Chapter I. The Capture.
It was at the close of a pleasant summer's day in the year 1783, that David Brady with his family seated around him on the piazza of his newly erected dwelling, was relaxing in his truly patriotic style, the victories and defeats through when he had passed as a soldier of the Revolution, when he discovered through the leafy branches of the dense forest, the tall figure of a graceful and modestly attired female approaching his new house, by way of the blazed path that led to Fort Duquesne.
"That certainly is Miranda Verdan from Cumberland," said James Brady, as he arose to welcome her.
"It cannot be," said Matilda. But the next moment convinced them, for she like a forest nymph, was in their midst.
"How did you find us," enquired the old gentleman; "when we have no neighbors within ten miles."
"We have moved within three or four miles of you," returned Miranda; "where on the edge of a Savannah, we have erected a small cabin in which we all reside."
"Did you come from home alone?" enquired Matilda.
"I did, but my brother Henry I knew was not far behind me, and I expected every minute he would overtake me, so that I was no way afraid." A general joy now pervaded the whole family, on hearing that their old and excellent friend Mr. Verdan had again become their neighbor.
David Brady, the father of James, was one of the founders of American liberty – who in the days of the Revolution, freely gave his stretch, his treasure, and his blood to plant on freedoms hills the stared banners of Columbian glory. After which, he returned covered with the fame of his own achievements, to the bosom of his beloved family, to enjoy in peace the fruits of his noble toil. Crowned with abundance, he lived in the midst of plenty, in the rich and pleasant valley of Cumberland, until some years after. He had married his second wife, (which was near fifteen years after the death of his beloved Jane,) when, for sake of procuring homes for his children, he sold out and emigrated with his family to the eastern shores of the Alleghany – where in the course of a few weeks, he erected on a beautiful eminence, a fine log building, overlooking the broad clear river, as well as the vast wilderness that stretched away a thousand
2leagues, and met in distant azure the western sky. No white man had yet dared to make his home beyond the river — it was still the abode of the untamed savage and but few persons had yet settled west of the mountains, and but very few in the neighborhood of Mr. Brady's.
The evening, as before remarked, was pleasant and delightful — the sun had now gone down, and all nature seemed hushed to repose by the low whisper of the easy zephyr that softly fanned the quiet world. The night winds were slumbering in solemn stillness, and the full moon was slowly sinking behind the distant desert, as the wild scream of a hungry night owl, attracted the attention of Mr. Brady and some of his family, who were all seated on the piazza. But the cry of the night bird had scarcely echoed along the adjacent hills, until it was answered in hooting roar, from almost every neighboring crag and in fearful melody rolled along the dark and quiet wilderness.
"Something must be wrong with the owls tonight," said James Brady, as he arose and led his sister and Miranda into the room.
"You are not acquainted my son," said the old man; "with the character of that melancholy bird — it delights while all nature moves in noise and life, to be in silence and solitude among the hills, there to remain until tired nature falls into quietude, then in the gloom of midnight stillness it loves to alarm reposing nature, by is wild and fearful cry."
"That may all be," replied James; "but there is something in this desert music, that makes me fear that all is not right."
"Its Injins no doubt," said the old lady; "and you had better prepare for the battle, for they are a desperate tribe, and are the descendants of the winged nation that have always been the cause of so much blood shed, especially among the chicken hearted."
"I wish I could think it nothing more than the winged nation," returned James; "I should rest satisfied; but as it is I am apprehensive of danger."
"Dear me, you had better buckle on your armor and out to the combat, for your feathered enemies are approaching, and you might be taken prisoner," said the old step-mother with a sneer.
"I should be happy could I think as you do mother, that there is no danger, but I cannot, I am fearful for the consequences, and shall do as you say — prepare to defend myself," said James, as he examined his gun.
"Get away to your bed you tongue brave soldier, and be ashamed of yourself — arming to fight the owls — a pretty story indeed — you had better stand sentinel for the chickens, as they are in the most danger," said the old lady.
"I hope I am deceived," said James; "but those wild screams sound to me like the harbingers of death."
"Must I listen to such language as this, and be silent? No! I will not, and if your father don't learn you better manners than to alarm the family at this rate, I will," said the old lady in great wrath.
"You may think and do as you please mother; but I am fully persuaded that we will be attacked by the Indians before morning," said James.
"Will you, you impudent puppy, persist in frightening the children with your lying cowardice," said she, striking him with her open hand in the face: "now let me have me hear any more of it, and you shall leave the house dark as it is."
"Come, come, Susan, don't be so severe, James has not merited that blow, I for myself, begin to fear that there is something more than owls about," said the old gentleman.
"Let him keep it to himself then," said she.
James arose, dashed away the tear that had started in his manly eye, and retired to his room, where he reflected upon the abuse he had received from his cruel step mother for a number of years, and yet she was growing still more severe. Although he had never given her cause for one angry word, but on the contrary, had used every exertion to gain her favor, she was still his enemy; yet for his father's sake, he bore it all. The moon had now sunk behind the western hills, and an entire darkness had sealed down in the surrounding wilderness. Mr. Brady and his family had all retired to rest, save James, who was still seated on his bedside, awaiting the result of his fearful anticipation —
3and where in a little while he was joined by Matilda and Miranda, the two girls who had conceited they heard foot steps approaching the house, and thereupon fled trembling with fear to James. All was now silent as thought, not even a whisper broke the hour of stillness, and nothing was heard in the deep quietude, save the lonesome tick of the old family clock as she took her note of time, or the feeble murmur of the chimney cricket, that hummed away its solitary song. At length a low wrap was heard at the door.
"Whose there," enquired the old man.
"Thomas Verdan," was the reply. Mr. Brady then rose and opened the door. "The night is dark," said he, as he approached and stirred the coals.
"What is wrong Thomas, that you are so late getting here this evening," enquired James; as he came to the fire, took him by the hand, and wished him a prosperous life in the western world.
"There was nothing wrong," replied Thomas; "more than that I had intended to have come along with Miranda, but my business prevented me, and I did not get away until dark, and being unacquainted with the path, and unaccustomed to traveling after night, I lost the road and was forced to keep up the river bank all the way."
"Did the owls make any noise about you as you came along," enquired Miranda.
"They certainly did, and I never was so plagued with the miserable things in all my life, they kept up such a continual noise, and very frequently they would fly close to my face."
"There," said the old woman; "is Jim's Injins that he has made such an everlasting fuss about, we can all see what a brave soldier he is."
"Well I am not yet satisfied that all is well," replied James; "and it will take more evidence than I am yet in possession of, to make me part with my arms even for a moment."
"You had better be off to Duquesne for the troops, for I can assure you these blood thirsty warriors are already shouting for the battle," said Ralph Lumas, Mr. Brady's step son. Mrs. Brady was about to say something more, but the old gentleman persuaded her to be quiet. Thomas Verdan then enquired if his brother Henry had yet arrived.
"We have not seen him," was the reply. "I cannot see what has detained him," said Thomas; "he started shortly after Miranda, thinking to overtake and accompany her through the forest."
"This more than ever, confirms my suspicions," said James; "there is certainly danger around, and we ought to prepare to meet it."
"Must we be kept in a contined state of alarm by this impudent puppy," said the old woman at the top of her voice; "and if you don't attend to him old man, I will, that's all."
Another wrap called their attention to the door. "Whose there," asked Mr. Brady. "Henry Verdan," was the answer in a low voice. The door was then opened, and the next moment the room was filled with dark and dreadful savages, all armed and painted in the most terrible manner. Horror stricken and dismayed, the whole family save James, seemed like inanimate statues, all fastened in their places, until the Indians had more than half completed the work of death among them. Then suddenly as if filled with life, the living arose and joined in the mortal conflict with their terrible enemy — but the strife was short — soon the work of death was done. In the midst of the combat, and while Mr. Brady was falling beneath the stroke of a powerful Indian's tomahawk. Mrs. Brady flew toward the room where James was nobly defending himself and the girls: but the bloody tomahawk, ere she had reached the door, had entered her bosom, and she sank calling on James for help, until beneath the bloody war club she expired. Many of the Indians had already fallen by the violent arm of James, until at last overpowered by numbers and exhaustion, himself, with Matilda. Miranda, and Ralph Lumas, (who had concealed himself from the fight,) were taken prisoners.
Chapter II. The Esacpe.
The captives being secured, the mangled and gory bodies of the slain, (some of which had not yet ceased struggling in death,) were dragged by the furious Indians to the centre of the room, where in their warm and gurgling blood, were all thrown in one funeral pyre; after which the blazing torch was applied to the building at different points, which in a few moments wrapt all in fire. The dark and dismal desert now become illumed with the glare of the terrible burning, while far upward the midnight heavens become reddened with the fury of the tossing element, whose forked tongues of trembling flame waved around in furious roar, thence darting sky ward, licked the crimsoned clouds accompanied at the same time by the fearful yells of the cruel Indians, who stood gazing with the horrid delight at the smouldering bodies of their murdered victims, as they melted down amid the general fire.
The flames had ceased, the house had fallen in and darkness had again enshrouded the forest, when the Indians with one tremendous yell, tore their wretched prisoners from around the last remains of those they held most dear of all on earth, and forced them away into a wild and dreary waste untred by civilized man. The warriors numbering in all about two hundred, crossed the river with their prisoners, and marched about four miles to the summit of a pine ridge where they encamped for the remainder of the night, securing their captives according to the Indian custom, which was that of fastening them to stakes driven in the ground, in which position they remained till morning.
James Brady was a handsome young man, of small stature, but of noble and commanding appearance, possest of a good education, a generous heart and great presence of mind. Ralph Lumas was a tall, stout, well proportion man of French extraction, but of a very haughty, sly, malicious and revengeful nature. Matilda Brady was a young lady of her ordinary beauty but for virtues candor and philanthropy, her superior could not be found. Miranda Verdan was a lady of extraordinary beauty; she was tall, well proportioned and graceful. Her hair lay in waves of raven jet. Along her clear white temples, then danced away in coal black curls until it rested in a nest of ringlets upon her ermine bosom; her high and well turned forehead shone with mere than ordinary perfection: her eyes sparkling black, illumed her modest countenance, with all the charms of glowing heavenliness, her cheek of blooming beauty, seemed lighted with crimson hair of the ancient Manery; her lips like fresh blown roses, enclosing strand of silvery pearls, were fraught with smiles that gave her face an angle sweetness; her form was neat and majestic, and her soul pure as the air of paradise, shone with a captivating luster from every feature; in short she all that was lovely, but she was a captive. The night had passed away and the sun was beautifully rising, when four tall warriors shrunk back from before her, as from the presence of some celestial being, and for a few moments gazed with wonder and admiration upon her deep and dense wilderness, where no whiteman's foot ever trod.
The sun was just going down as the Indians brought their prisoners to the bank of a large stream of clear silvery water, down which they traveled until they came to a number of canoes in which they all embarked and in a few minutes crossed to the other shore, and after marching a short distance into the woods they encamped. The prisoners pained and exhausted, were now suffering to repose upon some blankets without being bound, but were as strictly guarded as though they knew they were determined to escape. The sentinels being all placed, the warriors prepared for supper, which in a little while was served up of sugar and broiled venison. Matilda and Miranda had some venison which greatly revived and strengthened them. The two Indians then collected moss and leaves, and prepared a bed as soft as possible for the two girls, and spreading down their own blankets upon it, they kindly invited them to lie down and take their rest, and fear no evil for they should be treated well.
"But why said Miranda do you bind yon young man in so painful a manner, when he needs as much your kindness as ourselves."
"It is, replied they, the order of our chief, and it must be done."
"Let us all be bound alike, then said Miranda, for we cannot rest on this easy bed and see our brother suffering."
"That cannot be, said the Indian, for our chief has said the Silver Fawn, which is your name, and the Morning bird your sister, should not be bound, for the great spirit had told our prophet that you should be queen of our nation." The Indians then returned to their different stations, leaving James bound in their usual manner, while Matilda and Miranda were left to repose upon their bed of moss. Ralph had been taken to the other side of the encampment beyond the fire, where after some time he was discovered by Miranda, to be in close conversation with a number of Indians, and that he was not bound, which at once convinced her that he was about to prove a traitor to his friends, especially to James, as he was always his personal enemy, although he was his step brother. Darkness had overspread the wilderness, and all had sunk in quiet save now and then the lonesome howl of some prowling wild beast. The moon had not yet arose, when Miranda softly turned toward Matilda and in a half supprest whisper, said, "now is the time to escape, all is dark and while the moon is not up yet."
"Are we not in great danger of loosing our lives in the attempt said Matilda, tremblingly."
"If we do, it will only end our sufferings, let us then be valiant and unbind James, and away, for all are asleep, replied Miranda, softly."
"I am ready returned Miranda, go and be courageous." All was now still as the chambers of death, save the hoarse breathing of the sleeping savages that every where lay around upon the leaves. But soft and silent timid fawns, did the two captive maidens approach the place where James was board, and once more set his pained and aching body at liberty; then slowly arising he whispered, "follow me, I know the way, stir not a leaf, be valiant and we are safe," then turning their faces towards the river they had so lately crossed, they crept slowly and silently out from among the sleeping Indians, and in a little while approached the canoes, in one of which they quietly embarked, and like the fearless boatman, dashed across the waters. But they had scarcely left the shore, when James in his exertion, struck the side of the canoe with his paddle, the report of which, was quickly answered by the ride of an Indian sentinel, accompanied almost at the same time by the horrid yells of more than a hundred savages, who in one fierce pursuing tumult rushed to the canoes. James and the girls had little more than reached the opposite shore when the Indians arrived at the river; yet like fearful hares before passing hounds, the escaping captives glided through the open forest, that had now become somewhat lighted by the rising moon, until they come to the top of a high ridge about two miles from the river, where being almost exhausted, they sat down to rest a moment to listen for the Indians. When to their astonishment they heard their furious pursuers within a few rods of them. Sprinting to his feet, James ordered the girls to follow him with all their speed, which was no sooner said than obeyed. All starting at the same moment, they ran down the other side of the ridge until they come to the edge of a dark and frightful precipice, but being on her full headway, they were unable to stop until they were all tossed into the fearful abyss.
Chapter III. The Recapture.
The Indians were in full pursuit, stretched out for more than a mile wide, their dark, forms come up at full speed, expecting every moment to again take their prey, but their pursuit was still onward, hills and vallies were crossed, and no trace of sign of the captives could be found. The light of the opening morn had just begun to illume the eastern skies as the angry savages beheld again the broad clear waters of the Alleghany. But being unable to discover their prisoners, they divided their number into two parties, the one going up and the other going down the river; agreeing to meet again on the following
6day, at their last encampment on the big Beaver, the place where the prisoners had made their escape.
The precipice down which the fugitives had fallen was a perpendicular bank of some fifteen or twenty feet above a small stream of water, which at that place was quite deep and which saved them from receiving any injury, more than a good ducking, that in some measure retarded their flight. They however, did not travel far until they turned into a thicket of stinted pine, where in the dark shade of their heavy foliage, they seated themselves upon the trunk of a fallen tree, to listen for their desperate pursuers. But what was their joy and surprise, when they heard the noise of the warriors far before them, urging with all their strength the pursuit of their doomed victims, until at last their sound died away in the distance and all was again still. On seeing that they were out of danger, for the present, James urged Matilda and Miranda to take some repose, an invitation which they most cheerfully accepted, as they were almost entirely exhausted from the vast amount of fatigue and suffering, through which they had passed since their captivity. James having prepared a bed of leaves, the girls retired to rest, and were soon lost to all surrounding danger in profound sleep, while he, seated on a log close by, like a faithful sentinel, watched the sleeping maidens until the song of the morning birds awoke them. Refreshed and cheered, the girls arose and entreated James to lie down and take some repose, and they would in turn watch him from danger. The young man smiled and obeyed them, and in a few moments was securely locked in the arms of morpheus. The sun had arose and bespangled the wilderness with his silver beams, and as a true emblem of his great author, had lighted nature with his stories when Matilda beholding the beauties of the surrounding scene, turned to Miranda and said, "This morning reminds me of earlier days, where in the hours of childhood I sported by the side of my mother, along the foot of my native vine clad mountain, that every where spread a forest of beauty around us."
"It also brings to my recollection, said Miranda, the days of other years, where around the cottage of my birth, I gathered the flowers and listened to the song of the spring birds that every where so sweetly carrold the notes of happiness and joy."
"Well can I remember said Matilda, of chasing the humming bird from the lylock, and the violet that grew in our door yard, and of following the bee from dower to dower, until at last wearied with the pleasing toil, I would lay myself down on the grassy bank of the little streamlet, where often its silver noted song would lull me to sleep and where my endeared mother, has often broke my slumders by clasping me suddenly to her bosom; but she with those happy days have passed away."
"Dispair not Matilda, we may yet return and be greeted by friends we have left behind, although we are now helpless wanderers in a friendless wild."
"Escapes seems almost impossible, replied Matilda as the Indians now all around us, and are now without doubt prowling the desert for us, while we are starving for food, without the prospect of even procuring one solitary meal."
"This is all true my sister, replied Miranda, but he who feeds those little ones that fly around us, will not let us perish, for he careth for us more than they." Just at this moment of thier conversation, a tired and wounded deer came bounding by them, with the arrow yet fastened in its loins. "There is Indians at hand said Matilda, let us awake James and away this moment. There they are. Oh God we are discovered, cried Miranda," and sunk to the ground at which time a number of Indians rushed upon them, and again took them prisoners.
Chapter IV. The Adoption.
The wretched and hopeless captives, now expected nothing less than immediate death; an event which they rather courted than feared, for their lives had become a burden, and their existence a calamity that sunk by its dread weight, deep in the withering waste of dark dispair, every visionary hope that lingered
7within their pained and aching hearts. But they were tore away, amid the threats and yells of savage tyrants, and forced to march before their dreadful captors, while tears of woe, and groans of pain attended every step that bore them farther from their native homes. It was late in the evening, when they came again to the noisy waters of the big beaver, across which they were soon conducted by the fearless Indians, who now appeared to be in high glee, at having again taken their prisoners. But they had scarcely landed on the other shore, when the shout of triumph rolled in horrid peals from more than a hundred savages, and which was quickly answered by those already assembled at the encampment. In a few moments, however, the captives were brought bound into a large circle of Indians, and after leaping and dancing around them for some time, the Chief approached them, and laying his hand on the head of Miranda, he raised his tomahawk and quickly turning its glittering edge every way directly over her, he hummed some savage melody which was responded to by all the Indians; after which he parted her raven locks that had become somewhat dishevelled, and laid them back in elastic curls upon her clear white bosom, then passing on, all the Indians followed him, laying their heads upon the heads of the captives muttering as they passed, some incoherent song. — The prisoners now resigned to their fate, meekly bowed submission to their cruel conquerors, and feeling that their hour had come, they strengthened and encouraged each other to look beyond the torture of the fire and tomahawk, to that bright country where the pining captive is forever free. This singular ceremony being concluded, the captives were conducted to a place prepared for them near the fire, where, after eating a morsel of food, they were secured for the night, by being tired to stakes, side by side, upon the ground, where in much suffering they remained till morning.
The night was dark and gloomy, heavy and dense clouds had arose above the horizon, and ere the whippoorwill had toled his midnight bell, the rain had commenced falling in torrents, which, in few moments completely saturated the clothing of the prisoners, who being unable to shift their position, were forced to receive in their exposed bosoms, the drenching fury of the midnight tempest, that howled and thundered through the groaning wilderness around them. The storm however, in a little while abated, and the clear light of morning revealed again the verdant glory of living nature that seemed to glow with more than usual beauty, and in a great measure revived the withering spirits of the hopeless captives, who were again loosed from their cold and painful bed, and forced away in deeper wilds. The Indians however, had become more humane in their treatment of the prisoners, and allowed them to rest their tired limbs a number of times through the day, while crossing the hills and valleys that skirted the bright waters of the noble Ohio. Night having again covered the world with her dark vesture, the fatigued captives in the centre of the horrible encampment, were all secured as on the previous evening. All had become silent, save the lonesome step of a solitary sentinel that walked around the prisoners. James who lay stretched upon the ground with his hands and feet secured to stakes, had not yet sleeped; he with an eye directed to things on high, was still at his devotions, and was about commending himself to God, and
8to sleep, when an arrow that skinned across his forehead caused him to start; turning his head to the right, he discovered a few yards from him, a man half crouched, who he recognized to be Ralph, from having a plain view of his head between himself and the sky. "Is it you Ralph, I am sorry that your aim was not more sure, for I then would have been at rest," said James in a low steady voice. "It shall yet be sure," said he as he stepped away. The sentinel being at the farther end of his walk from them heard not what passed. Morning having again come, the Indians and prisoners were soon on their march to the Indian country. Day after day of their afflicting journey passed away, until they arrived at Cornstalks Village on Raccoon river, now Montgomery County, Indiana, where the Indians, in company with the surrounding tribes, prepared in all the native pomp of savage magnificence, to celebrate the adoption of their captives; but owing to a quarrel between two Chiefs, a Shawnee and a Kickapoo, concerning Miranda, each claiming her as their own, they broke up the council and marched to the Wea town near the Wabash, now in Tippecanoe County, three miles below where Lafayette now stands. It was a lovely June evening, the sun had just gone down apparently among the flowers of the beautiful prairie, as the captives first beheld the great Indian city, stretched for miles up and down the Wabash, which for ages had been the council grounds of almost every tribe and nation of the great prairies, and which appeared to be the great central mart of Indian enterprise, exhibiting at one view, a town of near six miles in length, of almost every description of houses, among which was an old romantic building surrounded by a thick wall, and situated immediately on the bank of the Wabash, at the foot of the hill, and at the upper extremity of the town. Its white walls, flat roof, and small windows, gave it truly a classic appearance and proved at once that it was for religious purposes. The warriors and their prisoners had no sooner been discovered on their approach by the inhabitants of the town, than the return cry was heard rolling from one end of the savage city to the other, accompanied at the same time by the noise of the multitude returning to the council house, to see and welcome home their victorious braves; and after a short speech had been made by the principal Chief of the war party, a general salutation and welcome was given to the captives, which appeared to be the subject of his harangue. Great preparation was then made for the scalp dance, which commenced a short time afterward, and continued throughout the night, and which was a horrid sight, for the eyes of the captives, seeing as they did, the bloody scalps that had but a few days before been torn from the heads of fond caressing father, from kind and loving brothers and from tender and affectionate sisters, all exhibited in the most wanton and cruel manner, brought with it pangs of grief and sorrow, sufficient to break the most obdurate heart. — But Ralph Lumas, (who had lately been adopted,) and who was dressed in Indian costume, joined with the Indians in the savage cruelty of the scalp dance, and who seeing the tears rolling down the cheek of James, dashed them away by striking him with his open hand in the face, until he was prevented by a savage more humane than himself, who ordered him out of the dance. James was still bound and could make no resistance, notwithstanding the feelings of his nature, were all aroused at the enormous insult, and casting a forbearing
9look toward Ralph, he caught his eye blazing with a vengeance, that spoke in dreadful but silent language that his doomed sealed.
Morning having again spread her mantle of light and glory over all below, and opened anew the fountains of song, that like the notes of Apollo, charmed with celestial enchantment, the slumbering guide that lay reposing on the bosom of the blooming prairie, and raised again its fragrant form to hail in morning beauty the new born day. It was at this lovely hour that the captives were all unbound and adopted in the most solemn manner, as a part of the great family of five born sons and daughters of the wilderness. Miranda was adopted into the Wea nation, by the name of Hee ice poakee, on the Silver Fawns. — Matilda was adopted into the Shawnee nation by the name of Wan gre loo, or Morning Bird. James was also adopted into the Wea nation, by the name of Shoug a rolet, or Little Knife. Ralph had been adopted some days before at the bluffs of White River, into the Shawnee nation by the name of Mus kee nudge or Big Tusk. The adoption being over, the captives were separated and taken away to their several homes.
Chapter V. The Doomed.
James and Miranda had become apparently well satisfied with their new homes and friends and appeared to take the great interest in the welfare of those to whom they belonged. Miranda was the daughter of an old and well disposed Chief, whose house stood at the upper end of the town, and immediately on the bank of the Wea, and about one hundred yards from its junction with the Wabash, where often she would take pleasure at reposing on the green bank of Wea's stream, to listen to the showy warrior, her adopted father tell the thrilling legends of his native hills.
James was adopted as the brother of an only remaining son of an old warrior, whose house stood on the hill a few hundred yards from that of Keo mingo, the adopted father of Miranda. Pon-o-won-kon, her adopted brother of James, was a noble Indian of gentle temper, tender feelings and remarkable for his high sense of justice. James and Pon-o-won-kon, became constant companions, their attachment at length became so strong that no business could separate them, they labored together, eat together, hunted together, and slept together, so that they were called the Awo-ave-ung, or two in one.
Summer and autumn had passed away, and James and Miranda had apparently become as happy as in former days, notwithstanding. Miranda had become somewhat annoyed by the Priest, who was almost continually soliciting her to enter the convent and take the holy orders, for such was the antique building that made such a conspicuous appearance above the rest of the city. James had become somewhat impatient to see his sister, and had obtained leave about the last of December to visit her. It was a cold frosty morning that James in company with Pon o wok on, set out for the Shawnee nation, where in a few hours he was permitted once more to see Matilda; who, on seeing him, shed tears of joy, which also delighted many Indians, who were present on the occasion.
10The day having arrived for James' return, and Pon-o-uo-kon becoming impatient to be away, went at an early hour to the Lodge, where he had left him late that night; but he was not there, Matilda too was gone; the alarm was made, and in a few moments all was in tumult — every house, jungle, and hiding place was examined, but no sign or trace of them could be found. Ralph Lumas at length made his appearance, and informed them that himself and Yee wun u ko, another Indian, had seen two persons armed like hunters, going down toward the river about sun rise, and that James wanted him to make his escape, and go with him down the river in a canoe on a former occasion a few days before, and that he had told him that there was going to be a war between the Wea's and Shawnee's, that the Wea's were then preparing and arranging matters for the destruction of the Shawnee's. Upon which, the incensed Indians ordered Pon-o-uo-kon to leave their hunting grounds forthwith, a command with which he immediately complied, and returned to the Wea, where after summoning to the council house the principal Chiefs and warriors of the nation, he laid before them all that had passed while he was absent, which greatly surprised and alarmed the whole council, who quickly decided that a deputation of all their Chiefs, should be sent unarmed, to the Shawnee nation, to make peace, and assure them that Shong-a-ro-ka had told nothing but lies; and that both nations should use every exertion to take him; and that he should be burnt alive on the bloody ground. The next day the deputation arrived at the Shawnee town, on Cold creek, where in a few hours a general peace was declared, and all the Chiefs smoked again the pipe of peace. Several parties were now sent out in search of James, (or Shong-a-ro-ka,) and Matilda; but they could no where be found. Ralph Lumas, or Mus-kee-nudgee, at last ventured to assert that he believed that Shong-a-ro-ka, had gone to the Kickapoo nation, as he was a great associate of Oc-e-pelpe's, the Kickapoo deserter; which opinion was soon adopted as that of the whole, in consequence of the Wea's at that time being at war with the Kickapoo's; and that they, the Kickapoo's would do all in their power, to annoy them. The light of the third morning after the escape, had scarcely broke along the Prairie, when the village was again thrown into a state of alarm, in consequence of the absence of Miranda, who could no where be found. Every eye was in search of the beautiful Silver Fawn; and Kee-o-min-go, her adopted father, had become almost frantic, he would run up and down the village and cry "my child, my child, she is gone, she is gone."
Chapter VI. The Discovery.
Miranda was now sought for in every place where it was thought a being could be concealed. Even the sacred chambers of the convent were threatened to be explored; but the Priest declared by his sacred profession, that she was not there, which was finally believed, and they turned away to search on other grounds, but the day closed and no tidings of the Silver Fawn was heard. "Surely," said Pon-o-uo-kon, "an enemy lurks upon our own grounds, and we
11are doomed one by one, to fall, until there will be none left to remember the resting place of our father." The whole city seemed to be in a state of mourning for the accomplished Hee-lee-pou-kee, for all that knew her, loved her; but she was not to be found. It was on the evening of the fourth day after the escape — the sun was just dipping his fiery edge apparently in the melting snow that lay like a white ocean on the vast prairie, as a runner dressed in Indian custome was seen approaching the village from a north east direction. In an instant, numbers were out to hear: "We have found them, we have found them," cried the runner, (who proved to be Ralph.) "They are all in Ponk-ee-olo's cave." Upon which a number of warriors repaired to the place immediately, and there indeed was James and the two girls. But James and Matilda was almost starved, having had nothing to eat since they had left, four days before. The question being asked James, why he so wickedly deserted, and so shamefully abused, and almost destroyed the best friends he had on earth? — He answered: "That he was blindfolded and forced away along with Matilda, to that dark and doleful cave." "Your own deceitful tongue had already betrayed you," returned Ralph; "and you will soon meet the reward of your own guilt, that now bangs in a storm of daggers over your naked and polluted heart." "I am in your hand," returned James; "do with me as you see proper. I have no friend to support me — no one assert my innocence — or plead my cause — I am resigned to my hard and cruel fate." "I dare say you think it hard because you are caught in your hellish project," said Ralph with a sneer. "All I ask of my brother," said James; "is that should you ever return to the land of my childhood, and there meet my kindred, tell them that James Brady died in the full prospect of a blessed immortality, and although his body was burnt to ashes, that it shall arise in the last morning, and greet the kindred form of her that has born him, and taught him in his infant days the way to Heaven." "How dare you add insult to your crimes by calling me brother. Were you not already condemned to die, I would make you feel the force at my indignation so cruel? I only asked you as my last request, to remember me to my kindred, and for this you have cursed me — for this you have broke every tie that bound me to your heart. Oh God I will not even my own brother remember me when I am no more seen." James burst into tears, and the two captive girls wept aloud, and many of the Indians that understood english, shed tears at the mournful scene. But Ralph ceased not to deride and abuse his sobering brother, until they entered the village, where he was suffered to eat some broiled venison and parched corn, which greatly relieved his sufferings, after which, he was strongly secured for the night, by being bound with cords, both hand and foot. Miranda was brought home to her adopted father, but he refused to see her. — Matilda was taken to the Shawnee nation, where she expected to meet painful doom.
Chapter VII. The Execution.
The next morning was cold and cloudy, the chill winds swept along the snow-custard prairie, and the Indians wraped in their warmest garments, began to move with their prisoner toward the bloody ground, which lay half way between Pon-er-olo's, or Big Bears' cave on the east side, and the white sand springs, on the west side of the Wabash, which would now embrace the upper section of the city of Lafayette. Having arrived at the spot, said by the prophet to be the place where, for thousands of moons the worthy of death had suffered the penalty of their crimes. A strong stake was fixed permanently in the ground, and a number of large bundles of dried sticks piled around it to the height of three or four feet. After which, the prisoner was placed on the top, and tied to the post, so that he could walk around within a circle of two or three feet on the top of the faggots. Seeing that the flame was about to be applied to his funeral pyre, he moved his pinioned hands, and asked if he might say a few words. The Chief told him he might say what he wished. He then spoke loud and said: "I thank you my brothers for this privilege: I am willing to die, for the Great Spirit knows I am innocent: I went with my kind brother Pon-o-wo-kon, to see my sister Wan-gee-dooin the Shawnee nation, and on the third night about midnight, and while I was asleep, a bandage was thrown around my head and eyes, and I was carried by force, into a dark cave, where in a little while I heard the voice of my sister, and in the course of two or three days, I heard the voice of Hew-les-punkee, my other sister, who told me she had been forced away just like myself, from the home of her adopted father who lived beyond the grave." This speech caused some of the Indians to doubt the correctness of the sentence. But Ralph snatching up a torch, cried out, "apply the fire, the hour is going by." At which moment, a tall warrior came running down the river with a red feather waving over his high forehead, and calling loudly, told them to loose the prisoner and away, for the Kickapoos were upon them. A command which was quickly obeyed. The cords that bound the prisoner's feet were cut, and he was ordered to run before the warriors, who were now in full fight for the town, in order to get their arms, and to remove their women and children across the river, from the danger of the battle. The Kickapoos finding them well armed and ready to receive them, made no attempt on them, but in a little while sent in a messenger in order to know if they were willing to make peace, to which they cheerfully answered they were. And in a few hours after the pine went round, and general peace was declared that satisfied and delighted all concerned. The enemies were then sent over for the women, children and prisoners. But James was again missing; another alarm was made — warriors were sent to search on both sides of the river — at last he was discovered high up in the river, crossing to the east side on a cake of ice that had managed to pole across the stream. He had, however, little more than landed, until he was discovered by the Indians on the east side also. A swift pursuit now commanded, but he outstripped them all, leaving them far in the distance, but he was running without hope to escape. He had just got to the top of a high hill, (supposed to be Stockton's hill,) where he stopped for a moment to look around him, when a bullet followed by a quick report, grazed his forehead, the Indian being scarcely an hundred yards from him, rushed upon him with his drawn tomahawk. Another race now commenced through the open woods along the bluff, but he soon distanced again the Indian who was in pursuit of him; this caused him to turn suddenly, upon which the Indians fired upon him, but without effect. Being now almost exhausted, they gained on him at every step. Stopping at last upon the very verge of the premise, he resolved to make one more effort, for he knew that to be taken was death in its worst form. Standing now on the vast eminence, immediately over the far down crashing flood, with his enemies within a few rods of him, he summoned all his remaining strength — gave one tremendous leap, and fell into the yawning waters.
Chapter VIII. The Peril.
The Indians surprised at his daring leap, rushed on the verge, and looking down the river, they seen him struggling with the cold and angry flood; at length he began to approach the other shore, and after struggling hard and long, he was able to reach the bank, but here Ralph who had been concealed, rushed upon him, and with an eye flashing fury, cried: "You wretch of hell, you have met your doom," holding at the same time, the head of his weak exhausted, and helpless brother under water. But he had not quite completed the work of death, when a ball from the musket of Pono-wo-ken, laid him back with a fearful yell against the bank. "Ha, miserable murderer," cried the advancing Indian, "you would break the laws of our fathers, and become the executioner yourself." Ralph groaned an agonizing reply, for he was shot through the body, and requested to be laid in another position. James was now taken out of the river and wraped in a blanket, to keep him from freezing. The Indians now gathered around James and Ralph, and after some difficulty get them both into canoes and took them to the village. Ralph now felt that he was dying, and requested that James might be brought before him, as he had something on his mind and wished to communicate to him before he died. James being a little refreshed, stood before his dying brother — Ralph after some difficulty, commenced and said; "My dear sir, I must confess that I have greatly wronged you, and that without cause. Seeing as I thought, too close an intimacy existing between you and Miranda, being that I wish to possess, myself, my mind became poisoned against you, and therefore I sought revenge. And I now acknowledge in presence of all, that I was the one that had you blindfolded and carried off to the cave with your sister, as also Miranda; and I alone, was the author of the story concerning the Wea's and Shawnee's; thinking by this means to get rid of you as a dangerous rival; but when I seen that you were yet likely to escape burning. I then hypocritically advised you, after cutting the cords that bound your arms, to fix for your life, knowing at the same time that it was impossible for you to escape; all of which, I frankly acknowledge the truth. And I now ask, as the last and dearest thing I crave on earth, the forgiveness of a wronged, injured and almost ruined brother." At which James took his hand and blessed, and freely forgave him all. Upon which, Pon-o-wo-kon quickly raised his tomahawk, and flashing its fiery edge around his angry brow, he stamped upon the ground, then bidding James depart, he quickly summoned all the warriors around the dying Ralph, where he was requested to state the truth concerning James, which was interpreted as he proceeded by Pow-o-wo-kon, the enraged and furious Indians, who at the close of the this dreadful tale, like wild ferocious tigers, fell upon the devoted Lumas — tore out his warm and quivering heart — drank up his blood — and eat and tore his body to pieces — scattering it in crimson shreads to the four winds of heaven.
Chapter IX. The Reconciliation.
The sun had now gone down, and James was bound and secured as before, for the night. All earthly things were now to him of little value — the prospect of a dreadful death lay before him. Notwithstanding the confessions of Ralph, he expected again to mount the blazing pile, and yield his body to the devouring flames. Yet he was calm and serene — no visions of alarm or terror disturbed him, all was well, and after attending to his devotions, he sunk into sweet repose. The night soon passed away, and the morning sun arose clear and glorious above the frost spangled world, and commenced his journey of a day. In a little while the whole village seemed to be in a state of excitement, and they were gathering from every part of the town to the council house, until at last, it was crowded with Chiefs, warriors, women and children; after which James and Miranda were taken there also. Every eye now appeared to be placed upon the
14prisoners, whose countenances shone with a composure that betokened no alarm, but exhibited a cheerful solemnity that spoke louder than words, that they were ready to die. A solemn stillness pervaded the whole assembly — not even a breath disturbed the silence that reigned within the savage hall. At last a hoary Chief, the adopted father of Miranda, arose and addressed them in a short speech in his own tongue; after which, he was followed by a number in their turn, who also addressed the assembly in the Indian tongue. James and Miranda understood but very little of what was said, until Pon-o-uo-ton with his hunting knife, cut loose the cords that bound their hands, and cast them into the council fire and addressed them as follows: "Children of the Great Spirit — you have been wronged by the wicked Mus-kee-nudgee, and our nation — but Mus-kee-nudgee is dead, and our nation now loves you — you are again as free as the morning birds of spring that sing on the Wea, or the deers that play on the prairies — you are our kindred, and we are your brothers and sisters — we will again plant the corn, and hunt the venison, and be kind to each other. And when our moons are done rising we will go to the bright hunting grounds of our Fathers beyond the big waters. Go then, brother and sister, and the help of our nation shall ever be with you." Upon which, they all shook the hands of James and Miranda, and invoked the great spirit never to leave them, but to make them good Indians — strong in war — wise in council — and faithful to nation. This unexpected decision so filled the hearts of the poor captives, that they could make no reply, more than cries of gratitude, and tears of joy. Pon-o-uo-ton again embraced his brother, and the old warrior his daughter. After which, they all retired to their several homes.
James and Miranda had been adopted a little over a year, when a war broke out between the Wea's and Kickapoo's, and after a number of skirmishes between them, they met near what is now called the Pretty Prairie, on the West side of the Wabash, where a general battle was fought, in which the Wea's were defeated, and James with a number of others, taken prisoners.
Chapter X. The Return.
The Kickapoo's had returned with their prisoners to their own grounds, and had with great ceremony decided the fate of their captives, who were sentenced to run the club race between two lines of Indians armed with clubs, extending from the prison to their council house, a distance of near two hundred yards, and if they succeeded in reaching the council house, through the many strokes of the numerous war clubs, they were to be adopted as good soldiers, but if not, they were to be burned to death. James saw that the sentence was nothing less than a death, and he therefore resolved to escape if possible. Accordingly on the night before they were to be executed, he succeeded in getting off his own fetters, and those of his prisoners, and had got almost out of the town, when they were attacked by a big dog, which quickly alarmed the Indians, who in a few moments surrounded and again made them prisoners. But James was still intent on escape. A strong guard being placed around them, there appeared to be no avenue through which he could possibly save his life, yet he was resolved to try. The sun had arisen above the green hills of the Wabash, and had poured the first mellow glory of his early beams in lucid light upon the dewy plains, as the Indians unbound their captives for their fearful race. They were completely stripped, (save a girdle of red cloth around their loins, and a turban on their head,) and oiled with bean oil all ever the body, in order that they might become as elastic as possible. The line being formed, James was the first one ordered to start, which he did with uncommon swiftness, and in a moment darted through one of their lines without receiving a stroke — and like the alarmed deer, bounded over the prairie toward the heavy timber that skirted the plain, leaving the astonished Indians far behind. The other captives being secured, a hot pursuit was commenced — their swiftest runners completely armed, were soon on his trail with their dogs, (for he was out of sight in a few minutes,) and crossing the river he out went them, notwithstanding the pursuit was urged till night and commenced
15again the next morning. It was about ten o'clock, and just after he had crossed a small stream on the edge of the grand prairie, that James discovered an Indian, who at the same time discovered him; they were within eight yards of each other, and both took trees at the same time. James having in his hand a club, something the shape of a gun, with which he deceived the Indian. Each one kept watching the other until near night, when James contrived to put his turban filed with leaves on his stick, and pushing it slowly past the trees, the Indian fired and it fell upon which he gave a yell of victory and rushed to the spot where he was quickly felled by the club of James — after which he dispatched him outright; then dressing himself in the Indians clothing, and taking his arms to pursued with great speed, his journey toward the Wea town, where in the course of the next day he arrived in safety, to the great joy of all his red brethren. Two of the other captives escaped, and all the rest perished.
Chapter XI. The Convent.
The convent as we before remarked, was a large building and made a very handsome appearance. It was surrounded with a high wall with but one gate, the wall as well as the building was composed of large unburnt brick, hewn down and plastered, this gate was kept by the Priest alone, as well as all the rooms of the building, and no person was allowed to enter the place without his permission, save on the Sabbath while they were attending public service in the church which was also in one part of the building. The rooms appropriated for the convent was nearly finished in the inside and well furnished with costly paintings and good furniture, there were five or six handsome young ladies, partly French and partly Indian, that had been persuaded to take the veil, and were now the lonesome inmates of those solitary rooms, and were entirely ended the authority and at the mercy of the Priest. The Priest had long been urging Miranda to take holy orders and had wearied her for months with his oft repeated solicitation, but he could make no impression upon her strong and elevated mind. She was indeed a lovely being dressed in female Indian costume — she was the pride and glory of the Wea nation, none could behold her and not love her, wherever she appeared she shed a happy influence around her, she was a wise, prudent and virtuous, and all that knew her, from the Indian babe to the hoary warrior loved and esteemed her above all others. The Priest at last foiled and baffled in all his efforts to obtain her consent to become one of the Holy Sisters in his convent, commenced with her adopted father, by representing to him the exalted honors, that would eventually crown his daughter by taking the veil and becoming one of the children of the great spirit.
But there was no argument that could make any impression upon her father, for she was dearer to him than his own life, and sooner would he have broken every ligament of his existence, than to have parted with her even for a moment. "No," said the aged warriors; "let my flesh become food for the ravens, and my bones bread for wolves, and the hair of my head nests for reptiles, rather than the Silver Fawn, my only child be taken from me." The expectation of the Priest being suddenly cut down, he turned away, resolving to make one more tremendous effort to obtain the object of his desires.
Chapter XII. The Result.
The day was serene and balmy, calm and wholesome breezes were sporting along the prairie, and the clear sun of a pleasant autumn moon was ripening into maturity, the rich and pleasant fruits of the abundant prairies; and warming with his cheering rays, the mossy bed of the Indian children that lay reposing on the banks of the Wea's silvery stream. As the Chiefs with their daughters, entered within the sacred walls of the