Part 9 out of 32
That the soul upon its journey
May not lack the cheerful firelight,
May not grope about in darkness.
"Farewell, noble Hiawatha!
We have put you to the trial,
To the proof have put your patience,
By the insult of our presence,
By the outrage of our actions.
We have found you great and noble.
Fail not in the greater trial,
Faint not in the harder struggle."
When they ceased, a sudden darkness
Fell and filled the silent wigwam.
Hiawatha heard a rustle
As of garments trailing by him,
Heard the curtain of the doorway
Lifted by a hand he saw not,
Felt the cold breath of the night air,
For a moment saw the starlight;
But he saw the ghosts no longer,
Saw no more the wandering spirits
From the kingdom of Ponemah,
From the land of the Hereafter.
Oh the long and dreary Winter!
Oh the cold and cruel Winter!
Ever thicker, thicker, thicker
Froze the ice on lake and river,
Ever deeper, deeper, deeper
Fell the snow o'er all the landscape,
Fell the covering snow, and drifted
Through the forest, round the village.
Hardly from his buried wigwam
Could the hunter force a passage;
With his mittens and his snow-shoes
Vainly walked he through the forest,
Sought for bird or beast and found none,
Saw no track of deer or rabbit,
In the snow beheld no footprints,
In the ghastly, gleaming forest
Fell, and could not rise from weakness,
Perished there from cold and hunger.
Oh the famine and the fever!
Oh the wasting of the famine!
Oh the blasting of the fever!
Oh the wailing of the children!
Oh the anguish of the women!
All the earth was sick and famished;
Hungry was the air around them,
Hungry was the sky above them,
And the hungry stars in heaven
Like the eyes of wolves glared at them!
Into Hiawatha's wigwam
Came two other guests, as silent
As the ghosts were, and as gloomy,
Waited not to be invited
Did not parley at the doorway
Sat there without word of welcome
In the seat of Laughing Water;
Looked with haggard eyes and hollow
At the face of Laughing Water.
And the foremost said: "Behold me!
I am Famine, Bukadawin!"
And the other said: "Behold me!
I am Fever, Ahkosewin!"
And the lovely Minnehaha
Shuddered as they looked upon her,
Shuddered at the words they uttered,
Lay down on her bed in silence,
Hid her face, but made no answer;
Lay there trembling, freezing, burning
At the looks they cast upon her,
At the fearful words they uttered.
Forth into the empty forest
Rushed the maddened Hiawatha;
In his heart was deadly sorrow,
In his face a stony firmness;
On his brow the sweat of anguish
Started, but it froze and fell not.
Wrapped in furs and armed for hunting,
With his mighty bow of ash-tree,
With his quiver full of arrows,
With his mittens, Minjekahwun,
Into the vast and vacant forest
On his snow-shoes strode he forward.
"Gitche Manito, the Mighty!"
Cried he with his face uplifted
In that bitter hour of anguish,
"Give your children food, O father!
Give us food, or we must perish!
Give me food for Minnehaha,
For my dying Minnehaha!"
Through the far-resounding forest,
Through the forest vast and vacant
Rang that cry of desolation,
But there came no other answer
Than the echo of his crying,
Than the echo of the woodlands,
All day long roved Hiawatha
In that melancholy forest,
Through the shadow of whose thickets,
In the pleasant days of Summer,
Of that ne'er forgotten Summer,
He had brought his young wife homeward
From the land of the Dacotahs;
When the birds sang in the thickets,
And the streamlets laughed and glistened,
And the air was full of fragrance,
And the lovely Laughing Water
Said with voice that did not tremble,
"I will follow you, my husband!"
In the wigwam with Nokomis,
With those gloomy guests that watched her,
With the Famine and the Fever,
She was lying, the Beloved,
She, the dying Minnehaha.
"Hark!" she said; "I hear a rushing,
Hear a roaring and a rushing,
Hear the Falls of Minnehaha
Calling to me from a distance!"
"No, my child!" said old Nokomis,
"'T is the night-wind in the pine-trees!"
"Look!" she said; "I see my father
Standing lonely at his doorway,
Beckoning to me from his wigwam
In the land of the Dacotahs!"
"No, my child!" said old Nokomis.
"'T is the smoke, that waves and beckons!"
"Ah!" said she, "the eyes of Pauguk
Glare upon me in the darkness,
I can feel his icy fingers
Clasping mine amid the darkness!
And the desolate Hiawatha,
Far away amid the forest,
Miles away among the mountains,
Heard that sudden cry of anguish,
Heard the voice of Minnehaha
Calling to him in the darkness,
Over snow-fields waste and pathless,
Under snow-encumbered branches,
Homeward hurried Hiawatha,
Heard Nokomis moaning, wailing:
Would that I had perished for you,
Would that I were dead as you are!
And he rushed into the wigwam,
Saw the old Nokomis slowly
Rocking to and fro and moaning,
Saw his lovely Minnehaha
Lying dead and cold before him,
And his bursting heart within him
Uttered such a cry of anguish,
That the forest moaned and shuddered,
That the very stars in heaven
Shook and trembled with his anguish.
Then he sat down, still and speechless,
On the bed of Minnehaha,
At the feet of Laughing Water,
At those willing feet, that never
More would lightly run to meet him,
Never more would lightly follow.
With both hands his face he covered,
Seven long days and nights he sat there,
As if in a swoon he sat there,
Speechless, motionless, unconscious
Of the daylight or the darkness.
Then they buried Minnehaha;
In the snow a grave they made her
In the forest deep and darksome
Underneath the moaning hemlocks;
Clothed her in her richest garments
Wrapped her in her robes of ermine,
Covered her with snow, like ermine;
Thus they buried Minnehaha.
And at night a fire was lighted,
On her grave four times was kindled,
For her soul upon its journey
To the Islands of the Blessed.
From his doorway Hiawatha
Saw it burning in the forest,
Lighting up the gloomy hemlocks;
From his sleepless bed uprising,
From the bed of Minnehaha,
Stood and watched it at the doorway,
That it might not be extinguished,
Might not leave her in the darkness.
"Farewell!" said he, "Minnehaha!
Farewell, O my Laughing Water!
All my heart is buried with you,
All my thoughts go onward with you!
Come not back again to labor,
Come not back again to suffer,
Where the Famine and the Fever
Wear the heart and waste the body.
Soon my task will be completed,
Soon your footsteps I shall follow
To the Islands of the Blessed,
To the Kingdom of Ponemah,
To the Land of the Hereafter!"
THE WHITE MAN'S FOOT
In his lodge beside a river,
Close beside a frozen river,
Sat an old man, sad and lonely.
White his hair was as a snow-drift;
Dull and low his fire was burning,
And the old man shook and trembled,
Folded in his Waubewyon,
In his tattered white-skin-wrapper,
Hearing nothing but the tempest
As it roared along the forest,
Seeing nothing but the snow-storm,
As it whirled and hissed and drifted.
All the coals were white with ashes,
And the fire was slowly dying,
As a young man, walking lightly,
At the open doorway entered.
Red with blood of youth his cheeks were,
Soft his eyes, as stars in Spring-time,
Bound his forehead was with grasses;
Bound and plumed with scented grasses,
On his lips a smile of beauty,
Filling all the lodge with sunshine,
In his hand a bunch of blossoms
Filling all the lodge with sweetness.
"Ah, my son!" exclaimed the old man,
"Happy are my eyes to see you.
Sit here on the mat beside me,
Sit here by the dying embers,
Let us pass the night together,
Tell me of your strange adventures,
Of the lands where you have travelled;
I will tell you of my prowess,
Of my many deeds of wonder."
From his pouch he drew his peace-pipe,
Very old and strangely fashioned;
Made of red stone was the pipe-head,
And the stem a reed with feathers;
Filled the pipe with bark of willow,
Placed a burning coal upon it,
Gave it to his guest, the stranger,
And began to speak in this wise:
"When I blow my breath about me,
When I breathe upon the landscape,
Motionless are all the rivers,
Hard as stone becomes the water!"
And the young man answered, smiling:
"When I blow my breath about me,
When I breathe upon the landscape,
Flowers spring up o'er all the meadows,
Singing, onward rush the rivers!"
"When I shake my hoary tresses,"
Said the old man darkly frowning,
"All the land with snow is covered;
All the leaves from all the branches
Fall and fade and die and wither,
For I breathe, and lo! they are not.
From the waters and the marshes,
Rise the wild goose and the heron,
Fly away to distant regions,
For I speak, and lo! they are not.
And where'er my footsteps wander,
All the wild beasts of the forest
Hide themselves in holes and caverns,
And the earth becomes as flintstone!"
"When I shake my flowing ringlets,"
Said the young man, softly laughing,
"Showers of rain fall warm and welcome,
Plants lift up their heads rejoicing,
Back into their lakes and marshes
Come the wild goose and the heron,
Homeward shoots the arrowy swallow,
Sing the bluebird and the robin,
And where'er my footsteps wander,
All the meadows wave with blossoms,
All the woodlands ring with music,
All the trees are dark with foliage!"
While they spake, the night departed:
From the distant realms of Wabun,
From his shining lodge of silver,
Like a warrior robed and painted,
Came the sun, and said, "Behold me
Gheezis, the great sun, behold me!"
Then the old man's tongue was speechless
And the air grew warm and pleasant,
And upon the wigwam sweetly
Sang the bluebird and the robin,
And the stream began to murmur,
And a scent of growing grasses
Through the lodge was gently wafted.
And Segwun, the youthful stranger,
More distinctly in the daylight
Saw the icy face before him;
It was Peboan, the Winter!
From his eyes the tears were flowing,
As from melting lakes the streamlets,
And his body shrunk and dwindled
As the shouting sun ascended,
Till into the air it faded,
Till into the ground it vanished,
And the young man saw before him,
On the hearth-stone of the wigwam,
Where the fire had smoked and smouldered,
Saw the earliest flower of Spring-time,
Saw the Beauty of the Spring-time,
Saw the Miskodeed in blossom.
Thus it was that in the North-land
After that unheard-of coldness,
That intolerable Winter,
Came the Spring with all its splendor,
All its birds and all its blossoms,
All its flowers and leaves and grasses.
Sailing on the wind to northward,
Flying in great flocks, like arrows,
Like huge arrows shot through heaven,
Passed the swan, the Mahnahbezee,
Speaking almost as a man speaks;
And in long lines waving, bending
Like a bow-string snapped asunder,
Came the white goose, Waw-be-wawa;
And in pairs, or singly flying,
Mahng the loon, with clangorous pinions,
The blue heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
And the grouse, the Mushkodasa.
In the thickets and the meadows
Piped the bluebird, the Owaissa,
On the summit of the lodges
Sang the robin, the Opechee,
In the covert of the pine-trees
Cooed the pigeon, the Omemee;
And the sorrowing Hiawatha,
Speechless in his infinite sorrow,
Heard their voices calling to him,
Went forth from his gloomy doorway,
Stood and gazed into the heaven,
Gazed upon the earth and waters.
From his wanderings far to eastward,
From the regions of the morning,
From the shining land of Wabun,
Homeward now returned Iagoo,
The great traveller, the great boaster,
Full of new and strange adventures,
Marvels many and many wonders.
And the people of the village
Listened to him as he told them
Of his marvellous adventures,
Laughing answered him in this wise:
"Ugh! it is indeed Iagoo!
No one else beholds such wonders!"
He had seen, he said, a water
Bigger than the Big-Sea-Water,
Broader than the Gitche Gumee,
Bitter so that none could drink it!
At each other looked the warriors,
Looked the women at each other,
Smiled, and said, "It cannot be so!"
Kaw!" they said, it cannot be so!"
O'er it, said he, o'er this water
Came a great canoe with pinions,
A canoe with wings came flying,
Bigger than a grove of pine-trees,
Taller than the tallest tree-tops!
And the old men and the women
Looked and tittered at each other;
"Kaw!" they said, "we don't believe it!"
From its mouth, he said, to greet him,
Came Waywassimo, the lightning,
Came the thunder, Annemeekee!
And the warriors and the women
Laughed aloud at poor Iagoo;
"Kaw!" they said, "what tales you tell us!"
In it, said he, came a people,
In the great canoe with pinions
Came, he said, a hundred warriors;
Painted white were all their faces
And with hair their chins were covered!
And the warriors and the women
Laughed and shouted in derision,
Like the ravens on the tree-tops,
Like the crows upon the hemlocks.
"Kaw!" they said, "what lies you tell us!
Do not think that we believe them!"
Only Hiawatha laughed not,
But he gravely spake and answered
To their jeering and their jesting:
"True is all Iagoo tells us;
I have seen it in a vision,
Seen the great canoe with pinions,
Seen the people with white faces,
Seen the coming of this bearded
People of the wooden vessel
From the regions of the morning,
From the shining land of Wabun.
"Gitche Manito, the Mighty,
The Great Spirit, the Creator,
Sends them hither on his errand.
Sends them to us with his message.
Wheresoe'er they move, before them
Swarms the stinging fly, the Ahmo,
Swarms the bee, the honey-maker;
Wheresoe'er they tread, beneath them
Springs a flower unknown among us,
Springs the White-man's Foot in blossom.
"Let us welcome, then, the strangers,
Hail them as our friends and brothers,
And the heart's right hand of friendship
Give them when they come to see us.
Gitche Manito, the Mighty,
Said this to me in my vision.
"I beheld, too, in that vision
All the secrets of the future,
Of the distant days that shall be.
I beheld the westward marches
Of the unknown, crowded nations.
All the land was full of people,
Restless, struggling, toiling, striving,
Speaking many tongues, yet feeling
But one heart-beat in their bosoms.
In the woodlands rang their axes,
Smoked their towns in all the valleys,
Over all the lakes and rivers
Rushed their great canoes of thunder.
"Then a darker, drearier vision
Passed before me, vague and cloud-like;
I beheld our nation scattered,
All forgetful of my counsels,
Weakened, warring with each other;
Saw the remnants of our people
Sweeping westward, wild and woful,
Like the cloud-rack of a tempest,
Like the withered leaves of Autumn!"
By the shore of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
At the doorway of his wigwam,
In the pleasant Summer morning,
Hiawatha stood and waited.
All the air was full of freshness,
All the earth was bright and joyous,
And before him, through the sunshine,
Westward toward the neighboring forest
Passed in golden swarms the Ahmo,
Passed the bees, the honey-makers,
Burning, singing in the sunshine.
Bright above him shone the heavens,
Level spread the lake before him;
From its bosom leaped the sturgeon,
Sparkling, flashing in the sunshine;
On its margin the great forest
Stood reflected in the water,
Every tree-top had its shadow,
Motionless beneath the water.
From the brow of Hiawatha
Gone was every trace of sorrow,
As the fog from off the water,
As the mist from off the meadow.
With a smile of joy and triumph,
With a look of exultation,
As of one who in a vision
Sees what is to be, but is not,
Stood and waited Hiawatha.
Toward the sun his hands were lifted,
Both the palms spread out against it,
And between the parted fingers
Fell the sunshine on his features,
Flecked with light his naked shoulders,
As it falls and flecks an oak-tree
Through the rifted leaves and branches.
O'er the water floating, flying,
Something in the hazy distance,
Something in the mists of morning,
Loomed and lifted from the water,
Now seemed floating, now seemed flying,
Coming nearer, nearer, nearer.
Was it Shingebis the diver?
Or the pelican, the Shada?
Or the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah?
Or the white goose, Waw-be-wawa,
With the water dripping, flashing,
From its glossy neck and feathers?
It was neither goose nor diver,
Neither pelican nor heron,
O'er the water floating, flying,
Through the shining mist of morning,
But a birch canoe with paddles,
Rising, sinking on the water,
Dripping, flashing in the sunshine;
And within it came a people
From the distant land of Wabun,
From the farthest realms of morning
Came the Black-Robe chief, the Prophet,
He the Priest of Prayer, the Pale-face,
With his guides and his companions.
And the noble Hiawatha,
With his hands aloft extended,
Held aloft in sign of welcome,
Waited, full of exultation,
Till the birch canoe with paddles
Grated on the shining pebbles,
Stranded on the sandy margin,
Till the Black-Robe chief, the Pale-face,
With the cross upon his bosom,
Landed on the sandy margin.
Then the joyous Hiawatha
Cried aloud and spake in this wise:
"Beautiful is the sun, O strangers,
When you come so far to see us!
All our town in peace awaits you,
All our doors stand open for you;
You shall enter all our wigwams,
For the heart's right hand we give you.
"Never bloomed the earth so gayly,
Never shone the sun so brightly,
As to-day they shine and blossom
When you come so far to see us!
Never was our lake so tranquil,
Nor so free from rocks, and sand-bars;
For your birch canoe in passing
Has removed both rock and sand-bar.
"Never before had our tobacco
Such a sweet and pleasant flavor,
Never the broad leaves of our cornfields
Were so beautiful to look on,
As they seem to us this morning,
When you come so far to see us!'
And the Black-Robe chief made answer,
Stammered in his speech a little,
Speaking words yet unfamiliar:
"Peace be with you, Hiawatha,
Peace be with you and your people,
Peace of prayer, and peace of pardon,
Peace of Christ, and joy of Mary!"
Then the generous Hiawatha
Led the strangers to his wigwam,
Seated them on skins of bison,
Seated them on skins of ermine,
And the careful old Nokomis
Brought them food in bowls of basswood,
Water brought in birchen dippers,
And the calumet, the peace-pipe,
Filled and lighted for their smoking.
All the old men of the village,
All the warriors of the nation,
All the Jossakeeds, the Prophets,
The magicians, the Wabenos,
And the Medicine-men, the Medas,
Came to bid the strangers welcome;
"It is well", they said, "O brothers,
That you come so far to see us!"
In a circle round the doorway,
With their pipes they sat in silence,
Waiting to behold the strangers,
Waiting to receive their message;
Till the Black-Robe chief, the Pale-face,
From the wigwam came to greet them,
Stammering in his speech a little,
Speaking words yet unfamiliar;
"It is well," they said, "O brother,
That you come so far to see us!"
Then the Black-Robe chief, the Prophet,
Told his message to the people,
Told the purport of his mission,
Told them of the Virgin Mary,
And her blessed Son, the Saviour,
How in distant lands and ages
He had lived on earth as we do;
How he fasted, prayed, and labored;
How the Jews, the tribe accursed,
Mocked him, scourged him, crucified him;
How he rose from where they laid him,
Walked again with his disciples,
And ascended into heaven.
And the chiefs made answer, saying:
"We have listened to your message,
We have heard your words of wisdom,
We will think on what you tell us.
It is well for us, O brothers,
That you come so far to see us!"
Then they rose up and departed
Each one homeward to his wigwam,
To the young men and the women
Told the story of the strangers
Whom the Master of Life had sent them
From the shining land of Wabun.
Heavy with the heat and silence
Grew the afternoon of Summer;
With a drowsy sound the forest
Whispered round the sultry wigwam,
With a sound of sleep the water
Rippled on the beach below it;
From the cornfields shrill and ceaseless
Sang the grasshopper, Pah-puk-keena;
And the guests of Hiawatha,
Weary with the heat of Summer,
Slumbered in the sultry wigwam.
Slowly o'er the simmering landscape
Fell the evening's dusk and coolness,
And the long and level sunbeams
Shot their spears into the forest,
Breaking through its shields of shadow,
Rushed into each secret ambush,
Searched each thicket, dingle, hollow;
Still the guests of Hiawatha
Slumbered in the silent wigwam.
From his place rose Hiawatha,
Bade farewell to old Nokomis,
Spake in whispers, spake in this wise,
Did not wake the guests, that slumbered.
"I am going, O Nokomis,
On a long and distant journey,
To the portals of the Sunset.
To the regions of the home-wind,
Of the Northwest-Wind, Keewaydin.
But these guests I leave behind me,
In your watch and ward I leave them;
See that never harm comes near them,
See that never fear molests them,
Never danger nor suspicion,
Never want of food or shelter,
In the lodge of Hiawatha!"
Forth into the village went he,
Bade farewell to all the warriors,
Bade farewell to all the young men,
Spake persuading, spake in this wise:
"I am going, O my people,
On a long and distant journey;
Many moons and many winters
Will have come, and will have vanished,
Ere I come again to see you.
But my guests I leave behind me;
Listen to their words of wisdom,
Listen to the truth they tell you,
For the Master of Life has sent them
From the land of light and morning!"
On the shore stood Hiawatha,
Turned and waved his hand at parting;
On the clear and luminous water
Launched his birch canoe for sailing,
From the pebbles of the margin
Shoved it forth into the water;
Whispered to it, "Westward! westward!"
And with speed it darted forward.
And the evening sun descending
Set the clouds on fire with redness,
Burned the broad sky, like a prairie,
Left upon the level water
One long track and trail of splendor,
Down whose stream, as down a river,
Westward, westward Hiawatha
Sailed into the fiery sunset,
Sailed into the purple vapors,
Sailed into the dusk of evening:
And the people from the margin
Watched him floating, rising, sinking,
Till the birch canoe seemed lifted
High into that sea of splendor,
Till it sank into the vapors
Like the new moon slowly, slowly
Sinking in the purple distance.
And they said, "Farewell forever!"
Said, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
And the forests, dark and lonely,
Moved through all their depths of darkness,
Sighed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
And the waves upon the margin
Rising, rippling on the pebbles,
Sobbed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
From her haunts among the fen-lands,
Screamed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
Thus departed Hiawatha,
Hiawatha the Beloved,
In the glory of the sunset,.
In the purple mists of evening,
To the regions of the home-wind,
Of the Northwest-Wind, Keewaydin,
To the Islands of the Blessed,
To the Kingdom of Ponemah,
To the Land of the Hereafter!
THE SONG OF HIAWATHA.
This Indian Edda--if I may so call it--is founded on a tradition
prevalent among the North American Indians, of a personage of
miraculous birth, who was sent among them to clear their rivers,
forests, and fishing-grounds, and to teach them the arts of
He was known among different tribes by the several names of
Michabou, Chiabo, Manabozo, Tarenyawagon, and Hiawatha. Mr.
Schoolcraft gives an account of him in his Algic Researches, Vol.
p. 134; and in his History, Condition, and Prospects of the
Tribes of the United States, Part III. p. 314, may be found the
Iroquois form of the tradition, derived from the verbal
of an Onondaga chief.
Into this old tradition I have woven other curious Indian
drawn chiefly from the various and valuable writings of Mr.
Schoolcraft, to whom the literary world is greatly indebted for
indefatigable zeal in rescuing from oblivion so much of the
legendary lore of the Indians.
The scene of the poem is among the Ojibways on the southern shore
Lake Superior, in the region between the Pictured Rocks and the
Adjidau'mo, the red squirrel.
Ahdeek', the reindeer.
Ahmeek', the beaver.
Annemee'kee, the thunder.
Apuk'wa. a bulrush.
Baim-wa'wa, the sound of the thunder.
Bemah'gut, the grapevine.
Be'na, the pheasant.
Big-Sea-Water, Lake Superior.
Chemaun', a birch canoe.
Chetowaik', the plover.
Chibia'bos, a musician; friend of Hiawatha; ruler in the Land of
Dahin'da, the bull frog.
Dush-kwo-ne'she or Kwo-ne'she, the dragon fly.
Esa, shame upon you.
Ghee'zis, the sun.
Gitche Gu'mee, The Big-Sea-Water, Lake Superior.
Gitche Man'ito, the Great Spirit, the Master of Life.
Gushkewau', the darkness.
Hiawa'tha, the Wise Man, the Teacher, son of Mudjekeewis, the
Wind and Wenonah, daughter of Nokomis.
Ia'goo, a great boaster and story-teller.
Inin'ewug, men, or pawns in the Game of the Bowl.
Ishkoodah', fire, a comet.
Jee'bi, a ghost, a spirit.
Joss'akeed, a prophet.
Kabibonok'ka, the North-Wind.
Kagh, the hedge-hog.
Ka'go, do not.
Kahgahgee', the raven.
Kaween', no indeed.
Kayoshk', the sea-gull.
Kee'go, a fish.
Keeway'din, the Northwest wind, the Home-wind.
Kena'beek, a serpent.
Keneu', the great war-eagle.
Keno'zha, the pickerel.
Ko'ko-ko'ho, the owl.
Kuntasoo', the Game of Plum-stones.
Kwa'sind, the Strong Man.
Kwo-ne'she, or Dush-kwo-ne'she, the dragon-fly.
Mahnahbe'zee, the swan.
Mahng, the loon.
Mahn-go-tay'see, loon-hearted, brave.
Mahnomo'nee, wild rice.
Ma'ma, the woodpecker.
Maskeno'zha, the pike.
Me'da, a medicine-man.
Meenah'ga, the blueberry.
Megissog'won, the great Pearl-Feather, a magician, and the Manito
Meshinau'wa, a pipe-bearer.
Minjekah'wun, Hiawatha's mittens.
Minneha'ha, Laughing Water; wife of Hiawatha; a water-fall in a
stream running into the Mississippi between Fort Snelling and the
Falls of St. Anthony.
Minne-wa'wa, a pleasant sound, as of the wind in the trees.
Mishe-Mo'kwa, the Great Bear.
Mishe-Nah'ma, the Great Sturgeon.
Miskodeed', the Spring-Beauty, the Claytonia Virginica.
Monda'min, Indian corn.
Moon of Bright Nights, April.
Moon of Leaves, May.
Moon of Strawberries, June.
Moon of the Falling Leaves, September.
Moon of Snow-shoes, November.
Mudjekee'wis, the West-Wind; father of Hiawatha.
Mudway-aush'ka, sound of waves on a shore.
Mushkoda'sa, the grouse.
Nah'ma, the sturgeon.
Na'gow Wudj'oo, the Sand Dunes of Lake Superior.
Noko'mis, a grandmother, mother of Wenonah.
No'sa, my father.
Nush'ka, look! look!
Odah'min, the strawberry.
Okahah'wis, the fresh-water herring.
Ome'me, the pigeon.
Ona'gon, a bowl.
Ope'chee, the robin.
Osse'o, Son of the Evening Star.
Owais'sa, the bluebird.
Oweenee', wife of Osseo.
Ozawa'beek, a round piece of brass or copper in the Game of the
Pah-puk-kee'na, the grasshopper.
Pau-Puk-Kee'wis, the handsome Yenadizze, the son of Storm Fool.
Pauwa'ting, Saut Sainte Marie.
Pem'ican, meat of the deer or buffalo dried and pounded.
Pezhekee', the bison.
Pishnekuh', the brant.
Pugasaing', Game of the Bowl.
Puggawau'gun, a war-club.
Puk-Wudj'ies, little wild men of the woods; pygmies.
Sah'wa, the perch.
Sha'da, the pelican.
Shahbo'min, the gooseberry.
Shah-shah, long ago.
Shaugoda'ya, a coward.
Shawgashee', the craw-fish.
Shawonda'see, the South-Wind.
Shaw-shaw, the swallow.
Shesh'ebwug, ducks; pieces in the Game of the Bowl.
Shin'gebis, the diver, or grebe.
Showain' neme'shin, pity me.
Shuh-shuh'gah, the blue heron.
Subbeka'she, the spider.
Sugge'me, the mosquito.
To'tem, family coat-of-arms.
Ugudwash', the sun-fish.
Unktahee', the God of Water.
Wabas'so, the rabbit, the North.
Wabe'no, a magician, a juggler.
Wa'bun, the East-Wind.
Wa'bun An'nung, the Star of the East, the Morning Star.
Wahono'win, a cry of lamentation.
Wah-wah-tay'see, the fire-fly.
Wam'pum, beads of shell.
Waubewy'on, a white skin wrapper.
Wa'wa, the wild goose.
Waw'beek, a rock.
Waw-be-wa'wa, the white goose.
Wawonais'sa, the whippoorwill.
Way-muk-kwa'na, the caterpillar.
Weno'nah, Hiawatha's mother, daughter of Nokomis.
Yenadiz'ze, an idler and gambler; an Indian dandy.
In the Vale of Tawasentha.
This valley, now called Norman's Kill; is in Albany County, New
On the Mountains of the Prairie.
Mr. Catlin, in his Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and
Condition of the North American Indians, Vol. II p. 160, gives an
interesting account of the Coteau des Prairies, and the Red Pipe-
stone Quarry. He says:--
"Here (according to their traditions) happened the mysterious
of the red pipe, which has blown its fumes of peace and war to
remotest corners of the continent; which has visited every
and passed through its reddened stem the irrevocable oath of war
desolation. And here, also, the peace-breathing calumet was
and fringed with the eagle's quills, which has shed its thrilling
fumes over the land, and soothed the fury of the relentless
"The Great Spirit at an ancient period here called the Indian
nations together, and, standing on the precipice of the red pipe-
stone rock, broke from its wall a piece, and made a huge pipe by
turning it in his hand, which he smoked over them, and to the
the South, the East, and the West, and told them that this stone
red,--that it was their flesh,--that they must use it for their
pipes of peace,--that it belonged to them all, and that the
and scalping-knife must not be raised on its ground. At the last
whiff of his pipe his head went into a great cloud, and the whole
surface of the rock for several miles was melted and glazed; two
great ovens were opened beneath, and two women (guardian spirits
the place) entered them in a blaze of fire; and they are heard
yet (Tso-mec-cos-tee aud Tso-me-cos-te-won-dee), answering to the
invocations of the high-priests or medicine-men, who consult them
when they are visitors to this sacred place."
Hark you, Bear! you are a coward.
This anecdote is from Heckewelder. In his account of the Indian
Nations, he describes an Indian hunter as addressing a bear in
nearly these words. "I was present," he says, "at the delivery
this curious invective; when the hunter had despatched the bear,
asked him how he thought that poor animal could understand what
said to it. 'O,' said he in answer, 'the bear understood me very
well; did you not observe how ashamed he looked while I was
upbraiding him?"'--Transactions of the American Philosophical
Society, Vol. I. p. 240.
Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!
Heckewelder, in a letter published in the Transactions of the
American Philosophical Society, Vol. IV. p. 260, speaks of this
tradition as prevalent among the Mohicans and Delawares.
"Their reports," he says, "run thus: that among all animals that
been formerly in this country, this was the most ferocious; that
was much larger than the largest of the common bears, and
long-bodied; all over (except a spot of hair on its back of a
color) naked. . . . .
"The history of this animal used to be a subject of conversation
among the Indians, especially when in the woods a hunting. I
also heard them say to their children when crying: 'Hush! the
bear will hear you, be upon you, and devour you,'"
Where the Falls of Minnehaha, etc.
"The scenery about Fort Snelling is rich in beauty. The Falls of
St. Anthony are familiar to travellers, and to readers of Indian
sketches. Between the fort and these falls are the 'Little
forty feet in height, on a stream that empties into the
The Indians called them Mine-hah-hah, or 'laughing waters.'" --
EASTMAN'S Dacotah, or Legends of the Sioux, Introd., p. ii.
Sand Hills of the Nagow Wudjoo.
A description of the Grand Sable, or great sand-dunes of Lake
Superior, is given in Foster and Whitney's Report on the Geology
the Lake Superior Land District, Part II. p. 131.
"The Grand Sable possesses a scenic interest little inferior to
of the Pictured Rocks. The explorer passes abruptly from a coast
consolidated sand to one of loose materials; and although in the
case the cliffs are less precipitous, yet in the other they
higher altitude. He sees before him a long reach of coast,
resembling a vast sand-bank, more than three hundred and fifty
in height, without a trace of vegetation. Ascending to the top,
rounded hillocks of blown sand are observed, with occasional
of trees standing out like oases in the desert."
Onaway! Awake, beloved!
The original of this song may be found in Littell's Living Age,
XXV. p. 45.
On the Red Swan floating, flying.
The fanciful tradition of the Red Swan may be found in
Algic Researches, Vol. II. p. 9. Three brothers were hunting on
wager to see who would bring home the first game.
"They were to shoot no other animal," so the legend says, "but
as each was in the habit of killing. They set out different
Odjibwa, the youngest, had not gone far before he saw a bear, an
animal he was not to kill, by the agreement. He followed him
and drove an arrow through him, which brought him to the ground.
Although contrary to the bet, he immediately commenced skinning
when suddenly something red tinged all the air around him. He
rubbed his eyes, thinking he was perhaps deceived; but without
effect, for the red hue continued. At length he heard a strange
noise at a distance. It first appeared like a human voice, but
after following the sound for some distance, he reached the
of a lake, and soon saw the object he was looking for. At a
distance out in the lake sat a most beautiful Red Swan, whose
plumage glittered in the sun, and who would now and then make the
same noise he had heard. He was within long bow-shot, and,
the arrow from the bowstring up to his ear, took deliberate aim
shot. The arrow took no effect; and he shot and shot again till
quiver was empty. Still the swan remained, moving round and
stretching its long neck and dipping its bill into the water, as
heedless of the arrows shot at it. Odjibwa ran home, and got all
his own and his brother's arrows and shot them all away. He then
stood and gazed at the beautiful bird. While standing, he
remembered his brother's saying that in their deceased father's
medicine-sack were three magic arrows. Off he started, his
to kill the swan overcoming all scruples. At any other time, he
would have deemed it sacrilege to open his father's
but now he hastily seized the three arrows and ran back, leaving
other contents of the sack scattered over the lodge. The swan
still there. He shot the first arrow with great precision, and
very near to it. The second came still closer; as he took the
arrow, he felt his arm firmer, and, drawing it up with vigor, saw
pass through the neck of the swan a little above the breast.
it did not prevent the bird from flying off, which it did,
at first slowly, flapping its wings and rising gradually into the
airs and teen flying off toward the sinking of the sun." -- pp.
When I think of my beloved.
The original of this song may be found in Oneota, p. 15.
Sing the mysteries of Mondamin.
The Indians hold the maize, or Indian corn, in great veneration.
"They esteem it so important and divine a grain," says
"that their story-tellers invented various tales, in which this
is symbolized under the form of a special gift from the Great
Spirit. The Odjibwa-Algonquins, who call it Mon-da-min, that is,
the Spirit's grain or berry, have a pretty story of this kind, in
which the stalk in full tassel is represented as descending from
sky, under the guise of a handsome youth, in answer to the
of a young man at his fast of virility, or coming to manhood.
"It is well known that corn-planting and corn-gathering, at least
among all the still uncolonized tribes, are left entirely to the
females and children, and a few superannuated old men. It is not
generally known, perhaps, that this labor is not compulsory, and
that it is assumed by the females as a just equivalent, in their
view, for the onerous and continuous labor of the other sex, in
providing meats, and skins for clothing, by the chase, and in
defending their villages against their enemies, and keeping
intruders off their territories. A good Indian housewife deems
a part of her prerogative, and prides herself to have a store of
corn to exercise her hospitality, or duly honor her husband's
hospitality, in the entertainment of the lodge guests." --
Thus the fields shall be more fruitful.
"A singular proof of this belief, in both sexes, of the
influence of the steps of a woman on the vegetable and in sect
creation, is found in an ancient custom, which was related to me,
respecting corn-planting. It was the practice of the hunter's
when the field of corn had been planted, to choose the first dark
overclouded evening to perform a secret circuit, sans
around the field. For this purpose she slipped out of the lodge
the evening, unobserved, to some obscure nook, where she
disrobed. Then, taking her matchecota, or principal garment, in
hand, she dragged it around the field. This was thought to
prolific crop, and to prevent the assaults of insects and worms
the grain. It was supposed they could not creep over the charmed
line." -- Oneota, p. 83.
With his prisoner-string he bound him.
"These cords," says Mr. Tanner "are made of the bark of the elm-
tree, by boiling and then immersing it in cold water. . . . The
leader of a war party commonly carries several fastened about his
waist, and if, in the course of the fight, any one of his young
take a prisoner, it is his duty to bring him immediately to the
chief, to be tied, and the latter is responsible for his safe
keeping." -- Narrative of Captivity and Adventures, p. 412.
Wagemin, the thief of cornfields,
Paimosaid, who steals the maize-ear.
"If one of the young female huskers finds a red ear of corn, it
typical of a brave admirer, and is regarded as a fitting present
some young warrior. But if the ear be crooked, and tapering to a
point, no matter what color, the whole circle is set in a roar,
wa-ge-min is the word shouted aloud. It is the symbol of a thief
the cornfield. It is considered as the image of an old man
as he enters the lot. Had the chisel of Praxiteles been employed
produce this image, it could not more vividly bring to the minds
the merry group the idea of a pilferer of their favorite
"The literal meaning of the term is, a mass, or crooked ear of
grain; but the ear of corn so called is a conventional type of a
little old man pilfering ears of corn in a cornfield. It is in
manner that a single word or term, in these curious languages,
becomes the fruitful parent of many ideas. And we can thus
why it is that the word wagemin is alone competent to excite
merriment in the husking circle.
"This term is taken as the basis of the cereal chorus, or corn
as sung by the Northern Algonquin tribes. It is coupled with the
phrase Paimosaid,--a permutative form of the Indian substantive,
made from the verb pim-o-sa, to walk. Its literal meaning is, he
who walks, or the walker; but the ideas conveyed by it are, he
walks by night to pilfer corn. It offers, therefore, a kind of
parallelism in expression to the preceding term." -- Oneota, p.
Pugasaing, with thirteen pieces.
This Game of the Bowl is the principal game of hazard among the
Northern tribes of Indians. Mr. Schoolcraft gives a particular
account of it in Oneota, p. 85. "This game," he says, "is very
fascinating to some portions of the Indians. They stake at it
ornaments, weapons, clothing, canoes, horses, everything in fact
they possess; and have been known, it is said, to set up their
and children and even to forfeit their own liberty. Of such
desperate stakes I have seen no examples, nor do I think the game
itself in common use. It is rather confined to certain persons,
hold the relative rank of gamblers in Indian society,--men who
not noted as hunters or warriors, or steady providers for their
families. Among these are persons who bear the term of
wug, that is, wanderers about the country, braggadocios, or fops.
It can hardly be classed with the popular games of amusement, by
which skill and dexterity are acquired. I have generally found
chiefs and graver men of the tribes, who encouraged the young men
play ball, and are sure to be present at the customary sports, to
witness, and sanction, and applaud them, speak lightly and
disparagingly of this game of hazard. Yet it cannot be denied
some of the chiefs, distinguished in war and the chase, at the
can be referred to as lending their example to its fascinating
See also his history, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian
Part II, p. 72.
To the Pictured Rocks of sandstone.
The reader will find a long description of the Pictured Rocks in
Foster and Whitney's Report on the Geology of the Lake Superior
District, Part II. p. 124. From this I make the following
"The Pictured Rocks may be described, in general terms, as a
of sandstone bluffs extending along the shore of Lake Superior
about five miles, and rising, in most places, vertically from the
water, without any beach at the base, to a height varying from
to nearly two hundred feet. Were they simply a line of cliffs,
might not, so far as relates to height or extent, be worthy of a
rank among great natural curiosities, although such an assemblage
rocky strata, washed by the waves of the great lake, would not,
under any circumstances, be destitute of grandeur. To the
coasting along their base in his frail canoe, they would, at all
times, be an object of dread; the recoil of the surf, the
coast, affording, for miles, no place of refuge,--the lowering
the rising wind,--all these would excite his apprehension, and
induce him to ply a vigorous oar until the dreaded wall was
But in the Pictured Rocks there are two features which
to the scenery a wonderful and almost unique character. These
first, the curious manner in which the cliffs have been excavated
and worn away by the action of the lake, which, for centuries,
dashed an ocean-like surf against their base; and, second, the
equally curious manner in which large portions of the surface
been colored by bands of brilliant hues.
"It is from the latter circumstance that the name, by which these
cliffs are known to the American traveller, is derived; while
applied to them by the French voyageurs ('Les Portails') is
from the former, and by far the most striking peculiarity.
"The term Pictured Rocks has been in use for a great length of
but when it was first applied, we have been unable to discover.
would seem that the first travellers were more impressed with the
novel and striking distribution of colors on the surface than
the astonishing variety of form into which the cliffs themselves
have been worn. . . .
"Our voyageurs had many legends to relate of the pranks of the
Menni-bojou in these caverns, and, in answer to our inquiries,
seemed disposed to fabricate stories, without end, of the
achievements of this Indian deity."
Toward the Sun his hands were lifted.
In this manner, and with such salutations, was Father Marquette
received by the Illinois. See his Voyages et Decouvertes,
THE COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH
In the Old Colony days, in Plymouth the land of the Pilgrims,
To and fro in a room of his simple and primitive dwelling,
Clad in doublet and hose, and boots of Cordovan leather,
Strode, with a martial air, Miles Standish the Puritan Captain.
Buried in thought he seemed, with his hands behind him, and
Ever and anon to behold his glittering weapons of warfare,
Hanging in shining array along the walls of the chamber,--
Cutlass and corselet of steel, and his trusty sword of Damascus,
Curved at the point and inscribed with its mystical Arabic
While underneath, in a corner, were fowling-piece, musket, and
Short of stature he was, but strongly built and athletic,
Broad in the shoulders, deep-chested, with muscles and sinews of
Brown as a nut was his face, but his russet beard was already
Flaked with patches of snow, as hedges sometimes in November.
Near him was seated John Alden, his friend, and household
Writing with diligent speed at a table of pine by the window;
Fair-haired, azure-eyed, with delicate Saxon complexion,
Having the dew of his youth, and the beauty thereof, as the
Whom Saint Gregory saw, and exclaimed, "Not Angles, but Angels."
Youngest of all was he of the men who came in the Mayflower.
Suddenly breaking the silence, the diligent scribe
Spake, in the pride of his heart, Miles Standish the Captain of
"Look at these arms," he said, "the warlike weapons that hang
Burnished and bright and clean, as if for parade or inspection!
This is the sword of Damascus I fought with in Flanders; this
Well I remember the day! once saved my life in a skirmish;
Here in front you can see the very dint of the bullet
Fired point-blank at my heart by a Spanish arcabucero.
Had it not been of sheer steel, the forgotten bones of Miles
Would at this moment be mould, in their grave in the Flemish
Thereupon answered John Alden, but looked not up from his
"Truly the breath of the Lord hath slackened the speed of the
He in his mercy preserved you, to be our shield and our weapon!"
Still the Captain continued, unheeding the words of the
"See, how bright they are burnished, as if in an arsenal hanging;
That is because I have done it myself, and not left it to others.
Serve yourself, would you be well served, is an excellent adage;
So I take care of my arms, as you of your pens and your inkhorn.
Then, too, there are my soldiers, my great, invincible army,
Twelve men, all equipped, having each his rest and his matchlock,
Eighteen shillings a month, together with diet and pillage,
And, like Caesar, I know the name of each of my soldiers!"
This he said with a smile, that danced in his eyes, as the
Dance on the waves of the sea, and vanish again in a moment.
Alden laughed as he wrote, and still the Captain continued:
"Look! you can see from this window my brazen howitzer planted
High on the roof of the church, a preacher who speaks to the
Steady, straight-forward, and strong, with irresistible logic,
Orthodox, flashing conviction right into the hearts of the
Now we are ready, I think, for any assault of the Indians;
Let them come, if they like, and the sooner they try it the
Let them come if they like, be it sagamore, sachem, or pow-wow,
Aspinet, Samoset, Corbitant, Squanto, or Tokamahamon!"
Long at the window he stood, and wistfully gazed on the
Washed with a cold gray mist, the vapory breath of the east-wind,
Forest and meadow and hill, and the steel-blue rim of the ocean,
Lying silent and sad, in the afternoon shadows and sunshine.
Over his countenance flitted a shadow like those on the
Gloom intermingled with light; and his voice was subdued with
Tenderness, pity, regret, as after a pause he proceeded:
"Yonder there, on the hill by the sea, lies buried Rose Standish;
Beautiful rose of love, that bloomed for me by the wayside!
She was the first to die of all who came in the Mayflower!
Green above her is growing the field of wheat we have sown there,
Better to hide from the Indian scouts the graves of our people,
Lest they should count them and see how many already have
Sadly his face he averted, and strode up and down, and was
Fixed to the opposite wall was a shelf of books, and among them
Prominent three, distinguished alike for bulk and for binding;
Bariffe's Artillery Guide, and the Commentaries of Caesar,
Out of the Latin translated by Arthur Goldinge of London,
And, as if guarded by these, between them was standing the Bible.
Musing a moment before them, Miles Standish paused, as if
Which of the three he should choose for his consolation and
Whether the wars of the Hebrews, the famous campaigns of the
Or the Artillery practice, designed for belligerent Christians.
Finally down from its shelf he dragged the ponderous Roman,
Seated himself at the window, and opened the book, and in silence
Turned o'er the well-worn leaves, where thumb-marks thick on the
Like the trample of feet, proclaimed the battle was hottest.
Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the
Busily writing epistles important, to go by the Mayflower,
Ready to sail on the morrow, or next day at latest, God willing!
Homeward bound with the tidings of all that terrible winter,
Letters written by Alden, and full of the name of Priscilla,
Full of the name and the fame of the Puritan maiden Priscilla!
LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP
Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the
Or an occasional sigh from the laboring heart of the Captain,
Reading the marvellous words and achievements of Julius Caesar.
After a while he exclaimed, as he smote with his hand, palm
Heavily on the page: "A wonderful man was this Caesar!
You are a writer, and I am a fighter, but here is a fellow
Who could both write and fight, and in both was equally skilful!"
Straightway answered and spake John Alden, the comely, the
"Yes, he was equally skilled, as you say, with his pen and his
Somewhere have I read, but where I forget, he could dictate
Seven letters at once, at the same time writing his memoirs."
"Truly," continued the Captain, not heeding or hearing the other,
"Truly a wonderful man was Caius Julius Caesar!
Better be first, he said, in a little Iberian village,
Than be second in Rome, and I think he was right when he said it.
Twice was he married before he was twenty, and many times after;
Battles five hundred he fought, and a thousand cities he
He, too, fought in Flanders, as he himself has recorded;
Finally he was stabbed by his friend, the orator Brutus!
Now, do you know what he did on a certain occasion in Flanders,
When the rear-guard of his army retreated, the front giving way
And the immortal Twelfth Legion was crowded so closely together
There was no room for their swords? Why, he seized a shield from
Put himself straight at the head of his troops, and commanded the
Calling on each by his name, to order forward the ensigns;
Then to widen the ranks, and give more room for their weapons;
So he won the day, the battle of something-or-other.
That's what I always say; if you wish a thing to be well done,
You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to others!"
All was silent again; the Captain continued his reading.
Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the
Writing epistles important to go next day by the Mayflower,
Filled with the name and the fame of the Puritan maiden
Every sentence began or closed with the name of Priscilla,
Till the treacherous pen, to which he confided the secret,
Strove to betray it by singing and shouting the name of
Finally closing his book, with a bang of the ponderous cover,
Sudden and loud as the sound of a soldier grounding his musket,
Thus to the young man spake Miles Standish the Captain of
"When you have finished your work, I have something important to
Be not however in haste; I can wait; I shall not be impatient!"
Straightway Alden replied, as he folded the last of his letters,
Pushing his papers aside, and giving respectful attention:
"Speak; for whenever you speak, I am always ready to listen,
Always ready to hear whatever pertains to Miles Standish."
Thereupon answered the Captain, embarrassed, and culling his
"'T is not good for a man to be alone, say the Scriptures.
This I have said before, and again and again I repeat it;
Every hour in the day, I think it, and feel it, and say it.
Since Rose Standish died, my life has been weary and dreary;
Sick at heart have I been, beyond the healing of friendship.
Oft in my lonely hours have I thought of the maiden Priscilla.
She is alone in the world; her father and mother and brother
Died in the winter together; I saw her going and coming,
Now to the grave of the dead, and now to the bed of the dying,
Patient, courageous, and strong, and said to myself, that if ever
There were angels on earth, as there are angels in heaven,
Two have I seen and known; and the angel whose name is Priscilla
Holds in my desolate life the place which the other abandoned.
Long have I cherished the thought, but never have dared to reveal
Being a coward in this, though valiant enough for the most part.
Go to the damsel Priscilla, the loveliest maiden of Plymouth,
Say that a blunt old Captain, a man not of words but of actions,
Offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier.
Not in these words, you know, but this in short is my meaning;
I am a maker of war, and not a maker of phrases.
You, who are bred as a scholar, can say it in elegant language,
Such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of
Such as you think best adapted to win the heart of a maiden."
When he had spoken, John Alden, the fair-haired, taciturn
All aghast at his words, surprised, embarrassed, bewildered,
Trying to mask his dismay by treating the subject with lightness,
Trying to smile, and yet feeling his heart stand still in his
Just as a timepiece stops in a house that is stricken by
Thus made answer and spake, or rather stammered than answered:
"Such a message as that, I am sure I should mangle and mar it;
If you would have it well done,--I am only repeating your
You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to others!"
But with the air of a man whom nothing can turn from his purpose,
Gravely shaking his head, made answer the Captain of Plymouth:
"Truly the maxim is good, and I do not mean to gainsay it;
But we must use it discreetly, and not waste powder for nothing.
Now, as I said before, I was never a maker of phrases.
I can march up to a fortress and summon the place to surrender,
But march up to a woman with such a proposal, I dare not.
I'm not afraid of bullets, nor shot from the mouth of a cannon,
But of a thundering "No!" point-blank from the mouth of a woman,
That I confess I'm afraid of, nor am I ashamed to confess it!
So you must grant my request, for you are an elegant scholar,
Having the graces of speech, and skill in the turning of
Taking the hand of his friend, who still was reluctant and
Holding it long in his own, and pressing it kindly, he added:
"Though I have spoken thus lightly, yet deep is the feeling that
Surely you cannot refuse what I ask in the name of our
Then made answer John Alden: "The name of friendship is sacred;
What you demand in that name, I have not the power to deny you!"
So the strong will prevailed, subduing and moulding the gentler,
Friendship prevailed over love, and Alden went on his errand.
THE LOVER'S ERRAND
So the strong will prevailed, and Alden went on his errand,
Out of the street of the village, and into the paths of the
Into the tranquil woods, where blue-birds and robins were
Towns in the populous trees, with hanging gardens of verdure,
Peaceful, aerial cities of joy and affection and freedom.
All around him was calm, but within him commotion and conflict,
Love contending with friendship, and self with each generous
To and fro in his breast his thoughts were heaving and dashing,
As in a foundering ship, with every roll of the vessel,
Washes the bitter sea, the merciless surge of the ocean!
"Must I relinquish it all," he cried with a wild lamentation,
"Must I relinquish it all, the joy, the hope, the illusion?
Was it for this I have loved, and waited, and worshipped in
Was it for this I have followed the flying feet and the shadow
Over the wintry sea, to the desolate shores of New England?
Truly the heart is deceitful, and out of its depths of corruption
Rise, like an exhalation, the misty phantoms of passion;
Angels of light they seem, but are only delusions of Satan.
All is clear to me now; I feel it, I see it distinctly!
This is the hand of the Lord; it is laid upon me in anger,
For I have followed too much the heart's desires and devices,
Worshipping Astaroth blindly, and impious idols of Baal.
This is the cross I must bear; the sin and the swift
So through the Plymouth woods John Alden went on his errand;
Crossing the brook at the ford, where it brawled over pebble and
Gathering still, as he went, the May-flowers blooming around him,
Fragrant, filling the air with a strange and wonderful sweetness,
Children lost in the woods, and covered with leaves in their
"Puritan flowers," he said, "and the type of Puritan maidens,
Modest and simple and sweet, the very type of Priscilla!
So I will take them to her; to Priscilla the May-flower of
Modest and simple and sweet, as a parting gift will I take them;
Breathing their silent farewells, as they fade and wither and
Soon to be thrown away as is the heart of the giver."
So through the Plymouth woods John Alden went on his errand;
Came to an open space, and saw the disk of the ocean,
Sailless, sombre and cold with the comfortless breath of the
Saw the new-built house and people at work in a meadow;
Heard, as he drew near the door, the musical voice of Priscilla
Singing the hundredth Psalm, the grand old Puritan anthem,
Music that Luther sang to the sacred words of the Psalmist,
Full of the breath of the Lord, consoling and comforting many.
Then, as he opened the door, he beheld the form of the maiden
Seated beside her wheel, and the carded wool like a snow-drift
Piled at her knee, her white hands feeding the ravenous spindle,
While with her foot on the treadle she guided the wheel in its
Open wide on her lap lay the well-worn psalm-book of Ainsworth,
Printed in Amsterdam, the words and the music together,
Rough-hewn, angular notes, like stones in the wall of a
Darkened and overhung by the running vine of the verses.
Such was the book from whose pages she sang the old Puritan
She, the Puritan girl, in the solitude of the forest,
Making the humble house and the modest apparel of home-spun
Beautiful with her beauty, and rich with the wealth of her being!
Over him rushed, like a wind that is keen and cold and
Thoughts of what might have been, and the weight and woe of his
All the dreams that had faded, and all the hopes that had
All his life henceforth a dreary and tenantless mansion,
Haunted by vain regrets, and pallid, sorrowful faces.
Still he said to himself, and almost fiercely he said it,
"Let not him that putteth his hand to the plough look backwards;
Though the ploughshare cut through the flowers of life to its
Though it pass o'er the graves of the dead and the hearths of the
It is the will of the Lord; and his mercy endureth for ever!"
So he entered the house: and the hum of the wheel and the
Suddenly ceased; for Priscilla, aroused by his step on the
Rose as he entered, and gave him her hand, in signal of welcome,
Saying, "I knew it was you, when I heard your step in the
For I was thinking of you, as I sat there singing and spinning."
Awkward and dumb with delight, that a thought of him had been
Thus in the sacred psalm, that came from the heart of the maiden,
Silent before her he stood, and gave her the flowers for an
Finding no words for his thought. He remembered that day in the
After the first great snow, when he broke a path from the
Reeling and plunging along through the drifts that encumbered the
Stamping the snow from his feet as he entered the house, and
Laughed at his snowy locks, and gave him a seat by the fireside,
Grateful and pleased to know he had thought of her in the
Had he but spoken then! perhaps not in vain had he spoken;
Now it was all too late; the golden moment had vanished!
So he stood there abashed, and gave her the flowers for an
Then they sat down and talked of the birds and the beautiful
Talked of their friends at home, and the Mayflower that sailed
on the morrow.
"I have been thinking all day," said gently the Puritan maiden,
"Dreaming all night, and thinking all day, of the hedge-rows of
They are in blossom now, and the country is all like a garden;
Thinking of lanes and fields, and the song of the lark and the
Seeing the village street, and familiar faces of neighbors
Going about as of old, and stopping to gossip together,
And, at the end of the street, the village church, with the ivy
Climbing the old gray tower, and the quiet graves in the
Kind are the people I live with, and dear to me my religion;
Still my heart is so sad, that I wish myself back in Old England.
You will say it is wrong, but I cannot help it: I almost
Wish myself back in Old England, I feel so lonely and wretched."
Thereupon answered the youth:--"Indeed I do not condemn you;
Stouter hearts than a woman's have quailed in this terrible
Yours is tender and trusting, and needs a stronger to lean on;
So I have come to you now, with an offer and proffer of marriage
Made by a good man and true, Miles Standish the Captain of
Thus he delivered his message, the dexterous writer of
Did not embellish the theme, nor array it in beautiful phrases,
But came straight to the point, and blurted it out like a
Even the Captain himself could hardly have said it more bluntly.
Mute with amazement and sorrow, Priscilla the Puritan maiden
Looked into Alden's face, her eyes dilated with wonder,
Feeling his words like a blow, that stunned her and rendered her
Till at length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence:
"If the great Captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me,
Why does he not come himself, and take the trouble to woo me?
If I am not worth the wooing, I surely am not worth the winning!"
Then John Alden began explaining and smoothing the matter,
Making it worse as he went, by saying the Captain was busy,--
Had no time for such things;--such things! the words grating
Fell on the ear of Priscilla; and swift as a flash she made
"Has he no time for such things, as you call it, before he is
Would he be likely to find it, or make it, after the wedding?
That is the way with you men; you don't understand us, you
When you have made up your minds, after thinking of this one and
Choosing, selecting, rejecting, comparing one with another,
Then you make known your desire, with abrupt and sudden avowal,
And are offended and hurt, and indignant perhaps, that a woman
Does not respond at once to a love that she never suspected,
Does not attain at a bound the height to which you have been
This is not right nor just: for surely a woman's affection
Is not a thing to be asked for, and had for only the asking.
When one is truly in love, one not only says it, but shows it.
Had he but waited awhile, had he only showed that he loved me,
Even this Captain of yours--who knows?--at last might have won
Old and rough as he is; but now it never can happen."
Still John Alden went on, unheeding the words of Priscilla,
Urging the suit of his friend, explaining, persuading, expanding;
Spoke of his courage and skill, and of all his battles in
How with the people of God he had chosen to suffer affliction,
How, in return for his zeal, they had made him Captain of
He was a gentleman born, could trace his pedigree plainly
Back to Hugh Standish of Duxbury Hall, in Lancashire, England,
Who was the son of Ralph, and the grandson of Thurston de
Heir unto vast estates, of which he was basely defrauded,
Still bore the family arms, and had for his crest a cock argent
Combed and wattled gules, and all the rest of the blazon.
He was a man of honor, of noble and generous nature;
Though he was rough, he was kindly; she knew how during the
He had attended the sick, with a hand as gentle as woman's;
Somewhat hasty and hot, he could not deny it, and headstrong,
Stern as a soldier might be, but hearty, and placable always,
Not to be laughed at and scorned, because he was little of
For he was great of heart, magnanimous, courtly, courageous;
Any woman in Plymouth, nay, any woman in England,
Might be happy and proud to be called the wife of Miles Standish!
But as he warmed and glowed, in his simple and eloquent
Quite forgetful of self, and full of the praise of his rival,
Archly the maiden smiled, and, with eyes over-running with
Said, in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself,
Into the open air John Alden, perplexed and bewildered,
Rushed like a man insane, and wandered alone by the sea-side;
Paced up and down the sands, and bared his head to the east-wind,
Cooling his heated brow, and the fire and fever within him.
Slowly as out of the heavens, with apocalyptical splendors,
Sank the City of God, in the vision of John the Apostle,
So, with its cloudy walls of chrysolite, jasper, and sapphire,
Sank the broad red sun, and over its turrets uplifted
Glimmered the golden reed of the angel who measured the city.
"Welcome, O wind of the East!" he exclaimed in his wild
"Welcome, O wind of the East, from the caves of the misty
Blowing o'er fields of dulse, and measureless meadows of
Blowing o'er rocky wastes, and the grottos and gardens of ocean!
Lay thy cold, moist hand on my burning forehead, and wrap me
Close in thy garments of mist, to allay the fever within me!"
Like an awakened conscience, the sea was moaning and tossing,
Beating remorseful and loud the mutable sands of the sea-shore.
Fierce in his soul was the struggle and tumult of passions
Love triumphant and crowned, and friendship wounded and bleeding,
Passionate cries of desire, and importunate pleadings of duty!
"Is it my fault," he said, "that the maiden has chosen between
Is it my fault that he failed,--my fault that I am the victor?"
Then within him there thundered a voice, like the voice of the
"It hath displeased the Lord!"--and he thought of David's
Bathsheba's beautiful face, and his friend in the front of the
Shame and confusion of guilt, and abasement and
Overwhelmed him at once; and he cried in the deepest contrition:
"It hath displeased the Lord! It is the temptation of Satan!"
Then, uplifting his head, he looked at the sea, and beheld
Dimly the shadowy form of the Mayflower riding at anchor,
Rocked on the rising tide, and ready to sail on the morrow;
Heard the voices of men through the mist, the rattle of cordage
Thrown on the deck, the shouts of the mate, and the sailors' "Ay,
Clear and distinct, but not loud, in the dripping air of the
Still for a moment he stood, and listened, and stared at the
Then went hurriedly on, as one who, seeing a phantom,
Stops, then quickens his pace, and follows the beckoning shadow.
"Yes, it is plain to me now," he murmured; "the hand of the Lord
Leading me out of the land of darkness, the bondage of error,
Through the sea, that shall lift the walls of its waters around
Hiding me, cutting me off, from the cruel thoughts that pursue
Back will I go o'er the ocean, this dreary land will abandon,
Her whom I may not love, and him whom my heart has offended.
Better to be in my grave in the green old churchyard in England,
Close by my mother's side, and among the dust of my kindred;
Better be dead and forgotten, than living in shame and dishonor!
Sacred and safe and unseen, in the dark of the narrow chamber
With me my secret shall lie, like a buried jewel that glimmers
Bright on the hand that is dust, in the chambers of silence and
Yes, as the marriage ring of the great espousal hereafter!"
Thus as he spake, he turned, in the strength of his strong
Leaving behind him the shore, and hurried along in the twilight,
Through the congenial gloom of the forest silent and sombre,
Till he beheld the lights in the seven houses of Plymouth,
Shining like seven stars in the dusk and mist of the evening.
Soon he entered his door, and found the redoubtable Captain
Sitting alone, and absorbed in the martial pages of Caesar,
Fighting some great campaign in Hainault or Brabant or Flanders.
"Long have you been on your errand," he said with a cheery
Even as one who is waiting an answer, and fears not the issue.
"Not far off is the house, although the woods are between us;
But you have lingered so long, that while you were going and
I have fought ten battles and sacked and demolished a city.
Come, sit down, and in order relate to me all that has happened."
Then John Alden spake, and related the wondrous adventure,
From beginning to end, minutely, just as it happened;
How he had seen Priscilla, and how he had sped in his courtship,
Only smoothing a little, and softening down her refusal.
But when he came at length to the words Priscilla had spoken,
Words so tender and cruel: "Why don't you speak for yourself,
Up leaped the Captain of Plymouth, and stamped on the floor, till
Clanged on the wall, where it hung, with a sound of sinister
All his pent-up wrath burst forth in a sudden explosion,
Even as a hand-grenade, that scatters destruction around it.
Wildly he shouted, and loud: "John Alden! you have betrayed me!
Me, Miles Standish, your friend! have supplanted, defrauded,
One of my ancestors ran his sword through the heart of Wat Tyler;
Who shall prevent me from running my own through the heart of a
Yours is the greater treason, for yours is a treason to
You, who lived under my roof, whom I cherished and loved as a
You, who have fed at my board, and drunk at my cup, to whose
I have intrusted my honor, my thoughts the most sacred and
You too, Brutus! ah woe to the name of friendship hereafter!
Brutus was Caesar's friend, and you were mine, but henceforward
Let there be nothing between us save war, and implacable hatred!"
So spake the Captain of Plymouth, and strode about in the
Chafing and choking with rage; like cords were the veins on his
But in the midst of his anger a man appeared at the doorway,
Bringing in uttermost haste a message of urgent importance,
Rumors of danger and war and hostile incursions of Indians!
Straightway the Captain paused, and, without further question or
Took from the nail on the wall his sword with its scabbard of
Buckled the belt round his waist, and, frowning fiercely,
Alden was left alone. He heard the clank of the scabbard
Growing fainter and fainter, and dying away in the distance.
Then he arose from his seat, and looked forth into the darkness,
Felt the cool air blow on his cheek, that was hot with the
Lifted his eyes to the heavens, and, folding his hands as in
Prayed in the silence of night to the Father who seeth in secret.
Meanwhile the choleric Captain strode wrathful away to the
Found it already assembled, impatiently waiting his coming;
Men in the middle of life, austere and grave in deportment,
Only one of them old, the hill that was nearest to heaven,
Covered with snow, but erect, the excellent Elder of Plymouth.
God had sifted three kingdoms to find the wheat for this
Then had sifted the wheat, as the living seed of a nation;
So say the chronicles old, and such is the faith of the people!
Near them was standing an Indian, in attitude stern and defiant,
Naked down to the waist, and grim and ferocious in aspect;
While on the table before them was lying unopened a Bible,
Ponderous, bound in leather, brass-studded, printed in Holland,
And beside it outstretched the skin of a rattle-snake glittered,
Filled, like a quiver, with arrows; a signal and challenge of
Brought by the Indian, and speaking with arrowy tongues of
This Miles Standish beheld, as he entered, and heard them
What were an answer befitting the hostile message and menace,
Talking of this and of that, contriving, suggesting, objecting;
One voice only for peace, and that the voice of the Elder,
Judging it wise and well that some at least were converted,
Rather than any were slain, for this was but Christian behavior!
Then out spake Miles Standish, the stalwart Captain of Plymouth,
Muttering deep in his throat, for his voice was husky with anger,
"What! do you mean to make war with milk and the water of roses?
Is it to shoot red squirrels you have your howitzer planted
There on the roof of the church, or is it to shoot red devils?
Truly the only tongue that is understood by a savage
Must be the tongue of fire that speaks from the mouth of the