either on a war or hunting party, when his wife or children meet him at some distance from his habitation, instead of the affectionate sensations that would naturally arise in the breasts of more refined beings, and be productive of mutual congratulations, he continues his course without paying the least attention to those who surround him, till he arrives at his home.
He there sits down, and, with the same unconcern as if he had not been absent a day, smokes his pipe; those of his acquaintance who have followed him do the same, and perhaps it is several hours before he relates to them the incidents which have befallen him during his absence, though perhaps he has left a father, brother, or son, on the field, whose loss he ought to have lamented.
Has an Indian been engaged for several days in the chace, and by accident continued long without food, when he arrives at the tent of a friend, where he knows his wants may be immediately supplied, he takes care not to show the least symptom of impatience, or to betray the extreme hunger by which he is tortured; but, on being invited in, sits contentedly down, and smokes his pipe with as much composure as if every appetite was allayed, and he was perfectly at ease; he does the same among strangers.
If you tell an Indian that his children have greatly signalized themselves against an enemy, have taken many scalps, and brought home many prisoners, he does not appear to feel any extraordinary pleasure on the occasion; his answer generally is, "It is well," and he makes very little further enquiry about it. On the contrary, if you inform him that his children are slain, or taken prisoners, he makes no complaints; he only replies, "It does not signify," and probably, for some time at least, asks not how it happened.
Their constancy in suffering pain exceeds any thing known of any other people. Nothing is more common than to see persons of all ages, and of both sexes, suffer for many hours, and sometimes many days, together, the sharpest effects of fire, and all that the most ingenious cruelty can invent to make it most painful, without letting a sigh escape.
Accustomed from their youth to innumerable hardships, they soon become superior to a sense of danger, or the dread of death, and their fortitude, implanted by nature, and nurtured by example, by precept, and by accident, never experiences a moment's allay.
The next night the ghost related to his eager listener the following tradition:—
A very long time ago, many ages before the feet of a white man had left their print on these shores, or the voice of his axe had been heard singing the song of destruction to the woods of our fathers, there dwelt in the Cascade of Melsingah, having his residence by daylight in the wave, and by night on the high rock which stood in its centre, a Spirit much reverenced by all the Indian nations. He was often seen by the Indian hunter, who passed that way soon after the going down of the sun. When seen at that hour, he appeared under the figure of a tall and mighty warrior, with abundance of the gray plumes of the eagle on his head, and a gray robe of wolf-skin thrown around him, standing upright upon his rock in front of the waterfalls. In the day time his appearance was more equivocal. Those who supposed they saw him saw something swimming about the cascade, as a frog swims under the surface. But none were ever permitted to behold him near, and face to face. As the observer drew nigh, the figure gradually disappeared, sinking into a kind of fog or mist; and in its place he found only the white sheet of water that poured over the rock, falling heavily among the gathering shadows into the pool below. Sometimes, also, but more rarely, he was seen in the early twilight before sun-rise, preparing to retreat from the fountain; and fortunate was the hunter to whom he showed himself at that hour, for it was an omen of success in the chace. None of the spirits of the surrounding country were oftener beheld in dreams by the Indians that made their haunts above the mountains; and, when the forms of the dead from the land of souls came to their friends in the visions of night, they were often led by the hand of the gigantic warrior in the wolf-skin and the eagle-plumes. He was never known to inflict personal injury on any one, and, therefore, was always considered as a kind and beneficent genius, who would befriend mortals in all cases of distress, and loved to behold them peaceful and happy.
Several generations have passed away—trees that were young and thrifty have become aged and mossy; and men have forgotten the number of the moons that have passed since there lived among the tribe who owned the broad lands above the mountains, whose banks frown upon the rapid river, a beautiful maiden, the daughter of a proud chief, whose name has not reached my time. But this we are told, that he was the greatest warrior of his day, fierce as the panther, and cunning as the fox; and she more beautiful than the sky lit up with stars, and gentler than a summer day, or a young fawn. She had lost her mother in early childhood; and, ere the suns of ten seasons had beamed on her head, her father, who loved her tenderly, and had brought her up not to do the tasks which are generally allotted to Indian women and girls, fell by the hand of disease, and she was left alone. A remembrance of his affection, and of the agony she felt, and of the deep tears she shed, at his loss, infused into her heart a softness and pity which continued through life, and rendered her ever after an unwilling witness of the scenes of fire and torture to which the customs of war among her countrymen gave occasion. When her beloved, and to her, kind father, left the earth for the land of spirits, she lived in the lodges of the older warriors who had been his companions in arms and brother councillors in the cabin where men met to debate on war and peace. Not in the cabins of the aged alone was she met with joy. She was welcomed wherever she went with kindness and affection; endeared to them as she was by the memory of the wise and brave warrior, her father, and by her own gentle disposition. When they spoke of her, they likened her, in their language, to whatever was most beautiful, harmless, and timid, among the animals—the fawn of the wood, the yellow bird of the glades, a spring wind sweeping over a field of grass, a dove that had found its long absent mate.
The beautiful maiden, of whom I am telling my brother, had beheld in her childhood, when her foot was little, and her heart trembling, the Cascade of Melsingah, and the form of the Manitou had once been revealed to her, as the evening was setting in, standing in his wolf-skin robes before the waterfall. After that she saw him often in her dreams, and, when she came to that age at which the children of the forest choose their protecting spirit, she chose for her's the Spirit of the Cascade of Melsingah. It was not long before a circumstance took place which strengthened her reverence and that of her people for the good Spirit, and proved the interest he took in the welfare of his beautiful charge.
One day she went alone to his abode, to pay him her customary offerings in behalf of herself, the friends she loved, and her nation; she carried in her hand a broad belt of wampum, and a white honeycomb from the hollow oak; and on her way she stopped and plaited a garland of the gayest flowers of the season. On arriving at the spot, she went down into the narrow little glen, through which the brook flowed before it poured itself over the rock, and, standing near the edge, she dropped her gifts, one by one, into the current which instantly carried them to the waterfall. The pool, into which the water descends, was deeper than it is now; the continual crumbling and falling of the rocks from above, for many an age, having partially filled up the deep blue basin. The stream, too, at that time, had been lately swelled by profuse rains, and rushed down the precipice with a heavier torrent, and a louder noise, than she had ever known it to do before. In approaching more nearly to the edge, and looking down to see what had become of her offerings, she incautiously set her foot on a stone covered with the slimy deposit of the brook; it slipped, and she was precipitated headlong with the torrent into the pool below.
What followed she did not recollect—darkness, as deep as that of the grave, came over her, and all was still and hushed to her. When she came to her senses, she found herself lying on the margin of the pool, and awaking as if from an unpleasant sleep with a sensation of faintness at the heart. She thought at first that she must have been taken from the water by somebody who belonged to her nation, and looked round to see if any of them were near. But there was no human trace or sound to be discovered: she heard only the whisper of the wind, and the rush of the cascade, and beheld only the still trunks, and waving boughs, the motionless rock, and the gliding water. She spoke, thanking her deliverer, whoever he might be, in the softest tones of her soft voice, but there was no reply. On her return to the village where she lived, she made the most diligent enquiry to learn if any of her people had assisted her in the hour of danger, or if any thing was known of her adventure. Nobody had heard of it—none of the tribe had passed by the cascade that day; and the maiden and all her people became fully convinced that she had been preserved from a violent death by her guardian spirit—the Manitou of the waterfall. Her gratitude was in proportion to the benefit received; and ever afterwards she paid an annual visit to the cascade at the season when she was thus miraculously rescued, sometimes alone, and sometimes in company with the young females of her age. On these occasions, the dark rocks around were hung with garlands of flowers and belts of wampum, and bracelets of beads were dropped into the clear water, and a song was chanted, commemorating the maiden's deliverance by the benevolent spirit of the place. The woods around reverberated with the music of those dark-haired maidens who had assembled to warble their hymns of gratitude to the Manitou of the cascade.
The Indians, who lived above the Mountains, and those who possessed the country below, although belonging to the same great family of the Lenni Lenape, were not always on friendly terms. At the time of which I am telling my brother, there was a great quarrel between them, and the calumet had been buried in the hole from which the hatchet had been taken. An Indian of the tribe living above the mountains was found encroaching on the hunting-grounds below, and was killed in a fierce dispute which ensued. His people anxiously sought an opportunity to revenge his death, nor was it long before it was put into their hands. A young warrior of the lower tribe, burning with the ardour of youth, and ambitious to signalize himself by some act of heroic daring, boasted that, notwithstanding what had happened, he would bring a deer from the hunting-grounds to the north of where the great river broke through the mountains. Accordingly, he set out alone in one of the light canoes which are used by Indians, on his way up the river. He landed on the east bank, at the distance of a boy's walk of half a sun above the Cascade of Melsingah, and after no long search had killed a deer, dragged the animal to the canoe, and put off from the shore. So far he had made good his boast, and was busily employed in picturing to himself the glory that awaited him on his return, the loud praises of the men, and the silent, though more eloquent ones of the maidens, when his dreams were put to flight by the sudden coming upon him of his fierce and cunning enemies. His motions had been observed, and he had not yet gained the middle of the river, when a canoe, in which were five northern Indians, made its appearance, coming round the extremity of a woody peninsula, that projected with its steep bold shores far into the water. Immediately one of them bent his bow, and, raising it to his eye, levelled it in the direction of the young Mohegan; but another, who seemed to be the leader of the party, placed his hand deliberately on the arrow, which was immediately laid down, and an oar taken up in its place. A single glance served to show the warrior that they were all well armed, and that his only chance of escape lay in reaching the shore before them, and trusting to the swiftness of his feet to effect his escape. He therefore plied his oar with great diligence, and his canoe shot rapidly over the water, but his enemies were gaining fast upon him, and it was now evident that they must overtake him before he could reach the land. In an instant he had leaped into the water, and disappeared; but his pursuers were too well aware of his object to slacken their exertions, and held on their way towards the shore. When he rose again to the surface, their canoe was at no great distance. Two of the strongest of them plunged into the river; one of them, swimming with exceeding swiftness, soon overtook him, and seized him by the hair of the head. A desperate, but brief struggle ensued, in which both combatants went down. In a moment afterwards, the young warrior re-appeared without his antagonist, who was seen no more: but his pursuers had already surrounded him. They secured him without difficulty, carried him to the shore, and there binding his hands behind him with a strong grape-vine, led him towards their village.
The young Mohegan, finding all attempt to escape useless, resigned himself to his fate, with all the indifference which an Indian always assumes, though he may not feel it. At first he scarcely thought that he should be put to death, for he knew that the people into whose hands he had fallen were celebrated throughout the land for the mildness of their character, and their disposition to mercy; and he relied still more on their known dread of his own warlike and formidable tribe, equally famous for their disposition to have blood for blood, and to suffer no grass to grow in their paths till they had tasted the sweets of revenge. However, he prepared himself for the worst, and began to steel his heart against the fear of death. He did well, for, soon after they began their march, his captors commanded him to sing his death-song. The youth obeyed, and in a strong deep chant began the customary boast of endurance and defiance of pain. He sung of the glories of his nation, and how often they had made the hearts of their enemies, of his captors, leap with fear, and their knees shake, by their wild halloo of war. He told them that, though his years were few, he had seen a Northern die in his grasp; though his eyes were but young, they had looked on the last struggle of one of their brothers. He took up the strain at intervals, and in the pauses his conductors preserved a deep and stern silence.
At length the party came upon a kind of path in the woods, which they followed for a considerable distance, and then suddenly stopped short. All at once a long shrill startling cry burst from them. It was the death-cry for their drowned companion. It rang through the old woods, and was returned in melancholy echoes from the neighbouring mountains. At its frightful sound the birds flew up from their nestling-places in the leafy thicket; the eagle, and the hawk, and the raven, soared aloft; and the deer was seen scampering away to a safer and more distant covert. When the last of their cries had died away, the party put their hands to their mouths, and uttered a second cry, modulated into wild notes by the motion of their fingers. An interval of silence ensued, which was at length broken by a confused sound of shrill voices at a distance, faintly heard at first, but growing every moment more audible. In a minute two young warriors, who seemed to come by a shorter way than the usual path, broke through the shrubs, and took their station, without speaking a word, by the party who were conducting the prisoner. Presently a crowd of women and children from the village appeared in the path, shouting and singing songs of victory; and these were followed by a group of old men, who walked in grave silence. As soon as they came up, the party resumed their march, and led their prisoner in triumph to the village.
The village consisted of a cluster of cabins, irregularly scattered, as Indian villages always are, over a large space. It stood in a natural opening of the great forest, on the banks of a stream which brawled over a shallow, stony bottom between rocky banks, on its way to mingle with the Great River. The Indian name of this wild stream was Mawenawasigh.
It happened well for the captive youth that the chiefs and principal warriors of the tribe were absent on a hunting expedition, and it was necessary, in so grave a matter, to delay the decision of the prisoner's fate until their return, which was expected in a few suns. He was therefore taken to an unoccupied cabin and placed on a mat, bound hand and foot, and fastened with a strong cord made of the sinews of the deer to a tall post in the centre, supporting the roof. It was the office of one of his captors to keep watch over him during the day time, and at night two of them slept in his cabin. For the first two suns his prison was thronged with the idle, the revengeful, and the curious. The relatives of the drowned man, and of him who was slain below the Mountains, came to taunt him on his helplessness, to assure him of the certainty of death by torture, and to exult in the prospect of a deadly vengeance. They pointed to him a stake driven in the earth, to which a young Mohegan should be lashed, and a fire kindled around him of the driest materials, while hot pincers were applied to know when his flesh was sufficiently roasted, to form a suitable dish for the banquet. Others came and gazed at him with unfeeling curiosity. I should have mentioned to my brother that he was of Mohawk parents, the son of a warrior adopted into a Mohegan tribe, and that he possessed the stately and manly form, and the bold look, and the calm eye, which belongs to the former nation, and may be traced wherever their blood is found. They spoke to each other, commending his fine warlike air, his lofty stature, and well-turned limbs, and said that he would die bravely. One only seemed to regard him with pity. A beautiful female face looked in several times at the door, and turned sorrowfully away.
As the time for the return of the warriors drew near, the captive's contempt for life, and his passion for a glorious death, diminished much. His sleep was filled with dreams of the clear and pleasant waters of his tribe, and his mind by day could not forbear busying itself with the plans of glory and ambition which he had formed. It was hard, too, to leave a world in which dwelt such lovely beings as she who had visited him with the tear of pity and sympathy bedewing her soft eye. It was worth while to live, he thought, if it were only that he might have the opportunity of convincing her that he was not ungrateful, and that his heart, though shut to the fear of death, was open to her beauty and goodness. The artificial fortitude to which he had wrought himself, in obedience to the principles which had been taught him, began to waver, and the glory of a death of torture, and calm endurance of pain, to lose its value in his eyes. "Would it not be better," said he to himself, "to share a long life with the beautiful maiden, who has just left me, to drive the deer and the wolf for her sake, and to come home loaded with game in the evening, to the hearth that she should keep burning brightly for my return?"
Night came, but it brought no sleep to the young warrior, until its watches had nearly expired. On awaking, he saw, through the opening that served as a door to the cabin, that the great star of day was risen, and the surly Indian who guarded him was standing before it. The moments passed heavily away; no one came to the cabin save an old woman, who brought him his morning meal. The curiosity of the tribe was satisfied, and the relatives of the deceased were weary of insulting him. At length the shadow of a human figure fell upon the green before the door, and the next instant, the well remembered form and face of beauty made its appearance. The maiden laid her hand on the shoulder of the sentinel, and pointed to the sky where a bold eagle was sailing away to the east. The majestic bird at length alighted on the top of a tall tree, at the distance of four or five bowshots, balanced himself for a moment on his talons, then closed his wings, and, settling on his perch, looked down into the village, as if seeking for his prey. "If thy bow be faithful, and thy arrow keen," said the maiden, "I will keep watch over the prisoner until thy return." The Indian threw a glance at the captive, as if to assure himself that everything was safe, and immediately disappeared in the forest.
The young maiden then entered the cabin. As she approached the captive, a blush stole to her dark cheek, her eye was downcast, and her step trembling, and, when she spoke, her voice was low, but soft as the whispers of the spring wind in a grove of willows.
"I come to offer thee freedom. There is no time to be lost; to-morrow the chiefs of my nation return, and then will thy guards for a sun be doubled; the beams of the next shall light thee to torture and death. Beneath their vigilance thy escape becomes impossible. Mohegan, I am here to restore to the young eagle his wings, and to cut the cords which bind the young panther of his tribe."
"And flies the young eagle forth alone? goes the young panther to the thicket without a companion?" demanded the warrior.
The maiden hid her eyes beneath their long black lashes, and said nothing. The Mohegan continued:—
"Thou wilt give me liberty of my limbs, but thou leavest my heart fettered. Wilt thou not, my beautiful deliverer, be the partner of my flight? What will liberty be to me if thou art not the light of my cabin? Almost would thy presence and thy pity compensate for the tortures which await me if I remain. Is it not better for me to die with thee beholding my constancy and patience in suffering, and rendering me the tribute of a tear as my spirit departs for the land of souls, than to go from thy presence sorrowing for the beautiful maiden with the bright eyes, and fair hair, and ripe lip, and fawn-like step, whom I have left in the land of my foes? And what, my beautiful deliverer, will be said by thy kindred if it be known, as it must be, that thou hast aided my escape, and thus disappointed the vengeance of thy tribe? I would rather die, Bird of Beauty! by the death of fire than expose thee to the slightest peril."
Why should I waste time in telling my brother what has been so often told? The heart of a young maiden in every nation is soft and susceptible, and, when besieged by love and compassion, is too certain to yield. The maiden made the warrior repeat over and over again his promises of affection and constancy, as if they would be a security against any unfortunate consequence of the imprudence she was going to commit. She ended by believing all he said, and by consenting to become his wife and the companion of his escape. "But I cannot go to thy tribe," said she, "for then thou wouldst be obliged to raise the tomahawk against my people, and I may not abide in the habitation of him who seeks to spill the blood of my friends. If thou wilt take me for the guide of thy path, I will bring thee to a hiding-place where the arrows of thy enemies cannot reach thee, and where we may remain sheltered till this cloud of war be overpast."
The youth hesitated. "Nay then," continued she, "I may not go with thee. I will cut thy cords, and the Good Spirit will guide thee to the land of thy friends."
This was enough: love prevailed for once over the desire of warlike glory, in the bosom of a descendant of the Mohawks, and it was settled that the flight should take place that night.
They had just arrived at this conclusion when the man who guarded the prisoner returned. He had been absent the longer because the eagle had changed his perch, and had alighted on a tree at a still greater distance than at first. He had succeeded in bringing down the bird, and was now displaying its huge wings with great satisfaction at the success of his aim. The maiden pulled from them a handful of the long gray feathers, as the reward of having shown the prize to the guard, and departed.
The midnight of that day found the captive awake in the cabin, and his keepers stretched on a mat asleep at the door. They had begun to regard him with less vigilance because he had made no attempt, and shown no disposition, to escape. He thought he heard the light sound of a footstep approaching; he raised his head, and listened attentively. Was it the rustling of leaves in the neighbouring wood that deceived him, or the heavily drawn breath of the sleepers, or the weltering of the river on whose banks the village stood, or the crawling of some beast of prey through the thicket, or the moving of a spirit? These were the only sounds he was now able to distinguish. A ray of moonlight shone through a crevice in the cabin, and fell across the body of his sleeping guards. As his eye rested on this, he saw it gradually widening, and, soon after, the mat that hung over the opening which served for a door-way was wholly withdrawn, and the light figure of the maiden appeared. She stepped cautiously and slowly over the slumbering guards, and, approaching the Mohegan with a sharp knife, severed, without noise, the cords which confined him, and, stealing back to the door, beckoned him to follow. He did so, planting his foot at every step gradually on the floor from the point to the heel, and pausing between, until he was out of the cabin. His heart bounded within him when he found himself standing in the free air and the white moonlight, with his limbs unbound. He beheld his old acquaintance, the stars, as bright and twinkling as ever, and saw with rapture the same river which rolled its dark and massy waters beside the dwelling of his father. They took a path which led westward through the woods, and, after following it for the distance of a bowshot, the maiden turned aside, and took, from a thick clump of cedars, a bow, a spear, and a well-filled quiver of arrows, which she put into his hands. She next handed him a wolf-skin mantle, which she motioned him to throw over his shoulder, and placed on his head a kind of cap on which nodded a tuft of feathers, which it may be remembered she had plucked from the wings of the eagle his sentinel had so lately killed. They then proceeded rapidly but in silence. It was not long before they heard the small waves of the river tapping the shore; they descended a deep bank, and the broad water lay glittering before them in the moonlight. A canoe—his own canoe—he knew it at a glance—lay moored under the bank, and rocking lightly on the tide. They entered it; the warrior took one oar, the maiden another; they pushed off from the shore, and were speedily on their way down the river.
They glided by the shore, past the steep bank covered with tall trees, and past where the moonlight dimly showed, embosomed among the mountains, a woody promontory, round which the river turned and disappeared from view.
They then reached the eastern shore, and passed close to the mouth of the Mattoavoan, where it quietly and sluggishly mingles with the great river, so close that they could hear from the depth of the woods the incessant dashing of the stream, leaping over the last of the precipices that cross its channel. They continued to pass along under the shore, until the roar of the Mattoavoan was lost to the ear. They were not far from the foot of the northernmost of the mountains washed by the Great River, when a softer and lighter rush of waters was heard. A rivulet, whose path was fenced on each side with thick trees and shrubs, bound together by vines of wild grape and ivy, came down over the loose stones, and fell with a merry gurgle into the waters below. It was the rivulet of Melsingah. The interlacing boughs and vines formed a low arch over its mouth, that looked like the entrance into a dark cavern. The young maiden pointed towards it, and intimated to the warrior that up that stream lay the path to that asylum whither she intended to conduct him. At this he took his oar from the water, and in a low voice began to remonstrate with her on the imprudence of remaining so near the haunts of his enemies. Long did they debate the matter, but when she had explained to him what he had heard something of before, the profound reverence in which the Cascade of Melsingah, intended by her as the place of their retreat, was held, and related the interposition of its benevolent spirit in behalf of her own life, he was satisfied, and turned his canoe to the shore. They landed, and the warrior taking the light barque on his shoulders, they passed through the arch of shrubs and vines up the path of the rivulet, and soon stood by the cascade. The maiden untied from her neck a string of beads, and copper ornaments, obtained from the Indians of the island of Manhahadoes, dropped them into the water, and murmured a prayer for safety and protection to the Manitou of the place. On the western side of the deep glen in which they found themselves was a shelf of rock projecting from the steep bank, which has long since crumbled away, and under this the warrior and his beautiful guide concluded to shelter themselves till morning.
Scarcely had they seated themselves upon this shelf of rock, when slowly uprose from the centre of the pool a being of immense proportions, habited in a wolf-skin robe, and wearing on his head a high tuft of eagle's feathers. It was the Manitou of the Cascade. Approaching the trembling pair, who feared his anger for their intrusion on his retreat, he said in a voice which resembled the rattling of his own waterfall, "Why are ye here?" The maiden related her story to him, and claimed his protection for herself and lover. He appeared to be a spirit of few words, for he only said in reply, "Ye shall have it. The disguise you have provided, the wolf-skin robe, and the tuft of eagle feathers, are of the earth—they will not disguise you—take mine." So saying, he gave the Mohegan his own robe and tuft, and received in exchange those which the cunning maiden had provided for her lover. After counselling them in brief words to apply to him whenever they were in difficulty, he disappeared in the pool.
The return of light showed the inhabitants of the Indian village on the Mawenawasigh in unwonted bustle and confusion. All the warriors were out; the track of the fugitives was sought for, discovered, and followed to the bank of the Great River. The print of their steps on the sand, the marks of the canoe where it had been fastened to the bank, and of the oars where they had been planted to shove it away from the shore, left no doubt that the warrior had carried off the beautiful maiden to his own tribe, and all pursuit was abandoned.
In the mean time, the warrior was occupied in constructing a habitation. A row of poles was placed against the projecting shelf of rock, which thus served for a roof; these were covered with leafy branches, and over the whole was laid a quantity of dead brushwood, so irregularly piled, as when seen at a little distance to give no suspicion of human design. The inmates of this rude dwelling subsisted on game found in the adjacent forest, on fish from the mouth of the rivulet, and on the fruits and roots of the soil. Their wants were few and easily supplied, and they were happy.
One day, as the lover was sitting at the door of his cabin, he heard the voices of two persons in the wood, who seemed to be approaching the place. He saw that if he attempted to hide himself by going in, they might enter the glen, and discover the secret of his retreat. As he was clothed in the dress of the spirit, he believed that it would be better to present himself boldly to their view, and trust for safety to his personation of the good Manitou. He therefore took up his bow, which was lying beside him, and placed himself in an upright motionless attitude on the edge of the pool, in front of the water falling over the rock. In a moment two Indians of the tribe of the maiden made their appearance coming through the trees. At sight of the majestic figure in the gray mantle and plumes, and armed with a bow, magnified by their fears to thrice the real weight and size, they started, and uttered an exclamation of surprise. He waved his bow, motioning them away. One of them threw towards him a couple of arrow heads, which he carried in his hand, and which fell into the water at the warrior's feet, sprinkling him with the spray they dashed up; and, making gestures of reverence and supplication, the two Indians instantly retired.
Thus the time passed—swiftly and pleasantly passed—from the end of the Planting Moon to the beginning of that of Harvest. As my brother knows the wants of Indian life are few, and easily supplied; and for the little inconveniences that might attend their situation, the tradition says that the inmates of the glen of Melsingah found a compensation in their mutual affection. Occasionally they saw the kind Manitou come forth from the Cascade to breathe the evening air, and when he did so, they invariably retired to their bower. At length, when the warrior had one day ventured across the ridge that rose south and east of the cascade, and was hunting in the deep valley beyond, he came suddenly upon an Indian of his own tribe, who immediately recognised him. An explanation took place, in the course of which he learned that a peace had been made between his nation, the Mohegans, and that which dwelt above the Mountains. The Mohawks, who lorded it over both nations with a rigid authority, and claimed the right of making war and peace for them, having heard of their differences, had despatched one of their chiefs to adjust them, and to command the two tribes to live in friendship. "My children," said Garangula, the Mohawk, in a council to which the chiefs of both tribes were called, "it is not good that ye who are brethren should spill each other's blood. If one of you have received wrong at the hands of the other, your fathers of the Five Nations will see that justice is done between you. Why should ye make each other few? Once ye destroyed yourselves by your wars, but, now that ye dwell together under the shadow of the great tree of the Five Nations, it is fitting that ye should be at rest, and bury the tomahawk for ever at its root. Learn of your own rivers. The streams of Mattoavoan, and Mawenawasigh, after struggling, and wasting their strength among the rocks, mingle at length in peace in the bosom of the father of waters, the Great River of the Mountains." The council, since they could do no better, approved of the words of Garangula; it was agreed that the relations of the hunter slain below the Mountain should be pacified by a present of a belt of wampum and shells, and the chiefs smoked the pipe of peace together, and delivered belts of wampum as the memorials of the treaty.
The warrior hastened to the glen of Melsingah to communicate the intelligence to his beloved maiden. Their retreat was instantly abandoned, not, however, without some regret at leaving a place where so many happy days had been passed; the birch canoe was borne to the mouth of the river, and after taking his bride, at her earnest entreaty, to visit her own tribe, the warrior descended with her to his friends below the mountains. Long was the waterfall visited by the Indians, and it is only since the axe of the white man has been heard in the adjoining forest that the good Manitou has retreated from the Cascade of Melsingah.
There was once amongst the Marshpees—a small tribe who have their hunting-grounds on the shores of the Great Lake, and near the Cape of Storms—a woman whose name was Awashanks. She was rather silly and remarkably idle. For days together she would sit doing nothing, while the other females of the village were busily employed in weeding the corn, or bringing home fuel from the distant wood, or drying the fish, or thatching the cabins, or mending the nets, or their husbands' apparel, or preparing the weapons of the chace. Then she was so very ugly and ill-shapen that not one of the youths of the village would have aught to say to her by way of courtship or marriage. She squinted very much; her face was very long and thin; her nose excessively large and humped; her teeth crooked and projecting; her chin almost as sharp as the bill of a loon, and her ears as large as those of a deer and similarly shaped. Her arms, which were very long, were nothing but fleshless bones; and the legs upon which she stood seemed like two pine poles stript of their bark. Altogether she was a very odd and strangely formed woman, and wherever she went never failed to excite much laughter and derision among those who thought that ugliness and deformity were fit subjects for ridicule.
Though exceedingly ugly, as I have told my brother, there was one faculty she possessed in a more remarkable degree than any woman that had ever lived in the tribe—it was that of singing. Nothing—unless such could be found in the land of spirits—could equal the sweetness of her voice, or the beauty of her songs. Her favourite place of resort was a small hill, a little removed from the river of her people, and there, seated beneath the shady trees, she would while away the hours of summer with her charming songs. So soft and beautiful were the things she uttered, that, by the time she had sung a single sentence, the branches above her head would be filled with the birds that came thither to listen, and the thickets around her, and the waters rolling beside her, would be crowded with beasts and fishes attracted to the nearest brink or covert by the same sweet sounds. From the minnow to the porpoise, from the sparrow to the eagle, from the snail to the lobster, from the mouse to the mole—all hastened to the spot to listen to the charming songs of the hideous Marshpee maiden. And various, but sufficiently noisy and dissonant, were the means by which the creatures testified the delight and admiration produced by the sounds which had drawn them thither.
Amongst the fishes, who repaired every night to the vicinity of the Little Hillock, which was the chosen resting-place of the ugly songstress, was the great war-chief of the Trouts, a tribe of fishes inhabiting the river near by, and who, as my brother knows, generally make the cold and pebbly stream their place of residence. It is a chosen sport of theirs to hide among the roots of trees which stand near the brink of their favourite streams. They are a very cunning and shy people, and seldom fail, by their cunning and shyness, to escape all the snares laid for them by their enemies. The chief of the tribe, who dwelt in the river of the Marshpees, and who was also their guardian spirit, was of a far larger size than the people of his nation usually are, being as long as a man, and quite as thick, which my brother knows is a size that few of his people attain. But, to enable my brother to account for his great size, it is only necessary to tell him that the mother of this great trout was a monstrous flounder.
Of all the creatures which came to listen to the singing of Awashanks, none appeared to enjoy it so highly as the Chief of the Trouts. As his bulk prevented him from approaching as near as he wished, he, from time to time, in his eagerness to enjoy the music to the best advantage, ran his nose into the ground, and thus soon worked his way a considerable distance into the greensward. Nightly he continued his exertions to approach the source of the delightful sounds he heard; till at length he had ploughed out a wide and handsome brook, and effected his passage from the river to the hill whence that music issued—a distance exceeding an arrow's flight. Thither he repaired every night at the commencement of darkness, sure to meet the maiden who had become so necessary to his happiness. Soon he began to speak of the pleasure he enjoyed, and to fill the ears of Awashanks with fond protestations of his love and affection. Instead of listening, it was not long before he was listened to. It was something so new and strange to the maiden to hear the tones of love and courtship; a thing so unusual to be told that she was beautiful, and to be pressed to bestow her heart upon a suitor; that it is not strange that her head, never very strong, became completely turned by the new incident in her life, and that she began to think the gurgling speech of the lover the sweetest she had ever heard. There, upon the little hillock, beneath the shade of lofty trees, she would sit for a whole sleep, listening to the sweetest sounds her ears had ever heard; the while testifying her affection for her ardent lover by feeding him with roots and other food in which he delighted. But there were obstacles to the accomplishment of their mutual wishes, which they knew not how to overcome. He could not live on the land above two minutes at a time, nor she in the water above thrice that period. This state of things gave them much vexation, occasioning many tears to be shed by the maiden, and perplexing much her ardent lover.
They had met at the usual place one evening, discoursing of these things, and lamenting that two so fond and affectionate should be doomed to live apart, when a slight noise at the shoulder of the maiden caused her to turn her head. Terror filled her bosom when she found that it proceeded from a little striped man, scarcely higher than a tall boy of ten seasons. He wore around his neck a string of glittering shells, and his hair, green as ooze, was curiously woven with the long weeds which are found growing upon the rocks at the bottom of the Great Lake. His hands and feet were shaped like the fins of fish, and his head was that of a great haddock. His body was covered with scales like any other scaly fish; indeed, except that he walked erect like a human being, and had two legs, and two arms, and that his eyes were not placed as the eyes of fish are, he might well have been taken for a fish of a kind not before known. Having surveyed the lovers for a short time in silence, he demanded "why they were so gloomy and downcast."
The bashfulness of the maiden prevented her replying, but the Chief of the Trouts answered that "they loved each other, and wished to live together, but that the maiden could not exist in his element, nor he in her's; and hence it appeared they were never to know the joys which are tasted by those who have their dwelling in one cabin."
"Be not grieved nor hopeless," answered the Spirit; "the impediments can be removed. I am the genius that presides over the fishes, and was invested at the beginning with power to procure for them all the enjoyments they are susceptible of tasting. I cannot transform a trout into a man—that must be effected by a spirit of the earth—but I can work the transformation of a man into a trout—under my charm the Marshpee maiden shall become a beautiful fish of the same species with the chief."
With that he bade Awashanks follow him into the river. When they had waded in to a considerable depth, he took up a handful of water and threw it upon the head of the maiden, pronouncing certain words of which none but himself knew the meaning. Immediately a change commenced upon her, attended with such pain and distress that the very air resounded with her cries. Her body became in a few moments covered with scales; her ears, and nose, and chin, and arms, disappeared, and her two legs became joined, forming that part of a fish which is called the tail—she became a complete trout. Having fully accomplished the task of transformation, the Genius of the Fishes delivered her to the Chief of the Trouts. The pair were soon observed gliding side by side, very lovingly, into the deep and quiet waters. But, though she had become a trout, she did not forget the land of her birth. Every season, on the same night as that upon which her disappearance from the tribe had been wrought, there would be seen two trouts, of a magnitude surpassing fifty-fold any ever caught by the Marshpees, busily employed in ploughing out the brook. They continued the labour or sport, whichever it may be called, till the pale-faces came to the country, when, deeming themselves in danger from a people who paid no reverence to the spirits of the land, they bade adieu for ever to Coatuit, or the Brook of the Great Trout.
There was, among the Knisteneaux, in the days that are past, a very wise chief, who was also the greatest medicine-man that ever dwelt in the nation. He knew all the herbs, and plants, and roots, and barks, which were good for the curing of diseases: and, better still, the words, and charms, and prayers, and ceremonies, without which they were not effective. He could call down rain from the clouds, and foretell the approach of storms, and hail, and tempests, beyond any man that ever lived in the nation. Had not his worship of the Ki-jai Manitou, or Great Spirit, been sincere, frequent, and fervent, these things had not been; he would have found his prayers unheard, or unheeded, or unanswered—he would have seen his skill baffled, and his charms and medicines impotent and ineffective. But he was beloved by the Great Spirit, and thence came his wisdom, and power, and strength, and success; and thence, my brother knows—for he is himself a wise priest and a cunning man—come the wisdom, and strength, and power, and success, of all men, whether white like him, or red like myself.
But, if this good and prudent priest of the Knisteneaux was beloved by the Great Spirit, he was equally hated by the Matchi Manitou, or Spirit of Evil. This bad being, who is the opposite to him that sends good gifts to the Knisteneaux, delights in mischief, and is best pleased when he has wrought injury or distress to mankind, and brought upon them ruin and dismay, hunger, nakedness, want, sickness, pain, disgrace, seeing how much Makusue, for that was the name of the priest, interfered with his schemes of testifying his hatred to men, was always making him feel the weight of his vengeance, and thwarting his plans for the benefit of the nation by every means in his power. If Makusue went to gather Moscharnewatchar, he was sure to find the Evil Spirit perched near, trying to frighten him away; if he went to dig the Ehawshoga, his enemy had certainly caused the earth to freeze, that he might be defeated of his object. If Makusue wished to cross the lake, the wind was sure to blow violently the moment he entered his canoe, and rain to drench him before he left it. If he sought an opportunity to surprise the Coppermines, the Evil Spirit flew with the speed of a loon before a high wind to apprise them of his intentions. Equally great was the hatred of Makusue for the Evil Spirit. If he found any one disposed to worship him, he was indefatigable in his endeavours to detach him from him. He never failed to make sport and derision of him when he was raging, nor to shout and halloo after him when he saw him flying over, nor to set the dogs upon him, when he was prowling about the village at midnight. So there was a bitter warfare kindled between the Matchi Manitou and the good priest, and each did the other all the harm he could. Both grinned at each other whenever they met, like a couple of cross dogs who have found a bone, or a woman at her husband who brings a younger wife to supplant her in place and affection.
But, at length, the success of Makusue in drawing away worshippers from his enemy became so great, that the latter feared the utter dis-peopling of his Hunting-Grounds, or Land of Wicked Souls. To him the greatest enjoyment was that of tormenting the spirits of men, and this enjoyment, if Makusue continued his course of success, he was likely to be deprived of. So he went to the Great Spirit and spoke to him thus:—
"When we made man, did we not agree that I should take the souls of the wicked, and thou those of the good?"
"We agreed that thou shouldst take the souls of the wicked, and I the souls of the good," answered the Great Spirit. "And wilt thou say that the agreement has not been kept?"
"Thou hast not broken it, nor have I, and yet it is broken."
"In what way, and by whom then, is it broken?"
"By Makusue, the priest and chief of the Knisteneaux."
"What has Makusue done?"
"Baffled and thwarted me in every pursuit: if one proposes to offer me sacrifice, along comes Makusue and extinguishes the fire. There is death written on the face of another, but Makusue speaks powerful words over the mastinjay, the patient drinks it, gets well, and I am the loser. Thus I am deprived of the pleasing occupation of tormenting the wicked. There is nobody dies now that belongs to me."
"What wouldst thou have me do?" demanded the Great Spirit. "Makusue is a good servant, and a very honest priest. I cannot allow him to be harmed. But that thou mayst not altogether want business, I will allow thee to torment, for three suns and three sleeps, the souls of all the Knisteneaux that belong to me—the souls of the wicked remain thine. But thou shalt kindle the flames to burn them in the low and marshy grounds only."
"It is well," answered the Evil Spirit. "I will see that the fire shall be kindled in the low and marshy grounds only."
So the Evil Spirit, much pleased with his bargain, returned to the land of the Knisteneaux to watch for the souls of their dead, and the Great Spirit winged his way back to the Mountain of Thunder.
When it was told Makusue of the agreement which the Great Spirit had made with the Spirit of Evil, grief for his people filled the heart of the good priest. At nightfall he repaired to the hill, with olay upon his hair, and addressed his master thus:
"I have served thee long, and thou didst say faithfully, yet thou hast given the souls of my people that I have brought to thee into the hands of the Evil Spirit, to be tormented for three suns and three sleeps."
"I know that I have done this," answered the Master. "Is it not well!"
"Thou canst not do otherwise than well," answered the priest; "and yet why should those be punished, even for so short a period, whom thou hast deemed worthy to live in the Happy Hunting-Grounds for ever after?"
"What thou sayest has reason with it, Makusue," answered the Great Spirit. "It was not well advised in me to grant so great a favour to the Matchi Manitou. But it is said, and cannot be recalled."
"But it may be evaded," answered the cunning priest.
"How?" demanded the Master.
"Thou hast told the Evil Spirit that he may torment the souls of the Knisteneaux for three suns and three sleeps, taking care to kindle the fire in the low and marshy grounds only."
"Let the souls of the dead, as thou hast said, repair to those spots, but let them first take a form which it shall not be in the power of the Evil Spirit to torture. Let them repair thither in the form of fog or vapour."
"It is well," answered the Great Spirit. So he bade the spirit of each Knisteneau, immediately on its leaving the body, to wear for three suns and three sleeps the form of fog or mist. It was by this trick of the wise Makusue's, that the souls of our people were reprieved from the tortures which the Matchi Manitou was preparing for them. And still does the same thing continue. When the breath of a Knisteneau leaves the body, it repairs for the allotted period to the low marshy grounds, where it becomes fog and vapour. If my brother will go to one of those spots, upon either of the three days next following the death of a Knisteneau, he will see that my words are not the words of a mocking-bird, but of a man who knows that the anger of the Great Spirit will be upon him, if he does not speak the truth.
A long time ago, before the occupation of the Island of Nope by the white people, there dwelt, upon the north side, and near its western end, a spirit or goblin—a very good-natured, peaceable, clever, old fellow, very fond of laughter and a good joke. The Indians called him Moshup, which signifies a very bad Spirit, but, when the white people came, they named him with reference to the little elbow, or promontory of land, where he had his usual residence, the Devil of Cape Higgin. There is another tradition, in which, it is said, that he once lived upon the main land, opposite Nope, and near the brook which was ploughed out by the Great Trout. It was said, that Moshup came to Nope in search of some children, which had been carried away by a great bird, and finding the spot pleasant, people clever, and food abundant, concluded to take up his abode there.
Moshup, the Devil of Cape Higgin, was by no means so bad as his title implies. Faults he had, it is true, but no one is without faults. And then, compared with the vices of men, the vices of the devil sunk into mere trifles. He was a little loose in his morals, and withal, rather cross to his wife, but he made up for the latter fault by his unwearied attentions to the wives of his neighbours. He gave into very few indulgences, drank nothing stronger than water, and never ate more than a small whale, or five or six porpoises, at one meal. His greatest indulgence was in smoking the Indian weed, which he did to excess. He was moderate in his exactions from the Indians, requiring, as a tribute, only a tenth part of all the whales, grampusses, and finbacks, which might be taken by the inhabitants of the Island, together with all the porpoises caught in the Frog-Month. The evil of scarcity, so it was not occasioned by indolence, he bore with much composure. But, if a cheat were attempted to be practised upon him, by sending him the poorest fish, or if any part of his share was abstracted, if a porpoise or a halibut was hidden, or the head of a finback sunk, with a buoy attached to it, or the fin of a whale buried in the sand, he showed most terrific symptoms of wrath and anger, and never failed to make the Indians pay dearly for their roguery. But those who dwelt in his vicinity, indeed all liable to be called upon for tithes, little disposed at any time to battle with spirits and demons, paid their dues with great promptitude, and so seldom came in collision with their grim and powerful neighbour. To tell my brother the truth, it was not for their interest to quarrel with him. He was of much importance to them in many of their pursuits, and assisted them with a great deal of good advice and sound and profitable counsel. He frequently directed them to a fine school of black-fish, or bade them see whales, or man their canoes for the chase of the finback; he told them when to plant and gather in their corn, and foretold to them the approach of storms with an accuracy productive of the greatest advantages to them. He also assisted the young people in their courtships up to the time of joining hands, but this it was whispered he did from a disposition very proper to a naughty being like himself, who could not fail to find his account in multiplying human miseries, and thereby increasing the chances of their going to the dominions of Hobbamock, his master. Was any little rogue of a maiden solicited to become the wife of a youth, and her parents stood out to the time of more usquebagh, who but Moshup was called in to negociate for a less quantity? If a father said, "It shall not be," and Moshup could be prevailed on to say, "It shall be," the father was sure to find a pretext for changing his mind. If a young woman was beloved by one, and she pouted and pretended indifference, three words from Moshup were sure to make her reasonable. And, when women were much given to scolding, he had, somehow, a singular knack at taming them. Taking every circumstance into view, it will be readily concluded that he was a favourite with the Indians; indeed some of our fathers say, that he was once their grand Sachem; the greater part, however, think he was the first governor of the whites, and this I believe.
But spirits and demons, as well as the children of this world, whether white or red, are subject to changes of opinion and conduct—to many whims and phantasies. Moshup grew harsh and ill-natured as he grew older. The change was first felt in his own family, the peace of which was soon destroyed by continual strife and quarrelling. He would beat his old woman for nothing, and his children for a great deal less. He soon began to harass his subjects with new demands and querulous exactions. He now frequently demanded the half of a whale instead of a tenth, or took, without asking, the whole of a grampus or fin-back. Instead of contributing his aid to promote marriages, he was very diligent in preventing them; instead of healing love-quarrels, he did his best to make them irreconcileable. He broke many well-ordered matches, and soured much matrimonial bliss, set many friendly families by the ears, and created frequent wars between the different tribes of the Island. The wild ducks he frightened with terrific shouts, so that the Indian archer could no longer come near them; he cut the springes set for grouse and woodcocks—in short, he became a very troublesome and dangerous spirit. There was, however, no use in fretting; he was seated firmly on their necks, and there was no shaking him off. So the Indians bore his freaks with great patience, calmly took up with the offal of the whale, and only adopted the precaution of removing as far from him as possible. His harsh behaviour unpeopled his neighbourhood; and soon the little elbow of land, which the white people call Cape Higgin, had, for its only occupants, the Spirit Moshup and his family.
Upon the southern shore of the same Island of Nope, at a distance of ten or twelve miles from the residence of Moshup, lived, at the same period of time, Hiwassee, the proud and arbitrary Sachem of that portion of the Island which lies most exposed to the fogs of spring. He was a very rich and mighty man, had abundance of grape-vines, and a vast many ponds, well stocked with clams, oysters, perch, crabs, and wild fowl; many swamps filled with terrapins and cranberries; and much land, well adapted to the growing of maize and other good things. He was accounted the most powerful Sachem on the Island. He was, besides, on excellent terms with Moshup, and so escaped all taxes, contributions, and tenths, merely now and then making him a present of a few baskets of grapes, or a few terrapins. This Sachem had a daughter, young, and more beautiful than any maiden that had ever been seen in Nope. She was taller than Indian maidens generally are, her hair was long and glossy as the raven's, and her step very light and graceful. Then she excelled very far the women of her tribe in the exercises which belong to the other sex. None drew the bow with equal strength, or tortured the prisoner with so much ingenuity, or danced the war-dance with equal agility, or piped the war-song with lungs as efficient. I must tell my brother that, according to the tradition of our nation, the Indian females were first taught by her to introduce the crab's claw into the cartilage of the nose, and to insert the shell of a clam into the under-lip, as ornaments. She was, indeed, a beautiful creature, and understood better than any one else the art of attracting all the brave and best of the land; the love and admiration of the other sex followed her whithersoever she went. Her father's wigwam was filled with the suitors who came to solicit her love. There were the chiefs of the tribes which dwelt at Neshamoyes, Chabbaquiddic, Popannessit, Suckatasset, and many other places; warriors, famed and fearless, who asked her of the Grand Sachem in marriage. But no, she was deaf to their entreaties, laughed at all their presents of conch-shells, terrapins, and eagle's feathers, and carefully and scrupulously barred the doors of her father's wigwam against all the suitors, who, according to the Indian forms of courtship, came when the lights were extinguished and the parents were sleeping, to whisper soft tales at the side of her couch. The truth, which must be told my brother, is, that she had long before placed her affections upon a young warrior, stern to his enemies, but to her all gentleness, who dwelt at the western end of the Island, and was reckoned the favourite, some said he was the son, of the Devil of Cape Higgin. They had loved each other long, and with the truest affection(1), and all their hopes centered in a union.
But my brother knows—if he does not I will tell him—that fathers and mothers will not always permit daughters to have their own way in marriage. The proud father objected to the lover, because he had slain but three foes, and was not descended from a line of chiefs, distinguished by their wisdom or valour. What was to be done? The lovers talked the matter over and over again, and finally determined to apply to Moshup, for his aid and advice. They forthwith repaired to the usual residence of the goblin. It was a most auspicious moment; they found him in a delirium of joy. A school of whales, in a recent dark night, becoming bewildered, had foundered upon a neighbouring ledge of rocks, and a great many fine calves had been deposited at the mouth of his cave as his share. Withal a brother goblin, residing somewhere upon the main land, had sent him some excellent old tobacco; and these, with the occurrence at the happy moment of other enlivening circumstances, had wrought him up to such unusual good temper that he quite forgot his very recent determination to annoy all lovers, and promised to befriend the hapless pair. He rose from his seat, put a few hundred pounds of tobacco in his pouch, took a half-roasted grampus from the coals to pick by the way, and set off for Sanchequintacket, the place of Hiwassee's residence: the young warrior perched upon his shoulder, and the maiden, reposing on a litter formed by his arm, lay horizontally on his breast.
Moshup was no devil with wings, but he had two legs, and could use them to much advantage. So he set off at a pretty smart trot, and was very soon at the end of his journey. He found the Grand Sachem busy at a feast, but this did not prevent him from telling his errand at once. With great calmness and in perfect silence, for he was not in one of his talkative fits, he heard the maiden's father give his reasons for refusing his daughter to the lover. They were those which have been a thousand times urged before—"Poverty—poverty—low parentage—low parentage; not sufficiently known—not sufficiently celebrated."
"Is this all you have to say against the young man, you old fool?" asked Moshup. "What do you want? What must the young man have?"
"He must have a great deal of land—he must have an island," answered Hiwassee.
"Good," said Moshup, drawing a huge quantity of smoke into his mouth, and blowing it out through his nose: "follow me!"
At the time whereof I speak, the island of Nope extended to and comprehended the little island of Tuckanuck. The little island was then a part of the larger island; but once upon a time there came a great storm, the winds raged and the thunders rolled, and the storms beat upon the island, and it was disjointed and became two islands. To a high cliff, upon the eastern side of this same Tuckanuck, Moshup conducted Hiwassee, his daughter, her lover, and a great crowd of other Indians, who followed to see what wonderful feat he would perform. Being arrived, he sat down upon the ground, and commenced his charm. First he dug a great hole in the earth, into which he threw many heated stones, the while muttering many words, which no one but himself understood. Then he filled his pipe with tobacco, kindling it with the rays from a flash of lightning. When this was done, he bowed once to the rising sun, twice to the North Star, blew thrice in a conch-shell, muttered more unintelligible words, and commenced smoking at a great rate. In a few minutes it was as dark as the darkest night, and a terrible tempest arose. The thunders rolled awfully, the lightnings flashed, the rains poured down, and abundance of voices were heard in the east, puffing and blowing as of men in great labour. Presently there was a hissing sound, like that of live embers dropped into water—Moshup had emptied his pipe. There now came up a strong wind from the west, which, gradually dispersing the smoke he had created, displayed to their view a low dark something in the east. It was the promised island—the ashes from Moshup's pipe. The couple upon whom Moshup bestowed this island gave it the name of Nantucket, and such it bears at this day.
I have no more to say.
(1) Loved each other with the truest affection.—p. 327.
It has been the practice to accuse American Indians of great coldness of temper, and to represent them as incapable of sincere and permanent attachment. It is a mistake. It is true that on the part of the males all expressions of affection are repressed, from the belief that the display of any passion or emotion inflicts deep and indelible disgrace upon a man, especially if he is a warrior. This is the mere result of education, and proves nothing. It is certain that the females, whom the tyranny of opinion does not bind in this respect, are full of tenderness and assiduity. The story of Pocahontas is too well known to be repeated. When Mr. Nutall was with the Osages, he was near witnessing a tragical termination to a trifling dispute, from the belief of an Indian wife that harm was intended to her husband. She had been several years married to a French hunter, living with that tribe. Soon after the arrival of a trader at the Indian camp, intoxication had taken place, and a quarrel ensued between the husband of this woman and another of the French hunters. Their altercation filled her with terror, and she gave way to tears and lamentations, not doubting but that the antagonist, who was the aggressor, intended the death of her husband, as threats among Indians are the invariable preludes to fatal actions. When, at length, they began to struggle with each other, without any more ado she seized a hatchet, and would instantly have dispatched the man who fought with her husband, if she had not been prevented by the bystanders. In another instance an Omawhaw and his wife, on a solitary hunting expedition, were discovered at a distance from their temporary lodge, by a Sioux war-party. They endeavoured to escape from the enemy, but the wife was soon overtaken, struck to the ground, and subjected to the terrible operation of scalping. The husband, although at this time beyond the reach of the arrows of the Sioux, seeing his wife in their hands, immediately turned upon them, and drawing his knife, the only weapon he had, furiously rushed among them, in order to revenge her death, even with the inevitable sacrifice of his own life, but he was almost immediately dispatched, without having accomplished his heroic purpose.
When their affections have become deeply engaged, they will frequently affect insanity with a view to melt the heart of the obdurate beloved.
"A Chippewa, named Ogemans, who resided near the Dog Lake, was married to a woman called Demoya, but had conceived an affection for her sister, named Okoj, who lived in the same cabin; the latter having refused his offer to take her as a second wife, he affected insanity. His ravings were terrible; nothing could appease him but her presence; the moment he touched her hand or came near her, he was as gentle as they could wish. At one time, in the middle of a winter's night, he sprang from his couch, broke through the frail bark which formed his cabin, and escaped into the woods, howling and screaming in the wildest manner; his wife and her sister followed him, endeavouring to calm him and bring him home, but he seemed to have set all their powers at defiance. At last Okoj came near him, and the moment she laid her hand upon him, he became quite tractable. In this manner he continued for a long while, convincing all the Indians who saw him that he was possessed by a spirit, which nothing but the approach of Okoj could reduce. So deep was their conviction and her's, that she at last consented to become his wife, and never after was he troubled by a return of madness."
Another instance of a somewhat similar nature happened in the presence of the same interpreter, (Bruce). "A young Canadian had secured the affections of an Indian girl called Nisette, whose mother was a Squaw that had been converted by the missionaries; being very pious, the mother insisted that the young folks should be united by a clergyman. None being in the country at the time, they travelled to an Algonquin village, situated on the Lake of the Two Mountains, where there was a missionary. Meanwhile the Canadian's love cooled away, and by the time they reached the village he cared no more for the poor girl. Disappointed in her affections, she was observed to sicken; she became subject to fits, her intellect appeared disordered, and she was finally considered as quite insane. The only lucid intervals which she had were in the presence of her inconstant lover. Whenever he came near her, her reason would return, and she would appear the same as before. Flattered by what he deemed so strong an evidence of his influence over her, the Canadian felt a return of kindness towards her, and was finally induced to renew his attentions, which being well received, they were soon united by the clergyman. Her reason appeared to be restored, and her improving health showed that her happiness was complete. Although she never was charged with having resorted to a stratagem, our guide, who had been with her a long while, and who represented her as a modest, virtuous, and interesting girl, had always considered her insanity as assumed, with a view to work upon the feelings of her inconstant friend."
Their other affections, especially the maternal, are equally exquisite with those of civilised nations. I will relate one instance of maternal fondness, from James's Account of an Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, vol. i. p 223:—
"In the year 1814, a trader married a beautiful squaw of one of the most distinguished families in the Omawhaw nation. This match, on the part of the husband, was induced by the following circumstances. Being an active, intelligent, and enterprising man, he had introduced the American trade to the Missouri Indians, and had gained great influence amongst them by his bravery and ingenuous deportment. But he at length perceived that his influence was gradually declining, in consequence of the presence and wiles of many rival traders, to whom his enterprise had opened the way, and that his customers were gradually forsaking him.
"Thus circumstanced, in order to regain the ground he had lost, he determined to seek a matrimonial alliance with one of the most powerful families of the Omawhaws. In pursuance of this resolution, he selected a squaw whose family and friends were such as he desired. He addressed himself to her parents agreeably to the Indian custom, and informed them that he loved their daughter, that he was sorry to see her in the state of poverty common to her nation, and although he possessed a wife among the white people, yet he wished to have one also of the Omawhaw nation. If they would transfer their daughter to him in marriage, he would obligate himself to treat her kindly; and, as he had commenced a permanent trading establishment in their country, he would dwell during a portion of the year with her, and the remainder with the white people, as the nature of his occupation required. His establishment should be her home, and that of her people during his life, as he never intended to abandon the trade. In return, he expressed his expectation, that, for this act, the nation would give him the refusal of their peltries, in order that he might be enabled to comply with his engagement to them. He further promised, that if the match proved fruitful, the children should be made known to the white people, and would probably be qualified to continue the trade after his death.
"The parents replied with thanks for his liberal offers, and for his disposition to have pity on them; they would not object to the connection, and hoped that their daughter would accept of him as her husband.
"The parents then retired, and opened the subject to the daughter. They assured her that her proposed husband was a great man, greater than any of the Omawhaws; that he would do much for her and for them, and concluded by requesting her to acquiesce in the wishes of the white man. She replied, that all they said was, without doubt, true, and that, agreeably to his request, she was willing to become his wife.
"The agreement being thus concluded, the trader made presents, agreeably to the custom of the nation, and conducted his interesting prize to his house.
"The succeeding spring the trader departed for the settlements, leaving her of course at his trading house.
"The ensuing autumn she had the pleasure to see him return, having now conceived for him the most tender attachment. Upon his visit the following season, she presented him with a fine daughter, born during his absence, and whom she had nursed with the fondest attention. With the infant in her arms, she had daily seated herself on the bank of the river, and followed the downward course of the stream, with her eye, to gain the earliest notice of his approach. Thus time passed on. The second year the father greeted a son, and obtained his squaw's reluctant consent to take their daughter with him on his return voyage to the country of the white people. But, no sooner had he commenced his voyage, and although she had another charge upon which to lavish her caresses, than her maternal fondness overpowered her, and she ran crying and screaming along the river side in pursuit of the boat, tearing out her long flowing hair, and appearing to be almost bereft of reason. On her return home she gave away every thing she possessed, cut off her hair, went into deep mourning, and remained inconsolable. She would often say that she well knew that her daughter would be better treated than she could be at home, but she could not avoid regarding her own situation to be the same as if the Wahconda had taken away her offspring for ever.
"One day, in company with six other squaws, she was engaged in her agricultural labours, her infant boy being secured to his cradle-like board, which she had carefully reclined against a tree at a short distance. They were discovered by a war-party of Sioux, who rushed towards them, with the expectation of gratifying their vengeance by securing all their scalps. An exclamation from her companions directed her attention to the common enemy, and in her fright she fled precipitately, but, suddenly recollecting her child, she swiftly returned full in the face of the Sioux, snatched her child from the tree, and turned to save its life, more precious than her own. She was closely pursued by one of the enemy, when she arrived at a fence which separated her from the field of the trading-house. A moment's hesitation here would have been fatal; and, exerting all her strength, she threw the child, with its board, as far as she could on the opposite side.
"Four of the squaws were tomahawked, and the others escaped, of which number the mother was one, having succeeded in bearing off her child uninjured.
"The trader, on his arrival at the settlements, learned that his white or civilized wife had died during his absence, and after a short interval devoted to the usual formalities of mourning, he united his destinies with another and highly amiable lady. The second season his wife accompanied him on his annual voyage up the Missouri, to his trading-house, the abode of his squaw.
"Previously to his arrival, however, he dispatched a messenger to his dependents at the trading-house, directing them to prevent his squaw from appearing in the presence of his wife. She was accordingly sent off to the village of her nation, a distance of sixty or seventy miles. But she could not long remain there, and soon returned with her little boy on her back, and, accompanied by some of her friends, she encamped near her husband's residence. She sent her son to the trader, who treated him affectionately. On the succeeding day the trader sent for his squaw, and, after making her some presents, he directed her to accompany her friends, who were then on their way to their hunting-grounds.
"She departed without a murmur, as it is not unusual with the Omawhaws to send off one of their wives, on some occasions, while they remain with the favourite one.
"About two months afterwards the trader recalled her. Overjoyed with what she supposed to be her good fortune, she lost no time in presenting herself before the husband whom she tenderly loved. But great was her disappointment, when the husband demanded the surrender of the child, and renounced for the future any association with herself, directing her to return to her people, and to provide for her future well-being in any way she might choose.
"Overpowered by her feelings, on this demand and repudiation, she ran from the house, and finding a pirogue on the river shore, she paddled over to the opposite side and made her escape into the forest with her child. The night was cold, and attended with a fall of snow and hail. Reflecting upon her disconsolate condition, she resolved to return again in the morning, and with the feelings of a wife and a mother to plead her cause before the arbiter of her fate, and endeavour to mitigate the cruel sentence.
"Agreeably to this determination, she once more approached him upon whom she believed she had claims paramount to those of any other individual. 'Here is our child,' said she: 'I do not question your fondness for him, but he is still more dear to me. You say that you will keep him for yourself, and drive me far from you. But no, I will remain with him; I can find some hole or corner in which I may creep, in order to be near him, and sometimes to see him. If you will not give me food, I will, nevertheless, remain until I starve before your eyes.'
"The trader then offered her a considerable present, desiring her at the same time to go, and leave the child. But she said, 'Is my child a dog, that I should sell him for merchandize? You cannot drive me away; you may beat me, it is true, and otherwise abuse me, but I will still remain. When you married me, you promised to use me kindly as long as I should be faithful to you; that I have been so, no one can deny. Ours was not a marriage contracted for a season—it was to terminate only with our lives. I was then a young girl, and might have been united to an Omawhaw chief; but I am now an old woman, having had two children, and what Omawhaw will regard me? Is not my right paramount to that of your other wife; she had heard of me before you possessed her. It is true her skin is whiter than mine, but her heart cannot be more pure towards you, nor her fidelity more rigid. Do not take the child from my breast, I cannot bear to hear it cry, and not be present to relieve it; permit me to retain it until the spring, when it will be able to eat, and then, if it must be so, take it from my sight, that I may part with it but once.'
"Seeing her thus inflexible, the trader informed her that she might remain there if she pleased, but that the child should be immediately sent down to the settlements.
"The affectionate mother had thus far sustained herself during the interview with the firmness of conscious virtue, and successfully resisted the impulse of her feelings; but nature now yielded, the tears coursed rapidly over her cheeks, and clasping her hands, and bowing her head, she burst into an agony of grief, exclaiming, 'Why did the Wahconda hate me so much, as to induce me to put my child again into your power?'
"The feelings of the unhappy mother were, however, soon relieved. Mr. Dougherty (an Indian trader), communicated the circumstance of the case to Major O'Fallon, (the agent), who immediately and peremptorily ordered the restoration of the child to its mother, and informed the trader that any future attempt to wrest it from her should be at his peril."
I will give an example of the generous self-devotion of an Omawhaw, to procure the escape of a brother, and with it end the volume.
"Two Omawhaw brothers had stolen a squaw from an individual of their nation, and were on their journey to seek a refuge in the Puncaw village. But they had the misfortune in a large prairie to meet with a war-party of Sioux, their implacable enemies. They immediately concealed themselves in a deep ravine, which at the bottom was covered with dry reed grass. The Sioux surrounded this spot, and set fire to it on the windward side of the reeds, in order to drive them out. When the conflagration had nearly reached the fugitives, one of the brothers remarked, that the Wahconda had certainly not created him to be smoked out like a racoon; the Indians smoke this animal out of hollow trees, by kindling a fire at the root: he urged his brother to attempt to escape in one direction, whilst he would attract the attention of the enemy, by sallying out upon them alone, and by endeavouring to destroy as many of them as possible, in anticipated revenge for that death which he considered as inevitable. 'One or both of us,' said he, 'must certainly be sacrificed; save yourself if you can; I will be the victim, and may fortunately receive a death-blow in the conflict, and thus escape the disgrace of captivity.' He then rushed forth amongst the Sioux, shot one, and with his knife wounded several before he was dispatched. His brother, availing himself of the diverted attention of the enemy, effected his escape, but the squaw was burned to death."
F. SHOBERL, JUN., LAZENBY COURT, LONG ACRE.
MESSRS. COLBURN AND BENTLEY,
NEW BURLINGTON STREET.
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 The water of the little lake (Drummond's Pond), to which this tradition relates, is coloured brown by the roots of the juniper and cedar.
 The Indians could never be brought to believe that paper was any other than a tanned skin invested with the powers of a spirit.
 See note, vol. i. page 195.
 Chesapeak bay.
 Bay of Saganaum, in Lake Huron.
 Cress or crease, a poisoned arrow, seldom used, however, by the tribes east of the Rocky Mountains.
 Bird of Ages—See the Tradition vol. ii. page 35.
 Scalps are suspended from a pole in the lodge, and usually in the smoke.
 Alluding to the custom of the Indian of shaving off all the hair except the scalp-lock.
 Wekolis—another name for the whip-poor-will.
 Talk—oration, also synonimous with "cabinet council, or general meeting, with a view to matters of high importance."
 Cunning little people, the common Indian appellation for those sagacious animals, the beavers.
 As I have remarked in a note (vol. i, page 305.) this is a metaphorical expression, signifying nothing more than that they will wage a bloody and destructive war.
 The Indians affirm that the Elk has a bone in his heart, which, being reduced to powder, and taken in broth, facilitates delivery, and softens the pains of child-bearing.—Charlevoix.
 The God of the winter.
 Ginseng, called by the Potowatomies Abesoatchenza, which signifies a child. I presume it has acquired its name rather from the figure of its root than from the tradition. They make great use of it in medicine.
 The implements of writing, especially paper, are esteemed by the Indians as medicines, or spirits, of great power. Books are viewed in the same light. Singing hymns from a book delights them much, as they conceive, that the book is a spirit, which teaches the singer to sing for their diversion.
 The Mammoth. See note, vol. ii, p. 111.
 "Iron possessed by an evil spirit;" their name for a gun or rifle.
 An Ottawa, who was a great drunkard, on being asked by one of the French governors of Canada what he thought the brandy of which he was so fond was made of, replied: "Of women's tongues and warriors' hearts; for," said he, "after I have drunk of it, I can talk for ever, and fight the devil."
 The female maple, distinguished from the male by having its wood paler and more streaked.
 Called by the French Canadians, l'Oiseau Mouche, or the fly-bird. The name has two derivations; the first, from the smallness of the animal; the second, from the humming noise it makes with its wings. Its body is not larger than an ordinary May-bug.
 Great Mountain, a name given to one of the early French governors, and continued to be used generally for the French as long as they held Canada. The story means a parrot probably.
 The Hudson.
 The Indians could not be persuaded at first that paper was any thing else than tanned leather.
 The star flower.
 The mountain plant.
 The burnt weed.
 Chesapeak Bay.
 Place of worship—church.
 The Indians, occupying what is now called Virginia, had posts fixed around the interior of their Quiccosan, or place of worship, with men's faces carved upon them. These tribes have long been extinct.
 Altar-stone. From this proceeds the great reverence these tribes had for a small bird, peculiar to that region, and which continually called out that name. They believed it was the soul of one of their princes, and thence permitted no one to harm it. But there was once, they said, a wicked Indian, who, after abundance of fears and scruples, was, at last, bribed to kill one of them. But he paid dear for his presumption, for a few days after he was taken away, and never more heard of.
 The crane or pelican.
 Mackwah, an old bear; makon, a bear's cub.
 It is what they call the bosom-net, with which the Indians perform this singular ceremony. Before they use it they marry it to two virgins, and, during the marriage-feast, place it between the brides; they afterwards exhort it to catch plenty of fish, and believe they do a great deal to obtain this favour by making large presents to the sham fathers-in-law.
 Werowance, a war-chief.
 I do not know whether the roebuck actually weeps when he is hard pushed—the Indians believe he does.
 Far-eyes, the name the Indians gave to spectacles.
 These, as I before observed, are mere metaphors, signifying a deep revenge.
 Jack-with-the-Lantern.—This is an appearance which impresses the Indians with inconceivable terror. They generally retreat to a place of safety, if such can be had, on its first appearance.
 Salt water.
 See the Tradition vol. i., p. 201.
 Rapid river.
 Lake Superior.
 Tekarrah, i.e. [Greek: angelos], messenger, of the Great Spirit.
 His stature he determined by the width of his stride, and his cowardice by his avoidance of remote dangers, and the wide circuit he took to escape contact with any one, his having a new blanket by the portion of nap left on the branches of the trees among which he passed. His having a short gun he discovered by the mark left in the bark of the tree against which he had leaned the muzzle, and an old dog by the mumbling of a bone dropped in their path.
 The passage of the Highlands on the Hudson.
 The genuine tradition imputed but a part of the labour of ploughing out Coatuit Brook to the lover of Awashanks. It was commenced, according to the Indians, from a motive of benevolence rather than love. The Indians were much in want of fresh water—a very large trout, with the intention of supplying it, forced his way from the sea into the land. It proved too much for his strength, however, and he died in the attempt. It was finished by the heroine of this legend, who ploughed the sward through to Sanctuit Pond.
 Cape Cod.
 Mos-char-ne-wat-char—"It causes heat and cold"—Indian balsam, said to be one of the most valuable articles belonging to the Indian class of remedies. They give an infusion of it in colds, coughs, asthmas, and consumptions.
 Ehawshoga—"Bite the mouth"—Indian turnip, another of their remedies.
 Dittany, used by the Indians as a remedy for various diseases.
 See the "Legend of Coatuit Brook," p. 307 of this vol.
 See "The Legend of Moshup," v. ii, p. 261.
 A mode of expression common to the Indians who are in the habit of communicating their ideas by allusions to the senses.