Chapter 26

I am not prone to weeping, as our sex
Commonly are.—
      —But I have that honourable
Grief lodged here, which burns worse than
Tears drown.


When within twenty feet of the prisoners, the Tetons stopped, and their leader made a sign to the old man to draw nigh. The trapper obeyed, quitting the young Pawnee with a significant look, which was received, as it was meant, for an additional pledge that he would never forget his promise. So soon as Mahtoree found that the other had stopped within reach of him, he stretched forth his arm, and laying a hand upon the shoulder of the attentive old man, he stood regarding him, a minute, with eyes that seemed willing to penetrate the recesses of his most secret thoughts.

“Is a Pale-face always made with two tongues?” he demanded, when he found that, as usual, with the subject of this examination, he was as little intimidated by his present frown, as moved by any apprehensions of the future.

“Honesty lies deeper than the skin.”

“It is so. Now let my father hear me. Mahtoree has but one tongue, the grey-head has many. They may be all straight, and none of them forked. A Sioux is no more than a Sioux, but a Pale-face is every thing! He can talk to the Pawnee, and the Konza, and the Omawhaw, and he can talk to his own people.”

“Ay, there are linguisters in the settlements that can do still more. But what profits it all? The Master of Life has an ear for every language!”

“The grey-head has done wrong. He has said one thing when he meant another. He has looked before him with his eyes, and behind him with his mind. He has ridden the horse of a Sioux too hard; he has been the friend of a Pawnee, and the enemy of my people.”

“Teton, I am your prisoner. Though my words are white, they will not complain. Act your will.”

“No. Mahtoree will not make a white hair red. My father is free. The prairie is open on every side of him. But before the grey-head turns his back on the Siouxes, let him look well at them, that he may tell his own chief, how great is a Dahcotah!”

“I am not in a hurry to go on my path. You see a man with a white head, and no woman, Teton; therefore shall I not run myself out of breath, to tell the nations of the prairies what the Siouxes are doing.”

“It is good. My father has smoked with the chiefs at many councils,” returned Mahtoree, who now thought himself sufficiently sure of the other’s favour to go more directly to his object. “Mahtoree will speak with the tongue of his very dear friend and father. A young Pale-face will listen when an old man of that nation opens his mouth. Go; my father will make what a poor Indian says fit for a white ear.”

“Speak aloud!” said the trapper, who readily under- stood the metaphorical manner, in which the Teton expressed a desire that he should become an interpreter of his words into the English language; “speak, my young men listen. Now, captain, and you too, friend bee-hunter, prepare yourselves to meet the deviltries of this savage, with the stout hearts of white warriors. If you find yourselves giving way under his threats, just turn your eyes on that noble-looking Pawnee, whose time is measured with a hand as niggardly, as that with which a trader in the towns gives forth the fruits of the Lord, inch by inch, in order to satisfy his covetousness. A single look at the boy will set you both up in resolution.”

“My brother has turned his eyes on the wrong path,” interrupted Mahtoree, with a complacency that betrayed how unwilling he was to offend his intended interpreter.

“The Dahcotah will speak to my young men?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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