The White Squaw
By Captain Mayne Reid
Illustrations by Anon
Published by George Routledge and Sons.
The White Squaw, by Captain Mayne Reid.
THE WHITE SQUAW, BY CAPTAIN MAYNE REID.
A DEADLY INTRODUCTION.
The last golden gleams of the setting
sun sparkled across the
translucent waters of Tampa Bay. This fading light fell upon shores
fringed with groves of oak and magnolia, whose evergreen
gradually darkened by the purple
silence, broken by the occasional
notes of a tree-frog, or
the flapping of the night-hawk's wings, was but the prelude to that
wonderful concert of animated
nature heard only in the tropical
A few moments, and the golden lines of trembling light had disappeared,
while darkness almost palpable overshadowed the scene.
Then broke forth in full chorus
the nocturnal voices of the forest.
The mocking-bird, the whip-poor-will, the bittern, the bell-frog,
grasshoppers, wolves, and alligators, all joined in the harmony
to the hour of night, causing a din startling
to the ear of a stranger.
Now and then would occur an interval
of silence, which rendered the
renewal of the voices all the more observable.
During one of these pauses a cry might have been heard differing from
all the other sounds.
It was the voice of a human being, and there was one who heard it.
Making his way through the woods was a young man, dressed in half-hunter
costume, and carrying a rifle in his hand. The cry had caused him to
stop suddenly in his tracks.
After glancing cautiously
around, as if endeavouring to pierce
darkness, he again advanced, again came to a stop, and remained
listening. Once more came that cry, in which accents of anger were
strangely commingled with tones appealing for help.
This time the sound indicated the direction, and the listener's
resolution was at once taken.
Thrusting aside the undergrowth, and trampling under foot the tall
grass, he struck into a narrow path runningparallel
to the shore, and
which led in the direction whence
the cry appeared to have come.
Though it was now quite dark, he seemed easily to avoid impediments,
which even in broad daylight
would have been difficult to pass.
The darkness appeared no barrier
to his speed, and neither the
overhanging branches, nor the wood-bine roots stayed his progress.
About a hundred paces further on, the path widened into a rift that led
to an opening, sloping gradually down to the beach.
On reaching its edge, he paused once more to listen for a renewal of the
Nothing save the familiar noises of the night greeted his ear.
After a short pause, he kept on for the water's edge, with head well
forward, and eyes strained to penetrate
At that moment the moon shot out from behind a heavy bank of clouds,
and, with a brilliant
beam, disclosed to his eager gaze a tableau of
Down by the water's edge lay the body of an Indian youth, motionless,
and to all appearance dead; while stooping over it was another youth,
also an Indian. He appeared to be examining the body.
For some seconds there was no change in his attitude. Then, all at once
he raised himself erect, and with a tomahawk that flashed in the
moonlight above his head, appeared in the act of dealing
descended; but not upon the body that lay prostrate.
A sharp report ringing on the air for an instant
silenced all other
sounds. The would-be assassinsprang
up almost simultaneously, and two
corpses instead of one lay along the earth.
So thought he who fired the shot, and who was the young man already
described. He stayed not to speculate, but rushed forward to the spot
where the two Indians lay. He had recognised them both. The one upon
the ground was Nelatu, the son of Oluski, a distinguished
chief. The other was Red Wolf, a well-grown youth belonging to the same
Only glancing at the would-be assassin
to see that he was dead, he bent
over the body of Nelatu, placed his hand upon the region of his heart,
at the same time anxiously
scanning his features.
Suddenly he uttered an exclamation
of surprise. Beneath his fingers a
weak pulsation gave signs of life. Nelatu might yet be saved.
Pulling off his hat, he ran down to the beach, filled it with water,
and, returning, sprinkled the forehead
of the young Indian.
a flask containing brandy
from his pouch, he poured a
portion of its contents
down the throat
of the unconscious
These kindly offices he repeated
several times, and was finally rewarded
for his pains. The blood slowly mantled Nelatu's cheek; a shivering ran
through his frame; and with a deep sigh he gazed dreamily upon his
preserver, and at the same time faintly
"Yes, Warren! Speak, Nelatu. What is the meaning of this?"
The Indian had only the strength to mutter
the words "Red Wolf," at the
same time raising his hand to his side with apparent
made his meaning clear. Warren's gaze rested upon a deep
wound from which the blood was still welling.
By the tremulousmovement
of his lips, Warren saw that he was
endeavouring to speak again. But no sound came from them. His eyes
gradually became closed. He had once more fainted.
flung off his coat, tore one of the sleeves from his
shirt, and commenced staunching the blood.
After a time it ceased to flow, and then tearing off the second sleeve,
with his braces knotted together, he bound up the wound.
The wounded youth slowly recovered consciousness, and, looking
gratefully up into his face, pressed the hand of his deliverer.
"Nelatu owes Warren life. He will some day show his gratitude."
"Don't think of that now. Tell me what has happened? I heard your cry,
and hastened to your assistance."
"Not Nelatu's cry," responded the Indian, with a faint blush of pride
suffusing his face. "Nelatu is the son of a chief. He knows how to die
without showing himself a woman. It was Red Wolf who cried out."
"Yes; Red Wolf is a coward--a squaw; 'twas he who cried out."
"He will never cry out again. Look there!" said Warren, pointing to the
that lay near.
Nelatu had not yet seen it. Unconscious of what had transpired, he
believed that Red Wolf, supposing him dead, had gone away from the spot.
Still more gratefully
did the Indian youth gaze upon the face of his
"You had an encounter
with Red Wolf? I can see that, of course; it was
he who gave you this wound?"
"Yes, but I had first defeated him. I had him on the ground in my
power. I could have taken his life. It was then that, like a coward,
he called for help."
"I pitied and let him rise. I expected him to leave me, and go back to
the village. He feared that I might speak of his defeat to our tribe,
and for this he determined that my tongue should be for ever silent. I
was not thinking of it when he thrust
me from behind. You know the
"And why the quarrel?"
"He spoke wicked
words of my sister, Sansuta."
"Sansuta!" exclaimed Warren, a strange smile overshadowing his features.
"Yes; and of you."
"The dog; then he doubly
deserved death. And from _me_!" he added, in a
tone not loud enough for Nelatu to hear, "what a lucky chance."
As he said this he spurned the body with his foot.
Then turning to the Indian, he asked--
"Do you think you could walk a little, Nelatu?"
had by this time produced an effect. Its potent
supplied the loss of blood, and Nelatu felt his strength returning to
"I will try," said the wounded youth. "Nelatu's hour has not yet come.
He must not die till he has paid his debt to Warren."
"Then lean on me. My canoe is close by. Once in it you can rest at
Nelatu nodded consent.
Warren assisted him to rise, and, half carrying, half supporting,
conducted him to the canoe.
Carefully helping him aboard, he shoved the craft from the shore, and
turned its prow in the direction of the white settlement.
The moon, that had become again obscured, once more burst through the
black clouds, lighting
up the fronds of the feathery palms that flung
their shadows far over the pellucid waves.
The concert of the nocturnal forest, for a time stayed by the report of
the rifle, burst out anew as the boat glided silently
out of sight.
The site of the settlement to which the canoe was being directed merits
It was upon the northern shore of Tampa Bay.
The soil that had been cleared was rich in crops of cotton, indigo,
sugar, with oranges, and the ordinary staples of food.
Through the cultivated
lands, mapped out like a painter's palette, ran a
crystal stream, from which the rice fields were watered by intersecting
rivulets, looking like silver threads in a tissue.
Orange groves margined its course, running
sinuously through the
In places it was lost to sight, only to re-appear with some new feature
Here and there it exhibited cascades and slight waterfalls that danced
in the sunlight, sending up showers of prismatic spray.
There were islets upon which grew reeds, sedges, and canes, surmounted
by groups of caricas, and laurel-magnolias, the exogenous trees
overtopped by the tall, feathery palm.
In its waters wild fowl disported themselves, scattering showers of
luminous spray as they flapped their wings in delight.
Birds of rare plumage
along its banks,
enlivening the groves with their jocund
Far beyond, the swamp forest formed a dark, dreary
by contrast, enhanced the cheerfulness
of the scene.
Looking seaward, the prospect
was no less resplendent
The water, dashing
and fretting against the rocky quays, glanced back in
mist and foam.
Snow-white gulls hurried
along the horizon, their wings cutting sharply
against an azure sky, while along the silvery
beach, tall, blue herons,
brown cranes, and scarlet
flamingoes, stood in rows, their forms
reflected in the pellucid element.
Such were the surroundings of the settlement on Tampa Bay.
The village itself nestled beneath the hills already mentioned, and
comprised a church, some half-dozen stores, with a number of substantial
a rude wharf, and several schooners moored near by,
gave tokens of intercourse
with other places.
It was a morning in May, in Florida, as elsewhere, the sweetest month in
Borne upon the balmy atmosphere
was the hum of bees and the melody
birds, mingled with the voices of young girls and men engaged in the
labour of their farms and fields.
The lowing of cattle could be heard in the distant grazing grounds,
while the tillers of the soil were seen at work upon their respective
There was one who looked upon this cheerful
scene without seeming
partake of its cheerfulness.
Standing upon the top of the hill was a man of tall, gaunt figure, with
a face somewhat austere
in its expression.
lined features, with a firm expression about the mouth,
marked him for a man of no common mould.
He appeared to be about sixty.
As his keen grey eyes wandered over the fields below, there was a cold,
determined light in them which betrayed no pleasant train of thought.
It spoke of covetous ambition.
Behind him, upon the hill top, of table shape, were poles standing
out of the earth. Around them the sward was trampled, and the scorched
grass, worn in many directions into paths, signified that at no distant
period the place had been inhabited.
The sign could not be mistaken; it was the site of an Indian encampment.
Elias Rody, as he turned from gazing on the panoramic view beneath, cast
a glance of strange significance
at these vestiges of the red-man's
His features assumed a sharper cast, while a cloud came over his face.
"But for them," he muttered, "my wishes would be accomplished, my
What were his wishes? What his desires?
Ask the covetous man such a question, and, if he answered truly, his
answer would tell a tale of selfish
aspirations. He would envy youth
its brightness, old age its wisdom, virtue
its content, love its joys,
ay, even Heaven itself its rewards, and yet, in the narrow bigotry of
egotism, think he only claimed his own.
Elias Rody was a covetous man, and such were the thoughts at that moment
in his mind.
They were too bitter for silence, and vented themselves in words, which
the winds alone listened to.
"Why should these red-skins possess what I so deeply long for; and only
for their short temporary
enjoyment? I would be fair with them; but
they wrap themselves up in their selfish
obstinacy, and scorn my
others appear to a selfish
"Why should they continue to restrain
me? If gold is worth anything,
surely it should repay them for what can be only a mere fancy. I shall
try Oluski once again, and if he refuse--"
Here the speaker
For some time he stood in contemplation, his eye roving over the distant
As it again lighted upon the settlement a smile, not a pleasant one,
curled his lip.
"Well, there is time yet," said he, as if concluding an argument
himself. "I will once more try the golden bribe. I will use caution;
but here will I build my house, come what may."
This natural conclusion, to an egotistic mind, appeared satisfactory.
It seemed to soothe
him, for he strode
down the hill with a springy,
elastic step, more like that of a young man than one over whose head had
passed sixty eventful years.
Whilst Elias Rody is pondering upon his scheme, let us tell the reader