Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/414

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372
MARY SPENSER PEASE.

not found himself, before he was aware of their intent, firmly and securely bound to his horse with strong ropes of twisted bark. Resistance was vain. He therefore quietly allowed himself to be led to the Indian encampment, concealed in the heart of the old forest, and very shortly he found himself arraigned before the grim tribunal of the Indian chief, as a spy. With the quiet simplicity of truth, he denied the charge, stating that he was an Englishman—a friend to the red man; travelling solely for his own pleasure, gratifying his love of the beautiful, in studying the wild and picturesque scenery of America, as well as his love of novelty in the men and manners of the new country.

The chief, who spoke English very tolerably, listened gravely to the young man’s words, and at the conclusion, wisely shook his head, and scowling until the bright vermilion stripes over each eye met in one bloody line, abruptly said: “Pale-face cannot deceive Pontiac. You see before you that great warrior. Pontiac likes the English pale-face not at all; for has he not found the pale-face tongue ever fair and false? Where are the lands of our fathers? Did they not reach from the ocean beyond the big river of the Mississippi? Pontiac’s tribe very great. His chiefs have ever been renowned in council and in war. Were not our braves as numerous as the leaves of the forest? Were not peace and plenty ours until the white man came among us? Pale-face have smooth tongue and sharp sword.”

“You may have received many wrongs from some of my countrymen, but others there are who regret those wrongs, and none more than myself. I would see my red brothers of the forest receive always justice and mercy from the invaders of their soil.”

“White brother’s tongue very soft. Indian eyes wide awake; Indian eyes never deceive. White brother come as friend;—why does white brother ride on enemy’s horse? Major Gladwin a snake in the grass—Pontiac hate him.”

The Indian concluded his sentence with one of his peculiar scowls, his small black eyes glistening like burning coals under the frowning paint. The prisoner started. A choking and chilling sensation of dread crept through his veins; at a glance he saw why