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the old men proclaimed from the house-tops that so daring a deed had never been done ; no, not since the Mandans were a nation.
Nor was the bravery of the Four-Bears without its solid advantages. He was vow the tal-ko-dah of Wawnahtou, the most powerful chief of the all-powerful Dahcotahs. This term is equivalent to brother by adoption, but the connection is closer than the tie of blood. The ko-dah must stand by his brother through good and evil, through fire and flame. Shortly after the hardy exploit of the FourBears, a deputation arrived from his adopted brother, with gifts of price, and overtures of peace. The Mandans were a much weaker tribe, and gladly accepted them, and the amity thus strangely born, died only with that people. Visits became frequent, and maids were married and given in marriage, where bullets and arrows had before been the only medium of exchange.
What need to dwell upon battles, and skirmishes with bears and wandering tribes, in which the Four-Bears never failed to win renown? One evening his brother went forth to kill a buffalo, out of a herd which was grazing not far from the village.
Morning dawned, and he had not returned ; another day passed, and he came not. On the third day, our chief saddled his horse to go in quest of him. At evening there was a voice of wail in the village for a great warrior departed. The Four-Bears had found his brother dead in a ravine, with a Pawnee lance sticking in his body. The men thrust splinters through their arms, in token of mourning for the deceased, and the women gashed themselves with knives, and all howled and lamented; but Mah-to-khay To-pah did neither the one nor the other. He stood over the body of his brother with the lance that had slain him in his hand. • Brother,' said he, 'I give thee no tears; but I will give thee blood. I knew the hand that has slain thee. I have seen this lance in it, at the council where we made the peace which he has thus treacherously broken. Mah-to-khay To-pah's heart will be sick till his heart's gore is incrusted with thine on the steel of his own spear. I have said.'
He said no more ; but suffered his hair to grow unshorn, and did not remove the black paint from his face, and never missed an opportunity to seek his foe among the hostile Pawnees. He would strike no other enemy, for his arm was sacred to vengeance. But for four long years he never had an opportunity to encounter the foe he had vowed to destroy. Meantime his spirit pined, and his frame wasted
away ; he never smiled; his very heart withered within him with that thirst for revenge which an Indian can only feel and understand.
At last, weary of life, he 'flung his body away,' (i. e., he devoted himself to death,) sung his death-song, and set off alone and on foot for the Pawnee village, three hundred miles distant, with the fatal javelin in his hand, his sole weapon. He travelled by night only, hiding himself by day, to avoid the observation of the enemies' war parties, and feeding upon such roots and vegetables as the bottoms afforded. After incredible hardships, he reached the Pawnee village.
It was a night of high festival, and it was not difficult for him to mingle with the drunken throng, and ascertain, unobserved, the
dwelling of his foe. This done, he retired, for a space, to bide his time.' The night was pitchy dark, and he therefore ran little risk of observation. It was cold, yet he dared not kindle a fire, and he had long to wait; but it was not in the night air or in length of time to cool his purpose. Toward morning, the sounds of revelry died away. Nothing was heard but the boom of the bittern in an adjacent marsh, and the howl of the household dog, echoed back from the prairie by their half-brother wolves. Spear in hand, he entered the Pawnee's lodge.
He roused several sleepers, and uncovered their heads, before he found the object of his search. Luckily for him, the narcotic effects of alcohol bad blunted their faculties, and rendered them less wakeful than usual. The dreamers merely uttered some peevish exclamation, and relapsed into their slumbers. His enemy once found, the Mandan's triumph was complete. For himself, he cared not what might befall him. One stroke of the lance, and the Pawnee was a gory corpse. He muttered some inarticulate sounds ; perhaps he was dreaming. He never woke again. The Mandan turned away.
There was a feather attached to the shaft of the spear, just below the iron head. As he drove the weapon into the sleeper's body, the feather entered with the iron, and was torn off. He had reached the door of the lodge unobserved, when he discovered that it was gone, and turned back to get it. He attached a superstitious importance to that feather. He was in the act of drawing it from the welling wound, when two of the Pawnees awoke, saw how he was employed, and sprang to seize him. He gave the Mandan cri de joie, and vanishing from the lodge and the village, was instantly lost in the darkness.
* And there was mustering in hot haste,' and shriek and shout, and the war-whoop of the warrior, and the tramp of the horse, and the wail of woman; but unheeding all, and favored by the darkness, the Mandan hero urged his headlong flight. Five hundred men were on his traces; but he heeded them little. He had the start of them all, and not one of them knew the exact route he had taken. In a night chase the pursued always has the advantage. He can keep right on, while his pursuers are obliged to halt often, and linger to find his trail. Mahtokhay Topah knew, therefore, that unless some of the horsemen stumbled upon him by accident, he was in no danger till the day dawned. So elate was he with gratified revenge, and so fearless of consequences, that he more than once sent back the Mandan war-cry of defiance, in answer to the yells of rage with which the Pawnee horsemen were making the prairie vocal. A temporary change of direction was sufficient to save him from the probable consequence of his rashness. But with the first gray streak in the eastern sky, he gained the river, and his plan was already formed. He plunged in and swam down stream more than a league, until he came to a fixed raft of timber in the middle of the river, in the midst of which he concealed himself the whole day, with nothing above water but his head. How he survived the cold, is unaccountable, but he did survive.
The stratagem took full effect. The sun had not risen, when the Pawnees found his trail, and followed it to where he had taken the river. They followed the bank up and down for leagues; they crossed
and did the same on the opposite side. All was in vain.
No trace of their long-dreaded enemy was to be found. Concluding that he was drowned, they returned to their village, comforting themselves with the assurance that, although they had not got his scalp, he was at least dead, and they immediately sent out a war party to avenge the slaughter of their countrymen upon all and sundry of the Mandans.
When night fell, the Four-Bears emerged from his biding place, swam ashore, and commenced his homeward journey, guided by the north star. As in his approach, so in his retreat, he was obliged to travel only by night, and exhausted as he was by hunger, it is doubtful whether he could have reached home, had he not happened to
the encampment of the Pawnee party, returning from their unsuccessful expedition. He very quietly helped himself to their best horse, and rode off undetected; for these wild warriors, so adroit in surprising others, seldum keep vigilant watch themselves. He was thus enabled to gain the Mandan village, where he arrived very nearly famished, but still elate and triumphant. From that time he began to recover his former spirits and energy; and the Pawnees suffered accordingly, till they sued for peace; which was kept inviolate for several years, when it was broken as shall appear hereafter.
There was a white captive in the family of Mah-to-khay To-pah; a captive in name only; for he was considered and treated as one of its members, and was, in habits and ideas, as perfect an Indian as ever ran under a buffalo robe. He had been captured at an early age from the frontier of Mexico, by the Camanches, sold by them to the Pawnees, and taken again from them by the Mandans. The color of his skin saved his life. He was about twenty years old when his parents, having at last discovered where he was, prevailed upon a reverend priest to go to the Mandan village and reclaim him. The youth, although he had not forgotten his family or his language, was deaf to the entreaties and arguments of the padre, and refused to leave his adopted brethren.
Go, my son,' said the sire of Mah-to-khay To-pah,‘go. Your father has no other child. Go, and lay his gray hairs in the grave, and then return to us.'
*Go,' said his adopted mother. I have mourned for those to whom I have given suck, and my heart bleeds for your mother, who must now be an old woman, like me.'
'Go, my brother,' said the Four-Bears. The bad son can never become a successful hunter, or a brave warrior. The smiles of the Master of Breath are not for him, and his hair will never be gray.'
' The young man consented to go, though with tears. • Take our brother,' said the Four-Bears,' and be very kind to him, as we have been. We are a very foolish, ignorant people ; not at all like you whites; but we have taught him all we knew. We have taught him to run, to ride, to draw the bow, to wield the lance, to guard against an enemy, to be faithful to his friends, and to speak the truth. All this will be of little use to him where he is going; for I am told the men with hats are a very bad people. He will be like a little child that is lost by his tribe. Father, I entreat you to take exceeding good care of him. He will live in our hearts, and if it be the will of
the Great Spirit that we should ever meet again, he will see that he holds the place of a son and a brother there. We shall keep fast hold of his heart, although far away. Let him not loosen his hold on ours.'
Afterward the priest made an unsuccessful attempt to convert the Four-Bears, whose principal argument against Christianity was, that whereas all the Christians he had ever known were in the constant habit of taking the name of God in vain, it was impossible that they could love or respect him, and, not loving or respecting him, that they could not keep his commandments. Foiled on this point by the rude common sense of the barbarian, the priest began to reproach him with the cruelty of his people.
• You come to us, a stranger, and take away our brother,' said Mah. to-khay To-pah.
Have we treated you cruelly ?'
No, I cannot say that you have. But then your treatment of your prisoners of war. You burn them at the stake.'
* Brother, whoever told you that, told you a lie !' replied the chief, indignantly. We never did. Whom the Mandans spare in battle, is safe for ever after. Other tribes may have abused their prisoners ; we never did.'
• You will not deny, resumed the priest, ‘that you slaughter women and children, who neither have done nor can do you any injury ?'
• If boys can do us no injury, they may do injury to our sons, when both shall have grown up to be men,' replied the chief. “If women are not warriors, they can at least breed warriors. There were small policy in sparing them.'
• But why fight at all ? asked the priest. 'Is not the world wide enough for all ?
What is the use of war ?' Mah-to-khay To-pah was for a space mute with astonishment. Why do we go to war?' he at length replied. Why, what other employment is fit for a man? How is the Master of Life to distinguish us from women, if we do no more than they can do ? Beside, are we not directed in our dreams, and instructed by our medicine men, to destroy those wicked Pawnees from the face of the earth ? And how is a man to distinguish himself above his fellows, if we have no wars ? Say no more against it, brother. It is the first sound that greets us in the cradle, and the last that ceases to ring in our ears when dying.'
In the winter of 182 -, a small party of traders and their followers crossed over from the sources of the St. Peters of the Mississippi to the Mandan villages, accompanied by an escort of twelve Yanktou Dahcotahs, at the head of whom was Wawnahtou, the ta-ko-dah of our hero, as before stated. The Mandans were then at peace with the Dahcotahs, so that Wawnahtou and his band were hospitably and kindly received, and they were also at peace with the Pawnees; but the latter were not on amicable terms with the tribe of their guests. The strangers were feasted and caressed, as usual, and then a separate dwelling was assigned them, and many speeches were made in the course of the evening. It so chanced that the noise occasioned by the festivity reached the ears of a roving party of forty Pawnees, who were hovering about the village for the purpose of stealing VOL. XV.
horses, and a spy was forth with sent into the camp to learn the cause of the unwonted sounds which issued from the stranger's lodge. He fulfilled his mission, and returned to his chief, who thereupon held a council, in which it was resolved to enter the village and destroy the twelve Yanktous and their white companions. They argued that, however desirous the Mandans might be to conciliate the great Dahcotah tribe, they had yet suffered a great many injuries from them, and could not but be pleased if they, the Pawnees, took the shame and the trouble of killing twelve of their number off their hands. They counted upon nothing less than on meeting any opposition from their former enemies, or receiving any punishment at their hands. They waited, then, till day, when they should be able to distinguish their intended victims.
It was winter, and the snow was deep, and the horse-thieves were therefore on foot. The same reason would prevent their enemies from acting on horseback. Bows and arrows cannot well be used against the buffalo on foot. All parties interested were armed with guns, an article with which they were much more familiar than they had been a few years before. To attack the Dahcotahs in the village was therefore a dangerous measure for the Pawnees to adopt; should the Mandans join in the affray, their only chance of escape would be in speed of foot; and so it proved. Just after day-break the Pawnees entered the village, and fired into the stranger's lodge, and strange to say, though there were upward of thirty persons in it, not an individual of them received the least harm. The whites and Dahcotahs immediately sprang up, and the latter returned the fire.
The surprise had been complete; but Indians are never more prompt to act, in one way or another, than when taken by surprise.
They make up their minds to fight or fly at once. In this instance, whether it was that the Mandans thought themselves attacked, whether they were actuated by ancient hatred of the Pawnees, or whether through indignation at so flagrant a violation of their hospitality, they turned out against the invaders to a man. These last broke, fled, and scattered at once, with a yell of despair, and fast and hotly did upward of three hundred men urge the pursuit. There is a good deal of variety in an Indian fight. The combatants fired and loaded as they ran, with inconceivable dexterity. A shout of exultation arose, whenever a shot told, blending with the joyous laugh of the younger Mandans, who enjoyed this hunting of men in the same spirit with which school-boys follow a foot-ball, as if it were the finest sport imaginable. If it was sport to them, however, it was death to the Pawnees, many of whom were soon wounded and slain ; but hurt or unhurt, no cry escaped from them.
Mah-to-khay To-pah and Wawnahtou led and animated the pursuit, which had now been followed two leagues, and would have been much more lively but for the exertions of the Pawnee chief, who repeatedly brought his braves to a stand, cheering them by voice and example, and beating back the first and foremost. By this time he had paid the penalty of his daring. His left hand was shattered by a ball, and he threw away the gun which he could no longer use. A second bullet passed through his thigh; but still he kept on, occasionally halting to rest, and to exhort his men to fight well, and die