INDIAN LEGENDS OF MINNESOTA
MRS. CORDENIO A. SEVERANCE
"Then a darker, drearier vision Passed before me vague and cloudlike; I beheld our nation scattered, All forgetful of my council, Weakened, warring with each other: Saw the remnant of our people Sweeping westward, wild and woful, Like the cloud rack of a tempest, Like the withered leaves of Autumn!"
D. D. MERRILL COMPANY
NEW YORK AND SAINT PAUL
D. D. MERRILL CO.
MRS. FRANCIS B. CLARKE
MR. DELOS A. MONTFORT,
UNDER WHOSE INSPIRATION AND THROUGH WHOSE
ASSISTANCE THIS UNDERTAKING HAS BEEN
MADE POSSIBLE, THIS VOLUME IS
THE LONE WAR-PATH. Elaine Goodale Eastman, 9
FOND HEARTS OF THE FOREST, 22
THE PEACE-PIPE QUARRY. Adelaide George Bennett, 77
THE SONG OF HIAWATHA. Henry W. Longfellow, 86
HIAWATHA'S WOOING. Henry W. Longfellow, 91
THE RIVER-LAKE. E. L. Fales, 95
SONG OF A NADOWESSEE CHIEF. Sir E. L. Bulwer, 97
"MAHNUSATIA." Fannie L. Stone, 99
THE DESCENDING STAR. Ida Sexton Searls, 126
THE TRAILING ARBUTUS. Adelaide George Bennett, 132
NOPA. Ida Sexton Searls, 136
THE SEA-GULL, 139
SWEET WATER, 162
DEATH OF WINONA. H. L. Gordon, 171
THE LEGEND OF THE MOCCASIN FLOWER. Ida Sexton Searls, 175
In presenting to the public this volume the compiler wishes to disown any attempt at a complete collection of Indian legends; both her knowledge of archaeology, and the time allowed for the completion of the work are inadequate to such an achievement. She has attempted to gather the more noticeable legends already in verse in order to stimulate interest in the scenery and romance of her State. From its name—Minnesota—to its floral emblem—the moccasin flower—the State everywhere bears the impress of former occupation. About every lake, forest, and valley clings the aroma of romance in the form of name or legend of the vanished Red Man.
The indistinct memory of his loves, wars, and adventures is growing rapidly fainter, until even the story-teller himself is confused as to the relation between event and locality. It has therefore seemed wise to link indissolubly scene and incident, that the poetry of those who have here lived and loved may not be completely displaced by the prosaic commerce of the white man.
The compiler wishes also to express her thanks to the writers who have allowed their works to reappear in this volume: To Rev. E. D. Neill, D.D., for much valuable counsel, and to Houghton, Mifflin & Co., for permission to make extracts from Hiawatha.
* * * * *
The Lone War-Path.
A STORY OF SIOUX AND BLACKFOOT.
O'er a vast prairie stoops the sultry night; The moon in her broad kingdom wanders white; High hung in space, she swims the murky blue. Low lies yon village of the roaming Sioux— Its smoke-stained lodges, moving toward the west, By conquering Sleep invaded and possessed.
All there, save one, own his benign command; Their chief has lately left this little band, And up the glittering path of spirits fled; Thus his young widow, not a twelvemonth wed, In yonder solitary tent conceals The aching hope, the trembling pangs she feels.
How breathless is the night! None saw it rise— That black cloud stealing up the glassy skies— Till threatening murmurs, loud and louder grown, Burst from its swelling bosom, and the moon Slips into brief oblivion, while a glare As of far, flickering torches, seems to bear The challenge of the gods. Awake, awake! Make ready for the tempest, ere it break! Drive tent-pins deeper, stretch the covering tight— Hobble the ponies, scattering in affright Before the thunder-peals. When all is fast, Keep vigil, then, till the gods' wrath be past!
A sudden fury sweeps the somber plain, In dizzy slant descends the sheeted rain; Sharp lightnings rend in twain the sable gloom, While, cannon-like, the unchained thunders boom! On this wild tumult of the angry skies No ear discerns a woman's thrilling cries; Yet, ere its sullen echoes die away In caverns where the mocking spirits play, Faint, but rejoicing, on a couch of skins, A new-made mother lays her lusty twins!
The wise men of the tribe strange signs relate— This stormy birth portends a stormy fate— And since the warring heavens, that should affright, Called forth these daring boys on such a night, Their names must own the event that marked their birth— The elder, "As-he-walks-he-shakes-the-earth," The younger twin, "Coming-his-voice-is-heard"— Thus saith the oracle.
This mighty word Darkens the mother's heart with nameless dread, But casts no shadow on the unconscious head Of either sturdy twin. Their mutual play With joyous echoes fills the livelong day! From helpless infancy to boyhood grown, One brother never had been seen alone, Till sudden sorrow bowed the mother's pride— The elder sickened and untimely died.
The gossips point to him that's left alone— "He, too, will die, for half himself is gone!" At first, distraught he seemed—unlike a child; He ate not, slept not, neither spoke nor smiled. Then sought the forest—wandered there alone For days—his tender mother frantic grown— Till he returned to her, and smiling, said, "My spirit meets and talks with him that's dead!" Thenceforth he seemed as one who, hand-in-hand, Walks with a brother in the spirit land.
Among the Sioux, in those heroic days, When certain valor gained the meed of praise, The seasoned warrior, old and full of scars, Counted the hero of a hundred wars, Yet craving higher honor, went alone, On foot, to meet the enemy, and won (If he returned victorious), on that day A proud distinction.
Fancy her dismay,— The mother of a tender youth untried,— When he, the twin we know of, seeks her side And murmurs in her ear, who loves him so,— "Mother, my elder brother bids me go On a lone war-path." Knowing well 'twere vain To plead with him, her tears must fall like rain On 'broidered moccasins for those dear feet; His pouch, her choicest store of pounded meat Must fill before the dawn, which sends him forth On foot, alone, to pierce the savage north.
(DAKOTA WAR SONG.)
I hear them coming who made thee weep![A] Leap on thy father's steed And urge him to his utmost speed, And rush to meet the warlike host, And meet them first, who hurt thee most. Strike one among ten thousand, And make but one to bleed! So shall thy name be known, Through all the world be known, If one is made to bleed! Heh-eh-eh-eh! Heh!
Now to the journey gallantly addressed, (Still at his twin's mysterious behest), He kills a buck with branching horns, and takes The tongue and heart for food—then straightway makes A sacrifice to that stern deity— The thunder-god—who rules his destiny. On a fair, level spot, encompassed round With trees, he pins the carcass to the ground; Prays for success, his burning heart's desire,— Then sleeps beside the embers of his fire.
How wearisome, how long the painful days That follow, as he treads by unknown ways A mazy wilderness, where lurk unseen All perils challenging his eye-sight keen. Yet on—with tattered shoes and blistering feet— To find the savage foe he longs to meet! At last, to wearied eyes that search in vain, The far-off meeting-place of sky and plain, A fleck of dazzling whiteness doth appear. The youth exclaims, "My enemy is near!" Toward that white gleam his cautious steps are bent, Surely some roving Blackfoot's lonely tent.
Nearer and nearer creeps, with cat-like tread, The watchful Sioux. Above his lowered head The plumy grasses rear a swaying crest; His sinuous motion ripples the broad breast Of this ripe prairie, like a playful wind That leaves its shining, silver track behind.
A tent of skins—that piercing eye saw true— Wondrously white and beautifully new; In all the colors known to savage art, A life-size figure with a blood-red heart Guards the low door. But who shall more divine, Since not a thread of smoke, nor sound, nor sign Of human presence makes the story clear, Save yonder dappled ponies grazing near?
Crouched in deep grass the wily Indian lies, Ambitious that lone hunter to surprise— His gaze the wide horizon ranges low For the first glimpse of his returning foe; The painted lodge full many a glance doth win— Each moment may reveal who lurks within!
At last it moves—that swinging oval door— At last she steps upon the prairie floor, Shading her dark eyes from the dazzling ray— A dusky princess, lovelier than the day! No matron, to her hidden foeman's sight, Has ever seemed so radiantly bright. Her dress is rich, in style unlike the Sioux. (These belles in doe-skin have their fashions, too!)
On either shoulder lies a jetty braid; Her slender form, most delicately made, Her deep, black eyes and winsome features miss Naught of proportion. What a conquest this! To such an enemy who would not bow? Truly our warrior is a captive now! Vainly she gazes—turns and disappears, His beating heart our youthful hero hears! Rashly he thinks to follow and surprise This charming stranger—carry off the prize Before her lord's return. By impulse led, To the low door he stoops his stately head, Flings a last hurried glance to left and right, Then enters, and beholds this beauty bright Seated upon a pile of costly skins, Embroidering her hunter's moccasins! He stands abashed—she glances up to greet His hasty entrance with a smile so sweet, Then drops her lashes with such coquetry. Amazed, he thinks, "No mortal woman she, Who does not fear a stranger entering so! Rather some teasing fairy, or a doe In woman's form." Abruptly he exclaims "What are you—a Dakota?" As he names That warlike tribe, at last she starts, and shakes Her head; then with her slender fingers makes, Slowly, the signs all tribes of Indians know— "I do not speak your language."
"Is it so? Where is your husband?" asks our hero young, In this same silent, yet most graphic tongue. "I am the daughter of a Blackfoot chief, Whose home is three days' journey north. In brief, My brother is a hunter. I am here To keep his lodge, while he pursues the deer." "Then I will leave you," he replies, "and when Your brother comes, I shall return again!" Thus saying, takes his leave; but, ere he goes, One longing, lingering, backward glance he throws, Which tells the maid how straight her arrow sped To pierce the heart of him she else must dread.
(DAKOTA LOVE SONG.)
My heart is heavy—my heart is sore— I heard you were going away! I wept all night—I wept all day— I wept till I could weep no more When I heard you were going away Far, far away! O my heart! O my poor heart! Heh-eh-eh-eh! Ho-o-o!
Concealing in the grass his eagle plumes, The patient Sioux his lonely watch resumes. The reddening sun is low, when, far away, He sees a moving speck. With its last ray A handsome youth dismounts before the door. His sister, as the custom was of yore, Removes the body of the doe with speed, Unsaddles, waters, pickets out his steed, Leaving the wearied hunter to repose. A film of smoke, dissolving as it goes, Curls upward from the Blackfoot's lodge.
At last, The youthful pair have ended their repast, And reappear without, to taste the cool Of evening. All their sportive converse, full Of meaning gestures, doth right well supply Its story to their unseen watcher's eye, Who through the night his tireless vigil keeps, While, wrapt in dreams, the unconscious Blackfoot sleeps.
At earliest dawn, in the chill morning gray, Again the youthful hunter rides away; And, when the sun mounts half way up the sky, Her lover meets the Blackfoot maiden's eye. Archly she greets him—"Laggard! why so late? He whom you seek is gone—he could not wait!" "But you—you told him not," the youth replies, "Of my first visit!" In each other's eyes They look and laugh; and in that laughter free Dissolves the ancient, tribal enmity! The wooing of an Indian is but brief. He tells his tale, "My father was a chief— These eighteen years in yonder heaven he dwells." The maiden's heart with awe and wonder swells On hearing that mysterious name and birth Which mark him as a being scarce of earth. Then, too, his gallant height and handsome face, Equipment strange, and bearing full of grace Ensnare her fancy.
When the bold demand Comes from this hero for her heart and hand, In blush and smile her answer may be guessed; Yet, womanlike, she puts him to the test! "Ere I consent, you must return with me Unto my father's lodge. And first—but see This raw-hide trunk. I pray you, creep inside—" (All this by signs); "then you can safely hide! I dread my brother's anger, when he hears Our foeman asks me for a wife."
Such fears (Prettily figured, it may be), win with ease The youth's consent to any scheme you please; Danger, discomfort, ridicule—all three This gallant wooer scorns, and smilingly Consents to crowd his noble length of limb Within the narrow space allotted him.
Captive he lies, and, all defenseless, hears The brother's late return. His jealous ears Miss no least accent in the voice of each, Yet glean so little from their foreign speech That, spite of passion (knowing woman's art), A spasm of dread contracts the hero's heart. Suppose, while thus in helpless case he lay, The maid his place of hiding should betray! Clutching with iron grasp his trusty gun, Scarce breathing, he awaits the morrow's sun. Meanwhile, she prattles of adventures gay— Tells how a handsome stranger called that day, Describes his splendid dress,—the arms he bore, Such as no Blackfoot ever saw before; But not a word her cunning lips let fall Of love and courtship as the sum of all!
At daybreak forth again the hunter fares, But with his artful sister first prepares A fresh surprise. When scarcely out of sight, She hastens to relieve her captive knight; And while he gladly tastes the savory fare Which presently her willing hands prepare, Stretches his cramped limbs to the grateful sun, And drinks the favoring smiles so hardly won, A sudden shadow falls athwart his feet— At last the war-like Sioux and Blackfoot meet.
Surely the boy his sister's secret guessed, Since only kindness dwells within his breast Toward his ancestral foe. By friendly signs, Each comely youth the other's thought divines; Then suddenly exclaims the dauntless Sioux, "Listen, my friend! I must return with you To ask and win this maiden for my wife!" "Return with us! not if you prize your life—" The startled Blackfoot answers. "You must know That all our tribe regard you as a foe; My sister's suitors are as many now As yonder leaves that twinkle on the bough. Should a Dakota venture such a plea, Our jealous youth would slay him instantly!"
The youthful warrior merely smiles, and lays His hand upon his gun, as one who says "I can defend myself!" "Do you so prize This thing?" demands the other in surprise. "Set up a mark, and you shall shortly see What sort of weapon 'tis I bear with me!" "Take my white pony!" "No," his friend replies, "Set up a willow wand."
The bullet flies Straight to its mark, and cleaves the target quite, While youth and maiden, starting in affright, Believe some heavenly wight this deed hath done— Doubtless the thunder's veritable son! Convinced at last, the Blackfoot yields assent, And leads the stranger to his father's tent.
On the third evening, as the shadows fall, The hospitable chief receives them all In his great lodge, and listens to their tale Of the brave Sioux, whose weapon cannot fail, But, like the thunder, with mysterious roar, Strikes enemies unseen. Well pleased before With this fair stranger-youth's ingenuous face, He bids him welcome with a courtly grace, And on the morn proclaims to all his band This warrior shall receive his daughter's hand. The fiery Blackfeet, when this word they know, Dart glances of dire hatred at their foe; But, hold! the criers once again appear— "This foreign bridegroom hath a magic here! Weapon like his no Blackfoot ever saw! Bring forth a mark and then prepare with awe To witness its destruction!"
Scoffingly Each brave presents his finest horse, while he Accepts of one, and fires before them all. Ah, pity! see the noble creature fall! Hear its death-scream!
Some trembled, others fled, But all declared so fair a maid should wed No less a brave than this. All cavil ceased; And now began with joy the marriage feast.
One day you will remember me— One day—one day! You will at last remember me, And say, "I was so dear to her—so dear to her!" Yeh-eh-eh-eh—; You will remember me One day! Yeh-eh-eh-eh—!
When the young hero carried home his bride, He rode a pacing pony at her side; Twelve others followed—costly loads they bore, Rich robes and gifts—the Blackfoot maiden's dower. On a lone war-path finding such a fate, His triumph all the village celebrate; Peace is declared between the tribes; and soon— Before the waxing of another moon— Guns, knives and blankets, prized past all belief, Are sent as presents to the Blackfoot chief.
Such is the tale by Indian camp-fires told— The old, old story that grows never old!
ELAINE GOODALE EASTMAN.
[Footnote A: I. e., who slew thy father.]
Fond Hearts of the Forest.
A LEGEND OF FOUNTAIN CAVE, NEAR ST. PAUL.
The hazy gloaming gathers round, The silence mellows every sound, The gentle wind, through foliage nigh, Begins to breathe its plaintive sigh; While o'er the hill creeps silver light, Where calm and chaste the queen of night, Awaking from her daily trance, Doth charm all nature with her glance. Her virgin train sweeps down the glade, Kissing the cavern's mouth of shade; She smiles upon the singing brook, With sparkles filling every nook That lurks about its dimpled face, Giving its deepest shadows grace, And breathing on its grassy mane A gloss it ne'er can hope to gain Beneath the sun's more kingly ray. Weirdly the purling waters play In her embrace; then break away To vanish under bending boughs, But giving voice to gurgling vows
Of future tryst, of love again Where meet the river banks and glen. The moonlight vaults beyond the trees To gain the river side, and sees A dusky maiden sitting there, Who twines her lovely raven hair, And frequent lifts her melting eyes To where the flashing ripple flies Across the bosom of that glass Where dancing stars nocturnal pass. A princess of the wildwood she, And graceful as the deer that flee Till stricken by the light-winged shaft So deadly from the hunter's craft. The river sings beneath her feet; It finds an echo in the sweet And tender thought that throbs behind The starry curtains of her mind. And when the thrills that sweep her heart Now from her tongue in music start, The wavelets beating on the strand, The murmuring leaves by zephyrs fanned, The minor rhythms that wake the bowers Of this fair glen when evening lowers, And warbling birds' melodious throng, All mingle with her low love song. Her voice is all that's wild and sweet, And slow must be that warrior's feet Who would not speed with all his heart To see her red lips meet and part. Love moves her with his golden sway— A young and stalwart Chippewa Has gained her heart, and kindred ties And tribal feuds her love defies. What cares she that her people hate And his give back without abate? What cares she that he is not Sioux? If he but keep his promise true! She sings an old song, passion-laden By many a dead Dahkota maiden:
_O where is my lodge—my love? O where is the lord of my breast? Reveal me, Great Spirit above, The arms where my passion may rest!
Brave warriors are thick as the leaves That follow the wind in the fall; Each maiden may think she receives The smile of the noblest of all;
But I know a chief who can slay The panther and bear with his hand,— As warm and as proud as the day, And braver than all in his band.
In his sinewy arms I shall rest, And hear his voice call me "sweet dove!" O he is the lord of my breast! With him is my lodge and my love!_
She stops! She turns with sudden start, With troubled eyes and beating heart, To the frowning bluffs, where warlike cries And sound of savage revel rise. The warriors of her tribe are there, All dancing in the firelight glare. Their spears with reeking scalps are clad, Their thoughts are blood, their brains are mad; Each yelling brave now only knows Fierce hatred for his ancient foes. They boast of all their deeds of might, Of secret slaughter, deadly fight, And woe to him who comes to meet The lonely maid, Wenonah sweet, If they his paddle's dip shall hear Or after learn his presence near. When their wild revel, to her fright, Rose wilder with the fall of night, She stole away and gained this place To see again her lover's face. She gazes on the distant shore, But all is quiet as before. Again she sings, her flute-like tones So low that were the very stones On which she rests her feet possessed With sense to hear, what she confessed In tuneful cadence would be lost To them, for well she knows the cost For him who loves her, if her thought Be told aloud, and so there naught Breaks on the air but melody. If sung in words, her song would be:
My love is strong, my love is brave, His heart is warm and true; He soon will come across the wave And bear me in his light canoe, To be his queen and slave.
_To me he bowed his eagle plume, He tamed his eagle eye, And vowed his love would life consume If I refused with him to fly, His teepee to illume.
O come, my chief! I watch—I wait! I give up all for thee; If thou wilt have an alien mate, Wenonah longs that one to be, That she may share thy fate.
Come quickly, love, but make no sound, My people are thy foes, If thou shouldst here by them be found A warrior's death thy life would close, Thy soul be skyward bound.
What then would poor Wenonah do If she were left alone? She scarce would see the hand that slew Ere she would raise her death-chant tone, And with thee perish too!_
She scans the echoing cliff once more, Then turns to view the farther shore, And bending low she strives to hear Some sound to tell her he is near. O'er all there seems to fall a hush As tender as her cheek's warm blush. So firmly rooted to the spot— As if she had all things forgot— She looks like some wild, charm-bound elf, As lifeless as the moon itself. But no! the parted lip and eye Of flashing fire such thoughts belie, And well and eloquent avow The soul beneath that rigid brow. O virgin heart! O passion bright! That fills a glance with beauty's light. O Wenijishid, happy thou, Who surely will not tarry now! A moment thus—then up she springs, And now the song she softly sings Floats o'er the water from her lip To meet the constant, noiseless dip Of Wenijishid's paddle blade. How swift to greet the faithful maid He comes! She waits, 'tween joy and fear, While on he glides, each stroke more near. Love gives him more than wonted strength, And on the beach he leaps at length. With trembling joy, with artless grace, She springs into his glad embrace. Within her brave young hero's arms Forgot are all her past alarms. One rapturous kiss with quick impress,— His burning hands her locks caress,— And then they gaze, at love's sweet will, Eye into eye with answering thrill! "Wenonah, darling, since we met, Not once could I that smile forget Which told me (more than words could tell) The hopes that made this bosom swell Were fair in our great Spirit's sight. He, ere another moon's swift flight, Shall bid me take thee to my home And joy in thee, no more to roam." Her trustful voice is low and clear, And sweetest music in his ear: "No chief is braver, none more bold Than he whose neck my arms enfold. He dares the light the moonbeams make And danger courts for my poor sake. Hark! Wenijishid, hearest thou not Those yells of warning? Though this spot Rests now beneath a peaceful spell, How long 'twill so we cannot tell. Thy heart is big, and like a rock Will meet the blood-storm's awful shock; But I am weaker—and I fear For thee each moment thou art here. Behold how now the moonlight meets And with a kiss each ripple greets; Wenonah's heart, o'erflowed with bliss, Is wholly thine, and thine her kiss." The radiance mingled with the shade— The murmur low by night winds made— The rune, harmonious and complete, Of wavelets in their ceaseless beat— The fragrance given of sleeping flower— The brooding hush that fits the hour,— With this fair scene all these are met To make the scene more lovely yet. Wenonah's kiss would all confess, It gives to beauty holiness; The moments passing seem to be Endowed with all eternity, And in this lonely spot, love found Brings the whole universe in bound! But, hark! what sound the breezes bear Turning her gladness to despair? Wenonah trembles like a reed, With hunted look she turns to plead: "O Wenijishid, leave me, quick! For dangers gather round thee thick. We are discovered, and thy death May hang upon each wasted breath. Fly for thy life! Too late! too late! Together we must meet our fate." He smiles, and there with dauntless front Would meet the coming foemen's brunt; But she who will not leave his side Bears in her hand his warrior pride, And hopes of joyous life with her Are sweeter than the battle's stir. His war-whoop's taunt rings through the glen, While answering come the cries of ten. Wenonah clasps his brawny arm, And lest his love might come to harm He turns to where his birchen boat Seems chafing to be set afloat; And, ere their foes have gained the strand, The light canoe beneath his hand Leaps off before a foaming track. He flings a yell of triumph back, And grimly smiles as on he flies To hear their disappointed cries; Yet lest they may too soon pursue, He urges on the flight anew. He plies the paddle with a will, They skim the waves,—but swifter still A vengeful arrow cleaves the air, To sink between his shoulders bare. The shock is cruel, and the blade Falls from his hand; his powers all fade Like thought, and plunging on his face, Deathlike he lies. Now to his place Wenonah springs; with bloodless lip, With gleaming eye and nervous grip, She works the paddle with a force Of which but love could be the source. Beyond the range of bow, she flings The blade aside and fiercely brings Her wounded hero to her breast. Now sadly called, now wildly pressed, He breathes at last a feeble sigh, And, feeling sure he will not die, She labors strongly, full of hope And nerved with any fate to cope. She gains the shore, and stoutly bears Her chief through brush and wild beast lairs. All through the night she speeds her flight. To where his people's fires burn bright. When friendly, helping hands are found, And she has given him to their care, She sinks upon the leafy ground, Panting like a hunted hare. Her faithful powers have filled their task, Their sacred trust no more need ask, And now the goal is gained, they bind Oblivion's charm around her mind.
* * * * *
Young life is pliant, love will give A mighty motive still to live. And when he wakes, with deep surprise He meets the dark and glorious eyes Of dear Wenonah on him bent In passion's hope absorbed, content.
* * * * *
Since this took place it is not known How many changing moons have flown; Yet still, when Luna's rapiers bright Pierce through the tenuous robe of Night, And shining on the stilly shore Create again that scene of yore, Wenonah and her lover true Pass over in their white canoe; Their spirit forms unshadowed glide Across the rapid, glistening tide.
A LEGEND OF ST. ANTHONY FALLS.
'Tis autumn, and the breezes lift Their melancholy tones; 'Tis evening: through each passing rift The stars, like precious stones In lustrous beauty (clouded soon), Sweet incense to the sight, Attend their white-robed mistress moon, Queen of romantic night. Anon, as the cloud hosts fly Before the wind across the sky, The court of the queen is suddenly seen, With its pomp sublime and array Of sparkling and glittering sheen, More lovely than the light of day, More glorious than the twilight gleam That mingles with the sun's last beam Where the waves of ocean play.
By the river's bank a wandering band Have reared their teepee walls, Here where the warriors all may stand And view the mighty falls. The ivory moon is mounting high, The lodge fires flicker low, And slumbering forms are visible by The embers' last faint glow, When lightly steps a youthful brave Out from the forest ways Into the star-roofed nave, Out from the shadowing trees (Leaves fluttering slow in the slow night breeze) Into the broad, revealing rays, Into the silvery glow. With step as buoyant as the air He glides above the glistening sward; The largest, whitest teepee there Doth seem to center his regard, For there his unmarked path doth end, And there his burning glances send Their passionate lightnings, wild, yet all Made reverent by the spot on which they fall. This lodge doth tower Above the poles on every hand Like some strange chieftain o'er his band. Why comes he at this hour? Hath dark revenge a purpose here? Shall bloody strife appear On such a scene? Ah, no! the power That spurs him hath a softer spell; For here the tribe's most cherished flower, The daughter of the chief, doth dwell.
His deep, rich voice floats down the glade, In soft, unwonted tones Like gentle winds through pine-tree cones; He sings the Warrior's Serenade; While at the end of every strain— With more effect his cause to plead— He plays a wild and shrill refrain Upon a flute of rude-cut reed.
_Lonely warbling bird of night! Leave thy bough and perch above The silent, dewy folds of white That screen my sleeping love. Drink the moonlight rays that fall Pure and mellow, like the beams Of starry eyes beyond my call, Far in the land of dreams. Tell her I am brave and strong; Tell her I have loved her long; Singing softly, like a dove, Tell her all you know of love I cannot tell in song.
Tell her I am waiting here At the threshold of her bower; Winds are lifting far and near The sweets of every flower, All the stars are out in state, Music breathes in every stir, All of nature seems to wait For a glimpse of her. Tell her I am brave and strong; Tell her I have loved her long; Singing softly like a dove, Tell her all you know of love I cannot tell in song._
Is it the wind that swings apart The deerskin door from the lodge away? Is it a sudden leap of his heart That makes too vivid fancy play? Or is it a nut-brown arm that holds The trembling folds, And are those liquid eyes that shine Like diamonds fine? Sing on, sing on, bold youth, And hope shall lead thee to the truth!
She is lovelier than the sky, Sweeter than the freshest bud, I can no longer wait and sigh Here in the moonlight flood; All my heart is at her feet, All my strength at her behest; O sing, and bid her come to greet The one who loves her best! Tell her I am brave and strong; Tell her I have loved her long; Singing softly, like a dove, Tell her all you know of love I cannot tell in song.
His manly voice entreating calls As softly as the dewdrop falls. He ceases, and the night winds hush As if they too had waited long; The organ river's chanting rush Seems but an echo of his song. And shall he wait and plead in vain? Ah, no! love is not always pain; For see, the folds are drawn aside, And dimly there may be descried A shadowy form of shadowy grace, That halts while still in gloom arrayed, With eyes that light the tawny face And tresses darker than the shade.
O spell of song! O power and thrill Of love! O dream that sways The blood of youth, that feels no chill Till love betrays!
O hark! ye sprites that haunt this time,— This quiet moon-lit hour, When Cupid weaves, in every clime, His web of subtlest power,— O, can ye hear, and not rejoice, The music of a maiden's voice?
"Anpetusapa's glance would meet The night bird that can sing so sweet." With what a bounding stride he goes! With what a light his dark eye glows! With what a look he seeks to fire Those gentle eyes with his desire!
"O multiply what voice reveals; The bird can sing not half it feels! Too deep, too deep, to tell in words, And even too sweet for song of birds, Is passion like this heart of mine Doth feel for thine!"
She lightly steps into the light, She gently lifts her gentle eyes, She flies not, though her heart takes flight And soars without disguise.
"I know thee; thou art strong and tall, Thy fearless deeds are known to all. O may this eve be not more fair Than life to thee, is all my prayer."
His mighty sinews, sternly trained, Are now with manly grace restrained, And the fortunate touch of a fairy's wand Far ruder would seem than the touch of his hand; And the light of his eye like a streamlet doth flow Where passion and tenderness mingle and flash On the dancing ripples, whose murmuring low From his lips seem to dash A faithful, harmonious echo:
"Of happiness all my life will tell If thou in my lodge doth dwell. Oh! couldst thou but know The new, the glad, the tender glow That warms my heart, so fiercely brave When breasting battle's fiercest wave— Couldst thou but feel it pulse and bound Whene'er my ear is charmed to hear Thy gentle tongue's melodious sound— Couldst thou but see how these fond eyes Rejoice to look upon thy face When like a dream before them rise Thy matchless form and wondrous grace— How deeply, thirstily they drink Thy dew-bright eyes, whose flashing glance Doth like a luring firefly dance (Along an island's shadowy brink Where rippling waters, restless waters, Sing their low, unchanging song Upon the pebbles all night long). Thou art a flower whose smile hath made A sunbeam pierce the forest shade; Thou art a rose that fragrant grows To beautify the darksome glade And sweeten every breeze that blows. Anpetusapa! wilt thou give The promise that shall make me live As I have never lived before? I love thee, and the powers divine Shall teach thy heart to pulse with mine, And bless our union evermore While moons shall pass or starlight shine."
The guardian bosom of her lover Serves well her modest blush to cover; Her willowy arms about him twine As closely as the greenwood vine Doth hang upon the towering oak, That holds it safe from every stroke And proudly shelters the delicate form From all the buffets of the storm. The moon and every heavenly gem Now seem to shine alone for them.
O Time! why must thou speed away? For knowest thou not that present joy Bears no increase for such as they, For whom all change must bring alloy? And thou, young Love! canst thou not make A lonely Eden for their sake? 'Tis better that but two should find Gladness of heart and peace of mind, Than all the greater sum of life— With burning hearts that fates unbind And crowding thoughts that gender strife. But no, the gift of life is one Of strangest form, of blended tints And crossing lines, with mingled hints Of glory from an unseen sun; And shades that hourly darker grow For those who seek that sun to know;— And they must take the whole or none. So they must wake to memory Of other things, so they must be Reminded of the powers that hold Their future lives, to rule and mold.
"Anpetusapa need not name The glory of her father's fame; He is a mighty chief, and none Too quickly will he choose a son."
"O fear not, my blossom, For he shall not see The flower of his bosom Mismated with me. Where war-whoops are sounding Their blood-stirring call, There I shall go bounding The foremost of all. When foemen shall fly me And chiefs call me brave, He will not deny me The boon I shall crave."
"Yes, thou art brave for one so young; This voice of mine thy feats hath sung When from the war-path thou returned On which thy first renown was earned. If my poor love can make thy bliss, My service give the happier life, All hope shall dwell in one kind kiss For thine eternal-loving wife."
"O blessed promise! future bright! This feeble tongue of mine can never Reveal how dear thou art to-night, How cherished thou shalt be forever!"
* * * * *
The chief approved the suitor bold, And for rich goods his daughter sold. She thought not of the trade, but went To her young lord with true content, And while she dreamed of joy to come Her heart was full, her lips were dumb; And day by day her task was wrought, Each hour with self-denial fraught; His wants were met, his lodge was trim, Her patient thoughts were all for him. The powers divine did seem to bless The promise of his wild caress; And so the happy moons flew by, Till new refulgence filled her sky When there appeared a baby boy, Whose laugh o'erflowed her cup of joy; For this must prove, she could but feel, A bond between them strong as steel.
Alas, thou too confiding wife, What clouds were gathering o'er thy life! For vanity alone will stay With human nature to the last; Each happy day will slip away Into the valleys of the past, Returning but a ghostly thing When the spirit drinks at Memory's spring.
Why did he vow to cherish ever? Or why allow his heart to change? What maid was she who came to sever Thy love and thee? What magic strange Had she to work her strange endeavor? What mind shall solve the mystery Of loves that come and loves that flee? Why should Anpetusapa give Her heart's whole life, her richest treasure, To one whose boasted flame could live Through but a dozen moons' small measure; Whose passion was for selfish pleasure?
Yet so it was; another came Her heart to cloud, her place to claim. Her lodge became another's nest; The first wife, she was second now; 'Neath custom's yoke compelled to bow And see her rival fondly pressed. The death gloom settled on her brow, Day brought no sun, the night no rest. The beam of sadness lit her eye, And memories that could never die Until her body, void of breath, Became the precious spoil of Death. Morn after morn beheld her still Slow sinking, like a mountain rill Whose fountain-head, once bubbling bright, Hath dried away, and left the white And pulseless sand to mark where long Began the sparkle and the song.
One joy alone was left to bring The heart-swept thrill of other days, When to her baby she would sing Her lullaby of love and praise; And this, even this, renewed the thought Of joyous hopes that came to naught. Betrayed by faith, yet faithful to the last, She murmured not; but patiently she passed Each day in kindly service, given As if her heart were all unriven, Until at length heroic strength Could bear no more.
Upon the shore Of wild Messipi's plunging flood, Where they were camped so long before, They camped again; again their blood Marched to the music of its roar.
* * * * *
'Tis morning: every bird its matin sings And beats the air with throbbing wings, The air so sweet and quick; the glistening dew Hangs crystal beauty on all verdant things,— Each trembling drop reflecting true The overspread, unclouded blue; While from the east the cohorts of the sun With dazzling spears begin to strew The morning vapors, damp and dun, Whose melting ranks are closed anew To vanish where the rapid waters run.
Anpetusapa hides her woe Until her husband and her foe Have left the lodge and gone from sight. Then with a tearless eye and bright, She gazes madly round the place Where every comfort bears the trace Of wifely labor wrought with pain, Of woman's love that lives in vain. Here moccasins lie with bead-work gay; Here on the wall the breezes sway The music-breathing flute, Whose lips are dry and mute, While she who once inspired its tone Now sits despairing and alone. The very curls of smoke that rise And mingle with the morning skies, Are tokens of the duties done Beneath the red eye of the rising sun. Awhile she sits in cruel thought, Till, with her anguish overwrought, She flies to him who sweetly bears The image of her faithless god, And on each infant feature wears The smiling hopes on which he trod. Convulsively she clasps her child, Whose love, alone left undefiled, Is not enough to nerve her soul Beneath its crushing weight of dole.
She listens to the roaring water, Whose voice she heard in music grand When she was but the old chief's daughter, When love such wondrous fortunes planned; And ruthless phantoms of the past Across her mind are flitting fast, Each with a keen, envenomed dart That poisons brain and tortures heart. With breath too quick to lift a sigh, With marble firmness on her brow, With glassy wildness in her eye, She seeks the river's margin now. She springs into a birch canoe, All beaded with the morning dew, And clasping close her mother's pride, Soon gains the middle of the tide.
O hark! thou selfish one who gave Embrace more treacherous than the wave: Does not her song which mounts the air Reproach thee with its grand despair? Why dost thou hurry to the river? Why dost thou call, why dost thou shiver, While she whom thou hast driven away Is bold amidst the chilly spray? What good is all thy vain remorse? Thinkst thou from jaws of death to force A sacrifice so lightly thrust Upon the altar of thy lust? A host like thee could nothing urge To meet one tone of her sad dirge:
_My heart cannot live without loving; My heart cannot give up its own; No more will I linger with sorrow, But follow the joys that have flown; With Death I will rest me to-morrow On a kind, dreamless bed of stone.
I fear not the rush of the water, For me all its terrors are vain; It cannot bring less than gladness, For it banishes all my pain; I will sink with my burden of sadness And mix with the earth again.
My baby, my darling, my blossom, Nor anguish nor falsehood shall know; Together we cleave the wild billow— Unfaltering together we go To rest on the same rocky pillow, To slumber and mingle below._
Plunging on the sunlit stream, The frail canoe, with trembling leaps, Hurries toward the mists that gleam To veil the awful steeps. What need has she for any veil? Despairing eyes will never quail! See, now upon the glowing crest, Where clouds of spray beneath her lie, She clasps her boy upon her breast, She gazes on the cloudless sky, And in its blue depth seems to see Death, robed in peaceful purity; Then down into the boiling tomb That makes for her the happiest doom. How strange that peace should thus be found Amid such tumult-breathing sound! To leap from life and light, and find A darkness sweeter to the mind!
* * * * *
Long shall the mists of morning show The spirit of her who long ago Wrapped them round her wearily— A victim of love and treachery. Long shall her mournful death-song find An echo in the moaning wind; Long shall Dahkota legend bind That echo with the roaring falls, The ancient, foam-crowned, giant falls, Whose voice so oft hath given The welcome of its watery halls, That lead the soul, when the Great Spirit calls, To the hunting-grounds of heaven. And though a child of the forest dark Weary of life would here embark, As to a portal hither comes,— And yet who may not pass this way Into eternal joy and day,— The water hides and soon benumbs The sorrow, and the cadence deep Becomes a lullaby to hush The spirit to its endless sleep Beneath the surging rush, Beneath the shrouding spray, Where the tireless waters sweep To their wild, unpausing leap— Then fly to the South away! The flood is cold, but the heart is bold When the future that lives new sorrow gives; And within the chamber halls Of the grand and solemn falls May be found a sleep so sweet and deep That its darkness never palls, While ages pass with silent creep. Time hath no tooth to tear The heart whose pulse is dead, And sorrow may live in the air But not in the river-bed! I ween all peacefully there Is pillowed forever the head Of a woman whose heart was fair, Though her cheeks were dusky red.
Winona, first-born daughter, was the name Of a Dakota girl who, long ago, Dwelt with her people here unknown to fame. Sweet word, Winona, how my heart and lips Cling to that name (my mother's was the same Ere her form faded into death's eclipse), Cling lovingly, and loth to let it go. All arts that unto savage life belong She knew, made moccasins, and dressed the game. From crippling fashions free, her well-knit frame At fifteen summers was mature and strong. She pitched the tipi, dug the tipsin roots, Gathered wild rice and store of savage fruits. Fearless and self-reliant, she could go Across the prairie on a starless night; She speared the fish while in his wildest flight, And almost like a warrior drew the bow. Yet she was not all hardness: the keen glance, Lighting the darkness of her eyes, perchance Betrayed no softness, but her voice, that rose O'er the weird circle of the midnight dance, Through all the gamut ran of human woes,
Passion, and joy. A woman's love she had For ornament; on gala days was clad In garments of the softest doeskin fine, With shells about her neck; moccasins neat Were drawn, like gloves, upon her little feet, Adorned with scarlet quills of porcupine. Innocent of the niceties refined That to the toilet her pale sisters bind, Yet much the same beneath the outer rind, She was, though all unskilled in bookish lore, A sound, sweet woman to the very core.
Winona's uncle, and step-father too, Was all the father that she ever knew; By the Absarakas her own was slain Before her memory could his face retain. Two bitter years his widow mourned him dead, And then his elder brother she had wed. None loved Winona's uncle; he was stern And harsh in manner, cold and taciturn, And none might see, without a secret fear, Those thin lips ever curling to a sneer. And yet he was of note and influence Among the chieftains; true he rarely lent More than his presence in the council tent, And when he rose to speak disdained pretence Of arts rhetoric, but his few words went Straight and incisive to the question's core, And rarely was his counsel overborne. The Raven was the fitting name he bore; And though his winters well-nigh reached three-score, Few of his tribe excelled him in the chase. A warrior of renown, but never wore The dancing eagle plumes, and seemed to scorn The vanities and follies of his race.
I said the Raven was beloved by none; But no, among the elders there was one Who often sought him, and the two would walk Apart for hours, and converse alone. The gossips, marveling much what this might mean, Whispered that they at midnight had been seen Far from the village, wrapped in secret talk. They seemed in truth an ill-assorted brace, But Nature oft in Siamese bond unites, By some strange tie, the farthest opposites. Gray Cloud was oily, plausible, and vain, A conjurer with subtle scheming brain; Too corpulent and clumsy for the chase, His lodge was still provided with the best, And though sometimes but a half welcome guest, He took his dish and spoon to every feast.
Priestcraft and leechcraft were combined in him, Two trades occult upon which knaves have thriven, Almost since man from Paradise was driven; Padding with pompous phrases worn and old Their scanty esoteric science dim, And gravely selling, at their weight in gold, Placebos colored to their patients' whim. Man's noblest mission here too oft is made, In heathen as in Christian lands, a trade. Holy the task to comfort and console The tortured body and the sin-sick soul, But pain and sorrow, even prayer and creed, Are turned too oft to instruments of greed. The conjurer claimed to bear a mission high: Mysterious omens of the earth and sky He knew to read; his medicine could find In time of need the buffalo, and bind In sleep the senses of the enemy. Perhaps not wholly a deliberate cheat, And yet dissimulation and deceit Oozed from his form obese at every pore. Skilled by long practice in the priestly art, To chill with superstitious fear the heart, And versed in all the legendary lore, He knew each herb and root that healing bore; But lest his flock might grow as wise as he, Disguised their use with solemn mummery. When all the village wrapped in slumber lay, His midnight incantations often fell, His chant now weirdly rose, now sank away, As o'er some dying child he cast his spell. And sometimes through his frame strange tremors ran— Magnetic waves, swept from the unknown pole Linking the body to the wavering soul; And swifter came his breath, as if to fan The feeble life spark, and his finger tips Were to the brow of pain like angel lips. No wonder if in moments such as these He half believed in his own deities, And thought his sacred rattle could compel The swarming powers unseen to serve him well. The Raven lay one evening in his tent With his accustomed crony at his side; Around their heads a graceful aureole Of smoke curled upward from the scarlet bowl Of Gray Cloud's pipe with willow bark supplied. Winona's thrifty mother came and went, Her form with household cares and burdens bent, Fresh fuel adds, and stirs the boiling pot. Meanwhile the young Winona, half reclined, Plies her swift needle, that resource refined For woman's leisure, whatsoe'er her lot, The kingly palace or the savage cot.
The cronies smoked without a sign or word, Passing the pipe sedately to and fro; Only a distant wail of hopeless woe, A mother mourning for her child, was heard, And Gray Cloud moved, as though the sound had stirred Some dusty memory; still that bitter wail, Rachel's despairing cry without avail, That beats the brazen firmament in vain, Since the first mother wept o'er Abel slain. At length the conjurer's lips the silence broke, Softly at first as to himself he spoke, Till warmed by his own swarming fancies' brood He poured the strain almost in numbers rude.
THE COMBAT BETWEEN THE THUNDER-BIRDS AND THE WATER-DEMONS.
Gray Cloud shall not be as other men, Dull clods that move and breathe a day or two, Ere other clods shall bury them from view. Tempest and sky have been my home, and when I pass from earth I shall find welcome there. Sons of the Thunder-Bird my playmates were, Ages ago (the tallest oak to-day In all the land was but a grass blade then). Reared with such brethren, breathing such an air, My spirit grew as tall and bold as they; We tossed the ball and flushed the noble prey O'er happy plains from human footsteps far; And when our high chief's voice to arm for war Rang out in tones that rent the morning sky, None of the band exulted more than I.
A god might gaze and tremble at the sight Of our array that turned the day to night; With bow and shield and flame-tipped arrows all, Rushing together at our leader's call, Like storm clouds sweeping round a mountain height. The lofty cliffs our warlike muster saw, Hard by the village of great Wabashaw, Where through a lake the Mississippi flows; Far o'er the dwelling of our ancient foes, The hated Water-Demon and his sons, Cold, dark and deep the sluggish current runs.
Up from their caverns swarming, when they heard The rolling signal of the Thunder-Bird, The Water-Demon and his sons arose, And answered back the challenge of their foes. With horns tumultuous clashing like a herd Of warring elks that struggle for the does, They lashed the wave to clouds of spray and foam, Through which their forms uncouth, like buffaloes Seen dimly through a morning mist, did loom, Or isles at twilight rising from the shore.
Though we were thirty, they at least fourscore, We rushed upon them, and a midnight pall Over the seething lake our pinions spread, 'Neath which our gleaming arrows thickly sped, As shooting stars that in the rice-moon fall. Rent by our beating wings the cloud-waves swung In eddies round us, and our leader's roar Smote peal on peal, and from their bases flung The rocks that towered along the trembling shore.
A Thunder-Bird—alas, my chosen friend, But even so a warrior's life should end,— A Thunder-Bird was stricken; his bright beak, Cleaving the tumult like a lightning streak, Smote with a fiery hiss the watery plain; His upturned breast, where gleamed one fleck of red, His sable wings, one moment wide outspread, Blackened the whirlpool o'er his sinking head.
The Water-Demon's sons by scores were slain By our swift arrows falling like the rain; With yells of rage they sank beneath the wave That ran all redly now, but could not save. We asked not mercy, mercy never gave; Our flaming darts lit up the farthest cave, Fathoms below the reach of deepest line; Our cruel spears, taller than mountain pine, Mingled their life blood with the ruddy wave.
The combat ceased, the Thunder-Birds had won. The Water-Demon with one favorite son Fled from the carnage and escaped our wrath. The vapors, thinly curling from the shore, Faint musky odors to our nostrils bore. The air was stilled, the silence of the dead; The sun, just starting on his downward path, A rosy mantle o'er the prairie shed, Save where, like vultures, ominous and still, We clustered close, on sullen wings outspread; And sometimes, with a momentary chill, A giant shadow swept o'er plain and hill,— A Thunder-Bird careering overhead, Seeking the track by which the foe had fled.
While thus we hovered motionless, the sun Adown the west his punctual course had run, When lo, two shining points far up the stream That split the prairie with a silver seam,— The fleeing Water-Demon and his son; Like icicles they glittered in the beam Still struggling up from the horizon's rim. His sleeping anger kindled at the sight, Our leader's eyes glowed like a flaming brand. Thrilled by one impulse, all our sable band Dove through the gathering shadows of the night On wings outshaken for a headlong flight. Anger, revenge, but more than all the thirst, The glorious emulation to be first, Stung me like fire, and filled each quivering plume. With tenfold speed our sharp beaks cleft the gloom, A swarm of arrows singing to the mark, We hissed to pierce the foe ere yet 'twas dark.
Still up the stream the Water-Demons fled, Their bodies glowed like fox-fire far ahead; But every moment saw the distance close Between our thirsty spear-heads and our foes. Louder the blast our buzzing pinions made Than mighty forest in a whirlwind swayed; The giant cliffs of Redwing speeding back, Like specters melting from a cloudy wrack, Melted from view in our dissolving track. Kaposia's village, clustered on the shore, With sound of snapping poles and tipis riven, Vanished like swan's-down by a tempest driven. Stung by our flight, the keen air smote us sore As ragged hailstones; on, still on, we strained, And fast and faster on the chase we gained, But neck and neck the fierce pursuit remained, Till close ahead we saw the rocky walls O'er which the mighty river plunging falls, And at their base the Water-Demons lay: The panting chase at last had turned to bay. Then thrilled my nerves with more than mortal strength; A breath of Deity was in the burst That bore me out a goodly lance's length To meet the Water-Demon's son accurst. His evil horn clanged hollow on my shield Just as my spear transfixed him through and through; A moment towering o'er the foam he reeled, Then sank beneath the roaring falls from view. A dying yell that haunts me yet he gave, And as he fell the crippled water coiled About him like a wounded snake, and boiled, Lashing itself to madness o'er his grave.
We knew not where the parent Demon fled; None of our spears might pierce his ancient mail, Welded with skill demoniac scale on scale. Some watery realm he wanders, and 'tis said That he is changed and bears a brighter form, And goodly sons again about him swarm; And peace, 'tis but a hollow truce I know, Now reigns between him and his ancient foe. He hates me still, and fain would do me harm, But neither man nor demon dares offend, Who hath the cruel Thunder-Bird for friend.
Nature hath her elite in every land, Sealed by her signet, felt although unseen. Winona 'mid her fellows moved a queen, And scarce a youthful beau in all the band But sighed in secret longing for her hand. One only she distinguished o'er the rest, The latest aspirant for martial fame, Redstar, a youth whose coup-stick like his name (Till recently he had been plain Chaske) Was new, fresh plucked the feathers on his crest. Just what the feats on which he based his claim To warlike glory it were hard to say; He ne'er had seen more than one trivial fray, But bold assurance sometimes wins the day. Winona gave him generous credit, too, For all the gallant deeds he meant to do. His gay, barbaric dress, his lofty air Enmeshed her in a sweet bewildering snare. Transfigured by the light of her own passion, She saw Chaske in much the usual fashion Of fairer maids, who love, or think they do. 'Tis not the man they love, but what he seems; A bright Hyperion, moving stately through The rosy ether of exalted dreams. Alas! that love, the purest and most real, Clusters forever round some form ideal; And martial things have some strange necromancy To captivate romantic maiden fancy. The very word "Lieutenant" hath a charm, E'en coupled with a vulgar face and form, A shriveled heart and microscopic wit, Scarce for a coachman or a barber fit; His untried sword, his title, are to her Better than genius, wealth, or high renown; His uniform is sweeter than the gown Of an Episcopalian minister; And "dash," for swagger but a synonym, Is knightly grace and chivalry with him.
Unnoted young Winona's passion grew, Chaske alone the tender secret knew; And he, too selfish love like hers to know, Warmed by her presence to a transient glow, Her silent homage drank as 'twere his due. Winona asked no more though madly fond, Nor hardly dreamed as yet of closer bond; But chance, or Providence, or iron Fate (Call it what name you will), or soon or late, Bends to its purpose every human will, And brings to each its destined good or ill.
O'erlooking Minnetonka's shore, A grove enchanted lured of yore, Lured to their deepest woe and joy, A happy maiden and careless boy; Lured their feet to its inmost core, Where like snowy maidens the aspen trees Swayed and beckoned in the breeze, While the prairie grass, like rippling seas, Faintly murmuring lulling hymns, Rippled about their gleaming limbs.
There is no such charm in a garden-close, However fair its bower and rose, As a place where the wild and free rejoice. Nor doth the storied and ivied arch Woo the heart with half so sweet a voice As the bowering arms of the wild-wood larch, Where the clematis and wild woodbine Festoon the flowering eglantine; Where in every flower, shrub, and tree Is heard the hum of the honey-bee, And the linden blossoms are softly stirred, As the fanning wings of the humming-bird Scatter a perfume of pollen dust, That mounts to the kindling soul like must; Where the turtles each spring their loves renew— The old, old story, "coo-roo, coo-roo," Mingles with the wooing note That bubbles from the song-bird's throat; Where on waves of rosy light at play, Mingle a thousand airy minions, And drifting as on a golden bay, The butterfly with his petal pinions, From isle to isle of his fair dominions Floats with the languid tides away; Where the squirrel and rabbit shyly mate, And none so timid but finds her fate; The meek hen-robin upon the nest Thrills to her lover's flaming breast. Youth, Love, and Life, 'mid scenes like this, Go to the same sweet tune of bliss; E'en the flaming flowers of passion seem Pure as the lily buds that dream On the bosom of a mountain stream.
Such was the grove that lured of yore, Overlooking Minnetonka's shore, Lured to their deepest woe and joy A happy maiden and careless boy,— Lured their feet to its inmost core; Where still mysterious shadows slept, While the plenilune from her path above With liquid amber bathed the grove, That through the tree-tops trickling crept, And every tender alley swept. The happy maiden and careless boy, Caught for a moment their deepest joy, And the iris hues of Youth and Love, A tender glamour about them wove; But the trembling shadows the aspens cast From the maiden's spirit never passed; And the nectar was poisoned that thrilled and filled, From every treacherous leaf distilled, Her veins that night with a strange alloy.
Swift came the hour that maid and boy must part; A glow unwonted, tinged with dusky red Winona's conscious face as home she sped; And to the song exultant in her heart, Beat her light moccasins with rhythmic tread. But at the summit of a little hill, Along whose base the village lay outspread, A sudden sense of some impending ill Smote the sweet fever in her veins with chill. The lake she skirted, on whose mailed breast Rode like a shield the moon from out the west, She neared her lodge, but there her quick eye caught The voice of Gray Cloud, and her steps were stayed, For over her of late an icy fear Brooded with vulture wings when he was near.
She knew not why, her eye he never sought, Nor deigned to speak, and yet she felt dismayed At thought of him, as the mimosa's leaf Before the fingers touch it shrinks with dread. She paused a moment, then with furtive tread Close to the tipi glided like a thief; With lips apart, and eager bended head, She listened there to what the conjurer said.
His voice, low, musical, recounted o'er Strange tales of days when other forms he wore: How, far above the highest airy plain Where soars and sings the weird, fantastic crane, Wafted like thistle-down he strayed at will, With power almost supreme for good or ill, Over all lands and nations near and far, Beyond the seas, or 'neath the northern star, And long had pondered where were best to dwell When he should deign a human shape to wear. "Whether to be of them that buy and sell, With fish-scale eyes, and yellow corn-silk hair, Or with the stone-men chase the giant game. But wander where you may, no land can claim A sky so fair as ours; the sun each day Circles the earth with glaring eye, but sees No lakes or plains so beautiful as these; Nor e'er hath trod or shall upon the earth A race like ours of true Dakota birth. Our chiefs and sages, who so wise as they To counsel or to lead in peace or war, And heal the sick by deep mysterious law. Our beauteous warriors, lithe of limb and strong, Fierce to avenge their own and others' wrong, What gasping terror smites their battle song When, night-birds gathering near the dawn of day, Or wolves in chorus ravening for the prey, They burst upon the sleeping Chippeway; Their women wail whose hated fingers dare To reap the harvest of our midnight hair; Swifter than eagles, as a panther fleet, A hungry panther seeking for his meat, So swift and noiseless their avenging feet.
* * * * *
Dakota matrons truest are and best, Dakota maidens too are loveliest."
He ceased, and soon, departing through the night, She watched his burly form till out of sight. And then the Raven spoke in whispers low: "Gray Cloud demands our daughter's hand, and she Unto his tipi very soon must go." Winona's mother sought to make reply, But something checked her in his tone or eye. Again the Raven spoke, imperiously: "Winona is of proper age to wed; Her suitor suits me, let no more be said."
Winona heard no more; a rising wave Of mingled indignation, fear, and shame Like a resistless tempest shook her frame, The earth swam round her, and her senses reeled; Better for her a thousand times the grave Than life in Gray Cloud's tent, but what could she Against the stern, implacable decree Of one whose will was never known to yield?
Winona fled, scarce knowing where or how; Fled like a phantom through the moonlight cool, Until she stood upon the rocky brow That overlooked a deep sequestered pool, Where slumbering in a grove-encircled bay Lake Minnetonka's purest waters lay. Unto the brink she rushed, but faltered there— Life to the young is sweet; in vain her eye Swept for a moment grove and wave and sky With mute appeal. But see, two white swans fair Gleamed from the shadows that o'erhung the shore, Like moons emerging from a sable screen; Swimming abreast, what haughty king and queen, With arching necks their regal course they bore. Winona marveled at the unwonted sight Of white swans swimming there at dead of night, Her frenzy half beguiling with the scene. Unearthly heralds sure, for in their wake What ruddy furrows seamed the placid lake. Almost beneath her feet they came, so near She might have tossed a pebble on their backs, When lo, their long necks pierced the waters clear, As down they dove, two shafts of purest light, And chasing fast on their descending tracks, A swarm of spirals luminous and white, Swirled to the gloom of nether depths from sight.
Then all was still for some few moments' space, So smooth the pool, so vanished every trace, It seemed that surely the fantastic pair Had been but snowy phantoms passing there. Winona hardly hoped to see them rise, But while she gazed with half-expectant eyes, The waters strangely quivered in a place About the bigness of a tipi's space, Where weirdly lighting up the hollow wave Beat a deep-glowing heart, whose pulsing ray Now faded to a rosy flush away, Now filled with fiery glare the farthest cave. A shapeless bulk arose, then, taking form, Bloomed forth upon the bosom of the lake A crystal rose, or hillock mammiform, And round its base the curling foam did break As round a sunny islet in a storm; And on it poised a swiftly changing form, With filmy mantle falling musical, And colors of the floating bubble's ball, Fair and elusive as the sprites that play, Bright children of the sun-illumined spray, 'Mid rainbows of a mountain waterfall. Then mingling with the falling waters came In whispers sibilant Winona's name; So indistinct and low that voice intense, That she, half frightened, cowering in the grass In much bewilderment at what did pass, Till thrice repeated noted not its sense.
She rose, and on the very brink defined, Against the sky in silhouette outlined, Erect before the Water-Demon stood. Again those accents weird her wonder stirred, And this is what the listening maiden heard: "Thy fate, Winona, hangs on thine own choice To scorn or heed the Water-Demon's voice. Gone are thy pleasant days of maidenhood, And evil hours draw nigh, but knowest thou not, That what thou fleest is the common lot Of all thy sisters? Thou must be the bride Of one thou lovest not, must toil for him, Watch for his coming, and endure his whim; Must share his tent, and lying at his side Weep for another till thine eyes grow dim. And he, so fondly loved, will pass thee by Indifferent with cold averted eye; E'en he, whose wanton hands and hated arms Have crushed the fair flower of thy maidenhood, Will weary of thy swiftly-fading charms, And seek another when thy beauty wanes. Aha, thou shudderest; in thy tense veins, Fierce and rebellious, leaps the mingling blood Of countless warriors, high of soul and brave; And would'st thou quench their spirit 'neath the wave? Is Gray Cloud's life more dear to thee than thine? The village sleeps, unguarded is his tent, Thy knife is keen, and unto thee is lent A spell to-night of potency malign. Cradled in blissful dreams alone he lies, And he shall stray so deep in sleep's dominions, He would not waken though the rushing pinions Of his own Thunder-Bird should shake the sky. All freedom-loving spirits are with thee, Strike hard and fear not as thou would'st be free; Lest thine own hatred prove too weak a charm, The Water-Demon's hate shall nerve thine arm."
The Water-Demon sank and disappeared, And faint and fainter fell those accents weird, Until the air was silent as the grave, Still as December's crystal seal the wave. Homeward again Winona took her way. How changed in one short hour! no longer now The song-birds singing at her heart, but there A thousand gnashing furies made their lair, And urged her on; her nearest pathway lay Over a little hill, and on its brow A group of trees, whereof each blackened bough Bore up to heaven as if in protest mute Its clustering load of ghastly charnel fruit, The swaddled forms of all the village dead— Maid, lusty warrior, and toothless hag, The infant and the conjurer with his bag, Peacefully rotting in their airy bed. As on a battle plain she saw them lie, Fouling the fairness of the moonlit sky; And heavily there flapped above her head, Some floating drapery or tress of hair, Loading with pestilential breath the air That fanned her temples, or the reeking wing Of unclean bird obscenely hovering; And something crossed her path that halting nigh, At the intruder glared with evil eye,— She hardly heeded passing swiftly by.
Leaving behind that hideous umbrage fast, What wraith escaping from its tenement, Winona through the sleeping village passed, And pausing not, to Gray Cloud's tipi went, Laid back the door, and with a stealthy tread, Entered and softly crouched beside his head. Her gaze that seemed to pierce his inmost thought, Keen as the ready knife her hand had sought, And through the open door the slant moonbeams Smiting the sleeper's face awaked him not. He vaguely muttered in his wandering dreams Of "medicine," and of the Thunder-Bird. As if to go, her knife she half returned; Whether her woman's heart with pity stirred, Or superstitious awe, she slightly turned, But gazing still, over his features came The semblance of a smile, and his arms moved, Clasping in rosy dreams some form beloved, And his lips moved, and though no sound she heard, She thought they shaped her name, and a red flame Leaped to her brain, and through her vision passed; A raging demon seized and filled her frame, And like a lightning flash leaped forth her knife: That cold keen heart-pang is his last of life; The Water-Demon is avenged at last.
She struck but once, no need hath lightning stroke For second blow to rend the heart of oak, Nor waited there to see how Gray Cloud died; Her fury all in that fierce outburst spent, As from a charnel cave she fled the tent; The wolfish dog suspiciously outside Sniffed at her moccasins but let her pass. Her tipi soon she reached, distant no more Than arrow from a warrior's bowstring sent, Paused but to wipe her knife upon the grass, And found her usual couch upon the floor. But not to sleep; she closed her eyes in vain, Shutting away the moonlight from her view; Darkness and moonlight wore the same dread hue, Flooding the universe with crimson stain. She clasped her bosom with her hands to still The throbbing of her heart that seemed to fill With tell-tale echoes all the air; an owl The secret with unearthly shrieks confessed, And Gray Cloud's dog sent forth a doleful howl At intervals; but worse than all the rest, That dreadful drum still beating in her breast, As furious war-drums in the scalp-dance beat To the mad circling of delirious feet.
Early next morning, as the first faint rays Of sunlight through the rustling lindens played, Two children sent to seek the conjurer's aid, Gazed on the sight, with horror and amaze, Of Gray Cloud's lifeless body rolled in blood. Fast through the village spread the news, and stirred With mingled fear and wonder all who heard. The oracles were baffled and dismayed, And spoke with muffled tones and looks of dread: "Some envious foeman lurking in the wood, With medicine more strong than his," they said, "Stole in last night and gave the fatal wound." The warriors scoured the country miles around, Seeking for sign or trail, but naught they found: The murderer left behind no clue or trace More than a vampire's flight through darkling space.
The Raven with a stoic calmness heard Of Gray Cloud's death, nor showed by look or word The wrath that to its depth his being stirred. Winona heard the news with false surprise, As if just roused from sleep she rubbed her eyes; When she arose her knees like aspens shook, But this she quelled and forced a tranquil look To feign the calmness that her soul forsook. And when the mourning wail rose on the air, Winona's voice was heard commingling there. She gathered with the other maidens where, On a rude bier, the conjurer's body lay Adorned and decked in funeral array. She flung a handful of her sable hair, And wept such tears above the painted clay As weeps a youthful widow, only heir, Over the coffin of a millionaire.
Moons waxed to fullness and to sickles waned. The gossips still conversed with bated breath. The appalling mystery of Gray Cloud's death, Wrapped in impenetrable gloom, remained A blighting shadow o'er the village spread. But youthful spirits are invincible, Nor fear nor superstition long can quell The bubbling flow of that perennial well; And so the youths and maidens soon regained The wonted gayety that late had fled. All save Winona, in whose face and mien, Unto the careless eye, no change was seen; But one that noted might sometimes espy A furtive fear that shot across her eye, As in a forest, 'thwart some bit of blue, Darts a rare bird that shuns the hunter's view. Her laugh, though gay, a subtle change confessed, And in her attitude a vague unrest Betrayed a world of feelings unexprest. A shade less light her footsteps in the dance, And sometimes now the Raven's curious glance Her soul with terrors new and strange oppressed.
Grief shared is lighter, none had she to share Burdens that grew almost too great to bear, For Redstar sometimes seemed to look askance, And sought, they said, to win another breast. Winona feigned to laugh, but in her heart The rumor rankled like a poisoned dart. Sometimes she almost thought the Raven guessed The guilty secrets that her thoughts oppressed, And sought, whene'er she could, to shun his sight. Apart from human kind, still more and more, The Raven dwelt, and human speech forbore. And once upon a wild tempestuous night, When all the demons of the earth and air Like raging furies were embattled there, She, peering fearfully, amid the swarm Flitting athwart the flashes of the storm, By fitful gleams beheld the Raven's form. To her he spoke not since the fateful night His chosen comrade passed from human sight, Save only once, forgetting he was by And half forgetting too her care and woes, Unto her lips some idle jest arose. "Winona," said the Raven, in a tone Of stern reproof that on the instant froze All thought of mirth, and when she met his eye, As by a serpent's charm it fixed her own; The hate and anger of a soul intense Were all compressed in that remorseless glance, The coldly cruel meaning of whose sense Smote down the shield of her false innocence. She strove to wrest her eye from his in vain, Held by that gaze ophidian like a bird, As in a trance she neither breathed nor stirred. And gazing thus an icy little lance, Smaller than quill from wing of humming-bird, Shot from his eyes, and a keen stinging pain Sped through the open windows of her brain. Her senses failed, she sank upon the ground, And darkness veiled her eyes; she never knew How long this was, but when she slowly grew Back from death's counterfeit, and looked around, So little change was there, that it might seem The scene had been but a disordered dream. The Raven sat in his accustomed place, Smoking his solitary pipe; his face, A gloomy mask that none might penetrate, Betrayed no sign of anger, grief, or hate; Absorbed so deep in thoughts that none might share, He noted not Winona's presence there; From his disdainful lips the thin blue smoke From time to time in little spirals broke, Floating like languid sneers upon the air, And settling round him in a veil of blue So sinister to her disordered view, That she arose and quickly stole away. She shunned him more than ever from that day, And never more unmoved could she behold That countenance inscrutable and cold.
But Hope and Love, like Indian summer's glow, Gilding the prairies ere December's snow, Lit with a transient beam Winona's eye. The season for the Maidens' Dance drew nigh, And Redstar vowed, whatever might betide, To claim her on the morrow as his bride. What now to her was all the world beside? The evil omens darkening all her sky, Malicious sneers, her rival's envious eye, While her false lover lingered at her side, All passed like thistle-down unheeded by. The evening for the dance arrived at last; An ancient crier through the village passed, And summoned all the maidens to repair To the appointed place, a greensward where, Since last year unprofaned by human feet, Rustled the prairie grass and flowers sweet. None but the true and pure might enter there— Maidens whose souls unspotted had been kept. At set of sun the circle there was formed, And thitherward the happy maidens swarmed. The people gathered round to view the scene: Old men in broidered robes that trailing swept, And youths in all their finery arrayed, Dotting like tropic birds the prairie green, Their rival graces to the throng displayed. Winona came the last, but as she stept Into the mystic ring one word, "Beware!" Rang out in such a tone of high command That all was still, and every look was turned To where the Raven stood; his stern eye burned, And like a flower beneath that withering glare She faded fast. No need that heavy hand To lead Winona from the joyous band; No need those shameful words that stained the air: "Let not the sacred circle be defiled By one who, all too easily beguiled, Beneath her bosom bears a warrior's child."
Winona swiftly fleeing, as she passed, One look upon her shrinking lover cast That seared his coward heart for many a day, Into the deepest woods she took her way. The dance was soon resumed, and as she fled, Like hollow laughter chasing overhead, Pursued the music and the maidens' song. Just as she passed from sight an angry eye Glared for a moment from the western sky, And flung one quivering shaft of dazzling white, With tenfold thunder-peal, adown the night. Her mother followed her, and sought her long, Calling and listening through the falling dew, While fast and furious still the cadence grew Of the gay dance, whose distant music fell, Smiting the mother like a funeral knell. High rode the sun in heaven next day before The stricken mother found along the shore The object of her unremitting quest. The cooling wave whereon she lay at rest Had stilled the tumult of Winona's breast Along that shapely ruin's plastic grace, And in the parting of her braided hair, The hopeless mother's glances searching there The Thunder-Bird's mysterious mark might trace.
So died Winona, and let all beware, For vengeance follows fast and will not spare, Nor maid, nor warrior that dares offend Who hath the cruel Thunder-Bird for friend.
THE PEACE-PIPE QUARRY
Outward swell the rolling prairies like the waves of ocean deep; Higher rise the crested billows rolling upward as they sweep From horizon to horizon, and the air grows pure and free, "On the mountains of the prairie," on the wind-swept emerald sea.
As in olden time the zealots who would build unto their God, Sacred temples for his worship, chose a "high place," and the sod Of the consecrated mountain was made holy by the rites Of footsore and weary pilgrims who had sought the sacred heights, So instinctively the red-men, roaming o'er the boundless main, Looked for their Manitou above the low level of the plain; Sought and found him on the summit of the green wave's swelling crest Rising upward like a mountain, in the valley of the West.
Not to him they founded temples, gilded fanes and altars fair; Looking up, they saw already Manitou enthroned there In the fastness of the mountain, with his sphynx-like, stony face Watching like a guardian spirit, o'er the dusky lawless race Who regarded not each other, and their deadly hatred slaked In the blood of friends and foemen, when their slumbering ire was waked.
"Gitche Manitou, the Mighty," the Great Spirit throned above, Was a God of truth and wisdom, was a God of peace and love; And as God upon Mount Sinai, stooping from his heavenly throne, Gave the law unto his people, deeply graven into stone, "Gitche Manitou, the Mighty," in compassion for the race Of unlettered, untaught heathen who knew not his god-like face Save they saw it in the tempest or the lightning's livid glare, Or in some familiar emblem they could see, or feel, or wear, Taught them peace and love to kindred, through an emblem formed of stone, Fashioned in the well-known outlines of a thing they called their own. In the caverns of his store-house, deeply sunken in the ground, Lay the mystical red pipe-stone, never yet by sachem found. With his strong right hand almighty, rent he now the ground in twain, Broke the red stone of the quarry, and, resounding o'er the plain, Came this message to the warriors:—"Let this be to you a sign: Make you calumets of pipe-stone, pledge you peace and love divine, By the smoking of this signet. Let it pass from hand to hand. Cease you from your wars and wrangling, and be brothers in the land."
The Great Spirit's words were heeded, and the calumet, the pipe Which they often smoked together in their councils, was the type Of good-will and peace thereafter, and upon the quarry's site, Hostile tribes and tongues and races meeting, never meet to fight.
Many legends and traditions cluster round this sacred spot; Many histories and records deep with hidden meaning fraught, Have been chiseled on the ledges at the ancient bowlders' base, Who, like strangers in the valley, drifted to a resting place.
Here, ere Manitou had given to the tribes the pipe of peace, Saw he mighty war and bloodshed, saw the tribes of men decrease, Until fleeing from destruction, come three maidens to the rocks— The last remnant of all women, hiding from the fearful shocks Of the deadly fight and carnage which was raging through the air, Driven to these three large bowlders, as a refuge in despair. Now in memory of the conflict and the part the bowlders bore, They are named in weird tradition, "The Three Maidens," evermore.
Here the thunder-bird portentous, Wakan, terrible in might, Made his home in awful grandeur on the cliff's mysterious height. Here the flapping of his pinions brought the fierce, hot lightning's glare, Glazing all the fissured surface like enamel smooth and fair; Melting all the red rock's substance till a foot-print of the bird, Plastic then, took form and hardened for a witness of the word.
Northward, just beyond the quarry, stands the famous "Leaping Rock," With its proud head reared to heaven, with an air that seems to mock And to set at stern defiance, boastful braves who seek for fame, And from agile feats to gather for themselves an envied name. Hither came to try his daring, with brave heart to valor nerved, Hopefully a young Sioux chieftain, never from his purpose swerved, Came in all his youthful vigor, with his band of stalwart braves, From the land of the Dakotas; zealously his spirit craves To lead them all in bravery as he oft before has led, And the plumes of the war eagle proudly waving on his head, To wear in boastful triumph on the far-famed treacherous height, And in his tribe's traditions, thus his envied name to write.
Fearlessly he stands a moment on the overhanging edge Of the nearest cliff's high summit, eyes the small and slippery ledge Just beyond the yawning chasm which his daring feet must leap; Stands there bold and free and fearless, taking inward at a sweep All the fearful odds and chances, the deep chasm he must cross— Calculates with hope of winning, never with a fear of loss. High above him arch the heavens; deep below him yawns the gulf; In his ears the cataract thunders, and before him stands the rough, Towering rock with air defiant, standing mocking, beckoning there. With a fixed resolve and purpose, he leaps upward in the air— Leaps, but not as he had counted, for his feet touch not the goal, But his body plunges downward, and the young Sioux warrior's soul, Rising upward through the ether, seeks the happy hunting ground Just as anxious friends and kindred gather hastily around, Dropping tears unto his memory and with slow and measured tread, Bear away the bold young chieftain, to the mansions of the dead. Fear the falls of Winnewissa sweetly wooing to repose With its murmurous plash of waters perfume-laden of the rose, 'Neath the soil which once his kindred claimed and lived in until we Rising eastward like a storm-cloud, swept the land from sea to sea. Sleepeth well the brave young warrior in this legend-hallowed ground, The long sleep that knows no waking till the common trump shall sound. Still the Indian camp-fires glimmer round the sacred quarry's edge, And the calumet, the peace-pipe, is to them a friendly pledge: And the doubting pale-face dwelling near the blood-red mystic stone, Feels around him peace and safety like Elijah's mantle thrown.
Long may Manitou, the mighty, the Great Spirit throned above, Smile upon his helpless children, fill their lives with peace and love; And at last, in the great council, at the bidding of his voice, May they meet to smoke the peace-pipe with the people of his choice.
The Song of Hiawatha.
On the Mountains of the Prairie, On the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry, Gitche Manito, the mighty, He the Master of Life, descending, On the red crags of the quarry Stood erect, and called the nations, Called the tribes of men together. From his footprints flowed a river, Leaped into the light of morning, O'er the precipice plunging downward Gleamed like Ishkoodah, the comet. And the Spirit, stooping earthward, With his finger on the meadow Traced a winding pathway for it, Saying to it, "Run in this way!" From the red stone of the quarry With his hand he broke a fragment, Molded it into a pipe-head, Shaped and fashioned it with figures; From the margin of the river Took a long reed for a pipe-stem, With its dark green leaves upon it; Filled the pipe with bark of willow, With the bark of the red willow; Breathed upon the neighboring forest, Made its great boughs chafe together, Till in flame they burst and kindled; And erect upon the mountains, Gitche Manito, the mighty, Smoked the calumet, the Peace-Pipe, As a signal to the nations. And the smoke rose slowly, slowly, Through the tranquil air of morning, First a single line of darkness, Then a denser, bluer vapor, Then a snow-white cloud unfolding, Like the tree-tops of the forest, Ever rising, rising, rising, Till it touched the top of heaven, Till it broke against the heaven, And rolled outward all around it. From the Vale of Tawasentha, From the Valley of Wyoming, From the groves of Tuscaloosa, From the far-off Rocky Mountains, From the Northern lakes and rivers All the tribes beheld the signal, Saw the distant smoke ascending, The Pukwana of the Peace-Pipe. And the Prophets of the nations Said: "Behold it, the Pukwana! By this signal from afar off, Bending like a wand of willow, Waving like a hand that beckons, Gitche Manito, the mighty, Calls the tribes of men together, Calls the warriors to his council!"
By the shores of Gitche Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water, Stood the wigwam of Nokomis, Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis Dark behind it rose the forest, Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees, Rose the firs with cones upon them; Bright before it beat the water, Beat the clear and sunny water, Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water. There the wrinkled, old Nokomis Nursed the little Hiawatha, Rocked him in his linden cradle, Bedded soft in moss and rushes, Safely bound with reindeer sinews; Stilled his fretful wail by saying, "Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!" Lulled him into slumber, singing, "Ewa-yea! my little owlet! Who is this, that lights the wigwam? With his great eyes lights the wigwam? Ewa-yea! my little owlet!"
At the doorway of his wigwam Sat the ancient Arrow-maker, In the land of the Dacotas, Making arrow-heads of jasper, Arrow-heads of chalcedony. At his side, in all her beauty, Sat the lovely Minnehaha, Sat his daughter, Laughing Water, Plaiting mats of flags and rushes; Of the past the old man's thoughts were, And the maiden's of the future. He was thinking, as he sat there, Of the days when with such arrows He had struck the deer and bison, On the Muskoday, the meadow; Shot the wild goose flying southward, On the wing, the clamorous Wawa; Thinking of the great war-parties, How they came to buy his arrows, Could not fight without his arrows. Ah, no more such noble warriors, Could be found on earth as they were! Now the men were all like women, Only used their tongues for weapons! She was thinking of a hunter, From another tribe and country, Young and tall and very handsome, Who one morning, in the Spring-time, Came to buy her father's arrows, Sat and rested in the wigwam, Lingered long about the doorway, Looking back as he departed. She had heard her father praise him, Praise his courage and his wisdom; Would he come again for arrows To the Falls of Minnehaha? On the mat her hands lay idle, And her eyes were very dreamy. Through their thoughts they heard a footstep, Heard a rustling in the branches, And with glowing cheek and forehead, With the deer upon his shoulders, Suddenly from out the woodlands Hiawatha stood before them. Straight the ancient Arrow-maker Looked up gravely from his labor, Laid aside the unfinished arrow, Bade him enter at the doorway, Saying, as he rose to meet him, "Hiawatha, you are welcome!" At the feet of Laughing Water Hiawatha laid his burden, Threw the red deer from his shoulders; And the maiden looked up at him, Looked up from her mat of rushes, Said with gentle look and accent, "You are welcome, Hiawatha!" Very spacious was the wigwam, Made of deer-skin dressed and whitened, With the Gods of the Dakotas Drawn and painted on its curtains, And so tall the doorway, hardly Hiawatha stooped to enter, Hardly touched his eagle-feathers As he entered at the doorway. Then uprose the Laughing Water, From the ground fair Minnehaha, Laid aside her mat unfinished, Brought forth food and set before them, Water brought them from the brooklet, Gave them food in earthen vessels, Gave them drink in bowls of bass-wood, Listened while the guest was speaking, Listened while her father answered, But not once her lips she opened, Not a single word she uttered. Yes, as in a dream she listened To the words of Hiawatha, As he talked of old Nokomis, Who had nursed him in his childhood. As he told of his companions, Chibiabos, the musician, And the very strong man, Kwasind, And of happiness and plenty In the land of the Ojibways, In the pleasant land and peaceful. "After many years of warfare, Many years of strife and bloodshed, There is peace between the Ojibways And the tribe of the Dakotas." Thus continued Hiawatha, And then added, speaking slowly, "That this peace may last forever, And our hands be clasped more closely, And our hearts be more united, Give me as my wife this maiden, Minnehaha, Laughing Water, Loveliest of Dakota women!" And the ancient Arrow-maker Paused a moment ere he answered, Smoked a little while in silence, Looked at Hiawatha proudly, Fondly looked at Laughing Water, And made answer very gravely: "Yes, if Minnehaha wishes; Let your heart speak, Minnehaha!" And the lovely Laughing Water Seemed more lovely, as she stood there, Neither willing nor reluctant, As she went to Hiawatha, Softly took the seat beside him, While she said, and blushed to say it, "I will follow you, my husband!" This was Hiawatha's wooing! Thus it was he won the daughter Of the ancient Arrow-maker, In the land of the Dakotas!
HENRY W. LONGFELLOW.
After the cooling shower Soft is the twilight hour On the river-lake. Sweetly the plaintive note Gushes from whippoorwill's throat, Gently, gently we float, Light as a fine snow-flake, Down the river-lake. The dripping oars at rest Their murmurous music wake, And ripple o'er the breast Of the peaceful river-lake.
The lovely shadows fall Like a sin-outshutting wall On the river-lake, Charming the hour and place. The holiness we trace In Nature's quiet grace Makes sacred for her sake All on the river-lake. O this is purest joy! This it is that makes Me love the wide St. Croix, The river-lake of lakes.
E. L. FALES.
Song of a Nadowessee Chief.
See on his mat—as if of yore, All life-like sits he here! With that same aspect which he wore When light to him was dear.
But where the right hand's strength? and where The breath that loved to breathe, To the Great Spirit aloft in air, The peace-pipe's lusty wreath?
And where the hawk-like eye, alas! That wont the deer pursue, Along the waves of rippling grass, Or fields that shone with dew?
Are these the limber, bounding feet That swept the winter's snows? What stateliest stag so fast and fleet? Their speed outstripped the roe's!
These arms, that then the steady bow Could supple from its pride, How stark and helpless hang they now Adown the stiffened side!
Yet weal to him—at peace he stays Where never fall the snows; Where o'er the meadows springs the maize That mortal never sows.
Where birds are blithe on every brake— Where forests teem with deer— Where glide the fish through every lake— One chase from year to year!
With spirits now he feasts above; All left us—to revere The deeds we honor with our love, The dust we bury here.
Here bring the last gift! loud and shrill Wail, death dirge for the brave! What pleased him most in life may still Give pleasure in the grave.
We lay the ax beneath his head He swung when strength was strong— The bear on which his banquets fed— The way from earth is long!
And here, new sharped, place the knife That severed from the clay, From which the ax had spoiled the life, The conquered scalp away!
The paints that deck the dead bestow— Yes, place them in his hand— That red the kingly shade may glow Amid the spirit-land.
SIR. E. L. BULWER.
A pine-girt lake, broad spread; a glimpse Of clear-rimmed bay, encroaching lusk Upon a lapse of rocky vale; Beyond, a brunt-browed mountain, set Abrupt against a weary waste Of level, sparse-grown forest plain. Vanguard of Order's birth on Earth's Primeval stage, sphynx-like, the mount From chaos burst upon a world Of sea in space. It kept its head To the sun; it pierced the dense of the mists; It gathered forces, one by one, Until the land by light was kissed. The waters slunk away to Lake Superior's bent, leaving a child At play, on a plateau's breast, content. Marking the march of time, the mount Grew grim and gray, while ages stored Their riches at its feet away:— Ore-of-iron riches deep stowed In vaults of rock, for creature king Of future age to fit the key Of genius in their ancient locks; Stowed wealth to bless a nation, whose Motto: "Onward! Light!" befits it For that mountain's home, which pierced through Inchoate night; stowed signet seal, With which to stamp that fair land's Queen Of States, whose crested monogram, With sheaves of wheat entwined, the North Star scintillates.
Guarding the till Of treasure, mountain, grim and gray, Playing with wind and wave, child-lough And lazy bay—Archaic group Are they, whose quiet naught details Of primal epochs; yet, as face Of man with furrowed wrinkles marked And seared, suggests his past life's course, Their presence in itself reveals The trace of annals which their calm Conceals. So Mystery's seeds were sown. Even the simple Indian folk,— Naive indigene of primitive plain,— Beheld with minds to quickened thought Provoked, that single skyward height Break stark upon the main and called It "Wey-do-dosh-she-ma-de-nog." Because, they said, it was the breast Of Mother Earth, which there arose To succor spirit souls in quest Of joyous hunting-grounds, of which Their wise men tell. And not to them Alone has nature from this rare Scene appealed to fancy; for, when Old Father Time, from out his horn Of plenty, had poured the years full Generations high upon the one To which this legend runs, the white Man came, bearing a waving stick, His country's standard, into these Proemial haunts. The lake, wine-stained, He called "Vermilion," but the mount Which broke upon his vision from Under a chastened moon, he named, "Jasper," after glories promised To the kingdom of his own God.