« AnteriorContinuar »
Steals all his light away,
Leaves us to pleasure.
Now the day closes;
Dies on the roses.
Leads her bright million,
Heaven our pavilion-
Here in the valley-
Hangs the lime-alley.
SAGITTO, THE WARRIOR OF THE WASHPELONG.
BY MORRIS MATTSON.
THROUGH what is now one of the western states, about half a century ago, there roamed a small band of aborigines, who were the terror of the neighbouring whites. They were, altogether, not more than fifty in number, consisting entirely of those, who, actuated by a restless and warlike spirit, were at continual enmity with the less enterprising and turbulent brethren of their tribe, and accordingly formed themselves into a band of reckless desperadoes. Sagitto, by common consent, was elected their war chief. He was chosen, perhaps, partly for his unwavering intrepidity; and partly, because he was known to possess extraordinary prudence and foresight. Sagitto was by no means one of the worst of
Although bold, daring, and oftentimes merciless, yet there was a loftiness and grandeur in his character, that partially obscured every evil passion of his nature. His muscular and proportioned frame-his haughty and majestic stride-his manly and prepossessing features all seemed to proclaim that he might be fashioned for some noble and exalted purpose. Over his followers he exercised a strange and unbounded influence. His occasional severity only tended to increase their admiration and love. They looked upon him as a superior being, invested with the entire control of their destiny; and Sagitto, shrewd and penetrating as he was, lost not the
advantage of their credulity. He taught them to believe that the very elements were obedient to his command; and it was a tradition among them, that at one time, when surrounded by his enemies, he had retreated to the top of a mountain-and, lo ! the heavens were overspread with clouds, and Sagitto, in his terrible and vindictive wrath, grasping the hissing and angry lightnings, hurled them over the earth, scathing and destroying all within his reach. And, when the storm had passed away a thousand corses were scattered along the wilderness. So much for the traditions of a simple, confiding, and romantic race.
We were speaking of Sagitto's influence over his little tribe of Seminoles. At the waving of his hand, they were silent as death. A single whisper, and their battleaxes were gleaming in every direction ; and then yells and whoops passed through the everlasting forest, like the loud blast of the equinox. Their retreat was in a narrow pass, between two mountains, that terminated abruptly on the Missouri river. They were continually at warfare with the white settlements; more, perhaps, for the sake of plunder, than a desire of shedding blood. But as they frequently met with opposition, a contest, of course, would ensue, which too often terminated in their complete success.
The Washpelong believed that there was little probability of their hiding place being discovered. In this they were mistaken. Some incidental circumstance led to their detection. It was ascertained that their resort could be approached from the river. Boats were got in readiness and a large body of veteran marksmen were prepared to commence the attack. They chose a tempestuous night, when, they believed, the Indians would
not be upon their guard. In landing, almost in breathless silence, an arrow whizzed by them. They stood, for a moment, unmoved. Another—another, and another !
Still they were silent. They could see no object through the darkness of midnight. At length an arrow struck one of the adventurers in the temple; he gave a loud scream, and fell dead upon the spot. A single gun was fired, and the supposed sentinel howled in the agonies of death. The whites were drawn up on the shore, prepared for battle. The breathing of the wounded Washpelong was now distinctly heard. From the sound, it appeared as though he might be unsuccessfully endeavouring to regain his feet. One of the men groped his way through the underwood, about fifty yards from the main body, and discharged his musket. This stratagem, though dangerous to the individual, had the desired effect. The Indians directed their attention to this quarter, and the noise occasioned by the movement, gave
the whites a momentary advantage. Several volleys were instantly fired, and, as it was supposed, not entirely without effect. They were, however, too well acquainted with the subtle enemy with whom they had to contend, to remain any longer exposed, and consequently retreated immediately to their boats.
The hostility between Sagitto's tribe and the borderers (or hoosiers) was now of the most deadly character. The latter, who had been the aggressors, made active preparations to defend themselves from an attack which, they had every reason to apprehend, would soon be made. For this purpose, every house was plentifully supplied with arms and ammunition; but when they fancied their security the greatest, they became, in a brief hour, the victims of their enemies.
They were surprised during the night, and before they
could make any effectual resistance, the whole village was on fire. It is unnecessary to describe the conflagration, plunder, and havoc of that fearful night. The red men were determined to avenge the wrongs they had sustained ; and the result can easily be imagined. But few, very few of the villagers escaped. Those who quit their dwellings were slaughtered upon the spot. House after house was burnt to the ground, until they were nearly all consumed. There was yet one, standing alone, to which the fire was just communicated. The roof was beginning to blaze. The infuriated Washpelong immediately assembled around it, prepared to cut off every possible retreat of its inmates. What a spectacle was here presented ! the fiendish countenances of the assailants, each eager for his prey, looked not unlike so many statues of bronze, as they stood, gazing intently upon the conflagration, ready to glut the murderous tomahawk with the blood of those who might have the hardihood to fly. Suddenly the casement of a window flew open, and a female appeared, as if in the act of leaping to the earth. While she remained for a moment in this position, she was entirely enveloped in a sheet of flame. She sprang forward, and fell prostrate upon the ground. A dozen battleblades gleamed in the livid and sickly light, above her beautiful head.
“Hold !” wildly exclaimed Sagitto, rushing among them. They all fell back without a murmur.
“ The Great Spirit is angry ! continued Sagitto, as he caught up the female in his arms. For a moment he looked intently upon her features, and a tear stole down his swarthy cheek. Her senses returned, and she was carried away a captive by the war chief. He gave her the name of Orania, and bestowed upon her every possible attention. It was a long time before she could be re