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son, unworthy of human nature, destroys the peace of the innocent, practises guile against the unsuspecting, oppresses the feeble and defenceless, betrays the friend of his bosom, or sells the freedom of his people for gold. But the simple Indian is not inhuman. Our reason may be obscured, but our principles are innocent. Our passions may be excessive, but they are nor corrupt. Deeply afflicted for the calamity that hath befallen us, and moved with high veneration for the memory of a gallant warrior, we thought of gratifying his spirit, and of paying a tribute due to his virtues. As we grieve not for the deceased who is happy, and whose memory will be for ever revered, but for ourselves who are deprived of him, our intention was not to injure you, but to honour the dead. You was about to suffer death; but to a resolute undaunted warrior, death is not an injury; it exempts him from corporeal infirmities, and conveys him to the western vales of the blessed." Death is not a misfortune but to the feeble, to those whose lives have dishonoured their memory, who disgrace their nature by unseemly fears, and affront the Almighty with their distrust. We admired your intrepidity and perseverance; and conscious of having entertained no sentiment of hatred or malignity against you, nor any intention of exposing your memory to insult or contempt, without fear or reserve we now offer you our friendship."
"Can I," answered the European, filled with astonishment and admiration, "who am of a different origin, born of a people whom you have reason to execrate, and the votary of a different religion, can I be adopted into your nation ?"
"It is the language of prejudice," replied Ononthio; "the simple unaffected Indian, the child of nature, unwarped by servile prepossessions, is a stranger to your distinctions. Is not the Great Spirit the father of us all? Are we not all children of the same family? And have we not in the structure, both of body and mind, undoubted evidence of the same original? Nature, ever wise and provident for her children, attaches us to our friends, and rivets in magnanimous souls the unshaken love of their country. But nature never commanded us to hate or contemn the stranger. Avoid the contagion of vice, avoid all those whose corrupt and degenerate nature may contaminate the purity of your innocence, and infect your bosom with guilt. But every other distinction, estranging us from mankind, and setting us at variance with society, is the offspring of pride and ignoble prejudice. That you are of a different religion I deny. Like the Indian, you acknowledge the power, wisdom, and benignity of the creating Spirit: It matters not though the external form and mode of your acknowledgement be different, or though you discover his clemency and omnipotence in extraordinary and peculiar displays. Enjoy your faith, your freedom, and the love of your country; but give us your friendship and intrepid valour.
To this he replied, "Though I applaud freedom and elevation of sentiment, though I regret the bigotry and narrow prejudices that disgrace human nature even in enlightened ages, yet I cannot allow that the uncivilized life of an Indian is preferable to the culture and refinement of Europe."
"Away with your culture and refinement !" said Ononthio. they invigorate the soul, and render you intrepid? Do they enable you to despise pain and acquiesce in the will of Heaven? Do they inspire you with patience, resignation, and fortitude? No! They unnerve the soul; they render you feeble, plaintive, and unhappy. Do they give health and firmness? Do they enable you to restrain and subdue your appetites? No! They promote intemperance and mental anarchy. They give loose reins to disorder. The parents of discontent and disease! Away with your culture and refinement! Do they better the heart or improve the affections? The heart despises them. Her affections arise spontaneous. They require no culture. They bloom unbidden. They are essential to our existence, and nature hath not abandoned them to our caprice. All our affections, as we receive them from nature, are lively and full of vigour. By refinement they are enfeebled. How exquisite the sensations of youth! In the early season of life ye are moved with every tale of distress, and mingle tears of sympathy with every sufferer. You are then incapable of perfidy, and hold vice in abhorrence. In time ye grow callous; ye become resigned; your feelings are extinguished: ye scoff at benevolence, and reckon friendship a dream. Ye become unjust and perfidious; the slaves of avarice and ambition; the prey of envy, of malice, and revenge. Away with your refinement! enjoy the freedom and simplicity of nature. Be guiltless be an Indian."
Meantime the arrival of some canoes, filled with armed warriors, attracted the notice of the assembly. They were transported with ecstasy and surprise when they descryed the ensign of their nation, and recognized some of their brethren whom they imagined slain. The hopes of Marano were revived. She enquired eagerly for Oneyo. "He perished," answered an Indian. She grew pale; her voice faultered; faint and speechless, she fell back on the throbbing breast of Ononthio. "He perished," continued the Indian, " and with him the prime of our warriors. The armies of France and Britain were marshalled beneath the walls of Quebec. Direful was the havock of battle. The earth trembled with the shock of the onset. The air was tortured with repeated peals. The commanders of both armies were slain. Their fall was glorious, for their souls were undaunted. Resentment inflamed the combatants. Keen and obstinate was the encounter. Albion at length prevailed. Her sons, like a rapid torrent, overthrew the ranks of their adversaries. We counselled Oneyo to retire. Raging against the foe, and performing feats of amazing valour, we saw him environed beyond all hope of retreat. We saw the impetuosity of a youthful warrior, who brandished a bloody sword, rushing on to destroy him. We hastened from the field of death. We tarried some time in the adjacent forests, and observed the progress of the foe. The walls of our allies were overthrown. The sword of Albion will pursue us; and our shield, our gallant warrior-our Oneyo-is no more."
This melancholy recital filled the audience with lamentation. But their sorrow was interrupted by the sudden astonishment of the narrator. Casting his eyes accidentally on the Briton, "Seize him! tear him!" he
exclaimed ; his was the lifted sword I beheld! It was he cleft the breast of our chieftain! It was he that destroyed him.”
The resentment of the assembly was again inflamed. "I am innocent of his blood," said the captive. But his declaration, and the entreaties of Ononthio in his behalf, were lost in furious screams and invectives. They dragged him again to the place of sacrifice. Marano distracted with contending woes, "Spare him! spare him!" exclaimed, "He is my brother!" fixing her eyes on him with a look of exquisite anguish, "whose hands are red with the blood of my husband and was there none but thee to destroy him?" "Tear him!" exclaimed the multitude. Marano clasped him to her bosom, and turning to the outrageous and menacing crowd, with a wild and frantic demeanour, "Bloody, bloody though he be, I will defend him or perish! Let the same javelin transfix us both! Smite, and our kindred gore shall be mingled." The transcendent greatness of her calamity, who had lost a husband by the hand of a brother, and the resistless energy of her features, expressive of woe, tenderness, and despair, awed the violence of the assembly, and disposed them to pity. Ononthio took advantage of the change. He waved his hand with parental love and authority. His hoary locks gave dignity to his gesture. The usual benignity of his countenance was softened with sorrow. He spoke the language of his soul, and was eloquent; spoke the language of feeling, and was persuasive. They listened to him with profound veneration, were moved, and deferred the sacrifice. He then comforted Marano, and conveyed the captives to a place of security.
When they were apart from the multitude, "Tell me," said he to the Briton," are you guiltless of the death of my son ?" "I know not," he replied; for he had resumed the pride of indignant courage. "I know not whom I have slain. I drew my sword against the foes of my country, and I am not answerable for the blood I have spilt." "Young man," said Ononthio, full of solicitude and parental tenderness, "O reflect on a father's feelings. I had an only son. He was valiant. He was the prop and solace of my old age: if he hath gone down to darkness and the grave, I have no longer any joy in existence. But if he lives, and lives by thy clemency, the prayers of an old man shall implore blessings upon thee, and the Great Spirit shall reward thee." While he was yet speaking, a tear rose in his eye, his voice faltered, he sighed," tell me if my son survives."
"I slew him not," he replied. "I know not that I slew thy son.
To his name and quality I was a stranger. In the heat of the encounter a gallant Indian assailed me. He was tired and exhausted. I disarmed him, and my sword was lifted against his life." "Briton," said he, with a resolute tone, "think not that death dismays me. I have braved perils and the sword. I am not a suppliant for myself. I have an aged parent whose life depends upon mine: the wife of my bosom is a stranger among my people, and I alone can protect her." " Generous youth," I replied, "go, comfort and protect thy friends. I sent him forthwith from the field. I never enquired into his condition; for in preserving him I obeyed my heart." Marano and Ononthio
were overjoyed. But reflecting that many days had elapsed since the discomfiture of their allies, and that hitherto they had received no intelligence of Oneyo, their joy suffered abatement.
Meantime Ononthio counselled his daughter to conduct the strangers to a distant retreat, and preserve them there, till by his influence and authority he had appeased the violence of his brethren. "Judge not unfavourably of my nation," said he, "from this instance of impetuosity. They follow the immediate impulse of nature, and are often extravagant. But the vehemence of passion will soon abate, and reason will resume her authority. You see nature unrestrained, but not perverted; luxuriant, but not corrupt. My brethren are wrathful, but to latent or lasting enmity they are utter strangers.'
It was already night. The Indians were dispersed to their hamlets. The sky was calm and unclouded. The full-orbed moon, in serene and solemn majesty, arose in the east. Her beams were reflected in a blaze of silver radiance from the smooth and untroubled breast of the lake. The grey nills and awful forests were solitary and silent. No noise was heard, save the roaring of a distant cascade, save the interrupted wailing of matrons, who lamented the untimely neath of their sons. Marano with› the captives, issuing unperceived from the village, pursued their way along the silent shore, till they arrived at a narrow, unfrequented recess. It was open to the lake, bounded on either side by abrupt and shelving precipices, arrayed with living verdure, and parted by a winding rivulet. A venerable oak overshadowed the fountain, and rendered the scene more solemn. The other captives were overcome with fatigue, and finding some withered leaves in an adjoining cavern, they indulged themselves in repose. Marano conversed long with her brother; she poured out her soul in his sympathizing bosom; she was comforted and relieved. While she leaned on his breast, while his arm was folded gently around her, a balmy slumber surprised them. Their features even in sleep preserved the character of their souls. A smile played innocently on the lips of Marano; her countenance was ineffably tender, and her tresses lay careless on her snowy bosom. The features of Sidney, of a bolder and more manly expression, seemed full of benignity and complacence. Calm and unruffled was their repose, they enjoyed the happy visions of innocence, and dreamed not of impending danger.
The moon in unrivalled glory had now attained her meridian, when the intermitting noise of rowers came slowly along the lake. A canoe was advancing, and the dripping oars arising at intervals from the water, shone gleaming along the deep. The boatmen, silent and unobserved, moored their vessel on the sandy beach, and a young man of a keen and animated aspect, arrayed in the shaggy skin of a bear, armed with a bow and a javelin, having left his companions, was hastening along the shore. It was Oneyo. Having received wounds in the battle, he had been unable to prosecute his return, and had tarried with some Indians in the neighbourhood of Montreal. By the skilful application of herbs and balsams, his cure was at length effectuated, and he returned impatient to his nation.
"I will return secretly," he said. "I will enjoy the sorrow and re
gret of Marano and of my brethren, who doubtless believe me dead. I will enjoy the ecstasy of their affection, and their surprize on my unexpected arrival. My lovely Marano now laments unconsoled; I will hasten to relieve her, and press her weeping with joy to my faithful, transported bosom."
Such were the sentiments of anticipated rapture that occupied the soul of Oneyo, when he discovered Marano in the arms of a stranger. He recoiled. He stood motionless in an agony of grief, anger, and astonishment. Pale and trembling, he uttered some words incoherently. He again advanced, again recognised her, then turning abruptly, in bitter anguish, smiting his breast, "Faithless and inconstant !" he cried," and is this my expected meeting! In the arms of a stranger! Arrogant invader of my felicity! He shall perish! His blood shall expiate his offence!" Fury flashed in his eye, he grasped his javelin, he aimed the blow, and recognised his deliverer. Surprise and horror seized him. "Injured by my deliverer! By him whom my soul revered! And shall I dip my hands in his blood! My life he preserved. Would to Heaven he had slain me! Thus injured and betrayed, Oneyo shall not live. Thou great Universal Spirit, whose path is in the clouds! whose voice is in the thunder! and whose eye pierces the heart! O conduct me to the blissful valley, for Oneyo will not live." He sighed. "One look, one parting look of my love. I believed her faithful for her I lived-for her I die." He advanced towards herhe gazed on her with anguish and regret. She will not weep for me! faithless and inconstant! she will exult! Exult to behold me bleeding! And shall it be? For this have I cherished her? Lavished my soul on her? To be betrayed! To give her love to a stranger!" He pausedtrembled his countenance grew fierce, his eye wild; he grasped his javelin.-Marano named him: her voice was soft and plaintive, her visions were of Oneyo. "O come!" she said; "hasten to thy love! Tarry not, my Oneyo! How I long to behold thee!" "For this," said he, "I'll embrace thee !" He embraced her she awaked, discovered her husband, and flew eagerly into his arms. He flung from her in fierce indignation." Away!" he cried; "go cherish thy stranger! Away perfidious!" She followed him trembling and aghast. "He is my brother." "Thy brother!"-" Stranger!" said he to the Briton, who now approached him, "you preserved my life. You are generous and valiant. Tell me, then, am I to salute thee as a friend, and give full vent to my gratitude? Or must I view thee as a guileful seducer, and lift my javelin against thy life ?"
The Briton perceiving his error, answered him with brevity and composure: he related to him the circumstances of his captivity, and in confirmation appealed to the testimony of his father. The Indian was satisfied. He embraced them. They returned by morning to the village. Ononthio received them with becoming gladness, and the day was crowned with rejoicing.