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The Indian King Post by :The_Anik Category :Essays Author :Lydia H. Sigourney Date :November 2011 Read :2818

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The Indian King

Among the early settlers of these United States, were some pious people, called Hugenots, who fled from the persecutions in France, under Louis the Fourteenth. It has been said, that wherever the elements of their character mingled with the New World, the infusion was salutary.

Industry, patience, sweet social affections, and piety, firm, but not austere, were the distinctive features of this interesting race. A considerable number of them, chose their abode in a part of the State of Massachusetts, about the year 1686, and commenced the labours inseparable from the formation of a new colony.

In their vicinity, was a powerful tribe of Indians, whom they strove to conciliate. They extended to them the simple rites of hospitality, and their kind and gentle manners, wrought happily upon the proud, yet susceptible nature of the aborigines.

But their settlement had not long assumed the marks of regularity and beauty, ere they observed in their savage neighbours, a reserved deportment. This increased, until the son of the forest, utterly avoided the dwellings of the new comers, where he had been pleased to accept a shelter for the night, or a covert for the storm.

Occasionally, some lingering one might be seen near the cultivated grounds, regarding the more skilful agriculture of the white inhabitants with a dejected and lowering brow. It was rumoured that these symptoms of disaffection arose from the influence of an aged chief, whom they considered a prophet, who denounced the "pale intruders;" and they grieved that they should not have been more successful in conciliating their red brethren.

Three years had elapsed since the establishment of their little colony. Autumn was now advancing towards its close, and copse and forest exhibited those varied and opposing hues, which clothe in beauty and brilliance, the foliage of New England. The harvest was gathered in, and every family made preparation for the approach of winter.

Here and there groups of children might be seen, bearing homeward baskets of nuts, which they had gathered in the thicket, or forest. It was pleasant to hear their joyous voices, and see their ruddy faces, like bright flowers, amid wilds so lately tenanted by the prowling wolf, the fierce panther, and the sable bear.

In one of these nut-gatherings, a little boy and girl, of eight and four years old, the only children of a settler, whose wife had died on the voyage hither, accidentally separated from their companions. They had discovered on their way home, profuse clusters of the purple frost-grape, and entering a rocky recess to gain the new treasure, did not perceive that the last rays of the setting sun were fading away.

Suddenly they were seized by two Indians. The boy struggled violently, and his little sister cried to him for protection, but in vain. The long strides of their captors, soon bore them far beyond the bounds of the settlement. Night was far advanced, ere they halted. Then they kindled a fire, and offered the children some food.

The heart of the boy swelled high with grief and anger, and he refused to partake. But the poor little girl took some parched corn from the hand of the Indian, who held her on his knee. He smiled as he saw her eat the kernels, and look up in his face with a wondering, yet reproachless eye. Then they lay down to sleep, in the dark forest, each with an arm over his captive.

Great was the alarm in the colony, when those children returned not. Every spot was searched, where it was thought possible they might have lost their way. But, when at length their little baskets were found, overturned in a tangled thicket, one terrible conclusion burst upon every mind, that they must have been captured by Indians.

It was decided, that ere any warlike measures were adopted, the father should go peacefully to the Indian king, and demand his children. At the earliest dawn of morning, he departed with his companions. They met a friendly Indian, pursuing the chase, who had occasionally shared their hospitality and consented to be their guide.

They travelled through rude paths, until the day drew near a close. Then, approaching a circle of native dwellings, in the midst of which was a tent, they saw a man of lofty form, with a cornet of feathers upon his brow, and surrounded by warriors. The guide saluted him as his monarch, and the bereaved father, bowing down, addressed him:

"King of the red men, thou seest a father in pursuit of his lost babes. He has heard that your people will not harm the stranger in distress. So he trusts himself fearlessly among you. The king of our own native land, who should have protected us, became our foe. We fled from our dear homes, from the graves of our fathers.

"The ocean-wave brought us to this New World. We are a peaceful race, pure from the blood of all men. We seek to take the hand of our red brethren. Of my own kindred, none inhabit this wilderness save two little buds from a broken, buried stem.

"Last night, sorrow entered into my soul, because I found them not. Knowest thou, O king, if thy people have taken my babes? Knowest thou where they have concealed them? Cause them, I pray thee, to be restored to my arms. So shall the Great Spirit bless thine own tender plants, and lift up thy heart when it weigheth heavily in thy bosom."

The Indian monarch, bending on him a piercing glance, said, "Knowest thou me? Look in my eyes! Look! Answer me! Are they those of a stranger?" The Hugenot replied that he had no recollection of having ever before seen his countenance.

"Thus it is with the white man. He is dim-eyed. He looketh on the garments, more than on the soul. Where your ploughs wound the earth, oft have I stood, watching your toil. There was no coronet on my brow. But I was a king. And you knew it not.

"I looked upon your people. I saw neither pride nor violence. I went an enemy, but returned a friend. I said to my warriors, do these men no harm. They do not hate Indians. Then our white-haired Prophet of the Great Spirit rebuked me. He bade me make no league with the pale faces, lest angry words should be spoken of me among the shades of our buried kings.

"Yet again I went where thy brethren have reared their dwellings. Yes, I entered thy house. And thou knowest not this brow! I could tell thine at midnight, if but a single star trembled through the clouds. My ear would know thy voice, though the storm were abroad with all its thunders.

"I have said that I was a king. Yet I came to thee an hungered. And thou gavest me bread. My head was wet with the tempest. Thou badest me to lie down on thy hearth, and thy son for whom thou mournest, covered me.

"I was sad in spirit. And thy little daughter whom thou seekest with tears, sat on my knee. She smiled when I told her how the beaver buildeth his house in the forest. My heart was comforted, for I saw that she did not hate Indians.

"Turn not on me such a terrible eye. I am no stealer of babes. I have reproved the people who took the children. I have sheltered them for thee. Not a hair of their heads is hurt. Thinkest thou that the red man can forget kindness? They are sleeping in my tent. Had I but a single blanket, it should have been their bed. Take them, and return unto thy people."

He waved his hand to an attendant, and in a moment the two children were in the arms of their father. The white men were hospitably sheltered for that night, and the twilight of the next day, bore upward from the rejoicing colony, a prayer for the heathen of the forest, and that pure praise which mingles with the music around the throne.

(The end)
Lydia H. Sigourney's essay: Indian King

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