Infomotions, Inc.Birch Bark Legends of Niagara / Owahyah



Author: Owahyah
Title: Birch Bark Legends of Niagara
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): manitou; black snake; grey eagle; snake; fawn; eagle; wampum; sachem; great manitou; grey; niagara; wolf; war eagle; great oak; oak; warrior; chief; warriors; indian; braves; chiefs; war
Contributor(s): Dakyns, Henry Graham, 1838-1911 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 13,214 words (really short) Grade range: 13-16 (college) Readability score: 50 (average)
Identifier: etext7783
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Title: Birch Bark Legends of Niagara

Author:  Owahyah

Release Date: March, 2005  [EBook #7783]
[This file was first posted on May 16, 2003]

Edition: 10

Language: English

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BIRCH BARK LEGENDS OF NIAGARA

FOUNDED ON TRADITIONS AMONG THE IROQUOIS, OR SIX NATIONS

A STORY OF THE LUNAR-BOW;
(Which Brilliantly Adorns Niagara Falls by Moonlight),

OR,

ORIGIN OF THE TOTEM OF THE WOLF

DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF JOINSTAGA, FROM WHOM MANY LEGENDS OF THE
ALMOST FORGOTTEN PAST WERE OBTAINED BY THE AUTHOR OWAHYAH



PREFACE

My preface will be a few citations from reliable authorities to
introduce to my readers the people of whom I write:

GOV. CLINTON, in a discourse delivered before the New York Historical
Society, says: "Previous to the occupation of this country by the
progenitors of the present race of Indians, it was inhabited by a race
of men much more populous and much farther advanced in civilization;
that the confederacy of the Iroquois is a remarkable and peculiar piece
of legislation; that the more we study the Indian history the more we
will be impressed with the injustice done them. While writers have
truthfully described their deeds of cruelties, why not also quote their
deeds of kindness, their integrity, hospitality, love of truth, and,
above all, unbroken fidelity?"

WASHINGTON IRVING says: "The current opinion of Indian character is too
apt to be formed from the degenerate beings, corrupted and enfeebled by
the vice of society, without being benefitted by its civilization. That
there are those, and a large class of them that have with moral firmness
resisted the temptations, with which they have been surrounded, and
command our highest esteem."

VOLNEY, the French Historian, pronounces the Iroquois "The Romans of the
West."

W. H. C. HOSMER, "The Warriors of Genesee."

ORSEMUS TURNER, in his History of the Holland Purchase, says. "The
existence of the IROQUOIS upon the soil now constituting Western and
Middle New York, is distinctly traced back to the Period of the
discovery of America.

"Their traditions go beyond that period. They fix upon no definite
period in reference to the origin of their confederacy. Their Councils
were held along the southern shores of Lake Ontario, and upon the
Niagara River, before the first adventurers, the Dutch, and French
Jesuits appeared in the valley of the Mohawk; and there are evidences of
a long precedent existence that corresponds with their traditions."

And their Council Fires are still kindled though they burn not as
brightly as of yore. Nor do the young braves listen to the wisdom, or
ever now in their Councils witness the allegorical or figurative
language so beautifully illustrating the discourses of Red Jacket, Corn
Planter, Farmers Brother and other Chiefs, thus eulogized by PRES.
DWIGHT: "In strength and sublimity of their eloquence they may be fairly
compared with the Greeks."

The INDIANS say: "We listen to your stories, why do you not listen to
ours? Although civilized, you use not the rules of common civility."

OWAHYAH




BIRCH BARK LEGENDS OF NIAGARA

FOUNDED ON TRADITIONS AMONG THE IROQUOIS OR SIX NATIONS

Within sound of the thundering cataract's roar once worshipped the
roaming sons of the forest in all their primitive freedom. They
recognized in its thunder the voice, in its mad waves the wrath, and in
its crashing whirlpool the Omnipotence of the Great Spirit--the Manitou
of their simple creed.

Also in the rising mist, the flight of the soul, and in the beautiful
bow--the brilliant path followed by the spirits of good Indians to their
Happy Hunting Ground.

With this belief came the custom of yearly offering a sacrifice to the
Great Spirit, or whenever any particular blessing was to be
acknowledged, or for some wrong perpetrated, to propitiate the righteous
anger of their Deity of the roaring waters.

The sacrifice, or offering, consisted of a boat filled with fruit,
flowers and any precious gift, which was to be paddled over the foaming
cataract by one either drawn by lot or selected by the chiefs; or, as
often happened, a voluntary offering of life, as it manifested heroism
beyond their usual test of torture. Martyrs thus sacrificed had this
consolation: that their spirits were sure to rise in the mist and follow
the bright path above, while bad Indians' spirits passed down in the
boiling, crashing current, to be torn and tossed in the whirlpool, there
to linger in misery forever.

With all thy present loveliness--smooth paths cut round thy rocky
banks, covered with trailing vines and bright, soft mosses, nature's
beautiful tapestry; flights of steps, half hidden with gay foliage,
displaying at almost every turn majestic scenery; bridges thrown over
the bounding, foaming rapids, from island to island, opening bower
after bower with surprises of beauty at every step. Scattered here and
there the nut-brown Indian maids and mothers; among the last of the
race--still lingering around their fathers' places and working at the
gay embroidery--soon to pass away forever.

Yes, with all thy loveliness, the circle of mirth and gaiety, reflecting
happy faces of thy present worshippers, tame is the scene compared with
the traditions of a by-gone race, which, notwithstanding the simplicity
in forms of customs that governed them, were among the brightest
pictures of American life--always associated with the beautiful forest,
which together are passing away, and oblivion's veil fast gathering
around them.

Thy rocks, now echoing the gay laugh of idlers, first rang with the wild
war-whoop, or sent back the Indian's low, mellow songs of peace, or
mingled with the heavy roar of thy failing waters the mournful dirge of
the doomed one, to the Great Manitou.




STORY OF THE LUNAR BOW,
(_Which brilliantly adorns Niagara Falls by moonlight_),

OR

Origin of the Totem [Footnote: The coat of arms of a clan.] of the Wolf.


FIRST LEGEND.

The tradition of the Lunar Bow, the Manitou's bright path, or the origin
of the totem of the wolf, was traced with a scene long remembered at
their councils, passing from generation to generation, and still sung by
the Indian mothers in their far-off home towards the setting sun--the
last foot-hold of the dark sons of the forest on this their native land.
On the east side of the Falls of Niagara, before the hallowed waters of
the mist fell, on the pale-faced warrior or the sound of the axe had
even broken the great stillness of their undisputed soil, the dark
shadows of the primeval forest fell only on rock and wigwam.

The red-topped sumach and sweet sassafras grew thick on either side,
while ledges of rocks here and there pierced the foliage of the
cedar-crowned banks 'round which tumbled and roared the mad waves,
leaping like frightened does in wild confusion to their final plunge.
The narrow Indian trails, winding around swamps, over hills, and through
ravines, were the only paths that led to this their Great Manitou.

The drowsy sultriness of an American summer pervaded this secluded spot,
harmonizing with the unceasing roar of the Great Falls. Ever and anon,
tall, dark forms might be seen suddenly appearing from the thick foliage
of the underbrush, through which their paths with difficulty wound, and
silently their painted faces and gayly plumed heads dropped round the
big wigwam. Important questions waited the decision of their wisest
Sachems, and runners had been sent with wampum to call together distant
Chiefs, who, with braves and warriors, as became the dignity of the
wampum, answered by their presence quickly and in silence.

Near the brink of the Falls, beneath an aged pine, reclined a well-
guarded, sorrowful, but haughty band. Their fine symmetry, noble height,
and free carriage, were especially attractive. They were all young
warriors, whose white paint presented emblems of peace: their plumes
were from the beautiful white crane of the sunny forest, which
designated the southern land from whence they came.

A gleam of pride flashed across their dark faces, while their attitudes
bespoke both defiance and despair. A tall, stately looking youth
appeared to command from these few the deference due a Chief. He was
leaning against the old tree, looking for the first time on the great
sheet of falling waters, where soon himself and followers would probably
end their tortures by a welcome leap. Their noble bearing had attracted
the eye of the Sachem's daughter, the Gentle Fawn; she, with a few young
Indian girls, half hid among the whortleberry bushes growing luxuriantly
around the smaller wigwams of the camp, were dividing their attention
between the stately captives and weaving the gaudy wampums to be
bestowed, with the shy little weavers themselves, upon such young braves
as should be deemed worthy by the great council. Their stolen glances of
admiration and pity, however, were intercepted by the young brave who
brought home and so suspiciously guarded the prisoners. He was a fierce,
wicked savage, with repulsive, glistening eyes, evincing a cunning,
revengeful disposition.

[Illustration: GREAT OAK]

At the side of this savage hung a string of fresh scalps, and a gleam of
exultation shot across his swarthy visage as he pointed to the gory
trophies at his belt, saying:

"The Black Snakes scalps are fresh from his enemies; the fingers of the
Gentle Fawn cannot number them."

"The Fawn does not like the smell of blood," quickly answered the
sensitive maid. "The Black Snake is a boy, and does not know his friends
from his enemies."

"The Fawn has been taking lessons from the mocking-birds," replied Black
Snake, "and has learned many tunes; she sings now for the ears of the
sunny Eagle, whose wings are too feeble to fly. His last flight will be
short (pointing to the cataract); he will not need his wings, and the
Gentle Fawn will soon learn to sing to Black Snake. The Fawn is an
infant, and Black Snake will feed her on birds' eggs." Approaching with
a noiseless step, he continued, in a lower tone: "The Black Snake will
be a great warrior; he must build a lodge of his own whereon to hang his
enemies' scalps (shaking them in her face), and the Gentle Fawn will
light his pipe."

With a suppressed cry the Fawn sprung to her feet. In an instant from
the long wild grass, at her side appeared a huge wolf, of unusual size
and strength, which the powerful creature owed in a measure to the
affectionate care of its mistress. She had found it when young, reared
and fed it with her own hands, and they had become inseparable friends
and protectors to each other.

With an angry growl and flashing eyes the wolf warned the Indian back.
Black Snake pointed his flint-headed spear with a look of disdain at the
heart of the watchful beast. His arm was suddenly arrested by the hand
of the Sachem, Great Oak.

"Does the Black Snake make war with the women? Wouldst kill my
daughter's four-footed friend? Has the young brave only arrow-heads for
his friends? He must go back to his mother's wigwam: let her teach him
how to use them."

The dark frown passed from the Great Oak's face as he addressed his
daughter. With a watchful tenderness seldom found in the breast of a
warrior, the stern old Sagamore's voice grew soft as a woman's.

"My daughter will follow her father; he knows not his wigwam when the
Fawn and her four-footed friend are not there."

Thus saying they immediately left the discomfited brave. In passing by
the stranger captives, a sigh escaped the old Indian as he saw the
sympathetic looks that passed between them and his daughter, and
compared that noble young Chief, so soon to pass away, with the
treacherous warrior who aspired to fill the War Chief's place, and
receive his daughter with the title. The War Chief was slain on that
same expedition that conquered and brought home the prisoners. Another
was to be chosen and the captives disposed of, which was the business
that had called together Chiefs from distant places. Occupied with sad
thoughts, that brought him no comfort, he was attracted by the low whine
of the wolf, and upon turning discovered him fondling around the captive
Chief, who seemed equally pleased with him; at the same time be caught
the ill-omened look of Black Snake, distorting his face with rage,
jealousy and revenge, as it glowed from beneath his tawdry plume of many
colors. Hastening his daughter along, who was quickly followed by the
wolf as she gave a peculiar call, they passed silently out of sight.

As the dark shadows of night; gathered closely around, made brilliant by
innumerable fire-flies, sportively decking all nature in spangles, women
and children disappeared to their wigwams, while their dusky protectors
seated themselves 'round the great fire, the red flashes of which fell
brightly on the strongly bound prisoners, proud and defiant, awaiting
their doom.

Only one more night and the mild rays of the moon would fall on good and
bad alike--would gaze on the beautiful, bright colored path over the
dark and fearful abyss they were so soon to follow to the Happy Hunting
Ground. The breaking of the waves against the rocks on the shore, the
melancholy cry of the night bird, like soft music, partially subdued
their tortured spirits, and each recalled with fond longing the memory
of a distant home now lying in ashes, and the sound of some voice now
silent, whose tones would go with them to the Manitou's home.

Calm night, our soothing mother, bringing rest to all, freed them at
last from the insulting taunts of their savage guards as their swarthy
forms were swallowed up in the surrounding darkness.

Oh! how many heartfelt and anxious prayers have been sent, Niagara, to
rise on thy light mist to realms above.

The Indian's simple supplication, so full of hope and faith, needed not
the assistance of other creeds to be heard by _his_ Great Manitou. And
if thou dost pray sincerely for strength, Grey Eagle, unflinchingly to
stand thy torture and joyfully to take thy final leap, it will be given
thee.

As the dampness of night fled from before the rays of the morning sun it
revealed a cooler, calmer crowd around the big wigwam.

In sight of the great waters, and almost deafened by its thundering,
warning voice, Sachems, Chiefs and Warriors were quietly and orderly
assembled. Directly in front were placed the securely bound prisoners,
surrounded by aspiring young braves, too willing to show their skill in
throwing arrows and tomahawks as near as possible to the captives'
heads, delighting the dusky children, who with the women formed the
outside circle.

For several minutes the pipe, with the sweet-scented kinny-kinick, was
passed from one to another in silence. Not a word escaped them, the
Chiefs viewing with each other in betraying no symptom of idle curiosity
or impatience. At length a Chief turned his eyes slowly towards the old
Sachem, and in a low voice, with great delicacy in excluding all
inquisitiveness, addressed him:

"Our father sent us the wampum; we are here, when our father speaks his
childrens' ears are open,"--again resuming the pipe with due and
becoming solemnity.

After a moment's silence, during which the children even became mute,
the Sachem arose with dignity and commenced his brief story in a solemn,
serious manner, becoming himself and the occasion.

"'Tis well; my childrens' ears shall drink no lies. Their brothers have
been on the war-path. The Great Manitou smiled on the young brave; sent
him back with fresh trophies and prisoners; not one escaped. The Great
Manitou has also frowned on his people, hushed their song of triumph,
sent them back to their tribe crying, 'where is the great War Chief, the
nation's pride?' Do my sons see or hear the War Eagle in the wigwam of
his people? No; he came not back; the Manitou needed him; he has gone to
the Happy Hunting Ground; our eyes are dim; we shall see him no more.
Who will lead the young braves on the war-path? Who will protect the
wigwams, the women, children, and old men? Let my children speak, their
father will listen."

With the last words all excitement seemed to pass from him, and the face
of Great Oak assumed that immovable expression which rendered it so
impossible to surmise what really were his thoughts or wishes. The
murmuring wails of the women in remembrance of War-Eagle and the
threatening tomahawks that were shaken at the prisoners, all ceased as
slowly the first Chief again rose to speak.

"Let our brother, the young brave who followed where War Eagle led, and
returned with prisoners and trophies to appease his mourning people--let
the Black Snake speak, that we may know how to counsel our father."

[Illustration: BLACK SNAKE.]

The eyes of the young warrior thus alluded to flashed with fierce
delight--his nostrils dilated with strong emotion. Passing with a
haughty stride in front of the Chiefs, displaying to all the bloody
trophies at his side, without dignity or feeling, but in an excited,
vindictive manner, he gave an exaggerated account of the foe and the
battle; spoke of the loss of the War Eagle; called on the young braves
to help revenge his death, swinging his tomahawk around the heads of the
prisoners, counting the scalps he had torn from the heads of their
people, forcing them in their faces with malignant pleasure, and calling
them women, who would cry when their tortures commenced. He said he only
waited to attend the joyful dance before going on the war-path to avenge
more fully the death of their Chief and earn the right to have a wigwam.
He howled his fierce demands for an opportunity to show his willingness
to execute the sentence the Chiefs should pass upon the prisoners. Then,
adroitly pleading his youth, he said he would not ask to lead the braves
on the war-path--he would follow where some braver one would lead.
Throwing the string of scalps among the crowd, he said the women might
have them to hang on their lodges--he was too young to carry them.
Feeling he had made sufficient impression of his bravery to leave the
decision in the hands of the Chiefs, without noticing his triumph in the
applauding multitude, his fiery eyes rolled proudly from Chief to Chief.
He passed with a haughty step before the Sachem, who had several times
rather depreciated his bravery, rejoicing in this public opportunity of
boasting a little before the Chiefs, evidently thinking it would greatly
contribute to his ambitious purposes and make a good impression on the
Sachem's dark-eyed daughter.

As he finished his speech the crowd commenced reciting the virtues of
their deceased Chief, calling for revenge, and insulting the prisoners
with every epithet their wild imagination could suggest. A dissatisfied
"hugh" from the old Sachem caused the first Chief again to rise, when in
an instant all again became quiet, such were the peculiar customs of
these people and the great influence of their Chiefs and Rulers. In a
calm voice he addressed again the old Sachem:

"Thy son has spoken with a brave and cunning tongue; yet he speaks not
to the heart of his Chief. He is ready to strike the enemy. Who carries
more arrows or sharper ones than Black Snake? Whose stone-headed war
club is deadlier? Whose tomahawk is freer on the battle-field? The Black
Snake coils himself under the bushes and springs upon his sleeping
enemy. When they would strike him he is gone, and their club falls where
he once stood. He will be a great warrior when he gathers a few more
years. He needs experience to lead the young braves. Let our father
speak from his heart, that he may hide nothing from his children, then
will they know how to counsel."

Thus called upon, the old Chief rose with a calm brow, and advancing
with great dignity, slowly scanned the faces of his dusky audience. His
eyes beamed with respectful, hopeful submission on his circle of Chiefs,
also upon the women judges, who make the final decision in choosing a
new Chief after hearing the arguments in favor of each candidate.
Glancing towards Black Snake with a stern, unwavering countenance,
regarding the prisoners with unaffected sympathy, and finally resting
with a fond look of painful solicitude upon his daughter, who was seated
on a mossy carpet beneath a large tree, within hearing distance of all
that was said--the wolf, the Fawn's devoted friend, coiled at her feet,
and her neglected wampum carelessly thrown over his glossy neck--in a
clear, low voice, as one who having once determined upon the necessity
no hesitating fears should prevent, Great Oak addressed the now watchful
and silent multitude.

"It is true the feet of the young brave have been far away on the
war-path; his tomahawk and arrows have not been idle; he crept like a
serpent upon his victims; his war club was stained with their blood;
their scalps were many by his side; he came not back empty-handed; he
brought prisoners to his people and gifts to his Manitou."

The low murmur of applause now increased to a shrill howl, which the
echoing rocks sent flying on, mingling with the roar of the falling
waters. This approval being taken for their approbation, which promised
support to his opinion, Great Oak, thus confirmed in his remarks,
continued:

"War Eagle came not back to his people; his wigwam is lonely; did he fly
away like a frightened bird at the sight of his enemy?" An angry "hugh"
was uttered sympathetically. "Did he die with his body filled with the
arrows of his enemy?" After a short pause he answered himself:

"No, my children, the tomahawk was buried in the back of his head. Was
his foe behind him? Yes, my children, but not Grey Eagle and his brave
little band now standing in front of you. They were also in front of War
Eagle, but he saw in them no enemies; Grey Eagle saw no enemies then.
Look at the paint, of Grey Eagle and his braves; do you see the red and
black worn by a Chief on the war-path? Has the Manitou thrown a cloud
over the eyes of your Sachem? I see only the white paint of peace and
friendship. When were our fathers ever known to bind a friend?

"Your Sachem has lived too long; he has lived to see the ceremonies of
his people laughed at by boys--the sons of his friends with friendly
colors bound at his feet by his own children, and the tomahawks of his
people ready to bury themselves in their flesh."

The deep silence which succeeded these words sufficiently showed the
great veneration with which his people received their ideas from their
oldest Chief. All listened with breathless expectation for what was to
come. Black Snake and his few followers scowled revengefully, though not
daring to reply. The Sachem continued:

"The Great Oak can no longer overshadow and protect his people--can no
longer preserve the ceremonies of his fathers. His strength has gone,
and his counsels fall to the ground like the branches of the dying tree;
he is needed here no more. When my children next fill a canoe for the
Manitou, place the old tree and all belonging to him in it. The tired
birds that have flown to him for rest he can no longer protect, and it
is time his people burned him down out of the way, that the saplings may
find more room to grow. Let the arrows and tomahawk of Great Oak be
prepared for the Manitou--he would pass from his people forever."

With the last words he moved slowly from the circle, and, placing
himself by the side of his daughter, closed his eyes, manifesting his
resignation of all interest in their present or future state. An
appealing wail from the multitude brought several Chiefs to their feet.

"Our father must not leave us; his voice is the voice of wisdom; when
his childrens' ears drink lies and their counsels are foolish the wind
brings truth to the ears of Great Oak; they will fade away when Great
Oak's shadows are withdrawn. Can his children feast and dance when their
father hides his face with shame? The Manitou has counseled the Great
Oak in his sleep; the women are in tears, and the young men are silent.
We have spoken, and we wait for the voice of our Sachem."

"Why do my children wait for the voice of a Chief, whose words fall like
leaves in the cold blast to be trod on by boys?"

"The words of the Great Oak, like the leaves, can bury the people. Let
our father speak to the hearts of his children that they may know what
to do. Has the wind whispered in the ear of our father and he tells not
his children their story? We listen for the voice of our Chief." The old
Sachem slowly opened his eyes and once more rose to his feet, standing
erect in front of the tree whose name he bore, where still, with the
wolf stretched at her feet, the Gentle Fawn remained seated. Without
deigning a glance upon the multitude, but looking in the distance, as if
invoking unseen aid from the air or sky, dropping their figurative
language, he spoke in a low, prophetic tone.

"Yes, there has been whispering in the ears of your Chief. He shut his
eyes on all around him, and opened them on a sunny spot, far off, where
the rivers know no ice and the moccasin never tracks in the snow. There
were more wigwams than he could count, filled with happy people. He saw
a band of braves as straight as the pines of their forest go on a long
path to get furs and meat for their people. After moons of success they
joyfully returned; but not to hear the voice of their fathers or ever to
see their faces again. The hand of the foe had spared none; their homes
were in ashes; their friends sent without food or presents on their long
journey to the Manitou's hunting-ground. I saw these tired, sad hunters
gather the scattered bones and relics of their tribe in a large circle,
placing plenty of furs and food, with pipes, beads and arrows in the
center, and cover them high with stones and earth that wild beasts could
not move. And they placed the Manitou's mark on this mound that no foe
would dare to desecrate. Then turning their faces from their once happy
home they sought a new one, and people to help them revenge this deed
and recover their land. Winding their way to the land of snow and ice
they saw approaching a band of warriors covered with emblems of peace,
and, leaving their stony weapons in care of the younger braves, they
walked open-handed to meet the strangers. War Eagle stood foremost among
them. While passing the calumet [Footnote: Pipe of peace.] of friendship
their ears were deafened with the war-whoop from many mouths. A tomahawk
flew swiftlier and deadlier than an arrow and hid itself in the head of
War Eagle."

Then, turning his eyes upon the multitude, he would question, and,
looking off in the distance, in the same prophetic voice answer:

"Did the tomahawk fly with the stranger's hand? They came open-handed--
left their weapons behind them. Did any of War Eagle's braves protect
him while his spirit was passing on its long journey? No; the arms of
yonder brave protected him until they were bound, to his side. Can War
Eagle's spirit leave his friend to receive the torture of the condemned
and be tossed in those dark whirling waters forever? No; I hear his
moans mingle threateningly with the roar of the Manitou's voice. His
spirit cannot rise to the beautiful path while his friends are prisoners
to his people. Would you leave War Eagle forever hovering over the
turbulent waters? Who will cut the thongs and set the spirit of War
Eagle free by freeing his friends?"

The wild cries of the multitude were stilled by the long protracted howl
of Black Snake as he sprung in front of the Chiefs. With a dexterous
flourish of his tomahawk he separated the thongs, liberated the
prisoners, and with a wave of his hand commanded silence, while,
shouting in a loud voice, he replied to the old Sachem:

"Our father asks who bound War Eagle's friends! It was the spirits of
darkness that blinded his childrens' eyes to the color of Grey Eagle,
and whispered in their ears, 'they are enemies.' It was the spirit of
darkness that killed War Eagle and whispered in the ears of his braves,
'revenge his death.' It is the voice of the good Manitou that whispered
to the Great Oak, and he has saved his children from the Manitou's wrath
and freed the spirit of War Eagle." This ingenious speech showed the
cunning of some candidates for office even in those early times, and had
the desired effect of winning the confidence of many of his dusky
auditors. Long talks followed within the circle by the Chiefs, while
preparations were being made for feast and dance around the council fire
that night.

Aye, Niagara! thou didst lull with thy awful and solemn voice as anxious
and also as happy hearts beneath the soft furs that wrapped those dusky
maidens--mingling their sweet voices with thy deep bass, dancing beneath
the old trees on thy wild banks--as any there have been since in the
princely halls where the old trees once stood, beneath silks and
diamonds, that rival thy beautiful drops, to music that drowns for a
time thine own tremendous voice.

The attention of the Chiefs being directed to Grey Eagle, the youthful
Chief stepped lightly but proudly in front of them. His manner plainly
indicated him a brave warrior and hunter. As he spoke of his people, now
nearly exterminated, he pointed out to the council the necessity, and
expressed his willingness, of merging their existence in that of another
tribe. Many looked upon him with sympathy and regard. Speaking of the
foes of his people, his dark eyes lighted up with contemplated revenge--
his mouth curled with contempt. He called them snakes with forked
tongues; he wished to drive them from the ever green and pleasant valley
of his fathers; he wished to share the land with his brothers of the
snowy hills. He proved his skill as an orator by swaying the minds of
his hearers, and amidst great rejoicing stepped back to the side of his
own braves.

The old Sachem looked at him encouragingly, while the shy Fawn,
gathering up her no longer neglected wampum, bounded away to mingle with
the Indian maidens, followed by the devoted wolf, and the affectionate
eyes of her father and of many admiring braves.

The feast and dance continued long into the night; but sunrise found the
warriors and braves straightening their arrows and sharpening their
stony points and newly cording with sinews their idle bows, withing the
heads of their tomahawks, war-clubs and spears. Great and earnest
preparations were made to follow the river in its noisy course past its
dark whirling basin, down the stony mountain to where it mingles its
wild dancing waves with the calm and beautiful lake, bringing only the
faintest murmurs of the great falling waters to their favorite hunting
grounds.

Within that valley, before the sun drops beneath the bright waves of
Ontario, will be decided by individual skill, unassisted by friendly
influence, the right between Black Snake and his adopted brother, Grey
Eagle, to fill the place made vacant by the death of War Eagle.

This was the decision of the women. Among the Indians genealogy is
reckoned on the mother's side alone; and, therefore, the important
business of selecting a candidate to fill the place of War Eagle, who
left no near relative, devolved upon the women, who decided the
successful combatant was to be the future War Chief of the tribe and
claim the wampum with the old Sachem's dark-eyed daughter.

Sympathy was pictured in most of the faces of those dark warriors, when
passing the Great Oak's wigwam they beheld the moist eyes and tender
leave-taking of that heroic old Chief and his motherless child, whose
future depended so much on the coming contest, as following one after
another they disappeared in the forest.

"The Gentle Fawn will stay in the shadow of her wigwam and work on her
wampum." And the old Chief, whose words were law, also disappeared,
following the narrow winding path, watched by the Fawn till the dense
foliage hid him from her view. Without hearing the slightest noise the
Fawn felt a hand upon her shoulder. Turning quickly, she beheld the
pleasant face of Grey Eagle. Turning his hand in formal recognition, he
addressed her:

"The Grey Eagle's eyes are very true, and his arms are very strong;
shall he shut his eyes when he draws his bow?"

"May Grey Eagle's aim never be truer or his arm stronger than to-day."
And love-light flashed from the soft eyes of the pretty Seneca maid.

"The Fawn has spoken well; Grey Eagle hears. When the wish-ton-wish
sings his evening song Grey Eagle will be here again. The Fawn will
welcome him."

The last of the warriors disappeared, followed by the old women and
children, the latter with shouts and songs, going far towards the brow
of the mountain, where evening would still find most of them gathering
sticks and pine cones to light the evening fires.

About seven miles from the great cataract, towards the north, when
following the river, is seen the famous Queenston Heights, where the
force of waters has cut through solid rocks to a depth of about three
hundred feet, and it is equaled in grandeur only by the cataract itself.
This deep chasm in winding from the falls forms the great whirlpool--the
terror of the poor aboriginals. From the brow of the mountain the most
gorgeous landscape bursts upon the view.

A splendid picture, with the broad waters of Lake Ontario, forms a
magnificent background. The mountain sides are broken by deep ravines
and huge precipices rising to a great height. The scenery is wild beyond
description. On the highest elevation of this rocky cliff, on the
western shore, stands the Pillar of Brock, like a giant, guarding the
borders of the Queen's Dominion.

Under the eye, at the foot of the mountain, nestles the pretty village
of Lewiston. The banks of the river are lower and less rugged, and here
commence the beautiful flats that reach to the shore of Ontario. The
lake from this elevation is seen like a miniature ocean, spreading far
and wide until clouds and water blend. On the left, the foaming, dashing
river, passing furiously through the rocky gorge, here becomes quiet,
winding its peaceful way through woods and meadows, its soft liquid blue
dividing the Dominion from the United States, and gradually widening
until its waters mingle with Ontario. There, standing opposite, and
frowning upon each other, are the forts Niagara and Massussauga, where
successively have contended French, English and Americans. Four villages
appear within this view, on either side of the river, with their tall
church spires, from which sweet, melancholy notes come floating on the
air, tranquilizing the senses with the beautiful scene, interspersed by
meadows and grain fields, thickly dotted with cottages, surrounded and
half hidden among orchards and lovely gardens, disclosing hundreds of
happy homes; while from this elevation deep repose gives softness to the
whole picture. The same beautiful river and lake and rock-bound mountain
surrounded the Indian's favorite hunting-ground; but a dense forest,
divided by marshy creeks, protected their game and sheltered themselves.

Thus secluded, hundreds of wild songsters filled the air with music,
while the melancholy notes of the wish-ton-wish's evening song
traditionally had power to sooth their savage natures. This sweet,
pensive scenery, decked with summer's lovely green or autumn's wampum
dyes, with morning's glittering dews or evening's fire-flies' transient
gleams, illuminating the darkest places; the distant murmur of the
waterfall, the sympathetic cooing of the wild ducks, the cedar-scented
air, all tended to thrill the Indian bosom with sensations not less
melancholy, not less pleasing, than the present unsurpassed and
magnificent view charms all beholders.

Seldom so many warriors met at one time on these quiet flats, and never
contested champions more earnestly than did Black Snake and Grey Eagle
on that day for the two prizes in one; never were spectators more
enthusiastic. Their triumphant whoops echoed along the river banks and
their joyous applause animated the fatigued warriors, while side
combatants of various ages fought their mimic battles, blending the
whole in a scene of wild excitement and confusion. Grey Eagle was an
expert archer, but he had found his equal; hence the conflict was so
long, and had, from its even tenor, become so engrossing. One instant's
hesitation would probably decide the contest with critics so quick to
perceive with both eye and ear the least deviation from their standard
customs. After passing successively through the exercise of war-clubs,
spears and tomahawks, to the bow and arrow was left the decision. Again
preparing for the contest after their own fashion, omitting no caution
or form, the combatants brought all their warrior skill into
requisition. Challenge after challenge was given and taken with equal
confidence. The impression on the warrior spectators was exciting;
admiration of such unexampled dexterity gradually increased, finally
swelling into sounds that denoted lively opposition in sentiment, when
suddenly, with an ominous flourish of his bow, as it fell at the feet of
Great Oak, Black Snake with a single bound stood in front of the Chiefs.
This unexpected movement produced attention and silence while he spoke:

"Black Snake sends a true arrow, but the Manitou guided Grey Eagle's.
The Manitou whispered truths in the ear of Great Oak and defeated the
evil spirit. The Manitou says to War Eagle: 'I send a warrior to your
people to fill your place, and Grey Eagle, the chosen of the Manitou,
will be a great warrior.'"

[Illustration: GREY EAGLE.]

All of Black Snake's former pride and exultation seemed supplanted by
humility. Not the least demonstration of jealousy or revenge, was to be
traced in his artful face, while he continued:

"Grey Eagle will lead the young braves on the warpath. Let our father
send an offering to the Manitou, that he may drive the evil spirit away
from Black Snake, and he will be Grey Eagle's brother and fight by his
side. Black Snake's arrows are true, and the cries of our enemies will
fill the forest, while every squaw can deck her lodge with scalps."

With an appealing glance at the circle of Chiefs, Black Snake modestly
retired and they held their talk.

According to their customs, captives were either adopted by the captors
and enjoyed all of the rights and privileges of the tribe and
confederacy, or sentenced to death, attended by all of the horrors of
savage torture. If adopted, the nation knew no difference between her
own or adopted children. In the former council by the falling waters the
Chiefs had concluded to adopt Grey Eagle and his braves; therefore the
women had an undisputed right to select him as one of the candidates for
War Eagle's successor, which nomination was ratified by the Chiefs. The
women being undecided between the rival candidates, left the final
decision as before mentioned, to skill or chance. It was more through
chance than skill that Grey Eagle won, for both were well-drilled,
powerful warriors. But he had fairly won the two prizes, and the
conclusion the Chiefs came to was this:

Their great Manitou had evidently sent him to them for some wise
purpose. A human sacrifice must be made, as had long been their custom,
for the Manitou's good gifts and to redeem Black Snake from the power of
the evil one, this sacrifice must be made while the moon was the
brightest, which was the present time. It was that the bright light
might more fully reveal the brilliant path of the just. As those sent as
an offering to the Manitou would go direct to the happy home above,
freed from all trouble forever, when the selection was once made they
would become reconciled, and make themselves believe it a great favor
bestowed and cause of rejoicing. The subject for the sacrifice was most
frequently selected by lot from a few the Chiefs would name; but this
time it was Black Snake's privilege to make the selection and
arrangements, as he was next to Grey Eagle as a warrior, and then
the sacrificed spirit was especially to atone to the offended Manitott
for Black Snake's rashness while under the influence of the evil
spirit. At a signal for silence from Great Oak he made known these
conclusions, and Black Snake again came forward, and, with a great
deal of self-depreciation, expressed his wishes as follows:

"After the calumet with the soothing kinny-kinnick shall refresh each
Chief, while its light curling clouds bear their good resolutions on
high, let Great Oak and Grey Eagle be first on the backward trail;
rising the big stony hill, still keeping the trail, without entering any
lodge, the first one their eyes rest upon--be it one of the men, one of
the women, or one of the children--will be the one the Manitou wants.
Let the Manitou make his own selection: Black Snake is not worthy."

During the delivery of this speech; his swarthy countenance kindled with
a satisfied expression well calculated to conceal the dark malicious
plans that struggled in his breast. His very nostrils appeared to dilate
with hidden exultation.

Hurriedly passing the calumet, soon a light, fragrant cloud from the
sweet-scented kinny-kinnick rose on the air like evening incense, making
valid and unchangeable each resolve that tribunal of Chiefs had passed.

While they were yet smoking, Black Snake, recovering his bow and arrow,
called for some young braves who could track the deer and help carry the
venison back to their lodges, as a feast and dance accompanied each
council. The chiefs would smoke in the shade until the fiery eye of the
Manitou, satisfied with the purposes and promises of His simple-hearted
children, would fall asleep beyond the waters of Ontario, where already
the last rays were beginning to color clouds and waves, till lake and
sky seemed a bright vision of the promised land the doomed one must soon
enter.

"The hunters will be back here before the wish-ton-wish sings, if the
chiefs are gone the hunters will follow," said Black Snake, as himself
and about twenty dusky boys, flourishing their bows and arrows, leaped
along the skirt of the forest and soon disappeared. They wound their way
towards the east, where the deer frequented a marshy tract of land,
Black Snake now assuming all the superiority of a chief and leader, his
boasting, haughty manner returning, as he related what great deeds he
could do, and his name would make his enemies tremble. Having excited
sufficient awe and veneration among those artless Indian boys, he
pointed to fresh tracks, and waving his hand to the north, said:

"The deer have gone to the clear water to drink; the young-brave who
kills the first deer shall follow in the steps of Black Snake on the
war-path. Black Snake will go prepare for the feast and dance, and the
evening fire for the great chiefs; the young braves follow with their
venison the back trail; they will not go before the old chiefs."

This sudden and unexpected announcement was received with a joyous shout
by the aspiring young braves, who, thus stimulated, quickly disappeared,
leaving Black Snake alone.

A hasty glance at the sky showed him the Manitou's eye had moved but
little since he left the chiefs, and had some ways yet to travel before
disappearing for the night, and his satisfied look said, "'Tis well,"
for Black Snake had much to do and much to bring about before the fiery
eye would again throw his searching rays upon this wild and wayward
child of the forest.

A fierce and fixed expression settled on his swarthy features,
contradicting all that assumed humility while in the presence of the
chiefs.

Following a direct path to the south-west, with his fast Indian lope,
crossing the creeks on the well-known beaver bridges, nothing impeded
his speed, and in an incredibly short time he found himself on the brow
of the great stony hill, where his path soon struck the river trail,
leaving the council of chiefs many miles behind him to the north. He
gave a peculiar whoop, composed, of a quick succession of notes
terminating in a prolonged sound, which made the forest ring till it
died away in the distance, silencing terrified bird and squirrel and
making the stillness that followed doubly still. Speeding on toward the
lodge, as he neared the great water-fall, he again repeated the shrill
call; this time faint answers reached him from different directions.

Then a sharp, solitary note, repeated at short intervals, and answered,
in the same, manner, and with the exclamation "Hugh!" in a satisfied
tone, the tired warrior seated himself for the first time since morning
at the root of a large tree, holding his head in his dark sinewy hands,
as if that was more weary even than his' over-exercised limbs. Soon
there appeared several Indian boys and old women from different sides of
the trail. He held a hasty confidential talk with them. That he did not
truthfully explain anything, in fact, misrepresented the whole, was only
too natural for Black Snake. But in his own way he revealed the final
decision, making a double sacrifice of the human offering--both body and
soul; he told them their spirits would be given to the evil one and sent
to the turbulent waters, there to be whirled forever in sight of the
bright path they never could follow.

This story, as calculated, struck terror to the hearts of his awe-
stricken hearers, and had the desired effect. Instantly the dense
foliage hid their frightened faces as they fled from the river trail,
and only the mimic cry of bird or animal known as a warning of danger to
all within hearing, the leaping or plunging through the underbrush was
all the eye or ear could detect after Black Snake's communication, which
sent the berry pickers and cone gatherers back with the fleetness of the
deer to hide themselves in their lodges. Black Snake was again following
with his greatest speed the river trail, not pausing till near the Great
Oak's lodge, where, assuming the position and actions of the reptile
whose name he bore, he crawled to the side of the wigwam, where,
unobserved, he watched for a few moments its solitary occupant. Seated
on a robe of the soft furs of the beaver, weaving the plaits on her how
highly prized wampum, while the prolonged gaze, interrupted with
restless flashing from the dark eyes of the Fawn, bespoke the anxiety,
with which she had waited the result of that long, long day, which would
also decide her fate. Wearied with picturing the future in its brilliant
lights and dark shades, as Grey Eagle and Black Snake alternately
figured in her thoughts, and wearied with waiting for the song of the
evening birds, she is suddenly startled from her meditation as a shadow
falls across the lodge, and Black Snake stands before her.

Springing to her feet and spasmodically grasping the wampum, fearing
Black Snake had been victorious and had come for his reward, was the
impulse of the moment; but the subdued and brotherly manner assumed by
Black Snake reassured as he gently addressed her.

"The Grey Eagle is a great chief, and Black Snake is his brother. Grey
Eagle looks as he rises on the stony-hill for his wampum, that he may
sit in the circle, of chiefs. Shall the Swaying Reed meet Grey Eagle
with her wampum? Is the Fawn too timid to go? Black Snake will stay with
the Fawn and let Swaying Reed fly on the trail towards the stony hill."

"No! No!" exclaimed the Fawn. "The Swaying Reed loves Black Snake; her
feet would be slow on the trail to carry the wampum to Grey Eagle. The
Fawn will go to meet her father and the tall chief, while Black Snake
sings in the ear of Swaying Reed, who is never tired of the voice she
loves so much."

"The Fawn has spoken well; but Grey Eagle must take the wampum from the
one his eyes rest first upon as he rises on the stony hill. The Fawn saw
the Indian women follow the trail towards the great flats to gather
berries and pine cones; she must shame the moose in her flight, and hide
under the bushes, if she would see Great Oak, and Grey Eagle first as
they mount the hill. If the Fawn would fill the pipe and kindle the fire
for Grey Eagle in his own wigwam, let him not know she is near until she
stands before him. I have said."

"The Fawn's ears have been open; her feet will not be slow; she will
follow the hidden path, until she reaches the great rocks of the hill.
The Fawn will do as her brother tells her. The Swaying Reed is waiting
for Black Snake."

And ere the day songsters had finished their sweet melody, or the
wish-ton-wish [Footnote: Whippoorwill.] had yet commenced its evening
song, the half frightened Indian maid had hid herself near the summit of
the hill, under foliage so dense, she felt not the fast falling dew, as
breathless she waited the coming steps. From her safe hiding place she
saw the white plume of Grey Eagle waving over his happy, excited face,
as with his light elastic step he appeared first; erect and tall like
the cedars around him. Next came her father whose wrinkled countenance,
softened with paternal care and watchfulness, had long lost the
fierceness and native fire of his youth, followed closely by his chiefs.
He passed slowly along the trail, hardly daring to raise his eyes, it
being the death warrant to whomsoever they should fall upon. Suddenly
the bushes parted and the Fawn bounded into her father's arms. To
accurately describe the agony of this scene would be impossible;
consternation for a moment held them spell-bound; horror was pictured in
faces so long trained to conceal the workings of the mind, and for the
first time the Fawn remained uncaressed in her father's arms. Astonished
and grieved she turned to Grey Eagle; the light had fled from his face,
and his soul apparently; he seemed petrified and lifeless as the rock he
stood upon. Even the poor wolf, missing his usual attention, or from
some inexplicable cause, commenced to howl pitifully as he leaped from
one to another.

The spell was broken by a young chief not old enough yet to feel the
responsibility of the customs of his fathers, from which life nor death
would tempt older chief to deviate, hopefully exclaiming:

"It was the wolf the Sagamore's eyes fell upon first; it was the wolf
the Manitou sent. He wants him to put into the far off hunting ground."

For an instant, only an instant, hope flitted across the face of the
doting, and heart broken lover. With the stoicism so natural to these
people, they attempted to hide their grief, but too plainly their ill
concealed tears betrayed, while they unlocked the almost paralyzed
tongue.

"Did my daughter find her lodge too warm, that she ventured so far away
in the dew? Were her ears closed when her father bid her stay in the
shadow of her lodge?"

"The Fawn was sent by Black Snake to meet her father," she replied.
"Would Grey Eagle have the Fawn wait for the song of the wish-ton-wish,
while the Black Snake sung in her ears; and the Swaying Reed carried her
wampum to the chief with the white plume? The Swaying Reed loves Black
Snake; and Black Snake sent the Fawn with her wampum, that the eyes of
her father and the young chief might fall on her first as they rose the
great hill."

Amazement and stupefaction sat for a moment on the features of the
Indians during the delivery of this speech. Their swarthy countenances
kindled with a fierce expression that told so well the dark thoughts
that struggled in their hearts at the perfidy of Black Snake who had
exercised his vengeance in so unmerciful a manner. The threatening
tomahawks that filled the air at this convincing proof of his malicious
designs, would have terrified any other than that sly, cunning chief. As
villains of the present day so often protect themselves with the strong
arm of the law intended for their suppression, so Black Snake knowing so
well the customs of his people, used their own well meant laws to carry
out his sinister plans, and protect himself in so doing. Again amidst
the tumult the young chief insisted:

"It was the wolf the chief saw first; 'twas the wolf the Manitou
wanted."

So many endorsed the young chief that confusion for the time prevented
Great Oak from speaking, which might have been mistaken for yielding;
when that crafty chief springing from among the ever-green bushes,
confronted the chiefs, and in a loud voice of ferocious exultation and
of triumph, tauntingly demanded:

"What says the Sagamore? Does he tell the young warriors a lie? The wolf
was in the arms of Black Snake when the Fawn was in the arms of her
father."

Turning with an annihilating look upon the base Indian, whose last
sentence conveyed an unpardonable taunt to any Indian chief, the
Sagamore, with the firmness of the rocks around him and in clear
distinct words replied:

"Dare pass judgement upon the deeds of a sachem who hath sat in council
with thy father's father? Look to thyself Black Snake, the hissing
spirits in the boiling waters below are calling for thee. I have said."

Bestowing upon his daughter a long look of thwarted love and final
resignation, in words at once unyieldingly firm, but full of, the
Indians' bright hopes and promises for the future, he pronounced her
doom, which none dared question.

"My child, the Manitou hath need of thee; thou must soon travel the
bright path and join thy mother beyond the clouds. The big moon shows
the path brightest now; and that thou mayst not stumble or lose thy way,
go prepare thyself at once as the child of thy father should, to
joyfully carry the gifts most precious to the Great Manitou for the
welfare of thy people. I have said."

The real or pretended indifference to pleasure or pain, one of the
great characteristics of the American Indian, even to the joyful manner
they would yield, without resistance and evidently without sufficient
cause, to torture and death, was owing greatly to the sudden and
unalterable decisions of their chiefs, governed by customs formed from
their views of a future state, over-ruling all earthly ambitions of
these untutored people. Such terrible dooms! The sentence and execution
so quickly following each other, and apparently falling upon the poor
victim at once, the shock paralyzing their faculties, while pride
concealing their softer feelings, transforms them so suddenly into
what appears beings indifferent and insensible to the suffering and
distress of death and separation or to the expectation of enjoyment
and happiness here on earth to themselves or others.

Thus comprehending her inevitable situation and feeling it an honor to
be the selected of the Manitou to guide the birchen-bark with precious
gifts over the precipice to the happy forest in eternity, where she
would meet her long remembered mother, the doomed maiden replied, with
tearful smile and subdued voice, "I go my father," and immediately
disappeared among the wild vines and bushes that border the banks of
Niagara, followed closely by her faithful wolf.

The setting sun that day shed its last rays and warmth upon a busy and
sorrowful scene, around thy roaring cataract, Oh, cruel unrelenting fall
of waters softly painting with mellow light the trees, rocks and thy
wild children, unmindful alike, of the sad though customary,
preparations for the sacrifice hurriedly proceeding: the women decking
with shells and flowers the fairest maiden in their tribe, so soon to
pass from them forever; the chiefs wrapped in the pride of Indian
endurance hide from each other their feelings no tear betrays, or
thoughts even mar the serenity of their countenances, which indicated
only submission to fate while the necessary ceremonies were being
provided for; and they filled the flower decked bark, moored in the
little eddy above the rapids, with highly valuable contributions; and
lighted the great pine-fires for the feast and dance, so well furnished
and prepared by Black Snake, while daylight faded into night, heralded
by invisible singers from the surrounding trees, pouring forth their
sleepy monotonous songs, varying only at times in a higher and wilder
key, then dying away in the endless roar of the turbulent waters around
them.

The full moon ascending majestically above the horizon, with its pale,
wavering light softened into beauty the rough rocks and banks, revealing
the brilliant and beautiful path that one by one, the wisest and best of
their tribe, had followed. Showering its light upon the narrow river
path, already filled with the sad hearted maidens leading the submissive
Fawn to the waiting boat in the quiet little bay; they hushed the noisy
feast with their low sweet voices as they sung her virtues, followed by
a subdued and curious crowd of every age and sex. About stepping from
the rock to her boat, the Fawn turned to her sire, but e'er she spoke
the sachem answered her appealing look.

"I have no word or gift to send by thee my child. Thou art my all. The
Great Oak will soon fall, but in falling must crush his enemies. Thy
father will follow thee on the beautiful trail when the Manitou next
lights the way," turning, as he finished, his back towards the river,
while the Fawn placed herself with mechanical helplessness in the boat.
Instantly the unnoticed, but faithful wolf, sprung after her. Arms were
stretched to pull him out, but the sachem's voice caused them to fall by
the sides of the officious forms to which they belonged.

"The Manitou calls whom he hath use for. If he sent my child through the
artfulness of that young chief to the brow of the big hill, he hath also
called the wolf, because he hath need of him; let him go. I have said."

The little bark, held firmly by strong ropes twisted from the inside
bark of the elm, and fastened to both ends of the boat and to the side
next to the shore, the other ends of the rope held by the weeping
maidens who followed the river path, slowly towing the little bark to a
point near the brink of the cataract, on the east border of the river,
where a platform of flat rocks whose uneven portions appear here and
there above the surface of the water, form a solid foundation to its
unsandy shore. There tossing the ropes from them, the light canoe drawn
by the powerful current would dance only a moment on the bounding waves,
ere it launched into the misty region surrounding the mystical path,
where transition is hid from mortal eye. Slowly drawn by the reluctant
girls, the Fawn commenced her death song, a simple address to the
Manitou, while her thoughts evidently clung to her earthly friends.

  "Thou hath called. Great Manitou, from thy forest on high,
  I come, I'll follow thy wampum-dyed path through the sky;
  Thy gifts hath been poured on the chieftains and braves,
  They send Thee their child on the dark boiling waves;
  Soon in the Beautiful Path she will be,
  Loaded with tears so precious for Thee;
  The grief of my sire, the grief of my brave,
  Oh! Precious the load on this terrible wave;
  But cheered by my chief, as the last leap draws nigh,
  Can I look back and see him from thy Path in the sky?
  One look, O Manitou! 'ere my face rams
  From my father and brave, where my heart still yearns;
  That look; and their tears my offering shall be,
  Oh precious the load I'll carry to Thee,
  As my spirit will rise in the mist o'er the wave,
  While my body floats down to its watery grave."

Suddenly her song was interrupted by another wail, commencing low and
gradually rising, till its clear notes seemed to fill the surrounding
woods, mingling with the shrieks of the wind as it wound round the
prominent rocks they were slowly approaching. There on the very rock
where the Fawn's little bark would dart away from the open hands of the
sad lamenting maidens, stood unobserved by all but his own braves, the
tall figure of Grey Eagle, dimly seen through the suddenly cloudy
moonlight, erect against the dark back ground of the forest, singing in
an exulting voice and manner, words that betrayed his intentions, which
none would dare prevent, or set at naught if accepted by the Manitou,--a
free spontaneous gift of life on his part, as shown in the words that
floated on the night air to the ears of his hearers.

   "Thou lift'st not thy hand, which only can save
   The dark-eyed maid from thy terrible wave;
   She is tender and timid, Oh! Great Manitou!
   In the arms of her brave to Thee she must go,
   In the arms of her brave take the terrible flight,
   Together their spirits shall, rise into light."

As the ropes fell, from the trembling hands of the towing maidens, the
moon in mercy seemed to hide her face beneath a cloud, veiling in
darkness the fearful tragedy, as the Fawn floated off on the pitiless
wave. A splash; a struggle; a wild howl, filled the air, echoing from
rock to rock and from shore to shore. One ray of light from between the
clouds revealed the little boat, as poised an instant in the misty vapor
over the boiling surge, and dark forms gathered on the rocks from whence
the bark had just departed; while shout and strife and angry threats
grew loud among the warlike group madly struggling on that brink of
eternity. Great Oak alone could quell the tumult. Followed by some
sympathizing chiefs he wound his way among the promiscuous crowd already
gathered. On the shore near the brink of the falling waters, on the
stony tables extending far out into the water, stood Grey Eagle's
warriors, firm as the rocks beneath them. In the center of this group,
almost a prisoner of his own braves, was the speechless Grey Eagle; at
his feet crouched the powerful wolf over the prostrate form of the
insensible Fawn, alternately howling and licking her face. At the
appearance of the old chief clamor ceased, and with difficulty the
astonished father was made to understand the cause of the excitement.

At the moment of the Indian girls freeing the boat, the natural instinct
of the wolf apprised him of her danger; instantly springing to his loved
mistress, fastening his powerful jaws in her deer skin dress, the
faithful beast tumbled into the water, struggling with fear and more
than common strength to the rock where stood the almost petrified Grey
Eagle, who then recognized the omnipotent power that moved to save.
Being surrounded by his own braves who quickly and thoughtfully passed
them to the shore, re-commenced the pow-wow in which Black Snake's voice
was heard above all the others, calling on the Manitou to let his wrath
fall on the strangers for robbing him of his gifts, and not on the open
hands of his own people, and calling for help to toss them all into the
boiling waters, to avert the wrath of the Manitou from themselves, he
tried to suit his actions to his words. His voice was last heard on the
brink of the precipice, as if in a deadly contest.

When the sachem and the other chiefs agreed the Manitou had taken what
he wanted, and given the rest back to his sorrowful children, Black
Snake was not there. When the pine cones were piled high on the big
fire, and Grey Eagle was proclaimed War-Chief, and the wolf as a totem
thereafter to the mingle tribes of Great Oak's and Grey Eagle's people,
and was marked indelibly on each warrior, Black Snake was not there.
When the feast and dance commenced and the now animated Fawn, in the
presence of all the chiefs, gave her wampum to Grey Eagle, and the night
wore away with wild festivities, as chief after chief silently
disappeared, as they had appeared, in the dark winding paths over the
hills and around marshes to their distant homes; and peace and happiness
again spread around old Niagara, while the sassafras' fragrant smoke
from their cheerful wigwams mingling with the cataract's cloudy mist,
rose like incense to their Manitou, Black Snake still was not there; and
only for the Swaying Reed wandering up and down the vine tangled banks,
ever looking among the rocks, and listening for a well remembered step,
or some mimic note of the departed brave, he would have passed from
their memories as he had from the sight of the noble and generous wolf
tribe created and loved of the Great Manitou of Niagara.




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