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Title: Indian Sketches, Taken During an Expedition to the Pawnee and Other Tribes of American Indians (Vol. 1 of 2)
Author: Jr., Irving, John T.
Language: English
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                           INDIAN SKETCHES,

                                 TAKEN

                         DURING AN EXPEDITION

                                  TO

                      THE PAWNEE AND OTHER TRIBES

                                  OF

                           AMERICAN INDIANS.



                                  BY

                       JOHN T. IRVING, JUNIOR.



                            IN TWO VOLUMES.

                                VOL. I.

                                LONDON:
                    JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
                              MDCCCXXXV.



                                  TO

                       HENRY L. ELLSWORTH, ESQ.


  DEAR SIR,

Having accompanied you throughout the whole of your bold and perilous
expedition to the Pawnee Towns, permit me to congratulate you upon its
success, and upon the benefits secured both to your own countrymen,
and to the wild tribes beyond the border, by your enterprise and
self-devotion.

With me it was the juvenile excursion of a minor, where every thing
was fraught with novelty and pleasurable excitement; but with you it
was an official undertaking, full of anxiety and forethought, and I
cannot but fear that to the cares of your office was occasionally added
solicitude for the safety of your young and heedless fellow-traveller.

As it was partly at your own suggestion that the following pages were
written, I beg you will accept this dedication of them as a slight
testimonial of my respect and esteem, and an acknowledgment of the
kindness manifested by you throughout our wild campaign. If they
present but imperfect sketches of the vivid scenes we have witnessed
together, you will recollect that they are the first attempts of an
inexperienced pencil.

                                                            THE AUTHOR.



                         CONTENTS

                            OF

                     THE FIRST VOLUME.

             *       *       *       *       *

                       INTRODUCTION.
                                                       Page
  Introductory Account of the Object of the
    Expedition, and the Persons who composed
    it                                                    1


                        CHAPTER I.

  The Indian Country                                      9


                        CHAPTER II.

  The Rangers.—Indian Habits.—Crossing
    the Kanzas River                                     19


                       CHAPTER III.

  Shawanese and the Delawares                            29


                        CHAPTER IV.

  The Prairie.—Arrival at Fort Leavenworth               35


                        CHAPTER V.

  The Sac Indian                                         41


                        CHAPTER VI.

  The Kanzas                                             47


                       CHAPTER VII.

  The Kanzas Chief                                       64


                       CHAPTER VIII.

  The Forest.—The Kickapoos                              68


                        CHAPTER IX.

  Departure for the Pawnees.—Prairie Life                83


                        CHAPTER X.

  The Party of Sac Indians                               93


                        CHAPTER XI.

  The Journey.—Saline River                             103


                       CHAPTER XII.

  The Legend of the Saline River                        110


                       CHAPTER XIII.

  The Otoe Messengers                                   117


                       CHAPTER XIV.

  An Otoe Warrior.—The Iotan Chief                      123


                        CHAPTER XV.

  The Iotan and his Brother, or Indian Revenge          129


                       CHAPTER XVI.

  The Reception.—The Town                               136


                       CHAPTER XVII.

  Indian Habits.—The Escape                             151


                      CHAPTER XVIII.

  The Rival Chiefs.—Indian Feasts                       160


                       CHAPTER XIX.

  Domestic Grievances                                   170


                        CHAPTER XX.

  A Man of the World                                    179


                       CHAPTER XXI.

  The Chase                                             184


                       CHAPTER XXII.

  The Metamorphosis                                     194


                      CHAPTER XXIII.

  Indian Dogs                                           201


                       CHAPTER XXIV.

  Indian Life                                           208


                       CHAPTER XXV.

  The Indian Guard                                      213


                       CHAPTER XXVI.

  The Otoe Council                                      219


                      CHAPTER XXVII.

  Distribution of Presents                              226


                      CHAPTER XXVIII.

  Departure of Otoes for the Hunting Grounds            238


                       CHAPTER XXIX.

  Departure from the Otoe Village                       243


                       CHAPTER XXX.

  The Alarm                                             247


                       CHAPTER XXXI.

  Preparations for Reception.—Reception by
    Grand Pawnees                                       258



                           INDIAN SKETCHES.


                   *       *       *       *       *


                             INTRODUCTION.

INTRODUCTORY ACCOUNT OF THE OBJECT OF THE EXPEDITION, AND THE PERSONS
  WHO COMPOSED IT.


For several years past the government of the United States, as is well
known, has been engaged in removing the Indian tribes, resident within
the States, to tracts of wild but fertile land, situated beyond the
verge of white population. Some of the tribes thus removed, however,
when they came to hunt over the lands assigned them, encountered
fierce opposition from the aboriginal tribes of the prairies, who
claimed the country as their own, and denied the right of the United
States to make the transfer. The migratory tribes were thus placed in
a disastrous predicament: having sold their native lands to the United
States, they had no place to which they might retreat; while they could
only maintain a footing in their new homes, by incessant fighting.

The government of the United States hastened to put an end to the
bloody conflicts thus engendered, by purchasing the contested lands,
and effecting treaties of peace between the jarring tribes. In
some instances, however, the aboriginals remained unappeased. This
especially was the case, with a fierce and numerous tribe of Pawnees,
inhabiting the banks of the Platte river, and who were backed in their
hostilities by their allies the Otoes, who, though less numerous,
were even more daring than themselves. These two tribes laid claim
to all the land lying between the Platte and Kanzas rivers; a region
comprising several hundred square miles. It had long been their
favourite hunting ground, in which it was death for a strange hunter
to intrude. This forbidden tract, however, had been granted by the
United States to the Delawares; and the latter had made it the scene
of their hunting excursions. A bitter feud was the consequence. The
tract in question became a debateable ground in which war parties were
continually lurking. The Delawares had been attacked, while hunting,
by the Pawnees, and many of their tribe had fallen. The Delawares, in
revenge, had surprised and burnt one of the Pawnee towns, while the
warriors were absent on a buffalo hunt.

The hostile feelings, thus awakened among the aboriginal tribes of the
prairies, had been manifested toward the white men. Several trappers
and traders had been massacred by the Pawnees, who looked upon them as
intruders; and who were too far from the settlements, too confident of
their own prowess, and too ignorant of the power of the whites, to care
much either for their friendship or their enmity.

In this state of things, the commissioners, appointed by government to
superintend the settlement of the migratory tribes, were instructed
to proceed to the region in question, purchase the contested lands
of the Pawnees, and induce them to remove to the north of the river
Platte, and effect a treaty of peace between them and their new
neighbours. For this purpose, in the summer of 1833, Mr. Ellsworth,
the same commissioner who in the preceding year had explored a tract
of the hunting grounds between the Arkansas and the Grand Canadian[A],
set out from Washington for Fort Leavenworth, a frontier post on the
Missouri river, about forty miles beyond the boundary line of the State
of Missouri, where he was to await the arrival of one of his fellow
commissioners, before proceeding to visit the hostile tribes. In this
expedition he was accompanied by the writer of the following pages, who
was glad of the opportunity to visit strange scenes and strange people,
of which he had only heard wild and exaggerated rumours. There was
another volunteer, a Scotch gentleman, travelling for information and
amusement; and a son of the commissioner (Mr. Edward Ellsworth), who
acted as secretary to the expedition, made up our party.

[A] See a Tour on the Prairies by W. Irving.

At St. Louis we hired two servants to accompany us throughout the
expedition. One was a half breed, a cross between the Creek Indian and
the Negro; he was named Mordecai, and inherited the lazy propensities
of both races, but entertained a high opinion of his own merits. The
other was a tall awkward boy, with a low forehead, and a dull, sleepy
countenance, nearly hidden by elf locks. His name was Joseph. He spoke
a mixture of French and English, and would fain have passed for a full
blooded white; but his mother was a thorough squaw, wife to a little
Creole Frenchman, named Antoine or Tonish, who had accompanied the
commissioner on the preceding year, in his expedition to the Arkansas
frontier.[B] Joseph inherited from his father a gasconading spirit,
and an inveterate habit of lying. Like him, too, he was a first-rate
horseman, and a hard rider, who knocked up every horse entrusted to
him. To add to his hereditary qualities, he inherited from his mother
an inveterate habit of stealing. Though a downright coward, he boasted
much of his valour, and even told me, in confidence, “that he could
lick his daddy.” Being of an obstinate disposition, he was wisely
appointed by the commissioner to drive a dearborn waggon, drawn by
two mules; and many a stubborn contest took place between him and his
fellow brutes, in which he was sure to carry the day.

[B] See Tour on the Prairies.

Such was our party when we left St. Louis, on our route to Fort
Leavenworth.



                              CHAPTER I.

                          THE INDIAN COUNTRY.


It was late upon a fine glowing afternoon in July that we first crossed
the Indian frontier, and issued from the forest upon a beautiful
prairie, spreading out, as far as the eye could reach, an undulating
carpet of green, enamelled with a thousand flowers, and lighted up by
the golden rays of the setting sun. Occasionally a grouse, frightened
at our approach, would bustle from among the high grass, and fly
whirring over the tops of the neighbouring hills.

We had ridden for more than an hour over the green waste. The heat
of the afternoon was yielding to the cool breezes of sunset; the sun
itself had just hid its crimson disk below the prairie hills, and the
western sky was still glowing with its beams.

The deer, which, during the scorching heat of mid-day, had nestled
among the thick groves which dot the prairie, now began to steal from
their hiding places, and were seen bounding over the green sward, or
standing buried up to their heads among the tall flowers, and gazing
wildly and fearfully at our party.

At a distance, too, we could perceive the gaunt form of a vagabond
wolf, sneaking through the grass, and stealing snake-like upon his
beautiful, though timid, co-tenant of the prairie.

An exclamation from our guide attracted our attention to a solitary
Indian, mounted upon a horse, and standing, statue-like, upon a
distant hill directly in our route.

Although we had often seen straggling Indians in the frontier towns,
they had in general so degraded an air as to attract but little
attention. The appearance of this one, however, standing alone on his
own soil, where he was bowed by no feeling of inferiority, must, we
thought, be as noble as the soil of which he was the master; and we
pushed forward to gaze upon him. He remained unmoved, neither advancing
a single pace to meet us, nor retiring on our approach. He proved to be
a Shawnee; one of the remnant of that brave tribe who, under Tecumseh,
had made such a desperate attack upon the whites near the banks of the
Wabash.

Some years since, they had been removed from their old hunting
grounds, and stationed about ten miles beyond the boundary which
separates the state of Missouri from the territory bearing the same
name. They had left the graves of their fathers, the home of their
childhood, to seek in a strange land that freedom which they could no
longer enjoy in the homestead handed down to them by their unfettered
ancestors; but not before the sapping influence of their communion with
the whites had exerted its sway over them, and reduced them to that
abject state which distinguishes the civilised from the savage Indian.

A feeling of disappointment, mingled with sorrow, came over us as we
rode up to this solitary being. At a distance our fancies had painted
him possessed of all that was noble in the Indian character; but a
nearer view dispelled the illusion. He could not have been older than
thirty, but intemperance had left its mark upon his features. His
hair was thick and matted, and hung nearly to his eyes. His legs were
covered with leggings of deerskin, ornamented with a yellow binding.
Over a dirty calico shirt he wore a long surtout coat, with immense
brass buttons; and upon his shoulder he bore a very long and heavy
rifle.

He saluted us with the usual guttural salutation of “ugh!” and, turning
round, rode slowly ahead of our party. His horse was one of those tough
little Indian ponies celebrated for hard heads, hard mouths, hard
constitutions, and a fund of obstinacy which it would puzzle Satan
himself to overcome. He wriggled through the grass with a sideling
ricketty pace, that would have wearied any other than an Indian; and,
between the incessant drumming of the heels of the rider into the ribs
of his steed, and the jerking, hitching pace of the animal, I could not
well determine which underwent the most labour, the horse or his master.

He had not ridden in front of us long before we saw, at a distance,
another of the same class galloping towards us. He came forward over
the prairie at the full speed of a lean raw-boned nag; and we hoped to
find in him a character which might redeem the first, but in this we
were disappointed.

He was short and broad; dressed in a dirty calico shirt, and an equally
dirty and ragged pair of pantaloons. On his head was cocked, with a
very knowing air, a something which once might have been called a hat.
On his shoulder he carried a long rifle, while he plied its wiping rod
lustily upon the flanks of his horse until he reached the party.

After gazing at us with some curiosity, he rode off to our first
acquaintance. A short conversation then took place, after which they
thumped their heels into the ribs of their horses, and scampered off
over the prairie; rising at one moment over the top of some ridge, and
then again disappearing in the hollow which lay beyond it, until at
last we lost sight of them behind a grove which jutted out into the
prairie.

So,—these are the Indians! This is a specimen of the princely race
which once peopled the wilds of America, from the silent wilderness
which still borders the Pacific, to the now humming shores of the
Atlantic! We were disappointed, and did not reflect that we were
looking only upon the dregs of that people; that these were but
members of those tribes who had long lived in constant intercourse
with the whites, imbibing all their vices, without gaining a single
redeeming virtue; and that the wild savage could no more be compared
with his civilised brother, than the wild, untamed steed of his
own prairie could be brought in comparison with the drooping,
broken-spirited drudge horse, who toils away a life of bondage beneath
the scourge of a master.

Upon their departure we urged our horses forward; for the creaking of
the prairie insects warned us of the approach of night, and the place
of our destination was yet some miles distant. A rapid and silent ride
of an hour brought us to the wished-for spot.

It was a single log cabin, built in the edge of the wood, and inhabited
by a white man, the blacksmith appointed by the United States to take
charge of, and keep in repair, the arms paid as an annuity to the
Shawnee tribe; a measure of government highly pleasing to the Indians,
who detest labour of all kinds, and would willingly travel a hundred
miles to get another to perform some trivial job, which they might
themselves accomplish with but a few hours’ labour.

The house of the blacksmith bore all the marks which characterise
the backwoodsman. It consisted of two small cabins, formed of rough
unbarked logs, and united to each other by a covered shed. One or
two heavy vehicles were standing in front of it. At about a hundred
yards’ distance was a large field of Indian corn. Two cows, two horses,
and a cozy bevy of pigs, who were snuffing and grunting from a deep
mud-hole a few yards from the house, made up the live stock of the
establishment, and were all that were considered necessary for the
comfort of a backwoodsman.



                               CHAP. II.

        THE RANGERS.—INDIAN HABITS.—CROSSING THE KANZAS RIVER.


It was daylight on the following morning when we commenced our journey
towards Cantonment Leavenworth. It is situated in the Indian country,
about forty miles beyond the line which separates the State from the
Territory of Missouri. Our guide took the lead, and struck into a
narrow foot-path which led through the forest, while the rest of us
followed in Indian file.

There is a deep silence in a western wilderness. No sound is heard, not
even the note of a bird, to break the deathly stillness.

Occasionally a spectre-like raven would flit across our path, saluting
us with his ill-omened croak; or poising himself upon his wings, to
take a more minute survey of the strange beings who had invaded his
secluded haunts.

The silence was thrilling. Our voices echoed beneath the leafy canopy
with a sound that rendered them strange even to our own ears. Even the
crackling of the dry twigs, as they snapped beneath the hoofs of our
horses, had a strange and solemn sound: but, as we grew familiarized
with it, this feeling wore off, nor was it long before the jest and
merry laugh went on as usual; and, I imagine, many a long day had
passed since those aged forests had rung to such sounds of boisterous
merriment as burst from the lips of the band, as we galloped towards
the prairie, which lay but a few miles beyond.

In half an hour we reached it. A loud whoop from our guide announced
that something more than usual had met his eye. At the same time he
struck his spurs into his horse and galloped out into the open prairie.

At a short distance, a long troop of horsemen was trailing through the
high grass, and preparing to enter a small thicket of timber which rose
in the prairie at a short distance. They were a body of the United
States’ Rangers, and had just returned from escorting the Santa Fé
traders across a portion of the perilous route, which they are obliged
to take, in carrying on their profitable, though hazardous, trade with
that inland mart. When we met, they had been more than a month absent
from the garrison, seeing none but their own party, or occasionally a
straggling band of friendly Indians, carrying their whole wardrobe in
the small valise attached to their saddles; dependent for subsistence
on hunting alone, and continually on the look-out for an enemy,—an
enemy that always came when least expected, tarried but to strike the
blow, and retreated with equal celerity to the fastnesses of their own
mountains.

There is always a feeling of vagabond companionship engendered by
travelling in the wilderness; and, although we were not a day’s ride
beyond the settlements, we hailed the sight of this tatterdemalion band
with as much joy as if we had been united by the links of a long and
well-tried friendship.

We spent half an hour with them; then spurring on, we soon reached the
bank of the Kanzas river.

This is one of the largest tributaries of the Missouri; being from a
quarter to two miles in width, and varying in depth from one to thirty
feet.

Upon reaching its brink, we found attached to a tree a large scow,
which was used as a ferry-boat. Its owner, a tall thin Delaware, was
quietly seated in one corner, pouring out a flood of smoke from a small
pipe which garnished one corner of his mouth.

There is always an air of gentlemanly laziness hanging about the
Indians. They live they know not how, and they care not where. A little
suffices them: if they can get it, they are satisfied; if not, they are
satisfied without it. They belong to a sect of philosophers ranging
between the Epicureans and the Stoics. When pleasure presents its cup,
they drink it to the dregs; and when the reverse is the case, they bear
it without a murmur.

They have no objection to beg, or, if it is equally convenient, to
steal; for, to tell the truth, they are much troubled with confused
memories, and are terribly given to mistaking the property of other
people for their own. It is a universal practice among them, and
brings with it no disgrace. To all this is added a most gentlemanly
abhorrence of labour of all descriptions, and a great store of patience
in enduring the pinching hunger which is often the result of indolence.
On a wet day you may travel for miles over the prairies, or through the
thickets, and not a single Indian will cross your path; but let the
sun again beam forth, and you will see them around in every direction,
lounging in the long grass or sunning themselves upon some high prairie
peak, with a most profound forgetfulness of the past, and lordly
contempt for the future; for they are marvellously fond of fulfilling
the general sense, though not the literal meaning of the old adage,
which says, “make hay while the sun shines.”

Upon our hailing this Charon of the Kanzas, he quietly rose from his
seat, and, stepping to the shore, made signs for us to lead our horses
into the scow. He remained upon the bank until they were all safely
embarked. He did not offer to aid in the least in getting them on
board; nor did our guide appear to expect any assistance from him. When
every thing was in readiness, he loosed the fastening, and seizing a
long pole, thrust it into the sandy bottom, and whirled the ticklish
vessel far out into the rushing current of the river. The water, at
this spot, was not very deep; and by means of his pole, he soon ran
the scow upon the sand of the opposite shore. He then secured it to
a tree, and, having received his pay, pocketed it, and strolled off,
leaving the party to land, or stay on board, as they might think fit.

We disembarked and galloped up the bank. On the top was a large log
house, inhabited by the blacksmith of the Delaware Indians, and the
last building we were to meet in the route to the garrison. We had
scarcely reached it when the woods on the opposite bank of the river
began to ring to the shouts of the Rangers; and the whole troop, as
fantastically arrayed as a band of Italian banditti, slowly wound among
the tall tree trunks until they reached the bank which overhung the
water.

There was a pause of some moments upon the brink; then a heavy splash
announced that the foremost had taken to the water; and, in a moment
after, his powerful animal was struggling against the swift current.
The rest paused to watch his progress, then one after another dashed
in; until the long line of snorting steeds, and their whooping riders,
extended nearly across the river.

At that moment a dark thunder cloud, which had been hanging over the
woods for several hours, opened its fire upon the band, thoroughly
drenching all that the water had left untouched, and rendering them
almost invisible by reason of the density of its shower.

The cloud hovered over for about an hour, but at last, one after
another, a few rays were seen shooting out their bright lines from
behind the dark curtain, and playing upon the tops of the distant
trees. Finally the ragged masses rolling together slowly floated off to
the eastward, until their dark forms were lost below the horizon, and
the heaven was left in its sea of pure and spotless blue.



                              CHAP. III.

                     SHAWANESE AND THE DELAWARES.


In an hour, we had left the house of the blacksmith, and were dashing
through the moist and glistening grass of the prairie, in front of
one of the villages of the Shawanese. It consisted of about a dozen
houses or cabins, grouped together upon the top of a hill, and looking
on a ragged little prairie. There was but little attraction in its
appearance, and withal a most philosophic indifference to cleanliness
or comfort.

Our approach was announced by about twenty half-starved dogs, who set
up a yell which brought to the doors every inhabitant of the place,
old enough to be tormented with curiosity.

Presently two of them came forward to meet us. The first was a fat
wheezing Indian of about fifty; he was dressed partly after the
fashion of the whites, and partly in his own native style. He wore a
broad-brimmed black hat, ornamented with several bands of tin; a pair
of large black-rimmed spectacles; a blue calico shirt, and a pair of
blue cloth pantaloons, secured close to his legs by several bands of
yellow riband.

His companion, who was a little herring of a fellow, retained more
of the Indian in his dress and appearance. His head was shaved, with
the exception of a single lock[C], which luxuriated upon the top of
his crown, surrounded by a little pallisado of stiff bristles, left
standing at its root amid the general harvest. His face and head
had been painted with vermilion, and at a distance bore a strong
resemblance to a large red potatoe. A shirt of calico was the only
article of civilised manufacture about him. His leggings were of
deerskin, the edges of which were cut into a rough border; and his
mocassins were made of the same material.

[C] It is customary with all the Indian tribes, when shaving their
heads (as is the almost universal practice with the uncivilised
tribes), to leave a single, long, thin lock of hair upon the crown, to
aid their enemies in removing their scalp. From this it received the
appellation of “scalp lock.” It is considered a point of chivalry among
them, to leave this unshorn. Great care is frequently bestowed upon it,
and it is usually adorned with plumes of the eagle, the feathers of
birds, or ornaments of deer’s hair.

Upon our approach, they came out with the intention of holding a
conversation with us, but, owing to an equal ignorance of the language
of each other, we could obtain from them but little information. After
wasting a short time in attempting to glean intelligence of our future
route, we gave it up, and started forward at random. We rode up hills
and down hollows; spattered through streams; galloped over patches of
prairie, and through clumps of woodland; until, after riding for more
than an hour, we found ourselves in the edge of a wood, and in the very
heart of a town of the Delawares.

A general barking of dogs again announced us to the Indians. They
flocked out to meet us. From them we learned our route, and, passing
through the village, continued our journey towards the cantonment.

There is but little in the civilised Indian to excite interest, or to
enlist the feelings; they are a race between the whites, and their
own people, as God made them. We have heard tales of those from whom
they sprang; of their contests for their soil; of their fierce and
bloody defence of their villages, and of the graves of their ancestors.
But where are they? Where are the braves of the nation? They have
come within the blighting influence of the white man; they have been
swept away even as is the grass of their own prairie before the fire
of the hunter. A spring may come again to revive the drooping face of
nature; but to them there is no spring—no renovation. It is probable
that, ere two centuries shall elapse, there will be but a very remnant
of their race—a few wretched beings lingering about the then abodes
of civilisation, unheeded, unnoticed—strangers in the land of their
fathers.

We paused for a short time in the edge of the forest to take a
lingering look of the village; then turning away, we pursued our course
until our horses again brought us to the prairie, upon which was
imprinted the wide trail leading to Leavenworth.



                               CHAP. IV.

               THE PRAIRIE.—ARRIVAL AT FORT LEAVENWORTH.


The passing cloud which had swept over the prairie in the morning, had
left nothing but beauty. A cool freshness exhaled from the tall grass
glittering with its water beads. The rich, though parched foliage
seemed to have given place to a young and luxuriant growth of the
richest green. The clusters of flowers which had worn a dried and
feverish look, now rose in renovated beauty, as if from their bed of
sickness, and spread their perfumes through the morning air.

In the spring of the year, these prairies are covered with a profusion
of pale pink flowers, rearing their delicate stalks among the rough
blades of the wild grass. These were too fragile to withstand the
scorching heat of summer; they had disappeared, and their stalks had
also withered. Others had succeeded them. There was a gorgeous richness
in the summer apparel of the prairie. Flowers of red, yellow, purple,
and crimson were scattered in profusion among the grass, sometimes
growing singly, and at others spreading out in beds of several acres
in extent. Like many beauties in real life, they make up in the glare
of their colours, what they want in delicacy; they dazzle but at a
distance, and will not bear closer scrutiny.

There is a sensation of wild pleasure, in traversing these vast and
boundless wastes. At one moment we were standing upon the crest of
some wave-like hill, which commanded a wide view of the green desert
before us. Here and there, were small clumps of trees, resting, like
islands, upon the bosom of this sea of grass. Far off, a long waving
line of timber winding like a serpent over the country, marked the
course of some hidden stream. But a hundred steps of our horses carried
us from the point of look-out. Passing down the sides of the hill,
we splashed through the water at the bottom; tore a path through the
grass, which frequently rose, in these hollows, to the height of eight
or ten feet, and the next moment stood upon the crest of a hill similar
to the first. This was again cut off as we descended a second time into
the trough which followed the long surge-like swell of land.

Such is the prairie—hill follows hill, and hollow succeeds hollow, with
the same regularity as the sweeping billows of the ocean. Occasionally
a high broken bluff rears its solitary head in the midst, like some
lonely sentinel overlooking the country. Upon the tops of these we
frequently saw an Indian, standing in bold relief against the sky,
or seated upon some pleasant spot on its summit, and basking in the
sunshine, with that air of lazy enjoyment which characterises the race.

Hour after hour passed on; the prospect was still the same. At last
a loud cry from our guide announced that we had come in sight of the
cantonment.

There was a snowy speck resting upon the distant green; behind it
rose a forest of lofty timber, which shadowed the Missouri. This was
Leavenworth. But still, many miles intervened; for the prairie is
like the ocean—the view is wide and boundless; and it requires an
eye trained by many months’ residence in these regions to measure
accurately the distance of objects.

It was mid-day when we first caught sight of Leavenworth, but it
was near sunset before we arrived there. About a dozen white-washed
cottage-looking houses compose the barracks and the abodes of the
officers. They are so arranged as to form the three sides of a hollow
square; the fourth is open, and looks out into a wide but broken
prairie. It is a rural looking spot—a speck of civilisation dropped
into the heart of a wilderness. There was nothing here to tell a tale
of war; and but for the solitary sentinels upon their posts; the
lounging forms of the soldiers, who were nearly worn out with their
labours to _kill time_; or the occasional roll of the drum, as the
signal for the performance of some military duty, we should not have
known that we were in the heart of a military station.



                               CHAP. V.

                            THE SAC INDIAN.


On the following day we strolled through the forest which skirted
the garrison and overhung the Missouri. At one moment our eyes would
be caught by the dazzling plumage of the little parroquets, as they
whirled through the branches of the trees; at another we amused
ourselves by listening to the shrill screams of a woodpecker, as he
saluted some crony mounted on a neighbouring limb.

Our attention at other times would be attracted by the movements of
some old antiquarian bird of the same species, who was busy peeping
into the holes and crannies of some ruined trunk, to ascertain if
possible the cause of its decay.

In another direction might be seen a solitary raven, sitting in silence
upon the naked limb of some mouldering tree, and apparently brooding
over the ruin that reigned around him.

As we passed an opening between the houses, which gave us a view of the
green in front, we caught sight of a single Indian, standing beneath
the shade of a tall oak.

Whilst we were regarding him, a little red-nosed soldier came up. He
informed us that the Indian was a Sac, one of those who had fought
against the whites under Black Hawk. As he mentioned this, he took
the opportunity of uncorking his indignation, and letting off the
superfluous foam, in a volley of oaths and anathemas against the whole
race in, general, and this individual in particular. He threw out dark
hints of what he had himself done in the war, and what he would _now_
do, if the major would only permit it. At the time, we looked upon him
with considerable awe; but we afterwards learned that there was little
to be apprehended from him. He was a character notorious for boiling
over in the excess of his wrath, especially in time of peace; but
beyond this was distinguished for nothing, except a strong attachment
to liquors of all descriptions.

We soon left him, and crossed over the green, to the spot where the
Indian was standing.

I had formed but a poor opinion of the race from those whom I had
already seen; but never was I more agreeably disappointed—never had I
beheld such a princely fellow. He stood unmoved as we came up, viewing
us with a calm, cold, but unwavering gaze. His eyelid never drooped;
nor was the eye averted for an instant as it met our look. A large
blanket, here and there streaked with vermilion, and ornamented with
hawks’ bells, was so disposed around his folded arms, that it left bare
his finely-formed shoulder, and half of his high and sinewy chest. A
bright, steel-headed tomahawk peeped from beneath its folds, and a
quiver of arrows hung at his back. His legs were cased in leggings
of dressed deerskin, with the edges cut into a rough fringe. He wore
a pair of mocassins of dressed buffalo hide. The top of his head was
closely shaven, and covered with vermilion; but his face was free from
any colouring whatever, with the exception of a ring of black paint,
which was carefully drawn around each eye.

As we approached he drew himself up, and threw his head slightly
backward with an air of haughtiness which well became his high stern
features. He seemed to feel like a proud but desolate being. Upon his
head was bound an eagle’s plume, but it was crushed and broken. Could
it be emblematic of the broken spirit of his own tribe? Their power
was gone; their strength was withered; they were scattered to the four
winds of heaven; the bones of their bravest warriors were whitening the
prairies, and their chief was in bondage in an unknown land.[D]

[D] At this time, Black Hawk was in the Eastern States.

And this savage—he seemed to feel that he was alone; but his stern
features told that he asked no pity, and would brook no insult.

For some time he stood in front of us, returning gaze for gaze, and for
a moment a smile played over his features; then drawing up his tinkling
blanket, he wrapped it closely around him, and walked off. We lost
sight of him behind one of the buildings, as he directed his course
towards the forest.

We turned away towards our quarters; but the roll of the dinner drum
sounded across the green; and, changing our course, we obeyed its
summons.



                               CHAP. VI.

                              THE KANZAS.


We had been two days in the garrison. A loud shrill cry arose in the
air as we were in the desolate chamber which we called “our quarters.”
Before we had time to pass a remark as to its cause, it came again,
echoing through the building, and causing the forest to ring to its
sound. We knew that it proceeded from Indians, and immediately left the
quarters to see them. They were at a little distance from the fence
surrounding the garrison, grouped together under a large oak tree,
which grew alone, upon a small level plot of ground directly in front
of the quarters. They were wanderers from the Kanzas village, which is
situated upon the Kanzas river, about a hundred miles beyond the line
of the Indian boundary.

There were about forty of them crowded together around a small fire,
which they had kindled under the shade of the tree.

Give an Indian a fire, and you give him a home. Be there one or a
hundred, a few sticks thrown together and kindled into a flame will be
the gathering place of all. It is the same in the prairies and in the
settlements—in warm weather and in cold. When they stop from a journey
or a hunt, they kindle a fire and nestle around it. From that moment
they feel an ideal property in the spot upon which they have thus
intimated their intention to linger.

The band before us were all finely-formed men; for, with the exception
of the Osage Indians of the Arkansas, they are considered the most
noble of the tribes which yet roam within the neighbourhood of the
settlements. As yet, from their communion with the whites they have
derived benefit alone. Too far from them to imbibe their vices, they
have yet been able to hold sufficient intercourse to promote their own
interest. They have thrown aside their buffalo-skin robes, and adopted
the blanket. They have become skilful in the use of the rifle, and
except in hunting the buffalo make no use of bows and arrows.

When we came up, two or three were engaged in collecting fuel to
sustain the fire; the rest were lounging around, luxuriating in the
most perfect laziness. Several were leaning listlessly upon their
hunting spears, too indolent to bear even their own weight. Some were
resting against the tree; and a band of five or six were lying upon
their backs, with their feet to the fire, drumming with their fists
upon their breasts, and chanting out a sleepy ditty, the chorus of
which was filled up by a loud yell from every throat in the band.

They were all athletic and finely formed. Their heads were shaven
with the exception of the scalp lock, which hung down between their
shoulders; and their breasts were left exposed by their blankets.

There was a little squaw in company with them, a notable character;
and if I might judge from the foolish look of several, and the loud
laugh of the rest, gifted with a most peppery tongue. We had heard of
Indian beauties, but she was not one of them; for she engrossed in her
own person a concentration of ugliness, which would have more than
satisfied a dozen ordinary females. There was an acidity in her black
glittering eye which gave a zest to her remarks, causing them to be
highly relished by the lounging crew, but rendering them unpalatable to
the unfortunate scape goat at whose expense they were uttered.

We had not stood there long before we came in for our share of
her blessings: of their nature, however, we remained in a happy
ignorance. They were received with loud bursts of merriment from the
graceless troop around her, with the exception of one or two of the
oldest Indians. The grave faces and wrinkled brows of these wore a
discouraging sternness. It was in vain that the little woman exhausted
her wit for the purpose of enticing a smile upon their features; their
lips were as rigid as ever, nor did the relaxation of a single muscle
of their swarthy faces denote that they participated in the general
amusement. In spite of this, however, she appeared loath to relinquish
her sport. While this had been going on, an old Indian was sitting
close to the fire, with one elbow resting upon his knee, and his hand
supporting his chin. His hair was white, and rested in flaky locks upon
his shoulders. His eyes were fixed intently upon the blaze, and he was
apparently buried in deep thought.

He had continued in this posture for some time; but at last a loud
burst of laughter, which followed some remark of the squaw, seemed to
call him to himself. He looked around for a moment with a bewildered
air, then starting to his feet, strode over to the oratrix, and hissed
a few low but stern words in her ear. Her face lengthened, and her
mouth closed; the rest instantly followed her example, and the faces
of the whole gang were converted to a look of the most penitential
gravity. What the charm was that acted so potently in hushing the
clamour of the virago I never knew, or I should have imparted it for
the benefit of the civilised world.

The old man then stepped from the centre of the crowd, and extended
his hand to each of us. After a cordial shaking he pressed his own
against his bosom, and withdrew to his former seat at the fire. From
that moment the noise and jeering were hushed. The old lady turned her
attention to a number of potatoes which were roasting in the fire.
Parties of five or six, wrapping their blankets closely around them,
sauntered off towards the quarters of the officers. Others strolled
off to the banks of the Missouri; and five or six, who appeared too
idle even to do that, laid themselves at full length upon the grass,
and joined in the drum and chorus of those who were already engaged in
chanting. A few of the oldest warriors then drew together in a knot,
and commenced an earnest debate, in which they were afterwards joined
by the old Indian who had interfered at first in our behalf. They spoke
earnestly; the matter appeared to be one of moment, and each in turn
gave his opinion. There was a warmth and an energy in their tones and
gesticulation as they spoke, and an earnestness in their usually calm
and dispassionate features, which strongly excited our curiosity.

The little woman, too, seemed totally engrossed with the interest of
the subject. She suffered a large potato to roast to coal without
noticing it. She sat with her eyes intently fixed upon the varying
countenances of the speakers, turning from one to the other as each in
turn delivered his opinion. Her air was not that of mere curiosity,
there was a strong mixture of anxiety blended with it. She looked as if
she were deeply interested in the result.

The debate continued for some time; but at length they separated, and
apparently without coming to any conclusion, strolled off towards the
quarters without heeding the squaw, leaving her seated alone at the
fire.

We afterwards learned that this party of Indians had been for two days
without provisions, and that they were consulting about the selection
of a committee from their band, who should commence begging for a
supply among the soldiers of the garrison. We forgave the little
squaw, in consideration of the penance and fasting which she had
already undergone.

This band hung round the garrison for several days. The imposing
appearance which they bear at first sight, wears off as you become
familiarized with them. The high, haughty carriage, which they wear
towards strangers, gradually relaxes as they become acquainted. They
were constantly lounging round the quarters of the soldiers, or
strolling in little parties of five or six through the woods. Here and
there some curious fellows might be seen, peering into the windows
of the dwelling-houses, or stealing through some open door into the
interior. Their step is so hushed and noiseless, that there is nothing
to warn you of their approach. I have frequently been surprised, upon
looking round in my chamber, to find a dozen of these fellows quietly
seated around me, some upon chairs, others upon the floor, and all
apparently as much at their ease as if they had made it their resting
place for the last century. They seemed neither to care whether you
welcomed them or not; they had made up their minds to visit you, and
visit they would. With all this, there was an unobtrusiveness in their
manners, which soon reconciled us to their presence. They would sit for
hours in the same attitude, making no remarks, holding no conversation;
and were it not for their glistening, snaky eyes, which were ever
fastened on your face, creating a feeling of restless uneasiness, there
was little else in their company to annoy you.

It was near the close of a warm afternoon, that I had thrown myself
upon a bear-skin on the floor, with that feeling of listless languor
which is apt to pervade a stranger, when visiting the western country
for the first time. The drum was pouring out a dull melancholy roll
at the far end of the green, occasionally enlivened by the shrill
tones of a fierce little fife. Under the window, a lounging soldier,
half asleep, was drawling out a tedious ditty, with a strong nasal
accompaniment which did not add much to the vivacity of the tune. Even
the sun himself had been wrought up into a fever. With a face as red
as that of a fat butcher, he crawled through the sky, as if he longed
for the time when he might take his twelve hours’ nap in the cool bed
of the ocean. The trees nodded over the bank of the Missouri with a
heavy, sleepy look. The river itself scampered along its channel, as
if anxious to escape from the sultry heat which filled the atmosphere.

I had lain nearly an hour upon my shaggy couch. My eyes were yielding
to slumber; present things were fast vanishing, or only appeared
blended with the fitful forms of a drowsy imagination.

“Ho! ho! ho!” shouted a dozen voices at my side. I started up—a group
of Kanzas were seated in a ring, around my bear-skin. For a moment
I was bewildered; but they soon convinced me of the reality of my
situation, and of the difference between their visitations and those of
fancy.

They were a detachment who had been sent out to forage in the larders
of the garrison. Although their language was unknown to me, their
object was perfectly intelligible. They signified their wants with a
clearness of gesticulation which could not be misunderstood, and the
earnestness of which was, no doubt, enhanced by a keen appetite.

Seeing that there was no alternative, I called to our half-breed boy,—

“Joseph!”

“Vat you vant?” sounded a voice from the dark cavern below, which was
dignified with the name of a kitchen.

“Have you any meat or bread for these Indians?”

“Sacre diable!” answered he, “Vare de devil I to git meat for dem? I
h’aint eat none my own sef, for tree day, nor Mordecai neder.”

This was not altogether true, but it was conclusive; so I returned to
my dusky friends with the heavy intelligence.

There are two characters in this world, whom it is impossible to
convince of the truth of any thing which jars with their own opinions
or interests; the first is a politician, the second is a hungry
Indian. I soon found it out—my red visiters were immoveable—they were
deaf both to arguments and to statements of facts. They heard me—they
understood me—but they were not a whit nearer to conviction, and they
made no motion to depart. There was no resource left, so I determined
to abdicate in their favour; and taking up my hat I left the house, and
strolled off in the woods.

It was near sunset when I returned to my quarters. I opened the door of
the chamber and looked in.

“Ho! ho! ho!” sounded a dozen guttural voices from within. My red
friends were there still, waiting for my coming. I closed the door
instantly, and walked off with a hasty step to the quarters of one of
the officers; nor did I return until late at night, when I found that
they had disappeared.

I afterwards learned that they had been supplied with provisions on the
morning previous, and that they were now carrying on the business of
begging for mere amusement.

When the night grew dark, there was a bright fire gleaming under the
old oak tree where they had taken their station, and the whole group
were huddled together around it. From the piazza in front of our
quarters we could see their forms flitting round the blaze, and could
hear their song as it rose up in the damp air, with a wildness not
unmixed with melody. The day was past, and they were now enjoying the
present moment with their usual happy forgetfulness of toil. In the
morning we again visited the spot which they had selected for their
camp; but it was deserted. The embers had fallen to ashes—the fire
was extinguished—and the whole wild troop had again set out upon its
wanderings.



                              CHAP. VII.

                           THE KANZAS CHIEF.


Two days after the departure of the Kanzas band we were seated in our
chamber, when a heavy muffled tread jarred upon the piazza in front of
us. A large Indian passed the window, and a moment after he entered the
room.

He was tall and muscular, though his form, through neglect of exercise,
was fast verging towards corpulency. He wore a hat after the fashion of
the whites, a calico hunting shirt and rough leggings. Over the whole
was wrapped a heavy blanket. His face was unpainted, and although his
age was nearly seventy his hair was raven black, and his eye as keen
as a hawk’s. He was the White Plume, chief of the Kanzas nation. He had
spent much time among the whites, and had gradually become familiarized
with their manners. Upon entering the room he lifted his hat from his
head and placed it upon the table; then advancing towards the Indian
commissioner, who was seated near the door, he offered his hand to him;
after which he shook hands in turn with the rest. Having done this, he
stepped into the centre of the room, and wrapping his blanket closely
around his body beneath his arms, commenced an address—not that he
had any thing in particular to say, for he had come to the garrison
by accident; but he was one of those windy characters who take great
delight in listening to their own speeches, and who, unfortunately for
the ears of many a civilised man, are not confined to savages alone.
By his side stood his interpreter, a white man, who had spent many
years among the tribe, and who translated the sentences, as the chief
paused for that purpose.

The address lasted for about ten minutes, by which time he was
completely out of breath, and seated himself from mere exhaustion. The
most of it was dull, and a mere repetition of the same ideas; but once
in speaking of the loss of his children, who had died of the cholera
during the fall previous, his language was even poetical.

“My children,” said he, “have gone from me; the Great Spirit has
called them; they have disappeared like the snow that melteth on the
prairie. I was lonely; I returned to my lodge, but it was desolate, for
they were not there.”

When he had rested himself for a few moments he rose up; and after
throwing out several hints of so broad a character that they smacked
strongly of beggary, he received several presents, and left the
building, winding his way over the prairie along the narrow trail which
led to his village.



                              CHAP. VIII.

                      THE FOREST.—THE KICKAPOOS.


Day after day waned by, still we lingered in the white-washed cottages
of Leavenworth. Urgent preparations were making for our departure
to the western wilds, but as yet they were unfinished. To the
commissioner who had charge of the expedition every moment was fraught
with interest and anxiety, but to several of us who had accompanied
him from curiosity alone, there was but little occupation. Still
there was a feeling of dreamy pleasure in wandering through the tall
moss-grown groves which surrounded the garrison. There was a calm
quiet pervading them, which stole soothingly over the mind, drawing
it away from dwelling upon things present, and wrapping it up in its
own wild musings. The thick arches of overhanging trees threw a dark
and night-like shade over the ground. Here and there a solitary ray
of sunshine, like a pilgrim in a strange land, strayed through some
crevice in the thick foliage, playing in a bright hazy streak through
the gloom, and casting a golden spot upon the dark creeping plants
beneath. There was a vastness in the size of the mighty trunks that
seized forcibly upon the imagination. What was America when those
veteran trees were but saplings? Who were her children? Where are they?
The tale is a sad one, and fraught with little that reflects credit
upon the white man.

The forest is full of ruins. It gives many a touching memento of the
work of time. Hundreds of gigantic trees, which have weathered the
storms of ages, and for centuries have kept their silent watch, have
yielded to its power; have been hurled from their stands, and their
lumbering wrecks are decaying upon the ground—the green moss is their
covering, the wild ivy their shroud. Thousands of dead trees are still
standing, shooting up their tall gray forms, stripped of bark, of
foliage, and of branches; still, they cling with a lingering tenacity
to their old abiding places, as if loath to resign themselves to the
ruin which is every where reigning around them, and although despoiled
of foliage, as if they still loved to linger on the spot which once
bore witness to their magnificence.

Occasionally in our rambles we would fall upon a solitary Indian,
roaming through the woods, or seated in deep meditation upon the wreck
of some prostrate tree. It was the place for him. Let him look upon the
forests and read his own fate; they are united—their destinies are the
same; alike they have lived and flourished in the wildness of nature,
and alike they are disappearing before the approach of civilisation.
Let the Indian grieve at the sound of the woodman’s axe; for at the
fall of every tree the hour of his own ruin draws nearer.

From the time of our arrival at the garrison, small parties of Indians
had been constantly coming and going. They belonged to the Kickapoo
tribe; another band of emigrants from the States. There were many manly
forms among them, and some of their females were even beautiful. Scarce
a day elapsed that we did not catch a glimpse of the gaudily dressed
figures of some band, their tin trinkets glistening in the sunbeams,
and their bright garments fluttering in the wind, as they galloped over
the prairie towards the garrison. They carry on a species of traffic
with the sutler at the post; exchanging furs and skins for ribands,
and such other showy articles as are likely to catch the eye of a
savage. This tribe, from long intercourse with the inhabitants of the
settlements, have become accustomed to driving bargains, and are looked
upon by the generality of traders as pretty hard customers; yet even
from them, the profits derived by the whites are great.

From seeing these different bands constantly coming and going to
and from their village, we conceived a desire to visit them; and
accordingly, upon a fine clear morning, we started.

The path was for the most part through the woods. We rode about an
hour, crossed several brooks, traversed several small patches of
prairie, and at last found ourselves upon the summit of a high bluff
which overlooked the little Indian town, and commanded a fine view of
the whole neighbouring country. At our feet lay a small green prairie,
dotted with clusters of wild flowers. Three of its sides were enclosed
by a ridge of hills, at the foot of which meandered a clear, sparkling
brook, brawling in low murmurs over its rocky bottom. A long range of
trees stood upon its borders, leaning over the stream, and shading its
waters from the noontide sun. The fourth side of the green was hemmed
in by a dark thick forest, which extended back to the banks of the
Missouri.

In the edge of this stood the village of the Kickapoos. It fronted upon
the variegated green. It was a retired, rural spot, shut out from the
world, and looked as if it might have been free from its cares also.

As we stood upon the bluff, a small party of inhabitants from the
village moved towards a tree growing alone in the prairie, about a
quarter of a mile from the town, and collected together beneath its
shade. Presently, two young Indians made their appearance, mounted on
horseback. Suspecting that there was to be a race of some description,
we left the bluff, dashed through the brook at the bottom of the hill,
and in a few moments were under the tree where the group had assembled.
They received us in their usual calm manner, and we were satisfied; for
the welcome of an Indian is shown more by actions than words. There
is no superfluous expression of feelings which he never had—he never
makes use of hypocrisy—he receives you with a good will, or not at all.

By the time we reached the spot, the preparations were finished. A
little, hard-headed, old Indian was appointed umpire, and the two
riders were at their posts. They were both young men, dressed in
hunting shirts and cloth leggings. Their horses were not of the class
that might strictly be denominated racers. One was black, the other
cream-coloured. The black one had fierce little eyes glittering like
fire, beneath a long shaggy forelock, which reached nearly to his
nose. The eyes of the other were water-coloured, and had a sneaking
slyness about them—an air which seemed to insinuate that their owner
“knew a thing or two.” Both horses were round-bodied, bull-necked, and
the thick legs of both were garnished with fetlocks of matted hair,
extending from the knee joint down to the hoof, and trailing on the
ground as they walked. There was not much show of spirit about them.
They appeared but little ambitious of distinguishing themselves in the
coming contest; and if their own inclinations had been consulted, it is
probable, would have declined it altogether. Not so their riders; they
sat as eager as greyhounds in the leash. Their eyes were intently fixed
upon the umpire, who seemed to take the matter with wonderful coolness.
At last he gave the signal—there was a hard, quick thumping of heels,
against the ribs of the horses—the next moment they had vanished from
their posts. There was a great clattering over the hard course—their
bounds were short but rapid. At last the legs grew invisible, and
the bodies looked like two balls moving through the air. The riders
whooped and screamed, and the band of lookers-on shouted as loud as
either.

The little cream-coloured pony was working wonderfully hard, but the
black was gaining ground. There was a tree at some distance, which they
were to pass round, and return to the starting place. They reached
it, the black taking the lead by a length—his legs were invisible
as he turned, but the cream-coloured pony pushed him hard. They now
approached the goal.

“Two to one on the black!” shouted one of the whites.

“Lay it on, old boy, or you’re beaten!” halloed another.

Both riders exerted themselves to the utmost. They flew over the ground
like lightning. The black still kept the lead, but both horses seemed
to be eaten up with fury at being driven at such a rate. They rushed
snorting in—the crowd shouted, and opened a passage for them—they
dashed through, running nearly a hundred yards beyond the mark before
they could check their speed. The black pony had won, but he appeared
too angry to enjoy his victory. I looked at the other. _There_ he
stood—_there_ was that self-satisfied, water-coloured eye, which said,
“I may have been beaten, but still I know a thing or two.”

When the race was finished, we rode on and entered the town. About
thirty huts constructed of bark compose the village. It is impossible
to describe their architecture, for no two were built alike; and, as
far as I was able to judge, they had no particular shape. A strong gale
of wind would have prostrated even the best of them, had it not been
for the shelter of the forest in which they were built.

As we rode along, the troops of naked children who followed at our
heels convinced us that, among the sundry and manifold cares of the
world, this tribe had not forgotten to perpetuate their race; and,
notwithstanding their laziness, had contrived to start a fresh growth
of pappooses, that constituted the “rising generation,” and were then
undergoing the education usual to the Indian child. From what we saw,
there is little doubt that when the present race shall pass away,
the rising tribe will be fully qualified to inherit, in a creditable
manner, the laziness of their forefathers.

Here and there, winding through the woods, or strolling over the
prairie, might be seen a couple of cooing, greasy lovers; full of
affection and slovenliness; unwashed, but devoted. What a fund of
affection there must have been to have overlooked such a world of
defects! A loud cry broke out in one of the hovels, and a couple rushed
out. The first was a fat blowzy squaw. After her followed a diminutive,
spider-legged Indian, who looked as if he had withered away under the
gall of his own disposition. He was the lord and master of the lady.
In his hand he flourished a stick, with which he had been maintaining
that discipline by some deemed proper in a family, and which he now
seemed inclined to continue. The woman, however, escaped, and made for
the woods. The bystanders paused for a moment to look on; for there
was an agreeable excitement about this, which did not occur every day,
and which therefore was not to be lost. Upon the escape of his wife,
the little man looked around, as if he longed for some other object
upon which to vent the remainder of his wrath; but finding none, he
disconsolately entered his dwelling.

In the centre of the town is a small log house, the residence of the
agent appointed by the United States to reside with the tribe, and
attend to the payment of the annuities forwarded by the government to
this nation. We were cordially welcomed by him. We found the chief
and prophet of the tribe with him. The former was a corpulent man,
and in his youth must have been peculiarly handsome. The prophet was
a tall bony Indian, with a keen black eye, and a face beaming with
intelligence. He was leaning upon the muzzle of a long rifle when we
entered. This he laid aside, and with the assistance of an interpreter,
commenced a conversation with us. It was something unusual for him, as
he generally kept aloof from intercourse with the whites. He had been
converted to Christianity, and on Sundays delivered addresses upon
this subject to the tribe.

There is an energy of character about him, which gives much weight to
his words, and has created for him an influence greater than that of
any Indian in the town. From the little that we saw, it was evident
that the chief yielded to him, and listened to his remarks with the
deference of one who acknowledged his superiority. There was, however,
no appearance of jealousy or heart-burning between them.

It was late in the afternoon before we left. The sun was fast sinking
in the west, and his last beams were resting on the tree tops, as
we rode out of the woods. One hour’s ride, brought us again to our
quarters at the cantonment.



                               CHAP. IX.

               DEPARTURE FOR THE PAWNEES.—PRAIRIE LIFE.


Several weeks had elapsed, since our arrival at the garrison; yet
the other commissioner had not made his appearance. Mr. Ellsworth
determined, therefore, to set out without him for the Pawnee villages.
The state of the garrison, enfeebled by sickness, did not allow of
a sufficient escort to overawe the savages. He therefore took the
bold alternative of throwing himself among them, in a manner unarmed,
piquing their honour and hospitality by this mark of confidence.

Seven soldiers constituted the whole of the military escort: merely
sufficient to protect us from any petty, prowling band.

The two servants, Mordecai and Joseph, who had hitherto accompanied us,
were to have charge of the two light waggons—in which were packed our
bedding, baggage, and camp furniture. We had also engaged the service
of a negro as cook.

Our own mess was increased by the addition of Major Dougherty from
St. Louis, the agent for the Pawnee Indians, and Dr. May, a surgeon
resident in Missouri.

On the morning previous to the day of departure, the soldiers commenced
loading two heavy ox waggons with kegs of gunpowder, barrels of flour,
sacks of bacon, tents and cooking utensils, besides boxes and bales
containing presents for the Indians. Towards evening, a cessation of
swearing in the neighbourhood of the storehouse, gave token that the
task was accomplished. In the course of an hour, half a dozen oxen
were yoked before each waggon, and conducted by two wild teamsters.
They departed under escort of the seven soldiers. The whole were to
encamp on a small stream a few miles distant, and await our coming. Our
party, six in number, were to follow their trail on horseback on the
succeeding morning.

The sun rose cheerily over the tops of the trees on the day following,
and we prepared to leave. There was quite an excitement in the
garrison. Kind wishes and farewells were exchanged. Many who had been
anxious to join the troop, in their journey through this unknown land,
now hung round with longing eyes. There was a mystery and shadowy
danger, which threw a high excitement around the whole expedition.
Nothing was positive about the wild tribes we were to visit. It was
known that their numbers were large; it was reported that they were
cruel and unsparing in their nature, that they looked upon the whites
as their bitterest enemies, and carried on a war of extermination
against the whole race. By way of adding to the agreeable excitement,
two or three had collected all the tales of murder and bloodshed
committed by the Indians since the discovery of America, and poured
them into our ears, with a most edifying accompaniment of long faces
and evil prophecies. They foretold that we should never again be seen
at Leavenworth; or, at all events, that if we did it would be stripped
of our scalps. They thought, as these were the most desirable trophies,
perhaps the Indians would have the generosity to permit our return,
provided we left them behind. These, and many other predictions of an
equally comforting nature, were conveyed to us by a number who buzzed
around us as we were getting ready. They, however, at last took their
leave, not forgetting to give us the rather unnecessary caution, to
“take care and not get killed.”

It was near mid-day when we set out. Our little cavalcade clattered
over the hard walks until we reached the road. Galloping over the
prairie, we at length came upon the broad trail left by the heavy
baggage waggons, as they had passed through the high grass.

A number of the officers accompanied us several miles, but at length
they took their leave, and left us to journey onward in our pilgrimage.
As long as we were in the garrison, where the busy face of man was
seen, where active forms were moving around us, and the every-day
concerns of life were going forward, we felt that, though distant from
home, we were still connected with society; but when we had started on
our journey, and bade farewell to those who had accompanied us, as we
watched their forms until they were hid by the distant hills, we felt
that the last link was broken, which had hitherto united us to the
world and its occupations.

It was intended first to strike up in a northerly direction, until we
reached the village of the Otoe and Missouria Indians, situated upon
the Platte river, about twenty miles north-west of its junction with
the Missouri. Thence the Platte was to be our guide, until we came upon
the Pawnee towns. They are seated on its banks, some five or six days’
journey further to the westward.

During our stay at the garrison a change had come over the face of
nature. The bright and luxurious summer flowers had disappeared; a
growth of yellow and blue, the harbingers of the departing year,
supplied their places. Here and there might be seen a single red
flower, the survivor of those which had flourished in the summer,
shooting up its head amidst clusters of golden-hued blossoms, still
lingering, though a stranger among them. The deep richness of foliage
which graced the trees had departed, and the brown tinge of autumn
was creeping among the leaves. The bright soft green was disappearing
from the prairie grass, giving place to a colour of greenish brown.
The geese and pelicans had left their lives of solitude, and forming
themselves into large flocks, were winging their way to the north;
the wind swept over the rustling grass with a moaning sound that spoke
strongly of the approach of winter.

At this season we commenced our travel. It was late in the afternoon
when we reached the spot where the soldiers had encamped. It was on
the side of a small prairie hill. Within a few yards of their tents,
a scanty run of water stole through the grass; and at the distance of
about a hundred yards stood a grove of timber, which supplied the fuel
necessary for their night fires.

There is but little variety on the prairie. The life of one day is the
life of a month; yet there is an excitement about it. The killing of a
deer is an era in the day. The appearance of a hunter upon a distant
hill would give birth to a thousand speculations, as to his success in
the chase. The sight of a deer standing upon an eminence, or reclining
in some hollow, was a signal for bustle. There was an intense interest
excited, in watching the movements of the hunters, as they stole down
upon him. As they drew near every eye was fixed, even the breath was
restrained: the animal scents them in the tainted air; the hunters
crouch in the tall grass and creep onward; the deer rises to his feet;
his nose is raised high in the air; he begins to walk off. Now is the
time! Crack!—sounds the rifle. In five minutes, he is far beyond sight,
or two hunters are staggering beneath his weight, as they bring him to
the camp.

The sight of foot prints in the grass would be the foundation of a
hundred wild fancies. By whom were they made? by members of what tribe?
were they friends or foes? where were they going? was it a war party
or a hunting party? These and a hundred other conjectures would be
offered, by a knot collected around the suspicious mark, denoting that
others besides ourselves had passed in that direction, and that we were
not the only beings wandering upon that waste.



                               CHAP. X.

                       THE PARTY OF SAC INDIANS.


We had been absent about a week from the garrison, and had traversed
nearly a hundred miles of prairie and woodland. Our encampment during
the night previous had been upon the borders of a small prairie
rivulet, which meandered through the country, overhung by a fringe
of bushes and trees. Several times during the day previous, foot
prints had been observed in the grass; and the whole party were on the
look-out for Indians. At night, lest the horses should stray from the
camp, and be driven off by lurking marauders, they had been secured by
long ropes to stakes. The night, however, passed without disturbance;
and in the morning the tents were struck, and the party resumed its
journey.

As the movements of the waggons were necessarily tardy, four of us
strolled forward on foot. We were several miles in advance of the
party. We travelled slowly that they might overtake us, amusing
ourselves by discharging our rifles at the ravens or vultures which
soared above our heads. Sometimes we diverged a little from our path,
to get a shot at the deer, which we now and then saw standing at a
little distance, gazing with surprise at our appearance.

We were out of sight of the waggons. In front of us, at the distance
of a quarter of a mile, rose a swelling cone-like hill. From each
side of it extended a long ridge, effectually shutting out the view
beyond. Presently a black object rose over its top. Gradually it
grew larger and larger, until the tall, stately form of an Indian
appeared, and stood watching our movements. A moment after, another
joined him; he was followed by a third, who took his stand by the side
of his comrades. For some moments there appeared to be a consultation
among them; then seating themselves, they waited for us to come up.
The position which they had taken was directly upon the narrow trail
we were following; so that whether friends or foes, there was no
possibility of avoiding them. But as there were only three, there was
little to be apprehended. Before advancing, however, the soldiers took
the precaution to hammer their flints, and renew the priming of their
guns. While thus engaged, one of them named Wolf, a tall, gigantic
fellow, with a neck like a bull’s, who had fought against Black Hawk,
took the opportunity to bestow a little of his advice and opinion upon
the others, and turning round he commenced:—

“You see them ar Ingens; well, them is Sacs and Foxes. I know ’em, for
I _fit_ agin ’em when Black Hawk led ’em on. And now I think on’t:
it’s dreadful aggravating to see how the folks at the east’ard are
honouring that ar rascal for killing and murdering the whites, while
we who _fit_ agin him to prevent it, a’int taken no notice on; it’s
monstrous aggravating. But that a’int nothing to the _pint_. You see
them ar Ingens on that ar hill. Now you think there’s only three on
’em. There you think a lie—bekase there’s more behind ’em;—for if
there wa’rnt they would come on to meet us, and wouldn’t be squatting
like so many woodchucks in the _parara_. They’m waiting for the rest
to come up, to see whether they think it best to rob us or not.
That’s my opinion, and I know something of Ingen natur, for I _fit_
agin ’em. Now I know one what they won’t rob, and that’s me; first,
bekase I ai’nt got nothing to lose; and second, bekase I intend to
make my yager[E] speak to the first red skin what tries to take it.
And now, my boys, move a-head—keep a stiff upper lip, and don’t be in
a hurry to use your _wepons_. If the worst comes to the worst, we can
keep ’em off until the wagons come up, and then we’ll lick ’em.”

[E] This is a short rifle, and carries a very large ball. They are used
by the U. S. dragoons, on account of the convenience of their length.

After finishing his address, he shouldered his yager and strode on,
followed by the rest of us. Notwithstanding his knowledge of “Ingen
natur,” we did not place as much confidence in his experience as
he might have supposed; nor did we expect to push matters to the
extremity, which he seemed to take for granted would be the result of
our meeting. In five minutes we were at the bottom of the hill. The
savages maintained their sitting posture on the summit, nor did they
rise until we came within about ten yards of them. Upon reaching them
we found that the soldier had been correct in one of his conjectures;
for at the distance of little less than a quarter of a mile, were about
seventy more of the same band, driving in front of them a large drove
of horses. They were all wild, uncouth looking fellows. Some few were
dressed in blankets, but the most of them in robes of buffalo skin. At
the sight of us they raised a loud yell, and leaving their horses to
the charge of one or two squaws, scampered over the prairie to meet us.

“I told you so,” said Wolf. “Look to your guns, and when they crowds
around, keep a tight grip on the _wepons_, but don’t fire till it comes
to the pinch.”

The crowd poured on towards us, each endeavouring to outrun his
neighbour. Many threw from them the robes which impeded their motions,
and several pulling them from their shoulders, packed them under their
arms. Yet they appeared to be actuated by curiosity alone. But one
of them had a gun; the rest were armed with bows and tomahawks. Upon
reaching us, they pressed round, fingering our different articles of
dress with much curiosity, though without any appearance of hostility
towards the owners. At length they drew round in a closer crowd, and
began to hustle us. Suddenly a tall, thin fellow grasped hold of
Wolf’s yager.

“No you don’t, _stranger_!” shouted Wolf, jerking the gun from his
grasp, with the look of a nettled bull. At the same time he whirled
the Indian off, with a violence that fairly made him spin, and nearly
prostrated two others, whom he encountered in his involuntary movement.
“Keep off, you red devils,” said he, stepping back, “I wants none of
your _neighbourship_.” Seizing his gun by the muzzle, he whirled the
breech around with a violence which caused the Indians to draw back,
and cleared a small circle around him.

At this moment the chief, or person who seemed to have charge of the
party, made his appearance. He spoke a few words to the band, which
caused them to draw off; then walking his horse up to us, he cordially
shook hands with all. He was an old man, dressed in Indian style, with
the exception of a plaid handkerchief, tied round his head. Upon the
top of this was mounted a broad-brimmed black hat, shadowing a little,
dried up, French-looking physiognomy. Agreeable as his presence was at
that moment, there was but little about him, to justify the high idea
we had formed, of the leader of a wild band of savages; and there were
many nobler men in his troop. As they stood in a large circle around
us, I think I never beheld such a number of proud spirits, as were
there. It seemed strange that they should all be at the command of such
a miserable looking little leader.

While we were standing thus, a loud whoop from one attracted the
attention of the whole band. The next moment the unwieldy waggons came
toiling along a ridge at a distance, followed by the light dearborns,
and a train of four soldiers.

At this discovery the Indians broke away, scampered towards them, and
in a short time were all clustering round the vehicles. They remained
there about half an hour, and then resumed their journey along the
prairie.



                               CHAP. XI.

                      THE JOURNEY.—SALINE RIVER.


Another week had elapsed, but still we were on our journey. With the
exception of the band of Sac and Fox Indians, we had met with no other
savages. We were the only human beings who lived and moved upon the
wide waste. Nothing else was visible—not a deer, not a tree—all was
prairie—a wide unbroken sea of green—where hollow succeeded hollow,
and the long grass waved on the hills, with a heavy surge-like motion,
until at last it was blended with the hazy atmosphere, which met the
horizon. The power of sight was shut out by nothing; it had its full
scope, and we gazed around until our eyes ached with the very vastness
of the view that lay before them. There was a degree of pain, of
loneliness, in the scene. A tree would have been a companion, a friend.
It would have thrown an air of sociability over the face of nature, but
there was none. The annual fires which sweep over the whole face of the
country, during the autumn of every year, effectually destroy any thing
of the kind. There will be no forest as long as the Indians possess
these regions; for every year, when the season of hunting arrives,
they set fire to the long dry grass. Once fairly on its errand, the
destructive messenger speeds onward, licking up every blade and
every bush, until some strip of timber, whose tall trees protect the
shrubbery by the dampness which they diffuse beneath, or some stream,
stops it in its desolating path. The object of burning the grass is
to drive the deer and elk, that are roving over the broad extent of
prairie, into the small groves of timber scattered over the surface.
Once enclosed within these thickets, they fall an easy prey to the
hunters.

We at last reached the Platte[F] river, about forty miles distant from
the Otoe village; then striking off to the west, we followed the course
of this powerful tributary of the Missouri.

[F] The Indian name for La Platte is _Nie-borahka_, signifying the
shallow river; as also the word _Nie-agaruh_ signifies the broken
river. This last word might lead to a pretty correct conclusion as to
the meaning of the name Niagara, given to the celebrated river and
falls connecting Lake Erie with Ontario; for the word is the same among
several of the different tribes, who, though they now dwell in the “far
west,” may nevertheless have once roamed in the neighbourhood of our
eastern waters.

On the first night, our little camp was placed upon a high bank of
the Saline river, which flows through the prairie until it empties
into the Platte. During the spring of every year moisture exudes from
the soil near its source, covering the prairie for the distance of
many miles. This is dried up by the heat of summer, and leaves in its
place a thick incrustation of salt. This is in turn dissolved by every
successive rain, and carried off into the Saline river, giving to its
water the brackish taste, from which it has derived its name. There is
a barrenness around the stream, contrasting strongly with the other
rivers that grace the prairie. Around _them_ is always a rich forest
of the deepest, rankest green. Every thing marks the luxuriance of the
soil, and the nourishment yielded by the streams to the lofty trees
which hang like guardians over their waters.

But the Saline is far different. There are no groves to fringe its
banks. Here and there the huge grey forms of a few dead trees may be
seen leaning with a melancholy grandeur over its surface, or lying
prostrate in the river, while its waters gurgle with a mournful sound
around the branches of these fallen giants. There is a cheerless
look about it. It winds its way through the prairie with a withering
influence, blighting every green shrub; and seems to bear an ill-will
to all the bright beauties of creation.

I strayed some distance down the stream, pattering my rifle bullets on
the water, to the great annoyance of several ducks who were quietly
dozing upon its surface, and some sprawling old terrapins who were
floating down the stream, enjoying an evening sail.

A loud hail from the camp, and the voice of Mordecai announcing that
supper was ready, recalled me to the spot. The roasted shoulder and
ribs of a large buck were impaled upon a stake of dogwood, planted
in the ground in front of the mess. They had already commenced their
meal, with knives of all sizes and descriptions, and the mass of meat
disappeared like magic before their reiterated attacks. Though at all
times very well qualified to act a conspicuous part in a warfare of
that description, they were now more than usually fitted for the task,
owing to their eating only two meals a day—one at sunrise and one at
sunset—the rest of the time being occupied in journeying over the
prairie. By the time that we finished, the sun had sunk in the west,
and the stars were glimmering in the sky. Our party collected round the
large fire of blazing logs, and our guide having lighted his Indian
pipe, related to us an Indian tale, of which the following is the
purport.

“About forty miles above the spot where we are now encamped, lie the
great salt plains, which cause the brackish taste of the Saline river.
In one part of these plains, is a large rock of pure salt of dazzling
whiteness, which is highly prized by the Indians, and to which is
attached the following story.”



                              CHAP. XII.

                    THE LEGEND OF THE SALINE RIVER.


Many years since, long before the whites had extended their march
beyond the banks of the Mississippi river, a tribe of Indians resided
upon the Platte, near its junction with the Saline. Among these was
one, the chief warrior of the nation, celebrated throughout all the
neighbouring country, for his fierce and unsparing disposition. Not a
hostile village within several hundred miles, but wailed for those who
had fallen beneath his arm; not a brook, but had run red with the blood
of his victims. He was for ever engaged in plotting destruction to his
enemies. He led his warriors from one village to another, carrying
death to the inhabitants, and desolation to their homes. He was a
terror to old and young.

Often, alone and unattended, would he steal off, to bathe his hands in
blood, and add new victims to the countless number of those whom he
had already slain. But fearful as he was to the hostile tribes, he was
equally dreaded by his own people. They gloried in him as their leader,
but shrank from all fellowship with him. His lodge was deserted, and
even in the midst of his own nation he was alone. Yet there was one
being who clung to him, and loved him, in defiance of the sternness of
his rugged nature. It was the daughter of the chief of the village; a
beautiful girl, and graceful as one of the fawns of her own prairie.

Though she had many admirers, yet when the warrior declared his
intention of asking her of her father, none dared come in competition
with so formidable a rival. She became his wife, and he loved her with
all the fierce energy of his nature. It was a new feeling to him. It
stole like a sunbeam, over the dark passions of his heart. His feelings
gushed forth, to meet the warm affection of the only being that had
ever loved him. Her sway over him was unbounded. He was as a tiger
tamed. But this did not last long. She died; he buried her; he uttered
no wail, he shed no tear. He returned to his lonely lodge, and forbade
all entrance. No sound of grief was heard from it—all was silent as
the tomb. The morning came, and with its earliest dawn he left the
lodge. His body was covered with war paint, and he was fully armed
as if for some expedition. His eye was the same; there was the same
sullen fire that had ever shot from its deep sunk socket. There was no
wavering of a single feature; there was not the shrinking of a single
muscle. He took no notice of those around him; but walked gloomily to
the spot where his wife was buried. He paused for a moment over the
grave—plucked a wild flower from among grass, and cast it upon the
upturned sod. Then turning on his heel, strode across the prairie.

After the lapse of a month, he returned to his village, laden with the
scalps of men, women, and children, which he hung in the smoke of his
lodge. He tarried but a day among the tribe, and again set off, lonely
as ever. A week elapsed, and he returned, bringing with him a large
lump of white salt. In a few words he told his tale. He had travelled
many miles over the prairie. The sun had set in the west, and the
moon was just rising above the verge of the horizon. The Indian was
weary, and threw himself on the grass. He had not slept long, when he
was awakened by the low wailing of a female. He started up, and at a
little distance, by the light of the moon, beheld an old, decrepit
hag, brandishing a tomahawk over the head of a young female, who was
kneeling, imploring mercy.

The warrior wondered how two females could be at this spot, alone, and
at that hour of the night; for there was no village within forty miles
of the place. There could be no hunting party near, or he would have
discovered it. He approached them; but they seemed unconscious of his
presence. The young female finding her prayers unheeded, sprang up, and
made a desperate attempt to get possession of the tomahawk. A furious
struggle ensued, but the old woman was victorious. Twisting one hand in
the long black hair of her victim, she raised the weapon in her other,
and prepared to strike. The face of the young female was turned to the
light, and the warrior beheld with horror, the features of his deceased
wife. In an instant he sprang forward, and his tomahawk was buried
in the skull of the old squaw. But ere he had time to clasp the form
of his wife, the ground opened, both sank from his sight, and on the
spot appeared a rock of white salt. He had broken a piece from it, and
brought it to his tribe.

This tradition is still current among the different tribes of Indians
frequenting that portion of the country. They also imagine, that the
rock is still under custody of the old squaw, and that the only way
to obtain a portion of it, is to attack her. For this reason, before
attempting to collect salt, they beat the ground with clubs and
tomahawks, and each blow is considered as inflicted upon the person of
the hag. The ceremony is continued, until they imagine she has been
sufficiently belaboured, to resign her treasure without opposition.
This superstition, though privately ridiculed by the chiefs of the
different tribes, is still practised by them, and most devoutly
credited by the rabble.



                              CHAP. XIII.

                         THE OTOE MESSENGERS.


On the afternoon following, a little before sunset, we encamped within
ten miles of the Otoe village. Several times during the day, we had
observed the heads of Indians, peering over the hills, but they had
instantly disappeared upon being remarked, nor had an Indian ventured
to approach. Our place of encampment was on a small knoll. At its foot,
a meagre run of impure water was struggling through the grass, while a
long line of tall, rank weeds marked its course, as it wound a passage
along the different hollows. A solitary tree grew over a small puddle,
which had formed in the prairie; and a cluster of wild plum trees were
knotted together around its trunk. With these exceptions, there was not
a tree or a bush in sight.

At a little distance from us was the site of a deserted Indian village.
It had been uninhabited for many years, and the stations where the
lodges once stood were overgrown with weeds and creeping vines. A short
distance off was the burial ground of the place, which evidently had
not been visited for a long time. The tall grass waved upon the large
mounds, and the frightened prairie hen started up from the resting
places of the dead.

We had scarcely encamped, and fixed up the largest tent, when the loud
cry, “Indian a-head!” was bellowed out by the stentorian lungs of one
of the soldiers.

The savage was on a hill, about five hundred yards distant. He was
mounted upon a small black horse; clothed in a scarlet blanket, and
in his hand held a long spear. He sat for some moments watching our
movements; then thumping his heels into the sides of his horse, he
dashed across a hollow that intervened, and galloped to the door of the
tent. Here he sprang from the animal, and turning him loose, walked up
to the guide. They were well acquainted; but his salutation was calm
and cold; a slight smile played over his face, for a moment, as he
recognized him, then all was quiet. His features were like stone; and
whatever passions may have lurked within his bosom, his countenance was
not the mirror that reflected them. He was attired in the wild garb of
those Indians, who as yet had but little intercourse with the whites.
A pair of rough leggings were drawn over his legs, and a piece of blue
cloth was secured around his hips. The rest of his body was unclothed,
unless the red blanket, which most of the time, lay on the ground at
his feet, might have been considered part of his apparel.

The chief of the Otoe village had been apprised of our approach, and
had sent this warrior to watch, lest we should come upon the town
before it was prepared for our reception. He hung around the tent for
some time, saying little; but we could see, that while his face was
apparently turned towards the ground, his dark eyes were moving with
restless activity in every direction, scanning every action of the
party. He remained with us a short time; then having received a few
presents for the chiefs and one or two for himself, he caught the end
of the buffalo tug, which though secured to the neck of his horse, was
long enough to trail twenty feet after him in the grass—and with a
sudden jerk brought the animal to him and sprang upon his back.

He had scarcely mounted, before another Indian appeared on an opposite
hill, and galloped towards us. He exchanged a slight salutation with
the first comer, and passing him, shook hands with the guide. There
was more cordiality about him, than we had observed in the other, and
his face wanted the cold reserve, which marked that of the first. Upon
reaching the tent, he immediately signified his intention to remain
during the night, and accordingly turned loose the small white horse
upon which he rode. Then lighting his pipe, he wrapped his blanket
round him, and quietly seated himself near the fire—watching the cook,
who was busily engaged in preparing supper.

The other, finding what was his intention, started off towards the
village, and in a few moments was out of sight.



                              CHAP. XIV.

                   AN OTOE WARRIOR.—THE IOTAN CHIEF.


The whole prairie was glowing with the rays of the morning sun when we
started for the Otoe village. Our journey lay for the whole distance,
along the borders of the Platte. It was a soft golden morning, and the
water danced with a very air of happiness, sparkling and bubbling in
silver and rainbow brightness, as it scudded along its broad channel.
Its surface was studded with islands, teeming with verdure, and tinted
with all the various hues of autumn. The birds were piping out their
matin hymns, and the fish were splashing sportively beneath their
watery covering, sending a thousand silver circlets eddying onward to
the shore. The prairie grass was bending beneath the dew-drops, which
hung like strings of crystal upon their withering blades.

The heavy waggons were now kept closely together. The whole party,
which during the first part of the journey had straggled widely apart,
were collected. Our Otoe friend rode in front, accompanied by Major
D——, the Indian agent. We had travelled for several miles, when we
observed a single Indian galloping towards us on a large spotted horse.
In a few moments he came up. He was one of the principal braves of the
Otoe nation. He was completely naked, with the exception of a small
piece of cloth secured around his hips. His head was shaven, and to
the scalp-lock was attached an ornament of deer’s hair, resembling the
crest of an ancient helmet. His whole person, head, face, and body,
had been covered with vermilion, until it was the colour of blood, and
at a few yards’ distance, he looked as if he had been skinned alive.
But notwithstanding his bloody appearance, his countenance, though
calm and grave, had a mild expression not usually met with among the
Indians. His whole demeanour was prepossessing, and when he spoke,
his voice was like soft music. He was a favourite with most of the
wild traders in that part of the country, on account of his generous
character. If a stranger entered the village, he was the first to
welcome him to his lodge, and to protect him from the insults of the
meaner spirits of his nation. Yet even with this chivalrous nature,
he was an Indian warrior, and an Indian warrior is little better than
a murderer. He had counted as many scalps as any of his nation; but
those of hoary age, of the woman and the child, were hanging in the
smoke of his lodge, in companionship with those of the war-worn warrior.

In an hour’s time we arrived within a short distance of the village,
though as yet it was hidden from our sight by a high bluff. Suddenly, a
horseman dashed from behind it, and came towards us, plying his lash,
and urging his horse forward at a mad speed. The cry of “The Iotan!”
burst from several who had before seen him; and in a few moments this
redoubtable chief was by our side. He had evidently brought into
service the whole of his wardrobe, much of which he had received from
the whites. His hair was long, and round it was bound a large piece of
skin from the head of the grisly bear. Round his neck, hung a necklace
of the claws of the same animal; and what was of more importance in
his estimation, he was clothed in a long surtout coat of blue cloth,
adorned with red facings, and enormously large brass buttons, and
garnished upon each shoulder, with a pair of tarnished, sickly-looking,
silver epaulettes. From beneath the skirts of the coat appeared two
bare legs; and he wore a pair of coarse mocassins of buffalo hide.

There was a look of comic slyness lurking around the eyes of this
chief, united with an irascible twinkle, which bespoke a character
habitually good natured, but prone to occasional gusts of passion. The
most prominent feature of his face, however, had suffered mutilation.
The end of his nose was wanting. I was curious to learn, whether this
singular wound had been received in battle or private brawl; and my
inquiries made me acquainted with a curious tale of Indian revenge.
There are a dozen different versions of the story, in circulation
among the traders and trappers; but as far as I could ascertain, the
following is the most correct.



                               CHAP. XV.

             THE IOTAN AND HIS BROTHER, OR INDIAN REVENGE.


It was some years before the Iotan had reached the rank of a chief,
that he was despoiled of his nose in the following manner:—

Several Otoe Indians, by dint of paying fifty times their value, had
become possessed of a number of kegs of whiskey. As this was rather
a rarity, a council was called, and a general carousal of the male
portion of the village resolved upon. The females were excluded: it
being deemed necessary that they should remain sober, to exercise a
conjugal care over their husbands, when so inebriated as to be unable
to take care of themselves. In the mean time, a person was appointed as
guard, whose business it was to keep watch over the liquor, and drive
off all interlopers, who might be inclined to test its quality before
the time appointed. After three long, and to them lingering days, the
time came round; and at the appointed hour not a soul was behindhand.

The signal was given, and the revel commenced. As the liquor began
to work upon the passions of the revellers, they grew furious. They
howled, yelled, and fought. The females fled from the building.
All weapons had been removed beforehand; for they knew their own
ungovernable nature, when under the influence of liquor, and,
therefore, had taken precautions to prevent the occurrence of mischief.

But when the whiskey commenced its work, the savage was changed to a
demon, and the lodge resounded with their screams and howling; there
was a hell within its bosom.

The giant warrior fixed his gripe upon the trembling frame of the aged;
brother smote brother; friends fought with bitter fury, and the weak
and decrepit were trampled under foot.

It was in this stage of the riot that the Iotan and his brother had
a furious scuffle. They grappled and rolled upon the ground. In the
frenzy of strife and intoxication, his brother bit off the end of his
nose, and instantly extricating himself, rushed out of the lodge.

The Iotan was perfectly sobered; he paused for a moment, looking
intently in the fire, without uttering a word; then drawing his blanket
over his head, walked out of the building and hid himself in his own
lodge. On the following morning he sought his brother, and told him
that he had disfigured him for life: “tonight,” said he, “I will go
to my lodge and sleep; if I can forgive you when the sun rises, you are
safe; if not, you die.” He kept his word; he slept upon his purpose;
but sleep brought not mercy. He sent word to his brother that he had
resolved upon his death, that there was no further hope for him; at the
same time he besought him to make no resistance, but to meet his fate
as a warrior should.

His brother received the message and fled from the village. An Indian
is untiring in his pursuit of revenge, and though years may elapse, yet
he will obtain it in the end. From the time that it became the fixed
purpose of the Iotan to slay his brother, his assiduity never slept;
he hunted him for months. He pursued his trail over the prairies; he
followed his track from one thicket to another; he traced him through
the friendly villages, but without success; for although he was
untiring, his brother was watchful, and kept out of his way. The old
warrior then changed his plan of action. He laid in wait for him in
the forest, crouching like a tiger, in the paths which he thought he
might frequent in hunting, but he was for a long time unsuccessful. At
length, one day, while seated on a dead tree, he heard the crackling
noise of a twig breaking beneath a cautious footstep. He instantly
crouched behind the log and watched the opposite thicket. Presently
an Indian emerged from it, and gazed cautiously around. The Iotan
recognized his brother instantly. His careworn face and emaciated
form evinced the anxiety and privations that he had suffered. But this
was nothing to the Iotan; as yet his revenge was unsated, and the
miserable appearance of his brother touched no chord of his heart. He
waited until he was within a few feet of him; then sprang from his
lurking place and met him face to face. His brother was unarmed; but
met his fiery look with calmness and without flinching.

“Ha! ha! brother,” cried the Iotan, cocking his rifle, “I have
followed you long, in vain,—now I have you—you must die.”

The other made no reply; but throwing off his blanket, stepped before
him, and presented his breast. The Iotan raised his rifle and shot him
through the heart.

His revenge was gratified; but from that hour a change came over him.
He became gloomy and morose; shunned the society of his fellow-men,
and roamed the woods, where he was nearly driven to suicide by the
workings of his feelings, and the phantasies of his brain. It was not
until many years had elapsed, that he recovered from the deep anguish
caused by this unnatural act of vengeance.



                              CHAP. XVI.

                       THE RECEPTION.—THE TOWN.


It was many years after this savage deed that the Iotan was appointed
chief of the Otoe tribe, and his after conduct fully justified the
choice of the nation. To an ingenious skill in devising and planning
war parties, he added a desperate daring in carrying them into effect.
And though now well stricken in years, there is no warrior more
constantly lurking in the path of the enemy, and when it comes to the
deadly struggle, no voice is raised in a louder war whoop, and no arm
falls heavier upon their foes, than that of the Iotan chief.

The old warrior welcomed us cordially, then turning round, he rode
with us in the direction of his village. While he was speaking with
the commissioner, several dusky forms clambered the high bluff before
us, and stood upon its dizzy verge, watching our movements. Suddenly
the Iotan galloped a few yards in front, and waved his arm, uttering a
long, shrill yell. It was answered by a loud whoop from those on the
hill; who instantly commenced whirling their blankets around their
heads. Then all was silent.

For a few moments we were in doubt as to the meaning of the manœuvre;
but suddenly a loud roar rose from behind the bluff, and a dark troop
of wild horsemen burst round its base, and came pouring down upon us.
There must have been several hundred of them. Every man was naked,
but glaring with paint. They flooded onward, pealing out scream upon
scream, brandishing their spears, and whirling their tomahawks around
their heads. It seemed as if old Pluto had given a holiday, and that
his crew were revelling upon the earth, under the forms of these
snorting steeds and their wilder masters. Still they came on, and the
din increased. The old chief was unmoved, and sat like a statue upon
his horse. I looked around upon our little band: there were several
lowering brows and tightly compressed lips, and the fingers of two
or three were on their gun triggers. They were not accustomed to the
Indian welcome; and to them, all this long parade of yelling warriors
wore a menacing appearance. The band had now approached within a
hundred yards. We could perceive the flashing eyes of the straining
horses, the bare teeth, scowling brows, and starting muscles of the
riders. Bow clattered against bow; tomahawk clashed against tomahawk,
and voice was blended with voice, until the whole din rose in the air,
like the wild tumultuous roar of a raging sea. They were close upon
us;—another moment—and we were lost. The eyes of the soldiers began
to flash fire, their teeth were clenched, and there was an expression
about their faces, which told, that in spite of numbers, their
resistance would be bloody. At that moment, at a signal of the Iotan,
the wild horde separated, and whirled around, enveloped in a cloud of
dust.

The old chief smiled with an air of grim satisfaction, as he observed
the effect produced upon us by his warriors; then raising his voice,
he joined in the wild mêlée around us. Horse dashed against horse, as
the band swept onward in a large circle. Some were hurled from their
seats; others clung to the manes of the maddened horses. The strong
poured down upon the weak and brushed them from their paths. Ever and
anon, some little pepper-spirited horse, vexed with the hustling, would
pause to discharge his heels into the ribs of his next neighbour; but
before it could be done, the crowd would press upon him, and again he
would be borne onward, in the rushing course of the living whirlpool.
No one regarded his neighbour; each was under the influence of a mad
excitement. A giant Indian was dashing around, upon a horse as powerful
as himself, at the inner verge of the ring. In front of him was
another, on a little nag, who kept near the border for safety. Suddenly
they came in contact. The powerful steed swept onward as if he had met
with no obstacle. The little horse spun out of his path, and his rider
threw a somerset in the air, landing in the very midst of the throng.
Fifty hoofs clattered over his head; but he scrambled out, caught his
horse, bounded on his back with a loud whoop, and flourish of his
tomahawk, and pursued his course as if nothing had happened.

After this scene of hubbub and confusion had continued for about
fifteen minutes, the crowd gradually ceased its clamour, and formed in
a large circle round us, with their horses’ heads towards the party.
Presently the ring broke and was extended in two lines, through which
a band of about thirty warriors slowly advanced, to a long solemn
chant, sung by the whole troop, and accompanied by a kind of drum.
This band was formed of the flower of the Indian village. None were
admitted except those who could boast of having taken a certain number
of scalps, or of having performed an equally honourable service,
in stealing a large number of horses. These warriors were highly
ornamented; paint of every hue was laid upon their bodies. Their heads
were decorated with feathers and the variegated plumage of the gaudy
birds of the Platte islands. Long strings of wampum hung from their
necks and ears. Each bore a calumet, adorned with feathers and tinkling
bells. Some wore glittering armlets and collars of tin. Their heads
were shaven, and covered with vermilion, and from the top of each hung
the chivalrous scalp lock, generally adorned with an eagle’s plume. As
much care had been bestowed upon the horses as upon their riders, and
they had been selected from the whole village. They now moved forward
with proud step, as if conscious of the haughty character of those who
guided them; but this was as much owing to the horsemanship of the
riders, as to the spirit of the animals themselves; for there is no
class of people better able to show off the points of a horse than the
Indians, for they almost live in their saddle from childhood.

The band moved slowly forward, and then commenced walking their
horses round, a-breast, in the space between the multitude and our
party; still keeping up their loud and not inharmonious song, which,
we afterwards learned, was in praise of the whites—that is, of their
liberality.

At length the chief gave a signal, and this troop fell back into the
general crowd. Several horses were then presented to the party by the
braves and distinguished warriors.

While this was going on, one old warrior, who was notorious for being
the greatest thief, and for having killed more men than any other in
the village, rose up to boast of what he had done in his younger days;
and to let us know that he was not a man to be overlooked—a thing
which seemed very likely to happen in the bustle which prevailed. He
was lean and shrivelled; but his strength must have been prodigious in
his prime, for every muscle rose like a rope, upon his withered frame.
He spoke for about fifteen minutes, and then drew back. When he had
concluded, another old man rose up, and in like manner vaunted his
former exploits, many of which savoured strongly of the marvellous.
These speeches were translated with great gravity by the interpreter,
who, to confirm our wavering belief, took an opportunity of whispering
into our ears that, “in boasting of his exploits, an Indian was always
scrupulous in adhering to the truth.” This was perfectly convincing;
and while we travelled along within the verge of possibility, we were
resolved to give credence to all that he uttered.

After listening to a few more of these worthies, and smoking a few
pipes of kinne-ka-neek with the different chiefs, the Iotan rose up,
and the party prepared to move onward towards the town.

In crossing the prairie, which separated us from the village, our
course was stopped by a deep gulley, which about a dozen squaws were
engaged in filling with bushes and weeds, to render it passable for the
heavy waggons. While this was going on, the old Indian who had first
delivered his address, came sweeping up at a full gallop. He did not
pause at the hollow; but, probably for the purpose of showing off his
horsemanship, dashed down into it. His horse made a vigorous spring up
the opposite bank, but lost his footing on its slippery verge, and,
after a desperate scrambling, rolled with his rider, floundering in the
mud at the bottom. There was a loud shout of laughter at his expense.
For a moment he stood glaring about him like an angry tiger; then
raising his withered arm, he shook it at the crowd. “Laugh on! laugh
on!” exclaimed he, “I am old and feeble now; but there was a time when
you would not have dared to have done this.” Having given vent to his
impotent rage, he sprang upon his horse, scrambled up the bank, and
galloped forward to the village.

In the course of an hour we reached the town. A large concourse of
women and children followed at the heels of the party, and clustered
like bees around the heavy waggons as they toiled along. We passed
through the town, and fixed upon a small hill at about five hundred
yards distance, as our camping ground. Accordingly the heavy waggons
were drawn up; the tents were pitched around them, and the horses and
oxen, being released from their labours, were sent off to a thick
bottom of timber at a short distance, where the wild pea vines were
matting together in the greatest luxuriance.

The village of the Otoe Indians is situated upon a ridge of swelling
hills overlooking the darkly wooded banks of the Platte river, about
a quarter of a mile distant. There is but little beauty or neatness
about an Indian town. The lodges are built in the shape of a half
egg. They frequently are twenty feet in height, and sometimes sixty in
diameter. The roofs are formed of long poles, which diverge, like the
radii of a circle, from one common centre. The ring of the circle is
formed of upright posts, driven closely together in the ground, and
projecting upward about five feet. These are interwoven with brushwood
and the smaller branches of trees, and form the support of the outer
end of the poles composing the roof, the interstices of which are also
interwoven with twigs and brushwood. The whole is then covered with
earth, and when finished resembles a large hillock. The town contained
about seventy of these lodges, standing singly or in groups, without
any attention to order or regularity. Within, they are capacious,
but dark, being lighted merely by a small aperture at the top, which
serves both as window and chimney. The fire is built in a cavity in the
centre, directly under the hole in the roof, by which the smoke escapes
after floating in easy wreaths about the interior.

As the lodges are very spacious, a little back from the fire there is
a circular range of tree trunks standing like columns, and connected
by timber laid in their forks, forming a support for the roof, which
otherwise, from the great length of the poles that form it, and the
heavy mass of superincumbent earth, might fall in, and bury the
inhabitants. Around the wall of the building, are ranged cribs or
berths for sleeping, screened from view by heavy mats of grass and
rushes. Over the fire is inclined a forked stake, in the hook of which
hangs a large kettle, generally filled with buffalo flesh and corn.
This, to judge from its looks, is never removed from the fire, even for
the purpose of cleaning it.



                              CHAP. XVII.

                      INDIAN HABITS.—THE ESCAPE.


We had been a week in the village, and had become familiar with all
the antiquated gossips of the place. The old warriors would stop us
as we lounged around, to listen to some sly joke, which, as in duty
bound, we relished most highly; though the wit of it was for the most
part beyond our fathom, as it lay hid in the arcana of their language.
The old squaws would hold us by the button, and whine into our ears
some lugubrious tale of misery, equally unintelligible. The children
soon lost the shyness which had at first marked their conduct; they
were continually hanging around the tents, teasing the black cook, or
frightening the oxen. When not thus engaged, they were scampering like
deer across the prairie, in the enjoyment of their wild games. Here and
there, too, a knot were busily engaged in gambling away arrows, which
they had received from their parents; discussing, with the most earnest
eagerness, the fairness and unfairness of each toss of their competitor.

Our tents became the gathering place of the whole tribe, where they
assembled to discuss the news of the day. Here they would light their
pipes, and talk over the deeds of former times; of scalps taken—of
horses stolen—of buffalo hunts, and of hair-breadth escapes from the
Sioux and Osage Indians. All the incidents which tend to variegate
the desultory life of a savage were here brought into review by the
gossiping group; receiving their meed of praise or censure, as they
deserved it. Among the rest they spoke high in praise of a young
Indian, who stood at a little distance. He was leaning against a
wheel of one of the waggons, gazing, though with an evident air of
abstraction, upon the group collected round the fire. He was scarcely
twenty; yet he was already a brave, and stood high among the older
warriors. A long feather hung from his scalp-lock, and was his only
ornament. A blanket was thrown loosely over the lower part of his body,
and was his only covering. Among various things related of him, was the
following:—

A few weeks before our arrival at the village, he was returning one
afternoon from an unsuccessful hunting excursion, which had taken him
to a great distance from his home. The crimson disk of the sun was
scarcely visible above the tops of the prairie hills. The burning heat
of a hot summer’s day was mellowing down into the mildness of a July
evening, and, one by one, the ravens and vultures were winging a steady
course towards their roosts in the thick forest skirting the Missouri.

The Otoe had yet twenty miles to travel, and it would be nightfall
before he could reach his village; but he would not push his generous
steed, which was already much fatigued. He, therefore, rode slowly
across the prairie, occasionally chirruping to the horse, or humming
some Indian song.

Suddenly his quick eye was caught by the appearance of a black speck,
which rose over the edge of a distant hill, between himself and the
setting sun. In a moment after, the whole figure of a mounted Indian
emerged to view, followed by four others also mounted. They did not
observe the Otoe, but continued riding along the top of the ridge, in
the same direction with himself. Supposing them to be some of his own
tribe, he checked his horse, and raised a loud whoop to attract their
notice.

At first they did not hear him, but a second shout, raised at the full
pitch of his lungs, brought them to a halt. A short consultation seemed
to take place; after which they rode slowly and carelessly towards
him, as if they by no means intended to hurry themselves in obeying
his call. As they were some distance off, he dismounted from his
horse, laid his rifle in the grass in front of him, and, lighting his
pipe, prepared to smoke until they should reach him. He lay intently
watching them as they drew nearer. He, however, soon discovered, from
some peculiarity in their dress, that they were not Otoes, but, as he
supposed, Kanzas, who were then at peace with his tribe.

Fearing nothing, therefore, he continued lolling on the grass and
smoking. As they approached still nearer, their cautious movements
awakened suspicion, and he began to doubt their being Kanzas. Raising
himself, he sat earnestly watching them with every sense on the alert,
though he continued to smoke his pipe with apparent tranquillity.

He now observed that they gradually separated, as if their object was
to surround him as he sat. Another glance showed that they were Osages,
the deadly foes of his tribe. Dashing his pipe to the ground, he bent
hastily forward to seize his rifle. It was fortunate for him that he
did so; for at the instant, a bullet, aimed at his heart, whizzed past
him, cutting a deep gash in his shoulder. In an instant he sprang upon
his horse. The Osage war whoop rang in his ear; but with that daring
that never forsakes an Indian, he brandished his rifle in the air, and,
raising his own answering war cry, dashed off like the wind. He had the
start by only a hundred yards. Everything depended upon the speed and
bottom of his horse; but he was a tried one, and nobly did his duty:
hill and dale disappeared behind him. Scarcely had he vanished from the
top of one ridge, ere his hoofs clattered over the top of the next. But
his enemies pressed on at the same mad rate. The clang of their horses’
hoofs rang in the ear of the Otoe with a fearful clearness. Luckily
they could not pause to take aim with their rifles. At two miles’
distance was a skirt of forest: it was growing dark, and could he but
reach this he would be safe. His horse, however, was nearly broken
down; he panted and staggered. The rider plied the lash with phrenzied
fierceness; the generous animal taxed his strength to the uttermost;
but nature was exhausted. Within a quarter of a mile of the timber he
began to fail, when his rider sprang from his back and bounded forward
on foot. A loud cry burst from his pursuers as they saw him abandon his
horse; but there was little cause for the shout, for his speed nearly
equalled that of their jaded steeds. He was within about a hundred
yards of the thicket, when, finding that they could not overtake him,
the Osages drew up and discharged their pieces. The bullets pattered
among the leaves of the grove, but missed their mark. The Otoe turned
half round, when on the border of the bushes, shook his rifle in the
air, and, raising a yell of triumph, plunged into the thicket.

The advantage was now on his side, for the Osages dared not approach,
lest he should fire upon them from his covert. They rode up and down
for a time at a distance, vainly endeavouring to catch a glimpse of his
figure; then returned across the prairie, contenting themselves with
carrying off the deserted horse.



                             CHAP. XVIII.

                   THE RIVAL CHIEFS.—INDIAN FEASTS.


Besides the Iotan, there are two other chiefs, inferior in rank, and
far less popular. It was amusing to see how jealous a watchfulness each
held over the actions of the other—each afraid to take a single step
in the transaction of any business whatever, lest it should give some
advantage to his rival. They reminded me strongly of two belligerent
cats, mounted on the top of some gutter, glaring in each other’s eyes,
and growling deep-muttered sounds of wrath; but neither venturing to
attack or retreat, lest by some unguarded movement, he should expose
some unprotected part to the fangs of his adversary. The Indian names
of these two worthies I have forgotten; but they are known to the
trappers by those of the Big Kaw (or Kanzas) and the Thief.

This last honourable badge of distinction was bestowed upon the father
of the present possessor; but in process of time the old Thief was
gathered to his fathers, and the young Thief reigned in his stead. He
inherited his name, his worn-out blankets, and so large a number of
grudges and private quarrels, that, in acting as executor and revenging
his father’s injuries, years had elapsed before he could fairly say
that the debts of the deceased were paid off.

The young Thief had, however, now become the old Thief. His hair was
silvered by age; and he had arrived at that period of life which old
folks are apt to call “the years of discretion;” that is, he had
passed the prime of his usefulness, and had reached that age when
strong attachments are usually formed to easy comforts and chimney
corners.

The Big Kaw is a short thick Indian, rather good-natured, but gifted
with a large supply of mulish obstinacy, and a temper like gunpowder.
Oppose him—flash!—he is in a blaze; the children scamper; the squaws
scatter; the rabble vanish. None stay to listen to the outpourings
of his wrath, unless it may be one or two old fellows, who are too
decrepit to get out of his way, or are blessed with so happy a hardness
of hearing, as to render it agreeable to them to be conversed with,
even though by a man in a passion.

The family of this chief consists of several wives, and a son, who is
one of the most intelligent young men in the village. He, however,
is the very counterpart of the old man in disposition; and when the
two get fairly excited, the village is in an uproar. If the quarrel is
commenced in a lodge, the building is instantly vacated by the rest
of its occupants, until the silence which reigns within gives notice
that the storm has blown over. Upon these occasions, it is said that
those who return generally find the old man looking very foolish, and
the son very angry. From this it is suspected that the former is held
in subjection by his graceless offspring. Be that as it may, the young
warrior still retains a strong affection for his fond old father.
Although, in his anger, he sometimes oversteps the bounds of propriety,
and conducts himself in an indecorous manner towards him, yet, upon the
whole, he is looked upon as a pattern of filial piety—particularly as
he permits nobody to bully his father, but himself. The Thief was in
every respect the reverse of his rival. He was tall and wiry—of that
construction which denotes extreme hardiness of constitution, united
with a great lack of superfluous flesh. He was calm and quiet in all
his movements, and would sit for hours in the same posture, his eyes
alone keeping watch. He slid in and out of our tent, with a noiseless
step, which frequently caused us to be unaware either of his presence
or his absence. We were often startled, when least expecting it, by
hearing his deep sonorous tones at our elbows.

The Iotan chief is the lord paramount of the village. With that cunning
policy for which he is noted, he contrives, by balancing the interest
of the two inferior chiefs, to keep them so constantly engaged in
watching each other, that they have no time to turn their attention to
himself.

On the first day of our arrival, we were invited to feast with about
half the village. The first lodge which we entered was that of the
Iotan. We found him sitting cross-legged upon some cushions to receive
us. Upon our coming up to him, he presented the commissioner with a
seat next himself. Then turning to his wife, he called for the feast,
which consisted of dried buffalo flesh, boiled with a large quantity of
hard corn. The interior of his abode wore but a dull, dingy look. The
rafters were almost invisible for the eddying clouds of smoke, lazily
seeking the hole in the roof, which served for the chimney.

This old chief had divided his affections among five wives. They were
seated in different parts of the lodge, engaged in pounding corn, or
chattering over the news of the day. They were evidently under but
little subjection. While we were eating with him, the old man took the
opportunity to disburthen his heart. He let us into a knowledge of
the miseries to which he was subjected from their caprices; and the
difficulties which he found in maintaining a proper discipline where
there were so many mistresses and but one master.

Upon leaving the lodge, we next visited that of the Big Kaw. He guided
us himself through the intricacies of the town, until we reached the
building and entered through its low funnel-mouthed door. We had
scarcely seated ourselves, before we found that we had got into warm
quarters. The lady of the house had not expected company, and was
unprepared for visiters. There was evidently a storm gathering. I
read it in her lowering eyes, and in the uneasy, stealthy look of the
Indian. He made no parade, but glided across the building, and motioned
us a seat, with a guilty air; then slunk upon a cushion, with the look
of a man who would wish to pass unnoticed. Occasionally he cast towards
his helpmate a deprecating glance, like that of a whipped dog. His eye
seemed to say, “I know I was wrong in bringing them; but I beseech you
to keep quiet now, and you may scold as much as you please when the
visiters have gone.”

A bowl of dried buffalo flesh was at last placed before us: the
viands being rather tough, drew forth some remark from our host, half
facetious, half apologetic. By accident it reached the hearing of the
squaw, who thought that it was intended as a reflection upon her.
In an instant she was in a blaze, and opened her batteries upon the
chief, pouring out one continuous torrent of invective. Hot-headed and
irascible as he naturally was, nevertheless for a moment he shrank
under it; and, if it could have been done with credit to himself,
probably would have evacuated the field; but in the present case that
was impossible; and to be thus lorded over by his wife, and before
strangers, was intolerable. Though for a moment overawed by the attack,
his touch-paper temper began to take fire. At first it only evinced
itself by a few sulky shakes of the head; but at last it burst through
all restraint, and sent back a fire as hot as was given. The war was
furious for some moments, and apparently carried on with equal vigour
on both sides; but at length the bursts from the chief grew fewer and
fewer: he was evidently getting worsted; his lips grew closer—more
resolved, and his look began to wander round the dwelling, until at
last it rested upon a large stick which lay on the floor at a little
distance. A glance of his eye called the attention of his wife in that
direction. It is probable that she understood its meaning; for after a
few sulky looks, and a few sullen mutterings, her words grew more and
more rare, and at last ceased altogether.

We remained but a short time longer, and after visiting the lodges of
several others, returned to our tents.



                              CHAP. XIX.

                         DOMESTIC GRIEVANCES.


Among the number of our daily visitors, were three old squaws,
hideously ugly, and filthy in the extreme. Wrinkle upon wrinkle covered
their faces, and layer upon layer of dirt covered the wrinkles. Their
long, gray, uncombed hair, hung in thick, matted locks, reaching nearly
to their waists; and each of their long skinny arms, with which they
coaxingly patted us, resembled in appearance and delicacy the trunk of
a grape vine. These old harridans were perfect nuisances. They were
constantly lingering about the door of the tent, on the look-out for
plunder. They seemed to possess the power of ubiquity; it would have
puzzled Argus to keep track of their movements. They were shuffling
around all day long, peeping into every hole and cranny. One of them
even stole meat from the frying pan, while the black cook turned his
head to drive off the other.

Come upon them when we might, they were always sure to greet us with a
half-smirking, half-piteous look; but the moment we turned away, they
were at their old occupations. They were so constantly at work, that
there was some talk of appointing a person whose sole employment should
be to keep a keen eye to their movements. They lived at our tent doors,
and, for aught we knew to the contrary, might sleep there too; for
we left them there in the evenings, and we found them at their posts
before sunrise. Indeed, so constant was their presence, that the sight
of one of them moving off towards the town was the signal for a general
search, as they seldom made their disappearance without taking with
them some article which did not belong to them.

They had taken a particular fancy to Jones, the black cook. This
unlucky wight was yet young in years, and inexperienced in the ways
of the world. He had a fond and foolish heart, and acknowledged that
he always felt a sort of sneaking kindness for the other sex. When
dwelling upon the subject, he used to open his eyes, until the small
speck of a pupil was almost lost in the immense field of white, and
exclaim, “I a’nt afeard of no man; but I can’t stand the wimmen.”

To the young urchins who intruded into his domains he was not so
indulgent, but kept a keen eye and a long stick for their especial
benefit. This, however, only subjected him to ten times more annoyance.
They would pull him by the coat tail, or jerk his ragged pantaloons
until they worked him up into a passion. Then their greatest delight
was to be hunted over the prairie by the Black Bear (the name which
he had received among them). He might as well have followed a cloud.
They sprang like fawns over the prairie, scarcely appearing to rustle
the grass in their flight. They played around him like swallows, until
completely exhausted by his own lumbering movements, he was fain to
give out, and return unavenged to his occupations. Woe to the unlucky
urchin, however, who, having been once guilty, should venture at any
subsequent time within his reach! A hearty cuffing would convince him
that the memory of the Black Bear was more tenacious than his own, and
would warn him in future to keep clear of so dangerous a neighbourhood.

During the whole of our journey from Fort Leavenworth to the Otoe
town, Mordecai had kept his fellow-servants in a state of constant
tribulation. He gave such bloody accounts of Indians and Indian
murders, that they regarded death as almost inevitable; and, I suspect,
would have deserted at the first opportunity, had there not been more
danger in leaving than in remaining with the party. When, however,
we had been received by the Otoes, and the danger was past, Mordecai
forgot his tales of terror. He pretended a kind of fellow-feeling
for the Otoes. He talked Creek to the old women, who were willing to
understand any language, so that they might but remain sufficiently
near the tents to get an opportunity of stealing. He regarded the
children that hung round with a kind of parental affection, and
thoroughly discountenanced the thwackings which Jones so liberally
bestowed upon them.

When we were perfectly settled in our camp, the horses which he had
driven were turned adrift with the rest. He then took upon himself the
duties of cook, transferring to Jones the less honourable employment of
cutting wood for fuel. He would stand by the hour, with a red flannel
night-cap stuck upon the side of his head; his butcher-knife in one
hand, and his arm akimbo, descanting upon the arduousness of the office.

He had a high opinion of his own importance, and made no hesitation in
saying that he ranked next to the Commissioner in the estimation of the
Indians; that Mr. Ellsworth was respected by the chiefs on account of
his having charge of the presents. As for himself, that he was popular
among the vagabonds of the village; for they had no hope of presents,
and, therefore, were delighted to come in for a share of the tit-bits
and choice morsels which it was in his power to distribute while
cooking.

Notwithstanding the altered tone of Mordecai, and the cordiality of
our reception, there was one individual who remained inveterate in his
prejudices against them. This was the French boy Joe: he never spoke of
the Indians without some qualifying expression of ill-will. Whenever
any thing was stolen, he at once attributed it to them. Frequently,
however, his loud vociferation on these occasions caused us strongly
to suspect that he was the delinquent, and that this clamour of
indignation was raised that he might escape unsuspected.

His sole occupation was to spread the bearskins at night, and remove
them in the morning. During the rest of the day he strolled about
abusing the Indians, cracking his whip, or hallooing at the stray curs
who were skulking around.

“Mordecai,” said he, one day to that worthy, who was standing in the
midst of a group of Indians, in his usual stately attitude, with one
hand tucked in his side, while the other held a frying pan,—“Mordecai,
dere is no good in having dese Ingens around you; dey’m all d——d
rascals any how.”

Mordecai gave a self-satisfied smirk, threw a compassionate glance at
Joe, then extending his arm with an impressive air, “Joe,” said he,
“don’t abuse the Indians; it hurts my feelings—I’m an Indian myself.”

“Yes, a nigger von,” replied Joe, turning upon his heel.

It seems, too, that the Iotan was of the same opinion; for whenever
Mordecai spoke of his Indian descent, the old warrior quietly shook his
head, remarking, “that he had never seen an Indian with woolly hair.”

It was evident, however, that his contempt was engendered by seeing him
perform menial offices; for, like all Indians, he had a great distaste
for labour, and respected those only who, like himself, did nothing.



                               CHAP. XX.

                          A MAN OF THE WORLD.


A number of idlers usually assembled in front of our tents during
the fine sunshiny afternoons, to sing their songs and smoke their
pipes, and regale themselves by listening to the adventures of their
neighbours, which they had heard recounted a hundred times before.
Among them was a tall thin Indian, with a wrinkled, hard-looking face,
and a head covered with a profusion of long knotty hair, which he
occasionally combed by raking it with his fingers. He seemed as if he
had been smoke-dried for a century, until his flesh had hardened into
gristle, and looked as if further shrivelling was an impossibility. He
had a very small, busy eye, which twinkled with an incessant play of
humour. It overcame even the grave disposition of the oldest warriors,
and surprised them into as broad a laugh as was ever known to proceed
from the mouth of the most scape-gallows Indian of the tribe, or even
from the broader mouth of that vociferous character, the Black Bear.

He usually made his appearance at the door of the tent a little after
sunrise, and continued in its neighbourhood during the whole day,
though he shifted from the fire to the tent door, as the process of
cooking and carrying the meals within went forward.

His usual dress was an old buffalo robe, worn almost bare of hair;
and in his hand he carried a long-handled pipe, as antiquated as
himself. He was one of those poor but merry dogs, who are found in
all countries—taking the world as it goes, laughing at care, and free
from all of those disturbances which fret their fellow men. He had
never held any property of his own, he had never burthened himself with
a wife, he had never built a lodge to shelter him. He was a perfect
man of the world, and supported himself by visiting his neighbours.
The lodges of the whole tribe he looked upon as his own property; the
children of the whole nation were equally under his charge. His bed
was his time-worn buffalo robe; and the abode in which night surprised
him was his usual resting place, until the next morning sun awakened
him. He was a welcome visitor at the stately dwelling of the chief,
and in the less noble though to him equally prized wigwam of one of
the lowest of the town; for in wealth they were all superior to him,
and he thought that a poor devil like himself, with scarce a tatter
to his back, had no right to sneer at the goodwill of any individual,
who, however needy, was better off than himself. Notwithstanding the
apparent easiness with which he slid through the world, his life had
not been without its spice of adventure. Nor had the lapse of fifty
years flown over his head, without bringing in its train a host of
those mishaps, both by “flood and field,” with which the history of
a savage is ever teeming. These he was accustomed to relate in the
different lodges, to the assembled group of old and young, with a
degree of humour which completely enraptured the women, and rendered
him a welcome guest in every dwelling in the town.

He was sitting as usual, one fine afternoon, at the door of the
tent. After finishing his pipe, he related an account of his having
been chased by a party of Sioux Indians, across the prairie which lay
between the Elk Horn river and the Missouri, on his way to the Otoe
Agency. After laughing heartily, the interpreter translated it for the
benefit of the rest.



                              CHAP. XXI.

                              THE CHASE.


The Otoe Agency is situated upon the banks of the Missouri river, at
thirty-five miles’ distance from the Otoe village. It consists of half
a dozen rough buildings, tenanted by as rough inhabitants. The most of
these are half-bred Indians, with full-blooded squaws for wives, and an
immense number of mongrel children. The latter may be seen from morning
till night lying on the ground in front of the agent’s dwelling, and
basking in the sunshine, with that listless enjoyment which they
inherit with their Indian blood.

Early one clear morning the Indian mentioned in the last chapter left
the Otoe village on a visit to the Agency. After swimming the Platte,
and fording the pure still waters of the Elk Horn, he strapped his
time-worn buffalo robe tightly round his body, and proceeded onward.

As he was on a friendly visit, to gossip with his old cronies at the
Agency, he had no weapon; but carried under his arm his inseparable
companion, his pipe. As this pipe is destined to bear a conspicuous
part in the adventure which is to follow, it would perhaps be worth
while to describe it. The stem was of ash, about four feet in length,
half an inch in diameter, and charred in the fire until it had
acquired a dirty brown colour. The bowl was of stone, to contain the
kinne-ka-neek[G], which an Indian uses as a substitute for tobacco.
He usually carries it about him in a small pouch, formed of the entire
skin of a young otter, musk-rat, or fox-squirrel.

[G] _Kinne-ka-neek_ is a substance used by the Indians as a substitute
for tobacco. It is made by crushing to fineness the dried leaves or
bark of the wild sumach. This is then mixed with plug tobacco, cut
fine, and is smoked by them. The proportion of tobacco to sumach is
about one fourth. The tobacco pouch of the Indians is always formed
of the skin of one of the animals above mentioned. The head is left
appended to it; and the bones, intestines, and fleshy substance are
removed from the body through a small hole cut in the throat, which
afterwards serves as the mouth of the pouch. These pouches are often
highly ornamented, with stained porcupine quills, beads, and, if their
owners can obtain them, hawks’ bells.

The route to the Otoe Agency lay across a range of steep, ragged
ridges. The Indian sauntered slowly along. He had a whole summer’s
day before him, and was never in a hurry in his movements. Arrived at
the summit of a hill which commanded a wide prospect, he paused to
cast a wary look around him. The country lay spread out at his feet.
Here and there it was broken by small patches of timber and brushwood,
which served to give relief to the otherwise barren appearance of the
prairie. There was nothing to be seen wearing a hostile garb—not even
a wolf. Notwithstanding this apparent security, his watchfulness never
slumbered. He had been too often hunted and harassed by foes, to relax
for an instant that vigilance which from necessity becomes a constant
habit with an Indian.

He travelled for several hours, and his journey was nearly at its end.
The tall, thick timber, which darkened the bank of the Missouri, was
now seen raising its dusky outline above the summits of the distant
ridges. The groves and tangled thickets were becoming more and more
frequent, and every thing bespoke a near approach to that king of
rivers, the mighty Missouri.

A smooth prairie, about two miles in width, alone separated the Indian
from the groves in which the Agency was nestled. A few yards in front
of him was a low hillock, between two thick clusters of bushes. He
sauntered to the top, and looked around. To the left was a small
clump of bushes, fringing the bottom of the hill; but beyond, in that
direction, there was no object to break the spotless green of the
prairie. It stretched far off to the northward, until its distant verge
was mingled with the haze of the sky. To his right was another clump of
thicket, which clustered at the base of the hill, and swept off to a
distant ravine. At a short distance beyond this, a long line of lofty
timber, rising above a crowded under-brush, stretched off through the
prairie, until it joined the forest of the Missouri. All appeared
clear of enemies. So, wrapping his robe still closer around him, the
Indian was preparing to quit his stand, when his quick eye was caught
by the quivering motion of a bush in the thicket at the bottom of the
hill on his left. In an instant every sense was on the alert;—it might
be a deer, or it might be a lurking foe. He paused, and watched in
breathless silence. The bush was again agitated; the painted head of an
Indian emerged from among the leaves, and the form of another was dimly
seen crouching in the bushes.

The Otoe at once recognised them for Sioux, the bitterest and most
powerful foes of his tribe. His loud taunting laugh, accompanied by
the Otoe war cry, announced to the lurking savages that they were
discovered. In an instant they sprang forth, and raised the well-known
war cry of their tribe.

The Otoe fled down the opposite side of the hill, making for a thicket
of bushes and vines at its foot. As he ran he grasped the stem of his
pipe in one hand, and the stone bowl in the other. He protruded the end
beyond his side, in such a manner as to lead his enemies to suppose
that he was armed with a rifle, and carrying it at full cock, ready to
be discharged.

His pursuers, to the number of four, followed at his heels, like a pack
of hounds in full cry. They gained upon him, for age had stiffened
his joints; but by dint of hard straining he gained the covert of
brushwood, leaving them full two hundred yards behind. A shout betrayed
their disappointment. The wary old savage now threaded his way, swiftly
but with great caution, through the thick maze of bushes. He scarcely
bended a twig or rustled a leaf, lest it should catch the observant
eyes or quick ears of the Sioux, whom he could perceive lurking round,
though keeping out of rifle-shot distance.

At last the motion of a large bush, through which he was endeavouring
to force a passage, revealed his position. In an instant each Indian
fitted an arrow to his bow, and stood ready to let fly his shaft the
moment he could get sight of the game; but they were still careful
to keep beyond the reach of the supposed rifle. At length they drew
nearer, and stood upon the edge of a ridge, not more than a hundred
yards off. An arrow could not be sent with certainty at that distance;
but a bullet could. The Otoe suddenly raised his wild-looking head
above the bushes, and levelled his pipe. A loud yell burst from the
Sioux, and they darted below the ridge of the hill, beyond his sight,
to escape the dreaded shot. The moment that they disappeared, the Otoe
sprang forward and ran. He had succeeded in gaining several hundred
yards through the underwood, when his route was again detected. He
again raised his head above the bushes; his pipe was again to his
shoulder, and pointed in the direction of the hostile group. Once
more they disappeared beneath the ridge, and he pushed forward in his
course. This manœuvre was repeated several times, till the Otoe came
to where the thicket terminated, and was only separated by about three
hundred yards of open prairie from the wooded bottom of the Missouri.

Seizing the moment of another dispersion of his foes, he burst from
the bushes and fled for the timber. He had nearly reached it, when a
loud whoop announced that his flight was discovered. His pursuers were
obliged to force a path through an intervening skirt of brushwood. This
gave him some advantage, and he gained the timber just as they were
emerging from the thicket which he had deserted. After rushing rapidly
through the underwood for a long distance, and after several turnings
and doublings, he gradually lost all sounds of pursuit, and reached
the Agency in safety, all glorious at having beaten off a war party by
means of a pipe.



                              CHAP. XXII.

                          THE METAMORPHOSIS.


We had been attending a feast given at the lodge of the Iotan chief,
and were returning through the town, towards the little eminence on
which the white canvass of our tents was fluttering in the wind. As we
passed one of the lodges, we observed a group of females in front of
it, busily engaged in exposing to the heat of the sun a large quantity
of shelled corn. This was done by scattering it upon a buffalo-skin
tent, spread upon the ground for the purpose. One squaw attracted our
attention, from her gigantic height; most of the Indian females being
under, rather than above the middle size. As we approached her, there
was a masculine coarseness in the features of her face which rendered
her hideously ugly, and formed a contrast highly in favour of the group
around her. We afterwards learned that this strange being, though now
clad in the garb of a female, and performing the most menial of their
offices, was in reality a man, and had once ranked among the proudest
and highest braves of the Otoe nation. His name had once stood foremost
in war, and in council. He had led on many an expedition against their
noble, but bitter foes, the Osages. In the midst of his bright career
he stopped short; a change came over him, and he commenced his present
life of degradation and drudgery.

The cause of the change was this. He had been for several weeks absent
upon a war expedition against his usual enemies, the Osages. At a
little before sunset, on a fine afternoon, a band of Indians were seen
coming over the hills, towards the Otoe village. It was a troop of
way-worn warriors. They counted less than when they started; but their
tale of scalps, and their fierce brows when they spoke of the death of
their comrades, told that those comrades had not been unavenged. In
front of them strode the stately form of the brave. He was wearied with
fatigue and fasting; and without staying to receive the greetings of
his fellow-townsmen, he hastened to his lodge, and threw himself upon
one of the bearskins which form an Indian bed; and there he remained
for the night. In the morning he arose from his couch; but he was an
altered man. A change, fearful and thrilling, had come over him. His
eye was quenched; his proud step wavered; and his haughty frame seemed
almost sinking beneath the pressure of some heavy calamity.

He collected his family around him. He told them that the Great Spirit
had visited him in a dream, and had told him that he had now reached
the zenith of his reputation; that no voice had more weight at the
council fire; that no arm was heavier in battle. The divine visitant
concluded by commanding that he should thenceforth relinquish all
claim to the rank of a warrior, and assume the dress and avocations of
a female. The group around him heard him in sorrow; for they prided
themselves upon his high and warlike name, and looked up to him as the
defender of their hearths. But none attempted to dissuade him from his
determination, for they listened to the communications of the deity
with a veneration equal to his own.

After speaking with his own family, he made known his intention to the
nation. They heard him gravely, and sadly; but they, too, assented to
the correctness of his resolution. He then returned to his lodge, and
took down his bow from the place which it had occupied, and, snapping
it in two, threw the fragments into the fire, and buried the tomahawk
and rifle which had often served him in battle. Having finished this,
he washed the war paint from his face, and drew the proud eagle’s plume
from the scalp-lock. From that hour he ceased to be numbered among
the warriors of the nation. He spoke not of battle; he took no part
in the councils of the tribe; and no longer raised his voice in the
wild war-whoop. He had relinquished everything which he had formerly
gloried in, for the lowly and servile duties of a female. He knew
that his allotted course was marked out for him; that his future life
was destined to be one of toil and degradation; but he had fixed his
resolution, and he pursued his course with unwavering firmness. Years
had elapsed since he first commenced this life of penance. His face
was seamed with wrinkles; his frame was yielding to decrepitude; and
his ever scowling eye now plainly showed that the finer feelings of
his nature had been choked by the bitter passions of his heart. His
name was scarcely mentioned; and the remembrance of his chivalrous
character was as a dream in the minds of his fellows. He was neglected
and scorned by those who had once looked up to him with love and
veneration. He had the misery of seeing others fill the places which
he once filled, and of knowing that however exalted he once might have
been, and however they might have respected his motives, that he was
now looked upon as one of the lowest of the nation.



                             CHAP. XXIII.

                             INDIAN DOGS.


There are no greater thieves in existence than the Indian dogs; not
even excepting the old squaws, who have made it their amusement for
half a century. With the last it is a matter of habit and practice; but
with the former it is instinct. It is necessary for their existence
that they should be at the same time accomplished thieves and practised
hypocrites. They are never fed by their masters, who are always
particularly careful to keep every eatable from their reach, their
own appetites being generally sufficient to dispose of every thing of
that nature. As far as I was able to judge, the only act of pastoral
kindness which they ever exerted over their canine flock consisted in
flogging them whenever a chance offered.

There is scarcely a lodge which does not patronise at least a dozen
of these hangers-on, who, with all their thievishness, are the most
pious-looking dogs in existence. Frequently have I observed some gaunt,
greedy fellow, who looked as if he had been dieted for a fortnight,
steal with a meditative air into the building as if he had strolled in
without observing what he was about, so much were his thoughts occupied
with more weighty matters. But notwithstanding his absence of mind,
the moment his look fastened upon any article of food, a change came
over him. The air of abstraction passed away; every latent faculty was
called into play; and his eye fairly blazed with a concentration of
thievish longing. Then, with a fixed gaze, but with an indifferent,
lounging step, he would sidle towards the object of his wishes, waiting
only for a favourable opportunity to seize his prize, trusting to
fortune to make good his retreat. But should he at that moment catch
your eye, his flashing, eager look instantly disappeared, and was
succeeded by a meek, deprecating, and unpretending slouch, which seemed
to beg that you would not place any improper construction upon his
actions.

It was not long before it became known to these gentry that a band of
strangers had arrived among them, who were as yet unacquainted with
their evil practices. Accordingly they deserted the town, to linger
around our tents. The first day was one of jubilee to them, and truly
exemplified in us the scriptural saying of “certain men fell among
thieves.” But we soon became initiated into their customs, and removed
from their reach every thing which we apprehended might be in the
slightest degree palatable, or even digestible.

There appeared to be a most cordial hatred existing between them and
the old squaws, who, above all things, detested opposition in their
line of business, and were unwilling that any interlopers should
come in to assist in carrying off a share of those spoils which they
considered their own peculiar property.

Among the number of our canine visiters were two who seemed to carry
on a co-partnership. The one was a little rakish-looking dog, of a
dirty white colour, with pinkish-green eyes, who had quite a buckish
way of carrying his tail. He was a mighty pragmatical, self-important
little body, and was apparently endeavouring to pass himself off for
more than he really was. He ranged between the gentlemen dogs and the
rabble dogs of the village. There was a swaggering, self-important air
about him, which reminded me strongly of those individuals of the human
kind, who are generally to be found in all places attempting to hide
their own natural vulgarity under a great show of dare-devil rakish
gentility. The boon companion of this dog was his reverse in every
respect. He was a lean, shaggy fellow, with a drooping slouch to his
tail, and quiet pensive expression of countenance. No one would have
suspected him of being the greatest thief in the village; yet such he
was, and as such his approaches were most thoroughly discountenanced
by all the old squaws, who looked upon him as a most formidable rival.
He never attempted to resist their attacks, but fled howling away
at the slightest appearance of danger, though half an hour would not
elapse before he was as busy as ever. We found that in stealing he far
excelled his companion, who made ten times as much bustle in carrying
off ten times as little, and who was frequently left to receive the
share of punishment due to both.

They continued together for several days. But at length the partnership
dissolved, and each went on to steal for his own private benefit. Many
were the sly bits which disappeared, and great was the caution used by
the occupants of the tents to keep out of their reach every article
which they thought would be acceptable. They continued their visits for
several days after their real character had been discovered. But having
been detected in the act of dragging off a large bag, which contained
some twenty pounds of bacon, and having been several times flogged for
their evil practices, and finding that the party had now grown quite
cautious of their provisions, they deserted us altogether—betaking
themselves to the town, and leaving their places to be filled by other
dogs, equally ravenous, but less experienced in this art of gaining a
livelihood.



                              CHAP. XXIV.

                             INDIAN LIFE.


To dress and ornament himself with trinkets and gewgaws, is the delight
of a savage. The glittering presents of the whites bear as strong an
attraction to the warrior as to the female or the child, though his
disciplined habits prevent those loud bursts of pleasure which escape
unrestrained from them. Scarcely a day elapsed but a little group would
collect before our tents for the purpose of ornamenting themselves.
They were apparently very fastidious in their taste; for when hours
had been spent by an Indian beau in laying on one streak of paint
after another, and in ogling himself by piecemeal in a small scrap of
looking glass, some defect would appear, and with an exclamation of
dissatisfaction the whole would be rubbed off. The work would then be
recommenced with unabated perseverance, until he succeeded in daubing
and ornamenting himself to his entire satisfaction.

When the toilette was completed, a surprising change came over the
young warriors. They would fling their blankets ostentatiously
around them, and with a lordly air lounge through the town; looking
first at one of the young squaws, then at another; and occasionally
condescending to speak to some dirty-looking brother, with that
patronising air which, in all countries, a well-dressed person is apt
to assume in conversing with a ragged acquaintance. When they had
finished their perambulations, they would mount upon the top of one
of the highest lodges, and stand for hours to be gazed at by the
different idlers; a term which, in truth, might be applied to the whole
of the male portion of the town.

In war and in hunting there is no being more untiring than the Indian.
He will spend days and weeks in search of an enemy. If in the course of
his travel he meets with a strange track crossing his path, his journey
is at an end, until he has satisfied himself whether it is that of a
friend or a foe. If it is ascertained to be that of an enemy, and if
there is any prospect of gaining a scalp, the main pursuit gives place
to this. He follows upon the trail, rapidly and surely, and nothing is
left undone to insure the successful accomplishment of his purpose.
He endures fatigues of all kinds; fasting and peril are unheeded by
him; he has but one aim: it is murder. There is but little chivalry
in the Indian warfare. The pursuer steals like a snake upon his foe.
He gives him no warning—no opportunity to resist his fate. Often the
death-scream of the victim is simultaneous with the crack of the rifle
that gives him the first notice of a foe.

In peace, and in his own village, the Indian is a different being. He
lounges about listlessly; he will sit for hours watching the children
at their games; or will stop at the different lodges to hear the
floating rumours of the town. Sometimes a knot of five or six will
gather together, for the sake of talking over their own domestic
grievances, and abusing their wives behind their backs. Others will
assemble in the prairie, and relate to the young men their exploits in
battle; their success in hunting; the deeds of the different noted men
of the village; always winding up with the injunction of, “Go thou
and do likewise.” At a little distance from these, a single warrior
may be seen lolling in the grass; warming himself in the sunshine,
and drawling out a dull sleepy song, with an air of the most perfect
indifference to all things, past, present, and to come. Further on, two
or three may be observed strolling along the summits of the different
prairie hills, and apparently keeping watch over the neighbouring
country.

In war an Indian is all activity—the creature of excitement; but there
is not a more listless being in existence, when this grand object does
not call into play the latent energies of his nature.



                              CHAP. XXV.

                           THE INDIAN GUARD.


During our stay at the village, the crowd of visiters and pilferers
increased from day to day. The chief, therefore, stationed one of the
warriors at the encampment to keep off idlers and intruders of all
descriptions, and above all to have a keen eye to the movements of the
dogs and old women. At the same time he took occasion to let us know
that though the warrior had been selected by himself, his pay would be
expected to come from the hands of the Commissioner. On the following
morning the guard made his appearance, and prepared to enter upon his
office. He was tall and thin, with a shaved head, and a body highly
painted with vermilion. He wore, or rather carried with him, a dirty
blanket; which, with a small piece of blue cloth around his hips, and
a ragged pair of mocassins, completed his dress, and the whole of his
worldly possessions. Like most men in office, he began to hold his head
higher than the rest of the world, and to look with a patronising air
upon his former cronies. He forthwith commenced the discharge of his
duties, with that assiduity which fully verified the trite but true
proverb, “a new broom sweeps clean.” He routed the droves of vagabond
children. He hunted the old squaws over the prairie, till nothing
in the shape of a petticoat dared venture in the neighbourhood. And
a perpetual whining and howling of curs, accompanied by the hearty
thwacks of a cudgel, informed us that this portion of our visiters had
also been treated with all the respect due to so numerous and busy a
community.

This lasted for a day; after which, a perfect calm reigned throughout
the camp. There was no excitement; for the guard had monopolised it.
There was no squabbling, or howling; for the women were driven off, and
the dogs knew better than to venture a second time within the reach of
a cudgel, whose favours were bestowed with such an unsparing liberality.

The office now became a sinecure. The guard sat for hours upon the
head of an empty pork barrel, drumming his heels against its sides,
and trolling out some Indian ditty, or occasionally bellowing out a
threat at some urchin who ventured to steal a distant look at the
forbidden premises. When this became tedious, he stretched himself at
full length on the grass, and resumed his old occupation of singing. An
hour spent at this exhausted his patience. He then rose up, threw his
blanket across one of his shoulders, and swaggered off to the village
to hear the news, and to take a chat with the old folks, who treated
him with the greatest deference, now that he was in office. After
paying one of these visits, he always returned to his post, and regaled
us, as well as he was able, with the news of the day. By degrees, his
jurisdiction seemed to increase, until at last from the charge of our
goods and chattels, it reached to the charge of ourselves; and none
of the party could leave the tent without receiving a very inquiring
look, as to what might be the nature of the business which called him
forth. All these things tended vastly to raise him in the estimation
of the village; though I verily believe that, at the bottom, he was one
of the most arrant vagabonds breathing; and that the chief, acting upon
the principle usually followed by politicians of the present day, had
promoted him to office, because it was necessary that something should
be done for him, and because there was no other way of doing it.

Great as had been his display of diligence for the first day, it soon
disappeared; and at the end of three days, there was little difference
in the appearance of the camp, from that which it wore previous to
his appointment. According to his notions, he had performed all that
was necessary to entitle him to his pay, and any further labour he
considered as altogether superfluous. Before a week had elapsed, he
was nearly as great an annoyance as any of the idlers, whom it was his
business to remove.



                              CHAP. XXVI.

                           THE OTOE COUNCIL.


A day had been appointed for holding a council with the nation, for the
purpose of forming a treaty, with respect to the lands lying in the
neighbourhood of the Nemahaw river. The hour determined upon was three
o’clock; and at that time, we proceeded from the tent to the town, with
a string of children at our heels.

We found nearly the whole tribe assembled, and seated in circles, in
the large lodge of the Iotan chief. At the far end of the building,
was the Iotan; and by his side, were stationed those two worthies—the
Big Kaw, and the Thief. Next them, were the stern forms of the older
warriors and braves. There was something solemn in the unyielding
features of these war-worn veterans. They sat as motionless as
stone—moving not a single muscle of their dusky countenances. They had
thrown aside their usual careless deportment, and all were prepared
to listen, with intense interest, to the terms of the treaty. This
was observable, not only in the principal braves, but throughout the
whole assembly. Even the veriest scapegrace assumed an air of dignity
befitting the occasion.

The lodge was excessively crowded. One ring was formed beyond another;
one dark head rose behind another; until the dim, dusk outlines of the
more distant were lost in shadow, and their glistening eyes alone could
be seen. The passage which led to the air was completely crowded with
women and children; and half a dozen curious faces were peering down
through the round hole in the roof.

The most of them had adorned themselves for the occasion. Plumes were
floating from their scalp locks; their heads and breasts were painted
with vermilion, and long strings of wampum hung from their necks and
mutilated ears. But at the present moment there seemed to be no thought
of their appearance. Every sense was wrapped up in an intense interest
in the approaching council; every breath was held; and every eye fixed
with eagerness upon the face of the Commissioner, as he arose to
address the meeting.

He stated simply and clearly the terms of the treaty. There was not a
sound to interrupt his voice; not a limb stirred—not a muscle. Their
chests seemed scarcely to move, so suppressed was their breathing:
they were like statues: and their steady stare into the face of
the speaker; and the eagerness with which every eye turned to the
interpreter, as he translated each sentence; showed their deep interest
in the scene. At length the speaker concluded; and a loud groan, or
grunt of approbation, followed from the throats of the whole meeting.

The old chief remained in grave deliberation for a few moments;
then lighting his pipe, he drew a few puffs, and passed it to his
neighbour, until it had completed the round of the whole assembly. He
then rose, and addressed the council. He spoke but a short time. The
speech was intended as an answer to that of the Commissioner, though
it was addressed principally to his warriors. He spoke warmly of the
liberality of the whites. He threw out hints as to the contents of
the heavy waggons which they had brought with them; and that the less
difficulty they made in agreeing to the terms of the treaty, the
greater would be their share of the presents. He then dilated upon the
advantage to be derived from a friendly intercourse with the whites;
and wound up his whole address, with a most pathetic lamentation about
the distance between their village and the buffalo hunting grounds.
What this last portion of his speech had to do with the rest of the
address, I could not well make out; but it appeared to be received with
keen satisfaction by his audience; and when he resumed his seat he was
greeted with a grunt of applause, which would have done credit to a sty
of full-grown porkers.

After him, one of the warriors rose up to address the meeting. He was
a lean, sinewy old man; his hair, which was unshaven, was now beginning
to whiten with the frost of years, and hung in long tangled locks upon
his shoulders. He rose slowly until he had attained his full height;
then gathering his robe closely round his waist, he commenced his
harangue. At first he spoke in a low, tremulous tone; his gestures were
feeble but impressive; but at length he grew warmed with his subject,
and his voice rose from its weak tones, until it sounded through the
building with a startling clearness. His withered face lighted up; and
his filmy eye seemed to kindle with a new lustre, as he proceeded.
The whole dusky crowd listened in silence to his words; but they did
not last long. The eloquent spirit, which for a few moments illumined
him, passed away. Like the last, leaping flash of a dying flame,
it was transient, and expired. For a moment the old warrior seemed
endeavouring to recall his train of thought, but without success. Then
with a melancholy shake of the head, he drew his blanket over him, and
sank into his seat.

None rose after him. The pipe was again passed round; and the terms
of the treaty having been assented to, by the chiefs and principal
warriors, the crowd poured from the lodge, and scattered through the
town.



                             CHAP. XXVII.

                       DISTRIBUTION OF PRESENTS.


On the day following the council, the packages containing the presents
for the tribe were given to the chief, who prepared to divide them
among the different members of his village. A large circle, composed
of every man, woman, and child, had collected in the prairie. In
the centre of this sat the chiefs, and five or six of the principal
warriors. The packages were opened, and they commenced separating the
different parcels for the purpose of distribution.

There was a great anxiety evinced by the crowd. Every eye was strained
with an expression of strong hankering towards the distributors, who
quietly proceeded in the business of opening bundles of knives, boxes
of kettles, tin cups, packages of beads, cloths, ribands, and other
articles, without paying the slightest attention to the imploring,
anxious looks of the restless bystanders. When this had been completed,
the chief commenced cutting up the pieces of cloth, calico, and
ribands, and sending off the warriors to distribute them.

Until this moment there had been silence; but now arose a deafening
clamour. The young squaws begged; the old crones scolded, screamed,
and poured out torrents of abuse. The boys whooped, and the pappooses
bawled. Never was there such a scene of confusion. When a warrior
approached the edge of the circle, a dozen hands were reached out
to seize upon the article which he held. But those who had been
appointed, had been carefully selected for their coolness. For, amid
all the scrambling, they maintained the most philosophic calmness, and
listened to the invectives of those who were disappointed, with the
most composed indifference. The distribution was managed with great
impartiality; though we observed that a low word or an imploring look
from some of the young girls had their weight; and more than once
changed the destination of a gaudy riband, or string of richly coloured
beads. A loud outcry was always raised by the neighbours on each of
these occasions; and a few hard epithets were bestowed by the old
viragoes, who thought they had lost by this change of intention.

During the distribution, our attention was attracted by the manœuvres
of one of the many antiquated squaws who crowded in the ring. She
was a diminutive little being, clothed in a dirty flannel jacket, and
a tattered piece of dress resembling a petticoat. As for her years,
they must have been countless. There must have been a strong flavour
of bitterness about her tongue; for we observed that all the warriors
seemed to shrink from collision with her. Although they evidently
neglected her, still their neglect was of a more deferential nature
than that exhibited toward the rest; and whenever they passed her,
it was with a shuffling, apologetic air. There was no more active
being in the assembly. She flew round in every direction; at one
moment she was at one part of the circle, and at another moment she
was in the opposite. She scolded, screamed, and begged. She writhed,
with an eel-like slipperiness, through the crowd. Whenever one of
the distributors passed across the circle to present some peculiarly
tempting article, a terrible hustling and jostling would be observed at
the point to which he appeared to direct his steps; and before he could
reach it, the convulsed face and straining eyes of the little squaw
would force a passage through the mass; and her shrill voice would be
heard above the general clamour. She never obtained the prize; but
the donor, after disappointing her, always moved off, with a hurried
step; until he had placed as much space as possible between himself and
her vigorous tongue. As the distribution proceeded, finding herself
no better off than before it had commenced, she grew furious, and the
clamour of her tongue was incessant. At last one of the distributors,
an old dried up Indian, with one eye, marched up to her, and either
from compassion, or for the purpose of hushing her abuse, reached out
a small piece of red riband towards her. She snatched it eagerly; but
after looking at it for a few seconds with an air of deep chagrin, her
face began to swell like a roasting pippin; and shaking the little
fragment of a riband towards him, with an air of the greatest contempt,
she opened a torrent of apparently bitter invective. This raised a
loud shout of laughter, at the expense of the old man. He, however,
did not wait to hear it, but walked off with a cool step, until he had
got beyond the reach of her fire. At length another present was given
her, but without effect. Her tongue was as inveterate as ever; and to
get rid of her, she was finally presented with a large tin kettle, with
which she marched off to the village, to the great relief of the whole
assemblage. After her departure, the business went on with a degree of
good humour, which had not previously existed.

During the distribution, we observed that those of the females who
were troubled with large families of children, were particularly well
provided for. They were presented with those articles most suited to
their domestic economy. To the young squaws, were given only trinkets
and ribands, which were of small value in themselves, but possessed the
strongest attractions for them. The knives and guns were bestowed upon
those of the young men who were most distinguished. The chiefs however
were particular to lay aside one or two of the best of each article for
their own private use.

In turning over the piles of blankets, a few small ones had been
discovered. These were given to several of the wild-looking little
fellows who were peering in through the ring. For a moment they
seemed to doubt the reality of the gift; they appeared bewildered;
then forcing a passage through the crowd, they raised a loud whoop,
and started off for the town at full speed; occasionally looking back,
as if they feared a change might have taken place in the intention of
those who presented them, and that some one might be in pursuit to take
away the prize.

After about an hour’s chattering, laughing, and scolding, the ceremony
was finished, and the crowd dispersed—some with sour and sullen
looks, some with an air of indifference—while the smiling, pleased
countenances of others denoted they at least were fully satisfied with
the portion allotted to them.

Most of the discontent was evinced by the old folks of both sexes. The
men restrained themselves, and walked off with lowering brows. The
women however gave full exercise to their tongues, and continued it,
until the sound of their sharp, shrill voices was lost in the distance,
as they travelled in Indian file towards the town. Notwithstanding the
show of discontent, there were but few who had not obtained some trifle
in the general distribution.

Shortly after this, we observed a troop of Indians coming from the
village. They were fantastically dressed in buffalo skins, so as to
bear a strong resemblance to that beast. They retained the head, beard,
and legs of the animal entire; and were so well disguised, that several
of them, at a little distance, might have been mistaken for the brute
itself. They had prepared themselves to give us the buffalo dance.
They drew up in a large circle, at a little distance from a skin tent,
which had been lent to us by them, our own marquee having become much
tattered in a heavy gale a few nights previous. The leader of this
band was the Big Kaw, who frisked behind the grave head and beard of
an enormous buffalo bull. In the centre of the circle were seated a
number of buffaloes, whose business it was to sing, while the rest,
consisting of chiefs, squaws, and pappooses, or, in other words, of
bulls, cows, and calves, danced to their music. The chorus commenced
with a low, mournful ditty, which set the whole herd of dancers in
motion. They began moving slowly round the singers; but as the chant
grew more and more animated, the vivacity of the herd increased. From
a walk they quickened their pace to a trot; from a trot, it ambled off
into a full gallop. Now the spirit of the beast began to show out. The
cows bellowed; the bulls frisked, roared, and fought; they kicked up,
they tore up the ground, and chased each other round the circle. This
lasted some time, until they grew uproarious, and the butting of horns
was furious. At this sight the cows drew off; and several calves, after
bursting out into a loud bawl, raised up from all fours, and mounting
upon their two hind feet, started for the village—too much frightened
to take any further share in the day’s diversions. The dance lasted for
about two hours, after which, the Big Kaw, under the form of a seven
year old bull, came and seated himself upon a billet of wood, at our
sides. He appeared perfectly satisfied with his performance, but was
grievously out of wind.

After this followed several other dances of a similar character. They
received their appellations from different animals; and the merit of
a dance consisted in imitating, as nearly as possible, the actions of
the beast from which it received its name. They continued until late in
the afternoon, when the Indians, one after another, departed to their
homes; and long before nine o’clock, the busy hum was entirely stilled,
and a deep silence hung over our tent, and the surrounding prairie.



                             CHAP. XXVIII.

              DEPARTURE OF OTOES FOR THE HUNTING GROUNDS.


Several days had elapsed, and the growing coldness of the weather
warned us that it was time for the expedition to be on its move towards
the Pawnee villages.

The Otoes had consumed their supply of provisions, and were preparing
to desert their town and start for the hunting grounds. The Iotan
offered to accompany us, with about twenty of his principal warriors,
that he might exert his influence with the Pawnees, to prevent any
hostility towards us. Although chief of a different and but a small
tribe, still his influence with these wild hordes was equal to that
of any of their own leaders. His desperate courage had rendered him
popular with the chiefs, and older warriors; and his sociable manners,
though tinged with a dash of grimness, had rendered him a favourite
with the less distinguished of the nation. In addition to this, the
character of the Otoe tribe for furious courage, and pre-eminent skill
with the rifle, gave great consequence to their chieftain.

It was for this reason that the proposition of the Iotan was gladly
acceded to. And our preparations for departure were forthwith commenced.

In the meantime, a change took place in the village. Every family was
busily engaged in making ready for its departure, to the distant haunts
of the buffalo. Large droves of horses poured in from every direction.
The town rang with noises of all descriptions. Squaws were scolding;
children were squalling; pappooses, too young to shift for themselves,
like so many little mummies, were suspended in baskets round the inside
of the lodges, where they would be out of harm’s way, while their
mothers were engaged in packing up. The dogs had probably learned, from
disagreeable experience, that this was one of the ill-humoured seasons
of the tribe. Many of them had withdrawn to a short distance in the
prairie, where they sat, demurely waiting till the bustle should be
finished, and good humour restored to the town. The warriors laid aside
their usual indolence, and assisted their wives in loading the horses.
The only idlers in the town were children and old men. The first stood
in droves, looking on, equally aware with the dogs, of the souring
effect of all this bustle upon the tempers of the grown-up portion of
the community; and equally cautious in avoiding all contact with them.
The last strolled up and down; kicking every stray cur they chanced to
meet, and bellowing out advice to all who chose to listen.

Here and there, a long train, who had finished their labours, were
slowly wending their way, over the western hills, towards the
wished-for hunting grounds. A long suite of dogs lounged after them,
and disappeared, with them, behind the distant ridges.

As one family after another dropped off, the town began to wear a
lonely air. Wild and uncouth as were its inhabitants, we had formed
a companionship with them. When, however, we entered their lodges,
found the fires extinguished, the buildings stripped, and silence and
solitude reigning where we had been greeted with kind looks and smiling
faces, we experienced a dreary feeling, which increased our desire to
be once more on the wing towards our still distant goal.



                              CHAP. XXIX.

                   DEPARTURE FROM THE OTOE VILLAGE.


It was about ten o’clock, on a rich golden morning, that we started
from the Otoe village. The baggage waggons had left it some hours
previous, and had long since passed the hills which rose behind the
town. A crowd of gazers collected round us as we saddled our horses. At
length every thing was completed, and, bidding farewell to the dusky
group, we mounted, and galloped off in the direction taken by the
waggons.

Our course lay along the borders of the Platte, which soon began
to lose the luxuriant verdure that had fringed its banks in the
neighbourhood of the Otoe town. Scarcely a tree or shrub grew upon
its borders, or threw a shade upon the glare of its waters. It moved
sullenly along, with now and then the floating trunk of some ponderous
tree, drifting towards the still more murky waters of the Missouri.

Our party now counted about thirty, including Indians; and although, on
account of the scarcity of provisions, four of the soldiers had been
sent back to the garrison, still the reinforcement of Otoes more than
compensated for their loss. They were a noble race of men, with more
pride of character than we had observed in any of the Indians we had as
yet met with. They had all prepared themselves for the journey. Their
blankets were thrown over their shoulders and strapped round their
waists, in such a manner as to leave a short skirt extending half
way down to the knee. Their legs were protected by coarse leggings of
buffalo skin. Each man carried a short scabbard, containing a knife;
and several pair of mocassins were strapped upon the back of each.
They had left their rifles at the village; and a short thick bow,
with a well-stocked quiver of arrows, supplied their places. This was
the usual equipment of an Indian warrior when starting on a peaceful
journey.

The leader of the band was the Iotan chief. Next followed the short,
thick figure of the Big Kaw, succeeded by the long form of the Thief;
and after them came the inferior warriors. They moved in front of us,
with limbs that seemed not to know fatigue; and although we travelled
over many miles of prairie before nightfall, their pace was the same,
and their step as unflagging as ever.

Take an Indian upon the prairies, and he is in his element. An air of
wild freedom breathes around him. His head droops not; his eye quails
not; and not a single feature yields in submission to his fellow man.
He is unrestrained in body, unfettered in spirit, and as wayward as the
breeze which sweeps over the grass of his own hills.



                              CHAP. XXX.

                              THE ALARM.


On the fifth night after our departure from the Otoe town, we encamped
upon the banks of the Platte river. The night was clear and cool, and
the reflected stars sparkled in the neighbouring river.

The prevailing silence was now and then broken by the neigh of our
horses, who were pasturing at a short distance; or by the trumpet-toned
cry of some wild goose, the leader of a flock, on their way to the
north. Far to the south, a faint red light was reflected in the heaven,
which one of the hunters attributed to the burning of a prairie, some
twenty miles off.

A large fire of heavy logs had been built in front of the tent, and
the party had gradually gathered round it. Two or three of our dusky
companions mingled with the group—grave, but observing, spectators of
the actions of the whites. Half of a large deer was roasting before
the fire; and the Black Bear, with a face of vast importance, was
busily engaged in concocting our evening’s supply of coffee in a large
tin bucket, which swung from a pole, inclined over the fire. The
interpreter was called upon for a story, and had just discharged a
large roll of tobacco from his mouth to make room for the full play of
his tongue. “Ugh!” exclaimed one of the Indians.

“What’s the matter now, _Hah-che-kah-sug-hah_?”[H] asked the doctor,
addressing the Indian by his native name. The Indian glanced his eye
towards the speaker as he heard his name uttered; but, after standing
for a moment, he walked off a few steps and placed his hand behind his
ear in the attitude of one engaged in earnest listening.

[H] This Indian was one of the principal braves of the Otoe nation, and
has since become a chief. The name Hah-che-kah-sug-hah was given to him
on account of his deadly success in the war parties against the Osages.
It signifies, _the man who slays the Osages_. Though distinguished for
ferocity in battle, yet in private life he was one of the most joyous,
pleasant fellows I ever met with.

“What does he hear, D——?” said the doctor, turning to the Indian
agent.

“We will know presently,” returned the other quietly, without evincing
more curiosity than the red companion with whom he had so long taken up
his residence.

For a moment the Indian stood with his brows knit, his eyes bent to the
ground, his head inclining a little forward, his nostrils expanded,
and every sense apparently on the _qui vive_. He remained so for a
few seconds; then, throwing himself upon the ground, pressed his ear
closely against the sod.

“What do you hear, Hah-che-kah-sug-hah?” asked the agent, in the Otoe
tongue.

“There is an Indian on the prairie,” was the answer.

This annunciation, being interpreted, drew forth loud expressions of
surprise from the whites: but the Indians were perfectly quiet; they
asked no questions and made no remarks. They appeared to have the
greatest reliance upon the Indian, whose keen hearing had been first
attracted by the sound. They watched him earnestly, but calmly, as he
lay upon the ground. After continuing in this position for some time,
he slowly rose up, and placed his hand again behind his ear—the very
image of the most intense attention. Then taking up a pouch and rifle,
belonging to one of the hunters, he stole off until he was lost in the
gloom which hung over the prairie.

The contrast between the whites and Indians was now clearly observable.
The former immediately commenced a conversation, teeming with
suppositions, suggestions, and all that out-pouring of confused ideas,
usual when a dozen persons, altogether ignorant of a subject, attempt
to throw a little light upon it for the benefit of their neighbours.
The Indians, on the contrary, remained perfectly cool; so much so, that
one of them quietly turned the attention of the cook to a large piece
of meat which he was frying to a cinder, in his eagerness to listen
to the comments of the party. They appeared to take the matter with
as much quietness as if they had been in the heart of their own town,
instead of a large prairie, infested by bands of hostile tribes.

Nearly ten minutes had elapsed, when a loud shrill cry arose in the
prairie from two different quarters.

“Ugh! Otoe!” repeated several of the Indians, but without moving.

At that moment another long quavering whoop sounded in the air.

“Hah-che-kah-sug-hah!” ejaculated one of the Otoes.

A few moments elapsed, and two strange Otoes appeared in the camp,
followed by the dusky form of our Indian friend.

In a few words they told their story. They had been to the Pawnee
village, which was about ten miles off, and had left it that evening.
About an hour previous they had been espied by a party of Sioux
Indians, who had pursued them. Seeing a light, they fled for it. Their
enemies followed; and they believed that, even now, they were lurking
in the prairie, at but a short distance from the camp.

In an instant all was uproar. Some ran for their guns; some loaded;
others filled their powder-horns; others swore at their comrades, on
account of the loss of some article of equipment; but all were busily
employed in suggesting to their neighbours what was best to be done in
the present emergency, and all followed their own inclinations. “Raise
the flag!” at last cried one, “and let them see that there are whites
in the party; the fear of their rifles may keep them off.”

This was no sooner proposed than executed. A tall pole, with a striped
flag floating from the end of it, was reared in front of the tent, in
the full light of the fire.

The old Iotan saw the flag hoisted, and though he did not exactly
understand why it was done, still he supposed that there was some
meaning in it. So he followed the example of the whites, and erected a
pole among a pile of kettles, marking his place of encampment. He then
decorated the end with a striped flag, which he had hitherto used as a
wrapper on state occasions.

“But, Major,” said one, looking rather wild, and walking up to the
Indian Agent, “we are representatives of government—will the Sioux dare
to fire on the United States?”

“If the people of the United States were _all_ assembled, I presume
they would not,” was the quiet answer. “But you had better get back
from the fire. The Otoes have done so already. They know that an Indian
can pick a man off easier if he stands in the light of the blaze than
if he keeps in the shade. You had better join them in the grass yonder;
there is no chance for running, for there’s no place to run to.”

This was satisfactory, and in another moment the questioner had
followed the example of the savages.

The confusion lasted for a short time; but at length each man had
prepared himself. When this was completed, there was nothing more that
could be done. There might be an enemy within a few yards, and they
might be at the distance of many miles. The darkness was so great that
it was impossible to see more than ten yards beyond the fire. Our
foes, on the other hand, if any there were, would be able to catch
sight of our forms moving between them and the flame, at twenty times
that distance. At length a young Indian rose up, and, moving swiftly
past the fire, threw himself on the ground beyond. For a moment he
remained stationary, and then, raising his head, commenced worming
his way through the long grass, until he was lost in the darkness.
He returned after an absence of nearly half an hour. He had made a
long circuit round the camp, but had discovered nothing. He had seen
no signs of an enemy; and he gave it as his opinion, that they had
abandoned the pursuit, and that no other human beings besides ourselves
were in the neighbourhood. As he concluded he took his seat at the
fire, with the confident air of a person who felt that there was
nothing to be apprehended from this exposure. He was soon followed by
the rest, and in a short time the camp was as merry and noisy as if
nothing had taken place to excite their fears.



                              CHAP. XXXI.

        PREPARATIONS FOR RECEPTION.—RECEPTION BY GRAND PAWNEES.


During the evening previous to our arrival, several half-breeds, who
had been sent out by the Commissioner to gain information of the
probable reception which awaited us, came dropping in, all bearing
promises of a friendly welcome from the Pawnee chiefs. At sunrise the
next morning, the tents were struck, and placed in the heavy baggage
waggons; and a more than usual bustle and note of preparation was
heard in the camp. The soldiers seated themselves upon the grass,
to examine and prepare their arms; and the Otoe Indians were busily
engaged in ornamenting themselves for the meeting. Some had spread
their blankets upon the prairie, and were anxiously employed in tracing
various figures in vermilion upon their woolly surfaces. Some, eagerly
bending over the small pools of still water left in the dry bed of the
river, were painting their faces with vermilion, manifesting as much
interest and anxiety in the choice of their ornaments, as a young belle
preparing for her first ball. Paint was placed on and rubbed off. Faces
were striped first in one direction, then in another; and the advice of
those who were sitting round was asked, and given, with all the gravity
befitting so important an operation. In the meantime, two or three
finished their toilets, and seated themselves at a short distance to
serve as models for the rest. Several who had acquired some reputation
for skill in this art, were busily engaged in painting up the less
gifted of their companions. Whilst this was going on in one quarter,
in another, five or six Indians, who either had no paint, or cared not
about the opinion of those they intended to visit, lay stretched at
full length in the grass. Here they kept up an incessant drumming upon
their breasts with their fists, in exact time to a chant, which they
were letting out at the top of their lungs, and which always wound up
with a loud yell, by way of chorus.

But there must be an end of all things, and in due time there was
an end of the preparations. The tents were packed; the Indians were
painted and striped to resemble any thing but men; the soldiers had
adjusted their arms; the horses were saddled; the oxen were secured
before the heavy baggage waggons, and the party commenced slowly moving
towards the village.

It was a fine sunny morning; the clumps of trees which clustered on the
low banks of the river, and the numberless islands which dotted its
broad, shallow waters, were alive with woodpeckers of every size and
hue. In every direction they darted among the tall dead trees which
overhung the muddy stream, making the trunks resound with the incessant
hammering of their small but powerful beaks. Large flocks of gaily
plumed parroquets whirled screaming past us, with a surprising velocity.

At ten o’clock the party had travelled several miles across the
prairie, and our vicinity to the village was becoming more perceptible.
Mounted Indians, sent out to watch for our approach, were seen here
and there flying across the hills in the direction of the village, to
give notice of the arrival to their chiefs. At a distance we could
perceive several bands of Indians in pursuit of large droves of their
wild and fiery horses, which they were urging at a headlong speed in
the direction of the town. In another quarter, on the top of a ridge
of small hills, groups of five or six were standing, intently watching
the motions of the party, which, from the jaded state of the oxen, were
necessarily slow. The soldiers, who had been lazily lounging across the
prairie, were now called in, and formed in a compact body round the
baggage waggons. An hour more brought us in sight of the village.

Upon our near approach, we could perceive that the hills surrounding
it were black with masses of mounted warriors. Though they swarmed
upon their tops, to the number of several thousands, yet they stood
motionless and in silence, watching the approach of the mission.
At length a single horseman detached himself from the mass, and
came galloping down the hill and over the prairie to meet us. As he
approached, there was a wild, free air about him, and he governed his
gigantic black horse with the greatest ease. I could not but think that
if the rest of these warriors were of the same mould, any resistance of
our band, however desperate, would avail but little against an attack
of these proud rulers of the prairie.

Upon reaching the party, he sprang from his horse, and shook hands with
Mr. E——. He then gave directions, through the interpreter, that the
band should be drawn up in as small a compass as possible, to avoid
all contact with his warriors. After spending some time in completing
his arrangements, he galloped back, and gave the signal to the rest.
In an instant the hills were deserted, and the whole mass of warriors
were rushing towards us, across the broad bosom of the prairie. It was
a moment of intense and fearful expectation. On they came; each mad
horse with erect mane and blazing eye, urged forward by the bloody
spur of an Indian master. They had reached within two hundred yards
of the party, but still the speed of their horses was unchecked, and
the powerful tramp of their hoofs rang like thunder upon the sod of
the prairie. At a signal, however, from the chief, the band separated
to the right and left, and commenced circling round us, in one dark,
dense flood. Their whoops and yells, and the furious and menacing
manner in which they brandished their bows and tomahawks, would have
led a person unacquainted with their habits to have looked upon this
reception as any thing but friendly. There is something in the fierce,
shrill scream of a band of Indian warriors, which rings through the
brain, and sends the blood curdling back to the heart. Their ornaments,
though wild, were many of them beautiful. The closely shaved heads of
some were adorned with the plumage of different birds. Others wore an
ornament of deer’s hair, bound up in a form resembling the crest of an
ancient helmet; and a plume of the bald eagle floated from the long
scalp-locks of the principal warriors.

Some few wore necklaces of the claws of the grisly bear hanging down
upon their breasts. The bodies of some were wrapped in buffalo robes,
or the skin of the white wolf; but the most of them wore no covering,
save a thick coat of paint. This they had profusely smeared over their
bodies and arms, and many had even bestowed it upon the heads and
limbs of their horses. After dashing round us for some time, the chief
waved his hand, and the turmoil ceased. The warriors sprang from their
horses, and, seating themselves round in a large circle, waited for the
arrival of the chief of the Grand Pawnees. In a few moments he advanced
to meet Mr. E——, accompanied by the different chiefs of Tappage
Pawnee, Pawnee Republican, and Pawnee Loup villages. He was a tall,
powerful Indian. A fillet of the skin of the grisly bear, ornamented
with feathers, was bound round his head. Over his shoulder was thrown
a large mantle of white wolf-skin, also adorned with feathers. His
legs were cased in black leggings of dressed buffalo hide, worked with
beads, and fringed with long locks of human hair. These were taken
from scalps won in his various war expeditions, and hung down over
his knees, trailing upon the ground as he walked. He first advanced
and welcomed Mr. E——, and afterwards the rest. The chiefs of the three
different villages were then introduced, and repeated the words of
welcome uttered by the first.

This ceremony was scarcely finished when a movement was observed among
the crowd; and a powerful roan horse, mounted by an armed Indian,
bounded forward to the middle of the circle, where the rider sprang
from his back. He was a stranger among the tribe, and spoke not their
language—a Kioway[I] Indian, from the borders of Mexico—a member of
those wild tribes who, like the Arabs, rove the immense plains of the
west, and carry destruction to all who are not strong enough to resist
them. After pausing and looking around him for a moment, with a glance
that seemed to challenge opposition from the assembled warriors, he
walked up to Mr. E——. He was slight, and beautifully formed; but there
was a fire in his eye, a swell of the nostril, and a proud curve of
the lip, which showed a spirit that brooked no opposition, shunned
no danger, and could only be quenched by the chill of the grave. His
long black hair, which trailed behind him on the ground, was plaited
together, and ornamented with about twenty plates of massive silver. A
band of silver was fastened round his throat, and several large medals
of the same metal hung upon his breast. Upon his arms were several
bands of silver, and rings of the same upon his fingers. His leggings,
though more finely wrought, like those of the chiefs, were fringed with
scalps. A scalp, consisting of the entire upper part of a human head,
hung from the bit of his fiery horse. Upon coming up, he offered his
hand to Mr. E——, and in succession to the rest; and after pausing and
gazing upon us for a short time, with some curiosity, he sprang upon
his horse, and, riding through the circle, was lost behind the more
distant crowd of warriors.

[I] We afterwards learned that this Indian had become enamoured of
a young girl of his own tribe, the wife of another; but her husband
having gone upon some expedition, she had taken advantage of his
absence to leave her nation with her lover; and together they had
fled to the Pawnee village, which they reached a week previous to our
arrival.

For a short time after the introduction of the various chiefs, the
mass of grim beings hemmed us in, sitting upon the ground like so many
dark forms of statuary, without voice or motion. Several at length
arose, and, coming towards Mr. E—— and Major D—— (the United States
agent for the Pawnee Indians), extended the stem of their pipes to
the lips of each; then, instantly retiring, resumed their station in
the crowd. By this action, we afterwards learned, that each pledged
himself to present a horse to the person to whom he extended his
pipe. In the meanwhile, two old men, who had no horses to lose by
the free indulgence of liberal feelings, rose up, and, by loud and
vehement harangues, endeavoured to pique the liberality of the rest.
They boasted of the number they would bestow, _if they but had them_;
and recounted, as examples, the acts of generosity which they had
performed in their youth. As that youth ran far back, beyond the memory
of the oldest inhabitant, there was little probability of their being
contradicted.

After they had finished, the Wild Horse (I do not recollect his Indian
name), the principal warrior of the nation, stood up and harangued
the assembled multitude. He launched out in a long panegyric upon
the whites, which was delivered with a warmth of expression no doubt
greatly increased by the sight of the waggons laden with presents.
This warrior was one of the most singular, as well as ferocious, of
the tribe; and many were the tales of his war expeditions, afterwards
related to us by the trappers, as we lay stretched around our
night-fires. His height could have been but little short of seven feet,
and every limb was in proportion. Unlike the rest of his tribe, his
hair remained unshaven, and hung in long tangled locks, which reached
nearly to his waist, and were profusely smeared with red ochre. His
low, retreating forehead was almost buried in wrinkles; and his eyes,
deep set in his head, glowed like living coals. His nose was large and
prominent; and the size of an enormous mouth was not at all diminished
by two streaks of vermilion, which he had drawn from each corner to
his ears. He wore neither covering nor ornament, unless the profusion
of black clay and red ochre, which covered his body, deserved that
name. He stood out, in his naked proportions, a giant among those
who surrounded him; and the wild energy of his gesticulation, as he
delivered his harangue, showed the prodigious strength hidden in his
form, and which only required an occasion to bring it into action. From
his youth upward he had been the leading warrior in the nation, and his
deeds had spread a terror of his name through all the hostile tribes.
Though no chief, his influence in the village was equal to theirs,
rendering him as much an object of jealousy to them, as of dread to
their enemies.

When he had finished his address, the chief rose and spoke to his men.
After this, the circle opened; and, forming into two lines, one on each
side, the warriors prepared to escort us into their village.


                       END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.


                                LONDON:
                      Printed by A. SPOTTISWOODE,
                          New-Street-Square.



     This day is published, in 1 vol. post 8vo, 10_s._ 6_d._, the

                       THIRD and LAST SERIES of

                     GLEANINGS IN NATURAL HISTORY,

                                 WITH

               NOTICES OF SOME OF THE ROYAL RESIDENCES.

                        By EDWARD JESSE, Esq.,
             Surveyor of His Majesty’s Parks and Palaces.


                       Also, price 10_s._ 6_d._

                 A THIRD EDITION OF JESSE’S GLEANINGS,
                               VOLUME I.

                A SECOND EDITION OF JESSE’S GLEANINGS,
                              VOLUME II.


                    JOHN MURRAY, Albemarle Street.

------------------------------------------------------------------



Transcriber’s Note
- Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected.
  Variations in hyphenation have been standardized but all other
  spelling and punctuation remains unchanged.
- Footnotes placed at end of their respective paragraph.





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