Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete
Page: 173"But I have your promise of safe conduct!" cried the Spaniard, blazing with wrath.
"And you shall have it when the girl returns," replied the governor. "You shall be protected in going and coming, but there is no reference in the paper that you hold as to how long we may wish to keep you with us."
Both men were marched away forthwith, but Michel was released in an hour, for in that time the people had subscribed enough to pay his debt. The Spaniard sent a messenger to a renegade who had little Genevieve in keeping, and next day he too went free, swearing horribly, but glad to accept the service of an armed escort until he was well out of town. Michel embraced his child with ardor when once she was in his arms again; then he lighted his pipe and set out with her for home, convinced that French law was the best in the world, that Spaniards were not to be trusted, and that it is safer to keep one's earnings under the floor than to venture them in trade.
A century ago this rough eminence, a dozen miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee, was an abiding place of Cherokee Indians, among whom was Arinook, their medicine-man, and his daughter. The girl was pure and fair, and when a white hunter saw her one day at the door of her father's wigwam he was so struck with her charm of person and her engaging manner that he resolved not to return to his people until he had won her for his wife. She had many lovers, though she favored none of them, and while the Cherokees were at first loth to admit a stranger to their homes they forgot their jealousy when they found that this one excelled as a hunter and fisherman, that he could throw the knife and tomahawk better than themselves, and that he was apt in their work and their sports.
They even submitted to the inevitable with half a grace when they found that the stranger and the girl of whom they were so fond were in love. With an obduracy that seems to be characteristic of fathers, the medicine-man refused his consent to the union, and the hearts of the twain were heavy. Though the white man pleaded with her to desert her tribe, she refused to do so, on the score of duty to her father, and the couple forlornly roamed about the hill, watching the sunset from its top and passing the bright summer evenings alone, sitting hand in hand, loving, sorrowing, and speaking not. In one of their long rambles they found themselves beside the Tennessee River at a point where the current swirls among rocks and sucks down things that float, discharging them at the surface in still water, down the stream. Here for a time they stood, when the girl, with a gush of tears, began to sing—it was her death-song. The white man grasped her hand and joined his voice to hers. Then they took a last embrace and flung themselves into the water, still hand in hand.