Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/261

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thought there was anything like jesting on the subject of his own high merits; his face beamed with delight on receiving such a compliment.

The men and women of the village crowded on the shore as the boat landed, as well they might, for a steamboat was a new sight to them.

The chief sprang from the boat, and swelling with pride and self-admiration he took the most conspicuous station on a rock near the shore, among his people, and made them a speech.

We could but admire his native eloquence. Here, with all that is wild in nature surrounding him, did the untaught orator address his people. His lips gave rapid utterance to thoughts which did honour to his feelings, when we consider who and what he was.

He told them that the white people were their friends; that they wished them to give up murder and intemperance, and to live quietly and happily. They taught them to plant corn, and they were anxious to instruct their children. “When we are suffering,” said he, “during the cold weather, from sickness or want of food, they give us medicine and bread.”

And finally he told them of the honour that had been paid him. “I went, as you know, to talk with the big Captain of the Fort, and he, knowing the bravery of the Dahcotahs, and that I was a great chief, has brought me home, as you see. Never has a Dahcotah warrior been thus honoured!”

Never, indeed! But we took care not to undeceive him. It was a harmless error, and as no efforts on our part could have diminished his self-importance, we listened with apparent, indeed with real admiration of his eloquent speech. The women brought ducks on board, and in exchange we gave them bread; and it was evening as we watched the last teepee of Shah-co-pee’s village fade away in the distance.

Shah-co-pee has looked rather grave lately. There is trouble in the wigwam.

The old chief is the husband of three wives, and they and their