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قراءة كتاب Wacousta : a tale of the Pontiac conspiracy — Volume 2

تنويه: تعرض هنا نبذة من اول ١٠ صفحات فقط من الكتاب الالكتروني، لقراءة الكتاب كاملا اضغط على الزر “اشتر الآن"

‏اللغة: English
Wacousta : a tale of the Pontiac conspiracy — Volume 2

Wacousta : a tale of the Pontiac conspiracy — Volume 2

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 9

Erskine had justly designated him, the noble-looking Ponteac trod the yielding planks that might in the next moment cut him off from his people for ever. The other chiefs, following the example of their leader, evinced the same easy fearlessness of demeanour, nor glanced once behind them to see if there was any thing to justify the apprehension of hidden danger.

The Ottawa was evidently mortified at not being received by the governor in person. "My father is not here!" he said fiercely to the major:—"how is this? The Ottawa and the other chiefs are kings of all their tribes. The head of one great people should be received only by the head of another great people!"

"Our father sits in the council-hall," returned the major. "He has taken his seat, that he may receive the warriors with becoming honour. But I am the second chief, and our father has sent me to receive them."

To the proud spirit of the Indian this explanation scarcely sufficed. For a moment he seemed to struggle, as if endeavouring to stifle his keen sense of an affront put upon him. At length he nodded his head haughtily and condescendingly, in token of assent; and gathering up his noble form, and swelling out his chest, as if with a view to strike terror as well as admiration into the hearts of those by whom he expected to be surrounded, stalked majestically forward at the head of his confederates.

An indifferent observer, or one ignorant of these people, would have been at fault; but those who understood the workings of an Indian's spirit could not have been deceived by the tranquil exterior of these men. The rapid, keen, and lively glance—the suppressed sneer of exultation—the half start of surprise—the low, guttural, and almost inaudible "Ugh!"—all these indicated the eagerness with which, at one sly but compendious view, they embraced the whole interior of a fort which it was of such vital importance to their future interests they should become possessed of, yet which they had so long and so unsuccessfully attempted to subdue. As they advanced into the square, they looked around, expecting to behold the full array of their enemies; but, to their astonishment, not a soldier was to be seen. A few women and children only, in whom curiosity had overcome a natural loathing and repugnance to the savages, were peeping from the windows of the block houses. Even at a moment like the present, the fierce instinct of these latter was not to be controlled. One of the children, terrified at the wild appearance of the warriors, screamed violently, and clung to the bosom of its mother for protection. Fired at the sound, a young chief raised his hand to his lips, and was about to peal forth his terrible war whoop in the very centre of the fort, when the eye of the Ottawa suddenly arrested him.


There were few forms of courtesy observed by the warriors towards the English officers on entering the council room. Ponteac, who had collected all his native haughtiness into one proud expression of look and figure, strode in without taking the slightest notice even of the governor. The other chiefs imitated his example, and all took their seats upon the matting in the order prescribed by their rank among the tribes, and their experience in council. The Ottawa chief sat at the near extremity of the room, and immediately facing the governor. A profound silence was observed for some minutes after the Indians had seated themselves, during which they proceeded to fill their pipes. The handle of that of the Ottawa chief was decorated with numerous feathers fancifully disposed.

"This is well," at length observed the governor. "It is long since the great chiefs of the nations have smoked the sweet grass in the council hall of the Saganaw. What have they to say, that their young men may have peace to hunt the beaver, and to leave the print of their mocassins in the country of the Buffalo?—What says the Ottawa chief?"

"The Ottawa chief is a great warrior," returned the other, haughtily; and again repudiating, in the indomitableness of his pride, the very views that a more artful policy had first led him to avow. "He has already said that, within a single moon, nine of the strong holds of the Saganaw have fallen into his hands, and that the scalps of the white men fill the tents of his warriors. If the red skins wish for peace, it is because they are sick with spilling the blood of their enemies. Does my father hear?"

"The Ottawa has been cunning, like the fox," calmly returned the governor. "He went with deceit upon his lips, and said to the great chiefs of the strong holds of the Saganaw,—'You have no more forts upon the lakes; they have all fallen before the red skins: they gave themselves into our hands; and we spared their lives, and sent them down to the great towns near the salt lake.' But this was false: the chiefs of the Saganaw, believing what was said to them, gave up their strong holds; but their lives were not spared, and the grass of the Canadas is yet moist with their blood. Does the Ottawa hear?"

Amazement and stupefaction sat for a moment on the features of the Indians. The fact was as had been stated; and yet, so completely had the several forts been cut off from all communication, it was deemed almost impossible one could have received tidings of the fate of the other, unless conveyed through the Indians themselves.

"The spies of the Saganaw have been very quick to escape the vigilance of the red skins," at length replied the Ottawa; "yet they have returned with a lie upon their lips. I swear by the Great Spirit, that nine of the strong holds of the Saganaw have been destroyed. How could the Ottawa go with deceit upon his lips, when his words were truth?"

"When the red skins said so to the warriors of the last forts they took, they said true; but when they went to the first, and said that all the rest had fallen, they used deceit. A great nation should overcome their enemies like warriors, and not seek to beguile them with their tongues under the edge of the scalping knife!"

"Why did the Saganaw come into the country of the red skins?" haughtily demanded the chief. "Why did they take our hunting grounds from us? Why have they strong places encircling the country of the Indians, like a belt of wampum round the waist of a warrior?"

"This is not true," rejoined the governor. "It was not the Saganaw, but the warriors of the pale flag, who first came and took away the hunting grounds, and built the strong places. The great father of the Saganaw had beaten the great father of the pale flag quite out of the Canadas, and he sent his young men to take their place and to make peace with the red skins, and to trade with them, and to call them brothers."

"The Saganaw was false," retorted the Indian. "When a chief of the Saganaw came for the first time with his warriors into the country of the Ottawas, the chief of the Ottawas stood in his path, and asked him why, and from whom, he came? That chief was a bold warrior, and his heart was open, and the Ottawa liked him; and when he said he came to be friendly with the red skins, the Ottawa believed him, and he shook him by the hand, and said to his young men, 'Touch not the life of a Saganaw; for their chief is the friend of the Ottawa chief, and his young men shall be the friends of the red warriors.' Look," he proceeded, marking his sense of the discovery by another of those ejaculatory "Ughs!" so expressive of surprise in an Indian, "at the right hand of my father I see a chief," pointing to Captain Erskine, "who came with those of the Saganaw who first entered the country of the Detroit;—ask that chief if what the Ottawa says is not true. When the Saganaw said he came only to remove the warriors of the pale flag, that he might be friendly and trade with the red skins, the Ottawa received the belt of wampum he offered, and smoked the pipe of peace with him, and he made his men bring bags of parched corn to his warriors who wanted food, and he