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- Tecumseh: A Drama - 4/21 -
LEFROY. What means he? And what barrier is this?
IENA. The barrier is the welfare of our race-- Wherefore his law--"Red shall not marry white." His noble nature halts at cruelty, So fear him not! But in the Prophet's hand, Dark, dangerous and bloody, there is death, And, sheltered by Tecumseh's own decree, He who misprizes you, and hates, will strike-- Then go at once! Alas for Iena, Who loves her race too well to break its law.
LEFROY. I love you better than I love my race; And could I mass my fondness for my friends, Augment it with my love of noble brutes, Tap every spring of reverence and respect, And all affections bright and beautiful-- Still would my love for you outweigh them all.
IENA. Speak not of love! Speak of the Long-Knife's hate! Oh, it is pitiful to creep in fear O'er lands where once our fathers stept in pride! The Long-Knife strengthens, whilst our race decays, And falls before him as our forests fall. First comes his pioneer, the bee, and soon The mast which plumped the wild deer fats his swine. His cattle pasture where the bison fed; His flowers, his very weeds, displace our own-- Aggressive as himself. All, all thrust back! Destruction follows us, and swift decay. Oh, I have lain for hours upon the grass, And gazed into the tenderest blue of heaven-- Cleansed as with dew, so limpid, pure and sweet-- All flecked with silver packs of standing cloud Most beautiful! But watch them narrowly! Those clouds will sheer small fleeces from their sides, Which, melting in our sight as in a dream, Will vanish all like phantoms in the sky. So melts our heedless race! Some weaned away, And wedded to rough-handed pioneers, Who, fierce as wolves in hatred of our kind, Yet from their shrill and acid women turn, Prizing our maidens for their gentleness. Some by outlandish fevers die, and some-- Caught in the white man's toils and vices mean-- Court death, and find it in the trader's cup. And all are driven from their heritage, Far from our fathers' seats and sepulchres, And girdled with the growing glooms of war; Resting a moment here, a moment there, Whilst ever through our plains and forest realms Bursts the pale spoiler, armed, with eager quest, And ruinous lust of land. I think of all-- And own Tecumseh right. 'Tis he alone Can stem this tide of sorrows dark and deep; So must I bend my feeble will to his, And, for my people's welfare, banish love.
LEFROY. Nay, for your people's welfare keep your love! My heart is true: I know that braggart nation, Whose sordid instincts, cold and pitiless, Would cut you off, and drown your Council-Fires. I would defend you, therefore keep me here! My love is yours alone, my hand I give, With this good weapon in it, to your race.
IENA. Oh, heaven help a weak untutored maid, Whose head is warring 'gainst a heart that tells, With every throb, I love you. Leave me! Fly!
LEFROY. I kneel to you--it is my leave-taking, So, bid me fly again, and break my heart!
Fly far from me, Even as the daylight flies, And leave me in the darkness of my pain! Some earlier love will come to thee again, And sweet new moons will rise, And smile on it and thee.
Fly far from me, Even whilst the daylight wastes-- Ere thy lips burn me in a last caress; Ere fancy quickens, and my longings press, And my weak spirit hastes For shelter unto thee!
Fly far from me, Even whilst the daylight pales-- So shall we never, never meet again! Fly! for my senses swim--Oh, Love! Oh, Pain!-- Help! for my spirit fails-- I cannot fly from thee!
[IENA _sinks into_ LEFROY'S _arms_.]
LEFROY. No Iena! You cannot fly from me-- My heart is in your breast, and yours in mine; Therefore our love--
_Enter_ TECUMSEH, _followed by_ MAMATEE.
TECUMSEH. False girl! Is this your promise? Would that I had a pale-face for a niece-- Not one so faithless to her pledge! You owe All duty and affection to your race, Whose interest--the sum of our desires-- Traversed by alien love, drops to the ground.
IENA. Tecumseh ne'er was cruel until now. Call not love alien which includes our race-- Love for our people, pity for their wrongs! He loves our race because his heart is here-- And mine is in his breast. Oh, ask him there, And he will tell you--
LEFROY. Iena, let me speak! Tecumseh, we as strangers have become Strangely familiar through sheer circumstance, Which often breeds affection or disdain, Yet lighting but the surface of the man, Shows not his heart. I know not what you think, And care not for your favour or your love, Save as desert may crown me. Your decree, "Red shall not marry white," is arbitrary, And off the base of nature; for if they Should marry not, then neither should they love. Yet Iena loves me, and I love her. Be merciful! I ask not Iena To leave her race; I rather would engage These willing arms in her defence and yours. Heap obligation up, conditions stern-- But send not your cold "Nay" athwart our lives.
IENA. Be merciful! Oh, uncle, pity us!
TECUMSEH. My pity, Iena, goes with reproach, Blunting the edge of anger; yet my will Is fixed, and the command to be obeyed-- This stranger must depart--you to your lodge!
MAMATEE. Tecumseh, I am in the background here, As ever I have been in your affection. For I have ne'er known what good women prize-- Earth's greatest boon to them--a husband's love.
TECUMSEH. My nation has my love, in which you share, With special service rendered to yourself; So that your cabin flows with mouffles sweet, And hips of wapiti and bedded robes. Teach me my duty further if you will! My love is wide, and broods upon my race.
MAMATEE. The back is clad--the heart, alas! goes bare. Oh, I would rather shiver in the snow-- My heart downed softly with Tecumseh's love-- Than sleep unprized in warmest couch of fur. I know your love is wide, and, for that I Share but a millionth part of it, and feel Its meagreness, I plead most eagerly For this poor white, whose heart is full of love, And gives it all to her.
TECUMSEH. It cannot be! You know not what you ask. 'Tis 'gainst our law, Which, breached, would let our untamed people through.
LEFROY. I care not for your cruel law! The heart Has statutes of its own which make for love.
TECUMSEH. You'd cross me too! This child's play of the heart, Which sterner duty has repressed in me, Makes even captives bold. (_Aside_.) I like his courage!
MAMATEE. If duty makes Tecumseh's heart grow cold, Then shame on it! and greater shame on him Who ever yet showed mercy to his foes, Yet, turning from his own, in pity's spite Denies it to a girl. See, here I kneel!
IENA. And I! O uncle, frown not on our love!
TECUMSEH. By the Great Spirit this is over much! My heart is made for pity, not for war, Since women's tears unman me. Have your will! I shall respect your love, (_To Lefroy_.) your safety too. I go at once to sound the Wyandots Concerning some false treaties with the whites. The Prophet hates you, therefore come with me.
[_The_ PROPHET _rushes in with a band of
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