I am not prone to weeping, as our sex Commonly are. --But I have that honourable Grief lodged here, which burns worse than Tears drown --Shakspeare.
When within twenty feet of the prisoners, the Tetons stopped, and their leader made a sign to the old man to draw nigh. The trapper obeyed, quitting the young Pawnee with a significant look, which was received, as it was meant, for an additional pledge that he would never forget his promise. So soon as Mahtoree found that the other had stopped within reach of him, he stretched forth his arm, and laying a hand upon the shoulder of the attentive old man, he stood regarding him, a minute, with eyes that seemed willing to penetrate the recesses of his most secret thoughts.
"Is a Pale-face always made with two tongues?" he demanded, when he found that, as usual, with the subject of this examination, he was as little intimidated by his present frown, as moved by any apprehensions of the future.
"Honesty lies deeper than the skin."
"It is so. Now let my father hear me. Mahtoree has but one tongue, the grey-head has many. They may be all straight, and none of them forked. A Sioux is no more than a Sioux, but a Pale-face is every thing! He can talk to the Pawnee, and the Konza, and the Omawhaw, and he can talk to his own people."
"Ay, there are linguists in the settlements that can do still more. But what profits it all? The Master of Life has an ear for every language!"
"The grey-head has done wrong. He has said one thing when he meant another. He has looked before him with his eyes, and behind him with his mind. He has ridden the horse of a Sioux too hard; he has been the friend of a Pawnee, and the enemy of my people."
"Teton, I am your prisoner. Though my words are white, they will not complain. Act your will."
"No. Mahtoree will not make a white hair red. My father is free. The prairie is open on every side of him. But before the grey-head turns his back on the Siouxes, let him look well at them, that he may tell his own chief, how great is a Dahcotah!"
"I am not in a hurry to go on my path. You see a man with a white head, and no woman, Teton; therefore shall I not run myself out of breath, to tell the nations of the prairies what the Siouxes are doing."
"It is good. My father has smoked with the chiefs at many councils," returned Mahtoree, who now thought himself sufficiently sure of the other's favour to go more directly to his object. "Mahtoree will speak with the tongue of his very dear friend and father. A young Pale-face will listen when an old man of that nation opens his mouth. Go; my father will make what a poor Indian says fit for a white ear."
"Speak aloud!" said the trapper, who readily understood the metaphorical manner, in which the Teton expressed a desire that he should become an interpreter of his words into the English language; "speak, my young men listen. Now, captain, and you too, friend bee- hunter, prepare yourselves to meet the deviltries of this savage, with the stout hearts of white warriors. If you find yourselves giving way under his threats, just turn your eyes on that noble-looking Pawnee, whose time is measured with a hand as niggardly, as that with which a trader in the towns gives forth the fruits of the Lord, inch by inch, in order to satisfy his covetousness. A single look at the boy will set you both up in resolution."
"My brother has turned his eyes on the wrong path," interrupted Mahtoree, with a complacency that betrayed how unwilling he was to offend his intended interpreter.
"The Dahcotah will speak to my young men?"
"After he has sung in the ear of the flower of the Pale-faces."
"The Lord forgive the desperate villain!" exclaimed the old man in English. "There are none so tender, or so young, or so innocent, as to escape his ravenous. wishes. But hard words and cold looks will profit nothing; therefore it will be wise to speak him fair. Let Mahtoree open his mouth."
"Would my father cry out, that the women and children should hear the wisdom of chiefs! We will go into the lodge and whisper."
As the Teton ended, he pointed significantly towards a tent, vividly emblazoned with the history of one of his own boldest and most commended exploits, and which stood a little apart from the rest, as if to denote it was the residence of some privileged individual of the band. The shield and quiver at its entrance were richer than common, and the high distinction of a fusee, attested the importance of its proprietor. In every other particular it was rather distinguished by signs of poverty than of wealth. The domestic utensils were fewer in number and simpler in their forms, than those to be seen about the openings of the meanest lodges, nor was there a single one of those high-prized articles of civilised life, which were occasionally bought of the traders, in bargains that bore so hard on the ignorant natives. All these had been bestowed, as they had been acquired, by the generous chief, on his subordinates, to purchase an influence that might render him the master of their lives and persons; a species of wealth that was certainly more noble in itself, and far dearer to his ambition.
The old man well knew this to be the lodge of Mahtoree, and, in obedience to the sign of the chief, he held his way towards it with slow and reluctant steps. But there were others present, who were equally interested in the approaching conference, whose apprehensions were not to be so easily suppressed. The watchful eye and jealous ears of Middleton had taught him enough to fill his soul with horrible forebodings. With an incredible effort he succeeded in gaining his feet, and called aloud to the retiring trapper--
"I conjure you, old man, if the love you bore my parents was more than words, or if the love you bear your God is that of a Christian man, utter not a syllable that may wound the ear of that innocent--"
Exhausted in spirit and fettered in limbs, he then fell, like an inanimate log, to the earth, where he lay like one dead.
Paul had however caught the clue and completed the exhortation, in his peculiar manner.
"Harkee, old trapper," he shouted, vainly endeavouring at the same time to make a gesture of defiance with his hand; "if you ar' about to play the interpreter, speak such words to the ears of that damnable savage, as becomes a white man to use, and a heathen to hear. Tell him, from me, that if he does or says the thing that is uncivil to the girl, called Nelly Wade, that I'll curse him with my dying breath; that I'll pray for all good Christians in Kentucky to curse him; sitting and standing; eating and drinking, fighting, praying, or at horse-races; in-doors and outdoors; in summer or winter, or in the month of March in short I'll--ay, it ar' a fact, morally true--I'll haunt him, if the ghost of a Pale-face can contrive to lift itself from a grave made by the hands of a Red-skin!"
Having thus ventured the most terrible denunciation he could devise, and the one which, in the eyes of the honest bee-hunter, there seemed the greatest likelihood of his being able to put in execution, he was obliged to await the fruits of his threat, with that resignation which would be apt to govern a western border-man who, in addition to the prospects just named, had the advantage of contemplating them in fetters and bondage. We shall not detain the narrative, to relate the quaint morals with which he next endeavoured to cheer the drooping spirits of his more sensitive companion, or the occasional pithy and peculiar benedictions that he pronounced, on all the bands of the Dahcotahs, commencing with those whom he accused of stealing or murdering, on the banks of the distant Mississippi, and concluding, in terms of suitable energy, with the Teton tribe. The latter more than once received from his lips curses as sententious and as complicated as that celebrated anathema of the church, for a knowledge of which most unlettered Protestants are indebted to the pious researches of the worthy Tristram Shandy. But as Middleton recovered from his exhaustion he was fain to appease the boisterous temper of his associate, by admonishing him of the uselessness of such denunciations, and of the possibility of their hastening the very evil he deprecated, by irritating the resentments of a race, who were sufficiently fierce and lawless, even in their most pacific moods.
In the mean time the trapper and the Sioux chief pursued their way to the lodge. The former had watched with painful interest the expression of Mahtoree's eye, while the words of Middleton and Paul were pursuing their footsteps, but the mien of the Indian was far too much restrained and self-guarded, to permit the smallest of his emotions to escape through any of those ordinary outlets, by which the condition of the human volcano is commonly betrayed. His look was fastened on the little habitation they approached; and, for the moment, his thoughts appeared to brood alone on the purposes of this extraordinary visit.
The appearance of the interior of the lodge corresponded with its exterior. It was larger than most of the others, more finished in its form, and finer in its materials; but there its superiority ceased. Nothing could be more simple and republican than the form of living that the ambitious and powerful Teton chose to exhibit to the eyes of his people. A choice collection of weapons for the chase, some three or four medals, bestowed by the traders and political agents of the Canadas as a homage to, or rather as an acknowledgment of, his rank, with a few of the most indispensable articles of personal accommodation, composed its furniture. It abounded in neither venison, nor the wild-beef of the prairies; its crafty owner having well understood that the liberality of a single individual would be abundantly rewarded by the daily contributions of a band. Although as pre-eminent in the chase as in war, a deer or a buffaloe was never seen to enter whole into his lodge. In return, an animal was rarely brought into the encampment, that did not contribute to support the family of Mahtoree. But the policy of the chief seldom permitted more to remain than sufficed for the wants of the day, perfectly assured that all must suffer before hunger, the bane of savage life, could lay its fell fangs on so important a victim.
Immediately beneath the favourite bow of the chief, and encircled in a sort of magical ring of spears, shields, lances and arrows, all of which had in their time done good service, was suspended the mysterious and sacred medicine-bag. It was highly-wrought in wampum, and profusely ornamented with beads and porcupine's quills, after the most cunning devices of Indian ingenuity. The peculiar freedom of Mahtoree's religious creed has been more than once intimated, and by a singular species of contradiction, he appeared to have lavished his attentions on this emblem of a supernatural agency, in a degree that was precisely inverse to his faith. It was merely the manner in which the Sioux imitated the well-known expedient of the Pharisees, "in order that they might be seen of men."
The tent had not, however, been entered by its owner since his return from the recent expedition. As the reader has already anticipated, it had been made the prison of Inez and Ellen. The bride of Middleton was seated on a simple couch of sweet-scented herbs covered with skins. She had already suffered so much, and witnessed so many wild and unlooked-for events, within the short space of her captivity. that every additional misfortune fell with a diminished force on her seemingly devoted head. Her cheeks were bloodless, her dark and usually animated eye was contracted in an expression of settled concern, and her form appeared shrinking and sensitive, nearly to extinction. But in the midst of these evidences of natural weakness, there were at times such an air of pious resignation, such gleams of meek but holy hope lighting her countenance, as might well have rendered it a question whether the hapless captive was most a subject of pity, or of admiration. All the precepts of father Ignatius were riveted in her faithful memory, and not a few of his pious visions were floating before her imagination. Sustained by so sacred resolutions, the mild, the patient and the confiding girl was bowing her head to this new stroke of Providence, with the same sort of meekness as she would have submitted to any other prescribed penitence for her sins, though nature, at moments, warred powerfully, with so compelled a humility.
On the other hand, Ellen had exhibited far more of the woman, and consequently of the passions of the world. She had wept until her eyes were swollen and red. Her cheeks were flushed and angry, and her whole mien was distinguished by an air of spirit and resentment, that was not a little, however, qualified by apprehensions for the future. In short, there was that about the eye and step of the betrothed of Paul, which gave a warranty that should happier times arrive, and the constancy of the bee-hunter finally meet with its reward, he would possess a partner every way worthy to cope with his own thoughtless and buoyant temperament.
There was still another and a third figure in that little knot of females. It was the youngest, the most highly gifted, and, until now, the most favoured of the wives of the Teton. Her charms had not been without the most powerful attraction in the eyes of her husband, until they had so unexpectedly opened on the surpassing loveliness of a woman of the Pale-faces. From that hapless moment the graces, the attachment, the fidelity of the young Indian, had lost their power to please. Still the complexion of Tachechana, though less dazzling than that of her rival, was, for her race, clear and healthy. Her hazel eye had the sweetness and playfulness of the antelope's; her voice was soft and joyous as the song of the wren, and her happy laugh was the very melody of the forest. Of all the Sioux girls, Tachechana (or the Fawn) was the lightest-hearted and the most envied. Her father had been a distinguished brave, and her brothers had already left their bones on a distant and dreary war-path. Numberless were the warriors, who had sent presents to the lodge of her parents, but none of them were listened to until a messenger from the great Mahtoree had come. She was his third wife, it is true, but she was confessedly the most favoured of them all. Their union had existed but two short seasons, and its fruits now lay sleeping at her feet, wrapped in the customary ligatures of skin and bark, which form the swaddlings of an Indian infant.
At the moment, when Mahtoree and the trapper arrived at the opening of the lodge, the young Sioux wife was seated on a simple stool, turning her soft eyes, with looks that varied, like her emotions, with love and wonder, from the unconscious child to those rare beings, who had filled her youthful and uninstructed mind with so much admiration and astonishment. Though Inez and Ellen had passed an entire day in her sight, it seemed as if the longings of her curiosity were increasing with each new gaze. She regarded them as beings of an entirely different nature and condition from the females of the prairie. Even the mystery of their complicated attire had its secret influence on her simple mind, though it was the grace and charms of sex, to which nature has made every people so sensible, that most attracted her admiration. But while her ingenuous disposition freely admitted the superiority of the strangers over the less brilliant attractions of the Dahcotah maidens, she had seen no reason to deprecate their advantages. The visit that she was now about to receive, was the first which her husband had made to the tent since his return from the recent inroad, and he was ever present to her thoughts, as a successful warrior, who was not ashamed, in the moments of inaction, to admit the softer feelings of a father and a husband.
We have every where endeavoured to show that while Mahtoree was in all essentials a warrior of the prairies, he was much in advance of his people in those acquirements which announce the dawnings of civilisation. He had held frequent communion with the traders and troops of the Canadas, and the intercourse had unsettled many of those wild opinions which were his birthright, without perhaps substituting any others of a nature sufficiently definite to be profitable. His reasoning was rather subtle than true, and his philosophy far more audacious than profound. Like thousands of more enlightened beings, who fancy they are able to go through the trials of human existence without any other support than their own resolutions, his morals were accommodating and his motive selfish. These several characteristics will be understood always with reference to the situation of the Indian, though little apology is needed for finding resemblances between men, who essentially possess the same nature, however it may be modified by circumstances.
Notwithstanding the presence of Inez and Ellen, the entrance of the Teton warrior into the lodge of his favourite wife, was made with the tread and mien of a master. The step of his moccasin was noiseless, but the rattling of his bracelets, and of the silver ornaments of his leggings, sufficed to announce his approach, as he pushed aside the skin covering of the opening of the tent, and stood in the presence of its inmates. A faint cry of pleasure burst from the lips of Tachechana in the suddenness of her surprise, but the emotion was instantly suppressed in that subdued demeanour which should characterise a matron of her tribe. Instead of returning the stolen glance of his youthful and secretly rejoicing wife, Mahtoree moved to the couch, occupied by his prisoners, and placed himself in the haughty, upright attitude of an Indian chief, before their eyes. The old man had glided past him, and already taken a position suited to the office he had been commanded to fill.
Surprise kept the females silent and nearly breathless. Though accustomed to the sight of savage warriors, in the horrid panoply of their terrible profession, there was something so startling in the entrance, and so audacious in the inexplicable look of their conqueror, that the eyes of both sunk to the earth, under a feeling of terror and embarrassment. Then Inez recovered herself, and addressing the trapper, she demanded, with the dignity of an offended gentlewoman, though with her accustomed grace, to what circumstance they owed this extraordinary and unexpected visit. The old man hesitated; but clearing his throat, like one who was about to make an effort to which he was little used, he ventured on the following reply--
"Lady," he said, "a savage is a savage, and you are not to look for the uses and formalities of the settlements on a bleak and windy prairie. As these Indians would say, fashions and courtesies are things so light, that they would blow away. As for myself, though a man of the forest, I have seen the ways of the great, in my time, and I am not to learn that they differ from the ways of the lowly. I was long a serving-man in my youth, not one of your beck-and-nod runners about a household, but a man that went through the servitude of the forest with his officer, and well do I know in what manner to approach the wife of a captain. Now, had I the ordering of this visit, I would first have hemmed aloud at the door, in order that you might hear that strangers were coming, and then I--"
"The manner is indifferent," interrupted Inez, too anxious to await the prolix explanations of the old man; "why is the visit made?"
"Therein shall the savage speak for himself. The daughters of the Pale-faces wish to know why the Great Teton has come into his lodge?"
Mahtoree regarded his interrogator with a surprise, which showed how extraordinary he deemed the question. Then placing himself in a posture of condescension, after a moment's delay, he answered--
"Sing in the ears of the dark-eye. Tell her the lodge of Mahtoree is very large, and that it is not full. She shall find room in it, and none shall be greater than she. Tell the light-hair, that she too may stay in the lodge of a brave, and eat of his venison. Mahtoree is a great chief. His hand is never shut."
"Teton," returned the trapper, shaking his head in evidence of the strong disapprobation with which he heard this language, "the tongue of a Red-skin must be coloured white, before it can make music in the ears of a Pale-face. Should your words be spoken, my daughters would shut their ears, and Mahtoree would seem a trader to their eyes. Now listen to what comes from a grey-head, and then speak accordingly. My people is a mighty people. The sun rises on their eastern and sets on their western border. The land is filled with bright-eyed and laughing girls, like these you see--ay, Teton, I tell no lie," observing his auditor to start with an air of distrust--"bright-eyed and pleasant to behold, as these before you."
"Has my father a hundred wives!" interrupted the savage, laying his finger on the shoulder of the trapper, with a look of curious interest in the reply.
"No, Dahcotah. The Master of Life has said to me, Live alone; your lodge shall be the forest; the roof of your wigwam, the clouds. But, though never bound in the secret faith which, in my nation, ties one man to one woman, often have I seen the workings of that kindness which brings the two together. Go into the regions of my people; you will see the daughters of the land, fluttering through the towns like many-coloured and joyful birds in the season of blossoms. You will meet them, singing and rejoicing, along the great paths of the country, and you will hear the woods ringing with their laughter. They are very excellent to behold, and the young men find pleasure in looking at them."
"Hugh," ejaculated the attentive Mahtoree.
"Ay, well may you put faith in what you hear, for it is no lie. But when a youth has found a maiden to please him, he speaks to her in a voice so soft, that none else can hear. He does not say, My lodge is empty and there is room for another; but shall I build, and will the virgin show me near what spring she would dwell? His voice is sweeter than honey from the locust, and goes into the ear thrilling like the song of a wren. Therefore, if my brother wishes his words to be heard, he must speak with a white tongue."
Mahtoree pondered deeply, and in a wonder that he did not attempt to conceal. It was reversing all the order of society, and, according to his established opinions, endangering the dignity of a chief, for a warrior thus to humble himself before a woman. But as Inez sat before him, reserved and imposing in air, utterly unconscious of his object, and least of all suspecting the true purport of so extraordinary a visit, the savage felt the influence of a manner to which he was unaccustomed. Bowing his head, in acknowledgment of his error, he stepped a little back, and placing himself in an attitude of easy dignity, he began to speak with the confidence of one who had been no less distinguished for eloquence, than for deeds in arms. Keeping his eyes riveted on the unconscious bride of Middleton, he proceeded in the following words--
"I am a man with a red skin, but my eyes are dark. They have been open since many snows. They have seen many things--they know a brave from a coward. When a boy, I saw nothing but the bison and the deer. I went to the hunts, and I saw the cougar and the bear. This made Mahtoree a man. He talked with his mother no more. His ears were open to the wisdom of the old men. They told him every thing--they told him of the Big-knives. He went on the war-path. He was then the last; now, he is the first. What Dahcotah dare say he will go before Mahtoree into the hunting grounds of the Pawnees? The chiefs met him at their doors, and they said, My son is without a home. They gave him their lodges, they gave him their riches, and they gave him their daughters. Then Mahtoree became a chief, as his fathers had been. He struck the warriors of all the nations, and he could have chosen wives from the Pawnees, the Omawhaws, and the Konzas; but he looked at the hunting grounds, and not at his village. He thought a horse was pleasanter than a Dahcotah girl. But he found a flower on the prairies, and be plucked it, and brought it into his lodge. He forgets that he is the master of a single horse. He gives them all to the stranger, for Mahtoree is not a thief; he will only keep the flower he found on the prairie. Her feet are very tender. She cannot walk to the door of her father; she will stay, in the lodge of a valiant warrior for ever."
When he had finished this extraordinary address, the Teton awaited to have it translated, with the air of a suitor who entertained no very disheartening doubts of his success. The trapper had not lost a syllable of the speech, and he now prepared himself to render it into English in such a manner as should leave its principal idea even more obscure than in the original. But as his reluctant lips were in the act of parting, Ellen lifted a finger, and with a keen glance from her quick eye, at the still attentive Inez, she interrupted him.
"Spare your breath," she said, "all that a savage says is not to be repeated before a Christian lady."
Inez started, blushed, and bowed with an air of reserve, as she coldly thanked the old man for his intentions, and observed that she could now wish to be alone.
"My daughters have no need of ears to understand what a great Dahcotah says," returned the trapper, addressing himself to the expecting Mahtoree. "The look he has given, and the signs he has made, are enough. They understand him; they wish to think of his words; for the children of great braves, such as their fathers are, do nothing with out much thought."
With this explanation, so flattering to the energy of his eloquence, and so promising to his future hopes, the Teton was every way content. He made the customary ejaculation of assent, and prepared to retire. Saluting the females, in the cold but dignified manner of his people, he drew his robe about him, and moved from the spot where he had stood, with an air of ill-concealed triumph.
But there had been a stricken, though a motionless and unobserved auditor of the foregoing scene. Not a syllable had fallen from the lips of the long and anxiously expected husband, that had not gone directly to the heart of his unoffending wife. In this manner had he wooed her from the lodge of her father, and it was to listen to similar pictures of the renown and deeds of the greatest brave in her tribe, that she had shut her ears to the tender tales of so many of the Sioux youths.
As the Teton turned to leave his lodge, in the manner just mentioned, he found this unexpected and half-forgotten object before him. She stood, in the humble guise and with the shrinking air of an Indian girl, holding the pledge of their former love in her arms, directly in his path. Starting, the chief regained the marble-like indifference of countenance, which distinguished in so remarkable a degree the restrained or more artificial expression of his features, and signed to her, with an air of authority to give place.
"Is not Tachechana the daughter of a chief?" demanded a subdued voice, in which pride struggled with anguish: "were not her brothers braves?"
"Go; the men are calling their partisan. He has no ears for a woman."
"No," replied the supplicant; "it is not the voice of Tachechana that you hear, but this boy, speaking with the tongue of his mother. He is the son of a chief, and his words will go up to his father's ears. Listen to what he says. When was Mahtoree hungry and Tachechana had not food for him? When did he go on the path of the Pawnees and find it empty, that my mother did not weep? When did he come back with the marks of their blows, that she did not sing? What Sioux girl has given a brave a son like me? Look at me well, that you may know me. My eyes are the eagle's. I look at the sun and laugh. In a little time the Dahcotahs will follow me to the hunts and on the war-path. Why does my father turn his eyes from the woman that gives me milk? Why has he so soon forgotten the daughter of a mighty Sioux?"
There was a single instant, as the exulting father suffered his cold eye to wander to the face of the laughing boy, that the stern nature of the Teton seemed touched. But shaking off the grateful sentiment, like one who would gladly be rid of any painful, because reproachful, emotion, he laid his hand calmly on the arm of his wife, and led her directly in front of Inez. Pointing to the sweet countenance that was beaming on her own, with a look of tenderness and commiseration, he paused, to allow his wife to contemplate a loveliness, which was quite as excellent to her ingenuous mind as it had proved dangerous to the character of her faithless husband. When he thought abundant time had passed to make the contrast sufficiently striking, he suddenly raised a small mirror, that dangled at her breast, an ornament he had himself bestowed, in an hour of fondness, as a compliment to her beauty, and placed her own dark image in its place. Wrapping his robe again about him, the Teton motioned to the trapper to follow, and stalked haughtily from the lodge, muttering, as he went--
"Mahtoree is very wise! What nation has so great a chief as the Dahcotahs?"
Tachechana stood frozen into a statue of humility. Her mild and usually joyous countenance worked, as if the struggle within was about to dissolve the connection between her soul and that more material part, whose deformity was becoming so loathsome. Inez and Ellen were utterly ignorant of the nature of her interview with her husband, though the quick and sharpened wits of the latter led her to suspect a truth, to which the entire innocence of the former furnished no clue. They were both, however, about to tender those sympathies, which are so natural to, and so graceful in the sex, when their necessity seemed suddenly to cease. The convulsions in the features of the young Sioux disappeared, and her countenance became cold and rigid, like chiselled stone. A single expression of subdued anguish, which had made its impression on a brow that had rarely before contracted with sorrow, alone remained. It was never removed, in all the changes of seasons, fortunes, and years, which, in the vicissitudes of a suffering, female, savage life, she was subsequently doomed to endure. As in the case of a premature blight, let the plant quicken and revive as it may, the effects of that withering touch were always present.
Tachechana first stripped her person of every vestige of those rude but highly prized ornaments, which the liberality of her husband had been wont to lavish on her, and she tendered them meekly, and without a murmur. as an offering to the superiority of Inez. The bracelets were forced from her wrists, the complicated mazes of beads from her leggings, and the broad silver band from her brow. Then she paused, long and painfully. But it would seem, that the resolution, she had once adopted, was not to be conquered by the lingering emotions of any affection, however natural. The boy himself was next laid at the feet of her supposed rival, and well might the self-abased wife of the Teton believe that the burden of her sacrifice was now full.
While Inez and Ellen stood regarding these several strange movements with eyes of wonder, a low soft musical voice was heard saying in a language, that to them was unintelligible--
"A strange tongue will tell my boy the manner to become a man. He will hear sounds that are new, but he will learn them, and forget the voice of his mother. It is the will of the Wahcondah, and a Sioux girl should not complain. Speak to him softly, for his ears are very little; when he is big, your words may be louder. Let him not be a girl, for very sad is the life of a woman. Teach him to keep his eyes on the men. Show him how to strike them that do him wrong, and let him never forget to return blow for blow. When he goes to hunt, the flower of the Pale-faces," she concluded, using in bitterness the metaphor which had been supplied by the imagination of her truant husband, "will whisper softly in his ears that the skin of his mother was red, and that she was once the Fawn of the Dahcotahs."
Tachechana pressed a kiss on the lips of her son, and withdrew to the farther side of the lodge. Here she drew her light calico robe over her head, and took her seat, in token of humility, on the naked earth. All efforts, to attract her attention, were fruitless. She neither heard remonstrances, nor felt the touch. Once or twice her voice rose, in a sort of wailing song, from beneath her quivering mantle, but it never mounted into the wildness of savage music. In this manner she remained unseen for hours, while events were occurring without the lodge, which not only materially changed the complexion of her own fortunes, but left a lasting and deep impression on the future movements of the wandering Sioux.Next