Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

your life.”

“ The

66

thing hard in the close fitting leggin of the sav. raising her eyes from the ground, she murmured age. With a quick grasp he drew forth a large in a low voice, “The Black Otter dwells alone, Indian hunting knife. Nee-o-ski did not attempt he has no one to mend his moccasins or look any defence; he had tried the strength and agil- after his venison." ity of Nelson before, and he knew it would be Slowly did Nelson comprehend the meaning vain. He stood in sullen silence. Cowardly of the young girl, so delicately expressed; and dog," exclaimed Nelson, “ you have forfeited when it did break upon his mind, he started as

if a sudden pain had beset him. Could it be, Strike,” said the savage, baring his breast that this young creature wished to devote her with true Indian indifference, “ Wab-sha-ash is life to him ? Did she love him? Could she trust too much for the Wolf. The Great Spirit guards him in preference to the braves of her tribe ? He him, or the Black Otter should have died where determined to ascertain without delay. he stands. Let him strike, if he would save his Running Brook is very beautiful; do not the life; Nee-o-ski never forgives.”

young braves talk to her of love ?" Villain,” said Nelson, “I will not kill you, " Tow-is will not hear." for I do not fear so false a heart. Go," contin- “Will Running Brook leave the lodge of ued he, pointing in the direction of the wig- Wau-sha-ra and dwell in the home of Wab-shawams, “Wab-sha-ash will follow."

ash, and mend his moccasins and prepare his The baffled chief did as he was bidden, and venison ?" strode away to the lodges. Nelson assembled “She will," was answered in the same low the chiefs and braves; and after rehearsing the voice. narrow escape he had bad, give up the Black “And," continued Nelson, “ will Wau-sha-ra Wolf to be punished as their code of laws should see his beautiful Running Brook give herself to direct. It is sufficient to state here, that his the Pale-face ?" crime was considered an offence against the “Ask Wau-sha-ra," replied the Indian girl ; tribe, and he was consequently sent into exile "he will answer.” from which he was never permitted to return. Nelson's mind was made up on the instant.

The next thing with Nelson was to seek Run- He had often admired the artlessness of the ning Brook, and reward her for preserving his young creature, beautiful as the dawn of day; life a second time. He found her on the banks her services to him demanded a reward; and in of the river, pulling away the branches of the her innocence she had named that reward; he willow to weave into curious baskets; and ap- had long dismissed all thought of returning to proaching her, he caught her attention by utter- his native land to claim a fairer bride ; he would, ing the soft name of Tow-is in a low, mild therefore, take the young girl to live with him, voice. She started, and looking around, would and repay her devotion by unremitted kindness. have fled, as though she feared he would offer In this way he should make her happy and deed she wrong no one.

Wabthe Running Brook saved the life of Wab-sha- sha-ash will think of what she says." ash; he is not ungrateful. What shall he give That same evening he sought Wau-sha-ra, to her in return? Let her come with the Black and deinanded the old chief's daughter as his Otter to his lodge, and choose the most beautiful bride. Wau-sha-ra was astonished; he had not things she can select. They shall be hers.” thought of this; and he knew what was the

" The Running Brook can do a brave deed practice of the whites with their Indian wives. without a reward. She could not see the good Though much attached to Nelson, he hesitated Pale-face die by the fangs of a false double- to give his beautiful Tow-is to him, to be cast tongued snake. Nee-o-ski is gone from his tribe off by and by for a fairer. Calling her, thereforever. He will follow the Running Brook no fore, he thus addressed her : more with his false words of love. It is enough “Does the Running Brook know that the that she is free from his vile presence.”

Great Spirit is not pleased that the Pale-face · But the Black Otter cannot feel right until and the Red man should dwell together? Are he has rewarded her for her brave deed. Let not the young braves, in her tribe, warriors Tow-is speak, and Wab-sha-ash will grant." enough for Running Brook? Let her answer.”

She stood a moment, as if confused, and un- “ The Pale Medicine man says that all are certain what reply to give. At length, without brothers."

done, but he gently detained her. "Twice has "The Running Brook may go now.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER

VI.

came.

“ The Running Brook does not know that the Brook apparently the same as ever.

No nien Pale-face will tire of her, by and by, and send tion was made of the circumstance; aod mat. her away and take in her place a pale woman." ters passed on as usual, until he commenced

Looking up suddenly to Wab-sha-ash she ex- preparing to go to Detroit, having been again claimed, “ Will the pale man do this?"

chosen a legislator. She seemed restless and Nelson replied, “ Never; he will be true to abstracted; and when he bade her adieu, said, the Running Brook always; for he owes her his “Let Wab-sha-ash seek the Running Brook in life.”

the lodge of Wau-sha-ra, when he returns. She “She seemed satisfied, and turning to the old will be glad to see him.” chief her father, replied, “Wau-sha-ra's daugh- When they meet again our story will come to ter will trust the Pale-face."

a close. The old sachen said no more, but bade them prepare for the ceremony on the morrow. It

Nelson brought his most brilliant ornaments and cloths, as presents to the father of The Winter had passed as usual, with Nelson Tow-is; and amid the wild rejoicings of the red in the city. He had shared in the debates and men, the beautiful Running Brook was borne to exciting movements of the Legislature; and his the lodge of Clarence Nelson, a far different voice was not unfrequently heard in strong arbride from her he had selected at twenty. From gument on the various questions that arose. that time until the close of our last chapter, she The session had broken up, and Nelson had arhad dwelt with the Black Otter, and been a most ranged his affairs so as to depart on the followfaithful attendant upon his wishes. He was ing day. A grand entertainment was to be givever kind to her, and he even spent many hours en that night at the house of one of the wealthy instructing her. She had a ready comprehen- citizens of the city; and Nelson, with other sion, and the desire of pleasing bim stimulated members, was invited. He went, because be her to great effort; and his instructions, given was expected to go; and a refusal would have orally of course, expanded and beautified her argued a disrespect for the entertainer. Little mind, till she came to be quite a companion for did he divine the events that were to transpire his leisure hours. He had as great love for her that evening, else he might have hesitated long as he felt for any living being; and the idea of about going. The guests were all assembled ; leaving her never occurred to him.

the evening was far advanced, and the company For several years he had been a member of in the height of enjoyment, were amusing themthe State Legislature; and though occasionally selves in various ways as best suited their tastes; she evinced some uneasiness at his departure, when Nelson, having grown weary of witness. to mingle exclusively with the whites, still each ing scenes that recalled too painfully his early return seemed to give her greater confidence in life, left the rooms, and went forth upon the pihim, and at last she ceased to fear.

azza, to enjoy a few moments solitude. A large Among the agents sent out by the govern- chandelier was suspended from the centre of the ment to pay off the Indians, was one of Nelson's piazza, and its brilliant light fell strongly upon old associates, though by no means an intimate the features of a lady who stood leaning against

He saw the beautiful Running Brook, and one of the pillars. She looked up as Nelson knowing that such engagements were frequent- approached ; and both stared as is an apparition ly broken by the traders, immediately conceived had suddenly emerged from the darkness, and the base design of dissolving this, and possess- the words, “ Clarence Nelson" and Helen ing himself of the artless Tow-is. He found Hyde” burst simultaneously from their lips. occasion, therefore, to relate to her the story of The lady recovered herself first. * Mrs. HarNelson's early love, representing him as still in- wood, if you please," said she, bowing. tending to return and marry the pale woman, awkward silence ensued. There seemed to and offering to make her his wife when the chance of escape; and Nelson felt himself chainBlack Otter should cast her off. She fled from ed to the spot as by a magnetic influence. For his presence like a startled deer; but the arrow years the thought of meeting Helen Hyde bad had not missed its mark, as will be seen by the not occurred to him, save as a thing altogether words of her song.

impossible; but now fortune seemed to have When Nelson returned to his lodge on the purposely thrown them together. A moment's night when we left him, he found Running reflection taught them how to act. Approaching

one.

[ocr errors]

An

[ocr errors]

64

her, he said, “Mrs. Harwood, I remember all, 'tis written here,” laying his hand on his heart, “but let the dead Past bury its dead, and he extended his hand.” She did not refuse to take it; yet it was done so calmly, though kindly, that he was almost unmanned. “Mr. Nelson," said she, in a slow measured voice, " the dead Past hath buried up many of its dead with us, its dead vows, its departed hopes and its perished joys. Had we both learned in youth to trust no future however pleasant, we should not be calling loudly for the dead Past to bury up its dead from our sight. Neither of us can have dismissed from remembrance the events of our early lives; but let there be no improper recalling of them now. By some strange fortune we have met. Let it be as strangers. I desire no further information of what has transpired with you since we last met. I can see that Time has laid his hand upon your brow as he has upon mine. Let there be courtesy and kind feeling between us, but no approach to the past."

• It shall be as you say, Mrs. Harwood,” said Nelson in a subdued voice; “but permit me to ask an introduction to the fortunate man who has possessed the hand of Helen Hyde. I shall the more easily confine myself to propriety of language and demeanor.” “ That cannot be," answered she.

“I am alone; he whom I called husband, sleeps in the grave with other near and dear friends. I can only say that his virtues were innumerable, and are remembered with the deepest respect by his wife."

A sigb from Nelson was the only response; and bowing a good night, Mrs. Harwood passed into the house. Nelson left the party very soon after, and with the earliest dawn was on his way back to his wild associations. We have no means of making his heart speak out its feelings, but we cannot doubt they were of a character far from pleasant.

As he approached the place of his destination, the last words of Running Brook revived in his memory, and sounded strangely. He had often thought of the mystery that marked her last interview with him, and wondered what could have been its cause; and the words “Let Wabsha-ash seek Running Brook in the lodge of Wau-sha-ra,” gained solemnity at every step. He did not go to his own house, but turned immediately to that of the Ottawa chief. The old sachem met bim at a little distance, and addressed him thus : “Wab-sha-ash is welcome. Vol. XX.

33

Let him come into the lodge of Wau-sha-ra ; Running Brook bas watched his coming many days, and her eyes could not sleep when the stars came out in the sky, because they saw not the form of Wab-sha-ash. The Great Spirit has called the Running Brook to the happy fields; and the child of Wau-sha-ra is about to enter the home of the braves who have gone hence. But she waits to see the Black Otter. If he would listen once more to the music of her voice, if he would look once more into her dark eyes, let him come to the lodge of her father.”

Nelson was startled and distressed at this intelligence. He entered with the old chief, and hurried to the side of his daughter. She occupied an apartment separated from the rest of the lodge by a partition of skins. Upon a pile of buffalo robes, covered with fine furry skins, lay the wasted form of Running Brook. She did not see Nelson as he approached, until he addressed her in an agitated voice: “Will the beautiful Running Brook look at the Black Otter? he waits to hear her voice once more.”

She started up at the sound of his voice, gave one short Indian ejaculation, and sank exhausted again on her couch of skins. Nelson advanced to her side, and bending over her, stroked the dark locks that lay back from her dusky brow, tenderly, while he clasped one of her wasted hands in his. She looked up in his face, and a gleam of joy shot across her wan features.

“ The Running Brook is glad to see Wab-shaash again. She has many things to tell him before she goes beyond the great river, and she feared sometimes that her voice would be gone before he came. If he will look at the Running Brook, he will see that she has but a little time to stay. Let him listen to her words, and be happy."

· Why does the Running Brook go to the happy fields so young? Does she not love to dwell with the Black Otter ?"

“She was very happy in bis lodge, till Keno.sha, the Fox, told her of the white love of Wabsha-ash; and she knew his heart was not with the dark girl of the forest, but pined to go back to the land he had left and to his pale woman of the East. Then for a while there was no star in the sky, and it was all dark around Running Brook. But the Great Spirit told her to come to his beautiful home, and she was glad to obey. Will the Black Otter listen to the words of Tow. is, before she passes away like the mist from the bosom of the waters ?

“ He will listen," said Nelson, "but will not

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

so ?”.

[ocr errors]

the Running Brook get weary ? she is very fee- woman is a great medicine; she will comfort ble."

Running Brook and make her well again. She "No, it will take a great pain from her heart, shall come before three sleeps." and she will die easier when she has opened her " Wab-sha-ash is kind. Now be may go, heart to Wab-sha-ash. Did not Wab-sha-ash Tow-is would sleep.” love a pale woman in his youth? Let him an- Bending over her, he touched her dusky foreswer.”

head lightly with his lips, and was about to dis“ Wab-sha-ash did love a pale woman once." appear, when she said in a low voice, “Let the " Was she beautiful ?"

Black Otter come every day at the going down Running Brook is as beautiful as she.” of the sun." A faint smile lit her features for a moment, “ Tow-is may look for him," was the answer, at the answer; and she replied, “Ken-o-sha and he was gone. He immediately despatched told the Running Brook that pale woman a messenger to the capital, with a missire to lived alone, and that Wab-sha-ash wished to go Helen, in which he gave her a brief representaback to Iris old home and marry her. Is it not tion of the circumstances, and solicited her to

come to the dying Indian girl. “The pale woman is alone. Wab-sha-ash Three days passed away, and the eye of the saw her but a day since. The Black Otter will dying girl grew brighter and brighter. Each never leave his beautiful Running Brook for the day, as the sun sank beneath the western hills, pale-face. She need not fear.”

the trader entered the apartment of the depart“Running Brook will be cold as the snow up- ing Tow-is ; and each time he came forth with on the bleak bills, before the trees have budded, a sadder brow and more silent lip. During the or the birds have come from their warm hones day he sat in a retired spot that overlooked near. at the South. Wab-sha-ash and the great sa- ly the entire surface of the bay, and watched chem Wau-sha-ra will lay her by the shore of with anxious eyes the different vessels as they the big water, beneath the bending willow, that passed. On the third day at evening, just as he she may sleep where her feet loved to wander, was about to descend from his post, to pay his and the song of the bright waters will come customary visit to Running Brook, a large around her grave. She has had many sweet steamer came in sight; and in a moment more dreams of the beautifal home that Wab-sha-ash he saw that she was headed for the shore. A told her of, beyond the sky, where the sun and strong conviction seized his mind that Helen moon never go down, and where there is no pain was on board, and without waiting to ascertain, and no dying; but all love, for the dusky girl of be entered the lodge with a quick nervous step, the Ottowas, as well as the beautiful pale wo- and hastened to the dying child of Wau-sha-ra. man, towards the rising sun. Is it not so?" At a glance he saw that Death would delay to

“ It is so,” said Nelson, recalling to mind con- claim his own but a brief time longer. The versations he had held with her in answer to dusky cheek exhibited a strange pallor, and the her inquiries about his heaven. “Running Brook pinched features and wonderfully brilliant eye, has not forgotten the words of the Wab-sha-ash. told indisputably that the great Sagamore's When she dies she will find the bright home she daughter was nearly at her journey's end. She speaks of, and be happy forever. But she will turned her eyes upon him with the same reverlive many years in the lodge of Wab-sha-ash to ential look with which she was wont to regard make him happy.”

him, and motioning him to sit down a little dis“Let not the Black Otter seek to win the soul tance from the couch, said with difficulty, " The of Tow-is from the pleasant fields with soft bright sunshine is gone forever from the eyes of words. He cannot love the pale woman, and Tow-is. Once more the stars will come out to the Indian girl at the same time; and Running look upon her, and then she will sleep and never Brook cannot be happy without all his love. wake. Does the Black Otter look for the pale

“Let him hear once more what she would woman? Will she come before the Ottawa girl say. Let the pale woman come to the lodge of has shut her weary eyelids and gone to the long Wau-sha-ra, Tow-is would look on her beauti- sleep?" ful face and say soft words to her. 'Tis the last She will," answered Nelson," Wab-sha-ash thing she will ask of Wab-sha-ash. Shall it be will bring her in a few moments. The heart of

the Black Otter is heavy; there will be no light “It shall be so," answered Nelson, the pale in his lodge when Tow-is is gone; and leaning

so ?

his head upon the couch, and burying his face in his hands, groan after groan burst from his lips, till he was nearly convulsed. Raising herself slightly, the Indian girl laid her emaciated hand upon his shoulder, and said feebly but solemnly, " Wab-sha-ash must not make the last hour of Running Brook sad with his grief; he was good to her always, and many happy years has she dwelt with him. Is he not willing she should dwell with the Master of Life and be happier still ?"

Nelson raised his head and gazed at her, as if awe-stricken to hear such words from her lips. She saw it, smiled, and sinking back, breathed out softly, “ Tow-is is happy.” As she lay with her eyes shut, he glided from the room and hastened down to the beach to meet Helen, as he did not doubt she was there. He was right in his supposition; she had come at his bidding, and at his request proceeded without delay to the lodge of Wau-sha-ra. Nelson introduced her formally to the chief, who received her with profound respect, after which he led her to the side of Tow-is. Here he could not speak, but left the two, so unlike and yet so like in tenderness, to greet each other as their natures and circumstances dictated. As Mrs. Harwood approached the bed-side, Running Brook laid her hand with a smile upon her heart and then extended it to the other, who took it, pressed it upon her own heart, and placed her hand upon the heart of the dying woman. After a moment the latter folded her hands across her bosom ; and Mrs. Harwood seated herself upon a low stool that Nelson had placed for her.

Tow-is did not speak; she seemed waiting for some word or sign from the trader. Approaching her he said with great effort, " The Running Brook may say what she wishes, the Pale wo. man will hear her like a sister. Her eye brightened and she commenced, Nelson interpreting, “Wab-sha-ash has told the beautiful Pale woman why she has come to the lodge of Wau. sha-ra;

and now let her listen. Many moons ago, when Running Brook was hardly a woman, she loved the Black Otter and wished to live in his wigwam, to look after his moccasins and venison. He gave her a place in his lodge, and called around her the brightest sunshine, and the sweetest music; and it seemed to her that she would not leave him even for the bapny hunting grounds. He told her of a beautiful home beyond the stars, and she learned to think she should go there when she died. By and by the sunshine turned to darkness, and the music

was all gone, and she forgot to hear the birds sing; for she had learned that it was not love that made the Black Otter take her to his home. But the light came again, only it is farther off, and the music, only it sounds away in the skies; and voices sweeter than the birds, have called her away; and when the moon rises above the old elm and looks upon the lodge of her father, Running Brook will have no more pain or sorrow forever. Then will the beautiful pale woman, that the Black Otter loved in bis youth, live in his lodge, and keep his heart from getting sad. Let her answer.”

Helen was for a moment bewildered, and knew not what to answer; but the dying girl watched her eagerly, and she felt there was no time to lose, and she replied :

“ The Running Brook must not grieve that the Pale woman cannot do as she asks. 'Tis true the Black Otter loved her, a long time ago; but he left her, and for many years she was sad and wished only to die. Then beautiful words came to her from the Master of Life, and she became happy, happier than ever; and she ceased to think of her sorrows. The Black Otter and the Pale woman do not think alike; they do not feel alike ; they could not be happy together now. It would not be well. He will stay with Wau-sha-ra and his red brothers, and think ofien of his beautiful Running Brook, and be good and happy ; while the Pale woman will

back to the land of her birth and to the little ones God gave to ber care; and by and by both will meet the Running Brook in her bright home, and all dwell together forever. Do not the Pale woman's words sound good to the Indian girl ?"

After musing a moment, the latter replied: “ Tow-is cannot tell; they sound strange; but she has no time to talk; for a strong hand is drawing her away. She has looked upon the gentle pale-face, and her heart calls her, Loh-etah. She will be happy, and the Black Otter too."

She lay silent a moment, and just then the moonbeams shot over the elm and darted into an opening of the lodge upon the features of the girl. She spoke, “ Bid the sachem Wau-sha-ra come to his daughter.” A sign from Nelson brought the old Sagamore to her side. Silent and composed he stood with the true Indian philosophy written upon his face; but there was anger beneath. He gazed upon his daughter. She strove to raise herself. Helen passed her arms under her, and listing her emaciated frame,

go

« AnteriorContinuar »