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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 14

The sachem arose, twisted his hands in the woman's golden hair, bared his knife, and cried, "Tell us what Indian warned you and betrayed his tribe, or you shall see husband and children bleed before your eyes." The woman answered never a word, but after a little Naoman arose and said, "'Twas I;" then drew his blanket about him and knelt for execution. An axe cleft his skull. Drunk with the sight of blood, the Indians rushed upon the captives and slew them, one by one. The prisoners neither shrank nor cried for mercy, but met their end with hymns upon their lips, and, seeing that they could so meet death, one member of the band let fall his arm and straight became a Christian. The cabin was burned, the bodies flung into the stream, and the stain of blood was seen for many a year in Murderer's Creek.





A TRAPPER'S GHASTLY VENGEANCE

About a mile back from the Hudson, at Coxsackie, stood the cabin of Nick Wolsey, who, in the last century, was known to the river settlements as a hunter and trapper of correct aim, shrewdness, endurance, and taciturn habit. For many years he lived in this cabin alone, except for the company of his dog; but while visiting a camp of Indians in the wilderness he was struck with the engaging manner of one of the girls of the tribe; he repeated the visit; he found cause to go to the camp frequently; he made presents to the father of the maid, and at length won her consent to be his wife. The simple marriage ceremony of the tribe was performed, and Wolsey led Minamee to his home; but the wedding was interrupted in an almost tragic manner, for a surly fellow who had loved the girl, yet who never had found courage to declare himself, was wrought to such a jealous fury at the discovery of Wolsey's good fortune that he sprang at him with a knife, and would have despatched him on the spot had not the white man's faithful hound leaped at his throat and borne him to the ground.

Wolsey disarmed the fellow and kicked and cuffed him to the edge of the wood, while the whole company shouted with laughter at this ignominious punishment, and approved it. A year or more passed. Wolsey and his Indian wife were happy in their free and simple life; happy, too, in their little babe. Wolsey was seldom absent from his cabin for any considerable length of time, and usually returned to it before the night set in. One evening he noticed that the grass and twigs were bent near his house by some passing foot that, with the keen eye of the woodman, he saw was not his wife's.

"Some hunter," he said, "saw the house when he passed here, and as, belike, he never saw one before, he stopped to look in." For the trail led to his window, and diverged thence to the forest again. A few days later, as he was returning, he came on the footprints that were freshly made, and a shadow crossed his face. On nearing the door he stumbled on the body of his dog, lying rigid on the ground. "How did this happen, Minamee?" he cried, as he flung open the door. The wife answered, in a low voice, "O Hush! you'll wake the child."


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